Top Indian/Asian Literary Magazines to submit your Creative Writing to.

Literary magazines are a catalyst to good publishing in any country, functioning as a parallel industry to traditional book publishing. A rich literary magazine landscape comments on writing being taken seriously, and also nurtures a reading market for aspiring writers. Stimulating intellectual conversations, niche catering, lending support to Creative Writing programs, and providing a platform to be heard, or well, read; surround the larger role of magazines.

In India, South Asia, Africa and certain parts of the world,  literary magazines may have another role to play. Support writing careers. The magazines are a pillar to graduates of literature, passionate readers, bibliophiles, hobbyists; lending them the shoulder to spring start a probable writing career. 

Here, today, we have curated a list of our favorite literary magazines of Indian/Asian origin, publishing steadily for a couple of years. Persons of words in this part of the world, or anywhere else, go ahead and submit your creative writing.

We, The Bombay Review, are also always open to reading your work, publishing your work, and commending your work. Details below.

By Kaartikeya B, Editor, TBR

The Bombay Review
Year established: 2014
Published from: New York City & Mumbai
Genres: Fiction, Poetry, Essays, Art, Reviews, Interviews, Culture pieces
Submission period: All year
Type: Online + Print
Website | Instagram | Facebook
Submission fee: None
Payment: Ranges from Nil to $50
Editors: Kaartikeya Bajpai | Rochelle Potkar

(Established more than 5 years ago, as of 2020)
Short fiction, poetry, translations, reviews, screenplays, essays, and more.

Indian Literature: Sahitya Academy

  • Year established: 1954
  • Published from: New Delhi, India
  • Genres: Poetry, short fiction in English translation and English, critical articles
  • Submission period: All year
  • Type: Digital + print
  • Website
  • Submission fee: None
  • Payment: None
  • Editor: Dr. A. J. Thomas

The Punch Magazine (formerly Byword)

  • Year established: 2016 (formerly Byword)
  • Published from: India
  • Genres: Articles (Non-fiction, Poetry, Interviews), Reviews, Photos, Videos, Fiction
  • Submission period: All year
  • Type: Online
  • Website | Instagram | Facebook
  • Submission fee: Small donations are welcome
  • Payment: None
  • Editor: Shireen Quadri

Cafe Dissensus

  • Year established: 2013
  • Published from: New York City, USA
  • Genres: Audio-visual (interviews, conversations), Political articles/essays, Photo essays
  • Submission period: All year
  • Type: Online
  • Website | Facebook
  • Submission fee: None
  • Payment: None
  • Editors: Mary Ann Chacko, Mosarrap Hossain Khan

Out of Print

  • Year established: 2010
  • Published from: Mumbai, India
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Submission period: All year
  • Type: Digital
  • Website | Facebook | Instagram | Blog
  • Submission fee: None
  • Payment: None
  • Editor: Indira Chandrasekhar

Spark Magazine

  • Year established: 2010
  • Published from: India
  • Genres: Short fiction, art
  • Submission period: On a break, currently not accepting submissions
  • Type: Digital
  • Website | Facebook
  • Submission fee: None
  • Payment: None
  • Editors: Anupama Krishnakumar and Vani Viswanathan

The Indian Quarterly

  • Year established: 2013
  • Published from: Mumbai, India
  • Genres: Essays, features, essay-reviews, photo-essays, travelogue, poetry, fiction
  • Submission period: All year
  • Type: Print + Digital
  • Website | Facebook |Instagram
  • Submission fee: None
  • Payment: None
  • Editor: Unknown

Reading Hour

  • Year established: 2011
  • Published from: Bangalore, India
  • Genres: Short fiction, poetry, book reviews
  • Submission period: All year
  • Type: Print + Digital
  • Website | Facebook
  • Submission fee: None
  • Payment: None
  • Editor: Unknown 

eFiction India

  • Year established: 2013
  • Published from: Gurgaon, India
  • Genres: Essays, fiction, poetry, art and criticism, interviews, book reviews
  • Submission period: All year
  • Type: Digital
  • Website
  • Submission fee: None
  • Payment: None
  • Editor: Nikhil Sharda

The Bangalore Review

  • Year established: 2013
  • Published from: Bangalore, India
  • Genres: Fiction, creative non-fiction, translations, essays
  • Submission period: All year
  • Type: Digital
  • Website | Facebook
  • Submission fee: $3
  • Payment: None
  • Editor: Suhail Rasheed

Himal South Asian Mag

  • Year established: 1987
  • Published from: Colombo, Sri Lanka
  • Genres: Long-form reportage, political analysis, essays and opinion, interviews, photo essays, reviews, fiction
  • Submission period: All year
  • Type: Digital
  • Website | Facebook | Instagram
  • Submission fee: None
  • Payment: USD 100-150
  • Editors: Kanak Mani Dixit

 Muse India

  • Year established: 2004
  • Published from: Secunderabad, Telangana, India
  • Genres: Poetry, short fiction, essays, conversations with writers, book reviews
  • Submission period: All year
  • Type: Digital
  • Website
  • Submission fee: None
  • Payment: None
  • Editor: Atreya Sarma U

Helter Skelter

  • Year established: 2010
  • Published from: Mumbai
  • Genres: Helter Skelter Anthology of New Writing: Short fiction, poetry
  • Submission period: Varies, usually November to January
  • Type: Digital
  • Website | Facebook | Instagram
  • Submission fee: None
  • Payment: None
  • Editor: Arun Kale

The Alipore Post

  • Year established: 2015
  • Published from: Unknown
  • Genres: Poetry, art, photography, comics, interviews, prose
  • Submission period: Check website
  • Type: Digital
  • Website | Facebook | Instagram
  • Submission fee:
  • Payment:
  • Editor: Rohini Kejriwal

Open Road Review: (To be verified)

  • Year established: 2011
  • Published from: New Delhi, India
  • Genres: Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction
  • Submission period: All year
  • Type: Digital
  • Website | Facebook | Instagram
  • Submission fee: None
  • Payment: None
  • Editor: Kulpreet Yadav

Jaggery Lit

  • Year established: 2013
  • Published from: India
  • Genres: Fiction, poetry, essays, art, reviews
  • Submission period: May 1 to July 1
  • Type: Digital
  • Website | Facebook
  • Submission fee: $25/piece
  • Payment: $100 for fiction, $25 for nonfiction/poetry/art/reviews
  • Editor: Anu Mahadev


  • Year established: 2013
  • Published from: Singapore
  • Genres: Short Stories, Essays on literary criticism, Poetry, Non-fiction – Travelogues, Memoirs, Personal essays, Book Reviews, Author Interviews
  • Submission period: All year
  • Type: Digital
  • Website | Facebook
  • Submission fee: None
  • Payment: None
  • Editor: Zafar Anjum

