neelwrites/simplyjamming/sixsentencestories/fiction/flash.shorstory/07/10/2017

Welcome to Six Sentence Stories

WORD PROMPT: FLUID

SIMPLY JAMMING!

By Neel Anil Panicker

“See this jam, Tasty all by itself, but pretty much useless otherwise; you need to warm it, make it fluid,  before it can be spread on bread and become a gourmand’s delight.

Same’s the case with relationships.

Take mine for instance. Left to ourselves, we, Arthur and I, are like bread and jam.
Two wonderful but entirely different people with different attributes, different temperaments, different tastes, likes, dislikes et al.
The zing, the spark, the magic happens only when we are together; that’s because we don’t supplement but only complement each other.

That’s being fluid____knowing who you are and what you bring to the table, when and how much to give and take, so that together you help create the perfect dish, and that my friends is the secret of our long and happy marriage.
‘Wow! that’s great. So between the two of you, who is the bread and who is the jam?’

“Hmm…good question. Lemme think.”

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Hosted by the super talented Reena at https://reinventionsreena.wordpress.com/2017/09/22/reenas-exploration-challenge-week-5/

strategies

LOOKING BEYOND THE NUMBERS

By Neel Anil Panicker

TOTAL NUMBER OF QUESTIONS :      34

RIGHT      :                                                   6

WRONG   :                                                   28

Rubbing his eyes in disbelief, Mahesh got up from his chair and began to pace up and down the floor, his fingers tightly clutched inside sweaty palms.

The results of his Diagnostic Test stared him in the face.

It was a timed test that helped the students gauge their current levels and helped them get a better understanding of their strengths  and weaknesses in order to prepare themselves for the final Common Admissions Test (CAT) nine months down the line, a test that would make or mar their professional careers, decide whether they would end up in any any one of the top ten premier Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) of the country or languish in a lowly job, joining the ever toiling hoi polloi that make up the great Indian workforce.

A slight stirring from the corner bed broke his thoughts.

‘Turn off the damn lights, will you’.

It took awhile for Mahesh to register what he heard. Then, still in a half daze, he pulled his arms out and turned off the switch.

‘No point in disturbing others’. His roommate Arvind had just returned from his night shift.

As Mahesh slid himself under the sheets and closed his eyes, his mind lay awake, playing in a loop the roller coaster happenings of the past few days, each recall exacerbating his already frayed nerves.

Here he was, barely a week into life in the big city, some 1500 kilometers away from home.

The past three days had been particularly tough on him. The first day, after de-boarding at New Delhi Railway Station from a jam packed Jharkhand Express, he had headed straight to Coaching First, the premium coaching centre for CAT that her friends and teachers back home in Sitamarhi had recommended.

For the next couple of hours he had sat and heard out an impassioned extempore from the Front Desk Counsellor, a stentorian heavily bedecked lady with a lipstick smeared powdered face who trotted  out in a rat-tat-tat fashion the advantages of enrolling at Coaching First, her multi-hued long nailed finger tips repeatedly pointedly towards the walls all around her which were plastered with the smiling visages of successful pass outs, and the linear golden ribboned tagline of the institute, ‘Turn to us if you want to turn your dreams into a reality’.

Sufficiently impressed, Mahesh had signed himself for a one year long term course by completing the necessary admission formalities and paid out her fees, a six months’ advance with the remaining to be paid within the next 90 days.

An hour later he was filling up another form, this time at a seven storied box like building whose half peeling faded façade was emblazoned with the legend, PG FOR BOYS ONLY.

He had forked out a three months’ advance of Rs 15,000 and found himself herded inside a near bare cubicle sized room.

“This is your bed,” spat out the landlord, a 65-year-old who walked around with an unusually ramrod straight back as his eyes turned towards a small door sans hinges.

‘That’s the bathroom-cum-toilet. You’re two of you here, as of now.’

After the man had left, it took another hour before Mahesh could make himself comfortable, stacking his clothes in the drawer, piling the first set of books that the institute had handed over on the side table, generally trying to make life as comfortable as could be possible in such alien surroundings__alien room, alien city, alien culture et al.

