The tiny, little autonomous M5’UKR’6 was one of the many minibots made by AIGen Corporations in the year 2135.

Fully pre-customized, ‘MINiature roBOTS’ categorized under the production title of ‘The Help’, were intricately designed to serve as domestic recreational machines to individuals of age 4-12. Simply put, they were a rich kid’s play doll.

These bots picked sale by the year 2137 and were in the hands of any and every upper-middle class family kid that lived in Metropolis during that time. But despite showing peak sales for 2 whole years, these bots were officially shut from production by the year 2140 due to significant drop in sales that the production cost could not cover.

The sole reason for this being, although a minibot could serve as an entertaining, recreational commodity to a kid, serving as a catching partner in Softball, as a music player reciting his/her favorite poems, lulling him/her off to sleep at night, etc., etc. it was, in the end, still a robot, incapable of showing human emotions that a child could reciprocate to. For eg., it could detect a child was either in pain or sadness when he cried, but could not distinguish between the two. And thus it could not tend to a child’s emotional needs, which in the case of toddlers, is rather undecipherable, even to a lot of human minds.

This would lead to toddlers crying incessantly when they were in emotional distress, and the minibots, unable to determine the cause of their wailing, would keep on feeding them their chew toys and nipples and patting them on their backs as the robots went about going hysterical, their systems overheating, due to the non-completion of a single task loop at their hands.

And despite almost all the units being either sold out or called back at the production facilities by end of the year 2140, the little M5’UKR’6 still gathered dust at the window pane of a lone toy shop in the town of Futurama, Metropolis. Kids of all ages visited the shop almost everyday, buying mini laser guns and hover-scooters, but nobody ever laid an eye upon the lonesome tiny robot that sat by the window pane in a corner, gathering rust.

And then one day, a tiny, little girl, with blue eyes and apple cheeks, wearing a pale-brown ragged leftover skirt, stood outside the window eyeing the little robot, beaming at the old, rusty toy, as her palms rested upon the glass of the window. After a while, she saw the price tag that lay beside the bot, then stared at her scarred, tiny feet that had no shoes on them and kept staring at them, dejected, broken, for what seemed like an eternity.

And our tiny, little ‘M5’UKR’6’ minibot, one the last few robots under the category of ‘The Help’, that were rejected solely on the basis of their utter lack of emotional capability, shed a drop of motor oil from his eye, when he saw the little girl, with apple cheeks and no shoes, leave the window pane. Her eyes still staring at the ground below her….


I smell a rat: Part 2

(Hello to all the three people reading this. If any of you may be a follower of my random fictional scribblings (seriously guys get a job), you might remember a story which was the predecessor to this, that came ages back. I promised to you to provide the further parts in the minimum amount of time. Well, here I am, in the nick of time as usual. In case you haven’t read the first part, or have forgotten about it, here’s a link to it I smell a rat: Part 1. And I promise to provide all the millions of my readers out there quicker follow ups, more blogs and electricity in every household. And honestly guys, if you’re still reading this, go get a job or get laid or something. Well go on. Stop reading. All the three of you. Stop!) 

Fictown had been bleeding.

It was evident. Perhaps the most evident reality even it’s own residents had accepted. The previously jovial town had gradually succumbed to the misery of it’s own creation.

There were some rather miserable, ungodly individuals of the society, the pioneers of it’s very destruction. Individuals that had indulged themselves into smuggling of toxic hallucinogens into the town. A severely harmful drug called ‘cliché’ had made it’s way through a few dealers in the ghettos. A rather popular, more harmful drug called ‘half baked character writing’ had it’s way of streaming through the town’s characters, making them perform the most unexpected, beside-their-tendency tasks which befuddled the readers…residents, I meant residents, around them. Then there’s the deadliest of them all, ’emotionally manipulative’ now flowing through several of the distracted characters. It’s effects allows a character to perform the most hideous of writing crimes- plagiarism, repetitive storytelling, unsatisfying climaxes, but would still allow the readers..residents. Residents. (I’ve got to stop doing that.) Still allow the residents to accept these crimes, thereby even making them passive victims of the drug

Fictown was dying. Fiction, it’s very own set of Constitution, was dying.

There were some anti-dotes, ‘literary criticism’ and ‘stop ripping other authors off’ to name a few, though none of them were welcomed by the characters who enjoyed dwelling in their misery and who rather take pleasure in these vices. Perhaps somebody needs to show them better. Perhaps somebody needs to clean up the city. But for now, our only hope is an idiosyncratic detective wearing a deerstalker cap who prefers to drink soy-sauce as a choice of appetizer.

The Mayor, Mr Mayor, wasn’t the cleanest of folks in Fictown either. He was accused of crimes like ‘A Generic name’ and ‘No backstory’, but that is beside the point. When Holmes and I reached his office, his secretary was initially a bit reluctant to let us in.

Until Holmes went…”That’s a really pretty necklace! Does your husband know you’ve been cheating? Your ring is a little looser to your finger then it used to be, revealing the portion not sun darkened. Your hair at the back of your neck are much more curved then the ones in front of it. Nautica pour homme, not much of a feminine scent I must say. Then there’s your neckline…”

Typical Holmes.

As we entered the office of the mayor, Mr. Mayor, so exasperated was the narcissistic detective that even before the mayor went “Who let you in?” or ” Are you accusing me?” or “I’ll have you written off!”, Sherlock went full, well, ‘Sherlock’ on him.

“Save the speech blondie! There are lives of hundreds of kids at stake here. I do not have time for casual greetings”, said the detective. “We know you eradicated the town of the rats during the time of the plague and the kids have disappeared in the same fashion. So you either get straight to the point about your connect with the two events or perhaps you’d like the ‘L.I.B.R.A.R.Y’  to know about the ‘Book fund’ tax fraud you’ve committing for the last three years.’

“How did you-”

“Oh do I have to do this every time? The L.I.B.R.A.R.Y releases a fund of 5000 @ (literary currency)  every year for the development of characters and plot sceneries. The mayor has a stipend of 300 @ a year. The recent development of sceneries and character welfare, evidently, in the town, look nowhere close to that. The ‘Jane Austen’ monument recently constructed, although looks and feels Alabaster, which was probably the budget for it, but Plaster of Paris? Are you even serious that would work? Then, well, there’s the necklace, an exquisitely placed 8 karat diamond, under soft, white gold. Excellent choice! But to spend that much on a secretary? Have you not read about Bill Clinton?  Perhaps you do not read reality! Oh well, do you want me to go on about your recent vacation in ‘Neverland’?”

Oh Sherlock! Don’t you just love his antics! Especially when you aren’t on the other side of the sword. ONLY when you’re not on the other side of the sword.

Like all the other victims who had had their moral high-ground perished at the hands of the maniacal detective, the mayor had an expression that was somewhere between “How dare he talk to me like that?” and “I just shat my pants a little bit.” After a few minutes of awkward silence which the Mayor spent contemplating over his entire life in a flashback, Holmes spent helping himself with the Bourbon whisky kept at the mayor’s mini bar and I spent being thoroughly amused by the awkwardness of scenario, guilt, fear and shame dawned upon the Mayor.

