Monday, 29 September 2014


Panic rising, he tried to walk as briskly as possible in the fading light; why is it so dark even though it is not even noon?
He was certain that he would never reach in time and he would again miss the train.
But where am I going and why do I have to catch this train at this time of the day?
I must be dreaming; yes, it is a dream and like a fool I am getting worried and confused.
But how can it be a dream if I am awake and walking on this road; I must run as fast as I can and catch the train.

Linking this to Five Sentence Fiction-Prompt Confusion hosted by Lillie Mcferrin

Saturday, 27 September 2014

That Old Man
(Part 1)
Pratap was now a proud owner of a house in the Blue Lake area. Some of his friends had warned him against buying that house. They had told him that the house was haunted. But Pratap had just laughed at these warnings. In fact he made fun of his friends who tried to scare him.
“There is no thing such as a ghost,” he insisted. He was unable to convince Ranjeet who was his friend from school days and who kept arguing.
“Then why was no one willing to buy that house? It has been lying vacant for many years. No one bought it even at half the price,” Ranjeet said forcefully.
“I don’t believe in ghosts and I am going to buy that house,” Pratap had almost shouted at his friend.
“You are a fool and you will regret your decision,” Ranjeet said in irritation.
Pratap had been dreaming of buying a house in the Blue Lake area for many years. Incidentally, there was no blue lake anywhere in that area. But it was the part of city where anyone and everyone worth something wanted to be.
The houses in that area were expensive and beyond his reach. But this house was available at a price which he could afford. It was a golden opportunity and he was not going to miss it; silly rumours were not going to deter him. He brushed aside all objections and suggestions of his friends and well-wishers and decided to go ahead with the deal. 
He returned to his flat at around six in the evening after completing the deal with Ajay Lal, the owner of the house. His joy knew no bounds. But he felt irritated when he had to himself open the door. His wife had left for Delhi previous night to look up her father who was not keeping well.
No sooner had he entered his flat than he had an unexpected visitor.
“Can I come in?” asked the visitor.
Pratap had never met that man. There was something strange about him. He was wearing faded, worn out clothes. His face was full of wrinkles and his eyes were pale, almost sad. He looked as if he was sick for many days.
“Do I know you?” asked Pratap.
“You shouldn’t have bought that house in the Blue Lake area,” the visitor spoke in a listless voice.
“Why?’ Pratap almost shouted.
“It is a haunted house.”
“I have heard that crap. I don’t believe in ghosts.”
“But I am the ghost; I am the ghost of that house. And now I would be rendered homeless since you have bought that house.”
Pratap was taken aback. He looked at the old man with piercing angry eyes. He was sure that old man was trying to make fool of him. Or was there something else behind the rumour?
“Please tell me honestly, were you planning to buy that house?” Pratap was getting suspicious of the old man.               
“Why would I want to buy that house? It already belongs to me. I live there. I have been living there for years, no decades.”
“I hope it is not some kind of a silly joke.” Pratap said in an irritated tone.
“I know that you have bought that house from Ajay Lal. He is my grandson, but he does not know that I am still living in that house.” Old man was talking in a mild tone, as if he was just whispering his words.
“I just can’t understand; I have twice inspected that house. There was no one there. It was totally vacant. In fact it has been lying vacant for years. Now you come and tell me that you are living in that house. What should I make of it?”
Old man just did not respond kept quiet. His silence unnerved Pratap.
“And if I am not mistaken Ajay Lal’s parents and grandparents are not alive.” Pratap looked at him with suspicion. He was getting unnerved. Something about the old man disturbed him.
“That is true. I died many years ago. In fact I was poisoned by the person I totally trusted. On one found out and the man was never punished. But I know I was poisoned,” old man said in an emotionless voice.
Pratap lost his cool, “Will you please leave right now? I can’t bear this nonsense any more. If you think you can fool me then you are totally mistaken. I have bought that house. It now belongs to me. No one can trick me out of this deal.”
The old man looked at Pratap with unblinking eyes for quite some time. Then he left abruptly without uttering a word.  Pratap closed the door and unknowingly locked from inside. He had never done that before. In fact, even during night the door was rarely locked from inside.
(to be continued)
© i b arora

Thursday, 25 September 2014

The Party

When everything was ready he said, let us start the party.

