neelwrites/fromrattocat/reena’sexplorationchallengeweek#11/shortstory/1553words/09/11/2017

Hosted by Reena at https://reinventionsreena.wordpress.com/2017/11/03/reenas-exploration-challenge-week-11/

 

FROM RAT TO CAT 

Exploration Challenge 11

By Neel Anil Panicker

“You are a cat. Not just any ordinary cat. The big one. The biggest of them all.  A true blue Royal  Bengal  Tiger. The best and the rarest breed to inhabit the whole wide world.”

 

Saumik  began to feel dizzy. His head started to swirl. Blood began  to drain out of his face and limbs.

He felt his legs and limbs go limp.

All this not out of fear or pain. But out of shock.

So far no one, not one person in his entire life so far of over two score years on Mother Earth had ever said so many wonderful words of appreciation for him.

 

A tiger. They were calling him a tiger, that too the best in the business. From a lowly rat to a majestic tiger__that’s quite a paradigm shift. How quickly the wheels of fate change, he thought.

His mind flashbacked to the past, to his childhood, to his village by the sea, near the Sunderbans, the home of the Royal Bengal Tiger.

His mind was once again assailed by words, fierce poison barbs and insults that were heaped on his friends and neighbours.

A recurring image flashed through his mind. There he was, a slip of a ten year old boy, naked above the waist standing a step behind his half bent father whose hands were folded in supplication.

It was morning time. They were in the middle of rich, golden yellow paddy fields. A sickle rested on the ground beneath him, between his father’s legs.

The lands belonged to Hari Shankar, the landlord, an evil eyed wily invective hurling rotund man with a ferocious handlebar moustache.

His father was pleading to Hari Shankar, who also doubled up as the unofficial money lender for the entire impoverished populace.

 “O’ dear God’s gift to mankind, O’ dear benevolent soul, you have blessed us by allowing me to till your soil. We__ my wife and three children subsist because of your kindness. Here have a look at my youngest son. Here he is, Saumik, though we call him Birju. His teachers tell me that he is intelligent, that he is meant for bigger things, that he should be sent to the city for a better education. I told him that I am a poor man, that I can’t afford such expenses. But Birju here is insistent. Says he wants to study, go to a proper school, a school that has a roof, a school where the walls don’t smell of urine and cow dung and human excreta. A school that will make a man out of him.  O’ dear Lord, I request you to loan me some money so that I can fulfil his dream and send him to the city. For this act of kindness I shall forever be under your debt and till your land all my life”.

‘I have heard you and feel like laughing. A man should never dream for anything that is above his stature. Look at him. He is just like you and your father and all your wretched kith and kin. You people are meant to slog all your lives. You can do nothing else in life. This is your fate. You are just a rat and he too will end up like one, a small, useless, slavish rat all his life tilling the soil of the rich. I tell you,  in my fields from today itself. That way there will be two more hands and one extra mouth that can be fed. Now, get back to work, you good for nothing rats”.

‘Congratulations Saumik, you have cleared the most prestigious management school entrance examination in this country. We are proud to tell you that since you are among the top five students, you have secured admission into IIM, Ahmedabad. We wish you all the very best in your B school and hope that you will be an inspiration to millions of students who come from small towns and impoverished backgrounds and realise their dreams by making it big in life. Just one last question. Who do you owe your sterling success to?’

Saumik looked at the distinguished group of panellists who sat across in an oblong teak wood table  and were looking at him with eyes that spelled pride and joy. His welled up.

For one nano second his mind’s eye played out the events leading upto his selection in breakneck speed. Like a Bollywood film every single scene, frame and shot came alive in technicolor.

First, his leaving behind his parents and siblings, then his arrival in big city Kolkata. His new school. The initial rough days. The non stop barrage of insults and mocks and humiliations. The stark contrast between him and his city bred school mates. Their language, mannerisms, their style, swag, and oh, their English_ slick and polished, spoken in an accent that sounded alien and heavenly. Compared to them and the crispy starched clothes that they wore and the redolence that emanated from their well toned bodies, he looked with his pidgin rural English, unkept hair, dark smelly skin, and half protruding yellowing teeth like someone literally from the boondocks, a Stone Age man grossly unfit to move around and be accepted in modern society.

And thus he was marked out, segregated, ostracised from all, made the butt of jokes, laughed at derided to the point when he could take it no more.

The frame moved to one where was packing his bags and was leaving; leaving the big city, leaving behind his dreams of giving himself an education, of becoming a man, of fulfilling his parents’ dreams, of going back and joining his siblings and countless others whose fate it was doomed to with another man’s fields all their lives, existing but not living, mere worms and pests of absolutely no productive use, neither to themselves nor to the world around them.

