Who killed Balasubramanium?

Padmalakshmi sits there in the interrogation room, facing the famous detective Kondaswamy. she adjusts her saree’s pallu strategically enough to let some cleavage slip out. The table fan to Padmalakshmi’s right gorges on anything remotely cool in the room like a bulimic, only to throw it up in hot, stifling blasts that barely touch the sweat streaming down Padmalakshmi’s ample sideburns.

“Madame”, Detective Kondaswamy says, as his eyes stare not into Padmalakshmi’s big black, kohl smeared one, but right at her heaving chest. “So, you say that you were taking a bath when you heard a commotion and came running down to discover his body?”

“Yes Sir.” she sniffles for effect and he hands her a murky handkerchief from his pocket. “Have you found out who did it? Who mercilessly bashed my dear Balasubramaniam’s head like a pulp?”

“Madame Padmalakshmi” Kondaswamy says, unbuttoning his first two buttons, shaking his collar and gulping down the lukewarm cola in front of him.

“We have sent your husband’s body for autopsy. Until then please answer my questions.”

“Sir… my husband is dead.” As if on cue, Padmalakshmi’s eyes water and rivulets run down her cheeks mingling with salty sweat. “What will I do? How will I eat? How will I survive?”

Kondaswamy shakes his head and continues. “Madame please, who else was in the house except you?”

Through tears Padmalakshmi pulls up her pallu, that was on the verge of threatening to expose more cleavage, and says, “That wretched Mahalakshmi. She was there in the house when it happened.”

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Kondaswamy mutters in disgust, as if disappointed at the game of tease that Padmalakshmi’s pallu has been playing with him. He brings his diary out and writes Mahalakshmi in capital letters. “Do you know of any enemies that Balasubramanium had? Anyone who wanted to hurt him?

“Oh sir” Padmalakshmi sprawls her torso on the table and this time her pallu finally falls off to reveal her sweaty breasts trapped between her and the unvarnished surface of old teakwood.

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Cold Case Files – #795666

“Detective Inspector Shane Devouc, you and I are gathered here in this room, on 10th April 2010, to discuss the events of the dispatch call on 13th May 1990, at 3 am, where you were the first responder” I say and then stare at my smart phone recorder.

“Oh shit,” I say again, and look up; embarrassed at my rookie mistake.

The burly man with head full of hair as white as snow stares at me impassive.

“I’m sorry, Detective Inspector.” I say. “We’ll have to go over this again. I forgot to press the record button.”

He grunts, and I start over. I can see that he is trying to brush this off as just another interview. Cool as a cucumber, or at least that is what he wants me to think. But no matter how hard he tries, he can’t hide his twitching fingers.

“Detective Inspector”, I start, again. “You and I are gathered here in this room, on 10th April 2010, to discuss the events of the dispatch call on 13th May 1990, at 3 am, where you were the first responder.”

He grunts again and then picks a strand of chicken stuck between his front two teeth. He pulls it out from the crevice slowly, like stretched bubble gum as I watch fascinated. That visibly obvious strand has been distracting me since the past fifteen minutes and now that he is pulling it out, I can’t help but feel a sense of strange relief.

“Can you tell me about the events of that night, Sir?” I ask, my eyes fixed on that long strand as he finally pulls it free and then pops out back into his mouth, chewing slightly.

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Nina

Nina was found buried in the crook of a Wych elm deep into the forest. or perhaps what would have been deep into the forest before Sobha builders decided to make a home away from the city, in the lap of nature, eco apartments that were only five minutes from fairy falls, only fifteen kilometers away from the nearest school, hospital or office space; and only twenty minutes away from NICE road.

It was barricaded to the public; only Sobha resident joggers eroded it every morning and practically turned it into a freeway to the waterfall.

It was a dog that found her hand dangling like a T-Rex’s arm from the rotted core of the elm; one of those furry golden ones. I saw them often with the joggers, trotting along, burying their nose where it didn’t belong.

Devoid of skin, tissue or even rot, Nina’s arm had been licked clean to the bones. I was surprised that the foxes hadn’t ground the bones into a powdery puff, yet.

