Short Story Archive for Short Story:

Vows – 55 word Micro Fiction

Carved hearts by childhood’s pudgy hands patiently waited for love’s caress.  Destiny had other plans.  Time brought them face to face at same airport.  Sluggish veins gained momentum.   Linked by facebook they recognized each other easily.  Both now unencumbered in sunset years, flew to Las Vegas to fulfill old vows.  Next revisited childhood’s favorite tree.

A surrealist masterpiece, René Magritte’s 1928 painting, The Lovers, (via google images )

The Diary

Aditya Raj had an over whelming urge to visit his ancestral home before his by-pass surgery inNew York. His wife and kids dissuaded vociferously but to no avail. He was sure that after completing this niggling task left undone in his old home; he could go under the knife worriless. Hence, sixty five year old Aditya returned toIndiaaccompanied by his elder son Vijay Raj.

Raj family had migrated toNew Yorkafter Aditya’s marriage.  He was in the family’s diamond business and had entered into a 50-50 partnership with his childhood buddy Shiva who was already settled inNew   York. The ancestral home had been in their family for almost two hundred years and he had left it in the able hands of his younger brother Satya and grandmother. Their parents had retired in the holy place ofBanarasbut the old grandmother refused to leave the home where she’d come as a bride. No lure of a holy place could pry her away from this house. Then five years ago just before grandpa’s first death anniversary, grandmother had taken ill and passed away. Satya was single and had no desire to wed, hence joined Aditya inNew   Yorkafter granny’s death. The house was left in the care of their old faithful cook and jack of all Ramu and his wife.

Aditya and son Vijay had a good night’s sleep and were ready to walk down memory lane. This was their first visit after granny’s demise. Sounds of joyous laughter and scampering feet reverberated in their ears. Granny’s beckoning voice the loudest. She had a whole repertoire of fairytales and delicious goodies to share with her grandchildren. The kids adored her. Neighborhood children came by even after her grandchildren had migrated toNew   York.  She never tired of telling stories.

Zeba Khan was very attractive. Classic features, long brown hair and almond shaped eyes and an hourglass figure made her an instant cynosure for all eyes. She had eyes for Satya Raj only.  No one else existed as far as she was concerned.  All alliances put forward by kith and kin were summarily dismissed.

By one pretext or another, she would visit Satya in his oldDelhijewelry store and chat him up. She intimated that one of her ancestors had been an important minister inDelhi’s royal court where Satya’s ancestors were the royal jewelers. She shared many such anecdotes with facts and figures leaving no doubt in Satya’s mind that indeed, their family lines were interconnected.  She tried to dangle a family secret as a carrot as she was madly in love with his looks and demeanor. But Satya would have none of it. Zeba was beautiful he admitted to himself and had gotten under his skin but he never gave up his resolve to remain celibate like his beloved deity Hanuman. Plus he was a staunch Hindu and she was a Muslim. His folks would be scandalized, not that he wished to marry. Then granny had passed away.

Caretaker Ramu and wife, in order to properly care for the house and make some extra money on the side, rented the house without Raj family’s knowledge. It was Zeba and her elder brother Ali who had rented the house. Unbeknownst to Ramu and wife, both Zeba and Ali searched the house every night. They especially targeted granny’s room. They had almost finished searching every inch of the room when by accident, Zeba’s hand hit upon the center rose carving on the bed’s head board. With a whirring sound the rose opened up and inside was a secret drawer. Full of excitement, Ali pushed his sister back and stuck his hand inside the drawer. A velvet pouch touched his fingers. With shaky fingers he extracted it and opened the bag.  Out popped a priceless diamond, the size of an egg. This is what they had been seeking.  Finally their hard work had paid off.

Ali was up to his eyebrows in gambling debts and needed money badly. He was aware that he was living on borrowed time. Zeba cried that in all fairness half of the money belonged to the Raj family as it was their property. As family history ran, this diamond was meant for the favored Queen of the King but she had been mysteriously poisoned and subsequently the King had declared the diamond unlucky. Raj family had since then hidden it from view for sake of its safety and family honor. Ali had no intention of sharing the proceeds from the diamond’s sale even with his half sister Zeba. Hence he had no compunction of ending her life. He smothered her with a pillow when she was asleep and fled. Ever since that day, Zeba’s ghost roamed the corridors of the old mansion always on the lookout for her beloved Satya Raj.

