Fiction | ‘Dots’ by Ruby Singha | Creative Writing Workshop

She confined herself to her 68 square feet room, erected books in a delectable manner, with a table lamp close by that was barely enough for her reading. When it was time to sleep, she rolled out the mat that was earlier upright, rolled and coiled it in concentric circles – the symmetry of which could bring about a hallucination. Today she has picked up the least scary book from the shelf, reading it for the 3rd time, ‘Afterlife: Ghost Stories from Goa’. She had picked it up years ago from a book fair with her mother. 

Mother was never interested in novels or any books for that matter. She was interested in cookbooks though, which she read visually and with some help in humming and crooning along with the alphabets. Reading in this single genre, had become a routine that she had committed to follow. She had made herself promise to be wholly consumed by ghostly spirits, unseen, in darkness. The day her mother died, she was not present and when she arrived, she was grateful to her relatives for waiting. The pot-loiba ritual (annihilation of the body elements – fire, water, wind and earth) was previously decided to be performed in her presence, but she was quite late, and they completed the pot-loiba without her. 

Avri was flustered, as she tried to recount that, and that short memory was a haze, blurred under unconfirmed chronology. Fragments of her memory speeded back and forth in her mind. One uttered, “Your mom had nail marks on the neck, pointed: certainly not of human.” Another hissed, “The house had seen paranormal activities since some time. Your mother often complained of running noises from the terrace, some women wailing.” 

All these little things seemed to frame a common, underlying plot of a horror story or film. Though her mother died of arthritis and also due to her frequent respiratory problems, she couldn’t ignore all the voices that caged her.

People’s voices. Whose?

Ever since she had arrived, all the voices seemed the same. Olivia, the tall, model cousin clawed her fingers around the glass, pouring alcohol in the backyard secretly, murmuring something. Little Sana’s round glasses which looked more like an old granny’s pair than those of the pretty kind looked very offplace on her.

“Sanarei, come in. It’s your dinner time.” The girl’s mother called. She slept early, and so had to be fed and tucked into bed.

Olivia hid the cigarette and hummed to a hipster song. She was considered ‘spoilt’ for a small town person. After the aunt left, the girl took the liberty to position her cigarette again, and headed back to her chain of thoughts. Blank. A blank stare. To the empty land spread out of the house’s backyard boundary. Avri couldn’t help but transport herself into the horror scenes on TV. The scenes where the characters tend to go out around midnight and seemingly welcome fear to take shape through ghosts. But it seemed justified here, it was winter, and the verandah was vast and the fire across the grill kept them warm. 

It was the perfect opportunity for Olivia to indulge herself. However, the grill was empty; a family can’t eat non-vegetarian food for 12 days after a person’s death. The fire, though, burned non-stop, battling the winter chill. 

When all the rituals were dusted away, lasting several days, when people started to leave, they all seemed to eye her strangely. A strange commiseration. There was a similar, sensitive and emotive phrase everyone appeared to convey. Some through their eyes, some through a bidding embrace, a tap on the shoulder and some via a rub on the back. 

Everything seemed to lead to one question for her. A peculiar tongue. For the first few days, the people buzzed in and around her, while her mother’s images flashed now and then. In her sleep. It continued for nights. On some days, her mother would be standing by the unfinished painting. She had worked as an art curator and was a painter too. She had projects filed under the desk, but she chose to paint with her mind. A reminiscence, that was too hard for her to form at the moment. She couldn’t differentiate; what was real and what wasn’t. She picked up her notes on Hilma af Klint art. Her eyes stared down the lines and circles and shapes that she admired. She smiled briefly, she knew her mother’s appearances were a mockery of her illusions. Her grief and guilt were assaulting her with images of someone gone. 

She walked back to the room, and saw a man in plaid button up shirt, tucked in grandpa trousers. She smirked and tried to avoid him. 

“Avri,” someone muttered under her ears. She was fearless at this point; and dressed up in a new, white linen sweater and a pair of beige tapered pants. She dug for the most scary book, but they were becoming too regular for her now. Like the neighbors clattering around next door. At times, in a serious demeanor, she thought of herself as one of ‘The Five’ and performed her own attempt for communication with the dead, an area of self-acclaimed expertise.

“Did she return? For real? Am I the one rejecting it? Can the dead come back for real?” She pondered.

“Did the folktale turn out to be true? Did a cat cross over my mom’s body and now she has turned to a hiyangthou (a ghost in Manipuri folklore)? She doesn’t haunt me, but has she somehow retained her soul in this house?” 

Her brain couldn’t carry weighted thoughts anymore and her eyelids, dropped to sleep. 

She woke up briefly, half sleepy, and saw her mother by her side again. Very calm, her hair combed and face made up well. Her lips were scrubbed a well-balmed pink. She was definitely not a ghost. Is that how she died, peacefully despite of all the mongering whispers of people? It was probably better then, if she passed that way. 

The next day, she rolled the mat over her, capturing herself in sleep, the floor was littered with books, warped chart papers and half drawings. She felt a sudden urge to throw up, and headed to the washroom. Her eyes went almost blind at that time. She could just see black everywhere, as though it was the only color that she knew, that she painted with: the one color that comprised her world. 

She slept randomly for days, woke up at odd hours but, also remained fed and full.

The man and her mother talked by the bedside. Her condition had become untreatable and she had to be sent away for advanced care, which her mother hesitated to do. 

She held the painting that lay unfinished, it was a pencil outline of a photograph within a photograph. There were dots. Like puzzles. But who would join them correctly? 

Alive or dead, who’d vouch for which? Within the 68 square feet room, what she had created was her own story. The dots of their story, her and her mother’s, were disconnected but also proportional to the years they had been apart. 

Avri reached home, clutching suitcases and neatly packaged paintings. She was already being called a mad woman at her workplace and in the neighborhood where she stayed. Three days before she arrived home, on the computer screen, words were chaotic. The lines, the letters, all scattered, and a message popped up from a person whose name quite correctly read as Dr. Ghosh. 

“Mother is dead.” 

Ah, the arthritis! Poor mother, bastard daughter. She gulped down some tablets, one after another, keeping a 10 min gap between each. 

