Bathroom lizarD

“There’s a lizard in the bathroom”, Joe came back screaming. Out of the us four, only three were really scared of lizards but Ben wasn’t . Rather, he considered them icky. So nobody would be going in to confront the lizard. We waited and kept the go-to-the-bathroom-urge under control and took turns to go peek in the bathroom every hour or so. And the b*****d (read bathroom lizard) wasn’t moving. He sat there on the toilet seat in the same posture, his head raised, looking up at the light. His tail was also  up in a similar arc. In fact he has been in the same pose since morning. No he wasn’t dead. During my turns ,I swear I had seen his throat pulsing.

Then the co-occupants of our house – the humans (a male and a female who always left the place in the morning smelling of mint and rose/jasmine respectively and came back sometime in the evening smelling of the sweet smell of sweat ) came back. The female went into the bathroom – and like us the humans also despised lizards – and there was an ‘Eeeeeek’. She came out and communicated something to her mate.  He went inside, we heard a loud Thwack and he came out with the lizard’s dead body.

So with our threat now dead and gone, we barged into the bathroom.
“Dolf you first” Ben urged me.

So I led in front, Ben and Kim closely behind and Joe tailing us (poor guy was slow). We had just started our work – scouring the bathroom floor for our food(we were behind schedule due to that  damn lizard) – when the human female returned and saw us.  She Eeeeked! again and stormed out of the room.

That was not good. She would tell this to her mate and that wont be good. We decided to clear the area.

Sure, we are four and he’s only one. But we are no match for the weapon he will bring – cockroach spray.


The Transfer

Like you change your dress for a fresh one, a soul, when done, selects another body.


The running man’s leg caught on something and he fell head-first on to a heap of dry leaves and twigs. He tried to get up but there something was digging sharply into his legs. The faint moonlight let him see what caught him. It was a bear trap. Funny – why they would have bear traps in a cemetery. Was it laid by the ones hunting him now? Funny – how things have changed. He used to be the hunter, now he was being hunted. The pain radiating upwards from his calf was not letting complete that thought. Broken bones?

The footsteps grew closer. He tried to claw away. The trap was strong. He tried to bend over and work on the trap. The footsteps slowed down and came to a stop. Then THUD!!

Another jolt of pain hit him. This time it was in his jaws. He tasted his warm blood and something else. His teeth. Couple of them. When his vision returned, he saw the hunting party. Three of them – one held the baton which presumably hit him on the face.

He let the baton fall and lit a cigarette. A crude emotionless face became visible under that flame.

“What now, sir?”,asked one of them. It was directed at the leader of the pack – the one with the cigarette.

“Now what? Kill him off. For my sister. For all the sisters killed off by this f****. For people to walk without fear in the nights.”

“What about the police, sir?”

“What police? They will take him in, fatten him and maybe sometime in future pardon him. Those suckers. I don’t want this scum to be let scot free after all the things that he’s done. I want to make him feel what my sister felt when he was ripping through her flesh. ”

Sometime during all these dialogues, the man caught in bear trap had stopped screaming and started cackling like a lunatic.

“Huh, sir? I don’t think anything is going through him”, said one of the hunters to their leader.

The lunatic was still cackling. He wasn’t listening to a thing said or pretending he wasn’t.

“I know something that will go through him”, said the hunter as he picked up something which was dropped by his prey earlier – a raggedy old tool bag. ‘The Ripper’s  tools’ thought the hunter. In it were the tools – everything you need to cut and stab and pull at human flesh, with blood still dried up in each one of them. Like the equipment of some deranged surgeon. ‘He brought his own instruments for his torture’, thought the hunter.

The next few minutes the hunting party spent driving metal through the Ripper’s body, one by one. Every time it was done, the Ripper would scream and then slowly that agonising scream would turn into that old maniacal laughter. And every time the hunting party,  would wait for the pain to subside, then would induce fresh pain. Eventually they got bored and decided to end him once and for all. They fashioned a gallow from the only tree that stood there, slipped a knot around the Ripper’s neck and hung him to die.


