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

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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.

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poem

Knowledge Behind Bars

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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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Alone

The Room

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It is two in the afternoon, the sun in its full voltage. People are all over the streets having lunch, going back to office, traveling and barbequed street vendors selling food.  Her mother is in the kitchen serving lunch. Her mother walked up to a door, and slid open a small compartment that formed a rectangular hole on the door. Her mother placed the food inside and closed the door.

There was a lot of noise: the horn, the vehicles, laughter, and chatter. But she was thrown away, the light screaming at her, burning her down. She kept her palm on the floor right on time to stop herself from falling off the bed. She was breathing heavily, and stayed like that – hanging in mid-air supporting herself on her hand. She rolled back into her bed and laid there closing her eyes.

But it didn’t make any difference, whether she had eyes closed or open. The room was dark, the tube lights had been removed. The windows sealed shut, and painted black, and thick covers that cut her off from the beautiful trees, and the world beyond it. Nothing from the outside world could ever think of passing these barriers and entering her room. Ever since that day, she had shut her eyes to the world. She was afraid of the light. She noticed her lunch at the door.

thYPANBWLH

Her parents, on the other hand were worried for her.

What do they do that she will come out of the darkness? Who will marry her? Who will look after her if something happens to them? Their questions were soon answered.

One day she decided enough was enough. No more of this misery, I shall end it once and for all. I cannot drag people who care for me into this misery. No.

So she finally gathered courage, stood behind the door for about more than an hour hesitating. She opened the door slowly – there was nobody around. Her father was at work, and her mom on the terrace. She walked out of her room, squinting. She took the challenge to another level – she decided to go outside. She went out the door, felt the earth against her feet. The wind welcomed her, and danced with her hair. She stretched her arms and walked forward to embrace light. She was no longer afraid of light anymore. All around her there were lots and lots of light. She never had to be afraid ever again.

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description, humour

The Perfect Horror

cg

You are obsessed with horror stories , and you want to write a decent one. But you have had a consistent history of turning your horror stories into humour. But at least, you have the Canterville ghost to support you. Only he shall be able to empathise with you, since he too had failed to scare the Otis family. But you decide to get serious. You take it to the next level.
You kick everybody out of your house, and make sure you lock only the main door ( and the balcony door) –  any door that is a connection to the outside world. The larger the house the better. You waste your time till 1 a.m. watching TV, preferably horror movies.
Then, you switch it off, get off the couch, check the door and find your pink blanket. Then you switch off every light, making sure only enough light passes through the window.  Enough light to make scary clawy shadows. ( if you’re living on the 17th floor, chances are there won’t be any claws. But you can still adjust with what you have.)
You walk to your bed, and you visualise yakshis and raktharaakshasis popping up from nowhere at your doorways. (You are allowed to imagine people you don’t like as the above mentioned.)You are on your bed, the blanket of darkness overwhelming the happy pink blanket. You imagine the worst things that can happen. Scare the shit out of yourself. You hear weird noises from upstairs. Better. You think you heard the door moan. Even better. You feel like there are evil spirits waiting for you to fall asleep so that they can have you as midnight snack. Excellent.

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Hide under your blanket, and write the story down. Then go to sleep – if you can. You are not done. Post it on your blog – categorise it, and add tags. Share it on the social media.
You show it to your mother, but she is not sure where the horror is. Your dad is in no mood for horror, and thus he has no idea what’s going on in the story. So he starts asking whys and whats. You call your best friend, who lives far away, and she can no longer speak – she is on her bed with a bad stomach ache. For she imagined you narrating the story, your voice echoing in her head. She could not take it, she almost died laughing. Only almost. You take it to your other best friend in the city. He is no longer on his chair, but already on the floor hugging himself – the minute he saw your name. For the same reasons mentioned earlier.

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You shall not lose hope. There are people who don’t know you at all. They will not hear your voice in their head. Only the voice of the story. So you wait. Till somebody likes it.