non fiction

My favorite novelist remains Fyodor Dostoevsky till now. Tolstoy, I read much lately, but Dostoevsky quite early. I remember having read one of his books may be on a journey to my father’s blend a good book with a trip is impressive as you feel like floating between two Xanadu’s. It was a small town in the middle part of Kerala near a brook that floods in the rainy season. And in those years, there were  kind people to treat me there. I read one book of Dostoevsky in the tiny room of my dad’s ancient but modest house, that had my grandma’s antique stench permeating. Though the house was small, the wooden doors were heavy like metal and if my memory is good, beautifully carved too. In those eras, I had an affinity with Raskolnikov, but I craved to be a Svidrigailov .His thoughts were quite novel to me in adolescence..In the degree class, I wrote an article on my favorite author in the regional tongue, and nobody except my friend read it. But life takes you to other shores, and you forget  Dostoevsky completely .For a decade or more . Once a friend in Delhi[his name is Devi-a short form of Devinder I think or something like that] whom I met in a gathering.  shared my thought that the Idiot is Dostoevsky’s best work. Still I had not read it wholly. I had to read that book after another decade plus years and finish it amidst a family get together in a big park. When there is a classic in your hand, family meetings have added charm, you don’t know which is better, reading the book, or conversing to those loved ones.Still, both are among the best experiences on Earth. But the one book that troubled me from the depths of heart is the Devils. I could never forget  Stavrogin.

Brothers Karamazov. The library in our town did not have a copy of that book. I ordered the Brothers Karamazov by V.P.P. My generous father will always pay my bills .Even in my early forties. So I am lucky that way. Before the book was ordered my dad asked me, ‘’ Is it necessary? cant you get it from library or friend?’’. I said, ‘’No” and was adamant to get the book, and he did not ask anything further. Sometimes we are conscious of our luck only when we miss .This was plausibly a situation like that.

The Resurrection of Tolstoy, I read much later, in the upper berth of a railway  compartment on a journey that took two days.Perhaps my first journey to the north of the country.  As Hemingway said his works are prophetic, but by all means, I cannot compare him with my youthful hero, Dostoevsky. English writer and  librettist E.M. Forster in his analysis of characters-[ flat and round]- reveals that there is only one author, who had created characters that are all round and that is Dostoevsky. I am writing this piece from memory, and the text of Forster is not with me right now to double-check. War and Peace I read much later, and perhaps the longest book that I had read as far as reading time is concerned, and it may be about eight months. The reason is that I was enjoying almost every paragraph and also my reading routine had diminished by then, and there were other important things to do and settle in life.










The Chess Master Bride

Short Story

Gooseberries and chess bring to me disparate memories. Perhaps, this is the second story I might have crafted on the theme of chess, the first one unpublished. I had written two, at the best I think so, or I had wished to write about the game of chess. First of all, let me tell you my interest, privilege, affiliation or authority or lack of all these, to write such a one, except being a whimsical storyteller-

 From childhood, say from the age of ten, I played or observed this game, first played with interest but observed with little enthusiasm, as I had other passionate activities at this stage with the local kids… I have observed the games of Petrosian, Paul Morphy, Bobby Fisher, Capablanca, Mikhail Botvinnik, Kasparov or the moves of Anatoly Karpov or some other master. But I have not seen the new contestants, because by that time, my interest in this game shrivelled to such an extent that the very thought of it brought to me mixed feelings of loss and struggle…Still, I would like to write about the game as it has some tie into certain members of my immediate family because my younger brother who met with a tragedy was a champion of this game.

May I tell you with tremor and a feigned puissance, conceivably a wrong one, the remaining of the anecdote? In my fifth class, I got access to an exclusive club called Civilian Club of Masters because of dad’s standing who was a notable civil servant in the British era as well as Free India, and our home then was in Nasik, a town in the western part of the country. We lived in Nasik and Deolali for a handsome number of years and it was where my younger sisters (twins, younger to me by five or six years) were born and also died. My mother was half British and half Indian and she was a stenographer in British service till she wound up to settle herself as a housewife.

I still remember how I blubbed in that midday, a lad of six, alone under a gooseberry tree, over the loss of his sister. As for gooseberries,(just based on my memories, not scholastic) they are of two types. – I am not checking Google to find if this is true- The first type has strong rough inner flesh and tastes bitter in the beginning but on further chewing turns sweet and the second type of gooseberries are soft and fleshy and sour and sweet and changes colour as it ripens. This tree’s branches are not as strong as the first type, and I was sobbing under this second kind and now a middle-aged lady who was our family friend came with her hubby and told – ‘Raju, you have another sister. Don’t weep my brave boy’, or something similar to that. But that sister also died within a few weeks due to a similar disease of the type of dysentery and these were twins, and my mother’s condition plummeted to depression. But she was not the one to give up…


