That Hide & Seek Game

Remembering that hide n seek game and those series of emotions that flowed in the hidden light of the night’s darkness.

… …

We were running frantically towards the end of the street. We had 30 more counts before he would open his eyes and would see us running, holding hands…

My heart was pounding, not just because we were running out of our breaths, but because we were running together. Without any prior planning, we both had simply looked at each other and at that second had decided that we were gonna hide together in this game.

She was holding my hand so tightly, almost pulling me along with her. Probably her excitement was more than mine, or probably her fear. She didn’t look back, towards her brother, who was counting with his eyes closed up against the tree. She was a rebel, and that day she showed it.

The count was almost complete. All of our other friends had already chosen their hiding place and were almost invisible unless, ofcourse you knew already their usual hiding place. We knew where everyone used to hide, quite easy to mark an area where each one of them used to hide. We were running towards a new area altogether.

He announced his hunt beginning with a roar, declaring that soon he’s gonna catch all of us.

I smiled. “Not us, not today.”

We took a sharp left at the end of the street and then a right and disappeared in the maze of turns, till when we reached a deserted neighborhood leading to a dead-end.

We looked for a place where we could hide, from everyone. There was an old van, rusting at the end of the street. It was dark, and probably this part of the neighborhood had no residents. Not even stray animals could be seen. Was it luck or something fishy; Mr. Fate’s prior warning before he hits hard, I thought.

We went behind the van. It was parked right ahead of a street parkbench, such that the bench was not visible in any way unless you move around the car all the way to its back.

We went and hid behind the bench. We felt like tiny people as we could easily be hidden behind the bench from head to toe.

She finally let go of my hands. Holding hands… So pure, simple, emotional, and sweaty… Uncomfortable.

I sat there rubbing my hands on my jeans, slowly wiping off the sweat of it. Just then, she grabbed my shirt and pulled it so hard that I was pulled along with it. She asked in an anxious tone “They won’t be able find us here, will they?”

I was about to shrug when she herself said “No they won’t. This is the perfect place.”

I continued staring at her. She was beautiful beyond my ability to describe her beauty. So I won’t. But yes, she was way beyond my league.

We sat there talking about various possibilities, fantasies about what could happen if they catch us here. She was not willing to become the seeker, no matter what. Almost all of her plans had me showing myself up and then taking the seeker with me, keeping her safe. So much for the game, I thought. But in the end, she will again say “Nah! I won’t let you go…”

Time passed, rather quickly than I thought (read ‘than I wanted’). She occasionally touched my hands, and I rather skillfully took my hands away. Hey! Don’t judge me! It was summer and I hated sweat. I’d rather prefer something equally emotional and direct, not involving sweat.

I think she sensed it too, as her lips had tightened and she was looking at me without blinking, from my eyes to my neck, and back. Her neck was tilted and I could almost hear her heart beats, which were risen way up above normal excitement level.

There was mumbling sound nearby and then a ruckus, and our whole gang, one after other, appeared out of nowhere in the street that we were hiding in. They were laughing at the seeker, who had been trying to find them since last half hour, but had no luck in doing that. (It was half an hour already?!!)

I saw them coming towards us, scanning and analyzing the street for some good hiding place, and then I saw her pale and disappointed face. She was looking at me, her expressions were hard to describe. But they said “Damn!”

I gave her the ‘its fine’ expression and she nodded.

We had not disclosed anything to each other yet about our desires or intentions or imaginations, but I think they would have been same for both of us. We couldn’t do what we wanted to do that day, but being 10 year old toddlers, we hardly cared. We soon blended with out friends and forgot the whole episode.

Now I don’t even remember what was it that we wanted to do that time, but it doesn’t matter. After all, what could possibly be in an innocent 10 year olds mind!?

Well, Come In!

On a weekend night, Ana was dozing in front of her computer screen while watching another long, high-rated television series. When a guest visit turned her boring lonely night into a everlasting memory, probably more appropriate to call it a nightmare.

… …

The computer was turned on and she had her ears covered with the headphones with volume up to the notch. Although it was a high-rated television series, but she couldn’t take it anymore and probably felt a small nap to be a better place than her boring and lonely real world.

The episode had completed since more than half an hour now and the silence in her house was only affected by the constant rumbling of her old computer’s cooling fan.

*Buzzzzzz*

The doorbell rang and Ana got up with a jolt and hit her leg with the table. She hopped on one leg to the door and watched through the peephole to see who was it. She saw the opposite door and the empty hallway otherwise.

The doorbell rang again. She startled and immediately withdrew from the peephole. Little hesitant at first, she then opened the door to check on the prankster.

“Hello beta! It seems that my son has gone out and isn’t picking up my call right now. Can I wait at your place till he returns home again? He lives in that apartment… That one, with a laundry bag outside the door.” the old lady said pointing at the door at the end of the hallway.

Ana had never seen anyone go towards that flat and thought may be the guy must be having a different work shift was the reason for them never meeting.

She smiled and invited the old lady saying “Well, Come in…!”

The lady came in and looked around Ana’s house in amusement. “You’re pretty neat for your generation.”

Ana smiled and went on to bring some water for the lady.

“What does your son do? I haven’t actually seen him or anyone go towards that flat since I’ve been here. Does he work unusual shifts?” Ana enquired.

