neelwwrites/amystery/spf/fiction/flash/shortstory/204words/11/12/2017

Sunday Photo Fiction – December 10th 2017

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THE MYSTERY

18 Eric Wiklund 10 December 2017

By Neel Anil Panicker

“Mrs Mallick, I must say for a child of his age Rohan has a very fertile imagination. Here have a look at this.”

The two ladies looked at the arts and crafts patchwork laid out the long display table at the Annual School Arts and Crafts Exhibition.

“Isn’t that simply wonderful”, Miss Radhika Bose, the Class One Arts Teacher continued, pointing her finger towards the long angular cobbled pathway that led to a domed forested villa.

“Right down to the rocky outgrowth abutting it, the cute little wooden bench and the birds’ nest, tinged a sparkling blue, every single detail is a sensual treat. And the icing on the cake__ this quaint little miniature house adjacent to the main one. Tell me Mrs Mallick, which child of six displays the intelligence and foresight to draw such beautifully?”.

The question was meant as a rhetoric and as such Mrs Mullick had nothing much to offer but simply smile in acknowledgement of the deluge of praises that were coming her only child’s way.

She didn’t deem it fit to reveal to anyone the inspiration behind the ‘second’ house.

How embarrassing would it be if she revealed that Rohan’s father kept two houses.

©NEELANILPANICKER2017 #FICTION #FLASHFICTION #SHORTSTORY #SUNDAYPHOTOFICTIONEERS

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neelwrites/iced/fridayfictioneers/flash/fiction/shortstory/99words/08/12/2017

Hosted BY ROCHELLEWISOFF at https://rochellewisoff.com/2017/12/06/8-december-2017/

ICED

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

By Neel Anil Panicker

Earlier it wasn’t so the case; she loved them, the winters. The luxuriously languorous all night slumber into la la land; the achingly slow waking up to the smell of hot as molten lava garden fresh coffee, the touch of warm veined fingers on frosty cheeks, the entwining of love filled hearts and lust filled bodies.

Aaah! she could go on and on and her dream would have no end.

But end it did.

And cruelly at that.

As she stares through the icicled sheets of coldness she wonders when love went of the window.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #fiction #flash #shortstory #99words

#Friday Fictioneers

neelwrites/darknesstolight/fiction/shortstory/reena’sexplorationhallengeweek#15/06/12/12017

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DARKNESS TO LIGHT

habit

By Neel Anil Panicker

As the Master of Ceremonies (MC) announced the winner of the COACHING TIME Best Faculty Award 2017, thunderous rounds of applause swept through the audience as every single person was up on his or feet, clapping, cheering lustily, quite a few even, especially among the women, shedding more than a tear.

These were no ordinary tears; instead they were tears of joy, tears of supreme happiness and a silent prayer in honour and recognition of the insurmountable spirit displayed by one of their own, one who with her actions had become an inspirational beacon of hope for all.

Daintily adjusting the folds of her exquisitely ornate gold embroidered Kancheevaram silk saree, Dr Lavanya got up from her chair in the corner third row and worked her way towards stage acknowledging the compliments that came her way.

Joining his colleagues and co-workers in expressing their extreme happiness was Mohandas Pai, the Director of ‘Coaching Time’ who too stood up, his hands clapping in chorus with the rapturous crowd.

Amidst thunderous ear deafening applause Sr Lavanya acceded to the request of the MC to speak a few words.

First of all I request you all to kindly sit down. It makes me feel a wee bit awkward to receive so much love and attention from my dear colleagues, well wishers, respectful Director Sir__ all who have known me in the past decade or so to ten years.

If an outsider were to inadvertently gate crash into this evening’s conference, he would assume me to be a hot shot Bollywood celebrity, in town for one or the other charity event.

Speaking of charity, I will say that charity begins at home.

And here I must thank, besides my dear parents, my dear colleagues without whose unstinted support and encouragement I wouldn’t have been here, standing before all of you, holding in my hands this glittering trophy that has my name engraved on it, acknowledging and honouring me with the award for the BEST FACULTY- VERBAL 2017.

And now I must get on with the task at hand, a promise that Pai Sir had extracted from me.

It was a promise that I will tell my story from every single stage, that I will narrate at every opportune moment and occasion the story of my life, that is my life battling cancer.

So here it is, the no holds barred, bare boned story of my life.

My name is Lavanya. I had a surname. But life and circumstances have forced nee enabled me to drop my surname.

I was born a boy, the only child of typical middle class Maharashtrian parents who were both bank employees.

Life was blissful as I grew up into my teens but sometime around when I had crossed seventeen I realised I was a girl trapped in a boy’s body.

When, after much hesitation and quite a lot of trepidation, I disclosed my fears to my parents they were devastated. Quite understandably so. I mean who wouldn’t? Their only child, bright and cheerful, a crowd puller, was now telling them, literally out of the blue that he was a she. That their only offspring, that too a son, the much sought after male homosapien, was a daughter.

Barring the initial shock, my mother, as all mothers are wont to, took it in her chin and embraced me. She had a daughter now instead of what she believed earlier to be a son. Just a switch of genders.

But my father was made differently. He felt insulted, cheated, humiliated, his elephantine male ego couldn’t the fathom the idea of fathering a boy who had now cruelly turned into a girl.

He ranted and raved, threw things around, began binge drinking and chain smoking, and when one day my mother suggested that it was time to heed the doctor’s advice and help initiate the medical process that would transform my body from male into female he put his foot down. He simply refused to sign the consent form, refused to put his signature on the medical form without which no hospital or doctor could carry out the medical interventions my body so very urgently needed.

And when my mother questioned him over this reluctance, he slapped her and threw us, both mother and I out of the house, our house that parents had jointly built.

