Contest 12: Remember Me

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Now CLOSED for entries. Final Date was: Friday, 30th January, 2015. If you missed this contest, don’t worry! The next one is coming up shortly.

And just like that, we’re onto Contest 12. That means we’ve been going pretty much steamroller-like for 24 weeks now, which is close to six months. While there is good cause to celebrate that such a nice thing has been going for such a long time, let’s not jinx it by saying – or even thinking! – many good things about it. It’s been fun, and long may it last.

Topic

For a long time now, I’ve been thinking of doing a contest where the prompt is short and snappy. Many writing prompts that you find on the internet are what I call ‘situational’ prompts, which go something like: ‘You wake up one morning in a strange place, and when you reach out for your glasses, you find that your had touches…’ (Incidentally, that’s one of my biggest fears: that I will wake up one day and not find my glasses next to me.)

Such long, meandering prompts are good, and we may do some of them soon enough, but I prefer short prompts, preferably one or two words long. These prompts necessarily don’t describe much of the situation but aim to communicate emotion as succinctly as possible.

So for today, the prompt is

Remember Me

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A few points to note:

1. You’re free to punctuate at will. That means you can choose to put an exclamation, question mark, a period, an ellipsis, a semi colon or anything you want after ‘Me’ to make it whatever you wish. But these two words should ideally appear in your piece, unless the meaning is so utterly clear that you don’t need them.

2. This prompt travels across genres. Your first thought may go to romance, but there is significant room here for nostalgia, science fiction, fantasy, a thriller, or even horror. In fact, one of Mary Higgins Clark’s novels – a rather dark haunted house story – is titled ‘Remember Me’.

3. Fiction, poetry, essay or mood piece – you decide.

4. Use the images littered all over this post as inspiration.

5. The word limit is 500 words. (Yes, I decided to spike it up from 300 because no one’s staying under it anyway.)

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How do you enter the contest?

It doesn’t get simpler. You leave a comment to this post. If you leave two comments, they will count as two separate entries. The maximum number of entries you can submit is three. If you leave more than three comments, I won’t tell you off (I’m too nice for that) but I will only pick the first three.

What’s the prize?

A Flipkart e-gift voucher worth 500 Indian rupees. It looks like this.

Flipkart-Voucher

No, you can’t touch it, but you can buy things – especially books! – with it. If you live outside of India, your choices are limited to e-books because Flipkart doesn’t deliver internationally (yet).

How is the winner selected?

Each comment will be rated on three things:

1. Clarity: We should understand what you’re trying to say. Good grammar and punctuation will help. So will a reasonable structure to your entry. Beginning, middle and end.

2. Personal Touch: We’re interested in getting to know you better. So go for depth, specificity and honesty. In narrative pieces, the deeper you take us with you into the scene, the better it is.

3. Beauty of the writing: Make your words sing. Give rich sensory detail. Describe well. Transport us to to your world. Be cogent, crisp and clear.

The above three criteria are ranked in the order of importance. So clarity is more important than personal touch. And personal touch is more important than evocative writing.

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Rules/Guidelines/Suggestions

1. The closing date for comments/entries is Friday, the 30th of January, 2014. The winner will be announced on Sunday, the 1st of February, 2015. (Allow a day or two as ‘grace period’ in case there are too many entries.)

2. When you enter comments on this blog, you will find a separate text box asking for your email. I recommend that you enter your email into this, so that I will have a way of contacting you in case you win. Rest assured that I will not use your contact information for any other purpose, shady or otherwise.

3. Sexually explicit or offensive material will be deleted at my discretion.

4. Avoid plagiarism. I will check for it, and remove entries that I think are lifted from elsewhere.

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And finally…

Have fun! If you think this is the sort of thing your friends would enjoy, share this post with them and invite them to participate. You can share it with just a click on the sharing buttons below.

Images Courtesy: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5


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Comments

  1. ESTRANGED:

    Cats and dogs
    Fell from the sky,
    Furious smooth breeze
    From the west went by.
    The dark gray umbrella
    Lacked a patch of blue,
    The ambience gave no indications
    Of afternoon two.
    Being the first annual rain,
    People ran helter-skelter,
    In shops, under trees, in temples,
    They searched for shelter.

    In a church entered a drenched old man,
    Angry as if from a combat,
    But immediately was his scowl erased
    At the sight of the lady who sat,

    In white head to toe, on a bench;
    The rest of the church deserted.
    The old lady turned at the sound of footsteps,
    And into a smile her lips converted.

    Both stared at each other continuously,
    Without allowing their eyes to blink;
    Both expected the other to approach first;
    Both’s eyes were too wimp.

    ‘Do you remember that it was the same place
    Where we had met first?
    When the first contact of our eyes
    Had let our hearts burst?

    Do you remember the golden days,
    When we were madly in love?
    When for each of us, the other
    Was always all above?

    When neither kith nor kin mattered?
    When we were lost in the land of cupid?
    When we wrote our names on each other’s hand?
    O, that was so stupid!’

    Grinned the sexagenarian,
    At these thoughts of their past.
    ‘Why did life stop so suddenly?’ he thought,
    ‘Why didn’t our love last?’

    She started answering all his questions,
    As if she read his mind.
    All those things, which she hid from him,
    She started to unwind.

    “Not more than you, not less than you,
    Did I love you, O Guru!
    And all those words, all promises
    Which I made, too were true.

    I remember this place; I remember our meeting;
    I remember our first kiss.
    I remember those gifts; I remember those roses;
    Those days even I do miss.

    But I’d always hidden a fact from you,
    Which I still don’t feel guilty about.
    That though in my heart it was only you,
    In my kidney a cancer had sprout.

    I could neither live, nor could I die,
    Leaving droplets in your eyes.
    I suddenly disappeared for you to hate me,
    I would have left you in grief otherwise.”

    The old man was left astonished by two things
    The other being more vital.
    ‘How did she read the questions in my mind?’ he thought,
    ‘How did she survive the fatal?’

    “I didn’t,” she replied in a tone most casual,
    “I resigned to fate, I did die.”
    “Then how come,” asked the confounded old man,
    “Are you standing in front of my eye?”