His mind pole vaulted into the previous day’s events when at exactly ten in the morning he had found himself at Coaching First, seated in a ‘packed like sardines’ classroom, listening, wide eyed, along with around a hundred other students a forty-year-old man’s impassioned speech about the arduous road that lay ahead.

‘Dear students, I welcome you to the class but before I kickstart your CAT class, first things first.

I need to show you the mirror and bring to the fore some harsh truths. 

Nowadays, the road ahead for a student, especially so in India, is an uphill task.

The struggle for them commences right after the Board or Class 12 exams. For it is here that he decides whether he is good enough to get into the IITs, the gateway to the best engineering education in the country rated at times, even above par of some of the best colleges around the world.

But then reality strikes and how. Not many are good enough to sneak past its narrow doors. Of the over ten lakh students who sit for the test every year, a paltry 3000 ultimately bag a seat, and of this too, only the top 100 get into their choice streams.

Almost similar, if not more, is the case with the entry level hassles that go with bagging a prized Medical seat.

Government colleges with their heavily subsidized course fees are a major draw but open its doors very slightly as the intakes are low and the demands staggering.

True, one can pay through one’s nose to bag a seat ‘out of turn’ but then how many of us have the surname ‘Ambani’ tagged to our names?

So what do the Children of Lesser Gods do? Well, nothing but slog through college picking up a ‘regular’ degree in any one of the innumerable ‘standard’ courses and then join the long que outside caching classes that promise the moon and the earth and everything in between to give themselves a realistic chance of grabbing a B- school seat into any one of the premier management schools.

Here too, what exactly are their chances?

Now let me run you through some stark statistics, because like Shakira’s hips, my lips won’t lie when I trot them out.

Total number of 11Ms in the country: 23

Total number of CAT candidates: Four lakhs plus  

Total number of top General Category seats: 100

Per Candidate to seat  Ratio: 4000

Which means the dreams of only one in every 4000 enrolled students get into one or the other top IIMs. The others just fall by the wayside or languish in some lowly paying jobs after passing out of some third rate management school that no recruiter or employer worth their his salt would dream of even touching with a barge pole.

A collective gasp erupted from the students. It was followed by whispers, followed by pin drop silence.

Mahesh, like everybody else, knew how tough it was to crack the CAT and get into the IIMs. But then as he listened attentively from his far right corner bench to the words he felt a massive weight forming in his chest. He shuffled his legs below the table and wringed his hands as a cold wettiness began to form under his faded cotton blue shirt.

The next half an hour were a daze as the man who had earlier introduced himself as one Nihil Rahane, Senior Faculty cum Student In-charge

ran through the class structure and the road map for the days and months to come.

He finally ended his class with the words, his rich baritone voice ricocheting off the classroom walls, “Remember, no pain, no gain. Work hard, burn the midnight oil, and keep the faith__success will surely follow”.

***

Mahesh woke up in beads of sweat. The words from the introductory class rang in his ears, bombarding his senses with the intensity of a mild temblor.

No pain, no gain. How true. All achievements and accomplishments in this world, have come through hard work; work that entailed turning days into nights and nights into days.

Mahesh’s mind reverberated with visuals of all great men and women and their world changing discoveries and actions. Madam Curie,  Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, Tennyson, Keats, Shelly, Hellen Keller, Florence Nightingale, and closer home Mahatma Gandhi, Dr Abdul Kalam…the list went endless.

All illustrious champions and winners who had hacked their way to success, surmounting unimaginable difficulties, overcoming Herculean odds, persevering, persisting, pushing themselves beyond limits, pursuing seemingly super human goals to finally turn initial bitter failures into glittering successes.

Mahesh recalled the words of his ‘guru’, his Class 10 Mathematics teacher.

