Underneath the skin: Paradoxes of Identity

Here's a short story I wrote for a Fiction Writing Workshop organised by my Indiblogger friends The Fool and C. Suresh. Thanks to The Fool for the interesting plot. You can check out my entry here: http://indifictionworkshop.blogspot.in/2012/09/no-title-again.html

and about the workshop here: http://indifictionworkshop.blogspot.in/2012/09/plot-for-exercise-1.html







'The township of Ur is guarded by an army of a hundred and fifty goblins, not only are we outnumbered, their strength will be no match to ours', cried Daenerys to the elders of the council. Several murmured their approval.

'So suggest we lie low, build our strength and then come back to this when we're ready', Daenerys finished, looking around the group confidently.

'If wars were to be one by numbers alone, nobody would bother turning up on the field.'

Heads turned to locate where the calm, steady voice was coming from. It was Strider. As always, nobody had noticed him join the group, but now that he had spoken, every eye was fixed on him.

'Seizing Ur is the only chance we have of securing a path way to the heart of the Kingdom. I believe that if every member of our clan plays his role and plays it well, there will be no cause for failure.'

'But even if we put numbers aside, the strength of us mortals is nothing compared to the magical goblins!', retorted Daenerys, determined to convince the council,'Waging a war in thees circumstances would spell doom. Even if we won, we would not be able to hold the seat for too long, given our depleted army.'

'At least, you've conceded we may win. I consider the job half done already. Now, to the point of strength. Yes, the goblins have many magical powers, but they also have an unusual weakness...I observed them, lying low at Barty's Diner...',and so on went Strider, describing his strategy in detail.

Daenerys, though frustrated with the way things were going, could not hide her amazement at the brilliance of Strider's plan. She wracked her brains over it, but could not find anything wrong with his analysis.
'This man is a genius!', she found herself thinking while voting in favor of the plan along with the others.

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'...Don't lose your grip on dreams of the past


You must fight to keep them alive


It's the eye of the tiger


It's the thrill of the fight...'






Meghana rolled over and turned off the alarm. It could not be six thirty already, she complained, looking at the alarm clock with a half open eye. Grudgingly, she got out of bed and started getting ready for work. She'd slept for only three hours and looked like a mess. She considered taking the day off but then decided against it. 'Boss needs me today', she thought.






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The offices of India One Solutions Pvt Ltd were located in the IT hub of the city. They were tall and sleek, much like any other corporate building, nothing special there.

The door to the third floor beeped open as Meghana Arora walked in. Her sharp heels struck the floor with a *clunk* noise. Immediately the passageway to her cabin cleared.


*clunk clunk clunk*


Ties straightened, shirts were tucked in, half-eaten lunch boxes were done away with.


*clunk clunk clunk*


Individual cries of 'Good Morning Ma'am' replaced the gossip and chuckles that had filled the office five minutes back.


*clunk clunk clunk*


Meghana was thirty one, smart and good-looking. She was riding the wave of professional success. She walked in to work with an air of dominance. Her black skirt fitted her form snugly but her hair were neatly tied in a bun. She was a control freak. She abhorred disorderliness and indiscipline. This was why she was the boss. This was why she didn't have many friends. But, let's get to that later.

*clunk clunk clunk*

Meghana looked at the throng of faces around her, immersed in work. Buzzing away like drone bees, making sweet honey for her. Honey that will take her another step up the ladder. Take her closer to her goal, her destiny...

The office floor was transformed into a stretch of sand. She was riding a horse. Her clan, her Khalasar followed behind. She had to build an army, she had to go to war. I am the Khaleesi, the most powerful woman in the world and the throne is my birth right.


A smile crossed her lips as she drew this analogy and it was with this smile that she met Arup.


Arup worked with OIS as the IT technician. He had a small cubicle at the corner where he lazed around all day, fixing minor issues with the staff computers, so that they could work on bigger and more intense ones. In short, he lead a glamorless existence. Not that he deserved it, though. His only fault was that he was born on the wrong side of the town. But after all the struggle he had faced, he was more than happy to lead a secure life as a part of the OIS machinery.


Arup had 'heard' Meghana's arrival and was now looking at her expectantly as she made her way to his desk.


'Good Morning, Ma'am'


'Morning, Arup. See me in my cabin in an hour.'


'Yes, sure..', he started to say, but Meghana had started walking towards the CEO's cabin. Vinod, the CEO, was another swashbuckling product of a top Business School, like Meghana. The other advantage of his profile was that he was the only one who could exercise some control over her.

(Note: Khalasar and Khaleesi are terms belonging to George Martin's 'A Song of Ice and Fire'. Khalasar refers to a clan of warriors and Khaleesi is the title given to their queen. I have picked up Daenerys from the book too.)
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'Yes, Vinod, I get your point, but with the right strategy, we could take on this project!Give me a chance..'

'Meghana, we do not have the workforce required for something as big as this. I had hoped you would realize that.'

'But, Vinod, give me one chance to present my plan before the Board, I..'

'Save your breath, Meghana. The Board will never agree.'






Fuming, Meghana turned around and walked back to her cabin. The CEO's stark disapproval of her radical new scheme had wiped off whatever admiration she had once held for him. She had expected him to be innovative and open, but he was just another safe-player, going by the rules in the textbook. She sat down at her desk and looked at her laptop screen. A smile lighted up her face. A screenshot of last night's successful war adorned her desktop. Strider took centrestage, mounted on his dark horse, holding the Kingdom's sharpest blade.
Meghana recalled how, at every obstacle, they had turned to Strider and he had never failed them. 'What a thinker!', thought Meghana, 'I bet he has never shied away from a task, no matter how daunting.' She started comparing his attitude and skills with Vinod's. 'He is a natural leader', she concluded, 'how gratifying must it be to work under him, with him.' She started imagining him as a top executive somewhere, making aggressive decisions and impressing everybody with his ability. Color rose to her cheeks...

A knock on the door snapped her right out of her reverie. It was Arup. The air of dominance returned to her demenaour as she asked him what he wanted.






'Uhh...you'd asked me to come by, remember?', he stated meekly.

'Oh!Right!Come on in. There seems to be a problem with the LAN connection in here', she told him, hastily changing the desktop background.






'Hmm...let me have a look..', Arup went over to examine her connection.
'You look really tired today, Ma'am', he said, glancing at the circles beneath her eyes.

'Couldn't catch much sleep last night', she replied curtly.






'A hot cup of green tea with a dash of lemon in it always freshens me up!.'

'I wouldn't even bother with the tea if all I had to do was look over some wires', Meghana thought to herself, yawning.

'There you go!As good as ever!', exclaimed Arup.

Meghana gave him a thanks and a smile as he turned to go.

'Oh and one more thing Arup', Meghana started, riding on a sudden brainwave,'suppose there was this online role playing game...'

'MMORG, you mean?'






'Ah, yes. I was wondering if you could help me identify the identity of a player', she blurted, looking him in the eye.






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Interesting? Read the full post here:
http://indifictionworkshop.blogspot.in/2012/09/no-title-again.html












2 comments:

Words are always welcome.
Appreciative or critical- I'm waiting to hear from you.