Sometimes, Just Drift Along

Jane handed me a piece of paper and said, “These just came in! I printed them out for you, can you please fetch these from the shelves?”

“Sure!” I replied and went hunting for The Four Winds, The Last Thing He Told Me, and The Paper Palace from the new books section.

When you are working at the library, you need to be quick and always on your feet. Working at a library has been a childhood dream for me, a dream job! Imagine being surrounded by books all the time, can a job get better than this? I was overwhelmed with joy when they told me I was selected for the position of Circulation Assistant/Shelver. It’s been three weeks now and it’s also the last day of my training. Most importantly it’s payday and I am eagerly waiting to be paid. After all, money isn’t insignificant.

This isn’t my first job, it’s not even my second. If my memory serves me correctly I think it’s my seventh. I know what you’re thinking — how old is she anyway? Well, I turn thirty-four this year. In my thirty-four years, I’ve found that most people define themselves primarily by their jobs. I envy them because I’m not sure I can ever find the best role that can define me. You see, I have always been confused when it comes to making decisions in life. Is there such a thing as a single role?

As a kid, I was always asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

I would say, “Um, I would still want to be myself?”

Children don’t really think about the far future, all they care about is playing and eating chocolates.

Yet, they would put me on the spot and ask, “No dear! What work will you do? Do you want to be a doctor or an engineer?”

Alright then, I have to make a choice. So, let’s get this over with. I would shout, “Doctor!”

The joy on their faces, I tell you! As a child, I always wondered why adults were so fascinated with work. Now, who likes to work? When my mother told me to do some work, I would run the other way.

Then, you grow up and realize that to survive in this world you need to work.

“It’s simple, just get a job and all the problems in your life will magically disappear.”, they said.

I can’t help but agree with them even though I dislike the whole idea of working.

After graduation, I got selected in a multinational company and got a job pretty easily. My parents were proud, friends were overjoyed, and classmates were envious. I worked there for two months and quit. Everybody was shocked. My friends were bewildered by my decision. They were fuming with rage. My dad was so disappointed in me that he did not speak to me for a week.

They said, “What’s wrong with you? Do you know how lucky you were? We are struggling to find a job and you just throw it away?”

I was scared and upset, I questioned my decision and wondered if I had made a dire mistake. I got influenced by the people around me and quickly started looking for other jobs. I needed money so I worked in a call center for a few months. I knew this was temporary so I posted my resume on many job portals. Soon, I got a call from another big company for the position of a data analyst. I took it up because the late-night shifts in the call center were affecting my health.

I did the data analyzing job for six months, but I just wasn’t happy. There was not much to complain about, the pay was good and I was treated with respect. My colleagues were friendly and helpful. But deep inside, I knew that this is not what I wanted to do in my life.

I started worrying, “How do I make this work? What was the point of all the education when I cannot work? Why does work have to feel so meaningless and even insulting?”

I couldn’t understand how people managed to work their entire life. Is this what work means, dreading every single day? I was in shambles, I had to find something that not only helped me survive but also kept me sane. I had saved some money so I took time off to understand what I really wanted to do with my life.

I researched and decided to study English Literature.

Why? I guess because I like reading books?

Well, I had to begin somewhere so I enrolled myself in a college and thankfully I liked studying. It made me feel alive again.

Immediately after my course, I got a job as a fashion writer. Guess what? It felt like I finally found a job that was fulfilling. I wasn’t getting paid enough but I liked every second of the job. I guess because it didn’t feel like I was working? At the end of the day, I would be happy looking at my articles posted on the company website. Six years flew by working as a content writer for different companies. I liked writing so much that I even started blogging. Writing to me was therapeutic and it helped to calm my noisy mind.

You know, it doesn’t end here. People still ask me, “You’ve been writing for six years? You should be a manager by now, what about career growth?”

So I had to tell myself repeatedly — no, no! I’m not falling into this trap all over again. It’s easy to get influenced by peers, but I knew if I participated in the rat race I would end up quitting again.

Once I found the career path that worked for me, I started exploring other opportunities of my interest. I stopped working as a full-time content writer and started doing multiple other jobs. Like I said earlier, I’m a confused person and I’m still confused. I still make wrong decisions, but I don’t mind trying new things until I find out what works for me. Now, I do three jobs in a day. I’m a volunteer who teaches underprivileged kids in the morning, I work at a library in the afternoon, and do freelance writing at night. I also work as a baker on the weekend but that’s just for myself.

