When Spiderman Attacked Me!

It all started when things in my house started disappearing and reappearing in the most unexpected places! My grandmother’s spectacles, my grandfather’s dentures, my father’s gold watch, my sister’s fancy ribbons and hairbands and a lot more. I was the prime suspect— firstly, as stated by my mother, because I was the youngest (no idea how that counts), and secondly because one of ‘most unexpected places’ I mentioned earlier was my playroom. Originally it was shared between me and my sister but since she wasn’t a child anymore (or so she said), I had it all to myself. all except one corner where there was a dollhouse in which lived her most precious dolls. The rest of the room was filled with action figures of Spider Man, Superman, Batman, Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Thor, the X-Men and five Power Rangers, and Harry Potter. Also a huggle of soft toys— like Tweeety, Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and many more, and a shiny model of the Lightning McQueen.

The spectacles were discovered on Tweety’s nose, the dentures in Donald Duck’s beak (he had always wanted to have teeth*) and the gold watch around McQueen. My sister didn’t mind much as she found her ribbons on her dolls’ hair and she thought they looked quite good (#eyeroll). All my pleas of innocence were ignored. Instead of the thrashing I was expecting, my parents, progressive as they were, grounded me for a week as retribution.

Everything was quiet for a week or so. But on the contrary to what I was thinking, my troubles were far from over and the worst was yet to come.

Things got serious when my mother’s costly diamond set went missing. The whole neighborhood got to know of this loss. It was found (unfortunately for me) in my play room.

I got scolded four times—first by my father, then my mother followed by my sister, to whom I answered back, and therefore received a fourth scolding from all of them together.

After this episode, I took it upon myself to find out the real culprit and get him to justice. I decided to stay up that night to see if I could discover something. I made myself comfortable behind my sisters doll house. A little before midnight, my Granny joined me. She told me that she had always known that I was innocent and hadn’t supported me only because I had back answered to my sister. So together we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And then we had the shock of our lives!

I had sort of fallen asleep and was woken up by a noise, which, at first, I thought was my grandmother’s snoring, but later realized was the sound of babble and hubbub coming from the other side of the dollhouse. I peeped from behind the dollhouse and almost passed out from what I saw. I woke Granny up and showed her the same.

Suddenly a distinct voice came from above the dollhouse— “What’s up, Do-oc?”

In front of us stood Bugs Bunny…staring at us with wide plastic eyes and half a carrot in his hands. As realization came upon him he shouted loudly, “Intruders! INTRUDERS!!!

Granny and I stood up quickly, toppling the dollhouse over, and Bugs Bunny along with it. The rest of the toys in the room kept gaping at us as we stood there motionless, neither of us knowing what to expect.

As comprehension dawned, some toy (I think it was Thor) shouted, “ATTACK!”, and all the toys charged us at once.

Imagine being charged at by Spider Man, Superman, Batman, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the Power Rangers and the Incredible Hulk. But I didn’t even blink an eyelid. The ground shook and war cries filled the air as drew their weapons and flung them at us…none of which reached their destination.

Spider Man climbed over the dollhouse, jumping and swinging out with his web shooters, and fell flat on his face in front of us. Meanwhile Thor’s hammer had landed on Iron Man and Captain America was busy trying to break them up. Harry Potter was pointing his wand at Granny and shouting some rubbish. Granny looked at the laser dot on her dress and burst out laughing. A moment later I joined her.

Granny is the only person I know who can laugh in such a serious situation.

One by one, all the toys started laughing. Suddenly everyone was laughing and nobody knew why. Once the mood lightened a bit Granny cleared her throat to get everyone’s attention. She warned them against stealing. “Though the missing objects have all been recovered”, she said, “it is causing him (—me—) trouble.” All toys were in agreement.

That night was the most memorable night of my life (till then, because my most memorable night after that was when my parents came to know about it… Well, that’s a story for next time.)

Epilogue.

One night, when I was chatting with the Hulk in the playroom, Mom heard me and asked me who I was talking with, to which I replied “No one.” She came in to check and found me with a toy in my hand. Exasperated, she came out shaking her head saying, “He’s still a baby”, to my Granny, who was passing by.

