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A MASTERPIECE!: Review of Dr Koshy AV’s collection of short stories Scream & Other Urbane Legends by Rahul Ahuja, writer and poet.

A MASTERPIECE!

 

Rating: *****

 

Dr. Koshy AV is an author, critic, poet and academician. His book “Scream and other Urbane Legends” is a doorway to classic literature. While reading, one can realize how aptly he has taken references from classic literature to stitch up the seducing stories or one can see a heavy reliance on allusions and intertextuality. In the words of the author, “A study of classic literature has helped me tremendously. Everywhere the reader will find a heavy reliance on allusions and intertextuality used consciously, including many classics and great writers in its sweep, and these add a rich dimension to my writing for those who get the significance and referentiality in its full measure.” Very few authors are able to do this and that too successfully. The author has made a successful attempt in carefully penning down short stories that are poetic in nature. As already mentioned above, every story shall take you back in time in the realm of classic literature and even classic music. So one can say that every story is like a time machine that takes your brain train into the stations of legendary writers, artists, musicians and much more and keeps you utterly engrossed in Koshy’s creativeness and wittiness. Every story has been written with great dedication and it shows the boundless wisdom that the author possesses.

The author is successful in creating twists and turns in a few stories that leave an indelible effect upon the minds and hearts of the readers. For example, in the story ‘Aouda: The Confluence’, one transcends from the road to the industrial city to a mesmerizing and mysterious world etched down by the author’s splendid imagery and as one reaches the climax he/she is astonished as to ‘What the hell just happened. Did I just wake up from a dream?’ The story, ‘The Junction’ reminds me of a quote from the classic novel One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. “Things have a life of their own. It’s simply a matter of waking up their souls.” The author has portrayed the junction as an observer who silently beholds the happenings of a day that arrives and departs in front of its vision and when the night emerges how it ponders upon the untold stories that lie deep down its memory lane. Creation Myths on Poetry: A Trialogue is a masterpiece where the author has beautifully crafted the essence of pure poetry in the first two myths and in the third one he criticizes as to how that essence has been lost by providing an example of plagiarism. Apart from the above mentioned stories, the following ones left an incredible impact on me, namely ‘The Sculptor’, ‘The Gran’dad and the Little Boy who wanted to be a Poet – a tribute to Isaac Babel’, ‘The Poor Poet’, ‘The Writer Who Lost it at the Edge of the World’, ‘The Last Scarecrow’, ‘The Tenth Muse’, ‘Not Dark… Yet’ (after Beckett), ‘Written on the Body’, ‘Scream,’ ‘Lady Nina’ (Impressed as to how the author has forged a short story out of a song. Commendable work.), ‘Sandhya’, ‘Lalita’ and Raktha Rakshas’.

Quoting from Anamika – “When love and hate collide. Poems explode. In the interim of the internecine interstice where the interface lies.” The novella, Anamika deals with the sufferings a poet goes through in love and hate. With some brilliant references from classic literature, the author has worked wonders in scripting this story. The poems within the story are excellent. Thus, if I have to sum it up, “Scream and other Urbane Legends” is a classic book in itself that shall seduce your introspection leaving you intoxicated with the beauty and creativity that the author has successfully applied.

 

You can buy the book on amazon.in or Flipkart at the following links:

http://www.amazon.in/Scream-Other-Urbane-Legends-Koshy/dp/9382536582

https://www.flipkart.com/scream-other-urbane-legends/p/itmeqg8fzxzmmhug?pid=9789382536581&srno=s_1_1&otracker=search&lid=LSTBOK97893825365811ARCN8&qH=1bf817bb43dac75c

 

This is me, Rahul Ahuja, holding the book. 🙂 

Scream and other Urbane Legends by KOSHY AV (a collection of short stories- the first five star review and some details)

In my previous post I had promised to give the links to the book  on amazon. in and flipkart so anyone who wants can buy it. Only a few copies are available! 🙂 Thanks to all who bought are and are reading and enjoying it.