Mother had maintained the house economically and skillfully. Seven years was just like yesterday. And just like yesterday, she had the same meal her mother had cooked for the two of them after hunching on the kitchen stove for a fair 40 minutes; after coming back from the Sunday market. The kettle was still boiling, fresh on the gas, the cat purred in from the window, the camphor wafted down from the top of the cupboard, a familiar smell of roasted puntius from the backside grill – her mother’s favourite side dish, came bearing down as well. Were these the smells from before, remnants? The agarbatti smell of the morning puja dived in too, the ones from the usual packet, with Shiva on the cover. A faceless man had accompanied her till home. She didn’t recognize him. She couldn’t recognize herself too. She was losing her identity apparently; she touched her face and slathered her hands on a smooth, flat board. But she could paint whatever she wanted there as well. She speeded to the room upstairs, to the sacredly stored books and childhood elementary memoirs of art, and rummaged along the torn and wretched spine of the art book of class 2. The faceless man, or Dr. Ghosh, was it? He told her to draw a piece of her fondest memory, which she could relive. She held the pencil, sharp as a knife and teared through a surprise parcel box. But she had lost it. She has lost herself in a riddle. A riddle of dots. In the rudimentary art books, students were made to join the existing dots and form the shape of animals, things and figures. One incorrect seam would make the art drawing go wrong. 

25th February: a mad woman, with a name tag, red-faced, black sparse straight hair, and skinny physique, died of a sudden cardiac arrest, an old klonopin clawed in her hand hermetically. She had diseases, many of them.

Avri’s dots had aligned to a straight line, and found way to afterlife.


Ruby Singha studies English (MA Literature) at Delhi University. A poetry, prose and pizza aficionada who, when not writing, reads up on Neapolitan pizza and keeps trying to make one. Born in Silchar, Assam, she considers Shillong as another home.

Fiction | ‘Cake’ by Ananya Damodare | Creative Writing Workshop

We were seven when we met in Sanjaynagar Sahakari Vidyalaya, a municipal school in Pune.. Savitri and I had seen each other before, but I never had the courage to approach her. Kids from our chawl never played with me owing to their parents’ inhibitions. We lived across from each other in Sanjaynagar Chawl. Her mother did laundry and took up cleaning work at a couple of societies nearby while mine made chapatis for the kids whose parents were busy. Her father was a Rickshaw driver, who also ran a simultaneous, ironing business. My father, on the other hand, alternated between drinking and running a ‘recycling centre’ or put simply, he was a bhangarwala. He collected trash and sold it but didn’t make as much money as my mother did. Most of the trash in his shop consisted of bottles emptied by my father, and it was fair to say he went to ‘work’ when our one-room home had no space for new bottles. 

In a place where no one was doing particularly well and where everyone was quite far from making ends meet, we were even farther. My household was notorious for its drunkard who downed enough liquor for the colony, while Savitri’s was as ideal as it could be, with hard working parents; they had saved up to buy a second hand TV and a fridge, her father was immune to the disease infested by “desi daru” in a place like Sanjaynagar.

I would be lying if I said I had friends. Parents wouldn’t be appreciative if their kids were friends with me, and well, people in the chawl knew everything that was going on is their neighbour’s lives.,  It seemed fair to me. After all, they all heard my father yell at the television well into the wee hours of early morning, , as if news channel panelists could hear his yelling. 

Bad influence was around them already, and the last thing they would want for their kids was to be friends with the daughter of the drunkest of the drunkards.

But Savitri never had qualms about things like these – she shared her chapatis with me in school even when she had only one at times, she became my only friend and didn’t shy away from admitting it in front of other students, she even came to our place so the we could do homework together. 

We played together, ate together and studied together. I shared my fantasies with her – going to a movie theatre, taking a trip to the mall, eating out at Relax which served the best Pav Bhaji in the city. But the one thing that we wanted really badly was to have a birthday cake. We were not sure why, of all the luxuries we could possibly want, we wanted cake. Maybe because everyone shared everything in Sanjaynagar, and cake seemed to be a reasonable choice, being something that is also traditionally shared. There were no birthday parties in the locality, none of us had had cake. I think a lot of us would be happy if our parents remembered our birthdays.

“We will have cake together; I won’t have it without you, and you don’t get to have it without me. Promise?” She held her hand out for me to take it and seal the deal. I did. It was more about experiencing it together than the taste itself. 

She was the first and the only friend I made. Turning down invitations to play Dabba Aispas if I was not invited; she would refuse to leave till I was done with homework. And she would leave when the kids talked about me.

Even when she really cared about me like a true guardian, I felt jealous. Of what? She had everything I didn’t – friends other than me, a normal family, good relations with neighbours, a father who wasn’t a drunk. 

***

Savitri had been spending a fair chunk of time with her mother, trying to teach her English. I was left alone with my father. My own mother was sceptical about that.

She had started taking me to her work in one of the societies. Often, she would get busy with the chores, and I usually ended up talking to the house owner’s daughter. She mostly asked me to bring her water, and bring it again with ice, and then with more ice. Noticing what I was being subjected to, her mother,  asked her to invite me to her birthday. 

My first birthday invitation.

I walked home that evening and dropped by Savitri’s place on the way. Seeing her busy reading to her mother, I felt something rise within me. I would never share a moment like that with my parents, my mother was always too busy and father, was, father. Dejected, I changed into a dress that my mother’s employer had given me for Diwali. It was the best I had; a white knee length dress with blue frills around the neck, and pink flowers all over. 

On my way to the party, I saw Savitri playing langdi, hopscotch, with the kids from the chawl. 

“Where are you going?” She asked as I approached them.

I stood there, staring ahead. I thought about our promise of eating cake together, probably watching the look on each other’s faces when handed the triangular pieces. Could I do that without Savi? 

But. She was playing with other kids, something I could never do. The hundreds of times her mother came to meet our teachers and the way her father took an active interest in her life. 

And the tiffin, she always had a full, content tiffin for school.

She could do without cake today.

 


Ananya Damodare is a third year student at the University of Wisconsin, Madison studying biology. Ananya has spent most of her life in Pune, Maharashtra. She hopes to pursue a PhD in molecular and cellular biology. Ananya enjoys reading, and believes that fiction is a way to humanize facts pervasive in other forms of writing. She has done a summer course in fiction writing at Brown University. Ananya enjoys volunteer at educational organisations, reading and is involved in neuroscience research at her college.

Poetry | ‘Our Handicap’ by Protiti Rasnaha Kamal | Creative Writing Workshop

The limp of a man is hard to ignore.
Imagine if he had a crutch, his wing?
If his dreams didn’t soar
but he did,
how great that would be?