I looked at Granny and she winked at me, and we (all three of us) burst out laughing.

 

This story was written in a competition I had participated in by MaxLife i-Genius. The jury consisted of master authors like Sudha Murthy, Chetan Bhagat among a few, and my most favorite writer and idol Sir Ruskin Bond.

For the first round I had to send a story or an essay. https://mh12ka04hd.wordpress.com/2019/03/24/fantasy-vacation/

For the second round we had to choose from given topics and write an impromptu story. This story would be published in a book if I managed to clear the third round.

The Third round was a video conference with all the esteemed judges. That is when I first met Sir Ruskin Bond. Thankfully they liked me and my story.

We were invited for a book-launch ceremony in Taj Hotel Delhi. Out of 1500 participants I was among the top 100 and my story would be published in an e-book of a collection of short stories.

This is the link.

https://www.amazon.in/i-genius-Twist-Tale-Life-Insurance-ebook/dp/B015P6AZVW

Here is where I got the opportunity to meet Sir Ruskin Bond face-to-face. He signed my copy of the book for me and obliged for a quick picture.

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A dream come true.

First Birthday Present

*Narrator: Me, just turned 1.

This evening, I woke up to a caterwauling of obnoxious laughter (don’t ask me how i know these words).

My movement must have attracted their attention, as suddenly unfamiliar faces came into view.

Where did all these new faces come from, I’m wondering, starting to get a bit annoyed.

I’m only used to 3 faces – mom, dad and sister – none of whom I can see here.

The faces are now talking gibberish (weird), pinching my cheeks, poking my stomach, touching my nose, tickling my feet….ugh!

Completely unacceptable behavior!

I kick a face and bite a finger, and the faces start laughing. My punches  have the same results.

As a last resort I do something that always works. I CRY.

Lower lip curled, eyes dilated with a touche d’humidité. Perfect.

And bingo! The faces are clearing away and mom has appears. She has picked me up and is taking me to another room, all the while telling me about a gift she has got for me because I’ve grown a year older.

None of this is making any sense to me, but as mom puts me in some soft-and-nice-smelling-new-clothes, I’m feeling warm and fuzzy, and a little…wet? Oops!

Now, mom has cleaned me up and put me in another soft-and-nice-smelling-new-clothes. I’m being shown glittering boxes, and my sister is opening them.

My mom and dad have suddenly brought in a new box, and they have unpacked it revealing a sleeping bag with wheels. They call it a.. pram?  Okay.

*And thus I get my first birthday present.

Next, a sweet smelling substance has been set in front of me, with a beautiful light at the end of an oddly bent stick, stuffed in it. Aaahh! I could stare at it all day…

Some insufferable person has put the light out and for some reason all of them start clapping and singing.

I mean what even man!!?

Porky_Pig

(Jwust wrandom ‘writes’ :))

SoulChow!

It happened one rainy day, as Aditi walked back to her rented apartment after a tiring day at college. She had successfully managed to escape the group of gregarious girls, whose only aim in life was to corner lovers of solitude and try to bring them out of their peaceful shells.

Aditi loved the rains. People at home stayed put and those caught outside wanted nothing but to get back in. Everybody minding their own businesses for once, minimizing the chances of social interactions. Perfect.

She pulled down the hood of her windcheater and faced the sky, feeling the rain drops hitting her face and drenching her short hair. A stray droplet ran down her neck right to the middle of her back where her T-shirt soaked it in. It sent chills through her spine and her skin momentarily hardened, making her body hair stand on end.

As she continued walking down the empty road, she came upon the body of a dead dog. Some ass of a guy had probably driven over it, not bothering to even stop and look if the animal was hurt, in his hurry to get home. Aditi muttered a few curses to the driver under her breath. Getting closer she noticed that the dog was a female and looking at her inflamed and enlarged breasts and swollen nipples, she had probably just delivered a litter.