The Bombay Literary Magazine

  • Year established: 2013
  • Published from: Mumbai, India
  • Genres: Fiction, poetry
  • Submission period: April 1 onward
  • Type: Digital
  • Website | Facebook
  • Submission fee: None
  • Payment: None
  • Editor: Tanuj Solanki

The Mithila Review

  • Year established: 2016
  • Published from: Delhi, India
  • Genres: Fiction, poetry, non-fiction
  • Submission period: Varies, updates on website. Currently open for poetry, closed for fiction (opens August 2020)
  • Type: Digital + print
  • Website | Facebook | Instagram
  • Submission fee: None
  • Payment: Nil to $10 for original poetry, essays, flash stories; $50 for original stories
  • Editor: Salik Shah

Nether (restarted)

  • Year established: 2009
  • Published from: India
  • Genres: Fiction, poetry, art, photography
  • Submission period: All year
  • Type: Digital (quarterly) + Print (annual)
  • Website | Facebook
  • Submission fee: None
  • Payment: None
  • Editor: Avinab Datta-Areng

Vayavya (To be verified)

  • Year established: 2011, first published in 2013
  • Published from: India
  • Genres: Poetry, prose on poetry, interviews
  • Submission period: All year
  • Type: Digital
  • Website | Facebook
  • Submission fee: None
  • Payment: None
  • Editor: Mihir Vatsa

The Little Magazine (To be verified)

  • Year established: 2001
  • Published from: India
  • Genres: Essays, fiction, poetry, novellas, film and theatre scripts
  • Submission period: All year
  • Type: Digital
  • Website
  • Submission fee: None
  • Payment: None
  • Editor: Antara Dev Sen, Pratik Kanjilal

Setu Billingual

  • Year established: 2016
  • Published from: Pittsburgh, USA
  • Genres: Research articles, book reviews, interviews, poems and short fiction
  • Submission period:
  • Type: Digital
  • Website | Facebook
  • Submission fee: None
  • Payment: None
  • Editor: Anurag Sharma, Sunil Sharma

Asymptote Journal

  • Year established: 2015
  • Published from: Taiwan
  • Genres: Unpublished translated poetry, fiction, nonfiction and drama; original English-language nonfiction; visual art
  • Submission period: All year
  • Type: Digital
  • Website | Facebook
  • Submission fee: None
  • Payment: None
  • Editor: Lee Yew Leong

The Aleph Review

  • Year established: 2017
  • Published from: Pakistan
  • Genres: Prose, poetry
  • Submission period: January to July
  • Type: Digital + print
  • Website | Facebook | Instagram
  • Submission fee: None
  • Payment: None
  • Editor: Mehvash Amin

The Missing Slate:

  • Year established: 2010
  • Published from: Pakistan
  • Genres: Poetry, fiction, non-fiction, photography, visual arts
  • Submission period: All year
  • Type: Digital + print
  • Website | Facebook | Instagram
  • Submission fee: None
  • Payment: None
  • Editor: Moeed Tariq, Noah Klein

Cha: An Asian Literary Journal (Could be defunct)

  • Year established: 2007
  • Published from: Hong Kong + London, UK
  • Genres: Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction
  • Submission period: All year
  • Type: Digital
  • Website | Facebook
  • Submission fee: None
  • Payment: None
  • Editor: Tammy Ho Lai-Ming

Anak Sastra

  • Year established: 2010
  • Published from: Florida, USA
  • Genres: Short fiction, creative nonfiction, comics, poems, book reviews 
  • Submission period: All year
  • Type: Digital
  • Website | Facebook
  • Submission fee: None
  • Payment: None
  • Editor: Kris Williamson

The Asian American Literary Review (Under construction)

  • Year established: 2009
  • Published from: USA
  • Genres: Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction
  • Submission period: Jun 1 to Aug 31
  • Type: Digital
  • Website Currently under construction | Facebook
  • Submission fee: None
  • Payment: Contributor copies only
  • Editor: Lawrence-Minh Bὺi Davis and Gerald Maa


  • Year established: 1984
  • Published from: London, UK
  • Genres: Articles, essays, journalistic prose, short fiction and poetry 
  • Submission period: October onwards
  • Type: Digital + print
  • Website | Facebook
  • Submission fee: None
  • Payment: None
  • Editor: Malachi McIntosh

If we have missed out any literary magazine, which we surely have, please comment below with details and we will take a look. Do note, that we are not considering literary magazines/journals which are less than 3-5 years old.

The above list in not in any particular order.


Call for The Booker Prize Winners’ Reviews


The Bombay Review, ambitiously so, plans to review all the Booker Prize winners, since 1968 when the Prize was first constituted. We welcome review pitches from professional and freelance writers, journalists, columnists, and book lovers. All submissions must be exclusive, and previously unpublished. To review a book for us, please send us a pitch between 200 and 500 words.

In case a book is not available with you, we will send you a copy if you are selected to write the piece.

Send an email to The subject line of the mail should be – ‘Book Review : Book Name : Your Name’.

We are starting the reviews section with The Booker Prize winners, but we would love to have pitches for other books as well.

Due to the volume of submissions, we can only respond to those of interest.


PLease make sure to include the following information at the top of your pitch:

*Book(s) and/or writer(s) you would like to discuss in your piece
*Approximate word count
*Your bio
*Two relevant writing samples, preferably of reviews.
*Availability of the book with you. (Please note that we will be sending you books only in select cases)

You are encouraged to briefly explain any critical, historical context you consider relevant apart from the reason you picked the particular book. 


TO PUBLISHERS AND AUTHORS (for books not in our list)

To have your book considered for review, send a pitch to; copies of books will be asked of you. This is a paid service. You can mail us for a quote.


The Booker Prize for Fiction, formerly known as the Booker–McConnell Prize (1969–2001) and the Man Booker Prize (2002–2019), is a literary prize awarded each year for the best original novel written in the English language and published in the United Kingdom. The winner of the Booker Prize is generally assured international renown and success; therefore, the prize is of great significance for the book trade. From its inception, only novels written by Commonwealth, Irish, and South African (and later Zimbabwean) citizens were eligible to receive the prize; in 2014 it was widened to any English-language novel—a change that proved controversial.

A high-profile literary award in British culture, the Booker Prize is greeted with anticipation and fanfare. It is also a mark of distinction for authors to be selected for inclusion in the shortlist or even to be nominated for the “longlist”.


