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Thread: One Happy Meal (Kindly comment)

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    Have a nice day! Nikhar's Avatar
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    One Happy Meal (Kindly comment)

    One Happy Meal

    Happiness, for once (at least) had found its way into their small hut, thought the woman. Their life had never been easy, from the dusty streets of the old orthodox village to the newer, and unfortunately another conventional one which also complied with the old beliefs. But, at least, her daughter had survived here. And not only survived, but had grown so big that she was to get married the next day. Had she not left that doomed village……oh, how she shivered at the very thought!

    She was in labour that night and expected a child at any moment. Her husband, had went out to summon the neighboring ladies and the elderly ‘aaya’. The pain was getting unbearable. With toilsome efforts, she had got up and just managed to look out of the grilled window.

    The back of their hut saw a gargantuan and forlorn forest. Under the gleam of moon, a sharp flash caught her eye. She turned in the direction of disturbance and her eyes soon caught the culprit. A huge metallic cauldron rested neatly on a bunch of wood logs. A few elderly men had clustered around it. A big moustache adorning their faces and a long wooden staff was analogous to the group.

    But one man’s appearance struck differently from the rest. He was quite young comparatively, and instead of a staff, had what seemed like a bunch of clothes in his hands. He had dark circles under his eyes and if she wasn’t mistaken, he had been crying.

    Moments later, one from the group stooped and had set the logs ablaze. White fumes danced, slowly ascending towards the heaven. In the light of the flame, as eyes and ears began to draw shape out of the darkness, she recognized the young man. It was Hariya, their neighbour, whose wife had given birth to a girl just two days ago. And in his hands, she realized with a colossal attack of fear, was not a heap of clothes, but his daughter!

    In an instant, she spotted the approaching mishap. She had wanted to shout, she had wanted to scream, but the pain had drained out every inch of energy from her and she stood their helpless. One of the elder men stretched out his hands towards Hariya but he did not pay heed.

    The eldest of the lot snatched away the girl from him, held her high in the air and gave a ruthless laugh, laugh of the butcher who was just about to slaughter his prey. Slowly, very slowly those hands descended…..towards hell.

    Out of shock and fear she had collapsed and fainted, the last thing she had heard was a wail from the distant.

    When she had regained her senses, a sharp pain entangled her body and yet, she felt much lighter. She perhaps heard low sobs, but her sufferings did not want her attention diverted. Suddenly, with a mixed feeling of joy and worry, she realized, that under anesthetic, she had brought a new life into this world.

    Now, those sobs meant a great deal to her. Picking up courage, she opened her lips in hope, ‘Boy?’

    The “aaya” responded in hysterical sobs. The obvious was apparent. She had given birth not to a girl, but to a meal which would be butchered and savoured by the stewards of old whimsical beliefs. Why is it that those people wanted to wipe out the reason of their own existence? Why? She could not understand.

    But one thing that she understood and was clear-headed about was that she wouldn’t give those wastrels the right to write her daughter’s fate. His husband, fortunately, thought the same. They had discussed the matter beforehand and with the help of pre-made arrangements, they would escape from the village before dawn. And they did escape….. to another village with just some more sense if not enough.

    Their new village had not exactly extended long arms towards them. They were left even poorer after their escape. The termites of social evils had eaten away the base upon which a healthy locality is built. But they had lived, and their daughter had lived. And now she was young, more than young. It was their responsibility to fulfill the duty with which they were entrusted, to get her married.

    Twice, her daughter was rejected.

    “50,000….not a penny less, and more if you can!” they had said.

    But finally, happiness had found the way to a home where it would be greatly welcomed. Her daughter would get married the next day and their would-be in-laws had settled for 20,000, which they could afford. Two rejections had shaken his husband more than his daughter. Her husband had taken each rejection as a stamp on his incapability as a father. Each no had stirred him from the inside. Thankfully, it did not happen the third time.

    It took a knock on the door to bring her back from the world of thoughts. She suddenly realized that it was already night and it was time when his husband would be back.

