Sunday, May 7, 2017

In the Forest With a Guide (Short Video Story)

A less than one minute video story (no audio, only subtitles) created with the evertoon app.

video


Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Lying Reflection

Jiffy #1

Really short tales are gaining in popularity. I have found many to be quite impactful as well.

This is my first attempt at a tiny tale, which I have decided to call jiffys. You can read them in a jiffy, possibly before you blink your eyes.



Saturday, September 10, 2016

Playground of Monsters



(Image from pixabay.com, text added)

See the Video Preview first!

https://youtu.be/f5NamoL0VJM

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Dileep sat up screaming in bed. His wife Ambika held his shoulders, trying to pacify him. It was the third time this was happening this week, and she was very worried.

“What is it?”, she asked, still holding Dileep.
“It is the monster, he is here”, shouted Dileep, his voice showing his panic. 
“It is now inside me”, he cried, twisting and shuddering.
Ambika spoke gently “Everything will be fine. We will overcome it. Don't worry”.
After a few minutes, Dileep bent down, his head in his hands weeping.
“How, and when will all this end?”, he cried. “And this time too, you did not see the monster, did you?”.
“No, I didn't” said Ambika. “But it is late in the night and very dark”.
“This one was different”, said Dileep, his eyes wide and shifting from left to right, looking to see if the monster was still around. “There are two of these monsters.” he said.
“You said that others have also seen these monsters?”, asked Ambika.
“That is right. Just yesterday I spoke to Veeresh, and two monsters attacked him, just like it happened with me. Only, so far, the two monsters have not attacked me together”.
“Why don't we meet Maharaja Varavata and seek his help? After all, his subjects, and maybe he himself, are in danger” suggested Ambika.
“Yes, a few of us plan to do that. We are meeting in a few hours near the river to collect our thoughts”.

A total of 15 people in the kingdom sought an audience with Maharaja Varavata. The Maharaja met them in his palace. After listening to the people speak, he was lost in thought. It was not clear if there were only two monsters or more. The descriptions which the people gave of them was not consistent. Some described them as huge – larger than elephants, while others said they were not as big. While some people were attacked by two monsters, most were attacked by one. The King did not tell the people that he himself had been attacked last night by two monsters who had tormented him. They had approached him slowly, and he had screamed. Two soldiers had come rushing to his side, but strangely they could not see the monsters. He watched petrified as they came near, sneered at him, entered him and tormented him for what seemed like eternity.

He assured the people that he would ask his entire army to find and terminate the monsters. He was sure they would be able to do it within the next 3 days. 

Dileep spoke to Ambika the next evening “The entire army is out looking for these monsters. I am sure we can sleep in peace shortly”.
Ambika smiled at him. She could not bear the torment which Dileep was going through. She did not tell him though that despite the entire army being on alert, one of the monsters had attacked her friend Vanita the previous night. 

Three days passed quickly. The Maharaja stared at the chief of his army, Surya. A few soldiers stood behind Surya quietly.
Maharaja Vanavata asked “So, you have made no headway?”.
Surya spoke slowly “Sadly, no, Maharaja”.
“How can this be?!” exclaimed Maharaja Varavata. “You are supposed to be the best in the world!”
“Maharaja, we have never fought an adversary like this. At times, two of these monsters are visible and only to some of us. At other times it is only one of them, and again to only some of us. They seem to appear out of nowhere and disappear all of a sudden!”.
“Hmmm..”, said Maharaja Varavata.
Surya spoke “Maharaja, there is another sad news. The people are saying that one man who was attacked by the monsters yesterday is in a very bad way. It is quite possible he might die”.
“That is terrible”, exclaimed Maharaja Varavata, distress visibly showing on his face.

He asked Surya and the soldiers to leave, but advised them to be watchful, and not give up fighting the monsters.

Dileep joined the group of 15 other people who went to meet Maharaja Varavata. 
Maharaja Varavata spoke to them “Well, it is no secret that there is no progress. The monsters continue to harass us, and it seems my soldiers are no match for them. I don't know what will happen now. But we will not give up.”
He paused, and looked up thoughtfully. He spoke after a few minutes “I intend meeting Acharya Agnivesh to seek his advice. All of you can also accompany me”.

The group of people led by Maharaja Varavata met Acharya Agnivesh. They folded their hands and bowed with respect before him. Maharaja Varavata then quickly explained the situation to Acharya Agnivesh. 

Acharya Agnivesh was silent for a few minutes. He then asked the people some questions on their life, their past, and their ordeal with the monsters. He closed his eyes for a few minutes, and then opened them slowly. He spoke in a low voice “The invisible has now manifested as the visible”.

Maharaja Varavata and all the others looked at him puzzled. 
Dileep was intrigued as well. Acharya Agnivesh's face was calm as ever, and his tone seemed to carry a sense of wonder, instead of revulsion and anger which he had expected. 
Acharya Agnivesh looked at the people in front of him and spoke “Listen carefully. Each of you is now able to see what has always existed, but was invisible to the eyes. The playground for the monsters is still the same. I am not sure if this will continue for ever, or is temporary. Whatever be it, the teaching must be received”.

The people waited for Acharya Agnivesh to continue speaking. Till now they had understood nothing of what he had said. However, Acharya Agnivesh had the reputation of being cryptic, inviting people to think deeply, discuss among themselves and learn.

