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A story is only as good as the storyteller.

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Shitijsharma

A story is only as good as the storyteller. 19 years old. Author - The Girl From Rostov

The Transmogrification

(A contemporary inversion of Kafka’s Metamorphosis)

 

I was scuttling along the walls when I lost my grip and fell onto the notebook with a soft thump. It felt like a thump to me but for the giant human that now faced me, I doubt the sound was even perceptible. I prided myself on my ability to cling to walls but the ability had failed me today, leading to my immediate and quite dire straits. To my horror, the human caught sight of me, his pupils swiveled in my direction, eyeballs twice the size of my entire torso. It was at moments like these that I wished I had wings to fly.

However, it was at that minute that the door opened and another frail old human entered the room. I took the opportunity to scuttle across the table and hide among the books that stood leaning against the wall of the shelf. I felt safe in the dark, the light didn’t hurt my eyes. I settled peacefully in a corner. Ages passed before I realized that the there wasn’t any light in the room anymore. Hunger was gnawing at my insides.

I made my way to the edge of the table and toppled onto the carpet. Fortunately, I landed on my feet. Had it been my hide, it would have taken me hours to stand again. I scuttled around for a bit but finding no other food source began to chew on the fabric of the carpet.

Something was wrong. I felt like I was no longer in my body. How else could I explain it? Everything felt so different, so light. I opened my eyes to find my face digging into the carpet, my nose pressed against it. Except it wasn’t my nose or was it – this soft cartilage? Either way, it felt like something I would have liked to chew on. So, I began to move my jaw but it proved to be a fruitless exercise. I began to chew on the carpet instead. The surface of the carpet was rough against my skin. I realized there was a soft lump resting in my mouth and bit down hard on it. Immediately, blood began to drip to the ground. It tasted like metal.

I had been so preoccupied with my chewing that I didn’t notice the sound of footsteps approaching until it was too late. Now they stood, two pairs of feet only inches away from my face. The tips of one’s toes were visible from the corner of my eye while the other one wore boots. I quickly began to crawl away using my elbows and knees, my torso still touching the ground. The fear of being stomped on was so great that my limbs began to move of their own accord. Finding no place to hide, I hoisted myself against the leg of the bed at an awkward angle. I realized I had nothing to worry about. The feet didn’t seem that large anymore but the shrill cry that had erupted from the smaller of the two humans jarred me in my place. I had been seen. The other human who was now holding a curtain rod hesitated for a second, a look of consternation on his face.

I could still taste the blood in my mouth. It was sticky and some of it was on my chin as well, the result of my face being pressed against the carpet just a few minutes ago. I could still see the stain I had left behind.

The human slowly backed away from me, taking the arm of his companion on the way out. I heard a key turning but it was of no consequence to me. Something else had caught my attention. I was looking at my hands and feet. I wriggled the fingers of my right hand. This was a new sensation. I still didn’t understand. My tongue was throbbing. I had almost severed it in half. Was I a human? What for? I was hungry but didn’t feel like moving.

I just sat there in a vegetative silence, the kind I had been used to my entire life except everything was different.

Massa Rogger still couldn’t believe what he had seen. If not for the hysterical sobs of his mother, he might have thought that he was losing his mind. How had it come to this? Just this morning his greatest worry had been to close the deal he had been working on for the past two weeks. He had woken up like any other day, had his breakfast of bacon and eggs and got to work to prepare everything for the meeting. Unfortunately, he had forgotten the brief he had been working on his desk last night. Finding some spare time at the office in the afternoon, he had hurried back home to retrieve it – to the most peculiar sight ever.

He had entered his room to find a scrawny middle-aged man sprawled on the carpet. If this was not enough, the man was buck naked. His mother had been pestering him to have lunch at home and had followed him into the room. The two of them were too shocked at first to utter a sound. But the man was now aware of their presence for he began crawling across the carpet on his stomach as if looking for a place to hide. It was the strangest thing he had ever seen. He quickly retrieved a loose curtain rod that had been lying in one corner of the room and raised it to strike the man, possibly to drive him out when the situation turned even more bizarre. He could finally see the man’s face. It was smeared with blood and dirt and his eyes, what horrific eyes, full of unbridled fear and confusion.

