Reading Time: 2 minutes

Two old ladies sit side by side.

Both are hard of hearing.

One is Shama and the other is Masha. Sisters by birth, friends by choice. Eighty-eight and ninety-two, ripe ages with much decay yet plenty left to say.

They chirp like birds and sip on vodka. The reason they believe they have lived so long. Shama is a widow with no offspring. Masha is a four-time divorcee with seven children, four birthed from her womb, three shared with two prior husbands.

Neither can hear the other, yet they talk non-stop, many times out loud together.

Shama is on her second drink and speaks of corruption in the government.

Masha is pouring herself the third and grumbling about her youngest son. The wayward fellow has been in and out of jail so many times that she has lost count.

Shama laughs out loud and claps her hand on her knee. She just made a joke about the new mayor of the town. He looks like a pig and squeals dirty lies to unsuspecting citizens.

Masha, outraged by her sister’s reaction, unaware it has nothing to do with her son’s jail time indulgence, raises her fist and shakes it close to Shama’s nose.

The old woman puckers her face and slaps her sister’s fist. It lacks energy and is more of a gentle tap. Both women grunt loudly and raise their glasses to their lips. Vodka slips down their throats and tickles their noses.

One sneezes, the other shouts – Go to hell! Then both smile and clink their glasses. An unsaid toast to each other’s health.

Shama says her cat needs a new collar, Masha replies that her dentures keep falling out. Shama nods and points at a rose shrub, admiring a new bloom. Masha says she hasn’t pooped in two days.

Both sisters then remember their dear, old father. One calls him a man of faith, the other says he was a heartless pauper. Tears fall and handkerchiefs wipe wet, wrinkled cheeks.

It’s finally time for lunch.

Shama announces she wants chicken soup and bread rolls. Masha finishes her drink and declares she’s going home. She limps away on her cane. Shama thinks her sister has gone to the kitchen.

After an hour, Shama rises with the help of her walker. The kitchen is empty, and the front door is open. She mutters under her breath.

Stupid, deaf, old witch.


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49 Comments on “An Unheard Conversation – Flash Fiction Story

  1. hahaha; what a crazy set up: and yet how could they possibly live without each other 🙂 both are ‘tricky’, which reminds me …..

    • Thanks John! 🙂
      It is a comical situation. HAHA!
      Say what? Eh? I heard nothing.
      Yes, but they do need each other.
      Tricky indeed. Have you got something up your sleeve…?

  2. brilliant Terveen, just brilliant you capture the dignity and fierce independence of our seniors in lives well lived… love it… when one places your shorts side by side they combine rather wonderfully as a ‘Tales From [add name of fictious town or village]…go for it… I have already added it to my Christmas list… looking forward to the next

    • Haha. That’s so kind and encouraging of you to say, Alec. I appreciate it. And life is always worth living and enjoying no matter what the age. Cheers to all those who actually live life beyond the scope of their age.
      Thank you so much. 🙂

  3. This reminded me of my family, a couple of aunties I remember from my childhood, who rather resembled the two sisters in your story, old but fierce. Had to laugh. Such a great story. And two great characters… they really come to life.

    • Thank you so much, Britta. 🙂
      I really wish that I could sit and chat with Shama and Masha. Would be such a delight.
      I’m glad I could rouse some childhood memories. Cheers to all those fierce aunties out there. I think I’m one too. But still on the much younger side. Haha!

  4. No different from any conversation I’ve ever had with family members, acquaintances, co-workers, etc. Who truly listens anymore? Listening is so 1955 when old time radio was still a thing.

    In fact, I recently met a stone-faced gal who absolutely despises small talk, who will actively make people talk just so that she can nod her head in pretend-listening while she tunes them out and loses herself in her own little self-contained world.

    She’s the only person I actively listen to, although she tells me nothing, and won’t listen to a word I have to say. Why I keep talking to her is anyone’s guess.

    But you didn’t hear that from me.

    • Haha! Rhyan you sure know how to make a girl laugh, Hilarious. Listening is so passé. Who does it anyway? And the radio does polish one’s listening skills.
      I would suspect that this stone-faced gal is a bit misunderstood. She probably makes people talk because she really likes to listen. And tries her best to keep up her end by sharing her scattered thoughts.
      You really can’t judge a person by their silence. What they don’t say shouldn’t be held against them.
      And if you do listen to her, I’m sure she must be listening to you too. And why you talk to her is no mystery. It’s all about human connection and that warm exchange.
      Of course, you didn’t hear this from me. 🙂

      • I think Stoney, as i like to call her, makes herself very understood. Hiding behind the mask of scattered thoughts, she likes to go unnoticed, is unconcerned by the presence of others because the entirety of her world is her, and she likes it that way.

