Monday, April 23, 2007 1 reflections

[Short Short Fiction] - Love at every flight

NOTE: Short Short Fiction - A new style writing that attempts to capture a story in as few words as possible. Usually it is 300 but to push my own narrative style, I have tried to condense it in 100. As my respected reader, I urge you to please respond and critique this work. Thank you.

His lover was a splitting image of his own being. The unmistakable wobble, the distinctive flap, the familiar cry. He had been smitten by that beauty the day he had found home inside the steel castle. They had shared several priceless moments of joy and grief with equal energy.

The only moment of passion they shared was when the metallic walls disappeared. Every day. A short lived interaction that kept him alive.

The little girl approached his castle once again and released him for a few heartbeats. In an instance he soared within the enclosure and crashed into the mirror…again.

Sunday, April 08, 2007 0 reflections

Nandini by night

And so she scribbled in absolute fury ‘must show betrayal…MUST!’ and underlined the second appearance of the word after circling it. To be able to show something that slaps the person seeing it and commands attention was what she was seeking. Her task for the day.


The silent silk curtains danced a dull ballet to the soft breeze that held them and carried them around the limited real estate. The bright orange that burnt the blue outside had turned charcoal black and left a numb feeling to the beauty the sky boasted of each sunrise. The mini-bar gazed back affectionately at the sulking silhouette of a woman on the couch in the main living room. It had been motionless for a while now. Nothing had stirred since the last time something had been scribbled on the coffee-stained notepad a few minutes ago.

Nandini looked out at the cold nothingness and wearily got up. She flung the notepad mercilessly on the spotless glass-top table and walked towards the spacious balcony that overlooked almost all of the Queen’s Necklace. Standing on the twelfth floor of the marvelous residential complex for a moment she forgot her role in the universe. She wrapped her arms around herself and frowned in subtle frustration.

She had to find out…soon.

‘Must!’ she screamed and walked back into the apartment. Expensive china and imported liquor seemed to look at each other and stretch their arms out to help. But even they knew that nothing could aid the woman at this point. This was her process and she had to do it on her own.

‘OK…!’ she said out loud and started pacing up and down the drafty room.

‘So let’s see. She is a working class woman…about twenty seven years old…no wait…lets make it thirty-five. No one wants too much cliché….’

She hopped back to the brown-themed and dog-eared notepad and started scribbling on a fresh page.

‘Hmm…and she is with some government funded agency…single child to her parents…brought up with love and affection…arranged married to a mediocre office assistant….makes a tight amount of money….hmm…what else…’

She lazily strolled up to the bar and shot down whatever remained of the idle scotch from earlier that afternoon.

‘And what else…oh yeah…she has three kids…not too apart from each other in age…maybe 10, 8 and 6. Two boys and a girl. Surabhi is the little one’s name. God I love that name….’

The telephone started ringing at this moment. A few rings later a mechanical voice requested the caller to leave a message. It was her husband. As always he had called to say he would be late and that she should not wait up for dinner. He also mentioned he had tried calling her cellular phone but it seemed that she had switched it off.

He was familiar with her ‘process’. This was a crucial phase for her and he chose to let her be. Even if it meant staying back later on purpose to give her more ‘herself’ time.

She ignored his message as she continued to pace the room with renewed alcoholic power.

‘Surabhi is her favorite…a mommy’s girl…Srinivas is her husband….boring guy…can be insensitive at times…kind of a lazy bum…doesn’t help out much…helps with the kids homework on good evenings…doesn’t pressurize for regular sex but doesn’t keep the messages subtle either…she is on birth control constantly…not interested in any more kids…Srinivas is a always horny…even in sleep…’

She rhythmically started slapping her hand on her thigh as thoughts started to ooze out from the part of herself she referred to as her ‘creative shell’.

‘Hmm…what else…Sanjay and Saurabh are the boys…handful of sunshine they are…naughty and always getting into trouble…she takes care of them like a Godmother when they get into sticky situations…she has paid for all the windows they have broken playing street cricket…out of her OWN salary!’

She quickly turned another sheet and jotted in a hurry ‘must arrange with Sethi for a middle-class looking house…price negotiable…must have poor ventilation…not too drafty…’

‘OK…’ she sighed and continued ‘…nothing too fancy…regular couple until one day…Srinivas decides to have an affair with another woman…sexually insatiable misfit that he is…yes…all the love…all the joy…all the pain have now found a context…’

She smiled to herself before breaking into a giggle.

