Arif Ayaz Parrey tells a short tale from Kashmir about Avtar Singh, a counter-insurgency officer of the Indian Army, wanted for the murder of the Kashmiri human rights lawyer Jalil Andrabi. On June 9, 2012, in Selma, California, he shot his family and himself.
“I have never felt that my fiction and nonfiction were warring factions battling for suzerainty. They aren’t the same certainly, but trying to pin down the difference between them is actually harder than I imagined. Fact and fiction are not converse. One is not necessarily truer than the other, more factual than the other, or more real than the other. Or even, in my case, more widely read than the other. All I can say is that I feel the difference in my body when I’m writing.”
Everyone drinks in Shillong. It’s cold. A nip of whisky makes you feel good and warm. That’s all there is to it. Go to Eee Cee Restaurant in the evening and you’ll see them—Khasis, Bangalis, Nepalis, Biharis—all of them drinking away to glory.’
Suresh emerged from the trees, shouting at the top of his voice, “The Right Thing! The Right Thing! The Right Thing!” Oddly it sounded like the INSAS rifle he was firing: Ta-rat-ting! Ta-rat-ting! Ta-rat-ting! Finally, he had his eyes open.
“Bhairavi was trying hard to concentrate on her Haruki Murakami novel as she kept tossing on her mahogany bed. But she was frequently getting distracted by the beautiful sharp notes of Himachali folksongs she played on her laptop just a short while ago.
At that moment, she suddenly heard a hiss hiss sound coming from the window near her. She was dazed to see an enormous python creeping through her window railings and slipping along its body towards her room. A chunk of his large smoky body glittered in the mid-day sunlight.
The quaint hillside house was larger than it had looked from the outside and the first room led to a wide hallway. She coughed mildly as she entered the aisle, her footsteps disturbing the dust that had settled undisturbed for a long time. The dust was now dancing in spirals in thin sunbeams that seemed to magically cut across her. Her backpack felt heavy, so she slid it off and left it on the ground. There were two broken windows on the west of this long hallway, or maybe it was large enough to be a room.
“She overdosed on sleeping pills! You have been in the room all evening! How could you not?”
“I was watching Beyblade.”
This is the opening chapter of Tamil novelist Joe D’Cruz’s first work of fiction, AazhiSoozh Ullagu (The Ocean-Rimmed World) translated by V. Geetha Published in 2004, on the eve of the tsunami that devastated Tamil nadu’s coast, the novel unfolds as a series of events, tales and meditations on the sea, fisher life and the coast, over a period of time, from the early decades of the 20th century to the 1980s.
V. Geetha had translated the 600+ page novel in 2013 and it was all set for publication, when Mr C’Cruz announced his support for Narendra Modi’s candidature as prime ministerial candidate and for the BJP. This upset the translator and she withdrew her translation and decided not to offer it for publication. She has however continued to reflect on her decision, since the novel tells a rich and layered tale and is a great testimony to the lives of fishers, their imagination, powers of endurance and their love of the sea.
Shillong was really cold at this time of the year. A walk past any row of houses would send fumes of burning coal into the nose-that comforting, slightly toxic smell which was reassuring in the still winters. It seemed the leaves of trees would make a crackling groan when the breeze lightly blew in the evening. The hens were nestled in their coops and the puppies were huddled on old sacks, hiding away their creamy bellies.
‘Chandal Jibon’ (2009) by Manoranjan Byapari is the story of Jibon, a boy born into the hitherto ‘untouchable’ Chandal (or Namasudra) community in East Bengal, whose parents flee from East Pakistan and arrive as refugees in India. The story of the boy’s journey to adulthood – is also the story of the experience of the subaltern Bengali refugee community and of caste oppression, humiliation and violence, providing a trenchant bottom-up view of post-1947 Bengal and of Calcutta in the turbulent Naxalite era. It is an epic tale of the indomitable human will to survive.
The man was arrested because he laughed.
He laughed at a time when laughing had been strictly prohibited. It was an unusual time, when people were not supposed to laugh, or even open their mouths. They were only meant to listen; it was only a select few who would do all the talking while everyone else simply listened – that was the rule in those days.
A. Have you read the new Arundhati Roy?
B. No. I’m not a fan.
A. Oh, OK. Didn’t you like ‘The God of Small Things’?
B. Um, it was OK. I felt like she was trying very hard to be different and clever.
A. Is it? In what way?
B. Her use of language for one thing. I found it too self-consciously inventive. And I also feel she tends to fetishize the tragic.
How does one even start to write about Arundhati Roy’s new novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness?
An extract from Assamese novelist Dhrubajyoti Bora’s novel Kalantoror Gadya (The Prose of Tempest) (1997) written in the background of the ULFA insurgency and counter insurgency operations by Indian Security Forces in the 1990’s. It deals with the arrival of AFSPA, army operations and state terrorism in the province and the changes it brought to the local landscape.
