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
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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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description, school

Uniform Default Detectors

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A black frock with red, grey, sky blue and even thin green checks on it. That was my uniform for kindergarten, along with a white uniform I wore with tiny white shoes. Wednesday was when you got to wear colour dress of your choice. Colour dress was always such a special occasion, bigger than the actual occasion at times, when it doesn’t matter why you get to wear it, but just that you get to wear it. Normal colour dress can make so much of a difference in school.
But something one cannot escape is that irritating uniform checking. As a kid, they were like monsters to me, trying to decide whom to punish – but I used to be extremely careful. I remember how betrayed I felt when my classmate ‘chose me’ for I had miraculously forgotten to cut a nail on just one of my finger. Extremely betrayed.

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During my tenth, I had not yet got my belt. So nobody could actually catch me, since it was the school’s fault. The detector was usually our library teacher with ‘mercy’ somewhere in her name, but nowhere near how she was at school. There were other checks in class itself too, occasionally. The uniform was a brown sack that they called pinafore, light brown shirt with dark brown vertical stripes, and a dark brown tie with light brown stripes, and a belt with the school emblem. But I had joined a little late, and by then they had run out of belts. And I went there every Friday, and the guy always asked me to come check next Friday – they only had stock for the primary school kids, and I was never really skinny. This happened for around one or two months, until one day, I finally got it. I went to tuition after school, and boarded a bus home after that – my home being just two stops away. That was also, unfortunately the day the school decided they had to get rid of their new batch of record books. If you think you have been in asphyxiating-ly filled public transport, then this was my experience in the category. It was not a KSRTC, but a private bus – nothing uncommon in Kochi. I got into it, thinking it was only two stops away. But what I didn’t think was that so many women would climb in after I had – I was already near the door. I struggled with my extremely heavy school bag, and made faces at unpleasant aunties who frowned at me and my bag. I cursed that their kids will suffer the same fate, only then will they sympathise. Seeing me stuck in a whirlpool of confusion, two aunties sitting to the left of the driver, decided to catch my bag. They sympathised as I passed my bag: oh, why so heavy child? I just smiled gratefully at them. I got down around 15 minutes later, and ran my way home. I was all excited to show my belt to my mom, and stood proud in front of her. But my mom found herself staring at my empty pinafore waist.

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I changed my school again in standard eleven, and was in the school hostel. My life was in fact acting like me – all of a sudden it wakes up realising that it had perhaps fallen asleep a bit, and was horrified that there were only two years of schooling left. The deadline was near, and hence such varied long experiences in the last two years of school for me. The very first day, the uniform detector walked up to me in the corridor assembly, flashed her evil smile that I had been thus cursed to see for the next two years,  and swiftly removed my ring, put it in her pocket and wandered off in search of her next prey. I stood there bewildered. The ring had been in my finger for so long that I didn’t realise it. It was one among a set of three, the other two with my two best friends. Those two years were when I was in such close contact with my uniform – I had to see its stupid face every day, iron it, wash it, and make sure that somebody else didn’t flick it because the laundry never returned their uniform. They even made us wear ribbons, and I had the tiniest you would find. That way, I was quite satisfied, and they couldn’t complain.
The detector had the audacity to disrupt your line of thought during exams. Being somebody who gets lost in my brain during exams, if somebody disturbs me in between, my reaction would be to keep blinking at you till I returned to earth. So she walks in while I write my physics, or perhaps my chemistry exam. These subjects require me to search my brain for some sort of clue, using which I can make up the rest of the answer. At such a delicate moment, she touches one of my ponytail, and I jump in my seat. Thankfully I didn’t shriek or throw my pen. I made a what-is-it-now face at her. She smiled slightly, and I rolled my eyes. She waited till I had taken out my ribbons from my pocket, and tied it.

