Time To Go (50 Words)

 

 

Bus flickr com

At breakfast,

‘Your boss is in town?’

Silence.

‘Got pulled up or something?’

More silence.

Finally, ‘Nothing, but why do you ask?’

‘This week you are leaving home early at half-past. I’ve never seen you…now there, why don’t you finish your…’

Just right for the bus to the Central Park.

End

 

 

Image: flickr.com

A Tale From A Mango Tree (A Drabble)

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As the sun dipped out of sight below the horizon, the feathered folks were finding their way back home..

The Wise One saw a forlorn Kaga and knew at once not everything was right with the latter.

‘Kaga, you don’t look your usual self.’

‘Yes, my friend, you guessed right. These days when I go out, I’m not sure if I would be back in the evening with hair and hide in place.’

‘Why so?’

‘Well, you know I love those berries on the lone tall tree behind the mirasdar’s house.’

‘Yes, I’ve seen you stuffing yourself nonstop with those little things I don’t particularly care for. Am not surprised you’ve problems taking off after your fill.’

‘You with your evil eyes – it isn’t going to happen anymore.’

‘Why? Has the tree stopped producing berries? Has some one hacked it down?’

‘Mercifully, no.’

‘Then?’

‘All this time, no one paid any attention to those trees in and around – they were on no-man’s land. Suddenly the mirasdar is now claiming the trees are his.’

‘Still there’s no way he can fence them off to keep you away from the berries high up on the tree. Can he?’

‘An evil mind is devil’s workshop. He has a dog and a man to keep watch. Whenever I alight on the tree and take the first bite – mind you, I do it absolutely noiselessly that would not awaken an insomniac – the blessed dog somehow catches sight of me and starts howling his head off. This gets the man to the spot from wherever he is and whatever he is doing to launch a fusillade of stones and pebbles with his slingshot. He’s quite good with it – he almost brought me down earlier today… frightened the blazing daylights out of me. So, my friend, my favorite feeding ground is now out of bounds for me. Don’t know where the next meal is coming from.’

The Wise One commiserated: ‘So sorry to hear. It’s cruel to snatch the food off someone’s mouth.’

There was silence with either having little to say.

‘I’ve a suggestion to make, if you care to listen and do as I say,’ spoke the Mango Tree so far passively listening in on Kaga’s sad story.

‘Anything for those juicy berries, dear sir, as long as I live to see the sun set.’

‘Tomorrow, when you alight on the tree, don’t be sneaky. Make a show.’

‘Eh?’

‘Yes, no cawing – that’s not what I meant. As soon the dog begins to announce your arrival, tell him you’re not amused, display your temper by vigorously shaking the (tree) limb you’re perched…jump up and down on it like you were on a hot brick, push with your beak like you’re fighting off a vulture…whatever to show your annoyance. Keep at it for a minute and you’ll have a peaceful meal. After a while your friend on the ground may open his loud mouth once again. At which instant you repeat your act. If it ever gets hot at anytime like today with pebbles and stones beginning to fly around you, make an immediate exit without losing a moment. Go back if you must not before allowing an hour or two for matters to cool down.’

‘Well, sounds quite doable…no harm in trying it out. Anyway things can’t get any worse from here.’

Once Kaga moved away for the night, the Wise One threw a quizzical glance at the Tree saying ‘Man, have you gone senile?‘ and received a signal in response to wait and watch.

The following day was like any other day – the birds lodged in the leafy Mango Tree headed out early in the morning seeking food and adventure, and returned in the evening flapping their tired wings looking to a night of repose.

And there was Kaga gliding in gracefully. The glow on his face said it all. He thanked the Tree profusely: ’You know, after a few rounds, strangely the dog appeared to be amused by my act more than anything else. I almost got a feeling he opened his mouth now on purpose to get me going and entertain himself.  In the afternoon he even went so far as to wag his tail a few times! Thanks very much, sir, for restoring my lifeline.’

‘Just as I expected. Keep the show on and note all that jumping and pushing helps your digestion too.’

