Guest Blog – Dalliance

When Kevin Morris was born, NASA put a man on the moon to celebrate. Hoping to cash in on his highly validated fame, I decided to beg him desperately ask him nicely to write a post for me. Read more of his lovely posts on New Author Online and his other guest posts for me here. And don’t forget to show your love. 

A big thank you to Anju for allowing me to twist her arm and publish a further guest post on her excellent blog. Thank you Anju!

My latest book, Dalliance is an eclectic collection of poetry and prose. Many of the pieces explore the connection between humans and the natural world which we are part of but from which we seem to shrink away ever more.

My poem, Autumn Rain was written while seated in my darkened lounge on an autumnal evening. The sound of a few solitary fireworks mingled with the noise of the rain falling on my garden below. The bleakness of the weather, together with the sound of fireworks fizzing, only to die away instilled in me a feeling of melancholy which led to the composition of Autumn Rain,

“Rain you are lonely, crying outside in the darkness.

A few sad fireworks fizzle and die.

Me, sitting alone on my sofa. Rain, is it you who are lonely, or I?”.

In other writings I examine the darkness which lurks within the human soul. In Dark Angel, for example we see man obsessed with a sinister presence or, perhaps the darkness lies within himself and he is merely projecting his darkest desires on to the mysterious “Dark Angel”,

“I love you because I can tell you my darkest secrets, things which

would make the strongest of men go blubbering in search of their

mummy. You judge me not,

my blackest fantasies are your deepest desires.

In the depths of night when all but the vampire sleeps we speak of

philosophy, of the darkness which lurks within the human heart. You

are always there

for me, my girl beautiful and serene. You laugh in time with my

laughter and weep as I weep. Never changing, fixed, immortal caught in

the brightness of

my screen you are my virtual girlfriend, a machine”.

By no means all of the collection is dark. In Early Morning Caller, for example my annoyance at being awoken in the early hours finds expression in the form of humour,

“Why do you ring me at halfpast two? Tell me, please do.

The sound of my mobile echoing around, dragging me from sleep profound.

I answered the phone, no one there, cursing inwardly I return to my lair.

Whoever you are, whatever you do, refrain from calling me at halfpast two!”.

You can find Dalliance; A Collection Of Poetry And Prose here.

Guest Blog – Women’s Shoes

Some people collect stamps. Jonathan Myers hoarded women’s shoes. Neatly labelled the footwear stood on shelves in a wardrobe dedicated to the purpose.

Natalie. He remembered the girl. She had stood at a little over 5 feet 3 inches in those black stilettos, her long black hair tied up in pigtails. Martha. A slim busty Blonde wearing blue slip-on gym shoes, which now stood, neatly labelled next to Natalie’s stilettos. Jenny. Plump Jenny with her greasy black hair. She had arrived smelling of stale cigarettes and alcohol. Her white trainers now stood next to Martha’s gym shoes.

A click downstairs caused Jonathan to jump. Only the freezer going through it’s cycle he realised. He should, he thought be used to the sound by now. Lucy. Well spoken Lucy. She hadn’t been your typical prostitute. Her cut glass accent, expensive black leather handbag and those hand-made leather shoes set Lucy apart from your average working girl. None the less there Lucy’s footwear stood, neatly categorised, next to slobby Jenny’s trainers. Jonathan smiled at the contrast between those 2 girls who, in life would have had nothing in common. Downstairs the freezer clicked once more. It was a monster of a refrigeration unit, the kind one usually finds in supermarkets. None the less it was essential for it prevented the huge slabs of meat from defrosting, a household model would have been unable to cope with the task.

The door bell rang. Jonathan closed the wardrobe door, exited the bedroom and descended the stairs.

He opened the door to a leggy blonde wearing a long coat which, despite it’s length failed to wholly conceal the girl’s thigh high leather boots and short skirt.

“Hi I’m Jess”, the girl said smiling at Jonathan.

“Come in Jess” Jonathan said.