“Yes, I admit. Something had to be done. And it had to be done quick. The city was dying of plague. Those stinking rodents were all over the town. He seemed like the only choice at that time. We were helpless.”

“He being?”, I asked.

“This man”, said the mayor. “He…uh.. He came over to the office once. Irish lad.  Wore a green hat with a feather attached to it and a long green cape that dusted the floor along with it wherever it went. Carried a pipe in his hand. Said he could drive the rats away with it . We laughed him off at first. Thought of it as some voodoo crap. But the man looked real darn serious about it.”

“Did he give you a name?”, I asked.

“They called him The Pied Piper. That’s all we know. Didn’t belong to the town. We thought “Well, what harm could it do?” and asked him to give it a shot anyways. He said the fee would be  500 @. We said it was bollocks. But he stood firm. Not a @ less. Said something like “If you’re good at something never do it for free” or some crap. Wonder where he learnt that from?”

“And you agreed?”

“Well what else could we do? Just the other day, and old couple couple who lived down the street complained a rat gnawed off their son ‘The Gingerbread man’. Characters were getting sick day by day. That egghead Humpty Dumpty sneezed so hard, the buffoon fell over the wall and cracked his focking skull open. So we agreed. Never really believed him anyway. Until the next day, the nasty little bugger comes all early in the morning, play his pipe as he went about the town and what do you know? Million of stinking squeakers come running out their bills all at once, following the man as if they had been-”

“Hypnotized!”, snapped Holmes.

“Yes, hypnotized. The piper took them with him some place out of the town and they followed him like a conductor in a marching band. And we’ve never heard from those rodents yet.”

“And he came for his reward to you and what do you do?”, said Holmes. “You refuse to keep your word.”

“Well the budget’s been tight.”

“Evidently” said Holmes as he stuck the tip of his umbrella over the Mayor’s belly.

“Evidently. He said “I’ll have my revenge!” “You’ll pay for this!” “Fictown will pay for this!” But we laughed him off. Sent him away. We underestimated him. And now our children! Oh dear god! Our children! Our very own children!”, said the Mayor as he broke into tears.

“Do you have any idea where the man might be now?’, I asked handing a handkerchief from my pocket to the mayor.

“No!”, he blew into the napkin. “No he doesn’t live in the town. We sent the King’s men to search the nearby locales. There is no sign of him.”

“Didn’t anybody notice him while he took the rats out of the town?”, I asked.

“No he was pretty discreet about it. Took the sewers. But the pipe’s open up in hundred’s of locations. There’s no way of finding where he could’ve exited.”

“Well I guess that’ll be it ” said Holmes as took a swig of the bourbon straight from the bottle.

“Are you going to go to the press with this? You seem new in town. Who are you people anyways?”, asked the Mayor.

“Oh please allow me to introduce us! My name is Sherlock Holmes and this here is my friend and colleague Dr. John Watson” Homes shook the Mayor’s hand, looked into his eyes and whispered. “And I’m your worst nightmare.”

He went out of the door, carrying the bottle of Bourbon with him.

“Not missing Baker Street are you now Doctor?”, he asked as I followed him out of the door.

“How do you propose we proceed further now?”

“Well the Mayor said the rats were taken out through the underground sewer pipes. We need to question somebody who has spent his entire life living in the pipes. Somebody who knows all it’s entrances and its exits at the back of his hand. Somebody who has had his hands dirty in the underworld below for he wanted to save somebody he loved dearly.”

“You do not propose we go and meet the Italian, do you?”

“Yes, dear Watson”, said Holmes. “We’re going to have a little chat with Mario.”

I smell a rat: Part 1

It was an unwelcoming, dull evening in Fictown when we read the news.

But then all the days had been the same since we had arrived.

As I sat by the windowsill on a recliner, a cup of tea steaming itself cold on top of today’s ‘The Daily Fiction‘, I noticed the grey thunder clouds making their way calmly, enveloping the whole town as the last of light that remained peeped through them as if trying to shovel up some space in a crowd full of people. I picked up the paper and began reading. The tagline below the name read We bring the fabricated world to you.

The headlines on the front page (right below a few graphics that read ‘ Mayor of Townsville to begin his Presidential campaign today Pg. 4’ and ‘Victor Krum declared as the Captain of new World XI Quidditch team Pg. 10’) read


I fixed the glasses to my face as I began to read the half page article below it.

29 August, 2014: On the eve of the day before yesterday, 27th of August, reportedly a total of 52 children were found missing from their premises all around Fictown. 52 children, which included 23 boys and 29 girls, ranging from ages 5 to 13 year old were found missing from their houses in the middle of the night. If reports are to be believed, all the children miraculously disappeared from their residencies at around 1:30 to 2:00 AM, all at the same time.

The children all belonged to the same neighbourhood of Sesame Street and were all picked at random, stating no further connection whatsoever. A missing report was filed by the parents of the respective children in the Early dawn of the day to the police and after 24 hours of no sign of appearance of any kid, they were all officially declared missing.

The severity of the crime had pressurized the FBI (Fictional Bureau of Investigation) to intervene who after a thorough investigation of the evidences on the location were under a dilemma and have thus refused to release an official statement regarding the matter, stating it as an ongoing investigation.

The Chief of Police, Dave Gordon, however,  commented on the matter to the press saying, “A total of 52 children, 23 of them boys and the rest girls have been officially declared missing from their homes in the middle of the night on the 27th. There have been no signs of them living or dead that have been found nor were any evidences discovered during the case. The FBI have decided to take matters in their own hands and the matter is now an ongoing investigation”.

The Mayor of the town, Mr. Mayor, stated in an official press conference to be “a matter of great emergency”. He also stated that all the necessary measurements would be taken place and that the FBI would investigate the matter thoroughly and would make sure the kids return safely to their homes. (Continued on Page 3) 

I put the paper back on the table and sipped the now lukewarm cup of tea that was on the table.

“Say have you heard the news?” I asked Holmes who had indulged himself into licking a tattered pair of sock. Perhaps previously gnawed by a rat.

He spat towards the edge of the table and wiped his lips with the sleeve of his overcoat. “Quite a warm welcome, I suppose. Have you gone sightseeing further into the town?”

“No, I haven’t.”

“Well then I’d recommend Berty’s Soup Kitchen at the Diagon Alley, quite exquisite crowd I must say-”

“I don’t want to.”

“-Or the sewer by the bayside. A fine picaresque location.”

“Sounds tempting but I’d rather pass.”

“So I deduct you still haven’t been over Baker Street yet?”

I smirked. “And as always, your deduction skill are quite impeccable I must say Holmes. Perhaps-”

“Don’t patronize me.”

“-if you’d rather use them on more-”

“I must say I quite miss Miss Hudson”

“-important matters like this case at hand.”

“Do you care to bring the groceries? And when you’re at it could make sure to bring a goat’s horn from the nearby butcher.”

“Why do you…. I’d rather not ask. HOLMES! Does this case not intrigue you a certain bit?” I said as I placed the tea cup on the table and made my way towards the kitchen.

“If by intrigue you mean gather my attention for more than 7 minutes then yes, it most certainly does.” He threw the sock he held on Gladstone’s face as the bulldog stood up and blindly began to crawl around in a circle trying to get it off.

