The Wedding Gift – A conversation

SHE – But what’s wrong with gifting an AC?

ME – Look, all that an AC does is sucking the interior temperature and pushing it outside! Implication? The outside temperature continues to grow! That’s global warming!

SHE – Yeah.! I know the science!

ME – But knowing science is not enough. You would continue to use AC because the globe is warming and the warming continues.. Look.. Any Invention should, if possible, eliminate its need and not strengthen its necessity!

SHE – But I didn’t invent an AC! Willis Carrier did!

ME – Yeah.! But you are strengthening its necessity!

Silence…

SHE – So what should we gift them? A ceiling fan?

ME – That won’t help the humidity!

SHE – But this is hill station! It’s never humid here!

ME – But what if after a year, they move to a coastal place? That would be humid!

SHE – That’s a maybe case! And maybe they have better things to pack and move than a ceiling fan!

Silence..

ME – Let’s not gift them a ceiling fan!

SHE – Okay.! But you wanted to gift them something that would help them in the summer! You don’t want to gift an air cooler because it takes in water and in summer there might be water crisis! No to an AC because it would strengthen its necessity! Ceiling fan would not help in humidity! What’s left? Ice packs?

Silence followed by an exchange of mild laughter….

SHE – Let’s stick to my first plan! Let’s go for a bouquet and a gift voucher!

ME – That would be a fall back option, if we can’t decide on anything!

SHE- We better decide now! Once we cross the city, there are no shops near the resort to buy any gifts!

Silence… As I begin to think..

ME – Let us go-to a nursery!

SHE – Nursery? To gift an admission to their future kid, kids?

ME – No.! The plant nursery!

SHE – You planning to gift them..

ME – (interrupts) Yes.! You guessed it right! Planning to gift them seeds.! (Pause) and a pot! They can sow the seeds in the pot!

SHE – But I thought you would say plants, at least!

Awkward silence..!

ME – That’s not a bad idea! We could gift them the plants!

SHE – Seriously! You want to walk into a wedding hall holding a flower plant!

ME – I had mango plant in mind! You know, with mangoes in them!

SHE – Seriously? Mango plant with mangoes in it? That’s called a mango tree! And I am not carrying a mango tree into the wedding hall

ME – Why not?

SHE – Two reasons! One, I don’t want to carry a mango tree into a wedding hall. Two, I can’t carry a mango tree! Not into a wedding hall, not into a restaurant! I can’t carry it anywhere, because I am not a superwoman!

She was right. How can I gift them a mango tree, if I can’t carry it.?

Silence…

SHE – Unless…

ME – Unless..?

SHE – Unless it’s a Bonsai..

Bonsai is not a bad idea, I felt!

ME – That’s exactly, what I had in mind! Bonsai, that’s the word and the gift that I was looking for!

*************************************************************************************

After buying the bonsai tree..

SHE – But you were so adamant about gifting them something that would help them beat heat!

ME – And who does it better than plants? The bonsai mango tree will live in their room, suck all the CO2, and give out oxygen! That would be cool!  You know what; I should name this – The Mangold Star AC.!

SHE – ha ha… Like the Goldstar AC? That’s lame!

ME – May be its lame, but it’s still cool..! (Pause) And oh! Wait! Whenever the girl feels like having a mango, she need not climb the tree or pelt stones! Because it’s a bonsai tree and the fruit will be at hand’s reach!

SHE – And when the tree has no mangoes left?

ME – She can buy them from the market!

Laughs..

**********************************************************

After arriving at the resort..

ME – What happened?

SHE – The receptionist is telling that they have only two rooms left and only one of them has AC.!

ME – And what did you say?

SHE – I told her that she is wrong!

ME – What?

SHE – Yes! They have two air conditioned rooms!

ME – Okay! Then we don’t have a problem right! Everything is sorted!

SHE – Yes! I shall be taking the one with the Bluestar AC and you will be taking the one with the Mangold Star AC..!

A moment of silence..

ME – That would be cool! (Laughs)

-CHAN

To read other episodes of Conversations, click here. You could leave your feedback in the comment section below or write to me at passionophoria@gmail.com

Advertisements

To Dance or not to Dance – A Conversation

Photo by Trinity Kubassek from Pexels

SHE- But, I have never danced before!

ME – Liar! Everyone would have! At least in their kindergarten days, you know during the annual day functions! Or At least in the bathroom!

SHE – But that’s different!

ME – So, I am right!

SHE – Right about what?

ME – About you dancing in the bathroom! That’s weird you know! Because, I only sing!

Laughs exchanged…

ME – Anyway! Imagine that this is going to be your last night before you die!

SHE – Who is going to kill me? You?

ME – I can! (Pause) I mean, I have the ability to!

SHE – Ah! Do you?

ME – Yes! I can choke you to death! Or may be stab you with the butter knife!

SHE – Butter knife is blunt! It can’t kill me!

ME – Ah! I don’t believe your word! Let me give a try!

I looked at the butter knife, picked it up and tried stabbing her!

A moment of Laughter….

SHE – See… I told you! Butter knives can’t kill me! (Laughs)

ME – Okay! Forget butter knife! But there could be earthquake, the pub roof might collapse! Some female might try using her deodorant! Since the deodorant is inflammable, the candle in the corner table might explode! The pub might catch fire! We might get roasted like chicken!

She cringes….

ME – Okay! That’s horrible death! Let’s imagine something that is less horrible!  Oh! What if you swallow the chicken bone and choke to death!

SHE – Both of us know that it’s never going to happen! I don’t eat chicken!

Silence!

ME – Or a potato! If you swallow it whole, even a potato can choke you to death! (Pause) Or maybe you step out of the pub; some drunk female runs you over on her scooter!

SHE – This is disappointing, I thought you would save me!

She puts up a sad face! Laughs exchanged..

ME – Anyways! My point is! Think that you are going to die this night! And that you will never be able to dance after this! So it’s now or never!