The building like any other buildings in that compound had a lot of offices. It had begun raining. Almost all offices had stopped their business at that hour, but one. Only one window had light if you looked from outside. It was that comics office, the one rumoured to close down soon. They are doing bad business these days.

Seems like a deadline to meet, otherwise why would you see that spectacled guy, their Creative Director working at this hour? The rain was picking up its pace outside.

The man stared at his table. He had completed the wireframes for the next week’s cartoon, with sketches for a new villain like his boss had ordered. Now he could go home. All he had to do was call his boss.

The man picked up the polished stone which he was using as a paperweight and placed it on top of drawings. Then he started dialling his boss.


The hunting party had left. The Ripper hung from that improvised gallow. His struggle ended as his right index finger twitched to a halt. And till that last breath in that body, he had never felt any remorse for all the bad he had done till then.


The Creative Director was too busy talking to his boss that he did not notice the strangest of all things happening. The shaded figure in one of his drawings slowly materialising behind him. And when it had formed completely and stepped out into that room, it picked up the stone paperweight.

Prequel to this


It was six months since we moved into the new house. It was a decent place, the rent was cheap and it was convenient for both of us to reach work. For her, it was just a walk and for me it was a 10 minute drive.

The house was in the middle of a huge plot overrun by bushes and weeds. The owner had done a cleanup just when we moved in, but as it was the rainy season the vegetation came back up stronger than ever. With the flora comes the fauna – the evolution is inevitable. Soon the place was a host to all the creepy crawlies you could find in the damp Amazons – snails, slugs, leeches, centipedes and millipedes of all colours, shapes and sizes.

As the population increased, many of them migrated to,no.. invaded our warm and cosy home. At first it was alright. Curiously shaped moths with wings painted like human faces ended up on our Instagram accounts. We didn’t mind an occasional insect in our life.

But soon that changed. Everyday when I left home or came back from work, I found shiny snail trails on the verandah or the driveway. Sometimes the tyres crushed a few to pulp. My wife started complaining about the millipedes in the bathroom or spiders in the kitchen. But it were the roaches in the cupboard that creeped the both of us out. Because it felt like they weren’t scared of us and tell me why they always landing on us once they were airborne?

With the prey comes the predator. We don’t know were they came from, but soon the lizards began appearing presumably to tackle the ‘small bug’ problem. We hated them the most. They crawled across the room, the walls and the roof. Sometimes they would lose grip and fall down on to our head.

Bug sprays began finding the top spots in our shopping lists. But it was a hassle cleaning up after the killing. We didn’t mind killing and disposing off the insects, but it was their predators that we couldn’t do anything about. We tried all the home remedies to ward off the lizards – egg shells, vinegar sprays, chilly powder and the like. It seemed at first that it had worked. But they came back how the grass would, after mowing. Google was running out of solutions that would work against the creepy crawlies.

Talking about grass, our backyard was a small rain forest now. The rain – even though in small amounts – was doing its work. The grass was a now almost waist-high. And it was not only grass, there were all kinds of shrubs – seen and unseen. I had tried cutting through them once using the biggest knife I could find but all I got was a barrage of needle-like thorns in my left hand palm. I had to spent half that Saturday removing them carefully. The plants were tougher than I thought. They defended my strikes with equal stubbornness. I tried lighting them up after dousing them in kerosene. The wetness did not let the flame through.

