Random Tales

Birth

It was a good life.

After almost 80 years of toiling and sacrifices, I had reached the end of the road. My son and daughter were sitting across the bed while my wife was holding my hand, while her other hand held a tissue which she was using to wipe the tears in her eyes. My grandchildren were sitting far away, in my eyesight but not close enough to see the gory truth of the death. They didn’t understand it yet that this is the last time they will see their grand fluff again. But it doesn’t matter. They will remember me and they will love me. I hoped that my parents were happy with the life I had lived, perhaps even proud of the person their son had become. My father had never seen the face of the school but he worked hard to ensure that his son goes to the best schools in the country. My mom had loved me and cared for me for every day of her life. Even on her deathbed, she was fussing over my clothes.

Yes, indeed. It has been a good life.

‘But was it good enough?’ The thought rang in my heart as my breathing laggard. My mind was too sluggish to make much of it but there was a spike of surprise that ran through the nerves. Did one of my family asked this question? Or was it a cosmic question put in my head by an entity bigger than I? Or was it a senile old man’s final thought? I did not know and now, I didn’t care. I closed my eyes and breathed my last.

I opened my eyes to a large auditorium. In front of me, in a semi-circle were sitting eleven people looking at me with varied looks that ranged from surprised to disgust to smile. I couldn’t guess the gender of the individuals and they looked as if the humans had evolved into a hairless specie that could breath anywhere, even in water or space.

Two similar people were standing in front of the panel, one standing beside me while the other at the far end looking at me with disappointment.

The person at the far end repeated – “But was it good enough?”

“Yes, it was,” the person next to me said. It (for I don’t know how else to describe the being) showed the reel which went through in less than a second.

It was my life! Each and every moment that I had experienced.

“How?” I said but it gestured me to shut my mouth.

I obeyed. The proceedings continued for an hour more. Each and every action of my life, each moment was scrutinised in grave detail while I sat there, trying to remember which religion had such detailed judgement.

Finally, the eleven judges (I had decided that they were indeed judging my life) stood up and the centre one looked at me.

We have conferred amongst us (When? I didn’t see them even look at each other once) and we have decided that her punishment is over. She can get her truth back.

As soon as the words were uttered by the central judge, I felt like someone had pushed eons worth of memory in my mind. My body started shedding, the hair first, followed by the skin. Below it was the same all-weather skin that each of the other members had and my body had also morphed into a single gender.

I was Athria, not a male or a female but a vale of the specie Omana.

As the memories flooded my mind, tears started to come to my eyes – first of joy at having returned and then of pain, immense pain of what I had done.

“Why?” I asked but Corana held me gingerly.

“It’s over now. It has been a long 80 years but they are over now. You can go back to your family,” Corana said.

“You became a lawyer,” I said. She smiled.

“What I did…”

“… has been stricken along with the punishment. You are free!”

“Thanks!”

“You should now go back to your home. 80 years is a long time. Things have changed. My assistant would help you with the details while I finish the formalities. Then, I will take you home.”

I nodded and went with her assistant.

My mind was whirling at the memory of the last time I was here.

“You have killed a human foetus. Why?”

The judge looked at me with fury. I stood firm. In my mind, I had made no mistake. Humans were an inferior species, barely capable of speech and other higher forms of intellectual achievements that makes us consider a specie intelligent.

“You have broken our most ancient laws. We don’t interfere with life forms in other planets. Let alone kill their younglings or foetuses.”

I looked with defiance at the judge.

“The stem cells would have given us new techno…”

“Silence! You have been found guilty on all charges. You will serve a life sentence. You will experience what it is to be a human. And we will repay the woman whose foetus you so arrogantly plucked and killed.”

My vision faded, the world going entirely dark. Without warning I am blinded by light. I hear a woman screaming and a doctor yell, “The baby is crowning!”

My sentence has begun.

Inspired by reddit/r/writingprompts:

[WP] “You have been found guilty on all charges. You will serve a life sentence.” The judge slammed his gavel on the table. My vision faded, the world going entirely dark. Without warning I am blinded by light. I hear a woman screaming and a doctor yell “The baby is crowning!”My sentence has begun.

Random Tales

Quest for Mortality

It was a day to behold. Death was standing in front of Kartraya once again. Last time the two had met, Kartraya had defeated Death – the first and only being in the universe to do that. Death had not taken its defeat lightly.