SHE – If it’s going to be my last night before I die, I have better things to do! I have a long bucket list!

ME – How long!

SHE – 53 items!

ME – 53? What weird wishes do you have in there? Things like Jumping into the volcano!

Silence..

SHE – Now I have 54th entry in the list!

ME – What? You want to jump into the volcano! Seriously?

SHE – No! I would want to stand on the top of the volcanic mountain, stare down at the lava and photograph it!

ME – Or you might as well swallow the potato and choke to death!

Laughs exchanged…

ME – But seriously… why don’t you dance! Look around! So many people on the floor, dancing!

SHE – Yeah! But I can’t dance! I don’t know to dance!

ME – Come on! You just need to move your feet or may be sway a little! No one’s expecting you to do dance like Hrithik!

SHE – Yeah! But moving the feet or swaying the body, for that I need to feel the rhythm!  I am bad at rhythms!

ME – Okay! Look at it this way! We have been sitting here, sipping onto our drinks for so long! Among that dancing lot, there are bad dancers as well as good ones! Do you remember any of their faces?

She thinks for a while and nods a no.

ME – There you go! You had better things to do than nit-picking! Same case with others! Those who are dancing are too busy with their dance! Those who are not dancing are either waiting to hit the floor or might be way too nervous! Just like you!

A moment of silence…

ME – Look! The bottom line is, this is not some stage program and the spotlight is not on you! Everyone has better things to do than watch you dance! So hold my hands and join me in the dance

She appears hesitant…

ME – Okay! Let’s try this! I shall go there, dancing alone for a minute or two! Like real bad dance! Ugly and weird! That way you might get inspired!

SHE – Inspired to do what? Dance badly?

ME – Dance decently! Or may be badly! Look I have already told you, no one’s going to remember your face! Give me a moment!

I got up and slowly joined the dancing crowd. I began to move my feet, then the torso and after a few seconds, the head!

The DJ moved onto the next track! I closed my eyes and began to shake my hands and legs wildly! The track continued for a minute or two and when the DJ changed the track, I opened my eyes to walk up to her and drag her into the dance.

And when I opened my eyes, I found myself in the middle of the crowd who had stopped dancing and were staring at me! Ugly stares!

I quickly walked up to her.

ME – I think we need to leave! People are laughing at me!

SHE – Come on! It’s okay!

ME – I danced real bad, didn’t I?

SHE – Yep!

ME – How bad?

SHE – Bad enough to inspire me!

And she dragged me into the dance floor. She started moving her feet, the torso and then the head!

-CHAN

To read other episodes of Conversations, click here. You could leave your feedback in the comment section below or write to me at passionophoria@gmail.com

Walk under the rain – A Conversation

SHE – I don’t think it’s a good idea!

ME – Come on! It doesn’t rain every other day!

SHE – Yeah! But walking in the rain? Who does that!

ME – Everyone does that!

SHE – Everyone with an umbrella!

ME – And raincoat!

SHE – Okay! But we neither have raincoat nor an umbrella!

ME – That’s exactly what I was talking about! Walking in the rain without an umbrella or raincoat! Getting completely drenched!

SHE – And why exactly do you think we should be doing that?

ME – So you think it’s not an exciting idea?

SHE – “Bad idea”, is the precise way of describing it!

A moment of silence!

ME – Okay girl! Tell me! Have you ever done bungee jumping?

SHE – No!

ME – See! That’s my point! You have never done a bungee jump because you “think” that you are scared of heights!

SHE – Wrong! I have never done a bungee jumping because I have never been to a place which has one.

A moment of silence!

ME – I should probably use some other example! Okay! Tell me one thing that you don’t like!

SHE – Walking under the rain without an umbrella or raincoat!

ME – Ah! Come on! Give me another!

SHE – You want another? That would be you trying to convince me to walk under the rain!

Silence….

ME – Ok! Look at it this way! You think that you don’t like walking under the rain! But how will you know if you don’t give it a try! Give it and a try and then arrive at conclusion!

SHE – last week, after the movie! I hope you remember how we ran from the theatre to the parking lot and I slipped real bad.

ME – But you didn’t fall down!

SHE – But I fell ill!

ME – Yeah! But you didn’t fall “down”!

SHE – I could have fallen! Had I fallen, I would have broken my knee!

ME – Look! When you slip, you fall on your back! There’s no way that your knee will get hurt!

SHE – So, you saying that you are okay with me breaking my back?

Silence….

ME – Look, that was Sprint! But this! This would be walking. A real slow walk!

SHE – Oh! Come on! That’s illogical? How different are they? Moreover I don’t want people to laugh at us, while we walk slowly under the rain!

ME – How is that illogical! And are saying that Usain bolt and Matej Toth are no different from each other?

SHE – Who is Matej Toth?

ME – He won gold in 20km walk! The Rio Olympics!

SHE – I didn’t know that!

ME – Exactly! See everyone knows Usain Bolt, but not Matej Toth! Bottom line- If you run people would notice, but if you walk, people would not! So there is no question of people laughing at us!

Silence…

SHE – I am not coming! Let’s end this conversation!

ME – Okay! How about this? I will walk under the rain? And you could use an umbrella and walk along!

SHE – Yeah! But we don’t have an umbrella!

I proceeded to make an exit.

SHE – Where are you going?

ME – Give me 5 minutes lady and you would know!

*******************************************************************************

After an hour…

SHE – It’s been an hour! Where are you? Where did you go?

ME – I had come out to buy an umbrella from this shop across the street and…

SHE – And what? You still deciding on the colors?

ME – Na! I slipped while sprinting to this shop and..

SHE – And…? Did you break your back?

ME – No! It’s the knee!

-CHAN

To read other episodes of Conversations, click here. You could leave your feedback in the comment section below or write to me at passionophoria@gmail.com

Meat and Flesh – A Conversation

She – Meat is non veg.!

Me – yeah! But you shouldn’t ignore the fact that I eat dead meat!

She – Dead meat?

