The Mail Carrier

Ramapuram was a small, sleepy town. Full with dreamy eyed people roaming around the big banyan tree, as if it had borne the nucleus of the old town. People were happy, everyone going around for their work, everyone sustaining the small town economically. Industrialisation had left the town almost untouched, which only added to the natural beauty the town had. Letting things be as they are imbibes a certain untouched beauty to the subject, and Ramapuram, if seen through the right eyes, was a perfect example.

 

Raman was one of the many dreamy eyed residents of this town. As small a boy he was, like all other boys and girls of the town, he went to the only school the little place had. The school was a place of interest for the boys, the old thatched roof, the archaic yellowed walls, the rusty blackboards and the almost uninterested teachers. Almost as if it was an epitome of neglect and carelessness. The teachers had not been changed in years, nor had been the classrooms. The old furniture had borne the brunt of all the aimless people who happened to use it, day after day.

 

Every day would come and pass by, Sanskrit, History, English Composition and Maths. The teachers would come and drone, each more strict than the other. Perhaps if not in terms of qualifications, they competed with each other. Maybe they compensated for their lack of scientific acumen with their strictness, which eventually made the students fear them, and hence, ask no questions.

 

Yet, Raman did not mind. He had no doubts. He was certain. The day would end at the same time the train passed the school, and more certain he was of the fact that the school was not a place for him. He was considered a failure. He would sleep through his classes. Sometimes some teacher would wake him up only to beat him up, most of the times, the teachers just sighed and let him sleep.

 

The end of the school day almost coincided with the loud noise the daily mail carrier train would make as it would pass by the town. One of the many trains that passed by the town, the mail carrier was a daily nuisance to the teachers as the railway tracks were laid just opposite the school walls. This sound was Raman’s daily alarm, he would wake up to the sound of the train every day.

 

Today was a new day. He somehow looked forward to the classes. Though it seemed wrong to his gut, all down to his roots, he somehow knew he could face the teachers today. Sanskrit came, and he could correct grammar in all of the verses the teacher wrote on the board. The Gita, the Ramayana and some verses from the famous Meghdootam, he could recite and correct them all. History was cake today. He knew all the dates. The Mughal Empire, the year Sir Thomas Roe attended Jahangir’s court, the year Bahadur Shah Zafar died. He knew it all. Nobody got appreciation from the history teacher, and yet, Raman was the only one in the class the teacher heaped praises upon.

 

English composition was a breeze too. Raman could summarise every chapter of Tom Sawyer with ease. Maybe like Tom, he had rose up to the occasion when he was least expected to. Though Raman was not as mischievous as Tom, but he obviously shared the laziness. Maths was easy too. Linear algebra was easy. He did not even had to lift his hand to compute the value of x. So complicated are our lives, we keep solving equations in Maths, and one problem in our lives, and all hell breaks loose.

 

Raman knew that he had changed his life today. He was filled with a new sense of purpose, a feeling of satisfaction, and the best of it all, he was not unnoticed anymore. It felt so strange to him, as to how his life could have turned a full circle in a day, but oh yes, he was happy.

 

But maybe like all good stories, be it Romeo and Juliet or the Iliad, his good story had to end, After all, success is not achieved in a day. It is a path tread only by the hardworking, and more, the certain. The mail carrier had come to Ramapuram, and like all trains, it carried news for the people around it.

 

The train’s shrill whistle shook the townspeople and woke Raman up from his dream.The Maths teacher was just leaving. “What do I do with you Raman? You always sleep through the whole day and I presume, dream all nonsense.”

 

By Neeraj Meghani (Head Editor, Fiction)

The Stranger

There were no thoughts in my head as I ran. I could barely see but I just had to run ahead and hide somewhere. The stranger was here. And he was after me. I was running towards a huge building which looked like a church but I wasn’t sure. I looked back but couldn’t see him so I decided to hide and settle down for sometime. I ran to the side of that building and climbed up a tree and hid in between the branches. My vision was returning but my breath was still gone. I looked as far down the street as I could but I couldn’t see him so I decided to try and make myself as comfortable as possible, and figure out how it all led to where I was right now.