‘..Oh poor woman…she spends her day behind a desk pushing paper and the husband is banging someone on top of one…men are sick…disgusting creatures…’

Her thoughts are again interrupted with another phone call. The machine, faithful as always attends to it. Another wannabe producer on the line. Another name to the never-ending list of people who want to work with Nandini. Her last venture had been such a huge commercial success that she had surprised herself with it. Her unmistakable ability to connect with the masses and their issues under a glorious hidden theme had become a best seller over the last few years. Her love and passion for her trade had only grown with time.

And all those things had begun with a process. Something she was about to embark on…again.

‘Betrayed!’ she yelled out once the machine had done recording a nasal voice with a funny English accent.

‘She is now betrayed…she is hurt…shocked…horrified…lost and angry…mad woman…a mad woman she has become…she wants revenge…she wants justice! Does she not matter! What about HER?’

A few heartbeats of intense silence and she continued.

‘What should she do? How will she encounter this? Should she leave Srinivas? What about the kids? Where will poor Surabhi go? She is still a baby! What happens to the boys? Is it not fun to let those brats figure things out on their own! Oh yeah! Lot of fun! Wait! No…that can’t be. That’s pathetic! That is sick! She is first a MOTHER and THEN a wife! Yes. She has to be calm…she cannot be like the loser she is married to…no…she needs to get her priorities straight…she needs to SHOW him how betrayed she feels…YES! Betrayed!’

She closed her eyes to let the images sink in. The emotionally injured woman, the callous unapologetic middle class man, the clueless pain in the bottom boys, the sweet and cute Surabhi in her corner with the toys, the crumbling house with a leaking roof, the pretentious furniture and the crowded living room…

An annoying alarm piece went off at this crucial juncture. A spot in time where Nandini was getting her thoughts together about this character she was creating – had now been burst into extinction. Her eyes opened to a pale dark blue that had started streaming in from the window crack. She looked around and found things that were just too familiar. A large baby crib in the corner of the room with little Surabhi still asleep. The boys making hushed noise already from the other room where they slept. Her husband snored with his hairy armpit next to her face adorned with a hint of cheap alcohol in his breathe.

Before getting up for another day Nandini closed her eyes again – to see that famous movie maker she had fancied herself to be just minutes ago. No. She was gone. Faded into another complex fabric of thoughts and emotions. Disappeared into another maze of dreams and ambitions. Invisible from the reality of the betrayal she had faced not more than a month ago…yet had lived on. Had survived. For the boys and for the little one who slept oblivious of what nightmares Nandini was being shown. Nandini knew that nothing was scarier than a beautiful dream that was impossible to achieve.

She looked forward to another night.


© 2007. Shashi Krishna. All rights reserved.
Friday, April 06, 2007 2 reflections

A blogger's worst nightmare

It had been almost a month since his jubilation had hit the ninth cloud. A fragment that would be fondly cherished for many years to come. A journey that had taken him two years and six months felt only like a few heartbeats once the goal had kissed him on the mouth. And oh what sweetness defused at this union! He felt he had been dispatched into a glorious universe where he commanded the respect and admiration of thousands. Yes. Sagar had become the #1 ranked blogger on that writers’ website.

His pursuit to glory had not been an easy one. To begin with he had had to spend many months getting a feel for the popular genres of that website. He had to pick out choice topics to deal with so that it grabbed their attention. He had to spend a lot of time proof reading and editing his work before he could safely declare his prowess to the writing world. The vocabulary he so fondly called his ‘armor’, had to be classy yet accurate to be able to connect with everyone who would grace his world of words. He had to be funny, witty, clever and creative to spin tales that would bring a smile in the hearts of his readers. Day by day, post by post, he had begun his humble journey in that galaxy of serious bloggers with nothing more than a hope that his work would be appreciated and critiqued for him to become a better narrator. A better human being.

With time this hope became a determination. He had had to face various setbacks on this infinite seeming journey to keep his readers engrossed. His words had started to become redundant and his expressions were turning to cliché. His tales of ‘boy next door’ facing clumsy situations were becoming repetitive as were his anecdotes of life that he hoped was easy to relate with. To encounter this trend he dug deep into his past and found some priceless gems that he polished, improvised and peppered with spicy fiction. His jabs at controversial topics found a lot of enthusiasm and support. It was definitely one of the best moments of his writing career – consistent and mostly constructive feedback.

There was a flip side to this as well. Sagar had to put up with the mindless and meaningless chunk of the crowd too. People who took pleasure in sadistic responses and unadulterated ridicule of some of his best narrations. He had to ignore them and keep himself focused on just one thing – his writing. There was nothing that could stop him from improving himself as a writer with a style of his own. With time he had also begun to experiment with his work. He tried narrating tales and viewpoints in various forms and sizes. It worked, for what it was worth. His recollections of late night editing and tired sleepless eyes seemed worth it since he was finally getting some serious acknowledgement. A factor without which a writer’s work seemed pointless.

