Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Write..Edit...Publish...October 2018 : Deja Vu or Voodoo








To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven...

Time for the funnest  Write...Edit...Publish... post of the year! Also, time for the autumn festival season in India, the Navaratri-Durga Puja-Diwali month, am plonk in the middle of right now in fact, with a very special house guest visiting from Kolkata, so a little taken up with happy stuff offline... but I'll be around to read as and when...

A time to get, and a time to lose...A time to weep, and a time to laugh...

This month it's also time to say goodbye to Yolanda Renee...she has co-hosted WEP for years and I have known her since the RFW days, that's more than 6 years. So this is going to feel a little strange. Thank you for all the work and all the brilliant entries and above all, your friendship and support, Renee! I wish you all the very best for your future writing projects and hope that you'll pop into WEP with one of your done-to-a-turn flashes every challenge month, or at least as often as you can. 

Here's my entry for the Challenge -




The preference for sons


This move sucks. Big time. Even Tofu – that’s my dog, hates it. But grown-ups! They must pretend. Some crazy idea to always say it the way it should be. Everyone’s pretending they’ve been waiting to come here like, forever.

I keep hearing that our people prefer sons. Complete bullshit, man. The minute my sister gets into NUJS, the entire family comes trooping here. Why? Because her fastidious highness can’t stay PG like the rest of the world. Can’t put up with the public at the hostel. The mattress isn’t thick enough for the princess, you see. I said it over and over again. I didn’t. Want. To move. Did anyone pay any attention? So, who’s got the preference? Sons, indeed!

And my school sucks too. Except Vishal. He’s in my music class. But for the rest – oh, god. Unbelievable. No pool. The field’s half the size. The buildings are so old. Probably built when the Brits were here or something. The whole freaking city looks like it’s a smelly leftover from the Raj.

Vishal’s okay though. Magic fingers. Can work up a wicked drut. Vishal’s the one who told me about the house. Apparently, some batty lady stuck a knife into her husband here. Because she thought he was going to kill her. So she pre-empted him. Some garbled logic! – a heart transplant had apparently made him homicidal. She died too, in the end. In some asylum.

The heirs pulled the original house down and rebuilt. But they both haunt the place still. The husband and wife, I mean. That’s what Vishal said. I’m not scared of ghosts, I told him. They don’t exist anyways. Just superstitions.

I mentioned the story to Thamuli. She read me a lecture. It’s gossip. Poor taste to repeat it. Besides, don’t they teach me science at school? There are no ghosts. Why was I out to make everybody unsettled? Didn’t I want my sister to be successful? This is our home now, we can’t move back. Blah blah blah. Unbelievable.
 
Nothing computes, man. You’d have thought she’d pay attention, being so old and into antiques. Into all these rituals. She’s always fasting or rushing off to some shrine or other. Oh, no. Can’t bear to have anything said against the move. Or against her highness, her precious granddaughter - the one responsible for this whole mess.

Okay, let me tell you the whole - there’s this old, stained rug next to my bed. I don’t know where it’s come from, it’s always been there in my room. Thamuli must have got it sometime, she’s heavily into picking up tattered, second-hand things for their ‘history.’ I don’t care much for that piece of junk. Would have gladly left it back. But the packers rolled it up along with the bedding. And it was back in my room after the move. I mean, it wasn’t a big deal either way, you know?

Anyways, there’s this patchy mark right in the middle of it. A few days after Vishal spilled the story, I got up in the morning. The stain looked vaguely darker. But there was no time to check properly. And I forgot all about it at lessons. It was still there once I got back. So I looked closer. It did feel darker. I thought it was a mistake at first, eyes playing tricks. And after my last session with Thamuli, I wasn’t saying anything to anyone.

But the next Sunday when I got up, it was much darker again. And damp this time. I touched it and my fingers came away wet and smeared with weird, brownish stuff. A bit like, you know, blood.

I wasn’t scared or anything. I just mentioned it at breakfast.  Casually, like. Not to create any drama or put anybody off their food. Thamuli was there, my father, mother, her highness herself was sitting right next to me. They just laughed. Said my friend had been filling my ears. Because he was jealous or something. So Thamuli had mentioned the story to others. Talk about not repeating gossip. And why on earth would Vishal be jealous? He’s much better than me at any percussion you can dream of. Unbelievable. Grownups make no sense. I told them they could check if they liked.

But it wasn’t wet when we went back. They laughed all the harder. Ma was the only one who didn’t laugh. But was that because she believed me? No freaking way. She stayed back and read me the same lecture as Thamuli had a few days back. That I mustn’t try to make up stories. I must try and think of this place as home and so on till my ears nearly fell off my head.

