Monthly Archives: April 2017

Talespin’17 – Results

– Coordinators, ELS

Hello folks. Talespin, our annual spring creative writing competition, was held last month, and here we are with the results. The winners got books as prizes. The topics for the event can be found here.

Winners:

  1. Promit Chakroborty
  2. Nikhil Nayak

Their entries, as well as those of the other participants, will be posted soon. So keep watching this space for some delightful reads!

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Filed under Coordinator's Desk, Creative Writing Competition

Summer Sweat

– Warren Peace

It is a hot day and dry winds have discovered a small room and its dilapidating window.

I am resting on a mattress which has jute fibres protruding, erect to annihilate. I cannot tell if ants are devouring me or the mattress is revolting.

I see that all is fine. I am distracted, so bundles of time are missing. I cannot get this time back. I can call media warlords who sell my time to thrive but it would be futile. I am a victim but I am a perpetrator as well. And what is it, this time? There is a universal clock and another one which runs on my strong pulse. My time can be as I like but finite. My only purpose is to live without distractions. For how long, it is a matter of taste.

Right of the solitary window, I find myself sitting on a chair that wobbles and squeaks every time I shift my weight. The chair belongs to a table, which is perpetually burdened with rubbish.

We look at each other and the wind dies down. Our eyes glitter and we smile because we are in love. I sometimes doubt if she is real. She seems perfect but she looks just like me.

There are other rooms as well and maybe there are people living in them. But we are not sure. If they enter our room, they will see me, not her. But she is there, still sitting in that garrulous chair and oblivious of everyone but me. I will not move or answer. I have nothing to do with them and I’d like it to stay that way.  Everything, no matter how miserable, should remain as it is. There is no need to imitate.

I have decided not to get an old bedsheet to cover myself, from the drawer. I can ask her but she cannot hear me, cannot be persuaded. My menacing cadence is only for me to hear. Every inch of my skin is irritated but I am used to stifling afternoons.

She keeps her head down to let others of her reality know that she is preoccupied. She stays away from inappropriate men and women.

Like me, she doesn’t want to be guilty of anything. Incrimination is my fear of fears. I am understandably busy protecting myself. I see no possibilities other than avoiding every possibility.

I have infinite capacity for regret. She doesn’t anymore, her regrets never survive. Maybe I should be like her.

Every evening, she leaves the room to go for a walk and frowns at every crossroad and by-pass. Maybe that’s the only time she ever lets herself make mistakes.

We often go out for dinner and seemingly eat alone. The outside world tempts me to participate, I am also to contribute to it.

I also deplore inactivity and her viciousness. But she works so I don’t need to. There is another universe where I work hard and I am happy. Why repeat the same here?

I mostly leave early and let her find her way home. Even though she has lived here for many years, intermittently taking a compulsory holiday, she doesn’t know the roads well. She has no memory, no malicious desires except to do what will add to her harmony.

She wasn’t always like this. There was a time when she cried because of the promise of happiness. I can’t tell what has happened.

 

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Filed under Creative Writing Competition, Prose

The Breeze

– Jyotsha Kumar

Laying on bed, trying to sleep when the night’s silence was broken by thunder followed by the pounding of rain. It was really loud. This was the first real change in weather in a long time. For almost a month all that I was experiencing was the dull winter. The sun always hidden behind the clouds, the clouds not visible through the fog in the first place. No change at all. Really boring to be honest. The torrential downpour not exactly pleasant was a welcome change.

Is this about desiring different things even if they are bad just to escape the ordinary uninspiring life?

I don’t like rain. I hate it. It makes everything wet and dirty. And that is exactly how it was the next day. Muddy puddles everywhere. The weather was still gloomy, clouds still jealously hiding the sun behind its veil. But as the hour hand reached 12, it was as though mother nature itself was revived. The clouds had finally let go. Rays of light were bouncing off everything and it looked beautiful! God finally discarded his anger for colors and saturation.

Is this about the metaphorical dawn that will always come after a night? About how bad things don’t last forever?

The amazing feeling of the sun blessing earth with its warmth was accentuated by the gentle breeze. The static dull scenery now was vibrant and expressive.

Is this about how we should take time to appreciate nature, the beauty in every small and big thing around us?

I went up to the roof. The wind was cool, the sun was warm. Perfectly pleasant. I even took a video of the trees dancing, the rustling of leaves rather calming. My mind was clearing. Emptiness was filling my mind. Few minutes later the regular thoughts, worries, doubt, concern, fear, comes trickling back one problem at a time.