        She views those willing to engage her in one-sided conversation as well-trained pets because all she has to do is remain extra still, not a twitch nor a quiver, not even an over-exaggerated sigh, or a shift of her finger in order to get the hapless victims to chatter on and fill her cash register drawer with their free flowing words, while she in return divulges nothing of herself because there’s no upside in that for her.

        She is the Scrooge McDuck of conversation, opening her private vault and diving into piles of collected one-sided conversations.

        Crafty, crafty, is this stone-faced gal.

        • I think you have a brilliant character on your hands, Rhyan. This could be a tiny story. Think about it. As is. No change whatsoever. And I think you are right about this Stoney and her vault of one-sided conversations. Now someone has to stay quiet in this talkative world. And she listens very carefully…very…
          Scrooge McDuck is really cute.
          Stoney goes unnoticed again.

  5. I couldn’t think of a more normal conversation between two like this. Masha says she hasn’t pooped in two days.. I’d be a bit worried by this . Increasing the vodka intake might help…….

    • Don, I appreciate your concern for Masha.
      I wish you could tell her yourself, but she probably wouldn’t hear you.
      Yes, the vodka should do. She’s already on it. 🙂

      • Hold everything. I have just read advice from a doctor (and an Indian one at that). He says drink more water and exercise more. So Masha, if you’re listening, substitute your vodka with water. I know, I know it will be painful but it’s for your own good. Shit, she’s saying Terveen. And also Masha you need to exercise more, so the good Indian doctor says. Double shit she’s saying Terveen.

        Well I tried……..

          • Sounds like Masha’s an irreparable alcoholic and doesn’t have an exercise machine. Well she’s just gonna have to put up with not pooping. I do feel sorry for her though. Sitting on the loo is one of the little joys in life……

            Skip says I should conform and write ‘text book’ comments. How boring I said. He just rolled his eyes……

  6. A fantastic story. Reminds me of the importance and difficulties within familial relationships; and, the need to laugh at ourselves and each other. Extreme seriousness is overrated. Have a lovely weekend, Terveen. 😊

    • I agree with you, Jeff. Laugh and let laugh should be the idea. Seriousness can take a backseat many times. Thank you always for your honest and wonderful comments. They brighten my day. Have a lovely weekend too. 🙂

  7. Actually I love old women couples and I used to meet one of those. They are very cheerful and even humorous, though both were not educated much, for lack of opportunities when they were younger. Still they talk in much less conservative ways than the general environment of conservatism in an immigrant circle. They are even outspoken on those hurtful things they suffered at home and in the hand of larger society. They regret that they didn’t fight back and wondered what would have happened if they did fight back. Old people are just like everybody else, some are remarkable but many are grumpy. I guess if they are in good health and in good financial situations, they can be really happy.

    • I agree with you, Haoyan. 🙂
      Elderly people can be grumpy. I think old age is a second childhood for many. And not being in the best of health can be so burdening and exhausting. And speaking from the heart can be so beautiful. Such people are genuine and trustworthy.
      Thank you always for your wonderful comments. 🙂

  8. I could imagine this so vividly. It was so much fun to read and felt so real.

  9. It was fun getting to know these two young spring chickens. I can’t believe Masha has seven kids. Is her last name Wayans? No wonder she’s drinking. I like how you describe them as having much decay. I think that would make a good dating profile.

    • Haha! That’s hilarious, Tony. She probably could fit right in.
      A bit rusty but ready to mingle and enjoys shots of vodka.
      Who wouldn’t be interested?
      Thanks a lot. 🙂

  10. One day we’d all be old with a lot to say, but we’d be lucky to have a friend who would “not hear” us like that.😁 Such a cute and wholesome tale! 😊👍

    • I like the way you say this. So clever.
      I think just having someone around at that age would be reassuring.
      And conversations are so overrated anyways.
      Thanks so much, Aaysid. 🙂

  11. Delightful read. I have several elderly relatives, and I’m always fascinated at how liberal they are with sharing their thoughts. Loved it. Great short Terveen

    • Thank you so much, Nigel. 🙂
      I think that’s the charm of old age. Saying what you want and not giving a damn about it. Freedom!

  12. Delightful! I imagine I may be like this when I’m an old fart. This also reminded me of the old dudes from The Muppets who sat in the balcony and cracked jokes 🙂

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