The next time it happened, I didn’t wait. I got the stuff on my hands and went straightaway. That would show them. This time no one laughed. Not that they believed me either. Her highness said it looked like Cherry Blossom. That was it. They were convinced I had slathered shoe polish on the rug. To scare them into moving back. Of all the insane ideas! I got a serious grilling from my father. No music for a week. Ma put on her stern face every time she had to speak to me. Even Thamuli went around with a pained expression. Unbelievable.

So that’s it. I’ve stopped talking about it to my folks. The stain keeps filling up with blood or whatever it is, every few days. I’m not scared, I tell you. It’s just super-annoying no one believes me. So much for the preference for sons. I just wish I could go back. Like I said, this move totally sucks.

~~~
WC - 950
FCA

PG – Paying guest
NUJS – National University of Juridical Sciences
Drut – u as in put, lit ‘fast,’ a qualifier of tempo and rhythm in Indian classical music.

This is the epilogue of the same story I posted for the August WEP challenge. First developed for Moving the Margins, a MOOC at Uni Iowa this summer. 

Read the other entries here:

65 comments:

  1. I am loving this continuation of your August tale - and feel confident that there is more to come. I really enjoyed the change of voice in this 'chapter' too.

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  2. That was wickedly twisted and funny and so full of personality! Awesome.
    Now tell him to go burn that damned rug.

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    1. One of these days he might just end up doing that...

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  3. Okay, okay, where'd you find the youngster who actually wrote this story? (Just kidding, of course, but you really did write it with a unique voice!) I smiled all the way through it.

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    1. That's the niftiest compliment - putting a smile on your face, thank you!

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  4. Yes, please, burn that rug. You character is much braver than I! Whoa, a chiller for sure! Great voice and a wonderful Halloween tale!
    Happy Halloween, Nila! And thank you! Your words made me blush. We'll always be friends but I'm excited for a new and different challenge!

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    1. And I wish you much excitement and fun tackling that challenge! Happy Halloween to you and yours!

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  5. I wouldn't be sleeping with that rug in my room!!!

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  6. I'm thinking time to pack up and move back to wherever, whenever. Oh, you tell a twisted tale and keep us interested.
    Enjoy your autumn festival and guests some more - keep celebrating life. Cheers

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    1. Thanks, Joanne. He will probably take off as soon as he's eighteen :)

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  7. Great voice... and spot on!
    I'm picturing the blood pooling on that rug - aaaaargh!
    Wonderful piece, Nila!

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    1. Please link your flash fiction to the WEP+IWSG badge that’s pinned to the top, over at the IWSG Facebook page, so that others can read your lovely work.
      Thank you!

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    2. Hi Michelle! So sorry been busy reading and didn't notice your second comment...I'm not part of the IWSG Facebook group - just sent in a request to join. Will link up as soon as I'm approved to. Thanks.

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  8. The voice of that young man was spot on! Also his bravado and half hidden fear. Creepy indeed and well woven. Can't say the same about the rug. I kept waiting for something to happen and that suspense remains - so that I'll be thinking about it at night.

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    1. Teens don't like admitting to fear do they? glad that got through.

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  9. This was a fun read, definitely creepy in some places, but fun. The pov and voice are great. I love how it's connected to your last story too. Great post.

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  10. You really nailed the voice in this story, and the whole thing flows beautifully. Great job!

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    1. Thanks, I left teenage back decades ago, so that's a relief, phew!

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  11. That was funny, and frustrating. But I gather it's a continuation, so that makes sense. Weird indeed. well done.

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    1. It's a continuation but also self contained, so I'm interested to know the bits that were frustrating for the reader. Thanks.

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  12. This was great! I loved the voice, and I felt his frustration! It's hard when no one believes you, especially about something so creepy.

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    1. Yeah, totally frustrating for the chap on all sides. I'd be thoroughly fed up if I were him :)

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  13. The rug has to go! What a nightmarish idea. Great voice, too.

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    1. He's tried putting it in the hall, but the family have put it back because it doesn't fit the decor there... :) more reason for him to feel fed up

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  14. Oh, poor, poor boy. Nobody believes him. It sucks to be a teenager. When my kids were teenagers, I never knew whether I should believe their words or not, so I sympathize with the parents. A rug with blood on it, indeed! Great story.

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    1. It does indeed suck sometimes to be a teenager...difficult to bridge the gen gap for both parents and children...

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  15. Hey Nila. You keep enjoying your festivals and house guests. How exciting for you!
    What a great Halloween tale. You've nailed that child's voice. So authentic. You are indeed a writer of many talents. I can't wait to see what happens next...