This was too much to take in for Aditi and she felt her eyes fill up with hot tears, and a sob escaped her throat. As she let her tears flow out freely she felt an ancient knot in her chest, which she had forgotten about with time, release and dissolve, making her feel light in the head. She felt so much relief as all her emotions pent up throughout the years were released in one go. She had almost forgotten what crying felt like, and oh boy, did it feel good!

The rain camouflaged her tears so she did not have to worry about being seen crying. Her only giveaway were her red eyes, which could be seen only if one were to look closely enough.

Aditi never cried in front of anybody else no matter what the circumstances. As a child she had been taught that crying was for the weak, to always be strong and never show your weaknesses to others, as it would leave you vulnerable and exposed. Growing old she had learnt that the opposite was true, how important it was to express oneself freely, but scared of being judged and not trusting anyone enough, she just couldn’t bring herself to do it. She kept waiting for the one being who would sit down and listened while she poured out her heart, convince her that she was loved and that it takes courage to learn how to cry.

Aditi heaved a sigh, praying that the dog’s soul may rest in peace, and as she started to walk back home, convincing herself that there was nothing much she could do here, she heard a sound which made her freeze with excitement. So soft and so weak, at first she thought it was just her imagination. She waited for a few seconds straining her ears so that she could catch it a second time, and almost when she was ready to give up, there it was again!

She ran in the direction from which she thought it came, and it led her into a nearby hedge where some old furniture had been stacked. Not caring about getting her hands dirty, she lifted up the mouldy planks and inside a shelf, perfectly safe and dry, she found the source of the sound. Two puppies, smaller than her palm, curled up against each other trying to keep warm. Judging from their sealed eyes and pinkish skin, they were no more than a week old.

Sensing her presence one of the puppies mistook her for its mother and started whimpering again. To Aditi, each whimper felt like her heart was breaking into a million pieces, like she was losing years from her lifespan**. She had this sudden and deep urge to do something, anything, that would make the whimpering stop. But she knew not what to do. She tried stroking them to keep them warm and calm them down, but the foreign touch made them panic and they started crying out louder, calling out to their mother for help, unaware of her tragic fate.

Aditi had a decision to make here. She couldn’t possibly take them home, but then she couldn’t even leave them here. Her conscience wouldn’t permit that. She knew, more than anyone else what it was like to be left alone, to have no one you could talk to, have conversations with and look up to for guidance.

She remembered how alone she used to feel in her house when her mom and dad would leave for work, how when at home they would continually engage in work related conversations and hardly have any time for her. At parties she would have to keep up appearances in front of the guests, and her parents would introduce her to one of their seniors and expect her to pay them their respect. Much to their disapproval, Aditi never complied. To her a person is not deserving of respect just because he is senior by age or position, until he has earned it with love and compassion. None of the people at the party were deserving of any kind of respect or love from Aditi, or anyone for that matter. She would never forgive them for making her mom and dad mad at her.

Her parents, she forgave over time, as she now did understand that they had to work and earn in order to be able to afford her school fees and the big house and all the things they provided her with. But that understanding did not soothe the pain of not being able to receive their attention and affection and having a proper relation with them, instead it helped to push and bury the pain in the back of her mind.

As these bitter thoughts and memories flashed through her mind, the pups stretched and yawned and gave in to the warmth of her hand. At that split second her decision was made. She had no idea that this decision would change her life forever. A few minutes later a transformed Aditi walked home with a spring in her feet and a smile on her face, and two hairless pups curled up in the inner pockets of her wind cheater, promising herself that come what may, she would never let anything happen to them.

The first few weeks were quite difficult for Aditi. Looking after the pups and keeping them warm and comfortable took most of her time. They had to be fed carefully prepared and diluted cow milk every few hours, in baby bottles with ‘teat’ caps. Half an hour after every meal they would poop and Aditi would clean up after them. Sometimes one of the pups’ bowel movements had to be stimulated to make him poop, by rubbing its tummy around the genitals, with a cotton ball moistened with warm water. Her maid, who would visit every week to clean her apartment, was a lot of help and very supportive of her efforts. Having some experience in dealing with puppies, she gave instructions to Aditi on how to handle certain situations were they to arise, and Aditi took these lessons to heart.

