Shalu’s Reel life


“You can do it,” said the old man. He had a strained voice from all the crying. He sounded like he meant it.

But I knew the truth!

I never cared when they laughed at me. I never cared when they pointed at me, stared at me or whispered bad things about me. I always found a way to not let their judgemental looks affect me. And when many acted cruel and cold towards me because of my poverty, I shrugged it off.

But when they comforted me, teared up for me and hugged me, I got offended. And I almost lost my cool.

Because I knew it was all a lie.

That’s odd. Isn’t that what I always wanted? Someone to care about me? Someone to support my actions, show faith in me, even pity me in a loving way inspite of my poor background? And didn’t I repeat to myself, when I was younger, that someday someone would care about me… And that they would make all my problems go away?

I stood in the center of it all, looking up their faces. They were staring back, some with comforting looks, others teary-eyed and pitiful. The light over my head shone so bright. It hurt my eyes, but I was adamant. I wanted to look back into their eyes. To see it all. To realize something I never thought I would have to face.

And despite everything, despite the burning inside my heart, despite my inner instincts and feelings, I smiled back.


He was happy. Euphoric, even. One of his innermost dreams had been realized.

As he steadied his hand on the mouse, he re-read the email once again. It bore the crisp words:

‘You have been selected as an audience member for our show Rely Maro presents Music Gaana Superstar on the 2nd of Feb. You id number is 216. Please grace us with your presence at 10 in the morning at…’ followed by the address.

Mr 216 yelped in pleasure, fist-pumped the air, and danced around his apartment in his boxer shorts. He could hardly believe the email. He was going on his favourite music competition show!

The day arrived. Mr 216 woke up very early, as he wanted to be ready for the occasion. He texted his family on his WhatsApp group, telling them he was getting ready to go.

He reached the place specified in the email, completed the formalities, and finally plopped himself down in the hugely comfortable chair.

He craned his neck around, trying to breathe in the whole thing. The judges sat in the middle, right in front of the stage. Big blue spotlights flashed on them. They were currently surrounded by their make up artists and crew. The director of the show seemed to be giving them some instructions. The female judge seemed to be focused more on the mirror in front of her than the words of the director. The older male judge, a sharp man in his 60s, was checking his mic, but he seemed to be the only one listening. The third judge, another popular singer and a young man, was pretending to listen, but was more focused on waving at his fans in the audience. Mr 216, a fan himself, tried to catch his attention but the third judge was looking the other way.

Mr 216 felt elated. He was seeing celebrities up close. And he was going to be listening to music. To real life music. And perhaps also be on TV.

It took 2 more hours to set everything up, an hour after that to hand out clear instructions (a screen above the audience would display emotions and the audience had to emote them. For example, it the screen flashed ‘Sighs’, the audience had to dramatically, well, sigh. Then there were other cues like ‘Laugh’, ‘Silence’, ‘Commercial’ and ‘Applause’.)

The show began another hour after that as everyone took positions. The contestants were sitting on their benches, the judges were ready, the host – a beautiful anchor in a one piece – took the stage, and so it began.

The experience was something different. Mr 216 decided that it was better to watch the music show on TV than in real life, because the real life TV show shooting was harrowing. The judges took their time in beginning their practiced speeches, the singers would make mistakes which would have to be repeated, the anchor would sometimes fumble with her punchlines, which would result in reshoots as well…

And then came the music. Since he was sitting in the fifth row, Mr 216 could not really see the singers well. There were big screens behind the singers that showed the faces of the singers, but that, Mr 216 thought, could’ve easily been accomplished at home.

He sighed. He was halfway through the now boring music show, when the next singer climbed the stage.

She was an unusual contestant. Being a thin, slightly stooping woman who looked a lot older than the rest of the contestants, she still managed to walk with grace and stand with poise. Her face was sallow and sunken, her hair halfway between gray and black. Her spectacles were thick and round. Her smile revealed crooked teeth but it was a sweet smile nevertheless. On her face was hope and elation. Something told Mr 216 that this day was the happiest day of the woman’s life.

She smiled broadly as the audience clapped hard. The anchor hugged the woman and looked at the judges, and the camera.

“So after that marvelous break, we are back with a bang. Our next contestant is the aged, but beautiful singer from the small village of-” (Mr 216 didn’t catch the name as it was long and complicated) “- Shalu auntie….”

The audience cheered and clapped more fervently. Whistles, hoots and cheers filled the air, but it seemed voluminous, especially for such a small audience. This is when Mr 216 knew how fake the noises were.

