This is the seventh part in an ongoing serial I’m writing. To read from the beginning, click here.
‘So what you been doing for two hundred and fifty years?’ Damon asked his brother.
Crispin shrugged. ‘You know…stuff.’
‘What sort of stuff?’
‘You know,’ Crispin repeated. ‘Same old, same old.’
Damon was about to sigh, when he realised he wasn’t particularly interested in hearing what Crispin had spent the last two and half centuries doing. No doubt it was nefarious. No doubt some of it at least, was criminal.
They fell once more into silence, though it could hardly be described as companionable. Yet it wasn’t too long before the sound of rattling could be heard somewhere amongst the gravestone to their right.
Damon halted and peered into the gloom and a moment later the cause of the noise became apparent. ‘Oh no,’ Damon whispered.
Authur’s note: Haiku is a form of short poetry originally from Japan. Traditional Japanese haiku consist of three phrases in a 5, 7, 5 pattern (5,7,5 syllables or words in English), and a seasonal reference.
Resuse, Repurpose, Recycle is the rage of the day. It is fashionable to paint stained T-shirts, cut old socks into mittens and carry the old, ‘vintage’ bag your grandmother received on her wedding day while sporting the latest shoes (that needed a home loan to buy) to eat out in restaurants that were once aeroplanes. I am supporter of recycling old stuff to save the environment.
But my daughter has taken the ‘Resuse, Repurpose, Recycle’ phrase to another level. I had once shared her story where Lambert, the Sheepish Lion was repurposed to be Lamabert, Hippoish Hippo.
After creating several versions of the story (Lambert, The Sheepish Crocodile, Lambert: The Wolfish Lion, Lambert: The Sheepish Hippo), she stopped and I sighed with relief. I am not the one for plagiarism. Now, she has taken a similar approach for a Hindi kids song, “Aaj Mangalwar h“.
Original plot: A mouse gets ill on a Tuesday and goes to doctor. The doctor gives him injection and he cries in pain, “Ooi, Ooi, Ooi”.
First day she asked me to replace the story with another animal, I got creative, using a Giraffe, I built a story where Giraffe, being too tall, could not find shelter on a rainy day and fell ill. His mom took him to the doctor. The doctor tried injection but it broke. So, he gave him a medicine and Giraffe became well.
Big mistake! Now my daughter asks me to build stories around the same plot, using:
Different relations: Mom ill, Baby ill, Father ill, Sibling ill…∞
Different diseases: Fever, runny nose, runny stomach…∞
Different causes for the diseases: Bad weather, playing in rain, over eating, stomach infection, swimming too long…∞
Doctors of different species
Different forms of medication
The idea is superb since the combinations are endless but it is a blow to my creativity.
Once, when I retaliated and declined to honour the request for these stories, my daughter decided to humour me by telling me the stories herself. In one of them, she gave 100 injections to a lizard baby.
I feel for the lizard baby and wonder if she survived the wrongful detainment and the horrific treatment. Nobody deserves that, even in imagination. As the diseases and their treatments become more graphic, I am praying this fetish passes soon before we get a notice from PETA…
Author’s note: This is a painting-promt story based on my four-year-old daughter’s painting ‘Stork in Dress’. Please don’t look for logic. There is none.
Long ago, a stork was in love with a princess or, to be more accurate, in love with the long, flowing dresses she wore. He wished he could have one for himself. He spent long fruitless hours standing alone in the pond in front of her window in the palace grounds, looking grumpily at the princess.
One evening, when the drowsy sun dipped its feet in the carmine horizon and an orange moon rose in the star-studded sky rubbing its eyes, he saw something that looked like a large insect near the pond. Contemplating eating it, he stalked closer. The ‘thing’ magicked the beautiful rose bushes to look like cactus with flowers–he realised it wasn’t an insect but a sprite. Sprites are eternal mischief-makers with magic. A plan formed in his mind.
Taking her by surprise, he caught the sprite in his beak by one arm. The sprite cried out in pain, “It hurts! Let me go.” With his mouth still closed to keep a grip on the fae, he muffled out, “Promise to give me anything I ask for?” Writhing, she cried, “I promise!” He let her go and sat her on a rock.
