A chance encounter

“Excuse me, Ms. Roberts?” said the school assistant interrupting her thoughts. “Mr. Miller is here to see you” Sarah shook her attention away from the report that she was marking, and looked inquisitively at Mrs. Rosa, the school assistant. “Mr. Miller?” she questioned. “Yes, Ms.Roberts. Jack Miller’s father. He mentioned that you had requested his presence to discuss about Jack’s falling grades.” continued Mrs. Rosa.  “Ah, yes! Do ask him to take a seat in the meeting room” said Sarah, slowly replacing the cap of her trademark red-ink pen. “I’ll be there shortly”. Nodding politely, Mrs. Rosa gently closed the door. As she listened to the tap-tap of Mrs.Rosa’s stilleto’s reverberate through the hall corridor, Ms. Sarah Roberts, Head Mistress of Yellow Valley International School, smiled and got up from her plush red office chair. She slowly straightened her frock, re-applied her lipstick and rouge, powdered her nose and sprayed a couple of lavish bouts of mouth freshener into her mouth. Though approaching the ripe age of 60, Sarah was always very careful of her appearance. She dressed impeccably and carried herself with a lot of panache. Rarely would you see a strand of hair out of place, or an incomplete coat of nail polish. Coming from a very traditional English upper-class family, Ms. Roberts took pride in her heritage and her privileged up bringing. If anyone could point a finger at her, the only reason they’d have to do so, would be due to her “lack of tolerance” towards any form of body art or unnecessary piercings. Tried as she did, she was unable to see past those traits of “physical trashiness” as she called them. Nevertheless, she tried to be as diplomatic as she could be, keeping in mind that she was after all, the head of one of Britain’s premier educational institutions. As she slowly walked towards the meeting room, Sarah replayed her pre-prepared standard speech that she gave to the parents of her academically-challenged students, not that there were that many. After all, she had hand-picked almost every student who  had been given admission to her institution. On passing by the window of the meeting room, Sarah glanced into it. There was a suited man sitting on the chair across the table. She couldn’t see his face since he was looking away from the window, but his dressing sense was exquisite. Neatly combed back hair, dark brown crease-free suit and well-polished brown shoes. This was going to be easy, she thought and pushed open the door to the meeting room. Image courtesy Google search As Mr. Miller stood up from the seat, raising his hands outwards in a handshake to greet her, Ms. Roberts stood frozen to the spot. With her mouth wide open from the shock, she looked like a fish gasping for breath. Sarah took a few second to regain her composure. When she finally did, she crisply and curtly nodded at Mr. Miller, and walked across the desk, and took a seat across him. Taking a couple of deep breaths, she glanced carefully at  Mr.Miller’s face. Fair to say, that the major part of his face, and his neck was covered in a mixture of blue,green and red tattoos. If Ms. Roberts had been impressed with what she little she had observed of Mr.Miller from behind the window, it was pretty evident that she was in utter shock looking at his face. “This was going to be far more difficult than I’d imagined” she thought. As troubling as it was, Ms. Roberts was a professional. On top of that she was amazing at maintaining a straight face. So needless to say, the meeting was far more trouble-free than she had envisaged. Despite his “disturbing” appearance, Mr.Miller seemed to be well versed, articulate and a successful businessman. And probably used to people being “uncomfortable” about his facial tattoos, since he did not let Ms.Roberts’ initial few minutes of discomfort throw him of track. Years of experience dealing parents of kids who were sub-standard performers, ensured that Ms.Roberts was able to deliver her pre-planned pitch with minimum fuss and interruption. And Mr. Miller was relatively silent too, interrupting only when absolutely necessary. Though on the surface, Sarah remained cool as a cucumber, she had a number of thoughts going through her head.  “What kind of businessman would do this to his face? Wonder what impression he gives his clients? Is this how Jack, his son, going to turn out as well? How is it that he is so well read and articulate? Maybe this is why Jack is a rebel. Surely something was wrong somewhere. Maybe it was a phase. Do I want this man’s kids to study in my school? He must be really evil. He must worship one of those “unspeakable” dark gods.  0joEsSjTSTX4pJc3BjWb Soon Mr.Miller took over the conversation, and started to go through everything that his wife and he had put in place, to ensure that Jack should be performing well at school. Sarah gradually found herself observing the tattoo again. On closer observation, the mixture of green, blue and red lines seemed to define the contours of a snake with its forked tongue licking the eyebrow area. It was so well designed and life-like, that had to been drawn on a piece of paper or a canvas during Art class, Ms. Roberts would have applauded the effort. But on the face - Of all the places, why the face. “Seems like someone always wanted to join Slytherin” she mused quietly, thinking about the famous Harry Potter reference. 0joEsSjTSTX4pJc3BjWb After about 30 minutes of pretty standard parent-teacher conversation,Mr. Miller left with a promise that he would personally see to the fact that Jack’s grades would increase by mid-term. Sarah breathed a sigh of relief and closed her eyes momentarily. The day had been stressful. And though the meeting with Jack’s father had been pretty uneventful, the facial tattoo had really thrown her off. As she leaned back onto the chair and rested her head against the head-rest of the chair, she could feel the fatigue starting to take over and willing her to go to sleep. She resisted, and decided to call it a day, go home, have a nice glass of wine and then curl up with a good book. Her partner was away on business, and wouldn’t be back for a couple of days. 0joEsSjTSTX4pJc3BjWb As Sarah reversed out of the school parking lot, her phone went off. It was Brian, calling to confirm their plans for Saturday night. Though she knew that she shouldn’t be talking on the phone whilst driving, Sarah decided to let this one slide, put her 2011 model Fiat Punto Automatic into “Drive”, and pulled out into usually busy A10 main road. As she giggled at a joke that Brian made, she briefly glanced towards her right and that’s when she saw it - A petrol tanker was throttling towards her at full speed Suddenly Sarah and the Fiat Punto were in a spinning frenzy, like the spin wheel in the board game LIFE. The twisted heap of car metal and the truck’s bumper screeched against the tar road, and the once-bright-orange Punto flipped on its head. The last thing Sarah saw before she hit darkness was a white, fluffy, balloon-like structure appear out of the blue in front of her face. Then everything went blank. Sarah did not know how long she was unconscious. She did not even know where she was. All she knew was the unbearable throbbing in her head. And that her eyes were swollen, and her jaw bruised. And the cacophonous sound of honking cars, sirens and lights of many colours. And through these, she heard a voice. It started as a whisper and she could barely make it out. Slowly she tried to tune out the loud noises and flashing lights. And then she heard it a bit more clearly…”Ms.Roberts… Can you move your head? Can you hear me?” She wondered who Ms. Roberts was. Must be some else. She tried to peer out through her puffed eyelids. “Ms.Roberts, can you breathe?” asked the smooth, clear voice. She tried to open her eyes again. Though not clear, she could start to make out shapes and outlines. Slowly the fogginess in her eyes started to clear; and she blinked every so lightly. And then, she started to see him. The contours of his face and prominent jaw came into focus. His steely blue eyes resonated confidence and she felt safe. And then she noticed something odd. Along the sides of his cheeks, all the way unto his forehead and around his eyes, was a shape. At first she dismissed it as a figment of her imagination. Gradually as the scene became clearer, she  noticed that it was more prominent. It was a serpent in tones of blue and green, and with a forked red tongue protruding out from its jaw, all the way to his eyebrow. It looked strange yet vaguely familiar at the same time. And from the depths of her brain, something buzzed…it was as if a dot was joined somewhere. It was called a tattoo, she recollected. She wasn’t sure how she knew that, but she did. She carefully looked at the tattooed face of the man who had saved her. And then out of the blue, she felt a prick on her hand. And suddenly she felt a wave of nausea and tiredness wash over her. She felt her eyelids get heavier, and as she slowly started to close themshe knew she had seen that tattoo before! If only she could remember where. ________________________________________ oOee0duen5t5MPGvP22y __________________________________________