    ***

    If someone had cared to observe Vijay, they would have seen an exhausted man, drained of all joys and burdened by the obligations of running a family with minimal funds. But the fact was that no one cared to observe him…. He was one of those thousands who roamed in every street. Perhaps there was one different fact about him; he had ran away from his older village with his wife and a two-day old daughter. But apart from that, he was an ordinary poor man.

    Vijay proceeded towards his small hut. Had Vijay been literate or had known that his name meant ‘victory’, he would have had a hard time believing it. Because from the moment he had learned to distinguish between a cat and a dog, he had had meetings only with defeat. He did not have education, nor could he give any of it to his daughter and (as sometimes, he hated to think) he did not have a son.

    But tonight, it was special. Yes, it certainly was, Vijay thought as his wife opened the door to let him in.
    She fetched him a glass of water and said, ‘I’ll just bring you food. You must be tired.’

    Vijay pointed towards the packets that he had brought with him, ‘See this? We’ll have a feast tonight. After all, it’s the last night with our daughter.’ He smiled… it was a different smile, his wife noticed.

    ‘But….money?’, his wife sounded suspicious.

    Vijay held out his hands and held her wife’s hand in his. ‘You trust me?’ He asked with a solemn look on his face.

    ‘Obviously.’

    ‘Then, call Rashi’.

    In a few minutes, his daughter entered. A fine specimen, he thought. Perfect embodiment of grace.

    Vijay out of the packets, drew out a silk saree. He handed it out to his wife, ‘You always wanted this, didn’t you? Oh, you never said that….you never asked for anything. You have been the loveliest wife I could have ever had. Infact, you deserved better.’ His voice quivered with emotion. ‘Take this.’

    It was expensive. It must have been. The wife thought. She wanted to ask something but refrained herself.
    Next he drew out a magnificent necklace. His wife gulped. It must have been very costly.

    ‘I remember the day you stopped by the shop looking at this. The gleam in your eyes! I could not give it to you then. A father felt powerless that day. But today he’s proud and now that you are going….’ He handed the necklace to his daughter.

    ‘And now, the magnificent feast awaits us!’ He rubbed his hands in excitement. ‘Serve this.’ He implored his wife.

    Fascination jumped into her eyes every now and again as she drew out the most brilliant of dishes. She had so often fantasized eating in those big sparkling hotels. Well, today, his husband had brought the hotel to their hut. Her excitement had overpowered her suspicions.

    Vijay enjoyed the blissful look on his wife’s and his daughter’s face. How had he always wanted to see that. Obviously, they had always smiled and feigned to be happy. But deep inside, he knew, how quick that look evaporated into thin air when he was not with them. But today, as he had told himself earlier, was different.

    ‘This is brilliant, Papa! I love you so very much.’ His daughter said. She had a certain pride in her eyes.

    ‘You are finally getting married, my lovely little angel!’ His wife exclaimed to his daughter. ‘Isn’t it too fantastic to be true?’ she asked him.

    That one little remark that his wife had just made. It was too fantastic. His daughter was certainly getting married till yesterday. But today…..

    Memories raced in his mind.

    He was summoned by his would-have-been in-law. Seth Tewari, in his pompous and haughty manner, said, ‘Welcome, my dear friend, welcome! Preparations are complete?’

    ‘Oh yes!’ Vijay bowed his head as was customary for a girl’s father, ‘20,000 pure cash!’

    Seth Tewari raised an eyebrow, ‘20? Are you saying 20,000?’

    Vijay was petrified, his voice shook, ‘Y-yes! That’s what we had agreed on.’

    ‘Maybe, but now, I have changed my mind. 50,000 is what we want.’

    Vijay was on his feet, he begged, ‘Please have mercy. All the arrangements are done. Everyone’s invited. From where am I supposed to arrange such a huge amount?’

    ‘That’s your problem! 50,000 or dream about your daughter’s wedding.’

    Vijay rubbed his nose at the Seth’s feet, he begged, he pleaded but to no avail. What exited Seth’s house was a defeated father.


    ‘Can you believe it? It’s finally happening, isn’t it?’ His wife asked bringing him back to the present.

