Top Middle Eastern Literary Magazines to submit your Creative Writing to.

 

Hello!

Here is a new list of magazines to submit your work!

We, at The Bombay Review have a special focus on emerging and established writing from the Middle Eastern region. So if you are from or write about the region, and wish to have your work published with us, submit away! Our themed editions, published or forthcoming are on: Iran, Iraq, Palestine, Israel, and Egypt. While submissions for these open regularly, we sure look for great writing all year round. Details below, along with the list of other literary journals/magazines. We are constantly working to update this list, if you know of a publication that can be here, drop a comment below. The list is in no particular order.

–  Editor, The Bombay Review



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



13 LITERARY MAGAZINES
The Middle East
(English/Bilingual)
Short fiction, poetry, translations, reviews, screenplays, essays, and more.

The Bosphorus Review Of BooksThe Bosphorus Review of Books

Year established: 2017
Published from: Istanbul, Turkey
Genres: Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Book reviews
Submission period: All year
Type: Digital
Website | Instagram | Facebook
Submission fee: Nil
Payment: Nil
Editor: Luke Frostick and Thomas Parker


new-journal

Rowayat

Year established: 2013
Published from: Egypt & Kent, United Kingdom
Genres: Short fiction, Flash fiction, Poetry
Submission period: All year
Type: Digital + Print
Website | Facebook
Submission fee: Nil
Payment: Nil
Editor: Sherine ElBanhawy


Sukoon

Year established: 2013
Published from: Dubai, UAE
Genres: Poetry, Short fiction, Essays
Submission period: All year
Type: Digital
Website | Facebook
Submission fee: Nil
Payment: Nil
Editor: Rewa Zeinati


Sail

Year established: 2010
Published from: Dubai, UAE
Genres: Articles
Submission period: All year
Type: Digital
Website | Instagram | Facebook
Submission fee: Nil
Payment: Nil
Editor: Iman Ben Chaibah 


ArabLit Quartlerly

Year established: 2018
Published from: Unknown
Genres: Poetry, Fiction, Essays
Submission period: Rolling basis
Type: Digital + Print
Website | Instagram | Facebook
Submission fee: Nil
Payment: Nil to $500
Editor: M Lynx Qualey


Pin by IAA Libraries on Books from Around the World | Literature ...Banipal

Year established: 1998
Published from: London, UK
Genres: Translations
Submission period: All year
Type: Digital + Print
Website | Facebook
Submission fee: Nil
Payment: Nil
Editor: Margaret Obank


Jahanamiya

Year established: 2017
Published from: Saudi Arabia, Michigan, USA
Genres: Poetry, Fiction, and Non-fiction writing
Submission period: Rolling basis
Type: Digital
Website | Instagram | Facebook
Submission fee: Nil
Payment: Nil
Editor: Ahd Niazy


Al Jadid Magazine

Year established: 1995
Published from: California, USA
Genres: Essays, Features, Reviews, Interviews, Translations
Submission period: All year
Type: Digital + Print
Website | Facebook
Submission fee: Nil
Payment: Nil
Editor: Elie Chalala


Rusted Radishes

  • Year established: 2011
  • Published from: Beirut, Lebanon
  • Genres: Comics, Artwork, Translations, Fiction, Creative nonfiction, Poetry
  • Submission period: All year
  • Type: Digital
  • Website | Instagram | Facebook
  • Submission fee: Nil
  • Payment: Nil
  • Editor: Rima Rantisi

Untitled design (1)Pars Times

Year established: 2002
Published from: Iran
Genres: Interviews, Articles, Poetry, Short fiction
Submission period: All year
Type: Digital
Website | Facebook
Submission fee: Nil
Payment: Nil
Editor: Unknown


Parsagon

Year established: 2013
Published from: Iran
Genres: Poetry, Fiction, Nonfiction, Drama
Submission period: All year
Type: Digital
Website | Facebook
Submission fee: Nil
Payment: Nil
Editor: Unknown


Al-Madaniya

Year established: 2018
Published from: Yemen
Genres: Essays, Short fiction, Nonfiction
Submission period: All year
Type: Digital
Website | Facebook
Submission fee: Nil
Payment: Nil
Editor: Hamza Shiban


The Istanbul Review

Year established: 2014
Published from: Istanbul, Turkey
Genres: Poetry, Fiction
Submission period: All year
Type: Digital
Website | Facebook
Submission fee: Nil
Payment: Nil
Editor: Hande Zapsu Watt

Advertisements

Advertisements

Fiction | ‘The Realisation’ by Aninda Mukherjee

1

By mid-March, New York had called in sick.

            When the Director of Programs interrupted Sandy Hartman’s mid – morning class on ‘History of Jazz’ for a brief announcement, Riya knew intuitively that it couldn’t be good news.

            Juilliard was temporarily suspending all courses in view of the unforeseen situation which had overwhelmed the city. With immediate effect, The Meredith Wilson Residence Halls were to be converted into a COVID specific hospital. The boarders had a week to vacate. The faculty regretted the, unfortunate turn of events. The school looked forward to welcome the students once the situation improved.  A technical team was putting together an online course apparatus, even as he spoke and the travel desk would work closely with international students.

            All around, things had changed. The rushed world of ambition and velocity had been reduced to a surreal stagnant space of quarantines, isolation wards and ventilators. The plummeting Brent subordinated itself to the spiraling rate of positive cases of this new dreaded virus, now in the city. New York was fighting …but at the moment the novel virus seemed to be winning by a mile, and then some.

            She took the elevator to the Cafeteria and took a seat in the far corner. Bill Blasio was all over the giant screen explaining a complex containment strategy that his team planned to execute over the next 72 hours. As he came to the part spelling out details of essential services in the locked down environment, Riya reached for her phone nervously.

***

Rajiv Bakshi was lost in thought as he took a sip of his after dinner Pierre Ferrand Abel. He leaned against the railing of his fifteenth floor sit out and stared aimlessly across Cuffe Parade into the emptiness of the Arabian Sea. He remembered the day in the non-descript year in mid 90s. As a young banker back from Singapore with a FOREX lead with the then Chase Manhattan, he had put all his savings into the down payment of 15B Casablanca. A few months later he had moved in with his wife Rini, and made it home.  His favourite corner since, had always been the balcony with a view of the sea to the distant right and the wondrous green Colaba Woods to the near left. Up front, beyond the World Trade Centre, were the Ambedkar Nagar slums reminding him of the characteristic homogeneity and benign acceptance of the Maximum City.

            He smiled to himself as his mind travelled back to that warm summer afternoon when he had driven back a glowing Rini and a little pink – wrapped Riya from Breach Candy to Casablanca. Eighteen years was a long time. Yet it seemed like yesterday…

            The phone rang yet again. This Work-from-home thing was turning out to be a terrible inconvenience!

***

The Delta out of JFK, one of the three airports in New York City, was the earliest option out. The itinerary was waiting in her mail box. Rini had called up with her usual last minute pep.  Pack light…Keep yourself hydrated…Don’t forget Cetrizines for the allergic rhinitis…Do drop a mail to the Indian Mission in NY…

            She gave a long hug to Sara, her roommate, promising to stay in touch over the forced break. Both knew their world was changing….the world was changing…. Nothing would possibly be the same again.

            Out in the corridor, old Tom, the floor janitor, lowered his mask, touched his cap, smiled and wished the really nice Missy from the Freshers class of Piano Jazz….. Godspeed!

2

Parimal Mondal balanced the bag near his feet, and started his Scooty. He had come to collect some grocery from Sahakari Bhandar, near Colaba Post Office, his weekly routine for many years now. The local kirana was never well stocked, and marginally expensive. As he turned right from Afghan Church, the Anglican Church in South Mumbai, to drive towards his rented room at Ganesh Murti Nagar, he saw a group of Jawans spraying disinfectants near the Colaba Military Station, which was the residential area for personnel of the Western Naval Command. There was a new disease called Corona. People said that it was a deadly virus which had killed thousands in China. Now it was spreading all over the world. There was nothing else on TV these days. Yesterday, Parimal had recalled those distant nights in his village near Canning in Bengal when his grandfather spoke of the terrible time the village had been attacked by the plague. Almost every family had lost a member, the stench was unbearable when the wind blew inland from the river… the Doms, fearing infection refused to help in cremating the dead.Muted sobs and muffled groans of pain and helplessness hung in the air. He could not sleep the entire night and lay awake next to Arati staring at the ceiling in horror. Thankfully, the morning arrived through the grills of the small window and his fears vanished into the early morning basti bustle.

Shortly after he had filled the water drum from the BMC tap, Bakshi sa’ab called. Riya didi was returning from America this afternoon. He had to pick her up from T2.

Parimal had worked for the Bakshi family for years now and had grown to be both loyal and rather fond of them over time. He had watched little Riya grow up…driving her to school and piano classes and birthday parties. He had been sad to see her go to college abroad but she seemed so excited at the adventure! But now he was a little surprised at the suddenness of the move though. The Bakshis had visited their daughter during Christmas, and Parimal had gathered that the girl was not due to return to India till much later in the year.

He dropped off the stuff, told Arati not to wait for him for lunch and hurried towards Casablanca, a couple of minutes ride from his place. Parimal had been idle since the boss had stopped going to his BKC office and was working from home. Occasionally, he had been called to run an errand, but mostly he had been free at home. He remembered that the car needed to be cleaned and there wasn’t much time. He tied his handkerchief to cover his mouth and nose, adjusted his helmet and set off. He had to get hold of a proper mask soon. Everyone had one these days.