Mr 216 waited for Shalu to sing, and Shalu seemed to be waiting for same, but the anchor continued “Shalu auntie is here today to sing in front of you for the first time ever, but not before going through hell. Yes, Shalu auntie has experienced a lot many ups and downs in her life to reach this point. Shalu auntie, we feel so strongly about your history. And welcome you to our stage!”

More claps. The audience cheered on. The anchor smiled gracefully, her face radiant on cue. Shalu looked at her, and smiled some more.

“Let’s take a look…” said the anchor, and the screen behind her transitioned from weird wavy patterns of colour to a montage of Shalu’s tough past.

Mr 216 watched as the narrator of the montage explained “Shalini Parikh was born 48 years back in a small village in Maharashtra. Born to a father of 3 girls and 2 boys, she was raised by her parents in a poor household. Her father worked as a rickshaw driver while her mother taught at the local school, earning only enough to feed half her children.

“So when Shalu, now 4 and underfed, was about to turn 5, her parents welcomed another son into their home. And as a result of this, Shalu found herself in an even poorer circumstance. At the age of 9, her father died of a heart attack and her mother had to now bear the burden of 7 children on a meagre teacher’s salary. Meanwhile, Shalu had begun taking care of her siblings, whilst also showing an interest in singing.

“Finally, tragedy struck at the Parikh household when her mother, now unable to bear the troubles of 7 children, killed herself, taking 2 of the eldest daughters with her. Shalu, now only left with 4 siblings, struggled all her life to make ends meet. Never married, Shalu left her passion for music behind as she fought against destiny to live… To survive. And today, we have given her a chance to regain her love for her passion…”

Mr 216 yawned. He actually yawned, as the montage ended. He had heard such sob stories a lot of times before. He didn’t care about them, because he knew that every reality show, and a music show at that, showed atleast one sad dramatic story to gain viewers. It sickened him.

But he had to applaud. Because that’s what the screen said. So he tried to finger in eyes into tearing up, dawned the most somber face he could muster, and clapped in false sorrow. The audience accompanied him. Even the judged were now crying openly, although artificially. And that too only because the camera was on them. Shalu shed a tear too, looking sad. She wiped it off. Even the anchor hugged her.

“You can do it,” said one of the judges in a fake brittle voice and Shalu smiled and nodded at them. The female judge got up, approached Shalu, spoke some words of kindness and hugged her too. She returned back to her seat just as the anchor left the stage. And Shalu began to sing.


I finished the song, but I didn’t care anymore. Their faces has changed my perspective. I didn’t care about the prize money. I knew I wouldn’t win it anyways. Because reality was staring at my face.

When I had been selected to be a participant in this singing competition, I had thought it was my skill. I had believed it was my daily routing of stringent practicing singing that had won me this chance. But I knew better now. It had been my past, my colourful, pitiful past, that had grabbed their attention.

I screamed into the mic. My smile had vanished. I looked directly at the judges.

“So that’s why you chose me, isn’t it. Because of my father. Because of my mother. Because of my dead sisters. Because of my 4 siblings in this audience. Because you think it will garner sympathy. And that’s what will drive votes. Drive viewership.

“I had come here to sing for someone appreciates music. Who wants to give my music a try! But instead, I have come here for my story. For sympathy. I don’t want it. I don’t need it. Go to hell.”

I saw myself throwing the mic at the judges and walking off. Even though my hip was still weak, in my mind I could do anything.

But it wasn’t true. It was just something staged in my mind. Something I wanted to do, but definitely did not have the guts to. I felt sick in my stomach, because I knew I would have to comply. This was not a live show. And if I had said those things, I would be thrown out, the amount promised to me would be forgotten and everything would be over. I couldn’t let that happen.

And so, I did the most logical thing I could think of.


Shalu finished singing, and was met with applause almost at once. Even Mr 216 had to admit that for an old frail lady like this one, Shalu was gifted.

And so, when the judges had given passed their judgements, praised Shalu’s voice, she smiled brightly. But this time, something was different. Her seemingly warm smile did not meet her cold eyes. It was wrong. It felt misplaced, the smile.

Mr 216 shook his head.


I left the stage and the moment I did, I was handed the money and thrown out. I didn’t understand at first. Why was this happening to me? I had gotten great votes from the judges. Everyone had liked my performance, and yet, I was being forced out.

I yelled at them, but they didn’t care. They explained how this was a one time thing, and how the viewership had declined once they had eliminated Miss Roxanne Dhillon last week.

My short reel life was all they needed.

