Tuesday, August 31, 2010


It’s been 8 days and I’ve run out of legs to count on. The crazy-haired man keeps kicking his computer and frankly I think that if he doesn’t start being polite to it, it might just kick back. I really don’t mind him much anymore except for that putrid smell from that green shirt he keeps wearing since the very first day I visited his place. Oh how I regret the day. All me and my mates wanted was to get a few scraps of food, a good laugh at the human condition and possibly some cheese puffs for Ante. Now, normally, if a disgruntled housewife or a spoilt obese boy catches one of us, they scream like little girls and squish us under their podgy feet. And it’s all very honourable to die a martyr. But no, this potbellied hairy man wanted a friend and I was the unlucky chosen one. Now, this jaundiced glass with brown stains is my home. I’d have accepted my tragic fate much easily had he just cleaned the glass. You must know we pay households compliments by visiting them. Contrary to popular beliefs, we like clean and cool places. So if you happen to see us scurrying across your kitchen floor it means you’ve done a swell job keeping it spotless.
My flat oval body has gotten flatter and my lustrous brown coat has lost its shine. He keeps shoving paper from under the glass. I am not a cow. And just because our kind has survived through the dinosaur age, does not mean that we do not have certain standards. You are possibly wondering what in luscious-pineapple’s name was I doing there. Ante likes her cheese puffs. And I like Ante’s behind. While we were really on our way next door I noticed, on the way, this man had the puffs and I, like a fool in love, thought I could get a bit of it for her. Sigh, I miss Ante and I miss the late night parties behind the gas cylinders. Someone would always get high on the gas.
None of my mates visit, not because I want vengeance (we really are the cool sort). If only the man would treat me with some respect and not keep abusing his computer and snoring in front of the TV, I think we’d really get along. My whole being aches, I keep trying to stretch my wings but I’m afraid I might bang into the glass. I might as well start seeing the silver lining through the muck and the filth (it’s not even the kind I like in the dark wet alleys).
I wonder if I’ll be immortalised in stories, the one that bore it all with his antennae held high, like Villey who married a rat. Yeah, it’s not so bad after all. I may even have my favourite rotten cabbage named after me. I guess we are both trapped in a way. Difference is he can’t help it.

-Amrita Kar, UG III

Bloody Hell

I have a strong urge to break a window and run away into the darkness of the night. The only trouble is that my tiny room does not have a window for me to break. It is warm and stuffy in here. My senses have become accustomed to the smell of my sweat and decomposed blood that hangs in the air inside my cell. I spend time listening to the rats scurrying about the room. My wrists itch because of all the gash marks the handcuffs leave on them. There is so much I have learnt to control…

I feel blind. I haven’t seen sunlight in a very long time. How long, I can’t tell. I can’t tell one day from the other. According to my sense of time, I must be about 500 years old by now. Every passing minute feels nothing less than an hour. It feels like I am on a bad trip of DMT. My lungs feel contracted and my heart feels like it has stopped beating. I have lost all sense of touch. Being strapped and tied to a place for so long has rendered me immobile. My speech is fast losing coherency. All I can utter are half-formed words and unfinished sentences when he visits me.

I don’t remember how I got here. All I remember was waking up in this wet, damp room, bound to the iron pipes that run along a side of the wall, with him breathing so unimaginably close to my face that I could hardly distinguish mine from his. Then, there were his hands, rough and coarse, and him, climbing onto me like children on mango trees during the summer. I remember crying out for help, shrieking and shouting until my voice cracked, knowing, however, that there was no one who could hear me. No one, other than that man whose face I shall never know. All that my memory shall ever hold of him will be his hands, groping and scratching at my naked body, and his cold, mirthless laughter that drowned the sound of my useless protests.

I hardly protest anymore. He feeds me in what seems like a few hours before his visit. He probably wants to make sure I have the strength to scream and shout and make him feel powerful. It would hardly be pleasurable to torture the lifeless woman that I otherwise am. Nonetheless, the food hardly gives me the power to protest. All I can maintain is that steady stream of tears every time he violates me. I fear that they are fast drying up.

I think there is another cell near mine. I can hear his thundering footsteps and the cries of a woman who must be as old, or as young, as I am. I can hear them---that mirthless, maniacal laughter interspersed with cries of help that once used to be mine. I can hear them as I fall in and out of consciousness. I am tired. I just want to sleep.

