Not For Rent

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The splash of dark blue ink on the wall attracted every eye that entered the one-room house, so he covered it with a layer of paint–it was always about appearances, about appearing to be tidy and spotless.

Soon he moved out and the years passed, and with time came decay, and all the numerous coats of paint tenants had slathered on the walls started peeling, and falling in chunks revealing the secrets underneath, the untold stories– the scratch marks, the ink spots, the graffiti, the handprints, and the marks left by unmoved furniture.

Nobody stays in it anymore; the stale, musty reek of  ugly secrets that rises from the house wards off everybody.

 

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Newborn

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My 23-year-old daughter looks at me as if I am a stranger. Many a time I can feel her eyes on me when she thinks I am asleep. Her eyes bore into every wrinkle on my face with an expression of despair. My wife is always in tears but I try to console her by saying that this is good, that amnesia might be a blessing in disguise as it gives us a second chance– to rebuild the good memories and to correct the mistakes she doesn’t remember making. She is our newborn girl again, our bundle of joy.

 

The Gift

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He gifted me headphones; I was speechless.

We hadn’t spoken properly in months. No lengthy conversations about movies, music, or books, nothing. I barely looked at him when he was home. A gulf that had emerged between us and which was widening steadily seemed to have closed at a snap of the fingers. I had smiled with a sadness tugging at my eyes, surprised that he had remembered what I had said days back in a dull monotone, something about wishing for a new set of headphones.

Now I lean back on the sofa listening to his favourite tunes on the headphones thinking about the made-up games we had played when we were kids; but no, the gulf has risen once again, and all I hear is music unmingled with childhood laughter.

Morning Tricks

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The steady sound of sport shoes slapping on gravel could be heard loud and clear in the wee hours of the day in State Memorial Park. 5:35 a.m. to Sumi and Beena meant “levitation time”, a time when they would jog and talk about their young-adult problems, and would feel light both physically and mentally. They associated the lightness they experienced after jogging to the levitation trick pulled off by magicians, and hence they named it “levitation time.”

“You know, Rohith never comments on what I wear, I have to pester him with questions and then he comes up with the usual boring compliments. He is straight-forward, but I wish he would make something up, just shower me with praises to make me feel special, he is just too practical!”, Beena ranted as they jogged on their usual gravel path.

“ Akash is the exact opposite, he compliments me on everything I wear, I do..it’s crazy”, panted Sumi.

“Wow.. I wish Rohith was like him.”

“No, no, you don’t get it… I don’t like that. It’s as if he says all that because he is supposed to say them, like he is following instructions straight out of a book, I would rather he mean the things he says than lie to make me feel valued” , said Sumi as they neared the end of the path.

The girls stopped by a purple bougainvillea shrub that marked the end of the path. Beena wiped the sweat off her brow with a hanky and exclaimed, “If only we could exchange our boyfriends, then we would have exactly what we want”

Sumi who had bent down on her knee to tie her shoe laces shrugged at her friend in amusement, suddenly the smile on her face was replaced by a perplexed frown as she stood up. The friends exchanged a knowing look, and they knew what they had to do. From levitation they had moved onto another trick, telepathy.