Nina - Wych elm

I stood among the few joggers, as the police pulled Nina out from the dark hole, one limb after another. Her torso came last and a small man was sent inside to fetch her head.

It was almost thirty minutes later that a head popped out, not Nina’s, but the man who was sent after it. He climbed out, panting and repeating, “Kuch nahee hai, Saab. There is no head.”

The Chief Inspector who looked like mosquitoes had made half a meal out of him, stomped his foot and shouted, “Where the hell is the head, then?”

“Kamraj sir…” said his deputy, smiling like a patient grandmother, “Where will the head go? It will be around somewhere. Mil jayega.”

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23:23

People believe I am mad, a crazy lunatic, obsessed with the time 23:23. But let me tell you something; I did not go searching for 23:23, it found me. It was relentless in its pursuit; it hounded me night and day, until I had no other choice but to acknowledge it. I tried everything, switched off my phone, tried to sleep when it was still a safe 22:22, shut my eyes and refused to look at my bedside clock. But somehow, somewhere I always managed to see 23:23.

I had such confidence in my sanity, my logic, my rationality; that I discussed about 23:23 with people, many people; my husband, friends, colleagues and believers in the paranormal. Some looked at me in awe, some even suggested I was a shaman and some strongly believed that I was ready to fall over the threshold of madness.

Before you throw away this paper, attributing it to the rant of a mad woman, let me tell you about me.

My name used to be Anu, short for Anuradha. I say used to be, because now, it is just patient no. 2323.

I was happy, once. I used to live in the bustling city of Bangalore, with its surprise showers and cool weather. I was married too, to the man of my dreams and I bore him two beautiful little girls, twins at that. In our uninhibited joy, we named them Thea and Rhea. Thea, Goddess of the moon and Rhea, the daughter of Gaia (Earth). Both my daughters orbited around each other from the time they were born. Oh how I had loved them until they were toddlers, their constant need to be with me, their constant demands, their unending cries for ‘Mumma’. That was only until they were old enough to realise that all they ever needed was each other. They had a look that was only meant for the other one, like telepathic Siamese twins.

Such strong was the connection between my daughters; that I became the ostracised mother who wasn’t privy to that bond.

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Gratitude Hoes!

They say people who live with gratitude, live longer, happier lives.

Unfortunately, the people on my social media seem to take this mantra a little too seriously. Not that my circle of acquaintances is any different from your circle of friends. You know the kind, don’t you? Or you maybe the kind; the kind that makes me barf my lunch, breakfast and last night’s dinner all in one go.

I can almost categorize these Gratitude Hoes in four different buckets; The starry eyed lover, The disgruntled housewife, The pseudo intellectual and finally, The self-appointed Spiritual guru.

Are you the starry eyed lover?

Woman Embracing Man

Well, most of them are women, but, mind you, there are many men in there too. I am sure you know them, you have seen them, or you are one of them.

You can almost immediately spot them with their profile pic. They clamber on each other like Siamese twins, and they never, ever, never walk, without holding hands.

Every single birthday, anniversary, valentine, non-valentine, the gift of a fucking KFC bucket has to go online on FaceBook, Instagram and Snapchat with a tagline that says, “Blessed to have this wonderful man in my life.”

Darling, you are not fooling anyone. Give it a few years and ask that college mate of yours who saw your husband canoodling a woman ten years younger, wearing a dress with a plunging neckline, while you now turn into the next in my category, the disgruntled housewife.

Are you the disgruntled housewife?

Those images every morning you post, where you plop your three-year-old twins on the breakfast table with orange juice and fruity oatmeal. A bow strategically placed on the girls’ cute pony tales and a forced smile lining their lips.

The title of the image says, “My rays of sunshine” and then a 300 word write up about how lucky you are to have these two angels in your life. How God has blessed you with divinity in the form these girls. Yet, when the glass of juice crashes the floor in the midst of you writing this beautiful eulogy to parenting, you slap the wrong twin senseless for breaking the glass.