Acharya Agnivesh continued “Instead of trying to fight the monsters physically, observe them carefully, understand when and how they appear, and when they leave. Do not react to them. Deprive them of the playground. If you do that, you will know the way forward. But for that, you must first find the silence within”.

He then raised his hands, indicating that this was all he would speak for now.

The people led by Maharaja Varavata dispersed slowly. Maharaja Varavata spoke to them “Acharya Agnivesh has given us something to think over. Please ponder over this, practice what you understand of it, and we will meet again tomorrow”

Dileep lingered at the back of the crowd. He then walked quickly back to Acharya Agnivesh, before he went inside his cottage. 
He spoke to him, his voice betraying his sense of desperation “Acharya Agnivesh, I was attacked by the monsters and it was terrible. I feel I cannot take this anymore. I intend leaving this kingdom with my wife. Maharaja Varavata has done a lot for us, but the situation is thus.”
Acharya Agnivesh looked at him kindly and spoke “That is not necessary. In any case it will not help as the monsters will follow you. “
Dileep spoke up “Acharya, do you know who these monsters are?”
“Yes, I do.” said Acharya Agnivesh.
Dileep's voice quivered as he spoke “I need your help Acharya. Please”.
Acharya Agnivesh “Speak to your wife Ambika, and she will help you find the way”.

As he walked away, Dileep was both excited and confused. Acharya Agnivesh had said that Ambika would help him find the way – but how?! 

He walked briskly, reaching his home quickly. He related all that had happened to Ambika. 
“I hope you have understood what Acharya Agnivesh was talking about. Please think how you can help!”.
Ambika frowned “But how can I help? I am not sure what Acharya Agnivesh means!”
Dileep's face fell, and he sat down heavily.
Ambika spoke “Wait..repeat all that happened again slowly. Try to recall the exact words Acharya Agnivesh used”.
Dileep thought over it, and relayed the entire conversation to Ambika again.
This time she smiled and said “I think I know what Acharya Agnivesh was talking about when he said I could help. Though I am not sure how this is connected to the monsters. Anyway, over time I think it will be clear”.
She continued “Acharya Agnivesh wants me to teach you a practice he has taught me and a few others in the class we attend”. She gently took Dileep's hand and guided him outside to the grass. As they sat down, she asked him to take a deep breath and follow her instructions. 

After their practice, Dileep opened his eyes slowly. 
He held Ambika's hand and said “I am not sure how this will help with the monsters, but I feel a sense of calm”.
That night as he sat looking at the stars, Dileep sensed something in the distance. It was clearly the monsters once again. As a sense of panic seemed to rise in him, he remembered Acharya Agnivesh's advice – observe, understand and suspend any reaction for now. He looked carefully – the monster on the left was mocking him, and the huge monster on the right was staring at him with eyes wide open. He gripped Ambika's hand tightly, and she looked at him gently. 
“We will find the way”, said Ambika calmly to Dileep.
The monsters took pleasure in bullying and punching him. After a few minutes, he sighed, he had survived the night.
Over the next day, Dileep continued the practice with Ambika.

In the evening Dileep met the other people at Maharaja Varavata's palace. All the people reported that they had tried to follow Acharya Agnivesh's advice but it was difficult. They next resolved to meet after a week, as it seemed that this would be a long battle with no quick relief in sight.

As the hours turned into days, the attack followed a similar pattern. Dileep's vision of the monsters was now strangely blurring. He talked about this with Ambika, who had no ideas to explain this as well. Ambika however suggested a surprising course of action for Dileep to follow when the monsters returned again. Dileep stared at her stunned and spoke “What do you mean?! That could be fatal!”.
Ambika “I don't think so. I think it is part of the understanding which Acharya Agnivesh advised you to gain”.

That evening, one of the monsters made an appearance. Dileep was alone at home, Ambika had gone to pluck some fruits. As always, the monster smirked at Dileep humiliatingly. Dileep looked at the monster calmly, put out his hand, and asked “Who are you? And where do you come from?”
The monster's reply invited a sharp intake of breath from Dileep. He suspected he now knew who the second monster was. He turned and saw it approaching him. As it came near him, he saw that it was not nearly as huge up close, as it appeared from the distance. 
He repeated his questions “Who are you? And where do you come from?”.
This time the answer did not surprise Dileep. He smiled. Everything fell into place.
“Will I continue to see you now?” he asked.
The monsters replied in unison “The teaching has been received. You will not see us, but we will be around. You will always be able to sense our presence. It is up to you on how you want to deal with us”.
Dileep smiled and spoke “I am still learning to deal with you. It will take some time”. He hugged both the monsters one after the other.

As Ambika returned home, she saw Dileep sitting outside watching the sun set.
“The sunset is so beautiful today”, said Dileep.
“It always is!” replied Ambika.
“Well, I guess that is correct. I suppose so”, said Dileep in a guilty tone. He was always busy making a living, and did not remember ever sitting down to watch the sun set.
She looked at Dileep and asked “So the monsters returned?”
“Yes, they did!” said Dileep. 
“And?” asked Ambika.
“I know who they are and where they are from”, said Dileep calmly.
“Oh!” exclaimed Ambika “Tell me, I cannot wait to hear!”.
“I will. But before that – do you know why you never saw these monsters?”
“I don't know!” said Ambika.
“Take a guess!” said Dileep.
“Because you are the main bread earner?” suggested Ambika.
“Well, of course not!” said Dileep. He continued “It is because you did not offer any playground to these monsters.”
“What do you mean?” asked Ambika.
“Well you will understand once I tell you who these monsters are. The practice Acharya Agnivesh taught, helped you, and now it has saved me as well. We need to also help all the others who are facing this.”

