neelwrites/agapinghole/FF/fiction/flash/100words/19/10/2017

FRIDAY FICTIONEERS hosted by  ROCHELLEWISOFF at https://rochellewisoff.com/2017/10/18/13-october-2017/

A GAPING HOLE

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

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neelwrites/servicebeforeself/fiction/shortstory/reena’sexplorationchallengeweek7/10/10/2017

Take any one belief of yours that has ruled your life, and examine it from the following aspects.

  1 Is it true?

2 Can you absolutely know that it’s true?

3 How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?

4 Who would you be without that thought?

SERVICE BEFORE SELF

By Neel Anil Panicker

“Dear friends and colleagues,

I welcome you all to the Annual Board Meeting cum Party of Coaching Time.

Like last year and the previous three years before that, this year too Coaching Time has emerged as the number one coaching institute in the whole of Delhi region. But unlike previous years’ successes this year’s results have been slightly different. Well, before naysayers think otherwise, this year the results have been phenomenal as for the first time in the 25 years since this organization was founded, the Delhi region has outbeaten all other regions handsomely, by a stupendous 30 per cent margin, to emerge as the numero uno by a long mile.

And all credit for this outstanding growth goes to all our valued staff members from the marketing, sales, finance, accounts, planning, and operations departments besides the academic department which includes our most valued faculty without whose sincere and tireless efforts all this would have been next to impossible.

Last but not the least, a ship is only as god as its captain and for that we need to be very thankful that we have at the helm of affairs a man who is synonymous with success, whose dedication and resourcefulness and gung ho attitude towards work and life in general has enabled Coaching Time to garner such love and respect among the students community who are our largest stakeholders.

As a small token of our immense gratitude we now call upon Shri Sai Kumar Swamy to kindly come on stage and accept this award and also share with us his rich and varied experiences in successfully running Coaching Time, a byword in quality coaching. “

Honourable Founder Chairman Sir, my dear friends and colleagues,

First of all I would like to thank all of you for the grand success registered by Coaching Time- Delhi region.

This has been the fifth successive year that we have posted superlative results and this year especially we have outbeaten our previous years’ performances.

Chairman Sir has been too kind to shower such fulsome praise on me but I think that’s part of his nature. I have always known him to be generous with his eulogies, always delivered in that lovely soft uplifting voice of his, a voice and manner which convinced me to heed his advice and take up this noblest of all professions.

I see all around me chests swelled with pride; faces etched with mile long smiles, hands tirelessly clapping away with the announcement of every single award; team spirit and bonhomie at its peak; each one of you jubilantly and lustily cheering the successes of the other.

It pleases me no end to see such camaraderie. It shows that we have in Coaching Time- Delhi Region a very formidable, well strung, highly motivated bunch of super achievers ever ready to take this organization to stratospheric heights.

Now I will take this opportunity to talk about something personal, something, an incident  rather, that opened my eyes to a new reality.

A month ago I was visited by a young man, a youth, barely 22, and quite curiously one of our ex-students.

His name is Shrikant Vashishth. Faculty members and sales colleagues from the Connaught Place centre might remember him, a lean bespectacled shy student who had enrolled himself into the G 8 weekend CAT batch of 2015.

I recalled that he had topped all India CAT B-School entrance test that year.

I surmised that he must have joined any one of top three IIMs of the country and having graduated now, could be here,  simply paying me a courtesy visit.

It was only a few minutes later did I realize how grossly wrong I was.

This young man, around 23, a first class topper and a gold medalist to boot from IIM, Ahmedabad was meeting for a teaching assignment.

Yes, you heard that right! This man, who had over seven placement offers from the crème de la crème multinational companies around the globe, each outbidding the other in offering over ten figure dollar salaries was turning his back to all that and wanted to join as a humble teacher.

Unbelieving my ears and the words that he spoke, I thought of putting him through the grill.

“Shrikant,” I said, “Do you know what you are doing? How could throw away your life like that, turning a blind eye to what is the start of a great, successful career for you”?

He looked at me with calm steady eyes and replied, conviction dripping out of every word that he spoke.

‘Sir, my definition of success is different from yours. When I joined Coaching Time, I was just one of the lakhs of students who take the bus or the train or the car or the bullock cart, selling or mortgaging their farms and lands to arrive in the big city and enroll at a coaching institute that gives them a realistic chance at taking a crack at an examination that could change their lives for the better for ever.

