Tag Archives: fiction

Paper Person

I recently read a book called Paper Towns. It’s a fun read and all on the surface, but what really got me what the concept of paper towns itself. When companies that make maps come out with their original version of a map, they plant a bunch of fake towns on the map in random spots with random names to ensure anybody copying their map gets caught. So when unsuspecting people decide to travel to said fake towns marked on the map (in a random place with a random name), they just reach the area and find nothing. But sometimes, people settle down on this random bit of land and use the name marked on the map and hence paper towns come into existence, being made real by virtue of having been put on a map.

Did you know this happens with people too? You create a person for yourself in a random place with a random name, believe he exists and tailor him to your own version of perfection. And one day, you go to a random place with a random name and he’s there. In flesh and blood, unshaven, unironed, unabashedly himself. And nobody else knows it but he’s come into existence just then, being made real by virtue of having been designed by you.

Did nobody tell you you can create people?

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The Soulmate

The clock ticks on. Five minutes to go.

He thinks of calling her, but he figures if it has to be her, she’ll call herself.

So he goes and opens the refrigerator for the twentieth time that hour, pulls out a slice of cheese, heads back to his laptop and plays some music. There’s beats in the background now. Beats and vibrations. No words. He closes his eyes and breathes in deep, then lets out a long sigh.

It’s about time he met her. The one. Whomever she was.

There was no guarantee that the astrologer had been right. But three years back when he’d been told by the old man in orange robes the exact date and time he’d meet his soul-mate, he’d laughed it off.
He couldn’t tell why, it hardly seemed funny anymore.

Four minutes to go, and his phone vibrates with a message from her.
Hey I’m coming over. Getting pizza.

He’d been with her for over five years now. Of course she knew about the prediction. He smiled to himself.  She’s making sure she’s with me at the time I’m supposed to meet my soul-mate.

“Maybe it’s the moment you realize I’m your soul-mate” she’d said, arguing against the astrologer’s prediction. “The orange dude didn’t say it’s the time you meet your soul-mate for the very first time!”

The orange dude did, actually, in so many words.

He finishes his slice of cheese and his phone beeps again.

Low battery. Three minutes to go.

He sets an alarm on his wrist watch for three minutes and just as he plugs in his phone to charge, he gets another message from her.
Almost there. Come downstairs.

He leaves his phone to charge, picks up the house keys and goes downstairs, his heart beating a little faster now. He did love her. Heck, he’d loved her for five years. Then why is he feeling uneasy? Almost as though he’s thinking he’ll meet someone new in the next two minutes, as ridiculous as that sounds.

He lands on the ground floor with one minute to go.

He sees her car approaching in the distance, waiting at the signal, and he lets out a bittersweet sigh.
So that’s that.

He’s walking out onto the road to greet her when a speeding car runs into him from the other side of the road and knocks him out cold. The girl driving it rushes out to gauge the damage, and as she holds his hand to check his pulse, his wristwatch alarm goes off. He looks into her eyes long and deep before he shuts his own forever.

***

As the hysterical girl from the approaching car at the signal accompanies her dead boyfriend into the ICU, the speeding lady orders Chinese in the hospital cafeteria.  It comes with a fortune cookie that reads “Oftentimes, your soul-mate and life partner aren’t the same person.”

***

Later that night, the speeding lady’s husband pulls off his orange robes and casually asks her whom she killed today.

***

Ms. Kor

“Ms. Kor?”

Ray stood in the verandah inspecting the ruins of the once majestic house in front of him.

2B/ 29, the nameplate read, in moss covered bronze lettering.

There were creepers along the walls. His mother often said they caused a nasty mosquito problem in the monsoons, such creepers on walls. There was no doorbell, only an old sturdy door, with a brass knocker in the shape of a banana.

Weird, he thought.

Tak tak

Tak tak

Tak tak

“Ms. Ko-o-or?” he called out once again

He bent to rest the huge green package at his feet when all of a sudden the door flung open and a large woman stood there, with a white bob and a white beard working its way into her cleavage, the end of which seemed about a foot above his own head.

Boy, that’s one massive woman.

Age wrinkled her face as fat wrinkled her arms.

“Eh? What? What you want? Again you come? I no sell this house. My pappa’s house. Shoo. Shoooo!” she bellowed.

“Uhm. Hello, ma’am. There’s a delivery for Ms. Kor”

Her brows smoothed and she smiled. “Pizza you got?” she said, this time rather faintly, as thought she didn’t want anyone else to hear.

“No ma’am. Courier”

“Hain?”

“Are you Ms. Kor?”

“No. Myself Missus Kor”

“Oh, I see. Ma’am, is your daughter at home?”

“Eh you no shame or what? Coming at night asking for daughter!”

“Ma’am, there’s package for her.”

“Haan haan, nice idea. What package there is? Let me to see! How I know you not rapist or murderer? You rascal boys! Show me package now!”

“I’m sorry, ma’am. The package is confidential and can be delivered only to your daughter with her signature.”

“But I have no daughter”

He stared at her, incredulous, cursing his luck for being assigned this package. This woman had to be some sort of lunatic.

“Ma’am. Is there a Ms. Kor in this house?”

“Yes”

“Could you call her so I can give her this package”

The old woman giggled.

“Arey baba, now is her nap time. You come tomorrow in the morning, no?”

And she closed her door.

Just like that.

***

The next morning Ray found himself staring at the huge green package once again. He barely had any packages to deliver on his route for the day, and he didn’t really have anything to entertain himself with at home either. Weekends are useless, even the TV guys expect the whole town to be out and about, enjoying free time with their loved ones, broadcasting crap on prime-time weekend television for the lonely and loveless.

