5word5 theme 5 – Downfall

There’s always two sides to a coin – Some of us focus on the dark and others on the bright. Haruki Murakami said, “It takes years to build up, moments to destroy“. Indeed, nothing tests resilience like failure. When we have a setback, we can choose to DWELL on it, or DEAL with it; it could be an end or just a bend!!! I loved your 5word5 stories that brought out both of these elements. Truly, downfall is not permanent unless you choose to stay down!

Image courtesy Google. Collage courtesy befunky.com

Slokabs

“Remember, the higher they rise, the harder they fall”, they warned him. He was going too fast for his own good and the success was going straight to his head. He didn’t realise how deep in debt he was until one day, desperate to save his family from homelessness, he had to sell his company.

Aditya Arora

Seeing the highs of high, it was difficult to embrace the downfall Matt had seen. He blamed that one lapse of judgement, but deep down, he knew when he had crossed the line. The line was now a dot to him. He contemplated all this, on top edge of his tower, ready for another downfall.

Dhiraj (blog)

What did Napoleon and Hitler have in common. The Russian winter. If you ask a gambler or a share market broker – what is the formula for success. He or She will tell you it is the ability to pull out when you have gained a little, else your greed will take you to your downfall.

Ashokwahi.wordpress.com (blog)

Up or Down
Rise or Fall
Part of cyclicity of life.
My falling down is not my downfall.
It is just what I needed to rise higher.
Falling down is not a failure either.
In fact there is no such thing as a failure. We fail when we refuse to get up after the downfall.

Anusha Arvind

Nancy felt her life was falling apart. The love of her life had left her. Everything she ventured into wasn’t working. “Are you ok my child?” a frail old woman asked her one day. She suddenly found hope in all the darkness that surrounded her. That was her light at the end of her downfall.

Julie P

He had grown up believing he could conquer anything. Fearless, as he broke the glass ceiling. But broken glasses could pierce his heart. He realised that as he wept for the first time in front of his daughter. “Not this Christmas sweetheart,” he cajoled her, on bent knees. He hadn’t conquered his insolvency trial yet.

Anusha Arvind

The last over of the match. It was a tie between Roger and Samuel. Roger was always the triumphant winner. Samuel was a promising player. It had been a nail biting match so far. This was more than championship tennis..it was war…The last ball would decide it all and there was Roger’s downfall! Samuel won!

Anupama Menon

This year has been our downfall in several ways – the health of our vulnerable, economic growth, fuel affordability, the already low standards of media coverage, futility in hero-worship of celebrities. As this year comes to a close, let’s hope that we rise as a phoenix from the ashes and cherish only what we value most.

Nimesh Balaji Shinde

Green earth
Brown dirt…
Brown earth
Green dirt…


White snow…
Sea glow…
Melting snow…
Sea blow…


Ozone on…
Temperature nice…
Ozone gone…
Temperature rise…

Timely seasons…
Forests breathe…
Cutting reasons…
Forests choke…

Balanced nature…
Species survive…
Greedy creature…
Species die…

Humans sane…
Climate same…
Humans insane…
Climate change…

Heavy downfall started of humanity and rains….!!!

Jenny

Anorexia weighed her down and she became a pale shadow of a healthy, beautiful girl with a happy go lucky attitude.
It was too late by the time counselling helped. Forget winning she wasn’t fit to participate in the beauty pageant . But now she had set new, more fulfilling goals and was happy counselling others!!

Snacky

The BlackRoja dynasty had many downfalls and people struggled a lot in the past. Now, they got chance to celebrate. The BlackRoja dynasty saw the birth of “Dheroj”, first son of Queen Roja & King Dheera. King heard his son crying and downpour happened after a long time. People and King felt the positive vibes.

ShaBby

Rise and fall are experienced by everyone in life sometime or other, in education, career, relationships, sports, competitions, etc. But one who is determined and mentally strong will face the consequences and rise again to succeed. Life doesn’t get better by itself. It gets better by change, acceptance and perseverance to rise from every downfall.

AP

The whiskey was numbing the pain and agony but he needed something stronger. It had been a rough week. Loved ones had deserted him, the press had mauled him, the media had hung him, the world doubted him . He still couldn’t believe it, speaking the truth and being the whistleblower had led to his downfall.

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

If that was intense, the upcoming theme should lighten your mood!! 🙂

5word5 theme 4 – Memory

Memory is indeed such a funny thing….. Over the centuries, it has gone from being stored in only and only our brains; to recording them in pictorial form on walls and glyphs, then in writing on wood/papyrus (latest being bullet journals or BuJos), ; to audio recording that helped to store voices; to the invention of the camera that could capture memory visually in pictures and then videos; to floppy disks, CDs and hard disks.

Memory has always been something that people have tried to store. For better or for worse, we don’t remember every little detail of our life.

We are living in a time when moments are missed in reality because we are trying to capture them in a picture. Trying to create a memory for the future without experiencing it in the present – this has got to be the greatest irony of the Insta age that we are living in!!

Anyway, without rambling any further, let’s get down to the diverse bunch of 5word5 stories you all sent……starting with mine!

Slokabs

As he waited in the lounge sipping his coffee, he heard the boarding call for his flight. He walked towards the aircraft leaving behind the country that had been his home for fifteen years. As the flight took off, he captured a mental image of the cityscape that he would carry in his heart forever!