Mama’s demise…


After my mother’s passing, my father bereaved for three years but later married  a remarkable lady in his workplace who became my stepmother and the greatest force in my life behind all my endeavours.  She hailed from a middle Travancore village. She gave me a sister and a brother for me…

My brother in turn became a genius chess player. I was in a habit of drawing animals. And my dad saw that I would not make a good chess player. And I painted though I had a delusion in those eras that a painter’s life is not a grand one. And my brother and myself pkayed the game of chess whenever we got time, and ince in Denver after a play tour, we played two days at a stretch. In my youth, a major tournament took place in Reykjavik  between Bobby Fisher and Boris Spassky  and the interests of the youth in our boondocks turned to that play and we both as a rule immersed in the game. My younger brother had a coach, and I recollect him arriving to our apartment in the evening saving for the weekend and he was paid per hour, and though it was my sibling who was playing the game, I was evenly engrossed in the game ensuing my curiosity in it tower that I matched a rival to him. This happened in a larger space, I grew a competitor to him in the rooms of life as well on the chessboard. His tutor was a college senior who participated in the National and had a graceful squint on his left eye and was gaunt with a pleasant stamp. He arrived in an auto cart that was parked till waited till the session was over. The coach was paid on an hourly basis by my dad though he did not play the game he applauded good players. Once the coach came with a little boy who was to become later the national champion. Both of us, my brother and I became masters of this game playing most of the time, and on the journeys we took frequently, we played, in railway compartments with people who knew the game and we carried in our satchel, a chessboard and the pieces. This was a game sometimes I imagined callous or fun and deep focused, and sometimes vexatious and during our stopover at Rezaabad, I noticed people playing at the doorsteps of their dwellings

-(To continue)

Story Seven Burgundy


Station.I think I have seen him in a dream. The dream. Now. And myself. Which of these three is a falsehood? I question. At that point I met him…I talk. We go to an eatery. My cousin wiped out. Didn’t come. 

Coming here after blue moon. Last time was to see aunt in I.C.U. in a medical clinic. Medical clinic was a film studio when I visited this spot in before college. I saw actor P. there in a good way. The actor was handsome . Uncle knows studios.Once he attempted to act, yet fizzled. He was a family man who cherished children. Aunt cried in the l.C.U. No words. Possibly she thinks of bygone eras. Perhaps she thinks about my plight. I sold every one of my properties and came there. A pauper. Her lineage got affluent.  My dad and his sibling (aunt’s spouse) were more like friends. Possibly she contemplated that. Possibly she pondered the couple of moments or days she has on this planet. Anyway she cried. There was love streaming without bounds.He was a decent uncle. My newfound friend -Food. Talk. His mom gave him this name.Aberastasuna. Means wealth. He is wealthy in habits. Rich talk.Like the flow of the Rhône. His grandfather played in 1934 World Cup. His walk was more like a hop ,but beautiful. He came from a Jazz Festival and told about his place where the rivers flow to South. I like him. I talk- My life. My dad. My raising in a small  town. I become familiar with different dialects. Knowing love is better than knowing dialects. He inquires. Was it an exercise in futility? I say- No. You love and express in multiple  tongues. He looks.Love is good. Love is life. It attracts best things . I like that flavour. He had Chablis and Scallop Risotto.l had pudding.We talk.Time passes- 

I don’t care for that minister. When a cleric offended my mom for wedding from another religion.Ironically I wedded from the same community of that cleric who admonished my mom. Life sometimes takes a 360 degree turn. We can’t resist. 
I welcomed him. We will meet in the rose garden. Rose nursery before the Archives, where I do research. (It is now November.Cutting time.Still…) In the parterre we will sit overlooking flower beds- I say.
Why ?-He inquires. ‘Just that,’ I said. I would prefer not to leave behind an old buddy . I should see him again in wonderful spots in future if possible. Yes, if possible.


The Raconteur

Short Story

Connaught Circus. I had supper with an aged narc who was my friend during that season. The restaurant was striking with teal windows on either side. This dining assuetude was something I emulated from my good buddy A.S. When I reached down the street, it was dark and the narc went his own way… A gentleman in the shadows. He was drunk and stumbled on my path and while vaulting up, abused me as if it were my mistake he fell on my track . A very sordid phrase if my memory is right . I knocked him down with a hard one on his left cheek. He stumbled and drooped again. That was how I was taught in the village. If somebody abuses you, offer a blow. While rising up from the ground, he uttered smilingly that there is perhaps another way of reacting.

The gentleman further informed that he has a story to tell . In the interim , presented himself-‘ I am so and so, the raconteur’. We shook hands and parted.

I saw him again ,one early afternoon at Mohan Singh’s Place and he asked me while I was worrying about our serendipitous meeting. “Do you have fifty bucks to spare?. I had no lunch”. I said- ‘Sure. But, what will you give me back?’. I was very matter of fact in those days and in the prime of youth. With a sentiment of general nonchalance that was my run of the mill air.