But she was uncertain, is that Sun peeping through those bottles.

No, it is the new light.

No, it is Sun. I know and I don’t like it.

Why are you doing this? Why do you create a scene every time I invite my friends?

But why is Sun peeping through those bottles?

He held her. She was shivering.

He was the only child we had after sixteen years and you won’t even cry.

Only he knew that he had been crying ever since. But he hated telling her.

Word Count 100 words.

This post is part of Friday  Fictioneers by Rochelle Wisoff

Wednesday, 24 September 2014


She looked at the earth, thoughtfully, and felt sorry for her.
“Mother,” that’s what she called the earth, having never seen her own mother, “it seems you are greying faster than me. But you will never ever stop us from exploiting you. Why?”
She thought of the day ahead. She wanted it to end, the endless struggle. But could she stop her silly sons from exploiting her.
No, she thought, for she was just like her mother, the earth.  
“If I am like her then why should I regret? A mother never regrets.”
She smiled and thus began her day. 

Word count 100

This post is part of Friday  Fictioneers by Rochelle Wisoff

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Man, that’s how the Government of India works-4
“Friends, at some stage or other of your career in Government of India, some of you, if not all, would be required to frame rules , laws, policies and procedures which others would have to follow. But be careful if and when you make rules and laws; for in Government we are quick in making new rules and laws but we are rather slow in reviewing and repealing them,” said the officer; he had at least twenty five years of experience of working in different capacities in Government of India. He was talking to us; the newly inducted members of different civil services.
“Let me tell you a story and you will understand the point I am trying to make. President of a country, we will call it Blueland, invited the President of another country, let us call it Greenland. The President of Greenland arrived on the state visit and he was very warmly received by the President of Blueland. Both the Presidents developed a liking for each other and everything went as per the plot. On the third day of the visit, the two Presidents were relaxing in the Presidential Palace. They were enjoying their drink and the unusually heavy snowfall.
“President of Greenland looked at the Presidential Lawn below. It was known for its beautiful and rare plants. But that day everything was under a thick blanket of snow.
“Something odd about the lawn struck the President of Greenland. The oddity was a lone sentry standing almost at the centre of the lawn, holding his automatic weapon; there was nothing to protect him from the heavy snow. Presidential Palace was fully secured by latest surveillance systems. Expert snipers were positioned at vantage points. Even then a lone rifleman was posted in the midst of the lawn; what purpose could he serve?
“‘May I ask you something?’ asked the President of Greenland
“‘Of course my friend, you may.’
“‘It may sound foolish, but I am wondering as to why that sentry has been stationed there? What specific purpose is he serving? he said, pointing to the sentry standing in the lawn.
“The President of Blueland was taken aback for he had never noticed the sentry. ‘I am really sorry but I never took note of him. I have to find out why he is there. And before the day ends we will know the answer.’
The officer stopped for a few seconds and looked at all of us with a naughty smile. He knew that all of us were eagerly waiting for him to continue. We all wanted to know how the story would end.
“Well friends, it took some time before the President got his answer and what he found was amazing. He was informed that once upon a time Blueland was ruled by a King; the King had a young daughter, the daughter loved to play and dance in the lawn. In those gone by days the lawn was called Queen’s Lawn. There was a rose plant in the lawn. Beautiful roses would bloom on that plant. The princess loved the roses; she had taken a fancy to that plant. But one day she was shocked to see that someone had plucked all the roses and damaged the plant. In tears she ran to the King; King got angry for he could not bear to see his little princess in tears. He ordered his Commander in Chief that the rose plant, so dear to the princess, must be protected and always. Not even for a minute was it to be left unguarded.
“Commander in Chief immediately detailed sentries and thereafter the rose plant was kept under a watch round the clock.
“Days, weeks, months and years went by. One day Blueland became a republic; ruled be a popularly elected President. The King’s palace became the Presidential Palace; the Queen’s Lawn became the Presidential Lawn; and both were given face lifts on many occasions. Now there was no rose plant which the little princess loved. But the sentries would still unfailingly arrive as per the order issued by the then Commander in Chief and stand on guard at the place indicated in the order.
“No one in the intervening decades had reviewed the order even after the King and the little princess and the rose plant had vanished in departing waves of time. That is how the governments work.
“Therefore, don’t be in a hurry when called upon to make new laws and orders. They are likely to survive many generations.”
I have never forgotten this story for many a time I did come across rules and orders which had outlived their utility. 