After Kagha took leave on this happy note the Wise One turned to the Mango Tree:

‘Just as you expected? All this song and dance – mind telling me what’s all this hooey?’

‘Nothing out of the ordinary…it always good to share…’

‘Eh?’

‘Soon Kaga will figure out for himself why it works for him. They are a team now –  the dog is hooked on the berries that Kaga shakes down!’

 

End

The Strange Case Of A Problem On Four Legs

Part 1

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One day, a distraught man turned up at the court of Rayar (Krishna Deva Raya) seeking justice.

His story came out haltingly amidst a lot of sniveling:

‘We are four sons to our father. On his death, we divided his property, cash, jewels…everything into four equal parts, one for each of us.’

Rayar sought: ‘Excellent. That’s how families need to be. So, what is the problem?’

‘You know it is this blessed cat that was dear to my father.’

‘Don’t tell me you divided…I don’t see the cat.’

‘No, no, we didn’t harm the poor thing. And it isn’t here. We claimed one leg of the cat for each of us.I got the right foreleg. So it was all settled…’

More sniveling.

‘Young man, get hold of yourself. No one goes away from the court of Vijayanagaram Empire without getting due justice. Proceed.’

‘Everything was fine, my Lord, until the day this creature had a fall and  broke my leg.’

‘Broke your leg…a cat did that?’

‘No, my Lord, I mean it broke its leg that was mine.’

‘Man, come to senses – its leg is your leg?’

‘Yes, my Lord, if you recall its right foreleg belonged to me.’

‘Oh, yes, you did mention…the strange arrangement.’

‘My brothers said since it was the right foreleg, it was on me to attend to it. So I had the leg swathed in an oil-soaked cloth as prescribed by a vaidya.’

‘You did the right thing by the poor animal.’

‘Yesterday evening there was a bit of chill in the air. The dumb cat laid itself near a lamp for warmth.’

‘Can’t blame – it was a bit nippy even here for us, I remember.’

‘Unfortunately a spark flew from the fire and landed on the oil cloth setting it ablaze.’

There was a collective gasp in the court.

‘The cat panicked, ran helter-skelter before jumping into a water tub.’

Rayar saw it for what it was: ‘Under the circumstances, most sensible thing to do, I say.’

‘But, my Lord, that’s when my troubles began.’

‘Don’t see how…’

‘The mutt got into the tub not before running wild through a couple of neighbors’ houses setting them on fire.’

Rayar saw the underdog’s point of view: ‘Well you would do more if it was your leg on fire.’

Ignoring Rayar’s levity, the woebegone man carried on: ‘Now the neighbors are holding the cat responsible for the damages. And my brothers are laying it squarely outside my door since the houses were torched by the cat’s right foreleg.’

‘Well, looks reasonable to…’

‘My Lord, you’ve got to help me out of this mess.’

‘It’s certainly an improbable sequence of events. But I can’t see how…’

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Tenali Raman stood up: ‘My Lord, I’ve a thought. If we can call his brothers and the neighbors to the court…’

Beleaguered Rayar glanced at Raman with gratitude; he knew enough to take Raman’s suggestion seriously. Instructions were issued to round them up and produce them in the court.

Part 2

When the court reassembled after a while with all the stakeholders present, Raman summed up the matter based on what the man had told the court earlier. Everyone agreed those were the facts. The neighbors stood their ground demanding compensation; and the brothers holding the injured right foreleg and hence the complainant responsible.

Raman addressed the King and the court: ‘My Lord, unfortunate but undeniable is the damage wrought by the hapless creature.  The claims of the affected neighbors cannot be disputed a whit. But to hold this man responsible…that’s a different matter. In fact the shoe is on the other leg. Let me explain – pause for a moment and think who carried the cat to its incendiary activities?’

Frowns on faces. The man had not said anything about anyone making a torch of a cat on fire.

Raman dispelled the fog that had momentarily enveloped the court: ‘It’s those three healthy legs that set the cat on the binge.’