Dhiraj (blog)

“I saw Maradona’s hand of god moment live, he should have owned up” said Anuj. “Oh you can think?” said Pooja sarcastically. “Referee didn’t see it, fair goal if you ask me.” Research says Memory is funny; what you remember may not be the whole truth, part of it may be a figment of imagination.

Ashokwahi.wordpress.com (blog)

There were some Random Thoughts in my mind. Was it Sport? Was it Memory?
What is happening to my memory🤔

Does it really matter whether it is Sport or Memory. I am sure Sloka would understand that it is her uncle’s birthday and he would be busy. I don’t even remember whether I had breakfast!

I have to say that’s the most interesting play on words from my blog that I’ve seen recently – thanks uncle!

Bala R (blog)

Memories are mummy ne jalebi banaya hai.. jalebiiii??
Memories are school time.. action ka school time..
Memories are Buland Bharat ki buland tasveer
Memories are kuch swaad hai zindagi me
Memories are dexter ki labratoryyyy
Memories are Friends, Shaktimaan, Small Wonder
Memories are Sharjah Cup
These were memories
Until it became 128 GB of RAM

Anusha Arvind

Learned to rise with every fall, to always stand tall
Leaning against the cracked wall
For a moment I freeze,
I see myself in the mirror, my hands shiver
Hair turned gray, wisdom some may say
Memory was beginning to fade away
How things change with age
I think as I write on this page!!

Jane

Our memory is so weird. We strive hard to remember and remind ourselves whereas certain things we equally try to forget but have no control over it.
If not for our memory, we wouldn’t be able to relive the happiest experiences and the poignant moments of our life repeatedly. Our memories are our own powerhouses!!

AP

Eliza sat in her rocking chair, with the memory pod attached to an implant behind her head. She yearned to walk the fields behind her house where she grew up. She wanted to be taken back in time. The pod replayed the memory for her . Too bad the pod only saved memories without the emotions.

Jenny

News of demolition of Maya’s childhood home brought back cherished memories of sharing, caring, adjusting and making a life.
In contrast, her home now housed each kid in a room necessitating a call for meals or discussions! Her attempt to provide her kids with all the amenities had left everyone in their own individual bubbles!!

Julie P

He set his brushes into motions,
Turmultous circular whorls.
Solid colours of sky blue oil,
A plain window to his inner turmoil.
Ah! What heartstrings does solitude touch!
Perhaps, a distant memory of a crooked church.
A picturesque rolling hamlet within a sight.
The fields fluttered round and round.
Touching upon a starry, starry night.

Vibha Laljani

One night Nandini saw a very vivid nightmare. Upon waking, she googled it for interpretation. She came across an archived news article from years ago. She opened it and found a picture alongside. When she found herself staring at someone who was her yet not her, she realized that her dream was a past-life memory.

ShaBby

Do you like to rewind yourself sometimes?
To the olden days.
No Computer or TV
and even Radio only for limited time
Pastime was playing games like langdi, cricket, kho-kho, seven-tiles outdoors;
Carrom, cards, business indoors
The clean, unpolluted air
Twinkling stars visible in the sky.
No skyscrapers, simple row houses.
Good old memories 🙂

Nimesh Balaji Shinde

A memory is a bridge to various emotions… If only we had the choice of keeping the ones, we want… things would have been easier… what if God had created us in a way, wherein when we die our memories in others mind also vanished… Oops then maybe, the murder rate would reach sky high…!!!

Snacky

Ananya dropped her mobile phone and it got damaged. Even her heart broke down since it had special memories. The only thing that didn’t break was her SIM card & Memory card. She was glad that the memory card is safe. And it seems she had all her vital documents & candid photos in it.

Tushar Shrivastava

After giving it a long thought the entire day, finally he dropped her a message. He waited for 2 whole minutes and then deleted the text. He clicked on her WhatsApp DP and saw her happily posing with another guy. He let go a smile and closed the chat. Things end but memories last forever.

MuchAdoAboutNothing

The little child calls me out in glee,
The old couple gift me a smile benevolently,
The youth walks past and I smile bashfully

All calling out to me,
On some I turn my back

A lane I visit and leave at will,
A pretty quaint lane called Memory,
Right by my side, anytime, anywhere

********

What fun that was…..reading all of your stories on Memory! Now get set to put on your thinking hats for the next theme…….

5word5 theme 3 – Sport

Sport – one word with so many possible usages! And your stories covered the gamut 🙂

Images courtesy Google. Collage courtesy befunky.com

Slokabs

The top two spots in the swimming championship were reserved for them, only the order changed every year. But that day, the crowds witnessed the true sportsmen in them, when Imran turned around mid-race to help a co-swimmer with seizures out of the water. And Manav flatly refused the gold medal though he finished first.

Aditya Arora

Being a SPORT is more important than winning. No one wins every match, even ndefeated champions like Mayweather or Nurmagomedov, were defeated earlier in their careers.
So, if you’re ever thinking of trying something new, don’t be afraid to lose. Enjoy being challenged by something fun and exciting. In the end, you might eventually win!