***

As Parimal eased the Q5 into the Western Express Highway, Riya picked up the Times of India. The Prime Minister had addressed the nation the evening before, and had urged all to stay indoors the following Sunday. He had cleverly called it the Janta Curfew, making it sound almost voluntary. She knew though, the model of operation from the establishment was following a standard pattern: “Please stay in,” “It is highly recommended that you stay in,” and then “You MUST stay in.” Wuhan did that, Milano followed, New York caught up, and it would dawn onto Mumbai soon. Her world today operated on familiar templates…scaled models, bell curves, Big data, AI and Python!

On the surround, Bose softly played Dido’s Lament by Henry Purcell from the legendary opera Dido and Aeneas.

Riya felt like a child again,fragile, unsure, and vulnerable. She reached for the controls and retracted the sun roof, peering out into what looked like a still frame from old Bombay. Speeding through the empty roads, the Worli sea face, Haji Ali and Mahalaxmi passed her by like a collage of colourful pastel sketches. The clear sky met the blue sea in the distant horizon. And somewhere in between was delicately placed the fancy brick and mortar like those cardboard models from kindergarten craft assignments. There were no people, no life, just the ‘automated blinking red lights at a distance…impersonal, indifferent, non–committal, aloof.

Parimal accelerated past Pedder Road and Babulnath and turned left on the Chowpatty.  Riya settled back on the soft leather and reached for her knap sack. She took out a bar of Baby Ruth Crisp and broke it into two.

“Parimal bhaiya, yeh lijiye.” Take this, Mr Parimal.

“Ji, didi.” Parimal reached back with his left hand, took the chocolate, deftly found a gap in the kerchief, placed it in his mouth and returned to the wheel in one swift, smooth motion.

Riya took the other half and savoured its sweetness. They were racing past Brabourne Stadium and heading south. It was a pleasant Saturday afternoon at one of the world’s most popular promenades…but the Marine Drive, today, was deserted. A lone policeman sat under a tree and stared at nothingness.

***

Parimal and Arati had settled into the numbness of the containment routine, like most others at Ganesh Murti Nagar. Essentials were available at the small grocery store down the lane, the only shop which had remained open. For Arati’s medicines, Parimal had to go to Colaba once with a pass issued by the local municipality staffer.  Many of their neighbours were migrant labourers, who were anxious to go back to their villages. The construction sites were down and the future looked bleak. Parimal was lucky. He had a steady salary and hot meals. This was as close to the home he and Arati would dream of. Sometimes, though, he admitted to himself that he missed the haunting tunes from the far away fishing boats drifting along the Matla River. It carried him to a land of salted fish and panta bhaat and the sweet- sour cholai which lightened the head and gladdened the heart. But he always tore himself away from the fancy reverie and quickly got back on rails.

Babloo Naskar hadn’t had a drink for a month. He was used to his regular quart of Haywards XXX for as long as he could recall. But now the Sarkar had shut down all the wine shops. Babloo had purchased a pauwa now and then for a premium from the local bootlegger….till he couldn’t afford it anymore. So it was a very thirsty Babloo who knocked on Parimal’s door early one morning. A queue was already forming in front of Swastik Wine Mart as the State Government eased restrictions to permit liquor shops to reopen.

“Ki hola re Babloo?” “What’s up, Babloo?”

“Aaz maaler dukan khulse re Pari! Zabi naaki?” The liquor shops have reopened! Want to come?

The idea was tempting. Parimal wasn’t much of a drinker. But today he could do with a tipple. Like every other month his salary had come to his account and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to spend a little on a bottle for the evening.  These days there was no duty anyway. He quickly put on a shirt on his netted singlet and followed Babloo out on foot.

The area around the liquor shop was a chaos, an unmitigated disaster. There were hundreds of people jostling and cursing in their effort to get ahead. The duo tried to figure out where the serpentine queue might lead to but after walking to the far end of the road near Badhwar Park, simply gave up. Near the Charagh Din showroom, the line had branched out. One led to the Macchimar mohalla on Cuffe parade, the other headed towards the Causeway. No one knew how or when it would move….if it did, that is.

Babloo hadn’t come this far to return empty handed. He was determined to get his quota and planted himself firmly in the queue which turned towards the causeway. He would wait. Parimal had had enough. It just wasn’t worth the trouble. He struggled out of the melee and headed home, silently cursing himself for listening to Babloo and wasting his morning. He was drenched in sweat by the time he reached home. Quickly grabbing a gamcha, he headed to the sauchalay a few hundred feet from his door. He wasn’t feeling too well. Must be the exhaustion from walking in the scorching summer sun.

3

The situation in Mumbai was deteriorating with each passing day. The Chief Minister of the State, was under tremendous pressure. Fadnavis, whose party was in the opposition, left no stone unturned to show the coalition government in poor light. Dharavi, the slum conglomerate, was collapsing under the weight of its positive cases. Govandi was critical. Cases were spiraling all over the city, the doubling rate was worsening, the death toll climbing. The latest fiasco of the migrants causing stampede at Bandra, generally considered a posh locality, had brought the Uddhav Thackeray led Government much embarrassment. Kasturba Hospital was bursting at the seams. The other hospitals barely coped, wereover burdened, under staffed, and logistically crashing. And recently, the decision to open liquor outlets had led to riots and lathi charge – a complete failure of social distancing norms and prevention of transmission. The civil administration seemed ineffectual and helpless.

The CM summoned the Chief Secretary to Matoshree, the home of the Shiv Sena family, who was now in power after a long dull stretch. Hard decisions needed to be taken.

At midnight, Pardesi was relieved of his duties as the BMC chief. It was around 0115 that Iqbal Chahal chaired his first meeting as the Civic Chief. The numbers were frightening.12,000 odd positive cases, 793 deaths, not enough recoveries. His city was the epicenter, not just another dot on the red zone! The entire city of Mumbai had become a huge containment zone in Lockdown ++. The plan had to be two pronged. Aggressive testing and expeditious creation of medical infrastructure. Testing kits were reallocated from districts, resources deployed, critical clusters listed down to the last detail.

Ward A chief, Shambhurao Agashe was told in no uncertain terms to deploy the ‘Bhilwara Model’ in two main slums in his area, Ambedkar Nagar and Ganesh Murti Nagar, south of Cuffe Parade bordering the Navy Nagar area. He was sweating as he walked out of the BMC conference hall. It was 0335. He sighed as he typed a short post on a WhatsApp group simply named BMC_A.  He repeated the message to the SHOs of Cuffe Parade and Colaba Police Stations.

“Meeting. All members. 0530. Ward A office. URGENT.”

Around 9 that morning, there was a knock on their door. Arati opened the door to be greeted by two unrecognizable men and a woman dressed in personal protective clothing. One of the three spoke from behind his face shield. Parimal Mondal was on their list of individuals whose swab sample was required to be collected for testing of COVID. The names had been sampled randomly from the latest Electoral Rolls and reports would be available in 24 to 48 hours. There was nothing to worry.

The lady stepped forward, lifted Parimal’s face slightly by the chin and inserted the probe to take a nasal sample. Sample preserved and a label stickered, the group moved on to the door indicated against the next contact on the list. A band of enthusiastic onlookers followed them paying no heed to the objections of the lone policeman from the local police station.

Still in a haze, Parimal looked around to find Babloo leaning against the garbage truck at a distance. With deft sign language, Babloo Naskar indicated that his sample had also been taken and all was fine! Parimal just stood there, lost in thought.

4

Rajiv was sipping his second cup of Darjeeling while leafing through an old copy of The Economist. Rini put the oven to pre-heat in the kitchen and walked in to the living room. Riya had retreated to her room after breakfast to Face Time with an old school friend. It was getting unbearably hot in Bombay. The air conditioners hummed in tandem ad infinitum. Rini lounged on the recliner and opened the New Yorker pdf on her tab. She had barely read a few lines when the landline suddenly erupted to life with loud jarring rings. They hardly used this phone anymore. So both Rajiv and Rini were startled at this unfamiliar disturbing noise. Rini was the first to recover and padded across to the teak corner table on which the receiver was placed.

“Hello?”

Rajiv took off his glasses and looked at her. Who was it?

“Parimal’s wife…” she placed her finger on her lips to indicate that Rajiv should be quiet.

As she listened to Arati, occasionally contributing monosyllables to the conversation, her face changed. Rajiv could see indifference turn to curiosity, then concern, then anxious nervousness and real fear. After about five minutes, Rini hung up but did not move.

The news was worrying. Parimal had tested positive for COVID-19. There was some random testing in his neighborhood and the reports had come in the night before. The positive cases were checked for symptoms by the BMC doctor. Parimal had a sore throat and fatigue but nothing more serious. Thirty seven from the Ganesh Murty area had tested positive. Only three had severe symptoms and had been shifted to the Kasturba Hospital. The others were taken to the make shift quarantine facility set up at the local Corporation school. Parimal was among them. Their families had been isolated in situ, which simply meant that they were not to venture out. Rice, dal, potatoes, onions, a tetra pack of oil, a bar of soap and a bottle of sanitizer had been placed outside Arati’s door in a large cardboard box. She was given a number to call in case she developed cough or fever, however mild.

But did he go out much? Where did he get the virus from?

The dam burst! Arati was furious! That rascal Babloo Naskar had lured her good man to the daru ka dukaan the other day. There was big maara maari. Parimal bechara was caught in the crowd. Anyone could have been infected under those circumstances!

And what about Babloo? Was he tested?

That is the anyay, madam. God is blind. There is no justice! Shaala Babloo is negative and my poor Pari is dying of this Corona! May Kali’s curse be on that bastard!

