50 Word Story: Vegan

50 Word Story: Vegan

Read the first part here.

Mia had recently gone vegan, and had promptly grown as an influencer.

Unfortunately, Shay had caught her eating bacon at breakfast the other day.

“Thought you were vegan.”

“I am, for the ‘Gram,” Mia smirked, posting a photo of her milkshake to her feed. “Hashtag Vegan. Shay, go like.”

50 Word Story: Milkshake

50 Word Story: Milkshake

“Mia, look I got you a vegan milkshake! It’s yum, I tried it the other day.”

“Ooh, thanks Shay!”

It would be the last time Mia ever spoke again. By the time the rat poison showed up on the autopsy results, Shay had already left town.

Three Things You Cannot Be Thanks to the Modern Economy

Three Things You Cannot Be Thanks to the Modern Economy

The economy is changing. Fast. There’s a huge growth in competition and consumerism and it’s hard to keep up at times. As a millennial, struggling with whatever demon you’re currently fighting internally, sometimes you miss your calling. And this becomes a long-standing issue. With social-media influencing becoming a growing career, here are three things you can absolutely not afford to be today.

1. Lazy: You have to hustle. Unless you were someone that would soon inherit millions, you cannot afford to be lazy. Irrespective of your gender, you need to have something that you’re passionate about. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of jealously and you often find yourself wishing what a certain twenty-something-year-old rich influencer had. But wishing alone isn’t going to give you what you’re looking for. And if you do want to be lazy, you’ve to make smart choices. Weigh the pros and the cons before you decide on taking the plunge you’ve been debating about.

This is also why you should wait it out till the right person comes along, before deciding to go ahead and saying, “I do.” Marriage is particularly difficult these days.

Which brings me to point two.

2. A Stay-at-home wife/husband: Back in the day, let’s say even a good decade ago, being a stay-at-home wife (or a husband) wasn’t really a bad thing. You could chill at home and (specially in India) with your domestic help doing most of the work, you would have a lot of time to care for your kids, you could be very hands-on, and have a healthy marriage too.

You probably can’t do that anymore. Almost everyone has a job that overworks and underpays at the same time. Now unless you were married to someone with a very, very high-paying job or maybe a very good business, you really cannot be too dependent on your partner. Plus, if you’re a woman, chances are that some other woman is going to actually shame you for not having your own finances sorted.

And I’ve seen this happening in person. And it gets worse each time.

3. Generous with money: This one is a BIG no-no.

Don’t stay friends – actually it’s a bad idea to even give too many people your phone number – with a bunch of people. A lot of people won’t hesitate to take a screenshot of something you’ve said, and forward it to someone else and start a fight. And fights lead to negativity and stress and eventually, depression. And nobody understands what you’re possibly going through even in 2019.

If you’re someone that gives loans despite being in trouble yourself, you need to stop immediately. Money creates a lot of rift between good friends too. Also, don’t be a spendthrift because you don’t want to be broke at the end of the month.

On that note, hope you’ve had a wonderful and pollution-free Diwali if you’re someone that celebrates. ✌🏼

Manipulation

Manipulation

You mansplain things to me

Like I were born yesterday

Like I lack the ability to see

Like I need to trust everything you say

You try to get inside my head

Like I were as fragile as a glass jar

Like I were weak, powerless, underfed

Like I don’t understand who you are

Haven’t we been down that road

Over and over again

You have me in a figurative choke-hold

Trying to drive me insane

Haven’t you hit where it hurts the most

Haven’t you tried the same tricks before

Reducing me to only a ghost

So lost I can’t find my way back anymore?

I’m so used to your manipulating me

That it doesn’t surprise me, you see

Talking about old love and money

Isn’t going to make me submit to your whim, baby

Short: The Hotel

Short: The Hotel

Sabine was twenty when she got married. There were rumors that she had actually been forced into marrying Pierre, who was eighteen years her senior.

He was wealthy and Sabine’s mother wanted to get rid of her anyway.

Sabine was a vision in her beautiful white gown, which sparkled against the lavish walls of the big fancy hotel ballroom. Nobody noticed the desperation and pain in her eyes. Everyone was too busy marveling at Sabine’s wonderful luck and Pierre’s expensive taste.

No one knew when the fire started. The alarm never went off. By the time the firefighters got to the scene, the place had already burned down.

Fifteen years have passed since. They say if you drive down that road in the wee hours of the morning, you can still hear the blood-curdling screams of Pierre and his family as Sabine burns them down over and over.

The Other Man

The Other Man

It was day five. She didn’t want to tell her man what was going on with her.

Darkness fell, and her face changed. She felt the presence of something within her, consuming her, she felt her body start to contort. Her eyes fell on the mirror on the wall. In the low lights of her Hollywood vanity she saw her scleras blacken. Something else stared back as she looked at herself in the mirror.

It was less than a week to the wedding – all she could think of was how to get rid of the other man, this demon that had been taking over her body every night. Every night, at the same time.

The Patient

The Patient

Sometimes I want to actually talk to my mother, and tell her she was wrong. I’ve seen her cry quite a few times since I left, but I couldn’t really do anything. Sometimes I try to make my presence known, but I’m fairly new to this and I have no idea how to talk to the living. And my family doesn’t believe in ghosts.

What a sad life, eh?

Nobody believed in me when I was alive and nobody believes in me now either.

It’s been two weeks since I died.

I grew up in a family of doctors, and my dad, who’s now fifty, is the snappiest person I’ve known. My mum is the loudest woman I’ve ever met. She can scream loud enough to give any random banshee a run for her money. But my parents have only been this way with me. With other people, they’re nice as eff. And it’s weird to me.

