MIRRORED by Anirban Nanda


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The icy cold air of the reading room dried every sweat, tension and drenched me with relaxation and calmness. Tugging my laptop and a thin paperback copy under my right underarm I settled in a corner chair. I kept the laptop charger cable and water-bottle from my other hand on the polished yellow table. A curve-edged four-seater table, with comfortable chairs and racks full of magazines and books just beside to read.

Another laptop; a red Sony, open and gaping at me, and a spiraled copy were already resting on the table opposite to my chair. I desired a lonesome corner where I could scribble down something or read the unfinished novel I had been reading for few days and so I sought to seek any other more private seat. But unfortunately to my dismay, all the other seats were either occupied or even though few seats were empty, they didn’t have any plug-point facility nearby where I could connect my laptop charger. Hence, with no other option left, I sat down on the available seat.

The spiraled copy was on the very surface I had to rest my laptop. The other person must have kept it there unintentionally. I, suppressing the urge to see the contents inside, placed the copy beside the red laptop. Finally, being able to settle down successfully, I turned on my computer and while it was taking time to bring on lock-screen, I gazed out of the window beside. Before having lunch a few hours back, sun was burning and boiling everyone, making it impossible to walk outside even with an umbrella, but at that time, the weather became all cloudy and cold. Cold? Maybe the air-conditioned room had clouded my perception of world outside. It must be sulking hot outside, only to torment people more with sweat and restlessness. The welcome tone from my laptop brought me back to reality, a dull noisy din. When I had bought the laptop, the same sound was welcoming and melodious. I typed the password and quickly took a mental note about what I was to do that day. I made a list:

  1. Read A Fine Balance- chapter 3
  2. Watch the online lecture on digital electronics
  3. Start writing the technical paper(abstract and introduction)

As the laptop was ready for work, I instinctively opened the browser and habitually clicked on the facebook tab. I reminded myself: Didn’t have any plan to open facebook. So, I closed the browser taking a look at notifications and opened A Fine Balance; Chapter 3.

Stepping back, she forced a laugh too. “I don’t have anything. That’s why I came here in the night, for the sake of my child.”

“You have got something.” He put out his hand and squeezed her left breast. She struck his hand away. “I only have to shout once,” he warned, and slipped his hand inside her blouse. She shuddered at the touch, doing nothing this time.

Just then the owner of the red laptop arrived, holding a coffee cup in one hand and purse in other. She slowly blew the hot coffee from her curled lips and took a sip. Feeling uneasy, I closed the book and opened my copy. Why feeling uneasy? I scolded myself and then again opened the book.

He led her cringing to the cot and ripped open her top three buttons. She crossed her arms in front. He pulled them down and buried his mouth in her breasts, laughing softly as she tried to squirm away. “I gave you so many oranges. You won’t even let me taste your sweet mangoes?”

With that, I decided to close the book and as I faced up, I blushed. The girl was at me and she was late by one millisecond to remove her eyes back to her laptop. I felt uneasy to read the book in front of her and forcefully coughed to feel more comfortable. Perhaps it was the book that made me look odd? Who would read a fiction in a technological institute library where everyone was busy swallowing knowledge? Or perhaps my uneasiness was clear from my face? Or maybe…just maybe…  nah, couldn’t be.

Then I continued reading the book, feeling delight in every sentence. In between certain intervals, the girl was sneezing, each time covering her face with kerchief and blurting out ‘Sorry’. Why sorry? It’s perfectly natural to sneeze if someone catches cold. Vermillion-nail-polished fingers sparkled with mica was tapping on the keyboard as she was looking on her laptop screen intently. I knew it. So it was a different kind of staring then! The kind of staring when people find something or someone weird.

Though my face was sticking on my laptop I could feel occasional gazes at me. I desperately wanted to go the washroom and take a peek at my face. Is there something wrong with my face?

Getting courage from her repeated gazes, I also looked at her several times, to take revenge or to explore further why she was staring.