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Onnekil ketta, alenkil vetta. She threatened one fine day.
My hair was not long enough to plait, so I decided on the other option she gave me: cut my hair. It was my last year, and I was quite fed up of her. A few days later, I tied my newly cut hair into a high pony, so it looks like it’s too short for two ponies

horror fiction

Framed

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She was standing in the middle  of the room, the girl right in front of her. The girl didn’t seem to have noticed her presence at all. The girl around her age, walked down the street. Drunk men followed her. She walked faster. They followed. She ran, and they ran behind her. She walked into a building, a house perhaps. She knew the place, but where exactly ? She was not sure. The drunk men passed by. The girl – relieved – turned around, looked at her, and frowned. She was confused, she turned to look behind her.
Beep. Beeeep. Beeeeeeeeeeep.
Her alarm pulled her back to reality with so much force that she almost hit the wall behind her. She realised the place was very similar to the building the girl had walked into.
She looked at the photographs again. Each of them told a story, it seemed to capture more than just fragments of life. No. It seemed to capture life itself.
It was too late by the time she noticed that she was alone. She had already walked into the adjacent room, which had only a single photograph, and a wooden board beside it. With something written on it. The other photographs were hung on the wall, but this was right at the centre. The photograph, unlike the others was quite blurred. There was just a shadow, and the picture made her very uncomfortable. She went over and read whatever was written.

Oh no! No, no, no!

She became pale and cold, like a corpse. The horrid things that happened in there, she wanted to stay no longer. A curse? She had no time to decide. She turned around to run away, but she hit the wall. Where did the door go?
She heard the knob turning – from above . She looked up, and there the door was. On the ceiling. The door
opened inwards slowly, as if somebody was behind it. And then it shut with great force, the door falling off the ceiling. She ducked out of the way just in time. She felt something wet and cold on her palms, she saw blood – spreading across the floor. Blood through the windows, ventilators. And somebody was crying out in pain, as if being cut into pieces alive. The blood was all over the floor, she got on the podium like furniture that carried the photograph and the curse. As her right hand grabbed the frame for support, it fell. And then , a hand over her left hand. Another around her waist, and there shadows everywhere.

Say Cheese.

He was only five, wandered into the place by accident. His mother walked in, held him by the hand and said, ” Come on now, let’s go. I’ve told you not to wander off like this.”
“But look  Mommy”, said he pointing at the picture on the floor.
A girl, scared or in pain perhaps? Too Blurred to make out, and someone was hovering over her.
“Let’s get out of here,” said his mother.

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poem

Fall

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You call it a cross on his face, a birthmark
But you do not know the pain behind it
You make fun of the way she smiles
Because you never saw her cry
You walk over others, you strangle them
For you donot know the value of love or life
You are engrossed in your smile, your self-assured perfectness
That you donot realise that imperfections make her beautiful
You utilise once and throw away
What he values more than his life
What you think of her, is not confidence
But over confidence, which will only end you
It will make you underestimate him
And over estimate yourself, on top of everyone
But truth will bring you down
You will fall all the way
Beware of what you say about her
That is what I will think of you
But you will still judge me
And I shall walk away.
That is my choice.

poem

Prey

Staring down into my soul

With piercing eyes

For me to fall

So you can break me into pieces

And watch me struggle in vain

While you erase me slowly

Not anymore.

adventure

The Fifth

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It was a pleasant evening, and the Sinha family had gone out for a picnic nearby. At the park, five year old Arun spotted a Ben Ten watch, and fell in love with it instantly. He ran to his parents, who were sitting under a tree a few metres away.

“Mumma, I want that! I want that!” he cried out.

“Ok ok, I’m coming. Let me just organize this thing and I’ll be there”, replied Mrs. Sinha.

“Aw Maaaa….. Make it fast”, said Aditya, restless.

A few minutes later, Mrs. Sinha was finally happy with the way she had set things up. Yet, she was irritated with her husband, as he had brought his work with him – she could still hear him screaming over the phone.

