Sunday, 16 October 2016

Marmite and Mango Chutney wins SI Leeds Literary Award

The SI Leeds Literary Award ceremony at Ilkley Literature Festival on Oct 12, 2016. Sponsored by the wonderful people at SI Leeds International, Peepal Tree and the Ilkley Literature Festival.

This short story collection was partly written when I was a Leverhulme Artist-in-Residence at University College London in 2015.

The entire experience of meeting the short list, reading with them, and sharing the award with the other short listed candidates and winners was thrilling and unforgettable!

Thursday, 18 August 2016

After the Delhi Rain, in SAND literary magazine, Berlin

My short story After the Delhi Rain, was published recently in SAND, Berlin. Thanks to the wonderful editor Florian Duijsens for all his hard work.

After the Delhi Rain (excerpt)

Michelle was leaving Delhi in three days, and there was nothing he could do about it. So he sat in the Metro like this was an ordinary day, in a week of ordinary days. He stared blankly at the slum he passed everyday, a slum in a city of ordinary slums, people squatting outside it in the aftermath of the monsoon rain, boys playing cricket in the drip-drip mud, mounds of earth and shit dotted with colourful debris. It was a brown-grey shanty town, little dwellings with four walls and a canopy roof, sometimes not even that, just thin fabric strung up for privacy from people like him, carelessly riding past in the Metro, reading the news on their iPhones, playing word games till their eyes hurt, holding thumb conversations, multiple ones simultaneously.

Just by the side of the railway tracks, goats and skinny dogs and happy chickens, boys and girls swatting flies. A boy was standing by a hill of banana peel, trousers halfway down his buttocks, about to relieve himself, but talking on his phone at the same time. A cart without a donkey. A cow with empty teats. A silver Santro parked in the middle of it all. 

Read the rest in SAND

Thursday, 7 January 2016

The Root Ball, on the Hawaii Pacific Review

(This story was written during a Leverhulme Artist-in-Residence grant at University College London, in 2015, in which I collaborated with UCL's human geographers on various writing and artistic projects.)

The hole is getting bigger. The root ball of the cabbage tree sits in a kink in the corner of the compound, waiting to be transplanted. But her husband is digging away, and her mother is watching, hands on hips, looking grim. Again and again the spade splices the loam. Again and again the soil spatters on the expanding mound of leftovers. Sweat streams down Ahiri’s face, and there are pools developing around her hip bones.
“I guess it’s my turn,” she says.
“I can finish it,” Jesse says.
“I’ll do it,” she says firmly. “Does it have to be bigger?”
“Twice the size of the root ball,” her mother says.
It takes another fifteen minutes of digging before her mother is satisfied.
“There,” says Ahiri, kneading her lower back. “Surely it’s done now.”
Her mother gently unfolds the wet tarp that is protecting the taproot. She brushes off the hummus that is clinging to the new roots. Then she glances over at Jesse. Jesse lifts the tree, newly dug out from outside the compound, pruned last year in preparation for this move. He lugs it over and places it at the edge of the hole, but whatever he is planning to do with it is cut short as the tree crashes in. Her mother cries out. “The new roots!”
It’s okay, Mum, it’s just a tree, Ahiri wants to say, but her mother is delicate around her plants, minding their feelings and tending their wounds, skills she has never developed for her daughter. Ahiri and Jesse squat, trying to make it right. The leaves are long and prickly, the bark tough and leathery like cork. It is impossible to reach down and right the tree, without getting stung in the face. They try to nudge the tree into the centre. When Ahiri’s mother is satisfied, she starts to throw the earth back into the hole. Ahiri and Jesse join in, cushioning, padding, kneading out the air pockets, till the hole is filled. Her mother places mulch all around the tree, and then irrigates it again.
Read the rest on the Hawaii Pacific Review.