Finding Ravana by Nabina Das (Indian Short Fiction, May-June 2015)

I wonder if Prof. Valmiki would have approved of this as a fitting way to tell a story. Or even tell his story. But what can I do if I don’t take matters in my own hands? Even if it means taking up a kitchen knife. Sleepless and embattled as it is I am with so many problems that have fuelled my insomnia. Which is why now I’m set on my uber-smart ‘brain-gain’ mission. I, Sita Devi, am not a super heroine or Batwoman. I’m sharp and intuitive, a twenty-first century woman. And in my Ramayana, I’m also seeking love as an unclaimed woman. I do, I do, I want to tell the new guy (they say his name’s Rama) on the newly built Ayodhya block. But he appeared in five different shirts over the last three days (gosh, a feminine trait, would you think?) whenever I passed him by. Never mind. A nervous sort, he’s always reading or pacing up and down the driveway. Quite different from the ‘nightly intruder’. Oh, yeah, there IS one, although he has not paid me a visit yet. But he’s been after many beauties they say. I read about him at the newspaper stand: WOMAN REPORTS BEDROOM INTRUSION. An idea immediately formed in my head. What better way to script a new Ramayana! Perhaps Rama would notice me better if the intruder (let him be named Ravana too…) came to me. “I’m fine, don’t you worry,” I said on a recent visit to my shrink who, I could tell from his longish ambivalent comments, was giving his best shot to get me back in control. Confidence, he suggested, is the key. I have it. It’s a knife.

Well, now I have to tell you all about it.

Let me make one thing clear though. I, Sita Devi, admit that getting inside the head of an insane person can drive you nuts. However, that’s the teaser. That’s why, even at a friendly event like the annual book fair the other day, I ‘seemed’ uncomfortable locking eyes with anyone, especially men over six feet. They hovered over me intentionally, or I made myself think so. I’m puny. That doesn’t mean every tall man, or even woman, with his/her gait should have created any turbulence in the little invisible shielded space I wear around myself. Maybe I overreacted. My eyes sometimes betrayed my mood. Hesitant. Willing to seek out nevertheless. At times they darted over the faces that came towards me in a careful scrutiny. For those that came from behind, I turned around to explore them, cumbersomely, but I gave the impression I had perfected the art of walking sideways, occasionally glancing backwards. I’m quite sure they looked at me momentarily and ignored me, or maybe wondered – why does this woman walk awkwardly? Then they went on about their business. I particularly found it hard to examine those that suddenly appeared from over my shoulders. To turn full face at them, I had almost to twist my body in an ‘S’. That way my neck hurt. Others who saw me in that looped posture likely presumed that I suffer from a nameless muscular disease that forces the human body to take all kinds of strange shapes. But I, Sita Devi–twenty-three, almost always dressed in hugging T-shirts and wide-cut denims secured with broad studded belts, pale-complexioned and thin down to my bones (I am pretty proud of my size) had this two-headed feeling. I wanted to see as well as flee a face that ‘supposedly’ haunted me. When books of all sizes and bindings stared from the makeshift stalls and tables, and the aroma of hot chocolate at the café corner had kids excited on that moist cool afternoon, all that occupied my mind was a man, a six-foot tall intruder.

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White Sugar Sand (Matthew Blasi in http://issues.drunkenboat.com)


(Matt’s short fiction has appeared in UpScene Magazine, Slush, The Superstition Review, The Mangrove Review, Dogzplot, A Cappella Zoo, Four Quarters, Arroyo Literary Review, and Gargoyle Magazine. He is currently finishing his first novel.)
***
Francisco Maldonado went down to the beach to look for the ships. He did this every morning, rain or shine, as he had been doing for a year. What he saw was the sea and sky and cloud formations various and boring but never the ships that would bring de Soto. And so he spent his time kicking about in the sand, a soft white variety, fine as sugar and gleaming, venting his growing frustration. De Soto would come. He should have arrived there months ago, three at the latest, even with bad winds and hurricanes. But still, he would come. And still Francisco waited.

He removed his boots to dig his toes into the sand. It was good and warm and the wind smelled like clean brine. But what good was such beauty when de Soto was not among them? Out on the swell, dark clouds began to gather. Thunder sounded in the distance.

Natchez, his second in command, scampered up, head bared, face tanned. Anything? said the man.

Francisco shook his head.

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The Folklore Of Our Times (Haruki Murakami)

Image result for haruki murakami images
(Translated from the Japanese by Alfred Birnbaum.)

Haruki Murakami was born in Japan in 1949. His novels include Norwegian Wood and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle; he has also published two short story collections, The Elephant Vanishes and After the Quake.

***

was born in 1949. I started high school in 1963 and went to college in 1967. And so it was amid the crazy, confused uproar of 1968 that I saw in my otherwise auspicious twentieth year. Which, I guess, makes me a typical child of the sixties. It was the most vulnerable, most formative, and therefore most important period in my life, and there I was, breathing in deep lungfuls of abandon and quite naturally getting high on it all. I kicked in a few deserving doors – and what a thrill it was whenever a door that deserved kicking in presented itself before me, as Jim Morrison, the Beatles and Bob Dylan played in the background. The whole shebang.

Even now, looking back on it all, I think that those years were special. I’m sure that if you were to examine the attributes of the time one by one, you wouldn’t discover anything all that noteworthy. Just the heat generated by the engine of history, that limited gleam that certain things give off in certain places at certain times – that and a kind of inexplicable antsiness, as if we were viewing everything through the wrong end of a telescope. Heroics and villainy, rapture and disillusionment, martyrdom and revisionism, silence and eloquence, etcetera, etcetera… the stuff of any age. Only, in our day – if you’ll forgive the overblown expression – it was all so colourful somehow, so very reach-out-and-grab-it palpable. There were no gimmicks, no discount coupons, no hidden advertising, no keep-’em-coming point-card schemes, no insidious, loopholing paper trails. Cause and effect shook hands; theory and reality embraced with aplomb. A prehistory to high capitalism: that’s what I personally call those years.

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Town of Cats (Haruki Murakami)

At Koenji Station, Tengo boarded the Chuo Line inbound rapid-service train. The car was empty. He had nothing planned that day. Wherever he went and whatever he did (or didn’t do) was entirely up to him. It was ten o’clock on a windless summer morning, and the sun was beating down.

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Samsa in Love (Haruki Murakami)

He woke to discover that he had undergone a metamorphosis and become Gregor Samsa. He lay flat on his back on the bed, looking at the ceiling. It took time for his eyes to adjust to the lack of light. The ceiling seemed to be a common, everyday ceiling of the sort one might find anywhere.

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