There was silence in the room. Rajiv slowly walked to the dispenser and poured himself a glass of water. Rini was about to say something when Riya walked into the room, looking lovely and radiant.

“Riya beta, did you wear a mask in the car when Parimal drove you home from the airport?”

“Dad, of course! Was sort of uncomfortable though…nose gets itchy all the time.”

What a glorious view! Riya slid open the glass door a fraction and walked out into the balcony.

A million thoughts crowded the Bakshi minds. Did the driver keep the keys on the hook? Or did he hand them over to Rajiv after parking the car? What about the floor? He did walk in that day, didn’t he? And the luggage! He had carried the luggage all the way up. Rini…yes, Rini and Riya had unpacked a while later! What a mess!

Rini knew exactly what Rajiv was thinking. Trust these damned slummies to go out and invite the dashed virus! And for what! Half a bottle of cheap bloody alcohol! And now all of us are in a spin, a royal soup! I mean do these half wits need to be told to be responsible? Wrestling with ruffians around a bar at 10 in the morning.

The western sky was incandescent with the sun setting on the Arabian Sea. A gentle breeze blew in from the Colaba Woods. It was a mellow evening, just a little humid. But Riya was puzzled at the behavior of her parents. They seemed to be lost in thought, constantly brooding over some problem in their heads. Both hardly touched their food during lunch. When she asked, they stone walled her. It was nothing. You know how it is, Rini told her. The economy is nose diving, business is bad, clients are getting anxious, NPAs. Not the best of times for the bank! It’ll be alright dear, don’t worry! These things happen…

Oh, okay then!

 Retreating to the comfort of her room, Riya heard the familiar double beep of a message on her phone. She reached for it to find a message from Sara Blinov, her half Russian roommate from Juilliard.

“Hi R! Terrible news. Self tested positive post return from school. Quarantined for three weeks at mamma’s place at Ithaca. Not too bad but BORING!!!BORING!!!BORING!!!Thank God. Asymptomatic! Miss you girl!”

Aninda Mukherjee is a marine maintenance professional who, when not measuring tappet clearances of a diesel engine, spends his time with his favourite three R’s.  Reading, Writing and Running.

Advertisements

Fiction | ‘Abroad Alone’ by Annabelle Baptista

I

Corrine hadn’t really thought through her visit to Germany, after the Christmas holidays, other than the fact that she wanted to see her grandmother’s childhood home. Her funeral preyed on Corrine’s heart. Days before Thanksgiving, she had sat with her mother and sisters and brother, reminiscing about the woman at ninety, who had buried her husband four years earlier. They spoke of her tenacity and love.

Now, Corrine wondered how she would explain her blackness to her German host.  At the moment, she felt too tired, suffering from jetlag and busy processing a quaint, family-owned inn. She conversed with the only English speaker at the Inn, trying to frame the right words to say if anyone asked about her reason for being in the small German village.

In broken English, the innkeeper’s teenage daughter welcomed her, mentioning briefly that she had English in her studies, and showed Corrine to her room.

“No central heating. Every room have fireplace.” The daughter explained and handed Corrine a rough, white towel to use in the shower.

Corrine didn’t understand what the other guests said when they gathered outside the communal bathroom. She’d showered swiftly, under a trickle of water, contemplating washing her hair twists in the toilet because there was more water over there, and then settled for dampening her hair with wet towelettes which she had packed to clean her hands once she walked back to her room.

Feral eyes looked out from every available wall space. As if someone had gone hunting on Noah’s Ark, they all looked wide eyed. She could sense them saying something, Run.

II

Dora picked up Corrine from the guesthouse the next morning.

“I have always wanted to go to the U.S., but I never got the chance,” Dora said starting up the engine of her Smart.

Corrine had met Dora through a travel app that provided guides for city visits, people who volunteered to show you their city.  Corrine wasn’t due back at work for a few days so she had plenty of time, to explore the city her grandmother called home.

Corrine directed Dora to take her to the village cemetery.  It was a small cemetery, like everything else in the village, and it didn’t take her long to find the headstone she was looking for.

“Do you know anyone from the Ashe family?” Corrine asked, thrilled that she’d found the headstone.

“No, can’t say I’ve ever heard of them.  What about you, how did you come hear from them? I thought you’ve never been to Germany. How do you know this old, very German family?” Dora asked..

“Does it surprise you?  Well, I…have known a few Germans in my lifetime,” Corrine said, as she stood in front of the cool, gray stone and appreciated the fresh winter air.  Dora didn’t prod her further and she didn’t want to tell Dora that these people were her great grandparents. Her grandmother had mentioned them quite regularly, and shown Corrine an ivory and lace photo album, with a family tree drawn inside its pages, which was all she‘d chosen to take from her family home. Corrine wished she had brought some flowers, but the grave had a slate covering; they seemed to have had no expectations.

III

On New Year’s Eve, Dora had a concert inside a monastery. Corrine’s heart was full as she looked down on Neuheimstal from the hill.  She stood outside watching the provincial concert goers, almost marching, one after another into the church.  She imagined her young grandmother here, thinking of the man she would marry. Open to whatever the future had planned for her.

The monastery’s massive door had heavy oak and ironwork; Corrine had never run into anything as solid in Boston. With concerted effort, which took longer than she expected, she opened the door. It wailed on its hinges, as if releasing a spirited ghost. A monk walked the aisle wearing a black robe and swinging a metal censer suspended from a chain. Corrine’s throat seized. She began to cough. Mindful of making a scene, she moved aside from the crowd, leaned against a cold marble column hacking and sneezing. Four people noticed, and moved as if to help, but Corrine waved them away.

She spotted a back room under the nave and ducked inside, thankful that no one followed her. She hadn’t seen Dora since she started preparing for her choral production. Corrine took great gulps of air and let out a “Thank God.”  The room felt warm and damp, but it didn’t smell of incense. Her eyes adjusted to the obscure light, which came from a small window on the opposite wall.  She caught sight of a figure moving beneath a blanket on a velvet couch from the corner of her eyes.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know anyone was in here,” Corrine started reopening the door.

“Come in, come in.” Herr Tinnermann motioned with his hand as he sat up. Corrine shut the door.

“I have to get up anyway.”  Herr Tinnermann reached for his jacket lying on the back of a camel back chair.

“I felt ill from the smoke,” said Corrine, adjusting to the light. She’d met Herr Tinnermann at a brunch held earlier that afternoon by Dora.

“Take all the time you need.” Herr Tinnermann said, “You know I do this concert every year and it never stops filling me with wonder.”

“Did you know Ditmar Ash?” Corrine felt an alarm go off in the room. Her heart started pumping as if she were revving an engine to go from zero to a hundred depending on his answer.

“Yes, I knew Ditmar and Klaus, they had a lovely daughter.  I cannot remember her name. I remember her angelic face. Their daughter moved to the U.S…, why? Did you meet her? Did you know her?”

Corrine felt her heart break. “Yes, I knew her. Their daughter, I mean.”

The odd tuning of the instruments in the orchestra began to fill the room with whining exhalations.

“I must go. See you after the concert,” Herr Tinnermann said.

“Yes, I look forward to it.”

The smell had begun to dissipate, as a stream of fresh air came through the opened door.  Corrine could breathe freely again; the tightness in her throat disappeared.

She wanted to escape to the comfort of her hotel room and skip the evenings’ New Year concert and celebrations with the lie of a headache. But it was not possible to be alone, not at the guest house. What had made her think she could fit in in this strange place, with strangers who did not speak English? Yes, she had found them, her blood, her ancestors, but deep inside she knew they would have rejected her. Her heart ached.

IV

The singer’s voice warmed the hall, the band’s shadow dancing on the walls around them. Herr Tinnermann informed, rubbing his hands together, that he would play a piece on the pipe organ. Corrine swiveled her head. Suddenly, the room filled with a confluence of sounds; otherworldly. The heavy dirges expressed through the music was Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, said the program’s prospectus, but Corrine had first heard it played by Count Dracula when she was twelve, sitting in her Grandmother’s living room with popcorn. They had watched it together; a Friday night horror movie and she had been allowed to stay up till ten that night. Her grandmother had told her Romania was a beautiful country, not at all scary. Now, Corrine was sure her grandmother had been looking for snapshots that might remind her of home, because why else would she love Count Dracula so much.

V

Later in the early night, she met Dora, standing on the monastery’s expansive grounds staring up at the fine gauze draping the moon. The New Year’s Eve celebration had begun. The people ooh’d and ahh’d at the fireworks displays which lit the sky.  At midnight, all the church goers kissed one another on both cheeks and wished each other well, with the church bells ringing in undulations. Corrine hugged Dora a minute longer.

“Thank you for inviting me to your home. I have something to tell you.” Corrine said, pausing briefly before continuing. “I am half German” She waited for Dora’s response, trying to read her face for signs, which in her head were either of horror or disappointment.

“You are half-German, then you are German,” Dora proclaimed happily, almost jumping up and down.

 “You have home in Germany now, come back soon,” Dora said.

“Es war wunderbar. Ich gehe Morgan, aber du bist im Herzen” Corrine balled her fist tight and placed it over her heart.

She planned to take a cab to the airport in the morning, but at this moment, she felt already at home as she said her goodbyes to people who she felt she knew, like Herr Tinnermann and Dora. Their singing faded behind her as she left the monastery’s grounds on her way back to the guesthouse.  They would have killed her grandmother if they had known so many years ago, her Grandmother had told her, it was not allowed. She had feared for her life, loving a black man. She would have been an outcast. Her grandmother had also dealt with people who were racists, had hated her color and everything she represented, in Boston, but she had made a home for her family there. Corrine opened the window and breathed in the crisp, fresh air, and reflected on what her grandmother had taught her, love will make a home for you wherever it resides.

