fizapathan

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This is the first book I have written & published with Amazon after many reviews from the magazine 'The Examiner' & 'Vision & Venture'. It came out through many splendid evenings spent with my cats Lopez, Brownie & Michael Jackson (MJ) under the mosquito infested trees of my backyard. Just like a mosquito bite gives rise to a reflex action of sorts, under the moon , my cats gave rise to stories unimaginable and quite unique.

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#shortstory 'Do Not Hate Me'

Posted by pathan.fiza on May 16, 2013 at 4:25 PM

Do Not Hate Me

 

Mr. Wilkin, who was 87 years old, lived alone in an old Victorian cottage in the country. He spent his days growing carrots in his garden and writing letters to his best friend who lived in Jerusalem. Mr. Wilkin had three sons who did not stay with him. The eldest Noel was a Bank Manager in Lon-don, and was the apple of Mr. Wilkin’s eye and his favourite. The second son Abraham, who was two years junior to Noel, was married with three young children and was an Event Manager in New York. Mr. Wilkin was fond of his second son as well, especially of his three grandchildren.

However, there was yet one more son who was five years junior to Abraham and whom Mr. Wil-kin, the patriarch, detested beyond words.

This young man’s name was Zaray. He was, ac-cording to Mr. Wilkin, a thorn in his side, a worth-less fiend and a waster. Zaray was a notorious gambler and an alcoholic. He never got along with his father and abhorred the presence of his elder brothers Noel and Abraham. He had divorced his wife and had been jailed twice. Mr. Wilkin hated his youngest son to such an extent that for the past seven years he had neither invited Zaray to his cot-tage nor telephoned him, although he did keep in touch with his other more steady sons, Noel and Abraham.

Now in his eighty-seventh year, Mr. Wilkin was growing rather weak and knew that he would probably not live to see his eighty-eighth birthday. He had his will made, dividing all that he owned between his first two sons, Noel and Abraham.

“What about your third son, Zaray?” asked the country lawyer while he was preparing Mr. Wil-kin’s papers.

“What about him?” asked Mr. Wilkin in a dark foreboding voice.

“Well…aren’t you going to leave him any-thing?” replied the baffled lawyer. “He is your son after all, isn’t he?”

“Let the devil take him,” grunted Mr. Wilkin with a nasty punch on the word “devil” and after that moment the country lawyer never mentioned Zaray’s name again.

Then, came the season of Christmas and Mr. Wilkin was most excited. He was decorating his tiny wooden cottage with holly and mistletoe. He was excited because he had invited his two favour-ite sons and Abraham’s family to the country to celebrate Christmas with him.

All the preparations were made. Mr. Wilkin had even baked a special sponge cake for the occasion, surrounded with a few carrot pieces in a neat symmetrical design. He even placed in his hall, a tiny little Christmas tree decorated with homemade vanilla snowmen and strawberry candlesticks.

“Aren’t you going to invite Zaray this year?” asked Mr. Levi, his best friend from Jerusalem, in his letter a week before Christmas.

Mr. Wilkin, hot and angry, scribbled back a message to Mr. Levi with a curse.

“I have no other son. Zaray is not my son; I disown him till the end of time. It was a black day on which Zaray entered the world…may he rot in his drink.”

Mr. Levi said nothing about it and went about his Christmas shopping.

On Christmas Eve in the evening, which was so cold as to chill the marrow, the eighty-seven year old Mr. Wilkin, cold and shivering, sat himself down upon his leather couch in the hall. The sponge cake was placed in front of him on a glass table, and there was a satisfied smile on his pale face, which grew paler as the weather outside got nippy.

He sat with a woollen muffler around his neck waiting for his Christmas guests.

He waited…and he waited…and he waited with an intense expression on his countenance and with chattering teeth.

“Damn this blizzard, they must be caught in the snow,” muttered Mr. Wilkin to himself.

“They will be here any minute now. Those kids of Abraham will love the cake and the goodies on the Christmas tree,” he continued to babble, pull-ing his muffler tighter around his skinny neck.

“And then there will be my Noel, wanting to click photographs of everyone, like he used to do in those days when we stayed in Piccadilly. Won’t the kids love that?”