Such a man and I were friends a summer ago,
His limp and my lisp, were one and the same.
He walked along the streets writing with his feet,
I paced on streets as our spoken words stood still.

I was his wing, for a day or two perhaps.
I made his curse my burden
But I had to leave, his sorry pocket
behind,
Because mine now had treasures,
A wing of a different kind.

So I flew away, in the arms of clouds
Bank notes swirled too, as if in a race,
With birds, with flies – with the breeze and its sway
I left the man long ago, he has given up walking,
Now, he traces his steps on a piece of paper,
the same piece where I used to carry my lisp.


Protiti Rasnaha Kamal was born and raised in Dhaka, Bangladesh. She is a recent graduate of Mount Holyoke College,Massachusetts, USA where she studied Neuroscience. Her writings have been published in Dhaka Tribune and The Daily Observer.
 

Fiction | ‘The first time I met you’ by Sharjeel Ahmed | Creative Writing Workshop

Do you remember the first time I met you, my dear? It was at a dusty summer resort just outside the city, nine summers ago. We were there for our friends, who were celebrating a birthday or, maybe it was an anniversary. I had come with a date, the girl I was seeing then, and you seemed to have come without one.

I had agreed to be there for my friend because it would make for a fun getaway with my girl, and you had agreed to be there for your friend because she wanted the company of her boyfriend and all of her girl friends for that celebration. Neither of us had found ourselves in that old, resort looking for someone, but what did we know? You were wearing a red t-shirt, and I, black. Your pants were black, and mine were forest green. Both of us had some funny shoes on, the canvas kind. You hadn’t tied up your hair, and the first time I looked at you, it took me more than a few seconds to look away. Do you remember how you looked that day? Oh, you looked precious, a childish laughter danced on your face, and I thought, ‘Ah, cute!’

We had reached the resort just before noon. In a couple of hours our large group settled down at a sufficiently large table for lunch. I wonder what it was that made us sit diagonally opposite each other; with twenty other people there. It was so easy and natural to look at you. My ex, for some reason, sat two seats away from me then, with the host couple between us. At first it confused me, the infectious laughter in that place; maybe there was something funny in going out with a large group of new friends, half or more of whom we were meeting for the first time. 

But the experience was the same for me as well, so why was I not laughing? They’d break out in loud bouts of laughter over the smallest, silliest of jokes. It seemed like they were competing to make jokes, and I felt so lost, so out of place. You saved me at that table, or rather we saved each other. 

Looking around after one of their jokes. I chanced upon your face, also blank and really beautiful. I couldn’t look away. Your puzzled search for the meaning of the joke, ended on my face. A little taken aback, you laughed. We laughed like that, you and I, every time our friends cracked a joke, and we were glad they did not notice us laughing at them rather than with them. There was only us at that table; and we, as one unit, became the audience to a stage of 18 actors of a slapstick comedy. You may not have realised it at the time, but those moments, my eyes holding the attention of yours, became some of the most precious memories of my life. 

***

I made you laugh on the staircase. Having fun, I asked you, and you opened up in laughter, throwing your head back, making your hair waver. The sound of you laughing uninhibited; seemed to unlock something in me. 

The actors moved towards an upper floor, where they would dance in the dim light to jockeyed music. You and I, made some excuse, separately, to reach there late. I was so glad we had done that, although at the time we did not know that we would run into each other outside the hall, in the wide open land of the resort, even as our friends rioted inside its rooms. 

The staircase was small and squeaky, the iron rusted, and you were slow in your steps, so I held out my hand for you because I was already on the ground, and after blushing a little, you gave your left hand. A soft hand, like that of a child’s but not that small either; I wanted to run my thumb across it, but it would have been inappropriate. After you came down the stairs, you took a deep breath and pressed your lips together. You looked at me as if scanning my face, staring at me with your cheeks pulled back in a smile. Then you let go of my hand. 

We walked together, in large circles, in small and slow steps, breathing an air that felt fresher than before. You asked me about her, and I told you, and I asked you why you were there without him, and you said there was no him; that you were still looking. I guess I am just not lucky enough, you said, and then you might have seen the doubt in my eyes. We did not talk about the breeze or how fresh and soothing it felt even under the hot sun, and there was a dearth of cold water out there but we did not talk about that either. We watched in silence, the syncing of our lazy steps, movement that would have told any voyeur that we did not want to go back inside. 

I do not like dancing, I told you, and you nodded approvingly. You shared your fear of dancing in the presence of anybody except the closest of friends. I nodded. We assumed the others must all have been enjoying themselves on the dance floor; because nobody had bothered to check on us. But it had only been a short while, ten minutes or maybe twenty, and we had to walk back to our friends. I had to find my girl in the dark, and dance with her.

***

My girl did not tell me that she was waiting for me, but I found her dancing by herself, seemingly relaxed and happy. I danced with her, keeping an eye out for you. You danced with your girl friends only, and even though two guys asked you, you turned them away. You disappeared soon, and I kept dancing with my girl. It seemed like a long time because, with each step of our feet, I felt a need to see you again, to even dance with you, but maybe we were both afraid of that. 

Later, we moved to the poolside, and these children, taller than you and me, started pushing each other into the pool. Some girls objected to the pushing, and  were left by the poolside, still splashed with water, including my girl. She told them not to do that, but she couldn’t stop giggling. They kept throwing water on her until she was quite drenched. You kept a straight face and told them no, and threatened to leave from the poolside too, so they left you alone, and I did the same as you, but they were not as keen on drenching me anyway. We were glad to be left out of the water games.

When we had to leave I shook everybody’s hand and to some of them, as if courteously, I said this was fun, we should do it again, so that when you were near I could hold your hand and tell you goodbye too. It was raw, it felt like cheating, with my girl beside me telling her goodbyes, and me holding your hand and telling you it was nice meeting you. 

When you let go of my hand, you let go slowly. You looked sad. Did I look sad too? 

Do you remember any of this, my dear? 

You see, I remember all this, but I don’t remember your name.


Sharjeel writes short fiction and poetry, and may or may not complete his first novel. He has a background in print journalism, and he lives in Hyderabad, India. Three of his short stories have been published by digital magazines. His blog is here.

