neelwrites/reena’sexplorationchallengeweek#13/fiction/shortstory/23/11/2017

Hosted by the ever resourceful Reena at https://reinventionsreena.wordpress.com/2017/11/17/reenas-exploration-challenge-week-13/

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SOMETHING WORTH LEAVING BEHIND

By Neel Anil Panicker

Professor Preetam looked through the glass door and found the line outside at the bay area had thickened. He glanced at the wall clock above. It was still hovering under three. Another three hours to go and the eager beaver queue of students who had booked an appointment with him was just not showing any signs of letting up.

With a sigh he turned his attention towards the young woman in front of him. He knew her well. A Bachelors of Technology  graduate from one of the umpteen nondescript engineering colleges to have sprouted faster than mushrooms in the Greater Noida belt abutting the National Capital Region that was Delhi.

Rashmi Saxena was anything if not nervous.

Thrusting her opened up computer towards Prof. Preetam, she asked, half hesitantly, full nervously, “ Sir, kindly guide me on how to fill this form”.

Preetam knew what form that was. Over half the queries he had received so far pertained to form filling. Most students wanted help in filling up one or the other B-School forms.

More than help they wanted handholding; they wanted him, Head of Department- Verbal, to literally write down all the answers to the questions the said B-School posed.

She addressed the first question that needed to be filled and submitted, this time by FMS, Delhi, one of the top eight business schools of the country __“what are your extra curricular activities”?

‘Sir, this is what I have written. I require your guidance in answering the next one, “What are your career goals”?

“So, what exactly are your career goals, my dear”?

He watched amusedly as the student opposite him shifted uneasily in her chair; his face losing colour and turning pale, a vision that reminded him of the reaction of the legendary athlete Ben Johnson on being stripped of his Olympic gold for doping in sports.

Preetam pushed his swivel chair slightly back, lifting his shoulders to touch the glass topped walls behind him.

He watched intently at the student who sat across the table from him, at her the fast fading colour of her face, at the nervous fidgeting of her fingers, the slight twitch in her left eyelids.

All signs indicating a loss of confidence in the self.

For a moment he closed his eyes and pondered over the thought that had been niggling him ever since the examination date of the  CAT neared. The questions uppermost in most students’ minds were__ besides the clearing of the premier B-school examination with a high percentile that was good enough for them to bag a seat in one or the other top five or eight IIMs of the country, a virtual ticket to a highly remunerative much sought after corporate career___how to write down the regular everyday questions that propped up in every B-school Admissions Form.

‘What kind of an educational system are we bequeathing our young minds that makes fearful and utterly petrified when it comes to answering regular everyday questions about their lives?

I mean which twenty year old does not indulge in an extra curricular activity? Especially so in todays’ times when one is exposed to a plethora of experiences and interests. Be it the world of books or sports or even cultural activities such as music, dance, debates, elocutions, open mikes speechathons and speakathons, there is almost anything and everything a student of the current age and times can get hooked onto and become if not an expert at but at least take more than a passing interest in.

Pray, what help does a student need in giving a decent, reasonable answer to this question? Does he not possess an extra curricular activity. At least one, if not more, in the two-odd decades that he has graced this planet? Or is this that the only out of course indulgence of the students is to traverse the adrenaline inducing high octane world of online chatting? Facebooking, Twittering, Instagramming, Whatsapping, Snap Chatting, Tindering and what have you.

The thought, highly disturbing as it were, set the alarm bells ticking in Preetam’s mind as he pondered over the fallout of all this, the natural corollary to all these nonsensical, mindless activities.

Are we then merely mass producing a generation of straight off the factory mindless robots  who do nothing but eat, drink, and play and at crucial junctures of their lives write a plethora of  mind numbing tests that are conducted to weed out the undesirables and reward the remaining with prized seats and fat cat jobs, thus creating elitist class of youngsters pitch drunk in the heady cocktail of power and pelf that is the natural fall out of academic success?

Is academic success measured in terms of how one fares in a highly competitive pressure cooker type test prep environment where the person or persons, a miniscule among the lakhs and lakhs of aspirants are declared winners merely due to the fact that they were able to answer better than others a limited number of  questions in a limited amount of time?