Dhiraj (blog)

The war paint has been worn, there are shrill cries all around – war chants. There is an air of nervousness. The prayers are on. The jets have just passed by. This is surely war. Out comes this knight all in black , showing off his legs, like the soldiers in colourful shorts. WELL, This is SPORTS !

MuchAdoAboutNothing

Are you a sport ?
Do you play any sport ?
She was sporting a grey jacket
He took it very sportingly …
The tourists had a good sport today .. ( could be fishing or hunting)

This is one word with so many forms. But to write fifty five words on this is either too less or too much!

Bala R (blog)

‘That should be enough for the while. We both will come together to pick you up.’

‘But I am not done yet. I wanna play some more!’

‘You have played enough! Be a sport now and let the other kids play!’

Dejected, 2020 started its sojourn with Mrs. Short-Hand and Mr. Long-Hand of the Clock-Town.

Jumping Joe

My boss is a real sport!! A team player, with a head start and always in full swing, dodges the ball or takes it on the chin as required.
His plate is always full but enlists all hands on deck to go the distance. Eyes on the goal, makes his mark and shares the spoils.

Nimesh Balaji Shinde

It was his 21st birthday celebration… Everyone around was cheering for him… “You are a Man now… Come on Champ.. You can do it… be a Sport!!”
– If you were in his place then would you be a Sport? How many times have you given into peer pressure? Don’t always be a Sport, choose wisely!!

Anusha Arvind

She was a born athlete. With every sunrise she would sprint across the fields in the village with her bare feet. Her coach bought her a brand new pair of shoes. With joy she tied her lace and got ready for the Olympic race. The sport was her passion and winning was her only notion.

ShaBby

Nature of a person varies from each other. A jovial person tends to crack lot of jokes and sometimes even on the opposite person. But cannot digest if the same is done to him. If you can laugh at others, then you should be able to laugh at yourself too. C’mon now be a sport!!

Snacky

Ravi wore his new birthday hoodie. He set off on his bi-cycle to buy some delicious sweets to distribute for his office mates. After reaching his office, he swiftly headed to the restroom to change his dress. As he opened the door, Ravi was sporting a Cab driver’s uniform, all set to perform his duty.

Julie P

Chilled Beer in one hand and buttery popcorn in other. The big screen setup and the lucky shirt was adorned. The match was going on strong. The undefeated Champions. “Move”, Rohit yelled with eyes glued to the telly. And suddenly a little palm hit his face. “Peekaboo! Daddy”. Rohit succumbed to a new sport instead.

AP

The lockdown made her sit indoors. Days rolled into weeks and into months. Something wasn’t right, she didnt feel herself, but couldnt nail it. Then one day she went running after a long time. She felt fresh, energised and revitalised. Then it slowly dawned upon her that she missed all the sport in her life.

*********

Next theme for your weekend activity is now up! Let the ink flow!


5word5 theme 2 – Fragrance

Loved all of your entries on this theme. Bbelow are some of the key themes of the stories summarised in a picture – because a picture speaks a thousand words (and you only get 55!!).

Images courtesy google. Collage courtesy befunky.com

Here are the 5word5 stories on this theme. Tbh, I was quite surprised there weren’t more food stories!!!

Slokabs

Mysore sandal soap, a generous slather of Ponds powder, pure coconut oil, freshly strung jasmine flowers and the scintillating fragrance of her starched cotton saree – the smell of a person can indeed become a memory! As he picked up the dried jasmine flower nestled in the pages of his book, his heart fluttered once again!

Dhiraj (blog)

Walking the streets of Amsterdam, It’s all in the air, it’s all in the sweets, it’s the coffee or is it?
Not sure if I am moving or the world is moving around me. One Chocolate, Two Chocolate, Three Chocolate. And this seems like an endless stream. But ah the Fragrance! The Fragrance of Weed.

Anusha Arvind

She woke up appreciating the earthy aroma after the monsoon shower. The fragrance of the camphor incense filled the prayer room. She could smell the subtle fragrance of the jasmine flowers. The aroma of idlis and spicy sambar from the kitchen stimulated her salivary juices. She was more than content. What more could anyone want?

Bhuvi Dhamecha

Alyssa and her business partner were in conflict.
They headed to get drinks and resolve it.

The faint smell of bitter almonds stopped her from taking a sip.
Her memory of crime television reminded that cyanide it is.

The pungent smell that saved her life was fragrance then since.
Called the cops; got partner imprisoned.

Nimesh Balaji Shinde

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is fragrance17.jpg
In middle of the night the silence stays…
Many times, unspoken words stay…
On an empty bed a fragrance stays…
Over a period of time memories stay…
But in the end only love stays…
Silence becomes noise…
Unspoken words become arguments…
Fragrance turns to smell…
Memories are replaced…
But still in the end love stays…


MuchAdoAboutNothing

His Incense, camphor and lamp,
Her fishing boats ashore and damp,

The waft of jasmine in the air,
The fumes in the traffic blare,

Freshly brewed coffee, tea and toast,
The garbage dump across the coast

The finest French wine with the cheese,
Disinfectants, Coats and shields,

Bliss or Livelihood?
Your fragrance or my fragrance?

Ashokwahi.wordpress.com (blog)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is fragrance18.jpg
Hail to Thee, Thou who comest at morn with fragrant breath, filling our mortal frame with vibrant life!