I mean seriously, ask that mother in kindergarten who saw you drag the wrong twin, again; by her hair across the road. Your perfect life on social media doesn’t fool a fool, love.

Two Toddlers Sitting on Grass Field

Perhaps one of the most annoying gratitude hoes ever, the pseudo intellectual:

They post on a good day, especially when it rains outside, the kind of rain that sends tingles down your spine; the kind of rain that brings a sigh of relief after an unforgiving bout of heat.

The kind of rain that makes them want to open all doors and windows, take boomerangs of their plants dancing in the rain and post them as their Instagram story.

The kind of rain that is perfect to sit by their porch, drink a hot cup of coffee and read one of those ridiculously talked about books, with names like ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck.’

Of course now, they wouldn’t just read the book, would they? They would shoot one of those artistically framed photographs, perhaps of the book lying next to their colorful pot of succulents and their spectacles casually placed.

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But then they wouldn’t just post the photograph on Facebook now, would they? They would write five hundred words about how that book makes them feel, how ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck’ has freed them from those iron shackles in their lives, has elevated them to the next one in my list, The self appointed Spiritual Guru.

As they type their long drawn, beautifully worded, heavily philosophical message; they don’t forget to give out the impression that their life is too intellectual for basic bitch stuff like ‘checkins’ into hotels or airports, group selfies and dog pics.

The rain still pours outside their door, one that is wide open, to let a cool draft in. They smile in contentment. They are only five pages down the book in the past two hours, yet that doesn’t matter. They check on Facebook every five minutes and shower hearts generously to those who have decided to drop equally verbose, brimming with gratuitous comments on their post.

Yeah, well I wonder how they find time to read, with these six, five hundred word posts on Facebook within a span of ten hours.

The last, but perhaps the one that gets most on my nerves is the self appointed spiritual guru? You are one of them, aren’t you? You know I am talking about you, don’t you?

Oh, I know you have managed to somehow add me into this Whatsapp group that is filled to the brim with your followers. You make it a point that you start every new day with a long tirade about ‘Mindful conversations’, ‘Being one with the universe’ and ‘Self reflection’. It is then followed by twenty acolytes agreeing with you and adding their two cents about showing up, about sisterhood of gratitude hoes and about being humble. And by the twentieth message of universal thankfulness, I have managed to regurgitate last month’s biryani.

You have the formula down to a ‘T’, don’t you? You are the worst form of con artist that an unsuspecting fan would ever have the misfortune of encountering. You have the ego the size of Donald Trump’s ass and you hide it under the guise of your acolyte’s trust issues.

When someone dares to question your wisdom, you subtly lay the blame on them by questioning their own values and beliefs. You are the Queen Bee among your acolytes and you ensure that those who challenge your unreasonable tirades are no more tagged in your daily posts, under the tab of ‘Thanks to these wonderful people in my life, who make it all worthwhile.’

Silhouette of Person Raising Its Hand

Now dear readers, you may ask me, why would I even be a part of such groups, or follow these people on my social media, if it bothers me so. Well, I mean, I have nothing against gratitude, really. What I have against is the bullshit being spewed in the name of gratitude. And I do start my day going through these posts and thinking these thoughts, it is like coffee to my sleepy brain.

(P.S: Except for the last category, every other category is generic and not based on someone I personally know.)

Ignore that voice

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[What if the characters in a story realized they were in a story? This is a metafiction story in which the characters decide to stop listening to the writer.]

Ed closed the door to his room behind him and pulled Bella into his arms. She gasped as if a shock of electricity had passed through her. He held her by her shoulders and pulled her closer to his chest, “I can no longer spend a day without seeing you…” he whispered in her ears. Bella looked at his intense brown eyes and felt herself go weak in her knees, “I know what you mean, Ed…” she pouted her lips offering herself to him.

He pulled her closer to himself and kissed her with the passion of a wild animal in heat. They kissed as if they were thirsty and their lips had the only water in the world.

Their clothes flew all over the room as Ed moved Bella closer to his bed.

