Prose 300 2018 Longlist

Drishti Nagdeo         Anila Mathew Vivek            Shloka Shankar        Swatilekha Roy

Vaidyanathapuram Shankar

Rains

If there’s something that can calm down the biggest of all storms, bring a smile on the saddest of all faces, or, beautify the disheveled, it is rains. It is purely divine. How confidently it assures that there is always respite after the scorching heat, euphoria after sadness! Rains make the trees greener than ever, the roads cleaner than ever, music and a cup of hot tea soothing than ever. It is a lullaby to the drowsy, a song to the dancer, music to the singer, romance to the lover, and, inspiration to the writer. Oh, what is it that the rains can’t do? It gives joy to the sad, relief to the tensed, hope to the disabled, and, belief to the incredulous. It assures a way to the confused and warmth of feeling to the cold. To be able to do a task, there must be willingness. Rains provide willingness to complete the tasks we’ve forever wanted to do but didn’t. Such is its beauty. Such is its charm. It can comfort the depressed. If the shattered still hopes, it is because of the rains. If magic and miracles have meaning, it is because of the rains.

Drishti Nagdeo

Grief/Relief

Raman waited for the crows to arrive. The family clapped their hands and soon crows did eat the sacrificial offering. All agreed that Dakshayini Amma’s soul was indeed at peace.

Her only son Raman had performed all his duties in a dignified way, while his wife had ministered to her mother-in-law satisfactorily. The two grandchildren and spouses duly arrived for the well-attended funeral. All the arrangements had befitted the status of the family.

Raman looked at a nephew who was leaving for office after the ceremonies. On the spur of the moment, Raman called out: “Hey ! Wait up !”

He strode quickly while his wife looked inquiringly. Ignoring all questioning glances, Raman walked up panting to the young fellow, impatiently glancing at his mobile. “What is it Ramu ammava(uncle)? I am getting late for office…”

“Can you take me back home?” asked the bereaved son. Taken aback, his nephew answered puzzled, “But right now? Aren’t you all returning together?”

“No!” came the vehement reply. “I want you to take me on this bike…” replied his uncle. Raman lovingly stroked the machine.

Ceding to the unusual demand, his nephew gave him the mandatory helmet. As the bewildered family watched, Raman rode pillion with an unfathomable expression. Raman savoured the breeze, the jerks of the ride and the feel of the helmet, still wearing the wet mundu.

The only child of his parents, the precious heir had been kept away from all things “risky”; no riding bikes, no working away from home, no playing sports, no travelling…

The burden of love had been lifted. Instead of crushing grief, there was a sense of relief.

Anila Mathew Vivek

Saturday

(A haibun)

For as long as I can remember, I’ve more often than not met those special to me on a Saturday. Maybe it’s the convenience of a weekend or maybe it’s how it’s meant to be. I’ve not analysed it to death. At least, not yet. But it makes you think, doesn’t it? You look forward to that moment when everything arranges itself as if by magic and time slips past you in liquid anticipation. The small talk closes in on you and you’re worried about what to say next. How do you make yourself sound larger than you are? And then you realize you don’t need to. Here, it’s okay to not think, to lower your guard, be whole, be vulnerable, to just breathe.

                                                        heart sutra        untying the fabric of my universe

Shloka Shankar

BITTER

These unending fields of plenty speak nothing of the girl with that sparkle in her eyes.  This is Idukki district of Kerala, where dreams get crushed faster than the traditional coffee beans it’s renowned for.

They do talk of the boy, with skin darker than chocolate, who got lost in the web of his expectations. ‘The boy who wandered’, they call him.

To wander is to sway. To expect is to dare!

Here, the world is oblivious of dares. The burden of an ancestral occupation sits heavy on its tilted back.

The bitter, the better‘, they prune leaves and sing in unison- men and women united by a common destiny. A destiny that sustains! Although, just.

Now, it’s a disgrace that the girl, with kohl eyes and a spring to her walk, should think otherwise. Doesn’t she realize how shallow dreams are? Why does she ask them about the seven seas and poetry?

They listen as she sings off tune and whispers to the moon. “I’ll touch you. Someday.” The moon whispers back, when they aren’t peering.

One day, just like the rest, her dreams will have blended with cold regret, as she keeps brewing endless warm pleasures for cocaine lovers over the world.

Swatilekha Roy

AN EX-CONVICT’S TALE

Jaggu stepped out to freedom and inhaling the fresh air, looked around for his wife or teenage son. It was a great feeling- this freedom after the long spell in jail.

No one was in sight. He had so fondly waited for this moment, to meet his dear wife and only son. They were quite understandably angry at his criminal actions and hadn’t come to meet him during his jail confinement. But he really had hoped for their forgiveness, and presence here today.

As he trudged along disappointed, he saw Raghav, the last man he wished to see then. He sweated profusely as he saw Raghav approach him with rapid strides. ‘I am finished!” he thought, since Raghav was the man he had assaulted and also was the reason for his incarceration.

“Go ahead, Raghav, do it fast… kill me!” said Jaggu, resignedly.

Raghav shrugged and said, “I could have done that long back if I wanted.”

Then he continued, “Believe me if you can; I am here to take you to my house, because your kin do not want you anymore. You may check with them, if you wish before coming with me.”

Jaggu, the hardened convict, wept for the first time in his life.

Vaidyanathapuram Shankar

 

 

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