Cursed

“VROOOM….VROOOM…..VROOOOOOM…”

5 year old Piyali ran through the house, running her new truck over every wall, table, door and surface she could reach.

“Maaa…..when is bhaiyya coming home? Why isn’t he home yet?”

She ran after her mother, pestering her for answers as she continued playing.

“He will be home when he will be home. But he won’t love you if keep being so noisy and annoying.”

Piyali let out a peal of laughter. “Bhaiyya will never not love me. He loves it when I annoy you.”

She ran the truck over her mother’s behind and leaped out of reach before she could be caught. Laughing maniacally towards the door.

Deepali sighed in resignation. Her husband had been out of state for a fortnight on an official tour. One more day for him to come home. It was difficult for her to cope without him. But thankfully her elder son Deepak was a self sufficient and responsible man of the house. Except for the fact that he spoiled his sister too much.

“Maa…bhaiyya is home”

Deepali rushed with a glass of water to the door and froze. Something seemed off. Deepak stood there, silently, expressionless. He stepped inside, as if in a daze.

“Wha…” She took a gulp to wet her dry throat “what happened Deepak? Are you ill?”

“Uhh…I feel sick” he mumbled as he stumbled towards his room. Avoiding looking her in the eye.

“Bhaiyyaaa….you promised to play with me..” Piyali whined as she clung on to her brother.

He smiled weakly at her, patting her head. “We will…let me get some rest first. You can tell me all about what you did today.”

Her phone started ringing before Deepali could contemplate why her usually upbeat son was behaving so off and upset.

“Hello?”

Heavy, raspy breathing on the other end.

“Who’s this?”

“Maa….a…”

Her entire being went cold.

“Hee….lp…”

A number of things happened within moments…but that moment seemed to last forever.

The line went dead, and the phone dropped from her hand as the door to Deepak’s room slowly swung shut, even as she leaped to reach her daughter, whose smiling face looking adoringly at her brother as the door shut on her would remain etched in her memory forever.

When she reached the room, which took forever, it was empty, without a trace of her children. Before she could scream out in terror, the phone ran again.

Her nerves on her end, shaking and shivering she cautiously picked up her phone. It flashed her husband’s number. After a long pause she picked it up, not knowing what to expect or if it were really her husband what to tell him.

“H..ha..hello?”

“Ufff…..why do you take so much time picking up your phone Deepa? It could be urgent you know?”

She broke down crying hearing his familiar voice.

“What happened? Why are you crying?”

She couldn’t calm down enough to be able to utter any comprehensible word. Even if she did, she hadn’t any idea at all how to say it.

“Accha baba! Dont worry… I will be back home tomorrow. I might be a bit late though. Actually we had to start late from here. The company ran into some troubles with the locals here. These superstitious people wouldn’t allow us to start the construction because of their old temple being on that plot. It’s already ruined and nobody even worships. But they still won’t let go of it. We had to call the cops and I had to personally remove the idol because even the workers were bloody scared. Stupid superstitious lot. Anyways, stay safe and take care of those annoying brats till I am….OI…WATCH OUT!!…”

Deepalis eyes bulged in horror as she heard the crash, scream and grating sound of metal grinding over broken glass as the line went dead on her for the second time.

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Apathy

Again and again and again,

She kept drawing the cards.

But the lots drawn would not change.

She threw the cards in exasperation.

Frustratingly enough, even in accident the cards spread out with the same faces up.

Perhaps some things are just not meant to be?

She mused, defeated and upset.

After all, for her talent as a fortune teller to make sense

Fate would have to be absolute.

If fate could be changed,

her predictions would not matter at all.

Sure, she made bucks selling fake cures and charms,

But her predictions were always accurate and inevitable.

To her, it was neither a blessing or a curse,

For she genuinely did not care about her own fate.

And she never really bothered about the fates of others.

What’s the use? Everything’s decided. Why mourn? Why celebrate? 

Birth, death, relationships, affairs, breakups…

All were but events and occasions that were predestined.

Living was nothing more than an actor going through motions of a rehearsed play,

The story of which they had not control whatsoever.