“Arun?” she called out.

“ARUN!”

————————————————————————–

Inspector Avni Kumar spotted a couple filing an FIR as she entered the police station. The woman was weeping, her face pale and her eyes swollen. Since what she was saying was not coherent, her husband did the most of the talking. But when she realised why they were there, she paused – their son had gone missing earlier that day.

Every time she heard about a kid going missing – her heart would stop beating for a second. Her heart would feel so heavy, and she would get transported to her past – a past deep buried within her. A past that changed her life forever.

Seven year old Aditya had made sure no one had spotted him enter the kitchen. He slowly walked into the kitchen, and stretched out to reach the cookie jar. He had almost caught hold of it, when someone else’s hand brought the jar down. For a second, he froze. He let out a sigh of relief as he saw his sister, standing right beside him, grinning.

“Oh! Avi di, It was you. You scared me”, he said.

“Aha! Eating up all the cookies by yourself huh? “, she teased him.

“Avni! Aditya! Where are you? Come on… or we’ll be late for the wedding” called out their mother.

Both of them stuffed their mouths and ran out. Their mother locked the door as they got into the car.

“Stealing cookies again?”, she scolded them.

The only thing the brother-sister duo liked about weddings was the food they got to eat.  Especially the dessert.

“Aww… Please please please… could you get me one more ice cream”, Aditya pleaded his sister.

“Ok ok…. But this is the last one”, warned his sister.

“Wait here, ok? I’ll be right back.” said Avni.

She went to the person serving ice cream, made a puppy face and managed to get one more scoop of vanilla ice cream. This was the third time she was doing this, but it was Aditya’s favourite. But when she returned with her ice cream, she couldn’t find him anywhere. She called out his name, but he was nowhere. Tears streaming down her eyes, she ran to her parents.

That was the last time Aditya’s family ever saw him. They searched for him, informed the police station and also advertised in newspapers. But all in vain. They never got him back – and that is when Avni decided who she will become when she grows up.

————————————————————–

Arun was waiting for his mom to finish her work, so that he could buy that watch. He couldn’t just wait to buy it. So he stood near to the guy selling them, and waited for his mother, who was busy, a few metres away. A man, neatly dressed, approached him and smiled at him.

“I see you have been admiring the watches. But then this guy doesn’t have much selection. There is a shop nearby, the shopkeeper is my friend. If you want I can get you a good deal. Your mom looks busy, we can return by the time your mom finishes her work.” the man said.

At this, Arun stared at the watch in front of him, trying to decide what to do.

“He has a larger collection, way better than this cheap stuff”, the man said.

At this, Arun finally decided to go check out the shop.

“Alright” he said.

“Come on”, said the stranger, and caught Arun’s hand. As they walked away, Arun turned around and caught a glimpse of his mother setting things up and his father on the phone.

———————————————————————————–

Avni had been transferred to another city, but this case brought back that painful past, a past she had not yet overcome. She would often dream of Aditya going to college, maybe having a girlfriend. It is not easy to grow up all alone, when you know your kid brother is somewhere out there. When you know in your heart that things should have been different – but they are not. But life had something different in store for her.

And she knew what Arun’s parents were going through- she had living this horror for the past so many years. She grew up seeing her parents crying over their lost son. And so she decided, that before she leaves this city, she will find that boy. There are a lot of gangs involved in the big business of child trafficking, and she would destroy some part of it. It might not affect the well-established system at all, but this is a place to start.

———————————————————————-

Aditya was just 2 year old, and his mom was feeding him. It was a Sunday and her dad was reading the newspaper. Avni was seven, and she had just returned home from the playground. The phone started ringing and her mom went to attend it. Avni pulled Aditya’s cheeks and played with him for a few seconds. But she was tired from all the running around and hide n seek that she felt thirsty. She went to the kitchen, opened the fridge and drank huge gulps of water. She had just kept the water back was on her way back to where Aditya was, when she heard a crash, followed by Aditya crying loudly. She ran towards – he was on the floor, a shattered jug lay near him. But what most horrifying for her was the blood flowing – from him. Her parents rushed her to the hospital. He was quite serious, and had cut his hand quite bad. He had five stitches and she could hear him cry as she waited outside.