Some of them are successful and see their wishes becoming fulfilled; the majority see their dreams get shattered and trudge back to their small cities or stumble and slumber through life leading mundane existences.

I am lucky that I was among those rare few who succeeded. All this because of my teachers, the talented, hardworking faculty of your institution who helped in every which way to help realize my dream.

There were days when I just couldn’t cope with the fast paced rigours of academic life. Waking up in a strange city, washing clothes, cooking food, taking the Metro to attend back to back six hour classes, and then coming back dead tired but still getting back to self studies shortly.

Add to that the complexities  of certain topics and it would have been easy for me to raise my hands, give it all up in despair, accept defeat and take the night train to Bihar, to my home town in Munger district, to whatever awaited my fate.

It was during such times that the teachers helped me, gauged my changing mood swings and injected me with the much needed injection of hope, positivity and belief.

It was they more than me who believed in my potential to bell the CAT, and it is to them that I owe my success.

It is they who taught me the greatest philosophy that a human being on this planet can live by and that is “Service before Self”. I owe them and the society that nourishes souls like them a huge debt and it is my way of repaying that debt.’

Friends, for a long, long time after he left, I sat there, chained to my seat, my mind battling a million conflicting emotions, a deep knowing pain shooting through my heart, my eyes shell shocked and in limbo, utterly flabbergasted, shocked, and above all shamed.

This young boy, half my age, had shown me the mirror, a mirror that I had consciously strayed away from all these years. He had told me things that I knew were right, so utterly right but had foregone long, long ago in the false pursuit of materialistic power and pelf, success measured in the amount of crispy notes that one had in the bank.

I went back home that night but the uneasy feeling of something terribly gone wrong persisted. In fact the initial sense of discontentment, a vague lingering feeling that something was not quite right had by now grown into full blown depressive despondency.

That night, long after everyone had gone to sleep, ad after an hour of tossing and turning around I finally gave it up and got up and entered my study.

I decided to confront my inner self.

I lit a cigarette, a very rare event for me, and as the first puffs of Benson & Hedges wafted into the air, making concentric circles all around the comfy air-conditioned room, I settled down into my recliner and my mind walked down memory lane.

I remembered my impoverished childhood, my village, my school, the only one that had a roof, I remembered the day I graduated, I remembered my first tryst with big city life, the day I enrolled for CAT coaching in Hyderabad, the initial days and months, my diffidence, my discomfort with all things English; I remembered the times when I felt depressed enough to want to kill myself; I remembered my teachers, the excellent faculty who held my hand and guided me and filled me such strength and belief that I went on to not just cleat the CAT but bag a seat at IIM-Bangalore.

I also remembered the changes that happened thereafter; how I chased money, ran after bigger and bigger offers, sacrificed my principles at the altar of materialism.

Friends, I sat alone well into the night and gradually began to see how far I had strayed from my beliefs.

The one that I had become was not the one who I had started off as.

As one material success after another piled up I was losing out on my inner beliefs, my core principles. I realised  that I had to change, to go back to own real self, discover my elemental belief, a belief nurtured into me by my teachers whose tireless selfless services I had abused to serve my own narrow minded selfish interests.

Friends, in Shrikant, a boy from this organization, I began to see my own mirror image, an image from which I strayed several miles away.

I have decided to look myself in the mirror and live my beliefs. I know that I am nothing, cipher, zilch without my beliefs. I am thankful to Shrikant for showing me the mirror to my thoughts, for bringing me face to face with myself.

I believe God wanted to deliver me a message, a thought; Shrikant was only a medium. It is upto me to retain that thought or transform it. I have decided to do the latter.

I, along with my new partner Shrikant, have decided to build a world class coaching institute that will provide absolutely free coaching for all graduate students in India. Anyone and everyone who believes in the motto “Service before Self” is welcome to join us. Thank You and have a great time “

©neelanilpanciker2017 #servicebeforeself#fiction #shortstory #reena’sexplorationchallenge #1710 words

neelwrites/ablanklife/ThreeLineTales/fiction/flash/100words/07/10/2017

A BLANK LIFE

By  Neel Anil Panicker

three line tales week 88: dip pen and ink because it's Inktober, innit

photo by Kira auf der Heide via Unsplash

Stormy sea waves lash away relentlessly, ferociously shooting forth icy foams from the ocean beds, maniacally riding the crests and troughs, holding in their froth filled gargantuan arms huge arsenals of soot and silt, which they then send crashing with blinding murderous rage on rocky yet ever subservient shores.
Weasel in hand, Rohit bores his might into the empty white paper; tonight she is intransigent, simply refusing to play muse to his meaningless meanderings.