    ‘Yes.’ Vijay lied.

    After some time, when they were filled with delicious food, Rashi said, ‘This is the happiest meal we’ve ever had.’

    Vijay couldn’t have agreed more. It was indeed the happiest meal they ever had.

    ‘There’s more’. Vijay said taking out a tasty looking ice-cream.

    ‘But I’m full.’ His wife said.

    ‘Please.’ Vijay insisted.

    The two women took the ice creams from his hand.

    ‘But before you eat this, what about one last family hug?’

    The women were surprised but they gladly accepted it. Vijay hugged them tightly, tears running down his eyes. The warmth of the embrace would go with him to his grave.

    ***

    Vijay saw two glad women in front of him. Smiles those were long due. The smiles spread wider with each spoon of dessert. It seemed as if god had saved all the delight in his little pot of gold and decided to spill it all over their house in one night.

    With each spoon, Vijay thought that the time drew nearer to tell them. He did so.

    ‘I’m sorry.’ Vijay suddenly spoke. Emotions swam their way out in form of tears

    The two women were puzzled and it showed.

    ‘You’d soon know.’ He said answering an unasked question.

    And they did soon know, a weird sensation gripped all the occupants of the small hut. The two women caught hold of their throats simultaneously and coughed. They realized what must have happened. They endeavored to smile.

    ‘It would be painless. Do not think evil of me. I do love you so both so much. You mean the world to me. You-’

    But there was no need to say anything anymore because there was no one to hear him. Two smiling faces lay on the floor…. Dead.

    His life was spent in fighting the social evils and his own fears. Until today, he hadn’t really seen satisfaction. The two women had never complained but they had been unhappy all their lives. All their life they lived on stale chapattis but today they had a happy meal. They couldn’t lead a happy life but they met a happy death.

    Now, it was his turn. He had seen all he had wanted to. Vijay ate the dessert.

    The End.
    People laugh at me 'coz they think I'm a fool...I smile because I made someone laugh
    Nikhar Agrawal

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    Have a nice day! Nikhar's Avatar
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    Hi everyone...this is the same story that I submitted for AUgust elimination.Kindly comment. It would be highly appreciated.
    People laugh at me 'coz they think I'm a fool...I smile because I made someone laugh
    Nikhar Agrawal

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    A ist der Affe NickAdams's Avatar
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    O, so you're the author of the story I favored.

    "Do you mind if I reel in this fish?" - Dale Harris

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    Have a nice day! Nikhar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NickAdams View Post
    O, so you're the author of the story I favored.
    Yeah...Thanks a ton for your vote but unfortunately I lost

    I'd be highly grateful if you would take time to comment on the story.
    People laugh at me 'coz they think I'm a fool...I smile because I made someone laugh
    Nikhar Agrawal

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    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    Story well done

    This is pretty well written. It does the one thing a story must do which is make the reader want to read more of your stuff. The fact you're such a young writer makes it even more of an accomplishment. I would offer an observation. Eliminate some of the "ands" when they lead off a sentence. Study Hemingway for word economy. And keep on writing, you're more than all right! You're outta sight.

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    Have a nice day! Nikhar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Hunley View Post
    This is pretty well written. It does the one thing a story must do which is make the reader want to read more of your stuff. The fact you're such a young writer makes it even more of an accomplishment. I would offer an observation. Eliminate some of the "ands" when they lead off a sentence. Study Hemingway for word economy. And keep on writing, you're more than all right! You're outta sight.


    Thanks a ton for your comments.

    Could you please point out a few sentences where you found the extra "ands" so that it could help me even more.


    Thanks a ton again.
    People laugh at me 'coz they think I'm a fool...I smile because I made someone laugh
    Nikhar Agrawal

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    A ist der Affe NickAdams's Avatar
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    I don't understand the grasp of the narrator. The narrator seems to have primary access to the wife in the first third and to Vijay in the last two. I enjoyed the shift, but the narration goes outside of the characters to make comments:

    "The termites of social evils had eaten away the base upon which a healthy locality is built."