Avni woke up suddenly – she was sweating profusely. She could still hear him crying.

She took a deep breath in and let it out. That incident had left behind a scar on his hand, below his right wrist, near his elbow. He had been real lucky that he did not cut his face.

It had been almost a week, but still, she couldn’t find the boy. She wanted to find him before something happened to him. Her phone brought her back to earth.

“Yes. Tell me”, she said briskly.

“Mm-hmm… ok”

“Ok…”

“Inform our team”

——————————————————————-

Everything had been well planned. They were waiting for their prey to walk right into their trap. They had been informed that children abducted from various parts of the state were going to be transported to a nearby state, and that Arun was one among the 25 children about to be smuggled. Over the years Avni’s hate for trafficking and traffickers has only increased. Her personal grudge catalysed the whole process. She was well aware that the traffickers would be prepared to face such encounters, but she was planned too.

It was past midnight and there were eerie shadows creeping around. Her team of sixteen officers stood scattered across the street, all in plain clothes but well-armed (Avni and her five trusted officers were in uniform). While some of them were under the streetlight, around a car pretending to be friends on a road trip, the others were hidden – including Avni. They were expecting a tour bus, with five traffickers, including the driver. They planned to shoot at the tire.

After waiting patiently for around an hour, one of the officers on lookout spotted the bus.  Another officer shot the tire (the gun had a silencer). The bus came to a screeching halt. Three of them came out from inside the bus, got down and started examining, along with the driver. The group of friends immediately became concerned citizens and went over to where the bus was.

“Hey, are you ok? What happened?” asked one officer. (In disguise)

“Yes, I-i .. I am fi-fine” stammered the driver.

“Oh looks like some high school tour. Are you all ok? That was crazy” said another

“Yes, I think your tire is punctured. Which school is this? “Asked another one

“Ummm… ya we are from the neighbouring state… and… we-ee .. We’re on our way back. Gloria Public School. “Said one of the traffickers pausing here and there.

While all this was happening, the rest of the officers were moving towards them, in the shadows. The fifth one was still inside, probably watching over the kids. He will have to come out when none of his friends turn up, thought Avni.

They grabbed the four from behind, gagged their mouths so that they would not alarm the fifth one inside. Their weapons had been confiscated. By this time, Avni boarded the bus and waited for the fifth to appear, near the driver’s seat. As the fifth one came out, one of his friends shouted out to him – as he was being tied up and gagged – “Take the bus and run”

All the officers were outside the bus and Avni was the only one in the bus. Both of them had a gun and he could have tried – to maybe push her off the bus or overpower her, and might as well have been successful in driving the bus for some distance – at least save himself. But he just stood there paralysed. He stared at Avni’s badge, which had her name on it, stupefied. Avni used this opportunity and kicked the gun out from his and pointed the gun at him. He was startled but didn’t react. Two officers immediately boarded the buses and brought him down. The guy was completely lost in thought.

As they were waiting for the van to escort the traffickers, one of them snatched an officer’s gun and tried to attack. Immediately Avni reacted and shot the guy – twice. He managed to dodge the bullet the first time but the second one hit him. The bullet that missed him hit the fifth trafficker and he too fell down. He groaned in pain. This was when she noticed a scar on his right hand, near the elbow. She knelt down to have a closer look. She could not believe her eyes.

“Av-v-avi di, you h-have always caught me red handed doing mis-chi-eeef” he stammered.

“No! No! No!  No! Noo!” she said to herself and cradled his head on her lap. He smiled at her.

“Why?”

Avni could hear the ambulance approaching.

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