Mr. Wilkin waited…and waited…the 19th cen-tury grandfather clock behind him struck 11 o’clock, but there was no sign of Noel or Abra-ham.

It then suddenly dawned on Mr. Wilkin that maybe (God forbid), the family was stuck in the snow or might have met with an accident. He trembled as he dialled Abraham’s cell number on his old black telephone. He tried the number thrice…but there was no answer. He then tried the cell number of Noel to no avail.

Suddenly there was a knock on the front door of the cottage.

“Thank God it’s them!” exclaimed Mr. Wilkin with relief as he put the ancient raven black tele-phone down and slowly shuffled towards the door to unlock it.

“Merry Christmas, do come on in from the bit-ter cold,” chuckled Mr. Wilkin as he unlocked the door…but, when he opened the door, he saw a young man in his late twenties standing alone in front of him with dark brown eyes and high cheek bones, just like Mr. Wilkin himself.

Mr. Wilkin snarled when he saw the young man standing in front of him, with a smile on his hand-some face, for he was none other than Zaray in the flesh.

“Pops!” exclaimed Zaray, as he held out a dain-tily wrapped gift in his white gloved hands.

“Get out of my sight!” yelled Mr. Wilkin, with a tremor in his voice.

“Pops, now really do be sensible, I’ve come all the way to wish you a Merry Christmas and this is the welcome I get…let me in, it’s freezing out here,” exclaimed Zaray with a twinkle in his eyes as he pushed his way, like a stubborn mule, into the cottage and banged the door shut behind him.

Zaray then set the Christmas present on the glass table next to the sponge cake and seated him-self on a rocking chair next to the neatly decorated Christmas tree. Mr. Wilkin was burning and his face set itself into an awful scowl, as he grudgingly returned to his leather chair, wondering how to get Zaray out of the cottage.

Zaray on the other hand, like a seven year old, was happily staring all around the house at the hol-ly and the mistletoe.

“Pops!” declared Zaray cheerfully, “You’ve outdone yourself this time; this old barnyard cot-tage is looking grand.”

“Why are you here?” grunted Mr. Wilkin, sour-ly ignoring the compliment.

“Chuck the roughness, Pops…I’m here for Christmas of course.”

“You were not wanted nor invited,” mumbled Mr. Wilkin.

“Ha-ha, come on poppy-woppy,” said Zaray as he went up to his father and, to the surprise of Mr. Wilkin, hugged him so tight that Mr. Wilkin almost choked.

“I missed you my poppy-woppy,” cooed Zaray, stroking the bald egg head of Mr. Wilkin.

“Let go, you gambling drunk!” shouted Mr. Wilkin struggling out of Zaray’s grip but landing more closely into his swarthy arms.

“I’m not drunk tonight, Pops!” laughed out Zaray gaily as he let his father go and stared at the Christmas tree.

For the next one hour, Zaray drove the elderly Mr. Wilkin almost crazy. He ate all the vanilla snowmen that were on the Christmas tree and fed one of the strawberry ones to his father. He ate a slice of the sponge cake and gulped down the car-rot slices before Mr. Wilkin could say ‘stop’. Zaray then tried to hug Mr. Wilkin again and in the tussle, Mr. Wilkin and Zaray fell off the leather chair, landing flat on the heavily carpeted floor.

“Young urchin, I’m going to whip you!” growled Mr. Wilkin, but instead…he began to cry a few soft tears, because Zaray had put his hand-some head onto Mr. Wilkin’s aged lap and chirped, “I love you my papa, don’t hate me.”

Mr. Wilkin had heard these words several years ago, when Zaray was only a child. He would al-ways act quite absurdly with his elder brothers and when he was found out, he would sleep gently on Mr. Wilkin’s lap and say that he was terribly sor-ry…Mr. Wilkin would never have the heart to throw him off…he did not have the heart to do it even now, after all these years.

As the snowflakes pelted on the cottage win-dow pane and the heater rumbled a very rumbly tone, Mr. Wilkin stroked his youngest son’s smooth jet black hair, while like an infant Zaray slept soundly in the old man’s lap, with a serene expression on his clear face.

But all this came to an abrupt end, when sud-denly a thought came into the mind of old Mr. Wilkin and took shape. He flew into a rage never witnessed before and slapped Zaray with the back of his hand.

