Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Mary Huxley and The Truth #Unmasked @ WEP

There is no formal challenge in December, 2020. If it would have been then the theme was “unmasked”. Perhaps the irony that we could not be unmasked yet, from COVID-19 pandemic obviously, took the challenge away. 

Yet I was ready with my story. Hence, I am posting as the WEP ritual.

********************

Mary Huxley and The Truth

Mary Huxley pulled the gun from the holster. The peddler must surrender, or Huxley would pull the trigger.

Huxley has been chasing this ever since she had stepped in this area, on foot, in civil clothes, without gun, even before she received charges of the post officially. She strolled around the scene from midday to middle of the evening, until the end of the last begging shift of the day. She reversed her shirt, released her bun into a cascade of hair down to her waist, between the first two strolls, to avoid being noticed by the beggars or anyone working in the area. Before subsequent strolls, she changed her look respectively by putting on a jacket and plaiting her hair, and, by reversing the jacket and stuffing the plait into a beanie cap. She used various combinations of these style moves during her subsequent strolls.

The scene had several visual obstructions. It was bound by historic Dawson Hotel to East and another Pennines sandstone building to West. Adjacent to this building, to its North, stood Hurtshire railway station. A hundred feet long alley was stretched from the station at West along the northern boundaries of the hotel to East. There was another alley between the hotel and the building. The alleys were separated by the hotel building, an erstwhile garden turned ivy infested dirty patch and an elevation of almost six feet to their eastern end. The southern alley descended to the level of Northern alley and was abruptly truncated by the sandstone building. A viaduct ascended westward along the southern alley and went past the building’s southern end.

Two cameras were mounted on the eastern wall of the building, one camera viewing the hotel a hundred feet away, another viewing the northern alley emerging from the railway station, forty feet away. These were single view traffic signal cameras, not with three hundred sixty degrees view, hence, unable to record everything surrounding them.

Huxley noticed different beggars, appearing in shifts, sitting by the northern wall of this building, near the railway station, just out of respective lines of vision of the cameras. The beggars were exchanging tiny paper wraps, like candy wraps without candy, filled with white powder, if paid with bills as small as five squid. Otherwise they were asking meekly, “D’ya have ‘ny change? Change please.”, shaking the paper cup part full of changes.

Mary Huxley, the cop, concluded, “Narcotic peddlers, in disguise of beggars.”

She sat on the crest of the viaduct, beneath the cameras, to watch the effect of the entry of the patrolling Peace Officers on the peddler. The station was out of the visual frame. The peddler’s blanket corner was peeking from North-eastern corner of the building. The hotel was to her right. Around this time, her anxious mother called, “Can’t you quit policing? Pursue forensic technologies, instead. You’re a Chemistry major.”

Mary’s mother hung up knowing the futility of the suggestions with, “Can’t stop worrying…. the whole world’s sworn enmity with the police…”

Patrolling peace officers were appearing every half an hour alternatively from East and West ends of the visual frame. Whenever a uniform appeared at the hotel end, Huxley found that the beggar was missing at the begging post. She also noticed the beggars leaving their post and pretending to walk towards the hotel, minutes before a peace officer appeared from the station.

From her strolls she gathered that the begging peddlers could see police persons approaching from the shopping center lying north-west of the railway station. The visuals enabled them to feign being passersby before the officer. But the hotel end was visually obstructed by the ivies and the elevation.

Huxley realized that there must be a signal for the peddler on arrival of a peace officer at the hotel end. Within the following two hours, she figured out that the vocalist with a guitar busking under an arch of the viaduct was striking a distinct pitch viewing the police officer at the hotel end. It was the signal to the begging peddler.

In her inaugural shift on job, Mary approached along the northern alley to Hurtshire station, remaining invisible to the busking singer by the ivies. She surprised the begging drug peddler at the usual begging post by North-east corner of the building and made her first arrest.

She mentioned in her report the requirement of cameras with three hundred sixty degrees vision above the beggars’ post. Her peers were congratulatory but jealous. Yet she was relieved from pursuing the case further.