After two years and six months of this relentless battle, as it were, he had finally reached the epitome of what was considered ‘the best’. The coveted number one spot. Did this mean he was the best writer on that website? Of course not. There were hundreds, maybe thousands of other writers there who had been more consistent with their work and definitely deserved more praise. But this did mean that he was among the few whose work got noticed more often, for good and bad reasons, and hence the rating suddenly seemed just.

All was well in Sagar’s world. He gloated at this newfound achievement as he shared this piece of information with everyone he knew – all forty of them he called family. They responded back with a ‘well done!’ or a ‘good job buddy’ or the most popular ‘Nice!’ which only brought him more joy. He had made a point loud and clear.

That dull Sunday morning still seems like a sore thumb in his mind’s mirror. He now wishes he had never opened that message. An abrupt and premature rupture awaited his dream bubble that seemed so immaculate.

A stranger sent him a note with a ‘Did you know about this?’ as a title. Sagar was only too happy to open that message and read its contents as he was convinced it had to be one more of his many fans who was writing to massage his ego further. As Sagar’s eyes browsed through the rather brief message word by word, for the first time in many months all he heard was his own heartbeat. Everything around him – the lazy fan that revolved above his head, the noisy washing machine that was busy finishing his weekend laundry, the chirping of the morning birds outside his window – suddenly went mute. The stranger had provided an online link location that directed Sagar to another popular blogging website. Lo and behold! It was a mirror image of his work! The same character sketches, the same scenarios, the identical narration style, the unmistakable wit…the whole package. The only difference was – Sagar had not posted it there. Someone had silently followed his gradual ascend and managed to create a customized haven that had received equally good responses and a larger fan base, as it seemed.

Sagar was heartbroken. A tear briefly appeared and froze on his lashes. He could not believe what he was seeing. In a fit of fury he shot off a private message to ‘the other blogger’ accusing him/her of blatant plagiarism and shamelessness. He whipped out a choice selection of rude words to add more depth and meaning to his message. He informed the management of ‘the other website’ and fumed in a rage that he had never known existed inside him. Even during the days of painful silence to his hard work he hadn’t felt this sort of humiliation and frustration. Nothing happened. Neither did he ever hear back from the imposter nor did the management do anything to encounter this serious offense. Maybe that’s why, Sagar wondered, published writers don’t share their work on the Internet…..!

Little did Sagar know that this was only the beginning. A couple of days later the stranger wrote back again with a news more shocking than anything Sagar had heard so far. ‘The other blogger’ had used a self-publishing company and published 1000 copies of his/her first book – ‘Life outside my window’. Rumor had it that in a month’s time that book would also be made available on the book shelves of various stores in the city. The unfortunate part of this was this meant there was only so much Sagar could do now. File a court case? Unreasonable. Boycott it and hold a protest? Unthinkable.

Sagar sat back with his eyes wide open in absolute nightmare. His mouth was open as an automatic response to his inability to breathe from his nose. His heart was beating faster than the rattle used to get a baby’s attention.

He knew this parasite had taken it too far. This was something so unprecedented that Sagar had no clue how to go about stopping this menace. But one thing he knew – if the parasite had to die, then he had to kill himself … his work.

A few moments later he returned to his original website and deleted his blog. For good.

And no one ever heard from him again.


Thursday, April 05, 2007 4 reflections

The painter of Church Street - a story in verse


He painted with his hands; he danced with his eyes,
His was a brightly lit cocoon of infinite joy,
The painter of Church Street never ceased to surprise,
Passers by who watched him prance around like a boy.
Painter-walah-babu, is what they called him, people
Who would stand by in mute silence and subtle glee
As the silhouette of the artist would shiver until
There was just magic and brilliance left to see.
‘Wah! Wah!’ they would always guffaw
As they sat sipping their lemon laced teas
While painter babu dabbed around and saw
An image of perfection that brought him peace.
Hyper children would stop and pout
While chasing each other in euphoric bliss
To see what genius babu would dish out
On that dark corner of his crumbling edifice.
Retired old folk would limp to his wall
Every evening to see him perform relentless
And applaud when a shade of blue would fall
Into the right spot of the chaotic mess.
The world was his muse. The paint was his instrument.
He played on without a break each passing pace
Passers by stood and admired the fragment
Of luck that brought him to this forgotten place.
Painter-walah-babu was indeed a treat.
A rare form of some divine intervention. A prize.
Hidden in the cold shadows of Nandapur’s street,
Performing miracles that healed those with eyes.