 

I’d first seen him in my dreams about 2 years ago. He was standing on a cliff, looking up at the stars. Each night he’d look down, stare at me and walk a few steps away from his cliff, towards where I stood at the shore. There was something strangely familiar in the strangers face, but I’d still wake up sweating and terrified to the core. However, I never really gave it much thought and went back to sleep wondering why I have the same dream each night, and wanting to meet the man. That was a mistake.

 

Last week he was within 10 feet of me. I tried to run but I couldn’t move. He smiled at me and I understood that he wanted to kill me.

 

Yesterday he’d come right upto me. With murderous eyes and a chilling smile he pointed towards my feet. I woke up as soon as I looked down. I walked to my window to get some fresh air and saw him standing right across the street staring at me. The man in my dreams had become a reality.

 

I was pulled out of my reverie as I saw a woman walking into the building on my right. Which, as I peered inside the windows, was a church as I’d previously thought. She solemnly walked and sat down in the corner of the first pew. There was something alluring about her that I couldn’t quite place my finger upon. She wasn’t beautiful, a rather plain Jane in fact, but something about her expression made me forget about the dangerous situation I was in and just look at her and wonder. She stood up abruptly, and screamed. It was a scream of a woman who’d long since forgotten how to live and was simply enduring the hardships life threw at her. A scream full of frustration, directed at people all around her, but mostly at herself. She stopped screaming and fell to her feet. I could see her shoulders shaking so I assumed that she was crying, but I had a feeling that she was laughing.

 

I’d never given much thought to people around me, and watching this woman was an overwhelming feeling. She made me realise that her life was as much as, if not more, complex and deranged as mine. I’d forgotten all about my familiar stranger who’d somehow become an actuality. With a jerk, I looked at the far end of the street and saw him standing there in the middle of the road and looking at me right through the branches. The longer I stared at that chilling smirk plastered on his face, the more numb I became with fear. I jumped off the tree and ran straight. Away from him, and away from her. I ran with a feeling that over time, I would come to know this darkness and fear, and maybe I’d even call them my companions.

 

By Sonam Sharma (Fiction)

It is a Funny Story

How artistic we become with our hearts broken. And that is the story of my life.

Entangled in my thoughts, I find it funny how we are stuck in love. Moving, yet still.

All I am left with is blue ink and bluer papers, and hues far too dark. Stains of memories cherished on sheets and blurred lines crossing paths.

My life is but a metaphor for bandages and scratched crevices. A simile, you can call it for love lost but never found.

Oh, I no longer write for myself. It’s for thee I grieve and long. Maybe, I seek a greater perhaps but for now the time prolongs.

Our story never started to end and that is that, I shall not say any further.

My veins are etched with ink stains and my fingers with blood, how awful it is for me to romanticize red mixed with blue. For purple scars don’t heal, just disappear through and through.

My undying thirst for love cannot be gratified for I have epitomized it to be something beyond my reach. So with my words I lose myself. And with every alphabet, I am lost. Maybe, I was meant to be my own person. But, that only time can tell if I am my lost jigsaw puzzle; waiting to be fixed and completed.

 

By Saumya Rastogi (Fiction)

Beyond The Veil

You ever wonder how astonishing it is that in between so many people present,

From nowhere comes the person,

Like a star after a dark cloud and thunders of nights,

Giving you one single reason to stay and make those thousand unreasonable assumptions…

You are smiling at 2PM on a busy Monday afternoon staring  at your computer screen with deadlines pending, just thinking about how their nose crinkle when they laugh.

I wonder how easily they leave again,

Leave us to cry weep and scream.

They do ever wonder, about the parts and piece of my deserted souls they borrowed.

They owe me a lot more than they believe.

 

I wonder where all those people went, whom I spent my childhood with,

My mum said they are not here, they are unreal.

Some say it’s my loneliness speaking, some my fiction writer inside,

But I still see them right next to me.

Staring, crying and laughing as I tip tap the keyboard

Are they just imaginary or they are scared of you?