“I don’t know actually. We haven’t talked since a while. I live at our family house in suburbs and couldn’t visit him due to family commitments. This is my first time here in the city. He used to call everyday earlier, but then since a few months, he doesn’t call us that regularly. So I thought to surprise him with a visit.” Lady went on. “Work environment these days! Eats out your time like a leech and doesn’t allow you to spend time with the people you love. Isn’t it?”

Ana nodded in agreement, although she had ample time to spend with someone, just she didn’t have anyone to spend her time with.

The lady and Ana talked about varied topics and time flied soon. Ana talked with someone this long after a long time. She last talked for these many hours last time when she had visited her parents. But that was a long time ago.

After a while, the dearth of topics was understandable in their conversation. And the portion of silence went increasing between two conversations.

“So, you’re here to stay a while? As I had a really nice time with you Aunty, and would want to meet you again.” Ana said up brightly.

She saw the otherwise grim look on the lady’s face turn pleasant and happy to hear that. Probably she was lonely in her life too. Void of love and attention from her son, care from her other family members. Her wrinkled face seemed sore and tired of years of dedicated care-taking of her family, where her own wishes and needs had dried up like the moisture in her skin.

“So sweet of you beta. We will surely meet again if you want. Just come over to our house next time you feel like talking to anyone. You’re like my daughter, beta. I’d love to chit-chat with you.” Lady said smiling, the only time her folded face still looked beautiful.

Ana smiled and stood up “Excuse me for a second.” and went towards the washroom. She was happy to find someone with whom she could spend some time now that she wasn’t around her own family and friends. And an elder company is better once you grow up enough to get bored of the usual partying and wasting time at all crazy activities with your friends.

She came back, beaming “Aunty… I am terrible cook and you’ll have to teach me some dishes, so that I…”

The room was empty and the front door was open.

She went to the door and looked outside in the hallway. It was empty. Probably the lady’s son had come and took her home. But that was weird that she left without saying goodbye.

She went back to her couch, closing the door behind her. She looked at her computer and the boredom was returning, little faster than she had expected.

*Buzzzzzz*

The doorbell rang again. Ana went to answer the door and opened it without looking through the peephole. Probably it was the lady, come to explain her sudden exit.

It was the uncle next door. “Do you have today’s newspaper. There’s an ad that I have to check out.” the uncle continued in his usual withered tone.

“Yes uncle. One second…” and Ana went to bring the newspaper.

She handed him the newspaper and hesitantly asked him “Uncle do you know who lives in that last house, right at the end of the hallways.” Ana asked pointing towards the end house.

The uncle looked at the end of the hallway and looked back at her, his face paler than usual.

“That house is empty. No one lives there. The last tenant died in a car crash and the house has been empty since then.” the uncle answered her question, and asked with confusion on his face “Why?”

Ana was setback. “When did that happen? The accident?” She asked in a worried tone.

“Just a few months back. I don’t remember, but recently though.” the uncle said while scratching his bald head. “Okay thanks for the newspaper. Goodnight.” And he went on towards his house.

Ana nodded in reply of that farewell, but her head was filled with questions and worry. That lady must be unaware of the unfortunate accident with her son and was waiting for her son to call her since last few months. It wasn’t a surprise visit, it was  to calm down her anxiously worried heart. But it wasn’t going to calm down, not now.

Ana was staring at the opposite wall and her face was filled with worry. The uncle next door looked at her while opening his house door, and saw that expression.

“What’s up with you child? Any problem?” He asked as a friendly neighbor.

Ana let go of the staring-at-the-wall position and looked at him. “Does his family know about his death? Had anyone informed his family about the mishap?” she asked the obvious questions.

“Well of course. The story gets more sad here. The police had tracked down his family and had informed them about the incident. The body was delivered to them too for final rituals. I heard from others that everyone in their family was setback with the bad news. After all, the only son, only child to the parents died an unfortunate death. God bless!” he said while looking up, praying. “The boy was a good person. Never did we hear any complain about that section of our hallway. None from residents or visitors. Poor mother of his. They said that her mother was the most affected with the news. She wouldn’t believe that her son was no more in this world and would urge on to come visit her son here.”

Ana’s face was now all white with all these information. It was hard to digest all these facts at once.

“Her mother… She knows! Still… Where… How’s she now?” Ana asked in a uneasy voice.

The uncle replied with an even sad face “Oh she died, I hear. Couldn’t bear the pain I guess. Better that way. Than living in a pretense of his alive son. Anyway, why you ask about that family? You knew them?” the uncle asked, rather suspiciously.

But Ana was not in a position to answer that. She wasn’t in a position to answer any question for that matter. Last few hours were flashing before her eyes. That doorbell, that touch of her hand on her head when she had bent to touch her feet to ask her blessings. That whithered skin on her face. That beautiful smile, while the ever longing worry for her son. That desire to see her son in her eyes, that merriness and love in her voice when she talked about her son… What was that?

Ana closed the door without answering the uncle’s question. She didn’t bother to lock the door or to turn off the lights or to do anything for that sake, but went to her bed and lay there, her eyes closed. Her heart beating fast and with each beat, she felt that excruciating pain for that lady that couldn’t meet her son for the last time.

Her smiling face came to her thoughts and she remembered telling her that she wants to meet her again, that she liked to spend time with that lady…

The Unusual Driver

A lady returning from office, late at night on a desolated street, trying to find a cab but finds goons instead. Read on to find out how she manages to run away.
… …

The telephone rang after ages and its ring seemed extra loud, as if it was screaming for proving its existence.