When she was down to her lingerie, Ed stared at Bella like a leopard stalking his prey. He ran his hands over her supple body, picked her up with one hand and threw her on his bed. With his other hand, Ed ripped off his own t-shirt to reveal his chiselled body. “Oh, Ed…my body is literally aching with desire for you…” Bella licked her lips.

Ed dropped his pants, Bella gulped hard, “take me, Ed…Oh great, we are doing missionary again.”

“I want you so bad Bella…” Ed said, “wait…what did you say?” Ed has stopped and is now looking at Bella. Continue reading

Bad erotica…

Abhay paces the small one room kitchen apartment, it wasn’t a lot of pacing; four steps back and forth made up for his tiny dwelling. But then again what is a struggling writer, if not living in a space cramped with a chair, a bed, a foldable writing table, a solar powered lamp, a bowl full of cigarette butts and five day old pizza.

Abhay’s predicament wouldn’t be something new for you, but for him it was a dilemma that put him in precarious situation. You see, the next chapter in Abhay’s highly ambitious debut novel about four friends who had just passed out of IIM – B; was that one of those friends was finally getting lucky. And Abhay had to describe him getting lucky.

Now this shouldn’t be a problem to many writers, or maybe it would be. I would never know. But Abhay is still a virgin, which means, he has never gotten lucky. And the poor little peasant has no idea how to, either.

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Shall we eat Dick, instead?

“It is all about reiteration, recognizance and following up relentlessly to ensure that your work gets done. You feel me people, do you feel what I am saying here?” Dick looks around, his voice rising in decimals, his back straight and blood shot eyes wide enough to cover Rita’s generous boobs.

We all nod our unenthusiastic ‘hmms’ and scroll down the screen to the next point in the agenda.

“It is like my son, you know.” He continues. Rita, almost groans out loud but then saves her ass by pretending to cough. “Every single morning I lift my son’s sorry butt and plant it on that atrocious fluorescent green and yellow, plastic potty. I sit there with him for five, ten, even fifteen minutes, squatting just like he does and grunting loud and clear to make him poop in that potty. And when he does, only then does he get rewarded by his favorite fruit loops.”

A strong whiff of chicken steak, tiramisu and the smell of someone’s butt crack invades my nose and almost makes me throw up in my mouth. I realize that Dan, who is sitting next to me, has let out a silent, yet smelly fart.

I pick up a glass of water and cover my mouth and nose with it, while giving Dan the evil eye. He shrugs and whispers, “What?”

Ah, I think, the fucker ate before the meeting. This goddamned meeting was supposed to be only for half an hour, and already we are at the ninety-minute mark with sixty minutes of the single dad’s potty training anecdotes.

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Mother ate herself…

Are you asking for Mother?

Well, you won’t find her here. You can search all you want.

Go look into her closet that smells of rotten berries and starch.

Raze her bed; raze it off the sickly sweet whiff that permeates from the sheets.

Take a peek inside the kitchen; you won’t witness her breaking that soft loaf of bread,

Her ample behind busying itself around the kitchen, fretting over the crumbs, a sweet song lilting off her luscious lips while her legs tiptoe in a light tread.

You won’t find her here, just like the cops didn’t.

What happened to Mother, you ask?

Oh that’s easy, she ate herself into a tizzy and then dissolved in a whirlpool of pity.

Do you think I am joking, about my own Mother?

Oh, you didn’t see what I saw?

And you didn’t do what Father did?

At first, it was the song that perished on her lips. It died, died in her tongue because she bit it enough to bleed and burn.

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Date with a writer

The other day I went on a date with a writer, you know because I am a writer, and I do have this weird notion that writers are good in bed.

I connected with him on Facebook. He sent me a friend request and I read his poetry where he pushes the books off the desk and his woman shatters the glasses kept on the study table, they throw away the clothes scattered on the clothes line and clean the bed off all pillows.

And then in clutter free room they make passionate love.

Well, if that weren’t an indication of his raging, intense libido, nothing would be.

We chatted; I told him that he writes well.

He replied, “Once written I don’t own it. Your eyes and soul make it beautiful.”

I smiled because even with a writer, you need to wade through a ton of bullshit before you can have an actual conversation.