Fiction | ‘Magenta Walls are Ugly’ by Sheba Ghosh | Creative Writing Workshop

It was day three of being back at home. Vajra won’t speak to me, or even acknowledge me. I have known him for a whole year and in that time, I haven’t liked him once. Not that he had bothered to show any love either. His disdain for me was quite apparent when I came home and found wet clothes drying on my bed. I wasn’t gone that long, a month at most, but he had already replaced the beautiful pale lilac colour of my bedroom walls with the gaudy, monstrosity of magenta. I could almost see the toxic crimson-pink fumes rising up off the walls and suffocating me. Vajra’s heavy lilted speech could be heard invading my thoughts with, “Don’t be such a drama-bitch, bitch!

Vajra’s dark heart seldom showed itself beneath the slick exterior of the suave techie that he wore everyday. Tatai, my son, can’t see it either, while I could, a mile away. From the time he creeped into the everyday stories that Tatai shared with me, to the way he avoided my eyes the moment we met, I could tell that something was wrong about him. He didn’t say or do anything wrong. It was just a feeling at the pit of my stomach.

The bitter after-taste of reminiscing about Vajra was interrupted by the arrival of Jabru. A tiny, round-faced, matte-brown skinned maid who pretended to work at our house. She was no better than twelve of her predecessors who worked here, but she kept to herself.

She was like a bus that didn’t wait for passengers to get on. She wrestled the key out of the heavy oak front door. From the balcony, she picked up a broom, smacked the side of her leg with it and smiled indulgently. I had never seen this kinky side to her before. But then again, I had never really bothered to know her before. I cleared my throat out of habit. She glanced my way, sobered up and commenced her ‘work’. A peculiar smell of old sweat clinging to sun-dried clothes, cheap perfume and fresh sweat, followed her into my bedroom. I was oddly comforted by the familiarity of that smell.

Jabru swished the broom in semi-circular arcs mid-air and made her way towards me. She spotted a splotch of magenta paint on the floor and busied herself with scratching it off with her nails. That was one of her eccentricities that made her unique. She was hired to wash utensils and sweep and mop the floor. That was all. But over the years, she had taken it upon herself to rearrange my closet regularly, and by extension ensured that I never found anything immediately; repurposed the containers in the kitchen so that, again, I never found anything. 

She once started a one-woman cockroach hunt in our house and massacred a city’s worth of cockroaches the same day. She also bathed a strange cat with my son’s expensive shampoo. The cat, unsurprisingly, was never seen in our neighbourhood again. Jabru worked as her fancy saw fit. It would be a miracle if she actually performed the duties that she was hired for. Often, Tatai and I completed all her work before Vajra came home. Vajra, however, was no fool and understood everything. 

Once, Jabru had casually sauntered into Vajra’s study. I only heard him say, “Out!” The terror in Jabru’s eyes made me feel that he probably said a lot more with his face. He was my son’s live-in partner for almost a year now and I still hadn’t become used to ugly behind his chiselled face. His features were set symmetrically enough to a handsome, fair, excellently-groomed man but his eyes shattered that image.

Jabru met with the same, vicious resistance, a little more than a month back, when I first noticed that Tatai was prone to longer, recurring migraines. High on the fumes of her occasional bouts of magnanimity, Jabru sauntered into their bedroom with a pink dusting cloth in her hand. She ran out immediately, her eyes heavy with bewilderment, and came into my bedroom. She closed the door behind herself and plonked her budget-sized bottom on the swivel chair.

After a few moments, as she probably tried to collect her frayed thoughts, she looked me with tears of accusation in her eyes and said, “Didima, how can you let such a thing happen right under your nose?”

This was the first time Jabru questioned the nature of Tatai’s relationship with Vajra. I pretended not to understand and said, “Let what happen, Jabru?”

“Didima, can’t you see that there is something terribly wrong with Tatai dada?”

“What do you mean, Jabru?”

“When I entered the room, Tatai dada was smiling and talking to Vajra dada. He did not look sick at all. Then Vajra dada gave an injection and he started to look lost and fuzzy. I asked Vajra dada what was wrong with Tatai dada and he slapped me!”

Goose-pimples slowly rose up on my skin. I decided to deal with the issues one at a time. I sent Jabru home, promising her that I would look into it. When she left, I walked up to Tatai’s closed, bedroom door and knocked softly.

“What do you want, this time?” Vajra whisper-screamed at me.

I was taken aback by the level of hostility. It was as though we had been at war with each other for over two hours, when really, we hadn’t even spoken to each other in a week.

“I want to see Tatai,” I said to him.

“He’s sleeping. Come back later,” Vajra said and shut the door in my face.

The next few days passed similarly. Jabru came and went about her work to probably avoid having a conversation with anybody in the house. The day I left, I  figured that I couldn’t take it anymore. That my son was sick, and in pain, and I couldn’t even hold him close. It had been a week since he had last stepped out of his bedroom unassisted by Vajra. That day, Vajra left the house on an errand. I quickly sneaked into Tatai’s room and was shocked to see him in a much poorer state than I had imagined. He was half the size of his former self, with eyes sunk deep into his skull and the skin pale and clammy.

“Tatai,” I said, sitting beside him, feeling his temperature with my palm against his forehead.

“Ma,” he said, opening his eyes, and pointed at his mouth. I picked up a glass of water and helped him take a few sips.

“Where were you, ma? Don’t you know I’m sick? Vajra said that he tried to tell you but you were always out brunching, dating and partying?”

I was shocked by these accusations. I instinctively defended myself, “Vajra is evil. He is lying. I have been waiting to meet you every day, standing outside your door to catch a glimpse of you but that Vajra didn’t allow me!”

I could see that Tatai was still drowsy. He said in a lazy drawl, “Your jealousy is obnoxious, ma. I am not your little boy any more. You need to accept that I have chosen him for myself. Now please go, I’m tired.”

A shadow fell on his face as he went back to sleep. I turned around to see Vajra blocking the doorway, a packet of medicines dangling from his hands.

“Please let my son go, Vajra. Can’t you see that he needs help? I can get you both help. Please, just let him go,” I pleaded.

“Help?” snapped Vajra. his eyes glowing. His voice  seemed to bounce off the walls as if from within a deep well.

“Nobody can help. My mother tried for years. She sent me to a hundred doctors. She fed me medicines instead of food. But she could not help me. She never understood, that all I wanted to do was help people. The first person I helped was the eighty year old father of my neighbour. The poor man was forced to go on evening walks, so I broke his back with my cricket bat. Problem solved. Broken back meant no more forced walks. I’ve helped so many people over the years but nobody understands me.”

