Thursday, September 29, 2016

Unheard Words, Radical Thoughts - Part 2

Today I attended a workshop on Design and UX. It was an interesting one, though not in the realm of writing. That is when I realized that every time, I am able to design my stories in a proper structure, they come across as more powerful, while sometimes, when the design of a story is not good, even the most powerful thoughts don't come across well.

Following are the three stories, where I thought I was able to structure the stories well. Do give your feedback in case you feel otherwise. As usual the stories were woven around the 'Word of the Day' shared on WhatsApp group of Readers' Club I am part of.

noun [uh-bey-uh ns]
temporary inactivity, cessation, or suspension

Tale: The Victim

His promotion was kept in abeyance despite emerging as the best performer of the year. He had doubled the sales of regions under him. Month on month he kept breaking all past records, for two years in a row. He fast emerged as a popular guy with ladies too. A sexual harassment case was filed against him just a day before appraisal. Is he self destructive or victim of office politics?

noun [pee-uh n]
any song of praise, joy, or triumph

Tale: Thirst

She sang paeans to her idol after every kill. She would stab with her sharp dagger, right into her victim's heart and draw blood out. She will then wash her idol's feet with that red fluid of life. Her idol, the devil himself, was thirsty for more.

noun [gap-oh-sis]
a noticeable gap or series of gaps, as between the fastened buttons or snaps on an overly tight garment

Tale: Strange Affliction

He had a strange affliction or one may choose to call it a fetish. He used to get aroused by looking at the gaposis of any female attire. Obviously he was misunderstood and all his women colleagues thought that he is a pervert and had the gumption to look at their body parts without shame. Then on the traditional day celebration everyone wore a sari and he was not even looking at them. Strange.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Unheard Words, Radical Thoughts - Part 1

The Readers' Club's WhatsApp group, I am part of has changed its name from Literati Bugs to Owlery, as the owner of the group has registered it as a commercial entity. But one thing remains the same - A word of the day is shared and I try to weave a story around it. With this change, I have changed the title of my posts in this series as well, as most of the words shared are unheard of. This post has three such stories I wrote in response to three unheard words shared. Two stories are about radical people and the last one about a not so radical guy.

adjective [vuh-gair-ee-uh s]
erratic; capricious; characterized by vagaries

Tale: Free Spirit

She left a steady job to pursue her passion. Travel gave her a high which nothing else could match. She did petty jobs few months every year and spent all the savings on traveling for rest of the months. Her vagarious lifestyle took her to new places and experiences. She felt settled in life for the first time. She was at home, away from home.

adjective [e-ris-tik]
pertaining to controversy or disputation; controversial

Tale: Killers. Who?

He stood trial for an eristic case that took everyone by surprise. It was discussed by all and sundry. It was dissected for hours at end on news channels. The issue at hand had no precedent and it had the potential to divide the society down the middle. His life was endangered too because of the controversial nature of his argument. People baying for his blood had crowded the court premises. The court held him not guilty but as he came out he was lynched to death. He had killed God and surrendered. People laughed at him and told him that he can't kill God. He further said if God can kill people he has every right to kill God. People argued God has no form so he can't kill God. So he claimed that before surrendering he desecrated idols and symbols of all major religions. Now people were not laughing. They wanted to kill him as he had hurt their God.

verb [spahyn-bash]
to rest; loaf

Tale: Resigned to Fate

It was a tough week at work. Everyday was like an uphill trek. On Monday, the review meet was really rigorous. He got the dressing down of his life from his boss. Tuesday was no better when he missed a client's deadline. It was as if he was carrying a backpack filled with bricks on this trek. Wednesday brought the bad news of him missing a great career opportunity. His heart sank and he spent the entire day sulking. On Thursday, he was assigned a new reportee from another team. He hated her, as she had turned down his proposal during college. He usually used to spend his Fridays spinebashing in office. But he got a weekend assignment late Friday evening. On Saturday, he drafted a resignation letter. He drank beer that night and woke up with a hangover on Sunday. As he caught with his friends on Sunday evening, he forgot everything. He is geared up to face Monday again.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Words that trigger stories - Part 7

I have often been blamed on our Readers' Club WhatsApp group that my stories are too dark or morbid. I don't necessarily agree with that observation because my stories are reflection of our society in some way. Secondly, there have been days when I have written about things like romance, slice of life, workplace stories as well. This post has a good mix of such stories. Three "Word of the Day" led me to explore three different worlds - a work from home woman, a stuck office goer and a political situation. Read on.

