Livin’ la vida Mocha

The last drop of water dribbled from the closed faucet on the empty kitchen sink, just as the quiet snoring of the kids began from next door. The dish washer stopped grumbling after what seemed an eternity and began the silent drying routine. The oven top was shining bright, the kitchen slabs were scrubbed anew and the wooden floor was squeaky clean.

She placed the carafe ever so lightly, the machine began with an understanding hiss like an old ally meeting after an exhausting day in the battlefield. She loosened here hair, leaned on the slab and took in the wafts of coffee rushing to embrace her.

Cradling her hands around the warm coffee mug, she walked towards the TV, only to stop briefly to marvel the neat and speckle free house around her. She dragged her feet gently as she walked, to enjoy the soft crispness of the recently vacuumed carpet.

The leviathan couch flanked by the throw beckoned like a patient lover who’s been waiting all day. Imperial and inescapable, it knew its time had come. She sank in its warmth, realizing full well that she was getting in a trap. She snuggled in the throw, reached for the remote and switched on the TV.

A long swig of the coffee and the invisible lines on her forehead began to disappear…

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My Entry for Inspirational Monday. To know more about Inspirational Monday weekly challenge, visit here.

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The Secret

He stood at the highest edge of the gabled roof, staring at the fireworks in the starless night. He could hear the claps of the small kids, the laughter of the elders and the all-encompassing din of fused chatter of the crowd that had gathered below. He too could have been down there, sharing a joke with his brothers, ruffling the hair of the kids running past, stealing a glance at the girls from a distance. But instead, he stood at the precarious edge, staring absently at the glittering sky. It was almost like falling awake from a long, deep slumber. He knew a secret that threatened his life, put the peace of his quaint village at risk.

Could he let this go on, be a silent victim and witness this catastrophic success? Or could he be the unsung hero who fights this darkness and never lets anyone know? Deep down, he knew he was no hero. He was but a lowly peasant – illiterate, simple of mind. He had no means to fight the evil whose eyes were set on this village for more than hundreds of years now. Evil… It was the first time he was addressing the Ouyangs by that name… even to himself. The Ouyang forefathers built this village – the little forgetful piece of land in the great province of Sichuan. Every person living to this day revered the Ouyangs as messiahs. He winced at the contrast, half wishing he had never come to know of this deep betrayal.

The sky was abloom with a confetti of light, the bursts coming in quicker successions now, which meant the display was nearing its end, as was his time. He didn’t hear the approaching footsteps, nimble as they were.

“Oh my, the view is exquisite from here. Do you come here often?”  He looked back startled, almost slipping an inch.

“Nín hǎo Master Yiu Choi” .He said deferentially.

“Your predicament was brought to my attention, and I thought it only fitting to meet you at once.” Yiu Choi looked at the shimmering sky and continued, “The time for decision is nigh my friend”.

His heart was racing fast and his mind drew a blank. He was standing face to face with the great Master Yiu Choi. No one knew how old he was, but the oldest of men in the village swore they saw him as he stood now since their childhood. The great warrior had inspired countless songs and folklores. Was he here to assassinate a poor farmer, was this all he was under the screens and layers of reverence and fascination – an assassin at the service of the Ouyangs?

“I will not speak of this to another living soul, I swear” he managed between sobs. Hands folded, head bowed, he begged for his life to be spared.

The last of confetti vanished on its way to the ground, leaving a cloud of smoke behind. If you looked for a little while, you could still make out the path the fire bursts had followed, your eyes still picturing the fireworks like they were still there. People below began to disperse, the kids still lingering wanting to stay out of the house a little longer as patient parents waited.

The placid scene was broken by a loud thud. The quick minded ran to where it came from, as the slow realizers followed. He lay lifeless on the ground, his tears frozen in his eyes. It was the seventh suicide in the last five months. It was plain to see that something was not right if only someone tried to string things together, but the unsuspecting villagers only gasped and covered the eyes of the children nearby.

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My Entry for Inspirational Monday. To know more about Inspirational Monday weekly challenge, visit here.