Is this about how we can never truly escape the inevitability of life’s bothers?

It is about one and all of the above. The working of the mind being an unresolved mystery. The ability to change the very state of being by simply having a different perspective. The ability to find different meanings in even the smallest nuance. Most importantly the way it can exaggerate the simplest things for better or worse. If a simple breeze can be amplified as such then what it can do with sorrow, regret and anguish is truly frightening…

 

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Filed under Prose

Happiness, conquered! – Sweet Summer Sweat

– Nature’s Natural

Passed three hours of the merry rain,
Scaled four miles of the woods’ embrace;
I neither winced nor shrugged at the helm,
Victor, I, rose in the hills’ praise.

The green leaves hummed in the land’s tune,
The moonlight shimmered in its bliss;
But the banal chirp in the wind,
Returned me to the old abyss.

From heavens above it ushered,
For someone’s prayers had been heard;
Twinkling speckles veiled the Magi,
Before me was glee, in the mud.

Long ago, I had made a choice,
The pursuit of it, to pursue
Love and joy in my mundane life;
For paths to happiness it knew.

Scraped the brown off the glistening box,
Cleansed with my dripping merriment;
An angelic lever turned left,
My gaping mouth, over I bent.

No rains, no woods; No waves, No hills
Shadowed the poet on his way;
Returned he to his new heaven,
Down in the dust his prized gift lay.

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Filed under Creative Writing Competition, Poetry

Half-chub poems

– Anonymous

Je te veux

(my times with)
you remind me
of listening to Satie
and watching the sun go down;
clear, alluring, expressive notes
separated by long, achingly ponderous lulls,
silhouetted against the dying of the heavens.
and, if you will permit me
the indelicacies of one
so boisterously drunk on you
and the violent, naive joy
in being serendipitously alive
that the notes will induce,
I will confess that
I, disliking vulgar crescendos
and bombastic codas,
sometimes wonder if you too will
slowly and gently fade away from my life;
one soft note shyly vanishing into
the deepening hues of the sky
before the next, softer note can take its place,
half-remembered, half-forgotten,
until the last note lingers on in the stillness that follows,
shimmering, translucent, ephemeral,
it arrives far too early and
leaves behind far too much yearning.
and yet, it does far more justice to you,
i should hope,
than these hollow adjectives
and unnecessary nouns of mine
ever can.

Harassment (this constitutes it)

I once met this girl
who smelled like stale cigarettes
and fresh coffee
and every third person in the bus
she had, no doubt, ridden that morning,
all rolled into one.
I was new to the city
and had gotten caught in the rains,
and stood before her in the
metro station,
melting into puddles,
and she asks me, in broken Bengali-Hindi,
(Bhindi if you will)
if it really was raining that hard outside,
adding a wink.
I, not understanding the
subtleties of that
cunning linguistic gesture,
said no, it really was,
which seemed to fuddle her somewhat,
but she soon began a merry, loitering chat,
the kind only total strangers seem to have,
about her college, and her guitar-playing on
lonely moonlit nights, and her shady side-business in
gold that kept her in alcohol through the year,
you know, saccharine slop like that, and
though I was listening,
half-listening,
a half-dozing bull in the shade of a hot summer’s day,
and my eyes wandered like the flies bothered by its tail;
flitting from
head to shoulders to
extra-thick slippers to
her jeans, and peeping out,
peeping, winking, giggling,
from under her jeans,
were panties pink.

Not a sleazy black or red;
not the lacy, light pink of air-headed Disney princesses;
not the flustered hot pink of an extended adolescence;
just cotton pink;
practical, pragmatic pink;
the pink of bougainvilleas, inexpensive and easy to maintain;
the pink of two girls in class, mutually uncomfortable in English;
the pink of blushing village brides, applied with unsure, loving deliberation;
the pink of a winter sunset on a crowded beach; sweaty, breathing pink;
the pink that seems to consume all of time, and all of my thoughts;
that sort of pink.
Fun yet reasonable; impishly rebellious; wistful, sighing pink.
And though I would like to say I kept my eyes
where they were supposed to be,
that would be a little unfair to the hoary, lecherous mongrel that
snarls and dreams as it frolics on its back in the grass of the mind, quivering in pleasure, and…
but you get that, right?
Of course you do.