And then he ‘opined’ the ‘postulate’ that since we were in the same city, we could perhaps meet sometime.

His ‘opining’ and ‘postulation’ wasn’t really necessary because had he not asked, I would’ve suggested a meeting myself.

I had been depraved of a good romp in bed for so long that lately my bidet was my favourite gadget at home. But that didn’t mean I was into one-night stands or friends with benefits. I really needed to get to know the guy well and to be courted, before I even started anything. I am old school like that.

We met at Starbucks, where I walked in a Mango dress carrying my Fendi bag and wearing Aldo shoes.

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It did not take much to recognise him there, the only man sitting in a corner furiously typing away.

He was the kind of writer who would buy kurtas from FabIndia and then poke holes in it to fit into the ‘struggling writer’ stereotype; the kind who would carry his Macbook Pro in a jhola and order Pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks.

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The Duel of Derika

Derika dragged her feet and groaned as she glimpsed the looming shadow of the arena. It’s massive iron gates slowly, reluctantly, grated open, perhaps as reluctant to let Derika in, as she was to get into the arena.

Her father walked, proud next to Derika, a whole five inches shorter that her.

The duel was set and Derika was expected to defeat the mighty Amazonian Princess, Ina, if she every hoped to marry Prince Sebastian. And to be honest, Derika was more than happy to lose that match. It wasn’t that Derika had anything against the idea of marriage, but then it was against the idea of marrying Prince Sebastian.

She walked into the arena, just as thunderous applause rose all around her. Chants of ‘Derika’ ‘Derika’ roared in all directions and a shiver passed through her bones.

Would she…would she really lose a duel on purpose and let her people down? She thought. But then her train of thoughts was interrupted.

“Oh my liege”, said the Inn Keeper who also moonlighted as her family’s professional ass licker, “My liege, with legs as strong as a thousand donkeys, hair as long as the longest serpents and lips as thick as a baboon’s ass. What wondrous thoughts run through that tiny, delicate mind of yours?”

Derika

Source: https://andantonius.deviantart.com/art/Amazon-124185435

Derika often wondered how competent was their professional ass licker was in actual ass licking, because she had her own doubts about his competencies.

“I’m not sure about this fight, Inn Keeper. Do I really have to? Can’t the benevolent Princess Derika let Ina, the Amazonian Princess, have Prince Sebastian?” she said.

“But petite brained, Princess Derika, do you see the crowd? Every single one of them has paid for the tickets with either their lives savings, or their organs. Now, how can the benevolent Princess deny them, their one arm’s worth?” He whispered, his tongue, almost lapping up Derika’s ear lobe. A pungent smell of pork, chocolate Ice cream and garlic wafted near her nose and she almost gagged.

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Kill your darlings

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“You are joking, right? You have got to be joking.” Ria’s laughter echoed in the basement parking lot. She sounded amused like he had actually cracked a joke but Samir could see the shadow of fear in her large brown eyes.

She pushed her hair behind an ear and Samir stopped. He hated that she could still make him stop.

“But, why? Why would you even be thinking about it?” there was that voice again, like a feather caressing skin.

“Come on Ria, you have always known someone had to go.” Samir scratched behind his ear with his pen.

“Yes, of course, someone has to go…but I thought we agreed it was going to be the other woman…” there was just a small shiver in her voice like the feather had passed over a razor. Continue reading

Sahib and the widow

Jaishankar shivered, not because it was too cold, which it definitely was, but because a jolt of desire ran down his body just as he set his eyes on the widow. He sat on a frayed cane chair, in her small verandah surrounded by towering pine trees and a splatter of wild geraniums. Her three children ran around the verandah in various stages of undress, their rib cages jutting out like those children in Somalia, completely oblivious to the chill; a chill that grazed the insides of Jaishankar’s bones, especially after it had rained all night in the hilly town.

“Sahib, coffee.” She said, holding a dirty tray with a cracked ceramic mug, and steaming filter coffee inside. Jaishankar stared at her, rather stared at her olive colored cleavage spilling down her blouse, the seams of which were on the verge of tearing. Her cheap cotton saree wafted of sandalwood and sweat; and some where between his legs, desire reared its head.