“Remember Mahi, your namesake the brilliant Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the hugely successful captain of the Indian Cricket team used to say, “It’s not the runs that you score that matters, but when and what stage of the match you score them that really matters, ” adding, “my dear Mahi, don’t let mere numbers and scores bog you down. They are like small pebbles on the vast ocean of life. Wait for the next tide and the fortunes will change, bringing in new pebbles, new scores, completely washing away the earlier ones.

Don’t ever get bogged down by low tides. You are meant for the high seas. Go and meet the waves headlong; new oceans of success await you.

Mahesh sprang up from the bed.

‘Go and meet the oceans of success.’

How true were the words, Mahesh thought to himself.

So what if he hadn’t done well in the Diagnostics. Statistics were like sands on the ocean front. One huge wave hurtling down from the high seas and they vanish without a trace leaving behind a new pattern.

They are past masters at not just falsifying the truth but also are an irritant in the pursuit of one’s avowed goals.

The truth is that he was meant for bigger, greater things in life.

Come hail or shine, he will do all that it takes to crack the CAT.

With that resolution firmly embedded into his senses, Mahesh slipped back under the sheets and closed his eyes, awaiting the dawn of a new day, a day of hope and vigour and all things positive.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #CATOLOGY #04 #fiction #reena’sexplorationchallengeweek5  #1627words

neelwrites/blastfromthepast/SPF/fiction/shortstory/11/09/2017

Sunday Photo Fiction – September 10th 2017

Hosted at https://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2017/09/10/sunday-photo-fiction-september-10th-2017/

BLAST FROM THE PAST

211 09 September 10th 2017

By Neel Anil Panicker

It was supposed to be their dream house. Their retirement nest. A house by the river. Add spectacular views of the early sun as it snakes past the narrow slits of exotic palm leaves, gently splashing its orange tinged red rays through diaphanous curtains on still sleepy residents safely tucked under silken bedsheets; add the very same rays receding behind lofty snow capped mountains while giving way to spectacular moonlit nights; add the gentle swirling of the crystal clear waters as it lullabies you to sleep.

Add all this, and what you get is bliss; nirvana; happiness to the power of infinity.

Alas! That was not to be. Mrs and Mr Sood’s dreams of settling down and spending the golden years of their remaining lives in Villa Paradise, (that’s what they had christened their utopia, their comfy house by the river) quickly turned to dust.

One fine morning the lady woke up to find her husband of half a century dead on the bed, the spent cartridge of a .303 bullet lay beside him.

‘They’ll come, they always come’ he used to mumble around, something she would dismiss as signs of the onset of dementia.

She peers into the muddy waters below.

‘You’re right. Always were. Spies never had it easy.’

©neelanilpanicker(2017 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED) #SPF #FICTION #SHORT STORY  #neelanilpanicker #neeltheauthor

 

neelwrites/spacematters/ThreeLineTales/fiction/shortstory/76words/08/09/2017

Three Line Tales, Week 84

Hosted by Sonya at https://only100words.xyz/2017/09/07/three-line-tales-week-84/

 

SPACE MATTERS

three line tales week 84: glamping

photo by Niv Rozenberg via Unsplash

By Neel Anil Panicker

“It’s called the writer’s retreat; it goes where your muse takes you__to the hills, on the plains, beside the sea, someplace that none can see, here, there, anywhere.”

‘What should I say but it seems like a dream come true__yours, mine, ours.’

“True, but then there’s one minor hitch__the place is a bit tiny which means that I can take in either the cat or you, and you know my sweetheart, how much I love Chelsea.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #ThreeLineTales #shortstory #fiction #76words

neelwrites/fingerpointing/FFfAW/fiction/shortstory/07/09/2017

FFfAW Challenge-Week of September 5, 2017

Hosted by Priceless Joy at  https://flashfictionforaspiringwriters.wordpress.com/2017/09/04/fffaw-challenge-week-of-september-5-2017/

 

FINGER POINTING

 

By Neel Anil Panicker

Inspector Sharma looked one last time at the raised fingers.

The next moment he had left the hospital room and was making his way towards the elevator.

“It’s a murder. A well planned cold blooded murder”.

