Category Archives: Stories

A Pair of Wellington Boots

I’d have almost missed them, if it wasn’t for the wee kitten practicing its clawing skills. There was nothing eclectic about them that’d make them stand out in an assortment of flashy, new-age shoes, it was only when one suspended all their disbeliefs were they able to see beyond the ordinariness. Those pair of wellingtons were extra special, they had a bit of a magic in them you see, no wonder they lasted so long to tell the tales of childhood adventures.

 

In the summer of 1997, I put my foot down and demanded that I’d be given a pair of wellington boots as an early birthday present for all the novels I had read during vacations had proved that it was utterly important for a growing kid my age to have a pair, lest one dared to roam around like a listless wizard sans his staff; many a lunches and desserts were sacrificed for fruition of that one summer dream.  And then one day, they magically appeared in a corner of that ancient shoe rack, believe me when I say this, nobody had a clue where they came from, they didn’t have the virginal sheen about them nor they exuded the ravages of time, oh! And they fit perfectly as if molded for me alone. I couldn’t wait for the school to reopen, it was like going back to difficult level in a video game, with better powers and a secret weapon.

 

In our school, there stood a giant mulberry tree, smack in the middle of the playground as if some alien mothership dropped it by mistake, on the fly. In monsoons, against the background of dark grey plume it looked like a grumpy mad man, flailing his arms around (whipping willow would pale in comparison) ready to scoop up anyone who dared to venture nearby.

The place around it would get flooded, nothing alarming albeit just adult shin-deep water, but for a kid my age it was no less than being stranded in treacherous seas. In a class of sixty kids, I could finally shun my cowardice and wade through that scary bog and come back, pockets filled with rain-washed mulberries; dry and unscathed. That peculiar squelching sound became my signature score, although the only downside was that mother would know when I hadn’t been upto no good, regardless those seemingly ordinary boots made my childish heroism amplify. But, it is only for so long one can go on hoarding things of significant sentimental values, and save a room from becoming a junkyard and thus I had to part ways with my favorite pair of boots, many a tears were shed and discreet foot binding attempts made. Even then I knew their smell and sounds would never escape my mental mathom drawer.

A huge wave of torrential nostalgia washed over me as I saw my niece squiggle her tiny feet into the jolly gaping faces of those boots, and boy did they seem excited to set in motion yet another childish adventure.

 

The Old Man next door

old man next door

#SciFiFromIndia

The Old Man next door :

It was my wife first who told me about the old gentleman who shifted last night in our adjacent flat. But I hardly spoke to him, I was a busy man you see. Work at office kept me busy.

Slowly I started seeing more of him, reason being my kids Radha and Ravi were quite found of him. He used to tell them interesting stories, and ensured that they always returned with hands full of chocolates.

But I was a suspicious man, what he was a kidnapper or a pedophile, I talked to Rashmi,my wife, about it. Rashmi told me that the man means no harm and I should not bother much.

One day I saw him waving to me,he asked me to stop. He came down and said, “See, Mr. Mandal, try to spend more time with your family.This time might never come back.” I shrugged it off as an old man rant.

Time passed by, Radha and Ravi were in School now but their fondness for that old man never reduced.

That was year 2015, 1st January, we planned a picnic at nearby lake with office friends. While my kids were keeping their baskets in the car, I saw the old man waving at us again, I noticed his eyes were moist. I wondered, why?

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I woke up in Apollo Hospital, last thing I remembered was the glass of our car shattering. We were hit by a truck. The first thing I wanted to see was my family. Were they safe?

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Tears rolled down my cheeks, as that doctor told me how I was the only survivor. That accident took away everyone, My kids,wife,friends….EVERYONE.

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I hardly wanted to go back home, after all it was no more home. I spent most hours in the lab and then at some random hotel.

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Finally, after months I gathered courage to revisit the place we called home. A letter was waiting for me. It was from that Old man.

“Dear Mr. Mandal,

By the time you read it, I will be gone,Perhaps dead. You always wanted to know who I am? where I came from?

Mr.Mandal “I am You”. Your future self. That is the reason I asked you to spend more time with ‘our’ family.But, you repeated everything, every mistake. Alas! we can’t change the past completely.Never.

I left blueprints of time machine in my drawer. I spent whole life building it. But, with blueprints it will take you just 1 month.

Try going back again. Who knows this time we change the time.

With Love,
Yours
You. “

~Prashant