 

From all the pain present in this world

You ever wonder how so many particles comes together to make an atom.

Which are present in our skin right now.

Playing hide and seek like the noisy kids on the road.

Moving across, flying and leaping.

Calling the same flesh home, which you puncture with needles, cut and throw around like confetti.

 

Or you ever wonder that if we start counting each heartbreak and pain of every life present in this moment

Won’t this planet explode searching for closure to handle them?

 

Why we never wonder that when we are fast asleep

What If our souls get out of this body,

This body where they are comfortably sync

And just to go around and wander to find darkness and mysteries.

 What if they meet with other souls to grieve in the caskets,

Or they go in the parallel universe to feel the same moments again on repeat.

And what if they are about to unite with the love of your life,

But you open your eyes at the same moment.

 

We wonder that what will happen if we die

But don’t we ever think

Why did we become this.

After so many deaths,

Is this our destiny?

Or are we trapped?

 

Why don’t we wonder that between money, fame and race,

There are people who decease every midnight

So how many coffins do they even hold inside the fragile soul?

They are living with graveyards growing in them.

Isn’t that scary?

 

We wonder about enhancing beauty

Being fair, being bright.

Being the next Instagram perfect profile.

But why don’t we wonder of this girl, who every time picked that dead flower between the fresh dandelions,

Why she kept all those dead dry petals in her basket?

Did she want to make them alive with some black magic?

Or she just wanted to save food for bees

She was a witch, or kindness is so rare to believe ?

 

Why don’t we wonder about the dreams we forget,

Is this just our mind?

Or the universe kept some secrets inside our head,

We wonder about everything don’t we?

 

But we never wonder why we wonder, at the first place.

 

By Riya Sharma (Fiction)

Her.

(By Khyati Gupta, Fiction Editor)

“Wedding day. I can’t wait to see her. I can’t believe this is really happening. I can’t believe I’ve finally got her. I can’t believe we survived everything. Eight years back, I had no idea this random girl with the curliest hair ever would end up meaning the world to me. I had no idea this irritating pain in the ass would become my everything. I still remember our first meeting. She was the new girl in school and she was trying to make new friends. Man, I teased her so much. I think she started crying, although she still doesn’t talk to me about it. I was so mean to her and I felt so guilty afterwards. I remember how my friends had to literally force me to apologise to her. I guess I thought that apologising would make me seem small in her eyes. Meh. I’m actually glad that I apologised. Because that’s when we became the closest friends. And I started noticing the little things about her. Like how she tucked her hair behind her ears at least five times an hour. How she hated her hair for being curly. How she loved hugs and all those small little gestures of love. How her nose twitched every time she tried to lie. How she hated people with curves because she was so skinny. How she was willing to sacrifice everything for the people she loved. What she didn’t realise was that she was the most beautiful skinny person I’d ever seen. She didn’t realize that I hated straight hair. She didn’t realise that seeing her hair frame her face the way they did, was the most beautiful sight a person could see. She was the most kind-hearted person I’d ever met and I guess all these qualities of hers are the reason I fell for her. I don’t even know how or when it happened. I just remember waking up one day and wishing she was next to me. I remember the warm and fuzzy feelings I started feeling whenever her name flashed on my mobile screen. I still don’t know what I’ve done to deserve her. We’ve been through so much together. We’ve had so many fights. There have been times when we haven’t talked to each other for months on end. I don’t know about her but man, those months were torturous for me. I missed her so much. Those fights made me realise that I can’t survive a day without talking to her. They made me realise that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this annoying piece of shit. My annoying piece of shit. Words are not enough to describe how much I love her. How grateful I am to god that I have her. And that’s surprising because up until I met her, I used to be an atheist.
I’m marrying her today. She’s going to walk down the aisle, looking flawless. As always. I’m gonna take her hands and say my vows. I’m gonna tell her I love her. I’m gonna tell her I’ll be with her through thick and thin. I’m gonna tell her that I’m the luckiest man on earth. And then, I’m gonna kiss her. And she’ll be mine.”
I closed my journal. I felt a little embarrassed because I’d never really read my journal out to anybody but her mother before. But she’d found it and forced me to read it to her. She was so similar to her mother that way. Stubborn and tenacious. She was also as beautiful as her mother.
“How was it?” I asked my daughter.
“Daddy, it’s beautiful. But can I ask you something?”, she said.
“Yes darling, of course.”
“If you loved mommy so much, why’d you let god take her?”
The type of questions my seven year old daughter asked me. God.
I pulled her onto my lap and said,” Honey, your mother was an angel. And God needed her more than we did. Your mommy was very sick and because god loved her so much, he couldn’t see her suffer. So, he decided to end her pain and took her to heaven.”
“Is mommy happy there?”
“Yes darling, she is. Your mommy is very happy.”
“How do you know, daddy?”
“I just know, honey. I just do.”