Months passed. A veteran among colleagues, Martha Bentley, told Mary, “The beggar you’ve arrested was an undercover.”

Huxley was disappointed that her enthusiasm spoiled the toils of someone else. To make up, she started spending more hours of her own in between Dawson Hotel and Hurtshire Station. She took photos of changing faces of the beggars, of their ringleader in rainbow hairband tied like a rag in false carelessness, in earrings and necklace of rainbow beads, in pink lipstick.

Some more months passed. No new camera was installed. Mary continued creating a dossier with clear identities of every peddler feigning beggar, their ringleaders, and customers with the photographs she took. She shared her findings with her commanding officer Bob Smith. Smith studied Huxley’s work for some time. Then he instructed Mary, “Make the arrest.”

Hence, Mary Huxley appeared at the obvious scene of crime, caught the peddling beggar by surprise, by the camera blind North-eastern corner of the sandstone building. The peddler pulled a gun from his shopping bag. So did Huxley.

Her team was around, was armed and was targeting the peddler and scanning the surroundings for peddler’s aides. Yet, dying Mary saw that her team was fumbling to shoot her killer, the peddler, who disappeared in the crowd. She realized on death the numbing effect of stigma for upholding the law on rigorously trained police reflex. Her last sigh was on just unmasked initiation of destruction of the criminal justice system.

 ********

Word count: 1000 (one thousand, with hyphenated words, without hyphenated words, 996 [nine  hundred ninety six)]

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Looking forward to your critique….

 

 

 


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Sunday, November 22, 2020

Few words in support of fellow WriMos #NaNoWriMo #NaNoWriMo2020

 I was skeptical if I could finish writing a fifty thousand words long first draft of a novel.

My first fiction failed to yield any response from any agent for the last two years. It was rejected by a leading global publisher for its kind and, mainly, for its size. It is one hundred sixty-two thousand words long.

My second novel failed to see broad day light of publishing as it was trailing behind the first one.

I understand that those two do not speak of victimhood of the communities, or misogyny or racism or casteism, or communalism and all that are in line with Associated Press approved narratives. Yet those two speak of power struggle, power abuses, conflicts and impacts of big issues on small people.


It is clear that those two will not never see the light of publication. Hence, there comes the question.

Should I put my hand on my third?

Should I?

I had to. I am helpless about developing a plot into a complete story.

When I had no time, I tried to finish my stories in only fifty words. They have a nice name for it, Mini Saga. But its readers complained of obscurity.

I moved on to tell stories in more and more words.

Written a dozen short stories of thousand to three thousand words.

Then, this October I noticed in a friend’s blog post about NaNoWriMo.

I started looking for it online. I missed it in 2012, 2013 and so on. 2012 required me to be present at WriMos' afternoon sessions at the county library headquarter. In 2015 the venue was two hours’ drive away, and the schedule was not compatible with my job. 2016 kept me busy with my near one’s medical issues. In 2017, my day job was monstrously all engulfing. In 2018 a job kept me distracted. In 2019 again there was …. something that held me back from participating in NaNoWriMo.

I had two themes under my sleeves. One, had already been developed to plot, too. But that plot needed me to read some reference books. I had no time for minute reading before the onset of NaNoWriMo 2020.

Hence, I developed the other theme into a plot. Then, I divided the plot points into five broad heads allotted ten thousand words to each of them. Next, I rearranged the plot points under those heads and allotted three broad points under each broad head. Thus, I planned for a total fifteen chapters segregated into five parts. Next, I allotted three thousand three hundred forty words to each of the chapters. Thus, my goal for the entire first draft became a little larger than fifty thousand words.

Also, I prepared its dramatis personae. Then, I waited till November 1, 2020 stroke my time zone.

For the calm of early morning, for my mind to be free from distractions while developing the plot into a novel, I dragged myself out of bed every morning between thirty past four to nine past five. The latter was the latest.

I did not have any beverage. I did not even think of having any. My whole attention was drawn towards writing at least a thousand words before anyone at home gets up. 

Yet the start was a meager six hundred words on the first day. It was followed by another one thousand eight hundred on the next day but dropped again on the third.