A couple of months passed and the pups grew up to be healthy and fit. Both the dogs were furry mongrels. One had a black coat and bright white on his chest and on the tips of his paws. She named him Bailey. The other had a husky coat with a tinge of brown, and would wag his tail so fast that Aditi wondered how it didn’t fall off. She had decided to call him Waggs.

As the foster mother, Aditi was doing everything that was needed to be done to the best of her capabilities. She spent all the money sent by her parents, to provide for Bailey and Waggs. But inspite of everything that she did, she never felt like it was enough, like she still should be doing more, and that if their mother was here she would have done it better. She had taken responsibility of their lives by bringing them in and she was determined to go through with it. They were the younger sibblings she never had. Adopting the dogs had awoken something inside Aditi, something that she didn’t know existed within her. Where earlier she used to lead a solitary life, she now had someone to look forward to meeting, someone to care for and someone she felt so ferociously protective about that she was ready to take on other strays who would dare to try and harm them. Most of all she had grown to love them.

In return she was showered with an equal, if not more, amount of affection and love from her boys. They would always sense when she was feeling down and seemed to know exactly what would cheer her up. Their mere presence calmed her mind down and watching them play together became her favorite pass time.

One morning while bathing, she was thinking that her sem-end vacations were coming to an end, and she had absolutely no hesitation, no sense of anxiety and no panic attacks about joining back and having to interact with other students. She casually observed herself in the steamy mirror, and she could hardly recognise the person she was looking at. This was in stark contrast with what she looked like earlier, pale skinned and drooping eyes, with dark circles. Also, she felt light at heart and at ease with herself. She watched as steam from the hot shower still clung to her soft skin, which had turned into a raw shade, as she wondered what could have brought about this transformation. It was amazing how love and a few licks could change ones life. She realised how much her heart had craved for love but her mind wouldn’t let her accept it, convincing her that she could live without it. How foolish she had been, clinging on to her past and shutting out the world.

Bailey and Waggs had brought out virtues and traits in her personalty that she had never even dreamt of having, her love for travelling, music and dance. Parts of her which she had hidden away long ago, tired of unappreciation and scared of being judged and of people’s opinions. She had considered external validation very important, and unaware that these were the very best of her qualities, she had shut them out of her life. They revealed to her that she had the ability to give love and affection, and convinced her that she was herself very deserving of love, affection and devotion. For this she would be eternally grateful to the both of them.

Happy ending-

Aditi is now an unusually beautiful girl, from outside as well as inside, with a unique sense of humor, and a smile that can make any man week in the knees. Often sarcastic and cold, but ferociously protective of those she loves. Extremely loyal, and supportive of her friends, but not ready to compromise her morals. Often mistaken for moody due to her sensitive nature. Passionate and filled with enthusiasm, she exudes raw emotion and mystery. Most of all, she loves all animals, especially Bailey and Waggs, and can’t bear to see one mistreated.

 

 

P.S. Still need to work on endings….make them more realistic and less conventional.

 

**cc Trina Ray.

WRUDRAAK!

This is the backstory of a character I designed.

