neelwrites/allatsea/spf/fiction/shorstory/inspectorsharmacrimeseries/15/10/2017

 

Sunday Photo Fiction – October 15th 2017

Hosted at https://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2017/10/15/sunday-photo-fiction-october-15th-2017/

ALL AT SEA

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

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neelwrites/freeatlast/52wordstorychallenge/14/10/2017

Tag Archives: 52 Words

FREE AT LAST!

By Neel Anil Panicker

For a long time Nandu stood transfixed, staring into the sea as monstrous waves lashed against against his wafer thin body.

Much later, the ship’s mast came into view.

He stepped back, kicked the body aside, and walked towards freedom.

He had no mercy for paedophiles in the garb of ‘father figures’.

(c)neelanilpanicker2017 #fiction #shortstory #52wordchallenge

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/eternalpeaceinNature’sarms/fiction/shortstory/09/10/2017

ETERNAL PEACE IN NATURE’S ARMS

forest1

By Neel Anil Panicker

Of late, especially, and more so, since Sushma’s sudden death, the daily climb up the forested slope was proving to be quite tedious.
It wasn’t as if he had suddenly turned infirm or that his body had refused to obey the dictates of the mind.
On the contrary, for a septuagenarian leading a superannuated existence, John Albert Dayal, retired Eastern Railways Senior Superintendent, was doing pretty well,  ever fit and agile, his six foot ramrod straight frame a source of much envy among neighbours less than half his age.

Hiking up the trail was something he had always looked forward to.

“Why do you need to torture your bones by insisting on going up that forested hill. Don’t you know that it is infested with wild animals?” harangued his sister Martha, a year older to him, and recently widowed.
Left to herself, she would do nothing but bake honey dipped nutty chocolate cakes,  a delicacy she had learnt back in the days when she was young and employed at Hot Breads, the preferred eating joint of the gourmands.

But John was of a different breed.
Rather than indulging in such rich sweetmeats, which anyways he avoided like the plague ever since the doctor pronounced him as afflicted with advanced  diabetes and abnormally high blood pressure, he found pleasure in Nature.
So off he went, his ears oblivious to Martha’s protestations,
In no time he had left behind the city landscapes and waded deep into a thick foliage of pine and cedar trees.

Feeling slightly heavy and uncharacteristically tired, he sat down under the bark of a giant peepal tree and looked upwards.
From behind the thick foliage, the sun’s rays snaked in and sketched strobed images on his parched visage.
After a while he reclined his back against the tree trunk, stretched his legs out, and closed his eyes.

And that’s how they found him the next morning.
‘Fortuitous of him to go that way’, was the general consensus of all who knew him.

(c)neelanilpanicker2017 WritePhoto #Thursday Photo Prompt #fiction#flashfiction #shortstory #334words

Written for Thursday Photo Prompt hosted by at https://scvincent.com/2017/10/08/glade-writephoto-by-willow/

Glade – #writephoto by Willow

Also written for

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie

Saturday Mix – Same Same But Different, 7 October 2017

Welcome to the Saturday Mix, 9 September 2017! at https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2017/09/09/saturday-mix-same-same-but-different-9-september-2017/

This week we are diving into the depths of our thesaurus and exploring the world of synonyms.

Same Same But Different
Your ‘Same Same But Different’ task is to take the five challenge words and NOT use them in your writing. That’s right, you need to dig out your thesaurus and find a synonym for each word instead.

Your words are:

  1. produce
  2. puncture
  3. smile
  4. young
  5. difficult

Your writing form is either poetry or prose.

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/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.”

neelwrites/lookingbeyondthenumbers/reena’sexplorationchallengeweek5/fiction/catology/shortstory/1627words/28/09/2017

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 hasn’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 outbeat the numbers.

He will, for sure, bell 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  #1634words