The frame changes; a miracle happens. Out of the bottle, like a genie,  a kindly man with a benign smile pops up and says, “Son, I have been observing you for some time. You are a very bright student. I see great potential in you. I also see that you are bullied by other students. I can see why they do it. They see you as unkept, smelly, ill groomed, and most importantly as one who doesn’t speak English like the way they do.

My child, let me tell you, I will guide and teach you the ways of the world. I will guide you in the ways of this world. I will help you to not just speak and write and communicate with your fellow classmates but also to well informed adults in a manner that would be the envy of each one of them. I will make them and everybody who interacts with you feel in awe of you and respect and admire you from the inner cores of their hearts.

The next few frames all full of initial struggle in learning and mastering a new language, the efforts that went into turning an uncut stone into a polished jewel.

And one final frame. The day of his graduation. Seated among the audience was the same kindly man, the his English teacher from school who had taught and moulded him into a man, a much respected hugely admired modern young man.

That evening, as he held in his hands the glittering ‘Best Student’ trophy he had hugged Mr Ashmeet Bhattacharya, his mentor, now for ever friend, philosopher and guide for life.

With teary eyes that night before he went to sleep he realised  that he had turned around his fate and suddenly his perspective towards life, towards what constitutes success and how to achieve it had all changed.

“Respected gentlemen, everyman is the driver of his own destiny and thus no one can blame anyone or society or for that matter fate for what befalls him or her. Yes, all of us need one trusted navigator to show them the right path but then all onwards journeys are our to be traversed, however ardous the paths and difficult the terrains we come across. And that navigator is none other than our own perspective. With the right kind of perspective man can conquer mountains, swim oceans and soar high up in the skies. You asked me as to who I owed my success to. I know it is my parents who kept their faith in me despite ever mounting difficulties and teachers, one in particular, Bhattacharya Sir whose efforts helped me turn into a gem.

But besides them, I owe my success to another section of people. The supposed ‘haves’ of this world, the Mr Know Alls, the condescending ones, the ones who insulted me, called me names, made fun of my English et al because if it was not for them and their insults I would not have turned inward and found my inner navigator that has helped me steer the vehicle of my life past failures and towards success. Thanks to them today I have metamorphosed from a rat to a CAT and am about to enter into the best B-school in the country. But more importantly, thanks to them, my perspective towards life has changed for ever as I realise that nothing, absolutely nothing is unachievable for a human being if has the right perspective towards life.”

(c)neelanilpanicker2017 #fiction #shortstory #reena’sexplorationchallenge #shortstory #1563words

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neelwrites/thekeeper/FFfAW/flash/fiction/shorstory/172words/05/11/2017

FFfAW Challenge-Week of October 31, 2017

Hosted by Priceless Joy at https://flashfictionforaspiringwriters.wordpress.com/2017/10/30/fffaw-challenge-week-of-october-31-2017/

THE ‘KEEPER’

By Neel Anil Panicker

She isn’t much; just four raised oblong stone slabs; the edges, pointed and jutting out into the skies.

Half hidden behind the majestic branches of a huge peepal tree in a forested outgrowth in the village periphery, what she lacks in finesse and substance she more than makes up on the reverential sweepstakes.

A child beset by jaundice, another downed by yellow fever, a woman wishing for her family’s welfare, another asking for deliverance from the daily grind of life __they all come to her __men, women, children__ the born, the just born, the to be born; the old and the young; the also living and the near dying__,every single one of them makes a beeline to Mahakali __to pay obeisance, to pray, to smear vermillion on her pitch black ever shining visage, to shower her with flowers and rice and lentils and whatever it is that they could procure from their roofless homes and hearths.

She disappoints none; least of all her ‘keeper’ who partakes of the goodies once darkness descends.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #FFfAW #mahakali #goddess #faith #flash #fiction #shortstory #172words

neelwrites/wiltedflowers/fridayfictioneers/shortstory/inspectorsharmacrimeseries/fiction/100words/01/11/2017

Hosted by the wondrously charming Rochelle at https://rochellewisoff.com/2017/11/01/27-october-2017/

WILTED FLOWERS

PHOTO PROMPT © Sarah Ann Hall

By Neel Anil Panicker

The entire mantelpiece was chock-a-block with vases in myriad shapes, sizes and colours.
One in particular caught his attention.
Inspector Sharma’s fingers skirted past the bud, cylinder and cube shaped ones to finally rest on the wide base piece that squeezed upwards to a pastel green narrow neck, the latter tapering just enough for flowers with the thinnest of stems to fit in.
The cop’s eyes flickered for a nano second; his trained police mind jogged down memory lane; visions of a bunch of huge corolla dripping creamy magnolias scurried past his brain.
He was staring at the murder weapon.

