Flash Fiction (Part two)


The scent of lavender was overpowering. A scent he was quite familiar with. She had always worn the same perfume even when he had first met her. She was 45 years old now, and looked just as charming as she had when he fell in love with her. He had always enjoyed looking at her while she continued with her work. He looked at her as she went about putting her book shelf in order. He smiled when she couldn’t reach the top shelf, but of course, she was a trifle short, with deep brown eyes and dark brown hair which reached a little over her waist. He stared as her visage cracked. The same smile that had entranced him from such a long time. He smiled at his luck.

Short-sighted, the word replayed in his mind. He was never good enough. It was still fresh in his memory, the constant insults, belittling and slights.

He would exact his revenge.

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Flash Fiction (part one)


The room door swung open, letting the muted sunlight of early morning bathe the interior. “Shut the door and bar it,” shouted Aastha. Her mind was pacing and her head was pounding. Ankush entered the living room his eyes moist and red.

She remembered waking up contented and happy an hour back. Following the monotonous routine she headed towards her father in law’s room with a steaming hot cup of tea. Aastha entered the room waiting for the customary blessing he disinterestedly uttered every day.
Her father in law lay lifelessly near the bathroom door. “Ankush, Jyoti, Rohan…” she squealed.

And here on her nightmare began.

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Six things that I’ve learnt in the last six years


The main reason for writing this post is that it has become a popular format and I didn’t want to be left behind. Ideally it should have been ‘twenty two things that I’ve learnt at twenty two’ but one look at me and you’ll know that I can’t dish out those many life lessons. Here are a few things that I have learnt over the last few years. I hope something strikes a chord.

1. Self-depreciation doesn’t help – Of course it’s good to be able to laugh at yourself but you need to draw a line. It shouldn’t become an addiction and a pitiable one at that. Self-effacing humour runs the risk of becoming self-sabotaging behaviour. Practice acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses. This one has been really hard for me and thus tops my list.

2. Most people have a horrible memory Do you know what people forget the fastest? Faster than the money they loaned from you? Yes, expressing gratitude and reciprocating in your hour of need. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t help people but you should do it with zero expectations so that you’re not hurt in the bargain. It’s not that giving has no benefits: it builds character, it increases your satisfaction and you do come across a few nice people who might reciprocate. But to reiterate my point, people develop amnesia after you turn your world upside down in order to help them.

3. The world is biased against introverts- I see this as more of a fact than an opinion. Our society is biased in favour of people who jabber. They are considered friendly and amiable unless of course they are just loud, obnoxious and garrulous. If you’re an introvert, people will take longer to like you and understand you. You’ll be branded as either arrogant or boring, you’ll face difficulty during group discussions and then there are always points for class participation. People often ask me if it hurts to be labelled as arrogant. Well I’m used to it by now, so I don’t curl up and cry, but it’s never pleasant to be misunderstood. All this taken into consideration I would never want to change this aspect of my personality.

4. Make a few friends and a lot of acquaintances – Yes, this might sound weird on the face of it but think about it. Friends are people who walk with you till the gates of hell and for whom you’re always willing to stick your neck out. There can’t be a lot of people who you feel that way about. Labelling everyone as your friend puts undue pressure on you and is never helpful. No, the girl you met a month back is not your best buddy. I don’t understand people who become best friends over summer vacations. At the same time having a wide network of acquaintances helps.  It means interacting with fascinating people with varied interests, more information, growth and learning.

5. Don’t obsess about the success of others – Healthy competition is okay and who will you compare yourself with if not your peer group. But there are people like me who irrespective of how well they’ve done, will instantly feel insecure when they hear about how everyone’s working, has found the love of their life, are travelling, pursuing their dream course….it’s not that you’re not happy for them, but you obsess about how you’ve not done a single constructive thing in life. If you do this you’ll immediately understand what I’m talking about. This needs to stop. This habit will ensure that you’re never happy.

6. Good looks help – Shallow as this sounds it’s true. Sorry we don’t live in a utopian world. I’m all for inner beauty but being beautiful in the conventional sense of the word helps. In fact I don’t think it’s that unfair at all. It’s partially inherited like all other things we judge people for, be it intelligence or talent. I’m not saying that you have to resemble a Victoria Secret model, follow all fashion trends or starve yourself. Just start with keeping your weight within the normal BMI limit, take a bath every day, wear what brings joy to you, iron your clothes and comb your hair. In one word: grooming.