“Wow that’s a bloody big freezer” Jess said as they passed the refrigeration unit in the hall, “What do you keep in there, bodies?”

“Of course” Jonathan said, with a smile.

When Kevin Morris was born, NASA put a man on the moon to celebrate. Hoping to cash in on his highly validated fame, I decided to beg him desperately ask him nicely to write a post for me. Read more of his lovely posts on New Author Online and his other guest posts for me here. And don’t forget to show your love. 

Flash Fiction

He sat on the back of my bike without so much as a blink. It was a death trap and we were going to ride into the jaws of death but he was so matter of fact about it. I started the bike and took one of the back streets, the un-tarred pieces of road that used to make me feel like a dirt biker. As I sped over the stones and sand, I heard a quiet “Bye Darling”

I turned back to see him smiling at our rescue dog and wave at her.

I think I fell in love him then.

I would like to quickly point you to this apology letter and hope to walk past like I haven’t been missing over the past few weeks. In other news, a random cat sat on my bike today and refused to let me go to office. She also put subliminal thoughts in my head about how I should write shorter stories so I’m not too overwhelmed about performing writing here during and after breaks. 

Edge of Desire

Amma told us at dinner that Agnes Aunty had started baking cake again. We didn’t have calendars in the house, just an old time piece on the shelf behind God’s photos and all our old hand-me-down text books. Agnes Aunty was our season clock. We knew it was summer when mother would bring home nimboo paani, we knew it was the start of a new year at school when we got her son’s too big uniforms. We wouldn’t complain – they were the only ‘new’ clothes we’d get all year and we wore it with pride. Who doesn’t want to look like a Saahib?

But the best season of all was when Maalkin would start baking cake. Every year we would hear of her meticulous preparation. She’d buy the raisins and currants in bulk and lay them out in the sun to dry. She’d then put them in a giant ceramic jar and pour in a bottle of daaru (something with the name that sounds like our god, Ram) and some cinnamon. These were luxuries we were excited about even if we never got to see it.

When Agnes Aunty was done soaking the raisins for 2 days, she’d start her painstaking work of art. The way Amma described it, it was like Agnes Aunty was an artist, a sculptor who slowly, painstakingly worked on every aspect of the cake till it looked like a winter wonderland. I don’t know what a wonderland is but I have seen posters of these firangis in their Santa hats and so much snow – I assume that’s what it means. Winter snowland. We never have snow in our shanties. In fact, when Amma was telling us the story, we were sitting shirtless, wiping off the sweat from our brows every two minutes.

I looked at my plate and smiled, the season of magic was upon us. Our cold gruel now had vegetables in them. Yesterday we had biryani. Agnes Aunty is always very generous this time of year. Amma says that maalkin is only cleaning the fridge and wants to get rid of the filth but I am thankful. My ever grumbling stomach is thrilled during this season and full. It’s such a good and underrated feeling.

Every year during Christmas we also get Rs.1 a day. It usually buys you 4 chocolates in the Kaaka shop. Sometimes if we help him take out the garbage, he gives us a chocolate free. Candy, the maalkin’s son calls it. Chocolate, apparently, isn’t as sweet and fruity flavoured. I stuck to ‘chocolate’ though. Ganesh and gang would tease me terribly if I used any other term.

My worn out purse had Rs. 10 now and I drifted off into fantasies once mother started complaining about her workload. I feel for her – to take care of us, she worked in 3 houses and cooked in 2. But it was the same story we heard every day for a year and so I thought it would be okay to dream for a day. She wouldn’t even notice, I told myself.

Agnes Aunty would assemble her cake, she made so many, and she would give it to her sons to go sell it to the bakeries. It was amazing to me how much money she made from Rs. 80 daaru and raisins. Every family wanted to some for themselves and then some more to gift to their friends and family. No one I knew practiced tradition but every year we got to secretly be part of it. The bakeries would take the cakes and cut off the edges and decorate the cake anew with an old man in a red suit, sometimes a tree and sometimes something that looked like snow and silver balls.

