Flash Fiction: Business as Usual

By: Abu Siddik

“Is the room ready?” Ravi asked.

“Yes, but for how many hours?” The manager retorted without lifting his brooding head from the
day’s daily.

“Three,” said Ravi.

The wary waiter took Nita and Ravi, both aged forty or so, to the room—scented, with tapestries. A full size feather bed, a huge looking glass, a giant screen stared at them.

The white hotel stood tall amid the shanties. Nita brushed aside the curtain and opened the window. A gust of wind whisked her hair. The sky was sea blue and trellised with winged clouds. Below naked children were playing pell-mell with dirt, drunken men were jostling, and powdered-women haggling men to sleep with them for a day’s wages. A serpentine canal of thick blackish water with city’s sewerage was tiredly passing.

“Let’s leave!”

“Why? What’s up?”

“Nothing,” flatly she replied.

“Are you okay?”

“Glowing! Dear,” Nita feigned to wear a smile.

“Sit awhile, and read the poem you penned this week. I am parched!”

“Not today, please!”

“Fine, then share today, anything you like, be it good or evil,” Ravi coaxed with a faint smile.

Nita didn’t speak. Side by side, both lay cold staring at the ceiling. And for the first time Ravi was nervous to kiss her.

“Half an hour sir,” the waiter rang the bell and coldly reminded them.

“Let’s alter the track, Ravi,” Nita calmly said breaking her silence. Her eyes glittered as the storm simmered inside her.

“What?”

“No more poems on moons and flowers! Enough is enough! Let’s depart from the terrible clichés and boring stereotypes! Let’s write… ah… something powerful, dear, that can change the face of the earth. Thousands of maladies— riots, rapes, arson and lynchings seize our city and we are writing beautiful poetry culling words and images from seven heavens!” Nita gasped and trembled. She twisted her body and looked wild like a wounded animal.

“There is no way. Nothing can be done.” Ravi wryly said and nodded his head.

“Don’t disappoint me, dear. We can, if we want,” in childlike way she defended.

“Who are you quoting? A fool!” Ravi hurried to the basin, spat and splashed water on his flushed face.

“Why are you making fun of them? They are my mentors.”

“That’s cool!” Ravi grinned. “Let’s end this game! We’ve already lost track. Challenging poetry- It does not matter! The world is run by leaders, not poets. And today’s leaders aren’t Lincolns! Who cares what we write? And who will read it?” Ravi gulped and emptied and thrashed the beer bottle on the floor. His hands quivered and his eyes were red, and lines of despair filled his face.

“Why are you killing yourself?” Nita queried earnestly.

Ravi didn’t speak. He gathered a bundle of yellowed papers, and flung them through the window. Like dry leaves they swam in the air for a while, glistened in the afternoon glow, and lazily fell into the canal.

“Feel better now? Okay, let’s forget poetry and all. Let’s bury the hatchet, and start anew,” proposed Nita.

“Anew! What?”

“Nothing serious, dear!” she assured. “Let’s accept life as it comes … black, bruised, blistered, mundane, whatever! And Ravi I have a fantastic idea!”

“Idea?”

“Yes, tomorrow is Sunday and we’re going to visit an orphanage and pass the whole day with the children there.” Nita beamed and asked, “What do you think? Do you like my idea?”

Ravi flashed and hugged her.

The waiter rang the bell and Ravi and Nita left. Another couple entered minutes after. And the business ran as usual.

Bio- Abu Siddik edited Representation of the Marginalized in Indian Writings in English (2015), and authored Misfit Parents in Faulkner’s Select Texts (2015), Banglar Musolman (2018). His short fictions and poems appeared in Muse India, Indian Ruminations, Setu Bilingual, Spillwords.com and in the anthologies, Serious and Hilarious, Cherry Toppings, Rise to Higher Essence. Website: http://abusiddik.com/

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