“Papa…papa,” stammered Zaray with unfath-omable sadness in his dark brown eyes.

“I’ve come to my senses!” said Mr. Wilkin, standing up over the young man with vehemence. “You want me to change my will, don’t you…so that I give you your share, that’s why you are here acting like a grovelling pup. Well, you are not get-ting a penny from me to gamble it away, you aren’t…get out of my cottage!”

Zaray pleaded with his elderly father, but was forced to leave closing the wooden door behind him gingerly, just as the grandfather clock struck twelve midnight.

Mr. Wilkin sank down into the leather chair and grumbled curses under his breath. At a quarter past midnight however, there was a knock on the cot-tage door. Mr. Wilkin, half sleepy, dragged his weathered self towards the door and opened it. It was Noel and Abraham alone, with perplexed fac-es and red eyes.

“What took you so long, and where are the oth-ers?” asked Mr. Wilkin confused.

Noel looked at Abraham and motioned him to explain, so Abraham said, “Daddy, we were leav-ing when we got a call from the hospital down-town. It’s Zaray, dad…he is no more…he died of liver inflammation at 5 o’clock this evening.”

Mr. Wilkin looked at Abraham’s face with a weary expression. He then turned back into the hall where Zaray had left the Christmas present on the glass table. He hastily unwrapped it and beheld a shoe box; in it there was a framed photograph, a photograph of a very young child, sleeping sound-ly in his father’s lap and behind the frame was en-graved in gold:

“I love you my papa, do not hate me…Merry Christmas.

Your youngest son,

Z Wilkin

Born: 1st July 19__

Died: 24th December, 20__”

 Copyright © 2012 by Fiza Pathan

Revised edition 2015

A short story from my book  Treasury Of Bizarre Christmas Stories


http://www.amazon.com/Treasury-Bizarre-Christmas-Stories-Pathan/dp/1481081764/

#Poetry 'AMOUR' by Fiza Pathan

Posted by pathan.fiza on April 8, 2013 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (0)

AMOUR

By Fiza Pathan

 

Never fall for the eyes of delusional affection.

Love is treacherous.

It leaves behind a mirage

Of various agonising sighs.

 

Never follow the ways of the heavenly sages.

They take pleasure in the torments of the insane lover.

 

I am the mislaid lover

Who has been killed by Amour.

Death however has rejected me

While life, has murdered me.

The epic of passionate affection

Can be proud once again as it has always been.

Love begets only pain, it is true.

 

What is the truth asked the diplomatic man of the world.

To him I answer truthfully without any show of guilt or doubt.

Truth is that love only hurts

Especially the one who has not played

Its game of give and take.

 

You say to die for love is worth it!

But the world says your wrong.

Because love is a toy in the hands of the strong hearted

For those whose hearts are made on the foundation of stone.

For them if you love you have to spend

The rest of your mortal life engulfed in tears.

 

Love is treacherous.

Love is tortuous.

Love is a false story.

Love is an unholy scar.

Love is fatal pestilence.

 

Ask what love is not

It’s not a beautiful sacrifice.

 

The Teenage Book Of Life

Posted by pathan.fiza on February 12, 2013 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (1)

Human beings are very intricate pieces of work and teenagers are a certain category of human beings which are made up of ‘many intricate moods’. They construct themselves and the people around them according to their moods and fancies. They do this even with the Bible, and mark my words….the Bible is a teenage soul’s paradise. On this occasion, of ‘Bible Sunday’, I thought it appropriate to look into the complex moods within the framework of the ‘Word of God’.

 

The Bible has got a way to absorb within itself, the state of mind of a troubled or absolutely absurd teen. The Bible says it all ….. It speaks about friendship in the Book of Samuel- the friendship between David and King Saul’s son, Jonathan. It speaks about relationships like the complex love story of Hosea in The Book of Hosea, the eternal story of Samson and Delilah in the Book of Judges and the love of Jesus for all of us in the Gospel of John. It also speaks about patriotism, affections, radicalism, rebelliousness and freedom of expression.