Rich-Plum-Cake

Now, I didn’t care about what the cake looked like. No one I knew did. We cared about the edges of the cake that were cut off. Some were burnt, some were apparently too dry, as if there was such a thing. Every year I thank god for our smriti because none of us like to waste anything. Not even the rich bakery bhaiyas. In fact, they cut the edges into nice square chunks and would wrap it up in plastic and sell it to smaller bakeries closer to our homes. Rs. 10 for a big pack of melt in your mouth, sweet and rich cake edges. And just after Amma leaves for work tomorrow, I know where I would go.

“Wipe your mouth, you’re drooling like a dog again” said Amma. I didn’t even lose my temper this time.

It was, finally, Christmas.

_______________________

Based on a colleague’s personal experience

The 100% Perfect Person

30 Day Writing Challenge

This weekend I was wrapped up in a cloud and a book – The Elephant Vanishes and there was one story that transported me to places I didn’t want to come back from. I wanted to share that feeling with you and so I’ve typed up the story for you. It’s slightly long but stick with it and tell me how you reacted. 

Happy Monday my dears. 

One beautiful April morning, on a narrow side street in Tokyo’s fashionable Harujuku neighborhood, I walked past the 100% perfect girl.

Tell you the truth, she’s not that good­looking. She doesn’t stand out in any way. Her clothes are nothing special. The back of her hair is still bent out of shape from sleep. She isn’t young, either ­ must be near thirty, not even close to a “girl,” properly speaking. But still, I know from fifty yards away: She’s the 100% perfect girl for me. The moment I see her, there’s a rumbling in my chest, and my mouth is as dry as a desert. Maybe you have your own particular favourite type of girl one with slim ankles, say, or big eyes, or graceful fingers, or you’re drawn for no good reason to girls who take their time with every meal. I  have my own preferences, of course. Sometimes in a restaurant I’ll catch myself staring at the girl at the next table to mine because I like the shape of her nose.

But no one can insist that his 100% perfect girl correspond to some preconceived type. Much as I like noses, I can’t recall the shape of hers ­ or even if she had one. All I can remember for sure is that she was no great beauty. It’s weird.

“Yesterday on the street I passed the 100% girl,” I tell someone.

“Yeah?” he says. “Good­looking?”  

“Not really.”  

“Your favourite type, then?”  

“I don’t know. I can’t seem to remember anything about her ­ the shape of her eyes or the size of her breasts.”  

“Strange.”  

“Yeah. Strange.”  

“So anyhow,” he says, already bored, “what did you do? Talk to her? Follow her?” 

“Nah. Just passed her on the street.”

She’s walking east to west, and I west to east. It’s a really nice April morning. Wish I could talk to her. Half an hour would be plenty: just ask her about herself, tell her about myself, and ­ what I’d really like to do ­explain to her the complexities of fate that have led to our passing each other on a side street in Harajuku on a beautiful April morning in 1981. This was something sure to be crammed full of warm secrets, like an antique clock build when peace filled the world.After talking, we’d have lunch somewhere, maybe see a Woody Allen movie, stop by a hotel bar for  cocktails. With any kind of luck, we might end up in bed. Potentiality knocks on the door of my heart. Now the distance between us has narrowed to fifteen yards. How can I approach her? What should I say?

“Good morning, miss. Do you think you could spare half an hour for a little conversation?”

Ridiculous. I’d sound like an insurance salesman.

“Pardon me, but would you happen to know if there is an all­night cleaners in the neighborhood?”

No, this is just as ridiculous. I’m not carrying any laundry, for one thing. Who’s going to buy a line like that? Maybe the simple truth would do.

“Good morning. You are the 100% perfect girl for me.”

No, she wouldn’t believe it. Or even if she did, she might not want to talk to me. Sorry, she could say, I might be the 100% perfect girl for you, but you’re not the 100% boy for me. It could happen. And if I found myself in that situation, I’d probably go to pieces. I’d never recover from the shock.