Like in the case of the creepy crawlies, I found some interesting things in the vegetation. The most important of them, I would say the most shocking, was a plant with large red flowers. The petals were flesh red. There was a projection in  the middle of each flower which looked like tentacles and for a moment I thought they were moving. A clear slimy liquid oozed from tiny holes in the tentacles. The petals were drenched in that ooze and when sun shined on that it felt like the petals were slabs of flesh indeed – like the ones you see hanging in at a butcher’s. The shocking part was yet to come. A fly flew close by one tentacle and when it came close enough I saw,yes I saw, the tentacle catching it from mid air. The fly struggled a bit to get out of the ooze which slowly trickled down the tentacle on to one petal where there was a puddle of that liquid. Midway on its slow descent, the fly stopped struggled and then eventually slowly drowned in that ooze. It made me look up ‘carnivorous plants’ in Google for the rest of my day. But I could not zero in on that particular species in my backyard. The one that came close was the Sundew plant, scientific name that began with Drosera. But this one looked smaller than what was described in the Net.

Anyways disposing off the creepy crawlies was never a headache again.

Did I tell you about the dog issue yet? Right. You remember me saying the neighbourhood was nice. But I forgot to mention the litter of stray pups that troubled us. They wandered around the locality feeding off the trash. Nobody wanted to take them in. I loved dogs only when they were in pictures. Since our gate would remain locked when we went to work, they used our porch and verandah as a shelter from the rain. When we came back from work we found the verandah full of dirty paw prints and dog hair. And the smell was awful – smell of wet dogs. Sometimes the smell seeped into our dining room while we were having our  dinner. Room fresheners were now running low.

But we would have lived with that stench. Then one day I saw one of them doggies doing the unforgivable. While we were getting ready for the office, through the window, I saw him  tearing off a chunk of leather and sponge from the front of my scooter’s leather seat and cushion. By the time I unlocked the door and went outside to beat the gas out of him, I saw the group(yes the whole group) crawling out from under my gate. My scoot was just a few months old and it was authentic leather, as the brochure claimed.

Every time we were off the scene, the gang would take over the premises and do their dirty work. And every time my wrath for them was increasing. At first we tried to prevent those unfortunate circumstances from occurring again – by spraying diesel or vinegar on the porch and barricading the gap under the gate – but it didn’t work. So I decided to resort to the extreme measures. I am no dog lover, but didn’t hate that species till then. Like any social media hypocrite, I used to share or forward cute dog pics and videos to my peeps. This was something I could not bear anymore. I kept a stick ready for them by the window sill and kept my front door closed when I was home to give them a surprise attack. But the little jerks always escaped.

On the other side, my little backyard jungle kept flourishing. It was the rain and lack of gardening. My wife was nagging me to call up the landlord so that he could send someone to clean them up. But I kept putting that off telling her to wait till the rains end, otherwise it would grow back fast. But to tell you the truth, I was interested the way the red flowered plant was growing. It was a natural shredding machine for the dead bugs from my home. Nowadays I have been killing lizards too with the bug sprays. I was neither afraid nor nauseated (don’t have a better word) at the sight of roaches or lizards. All I had to do was to spray a load of Black Death (yes that’s the registered trademark. Strange name though) at those suckers, watch them die, collect them in polythene bag and toss them one by one in the icky sticky liquid puddle in those flesh coloured petals, which were now as big as those kitchen dishes. Were these guys steroids? I am feeding them regular roaches and lizards. Oh and the other day while I was watching the plants digest their food in that acidic goo, a crow came by eyeing a lizard on one of those petals. SWIPE! That’s what I heard. Like a whip, one of those tentacle-y shoots, grabbed at the crow like I saw it grabbing at that fly and coiled around it. I felt my innards churn as the crow struggled, as it was forced into the slime. It splashed around a bit, spilling the liquid around the plant. I wanted to look away but could not. The crow kept sinking with the prized lizard in its beak. I didn’t tell my wife that I barfed my breakfast there.


It had been a week now after the crow incident. The bug population had subsided in our house. I rarely visit the backyard these days. And I realised that those puppies are no longer around. Where had they gone to?

One of those days I woke up from a nightmare. Puppies sinking into the acidic goo. The tentacles dancing in the wind or on their own.