A mild flutter at what was hinted.

‘It’s my submission the owners of those legs be called to account instead.’

The ensuing commotion took a while to die out.

End

 

 

Source: Seeded from shortstoriesshort.com and images from daily motion.com and topyaps.com

Wrong Turn

The story is not what it seems at first glance! It’s children’s and more. You’ll figure it out if you read it until after the end.  

Part 1

As in any other civil society, rats thrived and over time multiplied to menacing proportions finally awakening the collective concern of the subjects of a certain rajyam (kingdom) in the western parts of Bharat (India).

The growing public outcry moved the Raja to convene his court of mantri’s  (ministers) and officials to look at  the problem of rats that had assumed menacing proportion. Though he didn’t quite understand what was the hullabaloo about – for he saw no rats around his palace.

The proceedings were kicked off with the Raja’s ‘Is it really serious as it’s made out to be?’

Rats Crawling around the Floor of the Karni Mata Temple near Bikaner India

‘Yes, Raja, we cannot take a step forward without squashing one if it doesn’t run up our legs.’

‘But I never saw one coming to this court from my quarters.’

Thinking to himself ‘We were stupid not to have posted road-signs to the palace,’ the mukya mantri (the chief minister) clarified: ‘That’s because we maintain a pandal outside to lure them away from the palace with a constant supply of food with the fare varied to avoid boredom.’

‘Why didn’t you alert me earlier?’

‘Well…we didn’t want you to be troubled by these trifles.’

Their concern mollified the Raja. ‘Oh…so what do we do?’

Words were shot out thick and fast:

‘Let me caution you, mooshika (rat in Sanskrit) is the transport of our revered Lord Ganesha. We’ll incur His wrath if we cause harm to them in any way.’

Ganesha forum.spiritualindia org.jpg

‘So what do you suggest?’

‘May be we catch them all and release them far away from our city.’

‘What if those guys out there wherever don’t like it and decide to do the same in our direction? Or the vermin’s, with due apologies to our beloved Lord Ganesha for the unflattering reference, decide to find their way back on their own? You can never trust them to behave.’

‘Why don’t we open pandals likewise all over and keep the rats away from our houses?’

‘Doesn’t it occur to you all to simply deploy their natural enemies – cats, I mean. These rats – they would be decimated in a trice.’

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‘If you haven’t noticed, be informed there aren’t enough cats around. Also these bullies have grown big and bold enough to give nightmares to poor cats – lucky they aren’t eaten up yet. On occasions don’t you see our kids running for the hills?’

‘Simple, let us ask people to bring their rats killed and we’ll pay them a reward of, say, a silver for ten. Nothing like the shine and jingle of silver for our folks. All we need to do is to count and disburse. No sweat.’

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‘Yes, that’s better than asking them to do the gory stuff.’

‘A silver for a bunch of rats? Mmmm…Okay…and how do we do it?’

So the Raj-Vaidya (medicine man in the royal court) was summoned. He confirmed the non-availability in the jars of his back-room of any potent herbal mix that would clean up the conscience and do the dirty. At the risk of losing his home, hearth and possibly head, he was tasked to concoct a suitable solution.

rats www.vacanceo com.jpg

A month later, the Vaidya, the master he was of his trade, delivered on his commission exceeding himself, just as the public clamor for relief turned shriller.

The mukhya mantri advised the Raja to take the plans to the public without further ado.

A full court was convened with the crowd spilling to the fringes of the pandal of feasting rats – them (not the rats) on their toes not so much for catching a better view of the proceedings as for presenting a smaller obstacle to the frolicking rodents on the ground.

On behalf of the Raja, the minister unveiled the scheme. And for those who were in need, a sturdy trap with a capacity to catch ten average-sized rats was also made available for a silver. A total solution with no loose ends stopping shy of including the bait – though fail-proof recommendations were made for the latter.

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Silence reigned for a little while before the coin dropped (never mind there were no coin operated machines in the days of Raja’s and Maharaja’s).