 

Here are the links and my first review which is a five star one and what Reena Prasad has to say on it.

https://www.flipkart.com/scream-other-urbane-legends/p/itmeqg8fzxzmmhug?pid=9789382536581&srno=s_1_1&otracker=search&lid=LSTBOK97893825365811ARCN8&qH=1bf817bb43dac75c

http://www.amazon.in/Scream-Other-Urbane-Legends-Koshy/dp/9382536582/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1485344654&sr=8-1&keywords=scream+and+other+urbane+legends

Product Description

This collection of short stories will take you by surprise. Each one is unique, experimental, minimalist and together they explore a range of themes. The stories become an explosive deconstruction of sorts or an erudite construction as you read them yet sometimes are neither. From obsessed sculptors, lyrical relationships that refuse to go anywhere and self- exploratory narratives to silhouettes looming from deep green ponds, the writing offers a fresh look at the genre itself.

Top Customer Reviews

Scream And Other Urbane Legends is an outstanding collection of short stories by the legendary poet and author Dr. A. V. Koshy. The stories make for intense reading in power packed excellent prose condensed to the minimum use of words, the pain and pathos literally exploding on you. They have the quality of the classics but are very modern in their treatment, human emotions, love and pain lie dissected as the author weaves his tales like a wizard.
One wants to read them again and again for their wonderful prose, poetic often in its grace.
Satbir Chadha
25-01-2017
Delhi-India
Author Info
  • Dr Koshy AV is an author, critic, poet and academician who has been involved with thirteen books as editor, co-author, anthologist, compiler, contributor and writer including the famous Art of Poetry, Wake up India: Essays for our Times, The Significant Anthology and his own poetry collection Allusions to Simplicity. He has won many writing awards, has many diplomas and certificates, and is a poetry nominee for Pushcart Prize 2012, works for autism and is an educationist.

 

 

Scream and other Urbane Legends by Dr Koshy AV (A collection of short stories and one novella)

I am happy to announce the publication of my new and first collection of short stories- (my thirteenth book with my name on the cover in different capacities)  – by Lifi Publications on  January tenth at New Delhi World Book Fair. The launch was done by my wife Anna Gabriel Koshy as I could not be present, I thank Rakesh Sharma and Ramesh Mittal and the Lifi team as well as Drs Bina Biswas and Santosh Bakaya and Archna Pant and Reena Prasad, all famous writers, for all help in writing forewords, blurbs and encouragement.

Here is what I (and they) have to say on the book:

Author’s Preface

Stories. Not in chronological order. Spanning many years in its unfolding and unmaking. These are stories written by a poet and hence drenched in the splendour of poetry. The attempt was to write short stories that are poetic, and so they often deal with the theme of poetry or in two instances include poems as well as have characters in them who are poets. This is a uniting strand in and running through many of my stories. Another one is a restless inventiveness and experimentation. My stories are rooted attempts, structurally, to go beyond narration and description into a kind of meta-understanding of what the short story itself as a form is about now, in our times, with an undertow of metafiction that often makes them short deconstructed versions of stories. A study of classical literature has helped me tremendously. Everywhere the reader will see a heavy reliance on allusions and inter-textuality used consciously, including many classics and great writers in its sweep, and these add a rich dimension to my writing for those who get the significance and referentiality in its full measure. What I mean by stories that exist in a deconstructed form is that the stories may resemble fragments in some cases and only concentrate on one of its elements like plot or characters or point of view or theme or setting alone or just one of the stages of the plot. This may make people think that they are not stories but that is not it, they are consciously, experimentally post-modern in form at least, if not in content, being very south Indian and Keralite and twentieth century in a sense in its cultural ethos, and Judaeo- Christian in its ethics

My stories reflect my abiding concern with women and sexuality that is more often than not stamped under the carpet in our societies. My women are both the oppressed, in stories like ‘Sandhya’, and the oppressor as in ‘The Yakshi who lived by the Periyar’. But the stories deal with these two facets of women only as an inset and have a much wider spectrum of themes. Some of the others follow a more or less traditional pattern, the settings alone changing at times to what some may think exotic locales that I lived in, to hold the reader’s interest, though the settings are not made exotic.