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    1. Thanks Denise! It was a lovely time, but all good things must come to an end :( festival and visit both over :( but...Diwali is just around the corner :)

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  16. Poor kid! I think if I were him, I'd go put the rug in his sister's room...

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  17. I’d roll that rug up and put it in the dining room, but it’s probably a ceepy deal that would come back. This was a great read, very fun and just the right amount of spooky!

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    1. Funnily enough that rug WAS in the dining room when the 'batty lady stuck a knife into her husband' and he bled on it... :) and then the cleaners couldn't get the stain out so the heirs put it up for sale...whereupon the grandmother picked it up at the auction and put it in the grandson's room and then the family moved a decade later to that very same city and spot where the rug was during the murder...

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    2. Ho Extraordinary ... not sure I really wanted to know this!! Cheers H

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    3. :) :) Like you said, the rug has stories to tell...

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  18. Great read, nicely paced and just the right amount of tension, 'I'm not scared' - I think he probably is (I would be).

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    1. Oh he is scared...that I'm not scared is just a front, false bravado..

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  19. The child's angst spills through your writing. You should continue this story. I'm hooked. I think my 11-year-old son would be hooked to this story too. Awesome piece!

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    1. It would be interesting to know what a child/teenager thinks of it...thanks for the encouragement.

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  20. As others have said, really nailed the voice indeed. Can just see him rolling his eyes and mocking her highness haha But could be time to chuck that rug out the window.

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    1. The sister is pretty awful :) not at all sisterly towards the poor fellow...

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  21. Poor kid, but a wonderful story, Nila, and if I were him, I'd lose that rug somehow. Why help the bad spirits? Well done, with a little bit of humour. The language does have the attitude I'd expect of a teen or young boy.

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    1. Thanks DG. He will find a way to lose it no doubt in his own way and time...

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  22. Hi Nila - I too definitely wouldn't want that rug anywhere near me ... and to think every day he'd have to work his way round the 'puddle' ... yugh. He was that young kid - wondering what on earth to do with his family ... no choice - he has to go with the flow ... including have that rug in his room. It holds a lot of stories in it ... I wonder if it drip feeds ideas to him for later on ... great story telling Nila - now enjoy the time with your family - cheers Hilary

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    1. He'll figure out how to get rid of that rug...and yes, it does hold a lot of stories...

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  23. Great story with a humor that kept the dark part light. Like the line about the grandmother lecturing the granddaughter "...till my ears nearly fell off my head."
    That blood stain is pretty ominous.

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  24. I might get my daughter to read this, Nila. Wicked mum that I am hahahahaha. I can hear my daughter screaming as she reads about the rug. You nailed it voice and all. Well done!

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    1. I'd be very interested to know her reaction if you do :) thanks Adura!

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  25. Blood on the carpet
    from the dead you see
    I have no problem
    from what it could be

    the crime will be committed
    for all eternity
    Yet I wonder why they're
    showing it only to thee

    someday a knife
    they'll find in your hand
    and that when they'd better
    watch out man

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    1. Always admire your comments in verse, thanks.

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  26. Ahh, the joys of moving! And of not having anyone believe you. Both so relatable. As is not being a favored sibling.

    Great work with this story.

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    1. Moving is a pain sometimes. Glad you enjoyed the flash, thanks.

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  27. Excellent use of voice - you caught a teen boy well. (I've struggled with getting a teenage voice - can't remember mind.) I don't believe he isn't scared - but then he is. [Diwali fascinates me and I used the All Hallows overlap in a short some years ago.] Creepily done.

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    1. He is scared alright...Autumn is a great time for spookfests generally, and other fests too. Thanks for being here.

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  28. You really created a YA character, Nilanjana. What a strong voice. Loved his snark and creepy rug.

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    1. Thanks. This was actually an exercise in 'voice' originally I think

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  29. My brother thinks I'm the favorite. I'm pretty sure he's the favorite. (You ask my parents, they'll say "the cat." Ha)

    Just living with the creepy blood rug. That's an interesting character.

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    1. Most parents would probably say 'the cat' :)

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  30. Our team has 2 guys and 3 gals... people keep mistaking our two guys for gals... Sometimes that preference seems gray area to us.


    Moving into a haunted house and no one believing you? That's the worst.

    Great work on the story. Easy to get into the character.

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    1. Lots of gray areas where gender divides are concerned unfortunately. Thanks much for the feedback.

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