 

The Bible also touches the teenager’s heart when the story of Job is being read at Church. Many teens find themselves at times asking their parents, priests and peers the same questions raised in The Book Of Job:

 

(1) Why am I suffering?

(2) Where is God when I need him?

(3) Why can’t I just ‘die’?

 

Same questions…..same reactions….then and now!

 

In Esther, Judith and Ruth a teenage girl finds the fortitude to stand up for what she feels is right. (Whether society agrees or not, which it often doesn’t) whereas in Joshua, David and Abraham ____a teenage boy finds a person they can relate to men who were challenged at such a young age to make a difference in society…in the world ….. and ….. to build on their faith.

 

King David teaches us repentance for our weaknesses (this includes pornography!) and failings and God’s unconditional and inexhaustible love to counteract it. The story of Samuel could be the story of a young Catholic’s early call into a vocation or the story of Saint Paul for that matter in the Acts of the Apostles. The Books Of Maccabees teaches us about how at times following the right values inculcated in us may cost us a lot, at times our lives _____ but its worth it….each and every time, especially if we know we are doing it for the truth, just the way our Lord Jesus did on the Cross or Saint Stephen in the Acts Of The Apostles.

 

The Book of Wisdom teaches a teen to be practical and God fearing at the same time and the ‘Song of Songs’ brings out the Spice of Life (romance of course). Yes….the Bible comes in various shades, sizes and copies but, it’s the story within the story that elicits in us a joy unimaginable. It’s the story of a searching soul and moreover, the soul of a teenager with his or her moods, dreams and aspirations.

 

 

 

 

Ziya's Last Dance

Posted by pathan.fiza on February 11, 2013 at 9:55 AM Comments comments (0)

It was the Christmas Night Party and all the college students in their tight miniskirts and hipster jeans were there all bright & happy. They joked and danced the jive to the beat of the music provided by the DJ—–all except, little Ziya.

Ziya was a young teenager who was feeling rather awkward amidst all the short skirted variety while she was dressed in a violet salwar kameez. Ziya had come alone to the party and she knew or thought she knew that like all other Christmas parties this evening too, no one would ask her for a dance. For Ziya was not like every other teenager, she was different ——and very quiet so everyone preferred to keep away from her. She truly was personification of the ‘one, who stands throughout life all alone’, but yet even such a person is never alone as this story will tell.

The last song was being played by the DJ, it was a waltz. Every couple was waltzing slowly over the dance floor engrossed in each other’s eyes. Ziya knowing it was late lifted herself from the plastic white chair she sat on the whole evening and walked to the exit when someone tapped her shoulder. She turned around to see a handsome young man with sea green eyes and bright golden hair staring at her fixedly. The man said “Will you dance with me?” And without giving a second thought, Ziya put her hand into his and they started to waltz to the tune of the Anniversary song. As they danced Ziya was captivated by the young man’s gaze who emanated a soothing calmness that she had never experienced before – she knew she was falling in love. When the song ended Ziya asked the young man who he was. But the young man with a gentle smile held the chin of the excited little Ziya and said:

“Do you want to dance with me again?”

“Yes”, exclaimed Ziya.

“Then next year come to this party once again and I will dance with you”, said the young man releasing Ziya’s chin and running out of the party hall before Ziya could catch him.

Ziya looked for him everywhere even tried later at home to find him on the computer – but she did not see her sea green eyed dancing partner——until the following year when they met again at the same Christmas Party. This time the young man was dressed in a suit and Ziya was a year older. But, they danced the night away without a word passing between them and like the previous year the young man promised Ziya to meet her the following year again and he disappeared.

Every year Ziya danced with her golden haired stranger, her love never failing just like his promise, every Christmas dance.

One year however Ziya got the news from her doctor that she had been diagnosed with Cancer – the last stage. Ziya was not worried about dying really, she always walked this world alone and thus she knew her end would also leave her soul desolate but — she yearned to see her dancing partner.

That Christmas, Ziya was in the Cancer hospital, her hair shaven and her eyes sunken. Her body ached but all she could think of was the words of her partner: “Then next year come to this party once again and I will dance with you”.

The Christmas day was spent in agonizing pain, while Ziya cried thinking of the Christmas Party that she would miss that night.

When night came, Ziya started to cry again, when suddenly she heard the sound of the tune of the Anniversary Waltz.

