167 comments

Funny

Gupta was the ugliest member of the wedding band- not that it mattered; his face was always hidden by the massive flute he carried.


Now, as Gupta set out to play the flute for a wedding, he wondered who would play it in his own. His father, who had been playing it in Gupta’s first wedding, had fainted of shock when the bride eloped before the wedding. During his second wedding, the bride saw something she wasn’t supposed to before the wedding (which was Gupta’s face). The bride screamed so shrilly that even the bats of the attic were surprised, and flew out to peck her face. Along with bearing the full cost of the wedding cancelled in indignation, Gupta also had to pay for her plastic surgery. Last week, in the third wedding (the last his father was able to fix without outright begging), the bride ran away with the priest. Abject humiliation of his son led to his father’s immediate cardiac arrest and gradual death. Now, there was no one left to play the flute in his wedding. He could ask one of his colleagues to do it, but he was afraid that his future bride might find them more attractive.


His father had once explained: ‘There are people with bad luck, and people with worse luck. And then there are people like you, my son.’ It was a dreadful jibe, coming from the man who had tied the knot five times in fifty years (Apparently, running away screaming from their house was something potential brides frequently did- both his and his father’s).

In retrospect, he was a little glad for what his third bride had done.


A flute player with asthma was practically worthless, and would end up wheezing rather than playing, so his father had been thrown out of a choir, and became an inebriate, consumed with grief and alcohol. He believed that it was more because of the wine his father had consumed than the shock of the night that his father’s heart had refused to work, like a labourer dissatisfied with his thankless employer and wages.


His father had said something to him, the night he died: ‘People in life are like the air breathed through the flute: requiring more effort to take in than push away.’

He remembered thinking that it was the wine talking.


The one thing he failed to understand was something that perturbed many unfortunates at least once in their lives: Why would nobody marry him? Not everyone was as good-looking as a film actor, so why could ugly people not accept it and move on to better pursuits, instead of rubbing beauty-enhancing creams faithfully every night (not that Gupta did)? It made sense that no beautiful girl in her senses would marry him, but why would an ugly girl not? After all, he had some of the things that every girl wanted in her groom: a sufficient amount of hair (though a little too less for his liking), a mouth with at least half the teeth intact, a half- torn wallet always full of something (not necessarily money), all facial features present, and the like. However, when forced to think about it, he had to admit that the bizarre accent in which he spoke a smattering of English, and the raisin- shaped gap in his grin where his second mother had once thrown a slipper at him, might have made potential brides wrinkle their noses( quite literally; his odor was about as charming as the rest of him). However, he reasoned, what was the good in looking like everybody else? There was something certainly unique about him (something which made three docile women run away on their wedding day).


His real name was Raj Sharma, but the person he had replaced in the band was called Gupta, and somehow, the band never seemed to notice the difference. His identity became Gupta, and the wage record, too, stated his name as that. (Not that he could have proved them wrong- his real, illiterate mother had once used his birth certificate to dry off the oil from the snacks prepared on his birthday. He imagined her thinking: ‘I just finished off the only proof that you are my blood son. Happy birthday!’)


He blamed his real mother for the way he looked- not because of genetics (he didn’t know what that meant), but because of the way she brought him up. A mother was supposed to generate confidence in physical appearance, not to proportionally increase it by constantly refraining, ‘My son’s useless, but he’s handsome.’ Eventually, he started to believe it too. But when he learnt the truth , there was nothing left for him to hold on to- like standing on the edge of a cliff despite repeating continuously to yourself that you didn’t want to. When you finally took a deep breath and learned to rely on the ground below you, you fell on your face.


He tried to extract a tissue paper to wipe away the smoke of the streets and the sweat pooling everywhere, but a chunk of chewed tobacco fell out instead. Even his pocket knew what life had in store for him.


He returned into the painful present when his phone buzzed. ‘The bride’s family has come to see you,’ his stepmother shrieked into the phone.


He sighed to summon nonexistent patience. There was no point in telling her to lower her voice. She still believed that if they had ten miles between them, her voice had to overcompensate to reach him.


Right now, the potential bride was probably seeing the faded photograph taped gingerly to the crumbling plaster, in which the entire family was smiling through their teeth and possibly horrifying her.


His stepmother was probably offering the bride’s relatives the Biscuits (putrid, unbaked pieces of dough which the street dogs smartly left on the threshold whenever she tried to make them eat the stinking, inedible material). He would not even have to tell them what his salary was; their snack budget showed it clearly. If the relatives were courteous and hungry enough to eat them, it would be followed by trips to the bathroom and to the police station, a complaint about food poisoning in both the places.


‘Are you listening, or did you manage to ruin your ears with that awful trumpet?’ A high- pitched squeal followed. Why didn’t the bats have the sense to include her in their colony? She would kill the prey just by screaming.


‘It’s a flute.’ He knew that the word was a sore spot, a reminder of her newly established social status as a widow, but he was avenging himself for her constant taunts when his first bride had run away. (‘Send your bride here, son! Oh, that’s right, she ran away.’)


All he heard in reply was a dial tone.



It was in the process of pocketing his phone that he noticed the girl.

She had an ordinary face, the sort of girl you might pass on the street without turning back. But by his standards, she was beautiful. She was looking at him with true emotion in her eyes.

Could it be? Dare he hope?

She approached him as he played the flute with renewed passion. He wiped his face subtly, unknowingly spreading more dirt across his face.

He smiled, and she looked at him with the same look again.

Not attraction, he realized belatedly.

It was pity.

His playing stopped with a start, and his heart did too.



