Tag Archive | Short Stories


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 stolen glances and indecipherable smiles. He drew her closer to him with his warmth and laughter. 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.

All My Yesterdays


My dearest Shiva,

I saw the pictures on Facebook yesterday. The baby has your eyes.

Remember that cold December day when we sat on our rock and spoke about how our babies would be? You said that you wanted our babies to have my eyes and your hair, my nose and your forehead. Remember how mad I got when you said that you wanted them to have my heart and your brain? That day, that last day that you and I spoke for hours, living out the rest of our lives in our imagination. The day we then decided what needs to be done. That day is still so fresh in my memory.

When I close my eyes and think of that day, I can feel the cold mist enveloping us and the smell of the tea bushes around us as we sat there. I can still feel the warmth of your hand in mine, the smell of your leather jacket and your musky aftershave. I can still hear the sound of your beating heart, the one that said my name. And then I feel the warm tears flowing down my cheeks and a lone teardrop rolls down and falls into my chest. That is when I get back to reality. The memories are from yesterday, but the tears are from today. Everyday.

It is such a wonder, how I am able to cry even now. I thought that all my tears would have dried up that last day. We watched the sunset across the mountains and then we broke ourselves away from the fantasy world we were living in. You took me back home, openly this time. There was no need to be surreptitious because tomorrow we would announce to our families that we were no longer a couple. We would no longer the stubborn pair who chose love and refused to consider family honor. We would go back into the good books of our respective families and once the initial buzz died down, we would agree to marry someone our families chose, someone of the same religion, caste, sub caste. Someone whose horoscope matched perfectly. Someone who would not bring the curse of dishonor to the generations to come.


Maybe it was the right thing we did, but Shiva, you know, nowadays men marry men and women marry women! Society has changed so much. When I read such stories, I feel such a sad clutch in my heart.  Maybe, I think, maybe we could have held on a little longer. Maybe we could have been a little more stubborn. Maybe we could have fought a bit harder.  But then, maybe it would have just caused more pain.


My father threatened to kill himself and my sister because she would never get a proper husband if I brought such shame to the family, he said. Shame. That’s what they called our love. Shame. And your family was no different, worse, if I may say so now. They used such harsh words about me, Shiva. I heard what they called me. Anandi told me everything after you left India. She told me about what actually happened in your house that made you want us to break up. I understand. I don’t think I would have been able to spend a single moment with your family after they used such words. How could your father have used such horrible words about me when he hadn’t even met me? I did not seduce you, Shiva. I was not after your family money. Of course, I know you knew that, but why didn’t you fight harder for me? I wish, I wish you had.


But anyway, all water under the bridge now.


Yes, I would have been the millstone around your neck. How smoothly everything happened after we broke up. It was like I was the biggest obstacle in your life, holding you back from reaching the great heights you reached today. All you had to do was to marry the girl your parents chose. Maybe there is something in those horoscopes that they gave so much importance to. She was the perfect match for you. With me, you would have had to take up the teaching job in St. Antony’s school to make ends meet. We would have had to fight society, the stigma, our families and difficult finances every single day had we gone ahead and got married against their wishes. I’m sure your father, the influential person he was, would have sabotaged every chance we got, just to make a point.


But today, look where you are. Harvard. A professor at Harvard. Not in our wildest dreams would we have imagined that back then, would we? We would have been content with a small life in our small town. But look where she took you. The woman you married was your key to the First World. It is not that easy to go to the US these days, so many formalities, so many questions at the embassy. My nephew had to come back to India because they refused to extend his visa. But for you, it was smooth sailing. Because I wasn’t there blocking the path? Probably. My love, our love, didn’t stand like a mountain you had to scale before you reached your future.  I read somewhere that you are even likely to win a Nobel Prize someday. Imagine. How my heart swells up with pride when I read such things about you. Of course, I saw the star in you way back then.

I have to confess, for a long time even after you left, I held on to the hope that by some twist of fate we would get back together. When Anandi told me that your wife was pregnant, I had the most evil thought. I can finally say it now and get the burden off my mind. I had the most evil thought that she should die in childbirth and you would write to me, telling me that you were now free from the family pressure and you are ready to marry me. Of course, God never answers evil prayers. There is not a day that passes when I don’t beg him for forgiveness for that evil thought I had.


Why didn’t you keep in touch back then, Shiva? Why didn’t you write to me as you promised? If only we had this email and Facebook back then, would you have kept in touch? But what would we have written to each other? Just sent each other letters filled with regret to make our lives more miserable?  Maybe you did the right thing, to make the clean cut, to break away.