The Complete List of Man Booker Winners


by Anna Burns
United Kingdom / Northern Ireland


Lincoln in the Bardo
by George Saunders
United States


The Sellout
by Paul Beatty
United States


A Brief History of Seven Killings
by Marlon James


The Narrow Road to the Deep North
by Richard Flanagan


The Luminaries
by Eleanor Catton
Canada / New Zealand


Bring Up The Bodies
by Hilary Mantel
United Kingdom


The Sense of an Ending
by Julian Barnes
United Kingdom


The Finkler Question
by Howard Jacobson
United Kingdom


Wolf Hall
by Hilary Mantel
United Kingdom


The White Tiger
by Aravind Adiga


The Gathering
by Anne Enright


The Inheritance of Loss
by Kiran Desai


The Sea
by John Banville


The Line of Beauty
by Allan Hollinghurst
United Kingdom


Vernon God Little
by DBC Pierre


Life of Pi
by Yann Martel


True History of the Kelly Gang
by Peter Carey


The Blind Assassin
by Margaret Atwood


by J. M. Coetzee
South Africa


by Ian McEwan
United Kingdom


The God of Small Things
by Arundhati Roy


Last Orders
by Graham Swift
United Kingdom


The Ghost Road
by Pat Barker
United Kingdom


How Late It Was, How Late
by James Kelman
United Kingdom


Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha
by Roddy Doyle


Sacred Hunger
by Barry Unsworth
United Kingdom
The English Patient
by Michael Ondaatje
Canada / Sri Lanka


The Famished Road
by Ben Okri


by A. S. Byatt
United Kingdom


The Remains of the Day
by Kazuo Ishiguro
United Kingdom / Japan


Oscar and Lucinda
by Peter Carey


Moon Tiger
by Penelope Lively
United Kingdom


The Old Devils
by Kingsley Amis
United Kingdom


The Bone People
by Keri Hulme
New Zealand


Hotel du Lac
by Anita Brookner
United Kingdom


Life & Times of Michael K
by J. M. Coetzee
South Africa


Schindler’s Ark
by Thomas Keneally


Midnight’s Children
by Salman Rushdie
United Kingdom / India


Rites of Passage
by William Golding
United Kingdom


by Penelope Fitzgerald
United Kingdom


The Sea, The Sea
by Iris Murdoch
Ireland / United Kingdom


Staying On
by Paul Scott
United Kingdom


by David Storey
United Kingdom


Heat and Dust
by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
United Kingdom / Germany


The Conservationist
by Nadine Gordimer
South Africa
by Stanley Middleton
United Kingdom


The Siege of Krishnapur
by J.G. Farrell
United Kingdom / Ireland


by John Berger
United Kingdom


In a Free State (short story)**
by V. S. Naipaul
United Kingdom / Trinidad and Tobago


by J. G. Farrell
United Kingdom / Ireland


The Elected Member
by Bernice Rubens
United Kingdom


Something to Answer For
by P. H. Newby
United Kingdom

Books will be made available to reviewers whose pitches are accepted.

Essay | The Art of Language and How it Matters in a Pandemic – Paras Abbasi


Rutha he rahan par hujan hayati

Bhali paya wirhan suhnra bhali paya wirhan sunhra

Par hujan hayati

Language is sometimes convoluted—too complicated to translate. It has its own expression—the way we move our mouth, open our lips, the way our tongue touches our teeth to make a sound, give it a meaning, no translation could decode the sentiment of it. Therefore, we tend to preserve our languages. Words change over time because people change. Words become archaic because customs and rituals change, and so do habits. Perhaps the feelings change over generations too.

I heard this song when I was little, too little to perhaps remember where the memory comes from, let alone know the meaning of it. But it kept coming back to me, reviving the intimacy of it—in times of sorrow and in moments of joy.

There was a time when I was finally able to grasp the meaning of it but laughed at its romanticism. Was it possible that you keep praying for the life of a beloved when they have forsaken you? (At one point the lyrics of this song talk about the beloved butchering the protagonist but the protagonist keeps praying for their life). But ‘forsaken’ is not the right word for ‘rusanr’. Nor is ‘being angry’. ‘Rusanr’ in Sindhi or ‘roothna’ in Urdu/Hindi is not equivalent to forsaking someone or being angry at them. Perhaps there is no synonym for it in English. ‘Rusanr’ or ‘Roothna’ signifies the state when the beloved does not talk to you, does not respond and yet thinks about you and complains about you so that there is always a flickering hope that they will come back to you if you plead them enough. And thus there is always a ray of hope between the lover and the beloved. Roothna in our desi culture is a common practice—which is why a specific word for it—often between members of the extended family, siblings and friends, besides purely romantic relations. Every desi wedding and funeral would have someone from the family who would need persuasion and pleading because they are ‘ruthay huay’. And so we try to persuade them, bring them back to our side, take benefit of the delicate thread hanging between the two sides. Roothna, besides everything, also signifies a relationship of deep faith, on whose basis one lets go of all contact and yet trusts the other party to return to them.

So when the lines say, rutha he rahan par hujan hayati, bhali paya wirhan suhnra, hujan hayati’(roughly translated to: even if they remain angry, may they be alive/even though they may keep fighting with us, may they be alive), they keep up the hope of the beloved returning to us, because we’ll keep on trying to win them back.

In these uncertain times, when some of our loved ones are thousands of miles away, this Sindhi song resonates more than ever. For now, the anger, arguments, quarrels and squabbles are not important; only lives are. Hence, when words fall short in one language; songs, secondary languages, lines and phrases from books, music and art come to rescue—to articulate how we feel.

“This is why art is important. Art would not be important if life were not important, and life is important.” James Baldwin said in 1961. “Most of us, no matter what we say, are walking in the dark, whistling in the dark. Nobody knows what is going to happen to them from one moment to the next, or how one will bear it. This is irreducible. And it’s true for everybody.” His words have never rung truer.

Paras Abbasi is a poet and a short story writer. Her work has been published in Confluence magazine UK, East Lit Journal, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, New Asian Writing and local news websites in Pakistan . Paras lives in Karachi, Pakistan and can be reached at and on instagram: @ofcoffeeconversations

Poetry | First Letter Home from a Migrant Worker – Andy Conner

Dear Ma-Baba,

It has broken my heart to leave our village
leave you so far behind.

This astonishing city holds many challenges.

My first great accomplishment:
I visited Chowpatty Beach
And stood shoulder to shoulder
Amongst the Mumbai elite
On the most prestigious
Rubbish dump in all of India.

It was truly a sea of inspiration
No well, no river
But an ocean of plastic bottles
Stretching further than the eye could see
Farther than my mind could dream.

I am grateful for your sacrifices
Your lifetime of simple meals
Fruit, sabzi, dhal, chapatis
To give me this opportunity
This golden wandering
Through potato chip packets
Ice cream wrappers
paper plates.

This isn’t trash.
This is cash.
And you know?
I couldn’t resist removing my sandals
To feel Lakshmi’s love
Dusting my feet.

The sea harbours such indescribable smells
No outdated salt
Or bygone fish
But bouquets of industry, progress, exports
I’ve heard it said they’re channelled
In a pipeline from Malabar Hill.

Such beautiful pollution
Is attainable for all.

Mumbai couldn’t be
Without filmy magic.

I have heard the most entertaining fable
About a mythical palace called Antilia
A palace of such treasures
It could not exist on this earth.
I believe it serves as an inspiration
That no matter how great one’s wealth
There’s no harm in coveting more.