The caretaker and his wife had come to know about this ghost as it had appeared to them while cleaning the house. The police case had been closed after thorough investigation due to lack of clues.  Ali had vanished into thin air.

Ramu and wife reluctantly confessed to renting the house in their absentia and the murder thereafter. Aditya and son were quite upset. Somehow Aditya felt, maybe that was the reason he had this urge to return home. He decided to play it by ear. That night he slept in granny’s room with her favorite shawl around his shoulders. After a while, he felt the air around the bed change a bit and he felt a presence. He saw the floating figure of granny and she seemed to be looking at him with love in her eyes. Aditya’s eyes moistened involuntarily. Granny seemed to be pointing at something. Then her finger elongated and touched the carved rose on the headboard. Aditya decided to examine it. He tapped it gently and it sprang open. Excitedly, he put his hand inside but came up empty. Then he pushed it further and came into another compartment and in that he found a small diary and a pouch. He removed both. The diary was written in pristine “Urdu” language (Urdu -is a register of the Hindi-Urdu language that is identified with Muslims in South Asia).

Luckily Aditya knew Urdu and read the diary with growing excitement.  In great detail it narrated the story of their ancestor, the royal jeweler.  His son had been fatally wounded while fleeing from dacoits.  The ancestor had prayed to Lord Krishna promising a twenty one diamond studded crown in return for his son.   The son healed in record time and now the promise was yet to be fulfilled.  Somehow, the favorite queen got a whiff of this through her spies and wanted a necklace made with the biggest stone from the lot of 21 diamonds.    Even before Satya Raj could plead his case, the queen died mysteriously after being poisoned.  The diamonds were declared unlucky and went underground.  This news did not deter the court’s greedy sycophants.   Thus began the quest for diamonds.  The promise to the lord remained unfulfilled.  The chase was on.

Gafoor Ali Khan was one such greedy minister plagued by his many wives for expensive baubles. To end his money troubles, he set his sights on those diamonds.  In the interim, Satya Raj had a master carpenter build a solid bed with a carved headboard with secret drawers.  In the first drawer he had placed a false diamond; the size of the largest one to misguide any would be thief.  He had the carpenter swear to secrecy on his only son’s head.  The elder sons of the clan were privy to this secret only.  Time sped and the diamonds stayed hidden in the second drawer, to this day.

Aditya Raj was inNew Yorkon business when grandpa shared the family secret with granny on his deathbed, to pass along to him only as Aditya’s father; their only son was unworldly and had no interest in family affairs.  Granny had waited to convey this secret on grandpa’s first death anniversary when Aditya was sure to come down fromNew Yorkbut died without revealing it.

Aditya got in touch with one of his old trusted craftsmen.  He had him overnight craft a beautiful crown for the lord studded with the promised twenty-one diamonds under a cloak of extreme secrecy.  After swearing him on Lord Krishna’s name, he quickly left for the Lord Krishna’s temple in Vrindavan to make good the promise and uphold family honor.  The Lord had a playful smile after receiving this offering.

Aditya and son returned toNew York.  As promised, he checked into the hospital for the by-pass surgery.  He felt on top of the world.  A sense of well being pervaded his person.  The doctors were mystified.  After several tests, they discovered that his heart was completely normal and blockage free.   The Lord smiled mischievously in his temple inIndia.

 

 

*Lord Krishna and Hanuman are Hindu deities

 

Gorby’s Ghost

Characters:

Gorby (Govardhan) – Ghost, Ravi’s friend/adversary/ TV-movie star

Biba – Gorby’s love, Monu’s mom, Ravi’s wife

Monu (Mandeep): Ravi’s son fathered by Gorby

Kaka- bungalow caretaker

Ms. Rosie: Monu’s nanny

~~

Silently, ninja entered the house. Surefooted, knowing exactly where to go, he reached the bedroom. He tapped awake the sleeping man ever so gently.  It was movie and TV star the Great Gorby.  Once he was awake he threatened Gorby menacingly, “Leave Ravi Talwar and his family alone or else you will be sorry!”  Gorby quietly extracted a gun from under his pillow and tried to shoot but his hand was shaking badly and the nimble ninja deflected the gun. Gorby shot himself instead.  The gloved ninja left same way he’d come.

After initial hue n cry, the death was declared accidental. Mumbai’s tinsel town, notorious for its short memory span, soon forgot Gorby.