I had to gear up. I squeezed my all free time on the weekend into eight hours, five on Saturday and three on Sunday.

Even then my speed was below average.

I started wedging my hours to participate in the six O’clock evening sprint led by Mr. Prakash Hegde of WriMO India chapter. It tuned me up to write one and half a thousand words in addition to the morning words in the day.

Before each break and after each break, I checked the word count per chapter. The first was the biggest. It splashed much above its designated limit. Then, I tried to finish the rest of the chapters within the limits. For achieving the limits, I recalibrated the word limits of the last three chapters.

Division into chapters and calibrations and recalibrations of the chapters saved my writeup from being jumbled. I was in awe when the ending came to me in the middle of chapter 2. Had I not allotted a place beforehand for the ending, I would have ended in swallowing the ending up and searching my mind for its remnants thereof over following days. Thus, the structure of the story kept me aware of my limits and helped me follow the limits towards completing fifty thousand words.

Yet, what I have now is just a pulpy dump. After two or more months of marination, I shall take up my scissors and scalpels to adjust the hook and cliffhangers and to remove inconsistencies in the plot. I probably have to rewrite an entire chapter.

Anyway, it has been an amazing journey. I owe it entirely to the WriMo community.






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Thursday, October 8, 2020

MOTHER and Son @WEP #Grave Mistake


Precursory Note on Draupadi: 

Draupadi was the daughter of king Drupad reigning over Southern Panchal. Southern Panchal was a fictional territory and different from the Vedic Age state of Panchal. Southern Panchal was situated in present day Uttar Pradesh province of India, spanning from the Ganges in the north to the Chambal River in the south, to the Nimsar forests in the east and to Delhi (National Capital Territory), Haryana and Madhya Pradesh provinces to the west.

Arjun, the third Pandav of Hastinapur, (Hastinapur was situated around current Delhi region) won the archery competition at Draupadi's swayambar. Swayambar is an event attended by potential grooms invited by the bride's family and, often, presented with a challenge of wit, wisdom and strength about weapons. In this event the bride used to choose her mate from the invitees. The most preferable choice used to be the winner of the challenge of swayambar. Etymologically, swayambar is made of two roots, swayam meaning self and bar meaning to accept.

Draupadi chose the winner Arjun, though, at that time, Arjun and his two half-brothers, Yudhisthir and Bhim and twin stepbrothers, Nakul and Sahadev were in exile along with his mother Kunti, devoid of throne or territory under their reign, rather surviving on alms of mendicancy. On Kunti's order Draupadi entered into a polyandrous relationship with all five brothers, having Arjun and his half-brothers and stepbrothers for her five husbands together, simultaneously. This instance of polyandry can be interpreted either as liberation or as exploitation.

In a game of royal gambling Yudhisthir lost Draupadi to his cousins, Kauravs, after losing his throne, his earthly possessions, his brothers and himself. Duhshason, the second Kaurav, dragged Draupadi to the royal court by her hair, from her resting chamber. In the court they tried to forcibly take away Darupadi’s clothing, calling her a prostitute for having five husbands instead of one. Lord Krishna, being Draupadi’s friend, saved her honor by wrapping her continuously in clothing. Vyasdev, the poet of the Mahabharat, described that Draupadi’s humiliation was extraordinary since she was menstruating when this event of molestation by Duhshason occurred.

Draupadi kept her hair untied till Bhim tied Draupadi’s hair with his own hands wet in Duhshason’s blood after Bhim avenged Duhshason in the Kurukshetra war.

From: The Mahabharat

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 Mother and Son

Mother was startled, “What!? Is there a dearth of girls in your college?”

He winked, “None’s willing to play Draupadi. They don’t support the event of vastraharan. It’s an epic example of molestation of a woman in hands of in-laws.”

Mother interrupted, “Is that what you think?”

He quipped “Yes.”

Then he further explained, “Yet, unlike the girls in the college, I don’t blame Vyasdev of misogyny. The ancient poet merely depicted his contemporary society. The girls have hung posters about it and has been marching all day protesting the Mahabharat and our play.”