So then I resume talking, dripping, slurring,
using the word ‘pink’ a little too often and emphatically,
when her train arrives and she asks me
if I was heading to the memorial,
and I realize
I’ve been waiting on the wrong side all this time,
quite to my surprise and dawning sorrow,
and must bid those panties,
those petulant, passionate, pink panties,
a tear-brimming farewell, and she doesn’t
notice or mind too much,
and we part-
familiar stranger and strange familiar.
Fare thee well, pink cottons,
may you flutter ever-free.

And everything nice

She told me
that it was absurd that
she lived in a world where
she could basically subsist on sugar,
and have just mango shakes and ice cream
for dinner,
lunch,
and whenever else she liked,
and thick, syrupy candy,
before and after every class,
and misri every night, at her desk where
she sat and tried not to get distracted too often,
and bitter, dark chocolate
on special (but not rare) occasions,
just sugar, thickening her blood
and turning her hair brown.
It was absurd, she said,
that all that sugar was
placed like that
in brightly lit fridges,
and marketed and packaged to
look so good in those brightly lit fridges,
if we weren’t supposed to have any of it.
It was absurd, she said,
to be expected to resist
the steady advance of sugar,
rising over the
centuries and
untrustworthy economies.
(“and pirates’ rum is made from the same stuff too! See?”)
It was absurd, she said,
to ever deny all that sugar
to a middle generation like us
stuck in meaningless jobs,
living enchained by our own wills;
just semi-solid sugary blobs
of squandered possibilities,
destined to have no impact
whatsoever.
And it was absurd, she said,
of me not to have assumed
she’d been doing so already,
in an exercise of free will,
and for a while now, too.
(“You said I was a sweet little girl, didn’t you?”)

That night,
I saw a painted dragonfly,
white and yellow,
being carried away by
crimson ants
in oozing chunks
on the stained bathroom tiles.
I stood, mind numbed,
(by the sugar?)
and watched them all through
their drawing and quartering,
until there was
nothing left
of the silver-winged albino
apex predator
but another suspicious dark
stain on the floor.

She had been
standing on the lawn
in front of my room
when it happened,
grinding her teeth
in silent, righteous fury
because I, quite obviously, hadn’t
been listening to her.
As she ground them and
debated kicking me in the toes,
they suddenly splintered
into paper-thin shards
of sugar,
white dust clogging
her throat,
and as I watched,
her lips and eyes and hair and legs and fingernails
crystallised into sandpapery-white
sugar, and the more delicate parts
crumbled like old glassware.
We smelled her,
all of us around,
and tasted her, when she came
apart; her face frozen in inward terror,
eyes bulging;
she cracked up the middle,
and collapsed into
windblown white piles of powder
and large, sticky, yellow-white lumps.

I haven’t been able to have
anything sweet ever since.
maybe it was the dragonfly,
maybe it was the way
the mess and canteen owners
exchanged meaningful glances
on seeing it happen,
(did you have it with your coffee this morning?)
but I just couldn’t stomach the
thought anymore,
and had to quit the stuff, cold turkey,
and that’s the most absurd thing of them all!

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Filed under Humor, Poetry

A Thirsty Cloud – Sweet Summer Sweat

– Nature’s Natural

Lurking behind the veil of wisdom,
Thinning himself into the damp air,
Floats high above the hills’ teeth,
A thirsty cloud.

The piercing gaze of the land
And the unsaid solemn prayers,
Rises with the heat of the below,
Relinquishing his tears.

The sun’s scythe shears at his back,
Droops down he in fatigue;
Riding alone on the cool breeze,
He smiles his way through.

It’s the shade not what they care,
His sight meets with sneers.
Thus, lurks behind the veil of wisdom,
A thirsty cloud.

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Filed under Creative Writing Competition, Poetry

Sophisticated Cruelty

– Jyotsha Kumar

Sophisticated cruelty
Brandished vanity
Nightmares now my true reality.
Preposterous, this proposition
Oh! What a bleak view this is, a tarnished utopia
Another soul devoured, what blasphemy!
Such blighted existence, a withering travesty
Nightmares now my true reality.
Hands joined, prayers of contrition
Kneeling for forgiveness, freedom from this dystopia
Hiding behind miles of scarred skin, still an inch from insanity
An inconsequential disposition, just a broken hearts rhapsody
Nightmares are now my true reality.

 

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Filed under Poetry