“I will tell you a story”, the raconteur said. I gave him fifty rupees , and he rendered the story…

“Sometime in the distant past-There was a king ruling in a dust bowl land.” I interrupted-” I think, I have heard this story before” .He susurrated- ” This is a different story.”

And took my permission to depart saying, “Pardon me,I am ravenous “.And with a splitting guarantee ,continued- “I will finish the story later.” No big surprise, I didn’t see him in the following two years, in that huge city.

One fine day I was with a companion walking around the B.J.Park.

Here I met him again.He outdistanced me from behind and halted in front . In a blunt accent, put in –

“Do you have another hundred rupees?” I gave him that sum exclusively to impress my new companion with whom I was strolling.

The friend either imagined that I was very generous or foolish.But I didn’t get further statistics on that issue. In the wake of accepting the cash he said- “Where did we stop?”

And began portraying a couple of lines and stated, the Black Minorca or open sesame, Electra’s anagnorisis, or something relevant or irrelevant. Then he ogled at my friend. “I am busy”, he said and went.

A couple of years passed. I met him inadvertently on a beach in the South. I needed to take several minutes to remember him. “You have transformed”, I said. “You as well “, he said.

Now, he began narrating the rest of the story. “The Prince turned into a man. He wedded a princess from another nation. Also, he went to another nation to grow the fringes. His peripeteia..The third stasimon… “. Things like that. This time I was more interested in him than the story.

“Would we be able to meet tomorrow evening”, he inquired. “”Sure- what time?” I inquired. “Evening, around this time,” he said.

The waves were colossal and the breeze was brackish.

Precisely on the time proposed, he arrived.

“If it’s not too much trouble,disclose to me the remaining part of your story-I requested.

“Much obliged for giving me your time”, he was extra courteous.

Then said- ‘You are the story’.


Black Swans-8

Black Swans 

(Short Fiction) 

Section- 8

Father ,mother –


 You know, I cannot get back those old times. I can only give back a portion of the love that they gave me. In the district library Francis the librarian checks books. He knows a lot about books. Occasionally he peeps into  the street corners as if there were something. Then he comes back and engages in laughter and merrymaking and work…

It was a winding climb and I was immersed in the beauty of the landscapes. I felt tired and hungry.

I stole  some apples from the neighbouring field and ate it. A man came and asked-  ‘Who are you?’

I asked back-

‘Who are you?’

‘I am the apple field owner’, he said.

‘I am –- from the South. I was hungry  and stole a few apples from your field’. 

‘No worries- When you are damn hungry, you can eat anywhere.That is not supposed to be a theft’. 

‘What do you do?’,he asked.

I said something.

He said, ‘Come to my house.

My wife and daughter may welcome you. Moreover, my daughter studies your subject’. 

I went and was the guest of them for two weeks. 

Then, while departing, the man said.-

‘I like honest people more than smart people.I have many more apple gardens. You can look after one of them and stay with us.’

But I had other plans.

In the valley, it was snowing.  The deodars were swinging in the wind. The sky was lambent.The winds carried the smell of bitumen.

The Bodybuilder -7

The Bodybuilder -7

The bodybuilder was alone in those days. He always carted the load and climbed the hill. The hill was very steep.One day he was approached by two elderly people while looking for passengers to board.

The first one asked-

‘ Chap ken ye ferry me ov’r to the hill ?’.They were very old. The bodybuilder agreed. The old sire gave him a lot of money. The next day, the old beautiful dame approached him. “I have no money. Will you take me up to the top of the hill?”-She asked 

And the bodybuilder agreed. Truth be told, they both were angels. The angels  liked the bodybuilder. They invited him to their rest house.

They served him mămăligă and wine.

There, they both mentored him.Told the secrets and hidden nexus of life in parables. Many of the teachings were already narrated  and taught by his third- grade teacher at the Junior School.

The angels are gone. The bodybuilder has become a new man.A novel outlook. Slowly his mind changed. He still did the old things he used to do . But he did those things in a new way. Based on the narratives of the angels His sorrows quickly departed . He was even happier. He smiled often.He breathed his last one evening on the slope of the hill.

His last phase was a miracle.

Years later, that hill and that village were named after the bodybuilder.


Black Swans

Cisnes negros

¿De qué estamos hablando? Esa historia, venía de Viraj con gafas negras. Hablemos, me dijo. “Sí”, dije, hablemos. Era una aburrida tarde de invierno. Llevaba una camisa negra. También tenía un bigote espeso. Había una sombra oscura debajo de los árboles. Vine después de ahogarme en el río. Mi cabello estaba mojado. Me dijo que hablaríamos. Hablamos. No te rías – dijo – pero yo me reí – él no estaba enojado – ¿fue una broma? ¿O fue algo serio? No recuerdo. Pero fue muy divertido. Compartíamos la historia entre nosotros. En ese momento, me puse muy nervioso. Soy consciente de mí mismo.