Annabelle Baptista is a poet and short story writer born in Indianapolis, Indiana. She currently teaches English as a second language and lives in Neckargemuend, Germany with her husband. She has been published in Coloring Book: An Eclectic Collection of Fiction and Poetry, Andwerve magazine and Families: The Front Line of Pluralism.

Advertisements

Short Fiction | ‘A Long Journey Home’ by Teevranshu Vashishtha | Student Writing

Raman and Prakash were sitting on the side of NH30 brooding over the setting sun. They had left Lucknow with a meagre ₹1000 each. The last full meal they had had was three days ago when they were leaving the city. They had been surviving on biscuits and water since. Raman was a native of the village of Umarpur in Amroha. He had been working in a construction site in Lucknow for the past few months alongside his cousin from his village, Prakash. On the morning of March 25, the two came to know of the nationwide lockdown due to the spread of the novel COVID-19. They both hurried to the bus station hoping to catch a bus home, but all transport services were already suspended. So, they both decided to embark on their journey home on foot. They were anxious to reach their homes for it had been 6 months since Raman last saw his 1-year-old daughter, Neha and Prakash his 3 years old son, Raju. Raman and Prakash had been walking for the past 12 hours, without any food. That night, they fell asleep on the roadside, the tormenting hunger lulling them. The journey was a laborious one and they still had a long way to go but were adamant and went arduously forward. The next morning, their prayers were answered for they found an open eatery. They had a hearty meal and bought some takeaways for the journey before carrying on. That night they reached a small settlement after a long and exhausting journey and took shelter under a tree on the roadside.

On that ominous night of the 28th, Prakash suddenly felt an acute pain in his chest. Raman was awakened from his slumber by the painful cries of his brother. Prakash had a known history of hypertension and Raman feared that it was a stroke. They were on the highway near the city of Bareilly that night. They couldn’t call for an ambulance because they had both sold their mobile phones before the journey in exchange for some extra cash to send home. The nearest settlement was 2 kilometres away. “I’m going to go get help Prakash,” said Raman, frightened yet sturdy. Raman rushed to the nearest house in sight and upon reaching there, rapped on the door of the house like a madman. A sexagenarian man answered the door. “Sahabji, my brother is in danger, he has had a stroke. Can you please help us Sahabji!” The man who answered the door with a stoic look on his face was Suresh. Suresh Sharma was a retired cardiologist from one of the most prominent hospitals in Delhi. Mr Sharma spent his childhood in the city of Bareilly and after the completion of his service, had decided to spend the rest of his days in his native city and bought a quaint little house on its periphery where he lived with his wife Radha and their cute little beagle, Mojo.

Fate had brought Raman to Suresh’s house for he was to be their saviour. 

“Who are you? Where do you come from?” asked Suresh with a vigilant look.   

“I am a construction worker in Lucknow. I am travelling with my brother towards our home in Amroha,” replied Raman with a broken voice.

Suresh took a moment and thought about whether he was telling the truth. He had heard stories of robbers who played out the same scenarios to rob people. Suresh took a good look at the man standing at his door and convinced himself of the veracity of the man.

“Where is your brother? What happened to him? What is his condition?” asked Suresh with the air of urgency you find in a doctor. 

“He is down the road 2 kilometres from here. He was fine when we went to sleep tonight but suddenly in the middle of the night he complained of having chest pains.”

Mr Sharma thought for an instant and then went inside his house. He returned with the keys of his car.

“I am a heart surgeon, let’s go and bring your brother back here.”

In an instant, both Raman and Suresh were on the road fleeing towards Prakash. It had been 20 minutes since Raman was gone and Prakash was unconscious when they reached him. When Prakash woke up the next morning in the house of Suresh, he saw his brother by his side with his sleep-deprived eyes full of tears of joy.

“Where are we Raman?” asked Prakash.

“We are in the house of this Sahabji who has saved your life,” said Prakash pointing towards Suresh. 

Suresh had indeed saved his life, for the stroke that Prakash had was a life-threatening one and needed the care of a brilliant doctor.

“You are going to be perfectly fine my friend,” said Suresh to his patient. “For how many days have you two been walking?” asked the doctor with a curious look at Raman.       

“We have been walking for 3 days straight, Sahabji,” came the doleful reply. Raman told Suresh all about their heart-wrenching journey of the past few days. Suresh’s heart commiserated with the two of them. 

“We are finally here,” said Raman full of mirth after stepping out of the car. They were parked near the Banyan tree underneath which the two brothers had spent their childhood playing. Their toilsome journey was finally at its end. Who would have thought that only 3 days ago, one of them was in a life and death situation?  “I hope you both are happy now,” said Mr Sharma coming out of the driver’s seat of the ambulance. Only 4 hours ago they were in a hospital in Bareilly, lamenting their misfortunes. The sagacious doctor had pulled a rabbit out of the hat to make their dream of reaching home come true.

The doctor had sworn to personally make sure that the two brothers reached their destination. He had planned a meticulous plan to carry out his intentions. 

“There are no adequate facilities here. I need to take him to Meerut for better treatment,” said the doctor intensely to his acquaintance.

“But he is perfectly fine Mr. Sharma,” said a doctor in his early thirties. 

“No, he is not. He is my patient and I want to make sure he gets the best treatment.”

“You stopped seeing patients a long time ago, Mr. Sharma. Why the sudden zeal for this one?” asked Dr Aggarwal with a cunning smile. “From the looks of him and the man he is with, he doesn’t strike me as the type of a person who can afford your treatment, Dr Sharma.”

This was factually true–Suresh was renowned to be one of the best and costliest heart surgeons in the country.

“He is my old childhood friend,” replied Suresh with a voice full of affection.

“Very well Dr Sharma, but you are going to have to acquire a written letter of transit from the DM.”

Suresh had forgotten that this document was almost impossible to obtain in such times of crisis.

“Yes, I have it with me, Vinod,” said Suresh with a little fear in his heart.

“Ok then, I will provide you with the referral certificate in 10 minutes.”

When Suresh reached the room of his patient, he told Raman all about his plan. Raman fell to the feet of the Doctor crying and weeping, saying that he was an angel of God sent to their aid.

“Yes, Radha I’m going to take him personally to the hospital in Meerut,” said Suresh lying to his wife on the phone.

“All the commuting in the country is at a full stop. How do you propose to take him there?” questioned the anxious Mrs Sharma on the other side.

“I have all the required documents for the journey. I am going to leave with him early in the morning,” he replied.

“I know there is no point in convincing you to not do this but please think about it again. The deadly virus is spreading at an alarming rate. Think about that too.”

“I know all about that Radha but they both need me too. I am fully prepared, don’t you worry, take care of yourself, I’ve got to go now!”

“Just be careful and be safe, goodbye!” replied the anxious wife.

The doctor ended the call and went to prepare for the journey. At the dawn of the first day of April, an ambulance was seen on the roads of Bareilly speeding towards Rampur.

“I am taking this man to a hospital in Meerut officer,” said a man dressed in a white dress sitting at the driver’s seat of the ambulance to the police officer at the checkpoint for leaving Rampur.

“For what reasons?” asked the officer.

“To be admitted there, he is going to have surgery there.”

“Where is this doctor Suresh Sharma whose name is written here?” asked the police officer looking carefully at the referring certificate signed by Dr Vinod.

“Here I am,” came a voice from the back of the vehicle. A man dressed in a doctor’s robe stepped out from the back of the vehicle.

“Hello, officer my name is Suresh Sharma, I am the doctor of this patient,” replied the man with an air of haughtiness.

“Hello, Doctor I am SI Sandeep Pal, the officer in charge of this checkpoint. So, you are taking this patient of yours for surgery in Meerut?”

“Indeed, I am, Officer.”

“What kind of surgery is he going to have?”

“He is going to have coronary artery bypass surgery.”

The reply was made so astutely that it put even Suresh in a dilemma whether the man portraying him was a doctor in real life or had he lied to him in the first place. Suresh had decided not to take any risks and took matters in his own hands, he became the driver of the ambulance so as not to leave anything to fate. He had made Raman an acquaintance in his plan and made him portray himself as the doctor and even taught him a few scientific notions related to cardiology to be used in a state of emergency so no questions would be raised to his veracity as a doctor and no objections at the presence of another person being in the ambulance apart from the patient as it was opposed to the law.

“Doctor, do have you the requisite papers for the transit of this patient to the hospital in Meerut?”

“I have them with me, Officer. Would you like to see them?” came the confident reply.

“No, I believe you, you are good to go, Doctor,” replied the officer after a moment of deliberation.

“Ok then, Driver let’s go,” said Raman suppressing a big smile on his face.   

Suresh said a little prayer under his breath and after closing the door of the ambulance, drove the vehicle towards its destination.

“Phew! that was a close one, you did a good job back there, ‘Doctor’,” said the ‘Driver’ with a cunning smile.

“Thank you, Sahabji,” replied the man wiping the few drops of sweat from his temple. Fortunately, it was the only time they were questioned throughout the journey.  

 It was at 10 in the morning when the ambulance reached the village of the two brothers. The plan of the doctor had worked miraculously, the brothers were finally at the end of their journey.

“You are going to have to take good care of Prakash for the coming days, Raman,” said the doctor to the man who was standing under the tree crying of joy. Raman took Prakash’s stretcher out of the ambulance and brought it under the shade of the tree and woke him up.

“Do you know where we are now Prakash?” 