Sunday, 14 September 2014

If Only?

Despite all the lights, and all lights were bright, he could not shut out the darkness; it kept on peeping through the window.
“Why?” he asked himself.
It was overpowering, this darkness; it was a challenge and he seemed to be failing, again and again.
Only if he could have convinced her that there was nothing fake in his love.  But was he being truthful, he wondered.
He hated himself for being uncertain of everything, even his love.
If he could shut out this darkness from his being then everything would be bright and cheerful.
If only?

Word Count 100 words.

This post is part of  Friday  Fictioneers by Rochelle Wisoff

The Universe Conspires
‘When you want something, the universe conspires in helping you to get what you want.’
Where had she read these words? No, she had not read these words. Of course she was not illiterate. She was a student of class ten, though she was a bit over aged for that class. No, she had not read these words. She had perhaps heard these words somewhere. Someone had spoken these words somewhere and she had heard them. She had thought the words were a magic chant. It must be magic or else how could the universe conspire to help someone?
She tried to look through the dark and dingy haze that had clouded her mind. She tried to look for the person who had spoken these words. She could see no one; she could see nothing but the hole where she was confined. She felt miserable; and the pain was unbearable.
But she relentlessly kept on wanting; hoping that the universe would conspire to help her to get what she wanted; she wanted to escape from the hell she was in. Every time she was raped her desire would become intense; she would chant the magic words. Through her swollen eyes she would look for the universe; her eyes said everything that needed to be said; she wanted nothing but an escape from hell.
She was not aware of how many times she had been raped; she did not know how long she had been confined in that hole; but she was certain that she had prayed the universe hundreds of times; she had hoped that the universe would eventually conspire and help her to get what she desperately wanted. But despite her endless entreaties her nightmare seemed endless.
One day the universe did choose to conspire; the universe conspired to help her captors to get what they wanted. After nerve wrecking negotiations with a number of buyers they were able to sell her for fifty thousand. No one was willing to pay even a rupee more than thirty thousand for a skinny girl like her. But they wanted nothing less than fifty thousand. They even spread a word that they would rather kill her but they would not sell her for a lesser amount. The universe conspired in helping them; and they were ever grateful to the universe.
When light entered the hole where she was held for over a month, she felt a glimmer of hope. Was the universe finally going to conspire in helping her?

© i b arora

Friday, 12 September 2014

An Idiotic Idea
Lights were off, for even after five years her perspective remained unchanged. His touch was delicate; he was thinking of her cherished pots and was always scared of breaking them.

A funny idea crossed his mind, “Why are not three in a row?”

 He laughed.


“Just an idiotic idea.”

Linking this to the Fiction Challenge ‘From 15 to 50’ hosted by The Moving Quill

Thursday, 11 September 2014

कुछ याद नहीं
चारों ओर है घिरा अँधेरा
जाने कब था हुआ सवेरा
कब छुआ था सूरज की किरणों ने
कब अधरों पर फूल खिला था
कुछ याद नहीं
चिड़ियां चहचहाईं थीं कब खिड़कियौं में 
कब तारों का जाल बिछा था अंबर में
बच्चे झगड़े चिल्लाए थे कब आँगन में
कब देखे थे सपने सुनहरे दिन में
कुछ याद नहीं
कब दिल धड़का था सीने में
निगल गया है सब कुछ
जैसे यह अंधियारा
डूब गया हो किसी गुफ़ा में
जैसे जग सारा
एक किरन भर भी आशा
कहीं उपलब्ध नहीं
इस तम का क्या कहीं
कोई अंत नहीं
क्या कोई नहीं जो
ज्योति एक जला दे
इस बुझते हृदय में
एक पुष्प खिला दे
© आई बी अरोड़ा 

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Man, that’s how the Government of India works-3

