124 comments

Funny

As his drinking buddy Agarwal had recommended (in an effort to stop a drunk Rastogi from jumping off the ledge), Rastogi tried to find the bright side of getting fired.


For one, he wouldn’t have to see his intellectually inept colleagues anymore. Anybody above him was a rich man buying his way upwards; anybody working with him was just someone to bear with until he fought his way to success.


He was sure, for example, that if he had met Joshi in the pub rather than the office, they would have hit it off immediately. But they both had work to do and stomachs to feed (their own, not those of their families; indeed, it was to escape their clingy relatives that they worked as peons in this obscure town). They had competed for the employees’ attention, and Joshi usually won out (probably because he could switch on the A.C., but Rastogi could never master the knack of pressing the correct button). But there were too many complaints against them both.


Rastogi had once tried to get a fan installed in the janitor’s closet by bribing the electrician (who had done it, then tattled on him to earn a raise- it was a selfish world). There was the issue of the office china getting stolen, too. (What could he have done? The cups were just sitting there- it was as if they wanted to be stolen.) Then there was the matter of Rastogi leaving half-eaten snacks in the conference room (he swore that it was Joshi’s deed, and Joshi swore that it was his).

In the end, they were both fired. He kicked the air conditioner spitefully on his way out, then packed his belongings and ran before the boss could charge him for the repairing cost. 



Now, Rastogi was headed back to his hometown, but he didn’t have the money to travel. He could have hitchhiked his way by threatening some poor family on a long drive (it turned out that the kind of suitcase he carried was also used by terrorists for suicide bombing), but he found that immoral. He decided to travel by the government's public transport for free, to avenge his great-grandfather, whose property Rastogi could have inherited, but didn’t because of policy reforms (and because his great-grandfather hadn’t included him in his will- but he didn’t know that).

He decided to catch the train which had the longest commute time, because he didn’t want to face his family yet. His uncle had caught a respiratory disease from the mining he did till the age of seventy, and Rastogi was supposed to arrange for the operation money. Rastogi thought it wiser (and cheaper) to avoid him till he passed away or got magically cured.


His plan was to steal the ticket from one of his fellow passengers. Men always kept the ticket in their wallets, right beside spare change. Women kept theirs ‘safely’ in the innermost pocket of their purses, next to their precious jewelry (If you didn’t want to wear it, why carry it around?) It was the most obvious place to hide valuables. If he was lucky, he might even get the change to buy some spiced peanuts, whose smell beckoned to him even after the vendor passed into the next compartment.


He powered off his phone because the landlord was calling him continuously; he had run away without paying the rent, but the servant’s quarters of a haunted flat weren’t exactly what their agreement had entailed. He considered not suing the landlord an innate kindness on his part. He had never disclosed the location of his hometown to the landlord, so he couldn’t trace him once he got there.



Another bright side of getting fired was that he was free to follow worthwhile pursuits.

Ever since he saw an amazing movie at the age of twenty-five, Rastogi had wanted to be a movie director.

He blamed the director of that perfect movie. It was such a brilliant idea: paint drying on a wall, while a boy sang in a frog-like voice. For Rastogi, it symbolized the monotony of life and expressed how he felt while working in the moneylender’s farms, humming a song that no one ever heard.

His family members had left the hall in the first two minutes, mumbling about a waste of money and preferring to clean the toilets than watch this nonsense; Rastogi watched it all, though. He no longer felt like a useless watermelon seed, which could have grown to form something remarkably productive, but was about to become an undigested part of an avian excretory tract. He felt that he had another purpose in life than transporting manure from the sheds to the fields (Why couldn’t the cows just do their business in the fields like their owner did?). His purpose in the universe was to revolutionize masses, to make them realize that their lives were pointless if they didn’t start living for themselves (He didn’t consider the economic, social and financial problems his message might cause).





