short story

Psychedelia 

     [First published in Sweek]

The Tyndall Beam

She squinted through the hand-lens of her makeshift camera, and followed the golden stairway descending down all the way to the wet Earth. She was wearing her favorite pink pajamas and blue T-shirt she always wore the second day of her stay. 
It was a part of a set of dress that had been kept aside in the Narnian wooden wardrobe, in her ancestral home. She remembers the day she had discovered her Narnia, right behind this house —much before the CS Lewis one.
She hadn’t gone there in a long time,and after the death of her Grandpa, she stopped her rare one day visits too.
She walked further into the woods, the damp mud covering her feet, taking in long aromas of the rain. 

“Ammmuu…”

She could hear a familiar faint melody, and she rushed back towards the house. Just as she was about to step into it, through the backdoor, she felt a tight slap on her left wrist —which was at the hinge of the door.

“Where are your manners? Wash your feet before you step into my house.” said Grandpa.

****************

Mirror Ball 

She runs off to wash her feet under a tap,and rushed into the house with a glee. Grandpa gives her a stern look before slightly smiling to himself. 

She was busy playing video games with her cousins at dinner—her mother running around with a plate feeding her. Then it was time to sleep. She could barely see her face in the mirror atop the washbasin. After she was done brushing her teeth, she jumped — barely managing to see a fragment of her face for a second. It was Grandpa’s mirror. 

She squiggled into the bed between her cousins and closed her eyes. Mosquitos kept sucking the blood off her,and she managed to kill a few in her sleep. Then she fell into deep sleep.

She was wearing a pretty black dress,and standing at the centre of something, but there was too much smoke in the air for her to ascertain. She looked up at what looked like a glimmery moon in the night sky, rotating at a high speed; her mouth exhausting clouds of smoke into it. She was in the middle of a crowd of zombies,moving with great random rhythm —strangers. 
Or were they? 

****************

Floored 

The music slapped her eardrums,and she almost lost her balance for a while. All around her were people,throwing their bodies at the music against the glimmery lights, like lightning piercing the night. She stared so hard into blurred faces, searching rigorously for some glimpse of recognition. 

As the music dropped to a distant subconscious level, she felt a vague sensation of elevation; her body moved involuntarily as it wished. She walked backwards slowly, drifting away from the crowd, when a voice absorbed her back with great force. 

“Where do uh think you’re going?”

A hand slipped around her waist, pulling her closer to a handsome face. She was unable to observe his features further, but she did feel her lips break into a smile. She danced. Danced like a three year old, as if nobody else were around. She jumped, and revolved. She flipped her head in all possible directions, her hair defying gravity. Tired she walked away, and took a seat. The guy followed, and asked her wha she’d like to have. She failed to recollect the last time people around her had been so nice to her. This new kindness from a stranger, which she couldn’t completely digest,made her suspicious. Did she know him? Were they together?

A random girl walked upto her with a glass, and started talking, as the curtains slowly went down. 

“…..Dance……ther..K…mm……” 

She woke up with a start, and still could feel the foggyness in her head. She was on the cold floor with part of her blanket. She was panting.

****************

Wail

Her eyes finally adjusted to the darkness around her, and she gradually recognized her room. She held her head in her hands for a second, confirming that it was indeed where it should be. She let out a long sigh, a loud whisper in the dusty silence. 

She dragged herself up, kicking out the blanket entangled to her feet. The night lamp shed an eerie shadow of yellow in her room and she swept up the blanket, which had dutifully followed her as she fell from her bed. She swallowed mouthfuls of water as she sat on her bed, trying to recollect her dream. 

But she didn’t remember anything, not even the part where she rolled down. She stared into the ceiling of her room, pulling up the blanket upto her eyes. Weird, she thought, or perhaps she meant interesting. The fan just went round and round. It was least bothered about whether she was still on her bed or not, whether she was still breathing or not. 

It just went on and on, as long as it was fed with electricity. 

Round and round and round.

Round and round.

Round. Round. 

Round. 

She had to blink at least five times to be able to see anything at all, like when you stare into a tubelight for an undisrupted minute. She struggled to keep her eyes open. Her mortar skills were completely dead, yet she discovered her body was in motion. She could hear the wail of a white van. 

****************

The End?

She spotted red scratches on the van, and a few blots on a hand. A random force had transported her into the white van, which was becoming more white every moment. The wailing confused her — at one moment it was unbearable, and the very next it was barely there. Just when she would stop searching for the noise, it would blare into her ears. 