Soumi Sarkar


The Flight

If one took a look at the Ray mansion from outside while passing by, one would no more be able to make out that it was still home to someone alive and breathing. What once used to be home to almost the entire Ray family tree, and used to buzz all day long with glimmering lights and dangling conversations, had now gone eerily quiet. The days of opulence had passed, and those members of the family who were still alive had branched out in diverse directions.The youngest son of the Rays, Sunirmal, the legal owner of the household, was now a citizen of Delhi, and it did not look like he was ever going to come back. Deenobondhu, the aged housekeeper of the Ray mansion, wondered why Chhotobabu(Sunirmal) still had not sold the house off. Of course, now that there was hardly anyone whom Deenobondhu had to be at the beck and call off, there was not much work to complain about. But dusting the mansion on a regular basis with his eyesight failing him gradually, was still a tough ask. There was not much to do otherwise. And it was precisely this loneliness that had now started to play on Deenobondhu’s mind. What particularly bothered him was that there was no one to talk to. No one other than Jack, the pet Moluccan Cockatoo of Chhotobabu , who had managed to outlive all the other pets of the Ray household.

Jack had joined the Rays about fifty years back along with Jill, his partner, as a gift for Dadababu and Boudidimoni(Sunirmal’s parents) from someone, on the occasion of their tenth marriage anniversary. Jill had fallen prey to Chhotobabu’s air-rifle shooting practice about ten years down the line, when it was forced to take flight, only to be shot down when the blue haze seemed to be embracing it with open arms. Jack had managed to live on somehow, having defeated bouts of herpes attacks during the course of time, and of course, loneliness. Or so it had seemed for a while, till Jack started becoming quieter gradually to the point that he had stopped screaming and screeching for almost the past ten years. With its peachy glow almost having worn out and half its plumage lost, Jack now sat quietly with its head lodged between its wings in a corner of the cage. He left most of the food untouched these days, but drank occasionally from the sliced coconut shell which has been the makeshift water holder for many years now.

Deenobondhu felt bad. Jack had not only witnessed his wife’s murder which was not an accountable crime anyhow, but had also been a victim of gross neglect, much like Deenobondhu himself. In a way, he felt tied to the bird through some kind of an invisible bond, which was far stronger than those that he had shared with the members of the Ray family, if at all. It would not only feel great to be able to set the bird free, but it would also mean freedom for himself in a way. One fine morning, Deenobondhu thus decided to do the needful.

The cage door was mossy and rusty, and it took a while before Deenobondhu could make any headway with the door lock. Surprised, Jack put its head out from under its wings, and waited for the blurry vision to settle down before he could make out that it was Deenobondhu waiting for him with the cage door open, egging him on to take flight and get lost in the blue. Deenobondhu waited anxiously for the moment when Jack would ruffle his own feathers, squawk and then start walking after the initial stutter. He had dreamed of this moment for a long time, but had never dared to do what was necessary even after people of the household had left the house forever, with no one bothering to take Jack’s responsibility. And now the time had come.

Jack cocked its head around, lifted the right leg and then hopped down from the stand.

One could see two kites flying high up in the sky, each trying to snap at the other. Their respective strings had gotten themselves entangled, and were now engaged in a battle of supremacy, which ultimately resulted in one of the strings being cut. Screams of “Bhokatta!” filled the air.

Jack dipped its beaks in the sliced coconut shell beside the cage door, silently walked back towards the stand, hopped up on it again, sheltered his head under the wings and closed its eyes.

Antoreep SenGupta


A More Conventional Prisoner

(45) A Day in the Life

…shopping, sex, kids, more work…and falling, falling, dying useless…

Woke up. Yawned and stretched, like they do on T.V. Took a minute to collect myself. Got out of bed and ran into the bathroom, enjoying a brief flash of early morning clarity. Got spaced out again while brushing, but habit kept my hand going.

I don’t dream anymore. Or I do, and don’t remember.

I smile, really wide, and check myself out in the mirror. There’s foam all over my mouth and a red toothbrush sticking out at an odd angle from a frothy white mountain of it. The stupid look on my face amuses me, and that’s my laugh for the day.

I spit, gargle, rinse, shave and shower, not thinking a thing.

I see one hand moving constantly – this is the honest one. It makes no bones about its intentions, moving smoothly and rhythmically from number to number. The others pretend – they trick you with their stillness, then turn when you’re not looking. That’s your life slipping away in slow motion, or at least what looks like slow motion.

How long is one second? Time passes faster or slower depending on what I’m doing, so, really, how long IS one second? If you add up enough, does that mean you’ve lived a long life? What if it all went by really, really fast? Or…

I look up at the clock, realizing I am late. I dry myself, hastily throw on my uniform (the tie gives me trouble), and grabbing a slice of bread, rush out onto the street.

I light up - the first, and last, for a long time - and wait for the bus. It hits me – the faint, pleasant dizziness strangely clearing my head.