“Am I hallucinating or are we really under the old banyan tree?”

“You tell me, Prakash.”

“It is the old banyan tree Raman. Are we home Raman?”

“Yes, yes, we are finally home, Prakash.”

“But how did this happen? When did you do this?” asked Prakash with a bewildered look.

“I didn’t do this, it was Sahabji who brought us both here,” said Raman pointing towards the doctor. He told his brother the full story of how the doctor had carried out a dangerous plan and brought them home.

“You must be God! You must be the almighty Sahabji!” said Prakash with his eyes full of tears.

“No, I am just a man who carried out the will of God,” said Suresh holding the hands of his patient. The doctor then helped Raman in taking all their luggage towards their home.

“Baba!” came a sound from Raman’s little cottage. It was Neha who upon seeing her father return home, let out a cry of joy. Raman took his little angel in his arms and held her tightly.

“I am here my child,” said Raman as tears rolled down his cheeks.

The wait was finally over, they were finally at the end of a harrowing journey. The doctor helped Raman in taking Prakash to his home. Raju was happy that his father was home with him. The doctor gave all the requisite medicine to Prakash’s family and informed Raman that Prakash would be fine in a week or two. The doctor then took his leave and went towards the ambulance. Just when he was about to leave, he heard someone calling his name.  

“Doctor Uncle! Doctor Uncle!” It was the sound of little Neha and Raju who had come to give the stranger a gift. It was a little clay statue of Goddess Lakshmi, the God of good luck. They wanted to give it to the man who had brought good luck to their family. Suresh accepted their pious little gift and went on. When Suresh said his last goodbye and left for his home, a few tears rolled down the cheeks of the man who was known to be emotionless.

Teevranshu Vashishtha is an 18-year-old student. He is a graduate of St. John’s Senior Secondary School, Meerut, Uttar Pradesh. He is a dilettante writer who mostly pens short fiction and poems. His favourite writer is Ernest Hemingway.

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


30 
LITERARY MAGAZINES
(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

Kitaab

  • 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

Wasafiri

  • 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.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Short Fiction | ‘I Love You, My Tim’ by Shreya Anil (14)| School Student Writing

I did not have pets. I did not want any either. I had never felt any true emotional attachment with animals, especially the ones you keep as pets and tend and nurse so prudently. I had always thought that it was simply a dumb showcase of internal love because they couldn’t possibly say that they loved them too, could they? That was my belief until a few months ago. Things have changed now.

One of the most terrible things I had to encounter on my way to school was passing a house on the roadside. Through the way I am describing it, I don’t want you to misunderstand that it is haunted or dominated by evil spirits. It is just that there is a very unwelcome guardian over there with thick brown skin and vulgar red eyes, tongue hanging out, upper canines and what not! He would make my heart thud loudly every time I would see him that I felt close to fainting. 

Every time we were ten feet within reach of that house, I would clutch my grandfather’s hand tightly.

‘Appu[1]…’ I would say. ‘I don’t think I will be able to make it this time.’

‘Come on, Ponnu! Don’t be so silly. It is trapped behind the gate. It couldn’t possibly jump over and bite you!’

‘Appu…. Please don’t take his side! I can’t take another step. My feet have gone numb. I just can not!’

‘I am not taking anybody’s side. After all, it is just a dog, Ponnu… It won’t kill you.’ 

Just a dog! How well said, I thought sarcastically. But I dared not tell Appu.

‘How do you know it will do no harm? Did it say so to you?’ I replied instead.

‘I am a veterinarian, Ponnu. I know animal psychology.’

I did not know whether he spoke the truth or not about knowing animal psychology as I failed to notice the childish twinkle in his eyes, but he had caught me there. He really was a veterinarian and my innocent mind was forced to believe him. The incredulous ways in which our elders fool us, innocent stupid kids…or was it just me?

He took hold of my arm and started walking. Now and then, I pulled him back, an expression of cowardice and fear overcoming my face, but he clutched on with power, lest I run away. 

I saw him near the gate of the house (on the other side, to my subtle relief), which bore intricate carvings, the sculpture of lions and two gargoyles. One could not be blamed if one believed that it really was a haunted house!

He knew I was there. He knew the smell of the person who was most terrified of him, of the person who even shut her eyes and chanted mantras while she passed him to prevent herself from falling unconscious. He took a deep sniff and spat out his tongue. Yeah…he knew I had come.

There was silence all around. I was looking into his eyes and he into mine through the railed gates of the house. Nobody moved. Nobody spoke. The only sound to be heard was the dog’s heavy breathing (and perhaps, my rapid, overlapping, unusually loud heartbeats).

Abruptly, my grandfather gave me a pinch and gestured me to move. Paralysed by fear, the sudden revival to the present world by my grandfather’s pinch made me yelp.

No sooner did I open my mouth to let out what seemed like an unfathomable scream, the dog did the same. It began to bark and growl.

That was too much for me. I freed myself from Appu’s clutch and ran. I ran as if the world knew no bounds. I ran until the end of the world, till the end of time and the end of my weird imagination, screaming all the way, while poor old Appu stood there, his palm on his head, fed up of his little girl and her indecipherable tantrums.

This was the reason I hated pets, especially dogs! Amma[2] used to talk about a dog she had in her ancestral home when she was a kid and the love they shared. I would see her eyes well up with tears as she drowned in the painful reminiscence of her loving dog. But I had never understood any of it, nor had I been able to feel the love she felt.

***

One day, my parents were going to visit that house–that scary looking, enormous house with its wide gates protecting an even more enormous and intimidating being–for a leisurely house visit. It had been a long time since they had gotten together and thought it only reasonable to call on them.

They called me but I said that I wouldn’t go as I was afraid of their dog. But they cajoled me stating that ‘it is just a dog’, ‘it can cause no harm’ and so on just like Appu did until, at last, I could take it no longer and decided to go and courageously confront my destiny, no matter the outcome. So, I set out like a brave soldier willing to risk her own life to uphold the name of her tribe, to fight face-to-face with her formidable enemy. 

It was in the afternoon that we went. The dog was not out of his kennel, much to my unexpected pleasure. Before stepping in, I glared at the kennel with the look of a winner who had ruthlessly defeated his enemy and embraced victory. I saw the dog looking back at me with his ferocious red eyes and growl. I put on a heroic grin and walked away, completely sure that I was at a safe distance.

The family took us into their cosy living room and served us hot tea and snacks. I also got to see my old friend, little Ammu over there. She was now in the sixth standard and had been a great playmate when I was young.

‘Ponnu chechi[3]!’ she called out to me. ‘Would you like to see Tim? I know that you would surely love him.’

‘Of course! She loves him a lot,’ my mother forestalled me. ‘She talks a great deal about him at home and the sweet way he greets her every morning with a friendly bark. Isn’t it, Ponnu?’

‘“Friendly bark!” I think Amma doesn’t know what “friendly” means.’

‘Oh, is it? Just wait, Ponnu chechi. I will bring him in.’

Without waiting for my reply, Ammu ran out, excited about the whole business. 

My heart began to pound. My hands grew cold. I didn’t know what to do. I was overcome by an unusual sensation. I wanted to run away from there as soon as possible. At the same time, another invisible force glued me to the chair. Oh! What will I do? I wished that a veil of invisibility could fall over me and shield me from the sight of everyone and most importantly from my greatest enemy, the intimidating Dog! The only emotion in my mind was fathomless hatred towards Amma. How could she do this to her lovely little girl? I did not expect this from you, Amma, I never did! You don’t know how disappointed I am in you, Amma. You can never imagine how much. 

I looked at her. She was smiling ingratiatingly and sweeter than ever. That smile could not soften my furious heart. It could not; it never could.

I heard the dog growling.

I looked back startled, my heart beating at its fastest rate ever (at that moment it could have entered the Guinness Book of Records. But there were other more important things to be looked at, at that precise moment.)

There he was–in the same monstrous outlook–coming to scare me.  

Nervously, I said, ‘Hi…’

 ‘Come on, Tommy, my boy. See who has come to meet you,’ said Ammu and brought him close to me. I felt something rise through my heels and up further through my nerves. The dog smelt it and grasped at his opportunity to growl. 

I, of course, screamed in return.

Everyone in the room laughed at me. ‘Oh, come on, my boy. You wouldn’t growl at your dearest playmate, would you? Come on, say hello to Ponnu chechi! Come on.’

The dog looked sharp into my eyes. I hated this look. It warned that something bad was going to happen. I smiled nervously. 

There was silence again. I was expecting a tremendously loud bark any minute. I was preparing my well-awaited scream which would succeed the bark. 

‘Come on, open your mouth and produce your most popular roar!’ I chanted in my nervous mind. 

But his unprecedented gesture surprised me. Instead of barking at me, he gave a little whine and wagged his tail.

‘Oh look at that! He says he loves you,’ said Ammu.

I was pretty sure that he did not mean that, but I decided not to retort and spoil that wonderful moment. 

But I knew deep in my mind that Tim meant something good. Perhaps, he had put forth a hand of friendship. Perhaps he realized that I was an opponent too formidable to defeat when he had heard my earth-shaking scream! Peace is always better than war. Keeping that in mind, I decided to return his gesture of friendship.

I patted his head and smiled. He continued wagging his tail.

‘He wants you to hug him,’ said Ammu excitedly.

Peace may in every way be better than war. But that peace where I had to dangerously touch and specifically hug my new friend did not seem appealing. Moreover, I didn’t know how my friend would respond to it. Thus, it was better to remain at a safe distance. Therefore, I wistfully warded off the proposal with a disguised smile and a veiled twinkle of the eye.