“Who are these monsters?” asked Ambika.

“When I asked them who they were and where they had come from, the first one said he is Regret and he comes from the Past, while the other one said he is Fear and he comes from the Future”.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Twins

A Short Story with a message at my Life Experiences Blog: The Twins

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Across the Sea

“Jack, did you pay the electricity and gas charges for the month?”, asked his wife Melanie.
“No”, he replied, scratching his head. “I will first have to check the bank balance”, he muttered glumly.
Melanie put her arms around him “We will be ok – don't keep worrying”.
“Very soon, we will have to think of saving money for Ryan going to college”, Jack said.
“He is only 6 years old now. We have time for it. Relax”.

Jack looked out of the window. There seemed to be a commotion outside. It had become a regular feature since a few days.
“As if we do not have enough problems of our own. See what is going on outside”, said Jack angrily, gesturing to a large group of people who were talking loudly to some police officers.
“Well, they had no choice. They will go back when they get the chance”, said Melanie quietly.
“That is what you think. And there are so many people encouraging this. All this makes me very angry”.

After a short silence, Jack asked “Where is Ryan? He wanted to buy some notebooks for school. I will take him to the store”.
Melanie called out to Ryan, who comes over.
“Let's go”, said Jack shortly. As they walk past the next street, they see many people squated in a park with tattered clothes and bags by their side. There were a few tents put up, but there seemed to be a very large number of people.
“Dad, do these people stay here even in the night?”, asked Ryan.
“Yes”, said Jack.
“Thankfully, it is not too cold yet. Else, can how they stay here in the open?”
“Listen. You need to steer clear of these people. They can be dangerous”.
“Oh, is it?”

They walked for another 10 minutes and got to a general store. Ryan picked up the notebooks he wanted. As they made their way home, suddenly a small girl ran up to Ryan and said something. It was a language they could not understand. The girl pointed to the sea, saying something. A man ran up, evidently her father, and caught the girl's hand. She said something to him as well.
“We don't have any money, go away”, Jack shouted, catching hold of Ryan's hand.
“Sir…...it is..”, the man started to say something.
“Move!”, Jack yelled, hurrying away with Ryan in tow.

The next day, Jack picked up Ryan from school. At Ryan's insistence, Jack got him a beach ball. They walked home, Ryan merrily tossing the ball in the air and humming a song. Suddenly the same girl appeared before them. She looked at Ryan, said something and pointed at the ball. Her father ran up to her again, and caught her hand. She looked at her father with wide eyes saying something. Her father looked troubled and hugged the child.
Jack looked at the man sternly, and asked him “You have come over by a boat here isn't it?”
The man looked up and answered softly “Yes….actually…..”
Jack interrupted him “I am not interested in listening to anything more, but understand one thing carefully. Yesterday your daughter wanted money from us and today my son's ball. We are not giving you either money or the ball. I know you are instructing your child to chase us”.
“Sir, my daughter did not want money or the ball”.
“Oh, really?!”, questioned Jack aggresively.
“Yesterday, and today, she told your son that he looks like her brother. She also said today that he also had a big ball and used to play with her”.
Taken aback and feeling bad about this, Jack muttered a sorry and started to walk away. As he took two steps forward the other way, he stopped and turned. The man was holding his daughter tightly, whispering to her.
Jack came back to the man and asked him “Where is her brother now?”
The man spoke softly, his eyes welling with tears “My wife and son drowned while we were coming here by the boat”.
Jack lowered his eyes for a few moments and then looked up.
“I am so sorry. What happened?”
“There was fighting all around. Shooting, bombs & violence all the time. Our neighbours were killed in a blast a few days back. That is when we thought we must move out. We put together whatever money we could to pay some agents who arranged space on a boat for us. It was not a very big boat and there were so many people.”
He stopped as his voice caught. He continued, “There were very strong currents in the water at one point, and many fell overboard. I tried to catch my wife and son, but had to hold my 2 year old daughter in my hands as well. I could not save my wife and son”.
It looked like he would lose his balance and fall down. Jack caught his hand to steady him.
“Life does not have much meaning now, but I have to live for my daughter”.
There were a few minutes of quiet before Jack asked “Do you get food and water?”
“Yes, people do come by and leave packets of food and water. Some of the government officers come by as well”.
“Oh, Ok”, said Jack slowly.
He lifted the girl in his arms and asked “Do you want to play ball with Ryan?”. He pointed at the ball and took Ryan's hand and placed it in hers as she may not have understood what he said.
The girl smiled, and then looked up at her father who nodded.
“Sir, I know it is difficult with so many people landing here…..but we did not know what to do. Maybe we have made a mistake and are also troubling others….I don't know….”
“No...no…..I am sorry for what I said...I didn't realize…...”, Jack stopped searching for words to continue with.
Finally he simply hugged the man and asked “What is your name?”
“Sayid” said the man.
“And your daughter?”
“Yana”
“She is a very sharp girl. She will grown up to be a remarkable lady, and will make you very proud”

Jack then took his leave, and walked home with Ryan. Neither spoke for the rest of the way.
As they entered their house, his wife Melanie asked “Where have you been? You are so late”.
“We ran into a couple of those people who have come over by boats”, said Jack.
“Oh, what happened?”, asked Melanie concerned.
“I realized they are people like us”.
Jack recounted the incident, speaking softly with Melanie all the time.
At the end of it, Melanie spoke “We all learn new things every day. Don't be hard on yourself”.
Jack nodded and then spoke, gesturing out of the window “Do you see those people with hand held signboards and packets?”
“Yes”, Melanie nodded.
They spoke for a few minutes more before they went to sleep.

