The constant headache


Giri always had a throbbing headache. He had this headache ever since he could remember.

Every day of his life was just the same as the previous day, just like the last thirty odd years of his life had been.

All Giri knew about what he did was that it was a job that needed to be done, that’s all.

In fact, most of the people in his profession were forced into it due to various reasons; some because it was a family tradition, some because they were social outcasts in that they were banished from their communities due to offences they committed, some because their caste or creed was traditionally involved in this profession. Almost none of them did their job because they liked it. Most of them did it because that was the only job they would get in a country which placed a premium on a person’s birth more than anything else.

As far as Giri was concerned, he was an orphan who was adopted as a suckling child by an old man in this profession. He didn’t know enough of the outside world or even care much about it. All he knew was that if he did his job correctly, he would be given the means to survive; food, clothes and some token money would be given to him as remuneration. As for shelter, his workplace had enough and more space to accommodate him in the nights. And the little money he earned, he would spend it on drink to numb his senses.

No day was ever significantly different for Giri. While some days would be a little lax with little or no work to be done, some days would be especially busy with lots of work. These would be the days when the outside world saw natural calamities such as famines or drought, or man-made calamities such as wars or pogroms. However, on such busy days, rather than being treated well for his services, his job would just literally pile up at the boundaries of his workplace, and Giri and his colleagues would have to do their jobs as a free service on such days.

While Giri didn’t have preferences to who partook of his services, he preferred the wealthy patrons, as they were more generous with their offerings. At times if he was lucky, he would also be given free alcohol, tasty food and other goodies along with money for his services.

It didn’t matter to him if his job involved beating up men, women or children. After all, to him, they were just corpses, empty shells, corpses in which humans once lived; they were just burning flesh, tissue and bones to him.

All he had to do was to ensure that the process of burning was uniform throughout and that no predators disrupted the process. And after the corpse was fully burnt, he had to collect the ashes, deposit them in the specified urn and hand them over to the relatives when they came back for it.

The only friends he had were a couple of dogs that lived in the burial grounds with him. His only constant ‘companion’ was alcohol which helped him numb his senses to the constant smell of burning corpses around him and alleviated the physical pain of his work. And this ‘companion’ of his ensured that he always had a headache.

All Giri knew about what he did was that it was a job that needed to be done, that’s all.

Every day of his life was just the same as the previous day, just like the last thirty odd years of his life had been.

Giri always had a throbbing headache. He had this headache ever since he could remember.


This post has been written for the WordPress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts where the idea is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided.

Today’s prompt was “The bizarro world – Create a story in a bizarre backwards world.”

I have taken the liberty of publishing a short story whose first three and last three paragraphs are exactly the same. The way I see it, the life of the only protagonist in this story remains the same forwards or backwards. 

21 thoughts on “The constant headache

  1. Not bizzaro, but I say a creative take on the prompt. The story made me ‘feel’ the character. And you found a character that no one even wants to even think about. I say brilliant to this.
    (PS – I like how you repeated the first few-last few lines. I think I know who gave you that idea!)

    • @Sakshi, thank you, this was one of the tougher prompts and tougher posts that I have had to write in quite a while now. The challenge was in trying to come up with a post which would kind of read the same forwards and backwards.

      And who are you referring to when you say that you know who gave me that idea ?

      • “What I liked the most about this piece was the fact that the terms you used in the last paragraph were basically terms which had also appeared earlier on in the post, but this time around they took an entirely different hue and color of their own,” – Sometimes, we don’t really realise where we pick ideas from. Of course, I am being totally presumptuous here. 🙂

      • @Sakshi, no honestly, I didn’t quite think of it that way, I just re-read the post myself and figured out what exactly you mean only now 🙂 Now this is one technique which I can probably actively explore going forward 🙂

      • @Sakshi, and honestly, like you mentioned in your comment the impact of repeating those lines once again at the end is quite a bit, isn’t it? Sometimes I scare myself 🙂

  2. That was indeed a very creative take on the prompt Jai! Deep and touching. The pain of the main character Giri is brilliantly portrayed.

    • @Rickie, thank you very much, coming from someone whose writing I enjoy quite a bit, this is high praise indeed 🙂 You seriously need to pull me down from Cloud Nine 😀

  3. Jairam, this was splendid. I thought of so many professions — begging, flesh trade but had no clue what you were referring to. So much conveyed in such few words. Great writing!

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