¿Has estado en Viraj? Viraj es un lugar hermoso. Está rodeado por un denso bosque. No, no es realmente un bosque. Un gran jardín denso con bambú silvestre. ¿Recuerdas el ruido en el bosque de bambú cuando sopla el viento? Sí, lo recuerdo. Esta historia es también la historia de esas horas que pasamos en el bosque de bambú.

Los guardabosques llegaron muy tarde. Mientras tanto, el cuerpo del animal estaba sin vida. Las primeras en ser vistas fueron las mujeres que habían ido a cortar el césped.

Los guardabosques llegaron muy tarde. Mientras tanto, el cuerpo del animal estaba sin vida. Las primeras en ser vistas fueron las mujeres que habían ido a cortar el césped.

El primer forestal dijo: El cadáver del animal estaba bien descompuesto. El segundo guardabosques dijo que estaba ligeramente deteriorado. El tercer guardabosques no dijo nada. Estaba escribiendo algo en un libro.

‘¿Quién es el hombre?’, Preguntó. Dije: “El que respeta a las mujeres. El que la ama y la hace su compañera ‘. Y muchos más. Ella dijo que no. El que la adopta en su dolor, el que la deja en su propio mundo. “Le dije:” Puedes ser nihilista “. Ella dijo:” Eres viuda “. Le dije: “Eso es suficiente por esta noche. Además, estoy cansado. Luego caminamos hasta la orilla del lago. Los cisnes blancos estaban nadando allí. Ella preguntó:” ¿Has visto el cisne negro? “Le dije: ‘No Ella dijo: ‘He visto’. No pregunté: ‘¿De dónde’? Tal vez lo vio, lo recordé.

No lo se – me dije

Recuerdo esos dias. El día que juró decir la verdad. El día en que se quemaron todos los diarios. El marido preguntó: “¿Qué tonterías escribiste en tu diario?”

El tambien tiene dientes blancos

También tenía el pelo espeso. Mi mamá me dijo. Mole, si es bueno …

Mamá, dije. No estamos enamorados … Esto es algo triste, pensé

Todavía recuerdo esa risa impecable … Era una fría noche de diciembre. Por la ventana soplaba un viento frío.

Mi padre dormía en la habitación de al lado. He tenido asma. Ese día vivimos en un resort de lujo rodeado de montañas.

¿Quién es el valiente? El que conquistó todos los picos con su mente .. En tus ojos, vi esa noche. Olas en Krishna. No lo dudes. No nada. Sin sombras aqui

En la vida, solo hay dos verdades. Ambas vibraciones. Amor y muerte. Pero ambos están más allá de la vida. Lo opuesto al campamento.

Su hermano. Me preguntó: “¿Qué has ganado con el amor?” Dije: “El amor me hizo un dios, en ese momento”

En el camino de regreso a la ciudad, los dos se sentaron en asientos opuestos. Tu hermano compró el boleto. Octubre. Tiempo ventoso. Cada vez que el tren llegaba a cada estación, compraba cigarrillos y fumaba. Compraste el pastel de nueces. Cuando llegó a Erode, preguntó: “¿Por qué fuma?” De una forma que dificulta nuestros argumentos. Pero sé, tienes razón …

Fuimos al juego a las seis en punto.

La película era “Thacholi Othenan”.

Me gustaron mucho los “cuentos del norte”. Anhelaba ser parte de mis sueños de adolescente.

Pero no tenía ni idea de cómo llegar. Y los problemas que conlleva.

Ojalá tuviera la sabiduría de los cuarenta en mis veinte.

Nos volvemos tontos cuando intercambiamos nuestra historia con las historias de otros.

Hablaste de música en nuestra última conversación. Regresabas de tu gira italiana. La brevedad de Verdi. Pasión. ‘Arruinaste la vida de Xavi’,

Tu hermano dijo: “La válvula del corazón está rota”. Estabas acostado en el hospital más grande de la ciudad. A.C. Soy uno de los pocos visitantes en la sala. Tu hija adoptiva te ha servido.

  Nosotros vimos. No pude verte de nuevo.

Dos años con mi hermano. Lo sé.

‘Kuttamkulam’, donde nadamos y buceamos.

-¿Tienes hambre?

Tienes que caminar un poco después de la casa de Jafar.

Recuerdo el camino hacia el río.

  Puedes ver los carros de bueyes que van a cargar la arena de los lechos de los ríos. Ponerse una mochila escolar en la cabeza era un pasatiempo en ese entonces.

Por un tiempo, envolví libros con elástico.

El fuerte descenso al río ‘Katangode’, ¿te acuerdas? Seguí ese camino tres décadas después. Cerré los ojos y bajé por el río de esa manera.

Fue entonces cuando me di cuenta de que hay muchas fuerzas en nuestro cuerpo que no sabemos que existen. Que tienen el poder de hacernos avanzar.