“Can it be”, wailed Ziya raising her weak self from the bed —- and behold the young man emerged from the darkness of the room and held out his hand….and they danced.

However when the song ended that night, the young man clasped Ziya’s pale and cold hands and said:

“Do you want to dance with me again?”

Ziya cried on hearing his words knowing that her time had come but as she held the palms of his hands….she felt a slight hollowness at the centre of both the palms of the young man….she realized who he was and answered:

“I want to dance every Christmas night with you —- my Lord” and she fell into his arms and breathed her last.

Now those of you who will go for Christmas parties and dance away, here is something you must do. Go to the window and look up at the sky ——-and you will see many stars twinkling as Ziya and her dancing partner dance through the heavens showing that you are never alone. Someone somewhere out there always wants to dance with you.

                                                         ******************

A story from my book ‘S.O.S. Animals And Other Stories’

 

NO NAME

Posted by pathan.fiza on February 9, 2013 at 2:05 PM Comments comments (0)

It was Christmas Eve and there was merriment going on to the loud beat of club dance music all over Mumbai. It was late evening, Jacob and his friends were ‘clubbing’ with beer and shouting at the DJ to increase the volume of the music to full blast.

 

“Hey dude, turn up the volume! Don’t you want us to have a ‘Merry’ Christmas,” said Jacob in a half drunk voice as he danced about the whole club.

 

The music was turned up to full blast while the young merry makers squealed in a drunken delight. Some were over by the dinner tables injecting cocaine into their young veins while some were tumbling upon one another in a mood for an orgy.

 

It was when the music was at its loudest and the stars were in the sky that the watchman of the club was awakened from his sleep. The watchman’s name was Akhil. He was middle aged and very poor. However, when he opened the door, he beheld a sight which made him thank the Lord that he was in a better position in life. Before him stood two beggars, one a middle aged man like Akhil himself who was dressed in filthy rags which were stained with dirt and grime; the second was a woman with a dark face, clad in a foul smelling sack cloth. Behind them was a white cow with the most beseeching eyes Akhil had ever seen.

 

It was the music that brought Akhil back to his senses. He immediately told the couple to move away from the club’s entrance.

 

“Please Sir,” said the man in rags, “let us rest in the open. Everyone has driven us away from their front yards because it seems we spoil the look of their beautiful Christmas decorations. I beg of you, let us stay for the night….my wife is with child and is in labour.”

 

The moistened eyes of the middle aged man in rags warmed Akhil’s heart, but Akhil was aware that under no condition was he allowed to keep beggars at the entrance. His job was at stake….but his humanity triumphed especially when he saw the pain on the face of the pregnant woman, who he now realised looked ever so young.

 

Akhil at once took out his cell phone and called his wife from their nearby slum. The woman hastened with a group of elderly ladies and guided the beggar couple to a nearby hospital….but the posh hospital refused them admittance on the basis of their clothes. In the end the beggar couple with their faithful cow, were taken to the slum with a lot of love and care by the slum dwellers.

 

It was nearing midnight when the cry of a new born baby boy was heard throughout the slum. Akhil’s wife was overjoyed as she held the enchanting looking infant in her arms.

 

“What shall we call him?” asked a little boy from the neighbouring shanty.

 

“That’s for the father to decide,” replied Akhil’s wife as she looked at the middle aged man in rags. The man merely answered:

 

“The boy will have no name, for he was forgotten and ignored on his own birthday.”

 

A letter to Santa

Posted by pathan.fiza on February 3, 2013 at 2:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Dear Santa,

This Christmas is a Special Christmas, a Christmas I will always remember….. for I am writing for a lot of things that I want from you. 

 

Give me a name which will not harm the sentiments of any person.

 

Give me a new life for because of my life and for my sake my own people are being raped and tortured throughout the world.

 

Give me a new path for walking the way, for the old one is too tough it seems and that is why many youth and other folks are taking to drugs, alcohol and the like.

 

Give me a little peace and quiet, for my heart and soul, because the cries of the victims of bomb blasts and riots are deafening me.

 

Give me a new way to make myself clear for everything I say is misinterpreted by fanatics everywhere.