Dear Bleedsters,

This story is something I thought of while actually watching its real counterpart. At the moment of writing this, I am slightly sleep deprived because of which this may not be the best version of this story. I also do not claim to be an expert at knowing how these shows work behind the scenes. So excuse the inaccuracies there. Other than that, enjoy!



As always, if any of it made you smile, laugh, frown or giggle like a little baby, comment share and like! To be up-to-date with my other posts, give a like to my Facebook page and follow on Twitter if you use it! Any images used are either taken from Google Images, from my own personal collection or some other sources (which will be mentioned if and when, unless stated otherwise). Contact me if you want it removed.


When Darkness swallows you

When darkness swallows you, and you are plunged into the black abyss,

When a light switch ain’t handy, and you find no candles nearby,

A rustle occurs, outside your window,

And accompanying it, is a ghost saying hi.

Is the noise from the white pale spirit, or the leaves of a tree that whisper strange things?

Is the ghost flying from branch to branch,

With unseeing eyes, unspeaking mouth and crumpled leathery wings?

How then did it say hi, and leave you in such fear?

Don’t worry, my love, don’t even shed a tear.

Because your mind is your friendliest friend and your antagonistic foe,

And it played tricks on you, it was all just for show.

Bid the darkness goodbye, sweet pea, just close your eyes,

And remember your family, friends and good things like love having a place in your life!

This poem is a one shot and a one short! It is dedicated to and inspired by a friend of mine, who literally suggested the first line of this post. To my friend, Miss Messi Missi.

As always, if any of it made you smile, laugh, frown or giggle like a little baby, comment share and like! To be up-to-date with my other posts, give a like to my Facebook page and follow on Twitter if you use it! Any images used are either taken from Google Images, from my own personal collection or some other sources (which will be mentioned if and when, unless stated otherwise). Contact me if you want it removed.

The Dream full of Magic

I sit on the edge of my seat, studying the man in front of me as I see him doing the impossible. But I know for a fact that in spite of the hovering man, and in spite of the minute, colorful sparkles that emanate from my fingers, making him hover, it is surely all just a big dream.

Let me explain.

As do most of my stories, why should this one start any different? It was a day like any other. December had come and gone, and half a month had withered away in cold. Mid-january had brought with it a confusing climate. Everyone was confounded with whether they needed a jacket or not. Wearing one would prove to be too hot but it’s absence would make them all shiver. Wintery winds were, at least for now, all but extinguished.

It was a day like any other, as I said before. Except for one tiny detail. I had suddenly started to do magic.

Crazy, I know. My normal routine was disturbed by my new found abilities. All I had to do was wake up, get ready, go to work in a cab that I would probably have to share with 8 other people, reach the office premises, work for 9 more hours and then come back home. But as I realised the magical skills within me, I took a long detour from my usual path.

It began something like this: I woke up with a small tingling sensation in my right arm’s fingers. At first, I thought it was just the excessive self-gratification* (just kidding!), but it turned out that tiny yellow and electric blue sparks were jetting out of them. It was a vaguely funny feeling. I almost KNEW what had to be done.

I slowly glanced at my roommate’s bed. It was empty. I knew for a fact that he had left early. I double checked the house nevertheless. It was empty. And so, I raised my right arm, pointed it at the ugly mirror on the wall opposite to my bed, and whispered “Crack, you piece of sh-!”… the mirror broke up into several pieces.

The floor below it was littered with jagged pieces of silvered glass. I marveled at the scene. Had that really happened? Had I really made that happen? Was it real?

I chuckled. Somewhere at the back of my mind, I knew it was a dream. And so I decided to humour my subconscience.

My smile turned upside down. Damn it. I would have to clear up the broken mirror now. But wait, I thought to myself. I could just clear up the pieces of broken mirror with magic!

The brilliant idea laid the foundation of my first big magic spell. I raised my right arm, pointed it at the floor and said “Clear up!”

As if on command, the pieces of mirror picked themselves up the floor and marched across the room to the dustbin in the next room. It was fascinating to see it unfold in front of my eyes. My subconscience was being really creative this morning.

I got dressed lightning fast, and jumped down the stairs. I reached the cab stand so fast, panting and out of breath. You see, magic does not increase one’s intelligence, or else I would’ve simply used magic again to go to office. But me, being silly old me, decided to not only run to the cab stand, but sit in one.

The cab system where I live is such that 9 or 10 people are squeezed into one small car as they are ferried to a common destination. I was one of them. Discomfort and fear mingled in my brains like a tonic. The discomfort was from me being squeezed by Mr Old Fat Man. The fear was from the silly realization that if I had magic, someone else did too. And what if an evil person had magic? Worse, what if they tried to kill me? And what if that made me wake up?


