By Nee Anil Panicker

The clouds were white milky sheets. Set against the backdrop of azure blue skies with the slightest tingle of violet, the view from the top was magical to say the least.

Naina had never come this high.

But Akram was insistent.

“Believe me baby, it’s going to be cool. Plus, it’ll forever free you from your fear of heights”.

He was like that__words like baby, cool, wow, yippie…flowed easily from his thick nicotine stained lips that always curved up in a half mocking smile.

His thick mop of curly hair loosened its strands and like a dog straining against its leash, desperately tried to break free__tossing and twirling, daring the icy winds that blew over them.

Sitting on the edge of a rocky outgrowth two feet away, Naina looked down from the hill top.

All she could  see was a 500-metre bottomless pit of sheer green.

Her head turned dizzy as a whirlpool of disjointed thoughts began to swirl around in her head.

Had she really come this high? Could she have been such a fool to have acquiesced to this half boiled idea of this crackpot of a boyfriend of hers and tagged along on a Monday such as this when ideally she should have been in school

teaching tiny tots Jack and Jill and other arresting nursery rhymes. True, he was good. Good in bed, that is. I mean at her age, pushing the thirties, to get the undivided attention of a horny teenager ever willing to improvise was definitely a big boon, akin to someone bagging a lottery, she surmised. But then now this__ to come this far, to agree to climb a hill and stare down a rocky  fall? No, no ways was this cool. No baby, no way was she staying one moment longer.

Having made up her mind, Naina signalled to Akram.

“Come, let’s go. I feel dizzy…”

The words hung in the air as her feet slipped behind a loose pebble and off she went floating like a bird deep down the valley.   

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Thursday photo prompt: Summit #writephoto

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YOU’RE MY WISH COME TRUE  (Two minute read)


By Neel Anil Panicker

“It is a metaphorical tree”.

Katherine looked at her Indian beau in quizzical fashion.

‘What’s that supposed to mean__a metaphorical tree?’

In reply, Raj lifted his arms and drew a huge circular arc into the silvery cloud of skies.

“Look around you. What do you see? A land full of lush greenery, sprawling paddy fields, sheaths of pearly white water flowing from the mountains, people living peaceful, happy lives in beautiful, little hutments, their faces, all calm and full of contentment. Did you see…”

‘Hey, that’s cool. But what’s that to do with this tree’?

Katherine’s impatience seemed to be getting the better of her.

Raj looked at her and pointed towards the huge banyan tree a few meters from where the two stood in the middle of an open field that abutted the village in the northern fringes of hilly Assam.

“This is no ordinary banyan tree. This is the Kalpataru…the wish fulfilling tree.”

This time Katherine was intrigued enough to ask what that meant.

“It’s an Indian myth. What you see is the ‘Tree of Life’. For the villagers this tree is a metaphor for the celebration of hope, prosperity, and ecology. And that…”

‘And that explains all those long colourful threads that are tied around its various branches. They are all wishes of the faithful, hopes and dreams that they pray would come true, right?’

Raj nodded his head in affirmation as the two looked at the huge twenty feet high ‘Kalpataru’, its unnaturally large and thick branches and the array of panoramic tightly knotted cloths and threads softly swaying in the cool September breeze that was blowing in from the snow capped mountains that formed a protective umbrella all around the place known to both botanists and ordinary folk alike as ‘Heaven’s Garden’.

“Do you have a wish? If so, go ahead and tie yourself a thread.”

‘I don’t need to. That which I wished for has been fulfilled. It’s you’, said Katherine looking into Raj’s eyes.

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Thursday photo prompt: Wishes #writephoto

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By Neel Anil Panicker

It was their go to place. The hangout place where the two would meet every single day, every single moment the two were able to steal for themselves.

There, a few hundred meters away from the hustle and bustle of the main beach area, the one which’s choc-a-bloc with eveningers, regular Kochi denizens __couples out on a stroll with kiddies in tow, college youngsters lapping up the sea waves, daring one another for a swim, diving into froth filled waters of the sand blasted sea___, they would retreat to their own private corner, a decrepit wooden boat long past its halcyon fishing days.

There, the two dark shadows, would then clamber aboard its half broken planks, and make love for hours under the starry skies.

Two people, madly in love, reaching out in the moonlit dark, connecting bodies and souls, snatching precious moments, living life to the full.

“We’re married, you know that?”, he had said when they had first felt the stirrings of something deeper than mere feelings, a couple of months ago.

