Flash Fiction

An Old Tune

Flash Fiction

*

Nibbling the leaves and thorns, reaching for its yellow flowers, suddenly, Jhui-Mui the little goat made a novel request to the Khejri tree, “please tell me a story.”

Jhui-Mui’s mum and other goats chuckled a bit, then continued surfing the shrubs spread around the Khejri tree for shade, water and love.

The tree which gave, for centuries, both food and medicine to all, with its ground bark to make a flour during the very many parched famine days, and its deep-deep roots that held the soil and directed the researchers to the cool water table, the desert’s old friend, Khejri, knew a pocketful of folktales too.

The Khejri tree told Jhui-Mui the little goat about a four-hundred-year-old tree, one who belongs to its own family, but lives in a far-off desert, alone on a barren hill, with roots fifty meters deep and long groovy, harmonious branches that welcomes every traveller and every story.

“What is its name?”, asked the beady eyed, happy Jhui-Mui. “The Tree of Life”, replied the Khejri tree and hummed an old tune that filled the arid air with cool magic.

No one spoke, everyone listened then.

*

The Tree of Life (Shajarat-al-Hayat), humming an old tune, in Bahrain.
[Source – Wikimedia Commons]

*


Weekly Newsletter

A weekly dose of stories! Get the posts from the Chiming Stories in your inbox and read it when you can. Subscribe now, it is free!


Recent Posts


“Smile”, says the Girl and Laughs

Flash Fiction
The grand mountains and the evening sky = peace.
Image by enriquelopezgarre from Pixabay.

What a wonderful, serene scene this is… I love mountains.

[Dev breathes in the cool air, then walks ahead and clicks pictures using his new camera; the funky-funny-machine-like clicking repeated sound is in sharp contrast to the peaceful silence present.]

Hmm… Hey, Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me/ I’m not sleepy and there is no place I’m going to/ Hey, Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me/ In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come following you…

[Dev walks ahead; his rough shoes making imprints on the kind earth; he continues humming and the wind plays the tune; he then stops and clicks another photograph.]


Who’s that? Does not look like a tourist… she is… why is she standing… on the edge of the cliff?

“Excuse me, you are standing on the edge… the cliff is quite steep… just, just be careful.”

[The girl does not pay much attention to him; she is looking at the grand mountains and the evening sky.]

What is with this girl… she is clearly… oh!

[Dev suddenly starts running; camera in one hand, he rushes, gazing like an eagle at the girl.]

“Hey! Wait! What… what are you doing?”

“Calm down, it is alright”, said the girl curtly.

[Dev halts; panting he takes a step forward and then looks up in the sky; he then presses his forehead with two fingers and sets his hairstyle before looking at the girl again.]

“I thought… I… I thought you are about to jump… sorry!”

[The girl smiles and goes back to looking at the picturesque scene. Dev feeling embarrassed hits his head gently and starts walking away.]


“Will you click a photograph for me? Such a peaceful place this is”, said the girl mesmerised by the view.

“Oh, yeah, sure”, said Dev.

Should I take her photograph or just the mountains…? Oh, she is looking at me and smiling, definitely posing for the camera.

“One moment, please”, said Dev.

[He changes the settings on his Canon DSLR and then gets ready to click the photo.]

Hmm… she is beautiful…

[As Dev sets the frame with the girl to the left side and the mountains in the centre, the girl takes a step backwards and jumps. The camera slips from Dev’s hand and he rushes towards the edge.]

Oh, no, oh, no!

[Dev gulps dry air and peeks down the cliff, he cannot see her anywhere. His heart beats madly and his head starts to spin.]

What just… she, she… jumped!

*

[Dev again looks down, a gush of wind hits him, this time it is playing another melody. Dev fails to recognise this tune. Dev steps back from the edge of the cliff, takes out his cell phone and turns; he dials the emergency helpline number and looks up. The girl is standing with his camera in her hands.]

“Smile”, says the girl.

[Dev blackouts. The girl laughs.]

