Funerals are the new raves

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Tanya is browsing through the swimwear collection on nile.com her favorite shopping website. It’s true that father has said she cannot go to Goa and there is no way he will let her buy a swimsuit, but Tanya is sure she will figure it out, she always does. Her phone rings, it’s Manju, her best friend for the season. Tanya takes the call, “So I was wondering, what would be a better shade for my swimsuit? Should I go with the turquoise one or the peacock blue one? The peacock blue on makes my skin look…”

“Tanya, babe…” the urgency in her voice gives Tanya pause, “it’s Ananya…she’s…just check the college website…”

Tanya opens the website to the image of a glowing lamp and ‘shraddhanjali’ written in a somber font besides an old photo of Ananya. There is a second where Tanya feels a sensation of transition, as if a dying sputtering candle in a large dark room was finally snuffed out. Then she gathers herself with remarkable ease, “what has the nerd gone and done now?” she asks with mock contempt. Continue reading

Cluck Cluck Cluck…

“Now where did I keep the damn stick.” I muttered to myself as I trudged along my cottage, feeling the cold damp walls for a long wooden appendage that I needed to walk.

“cluck cluck cluck.” Mathilda walked with her tiny feet beside me, smelling of grains, dirt and fresh leaves. Her matchstick thin feet made slight scraping noises as they scuffed along the old creaky wooden floor.

“Yeah, I know. I kept it beside the fireplace.” I told Mathilda. Continue reading

Hide and Seek

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September 1999

We’re crouched in a hollow by a bush. The air is abuzz with mosquitoes. My grimy ankles touch Ankur’s grimy toes. Ankur is hitting Akash. He’s an idiot.

“Shhhhh”

“What’s your problem, supandi?”

“Can you be quiet for one minute?” I whisper as loudly as I can.

Ankur is a second grader and he’s not serious enough to play with us. He ignores me completely and tightens his fist for another assault on Akash’s hand. The fist lands squarely on his arm. Even in the darkness, I can feel it redden. Ankur cannot control his laughter and I cannot stop myself from slapping him. Akash steps between us. The turbulence gives us away. We’ve lost the game.

Ankur pinches Akash again. “Why do you let me do this?” Continue reading

“Chotu, chai lana…”

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The sun was setting on another sultry hot summer day in Chikkadpally. The main street came alive with the squeals and shouts of the evening rush hour traffic. The Bismillah Irani chai house was beginning to buzz with its evening clientele. Imran the middle aged proprietor, his face framed by a smartly trimmed beard and his round taut belly barely hidden under his slim cut kurta sat behind the counter. He was lost watching the cricket match on the old tv set that sat on the wall opposite him.

“Oye chotu, char chai aur aght osmania biscuit lana..” one of the college kids shouted from the table that was stuffed with six of them. One small looking kid scurried into the kitchen. Continue reading

Cold War

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I’m licking the last bit of cappuccino-almond tiramisu when she says, ‘When was the last time you had a good time?’ and I’m thrown off-kilter. What could she possibly mean by that? But I don’t bite at it immediately because that’d piss her off. I want her to try a little harder.

I say, ‘Umm… this is delicious’

I glance at her briefly, casually, with only a slight emergent doubt. Her eyes are lost in her long slender fingernails dyed a deep shade of red.

She says, ‘How’s that friend of yours?’

‘Who?’

She snorts. ‘The one who sleep-talked’

‘Not been in touch with her…’ Continue reading