The next day, Jack, Melanie and Ryan walked slowly to where the crowds were. They stood next to a smiling old couple probably in their seventies. While the man held up a sign saying “Welcome, Don't worry”, his wife handed over a few of packets of food and water to some people.
Jack and Melanie smiled at them, asking if they could join them, to which they agreed immediately. Jack held up the signboard he had made last night which read “We stand with you”. Melanie and Ryan held out a few packets of food and water to a few people. A lady holding her son, grasped Melanie's hands saying “If it were not for wonderful people like you, what would we do”. Jack and Melanie looked at each other, their eyes filling with tears.

As Jack moved away, he saw Sayid with his daughter Yana sitting under a tree. He waved to him and walked over introducing Melanie to them.

Jack, Melanie and Ryan walked home, holding hands, feeling more alive and connected to the universe as never before.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Grandma

Emotions were clouding Mohan’s mind, making it difficult for him to fully involve himself in all that was happening around him. 
He tried to focus his attention on what his friend Vikram was saying.
Vikram repeated himself, “Was she ill before she died?”
Mohan replied “No. It happened suddenly. We thought she was sleeping but found she was unresponsive and had already left us in the morning”
“It is good she did not suffer. And also she has live a good life till the age of 99” said Vikram.
“Yes, that is true”, responded Mohan. He continued, his voice catching “In fact, she used to say that she did not want to die in a hospital in the midst of equipment and tubes. I remember her telling me happily a couple of years back that she had met an astrologer who had told her she would die peacefully in her sleep and will never be a burden on anyone”.
“She got her wish, and she managed all her needs herself without troubling any one right till the end”, said Mohan.
“She was a remarkable person, a noble soul” said Vikram softly. “I remember once many years back, I had visited your house in your hometown. As I was also visiting, your grandfather told her to make some pakodas well into the night. She immediately cooked some delicious fare even though it was very late”.
“Yes, I know” said Mohan. Distressed he continued “Death is so final. We will never get back her wisdom, patience, grace and strength. There are so many times when she has been the pillar of strength for us”.

Just then Mohan’s 10 year old son Manoj comes running to him and sits next to him. He sits next to Mohan and whispers to him “Who will tell me stories now?”
“There will be others - me, your mother, your grandparents, we are all there for that”, said Mohan.
“But, great grandma told the best stories”, said Manoj, tears in his eyes.
Mohan’s wife Geeta holds Manoj, taking him away into the room. As he goes with her, he asks “When will we next be able to meet great grandma?”
Geeta replies slowly “Her memories will always be with us. And we will meet her when God wants us to”.
“And when will God allow us to meet her?”, asked Manoj continuing with his questions.
“Manoj, we can only meet her when we also enter her world. But we will meet her surely someday”, said Geeta.
“Then why don’t we also go to that world now itself?”, asked Manoj.
Geeta hugged her son, gently telling him “That is in God’s hands. He will choose the right time”.

Mohan dragged his eyes away from Manoj and Geeta as they move away. He looks back at Vikram gathering his thoughts.
“You know we celebrated her 99th birthday two months back. Since she has not been in good health, the thought crossed our minds if she will see her next birthday when she would have completed 100 years. She probably sensed it too”, said Mohan.

He paused, a wave of emotion hitting him, also brought on by his son’s innocent questions. He bent his head down, trying to regain his composure.
He looked up as he heard Vikram speak.
“What you just said is perfectly right, Mohan. Age is only a number. It is not age a person leaves behind when he or she dies, but memories and goodwill which stay forever”, said Vikram.
Mohan froze, staring ahead. Vikram looked at him concerned “Mohan, you are clearly stressed. You need to get some rest”.

Mohan slowly shook his head, finding it difficult to believe what had just happened. He had not spoken the words Vikram claimed he had. His thought went back to his grandmother’s 99th birthday. His son had remarked then “Great grandma, next year you will be 100!”. His grandmother had replied smiling to the boy “Age is only a number. It is not age a person leaves behind when he or she dies, but memories and goodwill”.


Mohan smiled. His grandmother’s spirits would be forever with them, guiding them with wisdom, patience, grace and strength.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Silent Robbery


Priyanka and Neelam sat in the front row. They watched with pride as their children enacted a patriotic play for Independence Day at their school. They clapped fervently when the play ended.
Neelam looked around her and smiled. Everyone was well dressed with clothes in orange, white, blue and green. She noticed that everyone looked happy and were smiling. Her gaze next turned to some of the housekeeping staff, and was pleasantly surprised to see them also dressed in the colours of the tricolour, holding a flag. 
She felt thirsty and wondered if she could ask one of the housekeeping staff to get her some water. She signalled to one of them, standing a few feet away. As the young lady came over, she requested her for some water. She hurried away and quickly brought her some water. Neelam thanked her and the lady smiled.
She also greeted Priyanka with “Hello Madam”.
Priyanka replied with “Hello Geetha. How are you?”
The lady replied “I am fine Madam”, and smiled and walked away to stand in a corner.
Neelam looked at Priyanka “Oh, you know her”.
 “Yes, her husband is our driver”.
 “Oh Ok. She seems a nice person. Do they have children”.
Priyanka replied “Yes, she has two kids. A girl of 6 years, and a boy of 2 years”.
 “I hope she is sending her daughter to school”.
 “Yes, she is”.
“It must be difficult for these people. They probably earn quite less and then it is not easy to manage; what with the rising prices of everything….” said Neelam.
“That is true”, said Priyanka. “But there is a bigger problem as well. She has been robbed”.
“What? Robbed? How did this happen? What did she lose?” asked Neelam, taken aback.
Priyanka grew to be thoughtful. She looked at Neelam and said quietly “If you watch her for some time you will probably know”.
Her curiosity aroused, Neelam looked at Geetha. She was puzzled on how watching someone can tell her what they were robbed of. She was tempted to say that she has given up, but thought she can only do that after giving it some time. She turned and looked at Geetha every now and then. She saw her supervisor summon her once asking her to get a chair. On another occasion, she saw her wiping a seat clean after a parent accidentally spilled some tea on it. She then saw a parent with a girl in tow say something to her sharply. Geetha’s face grew tense and sad, and she muttered what appeared to be a sorry and drew back. After some time, she saw her hurry to rush behind the curtain probably to clear the stage for the next event. She came back after a while, with what seemed trash and left the hall. She then returned after a few minutes and stood in a corner.
The school program was drawing to a close. Neelam now looked at Priyanka and spoke up “I give up. I cannot make out what happened to her and what she lost!”
Priyanka spoke “Did you watch her?”
“Yes, I said!”
“And you could not find an answer to your question?”
“No I could not. And how can I?! I would I come to know what she was robbed of by looking at her! I am no Sherlock Holmes!”
“Ah, you don’t need detective skills for this!”
Neelam said “I cannot stand the suspense! I give up! You have to tell me!”
Priyanka responded “Ok, let us first go over what you saw”.
Neelam recollected all she had seen and told Priyanka.
Priyanka said “Let us discuss the exchange between the parent who was with her girl and Geetha. What do you think happened?”
“The parent and the girl were seated in front of us. The girl wanted to go to the restroom. After that, I noticed the parent say something sharply to Geetha. Not sure why. Maybe she stepped on her foot or something?”
“Not really. Geetha offered to take the girl to the restroom and the parent told her sharply ‘Don’t touch my kid’. That is what happened”.
“Oh, but how do you know that is what happened? I could not hear anything from here”.
“I put two and two together. I see this happen again and again”, said Priyanka.
“Class prejudice..it is sad”, said Neelam thoughtfully. “But you were going to tell me about Geetha being robbed”.
“I am telling you about her being robbed of her dignity and identity almost every single day. Is that not far worse than struggling to make ends meet? It is as if she is an object – nobody is even interesting in knowing her name” said Priyanka.
Neelam looked at Priyanka, shaken and thoughtful.

As they were leaving the hall, they saw Geetha standing in the corner. They walked up to her and thanked her.
“Thanks for getting me the water, Geetha. I saw how busy you have been today”, said Neelam.
“Oh Madam, it was no trouble at all” said Geetha, a smile lighting up her face.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Intersect

Shashank sat up in bed with a jerk. He reached for his phone to check the time, gently rubbing his eyes. It was only 2 am. The same images all over again. He turned and saw that his wife Sarita seemed to be sleeping soundly. He lay still for 20 more minutes, wondering what was going on with him. He finally gave up, walked gently across the floor and turned the internet router on. He reached for his iPad, balanced it on his lap and went to Google. He opened the page he was looking for in Wikipedia. At first sight, it did not seem alarming but there were no clear answers. He was just about to close the page on “recurring dreams”, when he heard a whisper “Shashank, may I know what is going on?”
Taken aback, he blurted “It can be handled”.
“What can be handled? What are you talking about?” demanded Sarita.

He sighed and then launched into the details of what had been happening since the last couple of months.
“I have been seeing very similar dreams of myself, you, our family and friends in various different settings since a couple of months now. Only I do not recognize any of the places.  The houses, cities, dresses all seem different” he said.
“The same dream again and again?” asked Sarita
“Well not exactly the same events. But mostly the same people in different settings, dressed differently…….”
“Are these dreams frightening?”
“Not really” he replied. “But I can’t understand what is going on”.
“It is the middle of the night. Leave this now”.
“Ok.., he replied. He looked up hallucinations on Wikipedia before putting the iPad away.
After tossing and turning for some time, he fell asleep. The next time he woke, he saw it was only 5:30 am. He had had one more dream of the same kind. Irritated, he woke up and walked over to the balcony. As he looked out, the city was still asleep. He wondered to himself ‘What is going on?’. After a few minutes Sarita joined him.
“Another dream sequence”, she asked.
“Yes” he nodded unhappily. “This time I saw Rishi in the dream as well”. Rishi was one of his office colleagues.
“Since we are up early, we might as well go out for a walk” suggested Sarita.
Shashank readily agreed. Thankfully it was a Saturday and he was not going in to work. It would have been difficult with hardly any sleep all night. They walked for around 45 minutes and returned. Shashank felt much better.