Yo mismo estaba asombrado.

¿Cómo hice esto? .. Hierbas que crecen alto a medida que el río sube. No me atreví a mirar el espacio abierto al lado. Mi primo..

Ese día le dije: “No dejaré a mi madre pase lo que pase”. Eso es para él …

No me sentí divertido … Mi madre estaba detrás de todas mis buenas acciones. Enseñar a las niñas a vivir y no olvidar su propia existencia … Mi madre me enseñó a pensar. Fue solo después de que mi madre se fue que me di cuenta de que la presencia de mi madre era tan profunda … Cuando pienso en mi madre, pienso en las deliciosas recetas de mi madre … Madre en el Departamento de Agricultura … Era la dependienta. Se jubiló como superintendente junior. Fue la primera mujer educada de su familia. Fue el matrimonio amoroso de mi madre … En los primeros días vivíamos en las dependencias del gobierno. En ese momento, el tío de Pramod, que trabajaba con mi madre, era nuestro amigo de la familia. Era fanático de Kumaranasan. Era un nativo del Distrito Sur. Más tarde se convirtió en un amigo cercano de su padre. Solían discutir cuestiones socioculturales entre ellos … El día en que obtuve más dinero en mi vida fue el más estresante … Entonces se dio cuenta de que no había conexión entre el dinero y la paz … El propietario del autobús Mahendran recuerda el día en que se suicidó . Eso fue cuando estaba en la escuela … Hay otros usos del dinero. Cualquiera puede comprar comida … puede comprar. O puede comprar medicamentos para un paciente desconocido. Puede pagar la factura del médico. “Ninguno de nosotros puede comer chapatis de oro” (esto es lo que dijo un amigo)… Algunos momentos extraídos de la vida. En el camino le pregunté: papá vendrá ese día, hagamos que sea un día, vamos. Dijo que, a veces, vendrá y otras no. Entonces que… nos dijo… a papá le gusta salir pero la situación actual no lo permite… Hay algunos momentos felices en la vida. Este es uno de esos … yo … Fui a su casa junto al mar para volver a verlo. Ese día trabajaba para ganarse la vida. No tenía trabajo que decir … Así que volvimos a su casa. Son más que nosotros. Aunque pensamos que era fuerte, su esposa vino a nuestro encuentro con muchas esperanzas. Sus voces estaban llenas de una benevolencia especial. Fuimos allí de nuevo pero no pudimos ver a nadie. La casa quedó huérfana. Después de la muerte de mi joven padre, no había nadie para trabajar en el regazo. Annan y los murciélagos ocuparon mucho espacio …

Mi tercer viaje a Vairaj tuvo lugar después de la muerte de mi abuelo. La tía siempre está leyendo libros gordos. Durante mucho tiempo hablaron muy poco. Un cambio fue evidente en su naturaleza. No sabía si era por separación o por alguna otra razón… Me gustan las bromas abiertas. Sí y bromas abiertas. Quien habla de eso también lo disfruta- prosiguió. Pero no miraban sus palabras, sino sus ojos. ¿Es esto una historia de amor? En cierto sentido, no todas las historias son así, ¿verdad? Amor por el hombre. Amor por la tierra. A los animales

Al cielo, a la noche. A las estrellas. Para gente desconocida. Veces

Xavi, te amaba. No quise arruinar tu vida. No. En la práctica, en agilidad-Sí –

En el mundo de los colores, en el ruido de los sonidos, en las cataratas de las palabras, en el triunfo de los pies (en vano), he olvidado muchas cosas.

No soy tan egoísta como crees.

Aún necesitas saber esto. Érase una vez yo vivía solo para ti.

No sé dónde nos volveremos a encontrar. Yo te amaba. Amor. No podemos devolver la vida como la aguja de un reloj. No importa. Además, no es obligatorio. Todavía tenemos una mente. De ahí el contexto en el que ocurre

 Vendrá. Vendrá y se irá.

Pero sabes esto

Te amaba.

Amor – ¿Qué es eso?

– (Trabajo ficticio en curso)

The Bodybuilder

Short Story 


She generally figured her dad as the most attractive man however who won’t neglect the difficult wreck that risked her mom’s life in her youth.Here in this domain he is equated to a heavenly man. Perhaps with valid justifications. Yet, she had not seen that stage of his life any longer than different individuals from her family. Counting her mother. Her mother regularly said that she resembled her father. Smart. Half sage. Half magician. That was a psychological blend that she got from some place in her youth, from a headshrinker or somebody in a similar calling. Presently thinking back, she doesn’t have numerous decisions to bring to the table on multitudinous issues of the world. She is vulnerable even to light a flame before the dimness that envelops, from time to time. While sitting tight for the haulier these considerations went through her psyche’s eye. She held the pack of belongings down waited for the human transporter to the pinnacle, where mules won’t track, nor trucks, nay these are disallowed, as the folks classed these grounds holy…
-(To continue)