*


Weekly Newsletter

A weekly dose of stories! Get the posts from the Chiming Stories in your inbox and read it when you can. Subscribe now, it is free!


Recent Posts


Intervals

Moony music in the air!
[Source – Pixabay]

The beach was audible to her in intervals. She walked bare feet on the sand and still didn’t smile. Rhea had muffled thoughts, a cluster of it, covering her face. And that is why she couldn’t see the beautiful, starry canvas right above her. The sky didn’t twinkle, the waves didn’t play music for her. Like a ghost, locked in some tragic seconds, she moved slowly, that pale thing or maybe the world moved around her, and she stood still.

But the beach was audible to her in intervals. And she unconsciously moved towards the ocean. The interval ended, but it was too late for her to be locked back again… a wave rushed towards and caught her. Rhea took a deep breath and looked down, her feet were wet, the waves danced forward and backward. She smiled before she could stop herself.

Rhea could now hear the gushing ocean, see the sparkling stars, feel the cool wind and the cool sand. She started walking, this time not shying from the waves. She sauntered along the shore, opening her arms and welcoming the wind, the waves and the night sky… the interval overpowered unbeknownst to her.

 


Weekly Newsletter

A weekly dose of stories! Get the posts from the Chiming Stories in your inbox and read it when you can. Subscribe now, it is free!


Recent Posts


Me-The-Kind

Going up, coming down, the stone steps remain the same.
[Source – Pixabay]

Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.

Simone Weil

Stone steps lead up to a place I am yet to see. Dealing with the quietness interrupted intermittently by sweet songs of the birds, I continue ahead. My mind usher some unwanted thoughts and force me to dwell on and on and on, until I refuse, pause and take a deep breath. Don’t inquire for I don’t know why I am smiling, but I am and it has opened the collection of happy memories. Beaming face feels like being in an ocean of flowers. I start knitting happy thoughts with the golden thread of dreams and everything seems possible, the world is mine. A castle is constructed, my reign flourishes in seconds and in seconds I see my downfall. When I gather the broken pieces and stand up, I see the stone steps staring at me. No dialogues are exchanged, and I continue ahead.

I wake up, and then I don’t think much of this dream. I am already late to rush into my monotonous routine. The running time never bargains while I always find a reason to… though haven’t cracked a deal even once.

The whole day I critique myself, like a ritual, except when the dream hushes me-the-perfect and me-the-kind takes over.


Weekly Newsletters

A weekly dose of stories! Get the posts from the Chiming Stories in your inbox and read it when you can. Subscribe now, it is free!


Recent Posts


Ellinikí Glóssa

Flash Fiction
Cherubic bookmark.
[Source – Pixabay]

A crumpled piece of paper, resting in an old library book, smoothened by time.

Intrigued by it, Bakul quickly rushed to a corner. She read the words loud and clear ‘Ellinikí Glóssa’.

Unsure of what it means, she fabricated a story– it is a secret message meant for someone. Yes! Beaming like a sunflower beams on seeing the sun, Bakul crossed the corridor, then the stairs. Students saw her and thought, ‘ye to gayi firse’ (she has lost it again).

Bakul looked at you, yes you, the reader and said with dreamy eyes and a wide smile – “Let us find out what the secret message is.

A turn and Bakul bumped into her teacher.

“Sorry Sir”, “Bakul! Be careful girl! And what’s in your hand, what are you up to this time?”, “Sir, Rekha Ma’am is looking for you”, “Quiet Bakul, show me… eh… Ellinikí Glóssa… so now you’re interested in Greek language, hm?”, “Sirrrrr… this is in Greek?”, “Don’t waste your time and submit your assignment by Monday, okay?”

Bakul nodded. Sir turned to leave, then stopped, “Where did you say Rekha Ma’am is… in the staff room?” “Hee-hee-hee”, “Bakul, wait, you silly girl!”

Alone in the corridor, she looked again at you, yes you, the reader (don’t you remember?) and said with starry and mischievous eyes– “Am I interested in Greek Language?” She then winked at you.


Well, she must have found out the answer to this question by now. What do you think?

Anyway, peace out!


Weekly Newsletter

A weekly dose of stories! Get the posts from the Chiming Stories in your inbox and read it when you can. Subscribe now, it is free!


Recent Posts


Unforgettably Yours

Flash Fiction

I dare you to forget not. Forget what not? Try to remember… remember that day when…

… for the first time you crawled… you struggled to walk… you hopped all along… you won a race… you tap danced with grace… you came in style… you left wearing a smile… you befriended the walking stick… you crawled for the second time…

… for the first time you were loved… you were pampered… you were jealous… you were told to share… you were lonely… you made a friend… you believed in dreams… you knew true joy… you hurt yourself… you stood up… you worshipped time… you quietly realised… you happily understood… you loved them back…

… for the first time you felt you knew absolutely nothing… you followed their path… you managed to survive… you built a new track… you knew right is right and wrong, wrong… you travelled in time… you accepted the change… you thoroughly read writings in brief… you said of course… you said not at all… you repented and laughed at the mistake… you cheered your take… you declared that you still knew absolutely nothing…

Everything is forgotten on the way, but the journey goes on… the journey that is unforgettably yours.

*

“Don’t forget now, alright? Go, leave, carry on!”
[Image by Lin Tong from Pixabay]

Weekly Newsletter

A weekly dose of stories! Get the posts from the Chiming Stories in your inbox and read it when you can. Subscribe now, it is free!


Recent Posts


Stopping to get a Rhythm Check

O rose!
[Source – Pixabay]

Just then, when the wheel turned, the rose fell on the grass and I fell along, the music within me found a new rhythm. I quietly listened to it, resisting the magic at first as I was hurt, but then tears always dry in the end. I got up and walked in suspense, unknown to me before. Bathed in the new rhythm, I paced up and ahead. Trying to catch the music in the air, I ran and reached near a green pond. I had a smile on my face by then. Curious! I tried to fathom the quietness that permeated the air. With a queer yet happy faith in things around me, I started to dance, round the pond… hmm… laa-la-laa-laa. The pond somewhere was hiding a piano, the branches a violin and the beetles, drums. It started to drizzle and I stopped dancing. Sitting by the side of the pond, cross legged, playing with a twig unconsciously, my mind went silent or maybe it was thinking something of its own.

She met the swans!
Don’t remember if I did too.

[Source – Pixabay]

Like it happens in life, the image and the music fades away, leaving a consolation named ‘it is just the past’. But luckily, I still relish that experience sometimes. Let the memory play tricks I say. What fades within, stays within forever and often takes you beyond… that’s enough, isn’t it? If you happen to turn the wheel and fall on the ground along with a rose, you’ll know that it is.


Weekly Newsletter

A weekly dose of stories! Get the posts from the Chiming Stories in your inbox and read it when you can. Subscribe now, it is free!


Recent Posts


Papa and the Crimson Clouds

The huge tree under a crimson sky.
Image – Pixabay.

Papa said, ‘I am not a negative thinker’. I almost clapped in approval, but then I saw him drinking at 9:45 in the morning. I dared to speak and I did, reminding him of the 80% blockage in one of his arteries. Gulp! ‘No negative thinking’, he advised me.  

His red eyes and newly ignited soul went into the garden to work. After a few hours, I checked the fresh hairstyle of the garden, it was almost bald. Papa said, ‘Plants should grow this way’.

Which way you must be thinking? Whichever way Papa wants to grow it, you fool. He replied so, I am just quoting it.  

My sense of understanding is weak; I am the wrong person to walk left when the right is right.

I am also stupid if I don’t remind Papa, thrice, that he wanted to drink tea, which invariably loses all its piping hotness and turns dead cold by the time he returns from the garden.  

Kindly ask everyone in the street not to stare at me. So what if I look like an outgrown, zigzag tree, my Papa will prune me.

