Written for a prompt by Women’s Web, my first fiction story to be published. I am thrilled and was grinning from ear to ear for the longest time! Posting it here for those of you who haven’t caught my regular bubbling about this story on my social media streams. I do wish to take this further; had some great inspiration this weekend, so hope I write a bit more soon. I would love to jump into Maragoo’s world, swim around to see what I get caught in… Will definitely drag you along… But for now, do read this first installation. [Fingers crossed it is the first of many to come]
For the original, click here.
One of the top 5 entries for October’s Muse of the Month writing theme, with the cue “There’s only one thing more boring than listening to other people’s dreams, and that’s listening to their problems.” taken from Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4.
Inspired by ‘Two Thousand Pound Gold Fish’ by Betsy Byars & ‘Walter Mitty’!
“Arrey, you know what happened then…those horrible MTNL people no, they asked me to come to the office, submit two documents, and fill one form. This is entirely their fault and I will have to go all the way to the office, fill a form, stand in queue, and then keep following up! Teesta, you know how they are, it will never happen at one go. It means a minimum of two to three visits. So I asked them if I can send someone else? Do you know what that woman said? ‘Is the telephone in that someone else’s name?’ That too in such a loud voice… Just not helpful! India is going to the dogs!”
Crocodile looked me in the eye and in a voice like the grumble of an old door’s hinges slowly opening, said, almost as if by programmed memory, “This is a message for Sta. You are getting in our way. You are not letting us do what we are here for. Back down and do not interfere, else we will wipe you out.”
This was no time for conversation. I had to make my move. I bent my left knee, stretched my right leg out, leapt at the same moment and rammed my foot into his upper jaws, unhinging it. The surprise of the kick, as it went against my stance of non-violence, shook him. He lost his grip and slid into the hole he had emerged from five minutes ago.
From deep within, a voice, now more grating, said, “This meeting was only to give you that message from Maragoo. I am not permitted to take you on Sta; but that is only today! Be warned.” There was a loud flop, some water squooshed, and I knew he had retreated. This was definitely not over; it had only been postponed. Crocodile was just a pawn in this war and Maragoo would react, soon. I had to stop this constant…
“Did you hear what I said, Teesta?”
“Huh…Errr… I… err”
“Were you not listening? Let me explain again. This MTNL…”
“I was listening Aunty. I agree, this has to stop!”
“Yes, and this isn’t the first time… MTNL has been doing this all the time, right from the time I had to get the account. And they just do not change. Why do things like this keep happening to me? You tell me… I am so tired! It doesn’t happen to others, you know… only me! And every time there is a new issue, I need to find someone who ca…help… m… a…”
“Sta, you attacked. It is against everything we stand for. Now they will retaliate.” Sui Ma was the head of our band. We were trained combat fighters, but ordered to use violent methods only after talks failed… Sui Ma called it ‘mind over mass’! Mumbai was rotting, and it had been for years. Every year, the influx was great, too much for the land to withstand, and dreams were not tangible enough to lift masses, and people failed.
Maggots always breed on rotting carcasses. The maze of British-Raj-installed sewage lines, electric wire pipes, and servicing hubs that ran below the surface had spawned another world under the seven islands that made up this city; inhabited by creatures that threatened human existence. I had made it my life’s ambition to end this world.
“You know I have chased even Mr. Karade. He is the head and I have met him quite a few times. They all just suck out our money, you know. Need to keep tipping them, else nothing gets done! Chalo, I have kept you away from work for a long time… thanks for the chai, Teesta beti. And what are you working on now? Writing something new? Any editor gotten back to you?”
It was a dark, dark abyss where light had never entered. This lawless under-land was home to creatures that bloomed on human debilitation. Maragoo was their King and I would be the one to defeat him!