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

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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/up’n’downlikeayoyo/sixsentencestories/fiction/28/09/2017

unnamed-11-e1462409384457

Hosted by the charming Zoe at https://unchartedblogdotorg.wordpress.com/2017/09/27/welcome-to-six-sentence-stories-65/

This week’s cue for you to use any way you like within six well written, and structurally sound sentences, compiled into any genre you like… is…..drumroll please….UP!

UP ‘N DOWN LIKE A YO YO

By Neel Anil Panicker

Pity some of us aren’t either aware of or chose to turn a deaf ear to the maxim: what’s goes up definitely comes down.

At least that so was the case in Maya’s instance.

One moment she was up in the skies, floating gossamer like among the stars, showering bright rays of sunshine on all and sundry.

And then came the fall; a meteoric crash that saw her all her dreams crash landing onto the hard rock of reality, mercilessly crushing into smithereens her love laden heart that hitherto knew only love and happiness.

It was only then that she realized the wisdom  of the ages as spelled out by the sages that all that one desires for and runs after is just maya, her namesake__an illusion__and that real happiness is always somewhere else.

Life’s been on the bend for her ever since as her hands perennially reach out to the skies for deliverance from all sorrows.
©neelanilpanicker2017 #156words #fiction #flashfiction #sixsentencestories

#up

neelwrites/lifeiswhatyoumakeofit/shortstory/catology/02/fiction/reena’sexplorationchallenge/12/-9/2017

Hosted by the wonderful Reena at https://reinventionsreena.wordpress.com/2017/09/08/reenas-exploration-challenge-week-3/

Exploration Challenge 3

LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE OF IT

By Neel Anil Panicker

Remember students, you need a fantabulous vocabulary… eschew, virago, déjà vu, venal, rectitude…you must be able to roll off the meanings of these and words even more tougher in a jiffy, without batting an eyelid.

Besides, your understanding of the grammatical syntax needs to be perfect; modifiers, subject-verb agreement, adverbial clauses, conjunctives, subjunctives, hypotheticals, gerundial nouns et al.

Remember, you can bell the CAT if and only if you are the undisputed King of the Queen’s language.

If you do so the doors of the best B-schools will open for you. Otherwise…

Seated at her desk, two rows from the back, Roshni simply stared out to the front,

her face lost of all emotions, head bobbed to one side, eyes hooked to the front, transfixed at the white board and the man in front of it, desperately trying to make sense, latching on to every single word that was being uttered.

The last time she had heard such fine oratory was when she had inadvertently stumbled upon the CNN news channel only to hear the last few sentences of Barack Obama’s impressive speech as he addressed the US Congress days before relinquishing the office of the President of the United States of America.

Diction, pronunciation, inflection, intonation, enunciation, grammatical sense, style, prose, beauty and power___you name it the person delivering the lecture had all of this and then some more.

“So, dear students, if you dream about clearing the CAT with an enviable percentile and by that I mean above 99.95 percentile, a score that will open the doors of the Big Three IIMs of the country, and thereby begin your journey in the highly competitive corporate world, then make sure that you work towards improving your English.

Remember one thing: Your absolute mastery of English, both spoken and written, will ensure that you not just clear the CAT and bag a seat in one of the management schools in the country but also clear the decks for you to set sail and ride the crests and troughs of the rough seas, ultimately steering your ship safely and successfully to multitudinous ports of glory.

As the words of the teacher trailed off and long after the class had ended and the class emptied out, a shell shocked Roshni sat affixed to her chair, her mind a melange of conflicting thoughts and emotions.

Not for the first time since her arrival in Delhi a month ago she realised to her horror that she may not be as good as she believed she were.

Back in her hometown Jabalpur, she basked in the warm adulation of her teachers, friends, and family members.

For them she was Ms Know All, academically bright with a great gung ho spirit. She was the one who always topped her class and was the favourite of one and all.

But a month into living in the big city and reality had struck. The once sprightly girl who had landed in Delhi with the express intention to fulfil the dreams of her parents that their eldest child get into the IIMs, become a top notch corporate professional, and bring glory to not just them but also the entire town was finding that achieving all that was not a walk in the park. There were other things that need to dealt with besides studies. Surviving in a big city with its attendant issues was a Herculean task by itself and increasingly, as the hours elapsed into days and then into weeks and then months, Roshni found herself grossly ill-equipped to find her feet in the big, bad world into which she had parachuted barely a couple of months ago.