It turned out that he had inherited his father’s weak heart, along with his terrible nuptial luck.

June 01, 2020 16:15

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167 comments

Daryl Gravesande
17:00 Jun 01, 2020

My god. This is hilarious! Are you sure you haven't dabbled in comedic writing? It's very witty and I loved the characters! Great story, overall!

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Pragya Rathore
17:02 Jun 01, 2020

Thanks a million!! I'm so grateful to you for doing this😊😊

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I liked this story a lot, but I was sad at the end because Gupta didn't get that girl looking at him! I laughed a ton, though. Great work, keep writing!

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Pragya Rathore
16:54 Jun 01, 2020

Thank you SO much, Peachy! I read your work too, and I think you're fabulous!!

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Avani G
23:21 Oct 02, 2020

This is by far one of my FAVORITE stories I have ever read (in general and in your stories). I love the unique twist on humor and I savored every word of it until the end. It really got me thinking about the word "beautiful" and what it really means. Thanks for making me hooked and gasp at the end :)

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Deborah Angevin
23:27 Jul 15, 2020

A funny and unexpected story! I find myself smiling while reading it :D Would you mind checking my recent story out, "Orange-Coloured Sky?" Thank you!

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Pragya Rathore
03:48 Jul 16, 2020

Thanks so much! Not at all!

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Blane Britt
00:15 Jun 24, 2020

Great story.

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Pragya Rathore
17:22 Aug 09, 2020

Thank you SO much!

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Cara H
16:51 Jun 18, 2020

Oh my, poor Gupta! You did a wonderful job with the dark humor in this piece. Excellent work!

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Nandan Prasad
13:19 Jun 18, 2020

Great story! It's funny in a dark way, and the ending is just amazing! Can you please review my story? It's my first submission and I'd be grateful if you could comment on it (and hopefully like it).

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Pragya Rathore
14:09 Jun 18, 2020

Thanks! I'll definitely check it out :)

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Batool Hussain
14:19 Jun 16, 2020

Amazing story: a great start and even a greater ending. Kudos to you for describing everything so well! Mind checking out my stories as I'm new here? Thanks :D

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Emma Lin
17:23 Jun 13, 2020

That was funny Pragya :) Poor dude though lolol

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Pragya Rathore
19:35 Jun 13, 2020

Thanks a ton, Em! :)

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Vineet Bhave
10:42 Jun 13, 2020

I really liked this story... To wards the end I thought it would be a nice ending for Gupta but you just twisted it. Nice work!! I've written a new story as well. Do read if you get time🙂

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Pragya Rathore
11:06 Jun 13, 2020

Thanks a lot Vineet! I'll surely check it out :p

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Lori Colt
19:48 Jun 12, 2020

Bravo. This is a story that elicits lots of emotion, I like stories that pull on the heart and make you feel deeply. This most definitely did. Nicely done.

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Pragya Rathore
06:45 Jun 13, 2020

Thank you so much, Lori!! :D

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Jen Park
23:25 Jun 11, 2020

Nice story:) I loved all the black comedies, they made made me chuckle and gave me a slght heartache at the same time.

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Pragya Rathore
03:54 Jun 12, 2020

Thanks Janey!! :)

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Inactive User
16:30 Jun 11, 2020

I love your story! I have a new story! Please check it out!

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Pragya Rathore
18:16 Jun 11, 2020

Thanks!! I'll surely read it! :)

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Kate Le Roux
11:44 Jun 11, 2020

This was interesting - it could do with some polishing in terms of grammar and timeline but it reminded me of magical realism. I don't know if you intended to highlight his ugliness with images of things like pecking bats and oily birth certificates but that aspect was effective. I like the girl looking at him at the end and his misinterpretation of her look.

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Praveen Jagwani
05:27 Jun 11, 2020

What a romp. Comically tragic. You painted him well. The Gupta who wasn't. Perhaps a little more Showing with dialogue would infuse more flavour in the story rather than the Telling.

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Pragya Rathore
06:13 Jun 11, 2020

Thanks a ton Praveen! :)

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Huma Fatima
12:58 Jun 10, 2020

loved the ending. good work!

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Pragya Rathore
14:07 Jun 10, 2020

Thanks Huma! :)

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04:09 Jun 09, 2020

Nice story.....it was a different one compared to the others that I have read.....great....if u have no issues....will u please help me with my story ‘ A tricky Welcome’ with a feedback??

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Pragya Rathore
05:01 Jun 09, 2020

Thanks Lakshya! I'll surely read it. :)

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07:14 Jun 09, 2020

Thanks a lot!!

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May Mills
22:44 Jun 08, 2020

Your sense of humor was great and the ending was a total plot twist. Nice job! Stay safe and well.

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Pragya Rathore
05:03 Jun 09, 2020

Thanks May! Stay safe too!

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A O
17:37 Jun 08, 2020

I like your writing style. very well crafted sentences. Regarding my personal taste: there could be more to the story. I'd be grateful if you'd review The Pariah of Battlefield Elementary and give your opinion. I fear mine is the opposite, stronger in story than in style.

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Pragya Rathore
18:46 Jun 08, 2020

Thanks A O! Please like my story. I'll surely read yours too :p

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Noor Ahmed
20:49 Jun 07, 2020

This story is so good! I love the ending as well, it's so sudden. Throughout, it was a very heartwarming and entertaining read. You kept me engaged. Please write more stories, for I would enjoy reading and reviewing them!

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Pragya Rathore
04:30 Jun 08, 2020

Thanks a ton Noor! You're so helpful and kind :D

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