Archive | April 2017

She

The emotions had been building up for the past three months. Nothing was the same since she had come into his team. He stayed back in the conference rooms long after she left, just breathing in her perfume. He stole secret glances over his laptop to grab a glimpse of her. He caressed her chair with secret longing each evening after she tossed her handbag on her shoulder and walked out of the office. It was an emotion beyond his control. It was pure lust at times, and sometimes he wondered if it could even be love.

She knew. She caught him staring at her often. She could feel his deep breaths taking in her scent as she passed his seat.  She woke up each morning, excited at the thought of being in the same room as him in a few hours. That thing he was feeling, it was contagious.

Hormones went berserk in that little office every day. She teased him with her seductive clothes and heady perfume. He drew her closer to him with his power and position. It was a game they were playing without saying a word to each other, a secret game that everyone else in the office was oblivious to. Or were they?

******

She held out the box of chocolates in front of him and he picked one, hands shaking, he looked into her eyes and smiled. She looked extra beautiful that day. His throat fel dry, he couldn’t even utter the words ‘Happy Birthday’ to her. All that came out of him was a mumble.

An email popped up in his inbox. ‘Can you come to my house tonight for my birthday party’? He replied immediately. ’ Yes’. They didn’t say another word to each other for the rest of the day.

*****

There was no party.

The bedroom was where they wanted to go, and that was where they went.  Those lust filled moments  in parking lots, lifts, conference rooms and glass cabins sought nirvana in that bedroom. Three months of terror unleashed by raging pheromones and frenzied emotions were about to get closure. And continuity? They fell on the cool sheets, greedy and ready to be consumed by whatever monster it was that had taken over their senses all these days.

As he rolled over, his arm hit the nightstand and his cellphone that was carelessly placed on the edge fell down. His heart skipped a beat and he reached down to pick it up. The display had lit up, spreading a soft white glow all over the darkened room. He breathed a sigh of relief as he saw the screen, it was undamaged. And then his heart skipped a beat again. His wife was smiling up at him from his wallpaper.

He looked at the woman on the bed. He looked at the woman in his phone.

He picked up his clothes and walked out of the bedroom without looking back.

This too was a prompt based story. Why is it that almost every single story that I wrote back then had this kind of theme?  No, I’m not looking for that answer.

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Platform

All those months of hard work were finally going to pay off.

He got off from the train into the crowded platform. It was nine o’clock in the morning. He moved the laptop bag from his right shoulder to the left.  I should have put it into a backpack, he thought to himself. He swung his right arm and rotated it to ease the pain off his shoulder, almost striking a woman hurrying past. ‘Sorry ma’am’, he muttered. The woman gave him a nasty look and rushed toward the oncoming train.

The trains came and went almost at the speed of light in that station. Where are all these people coming from and where are they going, he wondered. He had to walk a while before he found a place to rest.  He bought a cup of coffee and sat down and rested the bag against the paan stained legs of the stone bench. His phone rang.  Startled, he spilled a little coffee on his shirt. He placed the cup on the bench and fumbled into his shirt pocket to retrieve the phone.

‘Haan, tell me’, he barked , his voice tinged  with irritation, one hand rubbing the coffee stain on his shirt, trying to get it off with a handkerchief.

The voice on the other side asked him if all was ok.

‘If it is not ok, I’ll call you. Now please stop calling me’, he replied angrily and hung up.

One more train stopped, loaded and unloaded its passengers and left the station.

He looked at his watch. It was almost nine twenty now. He crushed his coffee cup and threw it on the platform aimlessly. The train was approaching. He got up and walked towards it. The crowds thronged towards the door. He quickened his pace and rushed in, grabbing the rod. The coffee stain was bugging him. He needed to get some some water at when he got off to see if he could wash it before the stain set. The train started moving and he glanced towards the bench where he had been sitting. Between the sea of legs he could see the laptop bag still leaning against the dirty stone legs of the bench.

**

He got down at the next stop. Everything had gone as planned. All he had to do was to make one phone call. A cellphone was placed inside the laptop bag. He would call that phone and it would ring. Once. Twice. Thrice.  The device would get activated.  The rest, his employers had told him, would be reported in the news.

