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By Neel Anil Panicker

Pin drop silence prevailed; all eyes hooked onto the dashing young man at the front, all ears latching onto every single word that was being uttered.

Rachel, sitting in the front rows, closed her eyes and wandered into dreamland.

“It’s all in the eyes, the way we perceive things, look at people.

They are what we chose them to be­­—- our best friends, or worst enemies.”

‘What is it about love that makes you go weak in the knees; leaves you mumbling and fumbling, trembling and stumbling like a gawky ten year old?’

Rachel opened her eyes and gazed into the man in front of her.

No Gucci shoes or Armani suit, Rolex watch or Bond Street tailored clothes?

No Body Shop fragrance oozing out of a six pack six foot tall movie star persona? Not even a deep edgy baritone?

Then what was it that this very ordinary looking thirty something man who taught her class twice a day had that made her go weak on the knees? Made her get up from bed even on days when her body temperatures touched an alarming 104 degrees Celsius, made her attend every single class of his, come rain or shine, even if it meant foregoing her weekends, exarcerbating her already frayed relationships with her roommates and ex-college friends?

She decided to figure out for herself and clasping her hands under the table, she listened to the words of the man, hoping to find a solution to the mystery that was eating into her vitals, keeping her endlessly awake all through the tortuous nights dreaming fantastical visions of her and her Prince Charming.

“Confrontation. That’s what we have come to. We, and that includes every single person on this planet has been pushed to the wall and believes that the only way out is to fight back, retaliate, adopt a confrontationist attitude.

This is the single most reason that we are become distrustful of one another, both on an individual level and on the scale of nations and nationalities.

Look over and you will find manisfestations of this phenomenon—-Nations are fighting each other; nationalities laying claim t supremacy over others, spreading malice, hatred, animosity, and violence all around, falsely, stupidly, or ignorantly claiming themselves to be superior to others, trampling on the pride, ego and rights of others, bringing nations to the heel, hurtling them to the precipice of war and destruction.

It seems everyone is on the warpath, fighting nonexistent battles, battling invisible demons of their creation, causing not just themselves but all around them massive pain and hurt. It is time to change this mindset. It’s time we confront our own inner demons and crush them once and for all so that the truth sets us free. It is time we engage with mankind, with every single person that we meet and encounter on equal terms, with compassion, with empathy, and with love, immense love that comes from the inner wellsprings of our hearts, hearts which must know only to give and share and are full of care. It’s time we change ourselves and thereby change this beautiful world that we inhabit. It’s time we make love, not war.”

Utter silence enveloped the class, not a single human sound or whisper, no shuffling of legs, or even rustling of papers, not even the faint sound of the early morning breeze that snakes in through the open windows.

Rachel, like all others in the classroom were in a deep trance. Never before had someone so captured their collective consciousness like this young man had through his utterings, his words had a power, his thoughts came loaded with a wisdom culled from centuries old sages and were timeless.

Someone from the back rows clapped, a few whistled, and then it was as if the dam had burst__within seconds the whole class had erupted in thunderous applause, their full throated lusty shouts of approbation resounding in the corridors and beyond long after the class had eneded and young man at the centre of attention had made his exit.

For a good fifteen minutes after all the commotion had died down and the class had emptied itself out, Rachel still sat transfixed to her seat, wondering how and when a mere Personality Development Class had managed to usher in so huge a change in her.

How could a person, a young man at that who incidentally also taught Verbal Ability could speak so well, hold such deeply insightful beliefs, have such an evolved world vision.

A lot many such questions assailed her and she, despite racking her mind far and wide, was unable to get concrete answers to them.

But she knew that this person, in the course of a mere 120 minutes, had filled her heart with positivity and an excitement that she hitherto had thought wasn’t possible to achieve.

Here impoverished childhood, her overriding feeling of inferiority had deadened all passion from ever forming in her small heart was what she had thought so far and what she believed to be true until…

Until…the class had changed her and now, she wanted to meet the person responsible for the change.

So thinking, she got up and walked out of the classroom, looking for an opportune moment to meet and confront her new benefactor, the one she knew held answers to the questions that beguiled her mind.


A week later…

“Your name is Meena, and you have questions to ask me, right?

How could he? How could he have known all this, wondered Meena as she closed the door behind her and walked towards the empty chair in front of her.

“It’s in your face, in your eyes, in the way you look at me when I take classes.”

What was he, a saint, clairvoyant, a soothsayer, a magician…, He seemed to know exactly what was crossing her mind and bothering her all this time.

