All posts by rahuljha

Bad Seniors

The days were miserable, the nights not much better. Monsoons had started in full swing and I often got back to my hostel room soaked in the unpredictable rain. The evenings were then spent killing time with my buddies–chatting, playing cricket in the hostel courtyard or watching movies. Nobody had a car, so we couldn’t go out and do anything. Campus gates closed at ten anyway. It just wasn’t worth the hassle of catching three Delhi buses for a few hours of partying.

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The Counselor

Robots are weird. They are obsessed with following the links of causes all the way back to their origin so they can explain who they are now with mathematical precision. They also feel they can change their life at any moment by making free choices. In my sessions with them, I never mention this contradiction. It doesn’t help.

The day she first came to my office, the sun was so strong I had to draw the heavy curtains. Even then the room felt too bright. A hundred cloudy days and suddenly it decides to show its full face. The sun can be wily like that.

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Akash opened his eyes with some effort. The bedroom was still pitch dark. Was that a loud thud that woke him? He turned over his phone. Four a.m. Maybe his girlfriend, Miya, was back from vacation? But she wasn’t supposed to be back for another week. He thought of getting up and checking, but his eyes were too heavy. He strained to hear any other noise. When he heard nothing, he pulled the blanket over his head and went back to sleep.

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The Secretary

Julia was pissed at me today. She didn’t say it, she never does. But I could tell from the way she put her orange juice on the table with a thud, the way she looked at me in quick glances when I asked her about her plans for the day, and the way she hit the gas extra hard as she drove out.

When I think more about it, I realize she’s been mad at me for many weeks now. Ever since I accepted the position. First, I thought she was jealous that I was now making more money than her with easier hours. But no, it’s more than that. I’ve heard her chat with her friends when she thinks I am not listening. “I can’t believe he took a position with them.” I heard her say once. “He was never an idealist but to actually work for one of them?”

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The Shape of Magic

The ceremony for announcing the royal wizard was always done in open-air, for reasons Ashna never understood. It was autumn, and a cold wind blew through the deer park. Ashna sat in his chair in the front row with the rest of the council wizards, shivering a little. He drew his cloak closer around him. He could hear the throng of people standing behind him, whispering, gossiping, speculating about the next royal wizard. He was in the running for the post, but that didn’t mean anything. The politics of the court had its own flow, its own shape, and Ashna had long back given up on capturing it.

Instead he focused on the remaining leaf of a tree he could see at the end of the deer park, behind the king’s make-shift throne. The leaf fluttered violently in the wind. Ashana felt it and tried to hold it with his mind. It was difficult, given the distance and all the noise. He focused his attention more and excluded everything.

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The screams grew louder as Stone-man ran towards the room. Large flames danced around him, now leaping forward, now going back, teasing him with their carefree somersaults. The room’s door was engulfed in flames, he couldn’t get the boy out from there. If Mer-woman was here, she could hold the fire long enough for him to get the boy out. But she was outside the house, trying to douse the right places so the whole house wouldn’t collapse.

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Dancing with the Stars

The earth was destroyed. No matter how I busied myself in the chores, the thought kept coming back to my mind in a periodic cycle like the chimes of the innumerable clocks on the planet I once called home. I am on a little spaceship like a few thousand others, moving towards unknown destinations in all directions of the galaxy. I pushed these thoughts away and went to check my monitor for the exploration routine as I had for ten years. But that day was different.

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The Curse of Wyrd

Mark Johnson stared at the gifts strewn across his office desk. In the center lay the leftover cake from the party, mangled from the assault of many forks but with the letters “py retirem” still intact in the middle. How many years spent at the company? Twenty? Somewhere around that. His memory was getting slower every day. In the last few years, people often had to remind him their names, and on several occasions he had mixed up the invoices of clients. It was time to retire, time to move on.

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