He was still on probation, with less than two years of service, when he was posted to the Divisional Office and assigned one of the important desks. He himself was not sure as to why he had been selected for that assignment. In fact there was no one in that office with less than fifteen years of service. Everyone was, therefore, a bit surprised; some looked at him with suspicion and others with curiosity. One senior colleague could not resist asking, “Are you related to the Saheb?”
But he himself was a nervous wreck for he had inherited a desk which was in shambles. There were any number of files and papers that were lying unattended and some for months. And he found himself wanting in both experience and knowledge required for dealing with the tasks assigned to him.
He decided to deal with the issues one at a time. The first pending paper he picked up was a reminder from the Head Office. In fact it was the eighth reminder. A statement that was to be sent by 31st March had not been sent even by end November. He examined the relevant case file; but he found nothing on record that would have enabled him to prepare the statement. He was scared to seek advice from the Head Clerk; he thought that he would have to explain the delay in submission of the statement to the Head Office.
He approached Mr Sharma who was senior to all the clerks working in the office. Mr Sharma addressed him the way he addressed everyone else, “Bachche, there is nothing to get worried. You are a smart boy. You can prepare this statement in half an hour. Just relax and enjoy your tea.” Mr Sharma served him a hot cup of tea from a thermos flask that he used to bring from his home, filled with hot, sugary tea.
“But there is nothing in the file except statements of previous years. There are a few statements from some of the field offices; but not from all the offices and not for all the twelve months.”
“You don’t have to worry about that. Take out the last year’s statement, increase the figures  indicated for any of the eight months by five to seven per cent; choose these months randomly; and for the remaining four months decrease the last year’s figures by two to three per cent. Overall annual increase in the figure should be about five per cent.”
“It would be a fictitious statement. Will the Head Clerk approve it? Will the Saheb sign it?”
“Of course, Head Clerk will approve it; Saheb will sign it.”
He had a lurking suspicion that a statement prepared in this manner would not be approved by the Head Clerk who could question the basis on which the figures had been worked out. But, notwithstanding his apprehension, he prepared the statement in the manner suggested by Mr Sharma. With some trepidation he took the file to the Head Clerk who gave it a cursory look and asked him to leave the file on his table. No question, as to how the statement had been prepared, was fired at him. With a slight movement of his head the Head Clerk indicated him to go back to his desk.  
Next day the file was back on his table; the statement had been duly signed by the Saheb. It was, as instructed by the Head Clerk, promptly despatched to the Head Office. It was late by nine months only.  
He thought it fit to inform Mr Sharma who just gave him a benign smile.
“What would happen now?” he asked out of sheer curiosity.
“It will eventually find its place in the similar statements received by the Ministry in New Delhi. The Ministry will prepare its Annual Report and frame policies and programmes based on these statements. That’s how the Government works.”
(the sequence of events described is true, the characters are fictitious)

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

The car and the brief case

When he left his office it was already dark, rather unusually dark. The security lights had also been switched on. “Am I late today?” He rushed to the spot where he had parked his car.
He kept going around the office building but he could not locate his car. He recalled that he had parked it near a Letter Box. Yes, it was a Letter Box hanging somewhere on the wall. Or was it a Letter Box somewhere on the footpath outside the building. Yes, he had parked his car on the road.
Suddenly he realized that his brief case was not in his hand. But he was sure that he was holding it when he left the office. “I must retrieve it. ATM Card, driving licence, identity card, credit cards, everything is in that brief case. I think the cheque book is also in it. What a mess I am in.”
“But where did I park the car? Why is it so dark? There was a Letter Box somewhere here. Which side of the building did I park the car? If I can at least find and retrieve my brief case I will not have to go to the Police Station. I can go back in a bus. There are no buses plying on the road, why?”
The thoughts were like an endless running stream of water that he could not control.
Then an alarm went off somewhere in the office building.

He woke up with a start. “Thank God,” he said to himself greatly relieved. 

Monday, 8 September 2014

कभी सोचा था
कभी सोचा था कि
एक देवदार-सा धरती से उठ
आकाश की और चल दूंगा
हिम पर्वत पर बिखरी किरणों को
मुठ्ठियों में बंद कर लूंगा
तारों को छूं लूंगा
सारा सोचा समझा जीवन का गणित
कहीं बीच में ही खड़बड़ा गया
जब भी जितना भी
ऊपर उठा
उतने ही नीचे धँसता गया
एक गहरे लिजलिजे अंधकार में
हर बार का ऊपर उठना
अपने को
नीचे धकेल कर ही हो पाया
तारों को छूने से पहले
रसातल छू लिया
इतना सम्मोहित कर रखा था
ऊँचाइयों  ने
कि पतन का अहसास ही न हुआ
कभी सोचा ही नहीं
कि जितना जाऊंगा नीचे
उतना ही दूर होते जायेंगे
हिम पर्वत/आकाश/तारे
आज पड़ा हूँ
एक गहरे अंधकार में
ढूंढता उस देवदार को
जो धरती से उठ
सीधा चल देता है
आकाश की ओर