***

From then on, I began crossing their house without that usual throbbing heart and uneasiness. Now that Tim was my friend, I did not fear him. But I did not escalate to a position as to magnanimously love him either. But the one thing I was certain of was that I no longer feared him and he no longer wanted to scare me. 

Every morning as I would go to school, he’d greet me with a friendly bark, now more like the one Amma had mentioned that day. Every evening, I would peep through their side door to see him take a nap in his kennel. Have I really begun to love that dog? I would think sometimes. But then, I would shrug that notion away and move on. All was going well and good, until one day.

***

I was returning from school and peeped in through their side door as usual to see Tim. But he was not there in the kennel. I was too tired that evening to go in and check on him. So, I decided to go straight home and did not bother until the next morning, when he was not to be seen at the gateway to greet me. I decided to inquire in the evening on my way back.

At around five in the evening, I went into their house and rang the front bell. After a long wait, Meera Aunty, their maid came and opened the door.  

‘Hi Aunty,’ I said.

‘Hi dear. Do come in. I’ll call Ammu.’

I placed my schoolbag on the floor and sat down on the rocking chair. 

Ammu came out from her room wearing a pinafore, her hair carelessly tied in two small pigtails.

‘Oh, hi Ponnu chechi. How are you?’

‘Ammu, you look dull. What happened?’

‘Nothing. It has been a tiresome day.’ But I knew from her voice that she was lying. The usual energetic, excited, all-time-ecstatic Ammu was missing.

‘Well, where’s Tim?’ I asked.

She looked up but did not answer. As she strained her eyes towards mine, I saw something shaky within. Her eyes were welling up with tears. I saw tears of love of a tiny child who was struggling her way through depressing solitude.

‘What is it, Ammu? Tell me where Tim is!’

‘Ammu’s Tommy has gone, she said in a broken voice. Tommy has gone. He has gone. Oh! He has gone!’ She began to scream, a helpless look on her face. ‘Can’t you hear me? He has gone…Ammu’s Tommy has gone.’

She sank onto a nearby sofa and broke into fits of tears. The uncontrollable outburst of emotions engulfed her and she was finding it hard to fight back.

I got up and walked towards her. I sat beside Ammu and hugged her fragile figure gently. Her little mind found warmth in my affection, but she continued weeping.

I did not ask her any more questions but waited for her to get back to her usual self.

‘Since Saturday night, he had been showing some kinds of restlessness and impatience. We thought it to be one of his tantrums and ignored it.’ She sobbed in between. ‘Yesterday noon, his condition grew worse. I had gone to school but Meera Aunty was here. She was worried and rang up Amma. She advised Aunty to take Tommy to the hospital. And then, the doctor, he said, he said, he….’

She broke down again. I sighed. ‘Poor thing!’

She took a deep breath and uttered words which nearly made her collapse. ‘He said that my Tommy wouldn’t make it.’

I gasped. I didn’t know why, but I felt a huge weight on my heart. I didn’t know why, but I felt emotionally unstable. It was just like someone so near to me, someone who made up a part of my soul had suddenly departed from it. 

‘Amma and Acha[4] felt that if he died in my presence, it would be a horrible shock to me. The doctor knew an association which housed old and weak dogs.’ She breathed hard and sobbed. ‘It was he who advised them to send…’ she whimpered. The poor soul was truly shaken into bits that she couldn’t control herself. ‘To send Ammu’s Tommy to that association. We gave him away, Chechi! I didn’t know about it all till yesterday night, Chechi. Amma and Acha were not at home when I came. It was only at night when they came that I knew of it. My Tommy had gone, Ponnu chechi…Ammu’s Tommy had gone…’

I did not say anything. Instead, I took my bag and walked back home. I turned around once again to look at his kennel, every part of me hoping to see the lovely figure of Ammu’s Tommy in it, with his sweet brown skin and his cute red eyes, his tongue hanging out, showcasing his childish canines. But it didn’t come into view. Instead, I saw the lonely kennel weeping in silence in the absence of its playful companion.

I felt an unusual pain deep in my heart. It was beyond words to explain. I did not know the reason behind it. I never knew whether I had loved Tim. I did not want to believe that I did. But now this news about him was depressing me, bringing intricate and indecipherable feelings which I had not experienced before. I didn’t know why. I really didn’t know why.

I sprang open the door to my house and was confronted by my mother. ‘Where were you so long Ponnu? Don’t you…’

I didn’t wait for her to finish. Nor did I reply to her. Instead, I ran to Appu’s room, an unknown force pushing me from behind.

‘Appu,’ I called. ‘Tim’s gone.’

I finished it all in one breath lest someone stop me.

Appu gestured me to come and sit near him. I went without another word. 

‘I know Ponnu. I know about it all. I didn’t know how to tell you.’

My face welled up with tears. My heart pained hard. ‘You knew,’ I stammered in a faint, broken voice.

Tears trickled down my weak face. Appu held me close to him. 

‘I am sad, Appu…I don’t know why! I really don’t know why…’

‘I know why.’

I listened without lifting my head. I didn’t want Appu to see my meaningless tears. 

‘You had learnt to love him, Ponnu. You had learnt to love his cute animal psychology without you knowing it. That is the power of animals, dear. They influence you so much that you begin to love them with all your tender heart.’

I lay down on the bed, staining the bedsheet with my tears of love. I closed my eyes. The only figure which saved me from the eye-pinching darkness was that of ‘my Tim.’ No…no, it was ‘Ammu’s Tommy’ I corrected myself desperately. But some unknown voice continued to chant the words ‘my Tim’ within me. ‘My Tim,’ I repeated loudly. ‘I loved you.’ No. I corrected myself again. 

‘I love you, my Tim.’

***

To my Tim of my wonderful imagination: You live here today in my heart as tender and fresh as I had first imagined you. Wherever you are, remain happy and healthy and remember that your Ammu and Ponnu Chechi would always love you.

Glossary
1 Grandfather
2 Mother
3 Elder sister
4 Father

Shreya Anil is a 14 year old student from Trivandrum, Kerala, India. She is an author, blogger and public speaker. Her works have been published previously in The Bangalore Review and the leading supplement of The Hindu. She is also the author of ‘Where the Pen Kisses the Paper’.

Short Fiction | ‘An Unexpected Rendezvous’ by Simran Aneja (14) | School Student Writing

It was a moonless, rainy night and I was curled up on my couch under a warm blanket, sipping a cup of steaming hot chocolate filled to the brim with fluffy marshmallows on top. I was reading The Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie which perfectly fit the mood of the evening.

The book’s sense of mystery and suspense was what invited me to it in the first place. Today’s evening was a relatively pleasurable one when compared to other recent ones, considering the late-night shifts at my new workplace.

Outside, the rain came pouring down, as if a celestial dam had broken open and the Gods were celebrating. It resembled the sound of a thousand sticks hitting the surface of a drum all at once.

I switched on the radio to catch up on the latest news. The signal was weak, owing to the heavy showers. As soon as the radio was able to catch a slight signal, the speaker announced, “We have been notified by concerned authorities, that there is a serial killer on the loose. We request you to stay calm…advise you to stay indoors…lock…doors and windows…go outside only if it’s an emergency…the serial killer is described as a m–”

I’d lost the signal! I was petrified as I realised that I wouldn’t know if the serial killer was in my neighbourhood. Tensed, I got up and paced around the room, thinking of a possible solution. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the ancient sword that had been in my family for centuries. I felt slightly reassured–if I were to have an unexpected rendezvous with the serial killer anytime soon, I could use the sword in self-defence.

Satiated with security, I walked back towards the couch. As I was about to slip under the warm blanket and return to my book, I heard a loud, firm knock on the door. Horror struck, I plodded towards the door. I looked through the peephole and saw a man. He was crying and looked as if he had no money on him. I opened the door and asked him how I can help him.

He cried out, “Madam, I’ve heard that there is a serial killer on the loose. I am an innocent beggar and I sleep on the pavement. I have got absolutely no place to go. I am extremely terrified, Madam. I do not wish to die.”

Wailing, even louder, he continued, “Madam, I…I’ll…I’ll give you whatever I have. I request you, Madam.” He handed me a fifty pence coin from one of his pockets. My mind told me I shouldn’t be doing this, but my heart felt differently so I invited him inside. I sat him down on one of the sofas, and ran to get him a blanket and something hot to drink. I returned soon, only to witness a shocking sight. I was at a loss for words.

The beggar was holding the ancient family sword, as he flashed me an evil smile and said, “In your next life, on an eerily silent, moonless, rainy night, never let a stranger in.”

Simran Aneja is 14-year-old student at Mayo College Girls’ School, Ajmer. She enjoys writing poems, essays and short stories. Her favourite writer is Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.

Student Writing

A new section showcasing young voices in fiction, poetry and non fiction; featuring writing from students in schools and universities aged 19 or below.


Student Writing | Latest Pieces

Student Writing | Editorial, June 2020

Hello readers, Stories are the most important things in the world—they are teachers and companions. Every emotion you’ve ever felt, even the ones you can’t put into words are found and felt here. We are… More



About the Editor

Anahita is a 16-year-old rising junior at an international school in Mumbai. She is an avid reader; her favourite authors are Khaled Hosseini and Arundhati Roy. She is deeply involved in the writing sphere at her school and hopes to reach more people through TBR.

Short Fiction | ‘The Canvas’ by Ramyani Bhattacharya (19) | Student Writing

I.

The train was scheduled for 8 in the evening so I had enough time to spend with the city which had been my home for the last six months. My bags were already packed and gathered in the middle of the room. Having informed Shankar that I was going out, I made my way towards the ghat[1].