Mother sighed; then, commented, “Overly politicized.”

Further she asked, “When is the play?”

He replied exuberantly, “Next week. Wednesday. That’s the foundation day of college.”

Mother suggested, “I’d like to do your make-up”

He blushed, “Ma! I’m in college now. My friends will laugh at me.”

Mother bargained, “Can I come and watch the play?”

He agreed reluctantly.

Following days his mother kept on showing him all the sarees. She begged him with each Silk and brocade saree, “Look at this. This one will do. I know. What do you say?”

He made faces and said, “Nay.”

On one of these days, after some hour-long exercises with the sarees, he confided, “Ma, your sarees are beautiful. But I don’t need them for the time being. The foundation day play has been sponsored by the college authority. So, we’ve rented wardrobe for all the actors.”

His mother quit the display in disappointment.

The whole weekend he remained busy at the rehearsal. Following Monday was the day of the dress rehearsal. It was his opportunity to make Ma happy. He borrowed a silk saree woven moderately with brocade. Ma became elated. She always wanted to have a daughter. Her husband died when her son was only five-month-old. She never had another child.

In a passion for raising a daughter, she used to dress her son like girls sometimes, till he protested, after attending puberty, during his entire adolescence. She used to be ecstatic thinking of her son meddling with her lipsticks and sarees, though she never had any hint of her son conflicting with the gender of his birth. She was proud of their mutually transparent lives.

She was taken aback by the scene of her son suddenly trying her sarees, probably due to prevailing debates about gender and sexuality. She, for a zillionth of a second, surmised that her son might not be willing to see himself as a male anymore and he might have been learning to become a woman.

After her son spoke about the drama to be held on the college foundation day, her confusions waned away. Moreover, she felt happy that he had been chosen to play Draupadi and she could see him as an adult female in a fully public view.

During the dress rehearsal, the son’s look as a woman reminded the mother of her youth. She loved her son wearing her saree, in make-up borrowed from her. As the scene of vastraharan started, small brick bats started to be flown to the stage. A group of females started shouting from a dark unidentifiable corner of the hall, “Don’t touch her pallu.”

The stage manager appeared to be naturally persuasive. She begged everyone to watch the complete show before opposing it. The protestors paid no heed. In basaltic determination, they invigorated the ruckus. It appeared to the mother that the protestors were beyond reason and, hence, were not capable of relinquishing hitherto planned sequence of their activities.

Worried, Ma ran along the isles to rescue her son. Reaching backstage, she found that a meeting was going on, about the safety and the security of the performance and the performers on the foundation day of the college. It zeroed upon putting requisition for enhanced police presence during the show.

On the foundation day, she could not believe from the appearance of Draupadi that it was her son. The play ended successfully amidst applause and standing ovation for the performers. The son received an award for his portrayal of Draupadi.

The mother returned home and readied her treat for the son. He was about to return after attending the success party.

Yet, the night rolled gradually towards getting very late.

A phone call around midnight from a police station informed Ma that her son was hospitalized. At the hospital mother found that her son was raped reportedly by a group of vigilantes about protecting the sacredness of the epic. All Ma found that her son was bleeding, enduring pain.

The son murmured in his final breath to his Ma, “The girls from the college avenged my audacity of being instrumental for enacting the epic molestation. They punished me for I, being a straight male, dared exhibiting a woman’s humiliation. Ma, all I tried was to live through Draupadi’s agony, to honor a woman’s resilience overcoming atrocities. I tried to celebrate spirit of Draupadi.

-----------------------

Word count:  820 (eight hundred twenty) words [including hyphenated words, else 826 (eight hundred twenty-six) words]

FCA

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This is from my book "Ghost Runners & Others"
-----------------
Halloween Plus
After reading Renée's post at WEP on October 1, 2020, I was inspired to compose following mini saga constituting only fifty (50) words.
After-ghostdom

Ghostverse became congested. Ghostpedia reported the reason being a virus.