Me – Of course! Meat is dead! Else it would be flesh. And I don’t eat flesh! So technically, I eat dead animals and I don’t kill one!

She – You have got the definition wrong, haven’t you?

He – What definition?

She – Meat is edible flesh! Chicken meat, pork meat, mutton meat! There is no human meat!

He – Oh! Come on! Cannibals would beg to differ! I mean, I am not a cannibal! I just eat the bird! No lamb, no pork! Just the bird! (Pause) And fish sometimes! But not from the aquarium, you know!

She – Who would eat fish from an aquarium?

Me – My cat would! But anyway my point is I am a non-vegetarian! And there’s nothing wrong about it!

She – Everything is wrong about it! Inflicting so much pain!

Me- Oh! Come on! Even plants have life! CV Raman has proved it in his experiment!

She – That was JC Bose!

Me – So what! Would a plant’s life become any less important, because JC Bose discovered it!

She didn’t speak for a while! May be, I had won the debate! The waiter arrived at our table and served our orders – Me, some fancy chicken dish and she? May be potato or paneer! What else a vegetarian would eat!

She – No.! Okay! Tell me one thing! Why does pain exist?

Me – Oh Please! I don’t want to discuss religion, philosophy and god!

She – No man.! The science question! Why does one feel pain, when he..

Me – Or she!

She – yeah ok! Why does one feel the pain, when he or she gets injured?

I thought for a while! The question didn’t make sense!

Me – It’s good as asking why a green leaf is green! (Pause) Oh. Wait! There’s a scientific reason why a green leaf is green! Absorbed components of light, reflected components of light and all that nonsense! But hey, the pain thing, I don’t think it has got any scientific reason!

She – Think about it! Cutting your hair or nails doesn’t hurt you! But anything happens to skin, eyes, or you know other body parts, you feel the pain!

I thought for a while.

Me -You know what! I had felt the same when I was in my kindergarten!

She – Good! Anyway, pain is the body’s inbuilt mechanism to alert you! To tell you that something wrong is happening to your body! If you let it continue, you might die! So do something about it!

Me – Well. This didn’t cross my mind when I was in kindergarten! Hey! Nice observation!

She – Thanks! So if you get injured, you might die because of the blood loss, so the pain! Heart attack, same thing! But cut your hair or nail! Your life is safe! So no alert!

Me – Oh! And what about tooth decay? Why does it hurt?

She- the infection could spread to the eye and then the brain and could kill you!

Me – Fever?

She – That’s a slightly different topic! Body temperature increases significantly to kill the foreign bodies! Anyways, the point is if you pluck the leaf, vegetables and fruits, that wouldn’t kill the plant! So, plants don’t feel the pain when we do that!

Me – Who gave this theory, JC Bose?

She – No.! Me!

Me – Then I can disprove it! Let me think of some examples!

We were done with the eating business and the waiter handed us the cheque!

Me – Hey! Tell me one thing!

She – What?

Me – Can losing money, kill you?

“No!” She laughed. “Why?” she asked.

“Because right now, I am feeling a strange sense of pain!” I said looking at the four figured sum on the bill!

-CHAN

To read other episodes of Conversations, click here. You could leave your feedback in the comment section below or write to me at passionophoria@gmail.com

The secret in the Time Capsule – A short story

“What did you write?” she sounded curious.

Rudwig smiled at her and pressed the paper into another fold. “Are you done yet?” he asked her, while putting the folded paper into an envelope.

“I thought I had all the time in the world”, she complained and buried her face back into the paper.

They were on the green grounds of Welsa, under one of the large Palmigo trees.

“But Willy will be here any minute. And I don’t want to include him in this game. This should stay between us, we two”, he issued his share of complaints. William was the other kid in the neighborhood. Rudwig had always insisted that Jenny should stay away from him.

“But Willy is a nice g..”, she was trying to put forth her argument, but Rudwig’s upset looks didn’t let her complete it.

After about five minutes, Jenny appeared content with whatever she had written. She looked at Rudwig and smiled.

“The paper, put it in that envelope”, he instructed her while pointing at the envelope that laid next to her.

After she pushed the folded paper into the envelope, he wrote their names on each of the envelope and sealed them in a plastic bag. He then put the sealed bag inside a large glass bottle and poured the blue colored liquid into it.

“What’s that?”, the ten year old Jenny asked him.

“I borrowed it from Uncle Hanks. He had told me that it prevents the paper from ageing and would keep it safe”, replied the eleven year old kid.

He then closed the lid of the bottle and lowered it into a hole that he had dug up in the ground. The 4 feet deep hole had taken him more than an hour to dig.

“So, what next?”, Jenny asked.

“So, we meet here after ten years and then we shall unbury this time capsule. We will then read each other’s secrets clear and loud”, he said.

“Ten years it is. Under no circumstances shall the capsule be unearthed before its time”, she giggled after making a loud announcement.

“Ten years it is”, he adjusted his hat to suggest that he would keep the word.

“Yes! Until then, my secret stays with me and yours stays with you. Nobody else should know the secret”, she smiled.

“Yes. Nobody! Except the time capsule”, he added and both of them laughed.

***********************************************************************

After two years, upon his father’s job transfer, Rudwig had to move to the city of Nuivenna.

“So when am I going to see you again?” Jenny had asked.

“In the summer break, I shall board the first train to Welsa”, he had promised.

“You shall write to me until then, wouldn’t you?” she had asked.

“Yes!” he had smiled.

“Keep away from the city habits”, she had smiled after issuing the instruction.

“And you..! You keep away from Willy”, he had laughed.

Weeks passed and then months. They wrote to each other every second day. Rudwig shared stories from his new school, the life in the city and much more. Jenny wrote about her music classes, her new pets, how Willy fixed her bicycle and much more. They also discussed about the trending topics like newly elected president of United States – Grover Cleveland and about the arrival of Statue of Liberty in New York.