Disclaimer (As usual:))

First of all, this is a work of fiction and I have absolutely nothing against people who have tattoos, no matter where they might be. On the other hand, my wife has been going on and on about getting a tattoo, and apart from the fact that she is yet to find the right “spot”, I for one, have not stood in her way of “art-y-fying” herself. The story was merely used as a tool to highlight the negative stereo-typing that people with tattoos, especially on their faces, necks and other prominent areas face, across the globe. Even the most advanced societies are not entirely free of this discriminatory behaviour, and unfortunately, Ms. Roberts resembles that segment of the society. The reality is that, most of these “tattooed folk” as they are often labelled, are kind souls who are just a bit more “vocal and visual” with their interests. And we should respect them for that. After all, they are fellow human beings too.

Tring Tring...Who's there?

Image courtesy

Paul Dixit was a compulsive addict. His addiction - mobile phones, especially smart phones. He spent a considerable chunk of his monthly salary buying the latest mobile phones. His wife Devi, on the other hand, was the complete opposite. She too had a mobile phone, but only by compulsion. At Paul’s coercion, she too had bought a smart phone. It was an Apple iPhone 5s. Though everyone she met went gaga over the phone, it did not tickle Devi’s fancy at all. According to her, a phone only needed a few features - Make phone calls, send short messages and occasionally set the alarm. Anything beyond that was an unnecessary facet, and she just did not care. But when Paul insisted on getting her the very latest in smartphones, she dropped her standards, and let him get her a state-of-the-art phone. The trouble now, was that she had no idea of how to go about using this piece of junk. And to make matters worse, the sim card was a different one. She had tried to fit the new sim card into her old phone, and it just slid through and rattled about in the slot.

When he “gifted” her the phone, Paul had promised to spend some time over the weekend helping her get accustomed to the new phone. However in typical Paul fashion, come Saturday morning, he was suddenly required in Frankfurt, and he left on the very next flight. This left Devi in quite a pickle, since she did not have a clue with regards to using this shiny new equipment. Since Devi was predominantly home  during the weekend, she could continue to use the land phone. "The real problem would be on Monday morning, when I get to work", she thought. "Hopefully someone at work can help me with it." Monday mornings were a nightmarish affair for Devi. It always had been, and this particular Monday morning was no different. To make matters a bit more complicated, their son’s nanny had pulled a sickie, which meant eight year old Arnav was alone at home. Though Devi’s neighbour, Mrs. Jain, had promised to pop-by, every hour or so, Devi knew that she shouldn’t have left him alone. But with her boss breathing down her neck demanding a finalised projection report before lunch time, she had no other alternative but to go to work, at least for a few hours till she got the report sorted. “I’ll just keep calling Arnav every hour to make sure he is alright” she thought. She had asked their friendly security guy, Ramu kaka, to keep an eye on Arnav as well.
As Monday morning wore on, Devi found herself drowning under the workload. Things got worse when her Managing Director, Mr. Tiwari, called for an impromptu all-hands-on-deck meeting in the board room, during lunch. She checked the time on her watch. It was 1:15 pm. As she walked into the meeting, she wondered if Arnav would have had lunch. The meeting room was packed and she noted that everyone, except Mr. Tiwari was present. “I’ll just make a quick phone call before he gets here” thought Devi, and took out her phone. She glanced at the screen of her new phone, unsure what to do next. For the love of god, she couldn’t find a phone icon. And this god-forsaken item did not have many buttons either, much less anything that resembled a phone symbol. As she sat there fiddling with the side-buttons of her phone, Devi failed to notice Mr. Tiwari enter the room. Unfortunately for her, Mr. Tiwari did see her playing with the phone. “Ah, the new iPhone I see, Devi. Looks like we’re paying you too much again!” he exclaimed loudly, from across the room. Embarrassed, Devi put the phone away into the depths of her handbag. “Why am I worried?” she thought. “Our numbers are programmed into the landline unit’s speed dial. Arnav will call us if there was anything urgent."
