Job Hunt

Jeet was fast getting used to failure and disappointment. The global recession had cost him his previous job and he was getting desperate. To his credit, he left no stone unturned, applying at every company
that was hiring someone even remotely matching his qualifications. Four months, twenty-two interviews and a lot of misfortune later, he was still clutching at straws.
That morning, like every other morning, he turned directly to the classifieds section of the newspaper. As his practiced eyes browsed through the entire supplement quickly, he did a double-take. It was a walk-in interview listing for a job-vacancy in a Fortune 500 company, looking for someone with exactly his level of qualification, skill sets and experience. He could scarcely believe his eyes. He quickly got ready and left for the interview.
As he was crossing the highway near his house, he spotted Misfortune sitting in her car at the signal. There was no mistaking her. After all these months, he could recognize her in an instant. He quickly looked away, hoping that she hadn’t seen him. He walked to the railway station, intending to take a train for the official district of the city. Jeet spotted his long lost friend, Good Luck in tattered clothes alighting from the train as he was boarding it. He had half a mind to follow him, but Good Luck seemed to be down and out. Plus, this job offer was too good miss, so he got into the train.
As Jeet was commuting, many thoughts raced through his mind. He thought about possible interview questions from his recent experiences, checked to see if he had carried everything he needed and also spotted his fair-weather friend, Anxiety.
Half an hour later, Jeet found himself in the plush lobby of the skyscraper of the company headquarters. ‘The receptionist is strikingly pretty’, he thought, as he was directed to the fourteenth floor. He entered the elevator and Bad Luck got in behind him. He shifted uncomfortably and was on tenterhooks, as the glass elevator smoothly made its way up. The elevator stopped on the thirteenth floor and Bad Luck stepped out. Jeet let out a huge sigh of relief and looked smug as he got off the elevator on the fourteenth floor. He was informed that he was second in line for the interview.
Jeet looked at his watch. He was half an hour early. He removed the financial newspaper and leafed through it. He had grown habituated to this exercise before every interview in the past few months. It helped him calm his nerves and he saw no reason why he should do anything different today.
Soon, it was his turn. Jeet got up, said a little prayer and covered the distance to the entrance of the interview room in twelve measured strides. He knocked on the door and after a suitable pause, pushed it open. As he stepped into the room and looked up, he froze. For sitting in the middle of the five-member interview panel, was Misfortune.

The Green Bench

They lived across from each other. An old, green bench stood below their house. The youngest in their respective families, love was bound to blossom between them.

He saw her every morning before the first rays of the sun lit up her light, graceful skin. She would sway gently as she’d wake up and he would watch her fondly, as their rooms were right across each other’s at the far end of both their homes. She didn’t mind one bit because she loved the way he would gaze at her adoringly.

This went on for months. They both knew they shared a special bond, but in their world, the only way to be together was to break away from their families and ride away into the sunset.
That morning when she woke up, she saw him looking at her with the usual loving gaze, but she saw something else too. A purposeful, steely resolve. She knew the time had come and she couldn’t wait any longer either. With a heavy heart, she spoke to her family about her decision the same afternoon. They all rustled their agreement and wished her well. Meanwhile, he spoke to a friend to pass on a message to a mutual friend and made the deal.

That evening he broke free from his home, settled down on the green bench and looked up at her. A few minutes later she plucked herself from the delicate twig that had kept her away from him for so many months. The gentle wind carried her from the branch of the massive tree and into his waiting arms below. They embraced for a long moment, before a strong gust of wind carried them away into the sunset, clinging on to each other.

Catalyst

She trotted around the house, silently observing everything. She took in the sights, smells and sounds. Like every child, she was curious by nature, but her fascination for colors eclipsed everything else. She would stare in bewilderment at the pristine white walls. One fine day, she spotted her older sister’s poster-color box lying on the table. She ran to the bathroom to get her toothbrush. Those white walls became her first canvas.