Riya got surprised on hearing that unfamiliar sound. The call was from her home, they were tired of trying to reach her on her ever-silent cellphone.

It was half-past twelve, mid-night. By this time, the helper staff would have left the building and security personnel would have slept in their cabins. And Riya knew about this. She forgot to look at the clock in making the presentation more appealing. After all, it was her first big prospective order from a reputed client and she had to give her best.

She left the building after closing her office, rather reluctantly. She never liked to lock this building as she had grown a special attachment to this place. It was from here that she had started her own business, that was all hers – no dependence on anyone. But her business was growing and so was the need for a bigger office.

It was a business street and was covered with offices all the way to several intersections ahead. So, at night it seemed deserted and a little scary to people not familiar with this road.

Riya wasn’t afraid of this road, the darkness. She had walked on this street for all her life. She took the second exit from the first crossway. It was very easy to find a cab on that street, had it been a normal office leaving time. At this time, the street looked more deserted than the desert.

She went on walking while trying different apps to find a cab. But she couldn’t find anyone operating in that area at that time. And she could call for cab only if the cab is operating in the nearby vicinity. Technology has its limitations after-all.

She was desperately trying to get some service online when a gang of vagabonds appeared out of nowhere on the next carrefour. It seemed through their behavior that they were probably drunk. And it still wasn’t very safe for a lone girl pass by a group of men in this country.

She was wondering what to do, whether to take another road or to walk through that situation strongly, thinking positive or to walk while calling someone or pretending to do so… when a car horn startled her.

At once, her mind started shooting different thoughts – whether it’s another mob of trash people who have come to kidnap her or whether it’s just another patrol van, which will be more grievous for anyone at night as they will hypothesize a filmy situation of crime and adultery and will demand proof for one’s righteousness without having evidence of any offense.

When she turned she was happy to see the yellow colored number plate on the car. Finally, a cab had arrived on that forsaken street.

The cab stopped ahead of her and the driver looked directly at her without saying anything. She looked at him, saw the green light saying ‘Available’, was about to hop in the car, when thoughts started pouring in her mind again. Riya found it hard even to trust the cabbie.

The cab blew a squeaky horn that got her attention. She stopped again, and considered taking the cab. She saw those drunk strangers up ahead the crossway and found somehow more safer to go with a single stranger instead of a bunch of ’em.

She sat inside the cab and told him her destination. The cab driver started driving without a word. He didn’t even look back at her. However, Riya was constantly looking directly at him and then at the navigation in her cellphone. She kept an eye out for any wrong turn the cab might take.

He wore a normal sweatshirt and rugged pants with a not-matching cabbie hat. His dashboard was unacceptably clean for a taxi. And there was a small family picture pasted on the only empty space on the dashboard. The backdrop looked ancient, and the driver was weirdly young comparing his picture and his current face, Riya thought. The cab had a distinguishing smell, as if the upholstery was polished recently. The dashboard design was also very old compared to the cab nowadays.

“How come you don’t show up in the taxi app? I tried searching for cabs, but there weren’t any on the app.” Riya’s suspicion was still on.

“I haven’t connected my services with those apps. I still believe in the old ways. Streets were more safer back then.” driver replied without looking at her.

Riya looked at the antiquated taximeter, which was working surprisingly. She was comfortable to be sitting in an unregistered cab. But, she hadn’t enough options. She didn’t ask any further questions to the cabbie, and hoped to reach some active street, if not crowded at this hour.

All the things were causing her to be suspicious but then…

“Don’t worry madam. You’re safe now. Those drunk people, or anyone for that sake, won’t be a problem to you anymore.” Cabbie said.

Finally she trusted the cab driver enough to sit without suspicion. The cool breeze and the calm ride took Riya into a quick nap, unknowingly.

After a while, when she woke up, the engine sound was off. The car had stopped. She abruptly got up to see where she was. But then calmed down to see the familiar neighbourhood. She had reached her destination.

She turned to talk to the driver but stopped when she saw the driver was sitting without any movement or any motion whatsoever. She saw the meter for the fare and shuffled through her purse to get the money out. She dropped the amount in driver’s box without looking at the driver, where something caught her eye. The box was almost empty, but had a few old, outdated currency in it. That currency wasn’t in circulation since years.

“Thank you madam. You’ve paid generously.” the driver spoke in a weird voice.

Riya almost got a heart attack when she heard his husky, changed, broken voice. She dropped the currency notes that she was examining from the driver’s box at his abrupt break, and looked up to find that the driver had turned to look at her – for the first time all this while.

His face was deadened and a large, slant cut on his face that ran through his eyes agitated Riya. She stopped ajar at the sight of him, but she didn’t ask anything to him. She just smiled and hurriedly left the car. On her way out, she saw the rear-view mirror just for an instance but she couldn’t see the driver.

She panicked and ran a few steps. But then, she must have seen from a different angle, the driver must have shifted while she saw that mirror, or she might have just imagined that in her mind. She just wanted to take another look at that scarred face, to see that vintage cab again and feel that smell of new polish, she wanted to ask the cabbie how he got that scar, she wanted to take another look inside that mirror… she wanted to thank him from dropping her at the right place.

Having walked just a few steps from the car, she gathered all her courage and turned back towards the cab. Out of all the things that she could imagine, she wouldn’t have imagined this.