Was it difficult for you? Did you cry into your pillow every night? Did the world go dark for you? Did you have nightmares of running through a maze, a black, smoky maze and finding yourself up against cold mossy walls? Did you wake up screaming my name?

I broke, Shiva. I broke in to little pieces after you left. I know, Anandi didn’t tell you all this. I begged her not to. I feared that my collapse would have hurt you more than it hurt me. But today, I want to ask you, what was your life like after you left? After you left me? Was it easy for you to move on? Please tell me that it wasn’t easy. Please tell me how painful it was for you to live with another woman after all those hopes and dreams of yours were centered around me. I was your everything, Shiva. You were my everything. But do you love her now? I’m sure you do.  But do you love her as much as you loved me? No, don’t answer that.

It wasn’t just a breakdown I had after you left. I went insane. I sat staring at the wall, seeing your face everywhere, calling your name, talking to you. They pumped me with pills, trying to erase your memory from my mind. They took me to bearded men who fanned peacock feathers in my face and tied threads around my wrist.  It was horrible, Shiva. Horrible. But of course, there was nothing more horrible than the thought of a life without you. It took me a long time to learn that that was what my future was now. To accept reality. I was forced to accept it, accept the fact that you had gone. Gone from my life forever. And then when they thought that I was cured (cured? They cured me of you? Like it is even possible) they married me off to a man my father’s age to get me out of the way.

Well, you know how it is, life had to happen. But mercifully, that life lasted less than a year for me. He died. I cannot tell you about those days because I have absolutely no memory of them. He is just a blur somewhere in the back of my mind, just like how my life was during those few months. However hard I try, I am not able to remember that part of my life. Repressed memories. Is that what they call it these days?


I lived with Zohara until last year. You remember my sister Zohara, don’t you? Your sister Anandi’s classmate, the one who used to act as postman for us, passing my letters to Anandi and yours back to me.  She died last September. She was my last link to you in this world. We used to sit up late nights and talk about those good old days. Now I have no one with whom I can talk to about you.

It was the logical step to be moved to this old age home. Zohara’s son Imtiaz refused to let me go at first. He loved me even more than his mother. But I made him. An old aunt is not something you burden your only nephew with. This home is a nice place. There are people I can talk to, books I can read, movies I can watch. Of course, there is no one here with whom I can talk about you. But maybe if I hadn’t come here, I wouldn’t have learnt to use this Facebook thing. Imtiaz bought me this laptop and set up this account for me. The first thing I searched for was your name, and there you were, looking all handsome and distinguished. A thousand butterflies fluttered in my heart the day I saw you on Facebook. I was that shy 20 year old again, falling in love all over again.  Imagine, feeling that same emotion after all these decades. Forty five years is it? Seems like yesterday.


The baby has your eyes, Shiva. Your grandchild looks exactly like you. Send me more pictures of your life. I want to know what has happened to you all these forty five years. I know, a lot has happened in your life, unlike mine. Send them quickly, Shiva. I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s’ a couple of months ago. It isn’t bad right now, but you know how it is. It will get worse. Soon. I want to soak up every bit of you that there is left before I fade away.

I can live with the disease, I know I can. They have people to look after me here when things go the way they are bound to. They are paid to.  I will have people who would feed me, bathe me and keep me alive. I’ll be alive, Shiva. Just the way I’ve been alive all these years without you, with you.   But you know what I dread the most?  The day I die. No, not the day I die because my heart has stopped beating or my brain has shut down. The day I die when this disease erases your memory from my mind. The day you are erased from my life. That is the day I dread.

Let me say it Shiva, let me say it to you one last time before you leave me again.

I love you.






(I know. It does seem to have shades of movies. Not a conscious inspiration, but yes, maybe.  It was something that I wrote long ago for some writing prompt based thingy. I went through my old posts from somewhere and dug this out. Oh, my resolution is to start writing more and I’m warming up by recycling old posts. The new financial year does count as a new year, right?)

The Grill Door

I’m one who watches movies in installments. I finally got to watch the first story of 5 Sundarikal on my flight this time. It was the most disturbing story in that movie. 

Time to plug in a story I had written a few years ago.

Sanju plodded up the stairs and rang the doorbell. Rama aunty wouldn’t open it soon. She stood there waiting impatiently, digging on a flake of peeling paint on the yellow wall. The schoolbag was weighing her backwards. A good five minutes later Sanju heard shuffling footsteps.