Mr. Mozzarella

Mr. Mozzarella was a wealthy man. He was well-known around the world, though he was Italian by birth. He loved being around his best friends, Mr. Pizza and Mr. Pasta.
He had travelled around the world many times and felt it was now time for him to spend some of the money he had made and enjoy himself. So, Mr. Mozzarella went to Las Vegas. He played poker, blackjack and generally gambled his heart out. Unfortunately, he lost his entire fortune in the three nights he spent there. When he returned home to Italy, his countrymen were ashamed of his irresponsibility. They shunted him unceremoniously out of Italy.
Crestfallen, Mr. Mozzarella roamed aimlessly from country to country, till he finally set foot in India.  A farmer took pity on his sorry plight and offered him a small cottage to live in. Mr. Mozzarella thankfully accepted and started living in the cottage. As the farmer had difficulty pronouncing Mr. Mozzarella’s name, he started calling him “Paneer”, instead.

The Eagle Has Landed

The Presidential motorcade wound through the exit gate of the White House and headed east on Pennsylvania Avenue NW towards 14th Street NW.

“Mr. President, please try and understand. We have a situation here. It’s a security threat. You can’t go in there.”
“Buck, this is too important an event to miss. Besides, if we have our security protocol in place, it shouldn’t be a problem, right?”
“I understand, Mr. President. Regardless of that, this is too dangerous. Interpol has confirmed the threat and I just got off the line with the Director. She has strongly recommended that we send in a double.” The motorcade turned left onto Constitution Avenue NW and the President sighed in his Limo One.
“The press will see through it easily, Buck. You know that.”
“Don’t worry, Mr. President. Brooks has been trained well. Have a look at him”, said Buck, pointing to Brooks sitting opposite them. “Can you spot any flaw? The Agency has taken special care with him.”
“Exactly why. I don’t trust the Agency and you damn well know that. That woman, Helen Dexter, will be the death of me. She has survived five Presidents already. I’ll be damned if I come across a worse Director.”
“Mr. President, I understand your position. But for now, it is vital that we have you in a secure location. We’ll be changing limousines at Stanton Park.” They continued onto Maryland Avenue NE.
“Alright. Whatever you say, Buck. I don’t want the press to get even a whiff of this”, said the President, gesturing towards Brooks. “The Agency will be willing to wash their hands off it in a jiffy and I can picture Helen smiling smugly. Thank you, Brooks. I appreciate it. Here, wear this badge. It will be a nice touch. The press will lap it up.” The President took of a badge from his lapel and  handed it to Brooks, who pinned it on his lapel.
“Thank you, Mr. President”.

The motorcade slowed down as it crossed C Street NE and came to a halt outside Stanton Park. The President, Brooks and Buck stepped out.
The voice on the radio crackled, “The Eagle has landed”. The sniper peered through the viewfinder and hesitated for a moment. The next instant, he spotted the American Eagle badge on Brooks’ lapel, made a decision and pulled the trigger.

Best of Three

“Anjali didi, let’s play carrom, please? Best of three”, pleaded Chintu.
“I’m tired, Chintu. I’ve had a long day”, said Anjali wearily.
“PLEASE didi!” wailed Chintu.
“Okay, fine! But if I win the first two games, it’s done, alright?” said Anjali.
“Done”, beamed Chintu.
After twenty minutes, Chintu could be heard begging his sister to extend it to best of five.

Leather

He would catch the 06:17am train every morning and reach his workplace by 07:30am. The customers would start pouring in 08:30am onwards. He would break thrice for tea, once for lunch and catch the 09:30pm train back home. It had been thirty-two years since Roshan started working at Churchgate station. His skin now resembled the material of the shoes he’d polish.

The Feather

A lone white feather lazily floated down from the terrace of the house down in Quarry Wood, which overlooked the River Thames. Little Anne was sitting on the garden bench with her favorite teddy bear and frowning because of the scolding her father had given her.
The feather willed the wind to carry him to the gentle river, where he could float away peacefully. Instead, the wind guided the feather into Anne’s hand. She smiled, closed her eyes, made a wish and blew the feather towards the river.

Vintage

The year was 2050. It was renowned billionaire, Mr. Sun Wheeler’s ninetieth birthday. He woke up that morning and hobbled to his favorite mini-garage. He lovingly fingered his Rolls Royce Silver Shadow, Ford Thunderbird, Chevrolet Nomad, Oldsmobile 442 and Maserati Mistral. Childhood memories came flooding back as he eyed his 1969 Hot Wheels collection proudly.