By Neel Anil Panicker

Henry watched as his wife’s eyes turned moist.
It wasn’t the first time he was seeing it nor was it going to be the last time.

The change, the metamorphosis of an effervescent, bubbly lively woman full of joi de vivre into a hapless, helpless wreck had been happening over the past eight months.

It was a painfully slow benumbing of body, mind, and soul. A slow but gradual decline, a depleting of all sources of happiness, a moving away from all life affirming actions, a definite plunge into the bottomless pit of despair and deprivation.

All this__after Allen’s death.

Allen, her son, her darling Al; Allen, my son__our only child.

The first few months had been okay.

Seemed so. After the initial shock and trauma following his needless, meaningless death in an entirely avoidable case of accident exacerbated by mindless rash driving, we had come to live with the reality of his death.

I, by burying myself deep into work; she, by losing herself in spirituality.

God and his contemplation served as a shield, something that served as a buffer protecting her from the ravages of heartache.

That’s what I thought.

Maybe she needed to be transported to a different era, a different zone, maybe a new country, continent altogether.

Henry hoped this shifting of hearth would help her; pull her out of despondency, give her a new lease of life.

He prayed that this would prove to be the divergence that she so desperately needed.

#neelanilpanicker #fiction #flash #shortstory #synonyms #mindovermenagerie

#death #bereavement

Saturday Mix – Same Same But Different, 19 May 2018

Same Same But Different
Your ‘Same Same But Different’ task is to take the five challenge words and NOT use them in your writing. That’s right, you need to dig out your thesaurus and find a synonym for each word instead.

Your words this week are:

  1. cushion
  2. time
  3. roof
  4. water
  5. fork

Your writing form is either poetry or prose.





By Neel Anil Panicker

“Hey, what’s this thing about being cool? Looks like everybody wants to be cool.”

Jackie stopped, turned around and looked at his friend of twenty fours hours.

 “Look err …what’s your name you said?”

‘Sandeep…Sandeep Bandhopadhyaya.’

“Now that’s the problem. With a name like that you can kiss your chances of ever ending up as cool”.

‘But that’s what is my name? What can I do about it? It’s what my father and mother gave me when I was born.’

Jackie raised his voice to say something but checked himself just in time. The two were in the school hall and Mrs Saxena, their sixth grade class teacher was walking by.

“Good morning, madam,”  the two belted out in unison  as the portly lady with the thick rimmed glasses and unsmiling demeanour stormed past.

Seconds later, Jackie turned around.

“Hey, Mr Sandeep Bandhopapdhya, so you want to be cool, really cool, right? Ok, so tell me, what’s my name?”


“Right but wrong. Confused? Well, let me explain. My name, the name my parents gave me is Jai Kishan. But guess what? I hated it ‘coz everybody hated it. They thought it was so downmarket, as if I came from some village. Thought I was a buffoon. So, I pondered over it and then something clicked my brain. I decided to be Jackie. Overnight, I become cool.

And now, you need to do that too, buddy”.

‘So…what do I do to be cool like you?

“Simple, modify your name. From today you are no longer Sandeep Bandhopadhyaya. Instead, your friends have a choice. They can call you Sandy, or Bandy, or even Sandy Bandy. Can anyone get cooler than that?”




This week’s photo prompt is provided by Yinglan. Thank you Yinglan!

FFfAW Challenge-167th

By Neel Anil Panicker

Growing up in a large extended family of some 35 odd members including one’s parents and grandparents; uncles and aunts; brothers and sisters, and the ubiquitous eclectic assortment of cousins, full and half, first, second and even third removed, all laughing and playing and generally rioting around one or the other of the uncountable rooms ringed in by a near endless courtyard fully of exotic trees and plants was a one in a life time experience, something little Erich would later recall as an absolutely unworldly, starry experience.

Though there was never a dull moment what with endless games and food and frolic happening all around to keep oneself rivetingly busy, it was during one such extended summer break that ‘Bubi’ as everybody called him stumbled upon what he would later recall as a life changing event.

“Hey, my boy, come here. This is for you”.

While father was known to bring in gifts every time he returned from the war front, this time what landed in Bubi’s hands was a miniature fighter aircraft, a model of the one his father flew.

For the next few days the house became his airport, its courtyards and rooms the hangar as he practiced his take offs and landings on the courtyard that morphed into the tarmac.

A month later around dinner table, Bubi stood up on his high chair and grandly announced, “I’ll become the best fighter pilot in the world”.

#neelanilpanicker #fiction #flash #shortstory #realisticfiction #ilot

#WWII #German #FFfAW #aircraft

Erich Hartmann


Erich Hartmann is the most successful fighter pilot of all times – with 352 kills. A number that will never be surpassed. His nickname “Bubi” means “little boy” – and it’s easy to find out why he was called like that. He was also called “The black devil”. Hartmann flew a Messerschmitt Bf 109.

Hartmann flew a total of 1404 missions and wasn’t not only never shot down in this huge number of aerial battles, he also never lost a wingman.
He was active as a flight teacher for the West German Luftwaffe after the War. Later on, he became a civilian flight instructor.)



neelwrites/wait’sover/Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie/saturdaymix-doubletake/fiction/shortstory/12/05/2018


By Neel Anil Panicker

For days Inspector Sharma lay in wait, pitching his tent by the rivulet that abutted the foothills of the forest. There he lay in wait, biding his time, subsisting on the mercy of the trouts and shrimps that he would catch with the help of his improvised fishing rod__a long wooden rod sliced out of one of the several branches of the lone Cedar tree in the entire half a kilometre outgrowth.