As the lift doors clanked shut, the ever smiling Constable Pandey bared his betel stained teeth.

“Sir, The doctor, relatives…All say it’s a natural death__massive coronary heart failure”.

Inspector Sharma looked across at the bloated frame in front of him, wondering not for the umpteenth time how the Police Department could be so naïve as to recruit such a bumbling buffoon.

“Look Pandey. What’re the facts. The dead man was 83, a bachelor, multimillionaire and with no legal heirs. Was being looked after by a 30-something virago whose got a crime record longer than the Nile.

They had almost hit the ground floor.

“…and he was paralytic, neck down; couldn’t move a limb.”

The lift doors sprang open.

“…which means someone raised those fingers”

‘Why would someone do that, Sir?

A hot blast of air greeted the duo as they hit the mid-afternoon Kolkata streets.

“That’s what I have to figure out, Pandey”.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #FFfAW #fiction #shortstory

neelwrites/thedisclosure/SPF/partelevenofdangerouslove/15/08/2017

Hosted at https://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2017/08/13/sunday-photo-fiction-august-13th-2017/

get the InLinkz code

THE DISCLOSURE

208 08 August 13th 2017

By Neel Anil Panicker

“How would you like to die? Be deep fried in hot molten oil or mutton chopped into small little pieces to serve the gastronomic tastes of gourmands?”

‘What?’

Ali couldn’t believe his ears. It was his fourth week in Tihar Jail and he was on the phone with Liza and she was talking about death, his death.

“Yes, jaan. Get ready to die. Abbu is after your life.”

The name of the dreaded mafia don Abu Fazal sent a chill down his spine.

‘What?’

Jaan, our little secret is out. Abbu knows all about us. He’s making plans to kill you.”

Ali felt a lump form in his throat. His Adam’s apple bobbed up and down. Suddenly, the heat in his six by eight feet cell turned unbearable.

‘But how? How’s is it possible. How did you get to know?’

“I don’t know dear. Somebody’s ratted on us. I got to know about it last night. Like most other nights these past few weeks, ever since you’ve been in Tihar, sleep has become my enemy.

I was hungry and headed to the kitchen. Was passing by Abbu’s den when I heard voices from inside. It was Abbu. He was speaking to someone over the phone. I held my breath and cocked my ears to the door. It was then that I heard him say, “The bastard. I’ll teach that traitor a lesson he’ll never forget, even when interred in his grave. How dare he even look at my daughter. Kill him, Salim. I order you to make kheema of that bastard.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. My very own father ordering the murder of his only daughter’s lover?

My heart pounding and my head swirling like a typhoon, I somehow pulled myself away and tiptoed back to my room. Ali my dear, my love, my jaan, they are after you. He’s going to kill you, to kill me also if need be. I know him. He means what he says. I’m scared. I fear for you, for your safety. I can’t bear to think of a life without you…please my love, we need to do something…you need to do something…please…”

Ali heard footsteps approaching his barrack.

“Someone’s coming. Will call you later. Will do something…I promise…have faith, my love”.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #partelevenofadangerouslove#thedisclosure#379

 

neelwrites/ontherocks/FF/99words/11/07/2017

FRIDAY FICTIONEERS

Hosted by the charming Rochelle at https://rochellewisoff.com/2017/08/09/11-august-2017/

ON THE ROCKS

PHOTO PROMPT© CEAyr

 

By Neel Anil Panicker

“Hmm! That’s a really big rock”, exclaimed Aruna with barely concealed envy.

That instantly lit up Vaishali’s face; a face one of her several admirers had likened to a ‘Leonardo Da Vinci portrait’.

‘The Mona Lisa itself’, had gushed someone else.

Looking over the shoulders of her bestie, Vaishali surveyed the happy, smiling visages around her.

The movers and shakers of Kolkata had descended this cool Sunday evening to celebrate her betrothal to the Prince of Kolkata.

Vaishali eyed her engagement ring and sighed.

Alas! none would be there when her Prince would turn pauper.

Least of all, she.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #fiction #FF #99words