The car had turned from a vintage car to a scrap, and was broken into trash as if a truck had hit it. The windows were broken and sparks were flaring up the car. There was once a moment that she could see the driver burning inside the cab. The driver’s head turned back in his seat and saw directly towards Riya through the rear window.

Riya was terrified deep down to her every nerve that she couldn’t even move an inch at that horrific sight.

Just a blink and everything in front of her disappeared. As if the car was never there, the cabbie was her imagination and all these events were just pen downed by some horror-stricken writer; the street ahead of Riya was as clean and as empty as ever. The night was calm and silent again.

But then, she had come all this way from her office to her home. It just cannot be an imagery all inside her head. Can it?

There are many streets untraveled by people at night. And this cab lurks around those roads, not to harm anyone, but to prevent a harm.

But would you trust it? …If you find one that is, or if it finds you…

Saving for the Birth

A taradiddle about a Pigeon’s desparate attempts to save its egg and give birth to its baby.
… …

In the last days of winters, the man woke up to hear a rumbling sound in the balcony. It was the pigeon flapping its wings for some reason. It flew away into darkness as soon as the man opened the door to the balcony. Tumbling, toppling, it managed to find its way to the nearby balcony, but never let go its gaze off the man’s balcony.

Then he ignored it and went away to sleep. As soon as the man went back to sleep, the pigeon came back to the balcony and made sounds. This time the man let it be like that, probably he felt that the pigeon too should get a good night sleep.

After a few days, the man returned to his balcony. The pigeon sitting there flew away instantly, and sat on the opposite balcony. The man loved to see the sunset, and so he saw… The sun was about to sink into the ground, but the clouds of impurity released from the chimney of a thermal station had already started corroding sunlight. The sun slowly gave up its fight against that smoke and sank into the path from which smoke came out. The chimney finally ate out the sun…

The man watched the sunset thinking thousands of things in his life, when he came to know that the pigeon was still watching him constantly without moving anywhere. He found it weird that the pigeon had so much interest. After watching around the balcony, he came to know that the pigeon had laid an egg in one corner of the balcony, and was worriedly watching over for that egg.

The man closed the door of the balcony, giving the pigeon privacy to care for its egg.

For few days, the man never opened the balcony door, thinking that it would scare away the pigeon and would have to leave its egg vulnerable.

But one day, the constant crowing of a crow woke up the man. He went outside to see what was wrong with that crow. The crow was sitting on the opposite balcony, with his eyes on the man’s balcony. And the pigeon couple was constantly flying in his balcony and going away. The man understood that the crow meant to harm the egg and the pigeon couple was trying to save their kid.

The man helped the pigeon to shoo away that crow after a few tries of throwing different twigs and stones at the crow. But the man feared that the crow would return again. So, he brought an old pot from his house and kept it in the balcony. He wanted to put the egg inside it, but worried that the pigeons might think otherwise.

So, again for few days, he didn’t open the door of the balcony for the pigeons to figure out the arrangement themselves.

The pigeons, naturally, feared the man that he might capture them or harm their egg. But they also knew that the man had once ignored the egg and so probably, the crow was their bigger enemy. Turn by turn, they started guarding for the egg, thereby, one pigeon would always stay for the protection of the egg. But, as the crow was more powerful that the pigeons, they had to find some other alternative.

They saw the pot everyday, but never went inside it, thinking that it might just be another trap built by the humans.

But after a few days, mother pigeon took courageous step by jumping into the pot. She managed to jump in after several failed attempts, and as soon as she jumped, the whole pot wobbled due to the round bottom of the pot. The pigeon grabbed on to the floor till the pot was stable. Then it tried coming out of the pot. With several attempts again, it managed to make that perfect jump to directly come out of the pot.

This way, it knew that the pot was a perfect place to build a nest, where its egg and even the future baby pigeon will be safe from that crow, as the crow will not be able to fit through the pot mouth.

The movement of the pot and the sound of wobbling woke up the man at night. He knew that the pigeons have finally understood his intention and was happy for that. Next morning, he opened the balcony door to see what the pigeons did for all those days. The pot had moved its place from one edge to the other in the balcony, probably due to constant moving and wobbling with its round bottom surface. When the man saw inside the pot, it was filled one-forth with twigs and sticks, the worst designed bird nest he had seen so far.

He put the egg on the top the nest and went away.
After a few days, the man saw inside the pot and found that the pigeon was comfortably sitting on the egg inside the pot.

Suddenly, the pigeon inside the pot came to know about the man watching and it made a jump to come out of the pot, hastily. Its hurried attempts were more prone to failure than its earlier attempts. So, it failed to come out of the pot and stayed in there, scared, afraid of the man. The man smiled at his attempts and quietly went back inside the house, closing the door softly.

Soon, the pigeon got out of the pot and flew away, the man heard from the other side of the door.

This continued for a few days. Soon, the pigeon understood that the man meant no harm and so it didn’t attempt running away as soon as the man opened the balcony door. However, it constantly would see through the pot mouth towards the man and his movements. Fear of humans for animals is not so easily curable, after all the things that we do to them.

The egg soon started to show signs of nearby hatch-time. And the pigeon too, started being more and more concerned for the egg when the man came out into the balcony. It would now cover the egg completely and look at the man until the door is closed fully, even during nights.

