I come from a generation that vividly recalls how impressive and decorous news anchors once were. The current lot merely voices the words of their masters. News reporting is biased. Debate panelists do foolish things and indulge in ridiculous shenanigans that deter gainsay. Editorials are evidence of brain dump of vacuous minds. Sensible prime-time reporting is now a dream.
Well, I’m just overcoming a minor writer’s block, have word prompts to cover, and more importantly, have become old and cranky I suppose!
Written in response to the Weekend Writing Prompt and written using words from the daily prompts Fandango’s One Word Challenge (vacuous), Word of the Day Challenge (impressive), Ragtag Daily Prompt (foolish things), The Daily Spur (point, dump), Your Daily Word Prompt (decorous, gainsay), MMA Storytime’s Word of the Day (dream)
“Woman, you have no patience. Your arch was inadequate, and you need to hold the pose until I give you the signal.”
“Hold the pose! I have been staring at those damn stars for so long that they transitioned from silvery to black. All the blood rushed to the back of my head. Any longer and I would have toppled over.”
“Impatience is a model’s nemesis. You barely stood still awhile.”
“And you need to click before my hair turns grey and my feet petrify.”
“Models and their tantrums. Your hair needs to be adjusted again.”
“Don’t you dare come any closer. Not until I get that damn coffee. You’re aiming for the one-shot street photography contest, not the Pulitzer.”
Hell, in the era of smartphones, even one wall clock was obsolete.
But he is smart enough to know that optics matter. When clients see a smartly dressed man with a pile of papers on his desk with world times behind him, they assume that his business is international and that he has a deluge of work that he is frenetically trying to complete. When they try to call, he lets it go to voice mail. He waits for them to repeat the call. He begs off on the plea that he was ‘on another call’.
The optics elicit the perfect reaction. If he has so much work, then he must be good.
That is the genius of the plan. Everything was online. The clients will never know that ‘the office’ was just one corner of his bedroom.
His blank reaction plunged me from the top of the mountain to the bottom of the valley.
Our native tongues were foreign to each other.
I cussed myself for having allowed Tom to inveigle me into this assignment. He had set me up to fail. This was beyond competitive, this was vicious. I was reaching the end of my tether. But lamenting is pointless. I would shoot him at our next reunion. For now, I pulled up the iTranslate app.
I am the monster who is tearing apart the intricate venation that is family.
It was my fault. For years I kept quiet. I honestly believed that I should not be panhandling for what was mine by right. On the few occasions when I tried to express my displeasure, I was shut down by aggressive accusations. The head of the family was not to be questioned. As the good wife it was my duty to always place the desires of the family before my own. Surely, I was not attempting to disunite the family. When he raised his voice, it was boisterous expression. When I raised my voice, it was poor upbringing.
Slowly but surely, he brought me to a point where peace and quiet became my only need. Keep quiet and do not rock the boat. Smile and maintain a façade of a happy family.
But with age came change. The fake smile began to hurt. And then one day I gave up. I took the mask off and walked away.
Frantic negotiations started. Symbolic concessions were offered. Religion was quoted. Social stigma was cited. Expressions of alleged love were made.
But it was too little too late. There was no turning back for me.
And then the stories started. Of course, I am the monster of every story.
It was his fervent prayer that he would connect with the cosmopolitan audience through his speech. They were a seething cauldron of emotions. Excuses, cover-ups and overviews would not do. If he did not furnish all the details and allay their fears, then all would be lost. An enormous mistake had been made, but the party would not take the fall for one man’s ego.
He stepped on to the podium amidst hostile glares and boos, and commenced…
My friends, I have come to admit the truth before you. An erogenous mistake has been made… but it was a private act… the leader was not a witness to it…
Suddenly there was a pregnant pause. Then fallowed a guffaw of laughter and snickers. Something was wrong.
I should have known better than to fall prey to clickbait.
The hotel that I had booked was nothing more than an old refurbished house. More of a bed and breakfast. The bed was lumpy and I could have sworn that I saw a cockroach or two peeping out at me. Breakfast was frugal. I now had an aching back and a major coffee craving.
But I had resolved to stay impervious to these little hiccups and enjoy the charms of the town. I was going to the old bazaar where I hoped to pick up some exciting bargains.
There were many modes of transport. I chose the tuk-tuk. The ride was rickety and long. Rather long. I suspect the driver had opted for the extra-long tourist route! I had better enquire with some locals on my way back.
The streets got narrower and more crowded. My tuk-tuk navigated with the precision of a racing car driver, avoiding pedestrians by mere inches.
Finally, we were there. I took a moment to get accustomed to the sudden onslaught of colours and smells and noise. My sensitive nose picked up a most exotic fragrance – a fusion of aromatic rose, jasmine and ripened fruit with an undertone of spices.
Noting my slight delay the driver offered – “Madam go big shop? Very very nice.”
Big shop? I guess the conglomerates had consumed a part of the old bazaar. “No thank you.” I pay him and step out.
Mall stores could not replace the simple, charming concinniti of the old marketplace.
Picking up the extension was fortuitous but revealing. “Just an affable puppy with nowhere else to go,” was how she had described him. Everything subsequent had been blank… like a precipitous fall off of a cliff.
Even now, with every breath he could feel his ribs crepitate and heart crumble. It had all meant nothing.
The convertible was almost vintage. With inflation it would fetch a tidy sum. He had been a successful businessman once. He knew the nuances of bargaining.