“Come what may, you will live. I won’t ever come to you again.” Death had said and gone in shame. While this may look like whining, it was the gravest of all punishments for Kartraya. Once, a victorious prince who captured the hearts and hearths of many other beings, today, he was tired. His body still looked pristine, like the day he stood victorious in front of Death. His mind was another story. He couldn’t differentiate between the reality and dreams, the past and the future, what had actually happened and what was etched in his mind as memory due to the time elapsed. Meeting new people every few decades exhausted him, seeing his loved ones die again and again crushed his soul, and knowing there is no end to his actions made them meaningless.

He turned cruel over time, barbaric, almost mindless. He had phases that lasted decades when he lost the ability to think and would wander meaninglessly, animalistic in behavior, and jaded in outlook. He would eventually come back, sometimes with the memories of the brutal time and other times, like a new born.

The only memory that stayed with him without fail was the fateful night when he had won against Death. Everything else was fluid. He had defeated Death! And today, finally, Death was standing in front of him, still sulking like an impertinent child angry over an old gripe.

“What do you want?” Death said while twisting its arms.

“I want to die,” Kartraya said calmly.

“That can’t happen.”

“Yes, it can. Take me with you and let me rest.”

Death looked at its shackles and laughed.

“You captured me to ask me to take you. You have some serious issues.”

Kartraya’s voice lowered. “I don’t have patience anymore. Take me with you. I want to die.”

The menace in Kartraya’s voice sent a shiver down Death. “I can’t. You have defeated me – twice. It is beyond my powers to hurt you now.”

“There must be a way,” Kartraya whispered.

“The essence of Jalep. I was born out of a drop of Jalep’s essence. If you drink it, you would die. Not the same death as others, but death nonetheless.”

“What would be different?”

“No reincarnation. You won’t exist anymore. There won’t be a soul or any mark of you left. Unlike others, you won’t get a second chance, nor would you meet your friends or family from the past.”

“I don’t want another chance. I just want it all to end.”

“Find the essence of Jalep and you will be free,” Death said with a grin on its face. The essence of Jalep was impossible to find or attain.

Kartraya looked at Death with keen eyes and skepticism. Then he dipped his hand in his pocket and took out a vial with dark liquid – almost black with hint of pink swirling every so often. The liquid was splashing and writhing even in a stationary bottle, as if in pain.

“H… H… How do you have that?”

“I heard about it through the winds but wanted to be certain about it before I drink it,” Kartraya said and gulped down the vial. Death looked at it with horror and fascination.

Kartraya closed his eyes and lay down on the ground. His breathing became haggard and an occasional twitch formed in his hands. A darkness seemed to engulfed the whole environment even though the sun was still shining brightly. Death had never seen the effect of the essence and didn’t know what was happening.

“Can I die by the essence that created me?” Death thought. For a split second, it felt fear for itself. The second passed and Kartraya’s breathing stopped.

Death looked around and everything was again bright and exciting. Its nemesis, its biggest foe, was in front of him, dead and forever gone. It was then that Death realised that Kartraya had left it chained. Death tugged at his chains but couldn’t budge. In his quest for mortality, Kartraya had left the whole world immortal.

Random Tales

Forever, together

Rama was alone in the house, thinking about Javed, shivering with anger. ‘How could he leave her like that?’ her mind looped back to this single question.

Rama and Javed had started dating two years ago when Javed had asked Rama out , knowing full well the differences between them, not just in their religion but their financial status, family values, and health. Rama came from a rich, albeit dysfunctional family – parents divorced, brother an addict – not to discount the troubles of being a woman in her society which still saw her a secondary character as compared to her useless brother. Javed was from a more modest background. He had reached the college through hard work, scholarship, and education loan. His whole lifestyle was focused on saving money to send it home to his parents whom he loved more than anything else and who loved and protected him with the same intensity. Javed would often laugh that his parents would even fight Allah if he ever found himself facing his wrath.

Amidst all these differences, Rama barely understood why Javed asked her out. They had known each other for just a few months and wary of her past relationships, where the guys were only interested in a casual relationship, she refused. Javed persisted.

“I like you. I don’t want to be your friend and I’m not going anywhere. Deal with it,” he had said one of the times when she had tried to gently turn him down. It took almost a year for Rama to finally agree. It didn’t take long for them to move in after, all differences forgotten.
Three months ago, more than two and a half years after they had met and more than one and a half years after they started dating, she asked him about the future.

“Where are we going?”

He hugged her and said – “We are going into the forever, together.”

She smiled and hugged him back. Soon enough, she talked to her parents about him. His parents already knew about her, everything about her. His mom would often call her to take her advice on the newest fashion or to know what Javed was doing. In comparison, there was furor, drama, and tension at her house when they found out about Javed but Rama and Javed prevailed. They convinced her parents that the differences of religion and status will be immaterial against their love.

