Icarus #poetry

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Flash Fiction: “Small Talks”

 

Small Talks 

500 words

The mall was full of scrambling people, as always. So many faces, so many shops.

So what were the odds of me bumping into her in that very shop, in that very moment?

“Hey!” she screamed. But in a calm way. “Hi! How are you?”

“I’m alright,” I managed, not so calm. “It’s, uh, it’s good to see you. Shopping?”

“Nah. Just checking out boys.”

I opened my mouth to speak but closed them quickly. There was a knowing smirk in her face.  I laughed, rubbing the back of my head. “I’m just going to believe you didn’t mean a satire.”

“I did not.” Her dramatic tone said otherwise. “So. Where have you been these days? What are you up to?”

“I’m, uh, I’m just… hanging in there, you know?”

“Mm-hmm, I know. I know all about those.”

“And you?” I said. “Did you land that bank job, by the way?”

“I did,” she nodded, not so excited. “It lasted for exactly eight months.”

“Why?” I wasn’t one bit interested in knowing why she could not continue her dream job for more than eight months, but I was afraid of the awkward silence.

She began explaining about something to do with her career plans and then about her passion and then a hefty argument about how passion and career were two different things not to be mixed. Textbook stuff, really.

“Do you think I shouldn’t have quit the job?” she said.

I snapped. “Huh? Oh.” The fuck would I know. “Are you happy?”

She made a thinking face. It suited her well. She was a smart woman, and the last thing she needed was my wisdom. Perhaps she too was afraid of that silence. “Hmm. Not any more than I was before.” She shrugged. “But I do get time for a plenty of mall visits!”

“And isn’t it all that matters?” I made a dramatic arc in air with my hand.

She laughed.

Ah, and finally it was there. The part I dreaded the most. That awkward silence.

She watched my face. I mean really watched. Like there was no pressure on her mind to bring up something to talk. Like it was just okay to stand and stare at each other. Like it didn’t spark any old memories. Like she didn’t care.

My mind, on the other hand, was doing thousands of computations, trying to come up with anything smart to say. The mall is exceptionally well-lit today. Was that stall here a few days ago? Don’t you think the babies shouldn’t be allowed in here?

“How’s your husband?” Oh, great. “I mean… how he’s doing? Not, uh, not how he is.

She smiled. “He’s good.” She shook her head as if to say ‘meh’. “He’s all right, actually. He says marrying me has been, um, really painful. Worst decision.” She forced a few extra nods at the end of that statement.

I let out a snort. “You always have the right things to say.”

She feigned a bow. Then a moment of silence later, said, “I miss you. Well, sometimes. Can’t we be like this… again?”

I didn’t bother thinking about it. I had done it enough. “No.”

She nodded. I knew she understood that. Ever so practical, the two of us. Too practical, some would say.

Silence.

“So,” she said, smiling a sad smile for the first time. “I guess I’ll run into you some place else then?”

“I look forward to it.”

Book Review: The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday

The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Adversity to AdvantageThe Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage by Ryan Holiday
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ryan’s book was the first proper introduction to Stoicism for me. I have to say I’m blown away by the concept of it.

Besides a healthy dose of Stoicism, Ryan also serves a great deal of historical and modern a day anecdotes that builds up toward one of the greatest Stoic mantra: The Obstacle is The Way

Ryan’s research and observation is commendable. And for me, as a writer, quite inspiring as well.

He brings in years of knowledge he gained by reading a whole lot of books. And turns them into lessons for his readers regarding how Perception Is Everything, and how Every Obstacle Is An Opportunity In Disguise.

This is a revolutionary book for me. One of those that will be a part of me forever and one that I’ll be returning to time and again.

Thank you Ryan Holiday for giving such a fresh perspective on things, and being an inspiration.

View all my reviews

A Marriage with Captivity #FlashFiction

 

A Marriage with Captivity

243 words

My days are spent in captivity. There are no walls, chains or bars. It’s a prison of expectations, of conformity, of false ideologies.