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“Theek hai ji, thank you.” He said. He regurgitated the phlegm stuck at the base of his throat and spat a mouthful at the bed of geraniums to his left. He watched in fascination as the dirty green, thick mold slid down a purple flower and splat on the grass bed below. He then cleared his throat and turned to talk about the matter for which he had visited the widow’s home.

“Saritha, I have heard rumours about you.” He said and allowed the base of his throat to loudly scratch his adam’s apple. He could feel another cluster of phlegm forming there.

Saritha squatted on the ground next to Jaishankar and shooed her three children away. “What rumours, Sahib?”

“That you…” He cleared his throat and spat again at his favourite bed of geraniums as a waft of freezing wind shook him with vehemence, “That you…you know…give favours, in exchange for money.”

The widow stared back at him, her eyes glistening. “What?! What are these rumours, Sahib? Who told you this?” Then just as understanding dawned on her face, her voice trembled, “Have you come to arrest me, Sahib? Where is the constable?”

“No..no I have not come to arrest, not just yet. I have come…” He cleared his throat again, and his pants suddenly became tight. A welcome surge of warmth engulfed his body and it took massive amounts of self-control to not grab the widows olive breasts and chew at her nipples. “I have come to ask, if you know, you will help me…how you help those other men.”

A heavy veil of silence fell over the verandah, even the children froze between playing kabaddi, and the only thing that broke the silence was a violent bout of wind.

The widow opened her mouth to say some thing; he could see her throat working and her collarbone jutting out in righteous defiance. He spoke quickly, to make his desperate point clearer.

“Look Saritha, you give me what I want and I will make sure you’re not arrested.” Jaishankar spoke, he was already antsy sitting out there in the verandah; wary of any passers by who might see the celebrated police inspector, Jaishankar, in the house of a whore.

“But Sahib, the rumours are not true. Look at us, me and the children, do we look like have any money to feed ourselves?” Saritha pleaded, her eyes filled to the brim. “It has been six months since my husband died, we are only surviving on the frugal savings we had when he was alive. My children haven’t had a proper meal in days. We are low caste people, Sahib. Not even memsahibs want me work in their homes.”

Jaishankar’s stomach dipped, while he knew she was telling the truth, his struggle with his sense of morality was short. Especially when his lions roared imagining Saritha’s supple breasts cradling his face and his hands squeezing her round, smooth bottoms.

“Fine, we have enough witnesses to state that you have been illegally operating as a sex worker, Saritha. Wait for me, I will come back with a constable.” Jaishankar spoke and stood up.

“No Sahib, please. My children will be on the streets, Sahib.” Saritha fell on his feet and begged him for mercy.

“Then give me what I need, Saritha.” He spoke, a rueful smile already lining his lips, his confidence along with his desire, reared knowing that the outcome would be exactly what he wanted it to be.

“Fine Sahib.” Streams of tears ran down Saritha’s cheeks. “Meet me at the abandoned boathouse by the lake tonight at 10:30 pm. I can’t do anything here with my children around.” She said, softly enough to make sure her little ones did not hear her. And instantly Jaishankar broke into a smile.

“Make sure no one knows about this.” He said and walked out, leaving his filter coffee half empty.

Lately he had been dying for a relief and none of the town whores were good enough to satisfy him. It wasn’t until he had laid his eyes on the helpless, young widow, Saritha, that he decided to concoct a small to lie to get what he wanted.

His chest swelled at the victory and his cunning mind. No other police inspector in the entire state could have boasted of intelligence as bright and vile as that of Jaishankar.

That night Jaishankar walked down the empty lake with a spring in his step and a song on his lips. Even the biting chill couldn’t dampen his spirits, perhaps it was the excitement of fucking Saritha or the four large scotch shots he had had that night. Even that darn phlegm had subsided after his drink. Some where in the mountains he heard a long howl and looked up to notice a full moon shining through an array of clouds.

