Monday, November 2, 2009

"Communication" - A Flash Fiction (a form of 'micro-fiction')

Author's Note: You can read my first 77-Fiction... titled, "Grief" - HERE. This post also contains info on the various genres of micro-fiction... so you can acquaint yourself with the 'dribble', the 'drabble', the 'droubble'... and the like.

Well, this is my first attempt at a flash fiction. But before I proceed with it, I am reminded of the fact that this is my 112th post. Which means that the previous one was 111th... aka cricket's equivalent of the "Nelson". Made famous by the recently departed English Umpire with the kindly looks and ruddy cheeks, David Shepherd or Shep... who will be fondly remembered for his quirk of hopping from foot to foot whenever the scoreboard registered the dreaded "Nelson". That was his trademark... or should I say his 'signature manoeuvre'.

There are others too... like Billy Bowden... known for his dramatic signalling style (link). THE Billy Bowden with the "crooked finger of doom" and the "double crooked finger six-phase hop" to name a few. Most cricketers are superstitious and a score reading 111 (said to represent one of Nelson's eyes, one of his arms, and one of his legs) is thought to bring bad luck. To counteract that, players on the batting side are meant to lift one leg off the ground until the score moves on. Shep never lost the fear and, commendably neutral, would shake a leg for both sides. So endearing... na... ???

But since this is a mere blog and not the cricket field I did not resort to any such measures... and am none the worse for it! *a big grin*

I also understand that the great and indomitable Gaul... the redoubtable Asterix turned 50 last week (on 29 October 1959). A very Happy Birthday to the perennially plucky little big hero and may he complete a century and more... while remaining in the pink of health! Ummm... half a century and still going strong... ?? Must be those magic potions conjured up by that medical magician, the Druid Getafix.

Wonder where does all this leave Asterix' best bud... the Gaulish menhir delivery man and warrior Obelix though... ??? He too must be turning 50 simultaneously then... and indulging in his favourite pasttime of hunting and eating wild boars and beating up Romans (all the while uttering his catch phrase: "These Romans are crazy"), with Dogmatix at his heels. By Toutatis! But try as he might, he is not allowed to drink the magic potion ever again. Much to his chagrin though. Reason... ??? He fell into the cauldron with the magic potion when he was a small boy and is always strong. You know... evergreen strength... !!!

Here is a write-up marking Asterix' golden jubilee... that contains an interview with his co-creator and translator who helped him conquer an English readership - the artist Albert Uderzo, who is still sprightly at 82. He has continued to create new Asterix adventures after the death of his friend René Goscinny in 1977, taking on the scripting as well as drawing.

The internet reached yet another milestone - the middle age - aka 40 years last month. With its birth... it changed the world forever. 40 glorious years of breathtaking innovation. But then most folks say that 40 is the new 30... so, the internet must be in the prime of youth then. What... ???

Veteran sports journalist and stellar cricket writer Rajan Bala passed away last month. As an incisive and analytical writer, he simply had no peers. It is a very sad day indeed and I'm sure avid cricket fans will remember him with warmth and reverence. I will miss his columns. May his soul RIP. Cricinfo, the 'Bhagavad Gita of the Beautiful Game', has a short obituary. His protégé Suresh Menon pays tribute. The Times of India's Satish Vishwanathan used a Sachin Tendulkar anecdote to demonstrate Bala's hold.

Now... to get back to my 'flash fiction'. Here you go:

He was new to everything... having arrived barely a couple of weeks ago... on the shores of this British dominion. As one of the administrators assigned to the then Governor General and Viceroy of India. Yes, the one referred to as the 'Laat Saab' by the locals aka the hoi polloi. The many languages and the strange customs that the country boasted... were alien to him. He seemed tentative and unsure of himself, an unusual change.

Being totally unfamiliar with Bengali... the local language of Bengal or even Hindi, he was completely stumpted for words... while interacting with the servants. Thankfully, one of his senior colleagues... sensing his predicament... had given him a few 'tips'... saying that there was no need to learn the local languages.

That most of the staff spoke English while the servants spoke a kind of pidgin english... which he'll soon get used to.

The older man had then smiled and added, "Hindi is very much like English, they say." And then proceeded to share with him a little 'trick'. He was astonished at first... and then thought perhaps it was meant as a joke... and laughed.

The strange and amusing part of it, however, was that it worked... leaving him quite flummoxed. Perhaps by the familiar-sounding words and the unexpected results they produced!

In the evening he would call, "Chawkidar!"

The fellow would appear, "Ji Saab?"

He then said, "There was a brown crow."

The Chowkidar: "Ji haan Saab," and carried out the task.