“Really? And what does the idiosyncratic detective deduct from the news?”

“Well, firstly, some children are missing-”

“Shit Sherlock!”

“The same way some rats went missing a few days back.” He stood from the chair and walked towards the old storage, he had (forcibly) made his own private laboratory.

“And you think they have something in common?”

“No, Watson. I think they have everything in common.”

“And how could you be so sure?”

“Because the rats didn’t disappear they were eradicated.” He started to fill a syringe with one of the chemicals that were set to boil.

“And who would do that?”

“Oh Christ Watson! Who do you would do the swiping if there is a plague in town?” He clinked the needle to test the flow.

“The Mayor.”

“Amen! Which means our next job at hand would be to-”

“Question the mayor.” I said and bit my lower lip. “So does that make it our first case then?”

“Jesus Watson! Hold your horses. You’re embarrassing me”, he said as he went towards Gladstone, grabbed him and stabbed the syringe in his chest.

He then laid him on the floor. The dog staggered a bit, whimpering about and fell on the floor. Dead.

The churchhall

(Hullo people! I know, long time. I wanted to write this for Christmas, but well, was otherwise indulged (read lazy enough). But I thought, what the heck! Any day is Christmas when you are among the people you love right? Also ,this is the first attempt at writing poetry and I know it looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss book but I just wanted to give it a shot anyways. Apologies if it (pardon my French) sucks! So anyways, happy reading and a Merry Christmas for this day and the rest 🙂 ) 

Tis’ the eve of Christmas, St. Nicolas pulls out his sleigh;

as the Magi follow the star that hastily leads their way;

In the old ruins of St. Petersburg is an ancient cathedral’s churchhall.

With luminaries that lead its pathway and dozens of churchbells that toll

It bustles with men and women, of all colour and kind,

And some broken, lonesome people, with no place else to find;

A giant Christmas tree with a mistletoe that dangles,

Stands guard to Jesus and Mary and the onlooking Holy Angels,

dressed in lights and colours, candy sticks and a giant yellow star,

A sight for sore eyes, it could be spotted from afar;

And there below the Christmas tree,

Stood the church choir in rows of three;

A boy clears his throat and a girl dusts her gown,

As they began to sing (their personal favorite) “Santa Claus is coming to town!”

But what no one noticed, was that just beside the door,

Four different people were sitting on the floor;

They shared the same blanket that couldn’t quite fit in four,

For their were fewer blankets and people galore,

They’d snuggle in closer to prevent the chill,

And sang the carols (in their own, broken lyrics) for time to kill;

One an old man, all bitter and sore,

A man-at-arms, a soldier of war;

Had fought for the country yet no place to dine,

Only mourner of his tale was a bottle of wine

Another a woman, whom tragedy had befell,

Her scars told a story, her lips wouldn’t tell;

A drunkard husband who wouldn’t work on the land,

And those severe hard linings on the woman’s fragile hand;

Right next to her, a beautiful soul of eighteen,

Needle stains on her wrist, her eyes dream a daydream;

A mother who didn’t listen, a father who wasn’t there,

All the guys that she’d been with, who never really seemed to care;

Sleeping on her lap, an  8 year old boy,

In his hand he held , somebody else’s broken toy;

Had run away from the orphanage, being accused of theft,

(For what was he to do, he was hungry, and the kitchen still had some porridge left;)

Four people, four strangers, four broken lonesome souls;

Found love in a blanket and four warm soup bowls;

On this cold winter’s night, when life was too much bear,

They found warmth in the moments they shared;

 They weren’t bound by blood, they cared for it less,

All they shared, was just, the feeling of togetherness;

On a snowy Christmas night, as St. Nicholas pulled out his sleigh,

In the churchhall of an ancient cathedral, life had found it’s way;

Trick r’ treat?

For little Billy this Halloween was just like any other Halloween. Or maybe it wasn’t?

“This time it’s going to be epic!”, thought the 9-year-old boy with dark coffee brown hair, almost in contrast to the eyes. ” Those weeny little kids, dressed like stupid pirates and table cloth wearing ghosts and shit…They think they’re so scary, when in fact they’re all lovely and cute. When these rats go “Trick r’ Treat” in their thin, measly, adorable voices and all the grown ups go “Awwwww…..” as they throw in those cheap candies in their pouches. NO! Absolutely not! No sir, whatsoever!”

“Halloween is not cute or adorable or like a…a… a Harry Potter book! It’s dark and haunting and like those ‘Saw’ movies. YES! It’s bone chilling! And we won’t let these weasels turn it into some fancy doll show. No! Not this time. This time it’s going to be some real scary shit and I’ll make sure people have the real ‘Halloween experience’!”

“Now, to begin with…” said the well fed Billy boy as he lowered his trousers to reveal his blue underwear, “It’s all about the planning” He then took off his t-shirt revealing his bulging belly. “It takes patience and perseverance, yes! ,” He then wore a long white frock that stretched all the way upto his knees stopping a little above his feet. There were thin red outlines along the frills in the neckline and an untied red satin belt along the waist “But, it’s the end result that matters”

He tied the belt into a bow and let the sides hang. He took some white paint from a tin can and applied it to his face with a paint brush. After covering his face white, he painted two red circles on his cheeks. He then took and a thinner brush and dipped in some black paint,  carefully outlined his eyebrows and then grooved them downwards a little towards the edges. He outlined the corners of his eyes and then outlined the corners of his lips.

“Let me introduce you to moi friend”, he reached for something inside his bag. It was hard to tell if the doll looked exactly like him, or if it was the other way around.

“Say hello to Annabelle”, said Billy. Fe then faced the doll.  “We must get going, Annabelle. It’s a long night ahead….”

They moved down the street and took the first left. Three girls, one dressed as a witch, another as a Goblin and the third as what seemed like a rather awkward looking Frankenstein, passed them by, giggling to themselves at Billy’s costume. There were face carved pumpkin lanterns that lined the streets outside the houses, stopping only at what was a  yellow, brick lined house that was similar in architecture to all the other houses in the lane.

“Now there are some site inspections which have to  be kept in mind before we proceed”, said the boy. ” We choose our target very carefully. The house should have like a lawn or a small garden around it so as to have space for hiding. There should be no steps that lead to the door, this would make the switching more easier. The house should be isolated and less visited, a place with a frightful or publicly loathed owner would be more suitable. There should be no carved pumpkin lanterns outside the house, which indicates the owner is in no mood to celebrate”

He then went towards the door and looked around as to check if he was unnoticed, which he was. “So let’s get started!”

He knocked on the door thrice and scurried towards the bushes at the side of the house in the lawn. A middle aged woman wearing a brown coat, smoking a cigarette with one hand while holding a bag of candies and opening the doorknob simultaneously with the other came out and went “All right you nutbags! Here’s your-” She stepped outside and looked around for a while.

“Fucking mongrels!” she said closing the door behind the door. ” Wouldn’t let go off their antics even on a Halloween!”

Billy waited for her faint voice to dissolve in a distance and then placed the doll carefully in front of the door, knocked thrice and then disappeared behind the bushes.