 

 

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“To Be Or Not To Be…”


I knew it was time even though I was still partly conscious. I could hear fuzzy voices of doctors who sounded panicked. It had been a painful journey but I had fought…all in vain. “There’s nothing that we could’ve done” one of them said, “she was diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer which spread to her ovaries…a krukenberg tumor.” There were some more voices but I couldn’t make much sense of them. Everything seemed muddled. Then one of them said, “just let it go I don’t give her more than ten minutes, we’ve tried everything. I was ready too, it had been two years and I had fought hard, but I was exhausted now. I seemed to lose sense of time and space.
I was bombarded with memories my life rewinded itself in my minds eye. I was not sure if I was moving back in time or imagining.

The last two years of pain and suffering flashed before my eyes. The aggressive treatments, the side effects and the resultant loneliness. And then suddenly there was a radiant me. How did this happ…oh this was before I was diagnosed… I was dressed in red, celebrating my twenty fifth anniversary with my husband. Oh! it was a gorgeous day. Everything became hazy just as it does with bad T.V reception and then…  I could clearly smell the newly painted walls, see the layout of the place, feel his fingers entwined in mine. Yes, this was the first house we had bought together.

After inderteminate lapse of time there I was again much younger. I was attractive but I had been crying for sometime which seemed to take away from my looks. Facing the doctors room, I was crying while my husband stood at a distance refusing to meet my eye. The doctor had declared that we wouldn’t be able to have kids. Soon after there was an image… I was going around the pyre. I was getting married. The dominant feeling was exhaustion…it had been a hectic day.

 

And then I was walking down the aisle of my college auditorium. I was being awarded for my academic performance. My head pounded, there was a barrage of images, hues, sounds and odours. My entire childhood unfolded before me. It seemed to be a happy one barring the loneliness stemming from being an only child.
Life had indeed been a mixed bag. My eyelids began to feel heavy, breathing became strenous and slowly the pain ebbed.
I felt light as if my body was absolutely weightless. “Time of death 12:45 p.m, 3rd Feburary 2013,” a doctor called out.
I floated across the room seated myself and handed over the thick glares back to the assistant.

He asked me, “Ma’am have you made a decision yet I need to make arrangements accordingly?”
I had made a decision, “No, please inform the authorities that I have decided against being reborn. Hand over the documents so that I can sign them”
I hereby declare that I was given all the necessary details about how my life had been panned out and have made an informed decision to not take birth. I have read all the terms and conditions and want my membership from the human race to be recalled with immediate effect.
Yours Sincerely

I handed over the signed documents.

Next,” yelled God’s P.A.
Another figure floated in the room and took a seat

“Good afternoon, you will be shown a short film covering all the milestones of your life. I request you to pay close attention so that you can take an informed decision regarding ‘Whether you’ll like to take birth and live this life.’ Any queries?”
“Okay wear these glares and enjoy seeing the life planned for you,” the assistant handed over the glares.

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Random Stuff


I haven’t really been writing that much these days partly because I didn’t have much to say. I feel the fact itself has been stressful for me because I thought I had lost the one thing I truly love- Writing . My journal has been a great savior in such testing times and has saved me from one of the worst writer’s block. Now, I’m no writer but I just wanted to give it a fancy name.

Using the phrase ‘Life has taken a 360 ‘ degree turn ‘ would be a bit much but a lot has changed in the past two to three weeks. Most of it has been in terms of how I view things. Finally I don’t feel guilty about the fact that I wasn’t totally broken about a friendship going sour. Really, I’ve been miserable about the fact that I wasn’t miserable. The realization that college was getting over finally hit me and left me a little depressed. What is more upsetting is that I don’t know where I will be in the next few months. Alongside all this I got the news that my brother is coming back which in a sense covered up for everything else. Except for the fact that I don’t know if I would be in Delhi now.

This is how it all started, but by the end of it I feel better equipped with dealing with the entire leaving college bit (of course I’ll still cry over it a couple of times). In most part, I think this is because I feel everyone is dispensable and replaceable. No matter how close you’re to a particular person once they’re not there you’re just as happy without them. Personally I think as long as everyone else finds friends or are together they wouldn’t even notice my absence. Maybe this is healthy because it helps in adjustment. How is it going to help you if you keep brooding over someone not being there with you? Nonetheless it trivializes relationships. I have mixed feelings about this one. Also, I don’t think I’d rather die than face the impending change anymore. It’s not that I’m more optimistic about my admission prospects. For all you know I’ll have absolutely no place to go to, but I’ll use that time constructively as well. No matter what lies ahead I’ll come around to it, I guess.