Sitting on the steps of Dashashwamedh ghat[2] with a lemon tea in hand, I realised that Benares had always had a certain charm. I beheld the Ganga in front of me, the sun glistening on its surface and the rhythmic waves dancing. I sipped on the tea and stared into space, fixing my eye on a boat standing at the shore of the other side of the holy river.

I sighed.

I wished I could see her one last time before I left the city. I didn’t know why I had a feeling that I would never return to Benares again, that some unknown divine conspiracy would prevent me from coming here. I was constantly tormented by the lingering loss that gnawed at my heart.

I closed my eyes and there she was–a clean white saree[3] draped across her chest–heaving up and down–her hands poised and her head tilted to the left. She stood there, sophisticated, in the middle of my consciousness, mocking my cognitive abilities to hold her in place, her eyes, glowing, calling me. 

“Dada[4].” A soft voice brought me back to reality. I looked around to see Shankar sitting beside me. “I knew you would be here.” 

I smiled. Shankar was my cousin brother. He had a string of shops in Benares and lived there with his wife and a 6-year-old son. 

“So you will not sell it?” He lit a cigarette. 

“No,” I replied, not looking at him.

“It’s a lot of money, Dada.” 

“Doesn’t matter.” 

I saw him looking away, knowing it was futile to even try to persuade me. 

I sighed again, heavily, which didn’t release the stress I thought it would. 

When we came home, it was around 6:30 p.m. and I knew my time here had ended. The railway station, Mughal Sarai, was particularly crowded when we reached there. I didn’t have much luggage, only a suitcase with my clothes and necessities, and a bag to carry the Canvas and other essentials. 

I sat down on a nearby bench to wait for the train to arrive. Shankar had come to see me off but I wanted desperately to be alone for a while; to drown in my own misery. To be honest, I didn’t want to go. My head felt heavy. 

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a soft sound of footsteps emerged from the chaos and lingered in my ears. I looked around, frantically searching for the source. She appeared from the faceless crowd, her eyes smiling at me. I jumped up, ecstatic and out of my senses. I ran into the crowd, but she seemed far. I ignored the faint voices of someone calling me. I fixed my eyes on her. 

But after a while, I couldn’t see her anymore. Hazy figures of people walked across me. She had vanished just as easily she had appeared in my mind. Someone pushed me from behind and I fell down, unable to hold my balance. I realised I couldn’t see properly. Confusion and frustration clouded my senses as I heard the signal of the train. I glanced at my watch. It was 8:25.

I got up fast and ran ahead. The last bogie of the train I was supposed to be in whizzed past me. I stared at the departing train, benumbed.

II.

I sat up, dazed and gulped down a bottle of water on the side table. Breathing heavily, I switched on the lights. For a moment, I stood still, allowing my eyes to adjust to the light and my nerves to calm themselves. I was sweating profusely.

She was here. 

She was right here, standing beside my bed, peering at my face. Or was it a dream again? Why did she seem so real? 

I had first seen her in Kolkata, in my home as I slept. She appeared in my subconscious, smiling with her eyes. She was in Benares, standing in front of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple or that was what it seemed like. I couldn’t sleep for the next four days. 

She occupied every empty space in my mind. Her profound presence was driving me to the brink of insanity. On the fifth day, I took the train and reached Benares, resolved to find her. 

I didn’t tell anyone about her, because simply no one would believe how real she was and because she was sacred, just like the river Ganga. 

I didn’t dream of her for the first month of my stay in Benares. I had gotten frustrated and decided that I needed a physical manifestation, evidence of her existence or else I would go crazy. In a frenzied burst of emotions, I drew her from my memory. I was shocked at how well I still remembered her. 

When I completed it, she appeared in front of me again, colourful on the canvas. She was beautiful. 

When Shankar saw the painting, he at once remarked that it would bring a lot of money since I was a painter. 

“Not for sale,” I told him. 

Presently, I removed the veil from the painting on the easel in my room and looked at her. 

 Where are you?

III.

The next morning, Shankar asked me what I planned to do next. 

“Would it be inconvenient for you if I stay a few more weeks?” I asked bluntly. He looked lost for a few seconds.

 “No, of course not, Dada. What are you saying? You can stay here for as many weeks as you please. It would be a pleasure,” said Shankar. 

“We are usually three people only. Another person, that, too a family member would only enhance our days,” Sulekha, Shankar’s wife smiled at me. But I knew they were uncomfortable, rather frustrated at my weird behaviour. 

I followed a simple routine: I went out at precisely noon after having lunch; I roamed the area around the ghat and returned at 7 in the evening; I spent some time with my brother’s family and went to my room at 10. 

After two weeks of incessant search, I had little hope left of finding her. Nevertheless, I couldn’t deny the faint streak of optimism alive in heart, beating irregularly. The sense of stark hopelessness is too scary for me. 

Slowly, I had irked my brother to the point that one night he expressed his concerns. “Dada, you are obsessed?” It seemed like a statement more than a question so I chose not to answer. 

“You have an exhibition in a month! What are you going to show everyone? If you want to paint here, I can provide you with anything you want, but this cannot go on. Are you listening?” 

I looked at him. He was visibly annoyed. 

“I don’t feel like painting.” 

“You don’t feel? Cancel your exhibition. You would lose a lot of money, but you don’t care!” He left the room. 

Was I obsessed? 

It might be because my mind was not my own anymore. It tried to tell me something which I was not capable of understanding. Something was haunting me, tearing me apart and I didn’t know what.

That night, I couldn’t sleep. I was losing my mind. Extreme pain shot through every nerve. I could feel myself going down a quagmire, the sand pulling me in, the reality merging with illusion. I couldn’t recognise what was real anymore. I saw her often for mere seconds before she vanished into thin air every time. I couldn’t get out of bed for two days. The room was spinning. 

IV.

On the third day, I went out for a short walk to the ghat. The doctor had examined me the day before and said that I had had a nervous breakdown. 

The cool breeze that hit the crook of my neck soothed me. The Ganga appeared calm and serene. I lit a cigarette. 

Suddenly, I saw her standing in front of the Vishwanath Temple. The cigarette fell from my hand. 

My nerves panicked as I felt I would lose her again. I stood there, unable to move a single muscle. She turned around, her serene eyes calling me. I gulped down a lump at the back of my dry throat. 

She started walking down the ghat. I followed her. She turned down a narrow alley. I was careful not to be too close. She seemed too real. For a moment, I was euphoric realising she was real, that she had a physical existence. My bliss knew no bounds. A different kind of pain emerged in my mind and body. I knew nothing except her.

We walked through several narrow alleyways. She could surely sense me lingering behind her. 

I felt we had a relationship. We had a silent communion, a secret from everyone’s prying eyes. We had something sacred. 

Presently, we reached a cul-de-sac. She turned around. 

It was almost 6 in the evening. The sun was glistening at the horizon, sending streaks of red light around. She shimmered under the stream of the coruscating light.

 I loved her. I loved her more than anything else in this world. She was everywhere, in every atom. She was in me, she was me. 

She smiled divinely, her whole body sparkling. Her eyes moistened. She said something, silently. I could feel her. 

All of a sudden, she started walking towards me. I was frozen to the ground. I looked at her face. The white saree was draped across her chest. Her hands were poised and her head tilted towards the left. Her suave manner touched my heart. 

Slowly she came in front of me and didn’t stop. She came forward and passed through me. I was numb. 

Slowly, I turned around. She had vanished.

 V.

“Call me when you reach Kolkata,” Shankar called out. I nodded and waved at him. 

The train departed from the Mughal Sarai railway station. It had been a week since my encounter with her. Two nights later, I had found a photograph which had fallen from my diary.

It was a twenty-year-old picture from when I was just ten years old. I was smiling, an innocent smile of pure happiness. Standing beside me was Tara, my childhood friend, who had died ten years ago when our life was just about to begin.

My hands were shaking when I looked into her eyes. Her smile was divine, bearing a striking resemblance to the one I had witnessed just two days ago. 

I had decided that I would return to Kolkata and start painting again. 

The voice of a hawker brought me back to reality. The breeze hit my face. The trees, houses and the people seemed to be running in the opposite direction. 

I smiled. 

I opened the bag that carried my Canvas and other essentials for painting. I took out the painting and looked at it. I wasn’t surprised when I found the Canvas empty. 

Glossary
1 A broad flight of stairs leading down to a river.
2 The main ghat of religious importance in Benares on the Ganga river.
3 Traditional clothing for Indian women.
4 Brother

Ramyani Bhattacharya is a 19-year-old student at South Point High School, Kolkata. Being an introvert, writing is her escape. She has her own blog at WordPress.com which receives a good response. She is an avid reader and has more than one favourite writer. Nevertheless, Paulo Coelho and Gabriel Garcia Marquez are closest to her heart. 

Short Fiction | ‘There is Sand in My Eye’ by Bhavyakirti Singh (18) | Student Writing

I live in a small city.

Not geographically, of course. My universe is not all that the light touches but just about what my eyes meet. You could say that it would not be much of a task for me to easily disappear in a somewhat upper-middle-class crowd. 

Having a comfortable life isn’t something that I’m ungrateful for, but I cannot help but wonder what changes the adventures of discomfort would bring about in me. Would I still be the way that I understand myself to be? Would I like the same things? This unending list of questions runs parallel with the scientific ‘nature v. nurture’ debate, for which I cannot and must not present my arguments, for it is only ridicule that will come my way if I choose to speak without knowing all the intricacies of this deeply philosophical debate. 