I am enclosing three hundred and twenty rupees
But Chowpatty has strengthened my resolve
To become more than you or I
Ever dreamed I could be.

I am also enclosing half of a paper plate
I took as a souvenir.

I was tempted to take two
But wish my successes
To be tempered with the humility
You have instilled in me.

Please show it to my siblings and cousins.
As the oldest, I need to be the strongest of role models.

You have brought me up not to take without giving.
So I dropped my bus ticket on the sand
May it serve as a symbol.

I am a man of the modern world.
A capitalist, a Mumbaikar

Your loving son

Andy Conner is a Birmingham, UK-based poet and educator, with a long track record of performing his work nationally and internationally. His credits include BBC Radio 4, Jaipur Literature Festival and India International Centre. A highly dramatic and visual performer, Andy’s work ranges from the humorous to the very dark. Many of his poems are for young people. Some of Andy’s poems have been written to help children of all ages deal with issues such as bullying and domestic violence. Recently, Andy has also worked in British schools, conducting workshops for National Refugee Week. A compelling live performer, Andy is known for his close rapport with his audiences and can be relied upon to deliver a memorable show with humor and intensity.

Poetry | Shadow – John Drudge

I wait
like an insect
watching you

Hoping to catch your eye
as I sink back
to sand

for the silence
of you.

John Drudge is a social worker working in the field of disability management and holds degrees in social work, rehabilitation services, and psychology. He is the author of two books of poetry, “March” and “The Seasons of Us” (2019). His work has appeared in the Arlington Literary Journal, The Rye Whiskey Review, Poetica Review, Drinkers Only, Literary Yard, The Alien Buddha Press, Montreal Writes, Mad Swirl, La Picoletta Barca Literary Journal Cambridge University, The Avocet, Writers and Readers Magazine, Sparks of Caliope, Harbinger Asylum, Black Coffee Review, Setu Magazine, The Ekphrastic Review, and the Adelaide Literary Magazine. John is a Pushcart Prize nominee and lives in Caledon Ontario, Canada with his wife and two children.

Poetry | ‘Eye of the needle’, ‘Fortunate Son’ – Alan Britt

Eye of the needle

Camel that slips through the eye these days,
we don’t know whether friend or foe—
hell, it could be ourselves we
shouldn’t trust or camel unwilling
to trust us.
Bristly toes of pollen whether we want
them to or not, but the universe can’t
resist us, so driven by insatiable desires
to spread chaos to nearby roses-of-Sharon
or tulip bulbs hibernating the Blizzard
of ’16, we enter the clover of better
judgement and not a moment too soon.

Fortunate son

(It ain’t me, it ain’t me,
I ain’t no fortunate one, no.)
~John Fogarty

We emerged slimy and six-legged poised
for a fight with anything and everything
that moved or promised to move
in one alternate universe or another.
We grew dorsals along our spines
and with eyes like dwarf planets we
marched down Main Street dragging
the flag through blood and mud.
Some of us sailed home in pine boxes,
others lined marble ledges
above grandmothers’ fireplaces
just in time for the holidays.
Some of us did as we were told
because we believed in the flag
being dragged through the blood and mud.
We were not senators’ sons; we
were ordinary sons, sons of mothers
and fathers who fought for freedom
in the good old days, freedom we were
taught to worship in the good old

Alan Britt has been nominated for the 2021 International Janus Pannonius Prize awarded by the Hungarian Centre of PEN International for excellence in poetry from any part of the world. Previous nominated recipients include Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Charles Bernstein and Yves Bonnefoy. Alan has published extensively in Agni, Christian Science Monitor, English Journal, International Gallerie (India), Irodalmi Jelen (Hungary), Kansas Quarterly, Letras (Chile), Magyar Naplo (Hungary), Midwest Quarterly, Minnesota Review, Missouri Review, New Letters, Pedrada Zurda (Ecuador), Poet’s Market, Queen’s Quarterly (Canada), Revista/Review Interamericana (Puerto Rico), Revista Solar (Mexico), Steaua (Romania), Tampa Tribune, Tulane Review, and Wasafiri (UK), and was recently interviewed at The Library of Congress for The Poet and the Poem. He has published 18 books of poetry and served as Art Agent for the late great Ultra Violet while often reading poetry at her Chelsea, New York studio. A graduate of the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University he currently teaches English/Creative Writing at Towson University.

Poetry | ‘working overtime’, ‘where I came from’ – Ozan Zakariya Keskinkılıç

working overtime

at full moon
i turn into a bedtime story
dancing dabke[1] on closed eyes
a black haired lullaby working overtime
to uncover blended memories
heavy and complex with a full body
in distant coffee dregs

where i came from

on the back of my blanket
i see a paper storm
galvanizing the displaced
i see baba’s[2] carpet frayed
and a last word wriggling on each cord
i hear a phone call rolling characters off every leaf
like dancing pocket change in dede’s[3]

barber shop
and i fall back on His lips
to where i really came from

1 levantine folk dance
2 father (tr)
3 grandfather (tr)

Ozan Zakariya Keskinkılıç is a freelance writer, poet and lecturer living in Berlin.

Poetry | Silenciu Encarnáu/Scarlet Silence – Xe M. Sánchez (Asturian | English)



Préstenme los xeranios.
Nun-yos fai falta
facebook o instagram
p’amosa-y al mundiu
la so guapura.
Abasta-yos un pocu d’agua.


Préstenme los xeranios.
Préstame’l so silenciu encarnáu,
cuandu toi mayáu
de les nueses pallabres.


Al xeraniu nun-y esmolez
en qué llingua-y fales,
el collor de la to pelleya
o si yes d’equí
o d’otru planeta.



I like geraniums.
They do not need
facebook or instagram
to show to the world
its beuty.
They have enough with a little water.


I like geraniums.
I like its scarlet silence
when I tired
of our words.


The geranium does not care about
in what language you talk to him,
about the colour of your skin
or about if you are from here
or from another planet.

Xe M. Sánchez was born in 1970 in Grau (Asturies, Spain). He received his Ph.D in History from the University of Oviedo (2016). An anthropologist, he also studied Tourism. His work features in Escorzobeyos (2002), Les fueyes tresmanaes d’Enol Xivares (2003), Toponimia de la parroquia de Sobrefoz. Ponga (2006), Llué, esi mundu paralelu  (2007), Les Erbíes del Diañu (E-book: 2013, Paperback: 2015), Cróniques de la Gandaya (E-book, 2013), El Cuadernu Prietu (2015), and several journals in Asturies, USA, Portugal, France, Sweden, Scotland, Australia, South Africa, India, Italy, England, Canada, Reunion Island, China, Belgium and Ireland.