By the third song he reached the abandoned boathouse, it was unlocked, a broken padlock lying among damp weeds next to the door. It was a beautiful night, he thought. The kind of night where the sky reflected its marvelous beauty on the water of the lake, the kind of night where even young, nubile, innocent widows learned to break locks and unleash the temptress within. His penis was hard, hard enough to be painful and he couldn’t wait to release it.

He opened the door, slightly ajar and saw her silhouette against the subtle rays of moonlight, falling through the slits of the wooden planks that made the boathouse. He paused a moment to admire the widow, even three children hadn’t dampened her curvy body, in fact if anything enhanced it all at the right places.

“Come Sahib.” She said, stretching her arms just as the mountains resonated with another howl.

In a dog like frenzy Jaishankar removed all his clothes before stumbling towards Saritha, he was done waiting. He had dreamed and fantasized about this woman since a month now. His right hand reach out to grab a blouse-clad breast, as he squeezed it hard and took her small mouth inside his whole. Saritha did not resist, neither did she initiate. Jaishankar had his way with her, tearing her clothes, biting her, chewing her nipples, bruising her, pulling out clumps of her hair. But now that he had her, there was nothing that was going to stop him from ravaging the widow, except for perhaps, the three little figures who stood by the door, with their father’s sickles in their hands and drool dripping down their mouths.

It did not take long before the wolf howled again and the widow commanded her children to unleash themselves on their first whole meal in the last fifteen days.

 

The Mistaken Barista

Massive glass doors fly open as he enters, shrouded in bright sunlight, beige chinos and blue cashmere hug his chiseled form. He looks nothing less than a modern day Apollo. A God that deems fit to walk this realm of mortals. He walks straight towards me with purpose and a wide smile on his glorious face, his perfect teeth glowing like tiny stars and his eyes are deep blue gateways into the vast universe.

My world stands still as I clutch my apron, until my fingers turn blue and prick of a sharp nail brings me back to reality. Yet, I can’t keep my eyes off that heavenly specimen of mankind. I lick my lips and bite my lower lip hard, and his lips twist into a naughty smirk. His strides are decisive and he walks with the air of someone who always gets what he wants. Somehow that knowledge creates a puddle of desire between my legs.

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“So, am I going to see you tonight?” He asks, his voice a sultry invitation into the caves of my darkest desires. Looking into my eyes, standing less than two feet away from me, his nearness makes me want to swoon and fall into his arms.
“Yes…. Oh yes.” I say, my voice a hoarse whisper. And I kick myself for sounding so ready, so desperate.
“7 o’clock dinner and later at your place? That is if you are okay with it.” He asks again.

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Can we please talk about things that matter?

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I know you’re gay and you know I am gay.

Correction: I don’t think I’m gay or that you’re gay or that jerking off (almost exclusively) to hairy dudes makes anyone one. You know the customary talk about having subtler straighter shades to your sexuality, I subscribe to those views too. I see ‘gay’ as a cultural identity that I don’t identify with or don’t want to identify with. I suppose you have similar concerns although we both know that our TV/Movie diet has always been rich in Vitamin-Gay. We’ve both talked obliquely about guys we’ve kinda-sorta fancied, and of course girls we’ve obviously fancied or who have fancied us back. I know you’ve gay friends whom you must have met through shady channels. You’ve introduced me to some of them, and so have I, but the-unspoken is a dark scary pool of void of questions like how-did-you-meet and when and where and for-what and is-that-all. Questions that enfeeble our crumbling moral stance, questions that don’t let us be who we ought to be. I know you play the gay-or-not game on every new guy you meet (or used to, I don’t know if marriage has changed that.) I know your life is a performance and that you’ve become your performance. I know you wouldn’t ever agree to being who you are because you’re always morphing into socially safer forms snuggling deep into warm nooks where there’s family and family dinners and sunny family getaways. Continue reading

Facial Hair

 

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I woke up with a full-fledged beard. Lush, unruly, reckless. I stood before the mirror, stroking it, trying to come to terms with the man I had ceased to be – the man with at best a week’s accrual of patchy stubble. I nudged the bathroom door shut to the studio apartment outside, muting its early morning smallness, containing myself to the confines of this room with its slick blue slippery tiles, steamy air and an indifferent white glow of the light bulb. With that beard, a smattering of hair on my chest and those idle pecs, I could pass for a married man. A young father.