    If this is froms the wife's perspectives then it's fine, but if not then it would be a cheat for the narrator to limit the information, " ... and instead of a staff, had what seemed like a bunch of clothes in his hands," but to extend the it to, "Had she not left that doomed village ..."

    "In an instant, she spotted the approaching mishap. She had wanted to shout, she had wanted to scream, but the pain had drained out every inch of energy from her and she stood their helpless."

    I believe you mean "there".

    There are multiple instances when he or his is used when, I believe, you are refering to the woman:

    "But one thing that she understood and was clear-headed about was that she wouldn’t give those wastrels the right to write her daughter’s fate. His husband, fortunately, thought the same."

    "It took a knock on the door to bring her back from the world of thoughts. She suddenly realized that it was already night and it was time when his husband would be back."

    "Fascination jumped into her eyes every now and again as she drew out the most brilliant of dishes. She had so often fantasized eating in those big sparkling hotels. Well, today, his husband had brought the hotel to their hut. Her excitement had overpowered her suspicions."

    Despite the technical defects, it felt sincere and I thought it was very well developed. I made the technical corrections in my head as I read it.

    "Do you mind if I reel in this fish?" - Dale Harris

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    Registered User chaplin's Avatar
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    As with Nick Adams, the story's most pressing flaw is the ill-defined "grasp" of the narrator. Solving that would make a big difference in the flow of the story; as it is, the story's progression often feels jerky and interrupted. (Maybe you should try it in the first person.)

    Some more minor points:

    "...thought the woman." I'm an advocate of eliminating the barrier between the narrator and the character's thoughts. Just removing stuff like this would help, in my opinion.

    "How she shivered at the very thought!" Though it is a style choice, I would do away with exclamation marks outside of dialogue. I don't think third-person narrators should get too excited about the story they're telling.

    Avoid descriptive cliches such as racing minds and forlorn forests and things disappearing into thin air.

    I thought the "happy" meal idea, though a bit cute, was clever and effective for your purpose.

    Overall, both the story and yourself show potential.

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    Phil Captain Pike's Avatar
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    A cursory look at, "One Happy Meal".
    I had a difficult time following the flow of the story, who the "she"s were, at least in the beginning.
    Her husband, had went out to summon...
    The comma is superfluous and I think it should be "had gone out".

    It seems like too much detail is described for a dark night -- being able to tell someone had been crying seems unlikely, out there in the darkness.

    "A wail from the distant", seems wrong. "A wail in the distance", or maybe, "a wail from somewhere distant". I guess it's rather a small thing really.

    "... and it was time when his husband...", I don't think this is what was meant. "her husband"?

    I love this paragraph, I think it was very well-written:
    [
    Vijay proceeded towards his small hut. Had Vijay been literate or had known that his name meant ‘victory’, he would have had a hard time believing it. Because from the moment he had learned to distinguish between a cat and a dog, he had had meetings only with defeat. He did not have education, nor could he give any of it to his daughter and (as sometimes, he hated to think) he did not have a son.
    ]

    Sacrifice and suicide are horrible prospects to consider. The deep sadness and unjust treatment of humans is very well portrayed here. The hopeless feelings and impossible decisions made by parents is unthinkable. There are a lot of technical issues of little consequence in this piece. The story deserves to win on gravity alone.
    Last edited by Captain Pike; 09-08-2009 at 09:30 PM. Reason: Never you mind

    Ничего нет лучше для исправления, как прежнее с раскаянием вспомнить.

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    A ist der Affe NickAdams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Pike View Post
    Sacrifice and suicide are horrible prospects to consider. The deep sadness and unjust treatment of humans is very well portrayed here. The hopeless feelings and impossible decisions made by parents is unthinkable. There are a lot of technical issues of little consequence in this piece. The story deserves to win on gravity alone.
    My sentiments exactly, but I'm curious to know why Seth Tewari changed his mind.

    "Do you mind if I reel in this fish?" - Dale Harris

    "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." - Ernest Hemingway


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    Have a nice day! Nikhar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NickAdams
    I don't understand the grasp of the narrator. The narrator seems to have primary access to the wife in the first third and to Vijay in the last two. I enjoyed the shift, but the narration goes outside of the characters to make comments:

    "The termites of social evils had eaten away the base upon which a healthy locality is built."