    “I’m dead, O Guru, I’m not alive,
    Your tryst is with my soul.
    I had to elope the heavens above,
    Just to tell you the truth as whole.

    I know that you’ll ask why I come now,
    I could’ve come right after my demise.
    But had I come immediately,
    I would’ve still brought rains in your eyes.

    I awaited the time when even my smallest reference
    Would’ve erased from your debate.
    I waited to get totally out of your mind,
    To exist for you as neither love nor hate.

    Goodbye, O Guru, and don’t forget,
    That by me you’ve never been betrayed.
    You always were my first and last love,
    And so till date you’ve stayed.”

    And before the man could even open his mouth,
    From the lady came the brightest light ever.
    And before he could cover his eyes against the brightness,
    Did everything disappear.

    Stood the old man alone in the midst of the church
    With a broad smile and trickles in his eyes.
    “Even you still are my first and last love,”
    The old man soliloquized.

    “About your plight, about your disease,
    About everything I always knew.
    I trusted you too much to think you betrayed me,
    And I swear I still do.”

    He looked up at the sky with the broadest smile,
    A smile never mundane,
    And with that same, seemingly never-ending smile,
    He walked away in the rain.

    Like

    • Hi Kalpak! I liked the overall concept of this, the idea of an old man coming face to face with an angel of his lost love. I think the situation throws up some interesting possibilities. I also liked parts of your poem, especially toward the beginning. I thought the tightness fell away a little as you went deeper into the poem, which is to be expected, so you should guard against it consciously. I think it will be a much better poem if it was cut down to perhaps 70% of its current length. Also, the rhyming structure was not consistent, I felt. But over all, interesting situation to write about. Thanks for sharing 🙂

      Like

  2. Wings of Harmony says:

    The comforting beige interior of the car did nothing to ease my nervousness as we rode towards the scheduled meeting place. The chill of the air conditioner numbing my extremities was an unpleasant reminder of where I was headed to. Looking down at the handsome manila folder in my hands, I re-read the title of the lecture I were to give – “The Rights of the LGBT in Indian Legal Scenario” to a group of law students, but that certainly was not the reason that made me feel I was headed to the gallows.

    Exhaling deeply, I mentally gloat over the list of my achievements in these ten years, since the time I decided to take control of my life. I was a different person now, and no one was allowed to know my deepest darkest fears. I was known to the people and no one, noone could at this point of time induce me to submission.

    But he had. Once. He had shamed me in public once, for not being strong enough, not being competent enough to teach, and not being a woman enough to handle men or their advances.

    NO! Time to show what a woman you are!

    Grinning inwardly, I uncross my legs and wait to reach the destination. The driver informs me that we have reached, as I relax against the seat. The building appears before me, all metal and glass, with a “Welcome” banner hung at the gates, and a group of white and black clad students, with cameras, I notice. I get down with a warm smile, and am escorted by at least six faculty members along with the students to the hall. Listening to the droning of the members about how they were pleased to finally have me among them, I mechanically grin and nod, trying to get a glimpse of the one I was secretly dreading.

    I take the platform, as the group of hundreds of students hold their breath after delivering the welcome address. I look at them – young, hopeful, bored, and eager and feel myself transform. I start by talking about sexuality, and notice that many teachers squirm in their seats. Really?

    “Too bold for you?” I ask, looking at the teachers and notice him sitting in the front row, with a dead pan expression. I smile sardonically and say,

    “One of my teachers once said that law can enlighten you, make you more open, and more realistic. It must cross the physical realms apparently. You see, he believed that physical enlightenment would lead to intellectual enlightenment. ” The puzzled but curious looks of the students made me proceed to give the blow.

    “I am sure he was correct, for he happened to be the one who had accused me of being a lesbian, of being a wimp, when I had not returned his sexual favors.” I smile and look at the stunned audience.
    He is pale, looking at me with disbelief. I relish the expression and continue in the stunned silence of the audience.

    “It has been a long time. Does he remember me? I am sure he does.”

    I smile, relishing the look of horror on his face.

    “Imposing your sexuality on someone is a bigger crime than incriminating those belonging to a different sexual orientation. If we being straight feel sick when someone sexually abuses us, I can confidently tell you how those belonging to alternate sex might have felt on various occasions, when they have to conform to the norms NOT set by them.”

    I pause, as the audience claps, and see him walk out of the hall.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Pradeeta. Can’t help but think this will be better as a longer piece. More of a short story, perhaps. I liked the way it began, with the right amount of atmosphere and everything, but I felt that it was moving on a little too fast, without much dwelling on any of the characters of events. Even the ending comes across as a little too hurried. So maybe the answer is for you to take your time on this, and write it all out however long it ends up being, and then see what you can do with it. Good luck 🙂

      Like

      • I absolutely agree with you! I really wanted to extend the thrill, the sarcasm, and every emotion, but could not. However, I think I will make an attempt to re-write this. Thank you! 🙂

        Like

  3. Shivani Mankad says:

    Is it okay if we use just Remember me as a prompt and not the photos?

