Microfiction by Megha Nayar

Grievances


David calls as I’m retiring for the night. “You really need to stop spoiling that dog, Mom!” he begins without preamble when I pick up. “How many more plushies must he wreck for you to understand that toys are wasted on him?”

It’s been fifteen minutes since I posted a video of little Miko and the beheaded monkey in our family Whatsapp group but David has already seen it and registered his disapproval. An incredibly prompt response, considering he takes entire days to acknowledge my how-are-yous.

There is a lot I did that was wasted on you too, I want to tell my son. But I don’t, because I know it will turn him away. I focus on enjoying the sound of his voice in the moment, because that is a treat I don’t get to savour very often.

Feedback

My husband has written an email titled “Recruitment process feedback” to the company that put him through five rounds of interviews, then rebuffed him. His indignation spans five neat paragraphs. The message, addressed to the CEO, is unpleasant but eloquent: You made me jump through endless hoops. You wasted a disproportionate amount of my time. I was rejected despite sound credentials and a stellar performance. I asked HR for an explanation but my request was met with indifference.

In response, their CEO calls and makes amends. Offers a sincere apology. Says he hopes for an association in future.

After reading my husband’s sparkling prose, I steal a glance at the travel brochures gathering dust on his desk. I think about all the things that are invisible to him, and the fact that my heart and desires are two of them.

Should I write a “marriage feedback” email to him?

The curse of birth

He wakes up ravaged by an unknown microbe, his skin a patchwork of angry sores. He scratches himself so violently it makes his pores bleed.

This needs an urgent intervention.

He places his micro-chipped finger on the biorobot. His superphone receives an instant diagnosis.

Joint attack. Bacterium plus virus, as is common in 2040.

Recovery? Unlikely, says the biorobot. Your parents were anti-vaxxers, remember? You must stay indoors till you heal or die.

This again. The curse of birth.

Enraged, he scans a pus-filled sore with his superphone and presses Send. Payback lands in their inboxes with a soft beep.


Megha Nayar is a communications consultant and fiction writer from India. She teaches English and French for a living, and writes stories to remain sane. She was longlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2020. One of her stories was showcased at India’s prestigious Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2021. She is currently a mentee-in-training on the British Council’s Write Beyond Borders programme. Her work has appeared in lit mags such as Trampset, Bending Genres, Rejection Letters, Out of Print, Gulmohur Quarterly, Bengaluru Review, Kalopsia Lit, Marias at Sampaguitas, Cauldron Anthology, Potato Soup Journal and Daily Drunk Mag. She tweets @meghasnatter.

Photo by George Becker from Pexels

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