Commercial instinct came to the fore ahead of other matters (now you know why the story located the rajyam in the west!):

‘Would the payment be immediate – like cash and carry, nay, carry and cash?’

‘Would any rat we catch would be counted as one or it depends on its size, weight…’

‘Can we bring dead ones too?’

‘Is the compensation proportional or there are slabs? Is there a minimum?’

‘It’s not fair to those catching more of the large ones. Rats and mice must be treated differently.’

‘The breakeven should be set lower at five rats.’

 

Then there were quality issues: ‘If the trap loses the bait and fails to trap? Has it been tested enough?’

‘What happens if the rats chew off the trap? Tough customers, you know.’

Metric issues: Can we not be paid by weight?

Governance issues: ‘What happens if your count is less than mine?’ The other way round was not an issue.

The mukhya mantri somehow managed to persuade his audience to go back to their homes with the scheme offered, largely helped by the growing restlessness of the Raja and his hardening glare at the relentlessly vocal section of the audience.

Some weeks later

Part 2

An overpowering stench gradually enveloped the palace and its grounds.

On making enquiries, the Raja learnt it was from the dead rats piling up into a big mound before their pit burial.

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Why was the rat-o-cide committed near the palace grounds?

The mukya mantri explained it was so for a good reason: Well, the potion had to freshly brewed to be effective. With the herbs for the same sourced from the gardens behind the palace, administering the potion could not happen at any place far.

The Raja was not pleased visibly and vocally.

The mantri’s and officials went into a huddle

It was collectively decided to make a small change to the scheme: Henceforth it was sufficient to produce as evidence only the tails snipped off the dead rats to claim the silver. Never mind how the de-tailed rats met their fate.  Were they dead at all when they parted with their appendages? Raja-Tantram (The Official Book on Tricks of Rulership) clearly emphasized ‘While solving a problem, stay solving the problem.’ Others can take care of themselves, wait out, go elsewhere, lived with, whatever…

So that was it.

The tails made smaller mound and were easily dispatched before turning malodorous.

Peace returned, the sun shone in all its glory – the Raja and his ministers went back to whatever they did ruling the rajyam.

After an unimpeded run of six months disquiet reared its head in the shape of the peshkar (CFO) when he perceived a-silver-for-ten significantly denting the treasury. The inflow of tails continued unabated and was, in fact, threatening to graduate into a torrent and a flood as a distinct possibility. It was as if some piper was luring all the rats of the world to their doom in this rajyam in an unending stream. How could this happen?

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Strangely, meanwhile, the tails were turning up young and rarely twitched. Perhaps the virile adult population with the propensity to procreate was already wiped out and the trend would soon reverse – a thoroughly welcome and encouraging augury.

The Raja conferred with his ministers and officials. Was it the unseen hand of some ill-meaning neighbor to destabilize the rajyam pumping rats through underground tunnels across the borders? Or something more sinister?

They decided to send out an investigation team to uncover what was happening. Who was rolling out this diabolical plan?

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It wasn’t long before the team returned with its findings none could imagine!

Part 3

The team reported the operation of an entirely new industry that had sprung up in the rajyam – rat farms!! Using adult rats they bred and sold the young fifty to a silver. The buyer sold the lot (the tails) to the state profitably at ten to a silver. The demand far outstripping the supply.  If their sources were to be believed research had reached an advanced stage to breed a rat whose tail could be periodically harvested without killing the ‘goose’.

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Not hard to guess what followed.

 

End

 

 

PS: Seeded by a very short piece from Gautham Iyengar (here) on unintended consequences of state subsidies!

Mixed metaphors and some inappropriate ones and a few neologisms may be excused.

Sources for images: Rats Crawling around the Floor of the Karni Mata Temple (Rat Temple) near Bikaner, Rajasthan, India from sharingtheglobe,com, forum.spiritualindia.org, reddit.com, .michaelfreemanphoto.com, vacanceo.com, rustlertraps.co.uk, Album of Mysore Maharaja from kamat com, liveleak.com, aaanimalcontrol.com and estellaandford.co.uk.