Gorby’s ashes were ritually immersed by his grief stricken dad but he never left.  His ghost roamed the bungalow determined on seeking revenge.    The caretaker Kaka was sorry that he had rented the place surreptitiously. He should’ve asked his “sahib” first.  It was too late now.

Ghost Gorby was bored.  He longed for real people to scare.  Ever since his ignominious end, he had been thirsting for revenge, stuck as he was between the living and the dead. To date, he had merely scared caretaker Kaka and a bunch of adventurous kids.

Ravi Talwar was a restauranteur in New York. He had had no desire to join the family business that was well run by other family members. Quick wits and hard work had paid off and now he owned three successful restaurants offering ethnic Indian food.  He had dark thick hair, laughing eyes, big forehead, biggish Talwar nose and full lips. His body was athletic due to morning workouts and careful eating.  Altogether, he was a well dressed easy on the eye marriage prospect. Happy and ready to settle down, he proposed marriage to his childhood fellow prankster and love, Biba.

Biba was a distant relative of Ravi’s mom and often came to stay in their house with her parents who were also their business partners.  Only child of doting parents, she had become a spoilt princess and being beautiful, everyone simply indulged her shamelessly.  Only Ravi did no such thing hence Biba had a love hate fascination for him.  She always tried to get the upper hand but failed- this had earned Ravi her grudging respect.   She even felt a sneaky kind of love for him. The minx had determined that only way to make Ravi succumb was to marry him. So far, Ravi had held out.

Ravi’s proposal had been everyone’s dream come true and they became engaged.

Gorby after graduation had left for tinsel town Mumbai to try his luck in movies.  A few pulled family strings had panned out and he had landed a small part in a TV serial.  He was a consummate actor and soon got noticed.  His drop dead looks, green eyes and chestnut hair also helped.  His mom had been a fair green eyed Kashmiri beauty whose family had been uprooted from their beloved Kashmir valley.   Enroute to their second home in Dehradun, militants had struck again and she had died on the spot.  Pandit Kaul hastily made a makeshift pyre to consign the body to flames and waited for dawn to gather her ashes. Thereafter, he hid his three year old son under his shirt and headed non stop for Dehradun.  His wife’s ashes were duly consigned to the holy Ganges there, amidst tears and chants.

Mr. Kaul’s close friend and neighbors, the Talwar family had taken them both in and healing had begun.  Talwars and Kauls were business partners and to occupy his grief stricken mind, Mr. Kaul took upon himself all out of town travel secure in the knowledge that his beloved son was in caring hands…  Gorby was easy going and charming but with a flexible slant to life unlike Ravi who had been molded by his mother and grandmother in strict moral code and conduct.   He and Ravi were close buddies.

Biba heeded to her inner drummer alone.  In their heart of hearts Ravi’s mom and granny would’ve been happy if Ravi had chosen another.  But love is blind and they were happy enough with this choice.  Better to deal with a known devil than an unknown one.

Dashing actor Gorby swept Biba off her feet at the engagement party and she fell headlong for him.  He praised her looks outrageously and encouraged her to become an actress.  Ravi and the rest were unaware of this.

A week before the marriage day, Gorby and Biba eloped to Mumbai.  Spoilt Biba was in for a rude awakening.  Nymphets like her were a dime a dozen and she was not amenable to the casting couch.  She was blacklisted and Gorby had to apologize to everyone and mollify Biba as well.  He genuinely loved her and wanted to marry her.  They both felt terrible about backstabbing Ravi but were madly in love.  In a moment of weakness, they made love after another scathing rejection of Biba.  She became pregnant.  Both were aghast as they did not wish for a child.  Repentant and tear stricken she returned home.

Ravi still loved Biba and both the families quickly got them married and soon after they left for New York.

The nurse brought the wailing baby to Biba but she turned her face away.  She had gone into depression.  Ravi singlehandedly took care of both and finally engaged an Indian nanny to care for his son.  They named the baby Mandeep but called him Monu.

To prove to herself her own self worth, Biba soon took an interest in the restaurants and became a cordon bleu chef. Digging out old family recipes and begging family ladies for recipes, she dabbled and created new dishes.  She gave them exotic names and gradually introduced them in their restaurants.  Their revenue trebled.  Finally the family had come together.  In time, she came to adore her geeky son Monu as well.

Monu was in the process of boarding his school bus when a brakeless car slammed into the bus injuring several kids.  Monu’s spine was injured and he lost the use of his legs.  He was only ten.