He eyed the greasy, middle-aged man next to him distastefully. Had he stopped oiling his hair, the oil industry would have collapsed overnight. Taking his ticket would be a piece of cake: he was too busy looking at his blurred reflection in the window. Or perhaps he was staring blankly, contemplating his purpose in the universe. Rastogi quietly shifted closer to him and extracted his wallet carefully. He smirked when the ticket-collector entered the compartment.

When the ticket-collector asked for his ticket, Rastogi obediently showed it. Then, leaning in conspiratorially, Rastogi whispered, “Sir, I think this man beside me doesn’t have a ticket.”

“No ticket,” the ticket-collector repeated.



It was only when the man was thrown out of the moving train screaming that Rastogi started feeling slightly guilty. But, he reasoned, the man had a little money- well, the amount left in his wallet, anyway. When Rastogi turned to the grimy window, where bored children had left mildly amusing graffiti, he could see the man struggling to keep up with the hurtling train, knocking on its windows desperately. Rastogi’s heart began to melt-

He scratched at the mosquito sucking his blood and turned his back to the window.



The trouble in stealing a ticket from a stranger was that Rastogi didn’t know which station he was getting off at. The ticket he had stolen would take him only halfway. Maybe it was time to utilize his robbery skills again. Reluctantly, he shifted to another compartment, one that the ticket collector hadn’t reached yet. He took a seat beside an old lady with her head wrapped in her shawl. She wouldn’t even notice her purse going missing.

 “Nice weather for a journey, isn’t it?” she commented, startling Rastogi. He blabbered something about the climate in his hometown, his hands slowly reaching for her purse. He fingered the leather lovingly, knowing it would take him home. Smiling triumphantly, he ordered tea from a passing vendor.

The old lady reached for her purse, but her hands caught thin air. “Where did my purse go?”

“Oh dear!” Rastogi cried, enjoying himself thoroughly. “Some passing crook must have stolen it.”

“Some passing crook,” the lady repeated. She grinned suddenly, and as her disguise flew off, Rastogi found himself staring into the delighted eyes of the ticket-collector.




Later, as Rastogi sat in jail while the ticket-collector and the bored inspector gossiped, he tried to think about the bright side of getting jailed.

At least he had some free time to think about ideas for his movie.


August 09, 2020 09:48

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

124 comments

Moonchild Luca
14:15 Aug 09, 2020

I don't have words left~ I'm wheezing :'D

Reply

Pragya Rathore
14:28 Aug 09, 2020

Um....Just to be clear, could you please elaborate? Because I'm not sure what that means... :p

Reply

Pragya Rathore
16:07 Aug 09, 2020

I mean- Pranati, I'm assuming that was in a positive sense? 😂

Reply

Moonchild Luca
16:35 Aug 09, 2020

Oh yeah :D Extremely positive I'm really sorry I am so unclear... even my family finds it tough to understand me :(

Reply

Pragya Rathore
16:56 Aug 09, 2020

Oh! Well, then, thanks from the bottom of my heart!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Amogh Kasat
10:11 Aug 15, 2020

It's an amazing story P.S read my both story what is a Second Chance The Secret Mission Meeting

Reply

Pragya Rathore
10:46 Aug 15, 2020

Of course I will. But please tell me, what part of my story did you like? Anything I can do to improve it? :)

Reply

Amogh Kasat
11:20 Aug 15, 2020

Actually I have already commented but the part I liked was the starting

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Elle Clark
21:31 Aug 12, 2020

Hi Pragya! Here as requested to give some (hopefully helpful) constructive feedback! I liked this story and enjoyed the nihilist black humour along the way. The old woman/ticket collector was a surprising and absurdist reveal that I enjoyed. I think that you could tone down the frequency of brackets and that would be one of my main pieces of criticism. Brackets used like this are an aside to the reader, almost a leaning out of frame to whisper something to them, and that works as an occasional thing but too many makes the story feel ...