Fiction | Making Amends – John Tavares

When Elias arrived on the passenger train at Union Station, he had not expected anyone to greet him. Eager to stretch and exercise, he stepped off the transcontinental train, and strode along the dark platforms. He rode the escalators to the arrival and departures lounge and the corridor that faced the luggage carousel, which started to revolve shortly. Conscious he needed to shower and shave and change clothes after the day long journey, he stood waiting for his baggage to coming sliding and rolling along the conveyor. His former Humber College classmate and dormmate, Dalton greeted him and helped him with his battered suitcases.

“I’m just here to acknowledge your apology,” Dalton said, “and to apologize in return.” Laughing, Elias felt uneasy Dalton, forward, direct, felt the need to apologize. “But I have to admit: Returning to college in your forties? Is that a wise career move?”

“It depends upon what sort of career you have, or what kind of life you want to live. I justify the adventure with the sentiment you’ve but one life to live.” Elias felt grateful for the fact he helped him carry his luggage, lugging and trundling battered suitcases through the towering hallways and chambers of cavernous Union Station, up the stairwells and the steep escalators, which were motionless, and along wheelchair ramps.

“I understand, but you apologized for taking me to the campus pub Caps pub and the sports bar in the Woodbine Shopping Centre that Thanksgiving weekend when we lived in the Humber dorm. Then you dragged me out of Caps and brought to me the ER at Etobicoke General Hospital with acute alcohol poisoning, but I was partly if not totally to blame. After all, I didn’t follow your advice to drink moderately.”

“Yeah, I distinctly recall telling you not to have more than one drink, especially when you told me you never went drinking to a bar before. Still, you made it sound as if you were a seasoned veteran of the pit party and house party scene.”

“That was just teenage braggadocio. After that binge, I liked the experience so much I lost control of my drinking. If I had not lost my virginity things might have turned out differently, but I have to admit it was positive reinforcement.”

Then Dalton drove Elias, impressed by the electric car, to his new home, the student co-op apartment building, at Church and Gerard, inside the Red-Light District. Although two decades passed since he last lived in the neighbourhood, he was not at all surprised to see that the night trade workers still plied their wares and business on the boulevards.

“Didn’t the prostitutes creep you out when you lived here?” Dalton asked.

“No, they didn’t bother me. I used to have these fascinating talks with them. A group joked with me, asking me to take them out. I think they thought I was a nerd, but cool in a quirky way. One kept offering me free blow jobs. Yes, I have to admit, it felt a bit creepy at first, and I worried about pimps, that they would beat me up or kill me if I looked at the girls the wrong way, or said the wrong thing, but nothing happened—they were good neighbours.”

“Why did you move out of good ole safe rez—leave campus for downtown?”

“I loved Humber, and living in the dorm was convenient, but you could never escape college life in rez. Here, I lived right next door to downtown and I could find whatever stores, cafes, restaurants I liked nearby, or take the subway anywhere in the city.”

“Yes, the good old days at Humber College, when we didn’t have a care or worry in the world. Back to square one, eh?”

“I suppose that’s one way of looking at it.”

Young women in mini skirts, crop tops, thongs, and high heels lined the boulevards around the intersection of Church and Gerard Street.

“Looks like there’s prostitutes right outside your building,” Dalton said.

“Nothing’s changed, but I can live with them. They didn’t bother me then, and I doubt they’ll bother me now.”

Dalton pulled up to the entrance of the student co-op. “Wait: you piqued my curiosity? Didn’t you say you owed me an apology? Why?” Elias asked.

“I stole your Nike running shoes; they were a perfect and comfortable fit.”

“They were purple. I bought them on sidewalk sale from my hometown shoe store. That’s why I left them outside my door; I never thought anyone would steal purple running shoes.”

“Those shoes felt so comfortable.”

“But I had no other footwear. I walked around the residence bare foot after they went missing. When I asked at the front desk if they noticed a loose pair of purple running shoes lying around, security gave me sandals from the lost and found.”

“I also took your jean jacket and your camouflage khakis.”

“I guess it didn’t help we had the same height and build.”

Dalton felt the slight paunch at his stomach. “Not anymore. Anyway, I’m sorry.” After commenting about how he couldn’t understand how he would feel comfortable living in the red-light district, Dalton mentioned that Ida lived in the neighbourhood after she underwent a messy divorce. “Hey, you never told me what you’re studying.”

“I’m pursuing an education degree, to become a school teacher.”

“Good for you, even though there’s an oversupply of teachers in Ontario. You still blow your cool?”

As Elias fumbled with his luggage and shuffled through his travelling papers for his room reservation, he felt irked at the question. “I try to stay calm. I certainly can’t blow my cool if I become a school teacher.”

Then Dalton sped off and drove in his electric motor vehicle Gerard Street, narrowing avoiding a head-on collision with a cyclist. His former college dormmate and friend left him impressed by his generosity, graciousness, and the silence of his electric motor vehicle. Then Dalton squealed his tires at the traffic lights at the four-way intersection and went into reverse. He chatted with a young woman in a leather jacket and shorts and high heels, before she looked around and slipped inside his car.

The following morning, he took the subway train and the bus in North York to commute across Toronto to the north campus of Humber College in Etobicoke for his academic transcripts, so he could obtain advanced standing in his program and gain exemption from elective courses at York University. He filled out the forms and waited in line behind several students until Gary came to greet him. Gary, who looked impressive, dressed in a skinny suit, took him aside, shook his hand, and lowered his voice dramatically. “Listen, I appreciate your call to apologize for all the wretched excesses, those times we went drinking.”

“No, no worries; it’s just step nine in the Twelve Step program—make amends.” The long lines of students in the registrar’s officer made him anxious. He started to fidget and his eyes wandered, despite the fact he was focusing on reading his York University faculty of education course guide. He started to realize he still needed time to again adjust to the frenetic and frantic pace of life in the city, including long lineups and crowds. “Frankly, I sometimes feel now like I coerced myself into making false confessions. I also don’t believe in God anymore. I stopped attending church when I first went to college.”

“Listen, I know I tried to blame you for my breakup with my hometown girlfriend, the young woman I was supposed to marry. I think I even tried to blame you for flunking out of first year journalism, but you weren’t really to blame. I mean, I had a conscience and sentience of my own and my own volition.”

Gary handed Elias his transcripts in a white business size envelope on Humber College stationary. Then he led him to the huge cafeteria, located in the same building on the sprawling campus when he first attended Humber College two decades ago, where they often met for coffee and studied for electives and worked on journalism assignments. The institutional décor and cavernous interior appeared the same. Gary bought Elias a coffee—Irish cream. He remembered he always drank Irish cream coffee in the cafeteria and thought the Irish cream the cafeteria served was excellent.

“But it’s me who owes you an apology,” he said.

“You remember that long feature that Bette in feature writing only gave you a B for?”

“You mean Bette who hated me for constantly interjecting and interrupting?”