After a few days, the man heard quiver movements of the pot and heard a shriek like sound of an animal. He came out of in the balcony to see the pot and saw that there was a tiny little head of a baby pigeon coming out of the egg. The mother or father pigeons were not around. The man watched the baby push its legs out of the egg and falling on the nest ground. It didn’t look anything like a pigeon. It was dark, brown-black in color and was so tiny that it didn’t even look like a bird. It made a cry like sound that the man had never heard a pigeon make. Was that egg of some other bird, the man thought.

But the sight of baby pigeon being born and come out of its egg was the best thing he had ever seen.

The mother pigeon and father pigeon came flying to the balcony. Mother pigeon went directly inside the pot, even with the man standing out in the balcony. And the father pigeon waited outside, standing on the railings, watching the man’s movements.

The man felt that he should probably leave the family alone and hence, he closed the door and went back to sleep.

After a few days, again the baby pigeon was alone in the pot. It crying sounds that made the man very uncomfortable. What was with that kid, he thought. He went outside and saw that baby pigeon. It made no movements as he saw the man looking at it. The man observed it for sometime and then went back. The pigeon started crying again. The man came back with some broken pieces of food, crushed it and put it into the pot. But the bird took no notice of that. It kept looking at the man, fear in its eyes.

The man left the kid alone and after a few days, when he again saw inside the pot. The mother pigeon was sitting with the baby pigeon, and those bits and pieces of food that he had put inside were as they were. Not even one piece was eaten by them. Don’t trust anything human, pigeon eyes said.

One fine morning, the man came out to see the pot again. The baby pigeon was sitting inside quietly and the mother and father pigeon were not there. Probably to bring him some food, he thought. He went back inside. After a few hours, he heard rumbling of the pot, as if the pigeon was moving in and out of it hurriedly.

He went out to see that the baby pigeon was out of the pot. He got scared and tried persuading the baby bird to go back inside the pot. It wasn’t safe for him to go out on its own, he couldn’t even fly properly.

The man tried going towards picking him up, but that made the bird fear and jump away from him. The bird jumped to. E edge of the balcony and this scared the man. If the baby fell off the balcony he wouldn’t even be able to fly.

Seeing that, the man quickly went inside the house and peeked through the small space. The baby pigeon climbed on the top of the pot, but wasn’t quite sure as to how to jump into the pot. He had not tried it once and there was no one to teach him. The man wished that the parent pigeons come back soon as the kid would only listen to them.

The baby pigeon was not able to jump inside, probably afraid of getting hurt. It went and sat in a corner of the balcony and started making small squeaking sounds.

The man closed the door and waited for the parent pigeons to come. His heart still wanted to help the kid, but his brain knew that the baby bird will get afraid of him and won’t accept his help. He felt sad that the image of humans was so scary for these animals.

After some time, the baby pigeon stopped squeaking, and there was a rumbling sound of the pot. Finally the parents pigeon were back and they would help the baby bird back into the pot, thought the man. After a while. when all sounds stopped, he went out to look inside the pot.

There was nothing in the pot, just the empty nest. The baby bird was not in the balcony. Only two-three small feathers of baby bird were lying in one corner. The man saw around in the precincts for some sign, but there was no one there. No baby pigeon and no parent pigeons. Could the baby bird have flown away? But how could he have! He was so little!

A crow came flying on the opposite balcony. He landed on his legs over the railing and the man saw some feathers fly out of his legs, which were not his own black feathers. They were brownish blue feathers.

The man understood what had happened.

Mother pigeon came flying and sat on the railing of the man’s balcony. It made some sounds, then looking at the man, it jumped on the top of the pot and saw inside. Waited for some time, then saw at the man again. And then flew away.

The crow looked back at the man and flew away, probably with bird smirk on its face. The pigeons never came back.

A tear came gushing out of the man’s eyes… If only, the bird wasn’t so afraid of the man, he could’ve helped it, he thought.

A Visit to the Human Shop

How the world would have been if we were not at the top of the food chain…

A animal kid narrates down his day’s experience at the human shop.

… …

I was very excited that day. I had never been to a Human Shop before. My friends told me that it’s a paradise for shopping for human products. You can find all the articles ans artifacts made from or relating to humans.

At the entrance, there was a huge statue of human. He looked so cute, and even more delicious! I wondered how others can be vegetarian! I felt the hunger as soon as I saw this little fellow…

I entered the main hall and whoa! I was left open-jawed! So many shops… So many shops!! (Repeated for emphasis)

The place was filled with animals of all kinds. From carnivores to herbivores, from four legged to two legged, from land animals to birds… It was a carnival at that place.

I understood that the crowd was due to the announcement last week about a special sale on human products this whole week. No one in their right mind would let such an opportunity pass.

My eyes instantly went to the apparels store. I couldn’t stop myself from rolling my paws over the smooth human skinned jacket. The smell of the skin was so overwhelming.

I grabbed the jacket and went to the trial room. And as soon as I put it on, it felt a part of my body. I couldn’t let it go away from myself.

Wow and they had brought new collection! So many patterns of beautifully made human skin apparels! I just wanted them all…

I looked for the stuff I wanted. But it was hard to overlook other collection as well. The shopaholic in me was coming out of the cocoon.

Main shopping being done at the apparels store, next I went too the food section, my personal favourite…

Ah the smell of hot human fries and human spicy delight..! I couldn’t resist myself from dancing and hopping towards the smell.

I ordered Eyeball salad for starters along with some wine, and started scanning the menu for next dish to order.