…too long…too long…why do I wait?

The 45 rolls into view, and already I see people hanging out at weird angles to the ground. Office-time, we call it. I grab onto the support bar and pull myself alongside and onto the bus in one swift movement, the driver not deeming it necessary to stop or even slow down enough for me to get on without having to perform these acrobatics. The city. It happens. I don’t even think about it anymore.

We’re all acrobats. Performing monkeys. Population Trash-Compacted Public Transport Zombies.

I find myself some space to stand, only half-drowning in the crushing sea of humanity. It’s cramped. It’s dirty. It smells. But I withdraw, go into my quiet place. I’ve learnt to ignore these things.

You’d be surprised what you can learn to ignore.

I am not real. And this bus is not real to me.

I have gone away chasing dreams and rainbows.

Once I was a child, was free. And I wanted to grow up.

Once I was an addict, was lost to the world. And I wanted to quit.

Once I ran away, had the sky for my roof, the whole world to play in. And I wanted to go home.

Once, I used to dream.

I still dream. I still remember what it’s like to want to be free.

I do not remember dreams, because it hurts to. It hurts to live, just live, knowing there’s so much else you could be doing. The truth is I’m afraid. Scared enough of dying that just living seems like a good idea.

You cannot stop dreaming. So I choose to forget.

There are no rainbows left to chase. I wake up to work, money, worry…

My stop. I jump off the bus, and, landing almost perfectly, rush to work.

Arijit Sett, UG III

A Few Tips

First of all, fabulous work on the blog marathon. Keep em coming, they are unbelievably good.
Now there're a few things I need to mention. I've already said this in class but I guess I should make a record of it.
Sorry to introduce a note of the prosaic into the proceedings, but sigh.
1. People sending by email, please give your file a sensible name. Include your name and the name of the exercise. Currently I have about twenty files on my computer all called "wip story" "short story" or "story". Very often opening file properties yields the interesting information that the file has been created by "user". I fully understand if you want to remain anonymous, but in that case you will have to forgo the needless luxury of marks.
2. Do not put space or hard enters between paragraphs. This is only pardonable in a business letter. When did you last read a novel that had space between the paragraphs? Indent paragraphs and put dialogue on a new line. You know how this is done, you've been looking at it since you learned to read.
3. No word art, graphics or jumping jelly beans. Just the text please. Unless its a graphic story.
4. Times new roman 12 point if possible, or possibly Arial or Tahoma if you don't like Times. Do not send, for eg, in some freeware font called Gothick Grrrls or Slubberdegullion.

The Prisoner

Cell 306 is a narrow slab of sunlight. Silently, I look out and watch the swift, ruthless evacuation happening. Files of people are marching in tandem with each other, the guards marching ahead. The whole operation is supremely efficient. I know the order. The people will file into trucks – men first, women next, children last. They will be driven to the space station, and they will get into a spaceship. And then they will all leave this barren place, and go on a long journey. They will, after a while, find themselves in Gaia – those who survive the journey, that is. I know it because I planned this fifteen years ago. The Emergency Evacuation Plan, the absolute last resort, the worst case scenario. The one that I passively, then actively resisted for all of the time the Central Commission employed me.
The Amazon was the last to go. We were already creating an Official Documentary about how the Coral Reef was still intact, and that the Down Underners were actually being lied to by some renegade scientists in the area. The scientists are always the first to be blamed, which is what they did to me after the Amazon was lost. That was my last hope, and I fought with all my might. Of course, the Central Commission does not tolerate fights. But I was too valuable to lose, so they seduced me with promises of Borneo and the thick jungles of India. I knew they were lying, but I wanted so desperately to believe them that I went along for a while.
Even the Central Commission lost patience with me when I started pushing for population control, and sent report after report against the slaughtering of the last of the animals. They made another Official Documentary, and then the Public condemned me. I was stripped of my title, but by then I didn't want to be one of their Doctors anyway.
This cell has thin walls. They know I won't try to escape even in my wildest dreams, because they call me insane, but this building is the only piece of sanity left on the whole planet. We talk to each other at breakfast, and through the walls, and at night. The guards laugh at us. They're all leaving soon. It's finished, and now they're following my plan. Gaia is dangerous and unknown, but reports of lush and gorgeous vegetation have been tantalizing the minds of everyone who owns a TV – as everyone must.
The last of them must be leaving now. The whole operation took less than a week. They're abandoning us, the Unwanteds, on the planet. We would only be a burden and a nuisance on the spaceship.
I look up at the humongous metal cage in the sky. The man who designed it lives in the cell next door. I can hear him walking in now, slowly, with the others. We all smile broadly at the little green tendrils in one corner of my cell only we, out of the millions, could have had the skill to grow and nurture.


