Saturday, June 30, 2018

Software Engineer Troubles


They say daybreak is beautiful. I see it today, it takes my breath away. I don’t need coffee today to kick start my day. I already feel charged; an adrenaline high rushing through my veins. My plan, if all goes well could go viral on social media, maybe even make me famous or it could end up becoming the biggest embarrassment of my life. A complete disaster. I hope for my sake, it is the former.

I take a quick shower and get ready for work. I check my laptop bag, make sure I take my wallet, my house keys and by force of habit, my car keys as well. Then as an afterthought, I realize I will not be driving today. Chucking them back into the key holder, I pause and take a deep breath. I hope I do not end up becoming a laughing stock. For all I know, I might be covered in newspapers and on media channels. Saying a quick prayer, I lock up the house and leave.

I see the white horse, saddled up, all ready to go. She seems restless, symbolic of something I am going through as well. Donning my bag across my body, I take the stairs two at a time and reach my ‘vehicle’ in less than fifteen seconds.

“As ready as you are,” I mumble. “We’re both made for bigger things.” I say and giving myself a thrust, jump up and take my place. Then off we go, maneuvering the Bangalore roads, making heads turn. I see people whip out their phones and start shooting. Holding my head high, I pose for pictures with the placard I made yesterday night. “Last Working Day as a Software Engineer ” it reads.

I am Roopesh Kumar Verma. And today is my last day at work.

Picture Credit: Deccan Herald
The above is a fictionalized version of that morning – a possible rundown of what it may have been like. The event did happen for real. You can read more about it here.

The above post is post 6 of 7 in a series of posts written as part of a 7-day, based on today's image prompt, shown below, published within the 'Write Tribe Festival of Words June 2018' challenge.

Picture Credit: Pexels

Vantage Point


“The Castel Sant’ Angelo. Translated to English, it means the Castle of the Holy Angel. Commissioned by the great roman Emperor Hadrian …”

Standing to the far end of the group, five year old twins Ishaan and Kabir zone out of the well-rehearsed intonations of the Italian tourist guide. Eyes darting to both sides, looking for something to hold their interests, the impish ones settle on the majestic spiral staircase, the four flights of which seem to soar and meet the towering sky.

“Come on, Ishaan. Let’s go. I have seen this place before. Dumbledore can be up there.”
“You need a train to go to Hogwarts. Trains don't go on stairs. How will Dumbledore go then? You’re dumb. I am going upstairs.”
“No wait. What if Mom sees us?” says Ishaan, unconvinced and not in the mood for a talk down.
“We’ll come sliding back down in two minutes. She won’t even know. Imagine that! Come on Ishaan. Stop being a sissy.”

And a minute later, when the group huddles closer to the guide, the two boys find a quick moment to sneak away in the direction of the stairs.

***

“The Castel Sant’ Angelo. Translated to English, it means the Castle of the Holy Angel. Commissioned by the great roman Emperor Hadrian …”

Standing at the right end of the group, the handsome thirty-something gentleman registers none of the words but finds that the steady cadence of the tourist guide’s voice has a soothing rhythm to it. Then he sees her. Walking down the stairs; gliding even. An apparition in blue. As pale as the sky, as pale as her eyes. She looks beautiful, as she always did. She comes to a stop, ten paces away and he finds him unable to breathe. The air around him suddenly feels a little chiller, like the temperature dropped a hundred degrees.

Propelled by a force he does not recognize, he finds himself moving towards her. And then he’s thrown off his feet. Stumbling to find his balance, he looks around to find two children pushing him aside and running past him, onto the staircase. He looks up at her, knowing that she would be smiling at their antics. But she’s gone. A knowing sadness descends upon him. He sighs. It’s been six years since his wife died. He wonders if he will ever be able to let go of the haunting memories.

***

“The Castel Sant’ Angelo. Translated to English, it means the Castle of the Holy Angel. Commissioned by the great roman Emperor Hadrian …”

“I wanted to go to Vishnodevi and look where I am," says sixty five year old Vijaya, bored of the tourist guide's monologue and wanting to rest her tired knees.
“What would you have done in Vaishnodevi anyway, Vijaya?”
“I had a pact with my God, Rama. I had made a promise. I would climb the 4000 steps there, my offering to our Creator.”
“Oh come on, Vijaya. Be a Roman when you’re in Rome. We have Vaishnodevi back in India. Here, they have Castel Sant’ Angelo. See those stairs? Must be easily 400 of them. Go climb them up and down ten times. You’ll be done.”
“You can’t joke about these things. You should take God a little more seriously, Rama” gasps Vijaya, appalled at the casual disregard Rama has for God and religion.

Rama looks around disinterested and does a double take as she sees her two five-year-old grandsons giggling upstairs at the first landing. Right now, the only thing she wants to take seriously is catching hold of them, possibly by their ears, and bringing them back downstairs.