Our landlord called one day claiming  he had sent one guy to clean up the compound while we were away at work and that he didn’t call back to claim the wages. Neither me nor my wife had seen such a person.

That night I had nightmares of a still alive unknown gardener guy being slowly digested inside that sticky goo. His face full of dread. His gaping mouth spluttering that slimy ooze.

It was one of those tentacles, I am sure. It was bigger now with more prominent holes like that of an octopus. And it had pierced in through the  kitchen window and it felt like it was reaching for the stove. I cut it off before my wife noticed it. As I was moving it to the garbage bin, it writhed and tried to coil around my arm.


Its been months and we have moved to another house. A bigger and spacious one. No bugs here, till now. The rains are all gone. It is really hot now, the summer has just begun.

I know its been days. But I cant stop wondering what happened to the red flowers and whats happening to the present inhabitants of that house. Maybe the plants were all gone now due to the heat. Yesterday I looked up Google Maps. There it was – a patch of bright red right behind that house. The spread had increased.

Crowd of Shadows

Dark grows the night.
Cold grows the air.
You curse that moment under your breath.
The moment you decided to take that late call at work.
Or the moment you wanted to have another peg at the pub.
Or the moment you thought it would be great to spend some more time at the party.
Anyways here you are – walking alone, down the street. Not a living thing in the vicinity. Your home is just another couple of blocks away. But your walk is taking ages. Is it the booze? Is it fatigue? Mornings would have taken you just under 5 minutes to complete that walk. Now? How long has it been till now? 10? 15?

There is stillness in the air. It is eerily silent and a tiny rustle is enough to make you jump. The streetlights are not doing their job good enough. Some are flickering and those which are not are throwing faint circles of light on the pavement. There is always a space between the circles where it is dark. Darkness is strong tonight. It is those spaces that you fear the most. The spaces where dangers unknown to you lurk. Talking about dangers, are you thinking about the recent killings in your city? The Ripper? The one who preys on the unfortunate late-night people like you? The one who is aptly named as he/she/it rips throats to slay the victims? And with what – a tool or bare hands? You can feel a fresh stream of sweat breaking out of your head and joining the wetness which clams your shirt tight to your skin.

And then your hear something from behind you which makes you quicken your steps.  You hop from one circle to the other, trying to avoid darkness.

Talking about darkness. Do you really know what it means? People have different views. But for me, darkness is nothing but a crowd of shadows. And thats where I’ve been hiding tonight. Then somewhere between those circles of light, I will pounce on you, beat you into submission and rip your throat out just like I’ve been doing. Tonight you will be another addition to the Ripper’s trophy case.

Something which was afraid of dogs

Just one dog for the whole town
Their unappointed nightwatch
She became an annoyance, one day
When she started barking without reason

‘Mad dog’, said the townspeople
The dog was barking at nothing
Then one day she attacked the locksmith
Who tried to tend to the town’s water tank
That was when she was put down
‘Mad dog’ they said, flogged and buried her
None knew the dog wasn’t barking at nothing
There was something up there in the tank
which she tried to save the locksmith from
Something which was afraid of dogs
Like men are afraid of ghosts
Thats why we are heading there
Cos that thing took away everything from the town
Their children and cattle and happiness
I don’t know, men, what our guns will do
Cos bullets and fire have failed before
But this time I feel like we have a chance
Cos that box that the horses are pulling
Has a couple of hungry canines
The ones I’ve been starving
To catch that Thing in cold

Chain Reaction

The fly hovered around for a few moments and then swooped down on the lump of chewing gum stuck on that old wall. It still had some sweetness, and the fruity smell was too hard to resist for the insect. It began feeling around for the sugariness and that was when the lizard came out of a nearby crack in the wall and gobbled the fly up. A cat was lurking around observing the events happening on the wall. It pounced upon the lizard. Neither the cat nor the dog that was spying on that cat knew that this would set off a chain of tragic events. The dog attacked the cat. The cat’s owner came to its rescue and struck the dog with the nearest stick he could find. The dog’s owner wasn’t far away. An argument ensued. A fight started. Within minutes the whole neighbourhood was divided into cat people and dog people. Thus began the riot. 