I am not being boastful. Well, maybe a little but that’s not the point. It doesn’t matter what job you do as long as it makes you happy and adds meaning to your life. As I ponder on my entire life while shelving, which I often tend to do, I climb down the ladder holding the last book from the list called The Multi-Hyphen Life. Right, how apt!

What are your thoughts on open-ended stories?

Dear reader, today I have a controversial topic to talk about – open ended novels. There was a time when I much appreciated open-ended stories. The mysterious cliffhangers would leave me wondering, “Oh what would have happened if he had chosen the easy path?” Or “Oh is she going to remain mysterious without revealing her true identity?” Or “Will she continue packing lunch for him as a mysterious stranger without meeting him?”

As I reader or an audience I have drawn my own conclusions feeling a sense of power. The unresolved narratives gave me a sense of liberty. I could use my imagination to give a unique ending to the story or sometimes I have left it unresolved too because not every story needs to have an ending. Some movies, books, podcasts, and paintings invited more ideas to be shared amongst friends and family for interesting conversations and perspectives.

HOWEVER, on the other hand this trend seems to have caught on a little too much, isn’t it? Many writers and storytellers seem to choose this path of ambiguous endings for their incomplete stories. Which I now find a little frustrating. Somehow all I am reading or watching or listening to lately are open-ended stories. “I need an ending, please!!”

There are too many stories with abrupt endings, it seems like the authors don’t really want to try and want the readers to do their job for them. I don’t find stories without an ending artful or intriguing anymore, it’s rather a lazy approach. What’s with the unnecessary tease? Why do we have to spend hours and not get answers to all the important plots? Some stories do not even require any layers of complexity.

“What really happened in this book?” “Why did I have to spend hours reading the damn book?” “The author might as well have ended it after the first chapter and called it a cliffhanger.” Why should the reader take the trouble of reading pages after pages and end up with nothing. Sometimes movies with abrupt endings are still fine as they’re over in a few hours. But with books, when there is no sequel, I am not really sure if randomly abrupt and ambiguous endings are fun or entertaining anymore.

Sorry, I’m done ranting. I just finished reading the book Paper Palace and I’m not very happy with the unresolved ending, hence this post. I know it’s not an easy job to write a book of hundreds of pages but as a reader, I’m requesting all the amazing writers to give their readers a good ending, open or closed as long it’s good. Thank you for reading till the end and if you’ve been on the same boat then I’m guessing you’ll share the same thoughts on this subject. If you do, then please do throw some light on your thoughts and share it with us.


Tell me a childhood story

#ShortStory

The other day at a story writing club somebody asked me this question, “Think of a weird, uncomfortable memory from your childhood. If it’s some kind of experience, make it sound fun.” I didn’t have to think for too long because this one in particular is the strongest memory that I have from my school days and this is the story that I told them:

I waited in line to use the restroom at school. I was always alone in school but I would act super cool and confident. Not that I chose to be alone, but I don’t know I never had any close friends in school. Now that I think about it, it’s pretty strange. None of the other girls came alone to the restroom, they would always bring along a friend or a group of friends. Like it was some kind of a fun group activity to go to the restroom.

For me the only reason was because I had to use it, given a chance I would never want to use the toilet in school. But I started looking at it differently. I started using that time to find peace. It became more like my happy place where nobody could see me. I would breathe out a sigh of relief, relieved to be away from all the noisy and wannabe kids. Here it was only me and my toilet seat.

I heard a lot of gossip and scandalous stories while doing my business inside. The girls would rush inside giggling and start sharing who was dating whom, who kissed the most popular guy in high school, or who found a secret love note hidden in their classwork. Well it was school, what else can you expect from girls at that age? Sometimes girls would enter crying and discuss subjects in which they failed, the remarks written by the teachers, or whose parents were treating their kids poorly.

You know the kind of things, none of the girls would ever tell me but I was a kid too. I liked stories. I spent all my childhood reading stories, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Harry Potter, Agatha Christie, Sidney Sheldon, Chicken Soup, Tinkle, Archies. I would even gobble up my English text books before the school year started. But I wanted to know what real people talk about, I wanted to listen to some stories for a change, silly that it had to be this way with my bare bum on the throne. Once the restroom was empty, I would come out feeling accomplished, stretch like a cat, apply lip gloss and walk back to the class like I know-it-all, flipping my pony-tail in style.


Thank you for reading my fictional short story. If you have a story too, then use the below line as a writing prompt and share the story with us. “Think of a weird, uncomfortable memory from your childhood. If it’s some kind of experience, make it sound fun.