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Time Sensitive

She was sitting in the patio, waiting… waiting for more things than she could count on her fingers… waiting for nothing more than she already had… waiting… till minutes turned into hours and hours into days and days into weeks and weeks into months…time was expansive and exhaustive, it was a blink of an eye and the gaze of a face in a picture, staring at you, unblinking… beckoning, beseeching, wanting you back…. Only there was nothing or no one to go back to… for everything was here, in this moment and yet there was nothing…

Can you look back and remember that it was you – in flesh and blood in the memory that clogs your mind? Can you feel the breeze that gave you goose bumps on that windy night at the beach? When you look at your placid hands now comatose on the arms of the chair, do you relate with the firm grip of the knife that they once held? Do you remember the warm, thick blood that splashed your face when you slit his throat open? Do you play that moment over and over in your head? When you sat at the bar and smiled at him? Do you look away this time? Do you decide to sleep the night at home instead? Do you think if you could go back and change one tiny thing that could lead to an altogether different domino effect, you would? But you can’t can you now? Time only goes forward, rewinding is a concept us silly, error-prone humans have devised…

“Time for your medicines!”, a cheerful voice broke her reverie, something for which she was growing more grateful than she showed. The nurse brought the tray with different paper cups holding tablets and capsules of different sizes and colors and a glass of water and methodically emptied one cup after another in her mouth, with interludes of water.

“Would you like to get back in the room and watch some TV? There’s a new season of Archer on Netflix”. She perked up. “Oh wow! I have been waiting for it, let’s go in right away!” The nurse obliged and pushed the wheelchair inside.

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My Entry for Inspirational Monday. To know more about Inspirational Monday weekly challenge, visit here.

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Of Men and Monkeys

“Aren’t they cute?” She squealed happily pulling her father’s sleeve to get his attention. Her father glanced absently in her direction and nodded only to get back to his book.

‘Look Daddy what they’re doing now! They are trying to copy me! Mmuahh! Oh look, they just gave me a flying kiss back!”

He sighed and kept the book aside, took off his glasses and turned to his daughter.

“I want you to stay away from them. It’s enough that your “scientist” mom gets work home, not in the form of files or laptop, but a cage of genetically modified monkeys that she then asks me to babysit on a Sunday afternoon. I can do without having to babysit you as well. Why don’t you play in your room and leave them be, let me know when your mom’s back, okay?”

“Oh look, they are listening to you so intently! Can they understand what we say?”

“Question is, do you understand what I say?”

She turned towards him, “What are you reading? Would you tell me the story when you’re done?”

“It’s called ‘Of men and mice’… I am close to finishing it, I might tell you the story if you’d be a good girl and go to your room…”

“What’s it about?” she perched on the side of his arm chair.

His wife entered the room just then. “It’s about a beautiful mad scientist and her lab-grown love”, he said amusingly.

“But it’s called men and mice, are there no men and mice in it?” the young girl pressed.

“Smart girl! I will find out once I finish the book” he laughed.

“All yours”, he winked at his wife and lifted his daughter in his arms, grabbed the book and left the room.

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She closed the room behind them and took out a syringe filled with a transparent liquid from her briefcase. Almost on cue, the smallest of the monkeys walked towards the door of the cage with an outstretched arm. As the syringe thrust the last drops of liquid into her, she began talking in a familiar girl’s voice.

Aren’t they cute… Look Daddy what they’re doing now…they are trying to copy me…oh look…they just gave me a flying kiss back…

“That’s enough, thanks”. The monkey walked back to the rest of the group.

She took out a sheet of paper and began scribbling…

Sunday, June 17, 2029: Voice recorded albeit without emotions and expressions but with the right vocal modulations. Another step towards “Living Talking Toms”… still a long road ahead.


My Entry for Inspirational Monday. I used the prompt “lab-grown love”.
To know more about Inspirational Monday weekly challenge, visit here.

The unheard Voice

Jan1st, 2013

I am not sure where I left last time; I ate the paper immediately after writing. It is the first day of a new year, but it is hard to tell old from new or new from old. I was fearful all day, averting the eyes of the neighbors, the kids. I can never tell what my eyes betray, what people think I am thinking even when I don’t say a word. Most of the times even I don’t know what I am thinking – my thoughts are sporadic, often blank or about the immediate, rarely vivid. Past is a mist right behind my shoulders but when I turn to look there is nothing, no one I recognize. A familiar face from a lifetime ago of a mother, or a father or a friend, or a brother flashes in my memory… but who it belongs to is hard to tell. Sometimes, the face belongs to everyone I have ever known.

It’s the mirror where the stranger lies – he stares me in the eyes every morning, asks me what to make of this life, if a defiant death would be a better predicament. But I am a coward, I look away.

The dark is approaching; I have to squint my eyes to write. Soon the Sun will turn its back completely and I will be able to heave a sigh of relief. Darkness is a friend; it shuts the eyes of the spies, of the fellow strugglers. Darkness is when tears can flow unabashed and unchallenged. Darkness is when I can embrace my sorrow of the life that is – if it can be called a life.

I will try to come tomorrow too. I have to go now.

Jan 29th, 2013

I am not sure where I left last time; I ate the paper immediately after writing. We live in the midst of strangers; who can be trusted save your own self? Even the children are taught strange things in school – or maybe I am the stranger. No, there is no maybe – I am a stranger. Trapped in the world I had come to fight against… living… or maybe breathing just.