The dream sequences kept preying on Shashank’s mind, and he was restless. Sensing his mood, Sarita spoke to him “Why is this bothering you so much? After all it is only a dream”
“But why the same people? Also the dresses all of us are wearing and the places, buildings are all so different!”, Shashank exclaimed.
“Who all do you see in these dreams?”
“Well, mostly all of relatives. You, our children, sister, and parents, all of them” Shashank said.
“But they all look different you said?” Sarita asked.
Shashank hesitated, “It is difficult to explain. The places are different, dresses are different, and there are some weird looking vehicles. In today’s dream I saw myself shaking hands with an elephant!”
“Let us give it some time. Else we will go to somebody”
“It has been persisting for some time now”, Shashank admitted. “Also these thoughts and one or two flashes come up during the day as well”.
As Shashank scratched his head, a thought came to his mind ‘What can be the next step? It probably means visiting a doctor, but what kind. Psychiatrist, Psychologist? He was trying to think what the difference between the two was’.

It was a bad day. He tried to distract himself by doing some reading, but it helped only a little. As the sun set in the evening, he was apprehensive on what the night now held for him. However, probably as a result of poor sleep the previous night, he fell asleep very quickly. The next he knew someone was ringing the bell.
“Who can it be in the middle of the night?” Shashank muttered.
“It is not the middle of the night. It is 6:15 am” said Sarita.
“Which is like the middle of the night on a Sunday morning” he said and continued walking towards the front door.
He opened the door and found Rishi standing there smiling.
“Are you not ready?” he asked.
“Ready for what?” Shashank asked him puzzled.
“We were to go out for a jog. Don’t you remember?” Rishi asked.
“Come on in” he told Rishi. “Did I really say we can go out for a jog today?” Shashank asked.
“Of course, we discussed this last week, don’t you remember?” Rishi asked
“Hmmm….I really don’t remember. I guess I forgot”, Shashank said flopping down on the sofa.
Shashank thought ‘Nothing is going right. Now looks like my memory is going for a toss as well’
“You look quite unwell. What is the matter?” asked Rishi.
Shashank hesitated not sure what he should say. Sarita walked over beside him and whispered “Rishi is a friend. I think you can tell him about it…”
There was a period of quiet while Shashank thought over what to tell Rishi. Finally he thought Sarita was right. Rishi would keep it to himself, and he did have a gift for some out of the way thinking which might help in this case.

Shashank repeated the dream experiences to Rishi which he had told Sarita in detail only yesterday. Rishi’s curiosity was clearly aroused.
He said “So you see images of people in various different settings?”
Shashank replied “It is mostly relatives and people I know. Yes, different dresses, flying cars, taller trees, very clear water…..almost a dream version of Earth! Any idea what is going on?”
Rishi looked at him calmly and said thoughtfully “Let me put it this way - what you have experienced is not unique.”
“Oh, you mean you know others who have experienced something like this?!” Shashank exclaimed excitedly.
“Yes, I surely do” said Rishi.
“And what happened to them?” Shashank asked.
“What do you mean what happened to them?”
“Well, I mean to ask how they got themselves treated.” Shashank clarified.
Rishi sighed and spoke “They did not get themselves treated. They only understood the truth of what they were experiencing”
“What do you mean?” Shashank asked.
At this point Sarita looked at Rishi and spoke softly “Have you had dreams like this yourself, Rishi?”
Rishi looked at both of them and said “Yes, I have”.

Shashank stared at Rishi stunned. It took him a few moments to gather his thoughts.
He finally asked “What is this then?”
“Shashank, you need to find the truth for yourself”, said Rishi.
Shashank got up and started pacing the floor. This was too much to take, his head felt totally muddled.
Sarita asked Rishi “There is at least according to you, nothing abnormal in having an experience like this?”
“Of course, I said that already. I have had it myself and so have many others!”
“Is it a past life memory?” asked Sarita.
Rishi hesitated and then turned to Shashank slowly “What do you think?”
Shashank thought over this carefully and then spoke “It does not seem to be. Firstly civilization seems to be more advanced with air borne vehicles for normal people. Also there is the weird aspect of animals co-existing peacefully with humans”
“Hmmm, true. What do you think it could be then?” asked Rishi.
“It is as if all of us have somehow travelled to the future” Shashank exclaimed. “But that is not possible either”.
He tried to rake his brains further but came up with nothing. “The other alternative of course is that I am hallucinating” he said.
Sarita glared at him.
“Well, I have already told you are you not!” said Rishi.
“Rishi, I think my head will burst if I think of this further. You need to help me. What is this?” Shashank said.

