Flash Fiction- What is normal?

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He didn’t have the most normal reaction one expected at the loss of a parent. There were no tears, there was no grief. If I were to identify with the one emotion that he displayed it could perhaps be cataloged as relief. The kind of relief one experiences when a great and terrible burden has been lifted.

Then again, he wasn’t the most normal person, how many people you know would list a bullet proof jacket as their ideal gift? Sameer was, for lack of a better word, unique. We first met as toddlers in the playgroup in our neighbourhood.  All the other children would be kicking and screaming all over the place (yours truly included) he would just sit down in a corner with six blocks of “1,2,3” and ABC. He would build two perfect towers one- one for the alphabet and one for numbers, both towers would be perfectly straight with one plastic cube perfectly placed on top of the other. After admiring his work for a minute of two, he would bring the tower down and start the whole process again.

I had never seen him smile.

Sameer lived at home with his parents, his uncle and his uncle’s wife his father’s only brother. Growing up, we were not financially comfortable, our living quarters were cramped and the occasional meal would be skipped but the sense of community made life a lot more easier. There was a principal of fairness instilled in us from the very first day of education. Whatever we brought from home would be pooled in to one huge communal meal. Sameer never brought any lunch throughout our schooling life. Sometimes, I gave him my lunches so that he could share it with the class as his. That’s how our friendship started.

Sameer always had a methodical approach to every thing he ever did, be it stacking blocks as a toddler or tackling any task. I remember when we were in 8th grade, someone donated a bunch of computers to our school, some 5 or 6 monitors were dumped in a large crate and all the wires, keyboards and mouses had been shoved in another box.

The computer systems donated were ancient, dusty, huge and heavy. They had been in a corner of a warehouse gathering dust for god knows how long. Just opening the flap of the box released a puff of dust in our faces. The students of the 8th grade had been instructed to assist the teachers in assembling the computer systems. No one in our school knew anything about computers, but Sameer volunteered to assemble them. Sameer and I stayed back after school to assemble our school’s computer lab which was basically made up of five broken tables pushed together a long extension board which Sameer fashioned from loose sockets, switches and floor boards. He worked very methodically but there was a touch of elegance to his work which made it seem like an artist was working.

After 5 hours of tedious labour, we finally managed to turn on the computers, I think it was in that time that our friendship bond really strengthened. That day we opened up to each other about our dreams. We asked each other what we wanted from our lives. I said that I wanted money, success, comfort and luxury, Sameer on the other hand after some hesitation muttered- “Peace”.

After that I found out that his father was an addict and use to regularly beat up his mother, Sameer had never told me this, the one thing that his father had taught him was never to air his dirty laundry in public. Every new bruise was explained as the result of a “fall”

One day he “fell” so hard that his arm was broken and his mother had also “fallen” with him which resulted in her breaking her ribs. People had asked her what happened and she just brushed it off like her son and said that she had fallen.

Now what I’m about to say next is just speculation based on the facts that I pieced together.

After the aforementioned fall where Sameer and his mother got injured, he complained to me about too many rats in his house. I suggested he get some rat poison from the hardware store around the corner. At the store, Sameer discussed his rat problem and asked for some potent rat poison. When the shopkeeper asked him how much he needed, Sameer replied “Enough to kill a rat no matter how big the bastard is” We took the poison to his house and grinded the small squares into fine white powder and placed it on his center table. We clearly labelled it “Rat Poison”.

I greeted Sameer’s father who only responded with a dazed look. He noticed Sameer standing next to me and asked him “Sameer when will you teach me how to read?”

Sameer did not respond and left the room, beckoning me to follow him.

A few days later, I saw a lot of people gathered around Sameer’s house, an ambulance was parked outside his house. His uncle and aunt were arguing with Sameer’s mother about something.
“But don’t you want to know how he died?” Sameer’s uncle angrily inquired, his aunt was bobbing her head in agreement with her husband.
“We all know how he died,” Sameer’s mother began “Why spend money finding out what we already know?”
“Don’t you owe it to him to find out?” Sameer’s aunt protested
“No.” Sameer’s mother’s eyes flashed dangerously signalling the end of the matter.
I had joined the crowd who were now enjoying watching the drama unfold
An acquaintance in the crowd whispered that Sameer’s father passed away from a drug overdose in the morning. Sameer spotted me in the crowd and beckoned me inside the house.
“Help me tidy up, we’ll be having a lot of visitors soon” he requested picking up shards of glass with his hands. I spotted a small translucent bag sealed lying on top of the sideboard with the sofa. Sameer picked up a similar bag from the center table marked “RAT POISON”, resealed it and placed in his pocket.
“At least the rat problem’s solved”

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Flash fiction- I lost it

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I thought that had I lost it. I could feel my pulse quickening, a bulging vein in my forehead threatened to pop.