One Day in the Life of Islay Keen

Short Story

Islay Keen stays in the city. She has two children. A girl and a boy. The boy is plumb. The girl is thin. The girl is artistic. The boy, a mathematics wizard. She sends them by private auto to the school which contain a few other children from the same school. The children will get in at different stops on the way. The auto driver is her neighbour. He stays in a colony adjacent to her own.Islay Keen works in a private office. She is the assistant to a bossy man who thinks with no valid reason that the world owes to him. This is a special state of being. You can see such elite gentlemen at airports or supermarkets, breaking the queues and getting the order or ticket. I leave this topic to the psychologists among my readers.In like manner, Islay Keen persevered through the working environment because she had a family to take care of and she is the sole breadwinner. Her husband is a sick man. He would seldom be able to go to work. But he is a decent man. He has a warm smile and after waking up from bed in the morning, he smiles at the neighbours. At daybreak, the neighbours will be routinely walking to the park He stands at the balcony and smiles at them. Smiling is a good activity. It beautifies the curves of the mouth. And it adds honour to the face that does it. In an interview, people who are smiling have more chances of getting through. The world revolves around smilers. In case you can smile on your deathbed, you are a winner. So best smile over glare.
When she married she did not know that the future would be so, her husband had a day job in another country and after the accident in the factory, he came home invalid and sick, though the insurance gave him some money which he spent for buying books. And he wrote stories from morning to noon, tales of warriors or heroines that lay unpublished or are unpublishable, at least now. In the afternoon he took a nap because imagination made him more sapped than actions. He foretold her that one day he will be a great writer, though he is still that great writer just unacknowledged for the time being-‘ Humanity has not risen to my expectations. However, today, though I am not a good writer, I can be a good man.’ And before marriage, he often took some poor neighbours’ children to school and bought them brittle candies and promised them that he will buy them storybooks when he has more money. The children believed him, because he was good enough and maybe better than the best around them. But unfortunately, the accident took away the hopes of him as well as the kids. It is a terrible irony in life that those who have a good heart seldom have means to put their feelings in the three-dimensional sphere…
What were we talking about – Yes, Islay Keen of 31st apartment, Eleventh Cross, Cantonment Road, Behind Power Station and the Crocodile Pond, East City.
In the university eras, Islay was a good cyclist. She and Shanti Kishku were the only two girls in the whole college to take part in that sport… In the conservative college, the students’ parents did not allow their girls to take part in cycling sports. They instead took part in volleyball and tennis. Her college was run by a religious community to which she belonged. She could not get many top medals in the intercollegiate competitions though she was good at cycling, because other colleges had good coaches and they were lenient in practice timings. But she did not grieve that. Even after her wedding, the cycle was kept preserved in the thatched shed by the house. When her son was born, she wanted to take him on the bicycle and show him the village and town. She waited for the third birthday, but when the third birthday came, her husband said, ‘it is not safe to take the kid’. So she paused for another year and on his fourth birthday, she made a cushioned seat in the central bar and took her son and gave him directions to catch tight on the handlebar. Her hubby did not dispute this time. She took her son and while riding explained to him all the things that might have inspired his curiosity on the ride. It was as if viewing the world from an entirely another angle. But a tense situation happened on the way. At a curve, a lorry raced fast and she had to use all her expertise of the instrument to avoid the mishap. None of them slipped, and she parked the vehicle by a tree and tarried there for fifteen minutes trying to recapture the disaster that was sidetracked. After that, she did not take her son on the bicycle. When her husband asked her one day if she was not taking him out on the bicycle, she just said- ‘It is not very safe’. She did not tell her spouse about the averted accident. Her partner peered deeply into her eyes but did not tell anything…
One day, Islay Keen’s neighbour Shanti Kishku visited her house. She is smart, coming from another town. She runs a boutique. She offers some new items. She gives presents as a proposition of the business, a top for the child and an excursion wrap for Islay. Moreover, they are old mates. Since both had their lunch, they engage in leisurely talk. They speak for an hour. By then out of nowhere rain is pouring. The women take a gander at the water drops outside the windowpane and proceed with their light palaver. Before long, Shanti Kishku gets a call from her life partner and leaves. It is evening time. It is time for Ishlay to go to school and pick up her children. Today is Wednesday and the auto driver won’t come, as he has another part-time job. Islay goes to the school and gets the two kids and she sends them by the city transport. She sees them off at the bus stop in the wake of getting them espresso from a close to the eatery. The coffee shop has little legroom, at any rate clean. She eats two Osmania bread rolls and the kids eat four. It is a bill she can bear. By then she goes to the office. On Wednesdays, she had taken special consent to go late to the workplace. But she will slave away overtime. Today, she has another appointment. She goes to the Lot Market to get her gold bijouterie pawned and get the cash. The agent is sharp, in any case, genuine and he catches on to old customers and gives more cash for them. She is insouciant and she plans to go to a film. A night show in a good theatre. The workplace will be over by 9 p.m. There is security. So there is no problem. Today she won’t take her children or her partner. Children will be safe at home with her husband. She talks with her friend Shanti Kishku over the telephone.It is 9.30 pm. The two women now marshal the queue before the theatre. She sees her accomplice in the workplace. He questions with his eyes quizzically. Islay grins and a brief time frame later ignores the chap. She makes a joke to her friend. They both laugh. The film will begin soon. And they are conjuring up the story in the celluloid. Furthermore, out of the blue, it downpours and the two ladies go to a covering shed close to the main structure. They smile again at the atmosphere and the glorious night sky.