So why was she feeling upset? Why be sad?

She had known all along, it was just a play,

She just had to act out her role.

She was done, it was time for the exit.

Why then was she wishing she could change the inevitable?

She could hear the door banging.

She heard the door break.

She heard the footsteps approach.

She saw the figure tower over her.

She heard the click of the revolver.

She looked up, and saw,

The ashen face of a grief stricken man.

Whose wife she had promised to save.

She didn’t feel any guilt.

She didn’t feel any fear.

All she felt was a longing,

If only……

She closed her eyes as she heard the clock tick out..

Tick..     tock..

Tick…     tock..

Tick…

Koel in the nest

Seema restlessly fidgeted in her chair. The wrinkles on her forehead made her seem a decade older than she was. She waited impatiently for the cause of her accelerated aging to come home so she could give him a piece of her mind for being a self absorbed asshole.

“Maa ji….chai.”

Her reverie was broken by the scent of her bahu’s special ‘adrak wali’ chai made specially for her. She looked adoringly at Simran, her lovely daughter-in-law. Fair skinned, rosy cheeks, and eyes that seemed drawn by Raja Ravi Verma, she looked like Maa Durga. She was not only skilled in cooking both traditional and fast food but also had a head for finances and budget. Without splurging on clothes and cosmetics she managed to exude radiance and gorgeousness. She herself however seemed completely unaware of her own beauty. Soft spoken and mild natured, she was always respectful of her elders and cared for every member of the family. Seema never had to tell her anything twice and they never had any argument. She felt more at peace and relaxed ever since she passed on the reins of the household to her daughter in law. She could not have been prouder of her choice. She loved her more than she would have loved her own daughter
Which is why she could not fathom why despite a year having passed since her arrival, Simran’s smile had gradually diminished to the point of non existence. She had prodded her a lot for answers but she always managed to evade the questions with a fake smile. But of late Simran could not hide her puffy and red eyes or the sunken cheeks.
Ever since the wedding her son had grown more and more distant. She initially ignored it, thinking it was the pressure of starting a new family. But he could now rarely be seen around in the house. He would leave early, come home late and go to sleep as soon as he had his dinner. Grunts and nods were his only means of communication. He would rarely look up at her when she tried to talk about anything.

She then realised even the new wife was subject to the same treatment. She finally decided enough was enough. It was time to knock some senses into her stupid son and remind him of his duties as a son and a husband. Today she was determined to corner him and force him to speak. Which is why she was awake way past her bedtime.

She heard footsteps, and a key turning in the lock. Deepak walked in, looked at her sitting up awake. He didn’t ask why or what and sat down on the sofa, taking off his shoes. Seema could no longer stand his indifferent attitude.

“At least you could care enough to ask why i am up so late?”

“Why are you up so late?” he asked mechanically, still focussed on his shoes. Her patience was now evaporating fast.
“It’s okay. You don’t have to pretend to care about me. I am old now, I am just a baggage waiting to be dispatched off. But can you at least pretend to care about your own wife? Have you asked her how she is?”

“Why? Did something happen to her? I don’t remember saying or doing anything to upset her. I stay out of her way, she can do anything she wants, she doesn’t need my permission. She even manages my salary. I never have asked her to justify any money that she spends.”

She looked aghast at her son. This was not the boy she brought up. When did that cute, naughty and sweet boy that played in her arms become this cold, unfeeling man.

“What are you saying Deepu? Is that all you care about? Is that all you think there is to life and relationships? Have you become so money minded that peoples feelings don’t matter to you anymore? How much time have you spent with her in the past one year? Have you even noticed how much weight she has lost and how little sleep she gets. I can forgive you for ignoring me. Even though I did everything I could to show my love for you -“

“THAT’S a lie.”

A deafening silence exploded in the room at his eruption. Seemas eyes widened in shock. Not just at the fact that her son raised his voice against her, but at the ferocity that glared in his eyes as for the first time in a year he looked up at her.