“Hello Sanju, back from school?” Rama aunty gushed as she opened the door, and then went back inside for another two minutes before she came back with the keys.

“Why don’t you come in and have something” she asked in a baby voice.

Sanju shook her head. “Bye aunty”, she said and lugged her bag up the next flight of stairs, clutching the bunch of keys in one hand.

“Rama aunty is doing us a big favour by keeping our house keys. Never impose on her. Politely refuse if she offers you a snack, and never go inside their house” These were her mother’s strict instructions, and Sanju followed them scrupulously.

Rama aunty was not actually an aunty, Sanju thought. She looked more like her grandmother in Kanpur. But since her mother and father both called her Rama aunty, Sanju too did the same. The old woman too probably felt some satisfaction, being called aunty by a nine year old. How come there is a grandmother in that house when there are no children? Sanju always wondered.

She missed both her grandmothers a lot. She hardly saw them. Sometimes she visited on Diwali or for a few days during her summer vacations. She treasured those moments with her grandparents. One was in Dehradun and the other was in Kanpur. Both of them never visited their house in Noida. “There is nothing for us there” was their reply whenever they were invited to stay over.

She stood outside her house and fumbled with the keys. She pulled out the silver key and opened the silver lock. The iron grill door opened. She then pulled out the golden key and opened the golden lock. She struggled to close the grill door, holding two locks and the key bunch in her left hand. She then opened the wooden door and went inside the house, throwing both the locks and the keys on the couch in the living room.

She ran to her room and threw her school bag on her bed, and went straight to the dining table. She poured herself a glass of water from the jug. “No fridge water” her mother always warned her.

“If you drink fridge water, you will lose your voice and will not be able to sing anymore” Sanju loved to sing.

Her mother had put out the green tuck box today. Sanju eagerly opened it, waiting to see what goodies lay in store for her that afternoon. Apples. She scrunched her face and closed the  box. They had become brown and the room smelled like the Sector 22 market as soon as she opened the box. She looked around; there was nothing else that her mother had put out for her. No cookies, no cakes, no Munch. Angry, she went to the kitchen to search for something to eat. The big box was sitting right on top. She could see the Namkeen packet inside, pressing against the translucent white plastic, trying hard to break free.

“No, I cannot reach it even if I stand on the stool” she thought with frustration and ran back to the dining room.

She opened the thermos flask and poured out her Bournvita into the yellow mug. She took a sip. It was tepid, as usual. She spat out the bits of cream floating on top that stuck to her tongue. She hated that. Holding the mug in one hand, she opened out the door to the balcony and stood outside. She smiled at Rakesh who was standing on the opposite balcony. He was holding a red mug.

“Next month, I will get the red mug with my Bournvita” Sanju decided. He took up his right hand to his mouth questioningly, “Did you eat?” he gestured. Sanju shook her head back slowly, sadly. He shrugged back.

They stood for a while smiling at each other, sipping their chocolate flavored health drinks from free mugs. Both wishing they had the other colour. Hers was tepid, but his would be hot enough she thought. Shiny didi would have mixed fresh Bournvita for him and strained off the bits of cream. Shiny didi was in eighth standard and was allowed to light the gas stove.

Rakesh was also in her school, her class. In fourth standard, but he was in section C. She was in section A. The three of them, Sanju, Rakesh and Shiny didi along with Karan and Rinkie from R block were rickshaw mates. Every morning, Sanju’s mother dragged her out of bed, hurriedly dressed her, made her stuff two slices of bread into her reluctant mouth, wash it down with a yellow mug of Bournvita and literally chased her out of the house to the waiting rickshaw already overflowing with children and schoolbags.

The rickshaw uncle would then pedal the five of them and their schoolbags for another two kilometers to school on his broomstick legs, coughing and spitting every five minutes. Sanju hated the rickshaw uncle’s smell and always sat at the back, her legs hanging outside, facing the opposite direction, smiling and waving at the cars they tried to cunningly overtake in the traffic jams. The same rickshaw uncle would pick them up at three o’clock and drop them back home.

Rakesh, Shiny didi, Karan and Rinkie had come for her birthday party the previous month. Why is my birthday only on 16th of July, she wondered. Couldn’t it be on the 16th of every month? This year, she had actually celebrated two birthdays. On her Real Birthday, she had to go to school, but she took a box of Alpenlebies to distribute to all her friends and a tin of  Rasagullas for her class teacher. They had all sang Happy Birthday and clapped. Everyone was so nice to her that day.