Eight months passed and then all of a sudden Rudwig stopped receiving letters. He grew worried and wrote to her a couple of more times, but with no luck.

And then, on one day he received a letter from her parents informing him about her untimely demise. She had died due to the yellow fever.

He wept and wept for weeks. Her death had pushed him into a state of despair.

In the break of summer, he caught the first train to Welsa. Upon reaching Welsa, he straight away went to the green grounds. He spotted the Palmigo tree under which he and Jenny had buried the time capsule. He wanted to read Jenny’s secret.

He picked up a shovel and began digging. All of a sudden he remembered it- words from Jenny.

Ten years it is. Under no circumstances shall the capsule be unearthed before its time”, was the agreed upon word. That would be eight years from now.

He refilled the hole and walked back. He promised himself that he would return after eight years to open the time capsule.

***********************************************************************

After eight years..

Rudwig was in college now, pursuing his degree in art history. He had been waiting on his heels for the day he would be able to read Jenny’s secret. And when the day arrived, he rushed to Welsa.

Welsa was no more a town, but a large city.

When he reached the green grounds, he was heartbroken. On the once green grounds of Welsa, now stood a large factory guarded by tall brick walls. “Welsa steel factory”, the board read.

He knew where exactly the capsule was buried, for the old Palmigo tree was still there. Under the tree staring back at him was a large stone sculpture that stood as a pride of the factory. The capsule would be right underneath it, he knew.

He thought of placing a request in front of the corresponding authority, to allow him to displace the sculpture and dig up the ground beneath it. However, he was appalled when he learnt that the factory was owned by Willy’s father.

He feared that Willy might get to know about the time capsule and would try to break open the secret.

He travelled back to Nuivenna. “A day will come when I get to read Jenny’s secret. That will be the day when I will be the owner of this land and this factory will be brought down to rubbles. I shall wait until then”, he  had silently vowed.

***********************************************************************

He began working as a clerk for one of the businessmen of Nuivenna, who was into railroad constructions. He quit his job after a few years.  From the savings that he had, he started selling goods door to door. He sold items like perfume and other cosmetic products.

All that he was trying to do was to gather enough money to buy Willy’s factory.

In the year 1905, Vyzan – a neighbouring country had declared a war on Originia. The president had urged the Originian men to fight for the nation. Rudwig joined the army and participated in the war.

After 3 long years of battle, Originia won. Rudwig was one of those two hundred brave soldiers who were honoured with the President’s medal.

He travelled to Welsa during the snowy winter, to see if the factory still stood there. The factory was still there, but it had only grown larger. The tall brick walls were now replaced by steel gates, gates that surrounded a large acre including the old Palmigo tree.

However, when William learnt the news of Rudwig’s arrival, he rushed to meet him. He told him how dearly he had missed Rudwig all these years. He kept asking him about the tales of war and heaped praises on him for fighting for the country.

“How much would it cost me to buy this from you?”, Rudwig had asked after the tea, leaving William confused.

“Why would you want to buy the factory Rudy? My father wouldn’t allow that”, he had replied.

“You have built your empire on something that’s dear to my heart. Let it take years and decades. But a day will come for sure, when I will own this”, Rudwig had uttered those words.

**********************************************************************

Upon returning to Nuivenna, Rudwig invested the savings from his earlier business and his military rewards into the ferry service that a friend of his had started.

The business took off really well and earned Rudwig a good fortune. He bought a low cost ferry and started his own small scale cargo service.

Very soon he had competitors – William one of them. William had ventured into the business of Cargo shipment and had vessels of all sizes. Rudwig’s business started shrinking and his aversion towards William began growing the other way.

With every day passing William’s business grew only bigger. He had ventured into multiple business lines varying from health care to automobile, retail to real estate.

With whatever money he had, Rudwig left to Cercia, a neighbouring country. It was a poor state, fighting its socio-economic adversities. Rudwig bought a farm land and in parallel began a small money lending institution.

He began cultivating fiber crops and had the borrowers working for him in his land. His cotton exports grew bigger. Few years later, he stopped exporting raw cotton and decided to start his own cotton mill.

His business grew, but he was still not in a position to buy the steel factory from William. William had turned into a powerful businessman and was counted amongst the riches of Originia.

Rudwig developed thoughts of expanding into a new vertical. He discussed with the state, the need of owning military weapons and that manufacturing them would be a low cost affair than importing them.

With the state aid fund, Rudwig built defence machinery plant.  For ten good years, his company continued manufacturing arms and sold it to the government.

In the year 1914, the Great War broke out between the great economic powers. William, who was one of the most influential figures in Origiana by now, had urged the President of Origiana to promote peace amongst it’s neighbouring nations.

The President invited his neighbouring countries including Cercia to sign a peace treaty. Under this treaty, the countries were required to stay away from the war and had to stop investing in military weapons.

The President of Cercia signed the treaty and the government stopped its defence investment with an immediate effect. Rudwig had to shut down his weapon manufacturing plant. He understood this as a tactical game play by William to ruin his business.

The Great War stopped in the year 1918. Over the next five years Rudwig tried running various business but with no great luck.

Rudwig was fifty and unmarried. His lifetime goal had turned into bringing William to ruins, and to buy his steel factory. Rudwig had believed that it was William who had stood between him and the secret of Jenny hidden in the time capsule. A secret for which he was longing since years.

He started a small scale steel plant in Cercia. However, the quality of the ore available in the lands of Cercia was low, it didn’t flourish. He then re-began his money lending institution, this time at a larger scale. Over the next ten years, it grew into becoming the largest bank in Cercia – “J.R bank of Cercia”.

The sixty year old Rudwig, travelled to Welsa and met William. William was preparing for the presidential elections.

“How are you doing Rudy?”, William had greeted him.

“I am doing good. Good luck with your elections Willy”, he had wished him luck.

“I assume you are here with an offer to buy my factory”, William had smiled.

Rudwig understood it as William’s attempt at mocking him.

“No.! Not now! Not before you are forced into selling it to me”, he had said.