In the morning his instruction would be, "Chawkidar! There was a cold day." Again the fellow would do as asked...

And all the while... he would chuckle to himself and silently thank the old man profusely.


Some info gathered, courtesy: Wikipedia.
On the evolution of the internet: What better time to recap on the last 40 years and provide a brief history of how a technology that has changed our lives, came to be. Before you begin reading however, if you'd like a more visual representation, you may want to sit back and watch this wonderful video that will take you through the decades to today (Link)

A handmade oil painting reproduction of "A British Officer of a Madras Sepoy Battalion Attended by a Sepoy Servant" - a painting by (attr. to) Imhoff, Carl C.A. von (Pic courtesy: link)


  1. Hmmm,
    The start up was great as usual, but I didn't quite understand the story, could please explain?

  2. Not much of a cricket fan Roshmi. So I skipped that part. Now Asterix. Thats another thing altogether. I'm a fan! My husband too. He's borderline crazy. Collects the comics-has made several collections. Everytime a new edition comes, he re-starts the collection. At this rate we will have no space left at home.

    77 word fiction is interesting (as is 55 word fiction). A challenge to the writer - to convey thoughts with the utmost economy in words. But I also echo pawan's comment - I didn't quite get the ending.

  3. Lol !!! That was funny I got it .... Also was sad about David Shepherd may his Soul RIP it was treat to watch him Umpire in so many matches ...
    I am not a fan of Asterix but like the comics nevertheless :D

  4. It was hilarious flash fiction.. :)
    Loved it.. :)
    I liked to read about "111"...there are numbers like "13" that are regarded as unlucky...there are also numbers like "108", "786" , which are quite religious and are understood as lucky one....


  5. Hey Roshmi, a very interesting flash fiction, infact this is what a flash fiction should be like.. Had 2 spend about 5 minutes, speaking those words again and again till I got it in the end :)
    Well, David Shephard and cricket are inseperable. He will b missed alwez on the cricketing field. RIP!

  6. Hi....

    Hilarious and Rib tickling ..... along with making us pronounce those two sentences in diff ways to perceive the humour in our ways too....

    Enjoyed it completely with my passion towards the historical/cultural aspect ....

  7. Roshmi,what can I say.Overnight you have started writing flash fiction so well and meaningful.
    Even though I am no great cricket fan,but I do know of David Shepherd.

  8. Yes Roshmi, It is high time I write a new post and I am going to do it today! THANKS A LOT!! The flash fiction is funtastic!! I didn't understand it first but after saying the words repeatedely as Vipul suggested I got it! A very good start! i will try to write it some time>
    BTW I love the track words!

  9. @ Pawan: I'll not break the suspense yet... but provide a clue :)

    Concentrate on the lines you consider 'important'... wrt the story. Try and repeat the words/lines a few times...

  10. @ Deepa: Asterix ??? Well, join the club! I'm a huge fan... and have all the comics. Infact I'm a huge comics fan... plus ACK :)

    "Everytime a new edition comes, he re-starts the collection. At this rate we will have no space left at home."

    Ha! Ha! Ha!

    I too am a voracious buyer of books. In the last 3 years... I've bought about 120-130 books. So... I can fully understand what you mean... !!! :D

    P.S. I'll repeat my response to Pawan here.

    Will not break the suspense yet... but provide a clue ;)

    Concentrate on the lines you consider 'important'... wrt the story. Try and repeat the words/lines a few times... and it should be akin to "Open Sesame" :)

  11. @ Dhiman: :)

    I'm a huge fan of comics... Asterix, Tintin, Tinkle, ACK... you name it...

  12. @ Amit: Thanks! :)

    Yeah! "Friday the 13th", "Unlucky 13"... and the like.

    And the number "786" has been made famous by the owner of a signature baritone :)

  13. @ Mahesh: Thanks! Glad you liked it :)

    The various genres of 'micro-fiction'... provide an immense and interesting opportunity to explore 'fiction with a twist' among others. You know, like Hercule Poirot, we exercise our "little gray cells". It is also a challenge to the writer... to convey thoughts with the utmost economy in words.

  14. @ BK Chowla: Thank you Chowlaji! Appreciate it.

  15. @ Pawan: Still scratching your head, Eh... ??? Okie here goes:

    Try repeating both the sentences mentioned below like an Englishman:

    1) There was a brown crow.

    2) There was a cold day.

  16. hey roshmi, really very good! Enjoyed it completely! I love those minute details you provide! Should try my hands on this flash fiction!

    P.S.1: I have informed shankar :)
    P.S.2: Check out the 55Fiction in my blog!