While choosing from so many options, I even got carried away by the snapshots of human dishes printed on the menu. I hoped this restaurant made these dishes as tasty as they looked good in these pictures.

I finally ordered my favourite saucy finger-rolls and crunchy meat balls.

While the cook inside was testing my patience, I looked around to see what was happening. All sorts of animals were having a fun time. I saw kids playing with their human hand toy, beating each other. While two adults were discussing business in a corner. And next to me a young dog couple was tasting each other’s parts.

The doors of the kitchen opened and I headed the cries of those humans while the cook was trying to get the hold of it to chop his head off. Poor thing I felt, but tasty my stomach said… After all, what good use are they otherwise!

My order finally arrived and I ate each piece of human with utmost delight. That taste of its roasted skin, that crunch of its deep fried pieces and those delicious finger-rolls… With chili sauce! Yummm!

Now that my stomach was satisfied, I switched back to shopping.

My friends had also shared with me about a human pet shop. I went to that section and saw to my surprise, there were so many human pets available there.

There were cute ones, new-born ones, athlete ones and simple homely types. I observed each one of them. It is said that you can’t just choose your pet, your pet should choose you too.

It happened with me. A new born one looked at me and I looked at it. It was so cute and so innocent. I instructed the shopkeeper to open the cage and let me try my luck with this little human.

When I took it in my hand, it cuddled me so innocently. I felt like it was telling me to take him away from this cage. I purchased my first pet…

I also bought a nice iron strap to tie its upper body. It would be risky to trust a human without precautions.

As I was going out, I saw a huge and scary human. It was uttering something in anger. I asked the shopkeeper why was it so weird. The shopkeeper replied that it was a blood-hound type. It was used as a security helper. Usually by police, they were very good at protective instincts.

I felt good that humans are useful in several distinctive ways. Good we animals discovered so many ways of using these humans!!

Next I went to the furniture shop. My dad had asked me to buy some good human heads to hang on the walls of our office. It brings good luck they said.

But it wasn’t easy to buy human heads. They had to be cleaned and washed with chemicals so that they don’t smell or get spoiled due to defabrication.
I bought a few other items like fresh human hair, some household items from the Bones store. The bones store here was famous for having freshly extracted bones which were thrice chemically washed and polished to keep them shiny and dust-free.

My time was running out. I went to the last section for the day – the Human Zoo.

Here, at The Human Shop, the Zoo was way different than the normal Zoo outside. It was a museum cum exhibition cum sanctuary of different kinds of humans. All races, all types of humans were collected from different parts of the world and showcased here.

There was a history section were we could see the artificially made sculptures of extinct human races. I read few of the exhibits and found them to be so informative.

There were few live human cages where we could see humans live and survive. The way humans communicated with each other was so weird. I couldn’t understand anything. But there are animals who study in this subject and they have researched that humans have highly developed communication techniques amongst other animals. Interesting, ain’t it?!

I moved on to the circus section of the Zoo where humans were trained and maintained to do entertaining and dangerous tricks.

The lion sir made a human stand on one leg with a whiplash. Then the human balanced with one leg on a ball! So cool!

Then Giraffe sir and Elephant sir threw the human over the ropes where it clinged on to the ropes and did some amazing stunts.

I wondered what humans would have done in this world if they were given complex brain structure like us animals…

Science sections had practical demonstrations of human body and their natural system.

In one show they showed human body and its parts by operating a live one infront of us. I couldn’t watch that sight so I moved on.

In another, they showed human reproducting system. Two humans were made to get intimate and the speaker explained how their natural breeding practice was similar to ours.

Everything there was so interesting and informative. But as we all know, time is never enough…

My day was over and now I had to go home. I took all my purchases and my pet with me to the cab pickup point.

I called a human cart. I instructed the handler to ride me to my destination. He whip-splashed the human hard enough that it jumped and started running at one instant. I personally hated the way these human were treated and beaten up for carting. But we didn’t have any other faster transportation.

Sometimes, we animals treat these humans in ways so in-animal. But what can be done..! After all, they were supposed to help us animals…

On my way home, I thought about how humans were exploited by us animals. I thought of so many ways in which the conditions could be made better. But this is what we all do, isn’t it? We just speak about it and do nothing…

I paid the cart handler and stroke the human on its back. It had tears in his eyes… Probably some day, things will turn out better for these human beings.

The Thing

A taradiddle about a girl, traveling in a bus, who gets a weird dream while sleeping in her compartment, and a series of bizarre events after that.

… …

The constant brushing of the curtains over her face was annoying her. The whisking of wind from a tiny creak in the window was to be blamed; along with the poor locking system which let window to slide open with inertia of bus movements. It was an overnight journey and she had to have a sound sleep, for the next day was gonna be hectic, she knew it.

Initially, she had woken up frequently to fold those curtains up or to shut that window tight, but then she just let it be. It was better that way that she stopped bothering about that. It almost felt as if the wind had stopped gusting through the gap; as if the bus had stopped and she was at peace… Wait, why was it feeling like the bus had stopped?

She woke up with a sudden suspicion.

The bus was, indeed, at rest. She peaked out through the half open window. There was darkness ahead as far as she could see. She let out her head from the window a little further to see behind the bus and ahead. The roadside was covered with dark, huge trees and the road had no lamps or streetlights. There must be some problem ahead at the road and she had expected there to be a long line of vehicles standing on the road resulting in a jam. But, no. The road was empty and only her bus stood there.