Picture Credit: Pexels
The above post is post 5 of 7 in a series of posts written as part of a 7-day, based on today's image prompt published within the 'Write Tribe Festival of Words June 2018' challenge. The one-day delay continues to cascade but I hope to catch up, hopefully tonight!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

To Infinity And Beyond


It’s almost time. Any day now. I think I am ready, R. I think after months of denial, grieving, anger and helplessness I am finally at the stage of acceptance. I am ready to let go. My diseased body is killing me. Figuratively and literally. But months of carrying on with the physical pain and ache has almost done me in.

I think I am finally ready to join you out there. Well, almost. There is one last thing to do. One last trip to embark upon. Everything else, I crossed off our list. Yes R, our list.

I stand up and slowly wobble over to the rickety old desk at the corner. The light from the desk light feels faint but I can do everything by the feel of my fingers now. My joints ache, my bones hurt but I cannot complain. My body has served me well. Now it’s time to renounce it and move past into the vast expanse of the afterlife, the endless vacuum out there, whatever happens next.

I run my hands over the contents of the drawer. The diary where you used to maintain our expenses, our trip calendar, your poetry book, the albums. I have done these a million times. Taken them out and felt them, smelled them. I still feel your presence in them. And under these, I find what I am looking for. I pull it out gently.

It still feels like it was taken just yesterday, though cracks have developed over time. The thin layer of film has worn off at the corners. But the image is fresh in my mind. I do not have to look at it. It is etched in my memory. The grey white sand, the white kaftan you wore. Your dainty young hands in my well rounded ones. And the rings.

I have to go find those now. I have to go find those and bring them back. Then I’ll be ready. I promise you I will dig those out from where we buried them for infinity, never to be disturbed again. A memory to be frozen in time, we had said back then. I will dig those up and bring them back to you. Just like I promised you, R.

I tuck in the picture neatly into my notebook and place it inside the overnight case. We will make the final journey together.

I will see you in a while R.
I am ready.

Picture Credit: Pexels
The above post is post 4 of 7 in a series of posts written as part of a 7-day, 'Write Tribe Festival of Words June 2018' challenge. The one-day delay continues to cascade but I hope to catch up! 

For a change, I incorporate two prompts in a single post this time! The image prompt and the below creative writing prompt.

"Day 4 – 27 Jun – Write a story about a character who finds out that he or she is dying and has been knocking things off his/her bucket list and has finally reached the last item."

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Little Prankster


“How could you, Ashish? One thing I ask you to do, one thing and you lose him!”
“Come on Maya, stop being so dramatic. He’s not a baby. He’s thirteen. He’ll be here.”
“Here? Here? Where is here? Do you see him? What if someone …” she gasps, unable to fathom the thought of something untoward happening to me. I squeeze myself further behind the palm tree to avoid any runaway chance of being seen.

I watch her walk up and down the beach. Frantic, hurried, impatient. She yells out my name. Out into the waves where it mixes with the salty breeze and gets lost in the surf. She does it over and over, left and right, this way and that. She starts to get worried. And it bothers me. Suddenly I start to doubt my genius idea. Maybe I should have followed Abhinn’s lead.

And then I hear her bloodcurdling scream. This is it. She has found the shoes. The shoes arranged in perfect symmetry right where the tide starts. It won’t be long now.

“No … no … no … my baby. How could you? Ashish, no …” she cries, falling into a heap. Dad looks like he’s struck by lightning. And I finally realize the joke’s gone too far. I step out from behind the palm tree, my bravado having gone up in smoke. Uh-oh, this doesn't look like it will end well. But I have to put on a brave face; the task has to be completed. All for a good cause.

“Mom, Dad?” I inch my way towards them, my voice close to a whisper.

I watch them do a double take as they take in the scene – me walking out from my hideout, barefoot, the shoes, and the sheepish look on my face. Mom runs to me and plasters sloppy kisses all over my face, her minty breath in my hair as she mixes in curse words with lovey-dovey nonsensical phrases. I watch Dad’s face change shades of colour and end at a dark shade of red.

“I just … Abhinn said if his folks don’t let him go on the school trip he would go jump into the sea. But … I wanted to show him that’s not needed. I told him … I told him you love me. See? How much you love me? You … so Dad, can I go on the trip?” I say it all out in one long breath and then summon the courage to look up at him.

He looks at me, eyes blazing; the gaze a little too discomforting for me. Then, he slaps me hard across the face. OK, I am pretty sure that means no trip for me. And as it turns out, all that idiot Abhinn had to do was ask his folks nicely and they agreed. My folks are so dramatic, I think as I turn around and walk away rolling my eyes.