Anxious about its remnant family, Bhootiya searched Ghostverse neighborhoods. Its attempt to communicate with the Universe failed due to frequency and wavelength mismatch. 

By this endeavor Bhootiya broke Ghostcode. It was ousted from Ghostverse and remained hung permanently at Nonverse.

---------------------------
*****Durga Puja Bonus
(Another One hundred twenty-two [122] words)
Standing Alone Standing up

It would have been easier

If I could stride

Along the tide

Of pandemonium of the hour

Hatred inside clenched fists

Voice syncing loud

With the vibes of the crowd

Marching along the streets

Yet I dare speak my mind

Though unheard 

Mauled by the herd

Seeking revenge, unkind,

Unjust, parochial as congregation 

Driven by a notional fad

Craving for a pie scrap

Moving in a suicidal motion

Under a spell, in a trance

Of kinsmanship 

In brinkmanship 

In pursuit of harvesting chance.

Still I chose to stand alone, aside 

Abiding by adversity

Withstanding atrocity 

Refuting refuge in amassed cowardice.

You can call it my grave mistake

Yet I chose to fight

The current's aggregate might

Even putting my existence at stake.

*****Durga Puja is the autumn festival of West Bengal coinciding with Navratri festival of North India. Durga slayed Mahisasur and, hence, became a symbol of power and strength. Mahisasur was an ambitious asur, son of Rambha, an Asur king, from a buffalo. Mahisasur was tired and disgusted of being beaten by the Gods of heaven. He went through penance for Lord Brahma's blessings. Lord Brahma awarded Mahisasur that Mahisasur would never be defeated by any man or God. Empowered with Lord Brahma's boon, Mahisasur put humanity to his Asur clan's servitude and then he ransacked the heaven, dethorned Indra, king of the Gods and the heaven, ousted all Gods from the heaven to exile. Autocratic anarchy of Mahisasur made humans seek help from Gods who were rendered helpless themselves. Then, on Lord Brahma's counsel, Gods empowered Parvati, a woman, wife of Lord Shiv and the mother of Lord Shiv's four children, with their weapons and other objects. In a nine nightlong battle, Durga slayed Mahisasur and restored rule of law on the earth and the heaven. 

Originally, Durga used to be worshiped during the spring. Seeking Durga's blessing, Sree Ramchandra of the epic Ramayan, worshiped Durga during autumn, before going to battle with Ravan. Since then Durga worship has been celebrated with grandeur during the autumn, instead of spring.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Why Phooltusi Writes

 In childhood, Bablu poked into Phooltusi’s eyes and snatched five of her marbles. Phooltusi scribbled in the air, “I’ll chop off Bablu’s ears.”

Anger, pain, sorrow all was gone.

She has been spending adulthood in strife, devoid of agony, ecstasy.

Whenever she scribbles ‘ice cream’ within mouth, she feels cool.  

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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Reema's Psychoscape

 Sitting on terrace Reema was sighing. Housing myriad stars the sky seemed too enormous!

In contrast, she herself seemed to vary between tissues at soft moments and doormats at harsh ones.

When her eyes were just brimming in tears, an angel took her in flight.

Later, she blogged about it.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Conflict Happens .....

 After Ravi’s death, Ram, the eldest son, acquired Ravi’s factory and sent Ravan, the second son, to cities for trading. 


Later, Ravan found that Rana and Raja, two younger brothers, used to fight over Rana’s single pair of shoes.  He bought a pair for Raja.


Meanwhile, Ram destroyed Rana’s socks.

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Sunday, September 6, 2020

After Hours

First gush of darkness blinded Dhee.

She closed her eyes to adjust vision. Opening them she found phosphorescent Grinchin, emitting green light, swaying its teardrop shaped body from top of the picture book pile.

Dhee waved. Grinchin said, “Don’t worry, QV. Just finish. Then you’ll carry me to the shelves for picture books.”

Obviously. Grinchin had no limb, hence, unable to move itself from place to place.

Just before the lights went off, Dhee had finished sorting books into heaps by categories. In front of geography shelves. For freeing the clutter thereof. A painstaking task. Nobody was interested.

