“Achu! dei Achu, inga konjam vaayen, ammaku help pannu”
“Dei Ashwin! inga vaada”.
“Yes ma, coming, iruu”, Ashwin walked lankily into kitchen to find his mother holding a karandi in one hand and a recipe book in another.
Ashwin was confused, she kept on motioning her eyes towards something but he didn’t get it. He didn’t understand why his mom didn’t use her mouth to tell it out loud. Before he could ask something-
“Dei antha thatla maavu vechiruken paaru, atha eduthu inga mela vei, paathu edu”,
Ashwin picked up the plate obediently and looked at it for a moment, small red ants were crawling over it, “Maa erumbu maa”, before he could finish his sentence a glare distracted his sight, and he sneezed and immediately shielded his eyes.
Amma was standing there with maavu all over her face and hair, she sneezed quite a few times too, but it was an angry sneeze.
Ashok, the Area inspector’s son, was laughing from the opposite house. He threw his binocular on the bed and was rolling on the floor laughing.
The feather from his hand flew outside the widow and landed on Ramya’s house 5 houses away.
Her mother was tearing and Ramya was trying to console her. Though Ramya was sad, she was a strong girl. She knew how to handle grief.
Mr.Donald, the illegal organ butcher, was removing internal organs of a brain dead patient whom he declared dead in front of his friends and family a moment ago.
2 days later
Mr.Donald was driving his Mini Cooper patiently, but the excitement made him speed up, he hit 90. A puppy came out of nowhere before his car stood there frightened. Trying to avoid the pupper, he turned his steering wheel to the right. A momentary lapse.
The puppy crossed the other side and started brushing itself around the owner’s leg. It felt loved.
Ramya started walking towards Ashok with a smile.
Ashwin stood there confused.
Ashwin stood there, paavama, His mother’s archanai was not new to him, but the thing was he was not able to withhold his laughter. His mother’s scolding was harsh and she called him all kinds of animal names, but it waqs her flour covered face and hair that made him snigger externally and rofl internally. His phone vibrated in his pocket and he used this escape from kazhuvi oothings.
It was a message from Ramya, she had replied “Yes”
He was very happy that she had accepted and replied yes. But he really wished that this yes was also for another thing he wanted from, “One by one da achu, one by one”, he thought. But he was happy with the current situation. He felt as if his life was settled. He wanted to run straight to her home and hug her. But decency prevented him from doing so. Ashwin started waiting for 5 o’clock evening.
Ashok, Ramya’s best friend, received a message saying that she was going to meet Ashwin at Besant nagar. Ashok was infuriated. He did not like them getting close. Ever since she joined that class with him she started meeting ashwin him often and he felt that she began to ignore him. He hated the way everyone called Ashwin, “Achu, achu”. It was cute and he hated it with passion.
Ramya was ashok’s collegemate and he liked her secretly, but never got the guts to propose to her.
Ramya was wearing a pink saree and had a small gift in her hand. She looked decorated and pretty that evening. She was waiting at the corner of the busstand. She seemed excited and her eyes were searching for someone her and there.
Ashwin was there, He was wearing trousers and an oversized T-shirt. He had a bunch of roses in his hand and also had a small note in his hand.
“aandava, ithula than ellathayum ezhuthiruken, ava eppadiyachum ithula irukartha purinjikanum”. He approached her with a sheepish smile.
He called out to her and waved his hand. She also frantically waved his hand at him. “Hi Achu— “ , A bike came in fast and skidded in-between Ramya and Ashwin. Ashok got down and started hitting Ashwin, and Ashwin was trying hard to defend himself. Ramya was shouting at the top of her lungs asking Ashok to stop but he did not listen. As they both rolled on the road, a siren sound was heard.
Hearing this Ashok, thought it was his father’s rounds he got on his bike. He warned him not to contact her again.
Ramya, confused now, was furious at Ashok, but she didn’t want to make a scene now tried to help Ashwin. But he refused and didn’t even look at her face.Shocked and frightened a bit, he walked back home. He threw the roses into a bin and walked back home rubbing his red cheeks.
An Ambulance whizzed through the road a few moments later towards Donald’s mortuary.
Ashwin never replied to Ramya’s messages. Weirdly, he kept on sneezing continuously.
Ashok was uneasily pacing in his room, he regretted doing something like that 2 days before her birthday.
Ramya was scrolling through facebook, her feed was full of cats and dogs, a true pet lover she was. She hated that her pet dog was not with her now.
Ramya had texted Ashwin to come to the same place in besant nagar on the same time, They somehow patched things up. Ashwin glanced at that note lying on his desk.
Ashok was too excited and a bit anxious to meet her. He had bought her a puppy today morning and was going to gift it to her. She had not talked to him for the past two days. She somehow replied, “Yes” after he begged so many times to see her. Ashok wanted to tell two special things to her. About his love and about his superpower.
Ashok was the area inspector’s son. He was Ramya’s classmate and busmate in college, area mate too. He liked her so much but never found courage to tell it out to loud. All the four years they were best friends and he developed feelings for her somehow.
There is something special about Ashok. He has a very simple super power; he can make anyone sneeze. There are 3 conditions about the power.
To have control over someone’s sneeze, they must sneeze themselves.
They can control victim’s sneeze if it’s the only face they see. If they remember another face or see another face the control goes away for 1 hour.
The power can be transferred onto another when the third person touches their tongue.
Ashok often used feather to make himself sneeze.
Ashok had called one of his friends to accompany him and asked him to take video of him proposing her from a distance. He had asked him to hold the puppy until he signals him.
Ashok crossed road to the place where Ramya was standing. He was irritated and angry to see them both talk but didn’t want to make another stupid move. He saw “Achu” hand her a note, a gift and a few roses.
Ashwin was standing on the other end of the road. He had a note in his hand. He approached Ramya slowly with a small fear, smiling, she came forward and held out her hand, “Friends?”. He wished Ramya happy birthday and gave her gifts and the note.
“Pleasenga, konjam time kulla mudichi kudthudunga, Pona vaati maari sothapidathinga, inthanga rose.” Ramya sniggered.
“Ammava ketenu sollu” and walked back with a smiling towards Ashok.
“Dei Ashwin, inga va”
“Itha ezhuthunathu yaaru?”
“Naan than sir”
“enda ippadi pulugura? Firstu 30 page vera handwriting azhaga iruku, micha page ellam inkla vizhuntha karapan poochi page mela ooduna maari iruku”
“Sir… athu vanthu”
“Po, poi marubadiyum ezhuthitu vaa”
“Poda!, thooki adichiruven paathuko”
Enga neenga nalla record ezhuthuvinga varavinganu amma sonnathunaala than unga kitta kuduthen, paathi ezhutitu mudilanu soltinga. Kaasu kooda pay panrenga, puthusa ezhuthi thaanga please! antha sotta thalaiyan saavadikiran.
Ramya walks towards Ashok with a smile. She slowly goes near him and gives him a hard slap.
Fazed, Ashok stands demanding an explanation.
“Enna, enna love panriya?, unna nalla friend ah thaney pathen, unaku kudutha respect ah ippadi than treat pannuviya? Avana ennamo ethuku adicha? Herova nee? Naa yaar kooda pesna unaku en erith–” before she could complete her sentence the sound of screeching tires were heard.
A puppy jumped from Ravi’s hand and was crossing the road haphazardly.
Donald was a what you’d call a Poli Doctor, though he studied medicine he never managed to get the degree. He failed in most of the subjects and was a drug addict too. 2 days ago he had received a request for a kidney for an elite VIP for a very high payment. But his bad time he did not get the right body or donor to steal from. Only a few moments ago, he received that message that a new brain dead body is there and he can take parts out of it. He has been doing this intelligently for years without anyone knowing.
He was speeding in his Mini Cooper until he, saw the small puppy wandering on the road. He slammed the brakes, and the car screeched to a halt. A moment of lapse would’ve killed the puppy. Ramya continued, seeing the Mini Cooper proceed in its way, “Engappa erantha bothu, I thought you were getting close to me out of friendship, but I never thought you’d do something stupid like this. Enaku un mooji ah paakavey pudikala.”
Ramya’s father was a painter and often took painting contract of large houses and flats. He fell from third floor while painting Ashwin’s flat and was declared dead after 3 days. Ashwin’s mother, helped Ramya and family during the grim times. Ashok came to know Ramya, when her father told that her daughter has also joined the same college
But, Ramya’s father was only brain dead. Donald waited for 3 days and declared him dead so that he could harvest the organs from him.
Ramya took a moment to breathe. The puppy came near Ashok’s leg and sneezed. Recognising his scent, it started playing around his leg. Ashok lifted the puppy and gave it to her explaining her that it’s her gift. But the dog refused to go to Ramya and jumped back to Ashok. Ashok hung his head in silence.
There was loud noise, as if something crashed.
A Mini Cooper was on fire at a distance and people were dragging someone out of it.
It was Donald.
[Puppy’s back story]
The puppy had lost its mother 2 days ago, from a car accident. The vehicle was unidentified, but the puppy remembered that car. It was a Mini Cooper. Someone had taken the puppies to the local Kennel and handed it to them. Ashok had picked this puppy from the Kennel. Though he loved the way it was playing, he wanted to give it to her to prove his love. It kept on licking Ashok, when he slept, when he ate, when he peed.
Ashok never noticed that it had licked his tongue when it tried to wake him up today after noon.
He never realized his powers were gone.
Ramya walked away from the scene thinking of the guy she met two days ago, in her friend’s reception. “Of course, anyone would be impressed by that pink saree”, she thought.