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shitijsharma24

A story is only as good as the storyteller.

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flash fiction

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.

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 there 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 having 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’.

REALITY CHECK

distorting-reality03

source – google images

“We never stop to consider that our beliefs are only a relative truth that ‘s always going to be distorted by all the knowledge we have stored in our memory.”-Miguel Angel Ruiz

The man was already there when I arrived. There was a gap among the railings where the man was standing. It seemed as if something had crashed through the railing carrying away a part of it. I passed by him unnoticed and moved on to the other end of the bridge feeling secure under the cloak of solitude.
He stood there for a long time. He looked like a statue frozen in time. He didn’t move a muscle, didn’t even move his neck. He simply gazed into the distance to whatever was waiting for him. Then he took a small step forward and plummeted into the darkness or maybe light. I felt a cool breeze brush against my skin and then I was falling. The still sheet of water parted like shards of glass as my body hit the water. I was drowning. The murky waters of the river were surrounding me, trying to blanket me in their embrace. How did I get here? It was the man who was had jumped not me. I tried to fight against the pull of the water but I was no longer in control of my body. My limbs no longer obeyed my brain.
I woke up, gasping for air. I was drenched in sweat. The fear of not being in control smothered me. After sometime my breathing returned to normal. I took a sleeping pill along with the glass of water kept beside my bed. Sometime later i fell into an uneasy slumber.
I woke up feeling light-headed, the fears of last night forgotten in anticipation of a new day. I called out to my wife but there was no answer. She must have already set out to drop over daughter off to school. I prepared breakfast for myself and then set off to work. I was the professor of history at the local college whereas my wife taught in school. She usually took the car to go to school and come back with our daughter while i took a cab as our destinations were in the opposite directions.
While sitting in the back my thoughts again wandered off to my wife and only child. She was a lively twelve year old. She was an excellent musician and could already play the piano quite well. Her music teacher called her a prodigy and said by the time she was old enough, She would be able to get into top institutions for music.
I ran into the Dean while walking towards my class. He looked sad and surprised at the same time on seeing me. He gently put his hand on my shoulder. “How are you?”, he asked me. I told him I was fine and touched by his concern for me. He looked sad but for some reason he always looked sad. He simply patted my shoulder and moved on.
For some reason I did not have a single class that day. I decided to speak to the Dean over this matter the following day but was content for the time being grading essays based on the French revolution. All of my colleagues were in a somber mood and more than one of them enquired after my welfare.
I returned home that evening only to find that my wife and daughter had not yet come home. At first I was worried but then remembered that it was a Tuesday and she had music lessons.
But as it grew late I began to worry. I tried to call my wife but she didn’t pick up. I decided to take a walk in the direction of their school.
I recognised the bridge from my dream as it was very similar. I walked towards the railing like a man in a trance. My thoughts returned to my family once more. What did my daughter look like? Why couldn’t I remember what she looked like? I had reached the railing by this time and was climbing over it when someone caught hold of my collar and pulled me back. I turned around to look into my father s face.
“The dean said that you visited the college today” he said,” I was worried”

.
I tell him that I was worried because my wife and daughter were late from school. He looks bewildered and says” There was an accident two weeks ago, your wife is dead”. I feel sick as if I am about to vomit.
” But what about her, where is she?
“ Her?”
“ Yes my daughter, where is she?”
He looks at me with pity and confusion,“ You do not have a daughter”, he says.

The ground shifts beneath my feet as I collapse.
Twelve years ago my wife gave birth to a daughter who was still born. We were unable to have any more kids. It was traumatic for both of us but we moved on, our love only grew. My wife died in a car accident which took place on the very bridge where I collapsed a week ago. The accident took place two months ago. Her car steered off the bridge carrying away a part of the railing while trying to avoid a collision with another car which had stopped in the middle of the road.
My psychiatrist tells me that it was the death of my wife which finally tipped me over. Reality was too harsh so I created a distorted version of it in which I had a daughter and my wife was still alive.
My father has moved in with me after the incident on the bridge. He looks after me. Most days I bear the crushing weight of my loss and come to terms with reality. But some days the weight is too much to bear. I call out to my wife and think of the daughter who is a figment of my imagination.

The Great Escape

Out here on the fire escape…the only escape is on the other side.

DUST YOUR HEARTS

It’s been so long since I last wrote to you. I don’t know where to begin but let me start by saying that I still love you. But love my darling is a superficial feeling based on our experiences and conceptions formed throughout our very short lives, influenced by lots of romanticized bullshit.But then again once we manage to dust away all of the above, we might be left with a shiny new feeling and that I believe would be the love which I feel for you.

Moment

I rolled down the windows and let the air caress my face and soothe my aching thoughts. She sat there in the seat right next to mine yet she was farther away than ever before.
Her head rested on the window’s edge and the wind messed up her hair.I wanted to say something but the words caught in my throat. All I can think of is her trying to smile at me through the tears streaming down her face.

 

 

 

JUST EVERYDAY STORIES – INSOMANIA

“I can’t sleep”, he muttered to no one in particular. It didn’t matter though because an annoyed voice answered him anyway.

“Maybe you would sleep if you just shut your eyes and stopped complaining for a few minutes”.

“I really am trying, you don’t need to be such a jackass about it”.

“And you need to stop calling me that. Anyways what’s the matter with you? You’ve never had trouble sleeping before.”

“How the fuck would you know if I have trouble sleeping or not?”

“I have  been sharing this room with you for the past six months, that’s how I know. Who’s the jackass now?”

“Whatever,” he grunted looking up at the ceiling.

 

SIX WORD STORIES

He cried, blinded by his insight.

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