Vajra’s face changed from a light pink to a deep, earthy purple. The smell of medicines in the room was overpowered by his body odour; I could smell it from eight feet away.

“I promise I can help you,” I said, sure that my words fell on deaf ears.

He ignored the edge in my voice.

“He was always just too damn happy all the time, laughing with everyone, making a spectacle of himself. He didn’t even know that, until I showed him how cheap and desperate he looked. It wasn’t easy, at first at least. I had to patiently chip away at his confidence. Insults didn’t work and simply rolled off his back,” he paused, and took a deep breath. 

The room seemed darker when he continued, “I realised that the best way to control him was to cut away at his friendships. After that it was simple. I had him all to myself… but that bastard, Shashi, his best friend, did not give him up that easily. He kept trying to reach him, so I had to stop Tatai from leaving the house. With my help, he has now become pure again. He is worthy of my love.”

While he was speaking I quietly held onto the glass that Tatai had water from, behind my back. Gaining confidence, I said, “Let us go now, or I’ll call the police!” I broke the glass on the side of the bed and foolishly aimed it at him. The shards of glass flew everywhere but to where he stood leaning against the doorframe. 

Vajra smirked, a cruel fire in his eyes as he said, “No you won’t!”

***

That is the last of what I remember from then.

I had moved past the incidents of that day but three days back, I heard Tatai murmuring, in my head. It didn’t take me long to rush back home; and I found everything had changed, everything except Jabru. I smiled at her, the Jabru  picking at a spot of paint on the floor that was not part of her job description.

“Jabru!” I shouted.

Jabru sprang back like a cat and shuddered.

“Didima, you’re back? Let me just change your bedsheets,” she said to the closed washroom door and stepped out of my room before I could say anything else.

“What are you doing with those sheets?” Vajra growled.

“Didima has come home after so long. I’m just changing her bedsheet.”

“Have you gone mad,” he shouted. “That woman will never be back in this house again.”

Confusion briefly flickered across her eyebrows and slithered down to her shoulders before she shrugged it off. She sat down on the floor, in front of my cupboard, picking at a spot of dust in the corner.

“Jabru!” I shouted again. 

This time, she nearly jumped out of her skin, slipped on the handle of the broom on the floor and lightly thumped her head against the wall. She momentarily forgot about the scare and regained composure after a few seconds. Bending down to look at the crack in the wall, she prodded it slightly with the tip of her toe and some plaster fell off. 

Ah, finally! My little toe, peeking from inside the plaster, could breathe. I had very little time left, even less to celebrate. 

“I know you can hear me, Jabru,” I said. “Please, go call  the police! Tell them that Tatai is being held captive in this house. If they don’t believe you, tell them about my body!” I shouted the last few words at her retreating figure, hoping that she’d heard me.

I stayed there, lost. They came. As Tatai was wheeled away, I locked eyes with him. “Ma,” he said. I mouthed, I love you. Did he see it?


Sheba Ghosh is just exploring her wings as a writer. Being a new mother to an amazing one year old son, has told her that she is a superhero, and also married to one. Although not been published so far, she is currently working on a trans-positive crime drama novel, a few short stories and some poems.

Poetry ‘| ‘Homebound’ & ‘Posthumous’ by Shraya Singh | Creative Writing Workshop

Homebound 

 

It begins before sunrise
As the night gently ebbs
I close my eyes to a waxing light
Letting my thoughts unfurl

Away to the sound of waking
and footsteps slapping
gently on tiled floors.
Too small to be wise
yet lost deep in thought
I hear them fading
beyond my door.

I hear the sounds of ware-selling,
the sound of songs being sung.
the sounds of spoken smiles
And the distant beating drums.

I hear a grimace in one’s remark.
I hear an embrace in another’s retort.
I hear a million parting words
Until daylight gathers into stars once more

I hear the bustling hums of a city
As thousands of souls awake
I hear the low rumble of traffic
And the sharp screech of bicycle brakes

I hear the grinding pounds of spices
And the sizzling splutter of fried oil
I hear the sounds of people like me
A medley of colors and cadence and life

In these moments of forced blindness
I remember the land
where I used to be.
Where silence was given, not demanded.
And there lived a choir of those truly free.

In my mind
I feel my footsteps ringing
Not echoing
In empty streets.
I hear my feet tapping amidst a thousand others
In the comfortable silence across the seas.

A place where warmth is etched in dusky skin
And loneliness can never be.
Where love is rampant in each exchange
And anything is a possibility.

My eyes quiver, closed
As the sun’s light shines.
Alighting the world in its ethereal glow
Fearing to open upon cold silence.

No sound, save for the distant caw of a crow.

A cacophony through my heart
As I hear the hum of those
I love.
The lilting of joy and soft reprimands
of clinking silverware and cooing doves.

I hear the sounds temple bells make
And the prayers that follow after
And lost amidst those deafening thoughts
I hear the sound
Of my own forsaken laughter.


Posthumous 

 

There is a party beyond the edge of tomorrow
A place of wonder beside the shore
Where invitations specially made
And the guests are often quite the bore.

The decorations are a natural affair.
Wood and bone and crimson rain
Beside the moonlit Ganges’ shore
Music the sound of holy water

They come and gather, an eerie crowd.
Have conversations by the light of fire.
This party, its guests lack most
No hope nor pain, not even desire.

They march in a rhythm, sans-beat
Time lost beneath their rippled veil
Hand in hand, sinners and saints
Equal in their upheaval

People pile on each other, as the night passes on.
The dress code remains a pure white as
Women, children and men alike
Flock to the desolations, cleared of all dues.

I saw them once, between tears
I saw them dancing beside the shore
I saw their smiles, lacking laugher
Bodies writhing in massless horde.

Amidst the throng of outlanders I see
Draped in a shade brighter than white
His figure, stern and unrelenting
Heart of the cabal and final rites.

A wave of remorse is all I feel
As I long to whisper parting words.
Too far is he beyond my touch
My dissident screams left unheard.

And I saw him step up to the gatekeeper,
past the curtains of flames
I saw his eyes, pools of oblivion
As he joined in to make the exchange.

All around me, voices chanting,
Murmuring prayers for his fated journey
A million voices singing to the ashes
As he danced with partygoers, soundlessly

At this party there is no music.
Only the silence of an afterlife.
Memories and mortal remains
All lost within a pulsing sea of white.


