Category Archives: Short Story

Reading: Shall We Sing About The Starman, Ziggy?

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I did a reading! It was only my second ever public reading and it was really fun. The South Asian Women’s COllective put of a call for “erotic works” by South Asian women. I saw the call ONE DAY before deadline (because of COURSE!) but luckily, I already had the perfect piece to send to them. in July last year I wrote this little flash fiction thing that I called “Shall We Sing About the Starman, Ziggy?”. I guess I was listening to a LOT of Bowie at the time. I was also (and still am) deeply intrigued by stories about female sexuality from a female perspective. This was my attempt at writing that.

More than anything else, “Shall We Sing About the Starman, Ziggy?” is my ode to oral sex. =D

You can read it here. There’s also pictures of me reading. Some of my favourite friends came ❤ I was freaking out hours before the reading because a) I was FIRST and b) I wasn’t sure how I felt about reading as a performance art. But it turned out great! I met lots of amazing South Asian writers and felt very inspired by their work.

Here’s an excerpt of the piece. Go to SAWCC to read the whole thing:

It must be some kind of sweet, sticky suck because that’s how you taste after
you taste me. Agreed, that’s second-hand information and it probably tastes tart or
maybe a little bitter, a little old, a little less like cherry pop. It doesn’t really matter. What
matters is that I like watching it drip off your fingers and into your mouth.

PS: There’s a typo (my fault) in the piece online. The last word of the first paragraph should read ‘pubis’ not ‘pubic’. Totes my fault. I sent them the piece for publication in August when I was super extra major jet lagged.

Link

In awesome news, I won first prize in Talk Magazine’s short story competition! I’ve never won ANYTHING in my LIFE before so this is supermadexciting for me.

So, the story is about a young girl junkie navigating the streets of Bangalore looking for her next fix. It’s pretty gritty. As usual because it’s a story about heroin abuse, it may not be suitable for ALL audiences.

It appears also that I have made the damn cover of this magazine which is like totally rad. After the last couple of weeks I’ve had (what with losing my entire life to Hurricane Sandy- we were part of the unfortunate lot that got flooded out of our apartment pretty bad and after being ‘homeless’ for 20 days, we signed a new lease on a new apartment yesterday, so whew!)… anyway, given all that bullshit, all of this is making me smile.

The magazine is based out of Bangalore. If you’re in India- go buy it!!! It’s only Rs. 10/-

Or read it online here.

Below is an excerpt:

“Frequently, I’d buy half a gram only to find that it had been hastily cut with unknown crystals, sugar, pharmaceuticals and, according to rumour, even mosquito coil ash. There was an ever-revolving door of dealers who came to meet me with this questionable stash. They all gave me the same story, “Kareem’s gone mad.” A scramble for power ensued and, if rumours are to be believed, Kareem was thrown out of his own hovel. Where he went crawling to was anybody’s guess.

Unfortunately, these small-time dealers possessed neither Kareem’s business sense nor his charisma when it came to dealing with the Law. Dealers started to disappear only to re-appear as four lines of a story in the crime section of newspapers: “Man caught with 1.5 kg of heroin at Michaelpalya” – that sort of stuff.

The business of being a junkie was becoming extremely hard. Whenever I’d find my dealers missing or see their guilty mug shots peering out at me from a newspaper, I’d take a trip down to Shivajinagar.”

Published: Short Story, ‘The Black River’ in the anthology ‘Behind The Shadows’

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‘Behind The Shadows’ is a collection of short stories from writers in Asia and Africa, edited by Rohini Chowdhury and Zukiswa Wanner. The theme of the collection is ‘outcasts’ and every story in the anthology touches on this theme and digs into the insider-outsider dichotomy that exists in the world and I’d say, in each one of us if we look deep enough. The anthology is now available for sale on Amazon. So click here to buy Behind The Shadows.

My story is called The Black River and is about Devika, an orphaned teenage girl who lives in a slum with an old woman and her granddaughter- Raveena. When the old woman dies, Devika suddenly finds herself thrust into an adult world where her sexual awakening collides with her maternal love for Raveena and where she turns to prostitution as much out of a desire to experience love as to make a living.

I wrote and workshopped at http://www.zoetrope.com sometime in 2011 or 2010. It’s one of those stories that began with the last line and I worked my way backwards trying to understand why this happened, to whom, when and how. In retrospect, the process is a lot like what Stephen King describes in his book On Writing. He says, and I’m paraphrasing here, that writing is kind of like unearthing a fossil. That this story is already there and we’re just excavating it slowly bone by bone as it becomes visible to us and finally we have the whole thing: this skeleton, this a-ha! moment where we SEE how everything is connected!