A while later, a force similar to the previous one, perhaps stronger, deported her to a mobile platform. There were a lot of shuffling around her — she was not sure whether they were people or paper. A cool breeze blew her hair, but part of her hair seemed to be stuck to her forehead.

Then somebody — there were probably more than one person — swooshed her through a long neverending road. Like a train passing by another train. But she was not sure anymore if she was the stationary train or the one in motion. 

Then she saw the sun. In a room. A bulb? 

The sun melted into concentric patterns,and she heard somebody say, “We’re losing her…..nu…” 
Is this my end? 

Can this end be a new beginning?

Image by Neha Menon ©
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poem

Geometry 

A lost trapezium with my sides

In this vast blue globe

Trotting away from stares from 

Each corner of the circle

At my uneven sides. 

The elephant in the room

That makes you so uncomfortable

The heat is unbearable, but they wait 

For the right moment — hit the iron 

When it’s hot. So I get curves; on point 

Tangible but incongruous, push me away

Laugh at my diagonals, and angles 

For circles do not possess them.

You envy, as I unaware, try

To build the facade required to fit

Bury myself. Once. Twice. Always.

Disperse away every segment 

From my lines, once well defined.

Perish, though what fault of mine?

Decided that all should abandon 

Then life, allow me first. 

Illustration by Sitara VS
short story

Amaya #5 : Good Morning

She woke up early in the morning, died, and came back to life after she realised she had mistaken the chair to be a stranger in her room. She opened the blinds just enough to let her desired amount of sunlight rush in.

Amaya was between The Great Wall of China – her father, and the Fortress – her mother. Both were sound asleep, but she was wide awake. It was Sunday – her play day, the only day when she woke up on time, while her mother happily slept. But play was nowhere in her mind. Somebody was grumbling, and she was very sure that it was not her tummy.

The noise was coming from beyond the Great Wall, and she slowly peeked over it. And there, at the door of her bathroom stood a shabby Sand Monster, growling angrily, or maybe hungrily – she could not tell.

“Amma! Amma! Wake up. There is a Monster in our bathroom. It will eat us.” , she cried.

“There are no monsters Amu, come here.” , said her sleepy mother, and pulled Amaya closer​ to her.

However reassuring the gesture had been, she could still see it’s hand extend out to get the three of them. It could step out of the bathroom anytime.

And then there was a loud crash, followed by a heavy downpour – overwhelming every other noise. She peeked over the Fortress, at the window, as the drops catapulted over the window to reach her.

The bathroom was empty once again. She went back to sleep with a smile, mentally jotting down that Sand Monsters are scared of her best friend.

*Illustration by NM

family, movie

Why I Should Maybe Stop Watching Horror

And also movies where you have”suspenses”. 

Last Saturday, VJ let us engage in the Conversations about Cinema, and it was super fun. Everybody had stories to tell, but I forgot so many of my own. And that class brought back so much of them. 

I have often been scolded by my friends for spoiling the suspense, which I manage to guess. And there’s this thing I have for animation movies – because I feel they’re like dreams. Anything and everything can happen. 

I don’t remember when exactly I had first seen my horror movie. But then maybe, it doesn’t start with a movie at all? 

The earliest memory I have of anything ‘horror-ish’ is perhaps this weird serial I used to watch with my grandpa and cousins. This is something that happened only at my mom’s house. The room would be dark, lights off and all those trees would be peeking in through those old fashioned grilled windows. I don’t remember the name or the story at all; it has a couple and a yakshi I think. I don’t even remember how old I was – seven or eight? My grandpa used to watch, and we used to sit with him. Somehow, the idea of getting scared didn’t scare us, instead it might as well as have excited us. But one of my cousins was a little hesitant to look at the TV; she had the habit of peeking through the gaps in between the fingers of her hand – which covered her face – so that she would be terrified, but still not miss any part of it at the same time. The same cousin would, years later, sit with me to watch Paiyaa, fast forwarding through all the songs and the fight scenes – it’s a Tamil movie. 

Years later, my grandfather had passed away. The four of us were together in that house after years, for the rituals. And one night, we were in his bedroom discussing the movie ‘Mirrors‘. Well not really discussing, since we hadn’t watched the movie. I had just seen that one scene where the hero’s sister dies, and decided I’ll watch the movie in leisure – from the beginning- the next time. The eldest one, S, then continued to narrate the story. And I helped her scare the other two. And after this, I don’t remember why exactly  – we (S and I) had to step out of the room. It was dark out there, since our mothers were at some other corner of the house. We had to go to S’s room – she lived with her mother and grandpa – to take something. She was searching in the dark, so was I. But then she turned on the lights (on purpose) , and I was standing right in front of the dressing mirror. I had an exciting heart attack, after which we started giggling. We went back to the room and terrified the other two, reminding them that reflections were enough. 
I have perhaps become used to watching horror movies, and writing horror was a much later addition. I had watched Conjuring 2 in theatre, and that was the first horror movie I saw in a theatre. I had planned to go with my two BBFs – Bangalore Best Friends, S and P. 