Hail to Thee, Thou who comest at morn with gentle raiment to open our sleep worn eyes!
Not in dazzling splendour, but with soft white light Thou soothe our mortal sight.

Hail to Thee, morn and night!!

Gaurav Aggarwal (blog and insta page)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is fragrance16.jpg
At times she passed by like he wasn’t there and sometimes awkwardly shied away like he was a stranger. But that day, as the aroma of the simmering Tea spread throughout the house, he heard a voice say, “a teaspoon sugar for me, son”. He dropped sugar in her tea and silently, a few tears.

ShaBby

Walking early in the morning
Through the garden in the complex,
Passing by the temple
Smell the fragrance of the incense sticks;
Quiet and serene all around
Breathe the fresh air and
Feel the cool breeze blowing on you,
See the Sun slowly rising up
with sky turning slightly orangish
What a beautiful scenic view!

Bala R (blog)

His withdrawal was giving him a tough time. He was desperate. He needed to find that one thing which he hid some time back before giving up the drug forever. He knew this day would come. The whole almirah was ransacked. Finally, he found it. A small packet. Made in Auroville. ‘Opium’ – a fragrance sachet.

Snacky

Vishnu was in Happy Tears. Finally, Vishnu and his family’s ambition comes true. The court’s verdict favoured him. When Vishnu was standing outside the Court, someone from his back whispered “Congratszzz”. It’s his friend Lakshmi. They both went to Vishnu’s home on her bike. Vishnu got down and peacefully smells the fragrance of his land…

Julie P

The place reeked of dettol and bleach. Everyday was the same, just the residents differed. Karuna wheeled each of them to the bathroom. Her shoulders firmly carried their weight if they leaned for support. Sometimes there were accidents. More dettol and bleach. But then she bathed them and dusted lavender talc. For another 24 hours.

Joy

Beautiful Lilies, sweet roses,
Nicely laid beckon our noses.
Down the lane, spice mixes with peppers
And chillies cause a bout of sneeze.
The delightfully decorated fruits,
Vegetables and herbs beg a pick.
But the tempting hot tea and coffee brews, down the street
Perk up my olfactory as I push myself for the meet.

Tushar Shrivastava

Stay at home and keep checking your sense of smell and taste. While I stayed at home, the accidental cook in me was able to depreciate my sense of smell and taste. Recently, when I went to my hometown, a delicious fragrance coming from the kitchen made me realise that I was finally at home.

*******

Get ready to let your literary juices flow on the next theme 🙂

5word5 theme 1 – Normal

Thanks to all those who sent in your submissions for this first theme – very topical for the time we are living in, I suppose! I hope you enjoyed writing the shorts as much as I enjoyed reading them!

Your stories spanned somewhat the below range of themes!

Images courtesy Google. Collage courtesy befunky.com

And here are the stories!

Slokabs

Today, her life will change forever – her pain and efforts will eventually bear fruit. She had run away from home, fought with family and friends, then with society; everyone who told her she was different. Today, she will give them all her answer….the answer she knew all along….today, she will finally attain her normal….HIS normal!

Nimesh Balaji Shinde

As he reached,
Waves crashed his feet…
Eyes closed,
He moved as the waves rose…
Once beneath,
He felt relieved…
The world outside felt real,
But his mind was not clear…
Beneath the sea of promises & lies,
Was a world which felt Normal…!!!
But again he had to choose, but his choice wasn’t NORMAL…!!

Aditya Arora

What is normal?
According to me, Normal is different for everyone. For those at the top, the trees and the sky would be normal, and for those at the bottom, it would be the touch/ feel of the ground and dirt.
The truth is that normal is a sense of individual comfort, and nothing else.

Anusha Arvind

We often take things for granted, like the Sun rising every morning, the trees that give us oxygen, the water we drink and the food we eat. It’s normal that all these things, we get automatically or have ready access to these resources. What if this wasn’t the case? Can we survive? Food for thought!

JN

Drishti was in the balcony soaking Vitamin-D, her new pandemic normal. As she scanned the
skies morosely, a beautiful rainbow lifted her spirits and filled her with wonderment once again.

It triggered her childhood memories of chasing it, counting the overlapping colors and hoping to prove that actually a rainbow has more than seven colors!!

Ashokwahi.Wordpress.com (blog)

It was rather unusual to see a young girl, sitting alone in the park at night. It is not a normal sight. Sitting alone, fragile and a little sad. I could have hugged her and taken away her pain. But that too is not normal in our culture. I simply prayed for her and left.

MuchAdoAboutNothing

Heard this before? “It was normal in those days”.

If “Normal” was a noun how would it look! Probably a hollow with a base moving downwards? What goes inside today will eventually go out of the base, as practises of a new era fill in and find their way out!

Is this the “New Normal”?!!

ShaBby

Lifestyle has changed with the pandemic;
With masks and lockdown; no one at your door;
Working, shopping all from home,
No social calls but chats, meetings all on Zoom;
No welcoming hug or shaking of hands,
Going back to our traditional namaste;
It’s the new normal way of life,
Somehow creating more family bonding time!

