neelwrites/fiction/shortstorey/39words/09/12/2017

 

#MicroMondays –

20171203_211822

The magic number for this week is 39, and it is from the 39th page of the book we have our prompt.

20171203_211918

IT SOUNDED SIMPLE IN THEORY

Hosted at https://looseendoftheredthread.wordpress.com/2017/12/04/micromondays-8/

By Neel Anil Panicker

Do a recee of a bank; rent a shop adjoining it; drill a hole upto the locker room; break-in on a holiday; escape with the loot_ it sounded simple in theory.

They didn’t factor the dog that awaited them.

(c)neelanilpanicker2017 #fiction #flash #short story #39words #MicroMondays

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neelwrites/training/flashfiction/performance/09/12/2017

December 7: Flash Fiction Challenge

December 7 Flash Fiction Challenge at Carrot Ranch @Charli_Mills

In 99 words (no more, no less) write that features a performance. You can interpret what is a performance any way the prompt leads you.

Hosted by https://carrotranch.com/2017/12/07/december-7-flash-fiction-challenge/

TRAINING, IT’S DRAINING

By Neel Anil Panicker

Two days, seven hours, thirty-one minutes and still counting. There’s no signs of the torture  ever coming to an end. From his secluded perch in the far right hand corner, I watch with eyes as dead as of a dodo’s at the ‘actors’ and their ‘performances’.

The powers that be had even thought out a name for this form of extreme sadism, grandly christening it as ‘ANNUAL SKILL UPLIFTMENT SESSION’.

My foot! The only skill upliftment was that the hapless trainees had by now learnt how to fall into deep slumber with their eyes split wide open.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #fiction #flashfiction #99words #training

neelwrites/tunnel/weekendwritingprompt/thursdayphotoprompt/fiction/flash/shortstory/07/12/2017

Thursday photo prompt – Portal – #writephoto

Written for  at https://scvincent.com/2017/12/07/thursday-photo-prompt-portal-writephoto/

Also for

Weekly Writing Prompt #118

Weekly Writing Challenge

DOOR Template Instructions
Poetry and/or Flash Fiction
December 4th 2017 | #118

(5) Words: | GHOST | PINCH | RATE | GOLD | BURY |

 

TUNNEL OF HOPE OR DESPAIR?

By Neel Anil Panicker

A beautiful woman, the most beautiful he had ever seen, her ‘slender as a twig’ body clad from top to bottom in white appeared out of the cumulus clouds above and swung a magical wand towards him.

Immediately, Richard felt a strange, tingling sensation all over his body as shiny golden beams of light lit the night sky.

The all white apparition smiled beatifically down at him.

A honey dipped voice, soft as gurgling mountain waters whispered,

“Young man, follow my instructions carefully for you are about to become the luckiest man on this planet. Take seven steps from the East of your hut and stop, facing the mango groves that lie beyond your backyard.

Now start digging fifty feet into the ground. You will soon hit a dead end. That is the clue for you to turn left and dig another two feet. Soon you will see a small slit in the earth. It leads to a tunnel.  Crawl through it for about ten feet and you will have entered a cave. It is the Abode of Kuber, The God of Wealth.

Buried there are glittering diamond necklaces, gold earrings, precious stones, silver, platinum… take what you want…it is limitless and they are all yours”.

Richard couldn’t believe what he was witnessing and hearing. The pupils of his eyes dilated twice its normal size. His ears lobes strained to catch the soft, magical voice that was being drilled into his head.

Could this be true? Will he become rich? With such wealth he can virtually rule the earth, be master of everyone, own everything that he had ever wanted or lusted after?

Still unbelieving of his good fortune, he pinched himself on the cheek.

“What’s this month’s rate?”, he heard a familiar voice shouting into his ears.

Richard opened his eyes and found himself staring into the perplexed face of Raghav Sir, his regular customer, the gentleman from whom he bought old newspapers. Old newspapers that he bought and sold for a living. His dream had just turned to dust.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #fiction #flash #shortstory

neelwrites/time’sup/fiction/shortstory/sixsentencestories/06/12/2017

Welcome To Six Sentence Stories

Link up your six sentences. This week’s cue is MATE.

Hostyed by Zoe at https://unchartedblogdotorg.wordpress.com/2017/11/29/welcome-to-six-sentence-stories-73/

TIME’S UP

By Neel Anil Panicker

Joseph Livingstone looked over his shoulder at the guard who wore the same benign smile that we was wearing last Monday and the Monday before that and every Monday in the last eight months he had been walked down to the Visitors Room,  ever since the time he has been imprisoned at Singapore State Prison.