Shraya is an engineering graduate who realized a little late that what she truly enjoys is communicating with people (and not machines!), whether through poetry or prose. Currently, she has been spending her days teaching English in Japan and exploring the people, the culture and the language. 

Fiction | ‘Devotion of fate’ by Preetarpan Banerjee | Creative Writing Workshop

To The One Who Is Reading This

It was their last day in Sils Maria, Switzerland; and they planned to spend as much time outdoors as they could.

Peter’s favourite walk was around the East bank of Lake Sils, a kilometre from the town. The lake looked like a shimmering, crystal membrane at this time of the year, overlooked by the mountains on a horizon pulverised by cloudy peaks. It was this walk, which Peter and Liza desired of months ago, when they met after Meta had arrived in Sils, all the way from Kyoto. They had become really good friends, and this was how Liza wanted to spend her last days with him. She wanted to make memories, millions of them, with him and then leave for Norway. Neither of them knew if they would ever meet again after this.

They left shortly after breakfast. The sun was perfect, the sky had a tinge of cold copper and the air was silky. She led up front, and he hobbled along behind her with his walking stick. Barns and a small sugar beet farm passed. The streets were colourful with lush, green on either sides. Looking at the cows in the fields, Peter joked that the cows would be his most intellectual companions once she left. The two laughed, indulging in the occasional bouts of sing-song.

They ate around noon, beneath a large coniferous tree. Liza began to worry. They had come too far out in their excitement. And now she could see Peter struggling, both physically and mentally, to keep it together.

The walk back was arduous for him. Dragging himself, noticeably now, the reality of her leaving the next morning fell over him only now. He had grown bumpy, almost achy. The stops were frequent and he began muttering to himself. 

Liza didn’t want to leave Peter like this, but she had no choice.

They reached a village by late afternoon. The sun was waning, and the air felt like a burden. Peter lagged by a good fifteen metres, but Liza knew that the only way to get him home was by not stopping for him.

They passed the same sugar beet farm, the same barn and the cattle, his ‘intellectual companions’.

***

“What was that?” Peter shouted. “Where has God gone, you say?”

Liza knew what she would find before she turned. It was Peter, and with his walking stick waving in the air; he was shouting at a small herd of cows chewing hay in front of him.

“I shall tell you,” he said breathing heavily. Raising his stick, he gestured at the mountains around. “We have killed him—you and I! We are murderers. How could we do this?”

The cows continued to chew aimlessly. There seemed to be an unusual silence all around.

“How were we able to drink up the seas? Who gave us the sponge to wipe up the horizon? What did we do when we unchained the earth from the sun? Are we not perpetually falling in all directions? Are we not straying as though through some infinite nothing?”

“Peter, this is silly,” Liza said, striving to grab his sleeve and pull him along. He yanked his arm away, and looked down; there was madness in his eyes.

“Where is God? God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. There’s no God anymore,” he added.

“Please stop this nonsense, Peter. Come on, let’s go home.”

“How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all, has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? The human institution of principles have become corrupt till no end and there is suffering all around.”

Liza shook her head. It was of no use. This was it. This was how it would end. She began to walk away.

“What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals do we need for our own recreation? If people have to leave, then why do they even meet? Liza, I cannot understand if this is a game that overrules the institution of reliability, and trust. Why did our human institution of principles become so corrupt?

Silence… A moo rang out in the distance.

“Man is a rope, tied between Beast and Superman—a rope over a bottomless chasm. What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not a goal: he can use himself to walk to that goal. But achieving the goal isn’t fully in his hands. It is bilateral and that sucks! We aren’t enough to grab and take stock of what we want for ourselves. Everything would have been in place otherwise. You would have been here.”

The words struck her. She turned and locked eyes with him. But, she realised it was simply another empirical construct, another human failure, another dead god.

***

Liza did some great things later on. 

Somewhere along the way, Liza decided that if spiritual religion is the thread that binds people, it was better to move on; move on with a future where she could spread love, and at the same time search for self love. She would be amor fati, like Nietzsche proposed. By devoting herself to her fate that was true to her, written with her own hands. 

Noone could change it. Not even Peter. She was just a friend of Peter’s, a supporting character in the life of a man whom she helped to understand Nietzsche’s amor fati. She was just a small lesson of his life. 

Poetry | ‘Trapped in a frame’ & 1 more poem by Shreyaa Darakh | Creative Writing Workshop

Trapped in a frame

I’m more in love with the photograph
that’s in my wallet,
than I’m with you
right in this moment.

On the 143rd re-run of my favorite movie,
I’ll be drunk, and like Mr. Kashyap,
flush the charred remains of it
down the toilet
of some cheap motel.

I hope I will be as cluelessly lifted
as the smiles on our faces.

I hope your cheek on my forehead
will burn as the snapshot did.

I hope that day will be as blue
as the T-shirts on our backs.

And I hope that I won’t dwell on you
as the photograph didn’t.

 


 

Lovers in mischief

I would call your bluffs,
And you on mine.
I never quite understood why we tried,
When we knew we couldn’t lie.

Don’t go peeping through holes now,
Impulsive recklessness is what we thrive on.
I propose trespassing into the past,
And stealing what is rightfully ours.

You stow away your candor,
And I’ll be on a look-out for a fib.

Proving to one another,
That we are young, wild, and stupid.


Shreyaa Darakh, 21, is an engineer and a yoga instructor. Her mind is as zen as her postures. She is an old soul, a little spiritual and wishes to be reborn in the 80’s, just to feel feelings unconditionally. 

Picture credits: Shreyaa D.

Fiction | ‘A Collection of Hearts and Ashtrays’ by Rishika Kaushik | Creative Writing Workshop

The sun was blaring as we finished practicing for our play. Even the pieces of overpainted furniture and overused props looked tired. Far too much Nescafe Iced Tea had been consumed to evade the heat. Amidst all this, Falak still glistened.

I mean, yes, she was sweating, one had to have superpowers to not perspire in an August Delhi afternoon. But it was as if the sun kissed her body and sprinkled golden water on it, while the rest of us got the commonplace – fiery – treatment. If I scratched my arms after a day like this, the sweat and dust would probably mix to create a marshy lowland, pokey hairs as vegetation. 

Everyone scurried around, picking the second-hand chairs and tables up, collecting DIY props and things, that comprised our Set, and quickly dumping it back into the Audi Lobby. Four hours of practice in this heat was enough to make them irritable and desperate to head home. Not me; I took my bag from the Audi Lobby steps and waited. 