Julie P

I have noticed so many copying my pose shamelessly on the river bank. They arrive earlier than usual these days, in bright flashing neons and funny ears.Infact, the promenade is busier than previous years. I need to concentrate harder, I have a family to feed.
Unlike those humans, balancing to be upright on a foot.

Snacky

My birthday started with a fictional dream. I was in a snowy forest. Animals were roaming here & there. I saw hand sanitizer hanging under each tree. A book fall in front of me. The book’s title was “COVID-19” & the subtitle was “Wear Your Mask”. And I finally realised this is our new Normal!!!

Six

“The glance angle of reflection is the difference between the normal and the angle of reflection on a surface”, said my physics textbook. I grinned cheekily as I began to play with the words, “While you stand on earth’s surface, the sum of what you glance at and what you reflect upon becomes your normal!”

Gaurav Aggarwal (blog)

The sound of gun fire whistling past the picturesque mountains surrounding the village school, 800 metres from the Pak border, was the school bell for them after all! As he picked up the chalk falling from the vibration of the latest gunshot, the teacher wrote “P for Peace” in the hope of a “new normal”.

Tushar Shrivastava (blog)

Earlier, a normal lifestyle might have included a rigorous work-week followed by a Friday night party with your social group & unwinding the weekend while preparing for the same ritual again. 2020 has completely changed the “Normal way” and brought one closer to oneself and to all those “really essential” things for a meaningful life.

Anupama Menon (Official FB page)

When you have to tighten your purse strings at the end of the month, when responsibilities overwhelm you, when time flies fast during happy moments and moves at a snail’s pace during others – know that it’s all normal. Whatever happens is for the best. Life irons out the creases in the end. Let life happen.

Eight

Statistically, normal is defined as the lack of deviation from the mean. However, the term standard normal is defined to have mean equal to 0. If mean equals 0, then by definition normal equals 0. So, if normal = 0 implies the non existence of a normal then can we conclude there is no standard normal?

Dhiraj (blog)

I was washing my hands with soap on New Years Eve 2019. One hand on top of the other, between my fingers and the webbing. The thumb, back of the hand, between my nails and wherever possible. Trying to think of a good resolution, not realising then, this would be the New Year’s New Normal.

***********

If the above stories (whether they include yours or not) have inspired you (more), then feel free to add your 5word5 stories in the comments section below 🙂

Next theme is already up – get cracking! What are you waiting for?!

P.S. (Edited to add) – I forgot to post this when I posted all the above stories – though actually, this was kind of the first thing that I had intended to publish along with the stories. It’s 57 words so a little longer than the 5word5 criteria but I think this post on my blog would be incomplete without this quote from Ellen Goodman, which I think summarises “Normal” for the working class!

5word5 – One day to go!

One day to go before the first word theme is put up on my blog tomorrow. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, head over to this intro post!

Today, I’m sharing another internet resource for microfiction and nanofiction inspiration for you to explore – This one’s called The.Tiny.Stories and I’m linking up here their Facebook page and Insta page. They also have a dedicated The.Tiny.Stories Hindi page if you like to read/think in Hindi! Just saying….

I’m really excited about posting the first word tomorrow and I hope many of you will give this a shot!

Meanwhile, as promised, here are some of my previous 55-word stories for your reading pleasure (hopefully!)

Drama

Meira was busy clicking photographs and didn’t notice the feline eyeing her, getting closer every moment. As she turned to board her jeep again, it started the chase. Meira ran for her life. Suddenly, she collapsed. It came uncomfortably close. She didn’t dare breathe. She kept still and the tiger walked back into the jungle.

Window

Thunder. Lightning. The skies tore. Torrential rain poured down.

The nurse and cleaning lady had stopped coming since long. Thick layers of dust covered everything in the house, where Bharti lived alone.

She wheeled herself into the living room. The rain lashed against the panes. She smiled. She could finally resume her favourite pastime again!

Disappointment

The clock ticked the minutes by. Yet, everytime she looked, the hands had barely moved. His favourite food was becoming cold; She, hungry. The elevator’s feeble music grew louder till it stopped on her floor. “Finally!”, she thought aloud. The bell didn’t ring. The phone beeped. “Going out with friends. Not coming home for dinner tonight.”

Fake

She always suspected him of adultery. He was always defensive about it – lavishing gifts on her, as if to prove his point. 3 months since he lost his job, “Time to put those gifts to good use”, Anita thought. With a heavy heart, she asked him, “How much for these ornaments?” The goldsmith replied dismally, “Nothing.”

Oblivion

Seated on the ship deck, his eyes soaked in the blue expanse. The encounter had killed hundreds, including him. No one would mourn his death. His family had disowned him the day he’d picked up the gun. A silent tear left his eye and merged with the ocean, to be lost forever…just like his existence.

Hope you enjoyed reading those and are gearing up to put your own thoughts into 55 words tomorrow!

5word5 – What’s in it for you?

If 5word5 sounds like gibberish to you, maybe you should head over to this intro post first!

And why exactly should you participate in this activity that I have started on my blog on a whim?! No really, why?

Here are some reasons why I did it on Vivek Tejuja’s blog in 2012. I think some of these may resonate with you as well and make you want to contribute to 5word5!

