Tiny Story: The Boatman

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He waited by the riverside, next to his boat, like every day, but excitement filled his every nerve at the thought of his daughter’s return.

She was the first person in his poor village to join a college. She made him so proud! He still remembered the moment when he had dropped her outside the college dormitory. She was scared and clung to him as she cried her heart out. Now, she is coming back for a vacation…

When he saw a group of college students approach, he looked for his daughter, who was lagging behind. How much had she grown up, dressed up like a ‘Memsahib‘ (Lady) now! How he missed her in the past six months!

She should have told him that she was bringing friends. He would have arranged more food and beds. He will do that once they reach the village, and buy some refreshments too…

He smiled at her reassuringly but she avoided meeting his eyes. One of the boys put his hand over her shoulders protectively.

Another asked him the rate of ferrying them all to the village. He looked at his daughter with the question in his eyes and saw her pleading silently.

He told them the rate.

As they all got in, he wiped his tears away and began rowing the boat.


Photo by Melissa Kumaresan on Unsplash

My Scrapes with ‘It’

As a response to Colin McQueen‘s comment on my recent post, The Poltergeist, I am hereby recounting my own experiences that were beyond explaination. I don’t call it ‘Paranormal’ because with all that I have experienced, who am I to say what’s normal.

It was regular middle-class apartment in Delhi in a 10-year old building. Only the hall received sunlight. The washroom led to two combined rooms at the back that had windows opening in an air shaft. No sunlight entered these rooms ever. Two other rooms at the back were locked by the owner for some reason.

The day I entered it, I got goosebumps. Since the earlier tenant had just moved out without a complaint, I ignored it assuming that the setting was spooky enough to set off my hyperactive imagination. I was between jobs and spent the days alone at home feeling cold eyes on me and frequent touch on my back. A few days were enough to rattle my nerves.

The day I opened the airshaft window was when it all amplified. That night, we heard noises in the room that was supposed to be empty. We decided to invest in a good rat poison. Next night, I felt that I was being strangled. I was able to throw it away with the name of Almighty, but it continued into a hallucination about my roomy being undead.

That got me talking. For the first time, I was taken seriously and my roommate admitted feeling ‘something’ too. We huddled in the hall (the only room that felt safe) and stayed awake till wee hours of morning. Only the sound of morning Azaan (prayers in a mosque) quietened our fear.

We decided that dangerous as it may be, we couldn’t run away and accept defeat. So, we have to atleast try to face ‘it’ first, whatever ‘it’ was. So we started praying religiously (literally) every day and casting ‘prayers of protection’ every morning, evening and night.

After that, ‘it’ stopped touching me and featuring in my dreams (apparently, I was the only one ‘it’ touched). The prayers were also supposed to remove anything evil from the place. But ‘it’ remained. We assumed ‘it’ wasn’t evil, just angry because of the disturbance. So, we reduced the use of the inner rooms and moved our beds in the hall.

The Kitchen was unavoidable though and that was when I could feel the eyes on me and, from the corner of my eyes, I could see someone standing or passing by. But ‘it’ didn’t scare me anymore. I had the power that comes from an unshakable faith in Almighty and his power on all beings that existed. I would just ignore it as a silent co-tenant.

That’s when ‘it’ started moving things around. At nights, we could hear stuff falling and fridge door rattling in inner rooms. Our dustbin would often travel several feet to block the door to the inner rooms while we were in the hall or kitchen. This pattern continued for several months until our last day. That day, I prayed for forgiveness and peace of whoever was stuck in the house.

When my roomate went to remove the last of the lights, ‘it’ rattled the locks of the locked rooms for something to remember ‘it’ by.

Tiny Story: The Poltergeist

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This story is based on my personal experience in one of the modern Delhi houses I had once lived in. 

She was living with me for 56 years, unaware of my existence, when someone told her. So, she decided to banish me. She invited someone who lit incense and candles, threw around some powder, said some mumbo-jumbo, and I felt I was on fire! Writhing in pain, I cut the bond between us and ran to the air shaft to hide.