A Lost Friend

#Short story

When I saw her for the first time, it felt like I had never seen anyone who looked so angelic. I stayed away from her, I thought pretty girls like her would not want to talk to me. We sat on the same bench in class but we never spoke to each other. Sometimes, when the lecturer dictated notes I would peek into her notebook, she would push her book towards me and smile. Even her tiniest gesture of kindness would touch my heart.

One day at a friend’s place we ended up being alone in the corner of a room. That was the first time she spoke to me and when she did, I was surprised by the speed at which she spoke. I don’t remember the conversation, all I remember is that she spoke really fast. If I had to describe her looks, then umm..she has innocent honey brown eyes, super chubby cheeks, clear soft skin, long black hair, and a sweet naughty smile. She is a beautiful girl, my girl!

We got close after the bike accident. She had fallen off the bike while riding so our group of friends had rushed to the hospital. I ran straight towards her because she was crying the loudest. She was not injured, she was just scared, really scared, and she asked me to stay by her side. Instead of feeling sorry, I found the whole situation amusing. But, it was also the first time I felt protective about her. I wanted to take care of her and keep her safe. I did not see her in college after the accident for a week. And then she was back! Her beaming smile made me feel warm and happy. I sat next to her and that’s how our friendship began. We were inseparable.

She used to talk a lot and as I mentioned earlier she talked really fast. I couldn’t help but be fascinated by her. Every day I would look forward to seeing her. The level of comfort between us was unlike anything that I had with my other friends. We understood each other, cared for each other, and had fun like no one else. We could laugh for hours, we were silly, and we loved spending time together.

I remember she would always wait for me outside the college gate. I was always a few minutes late, but she would wait for me without ever complaining, and then we would run in together. When she missed her bus, it was my turn to wait for her. I would watch her walk hurriedly towards me, fixing her flying messy hair, holding onto her college bag clumsily, and fixing her clothes angrily. She always used to be annoyed, like she hated the world, but then she would end up laughing when she finally reached me. All her worries would fade away and we would get back to cracking silly jokes. Problems in life never got serious when we had each other.

After classes, we would spend a few extra hours hanging out in college and I would take the longest route so I could walk halfway with her. Sometimes I would even go all the way to her bus stop and wait with her until her bus arrived because I lived close to the college. Sometimes we would be lost so deep in conversations that she would deliberately miss her bus so we could talk a little while longer. After reaching home, we would send each other text messages and chat until late night. Friendship with her felt more like a relationship. I am not sure what we had, it was certainly more than love. I was scared that someday I would lose her, we had gotten too emotionally attached.

When college ended, we slowly started drifting apart. She got busy looking for jobs and I got busy doing my new job. We would meet once a week, soon it became once a month, and then once in six months. We even stopped talking to each other on the phone. I tried many times to maintain the friendship but she failed to reciprocate. It was difficult for me to understand the change in her nature. There was a period of time when I was angry with her, “How could she forget me so easily?” On days when I needed my friend, she wasn’t there and that would make me sad. I waited for her, with a hope that things will go back to being how they used to be before.

Soon, I fell in love with a guy, who is now my husband. She got married and moved to another country. We completely stopped talking, we had forgotten how to be there for each other. There was one time when our paths accidentally crossed, she was with her two kids. She spoke to me briefly and I realized she was nothing like the person that I knew before and our relationship will never be the same. I lost my dearest friend and losing a best friend is worse than a breakup.

I often think about her, wonder where she is, and how she is doing. I miss her, I miss laughing with her. But over the years I’ve realized that I need to be thankful for the time that I got to spend with her, people move on and I should learn to accept that. By trying to rekindle the relationship I might lose all the sweet memories that I have been holding onto. So, I guess it’s better this way.


Photo by Roberto Nickson on Pexels.com

By Her Side

I am not a dragon,
I do not have a horde.
I am trapped inside this empty dark cave
With no shiny heaps of gold.

I wander aimlessly in the darkness with no real goal.
I wonder what’s in my destiny,
Is there a purpose for this existence?
I curl up in a corner and sleep like every other day.
But, who’s here today?
A little boy has walked into the cave.

He stands in front of me fearlessly and smiles.
I snarl, smoke rises from my nostrils.
He steps forward cautiously, his hand reaching towards me.
I curl deeper into the cave.
He waits patiently, his soul emitting an aura of kindness.
I rise up and breathe fire.
The boy as small as a shrimp near my feet,
Watched me in awe with no fear.
The cave was no ordinary one,
The fire melted the layer of soot away and revealed walls of gold.
The cave shone like the sun in the darkness of the night,
With a mighty dragon queen and a little boy as a guiding star by her side.