(c)neelanilpanicker2017 #FridayFictioneers #flashfiction #fiction #shorstory #100words #crime #murder #inspectorsharma

neelwrites/thescare/oneminutefiction/200words/30/10/2017

Monday’s One-Minute Fiction: Week of October 30

#1MinFiction.

Hosted by NORTINA S. at https://lovelycurses.com/2017/10/30/mondays-one-minute-fiction-week-of-october-30/

THE SCARE

By Neel Anil Panicker

A heavily plastered face, mascara, false eye lashes, thick red lips and long six inch psychedelic nails, thick curly hair let loose and falling all the way down to where the spine ends: To us small towners she always was an oddity, a strange creature, as if she was not part of the homosapien species.

We would get shit scared when we spotted her and quickly hid behind walls, dustbins or whatever it was that promised us protection.

One day we spotted her venturing into the forest that lay beside the waterless lake that abutted the nondescript neighborhood where we lived.

To us, all six bosom buddies, she was a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

We thought we had the key to the mystery and followed her to the jungle.

Barely 50 meters or so, we spotted her, beside a huge pine tree, her hands resting on a thick branch, her lips sipping from a blood red glass.

She turned around and that was when we ran for our lives, ran faster than Ben Johnson could ever do so.

It was only much later did we learn about the child serial killings that had hit double digits.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #shortstory #flashfiction #200words #oneminutefiction

neelwrites/timeforachat/FF/flashfiction/shortstory/100words/13/10/2017

FRIDAY FICTIONEERS hostedby the ever reliant Rochellewisoff

at https://rochellewisoff.com/2017/10/11/6-october-2017/

TIME FOR A CHAT

By Neel Anil Panicker

‘Cash, jewellery, appliances, cars…nothing’s missing. Looks like it’s personal.’

“Very personal”.

The two looked at the seven bodies strewn like mashed potatoes all over the tiled floor; their heads decapitated, hands tied to backs with nylon tape, every single body space sporting horrific burn marks.

‘Maybe, they were looking for information; turned mad when they didn’t find it, and decided to kill them all.’

“Could be, ” said Inspector Sharma as he moved towards the balcony.

“Bring her to the police station,” he said looking into the bejewelled eyes of the mynah.

“Once she talks, all secrets will tumble out.”

(c)neelanilpanicker2017 #fiction #flashfiction #FridayFictioneers #100words

neelwrites/deadleaves/spf/200words/flashfiction/25/09/2017

Sunday Photo Fiction – September 24th 2017

Hosted by SPF at https://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2017/09/24/sunday-photo-fiction-september-24th-2017/

 

DEAD LEAVES, ALIVE MEMORIES

2012 09 September 24th 2017

By Neel Anil Panicker

The short collars don’t get dirty and yellowed anymore.

Gone is the irritatingly hideous touch of slow burning sweaty droplets trickling down starched white shirts, the pungent smell staying with you long after an angry sun has closed shop for the day.

Missing too are the sight of mouth watering mangoes and blood red water melons; the young and not so young no longer await their turn to lick into delectable ice creams.

But then all that’s something nobody minds so terribly as what awaits is simply wondrous.

As the clichéd lines go, ‘It’s in the air’.

You can feel it in the slight early morning chill as you walk by neighborhoods swathed in a pastel green; the smiles are back in peoples’ faces; there is a soporific lightness in the air all around you that goads one to tuck away under warm sheets, stealing an extra six winks without the accompaniment of soul searing guilt.

All around there is a refreshing openness__be it in the skies above or the earth below.

It’s official: summer’s over, autumn’s here.

If so, can spring be far behind.

The air will soon be filled with romance.

Pity, all I have are but memories.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #SPF #flashfiction #autumn #200words

neelwrites/oddoneout/52wordchallenge/fiction/flash/52weeksin52wordschallenge/20/09/2017

WRITESPIRATION #133 52 WEEKS IN 52 WORDS WEEK 38

writespiration-2017

Hosted by Sacha Black at http://sachablack.co.uk/2017/09/20/writespiration-133-52-weeks-in-52-words-week-38/#more-5561

PROMPT:  Write about the weird kid at school

ODD ONE OUT

By Neel Anil Panicker

Lunch time would see him sneak past as we dipped into our tiffin boxes.

He would stand outside the school gates, his eyes fixated on the empty street outside.

He sat in the farthest corner, perennially lost in his world.

Some even called him ‘mad’.

None of us understood an orphan’s pain.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #fiction #52words #OddOneOut