  1. I love to write but don’t get enough time to do it as much as I’d like to. I often feel like I’m losing my edge (if ever, I had any!). Writing well-thought out, adequately researched and interesting content takes time and effort. So I always feel like I can’t do it well in the time I have. But one paragraph? That can’t take long. 55 words is not a lot at all. And I can definitely take out 20-30 minutes or so a day to come up with something. Bonus – I already have a theme to start with so I don’t have to come up with that all on my own! So it makes for great writing practice!
  2. I usually have a tendency to write long and verbose content so restricting my thoughts on a particular word/theme to 55 words is a good challenge in brevity. I actually feel it can help me start writing better and crisper emails and reports at work too!
  3. It’s phenomenally interesting and refreshing to see different points of view and alternate interpretations of a single word. There’s really no telling how surprising some stories can turn out to be – in a good way!
  4. Another plus point – it’s a great exercise in thinking out of the box! When I see a word prompt, I usually never go with my first instinct because I feel it’s probably the stereotype. I think of various ways in which the word can be used and usually pick an interpretation that is relatively uncommon. And yet, I’m always amazed to find ideas from others that never occurred to me!
  5. Lastly, it’s something to take my mind off work and routine for a few minutes!

If you think any of those reasons make sense to you, then do stay tuned for the 5word5 series starting on Tuesday, 01 December 2020.

Just to emphasize – there is absolutely no pressure to send in an entry for every single word prompt (though it would be wonderful if you do that!). No commitments required whatsoever and you are free to submit stories only for themes that you identify with or those that inspire you sufficiently!

Another page on the internet that does microfiction really well is Terribly Tiny Tales (TTT). If you’re interested or want to be inspired, you can check them out here or on their insta page here or on their facebook page here. They come up with some pretty neat content!

Meanwhile, here are some of my past 55-word stories for you to read and ruminate on!

Stories

Kanha left the old suitcase near the community trashcan with a heavy heart. As he turned to leave, he examined one last time, the colourful stamps covering it – evidence of his exploits around the world – the missed flights, business trips, the honeymoon, family vacations. 35 years, 80 countries and countless stories, told and untold!

Hope

Every morning, the old man woke up, bathed, wore a crisp white kurta-pyjama, combed his hair, wore his watch and finished breakfast. He spent the rest of his day in the lush gardens of the old age home –on a cane chair or wooden bench – waiting for his son to come and fetch him home!

Pure

Pavitra dropped the vase to the floor and it shattered into thousand tiny pieces – just like her life had three fateful years back when he had mercilessly robbed her of her dignity and virginity. She walked into the streets and felt the raindrops drenching her, washing away the blood stains. And she felt pure again.

Anger

The students were learning expressions in the drawing class. “Class,” started Ms.Smith, “Today, you shall draw an angry face.” Little Ansh innocently and spontaneously asked, “Ma’am, could we use lot of colours?” “Sure, why not?!”, she replied! “Good”, said Ansh, “because mummy’s cheeks go from pink to red to crimson to purple when she’s angry!”

Launching a new parallel series – 5word5

As some of you may be aware, I’m pretty pumped about starting this new parallel series on my blog – parallel because it’ll continue alongside other intermittent unrelated blog posts that I’ll keep putting up in between and is not going to be an exclusive continuous series unlike some of my recent ones such as the ‘my favourite poems’ or ‘covid’ themes. This will be more on the lines of the ‘Kaleidoscope’ parallel series that I started earlier this year (long ago!).

But I do plan to be more regular on this series – twice a week to be precise! So without further ado, let me tell you all about it!

’55-word stories’ is a fairly popular concept on the internet since the past 8-10 years or so. ’55-word fiction’ also known as flash fiction, microfiction or nanofiction basically refers to a genre of storytelling that permits only 55 words.

Some trivia – The 55 Fiction contest was created in 1987 by New Times, an alternative weekly in California. It quickly caught on, and created a new genre: “flash fiction.” New Times (and its sister publication, the Santa Maria Sun) now receive a thousand or more entries annually, from around the world.

Originally, the requirement was that it must be a very short story – in prose form – with a beginning, conflict and end. Over time, though, it has evolved to encompass any form of storytelling – poetry or prose – with the only limiting condition being that the story needs to be told in exactly 55 words – not less, not more.

I was introduced to the world of 55-word stories through this blog that is run by a guy named Vivek Tejuja when I contributed to his themes way back in 2012. And somewhere down the line, I became reticent (as I am often known to do!). But recently, I read about microfiction somewhere on Facebook and I immediately knew what I needed to get back to!

So I quickly reached out to a few friends who I know love to write, bounced off this thought with them and I got a fantastic response (thanks, you guys!). And here I am, writing an introductory post for the series.

Once I decided that I’m doing this, I needed a catchy tag for this activity (because I am particular about superficial stuff like that!) and I thought and thought and thought until I finally came up with “5word5” (pronounced “swords“). A couple of lines on why I believe this tag captures the essence of this activity for me:

– Words and Sword are made up of the same letters!
– They are often pitted against each other (“The pen is mightier than the sword”)
– Cryptic words can cut like swords and microfiction is by default….well, cryptic!
– I thought “5word5” i.e. replacing the Ss with the 5s of 55 was rather creative and it made me feel proud and clever for being able to come up with it!! Some narcissism never killed anyone! 😉
– And then when I was researching on this theme, I came across this quote on google images

That did it for me – because until then, I was uncomfortable with the idea that swords only harm while words are meant to heal and therefore a catchword of “5word5” for my word-themed activity may be counter-intuitive. But I liked the association of swords with protection in this quote and that’s when I decided that I am going ahead with it!