They fed him. They clothed him. They paid him in kind.
They took care of the humble artist every which way
To help him with his unending quest to find
And redefine his being each and every passing day.
He had no family or any kids to call his own
Yet everyone in the town was part of his land,
He commanded respect and wanted no crown
But one smile of pleasure was his only demand.
His work and name spread like wild fire soon
As people from near and far appeared,
Watching him paint an endless dream and croon
A silent song of love that none of them had heard.
His work was a colorful fantasy, filled with
Creatures and lands that no one had seen
The sky was perfect and its people a myth
Who stood on grass that was greener than green.
He painted young lovers, he painted their passion
He brought to life their smiles and tears,
The shades of blue and red and crimson,
Would break a real heart and evoke true fears.
He reflected peace and he drew to teach,
His work was hung in every house in sight,
He never spent more than a day on each,
Starting afresh after a nightmare filled night.
Oh! The painter was a messenger from God they said,
They called him their hero and an incarnation
Who had tagged along one day and bred
Creative aspirations and day dreams under the sun.


Young men and women inspired by this legend of a man
Had grown up and gone to places beyond the stars
To get a real feel for the paints in his can,
That had shown them a world that was farther than Mars.
‘He breathes to create. That’s how he is alive,’
Was how some of them thought of his art and living,
Without once lending a passing thought to derive,
A conclusion for his inane art of eternal giving.
‘He can make millions if he spreads his wings,’ they said
They would advise him constantly on his hidden wealth,
He would nod in disagreement going a little red,
Saying, ‘This is all I want. And of course my health.’
He would be up some nights, looking at the stars above,
From the open terrace of his old bachelor pad,
Trying to pluck out a new definition of his love,
As if solving a puzzle the constellations might have had.
The mystery of his ideas and his need to showcase,
The best in the world he had created for himself
Was always a question hanging without a trace
On everyone’s mind with his art on one’s shelf.
He was a king. In his own right mind you,
Who created his kingdom and its people with hue
And made them starlets and heroes who grew
Famous with time – and with each generation anew.
Painter-walah-babu was landmark for the town,
Who seemed to have it figured out after all,
A man who had never been known to frown
Did so one fine day when a stranger came to call.


Her amber coated discs set in white ablaze
With the smile that aroused a grin in return,
Her walk was distinct, with confidence in her gaze,
That had the painter turn cold in the burning sun.
‘Who is she? What brings her here?’
Murmured eager folks who watched his tremble,
As he dropped his brush and came near
The strange visitor with a poise so graceful.
‘Am I dreaming?’ he screamed, his eyes aghast,
‘Or has the fatigue of work seized me today?
What else can I call this? Tell me fast…’
As she stood in the wind with her hair astray.
Watchful eyes of the bystanders grew
As wide as the length of that narrow street
Hoping that this lady, strange and new,
Would not bring an end to the painter’s feat.
‘Hello,’ she said with the wink of a teen
Trapped in the mortality of an aging woman
‘How did you find me? Where have you been?’
Opening up an emotional stream that lay hidden.
He clasped her hands and a tear appeared
Briefly in his tired eyes and stood
Awaiting her words as the public peered
Trying to digest it as much as it could.
‘It had to be this way,’ she said in a sniffing whisper
‘No life awaited us had we been together’
She wiped his tear and held him near
‘What I did was right. Even if it wasn’t fair.’


The crowd dispersed, as the elders realized
That the two had a lot of catching up to do
The day was over and his work had capsized
Into the words of the woman who made him move.
He held her hand, as if he was guiding a child,
Back to his cracked and flaky walled abode
She followed suit, turned around and smiled
Back at the eager eyes with faces furrowed.
They knew they had seen it before,
Even if this was their first meet,
They walked away wanting to know more,
About the damsel who had shifted babu’s feet.
Nandapur waited till the sun disappeared
Looking at the lights in the painter’s windows
Wondering about what was heard and said
In those cold shadows and mossy hollows.
She admitted having left his side,
When he had needed her hand the most,
He refused to blame her. He denied.
He continued to play the good host.
She told him her parents had lied
When they spat at his love that day
And had declared her dead as he cried
Blaming him for making their only child pay.
They had the town folk stone him out
Cursing his existence and calling him a dog
Who had been sent from hell. His shout
And his screams dissolved in a teary fog.