She emerged from the Lobby, and smiled at me, ‘Don’t tell me you’re too tired for a smoke.’ 

‘Never.’ 

We headed out of the familiar lobby of the college; our home for two more years, with a name too grand to suit its compact area –  Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam Sri Venkateswara College. Or just, Venky. 

The scene outside the college gate, is an image that will be imprinted onto my mind forever. Maybe it’s the emotional merit of the experiences of college, those that make one grow up. Or maybe it’s because I have spent my whole life on this street. I saw it all, the empty and the chaos. I went to Springdales, Dhaula Kaun; which lay further down this street, for twelve fucking years and then, just when I thought I had had enough of Satya-freaking-Niketan, it just so happened that I missed the North Campus cut-offs by 0.25%. What were the chances? So there we were, walking down Benito Juarez Marg, which held my entire fragile existence in its haphazardly parked cars and ever-changing restaurants. Though the landscape remained stagnant, the colours changed. Summer, winter, autumn, spring…it was always the same but never really. I had seen small restaurants and businesses open and close as frequently as a finicky South Delhi girl changes her clothes before a Saturday Night at Keya. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t sick of this road. 

When college happened, I met her. I thanked God, for that 0.25%. 

She walked ahead of me, in her white kurta and printed palazzos. Her long, smooth, black hair was tied in a bun. The back of her silver jhumkas dangled as she jumped through puddles of sewage, asserting, ‘We live  in a fucking cesspool, Tara. What the HELL is this? Ew, I think some keechad just landed on my chappals.’ 

It was true. Just when I had thanked God for this road, God put it right into the hands of Satan. The Delhi Government decided to tear apart the entire region of South West Delhi and bury it under construction. If I were to die and the proverbial ‘life flashing before my eyes’ thing were to happen to me, I’m certain I’ll mostly see massive blue barricades saying Delhi Metro. Also, my mom yelling at my dad for never taking responsibility while usually being totally inebriated herself. 

But that’s besides the point. Satyaniketan was broken down for questionable Capitalism, dressed as an Underpass, a tunneled passageway underneath the street for cars and trucks to roll by smoothly. But all that remained was a ginormous chasm: a gaping hole in the centre of the street. Everything that used to be there — the eating joints, the shops, the cars, the people; were pushed towards the margins. Sewage now ran from everywhere to everywhere and as it so often was with margins, the lack of space squeezed life together like eggs slammed into a sandwich, leaving room only for resigned acceptance.

The only way to get from one side to the other was through this makeshift, dirty bridge which looked like it would break apart any moment. But just the way she had become the elastic thread which held her family together, the bridge held on. Some days, looking at it felt like staring at my own reflection, its frailty a testimony to my exhausted self.   You look like how I feel – said Zadie Smith in The White Teeth.

Things were better on the other side. There was more shade than sun. The smell of street food wafted through the air, leaving the stench of the sewage behind. Small vendors made Maggi and bread-omelette while students filled into Cafeteria & Co., one of the newer additions, it was brought straight from the North Campus of DU. 

Subway, Café Coffee Day and Jain Book Store were the three pillars of the locality that wouldn’t give away. Everything else came and went. Canteen till I Die was replaced by The Chai Story but Woodbox stayed put, even though it had been getting the eyeballs. JP was taken over by Burgrill; Falak, Karan and I loved that one. Now it housed some new Laping place. 

Streets gave way to more streets, to more intimate streets and that’s what Falak and I were all about. Entering the Satya lane, our mouths would already be salivating because of Chowinghee’s sinful rolls Bhaiya, 1 chicken tikka aur chicken malai tikka roll please

Falak had entered my life and changed a lot of things. She didn’t know that, of course. I mean, we were best friends. I’d spent enough time watching rom-coms to know that I couldn’t just go up to her and tell her that I was convinced she was my soulmate, that all I wanted to do, was lie down on the bed with her, play with her really long silky hair, and tell her all the ways in which she made me feel like time itself would stop to celebrate the explosion that our cosmic bond would create in the universe.

That would get me nowhere.

Those movies were mushy but they always seemed to work. Love needed an arc. The climax couldn’t happen at the introductory montage. Plus, we had plot lines to get past: her long-term, now long-distance, super cishet boyfriend from childhood. Not to forget, my own droopy-eyed, hilarious pothead boyfriend. 

Falak went to get  a bottle of Pepsi as I went to the cigarette thela

‘1 Ice-burst aur 1 Marlboro Light.’  

And further down, ‘Bhaiya, 1 plate chicken gravy momos.’ 

I lit my cigarette and took a drag. We did this almost everyday. It was actually the best part of my day. 

It reminded me of the times in school, when I would develop a crush in the school bus and spend the whole day in class just waiting to get back into the bus. I was reminded of the senile family therapist’s advice to the entire family. Try to unlearn, your pattern.

After blowing smoke into the Delhi air, already heavily polluted, I felt a little better. These days, I’d been feeling utterly hopeless. It wasn’t that the Chandra family was in shambles – when had it not been – because Dad hadn’t been home in a week and Mom’s crying bursts were reaching a hysterical pitch. It was that I was fixating on Falak. All I could do was think about her. About being with her. About running away with her. Upon another drag, I repeated what the therapist had told me in a private session, If you obsess, you cause stress. He loved working with rhymes. 

But then I would see her walking toward me, and my cheeks would go red. 

She lit her cigarette and exhaled. ‘I can’t believe the mid-sem break is right here. I’m so not ready to go home.’

Falak lived in Lucknow. The Naqvi’s were a big deal there. They had a lot of money, almost aristocratic, but she tended to dismiss it. She spoke about her family all the time, though. All the ways they differed from, didn’t get her—‘Tara, before I came here, it was like I couldn’t see any of it clearly. Now, every time I go back, the cracks become more and more visible. Their money makes them so ignorant…I mean I just cannot believe Abbu is alright with, like, the status quo, that he doesn’t care about things changing for our community. I mean, I’ve ranted enough about the diabolical ways of oppression to him. He doesn’t get it, how fast it’s all happening, and even if he does get it, his societal privilege keeps his discontent subdued. People are being slaughtered…openly, the judiciary is ridiculously biased and do not even get me started on the media—’ her voice trailed off for a moment. She took a drag. 