After trying all treatments, devastated Ravi and Biba decided to sell everything and return home to their beloved Dehradun valley.  Fresh air, Ayurvedic massages were next on their agenda.

Exercise equipment, physical therapy aids, computers et al had been shipped in advance.  The bungalow was readied for wheelchair accessibility.  It was then that Kaka made a clean breast of having rented their bungalow to actor Gorby without their knowledge and his subsequent accidental death. Kaka was unaware that Gorby, Biba and Ravi were childhood buddies.  He also said that their house was haunted.  Ravi and Biba laughed in his face.  Sheepish at this reaction, Kaka slunk out.

Monu was a nerd and it had been agreed by his US school principal that he could appear for exams online- so everyone was happy. His Indian nanny Ms. Rosie had agreed to travel with them and Ravi and Biba were relieved.

Monu was a night owl and as he worked on his homework, he felt a presence. He turned his swivel chair and saw a man seated on his bed. He was looking at him with love.  Monu asked, “who are you?’  Gorby replied, “I am your dad son! “ But how can that be Monu cried my dad is Ravi and not you! But Gorby insisted.  Then Monu asked why are you  still here? Gorby said he wanted to know who had plotted to scare him to death literally.   Then he saw that Monu was unable to stand and was stricken. He came to know about the accident and their move back home.

During subsequent days he noticed the love and devotion Ravi had for his son and he softened.

The day before, he had been seething in anger when he’d overheard Ravi and Biba talking.  Ravi had confessed to Biba that he had sent his close friend, a New York cop to scare away Gorby from them for good.  On chatting with a local Dehradun friend, he had come to know about the paying guest in their bungalow. The town was all excited to have Gorby the actor in their midst, his friend had expressed. He had had no intention of killing him he told her emphatically.  She’d believed him.

During childbirth, Ravi had come to know that Monu was not his son, but had forgiven Biba and loved Monu as his own flesh and blood.  Now he only wished to keep Gorby away from disrupting his family again.  That was all.

Gorby forgave his childhood buddies and quietly departed from their lives.  Next to Monu’s pillow they found an exquisite cameo with Gorby’s mom’s picture in it.  Gorby had worn in his neck when alive.

The Urns

Builder Ram had purchased the lot including the old house and stables for a song.  It was in the older part of the city and upwardly mobile people these days preferred newer suburbs with all the mod cons.

**

Ram loved old things and recalled his grandparent’s grand old mansion which now belonged to his cousins.  He too wanted to build a similar house in its full glory and it would be a perfect property for film shoots as well.  After all he was a businessman.  Before the structure was pulled down, he had salvaged all usable mantles, doors, windows, fixtures et al.  Now they were preparing to lay down the foundation.  It was then that his laborers found two urns full of ashes.  They were covered with red cloths covered in ancient script.  The work was halted as the urns were carefully lifted and placed in a secure spot.  Ram decided to investigate regarding them.

 

**

 

Three houses down lived an old priest called Shastriji.  The priest’s ancestors had looked after the needs of the whole neighborhood since times immemorial.  Be it birth, death, marriage or special prayers, they were much in demand.  Recorded journals with names of all the family members of every family with detailed history were in his possession.  Ram hit pay dirt when one of the local workers told him to approach the priest.

**

Ram:   “Greetings Shastriji.  I’ve bought that old house three doors down your lane and seek your help”.   The priest sat up straight as these days clients were a rare sight.

Shastriji exclaimed, “Oh! So you are the one that bought that house.  I know the history of it well.  No need to refer to my detailed journals. This will take up a while so I hope you have time to spare.  Let’s share a cup of tea first.

That house belonged to Surya Pratap the younger son of Raja Ratan Singh of this state.  He was an ascetic and a devout Hindu who preferred all things Indian.  He had no love for the East Indian Company and the British upstarts.  He was married off to the beautiful second daughter of the royal family of the neighboring State.  Sita was so beautiful that Surya Pratap succumbed to her charms in no time.  With love and patience she smoothed out the sharp edges of his personality.  Surya became mellow and less obdurate in nature.

 

 

They had four children.  Three sons and one daughter   Eldest son and daughter was educated in England at the urging of his wife Sita who herself had schooled there and the other two received their education in local schools and colleges.  Their daughter Chandni was incredibly lovely and the family’s lucky charm.  Ever since she had been born, many good things had occurred in their lives.   Whole family doted on Chandni and she too had a lovable nature.  Chandni had long curly dark hair, big almond shaped light blue eyes and perfect features like her mother Sita.  She was a great archer and equestrienne too.  She met and won many a challenge her three brothers posed.  She was their match in every which way and more.