Realistically, ridicule would follow regardless. I could know the most about something, yet not everything; not enough to answer any fool who forces me into silence through repeated renditions of ‘why’ or ‘why not’. It is almost as if the title of Hannah Montana’s 2006 track ‘Nobody’s Perfect’ has finally started making sense to me. While being a self-proclaimed libertarian and intellectual, I must confess that my political ideology–as I understand a facet of it to mean ‘recognising imperfections’–sometimes really tires my mind. I feel like my contemporaries understand it to mean that we all have a positive imperative to criticise, for what imperfections will we embrace or accept if there aren’t any? Of course, anything perfect is divine, and therefore, we must refuse to believe in it.

This takes me back to a moment when I thought about a girl who studied in my school a couple of years ago. I had been scrolling through Instagram, a staple habit utilising one hand while the other reached out into and scooped dry granola from a dirt filmed bag. Repetition is good and I believe that it is healthy to stick to a carefully constructed, sustainable routine that incorporates all the bare essentials of survival while encouraging oneself to cultivate Mill’s greater pleasures. 

I believe that I am a somewhat observant person, tending to recollect irrelevant statements made by people in the past while staring blankly at a test or the gravel on the road during my walk back home. You might think that this revelation about my personality is unnecessary, but, in fact, you will soon discover that it is increasingly essential to the thought I had about that girl. 

Now, with partial concentration on social media, I came across a little “artsy feed” op-ed that she had written and posted. The long and the short of the matter was that she was (and according to my estimate, still is) an active dissenter of the current political establishment and strongly believed that Mussolini’s Fascism had been reborn in the East. To avoid any confusion, by using the term ‘active’, I refer to the green dot that appears under her profile picture in the “Direct Message” tab.

As my concentration wavered to pick up a rice crisp that had escaped my palm-boat, I remember her forbidding us, the rest of her classmates, from making our ninth-grade political science projects on the previous ruling government. They were highly incompetent and shied away from being answerable to the public that had put them there. Each drop of water makes the ocean what it is. Dissatisfied drops dry up oceans into ornamental lakes that rain somewhere else.

You’ll be surprised to know it goes deeper than that. Both her parents and her elder sister have been under the employment of some or the other government department for a couple of decades now. I had always assumed that their stance would be apolitical and the same would trickle down to the progeny, as it did for the elder sibling, but I have now discovered that teenage angst and environment aren’t as correlated. As a waning teen in the midst of angst recovery myself, I must say that even I, frequently, am not able to tackle this emotion. WikiHow suggests journaling, but somehow, unfortunately, with a twist of fate and a dash of bad-luck for having been born into a family with a lack of polyglots, there are too few words for what I feel and too many that I’ll never need. I will probably spend the rest of my life wondering which language would possess the spot-on terms and phrases for what I mean to say.

This girl, to me, now seems like she just never grew out of the phase where all of us Wattpad-intoxicated early pubescent individuals refused to believe that our lives were anything less than a tragic novella bound in leather with golden embossments brushed near the title, carrying a disclaimer of “soon to be a major motion picture” on the bottom right hand corner. The quintessential in that novel would be the arch-nemesis, a girl who hides her insecurities by drawing out others’. Why this secondary character is an important mention here is because there is a great possibility that it may be I, for having spitefully revealed her identity to all my readers without her having impacted me personally. I can soon expect a “BYE SISTER” James Charles equivalent Instagram caption accompanied by a make-up free face close up. This one, though, let me assure you, will be sprinkled with a lot more legal jargon. I should be prepared for the eventuality and expect terms akin to ‘defamation’ and ‘invading right to privacy’ to waft into the internet in a matter of days.

Funnily enough, I also know someone who supports everything that the government does because opposers and dissenters are too irritating with all their angsty Instagram posts.

“They’re just…not cool, bro.”

***

I am also acquainted with a pair of twins whom I currently keep in my company. The boy takes pride in having been born a few minutes prior. Any conversation propelled by this proposition is always an entertaining feature for me on account of my silent assessments of the worth of such fruitless debates. Oft, my mind even begs to be freed of vapid conversational fetters like these that hold me back from my ultimate intellectual release. 

You might wonder then, why I choose to roam with such fellows. As a youngling, I was afraid of jigsaw puzzles. With the advancement of my physical and mental capabilities, alongside the boom of technology, I grew afraid of arcade computer games instead. Then, these morphed into physics problems, ‘think better, think smarter’ workshops and internet dress illusions. The crushing reality of the fact that I was incapable of doing certain things and feeling like I had been rendered utterly helpless hit me hard. I blamed Hannah Montana, for I have always been told that you are what (content) you consume and she had poisoned my ability to know it all. One extraordinary morning, as I opened my eyes to a family WhatsApp group notification, I found my antidote. To this date, I remain deeply grateful for that TEDx video even though I had to miss an important morning lecture for the same. But what is a missed course lecture in context to the grand scheme of life that was envisaged for me? Absolutely nothing, of course. 

My antidote, as I had found, was perseverance and challenging oneself and pushing one’s boundaries. You might find some comedic relief in this due to its sheer triteness, but there is a two-pronged answer as to why this was so novel to me. One, I have always gotten almost everything with little to no effort. You could say that the universe is greatly imbalanced in my favour. Two, you have absolutely no idea how much I have needed to push my boundaries to maintain healthy companionship with the twins. It wasn’t only a push there, it was a complete uprooting. My boundaries–made of a soft, elastic yet unconquerable material were being replaced with Styrofoam that the Wicked Wolf could eradicate by breathing near it. It was worse than straws. I was unprotected in a world where individuals exhaled stupidity.

The boy is a giggly fellow, smiling at everything and loving everyone. Do not, I repeat, do not take this to mean that he has a sunny disposition towards life, for his dark moments of ego and slime may be much worse than yours. He, a music connoisseur, is of the sort that would look down upon you for having Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish in your library. When I told him that I have put my musical education on hold, the distaste emitting from his aura was a bitterness I can still taste in my mouth. A proud addict, it seems.

I had visited their apartment one summer break when both their parents were away. The house had a minimalist glow, in sharp contrast with the personalities of the children that had grown up there. The entrance hallway contained a befitting and classic canvas piece imported from abroad. The upper half of the painting moulded into the wall with colour sprayed only along one corner at the bottom. I guess it isn’t modern art if the canvas has more colour than blank space. I silently laughed at the thought of an alternate universe where the trend started due to a poor artist with an unusually large canvas, or a clumsy one who had gotten up for a tea break and spilt the last lot of her uniquely blended colours. 

The girl invited me into her room and I was pleasantly surprised by her hospitality. She had placed some snacks and wine on a tray on a wooden breakfast table, a meal elaborately laid out for me. We settled in and got to talking as I made myself comfortable in her quarters. 

My gaze wandered to a picture on her bedside, a photograph of her from many years ago. I never understood people who possessed frames of themselves. That being said, I don’t mean to say that I am unable to comprehend the human attachment to photographs, just not to those of oneself. Having noticed a slight trail in my speaking, she proceeded to tell me about the time she inspected all the flowers in the community park as her mother merrily clicked away in the enchanting delight of an infant’s company. 

“My God, we were such curious children.”

I told her curiosity dies with age and ultimately killed the cat. The girl countered my argument by asserting that her inner curiosity is not dead. When she saw a meme on the internet about a photoshopped nail driven into a car’s wheel, she googled what it would actually look like. She is now the proud owner of knowledge of what a nail piercing into a rubber wheel looks like. She now has the skills to identify it anywhere, except for when it is placed at the tangential point where the wheel meets the road. Over there, it cannot be seen by the naked eye. 

See, sure, real-life and people teach you things, but the internet teaches you so much more. The difference is a great deal. I could admit that her vast knowledge of topics like these was infectious. Only in her company did I get to learn so much. A new dialect even, if not a language. Were you aware that a loud ‘kee-yusmi’ emitting from the oral aperture of a human female loosely translates to a polite ‘excuse me’?

It is almost as good as scrolling through a list of beautiful untranslatable words in a foreign language. It is true–the meaning of a word is not restricted to the way it is used in a sentence. Even with my surprising lack of linguistic understanding and expertise, I can tell that a word contains the emotion of every single person who has ever used it. Keeping in mind relevant social distinctions and society specific experiences, if a word has been used by individuals belonging to only one society or ethnic group, no one outside of it can even begin to understand it without feeling an influence of the originators. The specific experiences that a society had to endure just to give certain meaning and emotion to a word will always shadow it, wherever it may go and whoever may use it. 

An outsider’s usage creates a grey area but not without impacting both sides. The outsider increasingly becomes a part of the community; the word gradually loses the mystical emotion behind it and eventually gets reduced to a Dictionary.com definition–a fancy term to replace bland ones on school essays. Universalised words though, like the ones that make up most of my vocabulary: no value. No wonder we’re asked to use them properly. 

As the evening came to a close, the boy came to drop me downstairs to ensure I got into the cab safely. As a parting comment, I gestured to the sky and told him that they had a very bright streetlight. He giggled at my foolishness and told me it was the moon. I asked him how he knew if he’d never flown up there. 

In conclusion, therefore, it is important for us to have a single, long and continuous chain of thought so as not to appear unsure of ourselves.

Bhavyakirti Singh, 18, is an incoming third-year student, reading law at National Law University, Jodhpur. She is greatly interested in writing poetry, satirical fiction and social commentary, often with the help of a pompous narrator based loosely on herself. She also writes literature reviews and academic pieces. In her free time, she likes to read William Carlos Williams, Jane Austen and Sylvia Plath.