This time the woman had no candy pouch in her hand. “I swear to god, I’ll kill these-“, she mumbled as she opened the door. She stared below at the doll on the floor, picked her up and then looked around for a moment. “Yeah, real funny, you guys!”, she blurted out of sarcasm. “As if we haven’t seen the films! Ooh! Annabelle knocked on the door. I’m petrified!”

She then closed the door behind her as she mumbled the same slurs against the children and Billy again carefully listened to the sound of her footsteps fainting away.

“Now, till this point, it’s all predictable”, he whispers.”It’s what I’d like to call ‘The Foreplay'”

He then stepped in front of the door and whispered “This one is what I’d like to call…” He then knocked thrice “‘The Prestige'”

The woman opened the door mumbling some atrocities.

“Trick r’ treat?”, said the large Annabelle doll in front of her. She froze for a while, all her anatomy shivering at the sight in front of her. She screamed at the top of her voice, a howl that could even scare away the Hyenas, dropped the doll to the ground and ran inside the house, slamming the door close behind her.

“So you see what I mean when I say real Halloween!”, he says picking up the doll. “It’s not about the candy!”

He moved a few blocks ahead and stopped at an old, tattered house, with a creaky, termite-fed front door.

“This house belongs to the grumpy old Mr. Hinzelmann”, he says carefully stepping inside, without making any noise. “He’s this retired war survivor and shit! Nobody’s ever seen him step outta the house. Everybody says he’s gone nuts and thus nobody dares to go ‘Trick or treating’ him”

He looks around and checks for bystanders, “Which makes him the perfect target!”

Again, he knocks thrice, hides behind the bushes and waits for the old man to arrive. There’s this stern looking aged man who steps out with a walking stick after a while.

“Wha-?”, says Hinzelmann. His voice as thick and guttural as that of a bear. He steps outside and looks around for a while, his other arm supporting his slightly hunched back.

“Hmmm”, he exhales as he steps inside the house and closes the door behind him.

As per the next step, Billy again places the doll in front of the door, knock thrice and sprints away into the bushes, waiting.

The old man again steps out of the house. His face a little flushed and a few tinkles of sweat run down as he looks around and then looks below at the doll. He picks it up, steps outside again, introspecting the surrounding and hurries back inside.

Billy steps in front of the door again and whispers, “Now it looks like our old fella is not so much into cinema.”

“Also since he’s old, our target might be a believer into the ancient myths of ghosts and demons and the Armageddon and shit, so this should be eezy-peezy!” He knocks thrice and this time the door opens at a relatively quicker pace.

“Trick r’ treat?”, says the 9 year old boy, with a grin the size of a T-rex. The old man freezes at the door way and stares at him almost as if his eyeballs might jump out of their sockets. He gasps and inhales a deep breath for  what seems to be an eternity.

The little boy smiles and awaits for what was to be his ‘Prestige’.

But not a single ounce of voice comes out from the old man’s mouth.

Hinzelmann exhales out the air, his eyes still staring at the devil in front of him. Inhales again and then pants out of breath, his breathing quicker with each passing second.

He drops his stick and the doll to floor and his hand comes to rest on the part of his chest which concealed his rapidly pacing heart under it. He lurches and staggers and falls to the ground, face first.

His panting stops, his previously trembling body now becomes inert and his flailing arms come to a stand still….

What was first a smile of victory on Billy’s face now changes into bewilderment. All the colour drains from his face as he falls to the ground on his knees.

“HOLY SHIT!”, screams the young boy. “HOLY SHIT!” He tries to press the old man’s chest, something which he saw in the movies.

“Oh man!”, he says constantly pressing his chest with his arms. ” Wake up old man! Wake up!” He looks around and  drags the body outside and the door closes behind him, leaving the doll and the stick inside. Streams of tears drip down his cheeks. He sits against the door and buries his face in his hand. “What have I done!”, says the boy. “Oh man!”

Just then, the old man in front of him chortles out. He sits up and chuckles, his laugh as hoarse as his voice. He holds his stomach, tears of joy trinkling down his cheeks as he laughs out of breath.

“Oh boy!”, says Hinzelmann, gasping for air, still chortling a little. “You should’ve seen your face! Oh man!”

Billy stares at the old man in front of him. A hurricane of emotions from fear to agony to embarrassment revel inside him. He breathes a sigh of relief.

“Trick or treat?’, says the old man, still chuckling at the 9 year old boy, dressed as a doll.

Suddenly, a sound  from the inside, sets the old man silent! He stared at Billy, who looked as terrified as him. The sound continued and a shiver ran down the old man’s spine. His mouth trembles, but not a single sound comes out of it. He’s scared, the old man. So scared……

Our story ends like all stories end, with a question. If the old man lived alone and he and Billy were outside the house, then who is it (or what is it) that knocked on the door?


The tribe in the forest

And yet these buccaneers still kneel   
Trembling at the water’s verge:   
“Cool River-Goddess, sweet ravine,   
Spirit of pool and shade, inspire!”   
So he needs poultice for his flesh.   
So he needs water for his fire.
                                                     -A Muse of Water, Carolyn Kizer. 
Sometimes I wondered if the songs they sung were songs at all? Or were they just prayers, rhythmically transcribed as to create the illusion of it being a song? Which is the most baffling part about being acquainted with a new language, you cannot distinguish the prayers from the songs. You do not know whether to dance and caper about wholeheartedly or slacken your senses in a state of transient devotion to the higher power?
And on these, rather frequent, occasions of either merriment or devotion, I saw them gather outside their tents of red and yellow. Their faces smeared with colours of white and red in intricate patterns, their mascaraed eyes, their bloodstained lips made their individual identity undecipherable.
“It is the whole purpose of it”, explained our translator, who himself had only faint knowledge of their language. According to him, it would take an outsider an approximate of 35 years, depending on his or her grasping ability, to be well-versed with their language. The reason, he said, was because we cannot understand their way of thinking. “They cover their faces with all these colours as to be unrecognizable as an individual when they stand in front of ‘her’. It is a symbol of them being equal in her eyes. Whether they are praying or tripping around in joy, they do it for ‘her’. They believe that humans generally acknowledge ‘her’ only in the times of need or despair. They disagree to it. They believe that it isn’t right to only remember ‘her’ for our self-centered values. They remember ‘her’ both in the times of grief and during the times of merry-making. Whether it is crying over the famines or celebrating over the harvest, they believe that they are constantly surrounded by her. That she is always there, watching them…”
I was particularly amazed for how he used the word humans for the rest of us. Perhaps it was well justified. As they danced around the fire in their whimsical movements, frolicking around in circles, wearing only a headband with the feathers of an Eagle, the skin of a spotted dear to cover their genitals and the colours, I realized that perhaps they were indeed a different breed in general. They cannot be us. We cannot be them. It was having two seperate universes in a single world, and to only think of the consequences when the two of them collide…
Our quest for ‘her’ is what dragged both of us us here in the first place. And as the days went by Fareed’s anticipation had taken its toll.
He was like all others his age, Fareed, zealous and energetic and pompous. All the initial emotions an explorer feels. And I must agree, I saw a large amount of the younger me in Fareed. Charming young man, an enthusiastic protege I must admit. The most vital thing was that we were both two individuals driven by our obsession for one thing in general. Inquisitiveness.
Could be a little adamant and ignoramus at times, yes! Like his obsession with canvas shoes. I had specifically instructed him to wear those heavy toe-capped safety Woodlands, but sometimes instructing him felt like banging my head on a wall. “They are way more cooler!”, he said, playfully showing off his canvas shoes.
‘Cooler!’ Kids these days!
When we first reached here, the people of the tribe were, unexpectedly, quite hospitable. They welcomed us us with garlands made of garlic( a sacred vegetable for them), marked our foreheads with soot and as our translator instructed them of our intentions, they insisted on us staying with them for a few days as to have the adequate amount of information that we needed. They arranged tents for our lodging and served us with bear meat for dinner on the first day. Needless to say, the meals were rather unpleasant.
There were glimpses of their culture that we gathered over the days. They believed in the Heaven and the Underworld just like the Biblical theory suggested it to be, but they did not believe that ‘she’ resides in any of these. There was an old acacia tree that grew in the exact centre of the village. They said it was more than three thousand years old and ‘she’ held her existence within it. They nurtured it like a child, decorated it with garlands of garlic, scented it with sandalwood for sanctity and worshiped it. They believed that the mere existence of their tribe depended upon the existence of the tree and that one day, when the devil shall manifest the Earth and all that is pure shall be crumbled to ashes, a lightning shall strike the tree, devouring with it the existence of the whole community.