Chandni finished her education in London and returned home to settle down and eventually get married.  Many alliances arrived from far corners of the country for her hand.  She turned them all down.  She wanted to spend more time with her loved ones.

Then, something unexpected happened.  A young British officer Peter Pruitt had been sent to the nearby Company Residency as a second in command.    He was very handsome and loved all things Indian.  He was kind hearted too unlike his haughty supercilious colleagues.

Chandni’s best friend Tara had given a birthday party and Chandni was looking forward to catching up on the local gossip.  She dressed herself in simple clothes and even then she was the cynosure of all eyes.  Peter Pruitt and his fellow officers had been invited by Tara’s parents as they undertook contract work from the Company on various projects.  They managed the local workmen well and hence rarely was there any friction or untoward incidence.

At the very first glance Peter and Chandni fell headlong in love much to the consternation of everyone present.  Chandni knew her family would never accept Peter but she had lost control over her wayward heart.  Peter’s state was equally bad.  His friends too advised him against it as Chandni’s father’s reputation as a stern Hindu was well known.  He was inflexible on many fronts.  Soon the affair became known to Chandni’s parents and even as the lovers were eloping with the help of her faithful nanny, all the three brothers caught up with the fleeing lovers and in a heated moment, the hot headed eldest brother shot the couple.  All present became stunned and he the most.  He was shocked at what he had done and in reflex action shot self too.  The remaining two brothers quickly carried the three bodies home.  Peter and Chandni’s bodies were secretly taken to an underground cave to be dealt with there.  All the servants were sworn to secrecy for fear of repercussions at the hands of the cruel firangi (foreigners).  It was decided that since Chandni had disobeyed the family, she and Peter would be secretly cremated and the ashes would be kept in urns and buried deep in a chosen spot by the family priest.  The urns were then duly sealed by red square materials that had a fine print of tantric mantras all over.  As a punishment, the ashes were not released in the holy Ganges.  The lovers were left to languish in anguish till eternity.

The son was given a royal sendoff with all the rituals.  And that was the beginning of the end of this family.  Their luck ran out with the departure of their lucky charm Chandni and they fell on hard times.  Soon everything dwindled- lives, money and the hangers-on leeches.  All the fine carpets and fixtures- everything was sold off one by one and finally only the bare bones of this lovely house remained.   Hence, this property was sold for a song.  People swear that they have seen the lovers’ ghosts on the roof in the evenings.”

Shastriji became silent after that and builder Ram’s mind began racing.  He rubbed his hands in secret glee. He was not perturbed at all.   This house was going to be used by movie makers and the ghostly touch would be an added allure.  But first he vowed to give the lovers a decent sendoff with full fledged rituals and fanfare.

The renovated house’s inauguration and the Lovers’ send off simultaneously would be great publicity.  Ram silently chortled to himself.  Thanking Shastriji profusely, he hurried off sporting a huge smile on his chubby gum chewing face.

The Third Eye

The shy blushing bundle was carried in with fanfare.  Finally Sheila Rani Kher had found a bride for lame son Raju who had been afflicted by polio since childhood.  Sheila was actually the great aunt of the bride.  Maya, the newlywed had just lost her parents in a rock fall during a pilgrimage to the family shrine in lower Himalayas.  She was barely sixteen and lack of dowry had brought her to this impasse.  Maya was still under shock and had performed marriage rituals in dumb misery.  Apathetically she curled up on the nuptial bed adorned with rose petals.  Her extremely fair hands and feet were covered with intricate traditional henna designs.  Maya was wearing a ruby red salwar suit (harem pants and top) and her dupatta (scarf) was laced with tiny gold bells studded with gold lace stars.  On her forehead a gold Tikka glittered (forehead ornament) hung by pearls string from her hair.   Her anklets and bracelets made tinkling sounds each time she fidgeted. She had a black and gold bead necklace called mangalsutra around her neck which was the symbol of a marriage.  She was a sumptuous feast wrapped up in gold and rubies.  She waited for her husband with heart in mouth.   