Thoughts, logic, and ideas stay afar. Ambitions, passion, dreams are luxuries I cannot afford.

But it was not always so.

Once, my passion was a whirlwind, my courage an ocean.

I spoke my thoughts. I took risks. I got inspired. I was a shining beam of energy.

I was alive.

My days are spent in captivity. But who is my captor?

Not he, obviously. He did not lie or force me into this. There never were any false promises of anything better.

I think… I think I invited myself into this.

After all, wasn’t I all those things I said earlier? And if so, who could have ever forced upon me a life I did not want? Who could have held me down had I not allowed it? Who could have stopped me but myself?

But does that mean I deserve this? Or that I should keep up with this?

Is change really so sacrilegious?

It doesn’t matter now. The questions are useless. Useless, unless I stop asking it to myself, and bring it out before the world. Before them. And that, I cannot do.

Or… will not do? I don’t know.

Is it that I cannot change? Or that I don’t want to?

Is it my self-sacrifice, or downright weakness?

Holy Humanity #FlashFiction #7

 

Holy Humanity

400 words

Just before the dawn broke on one of the longest April nights, Kishore had arrived at the temple to open its holy doors. He stepped in as usual, bowing before the gods, and went about performing his daily chores.

First, he swept the floor, and mopped it clean with a soft piece of satin cloth. Then he wiped every idols and statues – removing the stains of tika and decaying flowers offered by devotees the day before. He also bathed every God with the holy water, collected freshly from the nearby river, and rubbed them dry till they shone.

All this he did with utmost passion and devotion, humming all the while the holy chants in praise of God, in praise of Creation and in praise of purity and goodness of the universe. Finally, it was time for the formal worshiping ritual. He offered the gods fresh tika, flowers, water, and then recited the devotional mantra, a prayer for the grace of the God.

After all this had been completed, he stepped outside the temple and walked toward the outer gate, to a small area where a goat had been tied to a post.

He untied the animal and almost dragged it to the temple doors. One could see, if one chose to see, that the beast seemed quite upset to be separated from the lush, juicy grass it had been chewing away idly.

Two more people joined Kishore at the temple door, who helped him hold the goat in place, making sure there was limited movement.

He put some tika on the goat’s forehead and bestowed upon it some fragrant flowers. Then out came a large scimitar, and Kishore duly worshipped the killer knife as well, repeating the process of putting tika and flowers, and reciting the mantra — the holy ritual of purification!

Once it was done, Kishore raised the sharp metal high above him, and brought it down heavy, putting his entire weight behind it, on the goat’s neck. It took him two attempts to completely decapitate the animal.

He sprayed the blood all over the Goddess who loomed large above all other idols, and handed over the carcass to his two assistants. What they did with it was no longer his concern.

For all the worshiping and rituals of purification that went down that morning, one would wonder what part was meant for the cleansing of the taint on humanity.

Small Talks #FlashFiction #6

 

Small Talks 

500 words

The mall was full of scrambling people, as always. So many faces, so many shops.

So what were the odds of me running into her in that very shop, in that very moment?

“Hey!” she screamed. But in a calm way. “Hi! How are you?”

“I’m alright,” I managed, not so calm. “It’s, uh, it’s good to see you. Shopping?”

“Nah. Just checking out boys.”

I opened my mouth to speak but closed them quickly. There was a knowing smirk in her face.  I laughed, rubbing the back of my head. “I’m just going to believe you didn’t mean a satire.”

“I did not.” Her dramatic tone said otherwise. “So. Where have you been these days? What are you up to?”

“I’m, uh, I’m just… hanging in there, you know?”

“Mm-hmm, I know. I know all about those.”

“And you?” I said. “Did you land that bank job, by the way?”

“I did,” she nodded, not so excited. “It lasted for exactly eight months.”

“Why?” I wasn’t one bit interested in knowing why she could not continue her dream job for more than eight months, but I was afraid of the awkward silence.

