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E - Everyone


by Tawsif


I walk out my office’s entrance and into the street. The street’s not crowded, not absolutely vacant either. I see a few people walking, mostly my colleagues who just left the office, and some kids with bags on their shoulders. They’re probably headed to their tutor’s house. It’s the late afternoon—school’s done, lunch’s done, hence, ideal time for private tuition. Poor kids!

I watch the marigolds by the street. All arranged in different rows, one after another. Disciplined. Beautiful. I always wanted to meet the guy who takes care of these flowers. Rasheed knows everyone in the office. He can find the guy for me. Maybe the guy can teach me how to organize things.

How to bring everything into a disciplined, orderly shape. How to make everything sense.

Does everything make sense?

Sagor’s growing up. He doesn’t need approval anymore. He lives his life his own way and I get to be an audience.

He was always truthful. He could never lie. All it needed to make him say the truth was looking him in the eye. He never stared back.

And yesterday, he did it. He stared back. I saw his lips. I even smelled the cigarette. Yet he lied. He didn’t even take any time. He just said it. No, I didn’t smoke. Without any hesitation.

Is it really that overwhelming? Is it really strong enough to break a boy’s decency that once seemed unbreakable?

He never comes to open the door for me. He sends the maid. No need to greet me when I’ve come home. He’ll be with his phone.

Does he still watch porns? What was the last time I caught him? Two months ago? Yeah, two months. Probably should’ve told him. Should’ve let him have it. That would’ve pushed some humility into him.

I turn into an alley. A young couple walks past me. The boy in a white t-shirt and a pair of blue trousers, the girl in a glittering-blue shalwar kameez. Hands clasped together, fingers intertwined. So much love, so much warmth.

What was the last time Taslima held my hand like that? I can’t even remember. That’s a surprise.

I get it. She works hard. She has a job. She looks after Sagor’s tuitions. She knows what’s in the fridge and which stuff is missing. She pays the maid. She cooks. She gets everything done. If she wasn’t here, my family would’ve collapsed a long time ago.

But is ranting all the time going to change anything?

She expects me to understand. She wants me to sympathize. She wants me to sympathize with her all day, all night. Well, who’s going to sympathize with me? Who’s going to understand me? Who’s going to see my pain? I come back from work every day and find my son’s smoking, watching porn. I come home to hear my wife’s yelling that doesn’t stop for a second. My son says I never care about him. My wife says I never see how hard she’s working every day. There’s no quiet. Not the slightest of relief. All the blaming is on me. I’m the bad husband. I’m the bad father. I don’t know how to manage family. I’m never up to the expectations. I’m the one who’s ruining everything.

At the far corner down the alley, the woman with awfully messy hair and filth all over her torn clothes is dancing, as always. She’s the town’s famous lunatic. Everyone knows her.

What she’s doing right now hardly fits to be called a dance. It’s more like kicking the air and swinging the arms and circling around in public.

In public.

She’s got no obligation. No barrier. She can unleash every bit of emotion she has inside. She’s fearless. She’s free.

It’s a gift to be a lunatic.

I admire her. And I envy her.

I’m about to walk past her when she suddenly leaps and takes me in her arms. She smells, but I don’t mind. I hug her back. She takes a long time to let go, and after that, she smiles and reveals the three moldy teeth in her upper jaw.

I take another turn. I can see my house from here.

It used to feel so great to look at the house. The little gate, front yard, the brick roof, the windows. Rasheed loved the house when he visited last week. It seems to have some sort of charm on people.

It lost that charm on me a long time ago.

This used to be an irritation. Coming back home would irritate me. But now, facing the same helplessness, the same frustration, it’s more frightening than irritating.

I step inside through the gate. The guard says something to greet me. I nod.

I make for the front door. I press the call bell.

What if I hold a grudge today? What if I begin to have expectations? What if I start blaming?

What if I bring it all out?

The door opens. It’s the maid.

I step in. From the kitchen, Taslima screams, “You had to come so late, huh? So late! Can’t you think of anything else for a moment? Work, work, work! Do you even care to stop and think about the family? No, you won’t. I have to do that. I’ve gotta do all that alone. Why don’t you just…”

Each and every word stings. Each and every sentence is answerable.

But I don’t answer. I bring nothing out. 

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Points: 300
Reviews: 3

Wed Jul 22, 2020 5:49 pm
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Blak wrote a review...

I love your story, it’s extremely realistic & relatable.
I like how the main character connected his thoughts to the things he saw on his way home. I think it makes the story more interesting, fun to read & also helps the reader understand the character’s thoughts & emotions more.
However there are a few mistakes & things you could do to take it to the next level:

1) I think it would be better if you changed the way you write a little bit, I feel most of your sentences are too simple. Maybe you could try to add some similes & metaphors.

2) “ I watch the marigolds by the street” you used “I watch” which dosen’t make sense here because the flowers aren’t moving. You could say [i glance/stare] (these would be simple words) [i admire] (this would be a more descriptive/accurate word since you thought the flowers were beautiful (you should use more of these kinds words in your writing))

3) “ Does everything make sense?” I’m not quite sure what you meant by this but maybe you meant to say: [will/can anything ever make sense?] or [will I ever be able to solve anything?]

4)” didn’t even take any time” this sentence also doesn’t make sense maybe you should say:[he didn’t even hesitate] or [he didn’t even think twice].

5)” I walk out my office’s entrance and into the street.” using “entrance” here is very unnecessary you could just say:[I walked out of my office]

And that concludes my review! I hope you found it useful.
(I hope you understood what I meant, I’m not used to writing reviews)

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Points: 300
Reviews: 3

Wed Jul 22, 2020 5:47 pm
Blak says...