Monday, August 30, 2010


I could have lived a better life thinking I was going to die tomorrow. But I have a long life to live. Isolation has made me forget many words and emotions, made my life as meaningless as the words I have created in this prison cell. My reality is a dying reality. It's just another nightmare. Hope springs and fades like a wet-dream; I try to run, but it always stays by my side. Pain will gradually creep in soft-footed, carrying the lantern of remembrance: the darkness is immersed in recollections, and the heart is burdened by long-forgotten sorrows.
I was a washed-up film-maker on a comeback trail, with loneliness by my side. I had tried my hand at many odd jobs, but nothing really worked. Every girl I loved would leave me within a month: film-making was my only hope, everything else seemed so meaningless. I made forty films within a couple of years, all in my head. And now I wanted to direct a movie in real life. Real life. It had lost all it's significance: there was nothing called 'reality' in my life. The indifference of producers, the snobbery of reputed directors and the ignominions mockery of aspiring colleagues were dreams which would soon disappear. But nothing changed: I was trapped in my dreams by my reality.
It's a funny thing about life: no matter how desperate you are, there's always a right or wrong to choose: conscience is the most paradoxical realm in the human mind. I used to walk in the rain, but still returned with blood-stains on my shirt. My semi-automatic had the power to change my reality, and made me feel like a king in the lonely city-streets where beggars and criminals shared equal space during the night. The rich folks were the only victims. We were responsilble for our lives for a few hours in the dark; we always slept during the day, and committed crime during the most silent hours of night. It was a compulsion initially, but slowly became an addiction. Violence is the greatest addiction in life; we ruled the streets of violence for almost a year before getting caught. Everything that followed was merely an epilogue to a violent film.
This prison cell has protected me from alienation, but the violent impulses still remain: the mortifications on my body testify the fact. Anger billows up, and gushes out from the veins: sometimes I feel the urge of slashing them. But I have a long life to live.

Rajdeep Pal

The Prisoner

Angela Swift

28 Longfield Road
Essex CM22 7DY

Tel 0165 345272
E-mail Swiftangela567@yahoo.co.uk

Driving licence Full, clean


2002 - 2005 BA Geography, Degree awarded 2.1, University of Exeter

Subjects studied: Countryside planning, Sustainable Agriculture; Gender issues; Tourism.

Skills developed: excellent written and oral communication; research, interpretation and presentation; statistical analysis.

Worked well on my own and as part of a team for tutorial work; set my own deadlines and managed my time effectively under pressure, successfully completed a 10,000 word dissertation.

1994 - 2001 Basildon High School
A level: Geography (A), Business Studies (A), Biology (C),
9 GCSEs grade A* to C, including Maths and English

Employment History:

Summer 2001 Retail assistant, Debenhams, Basildon

• Worked in Children’s merchandise section, responsible for assisting customers and placing orders to replenish stock
• Developed relevant subject knowledge in order to deal with customer enquiries in person and by telephone.

September 2001 to April 2005 Waitress, Cuthbert’s Restaurant

• Worked under pressure in a fast moving and often stressful environment.
• Developed excellent interpersonal skills dealing with customers and other members of staff.
• Have successfully held the job down during University Holidays balancing a heavy workload and ensuring a reliable income.

Summer 2002 Receptionist, Whittakers Solicitors, Basildon

• Developed excellent switchboard and communication skills
• Dealt with client enquiries.
• Worked as part of a team in this hectic practise

September 2005 to March 2006 Junior Assistant Manager,The Fortune Inn, Basildon

• Successfully assisted the management in a busy, popular English pub
• Developed excellent people skills and acquired new skills including end of day cash up, cellar management and closing of the premises at night
• The position also involved organization of staff rota and stock management.

Positions of responsibility:

• Manger of inter-mural rounders team at university, this position involved insuring a full team every week, registering results, creating a kit and organizing social events.
• Key member of the Bracton Law Society hockey team
• Volunteer for Community Action; this involved visiting an elderly couple on a weekly basis.
• Head Girl, 2000 to 2001.
• Captain of school hockey and netball teams between 1998-2001

Other skills:

• Proficient in Microsoft Office, including Word, Excel and Access.
• Confident with various statistical packages including, Arc map and G
• Familiar with the basics of HTML.
• Succeed in completing graphics modules outside Geography, utilizing Corel 8
• Basic understanding of French


• Enjoy team sports such as Netball and hockey, also a frequent visitor to the gym and aerobics classes.