All her twenty-odd years of life had been one blissful cocooned existence; loving parents, appreciative teachers, gloating friends, an army of well wishers_an entire ecosystem that had nurtured and raised her and made her the person that she was __a bubbly, bright, topper who was destined for further glories, one who would not just do her parents, teachers and friends proud but also bring glory to her small village tucked away in the back of beyond, a place still pure and unadulterated by the filth and grime of modernity.

Living in Delhi, the capital city, the political, cultural and educational hub of India brought home the stark reality that there is more to life than just leading a cocooned existence in a small village.

Here, there was a new zing in the air; the young walked with a swagger and spoke with an ease and confidence that she had never seen or experienced before.

Every single hour brought home to Roshni the stark contrast between her own impoverished self and the lives of the big city denizens.

As she trundled in and out of her class, she watched with a stupefied look at her classmates at the coaching institute where she had enrolled by way of her B School preparations; watched and heard them speak with a flair and confidence, a sophistication and style that she had never known ever existed.

Everything about them spelled class__their sanguine walk, the poetry of their language, their dressing sense, their choice and range of words, the power of their personalities all added upto a drop dead confidence that she found at once both intimidating and exhilarating.

Suddenly she found her world had shrunk and shrivelled, her plight not different from that of the frog in a small well who mistakenly believes that this is the world and she its queen.

Suddenly, the size and scale of the world had changed and Roshni found herself utterly lagging behind, pitifully inadequate and incompetent to face upto to it.

Much later, back in her hostel room, long after the lights had been turned off and her room mates surrendered to sleep, weary after an entire day choc-a-bloc with classes, library, studies, and some socialising, Roshni tucked herself under the bedsheet and cried her heart out, silent tears wetting her face and moistening her bed, cursing the fate that had befallen her.

Her mind travelled back in time.

How the wheels of fate had turned. Life was idyllic just a little while ago. There she was, at the small and only railway station, hugging her mother, embracing her younger siblings, touching the feet of her father, receiving the blessings of her uncles, aunts, and the entire extended clan of family members.

It was a big thing, one of their own, the brightest of them all, and a girl child, was going to the big city, to study and be a big shot.

Looking into their moistened eyes Roshni could feel besides the obvious glow and warmth and pride, a deep sense of anticipation that one day, very shortly, this slip of a girl, their own ‘Roshni baby’ would return back a big girl, a highly successful corporate professional, a woman who would be the epitome of girl power, a woman would make them all proud.

And here she was, miles away from her loved ones, unable to grieve, to pour out her sorrows to anyone.

Who would she talk to, befriend, and reveal her problems to?

Most of her classmates came from relatively well off families, dressed as if they were going to or coming from glitzy parties, snootily walked around with a swagger and spoke in an Englishman’s   accent, complete with ooohs and aahs and wows, generously garnishing their talks with liberal spoonfuls of idioms, metaphors, oxymorons, hyperboles and other such artistic tricks of the English language.

A language that they used with a confidence that had long left the shores of arrogance and now reeked of sheer dominance and proof of their perceived superiority as reflected in their condescending attitude towards other students who were not similarly blessed.

As the hours swept away and darkness enveloped all over, for the first time in her life Roshni began to doubt her abilities. Was she really as good as her parents and school teachers had made her out to be?

Would her inadequacy in English really come in the way of fulfilling her dreams?

Would she end up as a basket case, another wayside failure, one more among the multitude to have bitten the dust after failing to cope up with the excruciating rigours of student life in a big city; the never ending demands, the trials and tribulations, the daily rigmarole of classes, and doubts sessions and workshops and then night long studies that were part and parcel of a student who dreamt about belling the CAT, the common admissions test that once cleared, opened the doors for a glittering high flying career in the global world?

If this were so, what would she tell her parents? Her siblings for whom she was Ms Perfectionist, their dear ‘Roshni di’, the one who could never fail? Her teachers in school, her elders, neighbours et al…all who loved her and pinned high hopes on her?

Would she ever be able to show her face, look into their eyes, face the world ever again?

The vibrating sound of the phone broke her thoughts.

