Posted in Life and After

60 Feet Under

Author’s note: This is short story based on the first line suggested by Beetleypete.

It was so hot there, much hotter than I could ever have imagined it would be. I had always expected it to be cool below the surface since the desert sun couldn’t get to you. But apparently, I was wrong.

It was stifling hot and suffocating, even though, I didn’t need to breath anymore. The casket I was lying in was rather stuffy. May be a walk in the tomb would help.

It was just as dark outside. There was no way of knowing whether it was day or night. Who would want to live for eternity stuck in a hole where you could see neither the sun, nor the moon and stars. Not that I needed light to see. My eyes adjusted to the dark just fine but it didn’t take away the claustrophobia, reminding of the one time I had been foolish enough to hide in a closet.

The paintings on the walls depicted my life in the world outside–my wife, sons and daughters, my territory and the time of my glorious reign. As if I needed a reminder of that now! I already thought of it all the time. The other paintings were decorative and I had already memorised every single line from the countless lonely walks in the past years.

The bandages on my body were making me itchy. I wished I had my wife to scratch out that itch on my back but she was still out there, alive. Sigh! I will have to wait until she is done with her time on the surface until she is lowered here with me. If she chooses to sleep in the same tomb as me…Not sure she would. I wasn’t a model husband–too many mistresses to make her jealous.

She wasn’t allowed to have another husband to get even with me but what if she took a slave? Did she do that while I was still alive? With the dark one with the tall soldier-like build–the one she had chosen to keep when we were sifting through the war prisoners? In my mind, I could see the longing in her eyes for the tall monstrosity who became her personal guard and the knowing smirk on the guard’s face when he had leaned on one knee and kissed her knuckles.

I wanted to throw my fists through the walls. If I had a heart anymore, it would have burst with the pain. You would think that, with an eternity to brood, I would accept fate but, with an eternity to brood, the thoughts kept coming back. Like the day our last child was born–the child was darker than usual. The pain of deception had cut me through. It was one thing for me to sleep with another woman but to find out that my wife was doing another man…

When I had voiced my doubt, she had cried her heart out, reminding me of my own many indiscretions and fainted in her bed. I was aghast. I knew what she had done. I should have ordered their beheading right then. But here I was sitting in her bed, holding her hand, feeling guilty, waiting for her to wake up. Not sure when I fell asleep too. The choking sensation had had me reeling.

I wondered if he helped her or she did it on her own…

I wondered if she cried for me at all…

I woke up inside the casket in the tomb. It was so hot there, much hotter than I could ever imagine. I had always expected it to be cool below the surface since the desert sun couldn’t get to you. But apparently, I was wrong. The bandages were itchy and I wished I had my wife…

Posted in Life and After

The Boat Ride

The rocking movement of the boat is making me sick. It’s stuffy with the thirty of us inside the small cabin on the warm day. Our hands are tied to stop us from escaping, as if we could attempt anything like that after going without food for three days. I am not sure why this is happening.

Everything was so normal three days back. I was watching my father chopping wood outside our teepee when my mother had called me in for some chores. Suddenly, the whole place rang with booming sounds. We got down on our knees, terrified. An eerie silence ensued, soon followed by horror-filled wails and sound of urgent footsteps and struggle.

Worried for my father, I ran outside, in spite of my mother’s frantic calls. My father was lying on the earth. It was difficult to recognise him with a gaping hole on his cheek. Grandfather had a wound on his chest the oozed blood. I tried to staunch the blood flow, but his eyes rolled. Of course, I didn’t cry–true warriors don’t cry…may be a little, but father had once said that, since I was six, I was allowed.

People in foreign dress were holding weapons, asking women and children to line-up. I thought they were going to kill us too. But they tied our hands together behind us and made us march for two days. Elusa, my best friend, couldn’t walk as fast as they wanted because her one leg wasn’t quite right. They shot her in the head. Of course, I didn’t cry–true warriors don’t cry. But I was six…

On the second night, they brought us to this dark room that smelled of urine. We weren’t allowed to make a sound. Anybody who spoke was whipped until they bled. It was hot with around a hundred of us in there. I wanted to ask for food, or at least water, but mother shushed me. She said it will bring whiplashes. My feet were full of blisters. My sandals had broken on the way and I dare not ask for another pair.

Now thirty of us are cramped inside this boat…I am thirsty, hungry, tired and a little sick. Worse still, I understand nothing of what ‘they’ say, except that it isn’t anything good. They haven’t told us where they are taking us…or may be they have, we just can’t understand them.

I whisper, “Mother, I’m going to be sick. Should I ask them if they can let me out, so I can throw up?”

“Honey! I don’t think they’d care if you throw up on yourself. We are just chattel for them.”

Scared, I blurt out, “Will they kill us too?”

But Mother is thoughtful, “I don’t think so. They could have killed us at the village, if they wanted. May be, they will sell us…”

“So, where are they taking us?”

“Not sure, but feels like it is terribly far away.”

I finally ask the question that has been killing me for all these days, “If they sell us, will I still be allowed live with you, Mother?”

Her lips tremble but she’s silent, looking at me with eyes full of pain. Of course, I don’t cry–true warriors never cry. But, then, I’m just six…

Author’s note: Before slavery was abolished in the USA, native Americans who were prisoners of war were sold as slaves. Once slavery was abolished in USA, these prisoners were shipped to Mexico, where slavery was still legal, in stuffy, small boats. Children as young as six years and women were sold as chattel to whoever made the highest bid. They, then, lived and died on the whim of their owners, without any rights and treatment fit for animals.

Posted in Life and After

The Misty Castle

cederic-x-21DP3hytVHw-unsplash

The crumbling walks

and tottering walls

whisper the stories of bygone…

The gates relive the shrieks

of the maidens the princes took…

Floor echoes the laments

of farmers forced to give up

lands to build the majestic view…

The walls, washed since,

hold traces of blood

of labour forced to trade

shovel for spears

to fight the battles

they didn’t choose…

All to pacify kings

who couldn’t care less if

babies died of hunger…

The wind in the castle

passages quietly whispers

to those who’d close their eyes

to the view and just listen…


Photo by Cederic X on Unsplash

Posted in Life and After

History: Survivor Stories – From the Horses’ Mouth

“The monsters looked like a small grey mountains.”

“They had large wings where ears should be and a hand in place of nose that they used to pick and throw us around.”

“As His Majesty Alexander’s war horse, I had believed nothing in the world could scare me but the war cry of these ‘Alifants’ sent chill up my spines.”

“I’m glad we returned after that encounter on the banks of river Indus. I don’t think we could have survived one more.”

-Survivor stories by His Majesty Alexander’s war horses

Posted in Life and After

Tiny Story: Jaliawala Bagh

She had run to the park like a crazy woman where Britishers had opened fire on a peaceful gathering. “But surely, they would spare a four-year old”, she had thought.

Now she stood petrified, looking with glazed eyes at the mountains of dead bodies and wondering which one search first.

Posted in Life and After

History: Sati

Stirred by the burning sensation, she had come back from her grief-filled fog. She realised her clothes were dripping with oil; and she was burning on her dead husband’s pyre.

She tried to escape but her relatives pushed her back in until she stopped moving, all on the pretext of reuniting her with her husband.