I was aghast! What had I done to deserve this? I loved her! That’s why I stuck around for so long without scaring her. I never even peeped when she changed clothes. Clearly, she wasn’t worth it! So I stayed in the shaft.

Once she moved to another house, I decided to take over the place–a typical Delhi house having two rooms with windows opening in an air shaft and no sunlight, just as I like it. Still recovering from the heartbreak, I made up my mind not to share the space with anyone anymore. So, when the next tenants came along, I decided they had to go.

I started by making some noise to announce my presence, but they didn’t react. The girl who stayed home was more responsive–she shivered when she entered the place. So I decided to target her. I would stand too close, touch her back, and give her strangling dreams. The last one did it!

They went on high alert. But rather than running out of the place, they started praying everyday. Now, I couldn’t touch them. So, I began moving stuff around, clanging door locks and blocking doors, but they behaved as if I didn’t matter. They accepted me as a permanent resident!

Today, after six months of sharing their house with me, they are finally moving, and it makes me sad. I clang the locks to bid farewell.

If only ‘she’ had accepted me the same way, I wouldn’t be so lonely.


Photo by Mikhail Elfimov on Unsplash

Tiny Story: Abandoned

I looked at it from my late father’s eyes and I was instantly horrified.

The walls that once lovingly sheltered many generations were now infiltrated with creepers. Mould grew on the limestone paint. Holes appeared between the rocks where elements had eroded the mortar that held it all together.

The years of neglect had taken a toll.

The door still had the hole for the cat my late grandmother once had. I wondered whether any of her progeny still lived here or if they, too, had abandoned the house of my ancestors.

I pushed the door to open it but it resisted as if I wasn’t welcome. So, I pushed with all my might and the door creaked open hanging on its hinges limply, resigned at its inability to save the crumbling house’s honor from the prying eyes of the traitor–the one who had left it behind to find a better life elsewhere.

The roof that kept me and mine under its protection from sun and gale for a hundred years had finally caved in, smashing every last memory of my childhood underneath. The last reminder of my past was now past saving.


Photo by Enovate Studio on Unsplash

Tiny Story: First Night

Our first night with the baby

“WAAAAH!”

(Distracted, surprised, amused and harrowed) “Google never said a baby can poop, throw up, fart and pee at the same moment!”

“WAAAAAH!”

(Accusingly)“You don’t know a thing about babies!”

“WAAAAAAH!”

(Accusing back) “Do you?”

(Sigh) “How do we clean her now that she is covered with muck all over?”

“Bathe her?”

WAAAAAAAAH!”

“But it is 3 am and it is cold!

(Sigh)“Let’s ask your mom!”

WAAAAAAAAAAH!”

“But it is 3 am!”

“Then, how do we clean her?”

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!”

(Sigh) “Let me wipe her.”

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!”

(Sigh) “You try comforting her. I’ll wipe.”

-Dedicated to all parents who brave the uncharted waters, including mine

Being ‘Fair’

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Of all the pressure I bore being a woman born in India, the pressure of being ‘fair’ has been the weirdest.

In India, fair skin means white skin. I was born a Marwadi Hindu, that translates into skin the color of soil…

The soil used to grow cotton…

Black soil…

My mother, who is far ‘fairer’, spent several years scrubbing me up but I was my father’s daughter through and through.

As a child, I never cared about it. My cousins dabbling with ‘fairness’ creams were always mystery to me. These people were less admired, less loved and least preferred in marriage–second-class citizens. I wondered why? Is it our slave mentality? After 200 years of slavery under white-skinned people, have we started believing that white skin is superior?

As a way to show my anger, I shunned all fairness creams and lived on just soap and water…that is until I was bitten by the love bug.

I married a guy whose family was far ‘fairer’. They were a loving family so they took it upon themselves to make me look ‘beautiful’. Their sincere attempts to hide my color under the layers of make up made me sad. I went along with it though, applying fairness creams and bleaches with no results, using a lot of make up to hide my-‘self’, until my husband told me they make me look dead and I am beautiful without it all.

Now the make up and fairness creams are lying in some landfill while I walk around in my beautiful skin inside my happy bubble.


Photo by Brian Asare on Unsplash