She began explaining about something to do with her career plans and then about her passion and then a hefty argument about how passion and career were two different things not to be mixed. Textbook stuff, really.

“Do you think I shouldn’t have quit the job?” she said.

I snapped. “Huh? Oh.” The fuck would I know. “Are you happy?”

She made a thinking face. It suited her well. She was a smart woman, and the last thing she needed was my wisdom. Perhaps she too was afraid of that silence. “Hmm. Not any more than I was before.” She shrugged. “But I do get time for a plenty of mall visits!”

“And isn’t it all that matters?” I made a dramatic arc in air with my hand.

She laughed.

Ah, and finally it was there. The part I dreaded the most. That awkward silence.

She watched my face. I mean really watched. Like there was no pressure on her mind to bring up something to talk. Like it was just okay to stand and stare at each other. Like it didn’t spark any old memories. Like she didn’t care.

My mind, on the other hand, was doing thousands of computations, trying to come up with anything smart to say. The mall is exceptionally well-lit today. Was that stall here a few days ago? Don’t you think the babies shouldn’t be allowed in here?

“How’s your husband?” Oh, great. “I mean… how he’s doing? Not, uh, not how he is.

She smiled. “He’s good.” She shook her head as if to say ‘meh’. “He’s all right, actually. He says marrying me has been, um, really painful. Worst decision.” She forced a few extra nods at the end of that statement.

I let out a snort. “You always have the right things to say.”

She feigned a bow. Then a moment of silence later, said, “I miss you. Well, sometimes. Can’t we be like this… again?”

I didn’t bother thinking about it. I had done it enough. “No.”

She nodded. I knew she understood that. Ever so practical, the two of us. Too practical, some would say.

Silence.

“So,” she said, smiling a sad smile for the first time. “I guess I’ll run into you some place else then?”

“I look forward to it.”

Don’t Talk to Strangers #FlashFiction (No. 5)

 

Don’t Talk to Strangers

420 words

Mom says to not talk to strangers. She doesn’t want her little girl anywhere near them.

Maybe that’s why we live in a poorer, isolated part of the town. Mom says it suits us well. Behind an old Hospice, shut down years ago, we live in a small group. Us, Mom’s few friends, and their few children — the only people I’m allowed to befriend.

But what I really long for is to get to know the strangers out there. That girl who jogs every morning around the park next to the Hospice, that boy crossing the street with earphones plugged in his ear, that driver honking helplessly at the cow that won’t move an inch.

I wonder what it’s like to be among them.

Frankly, I am bored with this life Mom has chosen for me.

Don’t go there. Don’t come here. Don’t talk to him. Don’t disturb him!

It’s like she doesn’t want me to be close to anyone but herself!

So one night, when I saw this young man, smoking away a cigarette by himself on the park-bench, I knew I had my one chance. Mom was at work, night-shift as always, so sneaking out wasn’t a problem.

I walked up to him, silently, afraid he would consider my approach as insolence. I extended my arm to reach out and paused. Will he scream at me? Shoo me away? Complain to Mom?

I let out a breath to calm myself and placed a hand on his shoulder.

He looked back slowly, first turning to my hand on his shoulder, then around at me. He stared at me indifferently, one eyebrow raised.

Then he looked up ahead, back to enjoying his cigarette.

I wondered if his mother as well told him to not talk to strangers.”Sorry to disturb, sir.”

The man paused, and turned around. This time, looking right through me.

I was hurt. Yes, I didn’t look as good as he. I was dirty and badly dressed. But that was no way to treat me!

Tears rolled down my cheek. I’d never felt so sad in my life. “You don’t have to be mean,” I said, sobbing. “Just wanted to talk.” Before long, I was wailing like a dog right in the middle of the park.

“What the fuck!” The man now jumped, mad eyes turning all around. All around except at me.

I wanted to disappear. Right into Mom’s arms.

“Mom was right,” I screamed, running away. “Mom was right!”