An Elevator in a Mall

Waking up the man walked a kilometer to reach the mall. It was noon. Throughout the day he was falling asleep intermittently. Walking for twenty minutes in the sun he was not yet properly awake. Through the glass sliding door of the mall he entered in a daze. Before knowing he was at the foyer. 

Where the bright mesh of the LED lights, the fluorescence of the tubes of the corridor, neon signages blinking noisily; the whole foyer had been made in relative darkness so that the merchandises could shine.

The toy cars vroomed and vroomed, a lure to the small boys. A trampoline swayed the girls- they were shrieking. Bouncing and shrieking. Showing off joy. The customers gushing in and out of the shops- crisscrossing the corridors, gloom in their faces. Although that feeling was momentary. It would go away after a purchase.

An elevator at the end of the foyer was lifting more bag holders heavenward. The riders stood in stiffness, in awkward proximity, with an anxiety to reach the destination. Standing erect on a moving ladder- the silent, wanting beings- gradually being floated away from the man.

Looking at them he whispered, ‘What brought us here?’

The entire scene felt so strange to him.

The year was 2019. The month was November. Having-an-ambition-vs-the-other-ways-of-living argument had been settled in the man’s mind only a few hours ago. He had found in his observations that the most rebellious philosophy of the year against capitalism was in disguise a capitalism’s bastard child. Made of the same blood.

It had disoriented him.

Nevertheless the man had to ask the question again. It came to him as easily as to a patient asking his whereabout, waking up in a hospital bed. Or, may be a vile forgetfulness had overpowered the man. Now his curiosity shining.

Or, perhaps, he himself was from the past, a la Rip Van Winkle of 2019, waking up from a slumber, had found a strange habitation that had mossed around him.

Of which he was no part. Of which he wished to be no part.

The truth that to be happy again one is to be weary and earn money and spend. And earn. And spend and be weary again and earn. And be earning and be spending, and be happy and be weary at the same time- this prospect of two stop travelling bothered him. ‘This is futile’, he whispered to himself.

But pondering again under that boisterous light; visiting the food court, smelling AC perfumes, hearing the children giggle in the mall’s made up cheerfulness; it was difficult for him not to be convinced by the wiliness of the modern time. He could not foresee how life would be led without it’s convenience, without its hope for progress. No matter how expensive that was. How one would convince others that one might not be as unhappy as one ought to be. From stillness comes satisfaction. 

That life could be led without its constant croaks of neediness; that insight although seemed true, he didn’t know a way to convey it to his fellow beings.  


16 Sixteen Word Stories in 2016

1. Frauds

Abe drew his knife. “Is he looking?”, the boy whispered.

“I hope so”, the father said.

2. Kindness at Zombie town

Blood trickling down. The old man lent his umbrella.

They don’t eat what they don’t see.

3. Long Journey

“Goodness needs no intent.’ The co-passenger said waving my purse at me.

‘Next time, I buy.”

4. Mary

Upon hearing Mary said, “John ain’t my son, Isaiah. You are. Come down…look after me.”

5. World Cruise

My penis envy was not apparent till I married a Filipino girl on a world cruise.

6. Gravity of a Romance

Without looking away from the apple, Issac said, “Could you wait, Kathy, till I solve this?”

7. Royal Affair

Kalpurnia sobbed, “Big breasts?”

“No, no”, Caesar said.

“Tall? Lascivious?”

“No freaking way.”

“Then?”

“A teenager.”

8. Broken Roof

When Mt. Everest melted, Kalki was at Pamir. Water poured in to fill up the roof.

9. Laughing Matter

‘Haha,’ thought the mother hyena. One thing to kill the woman.

The baby would be another.

10. Sixteen and Counting

“One… Two…”

“What you counting?”

“Words in my novel.”

“Really? How far could you go?”

“…Sixteen…”

11. R2-D2

D’Qar bound, R2-D2 bleeped, ‘It’s not that I don’t feel regret. Just that regret repairs nothing.’

12. Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

When the children are asleep, I stay awake.
For my gift.

– A good father

13. A Poet’s Sexuality

‘A poet’s sexuality is a strange thing’: Neruda wrote in the morning and snored all night.

14. Time Pass

“Kiss me.’ the dragon nudged the princess. ‘There isn’t much to do till the prince arrives.”

15. Bad Dreams

Putting children asleep, Mrs. Goebbles had a terrible vision. That she had crept inside their dreams.

16. Blind Lane

One lane. One house. One tree. The tree jumps. The house giggles. The lane turns blind.