A faint smile was always lingering on her face as she typed. Must be her boyfriend. She should not stare at me then. Gazes are dangerous, it have the power to make heroes, even the strongest ones, fall. And I was mere a mortal geek who would jump in fright to confront a harmless lizard. Her overall round face with aptly placed eyes showed how focused she was on her chatting.

Tempted by so many emotions, I thought to write something. So, I instantly opened word-editor in my laptop and started typing whatever was coming into my mind. I had to steal glances of her several times to get a better idea of her face, because I was writing about her.

I was so engrossed in writing that I couldn’t recognize when my bladder was full and it couldn’t hold anymore. I ran to the washroom, and peed. My eyes closed themselves automatically in pleasure as my urachus was relieved of the pressure it was bearing. A faint numbness weakened my legs as I was at the end of my lengthy urination.

I returned to my table and found her gone again leaving the laptop. I could not help but peek at the screen. I was desperate to know why she was staring at me. As I looked closer, I saw a word document with nearly thousand words typed. I was dumbfounded to read the first few lines.

Today, as I’ve come back from my lunch, I see a boy reading ‘A Fine Balance’ just opposite to my chair. I have been reading that book too since few days. Such co-incidence is attention-pulling. He seems a bookish boy, a literary bookish type, not a technology freak.

My heart skipped a beat as I read those lines. It was impossible. I sat down on my chair wondering about the bizarreness of the things that was happening. She returned pasting her phone on her ear and talking agitatedly. I had prepared myself to introduce and talk to her but she hastily piled her belongings and left, still shouting at the phone.


©Anirban Nanda

(Partly based on true events)

Lines in the first two blockqoutes are taken from Chapter 3 of A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.

Thank you for reading, do leave your comments.

“How to write a fiction and so on…” kind of posts are never actually helpful.


With some important edit, this post is now more to the point and enriched with brevity. A much needed reblog.

ALPHABET SPEAKS

You ask whether your verses are good. You ask me that. You have asked others, before. You send them to magazines. You compare them with other poems, and you worry when certain editors turn your efforts down. Now (since you have allowed me to offer you advice) let me ask you to give up all that. You are looking to the outside, and that above all you should not be doing now. Nobody can advise you and help you, nobody. There is only one way. Go into yourself. Examine the reason that bids you to write; check whether it reaches its roots into the deepest region of your heart, admit to yourself whether you would die if it should be denied you to write. This above all: ask yourself in your night’s quietest hour: must I write? Dig down into yourself for a deep answer. And if it should be…

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Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko … Bittersweet [Book Experience]


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Few day ago, I threw this book after reading 50 pages saying:

This book is very non-linear and full of avant-garde techniques which is pretty hard to grasp for a first time reader of a post-modern novel.

silko 3(Block quoting my own words felt good. :P)

In one word; I gave up. Then I couldn’t move to my next book leaving this book half eaten. So I have read it anyway and I am here writing this Book Experience.

Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko is a post-modern, magic realistic and speculative fiction. It has taken 2 weeks for me to complete this book. Two weeks! And that too for 197 pages.

First of all, this is one of the most difficult books I have read, and the author has done it intentionally.

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Shmoop has given it 8 out of 10 in terms of difficulty.

The reason would be that she wants the reader to feel confused and dizzy like her protagonist felt in the beginning. Tayo, our protagonist was a half breed (a cross between white American and native American) and he went to war. He had lost his brother at war and right from the war he felt post traumatic disorder by visualizing his uncle Josiah while killing a Japanese soldier. After returning from war, he felt terrible, he was dreaming always and vomiting all the time. His belly was one hell of a thing; every time something happened, his belly would react in some way or other.

He shivered because all the facts, all the reasons made no difference anymore; he could hear Rocky’s words, and he could follow the logic of what Rocky said, but he could not feel anything except a swelling in his belly, a great swollen grief that was pushing into his throat.

OR

“He didn’t want them to know how sick he had been, how all night he had leaned against the metal wall in the men’s room, feeling the layers of muscle in his belly growing thinner, until the heaving was finally a ripple and then a quiver.”