And then, once a student is able to clear this first hurdle, then is he also rated on his ability to answer, both in writing and speech, a set standard spiel of questions thrown to him an alien panel of  condescendingly high brow intellects. Mr Know Alls who take sadistic pleasure in asking such questions as what’s so special about you; why should we admit you; give three good qualities that you possess and five bad ones that you are trying to overcome? More to follow like what are your career goals, whare do you see yourself five/ten/fifteen/twenty year from you and what’s the best thing that’s happened to you to what’s the worst things that’s ever happened to you?

These and more such stupefying questions assailed Preetam as he worked his way around the battleground of queries laid out in each admissions form that students brought to his table with unfailing regularity all through the day, the entire past fortnight.

At the end of the day, a very bemused, utterly confused, and supremely  nonplussed Preetam pulled himself from his chair, steped out of his cabin, and left the gates of Coaching Time, the premier B-School entrance coaching institute of the country where was teaching as a senior Verbal Faculty for the past roughly one decade.

On the metro ride back home, seated a in corner chair, with ample time on his hands, his thoughts turned inwards, towards resolving a dilemma that was troubling him for a long, long time.

A dilemma over the whether all the effort, energy, and time that went into preparing a student into clearing one or the other mindless examination was worth it or not? Whether what he had been doing all these years__lecturing, mentoring, teaching, advising, educating innumerable students__was it all worth it, commendable, something to be proud of, something that he could leave behind as his legacy?
Legacy? The word hit him like a ten tonne brick. His mind went back to its dictionary meaning. Legacy, a noun; an amount of money or property left to someone in a will.

Synonyms: bequest, inheritance, heritage, bestowal, benefaction, gift, heirloom, a handover.

The last one struck him, a handover. He thought about its metaphorical implications. What legacy did he wish to bequeath to the world? To his students? Merely receive words of high praise, an endless stream of Thank Yous, may be a box of sweets from the those who have successfully cracked the CAT;  a felicitation ceremony perhaps, he holding a bouquet of flowers and mouthing words of gratitude as speaker after speaker come on stage and hosannas extolling his excellent virtues and the Director and the top management publicly thanking him for the yeoman services rendered by him.

Yeoman service? What a joke? What service had he rendered so far that merited recognition?  That he would be remembered by, that he done so as to leave behind a legacy, a lifetime of  values that the students and youngsters could pick up and follow and make it their life purpose?

That he had taught for over four decades innumerable number of students on the art of cracking competitive examinations, the umpteen tricks and strategies, the quick fire answers to seemingly impossible questions during Groups Discussions  and Personal Interviews, the entire rigmarole that went into fibbing and fooling a lackadaisical examination system that made mindless robots out of young impressionable minds, that though could help master them the rote/parrot method of  solving the endless intractable range of questions  the helped clear bookish exams but sadly failed to help young men and women pass the all important examinations of their lives__ that is the examination of life, an examination so exacting that no coaching institute, no college, and no university could ever even dream about preparing their students for.

As such thoughts churned in Preetam’s mind it slowly began to take shape into one concrete realization. That evening before the metro dropped him at his station and much before he had stepped into his home, he, for the first time in his entire academic career came to the horrific conclusion that he had miserably failed in leaving behind a legacy, a timeless, age transcending bestowal that he could leave behind for his students, for the youth, for those on whose shoulders rested the burden and thereby the responsibility of turning not just the countries of their births and origins but also wherever they chose to serve.

Later that night as the thought hit him hard and he had thought long over it he came to a decision: he would beginning the following morning devote himself to only one task_ working towards the creation of an enduring legacy, not by way of providing academic counselling and classroom assistance to scores of score and percentile seekers but by enabling them to become better souls, better human beings, men and women with their hearts in their right places, global conscientious citizens who believe, live and breathe the dictum__ service before self.

With that ennobling thought Professor Preetam went to bed and slept a peaceful sleep, the first time in many, many years.