    Like

  4. Erm sorry its a bit long, I got carried away. Hope you enjoy it anyway.

    Albert was smiling, he felt young again. He could feel the butterflies in his stomach frantically fluttering. The nervous excitement bubbling inside him. Was it possible to feel this much love for someone even after sixty three years?
    Sixty three glorious and happy years with the love of his life. Mary was the jigsaw piece which slotted perfectly into his soul. Without her, he wouldn’t be complete. Together they had protected and nurtured their three children and watched them grow into content and well adjusted adults. What else was there? That is all a parent can ask for.
    Albert fussed with his tie, straightening it and brushing some dust from the left sleeve of his favourite royal blue suit. Would she think he was still handsome? Albert hoped so. He hoped so much these days, it was all he had. He smiled, sad and forlorn. Remembering that Mary used to do his tie for him, her alluring smile as she worked the knot. Irresistible.
    As he was gazing at himself in the full length mirror, Albert noticed that he had become soft around the middle. He had never been fat but now, no matter what he did, he was slowly losing the fight. He still looked sharp in a suit though. Mary always said that he was the most handsome man she had ever laid eyes on. Albert knew that she was a flatterer, but he loved her dearly for it. He might have been old but there was no excuse, you must always present your best was his motto. He was just trying to get what hair he had left to sit evenly on his head when he heard the crunching of the gravel on the driveway just below his window.
    Albert went downstairs and met his youngest daughter Helen in the front doorway.
    “Ready dad?” She smiled then moved forward and embraced him. Her deep auburn hair tickling his face as she kissed his cheek.
    Helen helped him into his jacket. She held both of his hands and gazed deeply into his eyes. She looked sad but she was putting on a strong front and hiding it well. Albert knew his baby girl better than anyone and his heart warmed to think that she was being brave for him.
    “Come on then, we don’t want to keep mum waiting” she chirped and together they stepped out into the crisp morning air.
    As Helen was locking the front door, Albert breathed in deeply. He loved winter. The freshness of everything, the clean, cold air and the way the old snow crunched as his shoes broke the crust on top, reaching the powdery whiteness beneath.
    Today will be different I can feel it in the air, he thought.
    The short journey was made in silence. They had made it together many times. The excitement and anticipation within Albert never waning although he always showed his stoic face to the world. Deep inside, he held on to the belief that this visit would be the one.
    Helen turned the car and they passed through the imposing gates. Two, ever watchful granite Eagles perched on top, their unmoving stone eyes seeming to follow Albert as the passed the threshold. Albert remembered this place during the war. It used to be owned by the Hunter-Wright family but had been commandeered by the government and turned into an aftercare facility for wounded soldiers. He had visited Jack here, he had met Mary here. The first time he saw her, he lost himself in her eyes. The alluring glint with a hint of mischief. He knew then that he would never love another woman.
    So many memories. It was as if the beautifully tended gardens and the imposing sandstone blocks held it all within, releasing them to wash over Albert like a wave lapping a sandy beach. He would be flooded with vivid, clear memories only to have the wave recede, pulling some of the sand back into the depths, losing tiny aspects of the thought each time. Colours, names, faces. Was she wearing a red dress on our engagement or was it blue? Which leg had Jack lost? Even the face of his best friend seemed to be fading, evaporating like smoke. Lost to the ages.
    “Here we are. Ready dad?” Helen questioned, snapping Albert out of his thoughts.
    “I am dear” he smiled warmly back at her.
    Helen helped Albert out of the car, she held his hand as they walked up to the grand entrance. The old thick, studded oak doors gone now to be replaced by a modern, automatic opening glass monstrosity which sat on the face of the building like a prosthetic jaw. Opening and closing, devouring all who enter.
    Inside, they had tried to keep most of the old features, only instead of smelling like varnished wood and cigars, the place smelled artificial and clinical. The quiet of this grand atrium was almost serene, only broken by the vague, muffled shout or someone crying out from one of the rooms beyond.
    “Ah Mr Bailey, lovely to see you. Can I take your jacket?” A plump, red faced young care assistant smiled warmly as she held out her hands.
    Albert quietly shrugged out of his jacket and handed it to the woman.
    “She’s waiting for you in the conservatory” the girl announced over her shoulder as she hurried off to chat to the young, chiselled man stood at the reception desk.
    Helen linked her arm through her dads and together they walked up the sweeping staircase towards the back of the building and the conservatory which looked out over the gardens and the lake. Albert’s pace quickened slightly and Helen looked up at him.
    “Please don’t get your hopes up dad. Remember I’m here for you too”.
    This saddened Albert, he loved his children unconditionally but his Mary meant so much to him, he couldn’t express it consciously. They were soulmates, they knew every intimate detail about each other but she had been taken from him. This last thought always angered Albert although he knew that he couldn’t cope any longer looking after her at home. The violent outburst had become more frequent, the wandering, it was all too much. He would never admit that of course, he had always been too proud, but he missed her. He missed her so much, it physically pained him. At night, when he was alone, he allowed himself to cry. Part of him was missing. Part of him which he wanted back and he wouldn’t rest until he was whole again.
    They approached the conservatory and Helen let go of Albert’s arm, she stopped and waited in the doorway. The morning sunlight glinting off of the glass ornaments on the wicker table ahead of him was sending beautiful prisms of rainbow light dancing away from him as he stepped slowly inside. He was hesitating, please god, let this time be different he thought as he unwittingly rubbed the red scratch on his forearm from the last visit.
    Albert couldn’t see Mary. She was sat in a high backed, winged armchair facing the snow covered gardens outside. It was her favourite place where she would relax in private contemplation in her own, unremembered world. Sitting for hours showing no emotion beyond her minds prison.
    Albert could see her left arm sitting palm up on the arm rest of the chair. The palm, caught in the brilliant winter sunlight had something sparkling held in it. Albert’s heart fluttered and skipped a beat. It was the emerald engagement ring he had bought so long ago, the ring which had cost him so much more than he could afford back then. The ring which had made Mary’s enchanting features light up as he got down on one knee. The ring which had sat on her finger, year after year matching the deep green of her eyes. He allowed himself to hope.
    Albert breathed deeply and put his hand on the back of the chair. This was going to be the time it happened. He knew it.
    Remember me.