OR

“The smell of snow had a cold damp edge, and a clarity that summer rain never had. The scent touched him deep behind his belly, and he could feel the old anticipation stirring as it had when he was a child waiting for the first snowflakes to fall.”

You’ll find umpteen numbers of ‘tummy updates’ throughout the novel.

This book is mostly based on folklore and ancient unscientific ceremonies and their contextual impact on modern era. She’s written this book without any specific chapter divisions and jumped back and forth through time within passages. Also, she changes perspective without giving any warning. The whole book is written in flowery prose, poetry like. Even in between long pages of difficult prose, you’ll find poems and hymns. Sometimes a complete side story is told in form of poems.

Up North

around Reedleaf Town

there was this Ck’o’yo magician

they called Kaup’a’ta or the Gambler.

He was tall

and he had a handsome face

but he always wore spruce greens around his head, over his eyes.

He dressed in the finest white buckskins

his moccasins were perfectly sewn.

He had strings of sky blue turquoise

strings of red coral in his ears.

In all ways

the Gambler was very good to look at.

His house was high

in the peaks of the Zuni mountains

and he waited for people to wander

up to his place.

He kept the gambling sticks all stacked up

ready for them.

… and so on.

These are a delight to read and in some places she has used magic realism with such expertise that it never felt she was one of the preliminary magic realist of our time. Like when Night Swan killed her lover (he dies due to trampling of horses in his stable) by dancing in her apartment. And there is always a mysterious and obscure environment throughout the novel. Author tries to describe every minimum and negligible detail and cleverly hides important plot points in between them. That’s why I had to go back and find the phrases that I have missed. Unnecessary stress on minor details has ruined the fun while reading this book.

He continued north, looking to the yellows and the orange of the sandrock cliffs ahead, and to the narrow sandrock canyons that cut deep into the mesa, exposing the springs. He was wondering about the speckled cattle, whether they had pushed their way through the fence and were halfway to Mexico by now. They had been so difficult to control in the beginning; they had taken so much from Josiah.He left the road and took a trail that cut directly to the cliffs, winding up the chalky gray hill where the mesa plateau ended in crumbling shale above the red clay flats. The sun felt good; he could smell the juniper and piñon still damp from the rain. The wind carried a wild honey smell from meadows of beeweed. The trail dipped into a shallow wash. The sand was washed pale and smooth by rainwater and wind.

But in some places the beauty of the language is so good that I can’t help but admire the writer’s ability to create magic out of words.

They walked close together, arms around each other’s waist, pulling each other close. A mourning dove called from the tall grass along the wash, and below the cliffs the speckled cattle were grazing. Every step formed another word, thick like yellow pitch oozing from a broken piñon limb, words pressing inside his chest until it hurt: don’t leave me. But he sucked air through clenched teeth and breathed hard, trapping those words inside. She stopped by a juniper tree at the edge of the road and set her bundle on the ground.

OR

Before dawn, southeast of the village, the bells would announce their approach, the sound shimmering across the sand hills, followed by the clacking of turtle-shell rattles—all these sounds gathering with the dawn. Coming closer to the river, faintly at first, faint as the pale yellow light emerging across the southeast horizon, the sounds gathered intensity from the swelling colors of dawn. And at the moment the sun came over the edge of the horizon, they suddenly appeared on the riverbank, the Ka’t’sina approaching the river crossing.

The author, in most places, refers to something in such subtle way that it’ll be treat for you if you can figure out what she’s trying to say.

“I have a sister who lives way down that way. She’s married to a Navajo from Red Lake.” She pointed south, in the direction she was looking. “Another lives near Flagstaff. My brother’s in Jemez.” She stopped suddenly and laughed. “You know what they say about the Montaños.” The tone of her voice said that of course he knew what the people said about her family, but Tayo couldn’t remember hearing of that family.

“Up here, we don’t have to worry about those things.” She was right. They would leave the questions of lineage, clan, and family name to the people in the village, to someone like Auntie who had to know everything about anyone.

But in several places the dialogues are so vague that you can’t understand anything.

Tayo had been drowsing in the sun with his back against the cliff rock; he sat up stiffly and looked at her.