 

Give me a new place to stay where there is no hungry beggar, no dying child or neglected villages for I can’t stand such moroseness and at times…the poverty I see around me leads me to despair.

 

Give me no shape and no form for in the name of what they see they think it’s really me.

 

Give me another cooler place where I could stay for the global warming is getting to me and the emissions from the many vehicles choke me. 

 

Give me friends for I have none – those who fight and shout out slogans in my name, only nauseate me and do nothing else.

 

Give me a new entertainment to entertain me for all the media around me is strewn of hate, murder, riots, vulgarity etc.

 

Lastly good old Santa ….. try giving me a new heart this Christmas so that I can add it to my already most compassionate heart so that both these hearts could match up to the evil that resides in the world. 

 

Thank You

 

Yours always

The Omniscient                                                                                                        

 

'MOM AND DAD?' my best friends!!!

Posted by pathan.fiza on January 29, 2013 at 6:30 AM Comments comments (0)

My Mom & Dad: my best friends?………IMPOSSIBLE, scream I from the recesses of

 

my thoughts as a whirlpool of orders & regulations rush through my consciousness :

 

“Don’t stay out late”

 

“Don’t come home early from Church”

 

“Don’t talk to strangers”

 

“Don’t ignore your Professors”

 

“Go to college everyday”

 

“Don’t eat this”

 

“Don’t drink that”

 

“Don’t talk too much”

 

“Don’t party all night”

 

“Come home before dark”

 

“Wake up by 7 o’clock”

 

“Go to bed by 10 o’clock”

 

“Don’t waste time on Facebook”

 

“Study for three hours every day”

 

“Don’t slouch”

 

“Don’t abuse”

 

“Don’t mock”

 

“Don’t put that rock video on full blast”

 

“Don’t grow your hair long”

 

“Don’t get a tattoo”

 

“Don’t back chat elders”.

 

DON’T —— DON’T—— DON’T-— it will never work out.

 

I think to myself, a Mother & Father can never be a friend, let alone a ‘best friend’ to any youth especially not a teenager. But let’s back track and ask ourselves then, “what is or who is a best friend’? And we come to the conclusive solutions that

 

“A best friend never lets you down”

 

“Supports you when things go wrong”

 

“Is always there for you through thick & thin”

 

“Is never too busy to talk to you”.

 

“Who trusts you like no one else”

 

“Who laughs when you laugh”

 

“Who cries when you cry”

 

“Who takes away the dark clouds that haunt your day”

 

“Who reminds you how ‘cool’ you are”

 

“Who helps you with everything”

 

“Who gets you out of trouble”

 

“Who never lets you get into trouble”

 

“Who loves you”

 

“Who cares for you”

 

“Who wants the best for you”

 

“Who loves you – as you are”.

 

……And doesn’t this describe what every Parent is to a child. Whether a child is tall – short – chubby or skinny – a parent doesn’t see the difference. Whether a child is a drug addict or an addict to pornography – a parent continues to care. Whether a child party’s out late at night keeping the parents at home worried – a parent never gives up hope. Whether a child abuses, mocks or even steals – a parent trusts that one day that child will change. Whether a child is depressed, lost in love or isolated – a parent reminds a child always that ‘hey you’re cool to me’. Whether a child gives up on life or loses all hope – a parent never loses the child. WHETHER A CHILD HATES WITHOUT MEASURE …. A parent gives back LOVE without measure. This is because just like a best friend, a parent cares & at times cares blindly —– & yet most of us can’t say that our parents are our best friends.

 

So, let’s take the cue, even if we don’t consider our parents as our best friends…..parents from the dawn of humanity have always been best friends to their child….it’s history…it’s a fact, oh!& yes….it’s love!

 

Review of Saki's 'The Stalled Ox'

Posted by pathan.fiza on January 18, 2013 at 2:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Saki is the true master of witty & macabre storytelling. He proves himself to be a person who does not analyse situations at their face value & gets into the minds of people professing certain ideas. For H.H. Munro, also well known as Saki, the world of simplicity is a world full of weird possibilities. He advances this theory of his, in his story ‘The Stalled Ox’ which appears in the 1914 collection ‘Beasts & Super-Beasts’.