With that background, introducing you all officially to 5word5, a bi-weekly series on my blog! Here’s how it’ll work –

– On Tuesdays and Fridays every week, I’ll post a word on my blog which will serve as a prompt or a theme to inspire some microfiction! I invite all of you, my dear readers, to send in your 55 word stories on that theme within two days (so for the Tuesday theme, you can send in your entries to me by Thursday nights and for Friday’s theme, by Monday night).
– Consequently, on Fridays and Tuesdays, I will post all of your 55 word stories on the latest theme along with my own submission as well!

Some rules now:

  1. Of course, your story needs to have exactly 55 words, so please do a word count before submitting them!
  2. The word is just a prompt or a theme and you are not necessarily required to use the word as such in your story. You could use variations of the word or its synonyms or your interpretation of the word. As long as your overall story has some linkage, whether expressed or implied, to the word prompt.
  3. You can write in poem or prose format.
  4. The story can be closed-ended or open-ended….as in you can leave the ending explicit or to the reader’s interpretation.
  5. There may or may not be characters in your story…..it could be a story about an event or about things or about relationships, your observations on life linked to the word prompt….anything really!
  6. You can send in your submissions to me directly through the “Contact” form on my blog and it’ll directly come to my mailbox. Alternatively, if you have my phone number, you can whatsapp it to me (I’m not putting up my phone number on the blog for obvious reasons!)
  7. If you would like to include an image or video or gif along with your story, you are free to include the same but such attachments without an actual 55 word story will not be considered a valid entry!
  8. In case you miss the submission deadline and I have already posted the stories for a theme, feel free to add your story in the comments section!
  9. When you send me your 55 word story, please include the name by which you want me to publish it on my blog. This could be your full name, pet name, twitter handle, instagram handle or any other pseudonym you may want to use if, for any reason, you want to keep your submission anonymous (thought I would appreciate if you told ME who you are)!
  10. If I find that your story is miles away from the theme I may reach out to you to understand if I’m missing something!
  11. Just to make it clear, the decision to publish or not to publish your story on my blog rests entirely with me. I am usually a reasonable person so rest assured that I won’t NOT publish your submission without reason. However, if your story is highly controversial, vulgar, sexist/casteist/racist or discriminatory in any other way, defamatory to a real person/event, clearly plagiarised or in any other way legally or morally compromised, I may decide not to publish it and will inform you about the same.
  12. Also, just to clarify, this is not a contest and there are no prizes!!!

Phew! That’s out of the way! I am really looking forward to getting started on this and I hope at least some of you share my excitement! Do feel free to let other writing enthusiasts in your circles know and feel free to spread the word on your social media handles using the hashtags #5word5withslo or #55wordstorieswithslo.

I will be kick-starting the series by posting the first word on 01st December 2020 i.e. coming Tuesday. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, for the next three days, I’ll post some of my past 55-word stories for you to read and ruminate on!

Starting with….these…..

Free

They hadn’t eaten since three days. The water cup was empty but their seed bowls were untouched. Pari had been thinking about it all night. It was difficult but she had to do it. She hesitated for a moment, then opened the door to the cage. They gleefully flew out happy to be free again!

Equations

She added to his joys, reduced his sorrows, multiplied his responsibilities and shared them too. When they were with each other, they didn’t need anyone else. When they weren’t with each other, it didn’t much matter whoever else they were with. Their equation was what all couples shared and yet it felt unique and special!

Direction

Disha was at the proverbial crossroads of her life! Science, Commerce, Humanities? Medicine, Engineering, Business, Jounalism? Choices, choices everywhere! And the difficult part – she had to make them herself! Having always followed instructions, Now was time to pick her paths and navigate her life! No compass, no GPS. She was the captain of her ship!

It’s that time of the year!

For a few years now, one thing that has remained constant in my Diwali and New Year (01st January….not Saal Mubarak that follows Diwali) celebrations apart from, of course, binging on Indian sweets and savouries during Diwali and gorging on cakes, chocolates and a variety of takeout food during the Christmas-New Year season……is that I’ve unfailingly written short poems to mark the occasion.

What’s more, I’ve also promptly shot them off through a mass WhatsApp broadcast to all my family, friends, acquaintances, some people who I only ever text at these times of the year and to a bunch of random people who are on my phone’s contact list but I no longer even know if they still use that number!

Anyhow, so this year’s festive season officially began with Navratri but Diwali is the festival that really brings home the true festive spirit…..which then continues for the rest of the year. So it’s that time of the year when all calorie counting goes out of the window and consumerism is at its peak.

Every year, Diwali is heavily anticipated for various reasons – many people go their hometowns at this time of the year, those who stay close to their families have a series of meetups and fun (or not, depends on how you feel about these!)) gatherings lined up, some of us take off on quick getaways either with friends or just to squeeze out some quality time as a couple/family. It’s also that time of the year when our streets, buildings and surroundings are lit with resplendent lights and the Diwali lights scene in India is our equivalent of Christmas lights elsewhere in the world. The aroma of ghee fills up our noses with the anticipation of delicacies in store for the (usually) long weekend! It’s easily the most anticipated holiday, if not festival, of the year for us Indians.

