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A full time IT professional, a toastmaster & a motivated budding writer.
Neha loved writing since she was a kid. She wrote quite a few short stories and poems and even maintained a secret journal. But in the phase of growing up, the writing habit faded away & the passion took a backseat. Life then simply happened and everything else took priority over writing.
The year of Coronavirus, the lockdown year or you call it the year of 2020, was the time when she got to meet her passion again and was able to ignite the fire.
She is looking forward to take-up writing more seriously & consistently.
She shares her life with her loving & supportive husband!
He is also her mentor & guide, and she looks up to him for any advice, review and feedback.
You can find her stories on Reedsy profile here -> https://tinyurl.com/1uosxzm1
You can find her on Twitter -> https://twitter.com/Neha85388897
“Alkhal, he was hanged years before I was born. I have heard of him though, who hasnt. What a tyrant he was. Why do you desire to meet him? You will have to commit unforgivable sins and then die a horrific death to go meet him in hell.” the kid told with sarcasm. Hussein was in a state of shock. The once prosperous city, was in shambles around him and this little young fellow tells him he is a tyrant, committed many sins and was hanged! He knew he wasn't a saint during his lifetime, but this is not what he expected to see in the future. It took him couple of minutes to get out of that state of shock, leave behind the mourning and responded, “ Oh yes Sibi, you know I am growing old and keep forgetting, losing my memory slowly. Could you help me find out something more about him?”, requested Hussein. The boy although puzzled by the man's request but who cares what the man wants to read and know, after all he was going to get paid.” Sure, look here, let me show you! He then starts showing him articles on Wikipedia, “See, here you can read all you want to know about him”. “Look at this, on this video sharing platform you will find many videos on him. You want to watch his hanging video, it is one of the most shared and watched videos of all time, let me show you, “tells the boy and here in first time in human history a man watches the video of his own death. Hussein tried to control his trembling hands and with his lower eyelid filled with his own salty water, he took the gadget from the young boy's hand and found himself lost in the several videos of the war torn country he once proudly called his motherland. He wondered what on earth instigated him to fight against his own Persian neighbours. His people killed, for what reasons he only kept wondering! Why on earth these civilized people burned down one of the oldest civilizations known to mankind? Were the early plunders by the Mongols and the Greeks and the British were any less? The more he used the search engine to look for what has happened in over 40 years, the more he was grieved and saddened. His sons were killed, his legacy destroyed, his holy motherland plundered; transportation , roadways and bridges, sanitation facilities , electrical grids all destroyed taking the country back a century of its progress; for the sake of finding weapons of mass destruction which were never found? “Which weapons was George looking for? the ones he gave us to fight the Persian neighbours?” To his utter shock, the very land he loved and respected was toiled by multiple raging wars and crimes done by the West, and he was been blamed for all the ill doings. he was held accountable, whereas the West were credited with “trying to liberate” the people. His blood boiled, his eyes wettened, he was lost in thoughts, he couldn't think what he did wrong that let his people suffer so badly. He is now known as the man for who inflicted heinous human rights violations; and on the other hand the people behind mass killings of his people, destruction of one of the fastest growing economy are termed as heroes, their actions justified and his labelled cruel. The same UN whose subsidiary UNESCO had just couple of years ago awarded him for indicating illiteracy from Iraq has now termed him as one of the worst terrorists of his times. Can a man who spent his life for liberation and education of specially the women of his nation, be a terrorist instigation crime against the same people? He recalled his 50-year-old speech - “Women make up one half of society. Our society will remain backward and in chains unless its women are liberated, enlightened and educated.” How have the world forget that my country was amongst the first countries to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women? He went down the memory lane and remembers how under his regime the women in government got a full year's maternity leave, something not granted even today in many countries across the world. He is deeply disappointed on the thought of being condemned, considered one of the worst enemies of humanity and someone who should have been killed ages ago. George is praised for eliminating “terror” and “oppressed regime of one of the worst dictators”. How he wished he would be remembered not as the worst dictator of the western propaganda soothing their ulterior motives and ever-wanting greed for supremacy over oil. But as a ruler who loved and wanted prosperity for his motherland. He doesn't want to know more, he had seen enough of the dark future, he couldn't see the devastation all around his motherland. He wanted to go back! Back to the good ‘ol days!He thanked the little boy for his generosity. Emptied out his pocket of all the dinars & handed it over to the boy as promised. He turned back & walked on the streets as if for the last time. He regretted the decision of coming to witness the future for what he saw only crippled his mind & ambitions further.