©neelanilpanciker2017 #reena’sexplorationchallengeweek#13 #short story #fiction #CAT #CATology#1685 words

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neelwrites/pest/thegreatindianbanparty/sundayphotofictioneer/20/11/2017

Hosted by  Sunday Fiction  at https://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2017/11/19/sunday-photo-fiction-19-november-2017/

GREAT INDIAN BAN PARTY-

Playing at a theatre near you

17 Anonymous 19 November 2017

By Neel Anil Panicker

A ghoonghtaless brave Rajput princess bedecked in mesmerizing regal wear, prancing around in her own magnificent gold bedecked palace courtyard, dancing her heart out in gay abandon, her swirling lehanga swishing wildly in huge concentric circles while her dainty hennaed hands rise up to the skies above, her beautiful kohl-lined eyes sparkling with divine love, her lips a prayer, ever seeking blessings for the earthlings below.

Deepika-Padukone Ghoomar-song_1

Or, a near desperate woman forced to step out of her home in search of her ‘missing’ husband, overnight losing her moniker Goddess Durga; instead finding herself metamorphosed into a mere object of man’s lascivious predatory instincts.

Still another, bogged down by the vicissitudes of fate, compelled by the dire need to keep body and soul together, sheds her clothes under the harsh glare of arc lights, only to rejoin her starving family of five including a paralytic father and three mother-less younger siblings, their hollowed eyes hooked onto to the bread crumbs that she clutches in her hands, her paltry wages of the day.

Disturbing, uneasy, uncomfortable… is that what these images evoke in us?

Yes, and that’s because it’s we, the male of the human species, who decide the status of women in this world. It’s we who decide whether women are to be revered or reviled.

For us, especially, the men of India, women are a binary.

It’s easy slotting them. They are either good or bad, the compartmentalization arrived at from the periscope of our ever vigilant male eyes.

We decide who is to be worshipped and who is to be crucified; we decide who is to be hailed as a princess and a goddess, and who is to be hauled to be coals and branded a witch, a siren, or a slot. It is we and we alone that decides who is a good woman and who is a bad one.

And woe betide anyone who dares to defy us, challenge us, question our unquestionable hegemony over all such matters.

We vow to throttle all such voices; swear to ban, burn and bust them, crush them to pulp__all ye ‘uncultural voices’.

Such pests must best be put to rest.

Long live the Indian male, long live India, the India of our dreams, the India of our vision, the India of only our vision.

©NEELANILPANCIKER2017 #358WORDS #PADMAVATI #BAN #THEMOVIE #RAJPUTKARNISENA #SATIRE

 

 

Note: I have slightly deviated and written a longre non-fictional piece as i felt this is a story that needed to be told in the present context that is playing out in India. Hope you shall forgive me for this rather off beat, long piece.

neelwrites/eternalpeaceinNature’sarms/fiction/shortstory/09/10/2017

ETERNAL PEACE IN NATURE’S ARMS

forest1

By Neel Anil Panicker

Of late, especially, and more so, since Sushma’s sudden death, the daily climb up the forested slope was proving to be quite tedious.
It wasn’t as if he had suddenly turned infirm or that his body had refused to obey the dictates of the mind.
On the contrary, for a septuagenarian leading a superannuated existence, John Albert Dayal, retired Eastern Railways Senior Superintendent, was doing pretty well,  ever fit and agile, his six foot ramrod straight frame a source of much envy among neighbours less than half his age.

Hiking up the trail was something he had always looked forward to.

“Why do you need to torture your bones by insisting on going up that forested hill. Don’t you know that it is infested with wild animals?” harangued his sister Martha, a year older to him, and recently widowed.
Left to herself, she would do nothing but bake honey dipped nutty chocolate cakes,  a delicacy she had learnt back in the days when she was young and employed at Hot Breads, the preferred eating joint of the gourmands.

But John was of a different breed.
Rather than indulging in such rich sweetmeats, which anyways he avoided like the plague ever since the doctor pronounced him as afflicted with advanced  diabetes and abnormally high blood pressure, he found pleasure in Nature.
So off he went, his ears oblivious to Martha’s protestations,
In no time he had left behind the city landscapes and waded deep into a thick foliage of pine and cedar trees.

Feeling slightly heavy and uncharacteristically tired, he sat down under the bark of a giant peepal tree and looked upwards.
From behind the thick foliage, the sun’s rays snaked in and sketched strobed images on his parched visage.
After a while he reclined his back against the tree trunk, stretched his legs out, and closed his eyes.