    Like

    • Hi Taity,

      I liked this. A bit long, as you said, but I thought you did a great job of understating the emotion and letting the descriptions and narrative take over. Every once in a while it felt like you did slip into sentimentality (it is a sentimental piece, after all), but then you would buck up and return to restraint. If I am allowed to say one thing, I would suggest that you take a look at your adjectives more carefully, and lean towards using descriptive adjectives as opposed to ‘judgemental’ adjectives. So something like ‘enchanting features’ (where you’re telling the reader what to think of the features) would make way for something like ‘aquiline features’ (where the adjective is descriptive). There are a few judgemental adjective littered in your piece. You writing will become stronger if you went back and either removed them or replaced them with better ones. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. She felt the burn of searching eyes before the tap on her shoulder, so she ended up spinning around faster than the tapper anticipated. Taking a startled step back, he countered with a confident smile. “Yes?” She asked, eyes calm and questioning. “Hey! Sush!” He beamed. “How have you been?” She didn’t answer immediately, glancing around and taking in the people standing behind him. One appeared to be his son, and the other his spouse.
    Realizing that she wasn’t acknowledging him as enthusiastically as he’d anticipated, he winked and prompted, “Surely I haven’t changed beyond all recognition, Sush, it’s me, Raj! Suraj!”
    She looked back. The woman and child across from her started to fidget a bit. It was beginning to look like the man had mistaken her for someone else.
    Rajat stepped up to her side then with Anahita, who took her mother’s hand.
    He smiled politely at the man who now seems flustered that his wife hadn’t recognized him.
    “Hello, I’m Suraj,” he said, nodding at Rajat, he introduced himself again, but couldn’t help looking at Sushma askance. “Sushma and I went to college together” he offered in explanation, “Perhaps I have changed more than I realized!” He concluded, not as confident as he had been.
    Sushma finally spoke up, “Sorry sir, I don’t think that we ever met. Perhaps you have me confused with someone else? ” she ventured politely.
    In the face of her obviously blank look, Suraj had no option.
    He sighed and nodded, puzzled. He didn’t think he had been wrong.
    Rajat held her around her shoulder, while Anahita clung to her hand, as they nodded at him and walked away.
    He stood at the pier, his wife and son silently looking on.
    They walked up the gang plank and boarded the ship.
    He shook his head again as if to reorient himself, then turned back to his waiting family.
    Until his last days he would never forget what happened next: little Anahita turned, waved and disappeared, as the ship gently sailed out of the port.
    She had his grandmother’s knowing eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Vinisha. I liked this a lot. I’ve begun to see (maybe it was always there?) a layer of subtlety on everything you write since the last contest or so. Even this one, a seemingly innocuous scene, but there is so much going on underneath. The only thing that I would say about writing scenes like this is that you should try and milk that symbolism for all that’s worth. While it is probably not a good idea to ham on about it, I would have made this longer, with more description of the surroundings thrown in, which are symbolic of the emotions that the two people are going through. Alternating between the interaction between the characters and the description of surroundings would have brought out a nice effect, I feel. You should try it.

      But thanks for sharing. It was a pleasure to read 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wings of Harmony says:

    Great! Only this was left to happen.

    I grit my teeth and stare at the melancholy clouds spreading across the forget-me-not blue skies. Sigh. I get back inside the house, resolute that I will go out, no matter how the weather is, and grab my dusty umbrella. Matching my ‘bright’ mood, the sky starts pouring as if mocking me for my decision. I curse the world and wait for an auto, mentally cringing at the cold spray of shower trying to pierce my guard. After waiting for ten minutes I manage to hail an auto and direct it to the mall that nestled my favorite coffee shop. I suddenly remember that it was weekend and there would be a bloody crowd at the mall.

    I pray for the opposite, pathetically and enter the mall.

    Ha! Even though my life was horrible right now, with a fresh breakup, termination order, and lack of friends, the time alone here was something I had been looking forward to. I breathe deeply and automatically take the escalator that lead to the quaint coffee shop. Walking into the brightly lit but sparsely crowded coffee shop, relieved, I grin, at the barista, who starts to prepare my order.

    I take the corner most single seat that was closest to the service station but farthest from the main area and take out my book. As I get lost in the pages, I realize that there is a sudden hush and I look up, automatically glancing towards the entrance. The sun had come out and something about the silhouette of the person standing there makes me impossible to look away.

    He enters the coffee shop, and I see that he is old. Extremely old. Older than my grandfather, with a shock of white hair, blue sweater and beige color pants. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I hear a voice asking me to look away, but I just could not. Unbelievable though it may sound, I can vouch that the time had slowed. There was nothing romantic in the moment, but something otherworldly was there, something that my rational mind could not comprehend. I was frozen with my book on the table and coffee mug halfway to my mouth and I watch him place an order and turn, towards me!

    I had never seen green eyes before. Or was I imagining? I cannot tell. I could feel my hands shivering as I place the coffee mug on the table and look down. Surely, he was not coming towards me?

    “Excuse me dear?”

    I hear a whisper, and look up after a five second pause, without uttering a word.

    I was aware of the fact that no one had looked at him and no one was looking at me now. The hush was still there, like an invisible warm blanket.

    I could smell the cardamom coffee from his mug. So I was certainly not imagining when his green eyes locked with my brown ones, and I hear him saying.

    “If you remember me, you will know that life gets better, no matter how bad today feels.”

    Before I can ask him who he was and what he meant, he smiles, turns around and disappears, leaving me with golden warmth in my heart and tears on my face.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Pradeeta. A good, unsettling scene. I noticed this in your previous entry as well, but in this one it became clearer. That is your liberal use of adverbs, which is tending to weaken your prose. Especially in that paragraph that begins with ‘Ha!’, I managed to count four adverbs – deeply, automatically, brightly, sparsely – in the space of three sentences. Adverbs are not always bad, and there is room in prose for a carefully chosen adverb now and then, but when you use so many of them, it tends to weaken your writing. It is better if you rely on nouns and verbs to do most of your descriptive writing. Adverbs should be your last choice, to be used only to describe an already strong verb. For instance, ‘sparsely crowded’ can be replaced with a better choice of adjective: ’empty’ or ‘deserted’. You will find that most of your adverbs can be replaced by better-chosen nouns, verbs and adjectives.