“In case of what?” His heartbeat was fast and unsteady. Her eyes had distance in them; when he looked at her he saw miles spreading into canyons and hills. She knelt down beside him, and he saw tears.

“Out there,” she whispered, “things are always moving, always shifting. I hear them sometimes at night.”

All I can say now is that, after finishing this book, I’ve felt relieved, not jubilant. I’ve felt that finally I have completed a difficult book which has every quality to become a masterpiece. I agree that it definitely is a masterpiece but I also admit that maybe I’ll not touch this book again. I just can’t go though the trauma it has induced in me again.

Read all my book experiences here.

GREEN BALL


GREEN BALL

by Anirban Nanda

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Rahul has the chance to prove his worth today. He’s been waiting for a long time for this opportunity. Ujjal has got out too early today and the opponent has scored 84 in six overs. This is it. It’s now or never. Two overs to go and 24 runs is required for victory. Rahul stands up beside the makeshift boundary formed by tentative connection points between pairs of shoes and broken bricks. Ujjal comes back trotting and swinging his bat with frustration. He shouldn’t have played that square cut too early, which has caused the cambis ball to get height and loft over the boundary. A six in short-cricket is as good as a wicket. He hands over the butter-scotch colored bat to Rahul; their most preferred bat in the whole team. Actually, they do not have many choices─ only Ujjal and Bublu have bats. Rahul marches through the 20 feet diameter ground with pride, looking around to get a glimpse of field distribution and also give his fellow teammates some hope. Rahul is always the last person during the team selection because he never has scored more than 10 runs and taking a wicket is too far-fetched for him. Once, a confident captain gave him an over despite everyone’s disapproval, and he was rewarded with 25 runs; the highest run taken in an over with six fours in all the six balls and one wide. Rahul stands straight in front of the wicket and taps the bat multiple times to smooth any probable uneven surface. It’s just for show. Everyone knows he cannot survive more than 3 balls.

He positions himself to face the first ball; legs apart and bat in between and forefinger of his right hand over the joint of handle. The Britannia sign has worn off like a crescent moon. He looks up at the bowler; the green ball is zooming towards him, twirling and spinning. He transfers his weight to his front foot and swings his bat in a circular curl. The ball bounces off the tow of the bat and sprints through the boundary. He stands there for a second, with his left leg floating in air. The ground remains silent for few seconds. And then everyone sitting cross-legged at the boundary jumps in shouts and cheers. The happiest moment for Rahul. He comes back to the crease, feeling more confident. The bowler, who has now disgraced his team by getting hit by someone like Rahul, throws the next ball with ample velocity. No sooner has the ball dropped a foot away from his leg than Rahul finds the ball in wicket-keeper’s hand. He takes a single in the next ball.

Thus, staying at non-striker end, he survives one over and three balls. That is kind of a record for him. Never has he stayed this long in crease. Ten runs to get in just three balls. He has to hit now, he has given too much hope to his team. Now he cannot back out. This time, the bowler flings the ball targeting the gap in between his leg and bat; the yorker. Rahul somehow manages to move his bat an inch causing the ball to kiss the edge of the bat and roll behind the stumps. Another boundary. Everyone whooped and danced with excitement. The next ball is a dot. Six is needed in one ball, which is impossible in short cricket. Everyone has sat down with hopeless faces. The last ball. Rahul has to hit, for the sake of honor. The ball is thrown so fast that it whizzes past his ear whispering something. The match is lost. Face down, he leaves the bat and walks out to join the team waiting with condemning eyes.