Stop being silly, it’s only a dream, I consoled myself. A plethora of fantasy TV shows and countless rereadings of Harry Potter had made me paranoid. I swallowed my fear as the cab began rushing through the traffic at top speed.

As the fear subsided, the discomfort did not. It only seemed to grow. And Mr Old Fat guy was being particularly hard to sit next to. So, I did the only thing I could.

No, not politely tell him to adjust in his seat. I gots magic now, bitch. I discreetly pointed my right arm at him and whispered “Comfort me!”

In all fairness, the words were nonsensical. But the magic didn’t need a sensible string of words. At my behest, the cab expanded from a small car into a large bus. I knew for a fact that from the outside the car looked the same. But the inside was a different matter.

Moreover, the other passengers seemed to not notice the new improvement I had made to the car. How strange. I was digging this dream.

The car sped on. As we reached a quarter of the way, the worse thing happened. The car broke down. I groaned in unison with the others. The driver looked apologetic. He tried to calm us down as some shouts erupted from the back seats, and rushed to fix the problem.

I would like to point out once more how stupid I am. The moment the car broke down, I should’ve used my magic to start it back up. But even in my dream, I was being utterly slow and brainless. It took me several moments, and the driver several failed attempts at starting the car, to jump start me into using magic.

I silently pointed at the steering wheel and whispered, together with the mini Rihanna that was dancing in my head in the morning, “Work work work work work!”

The car began to work. The engine began to hum melodiously. There were even some claps. The driver hopped back in and launched the car into a speeding frenzy. It weaved around the traffic smartly.

Did I say smartly? I meant rashly. And in so doing, the car collided with an oncoming truck.

It was a split second thing. I could see the scene unfold against my eyes. Panic rushed through my head faster than my mind could comprehend. The car swerved to its side, it’s door flying open (thank you old fat man for not locking the doors correctly!) and the driver and the passenger at the old fat man’s side flying off.

There was panic and confusion everywhere. People were screaming. I was groaning. My dream was slipping out of my control. It was turning for the worst. And I needed to stop.

The driver was clearly dead. His rash driving had cost him his life. I could do nothing more than gawk at his mangled body spread across the truck’s bottom. The passenger however was still flying across the road, apparently fast asleep.

I looked around at others. They were still craning their necks around slowly, at an agonisingly slow pace. Why were they so slow? And then it hit me – they weren’t slow… I was fast!

The magic, whatever it was, was making me see moments at lightspeed. I could see that the driver’s life was out of my hands but the passenger’s wasn’t. I immediately pointed my right arm at the flying man and said “Save him!”

Sparks flew out of my fingers enthusiastically. If others could see, they would think a light show was going in broad daylight. The sparks hit the man as he hovered inches from the ground. He was neither injured nor harmed. He was simply FLYING in the air like a balloon. He was still unconscious.

And then time sped up. Everyone was not staring at the deceased driver, or the hovering passenger. They were staring at me. And my still sparkling right arm.

Awestruck, they watched as I desperately tried to end this nightmare. They were staring at me out of fear and mystery. They were fascinated by me.

Wake up, wake up, wake up, I repeated under my breath. I pointed my arm at myself and said the same. Nothing happened. As one of the onlookers approached me slowly, I backed away into the wreckage of the car. The other passengers had either crawled out or were helping others. But their eyes were on me.

I mused at the situation. This dream was becoming weirder and weirder as time passed on. But it was definitely seeming like a memorable one. The onlooker was nearly at my side now. She had a queer look to her. Her eyes were wide, her arms broad and open. And I smiled to myself. Any moment now, I was going to wake up. And I would have to take the actual cab to actual work without anything remotely eventful happening.

And as I contemplated whether to write a blog post on this dream, and if I would remember it when I woke up, the onlooker leaned in. She grabbed one of my arms, smiled with her crooked, red stained teeth and pinched me.

A horrible, fleeting realization struck me harder than a kinky husband consensually** spanking his submissive wife. And before I knew it, I was confronting a horrible truth:

The dream full of magic… was not a dream. Fuck.

*I don’t know why I put this silly joke in, a crass attempt at humour I guess.

**Added the consensually to avoid controversy.

As always, if any of it made you smile, laugh, frown or giggle like a little baby, comment share and like! To be up-to-date with my other posts, give a like to my Facebook page and follow on Twitter if you use it! Any images used are either taken from Google Images, from my own personal collection or some other sources (which will be mentioned if and when, unless stated otherwise). Contact me if you want it removed.