The night was cold and there was a hint of snow for the winter was not over yet.

The man in leather jacket paced nervously towards the old building. He kept looking back and for a moment saw the shadow lurking among the shadows. His worst fear was confirmed. Someone was following him, ever since he got down at the station. He clenched on to the suitcase.

The pub was as usual deserted for that ungodly hour. But the barkeep was still working, cleaning up for the day. He sighed as the last customer, our man walked in and sat on a bar stool. He ordered a strong drink. The barkeep kept it on the counter and the man gulped it down in an instant. He ordered another one.

As the barkeep was preparing the drink, the man dug out a few currency notes from his jacket pocket, “Could you please do me a favour?”

The barkeep placed the drink in front of the man and stared at him questioningly.

“I… I think I am being followed, somebody is after me…” The man stopped. The barkeep looked at the door as if he wanted to check for himself. Then he stared blankly at the man again.

“Why should someone be after you?”

“I am a scientist and the work I am doing will be worth millions. Could you please do me a favour?”

“You already asked that. I want no trouble, have your drink and be gone”

“I can give you more money. I just need to hide these papers till I come back after making a phone call. These should not fall into the wrong hands.” He was pointing at his suitcase.

The barkeep finally gave in after ten minutes and five times the initial offer. The man walked briskly out into the cold.


The scientist returned a few moments later. He was not wearing his jacket this time. There was something different about this man this time. He looked older and tired, and he seemed lost. ‘Maybe someone robbed him of his leather jacket and the cold took its toll on him, poor guy’, thought the barkeep.

“That was fast. Here are your possessions. Have a drink. It’s on the house. You need it badly. “, the barkeep put the suitcase on the counter and place the drink right next to it.

The scientist’s eyes lit up seeing the suitcase and he left the scene with it, without touching the drink or saying a ‘Thank You’.


The barkeep was closing the counter when the scientist came in again. He was wearing the leather jacket this time.

“You didn’t leave? I am off by the way. So no drinks, sorry.” asked the barkeep.

“It took a while for me to find a payphone and then I got lost. And how could I leave? My papers are with you”

“I don’t understand, you took the suitcase away just now.”

“What?? What do you mean?”

“Are you drunk? Oh yes you are. Look, I gave you the suitcase. But you were looking troubled then. I don’t have time for this nonsense.” The bartender seemed irritated and he pushed the man out of his way.

“W… wait. It was not me. Maybe someone who looked like me. I need to find him and get the papers. Could you please assist me? I am very much new here. I don’t know the way around. I will pay you handsomely, I promise”

The negotiations went on for a few minutes and they finally settled on an amount. The bartender grabbed a pistol from behind his desk for ‘security’ and accompanied the man.


The old town was mostly a vast open barren area with only a few buildings, most of which were not occupied. The grey fog and the moon playing hide and seek added to the ghostly atmosphere.

The duo with the bartender in lead with the pistol in one hand and a torch in the other, and the nervous scientist behind him, finally found the man who took the suitcase at the end of the town park. He was burning something and using it as a bonfire. He saw the scientist and the bartender approaching but did not move.

Now the bartender was surprised. The two men looked exactly the same – one a bit older than the other, like they were father and son or maybe brothers. The scientist ran towards the man. He did not seem surprised at the similarity in each other’s appearances. He seemed more interested in what was being burned. Yes it was the suitcase and its contents.

The scientist quickly recognized the half burned suitcase and tried to put out the flames by stomping on it. The man tried to stop him and it led to a scuffle. The bartender rushed to the spot and broke it off quickly. He now had the doppelganger at gun point and asked the scientist to calm down.

The scientist wasn’t. He kept shouting and screaming about ‘years of research’ and ‘a paper presentation’. The suitcase was still burning.

