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“Are you a writer? Do you want to publish your work and win $1000 as prize money? Just submit your story at our website, Storywriter.com. Please read the instructions carefully.” I was excited to read this post on Facebook. I could see dollar signs flashing before my eyes as in the cartoon shows. I wanted to participate in it.
I read the rules of the contest. I had to submit a short story not more than 2000 words to the website through an email attachment.

” Anu,” called my mother,” Would you mind coming to the kitchen?” “Great,” I muttered under my breath,” That’s what I needed, an unwanted distraction.” She handed me a list of grocery items and gave me money. My bad luck seemed to follow me when I reached the grocery store. My mom’s friend, Geeta, spotted me. I always tried to steer clear out of her way. She was a big chatterbox and could talk for hours together. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a way to escape this time. She smiled at me and started her blabbering. “How tall you have grown!” she screamed, “You look just like your mother.”
I chuckled as my inner voice whispered,” Yeah! My mom raised me on Complan, Bournvita, and Pediasure. I am supposed to look like her or dad because I am their only daughter. I can’t resemble Marilyn Monroe or Madhuri Dixit.”

Then, I committed an unpardonable sin. I asked about her health. Her endless rambling started,” I am no longer as healthy as I used to be. I got a blister in my mouth and an ulcer in my throat. I am having constipation, and my blood pressure has sky-rocketed.” I thought, ” You forgot to mention the pain in your ass, lice infestation in your hair, diabetes, tumor, etc.” I decided to tease her and said,” Have you consulted your doctor? You might be having cancer.” She immediately stopped talking and looked abashed. She said,” Aren’t you supposed to offer me moral support? You should be more positive in your approach and say that everything will be fine. I will pray for you.”
The store owner sensed my discomfort and interrupted,” Please don’t block the way for my customers. You can chat somewhere else.”

I took the cue and excused myself. I finished my work and took off without looking back. Chaos followed me after I started gathering speed and almost sprinted. A stray dog started chasing me. I collided with a biker and landed on my backside. The biker fell sideways on the dog. The poor creature yelped and scampered away. The entire marketplace burst out laughing. The biker was a good-natured guy. Both of us apologized to each other. He helped me gather my things and went away.

After reaching home, I saw my mother standing on the porch with her right hand on her hip and a broom in her left hand. She looked like an angry witch about to curse me with a spell. I explained my situation to her. She burst out laughing until she had tears in her eyes and relieved me of my groceries.
I helped her with the household chores and went to my room to start writing.

I opened my laptop and started typing furiously. I had typed just one sentence.
“The night was dark and cold.” My inner voice made fun of me. ” The night is always dark, you moron,” it said, ” Why don’t you write that the day was bright and hot?” My situation was like a cartoon character having two miniature versions of himself, an angel and a devil. The devil version was quite active. I deleted the sentence and rewrote:
Martha was scared. ( Of what? A mouse, a lizard, or her horrible cooking.) I wanted to murder the devil lurking around me. I hated my inner voice now. I deleted this sentence and started typing:
Gloria looked resplendent in her silky satin blue dress with her blonde hair tied into a bun. ( Why are you using American characters? Do you want to impress the judges and the readers with your meager knowledge of the great country? Try to think out of the box.) “What do you expect me to write? A cow in Switzerland gave ice cream instead of milk,” I questioned myself ( My devil inner voice). I gave up typing after numerous attempts. I was my worst enemy.

” Anu,” yelled my mother. Everyone could hear her voice from the next street. “It’s lunchtime,” she said and asked me to call grandma to join us. I committed the second stupidity of the day by confiding in them about the writing contest. They were very excited, like a couple of schoolgirls, and offered suggestions for a great story. Grandma started her story, ” Your grandfather and his family came to visit mine to discuss a possible matrimonial alliance. I was dusky in complexion. My mother wanted to create a favorable impression on them. We didn’t have talcum powder at home. So, she applied rice flour over my face to make me look fair. Your grandfather found out about this little trick and laughed heartily at my mother’s naiveness. We got married. Your grandfather started losing his interest in me.”
I interrupted, ” Then how did you end up having eight children? I can hardly imagine the number of children you might have had otherwise.” My mom choked over her meal, unable to control her laughter.

” I am sorry, grandma,” I said, ” Please continue.” Grandma appeared to be mollified and resumed her take, “My father-in-law threatened him to get me remarried even though we were still in our wedlock. Your grandfather didn’t want to lose me and always kept me happy. He followed the footsteps of Lord Rama and never looked at another woman all his life.”

“Fortunately, unlike Sita Devi, you were never kidnapped by Ravan, am I right?” I asked her, and both the women guffawed. I helped mom in clearing the table. My grandma said,” Why don’t you combine these two stories and submit them to the contest? I hope you win the prize.” She went on to take her afternoon nap. My mother suggested,” Why don’t you listen to my story and send it as your entry to the contest?” I nodded and took a seat on the couch. Mom joined me with two cups of ice cream.

Mom started narrating her story, ” You know, I was a child when I turned eight.” I almost spit my ice cream. I found it very difficult to suppress my laughter. I continued listening to her as she said, ” I was playing with my sister, Anita, your aunt.” ” Oh God!” my inner voice groaned,” I didn’t know that your mother’s sister was your aunt. I thought she was your uncle.” I had a splitting headache, but I continued to hear her story. She added,” We were watching the frogs and fishes in a water tank. Anita lost her balance and fell into the pond. I managed to grab her hand and shouted for help. Your maternal grandfather heard my cries and saved her from drowning. He appreciated my presence of mind and having a loud voice.”

I thanked her and went to my room for a nap. Things turned for worse when Mom told Dad about my story writing. He also joined the bandwagon of enthusiastic storytellers. He told me how he had caught a serpent
bare-handed and left it in a garden and his acts of heroism like foiling an attempted robbery.

Mom Broadcasting Network had spread the news among the neighborhood about my latest venture. My phone kept ringing nonstop for ten days. My eardrums started malfunctioning after listening to all the
stories from my friends and neighbors. I didn’t want to hurt anyone. I decided to write a book of short stories featuring contributions from everyone. The entire neighborhood welcomed my decision and supported me in my endeavor to become an author.

I learned a valuable lesson from my feeble attempts at writing. Writing is an art and should be appreciated and enjoyed. Hard work and determination without any expectation will surely yield the desired results.

Thank you so much for taking your precious time to visit my website. Hope you enjoyed reading my blogs. šŸ˜ŠšŸ˜Š


2 thoughts on “A FOOL’S ERRAND

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