NO BALL! The umpire has declared. It’s an over-bounce. Rahul brightens. Five runs to win and four to draw. He still has a chance. At least he can give them an honorary tie, if not a victory. He runs to the crease, and lifts the bat in excitement. The bowler, worried to see the match slipping out of his hands, holds the ball tightly. It will be a yorker. He taps his bat and concentrates on the green ball. His entire world now is concentrated on that ball. He can’t hear anything, the shouting of the team mates or the swearing of the wicket keeper. The ball is released. It is becoming bigger and bigger with every second, swirling slowly. He blinks and then closes his eyes while swinging his bat with full vigor. The ball hits the sweet spot and runs towards long-off, jouncing and ricocheting on the uneven ground. He sighs in relief. He has become the center of attention as everyone comes down to congratulate him by patting his back. He doesn’t care then if the match has been won.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~THE END~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

©ANIRBAN NANDA

A Lagaan to be Paid by Anirban Nanda (Inspired from the movie Lagaan)


A Lagaan to be Paid
by

Anirban Nanda

Inspired from the epic Bollywood movie Lagaan

Note: Due to copyright issue, character names are changed. However, if the reader has seen the movie he will easily be able to relate to the characters.


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The naked children remind me of them ─ splashing water over each other, closing their eyes tight when the droplets try to invade into their eyes, jouncing like mad and laughing like the morning coo of careless birds. Thin red ribbons wrapped around their waist which have rather beautified their naked bodies than symbolizing tradition or superstition. How I have missed this country! This mad rush, this underlying harmony in total pandemonium; this is what I love most about India.

It had been fourteen years, and Beth was returning from fourteen years of self-imposed exile. But there were differences, differences between the epic exile of Sita in Ramayan and this. There Sita was with her love; she loved and was loved back. Mortal lives, most of the time, don’t follow epics.

I am Beth and India is like home to me. But things have changed. I can’t see people travelling in bullock carts or handcarts with an umbrella-holding-servant now. Roads are reigned by roars and honks of motor cars. Still, need a lot to travel; to Champaner. It’s been eons that I’ve seen him. What other reason do I need to come back here? How would he be now, how many children has he fathered? Wonder if he remembers me now. No, don’t think so.

Beth travelled for hours; her eyes were distant, lost in lovely thoughts. How he always mispronounced her name and well, she was not so good too. Sometimes Jagat becomes Jaghaat or Jaghaah. Smirked and she’s realized her co-passengers were becoming curious. She wanted to travel in local train, where she would be able to get closer to Indians, their earthly scent and oddly simple thinking. But a British Mem was not allowed to do that. After all, a ruler couldn’t be allowed to sit with his natives, who were not as simple and tolerating as was in 1893. Sabotages, murders, highly united groups with complicated plans had shaken the entire British Empire. Though Bengal was in lead of all these extremist activities, British took action for India as a whole. But as a ruler they were too clever, and thus they divided Bengal into two expecting a subjugation of uprising. That decision backfired; causing tumult and more extreme rendezvous by rebellious groups. Somewhere, an eighteen years eight months old boy had happily accepted death sentence for his involvement in a plan to assassinate some magistrate. He failed in that mission bombing mistakenly his wife and daughter instead. It was an exemplary incident that ignited more violence and unrest. It was 1908 and previous hatred and abhorrence of the British to natives had transformed into fear and vengeance.

My friends in England rejected me as soon they have come to know that I am in love with him. Hearing his name from my mouth, their face contorted; as though some filthy stinky food had been stuffed into their mouths. I can’t believe I’ve called them friends since my childhood. But forget that past. I am here now, and I am happy that I’ve left England for good.

She reached her residence, the mansion where she once lived and how merrily she had lived! She entered her room and closed the doors. In balcony, she breathed to her lung’s content. That smell, it was different; so different from England. A heavy, moist affection engulfed her, mixed feelings of pain and nostalgia overflowed in her heart and rolled down from her eyes. She hugged the sturdy pillar in balcony, closed her eyes; humming a tune that was very close to her heart.

Hm..hm..hm.hmm.la.la. What a song! Lila is so good at making songs out of nowhere. She is perfect for him. I had to leave. After they won the cricket match in 1893, I left and reached my home in England and no sooner had I entered England than I felt a void inside me. It was maddeningly rueful; I couldn’t concentrate on anything. Friends came; they insisted me to go to plays, concerts and all. But the only thing I liked was cricket and India. Mother and Father even considered consulting a psychiatrist, for they thought I was ‘infected’ with black vices of India. With constant state of depression and indifference I had to become a vagabond. I also could have chosen to kill myself. That would have been far easy and much quicker. Sadly, I wasn’t brave enough to do that.