The movie was, in many ways funny. And there were so many people commenting aloud – even us perhaps. But my classmates had perhaps praised it so much, that I had placed the movie high in expectations. So much that, no matter how scary the movie was, it would still not be scary enough for me. It was maybe unfair of me to do so. But then, it was a beautiful movie -mind blowing I would say. 
I have already written about how to write horror stories. Or rather how I write themI’ve always wondered what somebody expects from a horror movie. Many a times, almost half of the horror effect is lost when you’re watching it on TV. But you can still recreate it to an extent – lights off at midnight that leaves just you and the movie. Shefali says horror films bore her; and I sort of agree with her. It doesn’t bore me, but if you’ve already watched the movie, then you lose the advantage of the ‘surprise’ element. And also, there are movies with a lot of blood shed – killing people or butchering them, piranhas or sharks eating you. All these would never fall into my idea of horror. A little bit is perhaps inevitable, but usually such movies disgust me. 

I guess I’ve always been interested in the stories they tell, even if most of the time it is incomplete. And at times barely there. And this is not just for horror movies. We all keep watching a movie again and again and again. For instance, I don’t remember when exactly I had first seen Manichithrathazhu, but I know that every time after that I haven’t changed the channel if they’re playing the movie. My parents don’t let me see the movie in peace (or in pieces) as they start reciting dialogues as if the Bhoot has got them. And then, I join them. 

College

Slurry 

I’m covered with ultimate guilt when I just realised that my classmate has reached 200, and I’m still at my 46th post right now : we’d started at the same time. Now I’m green.

Guilt apart, I’m pretty sure that with every passing year, there are more vehicles on the road. Now more people will drive through the pavement, everybody will reach their destinations later. And I had to shift closer to my college, and share a room with stranger. Weirdly enough, I use all my “extra time” sleeping (the three-four hours per day that I travel).

Add to this, the squishy mud slurry that once was my ground, now an open parking lot. Sigh. And the sick cold winds that slap me on my face. And then comes the staircase – it turned out to be worse than the horror fiction I’d written.One set of staircases for thousand students. And now the PT sir has been promoted to traffic controller. My auditorium premises too have been over packed with vehicles. I miss those days when I could clear my mind, sit in a lonely corner and do my work.

Add to all this, the rain. But ironically, it is forcing us to walk in single file lines. (Like we are supposed to in the staircase.)

horror fiction, short story

The Light

image

Triiiiinnnggg Triiiiinnnggg.
Triiiiinnnggg Triiiiinnnggg.

2:09 a.m.? Seriously? Who’s calling me now?
It was my best friend, who was sleeping in the adjacent room. I picked it up.

“Is this some kind of joke? If it is… ” , I said.

“Don’t take the charger off, keep it on. Please. ” she said.

I withdrew my hand from the charger immediately. Her tone was serious and urgent.

“Is everything alright ?”I asked, getting up from my bed – my hands searching for the light switch.

She replied :
“Listen to me carefully, stay still. Don’t move and no matter what don’t turn on -”
Click.

the light.”

Triiiiinnnggg Triiiiinnnggg. Triiiiinnnggg Triiiiinnnggg. Triiiiinnnggg Triiiiinnnggg. Triiiiinnnggg Triiiiinnnggg.

You have one missed call.

image

poem

Knowledge Behind Bars

image

This room is a cube, imagine.
Thinking beyond that cube is a sin,
I wonder why they do what they do
Like they say for those who
Want knowledge sincerely,
Or those who make them wealthier regularly?
What is shared here, wisdom or just shortcuts;
Deals that destroy your very guts?

The dusty corridors the ghosts abandoned,
In the midst of chaos, they leave you stranded –
Against their promises and assurances.
They’ll only widen your differences.
The deities of the orthodox world they built,
The course of the river never in the hands of the silt.
Your life defined by their rules, and terms.
Your thoughts, and food infected by their worms.
The seed of fear they will have sown,
And since then you shall never own,
That life you thought was yours,
Those choices you thought were yours.
Your true self , never again will you find.
For once in, you’ll be trapped in your own mind.

They’ll feed you sciences from beyond the stars,
But what use of such knowledge behind bars?

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