© आई बी अरोड़ा 

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Man, that’s how the Government of India works-2

As usual I was in my office at 9 AM and was busy disposing off couple of pending files. Normally no visitor would come at that time. I would usually clear all outstanding matters and set the agenda for the day. But that day I had a visitor at an unusually early hour.
Visitor: Good morning Mr Arora. I am Air Commodore So & So and I have just taken over as Air Attaché to the Chief of Air Staff. I thought that I must meet you today itself.
Me: Welcome to New Delhi, I hope and wish that you have pleasant and fruitful tenure.
Visitor: How can it be pleasant? Mine is the most difficult and taxing job in Air Headquarter. That is why I am here in your office. I must immediately settle my family. I must immediately get a house. It is impossible for me to leave my office even for minute. I may not even be able to meet you again in my complete tenure. Please ensure that something is done immediately.
Having already worked in the system for 17 years, I knew he was being rather dramatic, for rarely there was an officer in complete Government of India who was as overworked as he was pretending to be. Everyone had enough time for his personal errands, foreign trips, training programmes and for availing leave that would otherwise lapse. But I did not wish to spoil his exuberant mood.
Me: You should immediately meet the Quartering Officer and give your application for allotment of house. In your capacity as Air Attaché you are entitled to get a house on out of turn basis. But sometimes there is a waiting list for such out of turn allotments also. The Quartering Officer would be able to tell you about that.  He will tell you how many officers are already on the waiting list.
Visitor: Mr Arora, I believe in one thing. If you look after me then I will look after you. No doubt about that.
I was taken aback. It was an open secret that people in the system look after each other. But till that date no one had made such an offer to me and with total assurance. For a moment I did not know what I could say.
Me: We will definitely look after you, it is our duty. But I don’t think I need any looking after.
Visitor: but I mean it, you look after me, I will look after you. Anything you need from us just name it and I will see what can be done.
Me: For the moment I think you should immediately submit your application for the house. If you delay it, someone else may give his application and score a march over you. You may get relegated in the waiting list.
Visitor: Oh! Yes, you are right. I will immediately give my application, but don’t forget what I said.  You must look after me.
The officer left my office. I spoke to the Quartering Officer and told that he could expect a visit from Air Commodore So & So. I suggested the officer should be allotted a house immediately but strictly as per the laid norms and procedure. I never met that officer again. But I kept a watch on his progress in his career.  

The Air Commodore rose, with passage of time, to become an Air Marshal of the Indian Air Force. 