adjective [kawr-uh-ban-tik, kor-]
frenzied; agitated; unrestrained

Tale: Pellet Guns

A stone comes flying through the open window and hits the head of a constable, who is on duty. His head starts bleeding immediately. His painful shrieks alert all the other policemen deputed at this sensitive post. As they look out of the window, they see lot of children leading a mob of corybantic rioters. With stones in their hands and loud anti national slogans filling the sky, the situation gets out of hand very soon. Police has to do something but the mob is using innocent young children as shields. As they started panicking, they brought out their pellet guns.

noun [fey-langks, fal-angks]
a number of individuals, especially persons united for a common purpose

Tale: Wave and Green Tea

I was going against the wave. While everyone was going to office this morning I decided to go back home. I didn't want to let me go through yet another purpose less day. I had decided to be the master of my own destiny. As I entered the VT station to catch a local train back to my home, I encountered a phalanx of office goers coming out of the station. Their sheer force pushed me out of the station into the rat race once again. I am having my green tea right now, looking at an ominous excel sheet on my desktop, in my cubicle.

adjective [hey-mish]
homey; cozy and unpretentious

Tale: Don't Sleep

Her haimish bed was very inviting. She hadn't slept for last 48 hours. But there was a deadline to keep. So instead of hitting the sack she kept hammering her laptop. She didn't realise when she dozed off and clicked the send button. After few hours she was woken up by urgent sounding ringtone of her phone. By the time she came to know about her sleep induced error, her latest online book had already been downloaded by millions of people for free. The book was getting rave reviews but she didn't earn much out of it.  

Monday, September 26, 2016

Words that trigger stories - Part 6

What compels me to write a story everyday?

When there are days when no one responds on "Word of the Day" shared on our Readers' Club group  called "Literati Bugs", why I make an effort to do so?

I have left many of my passions behind in pursuit of money and because of my work. Here was a quick way to keep my passion alive, by writing a short tale on this group everyday. It could not have been easier than this. Had I not done that and let my inertia overpower, I would not have been able to face myself in the mirror.

Here are three such stories which people really found beautiful.

noun [loo-si-duh]
the brightest star in a constellation

Tale: Fading Star

She had a large happy family. With four strapping sons and three beautiful daughters, she had lived a wholesome life. Her universe was centered around this constellation of really amazing children. But her youngest son was the one she really loved more than others. She used to cook special dishes for him too. He was the lucida of her family, who faded away from her life. On his eighteenth birthday he came to know that she was not his biological mother. He left home in search of his roots. She never recovered from the shock and died unhappy eventually.

noun [al-buh-traws, -tros]
a seemingly inescapable moral or emotional burden, as of guilt or responsibility

Tale: The Ultimate Confession

"Hi son! I have to confess something. I never loved you. Every time I told you that since your childhood, I was lying. You turned out to be a great child. I wish I could love you but I was never able to forget that incident. Once you turned eighteen, I tried many times to tell you the truth. The truth that is the ugliest. I wanted to tell you the story of a betrayal which I could never forgive. But I stopped myself from revealing the truth. I wanted you to go out in the world and face it like a man. But as I am on death bed today, I can't leave without telling you the entire thing. Son, your mother didn't die during childbirth. She just ran away with her lover, leaving you behind. I am not even your real father. Her lover was your father. I die with a regret that I could never love you. This was an albatross around my neck but I wanted to die without any burden. I wish I have my own son like you in next life."

He stopped this video, his father had left behind. He got it from his father's lawyer after he took his last breath. He was teary eyed and he knew in his heart that he was lucky to have him and his unconditional love.

Bon mot
noun [bon moh] 
a witty remark or comment; clever saying; witticism

Tale: Cock-Tales 

As he pulled his chair closer to her, he could smell her beautiful fragrance. Her jet black hair had driven him crazy since he saw her first at the pub that night. He was at his chivalrous best, when he offered to buy her a drink. She was also flirting with him unabashedly and accepted the drink. As they finished their first round of drinks, he made a double entendre with a lewd gesture, "Would you like a Screwdriver or Sex on the Beach?"