      All in all, I liked the atmospheric elements in the story. Thanks 🙂

      Like

  7. Lakshmy P says:

    The night trembled in the chilly wind blowing from the north. The girl walked with slow and noiseless steps constantly looking behind with fear etched on her face. And then she heard a twig snap behind her, she stood still as a stone. The wind made her tremble, beads of perspiration dotted her neck, even though it was impossible to sweat in the given weather, she sweated of fear. She glanced behind her shoulder, “Nothing”, her eyes told her, but her heart told her something else. Her subconscious poked its nose in between and said, “Shouldn’t have come to this alley at all, told you so before, but you didn’t listen… three murders happened here, that too horrific ones…”
    Fear again took hold and drove its foot in her mind, preparing to stay for a long time. She hurried down the lane as though doomsday was approaching. Last week’s headlines flashed before eyes,
    “Man killed in the same fashion as the other two, on Rosetta lane”
    No evidence was found, no connection, no relation, no reason for murder, it was an extremely weird serial murder case. She shook her head, so as to dissipate the cloud of fearful thoughts swarming in her head. “Nothing will happen to me”, she chanted. And so as to prove it wrong, all of a sudden, she felt a hand strangle her neck.
    “Eeeeeeeeekkkkkkk”, she screamed.
    The hold tightened choking her. She screamed for help and kicked but her captor just increased the pressure on her neck, blocking the wind, making sure she was immobile.
    Adrenaline pumped in her veins, she clawed and bit his arm, but the man didn’t flinch. Her cries rang through the chilly night, her struggles echoed in the dark alleys, until none was heard.
    As her body failed her, and as she slipped into fatigue, “Remember me?” a raspy voice screeched, as her captor was roughly grabbed from behind and thrown against the wall.
    The man gasped as he looked ahead of him, nothing but winter mist, speaking in an eerie, hoarse voice,
    “Remember me?” it asked again and gave out a laugh, the laugh that a predator gives with a determined look and with a satisfied glint in the eye which says, ‘You are done for.’
    “I am one of those countless women you ogled at in these streets. I am one of those countless women you touched. I am one of those countless women who were raped. I am one of those countless women to whom justice was not served. What goes round comes round, remember me if you are guilty, for I am justice.”
    The next day’s headlines was as follows,
    “4TH Murder on Rosetta lane, man castrated and killed like the others, cause unknown”

    Like

    • Hi Lakshmy! This is good. Reminds me of the movie ‘Kaun’ (by RGV). That gave me sleepless nights for a few days. I think you hid the twist quite skilfully. At least I didn’t see it coming. I think the atmosphere could have been developed at a deeper level, and that would make it a slightly longer piece, but I am nitpicking. I enjoyed it a lot. Thank you for sharing 🙂

      Like

  8. The envelope is plain, unmarked and yellowing at the edges. When the strange man in the Armani suit and bow tie had handed it to me, I had almost told him to get lost. But there had been something about his eyes, something ancient, something cold, that had made me hesitate. Weird. I run my finger along the seam, sitting down on a bland park bench. Who are you?
    I slit it open and a piece of even yellower parchment slides out.

    Dear husband,

    The letter slips from my surprised fingers, but I manage to prevent it from falling. Oh Z…

    You are sleeping as I write this. And I can’t help but notice how peaceful you look…

    Memories. So many memories. Love. Laughter. Surprises.

    I know things haven’t been great between us…

    And anger. Shouts. Screams. The words on the page start to blur and I look away dreading to read more. Accusations. Oh so many accusations. But I have to look back. A part of me wants to read more. A rather smug part of me.

    …I am scared. I don’t want this to end. But sometimes I look at you and it’s like you’re not even there. And then when I look away there’s a prickling sensation at the nape of my neck. Like you are watching, planning…

    A hint of a smile appears across my face. Planning, yes. Wonderful planning. Crafting an entirely different personality for her. Making her appear depressed, schizophrenic at times. The beast inside me purrs. I don’t know what happened officer. She went to the market and didn’t come back. Acting weird? No. No wait. Now that you mention it… Planning, yes.

    …but I tell myself not to worry. Because you wouldn’t harm me, would you? Because…

    A cyclist passes me and the sound of the wheels take me back to the sound of that wheelbarrow. The night was moonless. The grave was perfect. Her body still warm.

    …Because I can be mean too. And you of all the people know that…

    Crazy woman. The pixie had tried convincing me of her evil. But then, it were my hands around her throat in the end. I chuckle. Only a few lines left.

    …And so I write this, as a warning. You can pretend that you are innocent (and this letter will find you only if you are not). You can try to kill me and bury me or burn me or drown me but I will keep coming back. And I will find you or you will find me with a smile on my lips; like the one I had when I hunted my first deer. It may take time but I will return because only your agony will be my salvation…

    Ha ha. Six feet under the ground and the woman still won’t stop talking.

    …And even when everything crumbles to dust and years after that, you will find me. A whisper in the screams of your torment. A shadow in your moonless nights. You will fall thinking you only tripped. But on your back you will find the imprint of my fingers. On the coldest of your days, my breath will be the unforgiving, impenetrable fog. In every prick, every wound, every broken bone, you will remember me dear husband.
    So remember me now. Because I have returned…

    Insanity. With my own hands I had vanquished the light in her eyes. I crumple the note and feel a sudden jab of pain in my palm. A trickle of red rolls down my wrist as I examine my hand. Ridiculous.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sania. I’m fast becoming a fan of your writing. I remember reading your story in the Campus Diaries contest. The great thing I notice about your writing is that you have a sense of balance. Thoughts, description and narrative come together to form a beautiful, consistent whole. I’ve not seen you write dialogue much yet – I think the piece I read before was also shorn of dialogue – but all the other elements of your fiction writing seem to be firmly in place. Thank you for sharing this. I enjoyed it immensely 🙂

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      • You had me there. I’m awful with dialogues. They either sound archaic or too teenager-ish. Still working on the them thought! Maybe I’ll use some in my next entry. Thanks for the input! 🙂

        Like

  9. Shivani Mankad says:

    Remember Me?

    You are pure beauty. Oh my love, I have not realized how breathtaking you are till I saw your face today. I have always just lurked in the shadows waiting for far too long. For you, to be mine, Forever.
    And it’s not like I was never there. I have been here, every single time, acting as watchful protector, all the while, just waiting, waiting for you to come to me. You little tease; you come so close, but slip away, every time. You let your curls tangle themselves in my fingers, and bless me with your tender touch, and let your scent linger all over my body, but you never give in. You always escape.

    Tonight, let me remind you.

    I was right in that split second when you were born and you didn’t cry, that silent second when you could only hear the beep of the monitor, and everybody in the room was just waiting to hear your sound. I was almost going to touch you, but withdrew my finger when you wailed.

    I was there when you fell of that rusted swing when you were ten. Didn’t you see me peeping from the shadows? Didn’t you see me there, behind your swing, in the dark corner of the park, waiting to catch you in my arms? How could you, you were busy falling for that little boy called Survival.
    Oh you little flawless tease.