The sprite was angry but fae can’t lie–she had promised and would have to give him anything he asks for. But, there is always a loophole, so, she asked, “What would you like me to do?” The stork said, “I want a dress just like the one the princess is wearing today–the one with rainbow colours.” The sprite thought for a moment and smiled, “So shall it be, then. I will weave you a dress out of light.”
The stork was excited beyond words. The sprite quickly called upon her powers. The lake waters shined like crystals, splitting the light of the setting sun and the rising moon into thousands of colourful ribbons. The sprite quickly wove the ribbons of light in to a dress even more breathtaking as that of the princess. The bodice shined on its own and sparkled against the palace’s crystal windows drawing gazes of the residents.
At the sprite’s nudging, the stork greedily put it on, but his wings would not fit in.
“Oh! The dress looks rather weird on your thin waist and legs, and your wings cannot enter it’s sides. Would you like a human body to go with it too?”
“Oh! Of course!”
So, the sprite mumbled as the stork looked at his reflection in the pond, admiring his gradually changing body: human legs, stomach, chest, hands, neck, hair…
…and the sprite vanished. He still had the stork’s face!
He was irritated in extreme. Now he will have to catch the sprite again to complete the change. In all this excitement, he missed the fact that he stood in the palace grounds smack in front of the princess’ window as half a human in a dress that shined like a beacon. The palace servants had seen him changing his body without spotting the tiny sprite. Now all of them ran towards him, brandishing swords and pitchforks, shouting, “Monster! Monster!”
He attempted to fly away but his wings were gone. He tried to swim away in the pond but his dress, now wet, pulled him down, nearly drowning him. He came out of the pond somehow hoping to run away, but too many men surrounded him. No one asked him questions.
He never saw when his life-blood seeped into the rainbow dress he had wrested out of an irate sprite.
Shaily Agrawal is a small-town Indian and a working mother. Her skewed perspective is apparent through her stories on her blog: https://fishinthetrees.home.blog/ You can read her first short story collection, The Forest Bed on Amazon Kindle.
Last night around 11, we heard a hair-raising screach of car tyres in the narrow lane outside my house, followed by a loud thud. We ran towards the windows facing the main road. The car had ended against the electric pole across the road.
My first thought was, “Is that a learner who pushed the accelerator too hard? Is he even an adult?”
Smell of burnt tyres filled the air and a whiff of smoke rose from the car front. No one stirred out. The next thought was, “Is he dead?”
As I itched to run out and help them, the family of the car’s passenger (who live at the end of the long lane) ran into the scene. The shouting that ensued confirmed my worst fear–the driver and co-passenger had been drinking in the car. My will to help died right away.
That pole could have been me or my child!
Of course, they have the right to risk their own lives–they can hang themselves from a fan if they want. They don’t have the right over my family though.
The policeman in the area alerted the driver to remove the bottles of alcohol and go home before the police car arrived and checked him for a breath analyzer test. The owner will get his insurance money and buy a new car soon for a repeat performance. Apparently, he’s not new to all this and this drunk driving will go on until someone dies. I hope it is him.
Author’s note: Lantern is a type of descriptive poetry from Japan that follows the syllable structure of one, two, three, four and one syllables per line to shape a lantern when the words are centered to middle.
All in? Have you ever picked up a small dog or a puppy? (Of course you have!) Did you ask for their consent first? The first time I really thought about dogs consenting was when I read Gregory Berns’ How Dogs Love Us. He was very careful to ensure that all the dogs participating in […]
When I was brought home, everybody had rushed out to fawn over me. Ever since, it was all the way downhill for me. For years, I was the most abused creature in existence–people walked all over me. They threw things at me without faintest sign of remorse. In fact, one rainy day, when water seeped in from the windows, I was left to shiver in cold. Nobody thought of mopping me up until the next morning!
Now that I am old and frayed at the edges, they’ve left me out for the garbage truck to pick up. Life is so unfair!