Tag Archives: fiction

Gokarna

Everything about the temple was in a state of decay- had Vaibhavi slipped on the corroded stairs leading to the lake she would have certainly broken her jaw. The cement floors had sharp cracks that could easily cut someone’s heel, ugly creepers protruded through the gaps between the black stone walls, even the divine idols were covered in torn rags and dry flowers. Strangely, Vaibhavi had hoped this would be a welcome break from her family but this location had only reminded her of her disintegrating marriage.

The priest deliberately made a guttural sound to bring Vaibhavi back to her senses. She blinked her eyes twice and heard him recite his shlokas without any change in her expression. Then she recited the same, pouring milk on the miniature idol of Lord Shiva. After about an hour the puja was completed and Vaibhavi threw all the milk and the flowers into the lake (this time climbing the stairs more cautiously). The priest got up, sorted his white dhoti and walked towards the temple.

“This will cure my son?”, Vaibhavi asked with a hint of suspicion.

The priest turned around, put some ash in her wet palm and smiled.

“Whatever is best for him, will happen”, he said. He seemed to be half Vaibhavi’s age but he had a deep and soothing voice, courtesy of reciting the vedas every morning at the crack of dawn.

“You know”, she said rubbing her fingers in the ash of her palm, “We have taken him to the best doctors in the world, we spent a lot of money on his treatment”.

The priest looked into the cooper plate in his hand, nodding at her words. Vaibhavi looked at him in ridicule, this was a young man with a bald head, did she expect him to have all the answers?

“Did it work?”, he asked looking at her mocking face.

Vaibhavi shook her head slightly and salty tears flug down from her eyes. She wipped them immediately, she wasn’t one to show vulnerability.

“I have tried everything- science, medicine, ayurveda”, she whispered, “I also took him to a witch”.

“What is written”, he said, his words barely audible over the loud bells, “will happen”.

“I want him to be free”, she said.

“No”, the priest’s voice said echoing around the halls of the temple, “You want to be free. Of him”.

My first attempt at a short story, feedback is much appreciated. Thanks!

Atom Bomb Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

The cream on my coffee gathered at the top began fading as I was too immersed in reading. The noisy conversations in Hindi, the bright headlights of the cars in contrast with the silent night sky, all paled in comparison to the mysteries hidden in the black and white pages of the book in my hand. As I turned another page waiting in anticipation I heard a clank of crocery followed by a disgusting slurp, I looked up irritate at the interruption. A silver-haired man was sitting in the wrought-iron chair opposite mine, drinking from my cup and looking grim like Gordon Ramsay.

“That was mine”, I said with a hint of defiance.

“You weren’t drinking it”, he said arguing like a five year old child. He took another gurgling slurp and the entire cafe turned at us in resentment. I dig back into my book to avoid their angry gazes, picked up my bag and got up.

“Where are you going?”, the man asked with surprise, “You have to pay for it!”

I looked t him first in astonishment, then amusement and then pure hatred.

“You drank it, you should pay for it!”, I tried to keep my voice low.

“Ah but you see”, he put a hand in his pocket and pulled out air, “I don’t have any money”.

I raised an eyebrow and stepped forward, the stranger got up and immediately pulled my wrist. I turned around shocked at his behaviour (a man in his late 50s grabbing my wrist!) and threw a punch at his face. It hit him a little below his left eye and he wailed in pain. I began taking faster steps towards the exit hoping to outsmart this drunkard but a waiter stopped me.

“Ma’m you haven’t paid the bill”, he reminded me with a curious expression.

“Oh you see I ordered the  coffee but I didn’t drink it. That man over there”, I pointed to the idiot still nursing his face, “He drank it. So ask him to pay the bill”.

I innocently smiled at the waiter and he turned thrice to look at my table.

“Ma’m”, he asked in a hushed voice, “What man?”

I turned slowly to look at the stranger, he was now walking towards me with a grin. I looked at him first in surprise and then in terror. I looked back at the waiter but he still was looking at my face with a puzzled expression and looking back and forth at the table.

“He can’t see me”, the stranger explained calmly. He pulled open his black coat and picked out a metal instrument that looked like a fat futuristic pen. He pressed something on it and a green light emanated from a circular bulb at its top.

“TARDIS Transparency”, he beamed with pride and kept it inside.

I shook my head aggressively like I was having a bad dream, pushed a hundred rupees in the waiters hand and almost flew out of the cafe. The stranger ran behind me into the street-lights lit night and easily kept up with my running with his long legs. I looked at him with shock and then looked away and looked at him again. For some mystical reason, something inexplicable radiated out of him. Knowledge, wisdom, a promise of adventure? What was it? I couldn’t understand but I couldn’t look away either.

“What’s your name?”, he asked smiling.

I shook my head, he might seem friendly and look harmless but he had somehow manage to be invisible.

“If they couldn’t see you”, I asked keeping my speed and distance but unable to contain my curiosity, “Why did everyone look at you when you slurped loudly?”

His laughter was the song I had longed to hear my entire life. He laughed like a child who knew nothing and was curious but also like a grandfather who was up to mischief.

“They weren’t looking at me”, he said pulling my hand making me turn into a lane, “They were looking at you talking to yourself”.

I looked at him in embarrassment and then utter confusion, he softly smiled at me and there was a quiet understanding in his face. He looked calm but he was just as terrified as I was and that terrified me even more.

“It’s my turn to ask a question now”, he said looking straight into my eyes, “What is your name?”

He looked at me with fierce determination and an anticipation, as if the fate of the universe hung in balance of my answer. I gulped and replied truthfully. He let out a strange cry of relief and was almost about to hug me when he stopped.

“I’ve been looking for you everywhere!”, he said vivaciously.

“W-why?” I asked hoping I wasn’t a serial killer’s next target.