“Dude, she told me you were too enthusiastic in class for her. She’s still an instructor at Humber and was even head of the journalism department. I work here now, in administration part-time, but I also teach a few first-year courses.”


“I’m the one who owes you an apology, dude. When I read that long form piece, that masterpiece you wrote on homeless and street youth, I was astonished, overwhelmed. It was the best student journalism I read anywhere. I thought you deserved an award.”

“I think that was what the journalism coordinator said then. Sounds like you read her notes. Anyway, I wish Bette didn’t grade me; she hated me.”

“Bette didn’t hate you.”

“She hated me because I went out with her daughter a few nights. Ida got really drunk, I took her home, but her mother tried to blame me for getting her daughter intoxicated and sick. Later, Bette tried to blame me for her daughter getting arrested on impaired driving charges because I was a passenger in her car.”

“That might explain it, but Bette is a fastidious and prickly person regardless. Nobody told me the part about Ida.”

Shrugging, sipping from a takeout cup of flavored coffee, Elias confessed this was the best Irish cream coffee he ever tasted—still. “But why do you owe me an apology?”

“I was about to get to that part.” He took a deep breath and sighed. “I totally plagiarized your story after I got kicked out of Humber. I flunked first year journalism at Humber, but a year later I applied to the journalism school at Ryerson. I attached the feature you wrote to my portfolio and application. I had seen you working on your feature in the newsroom and I was intrigued. When you first handed in your assignment, I took your notes and manuscript from the prof’s mailbox in the departmental office after hours. After I photocopied your notes and took the original manuscript, I checked the work stations in the computer lab, and I found your feature in a Word file on the hard drive of the computer near the radio and CD player, where you always worked. I saved your file to my floppy disk. I remembered how severe and draconian Bette acted when she marked papers and spotted mistakes, so I put spelling errors in the manuscript. Then I printed a copy off and replaced your original paper in the prof’s mailbox. That may have been part of the reason you got such a low mark, even though she liked what you wrote. I even took the cassette tape you used to record interviews.”

“Hmm. I didn’t think anything of it—I thought she kept the recordings or misplaced them.”

“Bette always deducted marks big-time whenever she found spelling errors and misspelled names. She warned us about those mistakes on countless occasions. When I finally got around to using your feature, the only thing I changed on your original manuscript was the byline. At Ryerson, they told me I got admitted because of that story; it was exactly the kind of hard hitting, inner city, participatory journalism they were looking for.”

“The school with the best reputation accepted you after a lesser known gave you the boot. That’s a bit ironic.”

“The irony is not lost on me—trust me. When I applied for a reporting internship in the radio room at the Toronto Star, they said my experience was lacklustre, but they hired me because of my feature, your work, on homeless street youth downtown.”

Elias felt tired but laughed because he wanted to be good-natured about school experiences he would sooner forget. He thanked Gary for his transcripts for his journalism grades, which he was reminded, were less than stellar. The document itself he was disappointed to notice was produced on a black and white laser printer, low on ink, so the printout resembled a photocopy of a photocopy.

“So, do you still blow your stack the odd time?”

“Naw. I try to keep my cool. It’s part of recovery, rehabilitation, the twelve-step program, I suppose. But I like to think I’m past losing control and temper tantrums.”

“I think Alcoholics Anonymous is a crock of shit.”

“Hey, be nice.” Elias gulped the rest of his coffee. “I stopped going to meetings, but I’m still sober.”

Elias caught a glimpse of paramedic students and gestured and motioned in the direction of the group, orally reviewing cardiology questions in emergency medicine, studying for summer term exams.

“Two decades ago, between classes, I’m having a coffee, hurrying to finish an assignment, and I see the ambulance students studying for tests in this very same cafeteria. I think then I should study with them, training to become a paramedic. I could have easily landed a job working in air ambulance in my hometown.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“I actually believed then I could change the world—

make society better—through journalism. To think by now I could be looking forward to early retirement.”

“Regrets—I’ve had a few.”

“Don’t cry for me, Argentina, eh?”

“Anyway, nothing about the shameless and unabashed and righteous act of plagiarism–because then I’ll have to kill you. After all, it was for a good cause.”

“No worries. Journalism is the furthest thing from my mind these days. I don’t know how I convinced myself I could be a reporter, and I suppose my dreams of succeeding in the industry were unrealistic. I’m just glad someone was able to use the piece. All journalism school did for me was cause me regret and remorse; I actually believed I deserved a job for three years of worthless college education, instead of endless unpaid internships.”

Gary showed him his brand-new luxury wristwatch and, sounding like a college administrator, reassured him his education was a sound long term investment. He knew that was case; why else would be requesting his college transcripts, which would help him obtain advanced standing in the education program at York University. They both strode through the corridors and hallways and negotiated the plate and steel doors of foyers and stairwells of the building complex, on their separate ways across campus. Stern-faced, Elias headed through the north entrance into the massive parking lot and walked to the bus shelter on Humber College Boulevard, amidst the noise and clamour of car alarms and slammed doors. Twenty years later the parking lot was busier than ever, but the motor vehicle alarms didn’t create as loud a racket. He hoped to see this former Humber buddy, now a college instructor and administrator, sometime again soon, but the likelihood seemed small.

Several days later, during the orientation week in teacher’s college at York University, Elias walked to his apartment in the student co-op building from the subway station on Yonge Street. He came across a woman, who looked familiar, dressed in a nursing uniform, scrubs, and sneakers, comfortable and functional, strolling out of a large apartment building, which fronted Gerard Street. She did a double take, and he looked at her peculiarly. He recognized her facial features, her green-brown eyes, her thin, jagged chin, her slim athletic figure. Ida said she had to hurry to work at Toronto General Hospital, several blocks down Gerard Street. When he noticed she wore a hospital ID badge that said she was a registered nurse, he wondered aloud whatever became of her journalism career. She said she walked this route along Gerard Street to University Avenue and her job as a nurse in the emergency department at Toronto General Hospital everyday. Saying she heard he was back in Toronto, living in the high-rise student co-operative apartment building, she reached and gave him a hug. He wasn’t certain how to react to the warm gesture and familiarity, especially since two decades transpired since they last saw each other, the night before the June convocation ceremonies from Humber College, which he didn’t bother to attend. The timespan boggled his mind, but he was the person who called her last year out of nowhere to apologize.

“I still don’t know why you called to apologize,” Ida said. “I understand we were both drinking those nights and weren’t on our best behaviour. In fact, I got you kicked out your apartment for smoking pot and antics in your room.”

“The co-op didn’t kick me out; they fined me a month’s rent because they said I was supposed to be responsible for my guests’ conduct.”

“But you called me to apologize for what happened when I was responsible.”

“Let’s say partly responsible.”

“But I got drunk because I wanted to have sex. I tried to get intimate, forced myself on you—”

“I didn’t want to have sex because you were drunk, and I panicked. We had, after all, done those assignments on sexual assault and the whole business made me skittish and neurotic. I slapped you to try to knock some sense in you.”