Sometimes it can be quite daunting to justify your actions and thoughts to people around you; the varying cultural, the geographical conditions and when you are dead you don't even stand a chance. “Time travel always fascinated me, and the western movies added fuel to my explorative mind. I always wondered how it would be to travel to the future. Learn the secrets behind new inventions and bring the thoughts back to the present, rather past. It would be so exciting to have a futuristic better life in our present.”, wrote Hussein in his tiny pocket diary. He created this machine and powered it with the left over depleted uranium, the wastes from the city's electrical power plants; unaware of the fact that the West had their eyes on him, unmindful that they were oblivious of its usage, presuming and believing that he was getting his hands dirty by investing in weapons of mass destruction. His previous invention of machine going into past was a success, he had gone back into 4000 BC and spent a couple of days observing the way of life in the old capital of Mesopotamia. He was mesmerized by the advanced civilization which he couldn't imagine existed millenniums ago. He was at the same time saddened by the thought that the humble and peace loving prosperity seeking people were looted and plundered, first by the far east and then by the west; Destroying the rich culture, heritage, knowledge and experiences . Re-writing it with stories of heroic invasions glorified wars and successful territorial expansions, not highlighting the devastation and destruction of a civilized race that brought with it. He didn't want history to be repeated; although not from the ancient era and much in line with the modern 20th century, all he wanted for his people were to live in peace & prosperity. He didn't care for world power but to empower his people in the right direction. His curiosity in inventions and the concept of time always intrigued and encouraged him to invest his time, energy, and resources into things very few would have imagined from a national leader. Having seen the past, he now wanted to travel to the future. He didn't know what to expect but was certainly hopeful of how beneficial it would be to go to the future, learn a thing or two and implement great ideas now. Little did he know his mere vision of a prosperous nation was the excuse the west was planning to use in order to destroy the land he loved and respected the most. “Finally, the day is here “, Hussein told Al Abor, his best friend in whom he could confide; he is the only one he trusted, after all how could a horse leak out secrets or go about gossiping . His machine was ready and now he only had to turn the key to operate it and take him to the year 2030. He lands up in the future of a war-torn Iraq, the once beautiful city of Babylon is today under ruins. He was cautious of not exposing his face to the locals, as he was pretty sure people might identify him. So, he partially covered his head and face with a scarf without creating any suspicion with anyone and walked around the city exploring the devastated future. “Hey kid “, he called out to a young teenager whom he spotted on a lonely street looking into the screen, and curiously asked, “What are you doing? Could you help me?” The young lad looked up to the man with a dark colored scarf covering almost half of his face and dressed in some old-fashioned clothes. “How can I help you?”, responded the boy. Hussein offered to pay the kid some dinars if he helped him to use his cellphone and search for some information. The teenage was at first cautious but then when he saw a pocket full of dinars he was delighted and readily agreed to help him. The first thing they searched was some facts about the land. He found that the famous hanging gardens which were already destroyed centuries ago but had a special mention in their history was now declared by the Western archeologists to have never existed and proven to be merely a myth. A myth? He wondered. As he went ahead and learnt more, he was terrified and disgusted to know that under the propaganda of a “new liberated Nation” the religious Sharia Law was introduced in his previously liberal and secular country. “Is everything written on this pad true or imaginary?”, asked Hussein referring to the information he was seeing on the internet. “Are you kidding me Alkhal,” laughed the boy,” this is the internet, everything here is true. This is the source of information for all” added the boy! “Ok, could you tell me where Saddam Hussein lives now?”, enquired Hussein. “You mean his burial ground? The one who was hanged?”, replied the kid. Hussein was puzzled to hear this. He was sure the kid must be referring to someone else perhaps.” No, the ruler of the country”, he responded. The kid looked surprised and wondered if the old man has lost his memory or has escaped from a mental asylum.
Their eyes interlocked and she started to walk towards him. Now he was sure it was her. The moment Tina saw Max, she was blown away at first sight like she had never been before. She had forgotten all questions she had lined up for the evening and the new additions for the next day. She walked towards him like she had been waiting for him for ages and as if they knew each other since time immemorial. From the bold and strong lady, she used to be, she was suddenly the timid one, lacking words for even a small talk, as she approached him, she was at complete loss of words. “Hey “, she finally uttered the only words that she could. “sorry to keep you waiting, the flight got delayed due to bad weather”, apologized Max. “That's ok, “replied Tina, before giving Max a side hug, “Lets get the cab”, she suggested. She booked a cab via her phone app and in about 10 mins they were onboard towards her apartment. They were both seated on the opposite edge of the cab rear seat, too shy to make a move or get closer. There was an awkward silence with Tina wondering on how to make Max comfortable as she was the host, and Max wondering the same for the gentleman he was. “And that is how granny and grandpa met”, exclaimed Grandpa, “now go off to bed kids– the rest will be continued later. It is time for bed now”.
