I was surfing the internet and came across – QUEST, the Indian Express initiative covering over 50 schools in Delhi and NCR, wherein readers were invited to express themselves in 55 words. That reminded me of this literary genre of Nanofiction or 55-fiction and I decided to experiment with this form of story-writing.
I didn’t think it would be a tough job because there are a million of stories running around my head most of the time, and I am trained to write concisely by virtue of my job. As a technical writer/editor, we are supposed to be crisp, concise and precise, and I generally follow two rules –
1. A sentence should not exceed 7-8 words and
2. A set of procedural steps or bullet points should not exceed 8-10 lines.
I have tried to abide by these two rules in my professional writing and my colleagues will also agree to the fact that as a reviewer/editor, I am always chopping out words from their sentences. (They must hate me for this, as each word is very precious to a writer!)
So, when I decided to dabble with 55-fiction, I expected it be cakewalk. It wasn’t. It’s very difficult to contain thoughts in as little as 55-words, while maintaining a plot, characters, conflict, resolution and the shock element. After I jotted down the storylines, a lot of time was spent on editing and redoing the sentences to reach the magic number. I finally have five stories in place that I am sharing here.
I, am, however, enjoying this exercise, and I believe it’s a great form of self-training for aspiring writers and is also packed with intense creative satisfaction. I hope to experiment more with 55-fiction, for I have always been an avid story-teller!
Calmly she floated towards the glimmer at the end of the tunnel. The momentum was interrupted by confused voices in her head. She hung in limbo; feeling nauseated as the voices coaxed her to retreat from the tunnel. Startled, she opened her eyes. The anesthesia had worn-off. She still wonders if she had a Near-Death-Experience.
“Your child will never sleep hungry.” The pundit predicted. The father gratefully extended a token amount of 11 Rs and went home happy.
Mohan is a healthy 10-year old, who never sleeps hungry and frequently samples tasty food. The meals come as a perk with his regular job of cleaning dishes at Chaudhary ka Dhabba.
She looked around, biding time in the traffic jam, and caught his bored glance. The frequency of their coincidental meetings left a sweet pang in her heart.
“Of course, it had to be so!” she murmured when she saw him dining with his wife. She continued to wait for her husband in the hotel lobby.
Her death left him lost, confused and hungry. A day had passed since he had eaten. All these years he ate, slept, spoke and acted as she had commanded him to. He was afraid to fix up a meal lest she suddenly walked in and admonished him for fiddling around in her kitchen!
He always ate lunch alone, gazing out of the glass window. She thought he was lonely and decided to befriend him.
She shared her meals with him and she shared her heart and soul. He also adored her and specially invited her to his wedding.
The new recruit always saw her eating lunch alone…
The incessant tapping on the window was distressing. I cautiously flung the door open. It remained oblivious to the escape route, ardently struggling against the glass pane.
Suddenly, with a flutter of wings the pigeon hovered around the room, saw the open space and flew away. A broader perspective is indeed required to notice prospects.
We kept in touch through chat messengers. I enjoyed innumerable, private chats, always imagining his expressions and demeanor.
Three months later, he returned from his trip. I was shocked to meet this stranger. Over time and space, my mind’s eyes had cradled an impression of him in my own likeness, not as he actually was.
Her voice was reminiscent of sunlit winter afternoons when women guarded the washed grain drying on charpoys, and tittle-tattled conspiringly. The voice was endearing; the pitch perfect, the tone reflecting a “know-it-all” attitude, and her stories always had an audience. It, however, annoyed me as it disrupted my attention, reaching across the office cubicle walls.
These stories are also cross-posted on: http://55-words.blogspot.com/