“Who are you, really?” he asked the doppelganger, at last.

The man seemed calm and answered, “Isn’t that obvious? I am you, but from future. Thanks to the research”.

It seemed absurd at first but eventually the scientist seemed to accept what the man said. The bartender stood there, pointing the gun at the old man. ‘These guys are crazy’, he thought. But the money he got was real, so he didn’t care.

“Time travel? So my research worked”, asked the scientist.

“Yes it did. It laid the foundations for time traveling portals. People began travelling back and forth in the timeline and rewriting history, and in effect the future.”

“Wow. That is so exciting. ”

“Don’t be too happy. It means you can alter anything and everything. And ultimately it lead to a global nuclear disaster. The world, from the time I come from, is a wasteland and has only a few survivors now. I came back from future to change the End of Days. I wanted to undo what I did. Listen you are not going to present the paper at the lecture. ”

The suitcase had finally melted into a lump of black plastic destroying its contents with it. Then the most amusing thing, in the last few hours, happened. The doppelganger started fading away like an image in a television dissolving into static. And then he was no longer there. The bartender lowered his gun.

The future might have changed.


The lecture was a complete letdown. The subject was intriguing but the presentation was filled with a lot of holes and loose ends that half way through most of the audience started yawning. The material seemed so ordinary and the lecturer seemed lost. Even his enthusiastic followers felt disappointed. There was nothing in the speech which matched the man’s prowess.

The scientist was playing it down. He had to keep the commitment. That was why he was presenting this paper, which he had written down in a fly keeping only the superficial details, not wanting to dig down deep. He did not want to take a chance. If what happened the other night was true, this was where the world would begin to change.

As he was getting ready to leave, a man approached him. He was spectacled and bald.

“Hello, professor. That was one amazing speech. Don’t worry about them, you are going to build a practical time travel device, anyways. ” The scientist shrugged it off and tried to walk past the man. “You won’t believe me I am from the future. Your invention changed a lot of lives“, said the man behind him.

The scientist stopped and saw the man walking away. After a disappointing day, that was the first time he smiled. You may feel lost. But all you need is a push to get you back into the right track.


The bald spectacled man chuckled as he walked to his car. Pulling practical jokes was his greatest pastime. “Time travel, what a moron”, he thought.

All white upstairs

A neatly trimmed graying, no – almost white beard and white hair. White shirt and blue jeans. A friendly smile. This summed up the old man who had recently moved in, upstairs to the boy and his family. He could have been a little younger than the boy’s grandpa, but who knew? The boy observed that his new tenant was tall and well built, unlike his grandpa who had recently ordered his second walking stick and who spent every other minute in a tedious dry cough. His parents were heard talking about the new tenant’s charming personality. His mother said the man was a professor. His father had a different opinion – a writer.

The colony apartments were mostly two-storey – each being rented out to a different tenant. Hence the gates always had two name-boards. But there was none for this man. It was customary to have one  near the door bell and intercom. It had stayed empty, even weeks after the man moved in. In fact no one had seen him coming downstairs, confirming the suspicion of most of the colony residents that the man indeed was a writer.

Our boy loved flying kites with his other friends of the colony. It is not unusual for kites to end up on top of trees or lamp posts. This time it got lodged on top of the mango tree in front of his apartment building, the roots of which were slowly eating into the compound wall. The boy was no climber like the other boys of his age. But he usually managed to scale the tree  avoiding ant nests and used to perch on the only reachable branch which gave a good view of the colony. The kite was a little above his reach from the branch, so he had to carefully stand up. He got the kite alright, and was about to get down from the tree when he turned around and found that he was looking straight into the first floor window – the old man’s quarters.

The room was all white. Not dull-white but clean-white. The old man in white shirt was sitting in his sofa in the exact middle seat with his back to the window. He was definitely watching his TV as something was flickering in front of him. Every now and then he reached out to the side table to get his glass of water and took one sip and then put that back again. There was a jug of water on the table for refilling.

