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.”

Perception (You Don’t Know Everything)

Perception You Don't Know Everything

Created by Jcomp – Freepik.com

 

There is a popular lore in our culture.

My father told it to me in my early childhood.

But I hadn’t grasped its true value until he repeated it a few days ago.

It goes like this (very shortly):

###

There is a man lying on a chautara (a cement platform built under the shade of a tree for travelers to rest), eyes closed.

Some time later, a drunkard happens to pass by the man.

He sees the lying man and smirks. “Hah! What a waste!” he says. “Could have waited for the nightfall, at least!” He clicks his tongue and passes.

After the drunkard, comes a great sage.

He observes the man and says out loud, “Behold! The great one. Unperturbed in his meditation!” He bows before the lying man and passes on.

A while later, a common village doctor arrives at the chautara.

He looks at the lying man and, nervously, looks around. “Poor man! Must have fainted from heat, and no one’s around to help him! I hope he’s not dead!”

###

There is another popular story that sends out a similar message, and I’m sure you must have read it.

It’s titled “Blind Men and the Elephant” and there are many versions of it. Here’s John Godfrey Saxon’s version.

The message of both these stories are simple yet priceless.

Our interpretation of the world depends largely upon our life experiences, our sense of perception.

So the next time, before you reach to an absolute conclusion, think it over from all angles.

Remain open to the idea that you do not know everything.

No one does.

###

Each culture has its own lore that is built to impart moral values to children. Sometimes, we tell such stories but fail to impart the essential moral.

If your culture has such unique lores and you can find a link to it, I invite you to share! It would be enlightening to read them. 🙂

Thanks!