 

In the story like in most of Saki’s witty stories, especially in this collection of short stories, he presents to the reader an almost ideal set up, where suddenly an unusual problem arises where absurdity begins leading to an anti-climax of a conclusion which at times shocks a person or makes the reader grin wisely. In the story, the main character is an artist named Theophil Eshley who paints cattle for a living, not because he is obsessed with the theme of dairy farming but because as Saki states, it has become his trademark. This trademark has been linked to him to such an extent that even his two attempts to break away from his own tradition leads him to failure. In the first paragraph of the story itself, one gets an idea of the hum-drum life of a simple painter who to us on the face of it, will never amount to anything in life but a cattle painter. Saki however, points to us an alternate philosophy to our prejudiced theorization in the form of his ‘problematic situation’.

 

Most of Saki’s problematic situations are life changing. In this narrative as well, the issue brought to the notice of the artist Eshley by his neighbour Adela Pingsford changes the artist’s life forever. The situation is urgent & absurd to a logical thinker, but simple enough as it goes where probabilities are rampant. Eshley is faced with a situation in which an animal….an ox holds a prominent position. Saki I have observed enjoys to use animals of all kinds, as miscreants of the human world of so called ‘order’. Infact wherever there is a slight trace of order going on, an animal like a piglet, a cock, an elk etc.., play the role of the tutor of humility.

 

In the story, an ox has entered the garden of the artist’s neighbour which she definitely objects to, as the alleged ox was upsetting her chrysanthemums. The neighbour implores the artist to drive the wayward ox away from her garden. She is of the opinion that since Eshley the artist was a cattle painter, he would be having a sort of ‘extra’ knowledge about how to get an ox off her land. There issues forth a cacophony of crazy dialogues which is hilarious in its simplicity & forwardness.

 

An avid Saki reader would definitely be aware of the fact that dialogues are of the utmost importance in the author’s short stories. Dialogues are the tools which Saki uses to dish out to the voracious reader of satire a hilarious stream of wacky possibilities which seem so real & yet so fantastic. The dialogues between the artist Eshley & his neighbour Adela are ingenious. The absurdness of human thought & action is presented by Saki very vividly.

 

Eshley in the story asks rather odd questions to his flushed neighbour that increase the flame of her rage. Eshley also is so indifferent to the whole situation that makes the reader want to chuckle out loud. Sarcasm is used by Saki to the fullest especially through the person of Adela. When Eshley quaintly asks whether the ox won’t just go out on its own, Adela angrily retorts that if it was the beasts initial intention she would not have taken the trouble to meet the artist in the first place & ask for help. Also, when Eshley very feebly tries to drive the stalled ox away with cries of ‘Hish’ & ‘Shoo’, Adela indignantly states that the next time a hen sets foot into her garden, she would definitely call the artist for his assistance in the form of his useless bird calls like ‘Hish’ & ‘Shoo’.

 

I’ve noticed also where this story is concerned (as well all of Saki’s short stories) Saki has been able in single sentences even to satirise a lot of events, institutions, ideologies & people. Example is when Eshley mocks the cinema when he states that the oxen that are rounded up on screen may be fake even though they contain a lot of horses to help along with many ‘accessories’. He also picks on The Royal Academy stating that they prefer ‘orderly & methodical habits in its children’.

 

Another part of the story that amuses me is the almost human side that is given to the ox which seems quite devoid in the artist or the artist’s neighbour. The ox is the one who understands that he is not welcome in the garden after a pea-stick is thrown at him & thus drags himself into Adela’s morning room. Adela on the other hand is flabbergasted when she sees the ox entering her morning room & makes the hilarious statement that where personal preference was concerned, she preferred the ox to stay in the garden rather than in her house. She is also the one who induces the novel idea into the artist to paint the picture of the ox in her morning room which he undertakes to do immediately after it was suggested. The situation seems absurd & nonsensical but Eshley’s painting of, ‘Ox In A Morning Room Late Autumn’ makes him a real success at last although it does not improve his equation with his neighbour. The story is an anti-climax typical of Saki where the ox that caused a lot of trouble becomes a sensation in the world of art.

 

In all, the story of ‘The Stalled Ox’ appealed a lot to my taste in subtle humour as well as my love for macabre literature.