And then that Saturday, she had a Second Birthday with a party at home. Her Delhi uncle and her Ghaziabad uncle had come with their aunties. Reema aunty and uncle had come from Sector 61 with her little cousin Coco. She was a bit disappointed that none of her classmates from school had come though she had announced that they were all invited before handing out the sweets on her Real Birthday.

Three other kids from their building had also come. Sanju smiled at them sweetly, though she didn’t like them. All of them wore the party hats, ate the goodies laid out and admired the decorations. They are all so jealous of me, Sanju thought. They all sang Happy Birthday again as she cut the clown shaped cake.

Her mother had dressed her up like a film star that day and she even allowed her to apply a touch of lipstick. Sanju had pouted her lips for the rest of the evening, trying hard not to press her lips together lest the lipstick faded away. She ran up to the mirror every now and then to check whether it had worn away. They had taken a lot of pictures and videos and her father played it on his laptop after the guests had left. The three of them had sat on her parents’ bed and watched happily.

Rakesh and Shiny didi had given her a pencil box that opened on both sides. Karan had given her a doll and Rinkie had given her a shiny necklace with matching earrings. The three kids had brought some fluorescent crayons, sketch pens and a Spiderman doll. She hated the Spiderman doll and hated the kid who brought it even more now.

Her uncles and aunties had disappointingly handed her envelopes of money. Her mother had allowed her to remove the one rupee coins stuck to the envelopes but took away the money inside.

“I will put it in your name in a bank account Sanju, the money will grow with you” she said.

“That is my money,” Sanju thought angrily. “They gave it to me and I want to buy that game from Geepee Store.”

But she knew that her mother would scold her if she said it out loud. No,not today. Her mother had been so sweet to her since morning and she did not want to spoil that. It was afterall her Second Birthday.


Sanju wished so badly that her mother would be there to open the door for her every afternoon when she returned from school. Make her hot Bournvita and Maggi noodles. She wanted to tell her that Miss had praised her in front of the whole class for finishing her sums first. She wanted to tell her that a frog had hopped inside their class today and Rita had screamed and climbed up on the table. She wanted to tell her mother that Vijay had Made Toilet in his pants today.

Sanju giggled recalling how Miss had pushed him outside, muttering unapprovingly “You are in fourth standard Vijay, what is this?”

But she knew she could never share all this with her mother. Even if she did, it would just be acknowledged with a grunt from her before she started yelling at her to finish her homework.

But Sanju was glad that her mother came home to her every evening. Rinkie lived with her father and her grandmother. Her mother’s office had sent her to America six months ago and she had not come back yet. Rinkie said that she phoned  every day and promised to bring her gifts, but still, Sanju decided that she was luckier. She prayed that her mother’s office would never send her to America.

She finished her Bournvita and turned the yellow mug upside down to show Rakesh on the opposite balcony. He did the same with his red mug and they both giggled. Shiny didi came and shooed Rakesh back inside the house. They both smiled and waved at Sanju before closing the door. Sanju wiped her mouth with her school tie and went back inside the house.

She went to her room and changed into the clothes her mother had laid out on the bed for her. She hung up her school uniform on the cupboard handle and pondered for a minute. She could start doing her homework, but then she decided not to. If she finished it now, her mother would not sit with her for even those few minutes in the evening. Everyday, her mother darted back and forth from the kitchen to the dining table where Sanju sat with her homework. She was always irritated and raised her voice at the tiniest mistakes Sanju made, but somehow Sanju cherished these moments with her mother. She asked her the silliest doubts and enjoyed it when her mother tried to explain to her.

“Is it Either or Ither mummy? You say Either but my Miss says Ither” she would ask in between long division and her mother would reply in an exasperated tone “Both are right Sanju, now finish your sums.”

So she put her homework back in the bag and looked around the room wondering what else she could do now.

She was bored of the computer games. She wanted to ask her father to download some new games, but didn’t know when to ask him. He always sat with his laptop on his bed and never did anything on the other computer. These days he signaled angrily at her to leave the room whenever she went up to him.

She switched on the TV and surfed channels for a while. She tried to watch Disney channel for sometime and then went back and forth from Pogo to Hungama. She was bored. Kareena Kapoor was dancing on Sony. Sanju loved Kareena. She turned up the volume and began to sing with her. She climbed on the couch and began to dance. She had been in the group dance for the annual day last year and was hoping to do a solo number this year. She jumped up and down happily with Kareena mimicking her movements and her facial expressions. She folded up her pink T shirt high up to her chest and pulled her pants a bit lower to expose her belly button. She ran one hand through her hair and the other all over her body, singing along, pink with excitement. She plopped down on the couch happy and exhausted after the song was over. An advertisement.