She immediately opened her compartment to talk to other fellow passengers, but to her bewilderment, there was no one else in the bus. All the sitting seats were empty, and the other sleeping compartment doors were open. There was no movement or sound inside the bus. She looked towards the driver compartment, where she could not see any movement either.

She stepped down from her compartment and moved towards the exit. On her way, she saw that all the compartments were normal, showed no sign of hurried evacuation. Personal effects and baggage were kept as is as they were supposedly kept by the owner.

When she reached the driver seat, she saw that the engine was off, but the head lamps were on. Even the key was hanging near the ignition switch.

She stepped down from the bus. She could see a few meters ahead on the road due to the bus headlights pointing ahead. It was pitch dark all around except that.

The bus passage lights were not on, which was weird as they were supposed to be switched on every time the bus stopped.

The bus was parked in a weird fashion, as if it was hurriedly stopped, without properly parking it at the edge of the road.

One after other, she could see weirdness around her and her mind seemed to be quite conversant at finding such spooky things.

She moved around the bus for some clues. She even called out in the open for someone to come, but all she got back was her echo. She couldn’t find anything around the bus which could explain the stoppage of bus in the middle of nowhere and the disappearance of other passengers and crew.

She continued walking away from the bus with anticipation to find some help. She kept on looking back at the bus. She didn’t want to go farther than the point where bus tail lights would not be visible.

She thought of informing her family and friends about the situation. She got out the phone, turned it on and checked for reception. However, there was no network. Even the emergency numbers did not work. She couldn’t connect to the operator or anyone for that sake, and her phone was useless at that point with respect to communication.

She left a message in her outbox saying “URGENT” for testing purpose, sent to her own number. She thought that when the reception will be back, she would know it and will call someone for help; as it was late and no one would be awake to see her message at this hour.

^BAAAM^

She was startled by that sound. It was the sound of the horn of the bus. She turned back to see the bus. It stood there without any motion. She waited for some time looking at the bus. Was that horn real or just her imagination? If it was real, who was that?

She started moving towards the bus, but then slowed her pace as she approached the bus. Still there was no sign of movement around the bus. And who could have blown that horn!

She stopped for a while before glancing inside the bus through the entry door. Then gave a quick glance at the driver seat.

It was empty.

She climbed up the bus and checked all the compartments, and all the seats. There was no one. She moved outside the bus again, and moved around the bus to see who it was, while screaming out loud “Who’s there?”.

No one answered her call, neither did she find anything peculiar.

Exhausted with fright, she moved back inside the bus, went towards her compartment. But then she suddenly realized that the key to start the bus was there in the jack. She ran towards the driver’s seat, saw that the key was still there. She managed to get on the driver seat.

She saw the surroundings of the bus through the side mirrors. There was no sign of anyone. She took a deep breath and turned the key to start the ignition. The engine made a few desperate sounds of starting and then stopped. She tried again, and again, but the engine didn’t start.

She hit on the driving wheel hard with her hands and put her head on the wheel. She started crying. After a while, she gathered hope again and decided to try one more time. She pulled herself upright again and moved her hand towards the key, when suddenly the lights of the bus, those which were on, went out with a snap.

It was complete darkness now. She couldn’t see anything. She tried her luck with the key, but it did not work. Probably the power was out. She started crying again while desperately trying to turn the lights on by switching random switches on and off on the dashboard. But nothing worked.

She slowly got up from the driver’s seat and turned on the phone’s flashlight. She could see a few metres ahead, but not so much. Sobbing, and frightened at the same time, she moved towards her compartment, taking each step carefully, looking around her while moving her flashlight in different directions.

When she had reached her compartment, she turned back to see towards the exit door, and as soon as she turned, her flashlight fell on that dark thing standing right behind her all this while.

Her heart stopped beating, she was aghast till the core and she dropped the phone on the floor. The flashlight revealed several parts of that thing but not fully, while the phone was falling, rotating on the way, towards the floor.

As soon as the phone hit the floor, the flashlight turned off and it was dark again.

She raised her hand to see if the thing was there still. She couldn’t feel anything. So she tried hitting hard infront of her with her fist, thinking to hit the thing hard on its chest, but her hand hit only the air. There was nothing in front of her.

She thought she must have been dreaming all this due to fright and tension. She bent down to pick her mobile phone, just when she felt a push from behind and came collapsing on the floor.

She yelled in horror and struggled to get up from the floor. While she was scrambling on the floor, she felt that something touched her stomach on the floor. Probably an insect, she quickly crawled ahead in alarm.

But it wasn’t any insect. Something grabbed her feet and pulled her back. She turned over to see what it was, when suddenly a hand-like thing came out of the floor and grabbed her by her waist. She struggled to move out of it, but the thorns-like things in the hand-like thing pierced her and gave her terrible pain.

She pulled hard to get out of that thing, but the pointy things were stuck in her T-shirt. She torn apart her T-shirt and came out of that thing. She had gotten hurt at several places on her chest and blood had started rushing out of those wounds.

She felt terrible pain at those wounds, but ignoring that she ran towards the bus exit. She slipped on the steps at the exit door and fell on the steps and hit her head on assisting poles near the steps. She gathered herself on the floor, while gasping difficult breaths, she pulled herself up using the poles and turned towards the door. But the door was closed.