Meena decided not to beat around the bush and confronted him headlong.

“How could you be so clever and insightful. How do have all the answers, always, Sir”?

‘Deepak Matrani. That’s my name, Those who know me address me as simply Deepu. I will resolve your dilemma today. Come, have  a look at me. What do you see? A young man, reasonably well dressed, well behaved and cultured, and now as per you clever and insightful as well.

Well, the foundations of what you see today in me was set two decades ago in a small village in Bolangir district of Odisha. Have you heard of Bolangir? It is the district that regularly draws international attention for the dubious distinction of the maximum number of child starvation deaths in the world. Not very long ago, I too would have been a mere statistics, adding my tiny, puny might to that empirical data, yet another number for the world to gape at and shake their heads in shame and disbelief and then, quite impassively move on to the next sob story around the world.

But fate had other plans in store for me. I survived, miraculously grew up sans parents, sans schooling, sans love, sans anything.

One day a lady found me lying unconscious in a roadside ditch, my skeletal frame smeared in human excreta, filth and dirt.

I was twelve when she brought me to her home, ‘Saviours of Humanity’, and that’s where I lived for the next ten years, or so, bathed in love and compassion, lovingly fed and raised by unknown hands and brought back to a life of dignity I had never known before.

The lady who saved me and brought me home that day and gave me an education, blessing me with her love and compassion, is today no more. A couple of years back she was waylaid on the road next to her home, accosted by ribald axe wielding religious bigots, accused of forcible conversions, and brutally hacked to death.

This person, whom I called Mother, was killed, her beautiful life cut short by misanthropes, narrow minded illiterate men whose hearts were filled with only hatred towards humanity.

Still, she blessed them as life ebbed out of her saying aloud, “Merciful God, forgive them and bless them for they know not what they do. That day I cried a lot but later, slowly the pain ebbed within me and I realized my true calling in life, which is to spread the word of peace and brotherhood, of love and compassion, of living and letting live.

That day I learnt that the only way to combat the forces of evil in this world is by compassion, by having a sympathetic understanding of all human sorrows, by treating every single person one encounters in life with the same sense of equality, dignity, and love  that one expects of oneself from others. This truth set me free, freed me of all pain, and has helped me become a better soul.”

The room fell silent.

For a long time Reena sat there, alone and lost in her world. Finally, she looked at the man seated in front of her, the man who was her teacher, the man who had impressed her enough with his confidence, his humility, and now his compassion.

Slowly, realization dawned on her and she smiled, a full bloom smile that came from deep within the recesses of her fledgling heart and radiated joy and happiness all around her.

“Thank you, Anirban Sir. Thanks to you, today I am able to confront my fears and I by doing so I have become free of all pain. Thanks to your noble thoughts and philosophy my eyes have opened to a new world, a world of infinite possibilities, and like you, one day I too, who has come from a similar impoverished background as yours, will become successful, but more importantly stay grounded and humble always.”

©neelanilpanicker2017 #reena’sexplorationchallenge#8 #shortstory #fiction #selfdiscovery #1642words





By Neel Anil Panicker

When a big tree falls, the ground beneath it shakes.

He wasn’t just a big tree, he was the biggest tree the family had ever known.

All grew under his protective shade, come hail, rain, or sunshine.

He was our lodestar, our go to man, friend, philosopher, guide__ all rolled into one, there for us in all seasons, for all reasons__imparting solidity and strength where needed, vision and guidance for those who sought him out, encircling in his massive arms the infirm and the fragile.

Now, we merely exist, woefully ill-equipped to battle the curve balls that life often throws.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #FridayFictioneers #fiction #flash #100words


FFfAW Challenge-Week of October 17, 2017

Hosted at by Priceless Joy


By Neel Anil Panicker

Mrs Pankaj rubbed her eyes in disbelief.

Another scribble on the wall. This time thankfully something a tad recognizable.

Two vertical strokes and a curved line below it.

What did that mean?

She walked into the kitchen and turned on the gas.

Nothing like some plain coffee to unclog the senses.

So they are back, their threat as alive as the morning sun.

She turned away and caught herself in the mirror.

Who says the fifties are history?

Innocent wide eyes that twinkled like the stars; a high cheek boned butter can melt bone china face that seemed to cock a snook at the passing years.

A smile crept up as a strobe of light streaked through the translucent windows and settled on the edges of her auburn all curls windswept hair.

They were her crowning glory, her pride, her joy.