    Don’t you remember me? When you were fourteen and you had your first nightmare? I finally managed to creep into your subconscious so that you could feel my presence. I touched you and you did not pull away, but after a while, you were scared, you started turning away, I couldn’t stand the thought of letting you go again, and so I grabbed harder and you woke up screaming. I was glad you cried that night. I almost hated you.
    But your beauty, that elegance, oh you have me wrapped around your finger darling.

    What about the night your car crashed? Do you remember me there? When your mouth was bleeding and your leg was broken? Do you remember me standing there in the crowd? Ready to ease your pain? No? I was with your bestfriend when she sat in the ambulance calling your parents; I was also outside the operation theatre, again, waiting. But somehow, you have never ever noticed my love.

    How can you not remember me? I am the one being that has been in love with you from the day you were born. Times when I have decided you won’t come, when I have tried letting go, thinking that the time is not right, that maybe, there is still time for us. I have played this game called circle for far too long, my love. Tonight, you will put on a black dress to match my soul, you will stand on the edge, you will submit yourself to my magnificence, and I, my little dark angel, will whisk you away for eternity, with just one kiss.

    – DEATH.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Bhavesh Jeewani says:

    She created them, nourished them and filled them with the color of envy at her peak. They were her only ornaments. Yet they felt tied to her.

    As the breeze blew harder, they found themselves torn between leaving and staying back. They wanted to fly and soar with the wind to greater heights. Who wants to be stuck at one point? Who likes inertia? Life must take them places, they thought, else they would not have lived. She stood rooted at one place, knowing better that she cannot let go and that they would not survive without her. But the tempest had its way and they were soon on their own.

    It wasn’t long before they realized that what they had wished for, had come true, and horribly so. Their color began to fade from envious green to morbid brown. They looked hideous, they felt hungry and they yearned for protection. They wished to return home. All they now remembered was the warmth of her strong arms touching their dainty tendons.

    She too had turned pale in longing. She hoped they had got refuge and were of some use. Above all, she hoped they were peaceful and that their end was not painful. Suddenly, she felt a strange weight on her strong arms, nothing like she had ever felt before, arms where they had once flourished.

    “Karengey ya marengey”, revolted the nineteen year old in an unflinching but choking voice. “What does he say?” asked the unperturbed officer-in-charge. “He says he will do or die for the nation”, replied the loyal subordinate, to his foreign master. “Then let him die”, declared the officer, “and rip him bare before that”, he added stoically.

    What she saw in the first light of morning, made her shudder. She thought of them. Could they be amongst the brown decadent wreath covering the young martyr’s modesty?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Bhavesh. Another good piece from you. Loved the whole imagery with the tree and leaves, and how you seemed to be connecting it to patriotism and the freedom struggle. A timely scene too, because of the just concluded Republic Day celebrations. Somber and soulful. Thanks for sharing.

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  11. sridharrajendran says:

    Remember me
    I just stepped out of the bathroom awkwardly wrapped in my Mickey Mouse towel. It has been just a week since I started bathing myself but I think I am getting good at tying the towel. The first day was a disaster. I was dripping hot water all over and ran around the house tightly hugging the towel with my hands searching for mom. Even though she was mad at the mess I had made, she still couldn’t help smiling at an 8 year old’s brave attempt to bathe himself. She taught me how to wrap the towel around my waist and make a knot. It seemed easy when she did it but my tiny fingers found the task quite daunting. But I do not give up that easily. The next ritual involved mom fussing all over me to ensure I look cute from every angle. In fact I wanted to get ready myself too but ended up like a circus clown so decided to let mom handle it. Mom oiled my hair and neatly combed it. She then coated my face with a player of talcum powder lest the sun hurt me when I step out of the house. And finally she made a thin perfectly horizontal line on my forehead with holy ash. I picked out the clothes to wear – a bright yellow t-shirt with a picture of an elephant that read ‘Thailand’ and an equally bright green Bermuda shorts with floral patterns that people typically wore at the beach.
    I took my crayons and drawing book and headed to our garden. It is my most favorite place in the world. It was spring and the grass had been mowed last week. Mom had added a new plant to our garden recently. It did not look bright or smell good like the roses. In fact it had no flowers. It looked green and thorny. She called it Aloe Vera and said it will get rid of the rashes I get in the summer. I did not trust the plant but I trusted my mom. I spread my drawing book on the grass and lay on my belly busily coloring it. Sometimes I connected the dots and drew beautiful pictures or sometimes I just color. I never asked for toys. I always asked for new crayons and coloring books. And my parents were more than happy to oblige. I held my crayons the way painters hold their paintbrush and contemplated what color I must use for Mickey Mouse’s ears. Why should they always be black? Why not brown or pink? After thinking really hard I decided to stick to black. The world is not yet ready for an eccentric thinker like me. I forgot how long I had been out here. I did not notice it when my mom sneaked up on me with her Cannon camera in hand and captured me creating my magnum opus. I looked up when I heard the shutter click. I looked at her and flashed all my teeth. I was missing two teeth. The tooth fairy visited me twice last month and wonder when she would bring the replacements.
    He is getting ready for office. He is wearing his blue and red stripe shirt and black trouser; all crisply ironed without any wrinkles. His office cab would be here any minute to pick him up. He has dark circles under his eyes. He has not slept properly for a week. He comes home late and leaves early. I find him staring at his laptop for hours. Sometimes he goes to sleep with the laptop resting on his tummy. He is a project manager at one of those glass-windowed tall buildings. He used to hang out with his friends and play football on the weekends but he has no time for all of that now. His friends were all busy buying cars and apartments and so he felt he had to own them too. He had a really cute smile but these days he barely smiled at anyone. He smiled only at me. Even that was not a smile of joy but rather a forlorn one. Perhaps wondering if he could switch places with me. I look back at him from the photo on the night stand. I am holding my painting in my hands and grinning ear to ear. I look at his eyes; the same black eyes that once looked at the world with awe and admiration. I try to scream at him from behind the glass enclosure to remind him of his dreams. My dreams. But I cannot. I am frozen in time. Every day as he looks at me all I ask him is, “Remember me?”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sridhar. This is a very nice piece, something I think all of us can relate to very well. We create so much when we’re kids, don’t we? We don’t get weighed down by questions of whether it is good enough or whether we have talent or anything like that. We just sit down and create for hours and hours. I do think that being creative and creating art is as instinctive to human beings as our emotions are. But as we grow older, ‘real life’ sets in and asks all these uncomfortable questions, leaving no time for the most human of activities: leisure and art. You brought it out very nicely with your piece. Thank you for sharing 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. He stared at her as she walked over to him, smiling. There was no ducking this now. Was this unplanned meeting going to be awkward? He wasn’t certain. His usual aplomb had fled. He decided to brave it out.
    “Satish!” She extended a hand. He took it, smiling back a little reluctantly.
    “Sarita. It’s been forever.”
    “You could say that. How have you been?” She queried.
    “Great! Really great. You?” His eyes searched her face. She seemed thinner somehow. Different than the way he remembered her.
    “No complaints, Satish,” she smiled again. “We lost touch and I didn’t think we would cross paths again old friend, but here we are.”
    “Would you like some coffee?” He gestured to the street stall cart, more from something to do than actually gallantry.
    “No thanks, but you go ahead” she nodded to the cartman.
    He paid and retrieved the throwaway styrofoam cup, sipping the hot liquid gingerly. He felt at a loss, not sure what to say, he glanced at his watch:it was three in the afternoon.
    She seemed to not notice his hesitation to continue the conversation. “You don’t realize how happy I am to have bumped into you after all these years,” she smiled widely. “I didn’t dream I would you know. I’m leaving for another place. New opportunities in new lands and all that jazz.”
    “Oh,” he said, perking up. There would be no further accidental meetings then: he almost sighed aloud with relief.
    “Good luck, Sarita! You’re brilliant. You’ll do well anywhere”
    “Yes, yes, I am, aren’t I?” She laughed, as if it was the funniest thing she had ever heard.
    He smiled back, relaxing, and loked at the dregs at the bottom then turned to throw away the cup.
    When he looked back, she was gone. He looked around perplexed. Then he got irritated: typical Sarita.
    He shook off the irritation and nearly fell off his bed in the process.
    Awakening with a start, he realized that it had only been a passing dream.
    His wife walked into the room with his morning tea. He yawned, smiled at her and sat down. She handed him the day’s newspaper. He took a sip of tea and nearly scalded his tongue. The headlines detailed her demise: Promising Writer Succumbs to Meningitis.
    Along with it was a picture of his ex-fiancé grinning cheekily out at him, as she had done all those years ago, when he had clicked that picture!
    He ran through the article. She had passed away the day before, at three fifteen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very nice. I love the story. I do think your dialogue needs a little bit of work, but that’s true for most writers, I think. I like the way your stories are structured, and how they always have a little something about them underneath the mundane nature that comes through on first glance. You have a good sense of story. If you strengthen your writing just a little bit, I think you will make a very good writer (should you decide to pursue publication).