“It’s a lie that you love me, Ma.” Deepak now spoke gently, but firmly, still looking her in the eye but with a softened gaze, as if explaining to a child

“What you love is ‘a son’, but that son need not necessarily be me. In fact, had anybody other than me been your son, you would have been a lot happier. Whatever you decided for me, you did thinking of the son you wanted, not the one you had. I don’t blame you, you did not have a choice in that matter. Like children cannot choose their own parents, parents too cannot choose who they are giving birth too. But they can try to shape them up in the image they have pre-conceived. But try as much, there are some things that you cannot fundamentally change. Children will grow up to be who they are. I was never and I can never be the son you want, Ma. But I tried my best to pretend to be.    I will forever be grateful for the love and care you gave to me. But I feel like an impostor who cheated you by pretending to be your son, or rather, the son you wanted. I never wanted to marry Simran, or any other girl. I had told you why. But you refused to listen, refused to understand. You threw a tantrum and forced me into this marriage. You ignored my feelings. You pretended like everything was going to be fine. Because I was your son, and you thought you knew best. I realised, you were not thinking about me, because you didn’t even notice how heavy my heart was on the day of the wedding. You turned away when Sahil came at my wedding to say his goodbyes and I was left a staggering, teary mess of nothing. You dragged me into the altar even when all I wanted was to die. All the while smiling and pretending everything was fine. After Simran stepped into the house, you wore the proudest smile and flaunted her to all your friends and relatives. But you never paid attention to how crushed I was. But I bore it all, for your sake. I was not the son you wanted, but she was the daughter in law you always wanted. You could not choose your son, but at least you now had a daughter of your choice. You asked whether I think money is all that is there in life and relationships? A year ago I would have said no. But today, I have learnt to live for it. Because providing you two the comforts brought by money is the only happiness I can give you. It’s the only way I can right the wrongs I have done to both of you. By both marrying her, and being born to you, in deception. I have nothing else to give. If you want grandchildren, I can try, with Simran’s permission. I will provide for them, and their education. You and Simran can try finding your joy with them. I will learn to be content the way I am. I have gotten good in a year. Don’t you think so?

Deepak didn’t wait for an answer. He walked away into his bedroom, leaving the food waiting for him on the dining table untouched.

Seema sat motionless in the couch. Streams of tears flowing down her cheeks. Her chest hurting with the pricks of a thousand pieces of a shattered heart.

Birth of a new beginning….. – FeelPankh

Vinay paced restlessly outside the OT. His wife was in labor, about to deliver their baby. They were a few weeks earlier than the predicted due date, and he was scared of any complications that might arise. This could be their last chance at having a baby.

Vinay and Swati had been together since high school. Everyone said it wouldn’t last, but they proved them wrong. Despite going to different colleges and separate career paths, they maintained their relationship via long distance. And when both had finally made it to the first steps of their career they decided they would now spend the rest of their lives together.

All was well, however 5 years into the marriage when they decided it was time to take the step further and become parents, they came to know that Vinay could never father a child. Heartbroken they were but didnt give up hope. They decided to opt for IVF. And after two failed attempts it was their blessed moment when they learnt that she was finally pregnant.

“Hey! Relax. They are going to be fine.” Rishi walked up to Vinay, forcing a smoothie in his hands. He knew the man was too nervous to have had any food, and that after the delivery he would have no time to eat anything.

“Thanks man!” Vinay took the drink reluctantly from his best friend, knowing he would be force fed if he didn’t drink of his own volition.

“You know I wish we human males could carry our babies like seahorses. I hate that Swati has to carry all the burden.”

Rishi looked at the man with pride in his eyes. “You need to give yourself a little credit here buddy. Swati is indeed carrying the physical burden, but you have been sharing most of the emotional and mental burden with her. You are the best father and husband anyone could ask for.” Rishi said as a matter-of-fact, then looking at the blushing face of his friend he teased “You know I would have given anything to be in her place and having your babies.”

Vinay blushed harder at his words, even as he shot an evil glare at his grinning best friend.

“Well, we kind of are having a baby together, aren’t we?” he stated.

“I guess we are…” Rishi smiled happily basking in the fact that they indeed were having a baby together.