“Oh.! Rudy..! You could have it. I will be more than willing it give it away for you, as a gift”, William had offered.

“Not as a gift Willy. I had told you, I will force you into selling it to me”, Rudwig had smiled after declining his offer.

“But why not?” William had asked.

“Good luck with your elections”, was Rudwig’s response, before making an exit.

***********************************************************************

William won the elections and became the president of Origiana.

Meanwhile, Rudwig exploited his financial stature to gain a stronghold across the political ranks of Cercia.

He contested the next term elections and went onto become the president of Cercia. Over a period of five years, border disputes rouse between Origiana and Cercia.

William wanted to initiate peace talks with Rudwig, but men in the assembly urged William to wage a war against Cercia. William put forth his refusal to do so and stepped down from the presidential position.

The new president took over and declared a war against Cercia. Rudwig who had secretly revived the defence wing during his ongoing tenure, was well prepared for the war.

The war lasted for six months and Cercia had managed to defeat Origiana.

A month later, Rudwig  travelled to Origiana with a feel of pride of having won the war. He wanted to visit William and tell him that the time has arrived for him to take over his factory.

When he reached Origiana, he was devastated by the sight of pain and death of the people over there. He was heartbroken, for he believed that he was responsible for the sorrow of the country in which he once lived.

“Jenny wouldn’t be happy, if she was alive”, he thought. The guilt swarmed over and he disappeared silently.

No one heard from him for about a year or so.

**********************************************************************

“Willy..!”, he was struggling to keep his eyes open.

William had moistened eyes when he sat next to the bed on which Rudwig laid. They were in a hospital.

“How did you get to know that I was here?”, Rudwig asked.

“Rudy.!”, said William. “I think you need to rest”, he added. William’s grand kid brought a flower bouquet and placed it on the table besides the bed.

Rudwig was battling his life after developing serious heart conditions. He had grown pale and weak.

“Rest? That I would Willy, but only after I issue my apology to you, for having hated you”, he paused for a deep breath. “I need to apologize for all the agony that I brought upon the country”, he added.

William held his hand firmly and smiled. “I stayed away from the war, because I was afraid of being a sinner. If I were brave, I would have stayed in the position. I should have protected my people either by preventing the war or by winning it. I did neither of those”.

He continued, “War was inevitable Rudwig.  If not you, somebody else would have done it. No matter the choice that you made, you stood by your people and that is what matters”.

“ Oh.! Willy.!”, Rudwig was in tears. “You are bringing upon so much peace to the heart of a dying man”.

William smiled through his sadness and so did his family.

“If only you could do me one more favour”, Rudwig asked with a pleading eyes.

“I have my assumption Rudy. Now you tell me, if I have assumed it right?”, William asked.

“You could have all my wealth and all my fortune. I had earned it all for the only thing that mattered to me on this earth. For something that lies beneath your steel factory. Please let me have it and allow the man die in peace”, he sobbed while he pleaded.

William’s son stepped forward. He had the glass bottle in his hand. He placed the time capsule next to the bed.

Rudwig looked at William and then at the capsule in disbelief. He was looking at it finally. The glass bottle -soiled by the age, filled with pale blue fluid and inside which floated a sealed plastic bag.

Rudwig had no qualms and complaints. He didn’t want to know how William learnt about the time capsule, for the only thing that mattered now was to read Jenny’s secret.

He signalled William’s son to open the bottle for him. He took out the plastic bag and wiped it clean before handing it over to Rudwig.

Rudwig opened the bag with his trembling hands. He took out two folded papers from it. “Our secrets”, he laughed in joy through his tears. “Of mine and Jenny!”.

He opened them, but his struggling eyes couldn’t help him read. He handed them over to William’s son. “Could you read it for me, Son?” he asked.

He nodded and opened the first paper. The words were almost faded and faintly visible.

“Jenny is the most beautiful girl in the world and I love her”, he read it.

“Ah! Ha ha! That is my letter! This is embarrassing. Wrote it as a kid”, Rudwig laughed while offering justification. William’s family smiled.

“Read Jenny’s secret now, will you?”, he asked.

William’s son opened the other paper. The words were not as faded as those in the other letter.

“It says”, he paused and smiled. “Rudwig is the most handsome boy in the world and I love him”.

“See.! I knew..!”, Rudwig had exclaimed in joy before breathing his last. William smiled through his tears. He was content, for having seen his friend die in peace.

***********************************************************************

The day Jenny died; William had rushed to the green grounds. He had dug up the hole below the Palmigo tree and had unearthed the bottle. He had known about the Time capsule all along, he had watched Jenny and Rudwig burry the bottle under the tree.

He had opened the letters and had wept hard after reading them.

After slipping one of those letters into his pocket, he had torn a paper from his notebook and begun to write.

 

**THE END**

-CHAN

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:

Thank you for reading this.

If you have liked this story, please share it with your friends. That would help me reach maximum readers, which I cannot otherwise. 🙂

I would also love to hear your feedback. You could provide yours by commenting here or by dropping an email to passionophoria@gmail.com.

In your free time, do visit the blog and read my other stories.

——Follow Passionophoria blog Facebook page to receive updates about my future works

Click here to visit the page——

 

 

Dew drops, Sunshine and a Blade of Grass – The first Date

(Note: This is an additional chapter to the already concluded  ‘Dew drops, Sunshine and a Blade of Grass’ – a 10 episode romantic web series. The first date between Sid and Anahita was something that was never published. When I came across the draft today, I felt I should be doing that.)

Click here to read the first episode.

Chapter 4.5

The First Date

 

 

“What are you up to? :)”, her text message arrived.

The store was lazily filled with people who were busy posing as someone who is definitely going to make a purchase.

“So this washing machine, would it work for sure?”, a customer in his late thirties asked me.

He was accompanied by his wife.

“Yes. Do you want to buy it?”, I asked.

He looked at his wife and then at me.