A Tale From A Mango Tree – A Short Story For Children

It was beyond the end of season.

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Their chattering was hushed by the Wise One who spoke up:

‘The man is nearly passed out from hunger, I can see…struggling to keep himself up. We must get some food to him without delay.’

‘Aye, Aye,’ they chorused.

‘But we’re small, our beaks smaller to carry chunks of food for him,’ one from them bemoaned.

‘I’ve thought about it. Here’s what we could do. Each of you, go for a kitchen in the village. Bring back cooked rice as much your mouth holds. Make many trips until we’ve collected enough. All this in double haste.’

They liked the plan and knew what must be done now, taking off from their perch right away for the village. All but one.

‘Why aren’t you gone like your friends? Don’t you want to do your bit?’

‘It won’t work…the plan.’

‘Pray, tell me, wise guy, why would it not?’

‘At this hour, the kitchens would be closed with pots and pans washed and stowed away.’

‘You, silly bird, that’s exactly right for us.’

‘All the left-overs would have been collected in lidded pots beyond our reach. And cooked rice…’

‘We’ll see about it soon…okay, brilliant guy, you doing anything besides nay-saying?’

‘mmm…I smell somewhere here…’  

‘Going after a teeny rat, you twit?’

Safe to assume the words were lost as the bird had long disappeared into the thick of leaves and branches.

Soon it was peck, peck…peck and a soft thud waking the man up from his stupor.

Gathering his last ounce of energy, he reached for the mangoes, semi-ripe, landed on a bed of dried leaves at arm’s length.

A while later the distant chatter of the birds drew closer, growing louder by instant, signalling their return. How could they…with their mouths full? Ah, it must be they were returning to the Wise One for his Plan B?  

Now they knew cooked rice in villages is always saved overnight with lots of water standing over.’

End

How Fate Was Overcome (A Children’s Story)

Rishi hotstar com

A rishi had come to the village en-route Kashi. No one in the village paid any attention to him.Their disregard enraged the rishi; he cursed the village would not have rains for ten years.

Aghast villagers fell at the rishi’s feet seeking forgiveness. They made an earnest request to the rishi to revoke his harsh punishment.

The rishi was not assuaged. He went away saying no living being on earth planet could undo the curse.

The villagers were sadly resigned to their fate.

The Lord in his heavens heard the rishi’s curse and reluctantly put away his conch – it would not be used for years now. It was always the sound of the conch that brought rains down on the parched planet.

It was then they noticed a farmer taking his bullocks and plow every morning to his paddy field. He would till the land for an hour and return home.

One day, an elder in the village accosted him: ‘Don’t you know the rishi’s curse? Or, you think the curse would be ineffectual?’

The farmer said: ‘No, I am aware of the curse and I also believe a rishi’s curse can never be false.’

‘Then, why are you doing this? If there are going to be no rains for ten years, what’s the point in tilling the land everyday?’

‘Well, it keeps the animals and me physically fit. It’s not just that – the real danger is: if we don’t, we might, through disuse, just forget how to till when the rain returns.’

The Lord in his heavens heard these words and was startled out of his repose. It could happen to him too. He too might forget how to use his conch. That would be nothing less than an anartham (disaster). So he took out his conch and blew his lungs out in a long blast.

And thus ended the dry spell, sending everyone into a dizzy.

No one knew it was all the industrious farmer’s doing, him included.

End

 

 
Source: Adapted from a ‘forward’ from Nithya and image from hotstar com

 

A Love Story (In 50 Words)

e2ua com

The little girl playing in the park saw it snagged in the bush.

She pulled it out gently without a tear.

Years later, her husband saw the little boy in her wallet and asked.

She said almost wistfully: ‘My first love.’

He smiled: ‘Had lost this when I was nine.’

 

End

Source: Adapted from Friends For Us (a facebook group) and image from e2ua.com