Parshu, was born in the village of the Suparna tribe, where he lived with his parents, who were revered by the villagers.
His parents were from two different tribes and had eloped to get married. His father, Jamadagni, was a Vanara of the Jabbari tribe and his mother, Anusuya, was from the storm tribe of the Marutas. The Maruta tribe ruler had been overthrown by the leader of the treacherous Kalakeya tribe, and he was constantly waging war against the Jabbari tribe.
Once while he was out hunting, Jamadagni shot down a wild boar, and when he went to retrieve it, he found another arrow sticking out of it. It was Anusuya’s. That was the first time they met. Eventually they fell in love, and wanted to get married, but Kalakeya rules prohibited any Marutian to marry anyone other than a Maruta or a Kalakeya. Jamadagni’s parents decided to send them to a far away tribe called the Suparna tribe where they would be out of harms way.
Jamadagni and Anusuya taught Parshu all the knowledge of their respective tribes and sent him to Rahib Umair, a great scholar and warrior of the Valakhilya tribe, for higher education.
Here he mastered different fighting styles and weapons. His favorite weapon was Shoka, the Axe, which had been gifted to him by the chief of the Suparna tribe.
Once out on a hunting trip, Parshu discovers a black Panther cub defending his lethally wounded mother from a pack of hyenas. Soon the mother dies and he brings the cub back home with him and names him Rudra, meaning “the Roarer” or “the mightiest of the mighty”.
After his education when he returned back home, he was shocked to find his house burned down and his father’s body hung from a tree, while a lot of Suparna soldiers lay dead around.
His mother told him that it was the Kalakeyas.They had slaughtered the Jabbari tribe and had come searching for Jamadagni and Anusuya. She said that his father had been killed because of her and she had no wish to continue living. Therefore, she ordered Parshu to chop off her head with his Axe, and made him promise that he would not spare those responsible for her husband’s death.
With tears in his eyes and rage in his heart, Parshu brings down his axe on his mother’s head. He shouts out to all the Gods, swearing to destroy those responsible for his parents’ death.
Parshu wreaks havoc on the Kalakeya villages, killing the chief and all his men. He cut off their fingers and hung them around his neck and took their skulls as trophies. Petrified, the ones who survived went into hiding. Not daring to speak out his name, they called him WRUDRAAK!

Fantasy Vacation.

One Hot Summer’s Day

I was hot and parched. I looked at up at the skies and sighed. Thick white, cotton like clouds loomed in the sky. There was no wind blowing. The clouds would not even move a little to cover the sun.

By the way, I was at my grandparent’s house for summer holidays. Usually I come here with my sister and cousins, uncle and aunts (off course my parents) and we enjoy ourselves a lot.

But this year, my sister was at home studying for her board exam. I was sent here at my grandparents place so that she does not get disturbed, or rather, i may not disturb her. My cousins had gone somewhere south for their vacation.

So here i was laying on the dry mud, with the hot sunning shining mercilessly on my face. My grandparents house is an ancestor, old rambling, 3 – storied mansion (excluding the attics and the dungeons) with a huge verandah in front, and a bigger backyard.

The backyard was five times larger than the old mansion. It consisted of everything, anyone would wish to have. It had a stable of horses (in which one was mine), a cow shed, a hencoop (though we do not eat them) with hens giving fresh eggs every day, and most of all a huge lake, surrounded by mango, banyan and pear trees.

It is in one of these banyan trees about a thousand years old, that grandfather had built a tree house. Made of bamboo sticks and tied with the ariel roots of banyan itself, it was extremely steady and dependable.

Well that’s enough! Let’s get back to me. I was lying there, or dying with boredom, when i thought about the tree house. I had never had guts to climb there with the swinging ladder. But now I was determined to do it. With great difficulty I managed to climb up there with that swinging ladder. When I reached up I found myself in the coolest place ever. There was my grandfather’s arm chair and on it were his field glasses which he used for bird viewing.

As I walked upto it, the bamboo sticks creaking under me, I saw that a squirrel had built its nest in a corner. The squirrel was extremely tame and even took a piece of biscuit (which I had along with a chocolate) from my hand.

About half an hour later, I found myself peering through the field glasses into our house. I saw my grandmother sitting in her armchair and stitching. Grandfather had just returned from fishing and was enjoying a cup of tea.

I turned the glasses towards the stable and saw the cowboy tending to the horses. Nothing much of interest there. I turned it to the patch unexplored by me. It is here that my glasses focused as something slithered into the clearing. There lay a most fearful looking cobra, about five feet long, black in colour, basking in the sun. After five minutes I began to lose interest in it, when it suddenly stood up tall and opened its fangs. I was surprised at this, but soon understood the reason for the reaction, for there came dancing in front of the cobra, a small mongoose, not half of its size.