    If this is froms the wife's perspectives then it's fine, but if not then it would be a cheat for the narrator to limit the information, " ... and instead of a staff, had what seemed like a bunch of clothes in his hands," but to extend the it to, "Had she not left that doomed village ..."

    "In an instant, she spotted the approaching mishap. She had wanted to shout, she had wanted to scream, but the pain had drained out every inch of energy from her and she stood their helpless."

    I believe you mean "there".

    There are multiple instances when he or his is used when, I believe, you are refering to the woman:

    "But one thing that she understood and was clear-headed about was that she wouldn’t give those wastrels the right to write her daughter’s fate. His husband, fortunately, thought the same."

    "It took a knock on the door to bring her back from the world of thoughts. She suddenly realized that it was already night and it was time when his husband would be back."

    "Fascination jumped into her eyes every now and again as she drew out the most brilliant of dishes. She had so often fantasized eating in those big sparkling hotels. Well, today, his husband had brought the hotel to their hut. Her excitement had overpowered her suspicions."

    Despite the technical defects, it felt sincere and I thought it was very well developed. I made the technical corrections in my head as I read it.

    Firstly, thanks a lot for your analysis.

    I sometimes do make mistakes in the type of narrator chosen. And as it seems, all have complained about the narration technique. I respect your opinion completely but what I feel is that according to my story line, the first part had to be by Vijay's wife and the latter two by Vijay himself. Though I do agree that the shift could have been smoother.

    I'd again be highly grateful if you could guide me on that particular point. (Sorry if I'm asking too much.)

    "The termites of social evils had eaten away the base upon which a healthy locality is built."

    This statement was from the wife's perspective.

    And I always mess up with him and her, dunno why coz spotting the difference is hardly difficult. lol

    Thanks for correcting me. Your help is highly appreciated.


    Quote Originally Posted by chaplin
    As with Nick Adams, the story's most pressing flaw is the ill-defined "grasp" of the narrator. Solving that would make a big difference in the flow of the story; as it is, the story's progression often feels jerky and interrupted. (Maybe you should try it in the first person.)
    Firstly, thanks a ton for your comments.

    As I stated earlier, I do make mistakes in the choice of narration. I'd rewrite it in a different way when I get time but now I want to concentrate on writing a story for October elimination. Though what I think is that the story couldn't be written in the first person. As I stated earlier, the first part of the story had to be by the wife and the latter ones by Vijay.

    I'd be highly grateful if you could guide me a bit further on how should I rewrite it. (Sorry if I'm asking too much.)

    Quote Originally Posted by chaplin
    "...thought the woman." I'm an advocate of eliminating the barrier between the narrator and the character's thoughts. Just removing stuff like this would help, in my opinion.
    I'm sorry but I didn't get what exactly you meant. Could you please explain it a bit further.

    Quote Originally Posted by chaplin
    "How she shivered at the very thought!" Though it is a style choice, I would do away with exclamation marks outside of dialogue. I don't think third-person narrators should get too excited about the story they're telling.

    Avoid descriptive cliches such as racing minds and forlorn forests and things disappearing into thin air.
    Will take care of that. Thanks. (used this emoticon to avoid monotonous use of the "" emoticon...lol)

    Quote Originally Posted by chaplin
    I thought the "happy" meal idea, though a bit cute, was clever and effective for your purpose.
    I'm glad you found it so.

    Quote Originally Posted by chaplin
    Overall, both the story and yourself show potential.
    Thanks again. Your help is highly appreciated.

    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Pike
    A cursory look at, "One Happy Meal".
    I had a difficult time following the flow of the story, who the "she"s were, at least in the beginning.
    Firstly, thanks a ton for your comments.
    As everyone has pointed out, one major drawback of the story has been the shift in narration. I'd work on it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Pike
    Her husband, had went out to summon...
    The comma is superfluous and I think it should be "had gone out".
    I have never been good at grammar and I do tend to make many gramatical mistakes. Honestly speaking, I suck at punctuations. (used this emoticon as I found no other emoticon more suitable...lol)

    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Pike
    It seems like too much detail is described for a dark night -- being able to tell someone had been crying seems unlikely, out there in the darkness.
    It was a full moon.