Love is a two edged sword.When happy, it is an obedient slave, working as per it’s master’s bidding; but when unhappy, the tables turn, turning the once omnipotent master into shuddering vassals.

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

 

neelwrites/ridingthewaves/FF/flashfiction/100words/06/10/2017

FRIDAY FICTIONEERS

Hosted by ever trustworthy ROCHELLEWISOFF  at https://rochellewisoff.com/2017/10/04/13-october-2017-2/

RIDING THE WAVES

PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

By Neel Anil Panicker

Wine glass in hand, Sandra stood at the deck, scanning the horizon.
Below, the moon played truant, drawing curvaceous lines on the limpid waters.
Her pear shaped eyes gleamed at the memory of the weekend tryst.

The serendipitous ‘bumping’, the ‘coy’ smiles, the adrenaline high hot chases, the reluctant ‘surrender’, the furtive romancing, the midnight rendezvous, the frothy waves, the joyous splash, and the sudden crash__she had enjoyed every moment of it.

The siren blast broke her reverie.

On the wharf awaited a young man holding a bouquet.

Sandra got up with a sigh.
Time to meet Victim number 19.

©neelanilpaniker2017 #Friday Fictioneers #fiction #100words

neelwrites/nokeepingoff/

WRITESPIRATION #135 52 WEEKS IN 52 WORDS WEEK 40

2017 brings 52 challenges over 52 weeks.

Your challenge is to write your story using the weekly theme/prompt and write it in just 52 words…. EXACTLY, no more, no less.

Submit your entries in the comments or on a blog post and I post them the following week with the new prompt. You have until Sunday to enter.

Write about the day you ignored the ‘KEEP OUT’ sign.

Hosted by Sacha Black at http://sachablack.co.uk/2017/10/04/writespiration-135-52-weeks-in-52-words-week-40/

NO KEEPING OFF

By Neel Anil Panicker

There she stood, tall and statuesque, clad in a sheer gossamer chiffon saree that hugged her porcelain figure in a way that left very little to my lascivious  imagination.

What if she’s my boss’s trophy wife; what if I was playing with fire.

I was ready to get burnt at the stakes.

(c)neelanilpanicker2017 #fiction #writeinspiration#writespiration-135-52-weeks-in-52-words-week-40/#52owrds

neelwrites/flymehigh/reena’sexplorationchallenge#week6#1884words/10/05/2017

Hosted by the enterprising and ever helpful Reena at

https://reinventionsreena.wordpress.com/2017/09/29/reenas-exploration-challenge-week-5-2/

What is it that makes you feel powerful? What is that strength which makes your time on this planet worthwhile?

REC 6

FLY ME HIGH UP THE SKY

By Neel Anil Panicker

MONDAY, 12 NOON,

FACULTY ROOM

‘Dammit, I have another class after this. Hate teaching a bunch of stupid students?

‘Bad luck, Arvind. Don’t forget it is idiots such as these who sponsor our salaries, who help make both our ends meet, who…’

‘Know it Rahul and cut the spiel, will you. These good for nothings, when they throw  cash on the table it helps bring us ‘food on the table  What do you say, Animesh?’.

At that instant the bell rang and Animesh thankfully extricated himself from the Faculty Room and strode purposefully down the corridor towards the corner classroom for what was his second class of the day.

Two hours later…

“Animesh, why don’t you check this video. It is the latest on Pappu”.

Animesh looked across at his colleague who was peering into his phone, a top end model IPhone and replied gently, “Thanks Rahul, I have an essay to complete”.

Racuous laughter erupted all around the comfy leather chairs on which snuggled a group of four other FMs, their eyes glued to their phones.

An unmindful Animesh checked his watch, decided he still had fifteen minutes before the start of his next class and opened his laptop.

At that instant a band of students came inside.

He recognised them as students from his just concluded class.

“Sir, we have a problem. Could you tell us the difference between “He came to the class” and “He has come to the class”?

Animesh looked up at the students who were now hovering around him.