He had abandoned his roots. He had fled that night.
He had found a lonely cliff pleasing his sight.
Stripping his clothes, having lost his fight,
He had taken a leap into the roaring white.
A thousand needles, shaper than thorn,
Had pierced his body and had left him faint
While slicing through his heart, now forlorn,
Gushing through his veins with no complaint.
She wept her eyes red, as she heard his tale,
Of suffering that she was unfamiliar with
And imagined the struggle in the moonlight pale
Of true love she was convinced was a myth.
‘I was saved somehow,’ he continued sighing
‘By a miracle or some act of divine intervention
As I sailed through rocks with my soul crying
For liberation to the gates of hell or heaven.’
He told her how he, had found a savior,
Who had helped him recover from his cuts
An old man who had always been a giver,
Had gifted babu new strength in his guts.
A dab of paint, one day, started a new episode
For babu, the painter, was born to live,
He mastered the art, the old man had bestowed
With a lesson to the lover – forget and forgive.
She smiled back, appreciating his work unique,
As she gazed at his paintings born from pain,
And that’s when it dawned on her wisdom bleak,
He had painted everything he could never gain.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007 2 reflections

Anonymous Entries

IT HAD BEEN ALMOST two years since she had known him. It had all begun that rainy evening when she had posted her first blog entry on the Internet after a bitter fight with her father. She was mad. Like a hurricane she had swept away from the room and onto the one place she knew she would be heard. The world of close knit strangers - Internet.

‘I don’t know what to write here…’ she had typed in like a lover trying to explain why she needs to break up with her partner. Her mother’s death had not been easy on her. She was twelve back then. She was twenty four now.

It was then that she had met him - Anonymous.

Anonymous had left a comment – ‘Don’t worry. It will come.’

She had smiled in response with a colon and a closing bracket - :)

And so it had begun. The two year long association. A relationship so platonic that at the end of it none of them could really define what it was they shared. They didn’t want to.

She was who she was. And he was Anonymous. Both single children with a troubled past.

She would religiously update the blog site. Filling it with detailed descriptions of her day. Her good, bad and ugly experiences at work and at home about her father who she was convinced never understood her.

Anonymous would plug in soothing words of comfort the following day. Explaining to her how hard it really was for children who lose one of their parents. A sibling can actually be a blessing in these times, he would say. He understood. He had been there too.

She was glad she had an ear she could relate with. What began as a spot to vent her frustration soon became an archive of questions and answers. It was like a modern day version of the Bhagavad Gita where she was the weary Arjuna and Anonymous was Lord Krishna. The all knowing omnipresent entity who gave her all the answers.

‘Don’t worry. It will come,’ he would often say without specifying what ‘it’ really was. She never asked.

He soon became her guide. Her mentor. Her philosopher. Her friend. A friend who did not demand. A friend who did not expect.

The connections she had never found with her own father were baring themselves with this stranger who had come from the unknown and was shaping her sanity back to meaning. The coherent strings of leading a life without regrets were being stitched into her life’s fabric.

And it was all because of him – Anonymous.

With time her blog became a private place. No one else was able to see it any more. Just the two of them knew where it was and what it was for. She began archiving the entries by date. She added new sections to her page like – ‘My Favorites’ which listed some of the best 'Anonymous responses' to her most troubled queries. She found peace in reading them.

‘Don’t you ever get tired of baby sitting me like this?’ she would ask like an innocent child at times.

‘No,’ he would write back ‘this interaction is a selfish cause for me. I am learning a lot from you as well. So in one way you are baby sitting me.’

They would exchange symbols that denoted laughter. One colon with two closing brackets - :))

Sometimes it would be the more popular – LOL - Laughing Out Loud.

As their relationship was about to complete two years her father got terminally sick. He had been suffering from heart disease and soon he was hospitalized. She spent a lot of time with him. They had never really bonded since her mother’s demise and it seemed that the prospect of death was the only reason anyone really bonded in the family.

A sad prospect.

Yet she continued updating her blog.

‘Sorry for not being here for so long,’ she would say explaining her situation.

Anonymous was probably occupied too since his entries suddenly stopped coming in. ‘Maybe he got tired after all,’ she said to herself.

She wept the day they had completed one week of no interaction. Silently. In the woman’s bathroom at the hospital.

‘He is gone,’ she said to herself ‘like everyone else in my life.’

She walked back to her ailing father’s side. The old man took his daughter’s hand and whispered ‘I am sorry. For everything.’

She smiled back not knowing how else to react to that.

‘This heart is a weird thing,’ he said. ‘It is giving up on me but I don’t want it do so yet. Not without spending some more time with my little one.’

She smiled again as her eyes got misty. ‘I am scared pa’, she said.

‘And I am sorry,’ the old man continued ‘…I have not responded since a week. They don’t have a computer here so it is hard. Don’t worry. It will come…’


© 2006-2007 Originally published as 'Anonymous Entries' / existing in pieces, Shashi Krishna