The write club Sept 2017 magazine has a total of six stories (we stayed more or less consistent) from six different authors. You can read the excerpt of the featured title story (and my story) in this post, and decide to buy it by clicking on the link below, or you could give it a pass 🙂
Either way, I am glad you’re reading this right now!
Grandma – Eight; Me – Zero
~ Kartik Patiar
I wish I could turn back the clock and bring the wheels of time to a stop. There is not a single day in my entire life, which I lived with regret or remorse. In fact, I never-ever even fancied myself coming to a situation where I would willingly want to pause time and go back in it. You see, I am the practical and forward-looking sort of guy. I believe in living a life with no regrets and no baggage. ‘You are human after all – You will make mistakes – you will learn from them and you will move on!’ There seems to be no point on going back re-living a life, you have already lived. At least that had been my motto in life so far. But I guess, 19th of August was a day when all of that was changed.
I woke up with a startle, and looked around me. I was unsure of where I was. It was definitely not familiar surroundings. The place around me was dark and I couldn’t see a thing. It smelt quite damp and moist too. I distinctly remember the strong smell of fresh varnish hitting my nostrils. I couldn’t see the wood or anything at all, to which it might have been applied. The bed beneath me was soft and well cushioned. Maybe I was still asleep, maybe this was all a dream – I wasn’t sure. So I closed my eyes again and waited for a moment or two.
There are times, when you know very clearly that you are in a dream, and then there are times when you know you are not. You see when one is dreaming – he tends to do things that are almost impossible to do. Like not just humanly impossible things like – flying just like Superman or doing twenty sets of fifteen push ups, but maybe things that are impossible for him to do as a person. Say – maybe like dancing in public. I hope you get the drift. You do… right?
It’s like when you are awake you just see life happening in front of you. Your dull boring life playing out right there and your mind judging you again, saying – ‘Man this is so damn shitty, why does it always have to be me?’ But when you are dreaming, you know, you have this intense focus on your thoughts and your actions – suddenly every move, every thought, everything makes so much sense. But somehow, your background is always blurred.
Slowly it dawned on me – I wasn’t sleeping. This wasn’t a dream. But you know what? – I am not awake either!
Ok, I am Sorry, actually….I spout random facts whenever I am nervous.
And why shouldn’t I be nervous? You see – I have never been to a cremation ceremony before. Especially to a cremation ceremony where I am the ‘Guest of honor’ – Yes. I am the one being cremated. It is kind of weird you know. I always wondered what it would be like, when one is dead, and here I am all dead and full of nervous excitement. It reminds me of the time when I was in junior high and I had to recite a poem in front of the entire school. Man, Phew! What a day that was? Everyone was watching me – the whole freaking auditorium was packed with students, with teachers and even parents. One would expect a gathering this large to be loud and noisy, but No, they all waited, in pin drop silence, eager for me to fumble or make a mistake or forget my stanzas. Well you see, it wasn’t my poem – it was Rabindranath Tagore’s poem. But who cares, I was supposed to own those words that day, or at least that’s what Mrs. Rosy had said. But maybe I didn’t. Who cares now? It was a long time back and I am sure no one even remembers my huge debacle that evening.
Anyway… today is another day and another time. Today, I will have all known faces, maybe with a few unknown ones, who will all be coming in to pay their last tributes to me. Should be fun, because I don’t have to recite any poems or stanzas today – but I believe Alan will be giving a speech or something like a eulogy about me. Can you believe it? Of all people Alan will be giving my eulogy. Why Lord… why? You seem to be mocking me even after I have departed the living world. It’s not that I hate Alan or anything, he is my cousin after all. But Alan and speeches are like chalk and cheese. He literally cannot even put two sentences together when he is speaking to an auto driver, and here – he has been given the sole charge for eulogizing my departure from this blessed world. Now, I would have definitely demanded an audience with whoever took such a ridiculous decision – if I were still alive, that is. You see, Kavita would have been just perfect – she is so great with words, and like hell we have been living together for the last 15 years. She knows me well enough to eulogize for… 15 minutes at least. Why didn’t she raise her hand for this? … Maybe she was busy arranging the other stuff. Anyway, I wonder what that dim wit Alan will be saying about me today. I hope he is equally nervous about it, as I am.
About the author: An E-commerce Marketing professional, Kartik Patiar also happens to be an avid reader, traveler, adventure enthusiast and an arm chair thought experimenter. He is extremely passionate about reading and writing about subjects that stimulate his mind.
(Genre: Psychological Realism)
And then he made sounds, one makes, when one is trying really hard to make sounds, but he cannot. He also tried to drag himself up, using one of his elbows as a crutch, but he felt armless. As in, he of course had arms, but they felt dead. And although, they felt dead, he yet, in his mind, could wave them in the air, ball his fingers into a fist, or even clap vigorously. But in reality, none of that accomplished anything. He did not get up, and his claps, just like him, did not really make any sounds.
“Oh, no, no, no, not again,” he moaned in his mouth.
Inside his mouth, his jaws now seemed jagged, and they did not sit on top of each other, like jaws do. And he drooled like an infant on the off-yellow cover of his pillow.