I have the whole life’s agenda, second wise, installed in my brain. I am to wake up early every day and run to the office, work and be good in it and come back home to get recharged for the next day.  

Every hour I am to be alert; I am allowed even to worry about security. I again dared and asked Papa, ‘Security from what?’ ‘That thing… that… something…’ he said.

I understood zilch about it. Patience please, I am a slow learner.  

Every minute of the hour, I am to relish the complexities of the present. It is to be like the dogs, they are so cute and hold only one feeling at a moment – hunger, aggression, love or anxiety.

I reluctantly told Papa about my opinion. He laughed and then shooed me away like a dog is shooed away.  

For your benefit, I am sharing that it is not a wise thing to do. Homo sapiens sapiens can do better. I have read so in a book. Of course, I didn’t say a word about it to Papa. Do you think I am stupid? Ha!  

Every second of every minute, I am to remain lost in whatever shit crazy thing I am doing. This will result in an unhealthy body, but a good position and a reasonable flat after a few years travail.

I am a middle-class being, this means to me what nirvana means to that mad ascetic I once met.  

Do you know what the ascetic told me? He asked me to sit under a huge tree, pointing in the jungle’s (point decimal of what is left) direction. That’s it!

What am I supposed to do there alone, I shouted behind him and he shouted back, ‘Think’.  

Confused, I asked Papa about it one day – a day that showcased crimson clouds from the window. He didn’t say a word.

Crimson clouds. Image Pixabay.

I looked at the crimson clouds once again. Then I stared at Papa. I didn’t know there were four clocks in his room, one on each wall, until that day. I was sweating when Papa suddenly opened his eyes and asked me to get some water for him. He coughed badly.  

He is coughing badly right now. From that day the crimson clouds haven’t left the window. I mostly stay near Papa and only occasionally go to sit under that huge tree.


Weekly Newsletter

A weekly dose of stories! Get the posts from the Chiming Stories in your inbox and read it when you can. Subscribe now, it is free!


Recent Posts


The Light in My Notebook

Flash Fiction
The light helps in flying.
[Source – Pixabay]

*

“Civilization begins with distillation said William Faulkner….”

The way he wrote it on the blackboard, I first felt as if I am in a management class and I should note it down, word to word… later, I did note it down but the feeling wasn’t the same. The white chalk on the blackboard and the handwriting suddenly changed and I felt I had heard a secret that William Faulkner said long back. It happens a lot and though it’s strange, I enjoy these secrets… no I don’t understand the secrets, all of them, immediately, no, I just absorb them quietly.

I generally don’t remember all of them, especially on the occasions when there is a need to quote them but nonetheless a beautiful, warm and sweet feeling stays, the secret stays, forever.

The ink on my paper also talks to me but I rarely pay attention. And when I do, the ink has nothing to say. When it has something to say and when I also listen to it, a tear falls and erases it. Yes, tears can erase and paint beautifully.


I don’t know why, but I use the word beautiful a lot. There are so many other words like charming, pretty, gorgeous, lovely, graceful, even heavenly… how does it matter anyway, every word is beautiful. I scribbled some lines on the last page, it goes – ‘how beautiful the scene was but when I tried to capture it…it died.’ On that page then, I couldn’t write anything, not a word, I just doodled.

The flowers, the creepers, the sky, the moon and the sun close to each other along with the stars circling them, a small boat and a butterfly all danced their way towards what I wrote and then stopped. I darkened the moon, till it looked very deep and I have plans to colour the butterfly.


‘What page is it?’, ‘I don’t know!’,
‘Forget the topic, tell the page number.’

[Source – Pixabay]

*

What is he saying? What are we talking about? Have I missed something important? I flip the pages and peep at someone else’s book. To confirm! Ha! It is the same page, nothing has changed, he has been talking and talking; I felt for a moment that ages have passed, time rushed some centuries back and forth for me, swinging in different worlds I almost always forget to live in the present. 


Everything is so cold for some never ending seconds, then why will I not want the warmth of the other worlds? The last page…and I float again.