‘Fuck it, I’m going to get too pissed. Just…when Abbu tells me it’s not that bad, Fali and I bark at him saying that yes, it is, it’s so bad that it’s no longer safe to even rent a place all I get in return is silence.

Later, he tries to calm me down by saying he’ll take care of me regardless… I’m like it’s not just about that! It’s always the same when I go back…don’t go around protesting so much, we care about your safety, blah blah blah. I can’t. Are you even listening to me? Am I ranting again? Just tell me, I start and then I just don’t stop—’

The truth was, I never wanted her to stop. I had heard her speak about her doting — ridiculously protective — father many times. Initially, I was quite jealous. The constant calls, the sweet warmth of worry that escaped through his words, all of it. I knew their relationship was turbulent sometimes, they believed in doing things differently, but I’d pick a nagging presence over total absence any day. 

I was used to Falak’s voice going on.. But now, I’d started to focus on her tonalities, the peaks and troughs of her voice, so I could play it in my mind later. It was a personal cassette which I would plug into my head. It helped me sleep. I looked at her as she went on— ‘I’m excited for you to meet my parents though, when they come for the play. I’m going to miss everything at practice when I’m gone, ugh! Keep updating me!’ 

‘It’s only for a week, Falak. Plus, they’re not even focusing on your scenes right now.’ 

‘Yeah, but I mean like, still.’ 

‘How’s Saleem? You must be excited to see him?’ I slid that in as nonchalantly as I could. But I instantly regretted it. Slowly, everything I said to her felt like it was loaded with a sub-text. 

‘I don’t know. Am I? Truth be told, I think I’m just…bored of him.’ 

I wanted to stop myself from thinking that meant anything more than it did. The body, however, works differently. I felt my palpitations rise. I wanted to tell her how I felt. 

I took another drag— ‘1 Chicken gravy momos.’ 

Falak reached towards the vendor, taking a drag. She was one of those gorgeous women who made you want to smoke. The kind seen on the side of the street or in movies, the ones who hold the cigarette as an extension of their delicate hands. The ones who collect hearts like ashtrays. 

‘Well, maybe you should leave him.’ I said, stabbing a momo with the toothpick. That made me wonder, is the singular of momos, momo? I made a mental note to check it out.  Anyway, that seemed like a sound advice any friend would give to their best friend if she was bored of her boyfriend. 

‘I think I want to. But… I don’t know. We just have so much history. Do I want to uproot that? And we fit so well. He gets me, you know? I mean, he’s known me forever. But, do I feel like I’m limiting myself? Like I’m missing out on what’s out there, yes. I do.’ 

‘You’re just 19, Falak. You’ve just about stepped out of Lucknow. It would make sense if you wanted to take a break. Explore things. People. Relationships are complex.’ 

She stared at me for a moment. Then she almost said something but stopped. Is she nervous about something? My heart skipped a beat. As I watched her gasp and exhale, she brought her tongue in and out, after gobbling a steaming momo and then snorting. 

I wanted to say it. I love you. So much. But I was scared. Too scared of losing her. So I just stuck with making her laugh as much as I could. I knew that someday I would tell Falak I loved her. I had to wait it out. She would get bored of Saleem and we would go out drinking and spend nights in my house or in her flat and perform our play and make memories and she would love me back. She already loved me, so much, yes. I just had to make her love me that way. 

‘By the way, how are things with Karan? Are you guys okay?’ 

Maybe I was reading things, but her question seemed loaded with a sub-text too. Who knows? Maybe the universe, for once, was on my side and she was totally in love with me too. 

‘I think he’s slowly, just burning away like the hash he keeps smoking. Maybe it’s time I stub him.’ 

She laughed. She threw the paper plate into the already overflowing bin. I got up as well. It was time to go home. At the end of this lane, she would go left and I would go right. 

As we walked, something happened. On the dusty lanes of Satyaniketan, where Mom Hand Momos took over Grill Masters, where the wires — crisscrossing at loose, messy, unstructured junctures — told stories, where even the stairs that led to matchbox houses were drowning with memories; Falak held my hand. She entwined her long fingers into mine and squeezed them. I looked at her. 

Nervousness took over me.

It seemed like it was the perfect time to tell her.

We reached the end of the lane. I turned to her. She hugged me. 

Oh. My. God. She’s in love with me too. 

She looked at me and I could sense her mustering a ton of courage per arm. 

She sighed. 

We stood at the beginning of the street. Or the end. 

‘I think I’m leaving Saleem. I’m in love with someone else.’ 

I couldn’t believe this was happening. I nodded ferociously. I knew exactly what she was going to say. 

‘And I know you’ll understand because there’s no one in the world who loves me more than you do. I wouldn’t do anything if I thought you cared. But you’ve made it so clear that you don’t.’ 

‘What?’ 

‘Karan. I think I’m in love with him. And I think he may love me too, Tara.’ 


Rishika Kaushik, 21, is currently pursuing her Masters in English from the University of Hyderabad. Writer, Actor and Activist (in progress, of course), she aspires to explore the complex, flawed, inside patterns of human life. Based in Delhi, India, she finished her Bachelors from Sri Venkateswara College, DU and is now looking at higher education after finishing Masters in other parts of the globe. Published work can be found here.

Poetry | ‘Banana Boat Ride’ by Gandhali Sawant | Creative Writing Workshop

Daily dose of chai, sipping slowly

I slip through the blanket

And squint

at the sunlight trickling in

through the blinds.

I hear the sea before I see it.

Pushing away a branch poking in the ribs,

I pass a few logs; scattered

on my way to reach the shore.

Sand, greets me first, the tourists later.

A man asks

if I wish to ride a boat,

“Banana boat- top class” he clarifies with an air of pride.

I shake my head.

He understands the ‘no’

and moves to another tourist.

“Banana bo-” 

I hear him from a few paces ahead.

I suppress a laugh escaping my lips.

Yet another tourist somersaults in the water,

his friends chase him to the first wave.

An older man braces

for the approaching wave, the biggest

“It is the seventh wave” the boatman clarifies.

I agree.

The sea makes me more agreeable,

more than I would like to accept.

The boatman is happy with my agreement.

‘How much for the banana boat ride?’ I ask.


Gandhali Sawant is a Mumbai, India- based poet, with a passion for children’s literature and science fiction. Her poems have appeared in ‘Love As We Know It’ an anthology of poetry by Poem Pajama and ‘Masques’ by CultureCult Press. She is currently pursuing Doctoral Research from the Department of English, University of Mumbai