      Liked by 1 person

  13. They rang her at ten. She had barely been at her desk for more thqn a couple of hours. How did you get my private number she asked, it’s unlisted. He gave it to us, they said. He listed you as his emergency contact. He? Whom are you talking about, she had snapped. And their reply had unexpectedly deflated her. She rushed out without uttering another word much to chagrin of her secretary amidst a swirl of speculation.
    When she got to the ICU, she was led straight to his side. He was hooked up to numerous pipes and wires. His wizened face stared ahead unsmiling, until his eyes fastened on her. The look was fierce, as off old, challenging her to defy his summons.
    You’re not the head master anymore you know, she said. You can’t just snap your fingers and expect folk to jump. I know, he grumbled, these idiots don’t have any respect whatsoever. Okay, she said, stop giving them a hard time and I’ll stay lonh enough for you to explain why my name is listed as your emergency contact. You have been unreachable for decades. Think of me as your prodigal dad, he said and suddenly smiled at her toothlessly. She sighed and sat. Alright dad, soup’s up. And all this just to get me here.. you had better eat up! He sniggered. I knew you’d come. They thought I was senile when they saw whom I’d listed. They didn’t laugh so hard when they got through and you showed up though. Not everyone can claim to have raised a President. Very funny, she said, and waived a sweet infront of his face. A knarled hand darted out at lightening spped trying to snatch it away, but she was faster and easily swept it out of reach. Tut, tut, she admonished lightly, you were always saying finish up first, then dessert! He scowled, then grinned. Souls which recognize each other, rarely part forever.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Vinisha – again 🙂 This is probably the most rushed of your entries, or maybe it felt that way because of the unpunctuated dialogue. I couldn’t get a feel for either of the characters, though I could tell what emotions you were going for. Perhaps a better way of communicating this would have been to focus on the single hospital scene and go deeper into that one scene. You could then tell the rest of the story as mini-flashbacks within the scene. Regardless, thank you!

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  14. Apologies for all the typos! 🙂

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  15. They say a mother’s duty is to look after her children. And didn’t I just do that? I have given them life, looked after their every need, tried all I could to make sure they had everything. I even changed myself at times just so they could live better. After all, they were the best of the lot. Oh how foolish I had been!

    I could only do so much. What can a mother do when her children demand more than what is possible to give them. I warned them, in my own subtle ways, whenever I thought they crossed a line. Maybe I was not so subtle at times, but what else could I have done? I did not want our relationship to deteriorate. I did not want myself to deteriorate. Maybe I took them for granted? That they needed me direly at the end of the day so would heed my advice?

    Look how that turned out. They call me Mother Earth but I don’t even think they know what that means any more.

    I’ll be honest, I sabotaged myself. It had reached a point where I wasn’t able to take it any longer. There were just too many lives to sustain, too many mouths to feed, too many resources to replenish. It’s only natural that I run out of steam. I did not want to see so much despair. I wanted to be happy once again. So I tried to make myself uninhabitable for them, with the intention that they would learn finally that I’m not to be taken lightly!