Review of Man Tiger – a supernatural tale of murder and desire by the rising star of Indonesian fiction
He continued walking up to a main road, a busy artery of his hill station hometown. The cars were lined up on the road, a traffic jam that was never going to be resolved. Almost all of the occupants seemed to have left their rides in a hurry, some with doors ajar. The shops here too were mostly empty, but signs of life emanated from the crowded localities that constituted the flesh beneath the lining of commercial establishments on Laitumkhrah’s main street. K walked on, the rain got heavier.
Ever seen a dog trying to befriend other dogs?
No, I’m not talking about dogs in slavery, or, as some people like to call them, pets.
Rice! A mountain of cooked rice lay piled up on the cement floor. And standing by the door was Dhiren Roy, who had been sentenced to life imprisonment. Hot, steaming rice. As he inhaled the aroma, a strange transformation came over him. He began weeping convulsively. “Oh dear ones, look down from heaven, see how much rice I’m master of now! You died for want of a handful of rice, but see me now! I’m the king of rice today!”
The cow is the wife of the bull …
Hapdeng ka tlang kaba dait thah slam slam,Ka Sngur Batlem bad u Kitbor Bah ki poi ha Sor Shillong, ka Sor kaba thaba, kaba khring bad kaba pah. Ka Sor Shillong wat la ka khring hynrei kam ai jingtngen ne jingshngain, wat la ka thaba hynrei ka i kynsha, wat la ka pah hynrei kam ai jingkyrmen,pynban ka tan bad ka khwan. Ka Sor ka pynlyngngoh bad pynshaiong ia ka Sngur bad u Kitbor. Wow! ka pyrthei aiu kane kaba im tangba kaba ym don mynsiem, ka pyrthei kaba khnoit bein ia ki rangli-ki juki bad kaba bam im im peit peit ia ki mynsiem briew. Napoh ka bos ka Sngur bad u Kitbor ki iohi shi lynter lynti ia ki longkmie kiba kyrshah shilliang, ki rangbah, ki samla bad ki khynnah rit kiba ialum lang ha la ki jaka bapher bapher bad ki bat ha ki kti ia ki jingthoh ha ki kot sada “ Ngi dei ki Nongdie madan bad ngi dawa ia ka hok ban kamai jakpoh”
A Palestinian in the maze of foundations and fellowships, a chilling short story by Siddhartha Deb.
Ghosh babu said dryly, “Cut it into five or six bits. You’re used to cutting meat. After that wrap the pieces in a banana leaf and get to the road, go and tie it to stones and throw it into the river. That’s all the work there is. Dharmaraj remembered the time Ghosh babu’s elder daughter got married. He had been called to cut the goats. Ten or twelve goats were tied to a post. He had instructed him likewise, “Cut it nicely into medium-size pieces. Not too small, not too large, you can take the skin, heads and everything else.” Today it occurred to him that for these people there was no difference at all between men and goats. But Dharmaraj was just an ordinary butcher. His hands and legs turned icy. Sensing Dharmaraj’s plight, Ghosh babu said, “Liquor has been brought, gulp a bottle, once you’re intoxicated you won’t have a clue about what you’re cutting. Get to work at once. The work has to be completed in two hours.
I told you that there was something wrong with the way the beat of the drums sounded, something wrong with the way the trumpet was blown, something seems not right with the way people were shouting, I could feel that in the air, I could feel that on the ground, that it was not the vibration of triumph, neither of celebration.
River of flesh and other stories: the Prostituted Woman in Indian Short Fiction is a book that begins with an aim of prescribing an Indian prostitute’s problems through pity. The choice of the title, which is a title of one of the stories in the book, as a representation of the collection of stories, relegates the whole collection to a simplified, moralistic view. It is telling of the editor’s and publisher’s condescending attitude towards prostitutes. By appealing to pity and sensationalization, it reveals the patronising disregard they have towards the complex varieties of voices from prostitutes.
And yet the stories on the other hand portray the complexities of a prostitute’s life and experiences very effectively…
A Palestinian in the maze of foundations and fellowships, a short story by Siddhartha Deb
Publishing is business. A publisher would consider a book only when sure that it would sell. This is why Chetan Bhagat is a big deal. He sells. This is why a new publishing venture like Juggernaut signs Sunny Leone to write a book.
I don’t like the boring drone of talk about literature. Instead let me now tell the story of a mosquito.
The night has fallen long ago and I won’t be stalking sleep tonight. Their guns have stopped to roar for a while, but they will resume again. They have difficulty in locating me in this dilapidated house at night and I am taking its benefit. But for how long will odds favour me? I will be dead by the morning. Their bullets will have made holes in my body or they will burn this house and I will be charred and buried under its rubble. By whichever way, I will embrace death without a shred of fear; I have resolved it in my mind.
An Indian dude meets a Pakistani chap in a London pub and a Brit woman walks in…
A short story
Rumi always has the same questions for him. The first one is, “Can you understand Farsi?” Avtar nods, even though he does not understand the language. When he is awake, it always torments him that he is a liar even in his dreams. Rumi continues in Persian, which Avtar now understands because he has lied about it, “Do you know what murder is?”