Elias noticed then the tightness of her uniform and how her outfit fitted perfectly her shapely form. She looked like she had lost weight, or rather she was more fit, athletic, and muscular than he ever remembered.

“I just wanted to make out with you.”

“You were desirable, a dream girl, a fantasy come true.”

Elias was surprised to see Ida the nurse in tears. “Don’t sell yourself short. You’re not so bad yourself.”

“Everything happened so fast, and I still couldn’t believe my senses. I was scared and impotent, and shaking, and my heart was thumping.”

“Well, that explains it. Sounds like you had a panic attack. I thought you slapped me because you were a mean drunk.”

“No. I wasn’t drunk, but I found you attractive.”

“Well, I kind of intuited those vibes.” Ida touched his shoulder, caressed his back, and kissed his cheek.

“And I’ve had many crushes, since and before, but you were one of the biggest.”

“Hah! The clinician in me wants to ask how you measure the size of a crush. The psychotherapist in me is amazed we’re talking about it like it happened yesterday.”

“Yes, that is kind of amazing,” Elias said, as he stepped on the boulevard to move out of the path of the group home workers, smoking cigarettes, returning to work inside the Covenant House. He gazed upwards at the weathered sign on the heritage building: Woman’s Christian Temperance Union.

“Anyway, I suppose I’m the one who owes you an apology.” Ida hugged him and pecked him on the cheek.

“So is that why your mom hated me?”

“You thought she hated you?”

“She acted that way.”

“When I showed up home that night drunk with a bruise on my face, my mother thought I had been raped. She drove me to hospital emergency department and insisted I tell them the truth or she would call the police.”

“I’m surprised she didn’t call the police.”

“She eventually did call the police and wanted to press charges. After the cops heard the full story, they said it sounded like you acted in self-defence—no evidence of anything non-consensual. In fact, they said I was the one who acted dicey, which totally infuriated my mother. When the cops, big blond women, asked my mother if she would fault me if I attacked someone who forced themselves on me, she went ballistic, and the police ordered her to calm down or they would arrest her.”

The line of cyclists peddling along Gerard Street grew longer and dense; definitely more people were riding their bicycles than when Elias lived in the neighbourhood two decades ago. “That explains some things, but I think she hated me the first time she saw me.”

“Forget about her. Bette was injured in a road rage accident–filled with frustration and anger. A few years ago, outside a supermarket, she stood in front of a car and started pounding on the hood and windshield with her fists. Her hand somehow got caught beneath the windshield wiper while the car speed away. The panicked driver, a teen mom, crashed into her, driving over her, like she was a pylon. She lost the arm—the hands she uses to write, ironically.”

“I sorry to hear that.” Elias didn’t want to express curiosity about the irony of her mother’s injury, but the same traits that compelled him to enroll in journalism made him inclined to ask. He was unsettled she seemed almost relieved at her mother’s loss.

“No reason to be sorry now. I’m a mother now, with one kid.”

“You look great.”

“Kids keep you in shape.”

Ida hugged him again. “Do you still lose your temper?”

“I don’t drink anymore, so my emotions are easier to control. What are you doing downtown, though?”

“I live downtown. I know you always liked living downtown, and I’ve grown to tolerate it.”

“Hmm. A journalist, in a nurse’s uniform.”

“I went to nursing school as a mature student. Journalism didn’t pay the rent, or let’s just say there was hardly any money leftover after the divorce.”

With the sunlight reflected off the rooftop of huge new condominium tower on Yonge Street, shining brightly into her eyes, she moved closer to him so she could smell coffee on his breath. “You do know that Mom named me after Ida Tarbell, don’t you? She mentioned at the start of every course she taught the crusading journalist was her role model.”

“That’s news to me. I must have missed that class. What are you doing living downtown, anyway? You seem like a thoroughly suburban girl.”

“Like I said, journalism didn’t cover much beyond the mortgage payments. The apartment I rent now is a mere walk from the hospital.”

Ida wrote her name and telephone number inside the cover of his huge heavy educational psychology textbook. She said she needed to hurry to work at the hospital before she was late relieving co-workers. Turning back, she winked.

Now she seems to be flirting, sending receptive signals, Elias thought, as he walked down Gerard Street to the student co-op apartment building. Two decades after he first lived in the neighbourhood, he was not surprised to observe the sex trade workers, members of the underground economy, still plied their wares on the boulevards. At the intersection, he came across a uniformed police officer slamming against the hood of a marked cruiser a young woman in a short tight denim skirt, a crop top, mesh stockings, and high heel shoes. “That’s no way to treat a woman.” Elias tried to place himself between the police officer and the young woman. Then he noticed the officer was a woman, attractive, with a strong athletic figure, whose narrow hips and lean muscular build initially left him with the impression she was a man.

“She’s a suspect under arrest, and you’re obstructing justice—a peace officer.” As if to prove her point, she handcuffed the younger, smaller woman and slammed her against the passenger door and blood spurted from the suspect’s mouth onto the windshield. Elias became outraged and enraged, as the police officer pushed and shoved the woman she had in custody, slamming her head against the cruiser’s hood, struggling to handcuff her. The suspect kicked back with her high heels and spit. Elias became involved in a wrestling match with the officer, after he tried to restrain her as she put her perp in a choke hold. As he struggled with the officer, her peaked cap flew off her head, revealing her French braid. The unveiling angered her, and she cursed and swore and drew her service revolver. She managed to jam the muzzle into his abdomen, and pulled the trigger. The muzzle exploded in a blast. As the blood trickled from the injury in his chest, so ended the making amends, apologies, aspirations, and attempts at a second beginning and career. The congested traffic moved slowly along Gerard Street in the early evening, as the motorists, starting, stopping, tried to obey the parking enforcement officer’s signals to move forward. Another police officer attempted to resuscitate the shooting victim, while an ambulance’s siren struggled to clear a path through the traffic jam. The few pedestrians who observed the incident lingered a few moments before they, reluctant witnesses, quickly strode away.

John Tavares’ previous publications include short fiction published in various alternative magazines, literary journals, quarterlies, and anthologies, online & in print: Blood & Aphorisms, Plowman Press, Green’s Magazine, Filling Station, Whetstone, Broken Pencil, Tessera, Windsor Review, Paperplates, Crab Fat Literary Magazine, The Round Up Writer’s Zine, The Acentos Review, Gravel, Brasilia Review, Sediments Literary Arts-Journals, The Gambler, Red Cedar Review, Writing Raw, Treehouse Arts, Qwerty, Oddball Magazine, among others. His short stories & creative nonfiction was published in The Siren, then Centennial College’s student newspaper. Following journalism studies, his articles & features were published in various local news outlets in Toronto, including community & trade newspapers such as the East York Times, the Beaches Town Crier & Hospital News, where he interned as an editorial assistant.
Born & raised in Sioux Lookout, Ontario, John is the son of Portuguese immigrants from the Azores. His education includes graduation from 2-year GAS at Humber College in Etobicoke with concentration in psychology (1993), 3-year journalism at Centennial College in East York (1996) & the Specialized Honors BA in English from York University in North York (2012). He worked as a research assistant for the Sioux Lookout Public Library & as a research assistant in waste management for the SLKT public works department & regional recycle association. He also worked for persons with disabilities at the Sioux Lookout Association for Community Living.