It was only then that she understood.

It was them__the braid choppers.

And she, their next target.

The sauce pan hissed in the background.

She didn’t care. Her thoughts were travelling far away.

©neelanilpanciker2017 #FFfAW #flashfiction #174words



Sunday Photo Fiction – October 15th 2017

Hosted at


214 10 October 15th 2017

By Neel Anil Panicker

“Honorable Sir, I warmly welcome you to my ship.”

Warm welcome? My foot. A murder’s occurred and the bastard’s grinning from ear to ear__baring his gold embossed teeth.

Inspector Sharma inspected the man: Mid-fifties, balding, with floral panoramic patterns clinging to near exposed skin adorned by gold embellishments all over that together he surmised, could easily weigh over a couple of kilos.

“Sir, I am Frederick D’ Souza, the captain…”

‘Cut the crap. Where’s the body?’

“Sir…sir…the body… err it was here…i mean it isn’t now…It…”

Inspector Sharma felt as if a huge boulder had dropped onto his chest. He felt dizzy. With enormous effort he raised his hands up and held onto to a metallic beam that circled the upper deck.

His free hand felt the gun strapped to his waist.

The bastard! A multi-millionare aging heiress on a ’round the world’ odyssey was found murdered on this ship and its owner was saying that the body had disappeared.
“Sir, the sharks…they ate her. I saw it…”

Inspector Sharma wasn’t sure whom he hated the most___the man, the ‘dead’ heiress or, the sharks.

(c)neelanilpanciker2017 #fiction #sundayphotofiction #allatsea #184words


Thursday photo prompt – Tower – #writephoto

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By Neel Anil Panicker

The tower loomed above him like some monstrous mythical creature that seemed to grow larger and larger with every single excruciating step that he took.

‘God! spare me this torture,’ he wanted to scream out, his anguished cries reverberating all around the icy blue skies, ricochetting off the innumerable small hills that dotted the jagged landscape, but then he checked himself.
His pursuers were close behind, barely a 100 metres away, and he didn’t want to take any chances, not after coming this far from his tormentors, and so near to his goal.

Swiping his brow off thick beads of sweat, the man stepped forward, his each step a stagger as he negotiated the steep bolder strewn mud splattered narrow incline that led to the ancient tower.

As he inched closer to it he could make out the pole, a massively long iron bean that rose Phoenix -like from the bowels of the tower and pierced the skies. On it, fluttering proud and high, the silhouette of a flag, a white rectangular piece of cloth, a clear indication that freedom was but a few steps away.

The sight filled his heart with renewed vigour and he raced ahead, almost running towards the tower.

It was then that he was hit, a shower of bullets knocking him to the ground, blood spluttering out of his chest and upper torso.

Slowly, he turned around and just before his eyes descended into darkness, he saw them, their victorious faces, in particular one face, the visage the very personification of Devil himself.

An earth shattering heart wrenching cry escaped his lips.


The tyres screeched to a halt inside Tiz Hazari Court premises, and that woke up Ali.

He rubbed his eyes in disbelief, but couldn’t wish away the face of his tormentor.

It was Afzal Guru, his crime boss, and now his Enemy Number One.

(c)neelanilpanicker2017 #part26 of A Dangerous Love #312words #fiction #novella #ThursdayPhotoPrompt #writephoto #thetower

If you would like to read the earlier parts of this ongoing novella ‘A DANGEROUS LOVE’

kindly click on the links below:


















PART 22:




Welcome to Week 89 of Three Line Tales.

Three Line Tales, Week 89


three line tales week 89: this is the sign you've been looking for

photo by Austin Chan via Unsplash

By Neel Anil Panicker

The lone occupant inside the white Ambassador car that was trailing the unmarked police jeep as it entered the bylanes of Mayapuri Industrial Area was no ordinary man_ seated behind the wheel, his hands drumming into the velvety cushions was none other than Afzal Guru, the most feared mafia don of Old Delhi himself.

The jeep cruised to a halt near an abandoned factory wall; within seconds a figure slipped out of the shadows, and walked towards the driver’s seat.

A mere fifty metres away, peering through the windshield, Afzal Guru watched the woman as she, first nodded and then shook hands with his bete noire Inspector Sharma, Special Crime Branch, Delhi Police. It was all the proof he ever needed against Liza, his own daughter.

#Part 25 of A DANGEROUS LOVE#Fiction#ThreeLineTales#126words


FRIDAY FICTIONEERS hostedby the ever reliant Rochellewisoff



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