I’m thirty­two, and that’s what growing older is all about. We pass in front of a flower shop. A small, warm air mass touches myskin. The asphalt is damp, and I catch the scent of roses. I can’t bring myself to speak to her. She wears a white sweater, and in her right hand she holds a crisp white envelope lacking only a stamp. So: She’s written somebody a letter, maybe spent the whole night writing, to judge from the sleepy look in her eyes. The envelope could contain every secret she’s ever had. I take a few more strides and turn: She’s lost in the crowd. Now, of course, I know exactly what I should have said to her. It would have been a long speech, though, far too long for me to have delivered it properly. The ideas I come up with are never very practical.

Oh, well. It would have started “Once upon a time” and ended “A sad story, don’t you think?”

Once upon a time, there lived a boy and a girl. The boy was eighteen and the girl sixteen. He was  not unusually handsome, and she was not especially beautiful. They were just an ordinary lonely

boy and an ordinary lonely girl, like all the others. But they believed with their whole hearts that somewhere in the world there lived the 100% perfect boy and the 100% perfect girl for them. Yes,

they believed in a miracle. And that miracle actually happened.

One day the two came upon each other on the corner of a street. “This is amazing,” he said. “I’ve been looking for you all my life. You may not believe this, but you’re the 100% perfect girl for me.” “And you,” she said to him, “are the 100% perfect boy for me, exactly as I’d pictured you in every detail. It’s like a dream.”They sat on a park bench, held hands, and told each other their stories hour after hour. They were not lonely anymore. They had found and been found by their 100% perfect other. What a wonderful  thing it is to find and be found by your 100% perfect other. It’s a miracle, a cosmic miracle.

As they sat and talked, however, a tiny, tiny sliver of doubt took root in their hearts: Was it really all right for one’s dreams to come true so easily? And so, when there came a momentary lull in their conversation, the boy said to the girl, “Let’s test ourselves ­ just once. If we really are each other’s 100% perfect lovers, then sometime, somewhere, we will meet again without fail. And when that happens, and we know that we are the 100% perfect ones, we’ll marry then and there. What do you think?”

“Yes,” she said, “that is exactly what we should do.”

And so they parted, she to the east, and he to the west. The test they had agreed upon, however, was utterly unnecessary. They should never have undertaken it, because they really and truly were each other’s 100% perfect lovers, and it was a miracle that they had ever met. But it was impossible for them to know this, young as they were. The cold, indifferent waves of fate proceeded to toss them unmercifully.

One winter, both the boy and the girl came down with the season’s terrible influenza, and after drifting for weeks between life and death they lost all memory of their earlier years. When they

awoke, their heads were as empty as the young D. H. Lawrence’s piggybank. They were two bright, determined young people, however, and through their unremitting efforts they were able to acquire once again the knowledge and feeling that qualified them to return as full­ fledged members of society. Heaven be praised, they became truly upstanding citizens who knew how to transfer from one subway line to another, who were fully capable of sending a special­  delivery letter at the post office. Indeed, they even experienced love again, sometimes as much as  75% or even 85% love.

Time passed with shocking swiftness, and soon the boy was thirty­two, the girl thirty. One beautiful April morning, in search of a cup of coffee to start the day, the boy was walking from

west to east, while the girl, intending to send a special­delivery letter, was walking from east to west, but along the same narrow street in the Harajuku neighborhood of Tokyo. They passed each

other in the very center of the street. The faintest gleam of their lost memories glimmered for the briefest moment in their hearts. Each felt a rumbling in their chest. And they knew:

She is the 100% perfect girl for me.

He is the 100% perfect boy for me.

But the glow of their memories was far too weak, and their thoughts no longer had the clarity of fourteen years earlier. Without a word, they passed each other, disappearing into the crowd.  Forever.

A sad story, don’t you think?

Yes, that’s it, that is what I should have said to her.