Rishi hesitated and spoke “I really cannot. I can only say that you are experiencing what some of us call an Intersect, something which many others are experiencing as well. To find the truth my advice is to do this: 1) Remember Sherlock Holmes’ advice, when one has eliminated the impossible, what remains however improbable must be the truth. 2) Why don’t you try interacting consciously during your experience?”
“What do you mean?” Shashank asked puzzled. “How can I interact with a dream?!”
“Try”, he said “It might be possible. Start with the basics, ask names, places, things like that to whoever you see in your dream and see if you get any replies”

Rishi then stood up. He said “We will have to do our jog some other day I guess. If you have a recurrence let me know if you want me to come along to discuss”.
Shashank thought ‘What could Rishi mean when he asked me to interact with my dream? On the face of it the idea seemed ridiculous. But I did feel better after talking to him; especially that he too has experienced such dreams recently’.

Sarita followed his thought process and said “Take it one at a time. It is apparent there is nothing to worry now”
“I agree” Shashank said. After quite some time he felt strangely at peace and also curious and for the first time hoped that the dreams would recur soon.

A week went by very quietly. The next Saturday night, Shashank saw some flashes. Strangely he did realize that he was in the middle of a dream. He saw some faces. Himself and his wife Sarita seated in a garden among very tall trees. He mouthed the word “Hi” in his mind softly looking at himself and Sarita. As he looked at himself and his wife, he saw both of them smiling at him and saw his image speak up “Hi, we were wondering when you would greet us!”
This was puzzling. This was no dream. What state was he in?
He spoke “Why do you say that? Were you expecting me to speak?”
He saw himself speak “Of course, why else would we contact you?”
Puzzling. It was as if he was speaking to someone else, not himself!
He saw Sarita look up and say “We can understand you are confused. Firstly you are not seeing either yourself or your wife. We are different people though we carry your names. This is going to be difficult for you, so be patient and calm. We are identical manifestations of the same parent soul – which is why we look alike. In order that you not get confused further simply call us Sha & Sa”
Shashank stiffened. However, Rishi’s words came to his mind and he tried to relax.
Sa now spoke “Zim is the eternal soul from which we both come and hence we are alike. In due course you will understand about this. Be patient. We need to use these intersects to exchange thoughts and learn”

Shashank felt the vision now fade. He sat up in bed. He looked to his right and found Sarita stirring. He seemed to have disturbed her. She rubbed her eyes and looked up at him enquiringly. He told her what had happened.
She replied “I know. I experienced the same thing myself as well and actually saw you conversing. So these are not us but other people somewhere else, maybe even a different planet?! Astonishing! That was why Rishi said you must find the truth for yourself”
It was 5:30 am in the morning. They got up and had an early coffee. After an hour or so Shashank called Rishi and he came over in about half an hour.
“So, were you able to interact in your dream?” he asked.
“We were!” Shashank exclaimed.
“Oh” said Rishi “That is great. So, both of you have experienced it!”
Shashank asked Rishi “We could understand we are looking at some other people possibly somewhere else. But you still need to help us understand what this is”
Rishi spoke “You were interacting with people similar to you in another universe. You experienced what we have started referring to as an intersect. There are moments in time when our universes align themselves in a way which makes interaction between beings on both universes possible”
Shashank stared at Rishi trying to make sure he was not joking. “Another universe!” he gasped. He then asked him “But how can there be people who look identical to us in another universe?!”
“Why not?” countered Rishi. “All of us are the result of an initial physical process. No doubt free will gives you a choice of action. If you would have noticed, the universes are not identical. This other universe is not the same as ours. They are much more advanced which you yourself pointed out.”
There was a moment of quiet as Shashank and Sarita came to terms with what Rishi was saying.
Sarita asked “But why only now? And then there may be many more such universes. Will we be able to interact with all of them?”
“Well, nobody knows for sure. What we have understood is that these two universes are aligned only now in such a manner as to allow such intersects to happen. There is a lot more to learn and experience. I think this is only the beginning” replied Rishi.

They went and sat down in the garden, looking out into the glorious morning sky. Shashank thought in his mind ‘I will not in my life know all the truths of God’s creation, but I have learned a new truth today for sure. Is learning not the incremental knowledge of more and more truths? It was overwhelming’
As he turned, he could see that Sarita was moved as well.
He then turned to Rishi and asked him a question which had been preying on my mind “Rishi, as far I can recollect I never agreed to go for a jog last Sunday or am I wrong?”
Rishi hesitated for a split second and then replied “You are right”
“How then did you land up here?” Shashank asked.
“I had a visual experience in which both of us figured. I suspected you might have experienced this as well and hence called Sarita to check if you had an experience like that as well. I came over once she confirmed”
“Oh!” Shashank smiled looking at Sarita. “No wonder you encouraged me to tell Rishi everything!”


They held their hands together, basking in the glory of the multiverse – eager to learn more truths each new day.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Dark Shadow



I felt a nudge and heard a whisper “Do not ask for a receipt, you need not pay the tax amount and will save money”, I turned to see Angra standing over the sales counter looking at me and smiling snidely.
I stared at Angra with shock, unable to speak. I then watched him turn and leave fast. My hands shivered as I paid the bill and left the shop.

I reached home and splashed my face with water. Were my mind and eyes playing tricks on me? Could it really be Angra?
I heard the door open. Chitra was back. As soon as she saw me, she exclaimed immediately “What happened? What is wrong?”
I debated on what to tell her. With a sigh, I realized there was little point in hiding anything from her. As I spoke, I realized that my voice was a little more than a whisper.
“Angra is back” I said.
Chitra’s hands flew to her mouth. She stared at me and spoke “But how…..”
“I know”, I replied confused “I killed him myself”.
“Are you sure it was….?” she asked.
“Yes, I am pretty sure it was him” I replied sadly. “I cannot explain it myself. It is shocking especially since I killed him myself last year”.
“I remember, it was Dussehra”, I continued, “I thought that was the last of Angra, but now he is back”.
“What will you do now?” asked Chitra holding my hand worriedly.
“I really don’t know. I am still not able to think straight yet” I said still in shock.