On the fifteenth and last day of our visit, was when the preacher arrived….

She was a frail old woman, with arthritic legs and had two apprentices carry her around in a palanquin. A nearly balding scalp, a necklace made of tiny bones, deep mascaraed eyes, all those things that make for a pretentious, pompous voodoo saint in our world, but the people of the tribe believed in her. They respected and worshiped the same as they would worship ‘her’, for they believed that she was the one that could truly unite them with ‘her’.The women gifted their ornaments to her and men the first crops of harvest. They brought their little children with them, as she held them in her palms, playing with them and blessing them, as if they were her own…
We were somewhat rattled with all the show of unexplained generosity towards her and as we stood there in a corner in silence, it as as if she could somehow smell the disbelief within us, and all the more in Fareed, as she sent for us.

As we stood in front of her, an apprentice signaled for us to bow. All of us, all except Fareed, bowed in front of her. The apprentice was infuriated at that. He constantly signaled for Fareed to bow and so did we but he refused to do so.
She observed Fareed, a dry smile perpetuated on her withered lips and she said something to him in their language.

“She says ‘I know what you want..'” the translator explained to Fareed.
She mumbled some more.
“It is answers that your heart looks for…”
Fareed eyed her with an odd sense of inquisitiveness.
“Answers to the existence of ‘her'”, explained the translator. ” Answers to immortality; to life and death, and all that there is in the middle..”
“You wish to learn the truth. ‘Her’ truth, the truth behind the stories of the demons and the witches. You look at her the same way you look at them. You wish to unite with her. You desire to see her, touch her with your bare hands, embrace her, kiss her, make love to her under the moonlight…”
“I can show you the way…”
Fareed raised his eyebrows. “Is it possible?”, he asked.
“Only if your heart in as cleansed as the rivers of Pardisus”, she said. “Tell me? Do you wish to see her? Do you wish to believe?”
Fareed pondered for a moment, then nodded. “Yes!”, he said with the eagerness of a schoolboy.
She clapped twice as an apprentice came before her and bowed. “Arrange for the ritual”, she said.

We reached the tree and gathered around it in a circle. In the centre, below the tree, sat the old woman behind the fire. She sprinkled a white powder into the flames as she sang something in her hoarse, shrill voice. The people had gathered around in a circle, just like they always did. Some of them played held bongos to the beat with a pair of limb bones. She called for Fareed towards the centre, right next to the fire. I was among the few who didn’t join in and just silently stood in a corner, observing the spectacle. Fareed stood in front of her as she sang to the beats of the bongos. The tribesmen danced around in circle, their painted faces, their tripping feet, moved to the rhythm of the beat, devouring in it, consumed by the fire that began to grow in the middle and the flames of the fire seemed to dance to the music as well.
Fareed observed all of this with his eyes full of fetish and questions. Eyes were transfixed to the tree, searching for the answers to the divinity that the tree concealed. He didn’t seem scared, just stunned!
The old preacher kept on singing the song as she sprinkled the white powder into the flames. The flames danced and grew as a choking amount of smoke filled up the atmosphere. Smoke that blinded the vision. Smoke that made the skies grayish. Smoke that filled up my lungs. Choking it. Cleansing it….
I coughed for some time as my vision blurred from the teardrops in my eyes. Fareed coughed too, but the woman didn’t. Nor did the rest of the tribesmen. She kept on singing the song. In that ethereal moment, as my vision hazed and my lungs longed for clean air, I could finally understand what she was singing about.

She sang about ‘her’. ‘Her’ powers. ‘Her’ majesty…..

She sang about the acacia tree, how the starving woman had reached the forest and had begged to the gods for food and shelter. The gods didn’t listen to her, but ‘she’ did. She had been moved by the prayers of a cleansed heart. She appeared before the woman and told him, “Shed the teardrop of a pure heart anywhere you want in this forest, and you shall never starve again…” She cried her drops of purity at the same Earth that now bore the acacia tree. The tree bore with it a fruit, the fruit of immortality, which when consumed once, would never let a man go hungry again ever in his life. And his life shall go on until the annihilation of the universe.

She sang about how a civilization established around that tree. A civilization that were the descendants of the starving woman. How the civilization had never starved once. And how they only had one divinity to thank for all of that.

She sang about sunlight and she sang about storms. She sang about humans and she sang about monsters…

She sang, calling for ‘her’, begging for her to come and answer to a heart that longs for answers, a desert that needs to be rained upon. She chanted a prayer, praising ‘her’ majesty and all she had done for them. She chanted a prayer for unification…
Large amount of smoke now consumed the vicinity and valiant winds had started to storm about. The winds shook the tree, ruffling and shuddering the leaves with it and it somehow it seemed that the tree was dancing to the music as well, waving about ecstatically in sheer rejoice of being acknowledged.

The old woman now grasped a handful of white and forced it down the flames. The pungent smoke had now started to fill up my lungs through the nostrils and as I choked and coughed, I noticed that Fareed wasn’t coughing at all. He stared at the tree as his head waved around in a circle to the music. He was smiling….

At that transient moment of haze it seemed to me that the old woman wasn’t an old woman at all. She was a young, beautiful maiden, who looked pale and dehydrated and starved…

Fareed opened his arms towards the tree as his head continued to wave to the music. The old woman again held a handful of the powder and mumbled and sang as she fed it to the flames.

I remember the fading music slowly dying away. I remember an incandescent white light that blinded my vision. I remember the skies, the colour of murk and I remember the violent winds…

And as the smoke withered away and vision was restored, I remember seeing the tribesmen, all of them, sitting in a circle facing the tree, bowing to it with their hands outstretched. There was no old woman sitting by the fire. There was no Fareed standing in front of the tree, arms wide open, trying to embrace ‘her’.

All that remained, was the little amount of smoke from a dying fire, lumps of burnt firewood and a pair of canvas shoes….