Vinay, Prakash, Adil, Deepesh, and Anita. He knew them; their names and faces registered on his heart and mind from day one.

All of them were almost of the same colour, height, weight, and carried the same body language, conveying similar facial expressions. Pretty much indistinguishable much like the group of camera slinging, baggy clad monk like Chinese tourists that he often spotted strolling around Connaught Circus. They all looked the same but unlike the foreigners who were armed with large tourist guide maps and had cheer spread across their milky white visages,  the students who had come to Animesh stood half bent, holding half opened grammar books in their hands, anxiety writ large on their despondent faces, their reed thin bodies covered in pale yellow skin pigmentations__these graduate students, all pushing their twenties and staring into bleak uncertain futures, epitomised tenseness, quite eerily the subject they had severe doubts about.

Even in the cool October month, thick beads of sweat trickled through their pores and ran all over their workman style clothes, abominably pungent odours emanating from their bodies.

He sat them down beside him, and unmindful of the rambunctious sounds all around him and the sly remarks and innuendoes of his colleagues, proceeded to teach them the intricacies of the moving time as captured via the Verb, the ‘action’ Part of Speech, feeling a strange empathy and warmth towards them.

He knew that not very long ago he too was in the same boat, undergoing the same plight as these students were now experiencing, and resolved to help alleviate their sorrow as best as he could do.

***

There are two types of teachers in this world. The ones who are teachers because they have nothing better to do. The other, those who become teachers because they believe this is the best thing to do.

As far as the first category is concerned, I know I may have taken a very extremist view when I say “they have nothing better to do”.

Let me qualify that by saying that “they think they have nothing better to do or worse they want nothing better to do.”

It is this category of teachers who have ‘chanced’ upon the teaching profession

who belittle teachers and teaching, the noblest of all professions in the world.

And because they believe “they have nothing better to do” they inflict their inner negativity, despondency and lackadaisical attitude, allowing it slowly and dangerously percolate into the impressionable minds and hearts of ‘fresh as a daisy’ students who as the aphorism goes learn from their teachers.

These are the unfortunate souls, who after having stumbled in and out of a countless other professions, accidentally bump into the teaching profession, and discover it to be “cool’ and easy” and “laidback”, staying put there for ages, growing thick skins and even thicker work ethics that border on extreme forms of lassitude and nothingness.

So they amble in and out of classrooms, their weary feet dragging their lost souls and deadened minds, sowing seeds of negativity and despondency on one and all.

They are a pain, not only to themselves, but all those who are unfortunate enough to interact with them.

They are here not because of any great love for it, but because they have run out of choices. And as we all know, especially the American electorate who voted a most mismatched person for the most powerful job in the world, any decision that is taken out of compulsion and not of choice is a utterly stupid and downright false one, one that could lead to long term damaging consequences.

On the other end of the spectrum are those types of teachers who have become teachers because truly love the profession, who truly believe in the power of education in transforming lives, and who thereby take it as a very powerful tool, one that needs to be wielded with a lot of responsibility, acumen, sincerity and humility.

They are the ones who sprint in and out of classrooms, energising classrooms and its inhabitants with a searing intensity and vitality as reflected in the manner, style, depth, and deep passion that they bring into their teachings.

They are the true torchbearers of education, the upholders of right moral and intellectual values, and sadly a very rare breed.

Animesh Bhattarya is one such specimen.

A well respected English teacher, he is a senior Verbal Faculty at Coaching First, the number one institution in the country that helps graduate students prepare themselves for cracking the CAT, the Common Admissions Test, the ticket to the IIMs, the best B-schools in the country, and thereon to the most coveted positions in the corporate world.

Almost ten years into the teaching profession, everything about the forty something Animesh Sir,

as his students respectfully address him as, typified his attitude and aptitude towards and for the profession.

***

TWO PM,

LUNCH BREAK

Lunch breaks and Faculty Rooms are a highly combustible combination. There are discussions galore, sweet and sour titbits culled from the world wide web are gingerly extricated, passed around to be polished and refined, dissected and analysed threadbare, served piping hot along with samosas and hot tea.

Often, fireworks exploded.

Politics, religion, economy, education…these were some perennial hot topics, never running out of circulation, always finding eager and new audiences.

“The bastard. He should be sent to Pakistan”… “Bullet trains in a country  where daily train accidents are the norm. What a cruel 1 lakh crore joke on us is this?”…

”God only knows what these assholes were doing in school.” …”Wasting time, what else.”