  17. first time reading 77 words ,
    first time reading flash,
    have to read again and agian to understand and to reach the meaning,
    you should send it to times editor as a quiz.

  18. Got it!
    After continually reading the lines, the mystery unveiled!

    Now I like the post better!

  19. @ sm: :) :) :)

    Well, the various genres of 'flash fiction' provide an immense opportunity. You know, like Hercule Poirot, we exercise our "little gray cells". It is also a challenge to the writer... to convey thoughts with the utmost economy in words...

  20. Hey!! That was easy!!
    Well, had read about this 'brown crow and cold day' in a quiz!! :D

    Good attempt at Flash Fiction!! :)

    Hey, you should remove this word verification!!

  21. @ Shilpa: Thanks! :)

    P.S. "remove this word verification"... what word verification.

  22. Word verification when we comment!!
    You need to edit that in the Blogger---Settings---Comments!!

  23. Hey! Awesome! Brilliantly written... looking forward to a lot more :)

  24. @ Shilpa: Ok... done! Thanks for suggesting :)

  25. @ Tang: Thanks :)

    There are two more:

    1) "Stranger than fiction" - A 77-Fiction and

    2) "Grief" - A 77-Fiction (a form of 'micro-fiction')

  26. hi.. read ur strnger dan fiction n dis 1 ... only wud b commntin 4 both here only... 2 tired 2 cmmnt in each section... hope u can bear wid me :P.. not bad an attmpt must say... dis 1 particularly reminded me of ENGLISH AUGUST... not much connection tho.. only not many novels i read eithr :P :P.. d 77 fiction thing ws sure gud..pretty creatv.. 2 wrap up 1 whole story in 77 words.. dats a task... will jst go thru ur previous 1 2... grief is it?? ya will c

    now 1 request woman... try n post aftr certain tym interval.. i knw dis myt sound wierd on my part sayin dis.. but last few post u posted 1 aftr d odr n i hvnt been able 2 read any 1 f dem.. 4 dey r so long n i hvnt been able 2 sit dwn n read dem. tho i wan2 read dem.. but since d diwali posts... rathr dat 1 is still pending.. hope i jst find tym soon 2 read dem all... but so many long post ..phew... wonder how can u manage 2 write dem... hard 4me 2 read dem... still like i said... defn8ly will try n read dem soon... jst alil thot on d indian racial attack thing... n said autralis is d haven of racial attacks or smthim like dat .. so ahmmm hahaha :P ,, u knw its funny cos v indians r d biggest racial attacker.. arnt v??? d caste n creed culture religion .. north south ..dark many criterias v divide our own country men only... its kinda sweet 2c all such ppl meetin outsyd india n bein 1 against racial discrimination.. while back home dey wud b discriminating each odr :P :P .. jst a thot... hv fun n nice reads ur fiction work

  27. @ Sobhit: Thanks Sobhit! :)

    Many of those earlier posts contain stories. Read them at your leisure. No hurry!

    Actually I post only when I have something to write about and the topic is interesting enough for me to make my fingers dance furiously on the keyboard ;)

    And I have not said that "Australia is the haven of racial attacks". All I have said is that such an impression is being created via the media due to the turn of events. I have written things in a lighter vein... involving Dirk Nannes.

    As for the Indians protesting... ?? Well we are 'Champion Hypocrites' and a 'master at playing the Ostrich'. It is a case of the 'pot calling the kettle black'.

  28. k.. guess i read it wrong den :P.. ya ok u did talk abt dirk nannes .. n pot calling d kettle black.. interesting thot.. btw i put up a new post... ur fingers get tym 4m dancing on d keybord den try dancin ur eyes on d screen :P.. den d fingers can join dem in d cmmnts section probably... cya n tk cre

  29. Didnt get the story :( I am a Asterix fan too!!

  30. @ Reema: Asterix ??? Well, join the club! I'm a huge fan too... and have all the comics. Infact I'm a huge comics fan...

    PS: I'll repeat my response to Pawan and Deepa here.

    Will not break the suspense yet... but provide a clue :)

    Concentrate on the lines you consider 'important'... wrt the story. Try and repeat the words/lines a few times... and it should be akin to "Open Sesame" :)

  31. Good piece Roshmi. Shepherd and bird were two memorable characters of cricket folklore..and good umpires technology notwithstanding.

  32. Roshmi,

    Really TIC (tongue in cheek)! Most of us Indians wont get what exactly you are laffing at, more's the pity.

    Very nice style - Loved this & the culture vulture.

  33. @ Gyanban: Thanks!

    P.S. I know its quite late... for replies... but 'better late than never' :D

  34. @ thebutterflydiaries: Thanks a bunch! Glad you liked them :)