 

(also posted on thegreentiara)

Close as Strangers

(By Sonam Sharma, Fiction Editor, Paprikashta)

He tightened his coat as the wind blew faster. He shivered and looked down at his feet as he walked down the street thinking about the tasks he had yet to finish and the people he had yet to call.
She was lost. She shivered as she clenched her street map tighter against the wind and tried to figure out where she was and how she’d get to 49th street.
They bumped into each other and mumbled sorry at the same time. Their eyes widened with recognition and their mouths fell slightly agape. She recovered first and cleared her throat. He gulped and tried not to look at beautiful face. He couldn’t help it. It’d been three years since he’d last seen her. He stood aside as she tried not to blush under his gaze and looked around for her map which had flown out of her hands. “Are you lost?” He asked and she just nodded. Even after all these years, his presence still had that same effect on her. He smiled and said, “I’ll help you. Where were you going?” “I gotta get to 49th street. Do you know the way?” She asked hopefully. “Yeah I do. In fact, I am going there myself. You’re actually walking in the wrong direction” He chuckled softly. She looked confused but simply said, “Lead the way.”
They both walked in silence. Minds rushing back to their past. All the times she’d caught him staring at her and all the times she’d flirted clumsily with him; they both couldn’t stop thinking about it. But they knew, they weren’t made for each other. At first, she’d waited for him to ask her out but then she realized they never could be.  They were two people who weren’t meant to fall in love with each other, but they did. Oh, how they did. He took a deep breath and looked at her as she did the same. They could see the love in each other’s eyes but didn’t make a move. Instead they just smiled and continued walking. It was as if they were as close as strangers. Maybe in a parallel universe they were together. But as of now, here, in the present – they weren’t. But at the same time, in their hearts, they were.
 

The Severance

by Neeraj Meghani, Fiction editor, Paprikashta

It had been twelve years since I had seen her. The troubles of the partition had been forgotten, and the countries, mine and hers were rebuilding themselves, and that meant hectic schedules.   We did not have mobiles in those days, so we communicated using letters, which took months to reach. But, as they say, there is a sweet reward to patience, and every letter I received from her was like a gift, like someone had given me a new life. I read every one of her letters at least a hundred times, and then kept it safely inside one of my trunks. I replied to the letters as sweetly as I could, every square inch of the paper indicating my unquenched longing for her. I wanted to show her that the partition had obviously drenched our spirits, but I was working my heart out in India to make a fortune, and then settle down with her in the beautiful valleys of what they called Shimla.

All my letters to Peshawar were replied to within two months. So every year, six times on an average, I used to sit down and enjoy the letters. But as it happened in 1964, I never got a reply from her in six months; I started to worry, and the letters I started sending every week, telling her of my escalated concern for her well-being, did not bear any results. The thought of her leaving me for another man also cropped up in my mind, but later I realised that I should have been nothing but ashamed of myself, while doubting her unbounded love for me. In my unwarranted and baseless suspicions about her character, I never thought about the problems they were facing back in Pakistan, and she may have been a victim of the various riots, wars and the uprisings the people faced.  To my relief, a letter came in the early months of 1965, telling me that she had been very busy in setting up a livelihood for herself and was sorry for the interruption in our correspondence. I was relieved and stressed at the same time. She, being forced to start her own livelihood urged me to hurry. I started preparing for the civil services exam that was to happen in the next six months. I hoped to get selected, and then go to Pakistan to escort her to India. Though I did write letters to her during my preparation for the exam, but that was the only distraction I had in those six months.