As the meeting dragged on, Devi could feel her eyes start to get heavy. Suddenly she heard a distant buzzing. It sounded like a very large mosquito, a few meters away from her ear. She glanced around to see if anyone had noticed. Nobody else had seemed to notice it. She dismissed it  nonchalantly. The buzzing continued, and Devi just tuned it out.
Ten minutes later, when the meeting finally ended, Devi jumped up from her chair. She decided that it was high time she checked up on her son. As she carefully dug her phone out from the abyss of her hand bag, she noticed that the screen was already lit up. 38 missed calls, said the message on the screen. All from a private number. At first she panicked. Then slowly her sensible part prevailed and she decided to check it out in detail.  She somehow managed to unlock the screen and clicked on the icon which had the number 38 superscripted in bold, red font on it. She looked at the time of the first call. It was at 1:50pm. The last call from the number was at 2 pm, a few minutes back. 38 missed calls in 10 mins! She wondered what was going on. Something was wrong. She immediately dialled the home number to check on Arnav. There was no answer. She tried the number again. The result was the same. No answer. She could feel trickles of sweat starting to build up on her forehead, inspite of the air conditioning running on full blast. She dialled Mrs. Jain’s number. She answered on the first ring. Talking to Mrs. Jain, Devi felt like she was having a panic attack. Apparently Mrs. Jain had to leave the building to post an urgent letter, and she had just returned. On her way back, she had stopped by Devi’s apartment to check on Arnav. But inspite of ringing the door bell numerous times, she did not get an answer. She had just stopped by her own flat to get the spare keys to Devi’s, when the phone rang. On Devi’s request, Mrs. Jain opened up their flat and checked it thoroughly. Arnav was no where to be found. Arnav was missing!   Devi felt the brand new iPhone slip from her hand and hit the floor with a resonating crash. Almost immediately a series of “WHY”  enveloped her thoughts:
“Why did I have to let Paul get me a new phone? I have no idea how to use one of these."
"Why didn’t I stick to my old phone? That way I could have just made the call home to Arnav before the meeting, without having to fiddle with this useless piece of smart junk. “ "Why did the phone not ring? I never put my phone on silent! I don’t know how to!”
She thought of calling Paul. He would know what to do. He had given her a local Frankfurt mobile number to call him on. She dialled his number. Almost immediately an automated voice on the other end explained first in German, then in heavily accented English, that the mobile number was switched off. By now, Devi was starting to hyper-ventilate. Her son was missing. Her husband was unreachable.  And the number that had called her, was a private unknown number. She feared the worst for her son. What if he was kidnapped? As she fought to hold back her tears, she heard the buzzing noise again. It was coming from her iPhone which was now face down on the floor. She picked it up. “Private number calling!” said the flashing message on the screen. She slowly pressed the green highlighted “Answer” button on the screen.
“Mrs. Dixit?” said the calm, monotonous voice on the other end of the line. “Yes…who is this?” stammered Devi, almost losing complete control of her senses now. She could feel the anxiety getting to her. “Please listen carefully” said the emotionless voice of the faceless caller. “Who is this? What do you want? Do you have my son?” stuttered Devi, now almost dreading what was about to come next. “ Mrs. Dixit, this is Manish calling from The Bank of the World. You’ve been pre-approved for a platinum credit card. Would you be interested ?” Devi closed her eyes in disbelief, clutched her brand new iPhone and threw it out the office window.
This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. We give out creative writing prompts each weekend for Indian bloggers. This week the prompt was to use the phrases 38 missed calls in 10 mins! She wondered what was going on. I've highlighted the afore mentioned phrase in red to indicate where it has been used.