    But now they’re leaving me. I’ve heard that they found a new place to live. A new Mother. In a far away galaxy. With all my knowledge, I never could have guessed that they would do this. Hurting them had never been my intention, you see. I just wanted things back to harmony again. But clearly, they will have none of it. The final space vehicle has left today. The last trace of intelligent life on me has vanished. Am I sad right now? Probably a little. But I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to begin it all once again.

    My thoughts lie with their new Mother now. I hope she does a better job at this than I did. The very last thing I whispered to the humans before they left –

    Remember me.

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    • Hi Uday! This is very nice. Reminded me of the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov. That is set in a galaxy colonized by human beings, and Earth is just a distant memory of the galactic empire. Many people think it’s just a myth. In fact, the whole series revolves around the search for Earth. I liked how you emotionalized the scene by telling it from Mother Earth’s perspective. Indeed, this may well happen sometime in our future, and hopefully we will remember this planet by, after we’ve moved on. You and I will be long gone by then, though 🙂

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  16. “Shut the fuck up! Now, sit down and listen.
    Sorry, alright. I should’ve just asked you for your attention.
    But don’t blame me.
    You never bothered to give me any attention for more than a decade – when I sat next to you in class or when I walked amongst you in the hallways. It would be absolutely idiotic if I expect you to suddenly sit up and take notice of me on the last day of school.
    You pushed me to drastic measures. All of you!

    Stop crying, Mr. Francis. Let me ask you something. Do you even know my name?
    Don’t bother guessing, sir. You don’t, neither will anybody else squatting and sweating in this classroom.
    Tomorrow, I will no longer exist in any of your lives. Not like I ever did.
    I’ve always been a dead-end in your six-degrees-of-separation maps. Nobody knows me. And I’m nobody’s friend.
    I won’t be surprised if my yearbook photo has a question mark below it.

    None of you girls rejected me, my parents never got separated, I didn’t go through a string of foster homes, I don’t look ugly, I’m not a psycho, Mr. Francis didn’t fail me, the coach didn’t scream at me and most importantly I didn’t just finish reading The Catcher in the Rye.
    And by the way, fuck Holden Caulfield!

    Just walk past those trophy cases in the hallway and run your eyes down the rows of smiling faces of those over-achievers.
    See me?
    You won’t.
    I don’t blame you. I’ve always been at the center of the Bell Curve – An averager all my life with no legacy.
    Mediocrity is the meticulous tide that washes over your footprints on the sands of time.

    But a footprint on concrete, now, that could last forever. So, I put my mind to it and while you were busy not even considering inviting me to your farewell parties, I went out and bought this semi-automatic. I checked it, cleaned it and loaded it. I was also thoughtful enough to buy enough rounds to put a hole in each and every one of your heads.

    Mediocre was my life. Should mediocre be our last moments?
    Come on, the time is now, right now! Listen to me. Don’t take your eyes off; don’t let the gunshots scare you.
    Stand up, be brave and watch me word a Seppuku poem in lead.

    Yesterday lives only in your mind, Let me live there in what I leave behind.”

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    • Hi Pirithivi! This is good. I especially liked the contrast between a footprint in the sand and a footprint in concrete. Also liked the ending. I know there is not enough room here, but I find myself being quite curious about this character who says there has been nothing wrong with his life. He’s just bored of being average. I think his story would be interesting to tell, and as a writer you may find it a worthy challenge to build a believable character out of him. Good start 🙂

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  17. The Fig Tree

    They fought violently every day, but that night he killed her. There was no remorse or fear, he simply buried her under the fig tree in the garden.

    When the neighbours inquired after his wife he casually remarked that she left him.

    He continued his devotion to his garden, but giving a special preference to the fig tree, manuring and watering, pruning and cutting, loving it more dearly as time passed.

    One day unexpectedly he received a message from her on his bathroom mirror.
    ‘Remember me? I am watching you.’

    He closely observed the fig tree. It was early winter and while every other tree was turning bare, the fig tree continued green.

    He took to watching the tree religiously, his fears increasing with each passing day. He couldn’t let his secret be found. Every night he chopped off the leaves from the branches but every morning they came back again. He persevered and so did the fig tree.

    His neighbour awoke one cold morning to see his body hanging from the tree.

    ‘Ever since his wife left him he did nothing but spend time with that tree. Every morning he lovingly nurtured it and every evening he violently hit its branches or kicked its roots. Nobody understood why. It was strange, his relationship with that tree, almost as strange as his relationship with his wife.’

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  18. Remember me? Remember our promises?

    Remember the times we spend together?
    We were that inseperable entity.
    You made me a promise that you’d never forget me.
    But now you have taken what’s mine,
    My dreams, desires, aspiration, everything.
    You have left me with nothing.
    Left me barren and cold.
    Left me wounded in a corner
    Do you even remember me?
    Do you remember your promise?
    “Meet me half way from Mars to Venus
    The chase is on between us”, that’s what you told me.
    We use to sit by the banks,
    To see who can skip the stone the farthest.
    Trying to paint the dream you woke from,
    Your whispers reach my heart through the eardrum.
    Graceful like the snowflakes in January,
    Heart warm like February,
    March to the parade.
    Playing fool in April.
    May the Lord bless;
    Bring joy to the Juno bridal.
    Power of your will
    Like Julius and Augustus
    Brings life to the bond between us.
    Back to semester in September.
    Our promises do you still remember?
    Welcome to the sin of October,
    Give thanks to the fam in November,
    The cold but cosy December.
    We’re back to the origin so let me relive,
    The smiles in calendar that were deceptive.
    Memories stitched into the quilt of Lavender.
    Never get tired of your smile, why I wonder.
    But now the seasons’ have changed,
    your ways have mend.
    Do you remember me?
    You defined me, reminded me of who I was.
    Now that I am your past,
    I can’t remember myself.

    – Sneha Nanavati

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    • Hi Sneha! Last entry this time. You remembered the final date 🙂 I liked this poem, especially the middle bit where you did some creative stuff with the months of the year. I still thought that the rhyming could be a little more consistent, but it still sounds quite nice. I also like the final couple of lines. Thanks for sharing this!

      Liked by 1 person

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