Till the results came, she kept encouraging me, boosting my confidence and my dedication, all for the better life I saw for the both of us. I got selected in the Shimla Municipal Corporation as the Deputy Commissioner, and the only aim I had in my mind now was to live with her in India. I took the earliest booking I could in the Samjhauta Express, the only way I could go to Pakistan in those days. I reached Peshawar in the course of a few days, and the strenuous rail journey could not dampen my excitement. I reached Peshawar, gave her almost a week to pack up her things, though I now realise I was rude in not asking her if she really wanted to live in India. She had changed a little, but I realised that twelve years could alter a person significantly, both mentally and physically.

The events that happened last week have taught me a life lesson.  My mother used to say the following quote regularly, ‘An hour of crowded and glorious life, is worth more than a lifetime of anonymity and stillness’, maybe, like all mothers, she had sensed what I had in the future for myself. I was opening our old trunks that day when I carefully arranged the letters she wrote me on my shelf. I unpacked her trunk too, arranging her old clothes and memorabilia on the showcase we had in the drawing room. The only thing that was out of place was one letter and a rose with it, which I thought might be one of the many letters I had written to her, but when I read it, tears came into my eyes. My respect for her rose immensely, and the sacrifices she had done for me came into my knowledge. I thought I had worked for our future, but now I realised that it was much more difficult for her. I just went outside to the garden where she was sitting, hugged her, and started crying uncontrollably. The letter read:

Dear Shabhana,

As you know, the last few weeks have been terrible for me. The cancer has advanced, and the doctors say it is incurable now. I only have a few weeks to live, and I wish to ask for one favour from you in these last days of mine.

He has been preparing religiously for his exams for the past few weeks, and now if I tell him that I’m going to die, the love of his life will not be with him when he needs it the most, he will break down completely. My dearest sister, my soul mate, I need you to continue the conversation I have been having with him for the past twelve years, because the six month abstention I have been forced to have from writing letters must have aroused his suspicions.

You always wanted a loving husband for yourself right? He is a good man, and will keep you happy for the rest of your lifetime. All the hardships you’ve faced because of me, he will erase. He will give you all the joys you deserve to have, all the joys you sacrificed to save my already sad state. He will come to take me in a few months, and he should not realise the fact that I left him when I needed him the most. He does not know that I have a sister, and you must not let him know that ever.

Wishing you a great life ahead, dearest twin sister.

Yours faithfully,

Nazma

A Perfect Ending

(By Sanjana Chawla, Fiction Editor, Paprikashta)

Doctors were rushing in and out constantly. Nurses were injecting and observing her pulse. Her mother was crying for she knew that it was about to end and was continuously chanting prayers. She was seriously ill and her chances of survival were less than twenty percent. As soon as she woke up, she just uttered one word.

                                                                        ‘Him’


Well it is a weird thing for others, but for her it was completely sane. In fact, completely sane for both of them. He reached the place in an hour or so and was sitting besides her in the clothes she loved the most. He sat with his hand over hers and adored her beautiful yet weak hands. He kissed the top of her forehead and then her hands with deep blue painted nails. She stay quiet but her silence portrayed every single emotion. He talked continuously though she just passed smiles and at times she slept as well but he spoke and didn’t stop.

He recalled and make her relive all the days and memories spent together. He laughed as he told how at first they hated and literally insulted each other. He spoke about their first meet and all their talks, outings and when he proposed!
They’ve had been together since past many years and there wasn’t even a single day when she cried because of him. Such was his love! His loyalty, faithfulness, trust and respect towards her was inexpressible. And so she loved him truly and deeply.
He smiled innocently as he said “Our story wasn’t a perfect one. Happy beginnings? No, not at all!!”. But they came this far just because of their Choices and Love.

