2+2 =24 – A flash Fiction

by Chandrika R Krishnan
“Shilpa’s concepts are like the muddy waters collected under the subways post a downpour. IX standard would be tough,” the teacher said with all the solemnity of announcing an impending disaster.
Shilpa’s and her mother Aarti sat and poured over the mathematics books, one with evident distaste and another with camouflaged distaste.
If only the cows were left untethered to graze all the grass that they could or if the trains traveling in opposite directions were just left to be, the life of Aarti, Shilpa would be that much easier.
Arithmophobia was the bane in Aarti’s life too. Whenever she saw any number including her weight on the weighing scale, her head whirled, her ears buzzed, eyes went all cross-eyed her brain clanged and she went into a full shutdown.
A happy single mother, these were the times when she wished that she had a strong man who could take over teaching Math to her daughter while she escaped to the farthest balcony in the house.
She sighed. If only wishes were horses, she would have remained married to the man who would have been more interested in her rather than the numbers in her bank account.

(This won the May challenge conducted by Beyond the Box.  The prompt was on phobias)

This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’
hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla
in collaboration with Zariya Healings.


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ambica gulati June 10, 2024 - 12:08 pm

Wow, I didn’t even know that there was something called Arithmophobia. Your story highlights an issue faced by many of us. Now, let me look up ways to get over it :P

Caroline June 11, 2024 - 12:10 am

I don’t know about Arithmophobia but my head does whirl when I see my weight on the weighting scale.😂 But joking apart this was a heartbreaking story of Aarti is left an single mother coz her husband was interested in her money more than her.

Ratna June 11, 2024 - 8:48 pm

I love Math. Yet, I feel the mother in your story. But I believe she took the right decision not to hold on to a bad marriage. Math can be learnt. Being a nice person can’t.

Harjeet Kaur June 11, 2024 - 9:21 pm

Oh, I can relate to the story so well. I am Aarti to the T. Single mom and Arithmophobia to the hilt. When I see numbers, I see taare zameen par, to be exact. I am clueless about my finances and have struggled all my life. I cannot overcome this problem at 60. Can I? Amazing short story, though.

Meetali June 12, 2024 - 2:51 pm

What a profoundly imaginative piece of flash fiction! The narrative in “2+2 = 24” skillfully intertwines mathematical paradox with human emotion, creating a compelling tapestry that challenges conventional wisdom and invites readers to ponder deeper truths. The author’s adept use of metaphor and symbolism is truly commendable, evoking a sense of wonder and introspection. This story is a testament to the power of creative storytelling in illuminating the complexities of the human experience. Bravo for such a thought-provoking read!

Manali June 13, 2024 - 1:59 am

oh no! so this thing has a name too? I too am a victim of Arithmophobia then. I can understand Shilpa’s anxiety, phew!

Janaki June 13, 2024 - 12:38 pm

A short fiction–so relatable and powerful. I now know that I have Arithmophobia too. Numbers intimidate me.

Samata June 13, 2024 - 2:53 pm

Arithmophobia – Is the word that became the heart of this flash fiction. I was not bad nor excellent in Maths… In short I was good in every segment of mathematics except Geometry.. what should I name it :( Geomethophobia …. not exactly Phobia but I never liked geometry …. the fact is that JISKO MATHS SAMAJ NAHI ATA TO USKO NAHI ATA…. so kya kare… other than accepting the truth. A brilliant Flash Fiction.

Priya Singh June 13, 2024 - 7:44 pm

First of all, I didnt know about Arithmophobia and I think I suffer from it too. Although its heartbreaking, I feel raising a child takes a village and you are doing great even if there are things beyond your control.

Madhu Bindra June 14, 2024 - 11:02 am

I have heard of fear of numbers but I didn’t know it had a name. Lovely story. I liked how you wrote in all kinds of numbers.

Docdivatraveller June 14, 2024 - 12:30 pm

I am not scared of maths but really fed up of tutoring my 6 th grader. As a mom, most of the roles are just piled up on us, rather than waiting to be chosen by us.

Kaveri Chhetri June 14, 2024 - 3:09 pm

If there’s anything called Arithmophobia, my elder daughter definitely has it. She hates maths. I would’ve gone crazy if I had involved myself in their academics but I stay away n m at peace. I let them figure… hahaha!

Ritu Bindra June 14, 2024 - 7:27 pm

I didn’t know we had a name for the fear of numbers. I didn’t fear maths but I didn’t love it either. Lovely story and a unique take on phobia prompt. The last line hit hard.

Pamela Mukherjee June 14, 2024 - 9:04 pm

I was quite interested in the brief paragraph that went into great detail about the story, even though I had never heard of arithmophobia before.

Felicia June 15, 2024 - 12:15 am

Wow, that teacher really knows how to make math sound terrifying! I’ve seen firsthand how some students develop arithmophobia. As a math teacher myself, I know it’s crucial to strike a balance between challenging students and keeping things engaging. I am striving to make math more accessible and less daunting for my students.

Anjali Tripathi Upadhyay June 15, 2024 - 8:30 am

I absolutely loved this piece! You’ve captured the frustration and anxiety around math in such a relatable way. I had no idea there was a name for the fear of numbers. It’s a lovely story and a unique take on the phobia prompt.

Varsh June 15, 2024 - 6:39 pm

Parenting is tough, and with our own phobias to deal with, even harder. This was an interesting take on the prompt and highlights how single parents have to juggle and face everything alone.

Aditi Kapur June 15, 2024 - 7:26 pm

What seemed to be a light hearted story, turned out to be a arithmetic phobia entwined in life! Parents are ready to compromise if the question is of their child’s life.
Lovely read:)

Jeannine June 17, 2024 - 12:54 pm

I’m happily married but I’m with you when it comes to teaching math to my daughters. It’s really quirks my brain that has been relying on calculators all this time. haha…Moreof, math nowadays for school children are way more advanced than what we used to do/have🫣

Ishieta June 17, 2024 - 6:40 pm

This story has so many real stories woven into it, whether the math, the absolute nonsense of calculating distance and speed of trains traveling in opposite directions, single motherhood, and people who base every decision on numbers.. well captured! and written!


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