He put his hand firmly into mine, his palm was so much bigger than mine and much lighter in complexion. He also had many wrinkles on his hand and face but someone still, supernaturally, he looked incredibly handsome. He might have silver-hair and an arrogantly pointed nose but he had a firm jawline and kind sky-blue eyes.

“Only you can stop this, do you understand?”, he asked loudly.

I suddenly realized that he was saying something important while I was busy admiring his looks. I looked at him in despair with questions written all over my face. He signed.

“I’ll explain on the way”, he said and quickly turned me into a small by-lane, “We have to go NOW!”

“Go where?”, I asked holding his hand tighter in the blinding darkness.

I couldn’t see him but his hand in mine became tighter, his fingers gripped my tiny ones firmer. He waited for a while, as if giving me some time to become mentally prepared- for danger, for disaster, maybe death. The noise of the traffic horns had completely faded and the only thing I could hear was his silent whisper in my ear that reverberated in the brick walls of the by-lane.

“Hiroshima!”

A second after I breathed the word in the by-lane glowed in golden light. I shielded my eyes from the sudden brightness and between my trembling fingers I saw a small police box in bright blue glowing in the tiny, deserted, dark by-lane. I took my hand off my face and pulled the other out of the  stranger’s lingering palm.

“Who are you?” I asked.

I stared at the box as if looking at the rising sun and turned around to look at the stranger smiling arrogantly.

“I’m the Doctor!”

Writing Inspiration from The Daily Post

 

Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult- Book Review

“A filament of sensation sizzled between them, like a thin strip of kerosene that, for the love of a match, would turn into a wall of fire”

'Salem Falls' by Jodi Picoult
‘Salem Falls’ by Jodi Picoult

“I don’t post book reviews”, I told myself as I posted this book review. I usually refrain from writing book reviews because after Harry Potter  series by J.K.Rowling and The Tudors series by Phillipa Gregory I haven’t read a single book that kept me enthralled in every page, until I picked up ‘Salem Falls’ in March at a summer sale (the tagline ‘It only takes a lie to set a town ablaze’ attracted me) . I had heard praises for Jodi Picoult very often and did superficial research on her works. She mainly wrote about families, towns, couples facing tragic situations- not my cup of tea. I am a magic-realism or detailed-fantasy or thriller-that-makes-me-pee-my-pants kind of reader, my bookshelf has no place for silly family feud. But man, oh man, how wrong I was!

Happy Realization
Happy Realization

‘Salem Falls’ is about a high-school history teacher called Jack St. Bride- he is only 31, a 4-time football championship coach, a doctorate in History and incredibly handsome. Unfortunately he is also falsely accused of aggravated sexual assault- twice. The story follows Jack’s story with a sense of sensitivity and protectiveness- the same emotions that it ignites in the reader about the character. The first instance when he gets accused is a classic example of how a one sided crush turns into a misunderstanding turns into a rumour that destroys Jack’s life and then ultimately turns into a jail sentence. The author painfully depicts how in the process Jack loses his job, his friends, his reputation but most importantly, his pride

So frustrating!
So frustrating

 

 

After being released from jail (this is where the book starts, the first story is in flashback) he heads to the closest town Salem Falls. He restarts his life as a dishwasher in Addie Peabody’s diner, becomes her Father’s roommate, becomes her boyfriend until one day they find out the truth. Every one in the town ostracizes him, his customers treat him like a monster just waiting to be unleashed. Their rumours keep on growing and growing and ultimately innocent Jack becomes the hatred of the town. But a quartet of four teenage girls- who are simply looking for a way to create trouble (teenage girls are like that I can assure you, I am one) start looking at him as their target. It does not take long until one of them accuses him of raping her and the town goes berzerk.

Damnit!
Damnit!

 

The story then follows how Jack’s attorney try to prove Jack’s innocence, how Addie tries to dig up Jack’s past, how her own past catches up to her and how Jack, gradually loses hope. After completing this book (which was a few minutes ago) I felt a sense of relief- the feeling that the characters got what they deserved, that for once justice (not necessarily legal) prevailed. It is not a book like the ‘The Fault in our stars’ that stabs you with a silver dagger and twists it while it’s still stuck in your beating heart. It is a book that slowly, carefully, grows like a cancer in your brains asking you, What is justice? What is truth? Is anyone ever innocent? It creeps into your veins, runs through your blood and day by day makes you stop believing that life is fair. To find out any more, read the book.

This is for you Picoult, awesome job!
This is for you Picoult, awesome job!

The language is not challenging, the characters are not difficult to understand- I kept on reading until my eyes were sore and my neck hurt. I have to say there was not a single moment in this book when I yawned- right from Jack’s university days when he first feels protective about another girl to the his time in jail when his trivia knowledge saves his ass (literally), every single story was beautifully mapped, stunning executed and made you feel more and more sympathetic about a man who was being punished for a crime he didn’t commit. It is a powerful mixture of how we lie to convince ourself that we are loved and then that lie destroys someone’s life. Right from Catherine Marsh- the soccer team captain whose one-sided love gets Jack convicted, to her over-protective Reverend Father, right from Addie Peabody- an intelligent and creative girl who gets stuck in Salem Falls because of one death after another to Jack St. Bride- a man who is about to spend 20 years in jail simply because he didn’t love an arrogant and stubborn teenage bitch, every single (minor and major) character leaves a mark on you.

Don't worry, be happy!
Don’t worry, be happy!

A heartbreaking love story, a suspenseful courtroom drama, a high-paced thriller- ‘Salem Falls’ by Jodi Picoult gets full marks from me (and I never give anyone full marks). Definitely read it and let me know what you think about it! Now if you excuse me I have to read every single word Jodi Picoult has ever written.