“I’m so happy,” Rama said poking her stomach with a needle before her meal. “When will you come?” She asked Javed. Javed was going home to officially talk about the wedding.

“Three or four days, max. I can’t be without you more than that,” he said and hugged her.

That was a week ago. Yesterday, Javed came back, his face ashen, his grin forever faded, with a few new grey hair.

“What happened?” Rama asked, his stress infusing into her. Javed gave a small non-committal ‘it’s nothing’ and went to sleep.

Today, Rama came back from work and found a letter and an almost empty apartment. All of Javed’s belongings were missing. She opened the letter. Her expressions changed from shocked to enraged, tears flowing from her eyes, her fingers curling into fists.

‘I love you Rama, more than anything in the world. And my parents love you as well. They adore you and think that you are the best thing that has happened to me. And you know how open-minded they are about religion, caste, and financial backgrounds. That is why I was shocked when they told me that they don’t want us to get married. I fought them, asked them for the reason and we had extended discussions. The truth is that they don’t want a daughter-in-law who has a chronic disease. I’m sorry that I can’t go against them. I’m sorry.’

Rama crumpled the note. Wasn’t she honest with her illness? Couldn’t they say this two years ago when he first told them about her? Didn’t she convince her parents? She looked around the empty apartment through tear-filled eyes, his words echoing in her head –

‘Forever, together.’

Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Goodbye Vinya

Vinya looked at the mirror and pulled her cheeks. She looked below and squeezed her breasts. She didn’t know what to make of it. Doctors had told that the symptoms for her disease would start with her having a shattered body. It had not begun yet but she had started to feel it internally. She had some discomfort moving around and she was getting tired sooner. Her body however, was still in impeccable shape.

“Maybe the doctor was wrong.” She said to herself and smiled at her own denial.

Vinya turned to her clothes and wore a burgandy dress that was gifted by Vivan to her. She had to tell Vivan that she was dying. It won’t be a pleasant experience but he deserved the truth. She was also happy that he was with her. She didn’t think she would survive this alone.

“Hey!” Vivan said sheepishly getting up from his seat. Vivan was always ahead of time. This meant that Vinya was always late. Vinya’s face lit up looking at Vivan. He was such a calming presence in her life. However, Vinya knew that the news she was about to deliver would change that for the both of them.

“You wanted to discuss something important?” Vivan asked while passing Vinya the menu.

“Yeah. I had been thinking this for a few days. I thought it is time I blurted this out.” Vinya said unable to meet Vivan’s eyes. It dawned to her at that precise moment that she was pulling him into a miserable situation and she wasn’t sure if she wanted that. She looked at Vivan and he was looking expectantly. He had a faint smile on his face as if awaiting a good news. Vinya didn’t wanted to shatter that. Yet, she was halfway through.

“I just wanted to talk…” Vinya said when she was interrupted by Vivan’s phone.

“Just a sec.” Vivan said and picked up the phone. He turned away a bit farther from Vinya and she could see him talking furiously. Vivan was agitated as only work could make him. He came back and sat down in a different mood.

“Something wrong with work?” Vinya asked putting her hand on his. Vivan looked at her dazed before coming back to reality.

“No. Not work. Vinya, we need to talk.” Vivan said and Vinya’s heart sank.

“Yes, Vivan.” Vinya said barely able to contain her emotions.

“I have found someone else. Her name is Neha and we met a few days ago. We have been talking since then and I have felt a connection I have never felt before.”

Vinya felt that she would burst. Maybe she had burst because her innards felt hollow. She just looked at Vivan expressionless. The two sat there for minutes like that.

“I am sorry.” Vivan said finally.

“Huh! No… no… it’s alright. Even I was thinking on similar lines. Perhaps we don’t have a long-term future.”

“Really!” Vivan said, his smile broadening. “I thought you would say something like that when you said you had been thinking.”

“Oh really!” Vinya said realising the source of Vivan’s faint smile.

“Yeah. I don’t want to break your heart Vinya but Neha… She and I are perfect.”

“Good for you Vivan.” Vinya said as a sharp pain shot in her chest. Doctor didn’t tell her that heartbreak could enhance her symptoms. She thought and laughed.

“Wow! You seemed really relieved.” Vivan said seeing her laughing. “I mean, we weren’t that bad, were we?” Vivan said grinning now.

“No. We weren’t. It’s just that things had proceeded so well for the both of us. I didn’t imagine it happening.” Vinya said and tried to give her most genuine smile.