I also write of men and women in dialogue and in opposition. A trio of creation myths or origin stories on women and poetry pushes the envelope of what Indian story writing in English tries so far, or so I feel.

Examining masculinities and gender in men, trying to define what being a man is; makes for some of the shortest pieces here that are not any less literary thereby in its efforts. In fact, in my opinion, they contain some of my best bursts of short story writing, bursts that veer more towards ‘short shorts,’ micro and mini fiction and flash fiction and is therefore concentrated and intense. A kaleidoscope of forms, including sci-fi, the parable, the exemplum and the fable illuminate the collection. The themes too multiply to include friendship, religion and spirituality, satire of the literary world, autism, different kinds of relationships between males and women and men and females, and other sexualities etc.

My stories pay tribute not only to Beckett’s minimalism but also to Isaac Babel, and many others like Chekhov and Nabokov, and one veers to Joyce and is left incomplete on purpose…!!! They are also influenced heavily by iconic classic rock music, musicians and songs.

Some of these stories have appeared elsewhere, as earlier, rougher drafts. An interesting point noticed while publishing those rough drafts about the creative process was the total illusoriness of fiction whereby if there is an autobiographical element in it it is considered pure fiction and vice versa by the readers, meaning if it is pure fiction it is often considered purely autobiographical! This can give rise to much incidental humour and dangerous speculation and that brings me to make another point, my writing is humorous in a very subtle, whimsical and wry way, though essentially it is tragic in its substratum and in its intensity,

My graphomania is vintage and meant to be enjoyed like slow, exquisite love making or like eating a lovingly cooked meal or as one enjoys travelling to exotic lands, times and places to meet with new cultures and people purely for the uniqueness of the experience. None of the stories herein are anything but extremely painstaking attempts to write great literature, but for those of you who love savouring reading and researching over and over again they will open up a world of delights, rich repasts and vistas of the imagination in miniature – as I am a minimalist – that you will come to cherish, till the next round of my story telling.

Dr Koshy A.V.

A teaser to my book Scream and Other Urbane Legends by Dr Koshy AV

While waiting for the links to give to you to get your own copies.

This book of short stories is purely experimental in that it spans a lot of forms. To start with, it tries its hand at straight, traditional story-telling, as well as short pieces of prose that can be called short stories only by those really aware of the developments in the genre, influenced by writers as diverse as Samuel Beckett and Gertrude Stein. One story shows the influence of Isaac Babel and another of Coelho. However, the originality of some of these stories probably appears more in their Indianness, their take on being an Indian from the south or a Keralite Malayali Syrian Christian by birth and upbringing, a cross between CSI and Marthomite, and in their exploration of taboo themes as well as their efforts to match the best in world literature. They are very fine specimens of writing but their success depends on a lot of Barthesian ‘writerly’ participation from their readers, which is one of their strengths and not weaknesses. One insistent theme is anger against the oppression of women, another of male-female relationships and a third, the exploration of masculinity. If one is ready to set aside qualms about new writing’s supposedly amoral nature, the book is a thoroughly enjoyable read.

To start with, my stories try  their hand at straight, traditional story-telling, as well as short pieces of prose that can be called short stories only by a stretch of theory, the imagination or application, by those really aware of the developments in the genre, as they are influenced by writers as diverse as Italo Calvino and Sadat Hasan Manto. However, the originality of some of these stories probably appears more in their straddling two centuries and being written in English, in different or lesser known places in India or abroad – hence diapsoric- and in their exploration of sometimes taboo themes as well as their efforts to match the best in world literature.

The short story, for those who know its history as well as I do, is often looked at in terms of periods, writers, important landmarks of stories or structures like its five or six elements or the Freytag’s pyramid etc. So I have written mine in such a way that I show readers that I can both fulfill all these obligations of prior knowledge thrust on me by my literary background if need be, and break (with) them totally as well and work completely outside (them), when I want to. My stories are thus traditional, modern or post-modern, depending on which mode I am working in, and I can use, destroy or just stay away from things like plot, characterization, setting, point of view, conflict, theme, or exposition, rising action, complication, climax, falling action or resolution adroitly. Moving from presence to absence, from evolution to devolution and from construction to deconstruction, the stories often remain minimalist but important aspects and landmarks of my progress as a writer for me, as one who is conscious of all aspects of his craft, including forms, style, language, structure, genre etc., while writing prose and short fiction.