My mind raced to the events of last year.

Aug 2011
“Hmmm….You have a lot of luggage, Sir” said the clerk at the customs counter at the airport.
“Well it isn’t much...” I said surprised.
Angra caught my hand, and whispered to me “All he wants is some money. Just close the matter”.
 “No”, I whispered back fiercely.
“Here let me handle this”, said Angra pushing me aside.
Angra spoke up “It isn’t easy these days. Prices are going up all around. Everybody is finding it difficult to manage – especially salaried employees”
“Yes, yes” the customs clerk nodded fast.
“We have to find ways to move ahead and manage in life”, continued Angra shaking hands with the clerk and I saw him slip over some cash.
“You will have no problem, Sir. Nobody will stop you now. Just go over from there” the clerk gestured pointing his hand toward the walkway.
On the way back, I did not try to interact with Angra. Anger continued to boil inside me. He tried to make conversation with me and said “It was the best way under the circumstance. You don’t understand”
“I don’t think so.” I snapped angrily. We did not speak after that and reached home.
“I am getting to hate Angra”, I confessed to Chitra that night.
“Keep control of yourself” she said, concern showing on her face.
“I hope I can do that” I said, “but he is getting on my nerves”

Oct 2011
It was the day before Dussehra. I remember the day clearly because it was the day before I killed Angra.
I was taking a stroll outside the building with Angra. I had tried to dissuade Angra from joining me as I wanted some peace, but he would not listen. Just outside we saw a car come over at high speed and hit the divider. It then spun out of control and hit a lady on the sidewalk.
As I moved over towards the lady to see if she was hurt, Angra caught me and said “Are you sure you want to get involved? This will be a police case. It is best you stay out”.
“You can stay out if you want but I need to help her”, I snapped moving towards her.
Another bystander stood beside me. The lady was groaning, and we could see that she was bleeding from her forehead. We wrapped a handkerchief on her forehead. A car passing by stopped to help and we rushed her to a hospital. At the hospital, the injuries were declared to be minor. After some of her relatives came, we left from the hospital.
At night, I related the episode to Chitra. I said “If I had listened to him, I would not have been able to sleep”.
Chitra said “You are overreacting. Take a deep breath and compose yourself. Get hold of yourself. I am getting increasingly worried about you”.

I kept silent but my mind was in a turmoil. A plan formed in my mind – a way to end this conflict with Angra once and for all. What better day to execute this than on Dussehra. I lay awake for a long time, my mind being restless. I got up early and after a cup of coffee informed Chitra that I would be going out for a walk. It was still only 5:30 am. 

I walked down the street to the park where I often walked in the morning. As I entered the park, I heard a voice “What are you doing so early?”
I found myself face to face with Angra. I could feel my heart hammering away. I confronted Angra and spoke “There is something very important I need to do today. There is no better day to end this than on Dussehra”.
Angra glared back and said “You have always been a fool. It is I who have always stood by you in a world where might is right. You have never realized that, have you?”
It was almost as if he knew what I had in mind. I spoke coldly to him “You are wrong. I do not need you. And I have never wanted you by my side. By constantly following me and try to misguide me, you have brought this on yourself”
I looked around to see if anyone else was around, no one was. The last words I uttered before I killed Angra were “I choose virtue over might”.
I walked up and entered the house. I felt my whole body trembling and collapsed into the sofa in the living room. “What happened?” asked Chitra alarmed.
I looked her and said softly “I killed Angra”.
Chitra’s hands flew to her mouth and she gasped “But……”
“There was no other way”, I responded tiredly. “I will tell my parents as well, but don’t tell anyone else”, I said.

Chitra’s voice jolted me back to the present. I tried to concentrate and looked up at her. She said “I was saying let us go to the temple. It will help you compose yourself and find peace”.
We walked in silence to the temple. As I folded my hands in prayer, I did find peace returning to me.
We then went to beach. As we walked on the sands, in the distance I could see the sun setting. I found that the visit to the temple had helped in clearing up my thought process. As I looked into the distance, my mind raced -

The visual imagery I had indulged in last Dussehra to defeat my dark side had obviously not worked the way I had wanted it to. I thought a single savage blow was possible to end the inner conflict once and for all, but that was not to be. Angra is not a separate person. Angra is a part of me and represents the dark side of me. Even if the fight was internal, I had felt it vital to imagine the conflict and killing visually as I thought it would help to expel the dark side of me once and for all. 


Angra is my dark shadow – and you cannot kill your own shadow. The shadow can be dimmed by the confidence of virtue, but it would try to rear it’s ugly side time and again. The fight against your own dark self is a continuous one, and you need to take it one victory at a time. The fight within is bigger and probably more difficult than any other. 

It was almost as if Chitra read my thoughts as she spoke softly “All of us fight our dark shadow, but with self-belief it will never win over us”
“Yes, I know”, I said looking at her and smiling.