To him, she was his world. And to her, he was her life. Perhaps, he really loved her. He indeed proved it.

She was a beautiful girl with falling hair and tubes emerging through her nostrils. She walked with difficulty and had spots on her skin. She coughed continuously and walked with baby steps. Well, no one else accepted her. Even her friends joked and passed comments. But then there was this one guy in her school who perceived things from a different point of view. For him, looks and IQ or achievements were of no equivalence. Perhaps, he was moved by her soul and behaviour. No, he wasn’t sympathizing and feeling pity for her, and it wasn’t love at first sight as well.

But whatever it was, was the most beautiful thing ever.
People adored their relation. They talked about them and that how cute they looked together. But they never misinterpreted or fought with each other because of people. They both loved each other deeply and that to without any demands, expectations or complaints. All they wanted was happiness and goodwill. They wanted to be together for ever. And they did spend the most amazing time with each other. They lived to the fullest, despite all the hardships.

Perhaps, that night was their last night together. His throat became rough and dry for he spoke till 6 in the morning. She had tears in her eyes which easily signified her true love and that she’d miss him. She remained quiet. But her last words remained carved in his heart for eternity.


                           “I love you, I loved you, Will forever do and will miss you”.


She didn’t die for him. She became a powerful and a strong person who struggled for life with optimism. He didn’t cry since that day. He was prepared for all this and that’s why he accepted all this because he knew that she’s bound to instill within him for ever.


Tears for him became like rains in a desert.
That girl died lived and survived as long as he lived.
She lived- in his heart, within his soul.

Perhaps their story wasn’t a fairytale but they really had a perfect ending.

 

(also posted on crestfallen)

The Rain

 

(By Khyati Gupta, Fiction Editor)

“How is she today?”, he asked.
“I think it’s a good day. You can try talking to her”, the nurse replied.
He went up to her room, fretting apprehensively. He’d known her for so long but he still got butterflies in his stomach around her. Maybe because every day, he met her for the first time.
Knock knock.
“Hello, can I come in?”, he asked earnestly.
“Yes, sure. Can I know who you are?”, she replied.
It was like something was piercing his heart. He heard her say that every day, but it never seemed to hurt less.
“Oh, I work here. I’m here to take you for a walk”.
As she got up from her chair, he felt like he was falling in love with her all over again. He could remember a time when her face was free of wrinkles, and her hair was completely black, without the white strands adorning them. So many years and he could still remember every detail about her.
As they were walking, and talking about the flowers, it started raining. He grabbed her hand, ready to run inside.
“I want to stay”, she said.
“But, it’s raining”, he replied.
“Yes, and I want to stay”.
She looked so happy and content that he could not bear to say no.
“You can let go of my hand now”, she said shyly.
“No, I don’t want you to slip and fall”, he said, holding on to her.
The rain reminded him of their first date, back when they were teenagers. She had been running, enjoying the rain and had obviously fallen smack on her ass. He’s expected her to start fretting and crying, but she surprised him by laughing and pulling him down with her.
The rain reminded him of his wedding day. They had argued about whether to conduct the ceremony under the skies or in an enclosed area. She obviously opted for the blue skies, and he couldn’t argue. It rained when they kissed and it just made the ceremony so much more beautiful.
The rain reminded him of the fateful day he found out about her disease. Alzheimer’s. Genetic. No cure. He had felt his heart breaking, but there was little he could do. She was so brave, holding his hand and telling him that it’ll be fine.
“Hey, let’s go back inside now, I’m cold”, she said while tugging at his hand. They’d been standing in the rain for ten minutes and he’d lost track of time while reminiscing.
He took her inside and handed her over to the nurse, who scolded him for letting her stay in the rain for so long. But the nurse didn’t know how much she loved the rain. The nurse didn’t understand the connection she had with the rain. Maybe she didn’t understand herself, not at the moment. But he did. He’d been with her for over forty years, and he understood. He understood that their best memories had taken place under gray clouds. As he went home that night and lay in bed, he smiled, preparing himself for the next day. For seeing her again and meeting her for the first time again.
 

(also posted on thegreentiara)