He returned to the room a half hour later with a policeman by his side. The middle-aged man lay just as he had left him. His eyes were vacant and he was frothing at the mouth. The stench of vomit filled the room as the cop hurled in a corner. Massa averted his gaze. When the medics finally arrived, it was discovered that the man had choked to death on his own severed tongue. Efforts were made to find the dead man’s family. Missing person records were scrutinized, questions were asked around the neighborhood and enquiries were made at mental institutions and hospitals. No one knew who the man was or where he had come from. There hadn’t been a single shed of clothing let alone any identification when the police had discovered him. With no one to claim him, the body was stored in the morgue of the local hospital for a few years before they buried it as part of a state-funded project. Massa Rogger never quite recovered from the incident but continued to prepare briefs and work at the same firm until he was fired 20 years later. He lived alone for a year before blowing his brains out in a shoddy two-room cabin he had bought after his mother passed away. He never married.

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BLOODHOUND-I

I used to think that I understood what this was about, what my life was about.But with the passage of time, my perspective changed as well.Still, it happened far too late. Had it changed but a year earlier I might have been on the different road today, living a much simpler life. But then again we are all victims of time. So what right do I of all people have to complain?

I am a survivor.I used to think that was what life was about, survival, the strength to stand against the odds of the world to live another day. I was wrong.I despised heroes because most heroes tend to die young but survivors do not.

I having lived longer than most, now wished that I too had died a hero rather than be branded as a coward. That, however, is a lie. Survival too takes courage but more than courage it requires cunning which heroes lack.

They had destroyed my way of life by killing the people who helped me live it.I had hungered for revenge but the survivor within told me that I would not survive the confrontation.

Now years later I have returned to take my revenge.I have not lived for I have not loved since the day they took away my ability to love. In that, I am a coward for love is too painful…

I look around.The door is ajar which is highly unusual for the paranoid Mr.Hussie. I peer through the window of the living room which is slightly open, yet another anomaly. The room seems to be empty.I cautiously creep through the open doorway and up the staircase.
And there he is.The frail old man is sitting in his bedroom. His proud head is buried in his hands.His hands are shaking.

“What’ s the matter Mr.Hussie,”I ask.He sits upright all of a sudden, startled to hear the sound of my voice.

“Get away. You have taken everything from me, what more do you want now?.

“No not everything,” I whisper softly, taking in the surroundings. But maybe he is right, the only thing he has left to sacrifice is his life and that does not seem to be worth much after all, at the very least not to him.

His shirt is red and damp with blood but the blood does not belong to him. There is a human carcass lying mutilated on the rug. It’s his blood that is on Mr. Hussie’s hands and on his shirt but figuratively it’s on mine, the hands I mean not the shirt.

to be continued…….

While I am working on this story, you can check out my novel here – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LDFM9EK

 

Of Endings.

I believe gradual ends are better than the ones that happen all of a sudden. Some people believe that it’s better if the pain is excruciating but only lasts a moment. Me? I’d rather it lasted a lifetime, an instrument not for torture but for sorrow, a dull heartache that never seems to end. Because I believe that this pain lets you know that you are alive, that there was something worth losing, something worth mulling over for hours at an end. It’s easier to forget such pain and for a moment you are happy. The other kind -the one that comes from something being snatched away is the one that you should be afraid of, for it comes back in snippets, a ghost of that which once was – that which you can never forget. But it’s okay. Because after a while the day comes when neither of the two matter, a day when you are invincible. It’s only a day and maybe you won’t even remember it, but it’s enough to know that such days will always be there – the ones where nothing really matters and you don’t care.

Isolation

I believe isolation is key to creativity. Because the way your mind works when you’re all alone, standing on the edge of society….your mind would never work that way if you were surrounded by people.

The First Copy

So I received the first copy of Mudmen in the mail today, and I have to tell you, it’s the best feeling in the world.

Grab your copy here of the book here –

 

 

The Haze

A haze of forgetfulness seemed to have settled over the world, pervading lives that had earlier been untouched. People forgot their names and names ceased to have any meaning. And once that came to pass, there was very little left to hold the fabric of the world together. And happiness was gone, just like that, a candle snuffed out by a wayward wind. And the flimsy winds of change too failed to bring about change in this constant buzz of the memories, the dead and the dying, the lived and the universe. Imagination became just another imagined word.

Book Review – Mudmen by Shitij Sharma

A Review of Mudmen by Eric Lahti

Eric Lahti

Mudmen: The Quest for Humanity is one of the more unique books I’ve read. It starts with a question I think everyone has asked themselves at some point or another point in their lives: could I do a better job than God?

Don’t worry, the jury is still out on that one.

I think at some point in their development, every writer goes through a deeply philosophical phase. Most books don’t go too deep into philosophical territory for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is takes a steady hand to make such huge things small enough for most people to wrap their heads around.

Mudmen follows the events that take place after the world comes to an end and the whole of humanity is reduced to ashes. One person winds up with the ability to rewrite reality and sets out to do exactly that. Unfortunately for him…

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PRISONERS AND MONSTERS

This is a story about two brothers who are captured and imprisoned by the secret police. Even though this is a fictional story, similar things have been known to happen. There may come a time when mother’s tell their kids- not that go to sleep or a monster will come lurking around but go to sleep because the monster may be the man who lives across the street.