Friday, 5 September 2014

When I killed a Hoopoe

It was summer of 1965.  I had nothing to do. I was roaming in the orchard in front of our house. It was not a well maintained or well managed orchard but it was good enough for an idle boy to keep himself engaged. There were a large number of apple and cherry trees, a huge walnut tree and of course one plum tree. But first I must tell you about where this orchard was.
If you have been to Kashmir and if you have visited the Mughal Gardens, you may have seen some villages located between Shalimar Garden and Harwan (Harwan, of course, is not a Mughal Garden). Midway between these two famous landmarks, there is village named Chandpura; you would not have heard of it. My grandfather had purchased a piece of land, with a good number fruit bearing trees, in that village. The orchard was almost next to a stream of ice cold water coming from Harwan. He had built a two storeyed house in that orchard.
Grandfather rarely stayed in that house.  But it was a beautiful place to live in. In 1965 my father decided to shift there for a few months. There was no electricity till we ‘managed’ a connection.  For water we relied on a spring which was just outside the boundary wall of our orchard. Spring water was crystal clear and ice cold. There was fish too; but traditionally in Kashmir no one catches fish from a spring; they only use spring water for drinking and cooking.
Life was slow and lazy; the minutes and hours were unusually long in that peaceful and serene place. I always had plenty of time to while away. So it was on that one summer day in 1965. I was whiling away my time in the orchard doing nothing. I kept drifting and roaming among the trees and stones; I climbed a tree; I crossed and re-crossed the boundary wall. There was a pencil-thin stream of fresh water flowing through the orchard; I waded through it for some time; I criss-crossed it a few times. And yet, not even an hour had passed.
It was then that I saw this hoopoe which I eventually killed. It was full of energy; it was cheerful and lively; it was a beautiful bundle of unrestrained movements; it was mesmerizing.
A wild thought came to my idle mind, ‘what if I hit it with a stone?’
And even before any answer could come from anywhere, I picked up a stone and threw it at the bird. What followed thereafter is itched on my memory and for ever.
The moment the stone left my hand, the bird flew; not because it had sensed the imminent death; but because of the destiny which was about to intertwine two of us. The stone hit the bird when it had just taken off. It fell on the ground like a dead stone. For a few seconds I was stunned. I could not believe what I had seen. Even in my wildest imagination I had not expected to hit the bird. I stood rooted to the ground, not knowing what I should or could do.
Then with trepidation I approached the bird lying on the ground. Anxiety and fear were over powering. I felt as if I was approaching an injured wild animal. But it was only a little bird and it lay helpless and dying. I was scared to touch it. I was scared to even look at it.
Then very carefully I picked the injured bird and brought it to the water. I dipped its beak in water. But the bird did not react. Perhaps it needed something more than a sip of cold water to revive and overcome the injuries. Guilt and frustration were raging in my disquieted mind.
I left the bird near the stream hoping that somehow it would survive the injuries that I had inflicted on it. But it died; perhaps it died a painful death.  
Even fifty years later I still suffer the remorse and guilt of foolishly killing an innocent bird. It met premature and unnatural death just because I had nothing worthwhile to do to while away my idle time.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

रंग ले आये
सड़क पर, गली में, नाली के अंदर
बहता यह लहू
अगर तुमको दिखाई नहीं देता
तो इस लहू का ही दोष होगा,
शायद यह लहू रंगहीन होगा.
पर देख सकते हो तो देख लो
यह छलनी सीना
यह कुचली देह
यह फूटा सिर.
रुको और देख लो,
यह सब अभी इसी पल,
कौन जाने कब किस पल
ऐसा ही कुछ
तुम्हारे साथ भी घट जाये.
तुम्हें बहता लहू दिखाई नहीं देता
लहू से सने हाथ दिखाई नहीं देते
अँधेरे को चीरती चीखें सुनाई नहीं देतीं
तो यह तुम्हारा भ्रम ही है
क्योंकि यह सब यहीं हैं
जैसे मृत्यु यहीं है
यह सब तुम्हारी ओर बढ़ रही हैं
जैसे मृत्यु तुम्हारी ओर बढ़ रही है,
हर पल, हर क्षण.
कोई चिल्लाया
शायद किसी कंस ने
किसी बालकृष्ण को मार गिराया.
सहमो मत
सहमा हुआ व्यक्ति
बहुत धीरे मरता है
और एक दुखदायी मौत ही मरता है.
रुको और लौट आओ,  
लौट आओ
और भिगो लो अपने हाथ
इस बहते लहू में
अभी इसी क्षण.
फिर शायद
तुम भयभीत न रहो
फिर शायद
तुम्हें दिख जाये
बहता लहू
लहू से सने हाथ
हाथ में खंजर .
फिर शायद
तुम्हारे हाथों में
जुम्बिश आ जाये
और तुम्हारा लहू
सड़क पर, गली में, नाली के अंदर
बहते इस बैरंग लहू में
रंग ले आये.   
(कई वर्ष पुरानी घटना है. एक पत्रकार और उसकी पत्नी को किसी राजनेता के गुंडों ने पीछा कर मारा और अंततः उनकी हत्या कर दी. लोग बस चुपचाप देखते रहे. कोई उनकी सहायता के लिए आगे न आया. उस घटना के वर्णन ने मुझे बहुत प्रभावित किया था और मैंने यह कविता लिखने का प्रयास किया था. ऐसी घटनायें लगातार घट रही हैं कल भी कहीं कुछ ऐसा ही हुआ है पर हम कुछ सुन देख नहीं पा रहे)
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