“Awesome! Thanks Vin.” Vivan said and gave her a hug. Vinya hugged him hard, once last time and then turned away.

It had been six months since Vivan’s wedding. He had indeed found the one for him. Vinya looked at the mirror and smiled. Her body had started deteriorating the day Vivan and she broke up. Her face survived Vivan’s wedding, in which she was invited. She never talked to Vivan after that.

Today, however, she was unrecognizable. Today. The day she shifts from her home to the hospital. It was also the day when one year ago, she and Vivan broke up so it seemed apt to her to have another big change in her life on this day.

She had a couple of months left which she knew she would be spending in pain and possibly alone. She could never muster up the courage to tell Vivan her reality. Maybe he will never find out. Vinya thought smiling. The wrinkles on her face cracked and her chaffed lips started to bleed.

“Goodbye Vinya.” She said to the mirror and turned her back forever to it.

Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

The Pause

“I love you.” Shubham said, his heartbeat a tad higher, his voice an octave lower in his attempt to sound serious and his palms sweaty. He looked at Anamika hoping to hear the same words back.

Time stood still.

“Not now.” Shubham groaned.

It was a scene that Shubham had seen a thousand times but it still managed to annoy him to no end.

“What do you want?” Shubham said, repeating a line that he had said over and over again expecting a different answer every time.

“Why, I want what I always want — to kill you.” The voice said. Shubham had heard this line many times. Still, he felt crestfallen to hear this line again, especially when he was at the cusp of something so important. Yet, he braced himself for the fight.

The voice gained a body and wings slashed across Shubham’s cheek. A thin line of blood came through the cut before it healed, leaving a trace on his cheek. Shubham wiped out the trace and looked at the white beast in front of him.

Shubham remembered the first time he had felt the time stop. He hadn’t understood what had happened for the first two seconds. On the third second, the whole scene changed and he was on an empty platform. He had heard a flap of wings from afar and had looked towards the horizon with anxiety and excitement mixed. When Shubham had first time seen it, he had thought it was an angel. That mistake had almost cost him his life.

Now, Shubham knew better and was almost always prepared with a few small weapons and one large knife in his back pocket. He brought out the long knife and without even looking at the creature directly slashed. The screech told him that he had aimed true. However, when Shubham looked the creature wasn’t dead. Only a cut on it’s wing. That, however was enough to put it on the ground where Shubham had the advantage.

Shubham ran towards the creature, his knife in stabbing position. The creature shifted slightly and a shine came from its hand that turned out to be a blade. It was a tiny blade but was enough to cut through Shubham’s shirt. Luckily, Shubham had turned at the right moment and the side of the shirt was torn along with his ribs.

Shubham gasped and fell. His momentum created some distance between him and the creature and in that moment, he hoped that he would heal. His knife was lying five feet away from him and he started moving towards it. The creature laughed.

“It is time, Shubham Meena. I finally kill you today.” The creature said in a grating voice. He moved slowly towards Shubham with a knife in his hand.

“Not yet whitey.” Shubham said and crawled towards his knife. He also used his right hand to pick out a smaller knife that he held in his front pocket. The creature fell for the ruse and jumped on Shubham. In a split second, Shubham turned to avoid the creature’s knife and opened the blade of his knife towards the creature’s bosom.

The white creature bawled and tried to run away. The first few times, Shubham had let the creature run away but now, it was just a habit. Like a practiced butcher, Shubham cut through the creature’s wings, made incisions throughout its body and finally beheaded it. In a few minutes the creature was lying on the floor with white creamy blood pouring out of its body.

A lot of Shubham’s life was punctuated by a pause that lasted a fight with this creature. Shubham didn’t know if this was the same creature reincarnate or if they were bred somewhere. Shubham also didn’t understand why he didn’t age or how he healed so quickly in this world. He had once gained his severed arm in this world. But he had learned that he took back the artefacts of the injuries to his world with him. The spliced shirt would remain so and so will any injury that doesn’t heal before he goes back. Due to this, Shubham usually took his time in killing the creature so that his injuries heal in this world.

Finally, he felt a tug in his body and he saw the body of the creature dissolve. It was time to go back.

It was at this moment that Shubham remembered where he had left half an hour ago. Suddenly, he was afraid.

Time started to move again. Anamika was looking at him weirdly as if trying to find the truth in his eyes. Shubham tried to hide the cut on the shirt and hoped there were no other visible signs of his battle. Finally, Anamika smiled.

“I love you too.” Anamika said. Shubham let out a sigh and hugged her. Shubham smiled and kissed Anamika jumping into the bliss before time would stop again.