“I will become an actress when I grow big”, she decided. She made a mental note to dig into her mother’s dressing table later. It was forbidden, but then Mummy is not here, she thought.

She sat waiting in anticipation for the next song but it was a boring one. Disappointed, she changed channels again. Hannah Montana was crooning away on Disney. Sanju sang along with her loudly, trying to get the words, the tune and the accent right. She moved away from the TV, still singing along. Hannah Montana didn’t dance as well as Kareena.

She opened the wooden living room door and stood behind the iron grill doors, looking out through the holes. Her mother had told her never to open the grill doors once she came home.

“It is like I am in jail,” Sanju thought angrily “Anyway, mummy is not here.” The bolt squeaked loudly tickling her teeth. She opened the grill door and stood on the doorstep, not knowing what to do next. She stood on the door and swung it back and forth, staring into the empty hallway.

The door of the opposite apartment opened. An Uncle came out. He was not a new Uncle, she had seen him many times, but her parents had never spoken to him. She didn’t know his name.

The Uncle smiled at her and nodded, wriggling his fingers gesturing to her to come to him. Sanju shook her head and smiled shyly. He gestured again. And she shook her head again swinging the door almost closing it.

The Uncle went back inside. “Oh no”, Sanju thought. “He is angry with me. I should have gone when he called.” She stood on the door and swung it back and forth again, loudly, hoping he would hear it and come out.

A minute later he came back and stood on his doorstep. He had a Munch and a packet of Lays in his hands. He smiled and called her.

Sanju’s face broke out into a huge smile. She ran to him.

The iron grill door swung slowly and banged against the wall.

Hannah Montana continued to croon on Disney channel.

A housefly buzzed greedily over the sticky yellow mug lying on the dining table.

Inside the darkened apartment, the Uncle smiled again. This time, Sanju didn’t smile back.

The Blaft Anthology of Tamil Pulp Fiction : 15/52

When I was growing up, a certain kind of books were widely popular among the typist akkas who worked in the small tea companies in my neighbourhood. They would always have a slim book with a large eyed woman on the cover next to their typewriters. These books were traded back and forth and at some point, the women on the covers would have been embellished with ballpoint pen bindis, additional tendrills of hair and sometimes moustaches or blackened teeth. Ay Naaval Time. There was something in these books. Something. So I left my brains behind and read this translated anthology. And oh, it was one crazy ride.


The Women: ( Except for the ones in the two sensible Vidya Subramaniam stories)

a) Good ‘family’ women never cut their hair, not even split ends. They get terribly disturbed when they see PDA and the degradation of Indian/ Tamil culture. ‘Modern’ women go to beauty parlours, cut their hair, wear ‘chudithars’, gossip about film stars and some even try to seduce their bosses.

b) When the clue to a murder is a cigarette butt, Tamil women can be eliminated as suspects because they will never even be in a room where there is a cigarette, let alone smoke. ( But on the other side there are also college girls who do drugs and sleep around)

c) They silently bear their husbands’ insults and make cashew pakodas for them

d) There are also ‘free type’ women, the detective’s sidekicks,  who wear shorts and T-shirts with words like ‘Swelling yours’ (ewwwww) written on them. They talk about Debonair and take sleazy innuendos in their stride.

Science Fiction : Idhaya 2020 made me wonder which came first Endhiran or Rajesh Kumar’s robot. And there were Fate Life Readers. But by the time I read the story with NASA astronauts planning conception in outer space, my mind was blown.

The Detective stories : Take a bow Sherlock Holmes. Murders solved from carefully written diary entries, torn magazine covers,  beedi butts under the bed and jasmine scented hankerchieves, again, conveniently dropped under the bed. But I must cut them some slack since one of these stories was written in 1967.

Words :  Most of the words and expressions were explained for non-Tamil readers in the glossary at the end of the book. So you need not wonder what a ragalai or kuja is. But this one word, one that I would love to use in a real life conversation someday, wasn’t explained: Jagadalapradhapan. I’ve been rolling it around on my tongue ever since I read it. 

While I would not buy the next volume of this anthology, I recommend this one. Pulp Fiction deserves its rightful place in Tamil Literature and this book gives you the right sized bite of it.