The platform he stood on was no different from the previous one. The same thronging crowds. Husbands who had said goodbye to their wives and rushing off to work. Fathers who had dropped off their children in schools and now hurrying to offices on the other side of the city. Wives who had risen at dawn to finish off their household chores and now going to their offices to work . Laughing college students with their dreams ahead of them. Lovers who had exactly five minutes to stop and exchange glimpses between trains.

He stood there and looked at the sea of humanity before him. A sudden wave of remorse swept through his senses. Should he? Shouldn’t he? Should he?

He reached into his pocket and took out his phone. He dialed a number.

He threw the mobile phone on the tracks under the wheels of the train hurtling towards the platform and walked away.

*****

An anonymous tip off, the TV channels said when they hysterically reported how a bomb in a laptop bag was defused that morning. He would be traced soon, he knew it. But he didn’t care anymore.
Yes, done-to-death theme. Maybe there are a million stories with the exact same thing. But hey, recycling posts from years ago. Let me. 

Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follet

So much homework

Image result for pillars of the earth

When I finished reading the Century Trilogy, it took me back to those school days and the 20 marks questions we had to mug up for on the ‘Causes, Course and Results’ of the World Wars. As much as a bore it was back then, the world wars never cease to fascinate me now. I enjoyed the Wikiclicking that I did after I finished those books.

The Pillars of the Earth again took me back to Sister Leema’s history classes where we had to mug up pages of Kings and their tiffs with The Papacy (Oh, how I loved the word papacy). And Charlemagne who’s name she pronounced exactly as it was written and we snobs laughed. And these lines from Ms Judy’s English classes, something that stayed with me all these years. (Yes, Wolf Hall is still in my half-read list, I know)

Had I but served my God with half the zeal
I served my king, he would not in mine age
Have left me naked to mine enemies

While the book isn’t exactly about any of these, it just made me Wikiclick through pages and pages of history from the twelfth century, learning about the hierarchy in the church, the dirty politics among the men of god and their overbearing, stifling presence over the State. Interesting how history seems to have now come full circle after all these centuries and the line between the governments and religion is slowly blurring again, but in a part of the world far, far away from England.

Little does Aleina know, that when she rejects her oaf of a suitor William Hameleigh, she has set off a chain of events that will affect the lives of thousands of people across the country, even across the continent, over the next several decades.

Tom the builder’s dream of building a cathedral someday becomes reality when he meets an idealistic monk , Prior Philip of Kingsbridge  who shares the same dream. Over the next several years, this dream cathedral will rise and fall and then rise again, fighting against all odds, battling enemies both known and unknown.

There is a saying that if there’s a devil residing in the roof of a house, there is a devil residing in each tile of a monastery. The politics between the men of God is fascinating. The very human emotions that they force themselves to control, surface over and over again, showing its ugly head in shocking ways. The book is full of strong women, be it Aliena who carries her entitled brother on her shoulders throughout her life or Ellen the ex-novice from a convent, the woman who lived in sin, the witch who’s curses come true. Or even the Regan Hameleigh, the grotesque, who is the real force behind her villainous son William.

Tom the Builder is boringly uncharacteristic and Prior Philip is frustratingly good. Father Sam in Kadal had shades of him. Jack is that hero who is a tad bit too heroic, his travels across Europe and his encounters with the exotic middle eastern  family seemed a bit too contrived. And then there are wimpy men like Richard who lives off his sister all his life while waiting for his earldom to be restored to him. Even the king is a weak man, fickle and clueless. The strongest male character was Waleran, the ambitious bishop, the man of god who thinks he can control the little universe under him like he is god himself.

Spoiler, but I would have preferred it if the book ended with the cathedral being finally built and everyone being happyhappy at last. But it had to drag on so that there could be more bloodshed and mess in an attempt to plug in another real historical character right at the very end of the book. That’s where I began to skim through the book. Mercifully, it ended in the next ten or so pages.

My biggest mistake while reading the book was to attempt to watch the series in parallel. Big, big mistake. The very first episode gave away the suspense that was created in the very first pages of the book, something that was revealed in the book only several hundreds of pages later. I attempted to watch the series again after finishing the book, but the differences between the two were too many. I preferred the version that ran in my head while reading and so I stopped.

While I actively sought out and read the two sequels after reading The Fall of Giants, I am not too keen on reading The World Without End right now. I got all the closure I needed with all the characters in this book, so I’ll give the sequel a wait. Maybe I’ll pick it up in another few months.