To my surprise they come right under my tree. Soon the fight started. The cobra stuck first but missed. The mongoose jumped up his throat but missed too. This continued for a long time. I was not the only spectator for this fight. There was a crow and a squirrel as part of the audience. The crow would fly down from time to time and try to peck at the cobra, and come back.

The third time when it flew down, the cobra stuck at it with its tail. The crow fell to the ground at some distance and lay still. The fight resumed. As I was watching dumb founded, I lost my grip on he field glasses and it went straight down and fell on the cobra’s head, distracting it for a second, and it spat venom at the glasses. In this second the mongoose jumped at the cobra’s throat and caught it between its teeth, and held on tightly until the cobra stopped struggling for life.

After having a nice snack the mongoose climbed up the tree and came to as if to thank me. I gave hin the piece of the chocolate I had. As i got down the tree it followed me and came home with me.

Delighted, I took him home and kept him with grandfather’s female mongoose. I named him Ricky-Tikki-Tavi, after a fictional mongoose. I plyed with him till it was time to go home. That vacation was the most extraordinary vacation I ever had.

Now Mr Ricky-Tikki-Tavi has a family of its own.

P.S. This is an essay i wrote back in school, when i had just begun to cultivate an interest in writing. 

Abode.

It used to be a dense forest, richly populated with leopards, black panthers, different types of deer and a multitude of snakes. All that is left of the forest is Yeoor Hills and the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, which proudly exhibits retired circus lions and tigers.

When we moved to Hiranandani Estate about 20 years back it was just 4 buildings connected by a main road and surrounded by lush greenery. At that time the land was still forest area. A cacophony of sparrows and parrots flocked on the mango and jamun trees and butterflies were rampant. Frequent visits from a neighbouring leopard kept the dog population in check.

Among the very first residents of this complex we watched as the Thane creek and the fishing boats disappeared behind towering walls of concrete and the local vegetation was replaced by imported decorative trees.

6 years ago I shifted to Pune to pursue Design. When I recently went back to visit my family, it had evolved into a totally different place. It is now a well-developed area and a self-sufficient township in itself. Shopping malls, schools, club houses, an IT park; we have it all. Due to a heavy Greco-Roman architectural influence, our skyscrapers stand out in comparison to the buildings from neighbouring complexes.

In spite of the development our building has managed to preserve most of the surrounding greenery, and snakes are still a common sight here. The atmosphere here is relaxing and pleasant throughout the year. In the hot summer the trees provide enough shade for us to hang out and the winters are cool and cosy.

The monsoons, though, are quite harsh as they bring thunder storms and lightning along with them. The trees are no more a safe shelter as the strong wind causes loose branches to fall off.

It is a thrilling to hear the wind howling and to watch it swirl around the trees and buildings- taking along with it dead leaves, plastic and any bird, unlucky enough to get caught in it- from the safety of your house, while stray droplets hit you in the face. The darkness is interrupted by flashes of lightning followed by roars of thunder.

This is the only time when my home, which is like a bubble protecting us from the dangers of the city, doesn’t feel so safe anymore.

The aftermath of monsoon is a sight for sore eyes. I can imagine dead leaves covering the streets and the lingering smell of wet mud. The lower walls of our building covered with green and brown moss and small snails trying to make their way up without being eaten by the horde of crows lurking in the trees.

I feel nostalgic recalling my school, which is quite a mess at this time of the year. The walls and windows get covered with overgrown climbers, which may look very good from the outside, giving it the look of an ancient heritage building, but they attract a swarms of flies, bees and mosquitoes causing lots of trouble during school hours. Also the rains leave the sand pits and football grounds in a mess, much to the disappointment of the young students.

In spite of having such a large population, the residents are closely knit, like birds of a feather, as students, teachers and bosses and employees all live within a stone’s throw distance from each other. This feeling of oneness and cooperation is what I miss here in socities in Pune, as each person is looking out for himself and his family and doesn’t bother to check whether his actions are affecting his neighbours. Thus, ignoring the occasional hassle caused due to clashing egos, Hiranandani is quite peaceful and as ideal a residence as any.