She tried pushing the door and hit it with her hands several times, but it just won’t bulge. She felt miserable. With blood rushing out of the wounds on her bare chest and with new cuts and bruises on her bare thighs, she had a hard time staying up on her legs.

She shouted at that thing to show itself and asked her in desparation as to what it wants from her and why is it hurting her. Nothing happened. No reply came from the darkness inside the bus. She started crying again and asked the same questions to darkness.

She decided to break the glass and move out of this damn bus. She looked around for some object to use to break the plastic glass. Just then, she felt a strong sensation of heat over various parts of her body – her legs, her shoulder and her waist. She couldn’t move at all, as if something was having a tight grip upon her.

The plastic glass in front of her started cracking. It started bulging and came out of the hooks of the frame. And then it turned into a shape of a cone, with the pointed thing pointing towards her. She shouted with all her might, whatever was left of it, for help. But that wasn’t gonna help her much. The pointed cone glass moved towards her fast and went straight into her stomach…

She woke up clenching her chest and yelling. She was panting and sweating while in her compartment. She pulled her T-shirt upside to see if there were any cuts on her front. But there was no sign of any injury. She quickly glanced outside the bus window. The bus was moving.

Relieved that it was just a dream, she cleared perspiration off her face and drank some water. She was still traumatized due to the disgusting dream and felt as if the pain was real. This time, the wind, the moving curtain or the smell inside the compartment didn’t bother her. She went back to sleep while praying to God.

Just then, the bus slowed suddenly and stopped with a light jerk.

Immediately, she sat upright and was about to look outside her window, when a notification popped up on her phone’s screen: “URGENT”.

“I want my life to be like a movie!”

A small chat with (fictional) grandpa, and an advice about living life we ought not forget.

… …

xgikdy

I was sitting on my couch with TV remote in one hand and an expression on my face saying that I hated my life.

My Grandpa came in the room and sat on his chair. He watched me change the channel frequently which was almost every minute. Then he got up and went back to his room.

I was relieved thinking that another opportunity of talking with him was avoided. Phewww… I was bored already, spare me from yet another long lecture.

Soon after, he came out with his regular diary and started scribbling down.

I watched him for a while. He kept on scribbling something in his decade old diary. He did that a lot. And by a lot, trust me, a lot!

“Don’t you get bored doing that all the time?” I couldn’t resist myself from asking.

“Nope.” Said he without even looking up.

After another few minutes of changing the channels I asked him “How can you like your life when you have nothing exciting to do?”

He finished his last para without answering me anything. Then he kept his stuff aside and looked directly at me.

“It all depends on how you define excitement…”

I made a confused expression at him.

“Why do you think that there’s no excitement in my life?” he asked. His eyes behind his round glasses showed excitement already.

“All you do is roam around the house with no work to do. Half the times you keep on humming your old songs, which I don’t understand, and at times you write those stories and stuff in your diary. There’s no wow moment in your day or any shock moment at all. Sometimes you fall asleep sitting in your chair, which gets me so scared at times. Where’s excitement in all this?” I blabbered out.

“Is your life exciting enough for you?” he asked a question, keeping all my questions aside. I hated when he did that, but he will weave everything together I knew it.

“Nope. And that annoys me a lot. When I see in my past, there was lot of excitement all the time. New people to meet, new places to go, new things to learn… There was always something to look forward to. Now all I do is work all day long. There’s nothing to do on weekends but another kind of work. Nothing excites me. I miss da old times…” I said in a fashion, which felt weird afterwards.

He kept on looking at me for a while, then said “So how do you want your life to be like?”

I was waiting for this question. “I want my life to be filled with emotions and zest. I should not be having even a single second of boredom. One after other, there should be some or other adventure. Nothing should repeat in my life. Every new day should be a new episode of life. In a way, I want my life to be a movie…”

My eyes were gleaming with elation. My fantasies and dreams had rushed out of those tiny little imaginative eyes with a thrill on my face.

“Isn’t it already a movie?” he asked.

“No way! And even if it is, it is hell of a boring story!” I said.

“Hmm… You remember all of your days back in your past?” He asked.

“No. Just a few moments.” I answered.

“And why’s that?” he asked.

I wanted to say ‘How am I supposed to remember everything?’, but this was a trick question I knew it. So I just shrugged.

He continued “Your life is already a movie if you look at it. When you go back in your past, all you see is those moments which were extreme for you, be it anger, happiness or grief. You will remember only the best of episodes. And all the boring normal stuff will not come to your mind.”

“You feel bored in present. And fear that future will be more boring. You want twists and turns every minute in your life – like movies. But tell me one thing… How long is your favorite movie?”

“Around 3 hours…?” we both said together.

“And your life is stretched for more than 20 million times of that.”

He took a pause for letting me chew over that.

“You’ve not even reached intermission in your life. And you think that it’s boring already? If you scale down your whole life to 3 hours time, see how excitement fills up the empty spaces. It may not be as dramatic as an actual movie, but why don’t you make it that way?”

“My dear child, each one of us here… has a life like a movie story. Only the genre is decided by us. You like comedy, comedy it is. You like action movie, action it is. But if you stretch a movie to 70 years long life, there are bound to be empty spaces, boring frames in between. Accept that boredom and live on… Make the movie worth the ticket price.” 😉

He completed with a winking eye and went along humming his old song. I still couldn’t understand what he was singing, but yes, his words were engraved in my mind.