He studied the box. It was weirdly shaped. Sort of an irregular pentagon, with one edge slightly curved. He tried to imagine what it could be.  He’d never seen anything like it. It seemed scientifically elaborate, but that’s probably just what he thought because the ‘sender’ tag read:

Department of Neuro-Bio-Mimicry
University of
Azerbaijan

Then again, maybe it was the constant faint ticking sound that came from the package.

He took a bottle of cola from the fridge and set himself in his van to do the day’s work. After completing his route, he hovered around route 29, wondering if he should risk it with the maniacal giant woman again.

Ugh! One more try.

He hauled the package back into the delivery truck and set out for 2B/29.

The Kors, said a bronze nameplate, under the house number. He hadn’t noticed last night. In two years of his career, he’d never visited the same house twice, and so he’d never noticed much about any house.

 There’s always a first time for everything, he thought, as he knocked with the banana knocker. It looked more like a moon now, though. That makes more sense.

The door began to open slowly, as though by itself. A terrible smell made its way into his nostrils. Within a few seconds the door was wide open, and nobody could be seen. He heard a soft thud, and looked down to see a small girl, about four years of age, holding a large doll with a gold heart shaped charm around its neck. It read ‘Ms. Kor’.

“Ms. Kor?” said Ray, peering inside the house.

And this time, a young lady appeared. Her silhouette was rather unflattering for a woman of her age, boxy and flat, yet her face showed innocence.

“Hello, I have a parcel for Ms. Kor,” said Ray.

“Oh. I’m sorry. The only Ms. Kor here is Cherry’s doll” she smiled, as she took the little girl into her arms.
It was an ugly doll. It had black marks around its eyes and its limbs were floppy.

“Are you sure?”

“Why, yes, I’m certain. It must be for Mrs. Kor, Cherry’s grandmother.”

“Oh. Ok. Yeah I guess. Is she home?”

“Yes, just a minute.”

The little girl left in the lap of the lady, dropping her doll at the door. It looked up at him, long and hard, as though it were begging him to escape. Its beady eyes seemed to say “So what if I’m a doll? You know that parcel belongs to me! Don’t give it to that wretched old woman!”

He couldn’t stay there any longer. The doll’s beady eyes bore into his, and he broke into a sweat.  He grew restless and agitated, the stench was unbearable, and in his panic he turned on his heel, dragged the parcel down the stairs with him, lugged it back into the van, and drove as though he were driving for his life.

***

He had completed his deliveries for the day. As he drove his van home, he thought about the mysterious parcel of Ms. Kor. What had caused him to flee yesterday? He felt so stupid now, thinking back. He should have just given it to her and got a signature and his job would be done. But something stopped him each time. And now he had this tremendous urge to know what the parcel contained.  So he opened his trunk, took it out and carried it to his living room.

After taking a cold shower, he opened the day’s newspaper and scanned the headlines for something interesting. Rain tomorrow in the north. Murder somewhere in the west. Scientific progress in the field of cloning. An accident down south. Haunted house.

Hey, she seemed familiar! It was the same boxy lady he’s seen at 2B/29! Her name was Winny Bose and she spoke of how she’d served the house for only a few days and how the owners seemed ‘really creepy’. She thought the place was haunted, and the owners, possessed, and was afraid to leave for fear of being cursed.

He gave the paper a quizzical look. What was in that parcel? Now he wasn’t so sure he wanted to open it, but his curiosity was killing him. What if the house maid was right? It did seem believable.

No, he’d just leave it at their doorstep the next day.

And so he did, right in the beginning of his shift. He left the parcel at the door and drove out of there and resolved never to return. This was too much drama for his daily routine.

***

 “Cherry? Cherry darling! Bring Ms. Kor here, right now! I have a gift for her.”

Cherry entered the room, doll in hand, house maid in tow, looking eagerly upon the gift that her nanna seemed so excited about.

“Those people there, Winny?”

“Yes ma’am? Which people?”, the house maid asked, stuttering curiously.

“Winny, I tell you, those people there in full town, think I mad. And they think little Cherry also mad. They think you marry your own bother means you have mad baby. So I marry cousin brother to keep them quiet. And give birth to lovely Eustus. But, my real brother get so angry, he kill cousin. Why pollute family blood, he say. And right too, you no think? So we have little Lara and she marry Eustus, like all good sisters in family. And then they both have accident and die!”

And this was where she broke down. First just a teardrop or two, then a whole string of tears, rushing down the wrinkled face.

“But they leave Cherry and Ms. Kor behind.  Doctors say Cherry too old for new brain. But Ms. Kor? Oh, not Ms. Kor!” As she spoke, teardrops made their way down her smile and into the tangled white beard on her chin.

She slowly unwrapped the box, “So I say, why poor Ms. Kor suffer same fate?  So much money in family, I say we buy Ms. Kor new brain!” She opened the box, and there it was. A mass of light-pink-brown, pulsating in rhythm with the small gadgets attached to it.

“And now my darling Ms. Kor be normal to full world!”

She took the artificial brain out of the box, removed the 5 plugs from each corner and put them in contact with Ms. Kor’s arms, legs, and head.  As though by some miracle, the doll’s eyes moved. There was a gulp down the throat.

“AH! And now I name you Mia!”

***

Ray opened the newspaper after his day’s shift. On the front page, stood the boxy lady, looking absolutely terrified, about 8 microphones strategically placed around her so as to not miss a word she uttered.

The headline read ‘WINNY, THE HOUSEMAID, TELLS SHOCKING TALE.’

He felt beady eyes on him as he read the rest of the article.

***

P.S. This story was written as a farewell gift to Bing.  Bing, this stays my story to you.