“I mean this specific piece that I am going buy. Will it work for sure?”, he raised his concern.

“Getting entertained by customers”, I replied to Anahita’s message.

“Sir. Would it work?”, he repeated the question.

I scanned the floor for Customer Assistants- everyone was busy.

“Yeah”, I kept my answer short. I wasn’t convinced that he was going to buy it.Yet I felt the need to add the following statement. “There is a warranty that we issue with the machine”.

He didn’t appear as if he was convinced.

“But, if we go back home and find it faulty, wouldn’t it be troublesome to raise a complaint?”, he asked.

My phone beeped again.

“Feeling hungry, stuck in class”, she had texted.

“What would you love to have?”, I asked.

“Sir?”, the customer interrupted me.

I threw a questioning look at him.

“What do you suggest?”, I tried to sound gentle.

“Can’t we test the piece right here?”, he asked. His wife nodded , suggesting that it would be the right thing to do.

My phone beeped.

Anahita – “Donuts 😉 “.

I looked at the customer and while trying to conceal my displeasure, I said – “Well if you could hand me that dirty white shirt that you are wearing, we could test the machine. We could try giving it a wash, right here right now”.

I didn’t even wait for his reply. There was something running in my mind. I picked up my car keys and walked out of the store – asking the store manager to take care of the showroom, before doing so.

********************************************************************

“What!”, she exclaimed.

“Just come outside. Outside the college gate”, I repeated.

“You must be kidding! I have my classes. They might mark me absent”, she tried to resist.

“Seriously..?” I teased her.

“What?”

“You are not in a school Anahita”.

“Fineee!” she laughed and ended the call.

After she had given me her phone number, it was all about good night, good morning and occasional phone calls. We had never really met.

I wanted to meet her now and wanted to take her on our first date.

My phone rang.

“I am outside the college. Where are you?”, she asked.

“Let’s play a game”

“What!”, that was her third ‘what’ in the day.

“I have a mission for you”, I said.

“What!” she had refused to stop uttering that word.

“There is a note for you, stuck on the lamp post next to the gate”, I gave her my first instruction.

She looked around in confusion and walked towards the post. When she found the note, she looked around again in an attempt to trace me.

“Sid.!”, she exclaimed.

“The sun that sets in the east, is the one that was lazy to wake up”, I had written on the note.

“It’s a critical mission Sergeant Anahita. You have been designated with the task of retrieving a package from one of our subordinates and delivering it to commander Jhin Xiu”, I spoke in a dramatic tone.

“Sid!”, she took my name again – this time in a complaining tone. The very next moment it appeared as if she had begun to buy into my idea of role play.

“Yes Sir. Where would I find him?”, she asked- like a man on a mission.

“You need to walk a distance of about 250 meters towards south east”, I was trying to give her my instruction when she interrupted.

“That I assume is towards the bus stop”, she said.

I was taken aback by surprise.

“Smart.!”, I exclaimed.

“Yes. Towards the bus stop. There you will find lieutenant Myuing Tsao from whom you have to collect the package”.

“But how will I identify him?”.

“He will be wearing a green shirt and a blue jean”.

“That sounds cool!”, she laughed – mildly.

“On the note is the passcode. Memorize it. Before handing over the package, he will ask for the passcode. You make a mistake and mission will fail”, I carefully instructed her.

“Yes sir”, I guess she was trying to suppress her laughter.

“Okay. Our men with snipers have marked you. If you try to run away from this, you will be shot dead”, I warned her.

“No sir. I won’t”, said she in a stern voice and hung the call.

I could now see her walking towards the bus stop. There were about a dozen passengers waiting for the bus. She spotted a man in green shirt.

“Lieutenant”, she said after stroking him on the shoulder.

The man in green shirt turned around and looked at her in confusion.

“Lieutenant Myuing Tsao”, she repeated, this time in an uncertain tone.

“Sorry.!”, the man replied with confusion. Passengers at the bus stop started staring at her.

“Are you Myuing Tsao? Lieutenant Myuing Tsao?”, she asked him again in a scared voice.

“What.!”, the man exclaimed. Few of the passengers laughed.

She turned pink in embarrassment.

“Sorry.!”, she apologized and immediately pulled out her phone and dialed me.

“What kind of prank is this? I am feeling so very embarrassed. I mean people started staring at me. I guess I appeared a crazy woman”, she started ranting.

“Passcode please”, she heard someone saying.

When she turned around, she found the same green shirt guy. Vinod had managed to carry out the act impressively well.

“Oh.!”, she smiled at him. “Hang on.!”, she told me over the phone.

“The sun that sets in the east, is the one that was lazy to wake up”, she uttered the passcode with a gleaming smile.

“Should be right!”, he winked and handed over a large carry bag to her.

“Sir.! I have collected the package. Where should I drop it?”, she asked.

“Sergenat! As instructed earlier you need to deliver it to commander Jhin Xiu”.

“But where will I find Jhin Xiu?”, she laughed.

“Cross the road and get into the park. He will be wearing a hooded jacket and glasses”

“All rite”, said she.

She took a while to reach the park.

“Commander Xiu”, she said.

“Well done.!”, I removed my glasses.

She handed me over the package.

“You have successfully completed your mission”, I greeted her.

“What’s next sir?”, she asked.

“Let’s have some food”, I replied.

“Where?”, she asked.

“Here”, I smiled and pulled out a donuts box from the package that she had delivered me.

“Stupid!”, She laughed and quickly grabbed it from my hands.

 

-CHAN

The portrait of Queen Ina! – A short story

“How much did you say?” he asked.

When Zylos heard the whopping amount that he will be paid for his work, it was difficult for him to believe that he had heard it right.

“A hundred thousand Stellars”, came the reply.

Zylos was the most renowned painter in town – earning his living by drawing portraits for elites. It was the country of Origiana in its late 1500s, ruled by Queen Ina.