The Weatherman: Chapter 5

Gina had always hated teleporting. “Churns up a nauseating sensation in the belly!” she always said.
It was no different this time. The only difference there was maybe was the fact that nauseation probably wasn’t her greatest concern at this instant As she landed the eerie valley and the first gush of the frosty wind whiplashed across her face, she noticed that the colour of the sky wasn’t as purple as it used to be. A shade of black had started perpetuating and the highly ominous Gina took this as a sign.

She saw the motionless figure of Salem still holding her hand, in his previously endowed state of nothingness, clinging on to her foot. She bent on her knee and caressed his neck as the same shade of blue brought him back to consciousness. Salem’s first reaction to the surroundings wasn’t one of shock or disappointment, but of acceptance.

Gina smiled at him and whispered “We’re here”.

They saw the one thing that stood in the eeriness of the lush green valley. A wooden brown door with the words ‘NO TELEPORTATION ZONE BEYOND THIS POINT’ written on them. Just the door and the valley that lay behind it. Gina banged the gold doorknocker twice and waited. The wooden slit on the door slid and a pair of glittering emerald eyes stared at them.

“PASSWORD?”, came a voice from the slit.

“RATSKUNKS!” said Gina.

The door swung open and a bald, masculine figure with a goatee beard and the same emerald eyes stood in front of them. He wore a black robe with golden tapestry, large enough to conceal the sword scabbard lying behind it.

“Hello Miss Gina”, said the figure with a voice that sounded like a unison of several other voices all synced in a single vocal chord.

“Hello honorable Guardsmen!”, said Gina, “I’ve brought the convict with me.”

“Ah! Yes, yes.”, said the unison of voices. “Hello Foreseer!”

Salem smiled and bowed.

He looked around and said, “Pretty furious are the winds today, aren’t they?”

“Yes, yes” said Gina. “Perhaps the little mistress of the Windbearer hasn’t been all that faithful to him”

“Or perhaps there is something more cautionary to it than that” said the unison of voices. “ Perhaps our little young Foreseer might have an idea about it.” He shifted to the right, bent and waved his arm towards the gate. “Well anyways, welcome to Paradisus!”

The duo walked through the gates as the once lush valley now turned into a pathway surrounded by clouds of all shapes and sizes. There was the ‘Floating bridge Of Hideus’ that mediated the ground from the castle. Oh and yes, ‘The Black Castle’, pride of Pardisus that stood gigantically in front of them, kissing the abode of the skies so that the topmost point was nowhere to be seen.

On either side of the floating bridge lay the stretch of bushes with the exotic Butterbouts that grew on them.

Interesting story about the Butterbouts, these little flowers that seemed like poppies over a saucer. When the Lovelord, Sir Jean (He loved to be entitled as a knight although he wasn’t actually one) first came across his one true beloved, the Songstress Marayah, the Wilderbees were so mesmerized by the awe of the winds of love that flew that time that they accidentally cross pollinated the Butterfelds with the Rosenbouts and thus this new, beautiful creation came into existence.

“Proceed”, said the Guardsmen as the two of them started making their way through the bridge. It wobbled and lolled but the three of them didn’t stutter or bound for support for they had their trust in its firmness. As they stood before ginormous gates of the castle, the Guardsmen stepped forward and flicked the fingers of both his palms towards it as the gates gradually made way for them.

The two of walked in and turned towards the guardsmen.

“We shall see you later”, said the voices and the door swung to a close between them.

The Weatherman: Chapter 4- ‘Ghost of Christmas Past’

She wore her favorite red dress that day. That one-piece with a neck strap which stretched up to her knees. It did cost 89$ but to her it was worth every penny. It was a bright, yellow Saturday morning. One of the hottest mornings of the summer, but she wasn’t so warm. She licked on to her butterscotch ice cream cone. Again, her favorite. A kid in the park ran into her chasing his sister. She laughed, bent over her knee and patted him on the head. She was so good with kids. One of the reasons why she loved visiting the park so very often. The park was filled with them.

A little boy swung her sister so hard she fell on the ground, but she didn’t cry. She got up, dusted herself, went back to the boy and slapped him so hard on the cheek, he fell on the ground and started weeping. A father and his son were playing catch with their baseball. The father cheered his son everytime he caught the ball. There was ruckus of noise in the park which was so chaotic, but to her ears it seemed as if it all blended into some sort of music. A music only she could hear. A melody only she could recognize.

A blonde flick of her hair dangled over her face touching her lips, caressing them. It went all the way through the side of her face, touching her apple cheek, obscuring her brown eye and toying with her lips. She placed it at the back of her ear with her finger. She offered her ice cream cone to him. “D’you want it?” she asked. She was standing right next to him but the sound felt so distant. It almost reverberated as it came to him. He raised his arm to grab it but she pulled the cone away. “You have to catch me for it.”, she said and laughed. He started chasing her as she ran towards the park exit. She laughed all the way through. Somehow the laugh echoed through the whole place. Dark grey clouds had started hovering over. They covered the blue and the yellow and the somehow it felt as if the colour had faded from the world.

She exited the park gates and stood still on the pavement. She turned around and looked towards him. Her blonde flick had now found its place on her eyelid. She blinked those brown eyes and again placed the blonde flick at the back of her ear. She smiled.

A red Volkswagen ran into her and drove away. Suddenly the day wasn’t bright anymore. It was as if a solar eclipse had occurred all of a sudden. The chaotic park fell dead silent. There was no girl swinging. The swing swung all by itself.  No boy playing catch. His glove was biting the dust off the ground.  A red rose in the park withered and then fell off. Dead.

The ringing of the phone woke Sam up.

He checked the alarm clock. It was 3:19. He picked up the phone.

“Yeah?”, he said sounding almost deranged.

“Hey it’s me.”, said Eric. His voice had the same heaviness.

“Its 3’o clock”

”3:20 actually”

“What d’you want dumbass?” Sam asked running his palm through his curls.

“Nothing man. I just wanted to know how you’re doing”, said Eric trying to obscure his laugh. “Just kidding man. So listen, d’you remember our guide Iqbal?”

“Yeah”, said Sam. He remembered him quite well. That dark, middle aged man with crooked teeth and chest hair that could knit themselves a sweater. He remembered him ruffling his chest hair once in the street and going ‘It is considered to be a matter of pride and the sign of a true man in our country. Women go crazy over it’. He then smiled as his crooked teeth shone in the sunlight.

“So it turns out that our man Salem wasn’t like a complete stranger. He had come to the village a few days back to visit an old widow named Fatima. Turned out our man had the hots for her. He convinced her to leave the village just a day before the storm and she now probably lives in another small Arab village in Kuwait by the name of Behrami. So I called the boss-”

“You called the boss too? At 3’o clock?”

“I did”, he chuckled. “You should’ve listened to his voice man. It was hilarious.”

“You’re a nutjob”

“So anyways the boss says we have to go to Kuwait tomorrow. Or should I say today. There’s a bus that’ll take us to the village from there. So start packing. Our flight leaves at 5:30.”

“What as in 5:30 in the next two hours?” said Sam as he rose from his bed and looked at the alarm clock.