In reply Aparna had texted him__a daring message, “Yes, and to different persons. But then, is that a bother?”

Reading the emoji driven text four cubicles away, he had understood the rhetorical nature of the message and reciprocated with a red flaming heart.

“Raj, I will not give you up, ever”, she was saying, her index finger pencilling a ‘V’ around his curly haired chest.

A silvery beam of light fell on her face, accentuating the high cheek boned face.

She was smiling, he noticed. The same edgy smile she hurled when she wanted to say something big, drop a bombshell.

His heart on a beat, he waited for its deliverance.

“Darling, it’s time we kill our respective spouses”.

Momentarily taken aback, he looked into her hazel eyes, sparkling like bottled red wine.

There was no turning away now, that much he knew.

#NEELANILPANICKER #writephoto #flash #shortstory


Thursday photo prompt: Wave #writephoto




By Neel Anil Panicker


The azure clouds, the ever changing carpet of kaleidoscopic hues, the endless span of blue heavens: all this and more is my abode.

Here the days and nights are one. I decide the time. I and I alone decide what to do, when or not to sleep, awake, fly, or simply enter into a trance.

I belong here; this splendorous endless spread of blue skies is from where I watch over; my eagle eyes scanning and skimming, scouring and devouring with hungry, precision-driven eyes the antics of all below me.

See that rustic red cliff over there. That’s my office. That’s from where I work every day; that’s the high point from where I watch the undulating landscape several hundred thousand feet below. My senses and eyes are in perfect sync: tuned as it were to the slightest of changes that occur.


A shift in the sandy dunes, an unheralded gust of wind, a sudden shimmer in the wind rippled lake bothers me, ignites my innate bestial instincts, incites me enough to fluff and flap my majestic wings. It is what goads me to fling my sharp talons and take off, soaring even further higher than where I am.

I am readying myself; warming up to do what I am ordained to do, what I was born for, which is to lessen the burden of all that lies below me.

Make no mistake: I am just a bird, may be a big one, but still a bird fulfilling my obligations to the Creator.

From a thousand feet above I touch down, swooping and sweeping my ‘labour’ off his or her feet, effortlessly, painlessly, clinically.

A few struggle but all give in, eventually, in acquiescence to their fate that folds up within the folds of my short, stubby beaks, my bright as sunlight eyes glistening as if they were black onyx beads.

And then I take off.

Tomorrow is just another day.

Another unburdening of earthly sorrows.

#neelanilpanicker #fiction #ThursdayPhotoPrompt #flash #flashfiction #life #bird

Thursday photo prompt: Remains #writephoto

Thursday photo prompt: Remains #writephoto





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.

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Written in response to

Thursday photo prompt: Fallen #writephoto

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Thursday photo prompt: Fallen #writephoto





By Neel Anil Panicker

Leaning against the parapet of her balcony, Angela placed her hands on the balustrade, her fingers running over the exquisitely carved animal figurines that etched onto the umpteen pillars that stood out like sentinels the entire length and breadth of Angela’s, the  mansion that bore her name, the only and only double story all marble structure in the entire village of Akasa.

Her kohl lined eyes swept past the massive courtyard and surveyed, with unalloyed pleasure, the wealth of colourful vegetation that greeted her. Everything was there all the flowers of her choice, the ones that came in her dreams__the lilacs, daffodils, copper beeches, roses, asters, lilies__you name it, it was all there__blooming in full glory in the garden the size of half a football field.

She took in all that and inhaled deeply the westerly breeze that blew in from the sea, and then slowly descended the spiralled staircase for the last time ever.

She took in her time, waiting that wee bit longer at the end of each step, her mind harking back to the past, to a decade back when she had first arrived at this “heaven” after leaving behind her earlier impoverished existence.

The past decade had seen her metamorphosis from an ugly, illiterate poverty stricken tribal orphan girl to an insanely beautiful, much desirable voluptuous woman of substance who was anointed with the honorific title of queen.

She had everything a woman could want:  A mansion of her own, a retinue of liveried servants at her beck and call, the luxury of hopping in and out of innumerable rooms, each the size of at least fifty huts where her erstwhile village folk lived.

Everything except the love of the man who had showered her with this benevolence.

Pity, he made her his queen, but forgot to treat her as one.

#neelanilpanicker #fiction #ThursdayPhotoPrompt #flash #shortstory

Thursday photo prompt: Ascent #writephoto

Thursday photo prompt: Ascent #writephoto




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