Picture Credit: Pexels
The above post is post 3 of 7 in a series of posts written as part of a 7-day, 'Write Tribe Festival of Words June 2018' challenge and based on the image prompt for the day! Albeit a day late. But then, better late than never! For more on the same, click on the link.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Tell Me Your Dreams


“Tell me your dreams, Marco. What do you see, mi hijo? Where do you want to go? What do you want to do?” She asked, dusting off the caked dried mud from his hair. Tiny wisps of blonde-brown hair fell across his eyebrow making him look younger than the tender age of four that he was and she caught herself choking back a tear. She could not afford to seem weak in front of him. She had to stay strong. Yet another year, a whole year of 365 days. And then it would be all over.

“Oy Natasja, your turn! They be a waiting for ya, don’t keep ‘em waiting girl!” yelled out one of the other women, making Natasja turn and look back at the source of the voice. Little Marco chose the distraction to make a run for it. Putting up buildings in the mud with his friend Alex was way better than talking to Mama about stuff that made her cry. Besides, Marco didn’t dream. He saw. The long line of clothes that hung way high up for him to reach. All he wanted was those colourful striped clothes. A different one to wear each day. But the last time he had told that to Mama, she had gotten cross with him.

Mama said they would be out of here to a new home in another year. Marco didn’t know what one year meant, but he hoped it wouldn’t be too long. He was bored of the clothes he wore every day; the monotony wore him out. He yearned for those blues and reds and browns. The colourful shirts that hung upside down every single day on the clothesline beckoning him over to an exciting life on the other side.

“Come on Diego, I don’t got all day man,” said the beefy heavy set man, slapping the quiet guy on his back, pulling him out of his reverie. Diego let out a long sigh and threw out the excess water from the trough. Getting to his feet, he heaved up the twenty odd inmate garments he had just washed and handed them over to Garcia. His task for the day was done. Now it was up to Garcia to get those dried and back. Standing up, he arched his back and stretched himself, his eyes coming to rest on the wall that separated the men’s quarters from the women’s.

He wondered how his wife and son were faring. Not a day went by that he didn’t rue getting into the wrong side of the law. That he was incarcerated was one thing, but the fact that he had gotten his pregnant wife entangled in this was something that he struggled to live with every day.

Behind him, the previous day’s laundry fluttered in the soft cool breeze.

Pic Credit: Pexels
The above post is post 2 of 7 in a series of posts written as part of a 7-day, 'Write Tribe Festival of Words June 2018' challenge and based on the image prompt for the day! For more on the same, click on the link.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

How Do I Let You Go?


So, this is where it all ends; where I am supposed to let you go; where WE are supposed to let you go. But it seems like just another day. So regular, so ordinary. I have come to the end of the rope, I want to hold on but I can feel it slipping out of my grasp. My fingers tingle as I struggle to hold on tighter, I cannot let you go, I am not ready yet.

I watch the machine beep behind you; the rhythmic pulsations sending a spike every few seconds. I watch your chest rise and fall, proof that you’re alive. But then, you’re not, are you?

The insurance company refused to pay for life support; they say our policy does not cover it. I want you to wake up so I can curse you for choosing such a shoddy life insurance. I want you to wake up so I can hand over the reins to you and rest a little, I am so exhausted. But then it’s selfish of me to say that when you’re struggling so hard to live. I want you to wake up so you can witness the miracle we created, the one that now sleeps fitfully in my arms, blissfully unaware of the mental agony I go through.

Medical science has endured miracles. Sadly, none of those seem to work for us. And nothing moves you anymore. Not our family, not our friends, not people from work. And certainly not me. I read you stories and recollected memories. I ranted and raved, cried and screamed, cursed and abhorred. I even tried to hate you for putting me in this position and failed at that. Miserably.

I am down to the end of the rope. Because I am down to the last shred of our savings. They say I should let you go so I can provide for our baby. I want you to wake up so I do not have to choose between you and her. And so, in a last ditch attempt of desperation, I place her dainty little form on you. I watch as she quivers a bit and places her tiny fist under your chin, settling down neatly into the nook of your neck. Like it was sculpted for her. Laying there like that, you both look like a picture of normalcy. And yet I know, it is anything but that.

I watch for signs of recognition, awareness, anything. But there is none. Maybe I imagine the flutter of your lashes, or I desperately will you to awake. Do you see her at all, this seven pound mixture of awe and delight? We have waited forever. You and me. And we have waited thirteen days. Me and her. Feels like forever. Please wake up.

The monitor behind you continues to write out spikes, the machine continuing to breathe for you as I realize I have been holding my breath. How do I do this? I am not ready. I don’t think I will ever be. How do I let you go?

Image Copyright: Pexels
The above post is post 1 of 7 in a series of posts written as part of a 7-day, 'Write Tribe Festival of Words June 2018' challenge and based on the image prompt for the day! For more on the same, click on the link.
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