“No. No. 5:30 in the evening.”

“Oh Thank god!” Sam sat back on the bed scratching his head. “Wait so this couldn’t have waited until I woke up?”

“Oh! Oh yeah, it could’ve.” said Eric chuckling lightly as he hung up the phone.

How can a bear do the handstand?

I remember going to the circus for the very first time.

I remember it as distinctly and in detail as I remember the first time I saw ‘Casablanca’. Or read ‘The Christmas Carol’. Or learned ballet (Okay this was a little embarrassing). Looking back at my childhood, there are parts of memories that lay around here and there, in bits and pieces. Its like walking in a messed up room with leftover clothes lying around helter-skelter. The socks that lay under the bed and the trousers that hang behind the door. Some clothes may be too easy to find. They may be sitting right on a chair in front of you or lying on the bed right next to you. Going to the circus, I think, might be one such piece of clothing.

I remember it to be the brightest of days, so bright that my Appa nearly refused to take us to the fair. Actually he did refuse, but then I had my weapons. I cried and cried until I could cry no more and refused to eat the lunch that day (It was sambhar-rice anyways). An agreement had been reached, with me completing my math homework and learning the new poetry in English class, in order to go to the fair. It was a small price to pay.

I remember my Amma, the short, dark, beautiful woman. I remember that the huge red bindi on her forehead, shaped in the form of a water droplet, had a few crystals embedded in it. I don’t remember her sari though. Probably green. Or red as to go with the bindi. Again, as I said, that was the hard piece of clothing to find.

I remember her telling me, in her stern voice, “If you leave my hand and got lost, we’re going to leave you here!” Now looking back at the experience I wouldn’t have mind getting lost.

I remember the blend of colours when I first stepped inside ‘The Great Indian Carnival’ for the first time. I remember the yellow of the giant Ferris Wheel, the red and white of the huge ‘Columbus’ ship, the plethora of colours in the merry go round, the cream of the horses, the yellow of the giraffes, the pink of the pigs(Or maybe there weren’t any pigs. You could add these to those god forsaken list of clothings).

Ah! Now I remember. It was the pink of cotton candies. I remember craving for cotton candies, throwing a fit, until my Appa said to my mother to go get me some. I remember my Appa. His tall, dark figure and the black moustache he had. I remember my history teacher telling us about Genghis Khan, how he plundered the cities and how fierce he looked in the photographs. I remember my father, just like I remember Genghis Khan.

My father was talking to one of his colleagues when I came back, relishing over the cotton candy in my hand. It stuck to my cheeks and it felt good. Sticky, but good! I remember his colleague, somebody who had once come for dinner at our place. I remember his son (that little prick who broke my train set) who stood beside his father with a finger up his nostrils.

I saw the tent of the circus at a distance, all the colours that it concealed beneath it. There was a banner outside that read ‘The Bombay Circus. Presenting you our main attractions- ‘the stunt men, the acrobat, the bear who could do a handstand, the lion….’ I wondered how they made a bear do the handstand? Weren’t bears and lions supposed to be in a forest, juts like I saw in the movies? Then why would they be here in a circus doing handstands? How could a bear even do a handstand?

I remember a loud pat on my head from my father that stopped my train of thoughts. “Uncle is asking you something.”, he said.
“Engineer banega? Appa ka jaisa?”, his colleague asked. I remember wondering the meaning of the word he said. Engineer? Was it something to do with the train engine? I loved the engine of my train set. I remember my Appa holding me close and saying “Zaroor banega.” I remember the smell of Pan and cigarettes on him. It was one thing that made me distinguish him from the rest of the crowd.

I remember the wife of my dad’s colleague asking Amma which class I was in. “5th”, she replied. “Oho”, the woman said, “Even Arush is in 5th. He came 3rd in his class this year. And how was his result?”

“He passed”, said Amma. I remember her making the same face she made when Appa used to come home drunk. The woman in front of me shook her head and Amma gave me the “Wait till you get home. I’ll drown you in a pool of math problems” look. Appa then excused us all out of the conversation.

I remember, as I entered the circus, and when the obscure montage of colours finally came to life, was probably the one moment for which I could’ve solved a hundred math problems, mugged up thousands of historical dates and would recite John Keats like I was singing a film song. The quirky, silly music. The Jokers. The stuntmen. The elephants, the lions and the bears. Yes, the bears! We took our seats as the show began.

The clown made its way through first, riding a unicycle, with a pump horn in his hand. I hated the clown, I still do. I wondered how people found his tricks and foolery to be funny. For me, somebody who had been hiding behind all those colours and clothes, seemed both peculiar and haunting. Then I remember the stuntmen, riding motorcycles that leap over a dozen cars. And then the animal gigs started…

I remember seeing the trainer making his way through, riding on an elephant. He had a black whip in his hand. It reminded me of our Geography teacher, who walked around with a cane in his hand. He then stood in front of the elephant and lashed his whip in front of him. The elephant then stood on its two bear hindlegs. Then came in the lion in a cage. The trainer held a huge ring in front of the lion and again whipped his lash in front of him. The lion jumped through the ring. Then came in one of their main attraction, the bear. He was a huge black, furry bear. I wondered how he could do the handstand? Why isn’t he in the forest? Why aren’t any of these animals in the forest? Why are they doing something they’re not supposed to do?

The trainer yet again whipped his lash. The bear bent to the ground and made the most vigorous effort to stand on his hands. He fell to the ground though, much to the “Ohhh” in disappointment from the crowd. The trainer whipped his lash again as the bear made another effort to stand on his arms. He fell yet again and rolled over and let out a silent moan. The crowd burst into laughter as he rolled to the ground. I didn’t find it hilarious. I remember the trainer whipping his lash again and again in front of the bear. I remember my geography teacher canning me when I couldn’t tell her the capital of Switzerland….

On his third attempt, the bear did manage to do the handstand. His arms trembled and he rolled over again as the crowd cheered and applauded and whistled. After a few moments of resting on the ground, the trainer lashed his whip and the bear rose and left.

And then came in the acrobats. I remember one of them arriving in, doing the cartwheel over and over until he reached the other end. I could do the cartwheel too. I had maxed out a record of 6 continuous cartwheels just a few days and had won the bet with Raman who had challenged me I couldn’t do more than 3 at a time. He owed me his Beyblade. He still does.

I remember the acrobats swinging in the air to-and-fro, grabbing hold of another acrobat with their arms and then passing them on to another one. Nothing, at that moment, could’ve fascinated me more. All I longed for, was to be one of them. To swing in the air, to perform cartwheels and flips and tricks. And to get applauded at the end of the performance! I didn’t remember being applauded for doing the cartwheel in the playground. I didn’t even remember being applauded ever! The students in the class were always applauded for reciting poetry, or for reciting the table of 18, or for winning debates and quiz competitions. I had never been able to do any of those. Performing the cartwheel was much easier. And somehow, performing the acrobatics I saw seemed much easier to me than learning the names of the various Prime Ministers, or understanding plant biology, or reciting the poem of William Word- what was his name? Yes, Wordsworth.

As the circus ended and we made our way out of the tent, I remember asking Appa if I could go in and meet those acrobats in there. He had stared at me, with his eyes full of rage and shook his head. “But Appa. Even I want to be an acrobat.”, I had said.

