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Badminton Match

“Amrita, think twice before refusing. It’s a golden opportunity.”
“I know Ma’am.”
“Stop calling me Ma’am! You know I don’t like it.”
“Okay Mansi, yes it’s a wonderful chance.”
“And yet you don’t want to grab it? I wanted you to go on this trip with me. This project will take you leaps ahead of others. Don’t you realise that?”

For the fifth time they were having this discussion ever since the assignment had come in. Mansi was her senior and both friends worked in an ad agency. Amrita kept quiet, when her boss was tired of convincing her, she slowly opened her mouth to voice out her reasons.
“Mansi you’re aware I’m not someone to shy away from work. If my daughter’s badminton finals wasn’t during the same time, I would have surely come with you to Australia.”

Mansi was seething with rage and passed a sarcastic remark,
“This is not the first and the last finals of her life.”
Amrita gave back
“And this is not the last project for our company.”
“Amrita you’re unnecessarily making a big deal about this badminton match of your daughter. As if you are sure that she will win.”
This comment irritated Amrita, nonetheless she kept her anger in check and said firmly,
“That’s not the point. Whether she wins or loses, I want to be there by her side. I don’t want to miss out on the important events in her growing up years. Please try to understand.”

Six hours later, at home…….

“How did she take it?”
Anurag was on the bed with his legs stretched out. He was eyeing Amrita keenly as she applied lotion on her arms. He was eager to know since he came home, but they followed certain rules and didn’t discuss such things in front of their daughter Arundhati. Amrita smirked at her husband from the mirror, turned around and huffed.
“Not very kindly of course.”

She came and sat beside him and he had more to say,
“But Amrita, she knew about your decision all along, didn’t she?”
“Yes. But today it was like a final no. So obviously I killed her previous hopes and she was angry.”

Anurag took his wife’s hand in his and said,
“I understand this project is important. I’d hate to see you spoil your tuning with Mansi. She’s not only your friend but your boss as well. I’m there for Arundhati. If you still want to take up this assignment, it’s fine by me.”

Amrita smiled and shook her head.
“No Anu, I’ve made my decision. This is what I want. I wish to be there for our daughter, see her playing. Sitting in the audience, I want to cheer her, scream her name and enjoy the memorable moments.”

Anurag pulled her in his arms.
“You’re a wonderful mother and I’m so proud of you.”
“I’m only trying. I wish to inculcate the best values in Arundhati. But all cannot be lectured about. Some need to be experienced first handed.”
Anurag grinned and embraced her again.

Standing outside their closed bedroom door, Arundhati wiped her tears and was filled with renewed love and respect for her parents.

🖊️Shamim Merchant

The Swing

“Twinkle, twinkle, little star, How I wonder what you are!”
Sitting on a large, open swing in their varenda, Kaveri was putting her little girl to sleep.
“Bhabhi, I’ll look after Kinjal. Could you please serve me lunch, I’m running late.”
Kaveri became hesitant. How will her thirteen years old brother-in-law, Mohan handle a six-month-old Kinjal?
“I’m yet to make chapattis. Let your brother come, then I’ll go into the kitchen.”
“Bhabhi, it’s time for my class. Please.”
Reluctantly Kaveri gave Kinjal in Mohan’s hands and said gently,
“Please be careful.”

Ten minutes later when she came out of the kitchen, her scream died in her chest and the plate of food fell from her hands. Mohan was laughing and chit-chatting on the phone, his back turned towards the empty swing.

“Twinkle, twinkle, little star, How I wonder what you are!”
Today, five years later, Kaveri’s eyes are still cemented on the hooks, which don’t hold the swing anymore. Ceaselessly, she continues to sing the poem with tears streaming down her face.

🖊️Shamim Merchant

Ten Gold Coins

From tonight onwards, I will be deprived of sleep for the rest of my life. And because of this new fear and panic, maybe even a few years of my life will become less. I’m afraid a heart attack is round the corner.

I’m Rajesh Shah, a bachelor of forty years, and live with my mother and an old grandmother. I work hard on our farm, but at the same time, I’m addicted to alcohol and gambling. My adultery is notorious all over the village, which is exactly why no one wants to give me their girl in marriage. Frustration has seeped in my bloodstream, yet when I enter a bar, all hell breaks loose and every positive thought, goes down the drain.

Fifteen years have gone by since grandpa passed away. My grandma’s entire life went in searching the ten gold coins left behind by grandpa. Grandma doesn’t know that I have hidden them in the attic of our house. They are the fuel which keeps feeding my outlandish, extravagant lifestyle.

The sound of thunder and lightning was echoing in my ears as I climbed up to the dark attic in the evening. Now only two out of ten coins are remaining. Where will I get the money from next month?

I don’t allow mom to come up here for cleaning. No wonder everything is scattered and smelly. Today, as I was climbing the stairs, a strange chill ran through my spine, making me nervous. I was literally shaking. I couldn’t fathom why I was sweating so much.

As soon as I stepped in the attic, the darkness in the room met the light of my lamp and my eyes witnessed the most horrifying scene of my life. I screamed and stumbled backwards whilst the lantern from my hand fell down. As per his habit, his dhoti had stretched up, and sitting with the support of his walking stick, my grandpa was curling his mustache, glaring at me with the two remaining gold coins in his hand!

Shamim Merchant