I was supposed to be married in a few months, and every morning my Dad would body-shame me by way of morning greeting.

“You look like a skeletal vulture,” he’d say, “So ugly and malnourished.”

I wasn’t allowed out of the house and nobody took my symptoms seriously. See, mental health issues are always overlooked in Indian households. And when you’re unable to fall asleep, or eat properly and when the whole cycle of body-shaming and abuse becomes super intense, you end up dead.

Which is what happened to me.

I blacked out and fell down the stairs one morning. No one was home and I watched my body lie there for six hours before anyone found me. My mum screamed like a banshee but this time I wasn’t going to wake up, despite all the slapping.

It’s funny how they ignore the living, but try to revive the dead instead.

Bengali Weddings, Part One: The Ugly

Bengali Weddings, Part One: The Ugly

I don’t know if this is a thing will all relatives, or just some of the people in my (very, very extended) family but…

I have a huge family, okay? Back in the day, nobody had heard of birth control or television or any other form of entertainment. This meant that their only source of um, relaxation, ended up resulting in tiny humans and burning holes in the parents’ pockets, putting the ever growing family into economic stress. They also used to get married in their early teens, making teenage pregnancies super common. Many kids would die of complications following childbirth and their husbands would end up marrying other kids. Sounds gross, but that used to be a legit thing, child marriage.

My grandma got married at a young age too. Her first child, my oldest aunt, was born eighteen years before my mum came along. My oldest aunt is in now her seventies, and my grandma passed away ages ago. I don’t remember her much, unfortunately, but she was a nice person. Same goes for my Dad’s mum. I don’t even remember having met her. The only memento I’ve got of hers is a photograph of me in her lap, and she’s wrinkled as a prune and I’m barely two. And I look mighty uncomfortable as heck.

Having said all of that, it also means that when you’re about to get married, the whole clan comes to town. Irrespective of whether you’ve ever met them or not. They just seem to pop out of thin air. Suddenly you have three hundred aunts and five hundred nieces and you’re a legit grandma and aunt and aunt-in-law. If you’re the bride, your parents have to bear all the expenses – from the relatives stay to their comforts. And when your parents are extra and don’t get the concept of low-key weddings, the budget overflows and puts your parents in debt. Sometimes you need to end up selling assets, sometimes you give yourself depression and stress but you won’t chill with the number of heads on that guest list because you’re a prominent member of the society so you’ve to make your kid’s nuptials a grand affair. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The age gap between my Dad’s siblings and my Dad has also resulted in my oldest cousin being born over TWO decades before I was. He calls my Dad “Uncle” but he’s only a few years younger than my Dad. *Jeez.* The rest of my cousins are way older than I am too, and we never really meet on the daily. I mean, the last time I ever saw any of these guys and their wives would be like, 2013. And it was awkward as heck. I didn’t attend any of their weddings but they’re all going to show up when the next wedding happens. Yikes. And with the estrogen comes the judgements. And with the older women, comes the tongue-clacking and the nosy behavior.

If you hate people and have awful social anxiety, nobody notices you going into depression because they’re too busy making your mum show them your wedding shopping and making snide comments about every saree you’ve picked. And about your weight. And about your dark circles and thinning hair. And the list goes on.

By the time the wedding approaches, it’s a miracle if you have any hair or body weight left.

It’s NOT Love

It’s NOT Love

It’s true that you fall in love

That doesn’t mean you can’t rise in it

Doesn’t mean when push comes to shove

You end up alienating every human being

It’s not love if you’re being psychotic

It’s not love if it’s baseless,

If it only ends up being chaotic

Both for you and for them

Love teaches you to be selfless and kind

To let go so it comes back someday

Love doesn’t cast evil shadows on your mind

If it does, you’ve got it confused with something else

It’s not love what you’re feeling at this moment

It must be hormones, the need of the flesh

It’s not love, putting your mum through torment

It’s not love, if you’re acting like you’ve been blinded

Oh it’s not love, you’re being selfish

Why must everything go the way you want it

There are better ways to make a wish

It’s not love if you’re being consumed by the Devil.

Dugga Dugga

Dugga Dugga

The festive season felt ominous for some reason. He hadn’t called. And he hadn’t let her know when he’d be home.

She’d been dolled up for hours: she’d had her hair, nails and makeup done, and she’d put on the new saree he’d got her for Pujo. But he was supposed to be home a few hours back and he wasn’t. And she couldn’t get through to him on the phone either. It kept saying that his number was unavailable.

An expert at overthinking, she’d paced ten times around the room and scolded herself for not having said the customary Dugga Dugga when he left. Bengalis do that a lot and it had been their thing too, and she was scared something must have happened to him because she’d forgotten to say it. But she hadn’t called either set of parents yet because she knew they’d worry. And they were all super old. At the same time she’d contemplated asking her father-in-law how much time it took to buy a few haadis of roshogolla and some boxes of sondesh in Kolkata on a Saptami evening, but that would have given the whole thing away and they’d have asked questions about their son anyway.

She was about to give up, when the doorbell rang, revealing a very haggard man in a now-wrinkled set of panjabi-pajama, who was panting and out of breath.

He looked annoyed and exhausted and sweaty as heck but she smiled and smothered him with kisses and hugs.

“Ah, Anu, never send me to buy mishti for baba-ma on any day of the pujo. My phone died, and the shop was crowded and I had to wait in line. Now let me go shower.”