“You no come now. I fine. Know where the stash is, don’t you? Will fly to Jamaica before Christmas, for sure baby”, he whispered into Amanda’s ears, their eyes, pregnant with longing and hope, communicating love notes through the barbed wires.

‘What about Freddie? Says half of that stuff is his? How do I stop him?’

‘Time’s up mate’, barked the over six foot tall baton wielding prison guard who stood barely five feet from where they were.

Biting into his thick rose tinged lower lips, Joseph thought about that for one nano second, and then cupping his mouth hissed through the hexagonal steel mesh, “You have the gun, you know what to do, right?”

As he was being led away Joseph turned around the corner just in time to see his girl friend-cum-partner in crime honour him with a smile that said it all.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #sixsentencestories #fiction #flash #200words #crime #underworld #prison #drugs #mafia

neelwrites/swotbversussoar/fiction/shortstory/1431words/reena’sexplorationchallengeweek14/29/11/2017

Hosted by Reena at https://reinventionsreena.wordpress.com/2017/11/24/reenas-exploration-challenge-week-14/

NO SWETTING OVER SWOT, SIMPLY SOAR

Here’s the prompt.

SOAR SLIDE.jpg

 

By Neel Anil Panicker  

Nitin Gokhale looked around him and found that he was the odd one out. Everyone in the large airy hall the size of a 5-star lobby was clad in suits. Cleaned and shaven, hairs gelled, shoes shining brighter than the morning sun, and holding sleek leather bound files in their manicured hands, each one of them radiated brilliance as their eager, sparkling eyes stood affixed on a corner door that for now remained firmly closed.

For a casual observer the scene could be mistaken for the grand finale round of the ‘Mr World’ contest when the door would magically spring open and the judges would walk upto announce the winner of the most prized contest.

Except that this was no beauty contest but a brainy one. The participants who were waiting were no handsome Amazon Gods and gorgeous Greek Goddesses but were all who had trumped the best brains of the country and elsewhere to emerge among the list of the final call getters of the CAT, the prestigious IIMs, the premier management institution of the world, from where in two years time, they would be honing and perfecting their considerable academic skills and business skills to emerge and take their rightful places as czars and czarinas of the diamond crusted corporate world.

 

Should he too have followed suit and worn a suit. Nitin mulled over the question as he looked at his crispy white shirt worn over a pair of black trousers.

No, that was unnecessary, maybe even a little over the top, and had he worn one it would have made him extremely conscious and thereby anxious, which again would have reflected in the way he conducted himself, Nitin reminded himself.

Besides, this made him stand out in the crowd even if it made him the odd one out.

A voice over the microphone interrupted this thoughts; Nitin heard his name being called out.

It was time to step through the door. He got up, creased his trousers, and with confident steps walked towards the door.

At the corner, he saw someone flashing a thumbs up sign.

It was Inder Malhotra, his friend and colleague from Delhi Technical University, his alma mater, and thereafter COACHING TIME, the MBA coaching institute in Delhi that the two had attended for almost a year immediately after completing their graduation.

He smiled back mouthing a ‘thanks’ and stepped in.

Smiling, he walked towards the sole oblong teak lined wood table that stood in the centre of an airy mid-sized room.

“Good morning, Sirs and Madam”, he wished the eminent group of five panelists who were seated across the table.

“Please be seated”, the man, who looked, with his shock of greying curly hair and huge thick oval glasses like Zubin Mehta, the renowned conductor of international symphony.

Gently easing himself into a chair, Nitin sat down, arms firmly folded and clutching single black colour file that contained his resume and a few certificates.

The perfunctory question and round session began as each panel member posed one query after the other, all pretty much the norm and answers to which Nitin though he gave very satisfactorily, judging by the glowing expressions that emanated from the eminent panellists.

Just as he thought the interview was over, a man who looked around sixty and had until now remained silent barring one stock question that he had posed about his school, straightened his tie, a blue silk one with a small red coloured triangular insignia, and asked, “Tell me young man, can you do a SWOT of yourself?”

Nitin had half anticipated this question and was a bit surprised that it had come at the fag end of the around fifteen minute interview, almost as an afterthought.

He cleared is throat and looking at the esteemed panel and then specifically at the gent who had asked, he replied,

“Respected Sirs, this is a standard trope that is trotted out in interview sessions all over the world. It’s as if without this asking about SWOT, no interview can pass muster.