Through the beige drapes, a faint yellow morning ray had made its way to the corners of his bed. His bed – where he was slumped on the edge, with what felt like a paralyzed arm that dangled lifelessly and touched the ground – was not creaking anymore. On normal days, it always otherwise chirred, disrupting his sleep and jolting him up from his deep slumber.
Had it been a normal morning, he would have sat on his bed for a minute, rubbing his eyes. A minute later, he would have walked over to the window, pulled the blinds and the curtains, snoozed his alarm for ten more minutes, and would’ve tucked himself back inside his leopard print blanket. But his blanket this morning, had fallen through the narrow chasm between his bed and the adjacent wall. And somewhere from down there, the ever so aggravating periodic beeps were now reaching to his deaf ears.
The ears weren’t really deaf, just like the mouth wasn’t really muted, but hearing an alarming sound makes one respond to it, and that sort of a thing was missing today. What else was missing, was the sense of being in control of the situation, and the sense of having a physical body. His mind however, felt in his control, and thankfully so, because he knew where he was. And although he knew where he was, his eyes mislead him. He saw everything inside his room, in black and white and in vignettes of grey.
The first few times when it had happened to him, it had startled him at first, then it had amused him, and later in the evening, it had turned into a paranormal encounter anecdote when he hungout with his friends after their Friday supper.
The last night had been visually painful. He had gone to one of those underground clubs, that had laser-cut beams and non-recursive wall patterns lacquered with L.E.Ds that jarred his eyes, and throbbing speakers embedded in holes that couldn’t be spotted, unless one used torchlight.
There, everything had made him nauseous. People wore props that glowed in the dark – wide eye frames in the shape of a bee, fluorescent hats, devilish furry headbands with plastic horns, multicolored curly wigs with lights in them, silver shashes with “Bride to be” or “Birthday girl”, written across them, ties with glowy cartoon characters printed on them, diamond tiaras in the shape of a skull, men wearing alien helmets, face masks of butterflies and superheroes and Egyptian mummies. And he rambled through all this endorphin inducing nonsensical mayhem built on the junkyard of illusion.
And from there on, everything was a series of blur frames stacked in the film of his mind. Yes, someone had put him in the taxi, yes he had hung his head out of the window like a dog and vomited, and yes he had cried a bucket. But how did he get in his bed? And most importantly, was he in his bed? Was he really home?
Through his deceiving closed eyes, he could spot the toppled ashtray on the coffee table, stacks of beer bottles by the door, a few broken ones had rolled away to the corner, ruffled couch covers, cushions on the floor, cigarette buds shaking under the fan like the autumn leaves outside, and the whole paraphernalia of an after party.
And he had this tickling in his toes, like someone played footsie with him under the sheets. Before he realized, the tickle spread into a firm touch, like someone wrapped their arm around his waist and cuddled with him, their breath on his neck, their cold palm on his tummy, his back facing their chest.
“What are you afraid of?” It whispered in his ears from behind. The voice wasn’t all sounds and whiffs of air. The voice was a clutter and chime of bones, as if a skeleton knew the words and could mimic sounds.
It waited for a response and then said, “Are you okay?” To which, he grumbled and let out a tiny pool of saliva under his head, on the pillow, through his jagged jaws. The bony icy-cold claws like fingers clasped his chest and cuddled further.
By now, he knew that if he did not move, he would be trapped in this inertness forever, like a painting, motionless, and incomprehensible to the observers. A mystery of sorts. An unimaginable accident, where the victim vanished without a trace.
And then what would happen? Everyone will have their own bizarre stories to tell. Someone would say, he vanished the night they went to the freak party. Some would say, he got abducted by the aliens – that aliens came dressed as aliens to a freak party, to abduct humans. The outlandish stories would float around, newspapers and blogs and social media platforms will milk money. His friends will share comical anecdotes of his sudden mysterious exodus – he got engulfed in a wormhole up his ass. His enemies, not that he has many, but the ones who aren’t exactly his well wishers, will throw a silent party in their heads. They’ll invite people over for drinks and dodge their questions, about why they are smiling for no reason.
So once again, using his elbows as a crutch, he tried to get up from the bed. And this time, unlike the previous many attempts, he felt his body lift up effortlessly. But not in a traditional, getting up, straightening the spine, body bending in half from the waist, kind of way. This time, his body did not feel packed underneath the skin, and he felt he had turned into fluid of sorts. He did not know which direction or shape he took. He had no concept, feeling or experience of limbs, organs, or bones. And just like that, his all hundred and fifty pounds of conscious self, defying gravity, and the meaning of the ordinary world, found itself in a different realm inside his own very room.
About the Author: Well, that would be me 🙂. And you’re reading this on my blog. So …
About Write Club Bangalore: It’s a weekly meetup group of writers, that’s been consistently running for past 7 years.
Every week we assemble at 2 in the afternoon and write on a prompt given to us by the host. Then we read (out loud) whatever we have managed to write, one by one, and the host, or the other members of the club, tell us how good or bad the pieces are.
Post the writing session, we have coffee at a close by restaurant and we often debate (and/or joke) about everything under the sun. The waiters at the restaurant probably hate us, because we are usually very loud. But then it’s a lot of fun. I mean, I could go on and on about the group, but I can’t put it in words. Why don’t you check out the official website instead?