And that’s how they found him the next morning.
‘Fortuitous of him to go that way’, was the general consensus of all who knew him.

(c)neelanilpanicker2017 WritePhoto #Thursday Photo Prompt #fiction#flashfiction #shortstory #334words

Written for Thursday Photo Prompt hosted by at https://scvincent.com/2017/10/08/glade-writephoto-by-willow/

Glade – #writephoto by Willow

Also written for

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie

Saturday Mix – Same Same But Different, 7 October 2017

Welcome to the Saturday Mix, 9 September 2017! at https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2017/09/09/saturday-mix-same-same-but-different-9-september-2017/

This week we are diving into the depths of our thesaurus and exploring the world of synonyms.

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 are:

  1. produce
  2. puncture
  3. smile
  4. young
  5. difficult

Your writing form is either poetry or prose.

neelwrites/blastfromthepast/SPF/fiction/shortstory/11/09/2017

Sunday Photo Fiction – September 10th 2017

Hosted at https://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2017/09/10/sunday-photo-fiction-september-10th-2017/

BLAST FROM THE PAST

211 09 September 10th 2017

By Neel Anil Panicker

It was supposed to be their dream house. Their retirement nest. A house by the river. Add spectacular views of the early sun as it snakes past the narrow slits of exotic palm leaves, gently splashing its orange tinged red rays through diaphanous curtains on still sleepy residents safely tucked under silken bedsheets; add the very same rays receding behind lofty snow capped mountains while giving way to spectacular moonlit nights; add the gentle swirling of the crystal clear waters as it lullabies you to sleep.

Add all this, and what you get is bliss; nirvana; happiness to the power of infinity.

Alas! That was not to be. Mrs and Mr Sood’s dreams of settling down and spending the golden years of their remaining lives in Villa Paradise, (that’s what they had christened their utopia, their comfy house by the river) quickly turned to dust.

One fine morning the lady woke up to find her husband of half a century dead on the bed, the spent cartridge of a .303 bullet lay beside him.

‘They’ll come, they always come’ he used to mumble around, something she would dismiss as signs of the onset of dementia.

She peers into the muddy waters below.

‘You’re right. Always were. Spies never had it easy.’

©neelanilpanicker(2017 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED) #SPF #FICTION #SHORT STORY  #neelanilpanicker #neeltheauthor

 

neelwrites/thecaseofthehalfburntvessels/FFfAW/fiction/23/08/2017

FFfAW Challenge-Week of August 22, 2017

I am participating in Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writer, where we write a piece between 100 and 150 words (more or less 25 words) in length inspired by the photo prompt above.

Hosted by Priceless Joy at https://flashfictionforaspiringwriters.wordpress.com/2017/08/21/fffaw-challenge-week-of-august-22-2017/ 

THE CASE OF THE HALF BURNT VESSELS

Thank you Yarnspinnerr for our photo prompt this week!

By Neel Anil Panicker

Metal pots lay scattered on the grill bars of the vast estate that was Ambuja Mansions, the fifty acre farmhouse owned by the Ambujas.

Inspector Sharma bent down and touched the blackened belly pots, all six of them.

“Hmm…something’s been cooking.”

Getting up, Inspector Sharma inspected the surroundings from inside his dark Ray Ban.

An empty road stretched out in front of him as far as the eye could eye.

There was no semblance of any city life all around the lone farmhouse situated in a very secluded tony suburb of SouthDelhi.

“Constable Kadam, you see these small vessels over here?”

‘Yes, Sir. It’s the first thing I noticed on coming here.’

“Kadam, you may be good at noticing but are very bad at inferring.”

‘Sir. I don’t understand.’

“Kadam, You said you saw three bodies inside, right?

‘Yes, Sir… one of an elderly, and two of his sons. I confirmed it.’

“Confirmed? And who did you confirm all this from, dear Kadam”

‘His family members, Sir.  The deceased’s wife. She was …’

Inspector Sharma looked at his deputy open sarcasm.

“Kadam, the dead man had no wife, least of all any children.”

As Kadam let a shriek, the sound of gunfire reverberated the surroundings.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #FFfAW #fiction

neelwrites/tentacles/Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie/fiction/372words/21/0/2017

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie

First Line Friday -August 16th 2017

Include the first line of course! Tag it Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie, First Line Fridays, and short fiction. Create a link (ping-back) to this post and add your link to Mister Linky below.

