His short stature left him with no option but to inhale strong body odour with every breath in the packed compartment. A tiny stream of sweat made its way to the tip of his nose. It stopped there, like a tiger at vantage point. Irritated, he gave his head a violent jerk. With immediate realization, he prepared to utter â€œsorryâ€ against frowns. â€œWhy does it have to be me every time?â€ he thought as he looked around.
He caught sight of a man going through the same reflex. Their eyes met. They smiled.
â€œI am not alone in this.â€.
â€œHey will you please stop smoking right now?â€
â€œNo. By the way, you need to tell me why you quit.â€
â€œA friend died of cancer.â€
â€œI am sorry. Did he smoke a lot?â€
â€œAlcohol? Hookah? Anything?â€
â€œGodâ€™s will then. You donâ€™t need to quit. Here, take a puff and cheer up.â€
â€œNo! Keep that evil away.â€
â€œHE DIDNâ€™T SMOKE. I DID. EVEN WHEN HE WAS AROUND.â€
After a silent pause, the smoker got up first.
They walked back into the building. A half-finished cigarette stub lay on the ground, discarded..
â€œI wanted strong tea and you prepared this sugary drink? You do this every time. Do you plan to kill me with diabetes?â€
â€œI donâ€™t do it deliberately. May be you are destined to have it this way. It is Godâ€™s will. Besides, tea never kills...â€
Just then, there was a deafening thud. Dust and smoke was all over the place.
Chotudaâ€™s tea stall was lost in the rubble.
#Kolkata started trending.
A game of blame was played.
A flyover had come crashing down, but it was tea that killed people..
â€œFive more moves and I win!â€
â€œI recently read a story called â€˜The Chess Playersâ€™. I am playing only to understand how this could be an addiction! Even you ignore everything for a game.â€
â€œHas it got anything to do with â€˜Shatranj ke Khiladi?â€™ Dad says I am ruining my life like some character in that movie.â€
â€œI will tell you, but where will this take you anyway?â€
â€œI am inspired by Viswanathan Anand.â€
â€œYou appear more inspired by Mir Roshan Ali and Mirza Sajjad Ali!â€
â€œWho are they?â€
â€œShatranj Ke Khiladi!â€
â€œHuh! You and your stories.â€.
â€œDonâ€™t stop yetâ€, she told herself, â€œkeep running.â€
She had lost count of how many miles had been covered.
She had come far away from everything. From people. From chaos.
She didnâ€™t know if she was tired. She knew she couldnâ€™t go back.
Even at the cost of losing everything, she ran.
She had no clue if she would succeed.
Yet, she kept running. Forward.
â€œYouâ€™re dead if you stopâ€, a voice told her.
She knew she would eventually get to where she belonged.
She kept running. She had nothing to lose..
â€œOur party has provided shelter to about a hundred homeless people over the past several months. At the inauguration of our new office, we pledge to ensure shelter for all within five years.â€
The crowd applauded.
At a distant deserted street, a homeless man sat alone. His tears had dried. He used to have a house until a few months back. Then a gang of goons turned up one night, demolished his hut and chased him out of the town. A political party then chose the land around his home as the site for its new head quarter..
Durga wanders about the town in search of good clicks for her Instagram feed. She clicks a snap. Suddenly, the birds tattooed on her wrist come to life. As they fly away, the scenery around her transforms. A mustard farm. Two brothers. Their mother. Smiles. Happiness. Song. Durga can almost hear the music. She is brought back to the present when she finds herself murmuring, â€œKaran. Arjun.â€
â€œI am so filmy!â€
At the same time, in a Kali temple about 5 miles away, two brothers are screaming, â€œMa, itâ€™s time to prove your existence. Bring back our Maa.â€.
Shiv: Hey. How was your birthday?
Ganesh: It was just fine. I loved the celebration and everything.
Kartik: Brother, you donâ€™t look happy though.
Ganesh: Canâ€™t breathe properly. Doctor says my system could be blocked by plastic or something. Or it could be because of dirty water. Got some tests done, results awaited.
Parvati: Oh dear! Sounds like a â€˜visarjanâ€™ complication! Canâ€™t we do anything about it?
Shiv: The issue was discussed at the recent Global God Rights Meet. Gods across all religions are clueless. What can we do? After all, we are only Gods!.
â€œDonâ€™t go near the lake, sir.â€
â€œThey say itâ€™s haunted. Whoever goes near the lake at noon, dies.â€
â€œYou can go there later. Please stop!â€
â€œNow see, I am standing here. Nothing happened.â€
â€œSir, they say â€˜the shadowâ€™ drags people into the water.â€
â€œIt appears alongside the visitorâ€™s reflection.â€
â€œI see nothing. If I stoop any further, I will fall...â€ (Loses balance and falls.)
â€œOh no! He is drowning. Somebody save him. The Shadow has got him!â€
Next day, â€˜the Shadowâ€™ and its latest victim were the talk of the town..
Once Mother Earth had opened up to take back her daughter Sita.
Itâ€™s been thousands of years since.
The world has completed yet another cycle of the four 'yugas'.
The world has been destroyed and no soul exists.
This is the time of recreation.
This is the time of rebirth.
A crack emerges. It widens. It gets deeper.
Flowers rain from the sky.
The Earth opens up. The view is shrouded with mist.
Gradually, the cracks disappear. The mist clears.
Lying peacefully on the ground is Her.
This time, we start with the Goddess..