It’s taken on a very holy status, a litmus test to validate or invalidate a candidate’s efficiency or lack of it.

With due respect, I would like to say that it’s time that we junk this acronym and replace it with another.

Nitin caught a few murmured whispers as suddenly the temperature in the room shot up despite the air conditioning.

He heard one of them say,” And what’s that, my friend?”

Ignoring the slight sarcasm laden tone that emanated, Nitin carried on, “ SOAR. This the new acronym that I believe the world should embrace instead of the mindlessly following the centuries old SWOT.

Unmindful of a few raised eyebrows and as many quizzical looks, Nitin continued, his voice dripping with confidence, his words cast in conviction,

“First, let’s see what SWOT means and is meant for.

The S stands for Strengths. It aims to figure out a person or institution’s strengths, our individual strong points. A very legitimate query.

W for weaknesses reveals our lackings, our drawbacks, out chinks in the armour.

O looks at our Opportunities while T points towards the Threats that we may pose.

Now, while I wholly subscribe to S, I strongly believe that the remaining letters have a strongly negative tone. To me it seems as if we are preparing to go to war. It’s as if the world is one big battlefield and full of mad, raging enemies, fire spewing monsters that we need to trounce and slay.

SWOT reads like a very clinical war manual to me, a secret blood letting code, that if it falls in someone’s hands could lead to either world supremacy and dominance along with unbridled power or universal subjugation and eternal stagnation.

It’s advocacy sends an entirely wrong message to the strife torn world that we live in currently, telling to young minds, boys and girls on the cusp of entering into adult hood that it’s okay to find, ferret out others’ weaknesses and exploit them to your advantage, that’s it’s okay to strike without fear and put the fear of the devil into your adversary’s brains simply because you have more strengths and little weaknesses and a whole lot more opportunities to threaten others not as blessed as you are into meek submission and insultful subjugation.  It teaches the world the wrong set of dogmas, a dogma steeped in the binary of right and wrong, strong and weak, and good and bad shall, and will never ever be a panacea to solve the gargantuan problems that stares our beautiful world and help make it a better and more humane place to live in.

Instead, I propose that each of us, as individuals and as collectives, live and breathe and internalise SOAR.

While we turn inwards to understand and identify and hone our STRENGHTS in our respective professions, we don’t look of them as corporate arsenals, deadly AK 47s that we use, misuse and abuse by unleashing it mercilessly on our opponents, colleagues, competitors, Instead, we need to harness out strengths and look at it as aids, as OPPORTUNIES to help our fellow men and women, colleagues, contemporaries, to hand hold them and improve them, to make them better.

This way if we go about setting our goals and ASPIRATIONS keeping in mind the general benefit and welfare of all around us, the day will not be far off when one day we can sit and look back at all that we have achieved__a deep inner satisfaction, an abiding sense of inner fulfilment, a sense of peace and oneness with ourselves and the world and the cosmos. This is our reward, our RESULTS, the ultimate fruit of all our endeavours, the one that leaves us as happy and contended souls, the ultimate purpose of our lives.

And that respected gentlemen is what I intend to strive for, something no B-school can teach me or anyone else for that matter. Thanks.”

Pindrop silence followed thereafter. Then, the man who had posed the question got up and clapped, first slowly and then vigorously. Soon others too were on their feet, their beaming faces and wrinkled eyes revealing unequivocally their acknowledgment the wisdom that emanated from Nitin’s mouth.

That evening when the day long interview session ended each of the eminent went back home with a new vision, a new all embracing humanistic outlook towards life all thanks to a conscientious 21-year-old who had his head and heart screwed in the right places,  who helped them traverse the difficult but highly rewarding journey from SWOT to SOAR.

©neelanilpanciker2017 #shortstory #fiction #CAT #CATology #1431words

neelwrites/getthat/micromondays/21wordstories/flashfiction/25/11/2017

#MicroMondays   

Hosted by the resourceful Varad  at https://looseendoftheredthread.wordpress.com/2017/11/19/micromondays-6/

GET THAT 

By Neel Anil Panicker

“Because this is all so stupid…”

‘What? Marrying him?’

“No, marrying him though carrying someone else’s child.”

(C)NEELANILPANICKER2017 #FICTION #FLASH #MICROFICTION #MICROMONDAYS #21WORDS

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/

work backwards.jpg

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