The first thing that came into Beth’s mind when she thought of leaving her home was: she must visit India. People warned her, advised her to take a better place; like Paris or Russia or Greece. But they were neither cursed with unquenched love nor blessed with enigmatic beauty of India. After taking rest and a little food she decided to take a tour of Champaner, the village that made her fall in love with India and him; her Jagat.

Though basically it was a hot and solemn place, but it had beauty. The cliffs, the wind, the moon and the village. Wearing a white frock dappled with polka dots, she reached the village with expectations to see few familiar and grateful faces again. But it was not in a state she had expected. The whole village was empty, with furnaces still burning, cottages open like some monsters with their mouths agape; waiting for her to enter in anyone of them, only to be swallowed. She lingered around inspecting some broken bamboo sticks or a burned saree or a bloodstained lower edge of thatching. It was noon and heat was already burning her skin. She stood there and looked around, as though if she concentrated better, she’d discover some pranks were being played at her; like all the villagers already knew she was to arrive and prepared a surprise to welcome her. Her tongue poked out a little and touched her lips, and it became parched to moist her lips. She gulped air in her throat and went further into the deeper much familiar realms ─the opening where Lila used to dance and villagers used to celebrate ─ and then she trotted further, towards Jagat’s cottage. With repeated look backs, she stepped forward, wiping her face. As she neared Jagat’s home she heard dull thuds. Heart skipped a beat. She hid herself in someone’s cowshed, with putrid smell of rotten cow dung burning her nostrils. She clutched a bamboo pole nearby, suddenly feeling cold and nauseous. Thuds came closer and louder when she tried to listen more carefully. She couldn’t help but peep to witness something horrible, something she didn’t want to see. It was blank, bright and beautiful as daylight. Nothing. Then a light tap on her shoulder. She shrieked. It was so deafeningly high pitched that even vultures that were circling atop her head flew a bit higher. The fact that the vultures were waiting for her couldn’t touch her mind; she was more petrified and attentive to turn back and see the one who blessed her with the mortifying touch.

Beth found her finger was not trembling, for she at once recognized the tapper was none but one poor British soldier who looked like was on patrolling duty from his outfit.

“Madam, what are you doing here? You must not roam around in these places. Not in daylight and definitely not in night.” The warning and advice both were incapable to reach her. She numbly followed the soldier as he led her to the mansion.

With further interrogation and investigation at the mansion, Beth came to know what happened at Champaner.

As British kept increasing tax even when rain decided not to be kind enough, people started pleading. But they ignored their plight and sent more men to collect the tax forcefully; and things got out of control. Villagers’ pleading first became complaint and then protest. They started capturing British men and vandalized their tents and offices. In return, British took stricter actions. They went with armoured army in the village and captured married women. They striped and tied them with their striped dresses on a platform, summoned their husbands and children to gather in front. Husbands screamed, children squealed to see their wives and mothers raped in turns with critical commentary on their wretched bodies.

Uproar emerged. Unsparing slaughter spilled blood on earth making grass flowers and catkins bloom red. Villagers crept inside offices and slit throats and stomachs inserting chaos in every pore of every living being there. In return, a more elaborate and ruthless action was called by British officers and the village was set to fire a few days before arrival of Beth. Only vultures to feed themselves on charred corpses and dogs to chew the blackened bones and then again to be eaten by vultures dwelled in Champaner.

Many escaped their morbid fate when the village was burning to ashes, with Jagat leading his fellow farmers and families to a desolate far corner of their village. They stayed all night up, moaning for their burned houses, sons, daughters and fathers and groaning holding on to their own burned flesh. The yellow gleam at horizon reminded them of their fuming heart, ticking like a time bomb only to burst any moment. They stayed hidden there for days without food or drink.

Hearts ablaze, survived farmers decided to plan something bigger, harsher. On the other part, in the mansion, Beth was aware of the recent developments in her much loved Champaner. In the night, bribing few servants and ignoring their warnings, she went to the hiding spot of the villagers.

