Sunday Photo Fiction – June 25th 2017

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10 Eric Wicklund 25 June 2017

© Eric Wicklund

By Neel Anil Panicker

For the first time in his two decade long police career, Inspector Akhtar Shameem of Jammu & Kashmir Special Crime Unit felt what it was like to be on the other side of the law.

The tables had turned__the cop had become the criminal, or so it seemed.

Holed up in his current hideout__an abandoned timber factory located some fifteen miles off Srinagar Highway, and barely a few thousand meters from the Pakistan border, the middle-aged cop went over the events of the previous few weeks.

He had been investigating a drug seizure case a month ago when he stumbled upon the involvement of two prominent legislators.

On digging further, he unearthed a multi-billion dollar drug cartel whose tentacles spread across the border was run by Shah Maqsood Gilani, the Chief Minister’s son.

Soon he had had visitors_ machine gun wielding men who riddled his house with bullets, (luckily his wife and two children were at his in-law’s for a family wedding); strange men who made vile threats over the phone and hurled bombs at his police station.

Inspector Shameem checked his watch. 12.35 pm. It was time to make his move.

His contact Haider would be waiting, as promised.

©neelanilpanciker2017  #SPF #200words


Sunday Photo Fiction – June 18th 2017


203 06 June 18th 2017

By Neel Anil Panicker

Vetenarian surgeon Dr Inderjeet Saini bent down on his knees and examined the bird.

His nimble fingers felt its heart under the white backed wings.

It was a wasteful exercise.

The juvenile griffon had been dead for over five hours.

“Renal failure,” he pronounced, adding “A slow and painful death.”

Standing next to him, Dr Rustom Naoroji, the well known ornithologist and his colleague from the Institute of Avian Studies, nodded his head sadly.

“That’s Number 76, and this is only in just one district. One more innocent life sacrificed at the altar of man’s unbridled greed,” he said as two ambled back to their camp located on the outskirts of Khelgaon, a nondescript village in rural Maharashtra famous for its extensive dairy farm activities.

The two bird lovers knew what that meant. In the last two years alone, the number of vultures that had died after consuming the carcasses of cattle had risen to 1258, a staggering rise of 64 per cent.

The dead cattle were administered highly harmful painkillers, something that would make them work longer hours.

However, there was something else that worried Dr Naoroji.

It was what would happen to him once he died.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #SPF #fiction  #198words

P.S. The death of vultures is a matter of grave concern for the Parsi community who follow the practice of leaving their dead in the Tower of Silence to be consumed by vultures.


Sunday Photo Fiction – June 11th 2017


SPF - June 11th 2017

By Neel Anil Panicker

Life for Abdul Sattar was a two player game of chess; his opponent, the whole wide world.

Abdul played his part with great zeal and cunning; winning being his whole sole motive.


Losing, for him, was never an option. The vicissitudes of fate had ensured that.

Splitting points reserved only for weaklings.


A child of a Lesser God, life’s cards were all stacked against him.

Minus the love and support of non-existent parents, he started out as every Tom, Dick, and Harry’s  favourite lamb, ever ready for slaughter.

Bullied, abused, beaten, threatened…he had seen, felt and experienced it all before one could spell bingo.

At an age when children were meant to be in school and mastering the three Rs, our man had his first brush with the law. His crime: stabbing to death his violator.

By the time he stepped foot into the tenuous teens, he had learnt enough about first moves, split second openings, deft maneuverings, tactical retreats, left flank slices and brutal frontal attacks to end up as the lord of the rings, the undisputed master of the game.


It was then that he met the queen.

It was checkmate time.

Overnight he turned from king to pawn.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #spf #fiction #shortstory #200words



09 C E Ayr 04 June 2017

© C E Ayr

By Neel Anil Panicker  

Ooohs and aaahs ricocheted off the high ceilinged walls of the packed movie hall as the final montage ended with the fading dreamy montage of the young lovers caught in a tight embrace.

A cool evening breeze blowing in from the Arabian Sea greeted the happy faces that

stepped out of the theatre.

“Will you marry me?”

The words escaped Azhar’s lips even before he realized it.

Stumped by this very public act of indiscretion, Zeenat looked at him quizzically as if he had dropped in from the skies.

‘What? Just what was that, Azzu?’

Their arms entwined, the two crossed the street just as the signal turned green.

“Zeenie baby, you know that I have been wanting to say this for years.”

‘Two years, hundred and two days, eleven hours and thirty-three seconds.’

Looking into her eyes, he intoned, “So, baby, will you marry me?”

Pointing towards the Lovers Statue a few feet away from where they stood, she replied ‘First you need to kiss me, like him, in style.’

Without any further prodding, he swung her in his arms and planted a kiss on her lips.

Oohs and aahs escaped the lips of the appreciative crowd around them.
©neelanilpanicker2017 #SPF #fiction #200words


Written as part of a weekly challenge

Sunday Photo Fiction May 28th 2017


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A DEVIL IS BORN      (#2 of LOVERS)  

201 05 May 28th 2017

By Neel Anil Panicker

His birth heralded a death. His mother’s. The night he was born there was no electricity in his village, a remote impoverished village tucked in the back of beyond of western Haryana, the nearest medical centre some 100 miles away.

For three perilous hours Nature was at its wildest. What first began as a massive thunderstorm interspersed with staccato bursts of lightning quickly gave way to thunderous cloudbursts. Soon the skies turned pitch dark and thereafter followed four horrendous hours of torrential rains.