He looked as if he had seen a ghost. His eyes were wide open and even though his gaze was upon me, his thoughts seemed far away.”They are here”, he finally managed. I raised my eyes only to find his conveying the fear I felt. The fear we all felt.

It is not the dead I fear for they have served their term in this hell on Earth and now rest in peace. It is the living I fear for they can be far more inhuman. I am a prisoner here along with my brother. We do not know the reason for our imprisonment. My name is Ali and I am fifteen. My brother’s name is Hamid and he is seventeen. We share this cell along with thirty other prisoners.

I clearly remember the day we were brought here. We were roaming the market, searching for the items which mother had sent us to buy. The items weren’t many as we could not afford much. A couple of men smoking cigarettes stared at us as we passed by. Then one of them caught my brother by the collar and punched him in the face. My brother tried to fight back but there were too many of them. We were beaten in front of everyone. The men said they belonged to the secret police. They handcuffed us and brought us here.

No single person from our cell has been sent home alive. Our families usually receive our bodies in body bags and that is if they are lucky enough to receive a body. I am not sure our parents have been informed where we are.

We are tortured in the hope that we may agree to have committed treason, but most people here are innocent. The nights are the worst when the screams of tortured prisoners echo through the prison cells.

My brother looks at me as if he has seen a ghost. His eyes are wide open.”They are here”, he manages. His eyes meet mine reflecting the pain and fear in mine as I stumble through the door of the prison cell. He catches me before I fall to the ground. He knows they have electrocuted me from the rotten smell which rises from my burnt skin. I would like to tell him that it’s not so bad, except for the fact that they have cut off my tongue.

THE UNFORGIVEN

The unforgiven

Chapter  1 – The meeting

I first met her at my mother’s fortieth birthday.It seemed as if she had got it all wrong. She was still hugging me and my shirt was damp from her tears. She stepped back to look at me. She was now laughing and crying at the same time. “Abdullah”, she shouted , ”I found him, I found my little boy.” A refined looking old man who had been in conversation with his peers broke apart from them and rushed over to us. “I’m so sorry”, he said. He held the gently but firmly by the shoulders and turned her around to face him. “It’s not him”, he said. “What?”, she stammered. “It’s not him”, he repeated. She looked at me more closely, realization dawning on her face .the light went out of her eyes. “I’m sorry”, she said , “it’s just that you look  so much like him” , and then she collapsed.

I caught her before she hit the ground. I looked up at the old man. I had been speechless all this while. “I am sorry, I have no idea what she was talking about”, I said. He brought up his grief stricken eyes to meet mine. He asked if I could help him carry her to the car which was parked nearby. Together we lifted her out to the car.We put her in the back seat. He told me that he recognized me and was a good friend of my mother’s. He gave me an  address and asked me to meet him there for dinner and with that he got into the passenger seat. They drove off.

Chapter 2 – The letter

I arrived at his place a little after six. His house was huge, a haveli situated on the outskirts of Delhi.A servant opened the gate and led me inside. My host was there waiting for me but the woman who had hugged me was nowhere to be seen.

He introduced himself as Dr. Abdullah Zaffar . Over dinner he told me his story. The woman i came to know , was his wife Dr. Riya Zaffar. They had a son , he told me, his name was Suhail . Suhail had always been quiet as a kid. They had sent him to a boarding school in Nanital . He had been studious and sincere. He never complained. A few months after his nineteenth birthday, he left home. In a letter he told them that he was going off to fight for Islam.

It came as a shock to his parents. They had never been very religious. They both attributed more to Science than God the workings of the world. His father kept the news a secret from the world and told all their friends that they had sent him to study abroad. It had been five years since he left.

Mr .Zaffar suddenly became silent. He poured himself  another glass of whisky. My wife’s resting upstairs just in case you’re wondering”, he said. I did not reply. “ I received a letter from him a few months ago”, his voice was barely a whisper. “He said that Allah was nowhere to be found, only talks of him and acts that would repulse the only one true god, acts that he had been a part of”, he looked directly at me, “My wife does not know any of this. I burnt the letter but kept this”. He took out a photo from his pocket.

“I want you to burn it because I cannot.”

He slid the photo across the table to me. In the photo there was a skinny young man in uniform. He was standing on a chair and there was a noose around his neck hanging from a fan in the ceiling. I turned the photo upside down. On the back he had scribbled,

‘The forgiveness which I will never find in your hearts I go to seek in heaven’.

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