Knock! Knock!

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I was standing in front of a wooden door on the porch of an old Victorian building. A flimsy mask made of rusting iron was hanging from it. It’s been a while since I had been observing the peculiar shape of the mask. I found it puzzling because I had never quite heard of any creature like this one before. It had an elongated top with wide sides, rounding at the bottom. From afar, it resembled the ‘screw you’ symbol that was rather popular among the youth. Only on closer inspection had I realized that it was a face. It had a single eye at the base of the elongated end. A snout tapering into a sharp end was dangling from its centre.

Another drop of sweat originating from the depths of my skull found its way to my temple. The night was too hot for my liking and I could hear the vultures gathering. I hated them because of their ‘eating the dead’ habit. I mean shouldn’t they respect the deceased?

Thanks to the vultures, a tremendous urgency to enter the house grew upon me. I had already tried the doorbell with no fruitful results. In my desperation, I leaned closer to that gruesome face on the door. That was when the eye blinked at me. Surprisingly, instead of running away, I blinked back at it or perhaps was it a wink. The door, however, remained unmoved by this eye contact.

Then I glanced at the end of the snout. Its silver sharp end gleamed in the moonlight. Whatever, I thought and placed the tip of my left hand’s index finger against its razor-sharp end. I closed my eyes and let the steel cut deep through my skin.

“Ow ow,” my howling pierced the silence of the night. I could not open my eyes. Plop, the sound of my blood falling on the floor haunted me.

And then I heard a clicking sound, and I knew the door was open. The familiar death of smell welcomed me. It was only when I heard movement, did I chance a peek. A skeletal hand was reaching for me and before I could do anything about it, they had shoved me inside the house.

“Every firkin’ year,”, I heard a woman say, “Open your eyes, you sissy.”

There was nothing I could do about it anymore. When the dead Grandma tells you to open your eyes, you must oblige.

“Happy Halloween”, an uncountable number of dead people greeted me.

I sighed, removed my coat, and went to hug my Grandma. Our bones made the classic clang that meant it was a cold-hug. My favourite type of hugs!

“What is that thing at the door, Grandma?”, I asked her.

“That is your young cousin’s take on the Jack-o’-lantern. He thought it needed some spicing up,”, she told me, “If you ask me, your aunt should not have let him study fine arts. I mean what is wrong with the dark arts?”

Before I could reply, the party had sounded the gong. It was time. The air rang with screeching sounds as fingernails from all over the world scraped on chalkboards.

My imaginary skin that I kept to avoid boredom in the living world had vanished. I was among my people!

Originally published on Medium 

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Blown Out of Proportion — Wringo Ink.

Here is another entry from our #WringoInk. project.
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Monday:

She was reading something. We were in a library surrounded by books. I was glad she was there. Finally, there was a girl who loved literature. She was into Camus and Beckett; would you believe it? I mean she belched at the mention of glittering vampires and impossibly romantic love stories just as my dream girl would have done.

I could imagine her narrating my favorite story. It was the uncensored version of a famous fairy tale where the shrewd elf was tricked and raped by the shepherd’s little girl. Throughout the story, the little girl was portrayed as a simpleton. Itwas only at the end the plot twist was revealed. It boiled my blood how the modern version was a hunky-dory retelling with the elf turning into a handsome prince marrying the village girl. Talk about making things palatable!

“You should be in dramatics. You read lines with emotion”, I told her.

She said something but I didn’t quite catch it. I was busy watching her small red lips curl into a smile.

I could tell she liked me.

Tuesday:

I was sitting cross-legged on my writing table when my phone beeped. However, I didn’t care much because she was in the room too. She was singing a song I had never heard before. Great, I thought to myself, now I will think of her whenever I will hear this tune.

It was 9 a.m. and I could see sunlight filtering through my window and landing right on her. She was wearing a silver satin dress that she had worn on the party last night. It was glowing because of the golden beams that were reflecting off the fabric’s surface.

I was beginning to fall for her.

Wednesday:

I was lying on the sand. The moon must have been wildbecausethe waves were creating a havoc. Yet I could see the force of water die down as it touched the tips of my bare feet. I felt as if I was part of a best-selling fiction. She was lying right beside me, whispering mesmerizing poetry into my ears.

This relationship was definitely progressing.

Thursday:

She was going for a coffee with her otherguy friend, Z. She said she had a surprise for me. Maybe she wanted me to be her boyfriend. Was she asking Z for advice before making that decision? I thought. He would tell her I am a nice guy,I smiled.

I was definitely in love with her.

Things were going great and we’d been together by nowif only reality had not arrived from the foreign lands of my dreams. It was back from its vacations.Urgh.It was knocking on the door of my sanityincessantly. I had to answer.

Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday

“You should be in dramatics. You read lines with emotion”, I had told her on Monday.

“Dude, what the hell? This is just a Facebookpost. You gotta chill,” she had said while laughing.

We were sitting with 5 other people. It was a library alright but our college library. Love has the power to alter a few imperfections.

There was a Tuesday song for sure but…

“Listen to this guys:

#myfavoritenumber #myfavoritesinger #themusiclegend”

She had shared her favorite song on our WhatsApp group. She had been talking about it all night at the party. She had promised to share it on the group, of which I was also a part. Just not the onlypart though.

We had our English Literature class onWednesday. She had volunteered to read “I saw from the Beach” by Thomas Moore. It was broad daylight. The whole class was her audience but I was the only one who was listening. Listening too much, I presume, and imagining even more.

On Thursdayshe was successful in giving us a surprise. I was shocked to the point of devastation.

“Z and I are dating”, she had told us. The two of them were bursting with laughter.


Today is Friday:

I am going home. Alone. I see a girl waving at me. What does she want? I think, probably waving at someone behind me.

Somewhere a villain will trick a sweetgirl. Not all fairytales have to be unrealistic.

It is high time I should stop blowing things out of proportion.

Originally Published on Medium.

The Miracle of Literature — A Painful Plath

The Cover of my Copy of “The Journals of Sylvia Plath”

Until I had not read Sylvia Plath’s work, I had no idea that poetic thoughts could be realistic too. I had first met her in the year 2014. I was staying at my cousin’s place and she happened to have a copy of “The Bell Jar” — Plath’s semi-autobiographical piece of fiction. When I say I met her, it is not just a figure of speech. Reading her work is akin to meeting her in person.

2014 had been a tough year for me. I was being introduced to the sound that shattering dreams make. Those who are familiar with it would know how horrifying it is. While those, who like me have grown accustomed to it, might even agree that once you get used to it, this sound actually grows on to you. You find it to be a fine composition. In fact, it’s my favorite genre of music now and I have Sylvia to thank for it too.

I found out that reading her books was like watching pain turn into a physical entity — something that you can touch, feel, and watch as it shrieks with pain. You sense the hair on your hand standing on end, one follicle after another, as you read one word after another. Thus, to say the least, “The Bell Jar” had had quite an effect on me. Yet, 3 years later, I was only left with just a minuscule portion of its original enormity — just a minute sensation and not the whole torture of being torn apart from limb to limb.

As a result, I, rather unwittingly opened the copy of “The Journals of Sylvia Plath” that my evil friends had presented to me as a gift.

The rest, as they say, was history and it was quite full of tortures too. I have not even read one fourth of this insanely enormous book. Yet, ever since I have started it, each night, I end up soaking my pillows with a storm of tears.

How an 18-year-old-girl, that also dead for quite a long time, can have this kind of effect on you is nothing if not a miracle of literature. I believe it to be the power of words that are so intricately merged with emotions that telling one apart from the other becomes quite impossible.

This article is, but my tiny effort, to pay homage to a tortured soul who helped me accept my sorrows and my pains as my own.

P.S: If you are not already a fan of hers, here is an excerpt from the book to make you thirst for more (why should I suffer alone):

“Why the hell are we conditioned into the smooth strawberry-and-cream Mother-Goose-world, Alice-in-Wonderland fable, only to be broken on the wheel as we grow older and become aware of ourselves as individuals with a dull responsibility in life?”

“to learn that while you dream and believe in Utopia, you will scratch & scrabble for your daily bread in your home town and be damn glad if there’s butter on it”

“to know that millions of others are unhappy and that life is a gentleman’s agreement to grin and paint your face gay so others will feel they are silly to be unhappy, and try to catch the contagion of joy, while inside so many are dying of bitterness and unfulfillment…”

An attempt to copy the cover of “The Journals of Sylvia Plath (Yes I draw like a child would draw)

A Perfect Sphere—WringoInk

“Not another triangle”, her mother scowled. The old woman was trying hard to control her anger but was clearly failing at it.

“It tastes perfectly alright”, Zebo protested in a small voice.

“Perfectly?”, her mother’s tone was extremely sarcastic, “Don’t you dare defend this misshapen piece of bread in front of me.” She exhaled and added somewhat sadly, “Girl you are not going to get married easily.”

Zebo knew there was no point in arguing anymore. Her mother’s honey-brown eyes were flashing with anger. She glanced at the grandfather clock that stood in the kitchen. It was 1:30 P.M. Abba would be here any minute, she thought. She grabbed her dupatta, which was hanging on the knob of the kitchen door, and covered herself. She left for her room as Amma stood up from her favorite chair. She would make a new one for Abba, she thought, it would be a perfect sphere.