And so continued the cat and mouse game, a game that he had been playing for almost over two decades now, a game that placed a high premium on certain sterling abstract virtues uppermost among them being patience and a hawk eyed observation.

The sun that rose on the first hour of Week Three of his vigil brought with it much needed cheer.

Peering into his long range telescopic lens, he sighted a movement, albeit a very slight one.

A shaggy looking man, his clothes a tatter, his eyes a daze, limped out from behind the woods and moved towards the stream.

As the pitiable vision drew closer, Inspector Sharma rubbed his eyes in disbelief.

He, the seeder, had succeeded in his mission to catch a most wanted criminal, also the killer of seven innocent persons.

Inspector Sharma waited for the forlorn figure to come in the cross hairs of his lens and then stepping out of the tent, he pointed his gun towards the fugitive shouting, “Time’s up, Sattar Bhai”.

#neelanilpanicker #fiction #shortstory #inspectorsharmacrimeseries #mindovermenagerie #homophones

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie

Saturday Mix – Double Take, 12 May 2018

Our homophone sets this week are:

cedar – an evergreen tree
seeder – one who broadcasts seeds


days – more than one day
daze – to bewilder



By Neel Anil Panicker

Professor Deep Narayan Mishra turned around and glared at his wife.

“I tell you, “No listening any further to this mad man. Let’s get out and continue the search”.

Antrima lifted her fingers to her lips and half whispered, “Have patience.  We’ve done all. What’s the harm in doing what he says? After all it’s our child’s life”.

Her voice, a soft caress seemed to have melted, albeit temporarily, the rage in her husband’s eyes for he shrugged his shoulders and murmured, “Ok, if that’s what you want.”

The two turned around and peered into the semi darkness. All they could make out was the silhouette of an old silvery haired man, his bare torso immersed in ash.

From behind a flickering flame, he spoke, his voice, a slur, ‘Exactly fifty meters north west from where you are standing, you will find a steep incline. Climb to its top and you’ll  find two amorphous monolithic stones. Walk up and climb on top of them__you, the man, on the right and, you, the woman, on the left. Stay there, unmoving, for the next twenty four hours. When you wake up, your child will be playing beside you.’

“This is insane”. Preposterous is the…”.

Professor Mishra’s words lashed out in the dark, his booming voice, a boomerang that amplified several times over as it smashed against the stony walls of the cave.

‘Also remember, non-believers will turn to stone’.

The two watched disbelievingly as the voice stilled and the flames died out.

#neelanilpanicker #ThursdayPhotoPrompt #fiction #flash #shortstory #250words

Written in response to

Thursday photo prompt: Fallen #writephoto

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Thursday photo prompt: Fallen #writephoto




By Neel Anil Panicker

Ever since Olivia died__and that’s hardly six years ago though it seems as if it were several moons back__I have not been myself.

Things that I had taken for granted have suddenly turned complex; a simple walk in the park is no longer the pleasurable activity that it used to be; instead it’s she and her memories that cloud and blur and assault my mindscape turning each single cellular movement, every single nano step that I take into one excruciatingly torturous experience.

The agony spills over into the day, infiltrating by being, making deep inroads into every single mental and emotional crevice that’s left unguarded, seeping deep into its innards, skimming and sapping it dry off the last ounce of energy.

They, and that includes though who claim to know me__the legion of fellow survivalists__are quick on the draw, inundating me with a deluge of homelies, lathering me with beaten to death aphorisms, ramming their ‘sure shot’ know all advices down my reluctantly sore throat.

I guess they have given up on me as I have noticed that with each passing day there’s that wee bit lessening of such lathering along with the thinning of my vaunted much touted long list of ‘friends and well wishers’.

And now with each passing moment I find myself drowning in utter loneliness where the only sound I hear is the echo of her heart inside my heart though I wonder how on earth could that ever be possible as hers had long ago stopped beating.


Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt!






By Neel Anil Panicker

It was the last day of school before the summer vacations kicked off. The two words: summer and vacations; vacations and summer.

For Jubin, somehow, this year the two words didn’t seem to hold the same magic that it had held all these years.

Until last year, the very thought of summer vacations would transport the twelve year old into fairy land. His mind would float around in fantasy land, conjuring up beautiful images of sitting by a train window seat and gazing at the undulating expanse of greenery and the azure skies as the giant steel wheels under him chugged along the tracks that ran parallel to the sand kissed Konkan Coast.

That and visions of playing cricket by the sea and endless hours spent gorging on his favourite tapioca and jackfruit delicacies were enough to see him through the rigours of class tests, homeworks and group tuitions that were the lot of he and others of his ilk.

“No, this year summer we aren’t going anywhere. Your father’s leave application has been rejected.”

His mother’s grandiose pronouncement, uttered in an unusually staccato tone sealed his fate, sinking him to the depths of despair.

That was until he spotted her, the new arrival next door. That he evening he followed her into the neighbourhood swimming pool and watched, albeit slyly, as she practiced her breast strokes.

The following day and for all subsequent days the pool became his favourite hangout spot.

She sure had made a splash on him.

#neelanilpanicker #fiction #thursdayphotoprompt #250words #splash

Thursday photo prompt: Splash #writephoto

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Thursday photo prompt: Splash #writephoto