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Day 29 – Duty

You’ve been writing enough, by now, that I think it’s time to set you free a little bit…

day 29

The Prompt

Write a story inspired by the theme: Duty

Write a story that grows out of your thoughts (positive or negative) as you ponder the word ‘duty’.

What does duty mean? To whom does your character owe it? Should they?

Will you write a story of sacrifice and honor or one of rebellion (an honor)?

Julie Duffy

Julie Duffy is a writer with a strong sense of justice. But that doesn’t mean she’ll do what’s she’s told. Read more about Julie and invite her to talk to your writing group.

10 thoughts on “Day 29 – Duty”

  1. This prompt hit me a bit different. I needed to get an article done for my monthly newsletter. I had stopped and started it many times this weekend. The first line was “I really don’t have anything….”
    I have had some very loyal readers for over a year, actually almost 18 months. I felt it was my duty to write something for them. So this prompt got my butt in the chair and some free writing gave me around 750 words to work with. (I like my articles to be no more than 500) and 3 days to get it done. SO YEA!!!!
    Thanks Julie. This has been a wonderful month!

  2. It wasn’t an easy start, but it turned into a wife listing all her duties in the household. Had fun with it and made it funny.(I hope!)

  3. I started a story about a person who keeps jumping bodies. The latest body belongs to a football player whose team is on the verge of a championship game. The coach tells the player “It’s your duty to be there.” Not sure where it’s going or how I will keep relating back to the “duty” theme, but I’ll give it a whirl.

  4. I wrote a piece called “Tour of Duty” about my neighbor Chuck Stratton who was MIA from the Vietnam War from 1971 to 2007, at which time he was determined through DNA to be KIA at the time he went missing. He was an Air Force pilot. First person, past tense, 266 words.

  5. I wrote a character background from a longer story. It’s about a mother’s love and duty to keep her daughters safe, even if it means tolerating their stepfather until the daughters are able to care for themselves. It’s 600 words.

  6. I thought of several possibilities for a story about “duty,” and I went with the most personal one. That seems like the best approach in fiction and poetry. For an essay, too, sometimes, but not as much so. But right now, for me, the personal often helps burn through my distanced, ironic stance. Or at least to suggest there’s fire underneath the surface.

    I liked this more open prompt.

  7. If you are brought up with a sense of duty it usually means you know you need to do certain things in life. To be honest, caring, loving, accepting, and kind. If you are in school or any other form of regimen, your duty is to follow the guidelines as set by the person in charge, i.e. teacher, drill sergeant, police person, judge or parent.

    Depending on what part of the world you live in, a sense of duty is instilled in all by one’s parents initially and later by friends. The best way to treat duty is to follow the “golden rule.” No one would feel slighted or misled if everyone including our greedy politicians would follow this tried but true axiom.

  8. I wrote about misplaced duty – so neither honour nor rebellion, just the sad realisation that we don’t often prioritise the right things until we get taught a severe lesson. Even so, managed to end on a high note. Hopefully, my protagonist (a.k.a surely not me) has learnt the lesson going forward…

  9. Why Swarthak Turned The Way He Is!

    Swarthak turns over in bed, winks at the wall-clock before raising his head to find his wife, Sumana and daughter, Sulagna sound asleep in the other bed.

    The time shown on the clock is 4 O’clock. Swarthak yawns. What day is it, today? Sunday. There is no point waking the ladies of the house up. They don’t have office today. It is still WFH for Sulagna though. Swarthak gets up after a while. He has trained himself not to be lured by the thoughts and prospects of rest and respite from early on. By whom was this habit of sticking to a work-schedule instilled in him? It had to be by Ma. That dear lady. Thinking about her, Swarthak’s mind flashbacks to the days when he was with Ma at Barda’s ( eldest brother’s) flat at Baguihati.

    Barda bought it from a noted film actor of Bengal years ago. What was his name? Some Sen or what? Anyway, Barda bought another flat on the third floor of a building nearby on the same day. Whenever he came down to Kol from his home away from home, he would stay by himself in the other flat while Swarthak stayed in the one Barda named “Mayer Ashirbad” ( Mom’s Blessings).

    Mom blessings really proved to be the most blessed and blissful days in Swarthak’s life. Though Ma must have been in her sixties at that time, she was a votary of duties. But for the last few months of her life, when she succumbed to old age, ( What was it that Dr. Bose told them outside the ICC? “Sorry, she has had a multiple-organ failure. We have finally lost to Old Age.”) Ma was Healthiness personified.

    She was the first to get up, bathe, sweep, cook ( her face shining like the coal as she thrust it closer to the oven for blowing into the mouth to keep the coal-fire going, would haunt him for the rest of his life), distribute and serve lunch as well. While the others had an afternoon siesta, Ma would retire to a corner to lie down for a while. She spent that time reading the novels of her favourite authors that she borrowed from the library.

    It would be time then to make the afternoon tea for the family,( there was no end to making tea for the poor lady as Swarthak’s father was a teacher and an endless sea of people kept visiting him!) light the mud oven again, prepare dinner. Even then the chores kept piling on! God! How did she manage it all single-handedly? So committed to duties was she!

    At Baguihati, even in her late sixties, Ma was no different. The mud oven was replaced by the gas cylinder. She had to sit on a small stool while preparing daal on the stove. But that was all. Once she got out of bed, she was always busy discharging one duty after another. It is no wonder therefore, that she suffered from no ailments. No blood sugar. No pressure. No nothing!

    Swarthak gets up, drinks a glass of water from the filter and sits down on the floor for his regular yoga exercise. He says his prayers for the next fifteen minutes before getting up and out onto the courtyard. The storm of the previous night left the courtyard quite messy with all those dry leaves ( only God knew where they came from!) and twigs and what not.

    The Sweeper would come in the afternoon to do her work. There was no need for a retired man like Swarthak to get up so early, sweep the courtyard or engage himself in such stuff. It was a Sunday, after all. The day of rest and respite!

    “Dear, there is no need for you to wash the glass. Let Sulagna do the job.” His beloved wife cuts into his thoughts the moment he is done with drinking the lemon juice preferred by her.

    “I know, Sulagna is there, Sumita. Problem is as long as the unwashed glass is left outside on the steps around the courtyard, I won’t have any inner peace. Something will keep bothering me. It’s best if I wash the glass right now.”

    Having spent the last three and a half decades in close proximity to her husband, Sumama knows it best not to pester her husband to try keeping him from washing the glass. For people like Swarthak, resting is synonymous with rusting.
    The End

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