Not the one to remain behind, she replied with a quick bon mot showing him, her middle finger, "Not really, I prefer to have Virgin Mary when out with strangers."

They both laughed at this banter and are best friends since that night.

Words that trigger stories - Part 5

The "twist in tale" and "conspiracy angles" in stories have always enamored me. When I write short tales on the Readers' Club WhatsApp group everyday for the "Word of the Day", one of my goals is to ensure the reader remains hooked to the story till the end. I know my tales are very small. But still managing to give something at the end of the story is not only a challenge but my goal as well. 

Irrespective of the genre, whether it is crime or politics or a fantasy, this element is an important part of my story telling. So here are three such stories written by me, which straddle multiple genres but retain that essence of twist at the end. I am sure, I have lot to learn and improve on my skills, so your feedback is always welcome.

adjective [puhl-ver-yuh-luh nt, -ver-uh-luh nt]
covered with dust or powder

Tale: Runaway Hit

He was able to manufacture a stable pulverulent compound in his laboratory after years of research. This white powdery substance had miraculous ability to treat several diseases if used in measured doses. As the word spread about this, people clamored for its formula. The scientist not used to the spotlight and not knowing what to do just ran away from the town. A local drug lord somehow found a method to produce the newest compound in town, at mass scale. In party circuit the drug is known as 'Runaway Hit'. At last count 938 people have died because of overdose.

noun [ploo-tok-ruh-see]
the rule or power of wealth or of the wealthy

Tale: Status Quo

It was a country where rich few ruled over the poor masses. The rich had a lifestyle which would put even Gods to shame. On the other hand poor lived in squalor and disease. There lived a man of meagre means who decided to overthrow this plutocracy, with the wealth of his ideas. He groomed a team of really beautiful girls who wooed the rich using their bodies. These girls created a web of lies, deceit and blackmail which divided the coterie of rich into many fragments. Now this country is ruled by a small minority of intellectual elite. The masses are now poor and uneducated. Now it is easier to exploit them than ever before.

noun [kak-uh l-ber-ee]
a hen's egg used for food

Tale: An Apology

A cackleberry broke open, but he was surprised to see no yolk inside. He knew he would go hungry yet again. It was ten days since he had anything to eat. Under the spell of that dreaded witch, any food he had touched in last ten days turned inedible. The milk curdled into blood. The bowl of peanuts turned into live cockroaches. The bread turned green with fungus. His mother was right. She had told her that if he doesn't respect his teachers, a witch will trouble her. He could now smell his favorite pancakes being cooked at a distance.
His mother woke him up and served him pancakes dripping with honey at his bed. There were scrumptious scrambled eggs too. He gulped the entire breakfast like a hungry boy would do. Instead of saying thanks, he whispered in his mother's ears, "Sorry."

Friday, September 23, 2016

Words that trigger stories - Part 4

Many times, fellow group members of our Readers' Club WhatsApp group have asked me, how can I imagine stories or what is my inspiration. I have always maintained that stories come from my own experiences, observations and reading. There is so much happening all around us. If we observe carefully, there are stories everywhere.

Here are three such stories (based on Word of the Day shared on the group) which didn't necessarily stem from my own experiences but from what I saw, read or heard. Yes, the incidents may not have happened exactly like that or in same setting. But then that's why human beings are endowed with something called imagination.

adjective [fluh-ves-uh nt]
turning yellow; yellowish

Tale: The Dish Best Served Cold

He grinned at the sight of blood. As the black blood flowed towards the gutter, the sound of the dying woman was being muffled by him. He had kept her mouth shut tightly with both his hands. He had been searching for her since a month now. Today as she turned up at the pub, he spiked her drink and took her out. He then smashed her head against the wall. As he was grinning, his flavescent teeth, shone through the darkness in that alley. Anybody who would have seen him at that time, would have got scared seeing the devil in him. Till last month he was a decent office going fellow. This woman had bullied his daughter and stripped her in front of everyone. As everyone was laughing at his daughter, she had escaped the pub and got hit by a fast moving truck.

noun [yoo-tak-see, yoo-tak-see]
good order or management 

Tale: Incurable

His strong belief that eutaxy can be established by the gun, led him to commit the atrocities of the worst kind. He is known as the most cruel autocrat of this decade. It took a rebellion from his daughter to bring him down. His daughter revolted because, the autocratic leader killed the girl she loved madly. He thought he will be able to cure her homosexual disease.