Reply

Pragya Rathore
02:31 Aug 13, 2020

Thank your so much, Laura! That was extremely helpful. Thanks for taking out so much time, I really appreciate it! :)

Reply

Elle Clark
06:55 Aug 13, 2020

You’re welcome!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Amogh Kasat
04:01 Aug 10, 2020

It's a good story! It is funny and there are some humour.

Reply

Pragya Rathore
04:07 Aug 10, 2020

Thanks!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
03:21 Aug 10, 2020

This was dark, with some nicely put humor! The ending was funny too! Good story! Score: 4.7 out of 5

Reply

Pragya Rathore
03:24 Aug 10, 2020

Thanks a lot, Akshat!!

Reply

03:43 Aug 10, 2020

:)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Moonchild Luca
16:49 Aug 09, 2020

Yeah ;) Definitely. Okay, then... good night, sleep tight!

Reply

Pragya Rathore
16:55 Aug 09, 2020

Good night! Please read more of my stories if you liked this one!

Reply

Moonchild Luca
01:34 Aug 10, 2020

Sure😀💜

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Siya Gupta
09:54 Aug 09, 2020

What a funny story! I thoroughly enjoyed this one, it was depressingly funny! Good one.

Reply

Pragya Rathore
14:45 Aug 09, 2020

Thank you so much, Siya!! :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Regina Perry
18:00 Aug 27, 2020

It was a refreshing change to read a story whose protagonist is not a good person, nor trying to be one. I'm glad he got what was coming to him. I loved the twist ending. The random bits of snark coming from Rastogi's stream of consciousness add a lot to this story. I loved the line about the oil industry. I have one question: How does this follow the prompt? What skill is Rastogi trying to learn? If it's making a movie, he's not really trying to learn it in this story. Just thinking about how he would. So this story doesn't seem to me to...

Reply

Pragya Rathore
18:23 Aug 27, 2020

Thank you so much, Regina! :) The skill was looking at the bright side. Thanks for the feedback, I'll try to keep it in mind the next time I write a story. :p Thanks again!

Reply

Regina Perry
18:34 Aug 27, 2020

Ohh, I see. In that case, it fits quite nicely. You're welcome.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
06:11 Aug 21, 2020

Like my new name ?😝

Reply

Pragya Rathore
06:39 Aug 21, 2020

What a great name! This is incognito Sia, right? By the way, thanks a ton for putting me in your bio! So sweet of you :) *insert puppy-dog eyes* How did you get this unique name? I've never even heard of it before :p

Reply

06:58 Aug 21, 2020

Thanks, and yes, its incognito. Hey, you helped me so I put you in my bio 😊 I made it up. In Kendra's latest story she was trying g to find a better title, and there were 2 characters Destiny and Violet so Destiny+Violet = Destinet!! Ps. You should see her story its really cool.

Reply

Pragya Rathore
08:47 Aug 21, 2020

Oh! I'll definitely check it out :) By the way, even if you think I helped you out (which I'm fairly sure I didn't), you deserved it! :p You changed your name back?

Reply

09:15 Aug 21, 2020

:) , ya I changed it back.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Charles Stucker
16:19 Aug 16, 2020

A coherently venal story about a parasite getting their comeuppance. I liked it as it is and found nothing to modify. You completed the hero's journey, came full circle in thinking about the bright side, and freely parodies so many little tropes that I felt like I was watching British humor.

Reply

Pragya Rathore
16:22 Aug 16, 2020

Thank you SO much, Charles! Honestly, you just made my day. Now I'll be happy the whole day! :)

Reply

Pragya Rathore
05:31 Aug 17, 2020

Would you mind checking out 'Her Beautiful Hands'? Your reviews are too helpful to stop me from requesting you :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Jonathan Blaauw
04:46 Aug 14, 2020

One of the best ways to engage a reader is to create flawed characters. You’ve certainly done that with Rastogi. He’s a crook and gets what he deserves, but one can’t help but sympathize with him along the way. In doing that you’ve made your story engaging and relatable. Revenge is also a great story theme, and the old woman/ticket-collector is a great reveal. Justice is done at the end. That’s probably the only thing I’d say you could build on, maybe in future stories. Perhaps bringing the old woman in a bit earlier, or adding a bit more b...