“Oh so now you want to be an acrobat”, he said. Then he looked at my mother and said, “First he nags to come to the fair in such hot weather, then he embarrasses me in front of my colleague, and now your son wants to be an acrobat. Can you see what is happening? Can’t you control him?”

My mother didn’t say anything to my father. She twisted my ear and said, “I’ve had enough of you. Now you’ll go straight home and finish the math homework.”

“But I don’t wanna go home”, I said. “I want to stay in the circus. I WANT TO BE AN ACROBAT”, I said and struggled out of my mother’s grip and sat on the ground, cross-legged, folding my hands and looking towards the ground.

My father looked around at the crowd of people staring at us, walked towards me and whacked me hard on the cheeks.

I don’t remember the pain. After some time, you don’t remember the pain. As I said earlier, pain might be the hardest of the clothing to find. All I remember is the trainer whipping his lash in front of the bear.And I remember my Geography teacher and her cane….

I remember falling flat on the ground. I remember seeing the bright sky, so bright it made my eyes hurt. I remember seeing the birds flying high above. I remember seeing the acrobats swing in the air. So unconstrained. So free.

And then it came to me how they made the bear do the handstand….

The Weatherman: Chapter 3 – Meeting with ‘The Eye’


Twilight had started to fade in a desert marketplace somewhere in the middle of Egypt as a traveler passed through the the alley surrounded with merchant shops on both sides. Perhaps the time of the day reconciled with his current situation. He covered his black turban with his brown shawl as he sensed the palpable cold breeze flowing through the desert. A large part of his grey beard though still remain uncovered. His ragged black Kurta-Pyjama was daubed with sand as he walked barefoot on the cold, misty surface.

Even at dusk  the marketplace was filled with the cacophony of sellers, vendors advertising their products by singing about them at full stretch. The traveler passed by a vendor who sold dates as he sung

“Have a date with destiny as you buy this date

Sweet and fruity, it may alter your fate…”  

He sung it over and  over in a loop as the traveler made his way past him.. Another carpet vendor dusted off a red, woolen carpet with golden embroidery in the shape of a swan. ” Come one. Come all. Buy this magic carpet and you shall fly like the wind. Come dear visitor. Would like to buy this carpet. The tapestry so beautiful and the fabric so silky. Sit on it and you’d feel as if you’re flying.”

But the traveler paid no heed. There was an apple vendor next. The traveler went up to him and bought the reddest apple he could find. But he didn’t eat it.

He turned into the next alley and found a beggar with  an amputated leg in rags. He placed the apple in the bowl in front of him. It was as if he knew where to find the beggar and that the sole purpose of the apple was to find its way to the beggar’s bowl.
“May Allah shower you with blessings”, the old man said to him.

The traveler then moved forward and turned into a dark, deserted alley with no further way. There was nobody in the alley , but one.

“Well hello Gina”, said the traveler as he took the shawl of his head, revealing his mascaraed brown eyes and wrinkly face. “So they’ve sent ‘The Eye’ to summon me.”

Gina stepped forward out of the dark to reveal her olive skinned face and her glittering lilac eyes. Her lush, black hair stretched up to her waist and she wore a silver, Emerald studded chain over her head. She looked no older then a 30 year old woman and the traveler could not help but realize how ravishing she looked in the formal Arabian attire.

“You knew I was going to find you, didn’t you Salem?” said Gina.

“Well perhaps I had to face them sometime.”, he said after some time.

“Oh Salem!”, said Gina, “What have you done? Why would you do such a thing to your own people?”

Salem  remained silent.

“To warn the village of the storm? Well, that could’ve been overlooked, but to threaten exposure of the whole of ‘Paradisus’?”

“Oh but I didn’t!”

“No you didn’t because you knew it would be of no avail. You saw something while they interviewed you and you knew. Otherwise you wouldn’t have thought for a moment before putting the whole kingdom in jeopardy.” Gina now looked furious. “Well perhaps you’d like to know whatever little footage they had has been taken care of.”

“I know that.”

“Oh of course you would! You’re ‘The Foreseer’. You know everything, don’t you?” Gina stepped closer to him. ” So tell me little Foreseer, why would you do something like that? I mean storms happen all the time. Then why would you do something so foolish as to threaten the whole community. The Guardianheads are furious. They’re demanding you’re execution. His majesty himself has sent me to fetch you. Why would you do something like that?”

Salem saw the distant sun setting over the horizon. It was getting darker now and the cacophony and chaos of the market had now diminished a bit. He took a deep breath. “It wasn’t just one storm. I saw something.”


“I mean don’t you find it peculiar. Storm in Arab, volcano in Japan, earthquakes in Pakistan. No, they’re not just natural disasters. Its something much more. Something bigger.”

“How can you say that Salem? All the disasters are under Weatherman, and I know you too have a history, but to accuse him of such vile treachery….”

“Oh but it isn’t Weatherman. I mean think about it. Who do you think controls the natural disasters? There is just one who could effectuate the widespread killing of such high amount of people at the same.”

Gina stared at him petrified.

“Do you even know who you’re accusing?”

Salem remained calm.

“Salem, you’re too young. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Salem stood there silently as he saw the sun submerge under the horizon. “The people needed to know.”

“And what would they have done? And perhaps even if what you say is true. What then? What could you do? You’re just a mere Guardian. You’re too weak.”

“Individually, yes. But together, with all the others. I mean, who knows?”

They both stared at each other.

“It is that woman isn’t she?’ said Gina. Salem looked up. “Is she the reason you tried to save the village?”

Salem remained silent.

“Holy Makers!”, said Gina. “You’re in love with her.”

Salem turned around now to face the open end of the alley. A cat wandered it’s way past through it.

“Why Salem? A mere mortal? What did you see in her?”

“You don’t know her.” Salem raised his voice a bit. ” You don’t know her.”

Gina looked at Salem who was now staring at the ground. It was dark now. “Salem. I’ve seen you train under me all your life. You’re like a son to me. Even if the accusations are true, something like this would only result in a rebellion.”

Salem raised his head and spoke in a low distinct voice, “So be it.”

Gina raised her eyebrows and looked at them man standing in front. He was perhaps a few inches shorter than her and looked way too much older. Gina knew the man well enough and trusted his instincts, but this was something beyond her control.

“You know I have to take you with me.” said Gina after a long pause.

“I know”

“They’ve summoned you to the court where Lord Caliph himself will see to your hearing and the verdict shall be set after that.”

“I know that too.”

The next few words fumbled out of her mouth. “The….The Truthteller will represent them. And considering the truth behind your actions is rebellion, you’d perhaps be deprived of your powers.”

“I may or may not be.”, said Salem as a dry smile passed his lips.

Gina thought about his words for a moment, then raised her arm towards his neck.

“You don’t have to do that” said Salem.

“I know. But perhaps I just need to.” said Gina as she touched her palm over Salem’s neck. A shade of blue glittering light appeared over his neck as he fell unconscious on the ground.

“Sleep dear Foreseer”, she said softly in his ear as she bent over and held his arm.

A gust of wind flew the dry leaves around them as they vanished into the air.