Dr S. Williams
School of Geography
University of Exeter
Exeter EX4 4QJ

Maria Fortescue
The Fortune Inn
Essex CM21 5YH
01245 56578

The Witness

I can’t stop talking about the war. It has been more than a decade, but the war had taken roots in my soul. I have no explanations, but only my testimony. My memory does not fail me; I can call to mind how cold and grey the morning was when I lost my right thumb, I could tell you the numbers of all the inmates I shared my bunk with, the names of the hostile guards who wielded whips while we slaved under the harness. But these recollections curiously enough bring neither pain, nor deliverance. There was disease and morbidity both inside and outside the prison camp, yet none of us could throw ourselves at the fence and end it all. 

At night I dreamt of a patch of dry land, some sunshine, and maybe a pair of warm shoes. Working in the mines was unbearable during the winters; the chill seeped into our skin and rattled our bones. A few of us looked about for opportunities to wound ourselves- not dangerously, but enough to guarantee us some rest. As you know, every regime has its loopholes. It was then that I had severed my thumb; a blow that had been a trifle too hard. 

One day, J. sought me out and offered to share a cigarette. I knew that he had sacrificed his share of bread for this singularly rare luxury. Good old J. with his sparkling teeth, spotless hands, and his weakness for the better things in life. He told me that the human spirit was far too resilient to die and then he added, but here there are only enemies or rivals, and you can die if you don’t become a witness. A witness was necessarily a survivor and I survived because I believed in miracles. Yet, there was the task of remembering, and it became my sole concern, my only vocation. Even though one day started to resemble the other, I adamantly resolved to remember. None but the prisoners felt the pain and the immediacy of the war; those outside had been served anesthetics it seemed. The kingdom was gently erasing public memory and recollection became the prisoner’s legacy. 

I returned home once the war was over; yet returning is never the same as recovering. Other survivors talked about guilt and responsibility, but I never felt anything other than the need to confess and be absolved. The miracle I was waiting for had happened, but I became more confined than ever before. 
I am reminded of a certain poem whenever I look at the moon. No, not the one that talks about shivering stars in a fractured sky. In this poem, a man stands near his window looking at the city, at the moon, unable to escape the prison of his apartment, his body, and his mind.
There’s the moon
in my room’s window.
I balance it on my thumb
and try to flip it over.
It does not turn
but still, my thumb
is not broken.

Perhaps the night bothers him, and the moon is but a coin. I, too, am trapped- but my thumb is broken.

(The lines quoted are from a poem by Leonard Cohen, published in The Spice-Box of Earth).

Anurima Sen (PG-II)

The Mirror.

There is a woman who stands outside my cage, grinning wildly like a tiger which has tasted human flesh. I cannot begin to describe her anatomy. She is stark naked. Her breasts are magnificent and taut, her hips are wide but yet do not remind you of childbearing, and she paces up and down on all fours. Her hair is long and wild and curly, it covers her like a curtain of obscene desire. She breathes a different air- it is pure like liquid oxygen and perhaps as potent. I want to embrace her but I growl instead. She growls back at me. It seems as if we speak the same language.

Would such a woman have a husband? I ask her this question- hesitantly, tearfully, sadly. She asks me the same question almost simultaneously. I nod and she nods. I lose myself in contemplation- we are both at ease in this momentary silence. How can she have a husband? I feel bitter, as if tricked in a game of cards. My body is covered in scabs and sores, my stomach is creased after many childbirths and my breasts have sagged. Had my face been left to nature, it would have showed the lines of laughter and wisdom. I have found lotions and potions to make me eternally young and beautiful. My ringmaster wields his whip and a child is born. My ringmaster wields his whip and I perform for his friends. My ringmaster wields his whip and I, the circus clown, laugh a teary laugh. My face has been untouched by time. You see, my ringmaster knows how to wield the whip cruelly but delicately.

I am sick of my mediocrity. Once upon a time I knew how to paint more than my face. I could make a perfect likeness of what I wanted to be. I painted myself as an astronaut, a dancer, and once (how cleverly) as a painter. Now my fingers are solely occupied in the perpetual practice of cozy domesticity. Every evening I have religiously applied vermilion on the parting of my hair for twenty years.

I look at the woman outside the cage. I ask her a question- “Do we speak the same language?” She asks me the same question, almost at once. It disturbs me. She should not be my echo, she is so different. Her eyes are different. She makes me want to shake my chains off, tear off the gold jewellery that weigh me down toward the earth and bind me to the institution of marriage itself. What marriage is that which has known only a sick servility? It is a farce, a bloody circus. And I- I am a caged tigress- waiting to taste human flesh. I shall eat the iron bars, drink my own blood, and shake my hair wild in a frenzy. I will break the shankha, pala and loha that I wear on my wrists and thus symbolically disown he who has enslaved me. I shall cry and dance and paint, cook the soft flesh of my ungrateful children and then feed it to their sire.