In it there is a novella called “Anamika.” It brought forth diametrically opposite views from two writers/readers when they read it in rough. I love the story though. It has a solid flight to it with a pattern of lulls and ever rising crescendos leading to the climax that is like the troughs and crests of waves thumping against a sea-shore with each one becoming bigger till the last big one that splashes against the rocks and deluges you completely – a pattern that I particularly love as it is not found in any of my other stories.

It has been a long journey to my first book of short stories actually seeing the light of day. A book like what Dubliners may have meant to James Joyce.

Its significance is simple – in all the books in Indian English that I have read – starting from its beginning maybe right up to 2017 I have never seen such a heavy dose or overdose of experimentation in every aspect of writing fiction before, meaning in the genres of short short fiction, short stories and the novella – in plots, structures, forms, genres, styles, voices, points of view, themes, characterization, plot structures (meaning expositions, rising actions, conflicts, confrontations,complications, twists, hooks, turns, anti-climaxes, detours, digressions, climaxes, falling actions, denouments or resolutions), characters, techniques, playing around with moods, atmospheres, tones, ambiences and settings – as I have experimented with except in the case of a very few writers like G V Desani in All About H Hatterr, Raja Rao in his Kanthapura, Nakulan in his novel Words to the Wind in the Pappa Mia section, Salman Rushdie and maybe Jeet Thayyil.

It was even more experimental but had to be toned down several degrees to be at least a little bit on the edges or fringes of the mainstream!

It may be the first attempt at a quasi- Indian, quasi- post-modernist, quasi- modernist, quasi- diasporic, primarily deconstructionist, quasi- urban(e), anti-formalist, anti-structuralist collection of short stories in India.

Yet it reads well, on the whole. For those into hardcore literature as some are into hardcore pornography.

#Worldbookfair Delhi, January tenth, 2017, Scream and Other Urbane Legends by Dr Koshy AV

 

Close Encounters

I’m a nocturnal creature myself because I don’t sleep well at night. I live between town and country and so am visited by different species of wildlife on occasion, mostly nocturnal also. Such creatures as possum, rabbits, skunks, raccoons, and coyotes visit my back yard from time to time. Occasionally a bobcat can be heard in the distance along with the clattering of a rail switching yard which is just across the street.

I love sitting on the back porch with a cup of coffee watching the sunrise. It gives me time to reflect on God’s blessing in giving me my veggie garden to grow. I watch my cows and calves kicking up their heels. It’s like living in the country, but it’s really town.

I spend a lot of time during the night outside when the weather is nice, even during the winter. All us creatures of the night usually leave each other to our own devices. We manage to live together pretty well. Only occasionally does something go wrong and that’s where the story really begins. The skunk is probably one animal that lives both in town and country especially where there are woody areas. . I call my skunks Pepe LePew after the cartoon characters of long ago. Pepe don’t usually bother me cause I try to let them know I am around. I turn on an outside light or cough or even talk. . But you know that sometimes things go wrong, and leave you wishing you were anywhere other than just where you are at the time.

One night I was sittin’ outside in a chair just enjoying the evening when out of the corner of my left eye, I spotted some kind of movement. I wasn’t too concerned just figuring it was one of my outdoor cats. But as I sat there, some animal came walking right under my legs. I took a good look and saw that big bushy tail sticking up in the air. It was about a half second later when I noticed the white stripe down the back. It was not a small skunk either. It was obviously hungry as it went straight for the cat food bowl which was only about a foot away from me. It walked with great confidence as if it knew I was there and didn’t care. With that tail stuck straight up it seemed intimidating. My heart rate must have went through the ceiling as it felt like I suddenly couldn’t breathe. Now what am I gonna do, I thought.