The next day and the week after we stayed at a relative’s place and the months following that we moved into a single room rented accommodation.

The day we moved in was when we received the court notice. My father had filed for divorce.

Our cup of woes filleth over.

I will cut short the horrific days and nights and the several years that followed thereafter, suffice to say it took all of ten years, five ‘eight-hour-long’ surgeries and a ten lakh rupees bank loan to help me transform fully from a boy to girl.

In between my mother worked at the bank, toiled as an independent single mother, bravely fighting the not so veiled barbs and insults and slights of a highly myopic misogynistic society to enable me pick up a graduate degree and a prized MBA thereafter.

She died last year, a happy and contented soul, ever in live with life, ever a fighter, ever positive and left me with her message of peace and love. A true fighter she was and made me one too.

My mother was stronger than I ever could be.

I remember she never ever dropping that smile off her face, never ever saying or feeling one bit of despondency, never ever indulging in self pity or wallowing in the deep bottomless well of despair and negativity.

Friends who have visit my house have seen my bookshelf chock o block with self help books and autobiographies of great men and women.

In one of the walls is a huge white board imprinted with the words, “Trauma is about being stuck. Sometimes a holding pattern becomes habitual, causing tension and ill health. We understand our lives backward, but must live them forward”.

These are the words of the great 20th century Danish philosopher Soren Kiregaard, considered the ‘Father of Existentialism’ on whose works I have done Doctorate.

Thanks to my in depth research into his teachings and philosophies was I able understand the concept of choice that besets every human being and thereby lead myself from pitch black darkness into blinding light.

It was he who helped me move from my earlier stage of dreadful existence to another beautiful stage, an act of will, a leap of choice.

I slowly moved from apathy to sympathetic antipathy to finally antipathetic sympathy.

I realised it’s not the traumas and setbacks that come our way that defeat us, that hold us back, that lead us to failures. I realised that is it is our own mental blocks towards them, our own deep rooted self serving narrow mindsets and attitudes towards these temporary but all so natural mishaps that beset every human being on this planet that we need to smash, come out of, and overcome. And that’s what I did. I smashed and broke through all these artificial walls to carve my own space on this Earth.

And that’s the message that I want give all.

I am no doctor but today I help heal minds, heal human minds caught in a time warp, a vicious self defeating circle of bigotry, obscurantism, patriarchy and gender subjugation.

This beautiful award and recognition will always stay embedded in my heart for ever, for it shows your love and respect for both of us, my mother and me__for my mother Lalitha, and for me, Vanya.

And that, my dear friends and colleagues, is my story, Lavanya’s story, the story of a  girl who was once a boy but will always remain a human being, and strive to be a good one. Thanks You and God bless all of you.”

 

#NEELANILPANCIKER FICTION #SHORT STORY #REENA’S EXPLORATION CHALLENGE#WEEK 15 #1323words

 

neelwrites/apotfullof…/FF/flash/100words/30/11/2017

A  POTFULL OF…

PHOTO PROMPT © What’s His Name

By Neel Anil Panicker

A commode in the middle of the forest. Anwar stared at the faded bluish relic that seemed to have come straight from the Dark Ages.

Biological exigencies demanded he use it. He hacked his way past the thick foliage of forested outgrowth, slashing past gossamer spider webs.

Half dropping his pants, he was about to plonk himself onto the seat when he noticed the dehydrated puddle of urine on which floated small balls of human excreta, hair, even traces of blood.

Unmindful, Anwar eased himself into it.

Who says Reality TV winners ever had it easy.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #FRIDAY FICTIONEERS #fiction #flash #100words #A potfull of…

neelwrites/livenbythesea,diebythesea/sundayphotofictioneer/flashfiction/shortstory/27/11/2017

Sunday Photo Fiction – November 26th 2017

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LIVE BY THE SEA, DIE BY THE SEA 

2018 11 November 26th 2017

By Neel Anil Panicker

Fighting through the ever darkening rays of the setting sun, Vardharajan watched intently at the swirling ocean waters as a massive tidal wave of memories soon deluged him.

It was some three score years ago. He had first set foot in Chennai. It was these very same waters that had brought him, a bare boned slip of a boy, barely five, holed up in the ship’s bottom deck, in a small six by six hole in the wall cheek a bowl with fiery red eyes rodents.

They had thrown him into the sea, giving him up for dead.

Three days later, his near still frame was washed ashore only to be discovered by some fishermen.

They had carried him over, nursed him back to health, and thereafter accepted him as a gift from Thanniyamma, the Sea Goddess, the protector and guardian of the se/ven seas.

With the passage of time, he had become one of them, learning and doing everything a fisherman does___ rising up much before dawn, then cleaning, scrubbing, oiling the boats in which he would later joining others into the sea casting wide nets, battling massive winds and storms, and returning back safe though bruised and battered, with the day’s booty__ a catch of sparkling fish that later he would help in selling off at the wholesale fish market.

The frames changed. He was a strapping young man and people were bowling to him, paying obeisance, pouring out their concerns, the poor and toiling masses, the very same clan that had rescued him from the seas, saved him from sure death, adopted him as one of their own, even giving him a name were now treating him as their Almighty, their saviour, their dear ‘son’ who was now Vardha Anna __feared by the lawmakers and scourge of the lawbreakers, a law unto himself, the undisputed mafia Don of Chennai City.

The shrill sound of police sirens closing him on him broke his thoughts. He needn’t have looked back. They were closing in. He knew it was over.

The curtains were coming down. Pitch darkness had descended all over. He barely made out the long golden arms of Thanniyamma beckoning him from the ocean waters.

She was smiling. He moved towards her, knowing she embrace him in her arms and put him to eternal sleep.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #fiction #sundayphotofictioneer #sea

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

#MicroMondays   

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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

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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