When the test results had come in that Vinay was infertile, they were crushed. But their desire for a child had made them consider artificial semination using sperms from a donor. Vinay had asked Swati if they should select sperms of an anonymous donor but Swati had instantly rejected the idea, she said she already knew who should be the biological father of their child.

Vinay and Rishis friendship had begun in college and she had seen their story unfold with her own eyes. She had seen the desire, the longing and the concern in Rishis eyes for Vinay long before he confessed them to Vinay. She knew Vinay only saw Rishi as a friend and that Rishi would never soil their friendship or her relationship with Vinay. Instead of becoming possessive or wary she had bonded with Rishi better after his confession, knowing that they both cared most about the one man in their lives. She had accepted him as an integral part of her husbands life.

“The baby’s here! You two may step in…” the nurse rushed out smiling at them. They hurried in behind her. She handed the tiny baby wrapped in towels to the father. Both Swati and Rishi exchanged looks as they watched the father of their child cradling their baby and singing to it. A new life for them had just begun.

Source: Birth of a new beginning….. – FeelPankh

And they lived happily ever after…. – FeelPankh

“You cheated!!!!”  Ankit accused his best friend as he lost yet another game of Chess.

“No I did NOT!”  Sayan feigned outrage “You just suck at it.”

“I don’t want to play chess anymore. It’s boring.” Ankit pouted.

“Fine. Let’s play Mario, but you are still going to lose.” Sayan grinned as he put away the chess pieces.

The two 12 year olds had been best friends since pre-school.

The first time they met, Ankits Grandfather had dropped him to school. Sayan was curious and had asked him why his father was so old. That’s when he learnt that Ankit was an orphan. His parents had both died in a car crash and he was being raised by his grandparents.

“It’s ok! I have an extra pair of parents, you can share them with me.” The 5 year old Sayan had said as he hugged his best friend for the first time.

Ankit did not believe him at first. Only when he came over to his house the first time did he learn that Sayan was not lying. He indeed had two moms and two dads. They all had a hearty laugh at his incredulous face when he found out.

Sheila and Shabnam had been living together as flatmates in Mumbai, when their parents in Guwahati found out about their relationship. Sheila’s parents were determined to marry her off as soon as they could. As it happened, her closest friend, Vinit, too was gay and in a live-in relationship with a muslim boy, something his parents would never accept. The four agreed to a secret arrangement and that’s how Sheila and Vinit got married.

Soon after, they took a flat in Mumbai and the four of them started staying together. Initially the arrangement was only meant to be temporary, until they all could be totally independent and one day tell the truth to their own families. But as years passed, they grew more comfortable staying together and their bond deepened. It became almost inconceivable for them to consider living separately.

Then the day came when they finally made the decision to come out to their parents. Sheila’s parents made a scene at their house trying to get Shabnam and Mallik thrown out. Sheila cut off all ties with her parents after that. Vinit’s parents were utterly confused, but after a while they accepted their decision, comforted by the fact that at least their relatives knew he was married to a girl. Malliks father told him never to call them again, and never made contact. Shabnams parents, as it turned out, already had an idea about their arrangement, they had realised years ago that their daughter was gay, and had tried to understand what it meant. They accepted their decision wholeheartedly and blessed them, promising that their home was open for all four of them.

It was a few years later that they mutually decided to bring a kid into their lives. As Sheila and Vinit were already related by marriage, they decided that Mallik would donate the sperms and Shabnam would donate the eggs while Sheila would be the surrogate. That’s how Sayan was conceived.

As the two 12 year old boys noisily played video games in the bedroom, the four of them exchanged looks of content. Amazed at how despite the thousands of doubts and hurdles they managed to put together their unconventional family.

Source: And they lived happily ever after…. – FeelPankh

The Freelancer

image

‘Tip, tip, tappity tip….
Click, click, clickity click.
Sending emails to The Dick..
Na na na nanana na..’