There were various tales that spoke of Queen Ina’s rise from a being a singer in the court to becoming the queen. She was married to prince Tyzar who went on to become the king. Upon his untimely demise, the baton was passed onto her – She became the ruler.

The minister of the state was at the door of Zylos with an offer. A portrait of Queen Ina had to be painted and he would be paid a huge amount in return.

“Zylos! Would you agree to paint the picture of her highness, Queen Ina?” the minister asked.

The assignment was not something that would demand much of his effort. The money that he would be getting in return would would help him lead a life- lead by the rich.

He accepted it.

“But there’s a condition”, said the minister.

Zylos threw a questioning look at him.

“You can’t paint the picture in her presence”, he said.

“Then?” asked Zylos.

“You cannot expect her to warm her seat and pose, while you paint her. We would allow you to attend the court proceedings and you could stay there for half an hour. We would allow your visit every day until you are done”.

“So you want me to memorize her face and continue the drawing once I am back home?” asked Zylos. Artistic genius that he was, drawing from memory wasn’t something that bothered him.

‘It might take some time, but not forever’, he thought.

“That shouldn’t be difficult. Could be a matter of weeks”, he gave his nod.

The minister smiled at him- “The queen will have a look at the painting. She would expect the portrait to match her beauty – every contours on face intact. Any flaw that she finds in it and you will not be paid for your work”.

“So the money…” Zylos paused.

“You will be paid after your work!” the minister smiled.

***********************************************************************

Queen Ina was perhaps the most beautiful woman on the earth – at least amongst those women whom Zylos had seen.

Every day he spent twenty minutes in the court looking at her – paying attention to every minute detail on her face. He was not allowed to carry any drawing material to the court, hence all his observations had to stay in his mind until he returned home.

Once home, he would quickly try to put those details on canvas. He would spend hours on every line that he drew and every stroke that he made.

Every day he would wake up early in the morning and stare at the canvas until it would be time to rush to court. In the court he would then spend time in identifying those details on her face that deviated from his painting.

Weeks rolled and then months, but the painting wasn’t complete. Ones which were complete didn’t appear perfect to him and he had them thrown away only to start with a new canvas.

He tried to distance himself from others. He stopped talking to those around. He kept thinking about Queen Ina’s face all the while.

One day it occurred to Zylos – ‘My wife is also beautiful. She might be someone who is serving as my distraction. While I draw Queen Ina, it must be my wife’s face that is invading my memory every now and then’.

The moment that thought crossed his mind, he started avoiding his wife. He stopped looking at her, with a fear that it would influence his painting. He burnt all his wife’s portraits.

A year passed by!

Her husband’s behavior started bothering her. She turned ill and one day she passed away. However, her desertion had little impact on Zylos. He continued painting the portrait – all day and all night.

Few more years passed by and Zylos was yet to paint a portrait that satisfied him. He kept visiting the court and the minister kept enquiring about the progress. The desire to paint a perfect portrait had turned into an obsession!

***********************************************************************

The neighboring kingdom Vyzan had declared a war on Origiana. The battle was fought. After four weeks of war Origiana lost.

Brave lady that she was, Queen Ina was one amongst those countless warriors who had lost their lives in the war. Every royal belongings including the palace was destroyed.

The king of Vyzan took over Origiana.

***********************************************************************

Few more years passed by.

Now Zylos had turned old and was in his fifties – leading a lonely life.

One day a carriage stopped by his hut. A bald man of almost his age stepped out of the carriage. His attire and the badge that he wore, suggested that he was a senior official in the court of Vyzan.

“Is this the place where Zylos, the painter lives?” the bald man asked.

Zylos took a moment and nodded.

“Are you the one who was working on the portrait of Queen Ina?” he asked.

“Yes”, said Zylos in a shaky voice.

There was a sharp change in the bald man’s expression. He was visibly excited. “Well. Do you still have any of her paintings”, the official asked, with a hint of anxiety in his voice.

Zylos didn’t reply. Instead, he took him inside and pointed at a huge pile of paintings – covered in dust.

He picked up a cloth and slowly started dusting them before arranging them on the floor one by one. Every picture in the pile was the portrait of Queen Ina! Painted with perfection!.

When the last piece was dusted and laid on the floor, the bald man stopped counting. There were around a thousand of them!

“Beautiful!” he exclaimed in a voice that choked.

Zylos responded with a forced smile on his tired face.

“Why have you painted so many of them, a thousand ?”, the bald man asked.

“I don’t know”, Zylos replied softly.

“I am buying them, all of them”, said the bald men- gently.

Zylos was taken aback by surprise.

“One million Stellars”, he said and held out a large leather pouch towards Zylos.

The artist was at loss of words. All his old memories rushed in. Tears rolled down his cheeks. With a shaky hand he touched the pouch and with the other he wiped his tears.

The bald man signaled his men and they started moving those paintings to his carriage.

When he was about to leave, Zylos asked the question that had made nest in him all this while.

“Why pay so much for her painting?” he asked.

The bald man stopped and turned around. He came closer to him and started speaking.

“I was born here and was in this town until I left this country at the age of seventeen. Until then I used to look at her daily, listen to her sing by the river bank, dreaming of my future with her and thinking of ways to talk to her and confess my love.

I left this country in a hope of making it rich and returning one day, being someone who could ask her hand in marriage at ease.

But I am returning now, after a gap of thirty years. So much has transpired in these thirty years- struggle, war, longings and at last a comfortable life.

My love towards her stayed persistent, but I couldn’t recollect her face anymore. I forgot how she used to look.

All these years I yearned to see her face and when I am here, she isn’t. She is not alive”, he stopped as his voice choked.

Pointing at the leather pouch in Zylos’ hand, he continued “This money is the least that I could pay you. The joy of seeing her face again and bringing alive her face that had faded away from my memory, is of worth beyond any measure”.

He silently thanked him and proceeded towards his carriage. When He was about to step into the vehicle, something struck him and he turned around.

“You live alone here. Aren’t you married?” he asked.

“My wife, she died years ago”, said Zylos.