Distant beat of drums could still be heard as women relatives continued their song and dance.   All the men were hung over on country liquor and sounds of puking could be heard sporadically. Sheila had a haranguing tongue that kept husband and son in check and now she was letting loose choice epithets as she and others were forced to clean up after the men.  Still Sheila was very happy as she longed to become a grand-mother. 

Raju was slim, of medium height, fair complexion, high cheekbones, a perfect nose and chiseled lips.  A small neat moustache formed a great base for his twinkling kindly eyes.  His dependency on a cane had not soured him and he thanked god for a wonderful mother.  She massaged his limbs daily and tied a fresh amulet on his arm every other week and fed him his favorite dishes.  He was aware of her mixing various herbs in his food.  He still ate everything knowing it was for his betterment.  The latest concoction had been the flesh of a cactus which an itinerant monk had given to her to enhance Raju’s manliness and strengthen his limbs.  Raju hated the taste but grudgingly ate it as he had implicit faith in his mom’s love.  Raju had a pet mule “Shera” who helped carry him over mountain passes.  He travelled into satellite towns to purchase goods for the family’s dry grocery store when inventory ran low.  This also gave him news of their community, district and state.   Raju had a fine brain and with the help of a kindly headmaster had obtained a bachelor’s degree in economics.  Now he taught English and math in junior classes and was happy with his lot.  He had been bulldozed into this marriage by his pushy mother against his will.  Thus, he entered his bedroom with equal trepidation as his bride. 

Raju and Maya had met briefly at family gatherings only.  Maya was still wallowing in misery and was scared for her future.  She was however savvy about birds and bees as her mother had prepared her well, tutoring her to expertly fend off straying hands and other mauling.  She always carried a tiny dagger on her person.  It was a family heirloom and very ancient.  One peculiar thing about Maya’s mother’s family had been that it was a family of seers and often a child was born with a third eye.  In olden times people ostracized them due to ignorance but these days they were respected and much sought after.

Per umpteen movie scenes of first wedding night, Raju removed the veil covering Maya face and spoke to her very gently.  Listening to his kind tone, Maya lost a bit of her fear and paid closer attention to his words.  He said “First and foremost I wish to express my grief over the loss of your parents.  Rest assured I will not make any demands on you until unless you yourself are willing and ready.  In the interim we can become good friends and understand one another.  Also please do not fear mother even though she is like a prickly pear.  She has a heart of gold.”  Hearing this, Maya’s worries vanished.  Time has a way of passing and it was two years already since Raju and Maya had married.  Now they had become fast friends and Maya was ready for a family.  Raju felt great joy at his chance of happiness finally as he loved kids and longed to be a dad.  Maya had come to love and respect Raju and his parents who had been extremely patient with her.  Maya was not a shirker and helped Sheila in tending home and caring for the cows and kitchen garden.    In nine months Maya presented the family with twins, a boy and girl.  They named them Suraj and Tara after sun and star. 

The kids grew like weeds.  Suraj was a handful whereas Tara was placid.  From early on family tiptoed around her.  They felt her quiet power as though some goddess had reincarnated in their home and treated her with deference.  Tara was born with the third eye and often in sleep she started making predictions that always came true.  Be it the rainfall or lack of it, a birth, death, windfall et al.  Soon whole town clamored after her but she only spoke in sleep state.  Maya protected her daughter fiercely.   She knew well that such a gift could be a curse too.

Tara was very fond of her brother and always covered up for him.  Suraj too loved her very much and even though she was his twin he looked up to her. 

Suraj was playing ball with his friends after school when one of the volleys’s overshot and landed in the bushes.  The kids ran to retrieve it.  By sheer bad luck Suraj got bitten by a cobra that was nesting there.   The quick thinking kids spat out the venom by biting into his leg.  Poison was spreading fast.  Two of them ran to fetch help.   

Suraj’s vitals had become feeble.  The local doctor was trying his best.  The family sat praying non-stop.  Then Tara came running and put her hand on her brother’s forehead.  She started swaying and chanting in a strange ancient tongue.  The venom started transferring from Suraj’s veins into Tara’s.  Suraj stabilized and Tara fell into a deep swoon. 

A week before Tara had had a vision and knew Suraj had a short life span.  She chanted non-stop for two days before the deity appeared.  They had made a pact.  The twins would now each live to fifty and not a day more.  Tara had happily given up half her life span for Suraj.  No one knew about this pact.     

Word count: 1168

note: Third eye means clairvoyance in the Hindu religion 

picture from internet

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