Your line for this week is:

After the accident, unease grew like a mold in the corners of his mind.

TENTACLES

By Neel Anil Panicker

After the accident, unease grew like a mold in the corners of her mind.

Like a slow moving creeper, its multifarious tendrils enclasped and tightened itself on her, clasping and wrenching the last vestiges of laughter and happiness out of her inner vitals.

With every passing day her agony and helplessness magnified as she sat motionless, confined to her bed, her body and limbs a waste bag of rotten flesh, her hollow stony eyes fixated on the lone door leading out to her bedroom.

From this unprivileged position she watched, utterly helplessly, the passing parade of life.

She watched her husband of over two score decades carry on with life’s myriad duties, rushing in and out of their palatial villa by the sea, barking orders to a litany of servants, attending to video conference meetings with his clients from across the globe, and in between dropping by to feed her  delicacies dear to her, ones that he would personally prepare, unwilling to delegate such tasks to the master chef.

And when he would spoon feed him wearing that disarming smile on his gorgeously handsome face she would gratefully accept the offerings.

But long after he would be gone, the sheer vastness of the sand kissed villa would tear down upon her and like massive frothy waves hurtling from the sea, her mind would turn a whirpool of searing doubts.

In no time the doubts and disbelief, the scepticisms and the fears had taken deep roots inside her mindscape, scarring her fast turning psychotic brain immeasurably.

As days gave way to nights and the cycle of life repeated itself viciously,

out of the recesses of her mind crept out her deepest fears, each gnawing and slowly eroding away the very last semblances of sanity.

What if he leaves me, what if he snatches our children away from me, what if he marries another woman? What if…

Every waking hour she turned slave to her tortuous mind, battling unknown ghosts.

It was a losing battle and one that ultimately consumed her own life.

I died the day I lost my legs and hands. This is just me burying the remains, she surmised as she drank to her heart’s content from the bottle of poison.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #fiction #Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie #372words

neelwrites/gazingintoastarryreality/fiction/SPF/20/08/2017

Sunday Photo Fiction – August 20th 2017

get the InLinkz code

Hosted by J Hardy at https://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2017/08/20/sunday-photo-fiction-august-20th-2017/ 

GAZING INTO A STARRY REALITY

209 08 August 20th 2017

By Neel Anil Panicker

My name is Galileo.

Galileo who? Galileo what? Did I hear you say?

Well, not surprising, though.

In this fast paced emoji driven, information pumping adrenaline high robotic age whoever has the time for digging out relics of some hoary past?

Well, if it’s any consolation, I’m the one to whom is attributed the famous phrase Eppur si muove.  It refers to my claim that it’s the Earth that revolves around the Sun and not the other way around.

Big deal, you might say.

But I tell you, in my day around 500 years ago what I said was considered a sacrilege.

The omnipotent, omniscient custodians of the Church (read God) took serious umbrage to my utterances.

I was incarcerated in a deep dungeon, and made to drink poison.

Hey, why am I telling you these things? It’s a story long interred and buried in the dustbin of history?

Right?

Well, folks, I’m doing this so you and the generations that would follow yours learn to stand up to all manner of wrongs and injustices perpetuated in this world in the name of God, that you understand there can exist a happy marriage between science and morality devoid of mass hatred fueled by religious bigotry.

(neelanilpanicker2017 #spf #fiction #200words

BACKGROUND: And yet it moves

“Eppur si muove” redirects here. For other uses, see Eppur si muove (disambiguation).

And yet it moves” or “Albeit it does move” (ItalianE pur si muove or Eppur si muove [epˈpur si ˈmwɔːve]) is a phrase attributed to the Italian mathematician, physicist and philosopher Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) in 1633 after being forced to recant his claims that the Earth moves around the immovable[1] Sun rather than the converse during the Galileo affair.[2]

In this context, the implication of the phrase is: despite his recantation, the Church’s proclamations to the contrary, or any other conviction or doctrine of men, the Earth does, in fact, move (around the Sun, and not vice versa). As such, the phrase is used today as a sort of pithy retort implying that “it doesn’t matter what you believe; these are the facts.”

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