The End

Adventures of Subrato-Part-3

Long Fiction

SUBRATO had a good friend at college. His name was Naseer. He was his roommate in the G.C. Hostel. Naseer was from Bangladesh hailing from Bhairab area near Meghna river. He was tall and of medium complexion and was smart. While rising up in the morn, he will address in his funny Shakespearean way, ‘thou mewling plume plucked miscreant, wake up’-

Subrato would reply- ‘Thou, tottering folly fallen clack-dish, get away’. In the supper-room, his friend will tell -Thou, saucy,unchin-snouted pumpion, welcome-Subrata will retort– Thou unmuzzled rump-fed lewdster, take your seat- And they both got through Shakespeare. But with minimum grades. In the earlier days of boarding life, Subrato had acrophobia and was scared about going to the balcony on the 5th-floor and look down. His friend told him that the best way to cure fear is to do the thing we are afraid of. Once the mind convinces itself with direct action, it is another experience and can be repeated in life. This applies not only to fear, but every difficult action. Once over, the brain will admit it as a reality. We can laugh it away. Fear, of course, but do it anyhow. But never anything against life, yours or others’, as life is precious…Rustic landscapes stretched enormously. Distant gleams. And a few tents erected by gypsy groups at a distance…
For a while, Naseer was interested in Voltaire, Maupertius’s pursuit problem, the precision of the equinoxes etc…Then,he switched interests.
One day he asked the senior cook, ‘What is your age?’
The cuisinier said, ’38’.
Then Naseer said, ‘That is a lucky number, the number of the American roulette wheel’. Then he told the quizzical audience that he used to play online casino games. He knew, of course, many things, more than the lecturer. Once, about a teacher, he said that the gentleman should read, ‘The Peter Principle’. And he taught Subrato one day the Peter Principle, sitting in the Museum garden. It was evening time and the music was pouring from the open radio in the middle edifice which was designed as a hexagonal room with pillars and open spaces. After leaving college, Subrato met his dear friend once accidentally in Tuileries garden, and then both were with their wives. Naseer had a grown-up boy because he was espoused quite early in life. Subrato was newly wedded, then. Later, when the latter’s mother departed, Naseer sent a letter, to Subrato’s home address and Subrato did not know how his buddy got the address. Quite later in life, Subrato lost touch with his friend.
—(To continue)