A neighbor was looking at me suspiciously this morning when I was leaving for the mines to work. I just kept walking, didn’t stop to look at him or greet him. Is he from the secret police? But what did I do? Since I was freed from the concentration camp and given the status of a citizen from a POW, I have but kept my peace with the authorities, and the system. Married and with kids, I only seek to die at ease one day – is it a lot? Will I have a natural death or would I be hunted and dragged like a dog one day? BUT WHAT DID I DO???

I will try to come tomorrow, I have to go now.

Mar 3rd, 2013

I am not sure where I left last time; I ate the paper immediately after writing.

This is perhaps my last writing. People are getting suspicious, I see strangers prying into the household, and even my children try to follow me around. Have I voiced my yearnings in my sleep? Do people know? Or am I imagining the worst? I can’t be sure.

I tried to write a few times earlier, only to be intercepted by the inquiring eyes of my eldest son following me wherever I went.

But I had to write one last time, don’t know to whom, as I would destroy this paper as soon as I am done.

Maybe I write in the hope that someone up there is watching, listening what I don’t say, and understanding what I don’t express. Am I going insane?

I have to go now. Goodbye.

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This is my second entry for Inspirational Monday for this week (and on the same day – I am on a roll! :D). I have used the prompt “Familiar Face” in this one.

You can read my first entry for InMon this week by clicking here.

This post is inspired by a book I am reading on North Korea – Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick. We can’t even imagine the harsh reality of the people of that part of the world.

I look forward to constructive feedback about ways to improve, so do share your 2 cents if you stop by!

Inspirational Monday hosted by BeKindReWrite is a word-prompt challenge with no stringent word limit where various word prompts are given to choose from and spin a story around anytime before the next Monday. You have the creative freedom to use the prompt anyway you like. It is an enjoyable exercise and worth trying!

To check this week’s prompts and last week’s entries, please click here.

Undercurrents

It was supposed to be just another drab day at work, and it was living up to it… until he showed up. She heard the familiar voice talking to someone at a distance from her cubicle, close enough for her to peer and confirm it was him. But she didn’t look up, it was work as usual. A colleague, no someone who worked in the same office, had returned from a client project after a few months, so what? Eyes fixed on the computer screen, hands working on the keyboard at the same speed as before; she strained her ears to make sure it was his voice. It was – there was no mistaking it. The game of hide and seek resumes, she sighed, ignored the voice and got back to the endless heap of work.

Where is he sitting today, her eyes swept through the office floor casually as she got up get some water.  The turquoise t-shirt wasn’t hard to miss – he was sitting at the other end, back towards her. She smiled slightly casually straightening her own turquoise colored dress. How they ended up being color coded almost every other day without having talked a single word to each other ever was beyond her comprehension.

She was in a client call when someone called out his name as he was passing by. Before she knew it a group formed around him and they got talking. Gritting her teeth she pressed the receiver hard to her ear and continued taking notes albeit with more effort than before.  She could feel his eyes on her every now and then, but she was not going to acknowledge it.

It was 4 pm, she got up for coffee, smiling mischievously at a little gossip her friend had just told her on the chat, when she saw him standing in front of her at some distance.  Their eyes met, she with her stupid mischievous smile frozen on her face and he smiling knowingly. She casually looked away, met up with her friend outside the cubicle and walked to the cafeteria – like nothing happened… no fresh smoke, none whatsoever, she chided herself giddily.

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This is my entry for Inspirational Monday this week hosted by BeKindReWrite. I have used the prompt: “Fresh Smoke”.

I look forward to constructive feedback about ways to improve, so do share your 2 cents if you stop by!

Inspirational Monday is a word-prompt challenge with no stringent word limit where various word prompts are given to choose from and spin a story around anytime before the next Monday. You have the creative freedom to use the prompt anyway you like. It is an enjoyable exercise and worth trying!

To check this week’s prompts and last week’s entries, please click here.

Theatre 101 – Day 1

“First day, easy exercise. Look into my eyes, think of the person you don’t want to think of ever and with all the air in your lungs, yell at me – YOU! It’s simple.”

Adrian stood at the centre of the stage, under a single spotlight – nimble on his feet, hair tied in neat pony, back straight as a sentry – like he owned the theatre, its air, its mood, even the people inside. His penetrating gaze scanned through the almost empty seating and stopped at the only person who was eagerly waving her hand in the air, trying to catch his attention.

“Would you like to be the first one?” He scanned through the rest of the seating, fixing his eyes to the farthest end of the theatre, albeit for a fraction of a second. “So be it. Come on up.”