Incoming Text. Phone Buzzing. “So what you doing for Christmas?” “I have annual holidays. Planning to take a short solo trip” “Lucky you, I don't have any annual leaves for Christmas this year, rather I am working. Am glad it's a long weekend though” “I have an idea, if you don't mind” “yes, please” “I can travel to your city and can share new years eve together in case you don't have any other plans” “Awesome, I am glad you asked. I am anyways new to this city and had absolutely no plans. I would be grateful” “Ok, then , Let me get the flight & stay booked” “Stay? You can just crash over to my place” “You sure?” “Absolutely” “Ok!” This is their 3rd day of chat over the dating app they had been using In the era of modern technology, online dating, virtual meetings, it was but inevitable that they wouldn't have been affected by it. It is still not widely accepted that online dating , blind dating apps can lead to real life relationships; it is considered a way of getting into casual relationships if you know what I mean; fun filled evenings, perhaps nights and a follow up date if you are really lucky. People swipe in, meet up and the story ends before another starts to end soon again; the cycle goes on. But Tina was making use of the technology to her advantage in a very different way than it was intended. Tina , a psychology final year PhD student was working on her thesis on human behavior on how strangers interact in a created environment like a date vs. non- created environment like public transport, departmental stores, malls, etc. and she found a very fun way of finding characters for her thesis. She signed up for a popular dating app, swiped left and right, choose interesting personalities which she would decide over couple of chats and finally meet up with them. Her agenda was very crisp and clear, she would talk to her date, ask a list of questions which she had almost memorized by now; after all she didn't want her date to feel like they were being interviewed, it would then defeat the purpose of her analysis. She had met over a dozen people this way. Although she had to abandon some dates midway due to the wild twists and unsolicited turns they took, but overall, her experience was going well. At least she was making good progress on her thesis. As soon as she would board the return cab from her dates, she ensured that she immediately took notes before she would forget any points. But her next scheduled date was a little different. For the first time someone was flying down to see her from her city. She had gotten herself into the role of a host, almost carried away forgetting the agenda of her dates in the first place. She had got herself into a soup and now she had to drink it all. It was finally D day, she met her date at the pre-planned destination right outside the airport. Her list of questions were running over her mind and she was recalling the new ones she had added onto her list. Max was an introvert, but friendly next-door neighbor guy. He was the one whom you could call at 2pm in the night and he would ensure he got you out of trouble. He was the one you could count on. But he wasn't a very social creature, he preferred reading books at home to going out to the park for a picnic, choose spending hours making a meal from scratch rather than order go to a fine dining at a popular resto. But dates are different, and he was in a new city , he had to do his research on where can they go, which places would be ideal for a date; His mind was running over the schedule for the next two days; although he was a guest, he was planning as if he were the host. He was nothing less than being an idealist. While he was in the flight, he was trying to recall what triggered him to catch a flight and fly 1000 miles for a date? Was it worth it? He knew deep within that there was something special about this feeling; meeting someone he hasn't seen before, flying away miles, plans of spending the new years eve with someone he had just known via texts for less than a week. It sounded crazy to him, but he tried hard to convince himself that he didn't decide on this at the split of a wrong moment, rather he believed and trusted his instincts. The flight landed, he didn't have anything except his cabin luggage so he straight walked out the exit and tried to match the face on the profile pic with the girls around him and in about a couple of seconds he was about to find the most suitable match.
It was time for sunset before Saanvi could even realize and reluctantly, she had to make way for home. She put the veena on the coir stand at top of the jute cot right under the staircase, which has been its home for years now; bid guruji goodbye and got rolling on her bicycle. After 40 mins she was back home, where she saw her father just got back from his tailoring shop waiting for her mother to be back from the local clinic where she worked as a part time sales lady, also managing the accounts for the clinic. It was their usual evening routine, when her father helped prepare tea for all and her mother started prepping for dinner. Her old granny also assisted whenever she liked, although she preferred just lying around in the courtyard enjoying the cool breeze at sunset after the blazing daytime and talk to Saanvi about her day. Today wasn't any different besides her cousin from the nearby street came running along with some freshly made samosas. It was granny's favorite thing to have with tea. Saanvi's aunt usually made some extras savories and send it across for granny and Saanvi. It was going to be a nice tea treat!