    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Pike
    "A wail from the distant", seems wrong. "A wail in the distance", or maybe, "a wail from somewhere distant". I guess it's rather a small thing really.
    Each mistake pointed out helps me a great deal so nothing's small really.

    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Pike
    "... and it was time when his husband...", I don't think this is what was meant. "her husband"?
    LOL...I have made these stupid miskates...

    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Pike
    I love this paragraph, I think it was very well-written:
    [
    Vijay proceeded towards his small hut. Had Vijay been literate or had known that his name meant ‘victory’, he would have had a hard time believing it. Because from the moment he had learned to distinguish between a cat and a dog, he had had meetings only with defeat. He did not have education, nor could he give any of it to his daughter and (as sometimes, he hated to think) he did not have a son.
    ]
    Thanks...it is my particular favourite too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Pike
    Sacrifice and suicide are horrible prospects to consider. The deep sadness and unjust treatment of humans is very well portrayed here. The hopeless feelings and impossible decisions made by parents is unthinkable. There are a lot of technical issues of little consequence in this piece.
    Well, I wonder if you'd be shocked to hear this or not, but I was influenced to write this story when I read an instance in the newspaper where out of depression a man shot himself, his child and his wife.

    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Pike
    The story deserves to win on gravity alone.
    Then why didn't you vote for me?
    Lol...just kidding.


    Once again, thanks to all of you who took time to comment.
    Last edited by Nikhar; 09-09-2009 at 06:33 AM.
    People laugh at me 'coz they think I'm a fool...I smile because I made someone laugh
    Nikhar Agrawal

  12. #12
    Have a nice day! Nikhar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NickAdams View Post
    My sentiments exactly, but I'm curious to know why Seth Tewari changed his mind.
    I wonder if you have an idea about the mentality of these sort of people. If they find out that one of the men at equal status as him got more in dowry, they'd want to follow suit. Really sad how material things matter more for them than values.
    People laugh at me 'coz they think I'm a fool...I smile because I made someone laugh
    Nikhar Agrawal

  13. #13
    Not politically correct Pendragon's Avatar
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    Actually, this story was a toss up between it and the one I voted on. Structure-- that's what you always strive for in a story: a definitive beginning, middle, and end. It was sort of in the middle that I bogged down. But look at it this way, Nikhar, you got more comments on your story than I did on mine from last time, not this time, which I also posted on my blog !
    Some of us laugh
    Some of us cry
    Some of us smoke
    Some of us lie
    But it's all just the way
    that we cope with our lives...

  14. #14
    Have a nice day! Nikhar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pendragon View Post
    Actually, this story was a toss up between it and the one I voted on. Structure-- that's what you always strive for in a story: a definitive beginning, middle, and end. It was sort of in the middle that I bogged down. But look at it this way, Nikhar, you got more comments on your story than I did on mine from last time, not this time, which I also posted on my blog !

    Thanks a lot for your comments.

    It would be very kind of you if you could point out the part that you did not like.
    People laugh at me 'coz they think I'm a fool...I smile because I made someone laugh
    Nikhar Agrawal

  15. #15
    Memsahib Madhuri's Avatar
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    It was a good story, Nikhar.

    One thing...

    Vijay lived in a village where female infanticide was common and he did what he thought best to save his daughters life, he showed his strength of chatracter and his ability to take a stand against evil practices; then why could he not do it when Seth Tewari was asking for more dowry?

    It could be that in my mind I didnt want the story to end like that, but based on my understanding a person who could take a stand against one evil practice will not fall to such Seth Tewari's that easily.

    It could also be that you wanted to show that the father could not take more humiliation after his daughter was rejected a day before her wedding, and that, the society, finally, did have its way?
    Charms strike the sight, but merit wins the soul.

    Be the change you wish to see

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    By verybaddmom in forum General Chat
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