Fiction · Little stories · Short stories

Arsee’s short stories 72

He was the biggest singing sensation the country had ever seen. He was dead. Shot dead. They got the man without much ado, considering, he did not even try to run.

Even then they handcuffed him and led him roughly to the police station, parading him in front of a hungry media that wanted to show the world the face of the man who killed the sensation.

“Why did you do it?” queried the station chief. The man did not answer. He maintained a dogged silence that they could not break.

Slowly, a little at a time, they learned about him. He was the singer’s best friend at school. They both came from a village tucked away into a dark corner of obscurity. He had come to the city about three months back. He was an agent for an insurance company. Yet, why would he kill his childhood friend?

He did not break under interrogation. It was an open shut case. They gave him life imprisonment.

Four years later, in the prison yard he told an old dying man the reason. “I came to town and telephoned him. He was very happy to hear from me. We would meet, he said,” confided the killer. “And so you killed him?” the old man could not understand. “I killed him because after that he did not answer my phone calls for three months.”

The old man only stared, perplexed.

“Do you know, nothing makes you feel more irrelevant than an unanswered phone call. When a person races ahead in life, he feels he has the right to ignore the people who he has left behind. He robbed me and I killed him. Would you not kill a thief?” The old man nodded, “Perhaps I would, but what did this man rob?” he inquired.

“He robbed me of my dignity. Everyday I felt more and more worthless. I could have dealt with rejection, cause there I still exist. When I am ignored, I don’t exist. Now he does not exist, I do.”

-Arsee.

Fiction · Little stories · Short stories

Arsee’s short stories 71 Reason to goodbye

He was on the cover of a magazine, sharing the secret of his success. He smiled looking at it.

From his office on the fortieth floor of the most expensive real estate, he saw the expanse of the city beneath. He had done well to get here. His thoughts went back to the girl who left him when he was just a struggling software engineer. He never met her again but he was sure she was down there somewhere, looking at the high rise that had his name on it, wishing she had never left him. Served her right!

The chauffer held the door open for him. He was about to get in the car when a pretty young girl called out to him. She handed him a big bundle of envelopes, “these are for you,” she said politely. Before he could ask her who they were from the girl turned around and walked away.

The car moved silently through the streets as he opened the first envelope. He recognized the handwriting immediately. It was from her! After all those years! It was like a sledgehammer to his heart.

“Dear M, if you are reading this letter, it would mean that I have finally fallen to Multiple Sclerosis. I was diagnosed the day before we parted. I am sorry I left. I knew you would never leave me if you knew the truth. You were too brilliant to be bogged down by me and my situation. I couldn’t be the albatross round your neck. For me, it was always you. I have a letter for everyday of my life written to you, that is the only way I could live for you.”

He couldn’t breathe, gasping, he asked his chauffer to stop the car. He staggered out of the car and into the park alongside, the letters in his hand. There in a drizzle, under a golden street lamp, her life passed right in front of his eyes… Dear M, I have terrible headaches… I saw you in the newspaper… I cannot swallow… you look handsome greying… your name on a building,wow… I miss you… I wonder if you have someone… my eyesight is failing… I will always love you…

Then he cried. A lonely rich man in a deserted park. For a moment he saw himself on the cover of the magazine. The secret of his success, a girl who loved him enough to leave him….

-Arsee.

Fiction · Little stories

Arsee’s little stories 70

It had been raining for four days, seemed incessant. The Deputy Commissioner of crime, Mumbai, looked out of the window to give himself a break from the statements of the witnesses. Murder of a wealthy man and the media went crazy. Too much pressure on him. He sighed and looked back at the circled parts of the statements.

Name: Rita Rai. Age: 45.
Relation: Wife.

I was at my mother’s place in Pune. He called me from his car, post lunch, said he was going home, would sleep a bit and then watch the match. The next thing I know, call from the maid that he is dead.

Name: Karan Rai. Age: 19.
Relation: Son.