noun [dab-ster]
an expert

Tale: Shadows of the Past

"You are a dabster at breaking hearts", she said in a weepy tone and stomped out of the room. Her friends had warned her about his reputation, but she couldn't stop herself from falling in love with him. He was an ultimate charmer, with an attractive accent and an impish smile. His deep eyes will make any girl trust him. Before he could explain her that the girl he had just hugged was his sister, she had gone. He was truly and madly in love with her but his colourful past had come back to haunt him. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Words that trigger stories - Part 3

When words are shared on our Readers' Club WhatsApp group, everyone tries to make a sentence. I always appreciate the efforts of story telling rather than the proper usage or grammar. I believe story telling is the most important skill in any aspect of life.

Stories keep conversations alive. Stories help you sell things. Stories can move people.

So here are 3 stories which I crafted for 3 words of the day, which were shared on different days in this group.

noun [long-guh-nim-i-tee, lawng-]
patient endurance of hardship, injuries, or offense; forbearance

Tale: It's my Choice

A long, hard and cold iron rod was shoved up his arse by one of the captors. Three other men held him tight in his position. He knew that today he will die. He was shouting and crying in pain, but in his mind he was at peace. As tears of agony flowed from his eyes, his heart was smiling. He knew that today he will die and get free from this relentless torture being inflicted on him for months or may be years. He didn't remember when was the last time he saw sunlight. His eyesight was lost when they put acid in it. He doesn't know why was he picked up or who was holding him in captivity. He had stopped asking questions long ago. Actually he stopped talking, the day he was forced to eat his own poop. He knew that day that his captors are not human beings. His longanimity had helped him survive for so long, but he decided today not to suffer anymore. He decided to die today. This was the only decision that was completely his. He was free to take this decision. He wanted to exercise his choice. His captors can't control his destiny. Today was the day he decided to die. As they brought the rod out, smeared with blood and threw it on the floor, he stood up on his feet and smiled faintly. Then he spat on the face of one of the captors and collapsed immediately after. He had stopped breathing.

adjective [ki-mer-kuh l or ki-mer-ik; -meer-, kahy-]
wildly fanciful, highly unrealistic

Tale: Shock and Awe

He stepped on the stage amidst a huge applause from his acolytes. In next one hour, he shared his vision for future. A terrifying future which will be ruled by machines. Sitting in the audience, I increasingly became cynical about his dystopian and chimerical ideas. I was shocked to know at the end of the event, that it was his robotic surrogate who was on stage. He never turned up. 

noun [uh-fley-tuh s]
inspiration; an impelling mental force acting from within

Tale: Divine Awakening

She started the day on the regular note. Doing her daily chores, she was praying continuously. The chants of mantras could be heard if one was really close to her. Her faith in God was unshakeable and unquestionable. After completing her morning activities, she had a hearty lunch and went off to sleep. She didn't wake up for two days after that. Widowed long ago, she had no children to take care of her. She stayed alone in a hut outside the village. No one noticed her absence. The villagers were blinded by a bright light emanating from her hut after two days. As they ran towards the spectacle, they could hear the chants of that old lady, but much louder than ever before. They could hear it from a distance. As they reached the hut, the old lady was sitting in a lotus position and floating mid-air. By some divine afflatus, she was able to explain all her chants to the villagers in a simple language. She herself didn't know the meaning of these mantras before she slept two days ago. People are worshiping her as a goddess. She still believes strongly in the supreme one.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Words that trigger stories - Part 2

Here are the three short tales, which generated heated discussion on the Readers' Club WhatsApp group. As usual my process was simple. A word is shared on the group every day and I close my eyes. Each word has a sound to it and it conjures a particular imagery in my mind, as I close my eyes. I try to be honest to that first thought which comes to my mind, when I listen or see the word of the day and construct a story or sentences around that thought.


noun [sur-kuh m-ben-duh-buh s]
a roundabout way; circumlocution

Tale: Love is Blind

They both left the office together. She was besotted with her senior. Not only was he powerful in the company, he was very intelligent too. When he offered her a ride back home, she like an excited kid jumped at the prospect of spending some quality time with him. His car was a plush sedan with very comfortable seats. She was also happy that today she avoided the local train crush. Romantic songs were playing at a low volume in the car when he took a left turn instead of right. He told her that it was a circumbendibus to her home and he just wanted to spend more time with her. She was immensely happy to hear that. After few minutes, he slowly put his left hand up her thighs. She got scared and let out a cry. He stopped his car in middle of nowhere and raped her repeatedly. Her dreams and aspirations flowed out with tears in her eyes. Her father will never send her to work again.