This year is going to be markedly different. While I do know many people who have travelled back to their hometown despite Corona, and I find the roads, shops and markets crowded with people seemingly carefree and out for Diwali shopping, there is definitely an air of apprehension among many of us who are keeping our celebrations muted amidst the scare of an imminent second wave. (A colleague was telling me about this Whatsapp meme yesterday – Rest of the world is battling second/third waves of Covid. In India, we have entered the “dekha jaayega” wave! It’s not that funny if you think about it but it did crack me up then!)

So, I am telling myself smugly that I will just do the bare minimum to give me Diwali feels – make a couple of sweets and savouries (or order them, if you will), maybe draw a small Rangoli (for the  insta memoirs), try to find atleast one new dress in my wardrobe that I managed to set aside battling my instant gratification fetish so that I can wear “Diwali” clothes, and perhaps visit a relative or two if I can. Errr…….pretty much what I did every Diwali before! I wonder if most of you are in the same boat as me!

So while we may have mentally braced ourselves for a very different Diwali this year, maybe it’s not going to be all that dramatically different really! Just the compulsion of wearing a mask everywhere and oh of course – the BMC ban on crackers (not that I will miss them too much but I will miss waking up to the sound of them at 4am on Diwali day – some excitement that creates!)

So without further ado, here are my wishes to all of you for Diwali this year!

A Diwali to remember

If Diwali stands
for the win of good over evil,
And if Covid is the evil
Of 2020,
Is it really Diwali yet?
Or is this celebration anticipatory?

From clapping in our balconies
To lighting lamps to show solidarity,
From spending time with our loved ones
To making video calls and family check-ins customary;
Did Diwali come early this year?
Or has it been a yearlong Diwali?

Whatever it may be
It binds us all together,
Changes the mood, brings some hope
And much needed cheer!
Because it’s that time of the year,
When festivities completely take over!

So what if it’s in anticipation
Of a better (read, Covid-free) Diwali next year,
Isn’t all celebration
Symbolic of the hope of a brighter future?
If you knew there was nothing to look forward to,
Would you be celebrating or trying to just make do?

So what if we’ve had
All the time in the world this year,
To bond with our family and
Come closer,
Isn’t Diwali a good enough excuse
To spread some happiness, smile a little more?

So bring on those festive clothes,
And the onslaught of festive calories;
Fill your homes with lamps and fragrances,
And your bellies with varied mithai
‘Coz when all this is over, we’ll all still be here;
A tad stronger to brave the wait and see the world…and us recover!

Wishing you and your loved ones a Healthy (because healthy is very important this year…more than ever), Happy, Prosperous, Sumptuous (Of course) and Sparkling Diwali!! Stay safe, be sensible!

P.S. Above is not my WhatsApp greeting this year – it’s too long even by my standards! If you mean something to me, you’ll get to read it on your own WhatsApp on Saturday/Sunday!

P.S.S. You must be wondering if my blog has become some festive edition where I only post on Teachers’ day, Diwali, so on and so forth. And somehow, I haven’t been able to shake off the Covid theme months after I did my self-confessed last post on that thread. I assure that’s this is not intended as a festivals-events-only blog and I do have some ideas brewing (but have no idea how to proceed with them). There’s going to be some activity on this blog pretty soon. Stay tuned folks!

Happy Teachers’ day, Coronavirus!!

Guru of the year award goes to Coronavirus!!

For teaching us to stay calm and find our strength in the face of adversity.

For teaching us to respect the planet and do our bit to keep it and its inhabitants safe and healthy.

For teaching us that sometimes it’s important to slow down in order to speed up!

For making us more conscious to the plight of those around us, acknowledging our blessings and where possible, doing our bit for the betterment for others

For teaching us that productivity is linked to self-discipline and not dependent on one’s physical location!

For teaching us to collaborate better and find new ways of interacting, celebrating and being there for one another.

For inculcating some habits that shoud have been part of our life anyway but were often ignored or taken for granted – hand washing, mask wearing, showering after returning from spending time outdoors and so on.

For teaching us that our happiness is not linked to how much we shopped or how many meals we ate at fancy cafes and restaurants but to the quality of time that we get with our loved ones and the opportunity to make little moments special and memorable.

For teaching us about all the things that we can live without and still be contented; happy even.

As my friend and follower Julie Pandit had observed on an earlier post, each of us would learn differently from the pandemic. But learn, all of us will…..something. It could be something small or something life-changing but what is certain is that we won’t emerge out of this crisis as the same people we were going into it!

So, for all the chaos you’ve caused this year (and while I’m very much in support of #gocoronago), Happy Teacher’s day, Coronavirus – for the silver linings!

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

As with most of us, I’ve been blessed to have been taught by some wonderful teachers through the years…..of course, starting with my parents.

A very Happy Teacher’s day to all my lovely teachers through the years for moulding me into the person I am, for giving me the opportunities you did and for recognising my strengths before I knew about their existence! And for continuing to guide, love and bless me!

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

On that note, I’m drawing the curtains on the Covid series on my blog. Will be onto something else, hopefully soon!!