So the boy had achieved something that the other residents had not for weeks – catch a glimpse of the old man, well, the back of his head at least. He could not tell this to his mother as he was forbidden from climbing the tree.

Spying on the old man turned out to be his favourite pastime in the following weeks. But there was nothing much happening in the room. The old man sat glued to his TV, sipping water from his glass, occasionally refilling from the jug. Nothing else moved in the room. And yes, the TV was black and white as the flicker had no colour to it.

Sometimes there were guests at the old man’s house. But the boy hadn’t seen any of them coming in  or leave. The guests also, like the old man, would sit on the sofa next to him sipping water chatting to him. The old man seemed good at cracking jokes as his guests were always cheerful around him. He also seemed very knowledgeable as the guests seemed to listen to him keenly, when he was explaining something.


Right outside the compound wall of the colony there was a pan-wala. He was a cheerful guy. The boy had seen him singing to himself as he worked. He was a very friendly person except to one man – Professor uncle, the boy’s father’s friend who taught at a nearby college. The boy was not exactly aware why they used to ‘like’ each other so much. But one thing was sure. Every time they met they would hurl insults at each other and sometimes others would have to intervene to hold them back from getting into a fist-fight. You could never leave them alone to themselves.

Everything came to an eventual close one day. It was a rainy evening and the pan-wala was about to close his business and return home, when the professor came into sight. The professor was this time engrossed in his thoughts that he didn’t even see his enemy. But the pan-wala made a snide remark about the professor’s parents and the professor came back running, almost bursting into flames. The compound wall around the colony was not that healthy those days, so you could see bricks lying around here and there. The pan-wala had to just pick one up and strike. The professor came down on the ground with a thud and started bleeding from his forehead where the brick struck. His spectacles -twisted out of shape – dangled from one of his ears.

Everything happened in a matter of moments and the pan-wala now came to his senses. He started sweating realising what he had done. He examined the man on the ground. The professor barely seemed breathing.  People started gathering around.

In panic, the pan-wala ran across the street straight on to the course of a truck. It was all over before the driver could apply brakes.


Moments later the professor recovered, he had only passed out from the blow on his head. Still dizzy, he saw the lifeless bloody body of his enemy – the panwala, clutched his left chest as if in pain and slumped to the ground. Two deaths within minutes.


It was very gloomy, the next day. The colony was mourning the two losses, so children were not allowed to play outside even though it was a holiday. It was overcast and our boy did not have anything else to do than sit on the mango tree branch. And maybe snoop on the old man.

There were guests this time as well and they were chatting away happily. ‘Was water the only beverage that this guy had to offer his guests? But they seemed OK with it. Maybe the drink did not matter in front of this guy’s warm nature.’, the boy thought.

In mid-conversation, the guests turned their heads towards the man as he offered a refill. The boy was shocked to identify the guests – they were none other than the pan-wala and the Professor, and there was no single bruise on their faces. They were happy as ever. No signs of enmity.

Suddenly the old man turned around and the boy tried to hide behind the foliage. But he slipped. He tried to hold on to the trunk but could not.

There was a crash and thud. All he could remember was the hint of sun through the dark clouds above. The sun slowly turned red.


When he woke up he was sitting right next to the old man in the whitest of all rooms, on the softest of all sofas. There was a glass in his hand which was half full. The man was talking about something that he could not understand, but there was a strange feeling to the way he talked, which made him smile at the man. He sipped the liquid. It was not plain water. Even if it was, it was the most delicious glass of plain water he had ever tasted.

The TV was flickering in front of them. It was all black and white. The channels changed on its own. One moment it was a crowded street somewhere in the West. Then it changed to a beautiful beach. The next moment it was a familiar scene – the colony and so on.

It was getting late. He wanted to interrupt the man and go to his home downstairs. But he knew, he would never go back.