I was at my friends place. At around four my mother called me to tell me my father was dead. I rushed home. I saw him in a pool of blood, in the study, he had been watching television and it was still on.

Name: Bhima. Age: 30.
Relation: Driver.

Saab sat in the car after lunch. Called up memsaab. Said to her that he was going home. Then called someone else and said he wanted to watch India versus West indies on TV. He said he would wait for that person.

Name: Shanta. Age: 26.
Relation: Maid.

Saab was watching a match on TV and drinking. He wanted soda. It was over in the house. I went to buy it. When I got back he was dead.

Name: Seema. Age: 30.
Relation: Mistress.

He called me from the car, said he was going home. Said something about a cricket match. Said he would meet me in the evening. He never called. We never met.

Everyone’s story had checked out. The wife was in Pune. The son was with a friend. India was in West Indies

The game was telecast live. There was no soda, the shopkeeper attested that the maid did buy it. The mistress did get a call. How did it happen?!! He stared at the statements like they would talk to him then he called his junior on the intercom. “Get the boy, Karan in for questioning again, I need to ask him a question. I know who has done this!”

-Arsee.

Fiction · Little stories

Arsee’s little stories 69

Paula was an eagle. She was revered all along the coast of the North Sea. She could fly the highest and hunt the best. She was an example for the other eagles. Yet, on that day as she watched the sun set behind the cliff, perched on the highest tree with her friend Greta, she was sad. Greta was her shoulder to cry on and that day she needed a shoulder.

“All my other fledglings have flown the nest but little Sam just refuses to fly,” she confided in Greta. “It worries me, makes me wonder if I have given birth to a weak eagle that won’t do anything in life,” she said with remorse.

“Oh no Paula! That will never happen. You are the best eagle and Sam is your son. Have faith in yourself, in your upbringing!” Greta’s words were filled with hope but did little to lift Paula’s spirits.

Later that evening, after supper, she found Sam at the edge of the nest, looking at the depth below, petrified. He wanted to fly but just couldn’t. In that moment Paula heard Greta’s words in her head and before Sam could step back from the edge she dashed to him and pushed over with her beak.

Sam screamed, shocked, falling to the ground. Paula watched with an equal  amount of fear, her boy plummeted towards the ground, faster and faster. She braced herself for the inevitable. But suddenly Sam flapped his wings and he began to fly. Flapping harder and flying higher. Sam gave a happy shriek and flew across the rising moon. Paula saw the soaring silhouette of her son and sighed happily

On her perch with Greta, the next day, Paula shared her story. “Ah I told you, trust yourself and your upbringing,” Greta reminded.

Paula smiled, “You know what did it? Not the faith in myself but the faith I had in my son. I understood yesterday that sometimes our children don’t succeed because we don’t give them the permission to fail.”

-Arsee.

Fiction · Little stories

Arsee’s little stories 68

“I am petrified. I cannot sleep. I have no money to buy a new house and I have no means to rent one either. I am stuck in this apartment. My husband is away, he is in the navy. I am really really scared!” The priest could see that the young lady was shivering with fright as she spoke.“Please go on…,” Father Angelo said gently with a smile of reassurance.

“It was a week ago when it first happened. I got home late, it was way past midnight when I went to bed. At first I thought it was my window creaking but when it came again I was sure. There was a knocking from under my bed. Like someone was underneath, calling my attention. I sat up in bed. Too scared to move. Then it came again. Wild thoughts ran through my mind, robber, rapist, serial killer! I made a dash for the door, threw it open and grabbed the kitchen knife. Ready for any onslaught. None came. As dawn broke I checked under the bed and there was nothing, no one!”