Zoobia Shahid was among the brightest students in her class. The 14-year-old had only recently learned that world was elliptical. Copernicus and Galileo had faced quite a handful of troubles before the perfectionists finally came to terms with the fact that their beloved earth was not a perfect circle. She didn’t know what kind of sacrifice she would have to make for her parents to appreciate her truly.

“The girl has exceptional talent with words”, her language teachers would tell her parents on every parent-teacher meeting at school. While her Abba looked proud about it, Amman would only frown.

“Let’s go talk to her Home Economics teacher”, she would tell him. Zebo dreaded that very moment since she knew that teacher Zulaikhan would tell her parents about all her mischiefs.

“She shouldn’t be called a girl”, Ms. Zulaikhan would start. Her Abba would look annoyed about it but her Amma would only nod her head in a gesture of understanding and sympathy.

“She is the perfect definition of the word disaster”, her teacher would resume the chiding, “She had cut herself more times while peeling vegetables in the class than politicians tell lies in their entire lifetimes. Recently, she reached new heights after she accidentally set fire to the tablecloth on which she was working. You have no idea what a nightmare it was!”

Her mother would add snippets of her sins too. “She broke a dozen eggs before coming here…”, “You should see what a mess her room is…” and “One day she was playing with her younger brother. This girl had the nerve of using the cover of my new hot pot as a shield while she pretended to safeguard some imaginary kingdom with the rolling pin…”

“Oh, I can totally imagine the horror”, her teacher would gasp in a dramatic way. After a while, they would get bored of talking about Zebo. Then one of them would comment on some fine stitch on the other’s dress and they would enter a fantasy world of their own.

“Women”, Zebo and her father would sigh simultaneously.

Then there was the Rishta parade. Zebo was 100% successful in crushing yet another dream of her mother. The girl had effectively been rejected by a dozen rishrawalas. She deserved bonus points for being rejected for different reasons every single time. Her most popular tactics included revealing to the guests that the amazingly delicious delicacies were not prepared by her as opposed to the claims made by her Amman, sitting improperly, laughing too loudly, and bragging that she could twist her left thumb into an abnormal position. Once she had even told the potential groom’s mother that she might be at the risk of developing breast cancer because of family history. Her Amman had only one breast.

“What’s in the other cup then”, the aunty had asked her jokingly. Zebo had looked at her mother who was glaring at her from the adjacent sofa. “Probably some weapon of mass destruction to destroy my existence”, she had replied.


“There is no way to domesticate this wildflower”, her mother would often say and smile. Apparently, she was wrong because her death did the trick. Her Amman’s other breast had cancerous cells too. However, they were incurable being at the last stage.

Zebo is now a mother of two. You would never find a sphere more perfect in the world than the Rotis she cooks.

Originally published on Medium

Category ‘Young Adult’, Story 2

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Riddle Me Out!

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And once upon a time,
I was a piece
of a jigsaw puzzle.
But not the corner one —
that is always unique.
I was more of a left mid one.
And there were many others like me.
Thus, I was
Easy to misplace.

The child to whom I belonged
Threw me away
out of neglect one day.
The sweeper swept me away
Into the dustbin, I dwelled.
Until it was time,
for the waste to be taken away.

The garbage truck
was almost at the door.
The family has put,
the dustbins in the streets
I will be incinerated, I believed.

Fate, however, had other plans
For a stray dog came running
I was stuck in a piece of meat
And was taken away by the beast.

He ran away with his prize
Took me along too on the ride.
The mad guy didn’t look around,
and crashed
straight into the truck on the road
There was a banging sound!

I was thrown away, once again.
This time I landed into a gutter
But not quite so!
For I was stuck in its grill.

Nobody paid me much heed.
Autumn, Winter, Summers,
and then Spring reached.
Coffee, ketchup, acids,
All of them, I tasted.

Then one day,
a guy came along.
He opened his zipper
and peed all over me
while humming a song.

Stinking me was still stuck.
in the grill of a dirty gutter.

Then I saw a hippie
He was walking towards me.
“What will he do?”
The thought frightened me.

He was glancing
everywhere
Up and down
Left and right
As if he was searching
for treasure trove.

‘I am not what he wants’
I thought.
Yet his gaze lingered on me
He kneeled down and picked me (?)

He whiffed and smiled
To my surprise!
In his pocket,
I was taken!

Now I sit,
as an art piece.
Considered the best
in the gallery.
The artist has made me a celebrity!