My husband sometimes comes out to talk to me on my nocturnal wanderings. I usually look forward to our time together. Tonight I didn’t want to see him walk out that door. If he startled that big dude, we would surely both be in a world of stink. I figured just lookin at it; the spray would cover me from head to toe. As I sat there glued to that chair, I kept thinkin’, what to do? What to do? I wanted to get up and run like mad, but I knew that would be a mistake. I was as still as a statue and I think I was holding my breath. Pepe just kept on eating and every once in a while would look up at me and I could hear him say “what ya gonna do about it?” Finally I got enough air sucked into my lungs that I quietly said “Pepe, this is my porch and somebody else’s food and you need to find another place to be.” It ate a few more bites and I heard him say “you can’t tell me what to do”. It looked at me and turned around with its tail stuck up in the air and I thought I was gonna get it good. It walked off the porch with confident strides and disappeared into the night. I let out a sigh of relief and was panting as I immediately went back in the house.
I have not been sprayed yet. I figured I better lay in a large supply of tomato juice and do some research on the stinky critters after that close encounter. I just happened to be telling a friend of mine about it, and she said “Don’t waste your money on the tomato juice. I had two dogs and my mom sprayed and made them stay outside until I went and got some tomato juice.” She said “I scrubbed the three of them down good and it had very little effect. I washed them down and hosed them down until I thought they would drown before I ever got them somewhat less smelly.” I decided right then and there that a lot more research was gonna be needed. My luck was gonna run out one day and I was gonna get sprayed.

Before I could do any research, I was again out on the back porch when a very young Pepe happened to come upon me in the dark. Tail hiked as high as it would go. Young Pepe was upon me in an instant. Not knowing how young they can spray or how far, I was again caught in a very smelly situation. It was only about a foot away. I stood very still hardly breathing for fear it would startle the young one and quietly spoke and said “Little Pepe, this is my porch and you need to find elsewhere to go.” It was more aggressive than its older generation and decided it wanted the back porch to itself. It hiked its tail as high as it would go and stamped its feet at me and growled loud enough to make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I understood it to say “Go away. I’m using the porch.” I guess it didn’t understand English yet. I started to return the favor and stamp my feet and growl, but didn’t have a bushy tail to lift. I thought about that for about half a second before I took a couple of steps slowly backward letting it have more room. Apparently it thought I still had way too much of the porch under my feet. So again it stamped both front feet and growled louder, and I swear that tail grew about a foot in the process. This time It said “You are still too close. Back up.” I decided that research should not be conducted and so exited hastily into the back yard. I guess it decided it had won that round so lifted its head high, hiked its tail higher. Looking at me, it turned its back with tail in air. I decided when I saw that tail lifted in my direction I needed to get further away and so ran behind my car. Iit stalked off the porch in the other direction like it was the king of Pepe’s.

I called the local wildlife center and talked to a wildlife expert about my situation. He said “Don’t try to trap them it will get you in trouble. A skunk can only spray ever 24 hours.” I thought that’s useless if you don’t know which Pepe sprayed you and how would you know that? They all look the same. He also said “the spray is oil based and therefore hard to remove from clothing or animals. There are items on the market and in your local stores that will remove the odor. However, a skunk will not spray as a rule unless it is cornered or startled or threatened in some way.” That made me feel better. He said “If you see a Pepe out in the daylight avoid it because most likely it has rabies so call your wildlife office to get it trapped.” I took care of one myself as just the day before I had seen one out in the afternoon. My husband shot it with a .22 rifle as noise echoes at my house. Later in the week, he took me out to show me where it was. Unfortunately, he ran over it with the wheel of the pickup and it smelled for weeks. He might just as well have been sprayed.

I am not a “tree hugger” or vegan so don’t get me wrong when I say “all critters have their place in society, it’s just not on my back porch.” Since I have yet to be sprayed, I figure my time has about come and I’m not ready yet.
I’m still not ready, but another encounter has occurred unexpectedly. I was on the back porch last night when I heard something on the north side of the house. I thought it was probably my cat and started to say he was making so much noise he woke me up. My mouth was left hanging open when I suddenly saw the white stripe down its head. Just about the time I saw that, I must have made some noise because it suddenly looked up and seeing me, took off like it had seen the Devil. Lucky for me it had its tail down the whole time, but when he took off to the north, I headed south to the back door and went back in the house. I suspect this is not the last time I will see or hear from Pepe. So far, that’s the only one I have seen this year, but the years not over yet.