The young lady took a sip of water and plunged right back into her tale. “By the time night came again I had succeeded in blaming my imagination for the previous night’s occurrences. But I was wrong. A little past midnight the knock came again. I froze. Then after a few minutes it came again, distinct, calling my attention, beckoning me. I had to look underneath, there was no other way. I steeled myself and peeped down. There under my bed lay an old man with knotty white hair, big red eyes and a smile that had some teeth missing and his gums bleeding. He wore a crumpled suit and black shoes. He raised a gnarled finger at me and said, ‘come on Julia, play with me’. I sprang out of bed and hid myself in the study till the morning came.”

Father Angelo held Julia’s hand and spoke compassionately, “Do not worry. I shall be around this evening. I shall bless the house with the light of our Lord and all shall be well.”

Later that evening she received a call from the Diocese. Father Angelo had taken ill all of a sudden and would not be able to visit her. She hung up, frightened all over again and then she heard a low raspy laugh. On the mirror behind her, written in blood were the words, “Father Angelo did not want us to play…

-Arsee.

Fiction · Little stories

Arsee’s little stories 67

“This is a dream, I know I dreaming!” He shouted. The room was a dull green with black leather couches. The flickering neon of the cheap hotel across the street lit the room in spurts of red.

“This is the reality! You are mistaken!” The professor was trying hard to convince him.

“We are a group of rebels that need to tell the world that the dream is the reality and the reality is the dream,” he said forcefully. “For too long the world has been fooled. You need to remember! Remember!!” The professor screamed louder to make his point.

“Who are these people and why would they want us to believe that the reality is a dream?” He was trying his best to understand. The professor took a deep breath, exasperated, “This is a place where we cannot do anything wrong. Its heavily secured so we act out what we cannot do here, on the other side. If we want to murder here, we murder there. If we want to rape here, we rape there and then we suffer here and there. It is designed by the keepers to stop us from thinking anything wrong here. In other words, this is real life and that is a prison where we suffer the correction. Do you understand?” The professor looked at him, his eyes filled with hope and then a loud sound shattered the scene.

The Editor of the leading newspaper of the country woke up with the sound of the shrieking alarm. His heart thumping against his chest and sweat trickling down his brow. It was just a dream he told himself, just a bloody dream!

As he walked into his office later that day he found some pictures on his desk and a reporter burst in to inform him that they were from a shootout in Frankfurt, Germany.

The very first picture showed a dull green room with black leather couches lit by the red neon light that streamed through a window. A man lay dead on the floor, “Professor Kaufmann,the lead scientist on a sleep disorder project,” informed the reporter.

The Editor stood frozen behind his desk. The only way to find out more was to sleep.

-Arsee.

Fiction · Little stories

Arsee’s little stories 66

The lab was unusually cold, she had forgotten to put on the heating. Not because she was absentminded but because she was preoccupied and this once it wasn’t because of her cancer research but because of a certain lab technician who was, to put it euphemistically, most odd.

It started with little things, she saw him pick a burning petri dish last Friday without scalding his skin or even an “ouch” for that matter. She saw him go through the retina check and finger print based access system without touching either consoles and the final straw was an injury one day that healed completely the next day.

Today she would follow him. Who the hell was he?!

In the early hours of the morning she followed him out of the lab, through the lonely streets and finally to a low income housing complex, making sure she remained obscure.

The elevator stopped on the third and started it’s downward journey, she ran up the steps and burst onto the landing only to find him waiting for her. “Why do you follow me?” He asked plainly, sitting on a chair under a low watt yellow bulb. She was found out and there was no point pretending.

“Who are you? More pointedly, what are you?” She inquired evenly. “Ah! You ask me a question and I am not programmed for the untruth. They call me CX5. From planet Zander.” He did not even blink. “What the hell…”she couldn’t finish what she started to say. “I am here to watch your work and learn from the best cancer researcher in the world.” He continued.

“That’s flattering, but why would you do that?” She seemed to be gathering around the initial shock.“We do not have cancer on our planet and so we don’t know how to eradicate it,” he explained further. “If you do not have cancer why do you need to fight it?” She prodded. “We want to fight it on this planet. Cancer we learned is the uncontrollable multiplication of cells. And from that this planet suffers,” he concluded.