The last two remarks sent Animesh’s thoughts racing back in time.

He closed his eyes and travelled back to his past, to a childhood steeped in povertqy, a childhood spent sowing seeds in a rich landlord’s fields, until one man’s benevolence saw him getting enrolled in the only school in the entire village, a village so poor that its denizens were deprived of even electricity and potable water, a sad commentary on a country that tomtoms itself as the world’s largest functional democracy. What democracy, what function?

Within the first few days of attending school, Animesh, quite early in life, resolved to lift himself out of the cesspool of poverty. It wasn’t an easy task, though. Besides his parents, who were both farm hands, available for long lease, ever ready to till the soil of the rich, doing backbreaking hard labour from dawn to dusk, he also had to contend with an alien subject English, besides mastering the intricacies of time, speed, and distance, and a host of other subjects.

After passing himself from school with flying colours, he made his way to the big city, Patna, where he commenced a graduate programme in English Literature, his entire tuitions fees waived off in a benevolent gesture from the college authorities keeping in view his poor family background.

It was in college that he became exposed to a wider better informed world. It was here that he came to know that until now he was living the life of a frog in a well,  a closed, deprived lowly existence and that there was a whole big different world out there waiting to be explored and conquered.

And the only way one could ever do that is through English, its mastery is a prerequisite to growth in life.

He began to understood that English was the numero uno language of the classes if not the masses; that it bound the world together, and that it was English alone that was the lingua franca of the international world community.

The next few years he dedicated himself to learning the nuts and bolts of the Queen’s language with a fervour and passion that was truly admirable.

Every single free time would see him in the vast college library, poring over books, reading upon an eclectic range of diverse topics; be it philosophy, psuchology, religion, science, management, science fiction…every single genre was not spared…grammar books, thesauru, bi-lingiual dictionaries…name it and he had not only read but imbibed, ingrained, internalised their thoughts, teachings, right down to every single idiom, phrasal verb, comma and full stop.

The end result: the low caste poor child of not so long ago had by the age of twenty one, armed himself with a first class distinction honours degree in English but also become an expert in the English language, both written and spoken, a feat so unique and worthy of acknowledgement that he became the envy and  pride of his teachers who all reaped fulsome praise upon him and wished him the brightest of futures.

***

The class bell rang, putting a break to his thoughts.

Animesh Bhattarya gathered his books and strode sanguinely down the corridor to take his next class of the day.

There was a spring in his steps as supreme confidence emanated from his being.

It origined from the humbling realisation that he, the son of a poor farmer, through sheer hard work and a die-hard perseverance, had turned himself into a very rare breed, a fine exponent of the English language, one among the miniscule five per cent of Indians who could write and speak in perfect English.

It was this humbling thought that made him feel omnipotent, filled his heart and mind with great Herculean power, made him feel immensely worthwhile, and helped him to tackle headlong all of life’s problems.

He vowed to pass on this power to one and all, especially to students whose backgrounds were quite similar to his, who, though they hailed from impoverished households, had a fire in their bellies and big dreams in their hearts.

It was this audience that he craved for and dedicated his life towards.

He felt powerful, he felt worthy. Now he wanted others to feel so.

©neelanilpanicker2011 #fiction #shortstory #reena’sexplorationchallengeweeksix#powerful#1884words

neelwrites/launchofdebutbookofshortstories/tasteofthelementsoflife/22/09/2017

Dear friends, colleagues, well wishers  

My debut book of short stories has been launched and is available in Amazon and Kindle Plus and Kindle Unlimited in both Kindle eBook and Kindle Paperback editions across the following territories:

pix-coverpage-tasteoftheelementsoflife

You may click on the below link to buy it:

For readers from INDIA:

https://www.amazon.in/dp/B075TDSWMB

For readers from the US:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075TDSWMB

For readers from the UK:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B075TDSWMB

For readers from CANADA

https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B075TDSWMB

For readers from FRANCE

https://www.amazon.fr/dp/B075TDSWMB

For readers in AUSTRALIA

https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B075TDSWMB

I shall be extremely delighted and honoured if you could read (a free sample is available) and leave a short review.

I look forward to your continued support and guidance as I embark on my professional writing career and hope to entertain you with better and more delightful reading material.