Indexing those books and putting them on shelves by their respective indices remained pending. Dhee’s will was torn. She must leave the library somehow. It had already been closed. Otherwise, she could finish pending jobs.

Dhee opted for the latter; finished indexing all books; started shelving with picture books. As she finished there, Grinchin vanished.

It turned dark again. Dhee lost her path to geography shelves. She started circling around shelves of science, history and motor vehicles books.

She attempted reaching the volunteers closet, for fetching her purse and leaving. Changed course led her to another circle around biography, technology and fantasy books.

Perplexed, anxious, she touched a book on fantasy shelves. Glowfig jumped from it to floor, emanating pink lights. It started crawling along the aisles, on its head, with tiny tentacle like feet, attached, in billions, to its head, changing its color to yellow, then to cerulean, to pink again, at successive turns, leading Dhee to stacks on floor.

Remembering what happened with picture books, Dhee left the fantasy heap to be organized in the end. Pacing through the aisles, organizing books to their respective shelves, Glowfig asked, “How have you ended up alone in the library, QV?”

Dhee explained, “It closes at five thirty every Thursday. But closed at four today. They told me beforehand. Yet I couldn’t finish and leave timely.

Glowfig was inquisitive, “Didn’t the lady in the glass box check before leaving?

Dhee asked for clarification, “Ms. Garfunkel, the librarian?”

Glowfig confirmed, “Yap.”

Dhee reported, “She closed and left the library in hurry for attending an emergency city council meeting.”

Glowfig reflected, “Geography shelves, certainly, needed time and attention. You couldn’t notice gradual drops in footsteps buzzes….”

Dhee sounded sad, “Did. But.

Her guesses were correct. As soon as she finished with fantasy shelves, Glowfig was gone. She still needed to reach volunteer’s closet before leaving.

Dhee dragged her feet to the end of isles of fantasy books. All along, dark woolly formless Ghooshfus, a wizard of black magic, tried to blow her towards adult section, filled with horrors and thrillers. Ghooshfus could have frozen Dhee into a graphite lump.

Fighting tooth and nail with Ghooshfus, she took right turn to technology books. Libot greeted her by flashing its white laser headlight thrice and cooing in a metallic voice, as if, it was waiting for her. It shouted at Ghooshfus, “Shoo.”

Even Ghooshfus was scared of Libot’s advanced technological acumen. Also, of its powerful body of metallic barrel, moving smoothly on wheels, lifting, dropping and moving things by levers tucked in its body.

It asked, “Why didn’t you call for help, QV?”

Dhee murmured, “No access to landlines. I don’t have a cell phone..”

Libot questioned abruptly, “Why?”

Dhee informed, “I’m dependent on my husband and we’re on temporary Visa. So, spending thriftily.”

Libot digressed, in front of fantasy shelves, “I don’t like Ghooshfus. His world is full of blood, death and kidnapping. Crimes and criminals. Violent creatures.

Libot’s words were music to ears of Munchkins from The Wizard of the Oz. They applauded. So did the goblins from Tolkien books and Harry Potter’s owl, undermining conflicts in their own worlds. Glowfig joined the pacing in gratitude.

Dhee asked, “Why are you calling me QV?”

Libot explained, “QV stands for Quirky Volunteer…. for your silent meticulous dedication.”

This conversation awakened the whole picture book section. Grinchin teased, “Here comes Glowfig from unreal world.”

Libot placed Grinchin on its flat barrel head.

Glowfig responded, “You visit that world at bedtime, every night.”

Libot tweaked closet lock and brought Dhee’s purse. They went to the exit then. Obviously, it was locked. Libot disabled the alarm, then, hummed in chorus with Glowfig and Grinchin, “Cricketycoo Thicketytoo Hm, Hmm, Hmmm.

The keyhole expanded enough to let Dhee exit. She slipped a note of gratitude beneath the entrance.

Her husband drove in. She left with him.


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Testimony of a Ghost Runner

It seemed that I had been waiting for eternity. Annoyed and worried, pacing up and down the room, time and again, I stepped into the balc...