“You want to learn from us, to help us?” She found that a bit ridiculous.

He smiled a rare smile, “You misunderstand, our mission is to save habitable planets from Cancer. You are the cancer, humans…”

-Arsee.

Fiction · Little stories · Short stories

Arsee’s short stories 65 The Haunted bungalow

15th May 2018

The Subedar of Greater Bombay looked at the dead body of the Englishman in front of him as the constable handed him a letter found with his remains. He began to read the letter

Bombay 29th Jan 1889

My Dear Philip

I hope this letter finds you in the pink of health and all other earthly hues. I write to you about a very curious case that has me staying up nights in dread.

As it unfolds, Old Bones, Sparsky, Moby and I were awarded a week’s vacation by the port and off we toddled into the mountains away from the salty air, destination a sprawling estate in the hills of Mahabaleshwaar, (Hope I have the spelling right, don’t bother pronouncing it). As the fable goes the bungalow is haunted and we thought it ridiculous.

Let me tell you old chap, it was far from ridiculous. The days saw us experiencing odd muffled screams, lanterns burning out and doors with a will of their own. The night before we were to return a game of bridge and some old rum was the choicest pastime. Sparsky did excuse himself to use the bathroom in the study. Nothing else happened that had us out of each other’s sight.

We got back to Bombay, a long trip mind you! Horseback and some carriages were involved. Then Sparsky stopped showing up for his shift. A trifle worried, we visited his quarters to be told he never came back from the mountains! Very odd, is it not? This was a matter for the Subedaar who thought us to be the villains of the piece.

He thought it best to start at the unpronounceable hilly joint. There in the bathroom of the study we found Sparsky dead! It seemed like we were in a nightmare of Edgar Allan Poe proportions. If Sparsky was dead then who was it that rode back with us? Two nights and three days, there was someone playing or something playing Sparsky!

I am afraid that the Sparsky who disappeared comes to me at night and looks over me as I sleep. I have seen a shadow on the walls that seems to scurry as I wake to it. I am concerned terribly that Sparsky was only the first. Will probably take the next boat to Southampton.

In dread

Hodgkin.

The Subedaar sat himself down on the chair and began to consider if he did believe in evil spirits.

-Arsee.

Fiction · Krishna · Little stories

Arsee’s little stories 64

This was strange, very strange. It was midday and the sun nowhere overhead. The stars were still out and the night enveloped the beautiful hamlet of Brindavan.

Fear began to spread. The cowherds gathered around Nand, their chieftan. Nand concerned himself, rushed to Gargacharya, the high priest. Gargacharya worried if a curse had befallen them.

Yet, Balram wondered why Kanha was missing. Generally he would be at the forefront of a problem like this.

While the town panicked Balram searched for Kanha high and low, he was nowhere! Then he began to see what could be the problem, cause Radha was missing too!

He caught her lighting the lamps that needed more oil. “Have you seen Kanha, Radha?” Balram said studying her carefully. Radha made a face, “must be with Gauri…” Her face looked beautiful as the lamp spread its glow. “Gauri? Who is that?” Balram wondered. “The girl from across the river who is more beautiful then me!” Radha looked hurt.

Balram understood what was going on. He asked Radha if they were having a quarrel which Radha denied but she did accept she never wanted to see his face again. Balram laughed, “Radha, the entire town is worried. The night does not seem to have an end and Kanha is missing. Find him and sort it, think about the village, please!” Balram was imploring. Radha sighed.

She found him by the river bank, under a tree, smiling at her as she came. “You have stopped the sun from rising, haven’t you?” Radha was trying her best to stay angry. “Me? I am just a shepherd. How can I ?” Kanha smiled innocently. Radha took a deep breath. “Kanha don’t trouble the villagers because we are quarrelling.” Radha’s resolve was beginning to break. “Are we fighting?” Kanha inquired looking deep into her eyes. Radha did not look away, “Let the sun rise, easier to find Gauri in daylight, I assure you!” She said mockingly. Kanha laughed and held her, “Gauri is beautiful but she is a cow. Do you really want to be compared to her?” Radha got angrier for a moment and then burst out laughing and fell into Kanha’s arms. Kanha whispered in her ears,“but you love the village folk more, cause you make me wait and come here to plead for them.” Radha smiled and held him closer, feeling his heartbeat. “The villagers were just an excuse I made to meet you.” Radha said lovingly. Kanha smiled and whispered, “And the night is the excuse I have made to meet you.”

-Arsee.

Fiction · Little stories

Arsee’s little stories 63

She had been a trained nurse for over ten years but the hospital had started to get to her, not the pain of the patients but the business of the hope industry.

She preferred to look after the old and the sick in their homes, it served the noble profession far better, she was convinced.

The agency called her to check if she was available to nurse a man who was all over the news for his secret illness and his large estate. She was available.

That was a month ago and now she was part of the well kept secret that he had Alzheimer’s. She was also a witness to the ongoing last will and testament saga. He had willed everything he had to a trust fund for cancer research and then lost his mind. The two sons were very unhappy but the will was pretty watertight and incontestable. They wanted him to make a new will but now he was not of sound mind. There was one legal way out of the mess, should he be lucid and should I testify that he was, when the new will was made, it would work.

I would sit in a corner and watch the sons come and get him to remember things, loved ones, moments, people…but he could remember nothing after his wife left him twenty years back…zero!

It was really sad.

It was a Friday night and the younger son with his legal team had left. I handed him his medicine. The old man looked up at me confused, “Are you not forgetting a medicine?” It dawned on me slowly and I looked at him shocked.

He smiled, “Its our little secret. They never remembered me for a single day when I was alone and lonely. Now they are trying really hard to make me remember, how is that for irony?”

-Arsee.

Fiction · Little stories

Arsee’s little stories 62

“I will come to you by eight. We can have dinner together.” he said in a low voice. She could hear voices behind as he hung up, he was at work probably. I felt a surge of excitement, looked at the house and saw the mess, then at the wall clock. Only three hours to make it his worth his while.

I was his secret, the secret of a married man. I never called him, he called when he wanted to see me. I stayed away from his social networking account, he was scared of being found out and for a man in his position it generally meant bad press.

Cleaned the place, set candles in place, cooked the meal he liked, put on my sexiest lingerie and a new black dress. Sprayed the fragrance he liked and then waited.

He was there sharp at eight, we ate, laughed, made love and then lay in bed, he had ten minutes before he had to leave. I lay on his chest and he held me.

“I don’t want to see you again, ever.” I whispered. He stopped caressing my arm and almost shouted out the “what?” I propped myself up on my arm and looked him in the eye, “I realized today that I am not miserable because of your absence, I am miserable because you keep coming back.”

“I have no idea what you are talking about!” he said like his pride had been abused.

“That is because you have no idea what loneliness is…”

I got out of bed and went in for shower.

-Arsee.

Fiction · Little stories

Arsee’s little stories 61

She lived for moments like these when her husband would be gone on a business trip and she could be alone with her lover under the silken sheets. She closed her eyes letting his fingers trace a line on her lips, then suddenly, the sound of the key turning a lock. Her husband was back home! It was a trap! She pushed her lover into the closet seconds before the bedroom door flew open. “Where is he?” His voice sent shivers down her spine. “Who he?” She responded meekly. “Was there not a man here?” He sounded sinister. “No. No one! You shouldn’t doubt me such!” She tried to be hurt. He smiled viciously and sat himself down on the couch. “Then my darling you won’t have a problem with this..” Through the doors walked in carpenters with wooden boards and ten inch nails. She watched as they boarded the closet shut. Her husband continued to smile…

-Arsee.