He must be old and matured, wouldn’t be boyish like before. How will he react? Will he even recognize me? Will even they? Oh my goodness, what have happened to this place? Have they gone mad? How can one burn a whole village? Do people know outside of this state? Wouldn’t people become more rebellious from this heinous incident?

Mumbling on her own, she didn’t know when she had reached to the scattered group of bodies littered on sand. Had their chest not elevated a little, she would have thought they were corpses. Only few half-asleep persons registered that someone arrived. Suddenly, the whole clan woke up and started shouting, bringing out spheres and swords. They seized her and roped her near the fire. With this unexpected outburst, Jagat came and silenced all. The moment he saw Beth, he ordered to free her. They protested but at last freed her reluctantly. Few others recognized her too and felt ashamed to welcome her like this. But most of them doubted her to be a spy from British searching there hiding spot. Jagat asked her to sit and have some water and then apologized for not having anything else to offer.

“Don’t say sorry. I know your condition,” Beth replied looking around.

They discussed about everything, about how British showed their brutality, how they carried away protests and how their happy lives were ruined.

“You must return to your country. India is not safe anymore,” Jagat said. “We are happy to see you Memsa’ab, but you must go.”

Jagat stood up. Beth stood up too, with anxious and pleading eyes. Her heart was praying for him to understand her real reason for coming in India. But he went to sleep instructing his friends to show her the path to return. She followed him anyway and kept her hand on his shoulder.  He turned immediately and then hid his face ordering his men, “Take her to her home.” His eyes were shimmering with tears.

They almost forced her to return, and while talking with others, she came to know many things; like Jagat studied hard to get a better job at British administration but was refuted; like he was the best English speaking person in the village. And suddenly she remembered that her proposal in English many years ago was not obscure to him anymore.

He knows. He knows that I love him.

Then she realised he intentionally forced her to return. Her heart ached. Further enquiry revealed blacker truth of Jagat’s life. It was then she remembered Lila. She hadn’t seen her around. Lila was not burned in the recent incident, rather shortly after their marriage, she slipped and fell into the village well. It was noon and none was around to save her. She died with her first child inside her.

Jagat loved her and her only.

It was hard for her to accept the truth.

In her bedroom, Beth cried till her eyes swelled, roamed around muttering indistinguishable words and shouting to her servants without any reason. Miles apart, Jagat changed sides several times in his bed; heart pounding. Next day was crucial as they planned an attack on the British. Swords, spheres, kerosene-filled pouches and drums were ready to be used. He couldn’t sleep.

Next day arrived with more determined and calm Beth. She had decided about her life. She would return to England the next day after meeting Jagat for the last time.

The afternoon sun filled the sky with ochre and Beth went to meet Jagat. As she came closer, she saw a row of burning torch approaching towards her. She froze and was too dumbfounded to decide what to do next. She ran towards the mob shouting and screaming to stop. So excited those mob were that they jumped with thrill and joy to see their first prey, a white skinned lady. They ran with swords and before Jagat could know what the matter was, a sphere already pierced though beside Beth’s navel. Jagat shouted and threw them from Beth with abusive words and he clutched her within his arms. Her face remained agape struggling to breathe and tears were rolling down from her eyes. She gripped his hand for the first and last time.

THE END


© Anirban Nanda

This story has been published under Readomania’s ‘To be Continued…’ contest where it has received special mention by the jury. You can find the story in Readomania here.

The fox and the forest


One day, a fox found a shiny, glossy mane. It was so beautiful and attractive that it almost made him look like king lion. So, he wore that mane and went to the forest. Everyone immediately declared him as the king lion and started appreciating his knowledge and understanding and he got his fair share of admirers too. After several days, few started doubting his greatness and ability. Gradually, that few had increased to many. Then, even before everyone consider him as a legend, he declared himself a legendary king. This solidified everyone’s doubt and they rejected him as a fakologist. The fox couldn’t bear it and started questioning everyone’s sanity and knowledge. But then it was too late for the animals in the forest to consider him even as a king.

© Anirban Nanda