“I am sorry”, the bald man apologized. “But you are an artist. You could draw her portrait and keep her alive”, he smiled.

Zylos didn’t respond and waited for him to leave.

Once his carriage left, he walked into his hut.He mounted a fresh canvas on the wooden easel and took out his brush.

He tried to recollect his wife’s face again- like he did every single day!

And as always, all that he could remember was – Queen Ina’s face!

-CHAN

(A writer hates it when he has to explain his story. Let’s see if you have understood the story right 🙂

If you don’t want me to spill it for you, stop reading this any further. Go back and give the story, a second read.

If you want me to explain it to you, then just think- why did he paint over a thousand portraits of the queen? Was he drawing them intentionally?  And wasn’t he throwing away every picture that failed to satisfy him.

Did he continue to paint the Queen in spite of her death? 

What were those last two lines in the story trying to convey?

If you still haven’t understood it right, try reading the story once again.

All that I was trying to tell is that there is a possibility that he had stopping painting the queen a long back. He must have been trying to paint his wife, because he had begun to miss her.

Sadly, he had forgotten his wife’s face. And whenever he tried to remember her face and paint her, all that came into his mind was the face of Queen Ina.

That’s how, a thousand pictures! At the end of the story, it was not Queen Ina’s face that fetched him the money. It was his honest attempt at painting his own wife’s picture.

I wanted to put across this point very subtly in the story and not describe it in detail.)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:

Thank you for reading this.

If you have liked this story, please share it with your friends. That would help me reach maximum readers, which I cannot otherwise. 🙂

I would also love to hear your feedback. You could provide yours by commenting here or by dropping an email to passionophoria@gmail.com.

In your free time, do visit the blog and read my other stories.

——Follow Passionophoria blog Facebook page to receive updates about my future works

Click here to visit the page——

Painted face.! – A short story

“Have never met a female clown before”, he said and put aside the newspaper.

The break-up of ‘Beatles’ music band had occupied the headlines of the newspaper.

She was a clown at a reputed circus company and he was into the business of paper mills. They were at a coffee shop.

“No one likes to go out with a girl who works as a clown. You are an exception”, she smiled.
“I see that you have got a dimple”, he pointed out.

She – “When you are a clown it doesn’t matter. The smile painted on your face gets the better of it”.

He – “So you don’t like being a clown?”.

“What do you think?”, she asked.

She was the only daughter of a reputed publisher in the town. Needless to say that she was rich.

“Hmm.. that mine was a wrong question”, he replied.

Their families had thought of their marriage alliance and she wanted to meet the groom in person, before giving her nod.

“Tell me something interesting about your job. How do you feel when your act doesn’t draw any response from your audience?”, he asked while keeping a curious face.
“That’s the thing about painted face”, she paused.

She took out a paper napkin and started scribbling something on it.

“If you see audience laughing their heart out you feel like peeling off the mask and revealing yourself. For, you want the person who is doing the act to get the accolades and not the ‘clown’. Because, no one’s going to remember the person who did the act. For them they are all the same”, she smiled.

“A clown”, she added and held out the picture of the female clown that she had just drawn.

“And what about the times when your humor doesn’t work?”, he said while taking the paper napkin from her hand.

She took a sip of the coffee.
“You feel good that the audience haven’t seen your face. For the audience, it’s the clown who has failed at the act and not the person behind it”, she laughed.

“That’s a nice picture. I shall keep it with me”, he said and buried the napkin in his coat pocket.

“That’s not the only thing about the painted face”, she continued from where she had stopped.  “It helps me hide my anger when our boss yells at me. It helps me bury my boredom when I am in the middle of a boring talk”, she said.

“Are you hinting at our ongoing conversation?”, he asked.

“No”, she laughed. “I was just trying to endorse it – the painted face. How i wish everyone had the luxury of wearing painted faces even outside the act”.

He stayed silent.

“Like the other clown”, she exclaimed in excitement.
Excitement in her tone drew his attention and he grew wary.

“Like whom?”, he asked.

“There’s the other clown who works at our company. He is yet to perform on stage. He never removes his make up. Not even when the act is over”, her excitement was persistent.
“That’s interesting”, he responded.

“No. That’s not the only interesting part. Everyday before the show he comes up to me and hands out a rose to me, a red one”, she paused.

He dropped a sugar cube in his cup and started stirring it.

“And he has never spoken to me once. All that he does is giving me a rose and bringing his hand close to his chest”. He could notice her eyes gleaming while narrating the account.

“Probably he likes you”, he said.

She could sense an element of discomfort in his voice.

“Ah. Probably.! But he has never really confessed and it would be wrong on my part to draw any inference without really understanding his intentions”.

Both stayed quiet for a moment and silently took a sip of their coffees.

“So what do you do every time he hands out a rose to you?”, he asked.

“I just stay quiet and put up a confused smile”, she laughed.

“He must be looking terribly disappointed every time you do that”, he raised his concern.
“I don’t know”, she paused, looked at him and smiled.
“That’s the thing about the painted face”, she paused again. “It lets him bury his emotions under the makeup. And all that I see is his painted smile”.

“Oh.!”, he smiled – for the first time in the entire conversation.

She caught the dimple on his right cheek.
“I see that you have got a dimple”, she pointed out.

He stayed quiet for a moment and smiled broader.

“When you are a clown it doesn’t matter”, he kept his coffee cup on the table.
“The smile painted on your face gets the better of it”, he added.

tumblr_lotl0hpt9Y1qg205no1_500

——————————— THE END ———————————-

CHAN

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:

Thank you for reading this.

If you have liked this story, please share it with your friends. That would help me reach maximum readers, which I cannot otherwise. 🙂

I would also love to hear your feedback. You could provide yours by commenting here or by dropping an email to passionophoria@gmail.com.

In your free time, do visit the blog and read my other stories.

——Follow Passionophoria blog Facebook page to receive updates about my future works

Click here to visit the page——