That night the elements collided and colluded to wreck havoc bringing in no time the village to its heels__uprooting trees, dismantling electricity poles, clogging the drains and arteries all around its decrepit lanes and bylanes sending frightened villagers scurrying back like rats into their mud roofed tenements__ waiting, wailing and praying for the nightmare to end.

Another kind of nightmare had just begun in the village headman’s house, a modest two storied brick structure, the only one of its kind in the entire village one largely peopled by Thakurs, a powerful upper caste denomination in rural India.

Three hours after the woman of the house had gone into labour, the midwife, an old septuagenarian women of myopic sight, craned her neck out of the inner room, holding in her hands a curled up white bundle.

“It’s a boy. The mother is dead.”

As the wailing died down, a young man, a red turban tied around his head, turned his attention away the hookah, blowing a thick ring of smoke into the low roofed walls, and gingerly held the new born in his arms.

A pair of bright shining eyes framed in an angelic face stared back at him, the barely formed lips curling into a half smile.

‘We shall call him Ram, the human God.’

It wouldn’t be long before his God, Ram aka Ramandeep Singh Thakur would turn into Ravan, the evil incarnate, the Devil himself.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #SPF #fiction #lovers-part 2

Please find the link below to the first episode of this story ‘LOVERS’.


Sunday Photo Fiction – May 21st 2017



200 05 May 21st 2017

By Neel Anil Panicker

Today is the last day of the School Matriculation exams and Rashmi is in tears.

As the school gates firmly shut behind her, life for her has reached a dead end: her dear school, her alma mater where she spent ten years of her life is not authorized to conduct higher classes, classes that lead to her becoming a graduate, and maybe beyond.

Swept over by nostalgia, she cranes her neck over high brick walls to view for one last time the single storied structure and its classrooms; the playground, the assembly hall and the wide corridors.

With a heavy heart she turns back home to the horror that awaits her: marriage.

‘I have fixed the match. The boy is from the neighboring village. Works in a factory’, she had heard her father talk to mother a week ago.

Her mother had not uttered a word. How could she? Theirs was a deeply patriarchal society. Here  a man’s diktat was inviolate and women no worse than chattels to be lifted and dumped from one place to the other, from one household to another___like a piece of sack.

“But maa, I am only fifteen. I want to study further, earn, become independent. There’s another school…”

Her mother had cut her short.

‘No way.’

She had heard horror stories of the other school located three kilometers away. There had been incidents___of harassment, molestation, one of rape as well. No way would she be allowed to study there, to walk the deserted roads.

‘Your father’s right. We’ll get you married. That way the family honour is safe.’

That night as Rashmi went to sleep, she concluded that society, her school, her parents__ all were traitors; traitors who conspire against the girl child, traitors who don’t bat an eyelid as they remorselessly go around killing the budding aspirations of young girls who are smart and want to study but are denied the means to do so unlike boys for whom all privileges are rolled out in a red carpet.

That night as she slept on the corner mud floor, Rashmi fought through her tears, thinking hard and fast, trying to think of a way, some way, any way out of the quagmire that she found herself in.

©neelanilpanciker2017 #historical fiction #01 #spf #373words


Historical Background:

Haryana: Rewari girls demanding school upgradation go on strike

We fear harassment and molestation by youths of other villages and hence, we are demanding upgradation of our school up to Class XII, says a girl on hunger strike.

Around 80 girls of a government high school here have gone on an indefinite strike demanding upgradation of their institution, fearing they will be harassed if they travel to a senior secondary school located in a different village for higher studies.

The stir by the girls, studying in class IX and X in Gothda Tappa Dahina village, entered its sixth day on Monday. Of the 86 protesting students, 13 are on hunger strike, village head Suresh Chauhan told PTI. “For higher education, girls of our village have to go to Kanwali village, located 3 km from here, after Class X,” he added.

One of the girls on hunger strike said: “We fear harassment and molestation by youths of other villages and hence, we are demanding upgradation of our school up to Class XII.” The protesters said they would not stop until the government accepted their demand. Meanwhile, the district education authorities said since the school did not fulfil the minimum condition required for the senior secondary level, it could not be upgraded.

“At least 150 students are required in Classes IX and X for the senior secondary upgrade but the Dahina village school has just 86 students in both classes,” said Dharmbir Balrodia, District Education Officer (DEO), Rewari.



Sunday Photo Fiction – May 14th 2017



© Sally-An Hodgekiss

By Neel Anil Panicker

The moment I sighted the statue I knew I had blown it.

Blown whatever chances I had of making it up with Susan.

A week ago I was pleading with her.

“One chance, just one, please?”

God knows how but she bought that.

‘Just once Charles, if not we’re quits.’

So, here we were, in Paris, all the way from India, as we nee I, tried one last ditch effort to save our  tottering marriage.

She craned her neck, squinting her eyes against the harsh summer rays.

Barely ten feet ahead of us loomed the colossal statue.

I sensed danger.

“Susie, let’s move to Champs-Élysées, to their new store of H&M. Read it stocks the very best in ladies suits.”

She would melt, I thought, knowing her weakness for exclusive designer wear.

I was mistaken.

She had spotted the statue and was now heading towards it.

My heart beats rivalled a 250 mile hurricane.

I raced after her.

“This is so allegorical, sweetheart,” she exulted, her arms around me, puckering me with kisses.

Later in our hotel room, as she slept blissfully in my arms, I wondered since when had she come to love statutes, that too of supersized naked men.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #fiction #SUNDAYPHOTOFICTION #200 words


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