All posts filed under: Short Stories

Man’s Search for Meaning

When I returned to Ishbar that night, Shiban seemed speechless. But Dr Kaul looked at him with satisfaction giving an expression like “then he has seen.” And soon the moment came to explain to him what he had seen. We sat around fire, while waiting for the food to arrive. Open your ears, said Dr Kaul and he began speaking like reciting an over practised hymn. “The men in the east, he said, are trees; those in the south are flocks of animals; those in the west are wild plants. Last, those in the north like ourselves, who cried out while they ate other men, were the waters. When the collective sound of chewing filled the air, he started explaining about eating. The act of eating is a violence that causes what is living, in its many forms, to disappear. Whether grass, plants, trees, animals, or human beings, the process is the same. There is always a fire that devours and a substance that is devoured. This violence, bringing misery and torment, will one day …

One monsoon in Bengal – II

After hiding under the monsoon tree i had thought of home and had felt at that moment home is calling. Bengal had become love filled for me because of Kaushik. I was living, moving in the rural country around his village as he wished to. We reached his home thinking i will take the evening bus to calcutta but the moment we arrived at his place it started drizzling and it did not stop raining for next four days to come. Here I am writing from Kaushik’s village home in Jhargram. Its night. Light has come after nine hours. I have cooked six packets of maggie with peas and potato. We both will eat it all tonight. Kaushik has gone to get McDowell’s for himself. Its my last night. We are partying. Meanwhile, I posted that letter to M. Something happened. Let me share this. it was magical – I am fortunate to have spent a memorable time during west Bengal monsoons. The blue sky behind the clouds had slept and drizzling took a break from firmly falling …

One Monsoon in Bengal – I

Monsoons are coming, Or are they ? They say that this year it’ll not rain but the skies are going to weep. Clouds have arrived two weeks early. Even the universe knows, that this time children are angry,  they are not participating in anything. All are quiet and vulnerable. Few years ago, i travelled through Rural Bengal once in majestic Indian Monsoons. Being there it felt like my soul grew while in only seeing the earth showing her abundance, her happiness. So much went inside me then that i had to write a letter to a friend who sat far. Not to tell her as such, but to learn myself what was going. –– Clouds have arrived, I knew it ended right there with this photograph. I realised home is calling. Silda Football Ground West Bengal Rain was never far behind. This happened to be that moment of my journey. This tree felt home away from home. Travels have not been too comfortable but its liberating to learn that i could come to west bengal at this time. …

One night at the Indo-Pakistan border

As Corona and the bats are the rhetoric of the year, i remember one night that came and crossed all expectations of mysticism and fear that will always go together, found me at the lonely town of Rajasthan with Pakistan. – The day was done by the noontime. After a whole day of chasing a manganiyar singer, I finished my interview with an old tribal song as i requested Veeru’s great grandfather who sat under a neem tree looking up at a bird. I left Veeru’s beautiful white wall, red lined home in a hurry. I was leaving for Tanot, barely even a town, 120 kilometres away from Jaisalmer towards Longewala- and visit Tanot temple situated right at the border of India and Pakistan. I rented a Suzuki bike for three days. and left for the wilderness. It was all fine till a point but after Ramgarh, the road transformed into something like riding a snake. A snake slithering across, passing through the dunes of the oldest Asian Desert, that has forgetton the horizon between the …

A hitchhike gone eternal

I could well be passing my worst night. I had missed my fastest express to home, and was barely left with enough money to buy tickets again. Evening was around, I decided to reach the highway and do what i had never done. I started asking passing by truck drivers for a lift. As time passed and no one stopped, uneasiness was creeping in. I hadn’t done anything like it before. But I kept telling myself that if nobody stops I will rest at a temple or the next dhaba i may find. After a considerable time suddenly a big truck passed and seemingly started slowing down. It must have stopped 100 meters ahead. I ran. It looked strange at first sight for such a big thing stopping, for me!! It was a sixteen-wheeler trolley. Empty. I got in. There was only one small, frail person, the driver sitting. He was lanky, and looked too young to be driving anything like this. Also he looked grim, bit sad and may be in shock. Apart from …

Mangla and her magical milk

Mangla’s milk has been the best thing to happen in this sea ashram. But today even before I could taste it, Logar brought Papaya for the first time and we prepared shake for every one. I closed the dhuni myself today when Maharaj ji retired after keeping the planets outside out of rat fear. He seemed tired. We called different goddesses around sunset and went outside the premises along the foothills to buy rabbits for Gayatri. Later when we came back, Manavendra was sitting on his horse called gambler over the Thorn hill. For the night we were invited to a home where several varieties of food was being prepared. When we reached, a woman whose face I forgot as soon I met her as i kept looking only at her nose pin. She told me my caste, and while drinking the papaya shake left from the morning, asked me to slow down. Me? When i woke up in the night even though i didn’t have to, a man was seen going away from me …

In the land of Snakes

Twenty six days ago and three hundred fifty kilometers north I Moon I reached Aldona late in the night. It was Purnima, the full moon of Holi. Vishwan was away, gone to a border village, tsar. A place somewhere in the middle of the jungle at the border of Goa and Maharashtra. But I had no idea of that then, I was waiting. I sat downstairs at the bar. Grandmother was pouring feny to a local. She told me about Vishwan smoking too much. The room was lit with two cyan bulbs. He arrived. We kept my backpack at his place. He lit his cigarette. We sat. His hair had grown and white; beard thickened and black. Soon, we were off, feeling the dense wind of the leaving winter, scooting through the western ghats in the night going towards the moon. We entered the fair. Vishwan parked the vehicle somewhere outside and we started walking away from the lights towards the jungle. It was late. But it wasn’t dark. The night seemed to have dissolved with …

A Cactus in the Desert

  Photograph of a lost memory in flaring heat of Jaisalmer –  It is hot in Barmer. It is so hot that my lower portion feels different and apart from my head. My right cheek has swelled. Ulcers recognized heat. I am staying with amma here, a Bhopa. Last night we decided to attend Pabu ki phad. Happens rarely now. A local god. Reincarnation of Laksman. Bhopas sing and dance for Pabu. For two nights Bhopas from all across the region have come to sing and dance reciting Pabu’s story. Anada Ram was the most prolific Ravanhatta musician, who died 33 years ago. His wife, Amma vowed to never sing after that day. I am here to document her son. He never learnt Ravanhatta. He wanted to be a dancer. I have known him for eight months now. There were many other dancers from the community who had come yesterday. Veer was going to show me one of his acts dancing on the mirror glass with fire in his mouth. He does not dance in …