He hummed as he typed on the keyboard as if it were a dance floor where his fingers were doing the Tap dance. Putting a rhythm to his fingers and trying to break out of the monotony of sending mind-numbingly boring status reports to the higher ups. As boring as his job was he couldn’t afford to just walk away from it. It was not just about the money, but because it was what was expected of him. A 20 something kid with slightly more than average grades and an IQ much higher than the average. Of course he had to have a job even if it meant not to be able to dedicate himself to his passion. That’s what would make parents proud and the relatives jealous… and stop the constant comparison to his siblings and the better off friends. Also growing up in this kind of ‘sheep’ society, you would be treated with more respect and fondness if you could prove yourself to be a sheep like them. So no matter how much he wanted to dedicate his entire time to his hobby…..he had to settle to give half of his time to this mundane, boring and meaningless job and settle for using the other half to work as a freelancer and get paid for doing what he loved. Though it meant that he couldn’t take jobs that demanded more time or had immediate deadlines, no matter how lucrative the pay. But he was happy with what he got….the pay was anyways just a bonus for him…..the feel of the job and the sense of accomplishment was his real prize.
He had always been good at it, from his childhood. He had found out quite by accident that he was good, very good and with time his creativity flourished…so much that he felt he could call himself a Master. But he was intelligent enough to never get too proud of his skills and worked hard to grow even better.
Until recently he was just fond of it as a hobby and did it for free on the side. His family would never approve of him indulging in this pasttime. They had always discouraged him….so much, that he had to keep it a secret from them. They would never understand him, his desires and his need. He let them believe that he was a sheep just like them. That would keep them off his back.
He had got his first debut as a college student. Someone very influential had come to know of his talent and employed him temporarily. He had impressed her with her skills and sharpness. And that had allowed him a very comfortable and lavish life until he graduated. Even though, he was never really addicted to riches or fame. He just loved the job.
After graduating, however , he was forced to look for a job out of town. He knew he had to move out of the house or he would never be free and it would be easier if he kept his ties mimimal. The first few months at his new IT job were really hectic and he never got much chance to practise other than on weekends. Then finally one day his former employer, who perhaps understood his plight, for she herself was an accomplished artist, send him a link to a website. It was a freelancing website that hired people with exactly the kind of talents he possessed. To successfully enroll yourself you had to complete one test project upon which you would be evaluated and then recommended to the clients. The best thing was it was totally anonymous, you couldn’t know who your clients was and they wouldn’t know who the freelancer was. All that was communicated was the project details, pay and his ratings.
Back home in the evening, he sat on his makeshift bed with the laptop on his lap and a smoke in his hands. He scrolled through all the project requests he received that evening, and they were a lot. He ignored all the ones with too much detailed instructions…. even though they usually paid better. He liked to give free reign to his creativity, he worked better that way. He chose one that he liked best, 28 year old brunette, with good enough looks, seemingly homely, but if she was the project than probably not. They usually never were. Best thing was that she was living very close to her. In fact they were practically next door neighbors. They usually crossed paths every week at the supermarket, and had even exchanged polite hellos. He had always found her cute but never thought of approaching her. He smiled to himself as he took a long drag of smoke. Trying to imagine her surprised look when he would turn up at her door. He got up and started preparing for the job. He went to the dresser and took out the special pouch of tools he needed, and began carefully inspecting them. His eyes fell on the first tool he ever used, a small blunt fruit knife. It had grown rusty even though he polished it weekly, he kept in a special leather pouch. It was a memento with special memories. When he was 6, the first time he slit his cats throat and was fascinated as he saw it struggle and squeal. He then skinned it and buried the remains. But his parents found the bloodied piece of skin hidden in his dresser. They tossed it into fire and never treated him the same ever. Even though they tried to deny who he was, they never dared to ever be alone with him in the same room. He didn’t want them to be afraid, he wanted to assure them that even if he didn’t like them much he would never harm them but could never say it out he was not exactly the kind of guy who could be expressive about his emotions. But he was free now, free to live the kind of life he wanted and his family was free to believe whatever they wanted to. Tonight was the kind of nights he really looked forward to. He looked at the knife longingly, anticipating the thrill and euphoria that was waiting for him tonight that would keep his mind occupied as he typed his boring mails tomorrow at office.