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14 Reviews

Points: 170
Reviews: 14

Tue Jul 07, 2020 5:54 am
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Goldenwizard wrote a review...

Hi / Namaste
I mostly review poems for it personally feel to me like they are short and better, and I mostly try to not write a review on a story, but when I read this one it felt so awesome.
It felt so real and beautiful.
The story goes in a specific and correct order that I mostly find hard to do.
And just like some other reviews, I would also like to say that the main character is really great. For a person in that situation, it gets really hard to maintain life, but in the end, as he said nothing in back, was the best solution for instance.

The way you have put up the whole nature and the complete surroundings seem really sweet. The details that you presented was totally enough for the reader to create a complete image of the whole situation.
I really loved your short story that depicts a huge meaning...
I could relate the character with my dad, that even after working a lot for his family he always has to suffer, for he always has to be far from us for almost the complete year due to work. And even after having a family have to live alone.
Thanks for writing it...

Tawsif says...

Thanks for the review. Nothing gives a writer more satisfaction than a reader being able to able to relate to the story. Really, your words meant a lot.

Goldenwizard says...

Thanks/ Dhanyavad

Tawsif says...

I like the fact that you say 'Dhanyabad'. Mother tongue is always special.

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111 Reviews

Points: 9635
Reviews: 111

Thu Jul 02, 2020 8:55 am
Liminality wrote a review...

Hi there! I thought this was a smooth piece of prose. It's an interesting take on the struggles of the modern working parent, I think. The main character was pretty sympathetic in my opinion, and this works as a sort of tragic portrait of their life.

1. The use of tenses here is careful and well-done. Having the main story in present tense helps give the sense that this is the main character's everyday life and situation. Any past events are written in simple past tense, which is also an apt choice that makes the story more readable.

2. There seems to be a good balance between the main character's inner thoughts and the events happening around them. When reading, I didn't feel as though the story was only happening inside their head or that we weren't seeing their thoughts and feelings enough. It works well for a story mostly centered around one person reflecting on their life.

3. One issue with word choice: I'm not sure if teeth get "moldy" per say? This one adjective is in a place where I can't quite tell if it's figurative or literal, but I'm pretty sure you can't grow mold in the mouth of a living person . . .

4. I loved the last few lines a lot, because they convey the main character's feelings so well. I would have liked to see more of their feelings externally, as well - for instance how they behave around the wife and son. Characterisation through 'showing' is definitely present here, for instance I could tell the main character has a passive personality from "But I don't answer." and "Probably should have told him.", and having more of that, for example in the description of the house, would only make the piece stronger.

Overall, this was a pretty good read and I hope to see more from you.


Tawsif says...

Thanks for the review. Glad you enjoyed the story.

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80 Reviews

Points: 2636
Reviews: 80

Wed Jul 01, 2020 4:21 pm
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Stellarjay wrote a review...

Hello Tawsif!
Stellarjay here for a review! First off, the flow of this story was good. I liked how it was just a guy ranting about his life as he walked home from work. And the rant itself told his story. Now I believe there is a deeper meaning or some moral hidden in this story. Now correct me if I'm wrong, the story starts off by a guy talking about order, discipline, and organization. The guy wants his life and his family to be like the flowers in the garden. Perfect. As the guy walks through the town to his home he meets the towns lunatic. But she is free, free as a bird. And she isn't afraid to openly express her joy. She is imperfectly perfect. As the guy enters his house, he enters a broken family that is imperfect. He wants to fix it and make it into the flowers that he saw earlier, perfect, orderly, disciplined and organized. But the only thing he can do about it is nothing. All he knows what to do is rant about it in his head. What I believe the moral is, Life isn't like a perfect row of flowers. It is broken and most of the time ugly. But life takes lots of effort and love.
I really hope I got that right!
Now onto things you could fix!
1. "How to make everything sense." should be "How to make everything make sense.

and that's it! I liked how you didn't mention the guy's name. It kind of makes his character applicable to anyone. Anyways I really enjoyed reading this story, keep on writing!
- Stellarjay

Tawsif says...

Thanks a loooooooot. You actually made the theme sound more poetic and epic than I meant!
And also, thank you for pointing out that error with 'making sense'. Gosh, it's actually quite confusing, isn't it? Hard to 'make sense' of it. Haha.
Anyway, I really appreciate the review. Thanks again.

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92 Reviews

Points: 3950
Reviews: 92

Wed Jul 01, 2020 2:43 pm
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Plume wrote a review...

Wow. This was a complex piece in the guise of a simple, domestic tale. You brought up questions and emotions through a believable and painfully real narrator, which added a lot to the piece. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it!

One of the best things about it was the time frame of it. It was all on this man's walk from his work to his house, but it was so much more than that. You chronicled all his thoughts and feelings (and in such a poetic way, I might add) that it really elevated it to the next level of storytelling. As a reader, I really loved the way you mentioned the things he saw, and how it reminded him of the problems and people in his own life.

A couple things: in the second sentence, you have a comma splice. I'd recommend adding "but" after the comma. Other than that, I found this piece to be breathtaking and quite special. Thank you for writing it, and keep being awesome!

Tawsif says...

Thanks a lot for the review. It truly meant a lot. Especially when I read the beginning word of this review, which is 'wow', I felt damn satisfied!
Thanks a lot again. (And thanks for the suggestion of putting a 'but' after the comma; I'll surely consider it)

Be steadfast as a tower that doth not bend its stately summit to the tempest’s shock.
— Dante Alighieri