I can do nothing. Thus I part my hair carefully and am about to apply the customary vermilion that I have applied on my forehead for twenty years, without a break, without parole. A strange despair grips me. Those eyes are haunting me and taunting me. She is naked, I am clothed. She is young, I am old. She is a tigress and I am a cat. I hate her. I strike her.

The mirror shatters into a million fragments. Blood trickles slowly from my palm. Before it can congeal, I apply this blood lovingly to my forehead. Only this time, there is no mirror to check whether I have done it right.

Ahona Panda.



I am on a ship. I am in a room. I am trapped in a cup. I am the torn underside of a roti. I am in a room somewhere, lying on a bed I do not own, on a patch of land not my own, fed by hands that don’t know me. My bed is smooth, the white sheet has streaks of grey. I did not make them. Am I alone or are there others below me? Above me? Speak if you can. There are no windows—am I entombed? The earthen graves are burning, burning with a strong blue flame: a guide for mariners and bored insurance agents. Make me a grave, my son. Let the shovel dry, then make your mark and swing hard. The bones are first to break, the skin shatters… and I am standing alone—in my room—with a little white shirt bleeding hard. My room is empty. I am not in it. I would—if I could—have a bird at my window-sill; something to look at, and something to look at me. Even through the bars. Even through these rough bricks. I look around to see if I am still here. It’s always dark—I can’t see my shadow. The latrine poisons me and every morning I strengthen its poison. I am a ship ploughing the acid seas, with the timid whales wailing far below. A screech! From where? Perhaps I am slowing down. Aging all alone was Cain’s curse. I am cursed by all. The toothbrush strips me everyday of a bit a skin, and the soap softens my bones for the final blow…and my shirt? Each day it twists me into an unknown shape—a marvel of infernal symmetry. My wife? I dare not speak of her. I built my home on the shores of Hell. Oh why were you born my son? You were sent to us without a soul: you slept eighteen hours a day, you did not speak, you did not move. You were born dead, my child. You see? And now the world spits on my face. All I did was to sever the thin cord of mucus imprisoning you in this earth. I did it to free you. I did nothing.
I am slowing down. I noticed this a month ago. It takes me longer to sleep, and I sleep longer. I am hardly awake. It must be something in the air down here. Nonetheless, I have much to do. A petty thief was knifed today—such a frail thing the human skull.

I lost my glasses today—remarkable!

Time to rest. The bed tolerates this cold bag of bones. Is it noon? Night? November? I cannot know. They are softening me for the rope. I see my arms glowing in that rarefied air. At last, I have become what I had never wanted to be. I have become a guide for mariners upon their acid seas. I will sleep. I am no more.

zeeshan islm UG3 Roll 45

Sunday, August 29, 2010

And the Prisoners Eat Doves

He pressed his ear to the solid metal door but all he could hear were muffled sounds which he could not make anything out of. He gently tapped on it once…twice…thrice. “Knock knock” he said and chuckled softly. Some of his nails were broken from his previous attempt at displaying his strength, when he has heroically tried to break down that obstinate door. And some strange, funny looking people did things to him which he did not like in particular. He did not like being groped and touched by strangers. Besides, they smelled really horrible. Just like his room. It smelled of antiseptics and old age. It reeked of discomfort and disease. But he felt pretty fine. As good as he had ever been really. So he decided to go back to his happy-place, the bed, and threw down his body on it. It did not really matter to him what time it was or why exactly he was there. All that really mattered was his presence in that cell. Or his absence. He was not really sure anymore. Thinking made him tired.
Suddenly, he broke into a bout of perspiration. He felt very cold and he felt very angry. That same feeling of panic was gripping him again and he was not feeling as self-assured anymore. He was dizzy and he felt lonely. Very, very lonely. He murmured in inaudible whispers as he rocked back and forth. He needed some water. And he needed someone to hold. There were brilliant flashes of purple and red and he closed his eyes and desperately tried to remember snatches of his childhood. He was almost there. The golden autumn sunshine was bathing the wooden floor of the kitchen. And he saw his mother. She was knitting something and probably waiting for his sister to come home. He watched her like he used to watch her every move as a child.
Suddenly, he felt something going up his leg. A nimble, grotesque intruder.
He was lying on the stiff, starched bed, sprawled on his belly and grinning. The cockroach was firmly in his grasp and he was toying around with it. Holding it by one of its legs and wriggling it in the air as it struggled to let loose of his hold. He shook it from time to time and it wriggled more violently. Suddenly, he felt furious at that disgusting little bug. How dare he protest against his authority! Well, his attempts at a tiny little mutiny would fail quite miserably, Michael told himself. He placed the insect on a small piece of stark white cardboard and with a pin, practised his surgical skills. Off went one of it’s tiny, hairy legs. It wriggled violently and squirmed under the pin. Then very carefully, he snipped off the lateral wing on the adjacent part of its body. He tilted his head on one side and paused- He was reasonably satisfied with the operation. He decided to let his patient free and picked up the cockroach with one of it’s legs and set it free on the bed. It tried to scurry as fast as it could, with its mutilated body and Michael never took his eyes off it. It was struggling, he observed, to latch on to life. Desperately trying to evade it’s predator. To cheat destiny. What a brave little idiot! He chuckled to himself, before carelessly inverting the insect on its back as it squirmed in agony and helplessness. He did not like most of his patients. Michael was bored by now, so he threw it down on vinyl floor and quickly stomped on it a couple of times. Euthanasia is a huge comfort, he reflected. Pity most people did not realise that. After brushing the bed off the dirt and invisible germs, he lied down on his side.
He was gingerly rubbing his forearm, where they pricked him. There was still some dry blood that had clotted and clung on to his skin. He rubbed it off and tasted it blankly. Vague thoughts filled his head and he was trying to picture the face of his last victim- the cockroach. He wondered how it would look like had it been a human being. It would look like his father-he concluded with an air of finality. He yawned. Sleep was descending on him like a heavy blanket as he curled his body into a sort of bundle. He shut his eyes.

The kitchen smelled familiar, of freshly baked pies. The brilliant rays of the sun made his face glow as his mother scooped him up and placed him on her lap. She had put down her needlework and her arms were around his neck. He buried his face in her warm softness and tried to hide in her long brown hair. She gently stroked his back and was probably singing a lullaby as he fell asleep in his soft little cocoon.

Debjanee Chakrabarti


by Arnab

When you have nothing but your mind to entertain you, you start seeing things. Like the wall in front of me, with the myriad cracks spreading from the ceiling to the floor. The left one looks like a lightning bolt, as anyone can tell. The one on the right however, with the little corner edging inwards?...that looks like a gun. I think of telling Vincent but then remember its been a week since he's stopped speaking or even eating much. Vincent has started resembling a mantis, with his arms bent and stick like. Come to think of it, I’m very insect like myself. The little slab of glass nailed to the wall tells me exactly what kind: a cross between a fly, thanks to my bulging eyeballs and an earwig. That’s how my goatee’s shaped…like an earwig’s pincers.

The cell is damp but the food is excellent. It’s a pity Vincent doesn’t agree. He misses his wife’s cooking. Heck, I miss his wife’s cooking. I miss his wife more, but I won’t quite go there. Fifteen minutes earlier, a familiar gruff voice shouted "Food!" and shoved the bowl in, and today we have soup with nothing floating in it and bread only two days old by the looks of it. Oh joy! And still Vincent sleeps. You’d almost think he’s dead! As I sit down on the damp floor and say Grace and start my meal, I wonder why they never, in all this time, gave Vincent his share of food. He’s always been a skimpy eater but even then. Why should I have to share? Not that I had to for the last couple of days but its unfair. Much like its unfair of Vincent to have stopped entertaining me with his jokes and fond reminiscing. Such an enormous wimp, that man, but he was funny alright. And he helped make things less dreary. Vincent had a way with descriptions. The world as we knew it came alive right in front of my eyes. So yes, I miss Vincent and I wish he’d stop sulking and wake up. “Here’s to you, ol’ chap”, I say and make an invisible toast to him. He makes no noise, and lies there, deathly still.

I finish my meal and utter a sigh of contentment and look again. It’s no longer a gun now. It’s a house. It’s a house and wait there’s more…the little slab of wall that’s missing there, that right there is a backyard and the specks of dirt…they look like lilies, swaying in the breeze. And just then a breeze really does blow in through the grills from the sea just beyond . Reminds me of a few lines Vincent used to say aloud from time to time. Something that had lilies and the sea in it.

Someone’s coming. But I don’t feel like getting up. It feels pleasant suddenly. I think its Geoffrey again. What’s he want now?

“Oy Vincent, mate”, he said again, laughing that disgusting phlegmatic laugh of his. “Not too many days left now, is there?”

Something with the lilies and the sea. I forget the exact lines.


It has been a long time since I have been here. I have lost count of days. I had tried, initially, to escape. But they put me back in. To punish me, they starved me for days, and then, when I could not stand, for hunger had weakened my legs, they let HIM into the room. He whipped me. He whipped me till I was hoarse from crying. Then He left. I cowered in a corner for fear of Him coming back with the whip. They fed me the day after. It was a frugal meal that hardly appeased my stomach. But I gnawed at it as if it were a banquet. They starved me again after that. I learnt soon enough that it would become a ritual to feed me and starve me alternately. I knew they would not be able to keep me imprisoned if I was strong. This damned hunger had caused me to lose everything in life.

My memory is sharp. I remember everything. I remember how they caught me, as clear as daylight, although it was a dark night when it happened. It was hunger that drove me to steal. We did not go into the village usually. It was an unspoken rule among our kind. The villagers were the enemy. Together, they were stronger and more cunning than we could ever be. But my children had starved for a week. It was the villagers’ fault that had happened. They were taking over our territory. I remember how I crept around the cottage, a black night hiding me from sight. But I was wrong. They had kept watch. They were upon me like a wave breaks upon a boulder. I had nowhere to run. The villagers surrounded me, taunting me with their flaming torches. I shrank back. Hunger had left me weak.

“Witch!” she called me, a woman in the background, “these Godforsaken creatures have wreaked havoc on us!” was what she exclaimed, to no one in particular. I could see her, framed in a doorway. Maybe she had children too. Why did she not understand my plight? My babies, starving, left alone. I had to get back to them. But the villagers would not let me. Someone fired at me.

I woke up in this room. Tired, hungry, scared. I ached for my babies. There is a window in this room. I spent days crying through it, for my children. Hoping they would hear. I gave up after a while. They were better off wherever they were, away from this hellhole.

The man with the whip comes to my room every night. I am scared of him. I do as I am told, or else He whips me. He is here now. He cracks the whip. I stand quickly and walk out the door. I walk onto the stage to jump on stools and wave at cheering crowds. It is another regular night for me, performing for the ‘Bagher Khela’ at the Minerva Circus.

Diya Sinha

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sick As a Dog

Sorry people, have been struck down with a virus, as has everyone else in the house except Putlibai and one computer. Babulal too had fever for a day (an awesome sight. Everyone was subjected to concentrated cute for 24 hours). Since I can't speak much above a whisper, we won't be meeting tomorrow. But just to keep things boiling, for all those who have access to the web, post a piece here by next Tuesday.
The piece should be about a prisoner (any prisoner, you make it up. Try not to steal existing characters) and should be not more that 500 words, ie a comfortable size for a blog post.
This is like writing a poem. Every word should count. So before you post, revise ruthlessly and throw out anything that isn't totally doing its job.
Right? Let's rock.

Friday, August 06, 2010


(Am I doing this right? o_o)

From Planet Ultimatau to The Federation of Earth

To All Earthlings This May Concern

Greetings and salutations! My name is Alloran-nee-Coras-Ray, and I write to you on behalf of Queer Quasar Studios, Planet Ultimatau. It is our deepest pleasure to inform you that your planet is one of the lucky few selected to participate in this year's episode of 'Uncanny Universes', the ultimate intergalactic reality show!

Selection is carried out by our very own Relativity Comission, and by means of a hyperspace ballot. Only ten lucky races are selected each year, so the opportunity is one which comes once in a lifetime (literally. The boys down the hall in Probability Indexes did some number-crunching with their Space Time Calculators)! We trust you will be all agog at this good news, and ready to participate!

The Rules and Regulations are as follows (they're simpler than they sound). Each planet will be put through a series of tests which include asteroid showers, total gravitational collapse, and an influx of flesh-eating parasites from outer space. If you're lucky enough to draw one of our Hyperspace Random Event cards, you may have the chance to have a mano-e-mano encounter with our undefeated champion, the Ultimataum who has the destruction of no less than seven galaxies (and one minor solar system) to his credit - The Chomper.

Two lucky planets will make it to the finale - I won't spoil it for you, but it's called 'Total Annihilation: Invade or Die!'

Of course, failure to participate amounts to immediate surrender of all real-estate currently in your possession (in other words, your planet is ours, chuckleheads), and we will foreclose immediately.

It's not as bad as it sounds. You get a five-day eviction notice!

And that's all for now, folks! Just zap us back a reply by the nearest vacuum-post, and we'll open you up a wormhole to our Studio right away!

We look forward to a long and fruitful partnership!

Yours, in anticipation

Supreme Mugwump,
Queer Quasar Studios
100 Terabyte Drive
Planet Ultimatau

P.S: The first three contestants to confirm their participation get a 10% discount on our universally-acclaimed line of Galaxy Gourmet Cookies! Act now!