Oops! The duster fell from his hand and we all smiled. I shared my smile with a guy sitting next to me. How stupid is that? Laughing without any reason…though I generally do that a lot.


I have a story in mind… it’s an image that has stayed with me for a time I can’t recall.

An old man, he is tall but thin, his wrinkled hands and tattered clothes tell me something different from what his wrinkled face expresses – a smile.

He is always smiling or is it because the wrinkles have taken such a shape… or is it just my imagination. We are on the same bus and I never think about the bus fare because I just don’t, but the old man with a wrinkled smile fixed on his face seems to be thinking about it a lot. For two-three minutes, he requests the conductor to allow him to travel without the bus fare and then from his invisible pocket of his torn coat, he takes out some coins and gives it to the conductor.

I can’t hear the exclamations of the conductor, I am too engrossed to see the old man with a wrinkled smile fixed on his face.


‘What are you reading?’, ‘Page 144’,
‘Oh, you’re still the same.’
[Source – Pixabay]

*

The pages are turning, millions have written in it, the ink is dry and still alive… a lot has been said and there is still a lot to say… the blank page looks exciting and it says the most and aloud. I am listening. Are you listening?


‘Are you listening?’ Yes, I nod! He has written something else on the board, but I didn’t see him writing again.

“All truths wait in all things – Walt Whitman.”

Wait… for there is some truth waiting to get revealed in everything.

I wrote this on the blank page, there I also drew a time machine, then the whole universe danced its way towards what I wrote and then stopped. I plan to colour it with light.

*


Weekly Newsletter

A weekly dose of stories! Get the posts from the Chiming Stories in your inbox and read it when you can. Subscribe now, it is free!


Recent Posts


Two Photographs

Granny’s smile has lots of secrets and lots of memories in it. She is always smiling, beaming; we can also count her wrinkles rising from her cheeks to her closed eyes; eyes shining with childlike brightness, watery eyes speaking the language of love.

It is early morning and everyone in the house is running hither and thither. Mummy is cooking food and packing the tiffin-boxes. The children are late once again and Daddy is going to give them a lift to the school. But Daddy himself cannot find his tie and the green file and somehow Mummy is managing everything right from the kitchen.

In this daily drama we see Granny sitting in the balcony, she is combing her grand-daughter’s plaits; Granny talks about her late grandmother who use to tie her plaits, to which her little granddaughter giggles up and says, ‘Granny you also had a Granny?’

Mummy shouts from the kitchen as the clock declares it is 8. Everyone is late!

In this relay race, this cute family is asked to stop and pose for a photograph. Daddy says no but the children agree and Mummy is caught between them; while everyone else hesitates only to agree in the end, the granddaughter brings Granny inside and both of them settle comfortably on the sofa for the photograph.

Say Cheese! Click!

Daddy is awkwardly smiling with a bad tie-shirt combination making him look funny; Mummy is smiling nicely and is hiding her apron behind her; the children are looking full of life and sleepy at the same time; the granddaughter is hugging her Granny and saying cheese loudly; Granny is smiling peacefully.


Daddy, Mummy and the children wish Granny a good-bye, she waves back at them from the balcony. They leave in their car and get mixed with the ‘bhroom-honk-honk-bhroom’ crowd on the road.

When Granny is asked about the brightness in her eyes and the secret behind her smile, she laughs musically and says, ‘thank you very much’.

Enjoying the scene from her gallery she seems to be waiting for somebody. She walks slowly to the kitchen like there is no need to hurry, this is how blessed she is, maybe this the reason behind her smile.

When we are about to leave the house, she calls us and asks us to meet her friend. Back in the gallery, Granny is feeding a stale roti to a crow with extreme joy in her eyes.

She indicates us to take her photograph with the crow. She is already saying cheese. Click!


Weekly Newsletter

A weekly dose of stories! Get the posts from the Chiming Stories in your inbox and read it when you can. Subscribe now, it is free!


Recent Posts