The Old Rendezvous

Subrato went to the street to get a close-by gander of the blooms that the florists sold. They were jovial and loquacious to regular patrons. Who was carrying on the flower to the passersby? There was a gathering at each crossing. Music emanated from the church close by. The churchyard later became a place for the succeeding generations to visit… Some famous people had their final halt in that terrain. There we a political genius, a master and an entertainer and a specialist. Now Subrato went to the second terminals street to see his old aunt who was living with her younger sister. After, her husband ‘s end, his aunt was residing with her sibling. The younger sister had a kid who was working abroad. His family was with him in New Jersey. He comes once in a year, the last time was when his father passed away. Subrato’s cousin had two adolescents. His daughter went to discotheques often, and his son started living separate, though he was not yet eighteen. These were his major headaches because he wanted to bring up his children in the traditional way… But when he came to India with family, he hid his troubles before his folks and put on a happy face. Now he is thinking about shifting over to another faith because anyway, he has a bundle of cash but no tranquillity, and he holds this new journey can exalt his soul. When this world is done, he will have authentic tastes of peace. That was how he thought.
From a distance, Subrato viewed the burial ground and could mark the burial chamber stones and wild hedges painted at random intervals. This was one of his most loved spots and when he was 25 years old, he contacted the place first and he was brimming with excitement. He used to relax on a concrete bench under the rank of bowers viewing the cemetery that was a mile or two away, near the East Gate of the garden. Off the greenhouse and there was a memorial service site and he ruminated on the shortness of human existence. Those moments were just the reverse of his rambunctious years in the university with buddies always around, eras of merriment and hilarity… At the university, he was a good speaker and could make extempore addresses. Then he wanted a change and came to this beautiful city of gardens and started preparing for the National Examination. He went to the big park consistently with his history learning sheets and perused diligently sitting on the concrete chair under a tree. His optional papers were literature and World history and Indian history. Even though Literature was familiar to him from boyhood, history was a subject he learned later. He was a complacent guy then and he wanted to crack the National Examination, alone without the supervision of an instructor or coaching courses. But soon he realized his folly and later thought he could have studied under a tutor. But in course of time, his interests changed and he reached some interesting places and met interesting personalities that he had not imagined. In those years he received a fixed amount of money from home which was just enough for food and lodging. As he got the funds from home, he would render for the hotel manager and then he has no pocket cash. To the stature of the fiasco, his 100 rupees note was pickpocketed in a swarmed transport. He got just 300 rupees for a month from his parents. In those days it was okay for endurance if you don’t have a rich inclination. He wanted to see a portion of the shows. And also those occidental moves that he wanted to see. But could not. Later he could come back to this city and would go to all the shows with his friend when both were better off in life…
This Botanical Garden was a preferred locality in those days. He even studied some of their botanical names. He even touched some trees and embraced some trunks, and he is not sure if the trees can remember those gestures. He does not retrieve which trees he hugged when he came back after two decades… That was fun in youth, because he had no friend in the city, except a boy who sold wares in front of the hotel and spoke his mother tongue. But the latter was always working hard to make both ends meet. He was luckier because his mom will send occasional fried fish in Horlicks bottles through some neighbour who happened to come to this city on some private business. He remembers regular walks to the second biggest library in the country, where books were kept aesthetically and in order and students occupied most of the chairs.
Once he purchased two tickets for the film, ”Summer of ’42”, [1971 American film] but had to leave the city suddenly as his mother wanted his presence there. He transferred tickets to the gentleman in the next room, who was a railway guard living away from his family… The fumes still came from the distance, which made him ruminate upon the scene of life. He was close to mother and in the boyhood, he thought he will die with his mom when she passes on. But that didn’t occur. At the point when his mother passed on Subrato was 40 years. In any case, he didn’t figure it grand to kick the bucket at that point. He cried yet he didn’t pass on, he had a family to take care of. Still, he had his own life to savour, and he needs to live it to the level fittest but, he didn’t have the haziest view of how to do it. These late turns throughout his life were something he was unable to predict… Subrato got an auto-rickshaw and advanced to see his aunt…
–[From a work of Fiction in progress]

Young Man in a Journey

In the gallery there were four or five slaves and they were conversing with one another about the ace who was to show up that night. I conversed with one slave since he knew great English . I asked him if slavery had not gone. He told that officially it is so, but not in actual life in many places. However some masters despite everything kept slaves and besides the working condition and nation was poor.That was news to me. He uncovered to me that he didn’t turn into his very own captive with knowledge .His mom offered him to the master when he was just ten years of age. I asked him how he learned English and he revealed to me that his dad worked in espresso ranches of Europeans and knew English well and he taught the kid at home at whatever point he returned from obligation. The kid had a decent accent as well, and he further revealed to me that his dad kicked the bucket of chest contamination and after that the family got poor. His mom was wiped out as well, and after he was parted, the master provided great cash to the family for food and medication of mother. I found his sober description, Kafkaesque but did not respond quickly. Instead took time to study the subject and new environment. In life, in every second, there a surprise, may be a hidden surprise, that life offers as a present.He disclosed to me that his master is kind. This stunned me as in I had met one more youth in the course of my life who had not known his real worth. This was maybe the second or third time and I had never felt that human mind will go to such lamentable lows because of destitution or other outside explanation. Precisely thirteen years back , I had witnessed an incident of comparative nature. That late evening, I was coming from the place of my instructor, after a long meeting. My dad had by and by sent me to this educator to make me to adapt profoundly on subjects like social manners and great conduct and furthermore contemplation in light of the fact that my dad felt that these things are fundamental for a decent living. Returning to my lodging, I needed to go in a packed transport and my next seat was occupied by a youthful gentleman , smart to look at and talking great English. I was astonished by the scope of his vocabulary even in casual discussions. He conversed with a few people. My interest was incited. Since the journey was to keep going for about an hour and the transport halted at various bus stops for the travelers to get in , I thought to calm my fatigue by talking with this youngster, whom I discovered fascinating. I asked about him and he addressed that he hails from Kerala which was likewise my motherland. We communicated in Malayalam at home and other working languages outside, as indicated by the circumstance. Being my country man , my curiosity exceeded limits. I asked him about his education and qualifications. Furthermore, it astounded me to realize that he is a PhD. in English Language and Literature from one of the most prestigious institutions of the nation. I asked where he was working and he told that he is functioning as a Part- time correspondent of a night daily.This stunned me and as it were enough to blow a gasket.Such a talented youth for all intents and purposes squandering his years away…While departing, I offered him, maybe the best guidance given by me to a young man – Never sell for small things in life – I continued, except if you are into full time prayer or contemplation. I think, he paid attention to me.

— (From a work of Fiction in progress)