Reply

Pragya Rathore
05:24 Aug 14, 2020

Thank you so much, Jonathan! You just made my day :) I really appreciate you taking out the time to comment. Thanks again! If you enjoyed this, you might like The Faint Of Heart too :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Cara H
00:30 Aug 14, 2020

Oh, dear. While I sympathize with Rastogi, I am afraid that he has gotten what he deserves. Hopefully, he will learn from his unfortunate crime spree. I love the wry sense of humor in your writing.

Reply

Pragya Rathore
01:37 Aug 14, 2020

Thank you so much, Cara! You're right about getting exactly what he deserved :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply

Loved the last line XD. This is, I think, very realistic. As a public transportation taker, I can definitely picture this. Also, the half-eaten snacks? That was me, not just Rastogi. Great job! -Peachy

Reply

Pragya Rathore
01:31 Aug 11, 2020

Thanks a ton, Peachy! :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Avery G.
20:28 Aug 10, 2020

Cool story! It was funny. Great job!

Reply

Pragya Rathore
01:31 Aug 11, 2020

Thanks, Avery! :)

Reply

Avery G.
02:10 Aug 11, 2020

You're welcome!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Raquel Rodriguez
05:25 Aug 10, 2020

Great story, loved the depressing jokes, and the ending is perfect! :) Could you please check out my story 'Second Chances' when you have the chance and comment? It would mean a lot to me! :D

Reply

Pragya Rathore
05:32 Aug 10, 2020

Thank you so much! I'll definitely check out your story ;)

Reply

Raquel Rodriguez
16:36 Aug 10, 2020

;)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Sachi B
11:55 Feb 15, 2022

I LOVED this story! There are so many lines I could quote and I laughed over that I can't choose one. Totally into such humour! Keep writing!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Zinnia Hansen
17:16 Nov 23, 2020

Absolutely brilliant. Vivid description, vivid character, Vivid story. I was so absorbed that It actually came as a violent shock when it ended. The nihilist focalizer provides a perspective that somehow manages to be both objective and visceral. Wow, wow, wow! I honestly wish I could give you a more detailed review, but I am still kind of flabbergasted by how incredible this story is.

Reply

Pragya Rathore
04:19 Nov 24, 2020

Thank you so much, Zinnia :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Sam S.
15:41 Aug 27, 2020

omg..this was an awesome story..loved the ending where Rastogi found the positivity amidst the misfortune, loved it!!!!!!!!!

Reply

Pragya Rathore
15:44 Aug 27, 2020

Thank you so much, Kate! :)

Reply

Sam S.
15:45 Aug 27, 2020

You're welcome

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Leya Newi
13:25 Aug 25, 2020

I loved the quirky characters, the ticker-collected who has no shame is dressing like an old woman, the thief who wants to make a movie, the office rival but they both get fired, the drinking buddy who might’ve been the smartest person in the story. The characters were definitely a highlight of this quirky story. Well done, Pragya!

Reply

Pragya Rathore
13:49 Aug 25, 2020

Thanks a lot, Leya! :) You just made my day :D Please check out 'In Your Arms' too. I would especially appreciate your feedback on it :p

Reply

Leya Newi
20:32 Aug 25, 2020

Okay, headed over now!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
15:55 Aug 21, 2020

This was very funny. There's one small thing here that did catch my attention - with the sentences, "He fingered the leather lovingly, knowing it would take him home. Smiling triumphantly, he ordered tea from a passing vendor," the adverbs "lovingly" and "triumphantly" are just too close. I'd remove one. Other than that I honestly can't find anything to improve.

Reply

Pragya Rathore
16:01 Aug 21, 2020

Thank you so much, Eleanor! That means so much to me. Too bad I can't edit it now :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply