When Ambition & Reality Collides

What is FIFO? How is it different from LIFO?        (1)

“FIFO & LIFO are concepts in the supply chain cycle that indicate the order in which goods in the production line must be placed and moved out. As per FIFO – First In, First Out – goods that are stacked in first need to be removed first for consumption purposes, whereas in LIFO – Last In, First Out – goods that are stacked last in the production line must be removed first for consumption purposes.”

“must be…removed …first for …consumption …purposes.” Maya muttered under her breath as she traced the words on her answer sheet. “And …done.”

She lifted her head that had until been then resting on her forearm and replaced the pen cap over the nib. Maya bundled her answer sheets and tied them with the white thread the supervisor had supplied her along with the extra supplement. She skimmed through both the question and answer papers once, pinned the former to her writing pad, gathered her stationery, tucked her water bottle under her armpits and clutched the answer sheet between her fingers. A warning bell rang sharply across the hallway as she headed toward the examination supervisor. “Five minutes!” he called out to the room at large, as he wordlessly took Maya’s answer sheet from her outstretched hands. Maya waited as the examiner scanned the few answer sheets he had received thus far to place hers in order of their roll call. He jerked his head a few seconds later, a sign Maya took to be the blessed confirmation of leaving the assessment territory. As she exited, Maya heard the supervisor call out to the students to tie their answer sheets first, an instruction she knew only too well to have been disregarded by all until the second they could postpone it to. For, the handful that sat in the hall still writing their exam were busy scribbling with their pens across the single-lined sheet at varying speeds.

As Maya walked to the residential hostel next to the academic campus, the two facilities separated by a high wall, her insides concocted a rollercoaster of emotions. She was through with her fourth and final semester of her post-graduation degree. Although this semester had only six subjects – when compared to nine in each of the other three – Maya had three backlogs to clear from the previous semester. She had to if she wanted to receive her certificate, officially instating her with the label of an MBA holder, alongside her batchmates. A significant part of the fourth term had taken up her batch’s time and efforts in indulging with corporate internships and submission of a thesis in their opted majors. Maya had bagged none of the apprenticeships that came to her campus as she always fell short of skillsets or general know-how. It had been a vicious cycle. She heard from her batchmates now and then about how they didn’t want to land such internships in the first place. Then why apply? Maya would seethe at them. On the upside, she had enjoyed putting together her thesis, for her chosen concept belonged to a subject that she hoped to make a career out of someday – Recruitment & Hiring.

As Maya climbed the hostel steps to her room on the second floor, she thought of the past two years that had now seemed to have whirled past in the swish and flick of a magic wand. This campus had been her boarding point all this while. She was free to go without having to return to it for a fresh year or semester. She could leave once and for all. Back home. The one prospect she was looking forward to more than anything else in her immediate future.

Maya latched open the door to her room with the key her roommate had handed over to her two days ago. Having completed her exams with zero backlogs, Maya’s roommate had left home earlier leaving the entire space to her. Maya gave the sizeable room a glance to digest the whereabouts of its possessions. Her flight didn’t leave until 5:30 that evening. However, there was no time to dawdle. It was 12:00 noon. She had exactly an hour to gather and stow her belongings into the two twenty-kilogram suitcases and a shoulder bag she had carried from home. The past week, Maya had seen more than enough courier trucks stop by at her university for transporting her batchmates’ possessions back to their respective homes. It was a culmination of the items they had carried with them after each of their trips back, and the umpteen couriers their parents had sent them over the period of twenty-four months. As much as Maya could have done away with an advanced mail for a set of her belongings herself, the idea wasn’t entirely workable. Partly, because her parents resided in the Gulf and partly because, she was devilishly short on cash. Her wallet bore close to ₹500 at that moment. It was enough to cover her one-way ticket worth ₹200 in the city bus to the airport. Based on her calculations, a couple of hundred-rupee notes ought to have served her purpose in case of an emergency. Through the two years, it was safe to assume of Maya’s pauperdom when it came money management. It was one subject that she needed tutoring on aside from her persisting backlogs on Financial Studies in the first two semesters.

As Maya began gathering her possessions from the bed, she went into a flashback tracing the beginning of it all. She had been keen on pursuing a post-graduation; she was interested in studying further. However, it wasn’t the choicest of courses in her list of preference. Given an alternative, Maya would have chosen a post-graduation in Arts. Master of Arts. From the time she was inducted into one of the leading business schools in Bengaluru for a Master’s degree in Business Administration, her way of life began challenging her in fashions she had not even remotely anticipated. Perhaps, a chunk of those trials could be credited to having to cope up with a pressure-induced environment at twenty years of age. Maya neither boasted of any intellect nor scars from a battle to help her tangle head-to-head in arcane assignments that were meant only for grading purposes. A drill that otherwise, she noticed, most of her batchmates found commonplace. Maya found it taxing to impose an individualistic twist on secondary research to meet her assignment timelines. She also found herself tackling subjects that were not only mandatory but also failed to make any sense to her. The crux of Financial Studies, the nature of surprise tests and the timelines to keep up with pre-class preps for all subjects at once fuddled Maya. She failed them all miserably. Or, most of them anyway. A few failed attempts resulted into backlogs while a handful others converted into poor but passable grades.

So much for having evaded the life in a concrete jungle at twenty.

Maya rolled over the cables of her handphone and laptop chargers into neat rows and stuffed them into her shoulder bag that was brimming until its neck already. A hand towel, a couple of pairs of inner wears and her laptop still lay around — must-haves. She ran through her desk drawers and found a wad of new stationery that she hadn’t touched once in the two years. She then remembered about collecting her dresses from the washer and took a fleeting look at the digital clock on her mobile. She had also to make one last trip to the xerox centre in the academy block for printing a copy of her air ticket. 12:40 PM. Maya was beginning to lose it.

She stared helplessly at her suitcase and decided to skip the trip to the washer. Aside from the titchy clothes and laptop, she chose to leave all else behind. Maya had neither the time nor friends on the campus to help her. Most of them had left two days ago. Also, there was no space in her luggage to stuff anything further. From a wardrobe full of clothes for different occasions to an array of shoes, from her university uniform of a blazer and a pair of pants to the utensils her mother had incentivised her with during each of her vacation trips home, Maya’s travel bags accommodated not an inch more to stuff items within. So much so, that her panic of the zips bursting open by themselves during flight transitions wasn’t entirely baseless. Maya figured this was not the time to lose it. She collected herself and kept motoring with the means to catch that flight back home. To top it all, given her cash reserves were infinitesimal, Maya couldn’t afford to miss the airport shuttle due to leave the depot nearby at 1:25 PM. She had thirty-five minutes to catch the bus.

So much for having evaded the life in a concrete jungle at twenty. And a poor perception of time management.

Maya had chosen to pursue her Master’s degree at that age primarily because she was unable to elude a way out of her inception into concrete jungles. Her upbringing had been conditioned through a thorough lifestyle adopted by cityscapes. Modes and methods of daily living revolved around societal norms by maintaining a status quo in public circles and adhering to voluntary codes and conducts of social behaviour. Heading out with friends all days or for too much time was forbidden, as was having late night calls or chats over the phone. Being spotted with a batchmate of the opposite sex on the nearby streets discussing movies was morally incorrect because neighbours ‘talked’. Inappropriate clothing caused the society to frown upon the parents than the offsprings, as it reflected the nurturing they have bestowed upon the coming generation. Pocket money without being accounted for was never encouraged owing to the ‘you’re-too-young-to-handle-cash’ and ‘we-need-to-know-what-are-you-spending-on’ excuses. Nor was a career in an eccentric stream as event management or journalism as a result of ‘those-are-unsafe-jobs’. The cities Maya was bred in may have been larger area-wise when compared to towns, her existence in them nevertheless, caged.

Maya locked her suitcases and zipped her shoulder bag with considerable effort. She gave the room one sweeping glance, dragged her luggage out with an effort and bolted the door. The suitcases were needless to mention, weighty. She headed down the two floors dragging her luggage through the stairs, one by one. As she reached the ground floor, she realised the hostel lift had been repaired by the maintenance department that morning. Maya remained oblivious, for she was determined not to get worked up. After all, she was heading back to her comfort zone — home — a motive strong enough to retain her optimism through the day. She handed the key to the warden at the reception who on seeing the luggage, engaged Maya in a parting chit-chat. 12:56 PM. Maya left the luggage there and headed to the xerox centre. En route, she met the few straggling batchmates of hers and therein began a stream of parting banters. A strand Maya had failed to reserve any time for. By the time she hauled her suitcases outside the main gate, it was 1:12 PM. She had thirteen minutes to reach the depot and catch the shuttle.

There was no rickshaw for hire in sight. Maya dragged the suitcases one by each hand, with her shoulder bag dangling threateningly off her back, onto the main road, a walk of close to five hundred metres from her university. The fact that the road was an uphill only added to load Maya carried. Her chest shot a painful sear as she gasped for breath, having dragged her luggage in a hurry. A rickshaw headed in the opposite direction. Maya waved her hand frantically, and he slowed down.

“Electronic City bus depot?”
The driver nodded.
“Eshtu?” She asked in the little Kannada she knew.
“You tell me.”
“Fifty rupees.”
He nodded once more.
With considerable effort, Maya lifted the suitcases and placed them in the rickshaw. A feat that proved no less than difficult owing to the mismatching widths of her travel bags with the space in the three-wheeler. She jerked the two Rexine bags haphazardly in an attempt to squeeze them in and hauled the shoulder bag in one sweeping motion onto the seat before she sat. 1:21 PM.

It was two minutes past one-thirty when Maya reached the depot. Finding no bus at its designated spot, she inquired about BIAL 200 – the airport service shuttle – to a passing-by conductor.
“The bus just left.”
“How long ago?”
“Just a minute or so back, madam.”
Maya headed back to the rickshaw to check if the driver could help her catch the bus.
“My bus left the depot two minutes back. Can you help me catch it?”
“Sit.” He turned the ignition on. “Do you have the bus driver’s number?”
“Bus driver? No. Let me go back and check at the depot. As an afterthought, Maya asked, “Can you help me ask him in Kannada?”
“Sure.” The auto driver turned out the ignition and accompanied Maya to the bus depot. Her luggage was left in the vehicle, unmanned.
“Do you have the driver’s number who is riding the bus?” asked the rickshaw driver the same conductor to whom Maya had spoken less than a minute ago.
“Which bus? What service?”
“BIAL 200. The airport bus that I just checked with you.” Maya chipped in.
“What’s the problem?”
“She needs to be aboard that bus. She needs to get to the airport” said the rickshaw driver.
“The next bus leaves at 2:35 PM. She can wait at the depot.”
“I will miss my flight.” Maya butted in once more.
The conductor and the driver talked for about a minute when the former said “I can’t give you the driver’s number. But I will check who is the ticket conductor on board that bus.” He retrieved the phone and tapped a series of buttons.
“Where have you reached?”
On receiving a response from the other end, the conductor spoke. “There is a girl who has missed the bus. She is in a rickshaw. She will reach in time to catch the bus at Oxford College.”
On receiving the acknowledgement from the other end, the depot conductor spoke once more into the mouthpiece. “I am giving the girl your number. She will reach out to you.” He hung up the phone and gave Maya the bus conductor’s details. “Give him a call. You should be able to catch up to them at the Oxford College bus stop.”
Maya nodded, noted the number and thanked him. 1:47 PM. Her hands were trembling.

The rickshaw driver turned the ignition on, and off the two sped. Maya dialled the number, and the conductor greeted her in Kannada. She handed the phone to the driver and requested him to let him know of their whereabouts and that they’d be reaching the bus stop soon. The driver did as instructed and handed the phone back to Maya. As they neared Oxford College, Maya’s heartbeat was thumping. Beads of sweat were beginning to form on her forehead and upper lip. She spotted the bus at a distance realising a moment later that it had made it to the college before them. Maya dialled the conductor’s number in a hurry.
“We are right behind you. Wait for a half minute, please.” She yelled into the phone.

The driver sped up on cue, the intense whirring of the engine now running an undercurrent on Maya’s soles and calves. She retrieved her purse to pay to the rickshaw driver. There was a note of ₹10, one note of ₹50, and four ₹100 notes. She extracted the single notes of fifty and ten. Maya wanted to pay him more; however, she had neither the time asking him for change nor was in a position to dispose of a single hundred-rupee note. She was disheartened at the moment, but there was no time to brood over it. She handed ₹60 to the driver and gave him a pleading look. The driver nodded his understanding and helped Maya lug her suitcases into the waiting bus. It was 2:15 PM. So began Maya’s next quest to make it to the airport by 3:30 PM.

So much for having evaded the life in a concrete jungle at twenty. A poor perception of time management. And the lack of lessons on money jurisdiction.

She paid the conductor ₹200 to draw her ticket and sat staring out the window. Maya had more than an hour to make it to the airport, a feat that she considered achievable given the city’s non-peak traffic hours she was commuting in. As the bus exited the Electronic City Road and ascended the flyover leading to Koramangala, Maya relapsed into a flashback. She remembered the series of conversations with her father she’d had before joining MBA, as vividly as they had happened yesterday.


“What’s your plan?” The two sat in the living room, him poring over the morning newspaper while she with a teacup clutched in both her hands. It was one of those lazy Friday mornings, his weekend at work.
“I don’t understand. What plan?”
“You have finished your Graduation. What’s next?” Without waiting for a response, he asked, “Are you planning to work?”
“I haven’t thought about it.”
“When are you going to think about it?”
“I need to.”
“Your graduation is already done.” Her father persisted.
“What do you have in mind?”
“If you want to work, I can look up a training course at my workplace. Meanwhile, you find a full-time job” said Maya’s father, looking up from his newspaper.
“You mean at SSB Automobiles?”
“Okay. Yeah. Maybe.”
“Since you’re interested in Finance, I can check if there is availability in that department.”

Maya didn’t give either the proposition or the conversation any particular thought. Ten months later, she had finished her training and had landed a job with the organisation with a permanent working visa. It was a clear path ahead, had she been planning for a life of retirement. After all, a full-time job with a working visa and tax-free income could have been a dream come true for many. Not for her. The workplace and its hierarchical environment had begun to bog Maya down within the year. She had lost interest when her superiors wove around her a circumlocutory vocabulary of tasks and responsibilities. Unable to keep up with the web of wordsmith-like promises, Maya quit her job. She had to determine her next move.


It was five minutes past three. The afternoon traffic had begun to build up in select parts of the city through which the airport shuttle navigated in its pace. Maya was becoming giddy with anticipation again. As the bus tottered through its courses of lanes, wide and narrow, for the first time Maya wondered if she’d make it to the airport in time. When she reached the air terminal’s main gate, it was 3:49 PM. She was twenty minutes late.


“If it is Master’s it needs to be in India, dad. I don’t want to pursue my Master’s degree in the Gulf” said Maya to her father.

After careful deliberation, Maya had figured of her interest in further studies. With her brief stint in SSB Automobiles, she didn’t feel ready to be swooped into the hunger games of money and power of private corporations.

“I would love to pursue a Master’s degree from overseas, but I understand if we do not have the financial means to do so.” She continued.
“What makes you think I can’t support you?” Maya detected a hint of defence in her father’s tone.
“I am only saying. Nothing more.”
“Just because you’re grown up and have had a stint at earning doesn’t mean you think any less of your father.”
Maya stayed silent. She knew any perspectives or elaborations at that point would have only annoyed him further. He was an egoistic man, no matter however independent he wanted his two kids to become. Like all fathers, he liked to believe that he could do anything especially when it was for his children.
“I want to pursue my post-graduation in India” tried Maya after a pregnant pause.
“Sure. You need to look at the entrance test scheduled for an MBA, right?”
Maya defied a response. She wanted to tell her father that she wanted to pursue her post-graduation in Arts.
“Are there any other options?” ventured Maya tentatively.
“Like what?”
“Besides MBA or joining another corporate to work full time?”
“What do you have in mind?” asked Maya’s father peering over his reading glasses.
“I don’t like the sound of the corporate. I got bored of SSB Automobiles so fast. And I am not sure if I want to do an MBA.”
“But that would mean wasting time, Maya. Least of all, an academic year.”
“Yeah. I’m saying I would like to look at the other options in post-graduation.”
“Again. Like what?”
“I know only of MA besides MBA. I don’t want an MBA.”
“We’ll try for the premier colleges in India, love. It won’t be so bad.”

Not getting Maya to agree to his viewpoints began to exasperate him. However, he maintained his calm with her. He gave his thought-process another go in an attempt to influence her.

“You’ll be wasting an academic year. You need to take a call. And fast. Entrance examinations will approach soon and if we miss the timelines, an entire schooling year will go down the drain.”


“I’m sorry we cannot issue you with a boarding pass, ma’am.” said the flight official behind the counter.
“Is there nothing you can do?” asked Maya breathlessly.
“I’m sorry, ma’am. There is nothing I can do. You are forty minutes late. Even if I issue you with a boarding pass, your baggage weighs ten kilos extra than we are allowed to permit on international flights.”
“I’m relocating. That’s why I have such heavy luggage. Is there any way you can let this pass through just this once?” Maya pleaded.
“I’m sorry, ma’am. There is no way we can let it pass through. We can alternatively send your luggage for free on cargo. It’ll reach you two days later.”
“How much would you charge if I need to take my luggage with me?”
“You will need to pay ₹2000 to let your luggage pass through.”
“Is there no concession at all?”
“No, ma’am. I’m extremely sorry. You have to pay. In another ten minutes, we’ll be closing our boarding gates. There is nothing I will be able to do beyond that.”


“I would like to pursue MA.” said Maya quietly.

The last time she had subtly highlighted of her interest in MA against an MBA, her father had either missed noting the detail or had pretended to remain oblivious to it. Maya gave it a shot by being upfront with a man she was otherwise so intimidated by.

“MA?” repeated her father, as if confirming he had heard her correct.
“Yes, dad. Master of Arts.”
Haan, I know that. What will you do with a Master’s degree in Arts?”
“I don’t know how course jumps work, dad. I did a Bachelor in Business Administration. I’m not sure if it is okay to jump to a major in Arts after a Commerce background. But there are more than a couple of streams I’d be interested in venturing into after a post-graduation in Arts.”
“Journalism, Sociology, Psychology, History.”
“But all those jobs would involve for you having to travel or hop from one place to another, to say the least. And what are you going to do in Journalism? Report news like those correspondents do?”
“For your first question, okay. Is that a problem? And for the second, if we don’t try how is it fair to judge that’s all there is to Journalism?”
“The subjects are bizarre. You’d either land up treating patients in an asylum or finding artefacts from centuries ago that are of possibly no further value. Do these even qualify as jobs?”
“Until we don’t try how is it fair to judge any subject in Arts?” Maya put forth the same logic once more.
“Don’t berate me, Maya. Arts is not a workable option. There will be limited choices for a career.” His tone softened suddenly. “Why don’t you opt for an MBA? You will be left with many more options then. Plus, the market value of the degree is high.”
“Is there a problem pursuing a post-graduation in Arts, dad?”
“There is no problem. I don’t know how many would identify a Master’s degree in MA. I’m not sure if this degree is recognisable today. Also, I don’t know if travelling jobs would suit you fine. They are mostly unconventional for us. It’s unsuitable. There would be endless and inconsistent working hours.”
“But I like the subjects, dad.”
“If you want to get into a creative field any way you could do it in MBA too, I’m sure? Take up a job in a company that has an artistic profile attached to it. Plus, you’ve always mentioned of your interest in stocks and share markets. What about it?”
“I would love to get into the creative field. But I don’t know what Arts as an area has to offer. Plus, it seems more mainstream for my creative interest than MBA. It’s alluring. I could be judging too soon if I don’t see what Arts has to offer.”
“What about your training and experience in Finance with SSB Automobiles?” Maya’s father reiterated.
“I looked up Finance as an option too … but I don’t…”
“Then, where is the issue? Try for an MBA with Finance as your fore. Maybe, even as a major.”
There was a brief silence.
“Don’t worry. We’ll apply to the big universities. There are students’ quotas too. We’ll see if we fit into any of those.” Her father persisted.
Maya was not happy. “I also want to apply through the general quota. For a bit of self-assessment.”
“Do you mean you want to sit for the Common Admission Tests?”
“But that would involve a lot of preparation, darling. Would you be able to do it?”
“There is no harm in trying, dad.”
“That means I would need to look up tickets for India around the same time as this year’s test is scheduled.”
Maya didn’t respond.
Her father continued “That’s not an issue. I’ll check with your mum’s cousin. She works with the Jete Lines, right? I’ll see if there is a concessional airfare we can apply for. Can you do a thing?”
“What’s that?”
“A few universities hold an NRI quota. We should be eligible for it. Check out, if this quota has a separate entrance test, and the dates for them. We’ll see if we can club the entrance examinations and make a combined trip to India.”

Maya was still unhappy.


She prayed that the number she was seeking on her handphone existed. There it was. She dialled it immediately.

“Hi, Rani didi. This is Maya this side. I need help.”
“Hey, Maya, what’s up?”
“I’m travelling back home on Jete Lines, and they are asking me to pay for my luggage.”
“How much?”
“Two thousand rupees.”
“Aren’t they letting you pass?”
“I told them I’m relocating. They didn’t buy it. I haven’t been issued with a boarding pass yet. And the gate apparently closes in five minutes.”
“Pass your phone to the airline official behind the counter.” said Rani didi.
“Sure.” Maya handed the phone to the lady behind the counter. “She is a staff of Jete Lines in Mumbai. She’d like to speak with you.”
“Hi, Rani. Please tell me.”
“We cannot. She has a sizeable chunk extra. It is sure to come under the radar.”
“No, it can’t. It can create a problem considering it is a transit flight through Mumbai to the Gulf.”
“Yes, I checked. She wasn’t okay with cargo.”
“Sure. I’ll call give you a call.” The official handed the phone back to Maya.
“Yeah, didi.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll take care of the payment on behalf of you now. Check in your luggage, and head back home safe.”
“Thank you. I’ll pay you back soon.”
“Don’t worry” Rani repeated.

Finally, Maya received her boarding pass. As she thanked the official and rushed to Immigration Check, a voice over the tannoy announced, “This is the last and final boarding call for all passengers travelling from Bengaluru to Muscat via Mumbai on Jete Lines 6Y 6333. Passengers are requested to board the flight immediately through gate number 6 …gate number 6 …”

4:45 PM.


Maya scored sixty-one percentile in the yearly Common Admission Test. She appeared for a few entrance examinations reserved for NRI quota that nonetheless left her with a sentiment of indifference. On the flip side, she had begun to consider the possibilities of not making through in an admission test, thereby evading MBA at all. An option was to stealthily rate ‘Mass Media & Communication’ one in the application form for the question: Rate the courses you’d like to apply for in order of preference. Select top 3. However, she knew that father wouldn’t be pleased with the outcome. MBA was meant to be. Her nightmarish reality.


The immigration queue was relatively fast-paced when compared to the parallel lines.

“Travelling to?” The officer inquired, as Maya stepped in front of his box.
“Reason for travelling?”
“My parents live there.”

He stamped an ‘Exit’ symbol onto one of her passport pages that also held the date, and let her pass through.

Maya rushed to boarding gate six, that had a last of the ambling passengers scrambling their way through the airstrip. Maya showed her boarding pass to the airline official who let her pass. She was once again stopped by the security on the strip to check the stamp on her shoulder bag before letting her pass through to the aircraft. Maya was only hauling her shoulder bag underneath the seat in front of her when she heard a lady announcing to the cabin at large.

“Boarding complete. Crew to cross-check doors and report.”

She was going home. At last. Her abode of comfort. In where she was sure of one thing. Never having to return to a university for an MBA. The beguiling segment of this entire jigsaw was the fact that her parents had no idea of their daughter’s plans. Maya had wanted it to be a surprise, the day she was to return home once and for all.


“Why are you calling from this number?”
“I’m here, dad.”
“I understand that. Why are you calling from your Muscat local number?”
“I’m at the airport, dad.”
“Still. Isn’t it on international roaming? You might be losing phone credit like crazy.”
“I’m at the Muscat airport, dad.”
There was a pause. “What? When?”
“Now. The flight just landed, and I’m on my way to the airport in the shuttle.”
“What? When did you arrive?”
“Just. My return flight from Bengaluru was in the evening. I was in transit at the Mumbai airport. I’m now at Muscat.”
In the background, Maya could listen to her mother’s concerns. “What happened? Where is she? Is everything okay?”
“Yes. She is at the airport.” Maya’s father prompted to his mother, still on the mouthpiece.
Maya heard her mother a couple of inches closer to the phone. “What’s the surprise? This is so uncalled for.”
“I’m here now. I need to come home.”
“Why didn’t you inform us beforehand? Now you need to wait pointlessly.” Maya’s mother said.
“That’s fine. I’ll hold on.”
“Wait. Talk to dad.”
“Will you wait?” asked Maya’s father.
“Must I come to pick you?”
“Okay, wait there.”

An hour and a half later, Maya was home. It was past 1:30 AM. It had been over twelve hours since Maya had left the university. Her mother greeted her at the door with a monologue of verbal whacks.

“What is it with your surprises, Maya? I don’t understand how you guys have picked the need to shock us. Surprises are nice. Isn’t there a limit to giving surprises, though? Don’t you know where you must draw a line? Answer me. I’m asking you, Maya.”
“What’s yes? Couldn’t you let us know that you were coming? You had to wait alone at the airport at this hour. What if something had happened? We were so thrown away by your news. Are these even ideas you consider for a surprise in the first place?”
“Aren’t you happy that I’m done with my MBA and back home?” Maya asked quietly.
“Yes, but is this the way you get in? Without prior information and intimation? What do we make out of your whole …”

Maya couldn’t stay tuned anymore. It had been a long day. She might have considered narrating the tale to her mother at one point in time or the other. However, on gauging her welcome-back note, she decided to carry the secret with herself. Maya dragged her luggage into her room, leaving her mother to continue her streak of whining.

So much for having evaded the life in a concrete jungle at twenty. A poor perception of time management. The lack of lessons on money jurisdiction. And prioritising her return home above all else.


Her Fraudulent Payment?

It was in a set of quirky circumstances that they had met each other. The first time they came close to doing so, she was leaving the venue he was at, moments too soon. The performance she was watching had ended; how was she to know that he would be on the stage next? It was dark, and she had to get back. The city that was otherwise teeming with tourists, her being one, was a foreign territory to her. After all, her nurturing had been that way. When you are a girl raised in an Indian upbringing, you’re taught to not wander around unfamiliar perimeters on your own. Especially after sunset.

She was on a trip by herself to a city located seven hundred kilometres away from home to visit one of the biggest art exhibitions in the country. Arts and crafts – visual or otherwise – shaped her professional interest. That evening as she returned to her lodge, she reworked her next day’s agenda to accommodate a trip back to the town’s Heritage Centre. For on that same afternoon, she had to pore over the Centre’s collections in a rush, as the exhibition had neared its closure time. Her greed to strike off a spot in her itinerary had dominated her need to absorb real-time self-gratification. And thus, she had begun to second doubt of missing a display room here and attention to detail there. As a result, she had failed to concentrate on the following performance at the Centre. Furthermore, the venue’s landscape had in its earnestness charmed her, much so that she did not mind paying it another visit.

She arrived at the Heritage Centre next day and strolled through the rooms that had been elaborately carved in teak wood. Pillars adorned the gopura-scape at regular intervals like a reliable support system. A statue of Nataraja, the Lord of Dance, carved in sandalwood, dominated the centre stage. Gold-emblazoned plates were fixed outside each room, pronouncing the category of the cultural art it housed. Flex banners hanging loosely off the hook divided the walls between the five rooms. These banners embraced flavours of the biennial art exhibition, thereby staging the purpose of the bustling tourists from world over in the otherwise nearing summer season. As she meandered through the architecture drifting in and out of the contents on the flex, her eyes fell upon a poem by Sebastian titled Fraudulent Payment.

That’s when she heard him prompt to her from the room behind.


“Are you here for the art exhibition?”
“Did you watch the shows?”
“Which one?”
“There are shows staged here daily on traditional cultures.”
“Oh, you mean, in there?” she asked, jabbing her index finger at the room in front of her.
“Yes. Kathakali, Mohiniyattam and Kuchipudi. I think, on some days they stage Bharatnatyam also.”
“I watched Kathakali yesterday. I wasn’t aware they staged other shows too. Also, it was late, and I had to leave.”
“I perform there.”
“You mean, you demonstrate Kalaripayattu here?”
“Yes. The version on the stage is nothing as it is a small setup. We need to be careful of manoeuvring our movements. You must watch our early evening performances at the dojo.” He concluded by pointing his thumb towards the room’s interior.
“What’s a dojo?” she was intrigued.
“We call it Kalari in Malayalam; it is the place where we practice the art. Payattu means the weapons with which we practice this martial art.”
“I’m aware of what’s Kalari.”
“Usually, people know what a dojo is. It is a Japanese term used globally, which means the performing square. That is why I used it.”
“Well, it worked the other way with me.” She gave a little laugh.
“Yes.” He smiled slightly, reckoning a sign of friendliness.
“When do you perform?”
Kathakali is on now. We will go in soon after.”
“How about the early evening shows you mentioned?
“Four to five PM.”
“Oh, I leave tomorrow evening. Otherwise, I would have loved to come.”
“Okay.” He jerked his head a little.
“Do you perform in the mornings as well?” She asked. She knew only too well of the response she wanted to hear.
“Erm, I have training in the morning.”
“Do you train yourself?”
“That, and I have a few students.”
“Oh, you do that as well in this dojo, is it?”
“What time?”
“Seven thirty.”
“Can I come and watch?”
“I hope that won’t be an intrusion.”
“Not at all.” After a pause, he added “The shows we perform in our dojo in the early evenings are severe because this is our space and we can indulge in the marital art the way we want to. In fact, before our stage show, we warm up here.” He pointed to the dojo. “Come and take a look.”
“Can I come inside?” She reiterated for she thought she had failed to interpret his invitation right.
“Of course.”

It was with a child-like excitement she climbed the steps to the room that had embalmed outside a nameplate in gold: KALARIPAYATTU.

It had felt like entering a warm furnace. His performing squad may have only warmed-up there; however, their combined heat had increased the room’s temperature in its entirety. She felt stuffy, an apt sort, as the weaponry on display emanated another bout of a heatwave. Sticks of wavering heights lay stacked in one corner, some of which were askew while others held their ground. Shields and swords resembling the ones pictured on cameras in mythological battles filled up a portion of the room’s breadth. A parapet running above and parallel seated knives, daggers and their respective holders. A square of twenty by ten feet dominated the centre, occupying a majority of the room. A balcony was set up adjoining the entrance with a few chairs to sit and watch duels in progress. She saw the pages of an ancient sport unfolding in quick successions as she batted her eyelid. The blinking of her lashes was probably the only sign that reinstated in her her non-dreaming state.

Soon after the act of Kathakali had concluded, he went up the stage for simulating combats with his squad of three while she headed to the audience. The sticks entangled with clangs in midair and were followed by a series of attacks and blocks. As she observed him weave his way through a series of ambushes from his opponent, the reverberation from the wooden sticks unceasing, his arm movements drifted her attention to his build. The muscle cuts across his shoulders and upper limbs could not have been more striking. If one were naïve enough, they could have mistaken his flesh tones for artistic carvings. The customary black vest that duellers in this martial art typically donned as their uniform embraced and if only, enhanced his trimmed physique. His shoulder bones hunched up to his neck as seamlessly as they trod down his arms. With his lithe build, he pirouetted with grace to change sides, while insisting his eyes on his opponent. She remembered the moment when he had divulged to her the essence of Kalaripayattu. “The crux of Kalari is the coordination of the mind with the body. The trick is to look into your opponent’s eyes. It is easy to cheat a combatant with misleading body movements, but not with the eyes. Eyes don’t lie.” He had said. Little had she realised then, that he had had her there.

Had it not been to watch him indulge in the martial art with his students, they may not have met again. Except that they did, the next morning. From the way he went on about the sport, to how his parents had initially imposed him into a conventional line of work lured her. At first, she was uneasy of sitting across someone who could slate their lifetime records to a stranger like an open book. However, she began to discover a charm in his monologue as their conversation flowed. She was drawn to his gossip because not once did he shift his conversation from discussing non-specific tactics. Not once did he deflect their course of exchange into a contrivance of a personal whereabout or episode. As the sun peaked up and about, their conversation glided like a crocodile on the banks of a river in pursuit of its prey. Smooth and unpredictable. She was beginning to like him more by the minute.

Their chit-chatting sailed over a cup of chai, and she digested his features for reasons unrealised and unknown. She noticed how his face was so naturally oval, crowned with a mop of hair chopped in a blend of military and mushroom cuts. His eyes sunk into deep pits, the trenches emerging almost immediately for dovetailing a pair of jutting cheekbones. There was an unmistakable hollow in places where his cheeks should have been, culminating into a sharp and pointed jawline. She was able to discern his facial profile despite all of it being wrapped in a thick mane of black. His skin under the matted beard that ran the length of his cheekbones to his neck had clearly failed to see daylight for months on end. All the same, she found his dark fuzz as the highlight of her scrutiny. For it was one feature that imbibed in him a boyish charm ensuing in an irresistible masculinity.

He had dressed that morning in run-of-the-mill sweatpants and a full-sleeved shirt, the sleeves of which were folded promiscuously, and the buttons of which were undone until his chest. A black drawstring hung loosely from his neck depicting a silver Latin cross. He kept twirling his handlebar moustache now and then as he talked, an effect she found so measured and crisp, urging her to rip something off of him. Her gaze more often than not returned to his lips that had been on the move under that unruly mop and tash, since the time they had met. A part of her had wanted to ask him to shave never.

His warm callow made her wonder about the number of girls he attracted on a daily basis. A perception that consumed a slice of her in an unexpected jealousy. A part of her felt coy at the exuding amount of information he was capable of confabulating, but her intuition beckoned her to keep her sentiments simple. ‘He isn’t your type’ her gut had confided in her. He was a delightful company to be around with a bonus of causing in her a sexual fringe; however, there was a thread about him she couldn’t sew right.

All too soon, they had empty cups of tea as an excuse to continue their banter, when he invited her home. It was a proposition that she was taken aback with at that moment, but found lovely, as an afterthought. After all, one doesn’t ask a person to visit home unless they aren’t comfortable sharing their space or family members with the other. It was a gracious gesture she had to turn down as a result of her preplanned agenda. Of her greed to tick a few more to-dos off of her planner.

They departed to carry on with their schedules. On her return to her city, he was the one aspect of the trip she least retrospected about. She had wanted to keep her tour to the art exhibition alive for as long as her memory allowed her to. However, she had dismissed him with a label of an engaging conversationalist in her journal and cognitive record of encounters and learnings. A companion whose thought induced in her a pleasure-filled, squirmy wetness, nonetheless.

After all, she had no space to accommodate his significance into her existence. For her loyalty lay towards her marriage. Not because she considered the commandments the mortal society bestowed upon the lawful act in its entirety, but because she recognised her priorities too well.

Besides, she had felt a disconnect between them. A gap that arose primarily owing to the divergingly contrasting personalities the two were. Right from the way he could yap without a break, to how she could refrain from talking at most times. Right from how he preferred to be socially active, to how she liked drawing her energy being shut in a room. Right from his need to belong to different groups of individuals at various times in a day, to her preference of little or no company at most.

Their traits may have been poles apart, and she may have had her priorities set straight, but nothing stopped the shadowy corners of her mind from conjuring up fantasies about the remotely possible scenarios between them. One of her scripts had them riding together on a two-wheeler to a nearby town for his participation in a Kalaripayattu duel. Another one involved them travelling to a waterfall located on the city’s outskirts on a warm morning. A third scenario had him taking her on a State Corporation bus for an overnight trip to a town for sharing insights on his revered martial art. And yet another script brought out his aggression when one of his friends tried to get a tad ‘friendly’ with her.

Could she have reshuffled her priorities? For once, she wished she had the supremacy to predict the future.

That Rainy Evening | Part 2

Read Part 1 of the post here.

Aashna had had an exhaustively long but one of the best days. She was drained by the time she was done, and as much as she wanted to reach the welcoming comforts of her four-walled zone, Sir Murphy couldn’t have timed his appearance more accurately. The tediousness of the day had continued to stretch that evening with a similarly, if not equally, dreary journey back home. Moreover, the skies had gone crazy with the rains. Aashna was soaked to the skin by the time she arrived at her residence. She tipped the cabbie generously for he had been considerate enough to drive her safely, especially at a time when other modes of public transport had turned their heads away so effortlessly from this not-so-remote suburb. As her hand rested on top of her head in an attempt to shield from the oncoming rains – an almost vain effort – while the other held onto her suede handbag, Aashna bent into the window to thank the driver.

Despite the noisy background score of the splitter splatter from the earth-kissing waters, Aashna’s pumps made sporadic clicking noises as she walked into the building and climbed the steps up to the first floor. She was scared of sprinting lest the rainwater took her down! The building was engulfed in darkness. Clearly, there was no electricity; the area’s Electricity Board had cut off the power supply fearing any cases of bursting transponders and/or short circuits. It is going to be another dark night, thought Aashna to herself; however, it was a night she looked forward to, for it was her favourite kinds.

As she settled onto the couch with a lit candle by her side and a comfort-sized bowl of blazing hot tomato soup seasoned with salt and copious amounts of pepper and butter, Aashna’s mind reeled back to replay that morning’s course of events. It was about a month ago when Aashna had received the call. Apparently, a personality whose existence she wasn’t even aware of until then, yet a prominent someone to give Aashna her so-called break had displayed an interest in her. Aashna eventually discovered they had located her after a considerable amount of search. They had contacted her from the details displayed on the ‘Wish to Get in Touch?’ section of her web space. An email, a missed call, a call back, a calendar overlap, and few more follow-up calls later, Aashna met them that very morning.

The meeting had gone quite well, thought Aashna as she continued to retrospect, while subconsciously staring through the three-piece that now lay neatly on the seat across the couch, the rudimentary rainwater dripping onto the floor – a solid navy blue single breasted blazer, a matching knee-length skirt pinstriped with a contrasting grey, and a platinum-coloured full-sleeved shirt. As she dunked her spoon to take a mouthful of the steaming soup, Aashna realised one of the reasons she felt confident about today’s meeting was merited to the fact of requesting a follow-up meeting with her tomorrow. The deal was on, provided she promised to meet them with her portfolio this time.

Whether it was the crashing sound of the ceramic bowl, the clanging noise of the soup spoon marrying the floor, or the glaring rays that shone across her face, Aashna could not pinpoint the factor that had caused her awakening (pun unintended). Still groggy, she struggled to redeem herself from the awkward position she was lying in. Her torso, hands, and legs ached slightly from the crooked twists she had put herself through, although almost unconsciously. As she came around, Aashna realised her legs had curled up into a ball and were one on top of the other, and her hands were bent like an angle bisector, the forearm of one resting above her forehead, while the other pressed tightly against her side. Aashna stretched in pursuit of sitting up; in the process, the soreness from her body revived. It took her a minute to feel ‘normal’ and propel her legs to the floor.

After summoning and trashing the broken pieces of the ceramic bowl, depositing the soup spoon into the washing sink, and confirming the absence of any glass pieces by means of a broom – minuscule or otherwise – Aashna tied her hip-length tresses into a bun, and pushed herself into the shower lest she got late for her appointment.

Aashna buttoned up her puffed, half-sleeved, lavender-striped shirt and ran a comb through her ever-knotty, yet soft and dense mop. She decided to leave her hair open, as her hosts were going to be more interested in her works today. She slung the suede handbag across her shoulder, and checked herself in the mirror on her way out. Her feet snuck in a pair of slate grey ballerinas to go with her bleached jeans. Aashna checked her watch and was pleased at having given herself plenty of time to dispose. She anyway had to make a short detour to her workplace, located at the end of the road to pick up her works.

Aashna lifted the cream-coloured shutter of her office and fished out the key from her bag to undo the lock on the door. She switched on the lights of her office and glanced around. Yesterday’s rains hadn’t affected this place all right. The space was intact. Just the way she had last left it. Aashna trudged around with caution, unwilling to knock anything off from its rightful place, and approached what seemed to be the room’s centre. A high window towards the right reflected the sun rays around this spot. In front of her eyes lay Aashna’s latest creation. With almost a caressing caution, Aashna lifted the veil and basked in the glory of her work.

It had dried. And well. The knife work was intricate. The textures shone through gradually and distinctively, not unlike the fresh cream piped onto a just-out-of-the-oven cake. One of the immediate idiosyncrasies ushered to the naked eye was the vivid red – a shade of blood that not only stood out, but also dominated a large part of the evocative picturesque. Aashna stood rooted to the spot with widened eyes as she grasped the magnitude of what her weeks’ worth of efforts had transpired into. The exclusive sessions on palette knife and knife painting had certainly come in handy while she had worked on this specific piece of art. She extracted the work from the canvas that was fixated at her eye level and inserted it carefully into her art folder. Irrespective of the feedback, Aashna wanted to show this piece to her hosts. She inserted five other pieces of oil pastels into the folder, the ones that were handpicked after considerate deliberation, locked her studio and trod off for her appointment.

As she strode on, Aashna’s mind went into a flashback once more to relay the streak of thoughts she had been through when she had worked with the palette and painting knives initially.

The cherry red body-con … The black peep toes … The cobalt blue umbrella … The terra cotta-stained lips … A rapidly flickering streetlight … All in the pesky rains … Who was it? Rather, what was it? Was the item that she waited for of precious importance? Or, was it a friend or a foe? She was the lone source who could have reclaimed the bystanders with an answer.

That Rainy Evening | Part 1

She stood there in solitude waiting for something; it rather seemed someone. Her neck upward twitched to her right, a little more frequently than might have been called ideal, to scan the seemingly empty road that stretched for as far as the naked eye could fathom. It was almost an hour since she stood under the tree, a namesake hood that proved no purpose in the wake of the forceful showers from the sky. Her heels had started buckling under the exertion of the black five-inched peep toes she was rarely used to wearing. It seemed even doubtful in the first place, the fact that she was used to having them on, leave alone for longer time periods. Given her choice of footwear (read: the discomfort she had chosen to put herself through), she was clearly dressed up. Waiting in the pelting rains.

The cherry red body-con fit extending just above her scar-free, uniformly-toned knee accentuated her appreciable figure. The elegant yet sexy looking attire tailored in Lycra, commenced with a boat neck that lay smoothly on her shoulders and was devoid of sleeves. A visible, curvy hump connecting the shoulders with her neck was enough evidence of what seemed like an almost-never-missed workout. The boat neck culminated in a couple of U-shaped layers over her shapely busts. Wrinkle binds blended the rest of the one-piece on the sides, and front and back, all the way until her lower thigh. The bottom was hemmed in a way that the dress looked folded on the inside. Her equally long legs were slender and bare. The calf muscles that shone prominently made the need for accessorizing the leg zone irrelevant. Her feet ended in a pair of black peep toes typically reserved for ‘special occasions’. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that carrying such a dress not only required a blessed frame naturally, but also the need to compliment it with regular workouts and maintenance mechanisms.

The Cobalt blue umbrella she held over her head glowed under the rapidly flickering streetlight above her. The T-piece seemed pointless as its holder was only adding to the uneasiness, aside from the throbbing pain her heels were to give her soon. Amidst this growing agitation, the umbrella swayed this way and that in the breeze that had started ensuing in the rains and she only got wetter by the second. The pelting droplets of water from the skies that had begun almost a half hour back had continued to lash out mercilessly this evening, only making it all the more difficult for her to carry herself with as much poise as she would have ideally wished for. As she continued to wait with increasing anticipation in a what could have been a lazy and cosy night, had she chosen otherwise, comforted with a bowlful of butter-oozing popcorn and a favorite movie to keep her company, there still existed a rich kernel: Her eyes.

The broad even-toned forehead hosted two almond-shaped eyes with blots that resembled drops of coffee in a pool of milk. These however, had now turned round in anticipation of her guest. Another notable feature complemented by high-boned cheeks congregating in a sharp jawline, was a spot on the lower part of her left cheek. The very cheeks that were smooth without any accessory efforts formed a deep dent as her Terra Cotta-stained lips pursued together as though indicating her growing impatience. The Celestial nose that she seemed to have sported from blessed genes was a piece that tied together the rest of her facial features into an uncomplicated yet one-may-want-to-steal-a-second-glance knot.

Was the item that she waited for of precious importance? Or, was it a friend or a foe? She was the lone source who could have reclaimed the bystanders with an answer.

Read Part 2 of the post here.

Blood-Stained Sword | Part 3 of 3

Read part 2 of the post here.

Meera’s day was rather productive. Although she wasn’t able to make a great first impression by her talking, her work proved her otherwise. As a plus, she witnessed the gist of how her day-to-day would look like, and was asked to come in starting next morning. Meera couldn’t have been more pleased at herself. However, by the time she was done, it was late, and she wanted to get back home as soon as possible.

It had rained heavily that day and the weather had turned cold. Meera hailed a rickshaw and wrapped her face with a shawl, she always kept in her bag, to shield from the oncoming wind. As she asked the driver to take a turn that led to her colony’s street, a tree blocked their way. Apparently, few of the green weaklings had buckled under the force of the rain. Meera had but no choice than to walk, for the road was now wide enough to let a two-wheeler pass with difficulty, let alone a three-wheeler. The roads were soaking, and the lesser of the sturdy ones had turned into puddles. The water glowed under the pale streetlights. Meera walked briskly with the aim of covering the last two-kilometre stretch to her building as soon as possible, for there wasn’t a single soul in sight. Little did she know otherwise, for she wasn’t alone after all. There was a man who hid behind the tree about 200 meters away watching her.


The do-or-die moment had arrived. He had never done something as ‘wild’ as this, and yet the burning sensation in his loins was undeterred. He waited behind the tree as the lady approached his hiding spot. As she passed the tree, Shyam circled the trunk and pounced on her from the back. Meera shrieked, by which time he had pounded on her, forcing her to the ground. He lifted the lady’s sari and forced her panties down. He hadn’t bothered removing her hood; after all, when it came to the cranking the superheroines’ memories, they never remembered to forget their one favourite ‘customer’ whose only explicit request was to have their face covered before he entered them. Maybe that was his fetish, was the inside joke amongst the ladies. He turned Meera around as it was proving difficult to enter her from the back. Meera’s eyes widened in horror on seeing the man. She flailed about her arms to let him know it was her – his spouse – that he was raping. Shyam got panicky about her resistance, fearing the ruckus that may ensue, and used all his strength to pin her down and force his hand on her mouth.

The shawl started choking Meera’s breathing, and her energy levels lowered. Shyam grabbed this opportunity to enter her. Meera’s eyes were red and wet from all the screaming and crying. By the time Shyam was done, the shawl had bounded tightly around her, choking her windpipe causing her to gasp. Shyam pulled himself up and zipped up his pants. His face gleamed with a look that couldn’t have been clearer, indicating this was the experience he had been seeking all this while. Well, the Cat Woman was equally good, he thought to himself.