A bead of perspiration trickled down to the bridge of my nose. A great rage started to rise within me, I had stayed silent for far too long.

They say that there is agony and then there is ecstasy, the former has accompanied me on my travails for as long as I can remember, I don’t believe that I have been fortunate enough to meet the latter.

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Flash fiction- it had happened again

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It had happened again! How could I have been so stupid?  I had sworn never to do it again. Worse, I had been caught doing it. They say there are low moments of your life- when you are so humiliated that you wish that the ground opens up and swallows you whole. I had been caught, and even more embarrassing was the fact that I was topless and my companion was standing in the corner of the room sobbing.

I guess I am getting ahead of myself. Let me start at the beginning.

I walked into the medical store and slyly slid over a piece of paper to the person at the counter. The shopkeeper was an old acquaintance who gave me a questioning look as if to ask “what the hell?”. I just urged him on with a nod to comply with my request and said” put it in a brown paper bag, don’t want anybody to see it” The shopkeeper gave me a conspirational nod and put the package in a plain brown paper bag and slid it towards me. I hastily shoved the package in my jacket and made my way briskly to my motorbike. I drove back to my house stopping to pick up my companion on the way.

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I snuck back into my house and checked to see if the coast was clear. Package in hand, I beckoned my companion as I sprinted up the stairs to my room and locked it after she was inside. I drew the curtains to shield the activity in the room from the outside world.

“Hurry!” she said as I opened the package

“Take off your shirt or it will stain!” I nodded and took my shirt off.

“Hurry someone might come soon. Open it! Open it!” she demanded

“Ok ok!” I replied as I took the package out of the brown paper bag.

As I was opening the package someone started banging on the bedroom door.

“Crap! Someone’s here! what do we do?” she asked panicking

“Stay quiet!” I hissed at her

“Open the door! Why is it locked?”

I signalled my companion to stay quiet

“I know you’re in there, I saw your bike outside.” I heard the jingling of keys and the sound of a key being put into the lock. I looked on as my companion scurried to the corner of the room, quietly sobbing, looking for an exit where there wasn’t one.

I grasped the package tightly looking for a place to stash it. Unfortunately, in times of panic rarely do you get a moment of clarity, and I ended up stuffing the package in the shirt that I had taken off.

There was a moment of silence before the voice outside the door said “Fine, if you are not opening the door, I will”

There was click of the lock and the door swung open letting in a rush of daylight which temporarily stung my eyes. My companion stood silently in the corner of the room sobbing.

My brother walked in the room and looked around briefly before he grabbed my shirt which was now stained as the contents of the package had melted. He extracted the package from the shirt, a few drops dropped on the floor.

“how could you let him do this?” he asked my companion

She gave a sheepish smile as she showed him the chocolate I bribed my sister with.

“You are diabetic, you can’t run around doing this anymore!” he yelled at me as he left the room, throwing the ice cream into the dustbin. I stared longingly as the package contents melted into a small puddle at the bottom of the bin.

“Next time don’t take off the shirt!” my sister remarked as she left the room munching away on the chocolate.

The lying lady- Flash fiction

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This is a translation of a short story that was written in Urdu.

The sun was at its hottest when he reached home from school. Upon entering the house, he felt his mother’s face light up at his sight. She smiled and said wash up and change your clothes, I will bring your lunch.
He changed his clothes, he wasn’t looking forward to lunch. Instead of the usual vegetables and lentils, a plate of his favorite dish was steaming on the table along with a bowl of dessert and juice.
He asked his mother if everything was alright? She said guests had come over today which is why she cooked so much. He asked his mother to eat with him. She said she already ate with the guests and was completely full.
“Eat up the food is getting cold.” His mother told him lovingly as she left for the kitchen to tidy up. He used to detest lunch everyday, but today his favorites were on the table and he quickly gobbled up his food.
He picked up his plates and went to the kitchen. Upon entering the kitchen he saw the lying lady sitting on the floor eating stale bread with water like a starving person.