Debbie, trying to act every part of the example she was about to set, walked gracefully to the stage. As she entered, a second spotlight fell on her and followed her as she walked closer to Adrian.

She took a deep breath; put her left hand on her hip and with an exaggerated swing of her right index finger spat out, “You!”

The shrillness of her voice resonated from the walls. Adrian stood like a rock. “A sincere but bad effort.” He spoke softly. “If only you had listened to what I said than just hearing my words before raising your arm in the air, perhaps it would have been an iota better. But that wouldn’t have been a lot either. Nevertheless, thank you for being the only enthusiastic one in this class of zombies.” He smiled curtly.

There was a little stirring in the class as Debbie got back to her seat awkwardly, averting the eyes of her peers.

“Is there a Cassy in this class? The one recommended by the mighty famous Rubello?” Adrian asked, stressing extra softly at the adjectives.

The farthest end of the theatre stirred. “That would be me.” A hand stuck out in the air.

“Step up for us, will you now Cassy. Let me take a good look at you – the girl Rubello staked his reputation for.  What was it he said about you? Beacon of young actors? And where did he meet you exactly? If the talks are to be believed, he met you at a small retail store conning him with a fake discount offer of sorts? Fascinating how the grapevine works. Anyway, do you mind showing us all what he saw in you, wherever that was? Rubello… the acclaimed actor for years, my peer in this very institute thirty years ago… I want to know what’s become of his judgment since.”

Cassy walked to the stage, struggling to gather her thick wavy hair in a rubber band.

“Yeah, so what lines are we reciting?” she asked, rubbing her hands, shifting her weight from one leg to the other.

Adrian arched an eyebrow, trying to make sense of her question.

“You see, I was listening to Eminem on my iPod when someone nudged me to raise my hand. So I have no clue what you said till someone nudged me again to walk to the stage. So what are we doing, fill me in Proff…. Sorry didn’t catch your name. I am Cassy by the way. Nice meeting you. You have a nice setup here. You don’t see us, we don’t see you if we don’t want to. I like it. Convenient.” She winked.

The class erupted in laughter, but one sharp shift of Adrian’s gaze brought silence back again.

“So, you didn’t listen to a word I said all this while?” Adrian asked in a low voice, a strand of hair falling to his face.

“That is correct.” Cassy nodded, hands on her hips.

For the first time since the class had begun, Adrian seemed to lose control of the situation. He fumed and looked around dangerously.

“You… prick of a girl. How dare you talk to me like that! I always knew Rubello’s mediocre acting experience could only manifest into such notions of good acting! Whatever he might be outside, I call the shots in this institute, and I will have you out of these premises before the day ends. It is but my solemn pledge.”

“Why, that would make me 100$ rich! I bet Ruby boy I won’t last a day. I could ask for an extra bonus for winning with such flying colors! We are… what 45 minutes into the first day? How awesome is that!” Cassy chuckled.

Adrian was wild and confused with anger. “You!” He growled, hurt like a child. “You!” He looked at her like he could rip her apart.

Cassy, no longer laughing crossed her arms and stood still. “I think you are not doing it right Adrian, it needs to be louder than that. Fill your lungs and spit it out is what you said, right? Something like this I s’pose.” Cassy stepped closer to Adrian, eyes wide staring into his, arms still crossed, body relaxed and feet light. Her face a stone, only her mouth moved as a deafening, loud and intense voice came out. “YOU!”

Adrian stepped back in shock, a look of pure hatred on his face at the realization of what just happened.

Cassy began to descend the stage, but turned back again. “Oh, and the grapevine is right. I was conning Rubello at the retail store, but the offer was not fake… only strategically worded. It is part of my job. I am a sales girl you see. Rubello told me about you. He told me there’s a weeping woman behind the curtain of your primness.  Be good to Debbie next time, she works as hard as you used to back in your day. You don’t have to be your professor. Be the difference you wanted to see.”

“This… You… I… I will not spare you girl, I promise”, Adrian spoke feverishly; sweat trickling from his temple.

“Oh but do spare me please! Frankly, this is a waste of time. You have fun with your art and craft, while I experiment at the truth lab that’s real world. And, here’s my card. Drop in at my store sometime. I would love to have you as one of my closed opportunities! Yes, I am that good.”

She sauntered out of the theatre, humming Space Bound.

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This is my entry for Inspirational Monday this week hosted by BeKindReWrite. I have used the prompts – “woman behind the curtain” and “the truth lab”.

Inspirational Monday is a word-prompt challenge with no stringent word limit where various word prompts are given to choose from and spin a story around anytime before the next Monday. You have the creative freedom to use the prompt anyway you like. It is an enjoyable exercise and worth trying!

To check this week’s prompts and last week’s entries, please click here.