Neighborhood women peek through the curtains at me, as I walk my daughter to the school, imagining, I’d like to believe, what I would be like in bed. We stay in a quiet locality with broad streets lined with tall trees. In the evening, the kids are often out on the streets to play. My daughter is five. I take her out for a walk except on Sundays when her mother takes her to the park near my in-laws’ place. On Sundays, I smoke. That Sunday, I was up on the terrace, smoking, and getting some fresh air. The sky was open and the air carried a certain chill. I ambled about, panning a dizzying vista of lit windows, watching families at dinner table, or in the living room watching TV. Continue reading

The Thirty-Year-Old Virgins

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Divya assured herself, despite a burning dubiety, that she’d reached a significant milestone in her relationship with Aditya when, on a late Saturday night, her antsy phone buzzed with a storm of messages from Aditya. A cold inexplicable fear gipped her heart as she clutched the phone and scrolled through the stream of messages. Aditya’s love for poetry, or rather what he believed to be poetry, was notorious in the posse of aspiring writers who met every Saturday in a derelict café in North Bangalore. Divya wouldn’t have taken to him if she could take to anyone else but being a year shy of turning into a thirty-year-old virgin, Divya knew all too well the seething urgency of falling in love. She had begun with mild doses of admiration weaved intricately into casual conversations – finding the most opportune moments to call his fiction Kafkaesque or finding his jarring asymmetric poetic compositions venomously post-modern. Every praise was a chuckle pickled and preserved and it spread a sourness in her heart every time he blushed. She would overcome with pity – for the poor boy but more so for herself, and guilt and sorrow and a cruel screaming gaiety and it’d leave her wiping her hands with the tissue-paper for a minute too long as if she’d been plunged into a deep undersea cavern by the impact of his work of ground-breaking ingenuity. She’d then make a quiet show of getting back to normality – by pretending, for instance, not to have heard the last sliver of conversation or visibly forcing a laugh – and appear briefly flustered as if she’d witnessed sharp inerasable visions of other-worldly love-making with the man himself. Continue reading

Earthquake in California

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You sleep late and wake up early. You see the sunrise after months. The sky is vast; thistle in the west and a piercing vermillion in the east. You wonder whether it’s always this beautiful out here when you’re asleep in your bed with the curtains snugly drawn.

You arrive early to work but not early enough to have breakfast. You head over to the secure zone. You key in your PIN and step inside. It’s cold because it’s a refrigerator for sensitive customer data. Terminals that hum solemnly in front of you are processing a million online transactions. You’re unpacking your bag while a million people are leisurely scrolling through items, drawn in a vortex of increasingly irresistible AI powered recommendations. You dial in to the conference and try to connect to your desktop operating sixteen floors above you. You can’t. After a moment of hesitation, it occurs to you that you don’t need your desktop right away. You’ve made assumptions you’re not aware of; that you wouldn’t be aware of until it’s time.

After a couple of hours, it is time. You realize you need your desktop. You have a had a rough couple of hours where the scripts that were supposed to work didn’t and it took someone from Dublin to fix those for you Continue reading

After Sunset

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The questions were as stale as their faces. Is it an art or a craft? How much does your fiction draw on your own life? Questions everyone knows answers to, if only vaguely, and all one hopes for, really, is a lucid confirmation from someone older and wiser. When he was younger, there was the charm but in its place had slipped in something far more sinister—a throbbing, almost proud, reverberation of age in his old eroded self.

Each time she met his eyes, she felt a tectonic shift in her being. It lent her movement the grace of a French actress and to her insides, a twisted frustration of a deep sea eel. Every tissue in her body softened, loosened and baked in his warm corporeal presence. The room, dense with perfume and hushed evening breaths, she was sure, was essentially empty but for the two of them. Him and her. Continue reading