While I was developing it, I realised also that I didn’t want to write this stereotypical story of a whore who is coerced into prostitution. Not that that doesn’t happen; but it just wasn’t the strand I wanted to explore. So what came out is this piece about sex, love, loss and longing. Oh yeah, it’s a pretty sad story.

Obviously, there is some sexual description and strong mature themes in the story. You have been warned.

Below is an excerpt:

 

” “Ehh, what do we need money for? We need food. We need clothes. We need … lots of things. Whatever we want, we just tell him and he’ll bring it for us. Listen,” Mala says. She leans towards me, winks and then drops her voice to a whisper. 
“You want a little Old Monk, he’ll get it for you. You want some ganja, he’ll take care of it. He knows where to get everything, yaar, at the best price. So why worry about the money?” she adds.

It’s starting to rain outside but it’s dry inside here while my tent in the slum will be dripping. In my tent, I’ll have to curl up into a ball in a corner to avoid getting wet but here I can spread out and sleep. In my tent we might get flooded again but here…

“I have a daughter,” I tell Mala. “Can I bring her here?”

Mala’s eyes go round and she lifts my shirt up to look at my belly.
“What lies! Where are your stretch marks?”

“Her name is Raveena. She’s eight years old.”

“Kusum, look at this. She gave birth and she has no scars.”

Kusum barely glances at my stomach before she says, “Yeah right and my name is really Kusum.” 
Everyone breaks into laughter and then Kusum comes over to show me her stretch marks. They’re long and white as if the baby clawed its way out of her belly. Her skin is wrinkled and it sags and jiggles when she moves.

“Where’s your baby?” I ask her and she shrugs.

“I gave her to Tony,” she says and quickly looks away.

A silence falls over the room and then Kusum says, “Leave it, Mala. She doesn’t want to stay. She wants to play mommy to some beggar child. Let her and that child starve.”  ”

 

Published: Short Story ‘Edge of Her World’ in Queer Ink’s Anthology called ‘Out!’

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My short story, ‘Edge of Her World’ is finally out! The anthology called, ‘Out! Stories from the New Queer India‘ is available now at Queer Ink’s website. Click on the link or the pic to go to QI’s store and order the book. The anthology was edited by Minal Hajratwala– author of the highly acclaimed ‘Leaving India‘. I’m totally stoked to have been a part of this anthology and I can’t wait for my copy of the book so I can read everyone else’s stories!

Watch this space for information on when it’ll be available digitally, in bookstores and also when the official launch is etc.

Below is an excerpt from my story:

“Rosa,” Kaavya began. “Have you ever been in love?”

Rosa felt herself redden. She lowered her eyes and dipped her fingers in the water below. Her tongue felt heavy in her mouth and without warning tears began to flow down her cheeks. She covered her face with her hands and turned away from Kaavya. Her movement rocked the boat gently and Rosa felt Kaavya’s arms around her. She felt her soft kisses on her neck, her chin and when their lips finally met, Rosa broke away.

“No,” she said. “This… is wrong. It’s… it’s a sin, isn’t it?” she asked and wondered how many Hail Marys she would need to cleanse her soul.

“When did love become a sin?” Kaavya asked, dismissing Rosa’s fears and despite everything, Rosa let the thrill of that first kiss sink into her lips.

It’s easy for Kaavya, she thought later, because there were temples full of naked women holding each other.

Published: Short Story– It’s Not Me, It’s You

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Last March (2011), Everyday Fiction published my short — It’s Not You, It’s Me. It’s a story about a failing marriage and, ironically, was written when I felt the sunniest. 🙂 Weird how the stories come. Maybe they really do have a life of their own and they come out when they are ready, irrespective of how I feel. I wonder if that’s true for other writers/artists as well.

WARNING: The story contains some sexual description and mature themes.

Here is a link to the story and below is an excerpt:

“In Thirunelveli this summer we did nothing but visit your relatives and eat. Every meal was the same: white rice, brown kozambu. Your mother’s sarees were all soft, old and cottony but she insisted that I wear stiff Kanjeevaram silks all summer-day long. She thrust them at me, mute, her lips set in a straight line and then turned around to throw mouthfuls of strange words at you.”