She reached out and held the phone placed beside the table stand.

A green light flashed. It was a message.

Groggy eyed, she sat upright and read it:

Dear Roshni, I am writing this to tell you that you are a bundle of talent. Don’t let your lack of command over English ever discourage you from achieving your goals. With perseverance and sheer will power one day you will master English and speak and write with a flair and finesse that will be the envy of one and all. All you need to do is reach out and seek guidance. Remember, you have untapped abilities waiting to be discovered.

Your English teacher,

Prakash Hegde

Suddenly the veil of darkness lifted over and Roshni’s eyes lit up brighter than the brightest of bulbs; here heart began to resound with a new energy, her mind began filling up with a new faith, rigour, and meaning.

That very moment she resolved she would be the master of her own destiny and ride the crests of success for ever.

For the first time in a long, long time Roshni slept peacefully fully aware that a new, beautiful dawn awaited her.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #CATOLOGY #fiction  #shorstory #02 #1710words

neelwrites/joiningthe joints/sixsentencestories/shortstories/05/09/2017

Six Sentence Stories Cue of the Week

Six sentences any way you like,  using the cue word JOINT. Come back Thursday and link it up!

https://unchartedblogdotorg.wordpress.com/2017/09/03/six-sentence-stories-cue-of-the-week-9/

JOINING THE JOINTS

By Neel Anil Panicker

She hated joint families like the plague.

Believed they were a societal creation meant to shackle progressive minds such as hers; an antediluvian concept that had outlived its purpose, goner well past its expiry date; one that was an oddity in todays highly competitive ‘to each his own’ world.

It was with much consternation and a whole lot of trepidation that she entered into wedlock with Raj and then moved into his large family that comprised an entourage of 11 members including his parents, three married brothers, their spouses and children, besides one recently divorced sister saddled with three children of her own.

Day One went about smoothly, as also week one and even month one, but soon the cracks appeared, the rumblings started, bringing to the fore the ugly underbelly of human emotions gone wayhire.

“You call this a joint family?. I say this is the most disjointed family in the world, and I need you to take a decision right away__ either we move out and make our own family, or you stay here and be with your ‘family?”

Day One, Month 2, and the two moved into their own place, albeit on rent; a joint effort towards a building a new life, cocking a snook at the disjointed family structure.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #sixsentencestories #fiction #shortstory

neelwrites/nothingnewtoknow/homophones/fiction/shortstory/05/09/2017

Nothing New to Know

By Neel Anil Panicker

Poor Sarah had no inkling that she was one again being taken for a ride, too taken in was she by his glib talk, his sophistry, and his honey dipped dimpled charm.

There was nothing new in what he said or did, but alas if only she knew.

While we waited with baited breath for realization to dawn on her, he didn’t give her a wee bit reason for her to suspect his diabolic intentions.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #fiction #homophone

neelwrites/manfishing/whatpegmansaw/poisson-blanc-quebec/shortstory/03/09/2017

WHAT PEGMAN SAW

Poisson-Blanc, Quebec

Hosted by the brilliant K Rawson at  https://whatpegmansaw.com/2017/09/01/poisson-blanc-quebec/

MAN FISHING

To enjoy stories inspired by the What Pegman Saw prompt or to submit your own 150-word story, visit the inLinkz button:

By Neel Anil Panicker

Over a 100 km of waterways to lose yourself in; charmingly small campsites hidden under pine forests, pristine beaches to bathe in sheer cold waters and stunning landscapes that are a visual fiesta.

The Notre-Dame-du-Laus at this time of the year is a hullabalooza of campers.

Larocque’s corner store is teeming with holidayers eager to buy themselves a day’s fishing permit.

But a seasonal permit?

Well people do buy them, especially the off campers, the ones who come all alone and love escaping the harsh summers wherever they come from; the quieter, serious loner types who’ve sacrificed themselves to the pleasures of forgetting and getting lost in the arms of Mother Nature.

But a double seasonal pass? That too advance payment? That was strange.

Alfred’s eyes went aglow.

He left his vantage point at Julie’s, and trailed the man as he thrust the stamped blue piece of paper into his baggy shorts and made his down the to the river front.

None would care if this man disappeared, he surmised.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #whatpegmansaw #fiction #170words