Fiction | The Wedding – Nishi Pulugurtha

I put the water to boil in the kitchen; eyes still sleepy as I looked around. Two cups were already set on the tray. Rita makes sure about that before she sleeps. I hear the sound of the cuckoo and see sunlight streaming into the living room. There is a thud in the verandah, which must be the newspaper boy tossing the morning’s newspaper. Rita opened the door. I knew she would walk slowly into the room glancing over the news. Tea was ready when I walked in. This had been our morning ritual for some years now.

As we sipped tea, her cell phone rang. “A call this early in the morning, I just hope it is not bad news,” she murmured and answered it. It was obvious from her side of the conversation, whatever bits and pieces came through, that it was definitely not bad news. I continued reading the newspaper, my tea done, the sugary end left alone.  It was her cousin’s call, and I was sure the conversation would go on for quite some time. They had grown up together, had been the best of friends and when they started talking, there was never any quick end to the call. It was a weekend and I decided to tend to the plants in the verandah and the ones inside as well, which I had a habit of forgetting.

I could hear Rita in the kitchen, rustling up breakfast, still on the phone. The heat had discoloured some of the leaves of the coleus. I liked that plant; a few months back I had just planted a small branch, and here it was now, nice and full. A few more cuttings were in order. I moved the plant into the shade.  The periwinkle was in full bloom too, both the white and violet. I removed the dead leaves, dug up the soil, and watered the plants. The hibiscus was growing well, though there have been no flowers so far. I think it needs some compost. Maybe I could get some the next time I go to the local nursery. I moved the indoor plants into the sun for a while as I tended to the ones in the verandah. As I was washed up, I could still hear Rita’s voice. She told me at breakfast.

The date for Didibhai’s daughter’s wedding had been finalized. We were expecting this for quite some time. Pupli had been working in Mysore for some years now. Her mother was keen to see her married. Didibhai was a single parent and Pupli was her first born. Tukun, her son was doing his Ph.D at an institute in Mumbai. Didibhai had always lived in Lucknow. Her parents were born there too. My wife, Rita, too was born and brought up there and only moved to Kolkata after we got married. Making fun of her accented Bengali was regular, the fun light-hearted. Rita loved Lucknow, she had fond memories of the place. Who wouldn’t after all, if your growing years were lived there. After her mother passed away, Rita’s trips became less frequent in comparison, but she still went at least once a year.  Her elder brother and sister-in-law also lived there, though their daughters had both moved to Delhi; initially to study and then they stayed on because of their jobs. And then there was Didibhai too.

A call from Lucknow or any news about the place made Rita very happy. This morning’s news made her even more so. “Didbhai was very worried about Pupli’s marriage, more so after things did not work out the first time.” Pupli had been engaged once before too, Didibhai had made all arrangements for the wedding. The wedding date had been finalized, the preparations dusted, when the young man decided to show colour, behave rather strangely. The marriage was called off. Didibhai, understandably, was upset for months; but she believed in Pupli’s determination and her decision. It was all for the best. Had things soured after the wedding, which they were bound to be, it would have been worse.

It seemed different this time. Pupli was happy with her decision, but so was she till the very end of the last time’s wedding as well. Didibhai was jittery. “Didibhai told me that she saw an astrologer for all this,” Rita said very sceptically. “I don’t really understand how she still believes in all this, the appeal of astrology, but I did not say anything to her. I think she is emotionally insecure,” she went on. Rita was sensible and practical, a shoulder Didibhai leant on to for support.

“Didibhai is insisting that I be in Lucknow at least a week before the wedding,” Rita told me that night as we sat for dinner. “They are having a civil ceremony followed by a reception,” she continued. “I like this too, and am glad this is the decision Didibhai and Pupli have taken,” she went on. I nodded in approval. As it so happened, I did not like all the rituals and customs of the Indian wedding. When we got married, 22 years ago, that is exactly what we did. Rita and I had a difficult time explaining it to our families. The arguments took their course, a long one, before our parents finally decided to do it our way.

“I agree, I do think you should go well in advance Rita. In fact, I will try to reach two days before the wedding too. I could help out maybe,” I said.

Rita was caught up with the wedding preparations the next few weeks, and was on the phone most of the time. Suggestions, advice, comments and remarks, all came out of her with conviction. Work kept us occupied. The wedding was all we talked about. “Didibhai is spending too much on the wedding,” Rita said one morning. “There is no reason for her to do so. I told her that Barun. I know she will not pay heed to me, but I felt she shouldn’t go overboard.” A week before the D-day, Rita flew in to Lucknow.

It was truly a grand affair. The guests were pieced in, the stage was set. The registrar came in at the appointed time. All the close relatives and friends were ready to see the signing of the documents, it was a first for many of them. Didibhai was nervous and happy at the same time. Pupli signed wherever she was asked to. The young man did too. It was now time for the witnesses. “Who all are going to sign as witnesses? Please come forward,” the gentleman said. Didibhai started to move forward, when Pupli said, “Tukun, my brother will sign as a witness.” She whispered something to the young man beside her. He signalled to his father and aunt to come forward to sign as witnesses. Rita and I turned around, to where Didibhai stood blank. She stopped moving, stood rooted. Her face turned red, I could see the water in her eyes rising. She saw us looking at her and tried to smile. Rita moved closer to her and held her hand. “I am not wanted,” she whispered, trying hard to hold back tears. No one noticed, no one was interested. The witnesses signed, the marriage was officially, formally sealed.

The photographer gestured with a flick of his camera. “Ma, come here,” Pupli called out to her mother, “let’s do the pictures!” Didibhai moved towards the bride. Didibhai moved towards her daughter.

Dr. Nishi Pulugurtha is Associate Professor in English and writes on travel, film, short stories, poetry and on Alzheimer’s disease. Her work has been published in The Statesman, Kolkata, ProsopisiaThe Punch Magazine (forthcoming), KitaabCafé DissensusColdnoonQueen Mob’s Tea HouseThe Pangolin Review, MAD Asia PacificPrachya ReviewThe World Literature Blog, Tranquil Muse and Setu. She guest edited the June 2018 Issue of Café Dissensus on Travel. She has a monograph on Derozio (2010) and a collection of essays on travel, Out in the Open (2019). She is now working on her first volume of poems and is editing a collection of essays on travel.  She is based in Kolkata.