He looked at the hooded lady once more; her hands were reaching out to him, her eyes closing longer than they would stay open. It seemed as though she was trying to communicate something. The sight of the bleeding distracted him; blood gushed from in between her legs. Before he could register, he was yet again distracted by something gleaming on her feet that shone under the pale streetlight towering about 20 meters away – a toe ring that now lay smashed against her middle toe. Shyam bent down for a closer look. The toe ring was peculiarly large, a hexagonal-shaped spherical band encrusted with minuscule diamonds all over. It seemed very similar to the one he had purchased for somebody that very morning. As it dawned on Shyam on what he may have done, he went on confirm his worst fears by removing the hood off her face.

Meera’s eyes had closed by then. Her clothes smudging gradually, the red trickled onto her toe ring.

Blood-Stained Sword | Part 2 of 3

Read part 1 of the post here

He wandered aimlessly on the streets, given he had applied leave at work. His initial plans were to stay home and spend time with Meera whom, he realised as he introspected momentarily, he barely knew despite being married to her for exactly a year now. Far from registering what her wardrobe looked like, the way her cooking tasted, and her likes and dislikes, he could have barely recognised her at a distance. Well, she wasn’t to blame for that. Twice on previous occasions, when Shyam had entered home in the evening smelling foul, Meera had smelt alcohol on his breath and had distanced herself from him. Repeated fights and arguments led them nowhere, and yet Shyam had never once abused her physically. When he was sober, he could possibly have the finest of the characteristics one could’ve looked for in a spouse. However, the alcoholic spirits got the better of him. On those days, not only did Meera ensure a certain distance from him, but also kept to herself, as though she didn’t exist. When one such day took a toll on Meera, she secretly quit her job in a pursuit to find some inner peace. Not that she did not wish to work, however, her list of to-dos reprioritised to finding – a. A job that suited her passion, and b. A counsellor for Shyam.

As the noon’s heat receded to give way to a dusky breeze, Shyam’s loitering sensed a motive. His cravings gave way to passions that typically was beheld by a night, and try as he might, he began trotting towards the same old dilapidated building around City Corner.


As Shyam quickened his pace starting to live out in fantasies already, he spotted a woman in the distance. It was late and the building he was originally heading to suddenly seemed a lot farther. Could Shyam afford to take this risk? The woman seemed to be walking towards him, and from what he could make from the equidistant streetlights, she was wearing a sari. Shyam quickly hid behind the tree he was passing by and started tracing her movements closely. His mind raced.

As he saw her inching closer, he recounted his blissful experiences in the recent past inside the building – the same rundown structure he had chanced upon, located opposite the jewellery store around City Corner. He may have encountered the last of these experiences just yesterday, the details stayed as fresh nonetheless.

Once inside the building, a 3600 glance is all it took Shyam to digest the atmosphere. The four-walled room was large and very spacious, with grilled windows on the sides for cross-ventilation. The entrance door was on the third side of the room, and the rest of that side was covered with a wall separating this and the adjoining room. The fourth side was quite peculiar though. This corner seemed to have five cubicles with glazed doors. On a closer look, Shyam figured it was impossible to tell if there was somebody inside. He also noticed another peculiarity – there were images of superheroines stuck right outside the door. The first door displayed the image of Wonder Woman, the second had Super Girl, the third had Spider Woman, the fourth had Cat Woman and the fifth had Elektra.

He particularly remembered his night with Cat Woman. God, just the thought of her made him wet. She had screwed him over and over the entire night, each time better than the last, and they had even gotten around to some talking. He vaguely recollected her mentioning about some School of Arts that she was a part of as a day job. The school was a part of a few theatre groups that ran shows themed on ‘lesser-known mortals’. (As though it mattered to him what that meant!) And, School of Arts? Yeah, right! He smirked at the thought. ‘Arty’ she was, no doubts. He chuckled at his own joke.

His experiences with Wonder Woman and Elektra too had been amazing, and he had been planning on sleeping with Spider Woman tonight. Instead, could he settle for the ‘hooded’ woman he saw in the distance today? Shyam’s mind continued to race as she inched closer.

Read the third and concluding part of the post here.

Blood-Stained Sword | Part 1 of 3

It was their wedding anniversary. For a change, he decided to stay away from alcohol, just this day. He wanted to take her out; she had been secretly craving for that toe ring – the ring he had seen her eye so wistfully, at the display window of the renowned jewellery store around City Corner. He had been hastily adjusting his pants, tottering on the road, when he had spotted her looking disdainfully at that display window. He had quickly hid behind the corner shop for the fear of being spotted and had continued to observe her, while his insides still squirmed with the pleasure of having witnessed something so covertly sweet. Although the outcome of that hadn’t matched the peaks he had originally anticipated, the experience had been exciting nevertheless, to get him through the next couple of days before his cravings gushed back, forcing him to return to the same old dilapidated building behind him.


She remained lost in the world of her thoughts, for her face still registered a bewildered expression. She wasn’t able to register that it was all happening; for one, he had said something that sounded like we are going out. For two (and for reasons she was still unsure), he seemed to have taken her to the very jewellery store she had passed by some days back. And for three, not only did he ask her to look around, but also encouraged her to make a purchase of her choice. Was it possible that he had seen her staring at the display window that day? How could it be though, when she clearly remembered him telling her he was going to be out for the night? She quickly pushed these thoughts aside lest he changed his already fickle mind.

She clearly knew what she wanted. Unartistic enough for pretentious tactics, she promptly chose the toe rings that still hung about on display. As the salesman retrieved the box from the shelf for a closer look, the silver pair looked all the more beautiful. The metal gleamed under the pale spotlight that shone from the shop’s ceiling, and the encrusted stones glimmered, exhibiting a tiny rainbow as they reflected off the spotlight. Without second thoughts, he requested the salesman to pack the box. He failed to notice the happiness erupting inside her; as indifferent as his attitude may have been, he needn’t have looked beyond her eyes.


Meera quickly traced her steps. She didn’t want to be late for her appointment. In the rapid strides she took, the fleet of her golden-bordered sari flung at an angle revealing the ring on her middle toe she had acquired just that morning. She was proud to flaunt those; after all, it was a present from her spouse. For a somebody who was barely home, she felt she had to credit him for remembering their wedding day, staying home (though it was for just a couple of hours) and pampering her. The steps to the office jolted Meera back to the present.

As she climbed the steps, her mind went flash backing once more. She had submitted a script in response to an ad she had seen in the newspaper for the post of a Junior Editor. Much to her delight, she had received a call from the agency. The Editor wanted to meet the creator of the script, given the work was not only elaborated eloquently, but also there shone a natural flair of creativity, something that wasn’t readily available on the streets today. Meera traipsed through the steps, and entered the office. She was asked to await her turn by the receptionist.

Read part 2 of the post here.