 

Zoya's Christmas Eve-short story from my book S.O.S. Animals And Other Stories

Posted by pathan.fiza on December 24, 2012 at 8:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Zoya’s Christmas Eve

Zoya was a girl living a normal Christian life with her family in a small apartment overlooking the sea. Zoya was a happy child and was thoroughly spoilt by her parents, uncles and aunts because she was the only child in the family. Every day was made special for little Zoya including Christmas.

There would be the beautiful decorations, the elaborate dinner party, the get together and a basketful of Christmas goodies. But little Zoya loved the Christmas season, not for the Christmas Stockings nor for the gifts neatly packed by friends and loved ones but for that Christmas Eve when she would tuck herself up warmly under a little bed cover early, so that Santa would come on his Reindeer driven sleigh and deposit her Christmas gift under her little Christmas Tree. Come Christmas morning she would awaken to clasp her precious gift from her Santa and then go off for the morning mass……. her Christmas was made. This occurred every Christmas and Zoya’s friends used to tease her saying, “Oh! Grow up for once you little Alice in Wonderland there is no such thing as a Santa Claus. The gifts you receive are from your uncle who pampers you so much”. But Zoya in reply would only say one thing, “I know that there is a Santa and he will never forget me”.

Cheerfully the years went by and every year there would be a parcel under the Christmas tree every Christmas eve. One day Zoya decided to join the Convent. As she left her home to follow her vocation Zoya’s uncle whispered sadly into her mother’s ear, “This will be the first of many Christmas’ when Zoya won’t receive her Santa’s gift for where will I be there to place it under her tree?”.

Zoya was nineteen and at her first year in the convent was well respected and loved. On that Christmas Eve however, Zoya as per her custom retired to bed early. When asked for the early retiring by Mother Superior she said, “Santa won’t come when I am awake.” Her weird reply was shrugged off by Mother Superior and she retired to bed….but Mother was curious. In the middle of the night Mother Superior crept into the little postulant’s cell to satisfy her curiosity and what she saw …….filled her heart with profound tranquility for next to the sleeping Zoya was a little gift neatly packed and sitting beside her was an elderly man dressed in a shining white robe.

The next morning it was found that little Zoya was no more. The sisters as they were preparing for Zoya’s final resting place fetched the gift and placed it in the hands of their Mother Superior. As Mother carefully opened the gift she couldn’t stop the tears that rolled down her cheeks, for there in the box lay a little note which read.

“I kept my promise,

No matter how far

The distance was ---------------

For it only takes a little faith…

To achieve what you desire.”

***~~~***

copyright Fiza Pathan 

Death comes at the end.....

Posted by pathan.fiza on December 20, 2012 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (0)

DEATH COMES AT THE END.......................& that is the new anthem of Younger Uncle today. Before he left for work, he drilled this anthem into everyones head including mine while I was busy feeding the wounded eagle which we found in the morning. I think Younger Uncle has been reading too many Agatha Christie books or he has got a church doomsday overdose. Whatever it may be, he has scared the living daylights out of mother that she does not want me to step out of the house…..unless I am feeding the eagle……or the bats……..or the rats………or the toads………or the centipedes……….or………..let me not get into this now when death is the main topic of discussion. The stray dogs of our area have gone berserk & were found last night (by me) molesting a little black & brown kitten ; being an alert citizen of India, I immediately threw chilli powder on the vagabond hounds &………..they dusted their eyes & continued to haggle the poor kitten (guess the chilli powder was of cheap quality, must get MDH next time)……..well then I took action into my own hands & started haggling the dogs till they ran for their lives not only from the lane but from the neighbourhood. The kitten is rescued & in the hands of certain animal lovers who trust my sanity unlike my family. Someone should take some stringent action against wild dogs according to me…….especially at night when they seem to lose all their reason. I must contact the concerned officials, they say barking dogs seldom bite but, I think its high time we stop going by the book. I have already started to alert all cat lovers to guide their felines towards higher forms of ninja techniques of bashing & smashing. I’ve even alerted the ‘pleasant’ dogs I know of to protect themselves & their catty feline friends from mongrel mob activity. Lets make Bandra a safer place for our felines.


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