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Sapna


She gets up in the morning confident and fresh. Gets ready to begin a new day with exuberance and energy. Another beginning without any fear of the future or lurking regrets of the past. She takes confident strides with arms stretched open. Well of course, in a way she owned the world. Everyone she met was in awe of her ability and conviction, and there was Sapna talking to them with ease.

Even before she settles down in class she’s saddled with responsibility. The teachers knew she’d manage with her social and assertive nature. She sits down with her friends helping them with the subject that comes most naturally to her-Maths. At the same time she makes a mental decision of dating the guy she loved. She wasn’t afraid of love, and more importantly of giving relationships a chance.

She is a happy and sorted person. There is neither a conflict nor complexity to cause turmoil. There is nothing complicated about Sapna. Nothing to rob her of her peace. She comes back relaxed to her family unlike many others who put up a face and later cry themselves to bed.

Just another routine day in Sapna’s life.

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Emotions Sans Classification


I’ve grown quite sick of  emotions being demarcated for me and of being told why I should or should not feel a certain way. I’m presenting a case against this kind of demarcation in this post.

Emotion is Energy-in-Motion. It is a way of expressing oneself in life. It is the quality of how one relates to life. Yet there is a good-bad attribute attached to it. I’ve been told that I shouldn’t use the word ‘hate’ so often. Then there are these  (sweet 🙂 ) friends who would with great difficulty use the work ‘dislike’, but hate- that’s too harsh a word. There is more to it, for instance- you’ll be made to believe that feeling guilty, angry, jealous and afraid isn’t right. This brings me to the polarization of emotions into negative and positive. Negative emotions are, for example: apathy, grief, fear, hatred, shame, blame, regret, resentment, anger, hostility, etc. Positive emotions are, for example: interest, enthusiasm, laughter, empathy, action, curiosity, etc.

This kind of divide made me wonder what exactly is the basis for classifying an emotion as negative or positive. I made an attempt to understand the meaning of positive emotions and negative emotions. After a great amount of deliberation I came up with a description I would like to stick with. Negative emotions express an attempt or intention to exclude. Keeping bad stuff away, destroying what is perceived as a threat. Negative emotions are fueled by an underlying fear of the unknown, a fear of the actions of others, and a need to control them or stop them, or to avoid being harmed. Positive emotions express an attempt or an intention to include. Taking the whole into consideration. Working on learning more viewpoints, interacting more with others, enjoying making things better. Positive emotions are fueled by an underlying desire for enjoyment and unity.

Keeping this description in mind we could say that some emotions are more positive or negative than others. But it isn’t necessarily practical to place them on a linear scale, since each one is a composite of various elements. Also, any emotion could fall in either category depending on how it’s used. Destructive emotions refer to an emotion that leads us to do something that harms ourselves or someone else. Almost any emotion can become destructive. Even too much happiness, if it’s manic excitement, can lead us to do destructive things. Anger over our shortfalls can lead us to setting goals and taking steps to change behavior and better ourselves. Anger against injustice seems to be an appropriate emotion. The list goes on and on where anger can be a useful emotion in our lives. On the flip side, if anger becomes a catalyst for destructive behaviors that result in violence or abuse to ourselves and others, than it is a misuse of the emotion. Jealousy and revenge could be great motivators. I was always extremely competitive. I think this kind of achievement orientation has only lead me to strive for success and perfection. It hasn’t ever led me to harm anyone or prevent me from helping others or sharing knowledge. Hence I consider competitiveness(how I use it) to be very positive.  But I’ve seen the same to become destructive and sour friendships.

 The complexity doesn’t end here. Some emotions camouflage as positive or negative, but really are the opposite of what they pretend. There is a type of pity which appears as genuine concern for others, but which is rather taking comfort in that somebody else is worse off than you. There is a covert hostility that masks as friendliness. There is love which is selfish and destructive going against the very grain and definition of love.

Even if an emotion can be easily classified as negative,are negative emotions  just something to get rid of ? It is not that simple. They serve important functions. They become a motivation to learn and deal with life’s complexities,hence prove very useful. If one is always  happy or joyful, it is a subtle indication of the incapability of perceiving negative undercurrents which are as much a part of our world.

Positive and negative emotions aren’t polarities. We can’t get rid of one and just keep the other. Ultimately they need to be and are integrated. They desist to exist in isolation. One can’t be perceived without being exposed to the nuance of the other. They don’t run a parallel course, are rather enmeshed. Also, since a negative emotion can be adaptive and a positive emotion destructive it might be wrong to even use this nomenclature.

Personally, I see no sense in this divide in emotions. We’re entitled to experiencing the entire range of myriad human emotions.

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