adjective [oh-ver-wee-ning]
presumptuously conceited; overconfident, or proud

Tale: Master and his Slave

She was the best slave he ever had. Taking care of all needs of her overweening master, she never did protest. Her day started early in the morning, with preparation of a hearty breakfast. On good days, he will appreciate her culinary skills, but mostly he will scold her for not making dishes the way he liked them. After breakfast, she would scrub the floors of the large house he owned. One day he found some dirt in one corner and he gave her a sound beating for being careless. That day her forehead got a scar for life. She washed his clothes every afternoon and then ironed them with love. That was the task she enjoyed the most. Somehow she found this a less mundane task and it gave her an inexplicable purpose. Every night, he would come home and summon her to his king-size bed. She was expected to behave coyly while he fulfills his carnal desires. He never cared for what she wanted. One night she was burning with fever, but still her body was ravaged multiple times. She almost died that night and was hospitalised. A compassionate doctor treated her and learned from her about the abusive marriage she was trapped in. He helped her take a divorce from her husband.

noun [ep-uh-nim]
a person, real or imaginary, from whom something takes or is said to take its name 

Tale: Dynamite Irony

He made a fortune by selling arms and weapons of all kinds. He invented dynamite. Ironically, he is the famous eponym of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Words that trigger stories - Part 1

I joined a Readers' Club called Literati Bugs last year. I started off as a less engaged member of the group, but as I attended few meetings, I started liking it. I started reading more books and also attended a book writing workshop. I am not sure when I will actually write one, but this workshop definitely keeps my dream alive.

While all of this was happening, something else happened too. On the WhatsApp group of this club, a word of the day is shared everyday. I started writing short sentences or tales everyday using that word. The group members appreciated my efforts and I now feel confident sharing some of those tales with larger world.

In this part, I share 3 such short tales.

verb [kos-it]
to treat as a pet; pamper; coddle

Tale: Love Cubicle 

He had silently loved her for three years now. She was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen or talked to. As she worked on her laptop in the adjoining cubicle, he would watch closely that strand of hair kissing her cheeks. Sometimes he would spend an entire day for that moment when she would bid him goodbye in her sweet voice, calling his name out. Fridays were lucky for him as she used to have lunch with him that day. They didn't really talk much, but he was happiest when she used to eat with him. He never confessed his true feelings for her, as she was married and so was he. He regretted marrying earlier and also felt that he found his true love late in life. One Friday, she broke the news of her pregnancy to him. From that day onward he became more vocal, and started cosseting her. He would bring fruits for lunch and ensured she gets her taxi on time. He would keep checking about her health every few hours. She also really opened up with him during her pregnancy. One day while talking about her loveless marriage, she confessed to him, that she loves him a lot.

adjective [sten-tawr-ee-uh n, -tohr-] 
very loud or powerful in sound 

Tale: The Dutiful Son 

"You are doing it wrong son. Don't do this son. Don't do that son. You can't do that if you want to earn money son". He heard these stentorian voices in his head all the time. Always a class topper, he became an engineer because his parents wanted so. Marriage happened as he got his first job and he had kids soon, so that his mother can play with her grandchildren. He just kept going through his life for others. Those voices in his head just became louder by the day. His wife discovered last year that he has a flair for writing. She encouraged him to find time for it. He just got his first book published. The runaway success is titled "Raising a Coward."

noun [ZAHY-mur-jee]
the branch of applied chemistry dealing with fermentation, as in wine making, brewing, the preparation of yeast etc.

Tale: Chemical Imbalance

The chemistry between them was palpable. Every time they met they couldn't keep their hands off each other. Their public display of affection made the onlookers embarrassed. They never realised that. They could just see sparks and stars when they touched each other. No one could have predicted this turn of events given their first awkward meeting. He, a connoisseur of wine with an expertise in zymurgy, comfortable with luxuries of life and socially upwardly mobile. She, a nerdy biochemist, knew everything about the matters of body but heart. They both will not forget that wine tasting session.