Kindly note:

I intend no offence against any tele-callers who may be reading this, or any of you who may know someone who have been unfortunate enough to do the job, or if you have previously done the tele-marketing/caller role. It too is a job that pays the bills.

For those of you who were wondering what happened to Arnav, he is safe and sound. Paul returned early from Frankfurt, and he was surprised to find Arnav home alone. So he took him out to McDonalds for a nice meal and some much needed father-son bonding time.  As for Devi's phone not ringing, remember the time when she was fiddling with the side buttons of her phone in the meeting room? She inadvertently slid the button on the side which put the phone into vibrate mode.

Little Ryan and the scary movie


Little Ryan peeked out from under his blanket. The only light he could make out was the little red glow from the lamp in the corner, which did not do much to illuminate the room. Instead it gave his room a spooky aura. Luckily for him, the moon was shining brightly and the moonlight streamed eerily through the little window. Though he couldn’t see clearly, he noticed that the door to his toy cupboard was open. And then he saw the monstrous shadow move. “I wish I hadn’t watched that scary movie” he thought.

Earlier in the day..
While he was playing in the attic, he came across a sealed cardboard box. Being at the tender age of 10, he had every bit of curiousness that kids of that age possessed. He slowly wiped off the dust from the box and fiddled with the masking tape that kept it together. He slowly tore it open and looked inside the box. He was surprised to see scores of DVDs stacked neatly inside, all tagged with his fathers name on it. Excited at his discovery, he quickly skimmed through the titles. Most of them were missing the original wrappers and just had the names written on them. Cautiously he isolated one which had caught his attention. “Yes” he thought “I’ve got a new movie to watch”. Though he was the eldest of his parents’ three kids, even he had very restricted time with the TV. Fortunately for him, his mother and father had a dinner planned with the next door neighbours, the Hernandes. He carefully hid the DVD under his shirt and climbed down the stairs.

Later in the evening….

As he sat down on the sofa, he mused about his brilliant suggestion of offering to take care of his 5 year old twin brother and sister for the evening. His parents seemed a bit concerned at first, but he managed to convince them, especially since they were only next door. Mouthing a silent thank you for making his siblings early sleepers, he pushed the play button on the remote. He was sure he was in for a treat.

Two agonising and horrifying hours later….

“I wish I hadn’t watched that scary movie” he thought. He looked around the living room and thought he saw something move near the kitchen door. He wasn’t sure what to do next. He knew he shouldn’t have watched the movie without asking his parents about it. And now that it turned out to be very scary movie, he was panicking, scared and tensed, all at the same time.

“Thud!”. Little Ryan froze on the spot. The sound had come from the kitchen, the very place where he thought he’d noticed  movement. He suddenly wanted to talk to his parents. He wanted to rush into their arms, and snuggle into bed with them. He knew they were just next door and they could get home in a matter of minutes if he called them. The trouble was that the phone was down the hallway, which was past the kitchen, which was suddenly the source of all the strange scary sounds.

He looked around and saw his mother’s precious pointed candle stand. Though only 10 years old, Ryan prided himself in being the bravest of his classmates. He had already succumbed to his fear once by watching that movie today. And now he desperately wanted to call his parents. After a few minutes, the noises from the kitchen stopped. Armed with the candle stand, Ryan decided to make a run for it. After all his dads number was on speed dial 1. As he rushed past the kitchen, his curiosity was piqued and he couldn’t help but glance into the room, when he knew he probably shouldn’t. The last thing he saw before he hit the floor and stumbled out into the hallway, was a big black ball of fur coming right at him.

With his heart in his mouth, and the candle stand in his right hand, he looked at his adversary. And then he smiled. It was Krissy, their furry black Persian cat. He quickly gathered himself up and phoned his parents.

Later than night…

As his mother and father tucked him into bed, Ryan couldn’t help but feel very fidgety. He had come clean about the DVD and though his dad had said a few stern words, they had eventually seen the episode from a ten year old’s point of view. His mom had even read him his favourite bedtime story, something that hadn’t happened for a long time. But the movie still haunted him. Even when he was dozing off into “sleep land”, he could see the “partially opened cupboard from the movie from which the long, ugly arms emerged”. He shuddered as he thought about it.

At some point past midnight…

Ryan opened his eyes. His pillow was drenched in sweat. He had seen scenes from the movie again. Though it was close to 30degrees, he was shivering. From under the safety of the blanket, he peered out across the large built-in cupboard that stocked his toys. The door was ajar. And as the room was illuminated by moonlight, he thought he saw a monstrous shadow emerge from the dark abyss of the cupboard. As the shadow crept menacingly close, Ryan pushed off his blanket and ran out of the room, where he disappeared into the comfort of his parents bed.

As he cuddled up against his mother, little Ryan said a silent prayer. “I wish I hadn’t watched that scary movie” he thought.

For the record, early next day Ryan discovered that the monstrous shadow was just his giant stuffed bear Mr. Huggles, whose light-weight fur moved ever so slightly due to the air form the fan. And incase you were wondering, the movie that Little Ryan dared to watch was 2005 movie “Boogeyman”, directed by Stephen T.Kay. As he was more accustomed to the new generation super hero movies such as “Iron Man” and the likes, he naively thought that Boogeyman was another superhero.

Replugging this post for a prompt by Project 365 at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. Today's prompt was: Safety First - share the story of a time you felt unsafe'.


This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. We give out themes for creative writing each weekend for Indian bloggers.
wowbadgeThis week's WOW theme was "Repetition" and the aim was to have one sentence repeated at least three times in a post, without them being repeated consecutively. My sentence was the highlighted one: “I wish I hadn’t watched that scary movie” he thought.