Tintin- tears that have moved the global village

—Sunil Sharma
The merchants of death made the most-recognized boy, Tintin, cry for an innocent city that paid a heavy price on Tuesday morning, March 22.
Brussels once beckoned Europe and others lovingly—like Paris/Mumbai.
Then three young men walked in with suitcases packed with death and mayhem.
The beloved of all nationalities, Tintin, read the news and cried for his very own, wounded nation.
The iconic guy with a tuft of hair as his signature made the world fall in love
With his antics and adventures and singlehandedly exported his country across the globe
As a great destination for cultural tourists, his romps in exotic settings
Delighting millions of adults and children, including the venerable Spielberg.
Now he sheds tears and we-the global citizens, with him, as an act of solidarity for the terror-hit Belgium.
Your bombs could never kill Tintin and his resilience earlier nor will they ever do in future.
Brussels—with you in this hour of crisis, please do not despair.
You are not alone!
Through Tintin, the entire world stands with you, at this hour of crisis.

Migration

 

War’s brutal waves washed me off of my shore,
Trashing me into this soil, far away from home.

Like a plant being transplanted into a new soil …

Here, in this stranger’s garden, I am alive under its sky,
Breathing its air and drinking its native water.

The enfeebled roots are struggling to grow here.

The strangeness and the non-belongingness;
The memory suddenly got the colour of ashes
And the future, blurred and misty, too, is in grey.

Amidst the chaos I grappled the solitude in my chest …

And I hear the weeping of wind and waves
Of my motherland, from the other shore of this sea,
Like the lullaby from the dry lips of my grandma.

A new plant, I, here, to flourish and nourish this garden;
Shall my blooms be of the same fragrance?
Shall my blooms be of the same colours?

The memory suddenly got the colour of ashes
And the future, blurred and misty, too, is in grey.

In the water flowing through my veins
The sky and stars are floating and the clouds too.

As sun be always there, how can rainbows be not there!

Hope is winging on the shoulder of moments;
It is The New Home. Or a New Birth !

 

—————///

 

This is a rejected poem and written for a cause. But I can’t reject this poem which, atleast for me, has so much in it or so much I hidden in it from my heart. It talks about the difficult situation, the horror of forced removal, and then the hope/will to restart life.

This is rejected mainly for using some words like:_

*  “trashing” (I used it because – we trash something useless/waste and here I was treated like a waste and thrown out of my soil/state to a new strange one.),

* “grappling” the solitude (well, solitude is  not  at all available in chaos/bitter time/disaster/war time. My understanding is that the peace/solitude can slip away from us any moment leaving us in inner turmoil adding to the external problems we are in. So I almost attacked the solitude and grappled it with my whole being and strength because I know without it inside me I can’t stand grounded. (grapple as transitive verb – to seize in a grip, take hold of:

Eg; The thug grappled him around the neck.)

I used these violent words which normally should not be there in the diction for something meant for peace (after a war or hope of a refugee), just giving them the responsibility to carry the tremors of the horror of experience/event whatever was there (war/disaster- whatever it is).

Well, next flaw was “there is no flow” in it – which I understood they couldn’t read it as I wrote it. No complaints whatever it is, but I would love to share it with all. I do not hold anything for rejecting it and I am not sad too. But I want to say that if I want to break the norms to use some words to complete the “bhav/expression” I meant, I must use it. It is not necessary that all should accept it. But if I say “And I hear the weeping of wind and waves / Of my motherland …” it is not equal to “the wind and waves are weeping” or something like that as the editor wanted to see – where the touch of depth it conveys – “the motherland too is sad for losing its child” which is completely ignored (probably they couldn’t find the inner layer meaning of that line).  The sea stands for the gap between what happened before and now, place or time, or even the previous situation and the present situation/place/time.
I changed the spacing and used extra punctuation marks (it was not at all necessary for those who are familiar with old days poems) to make its reading easy and smooth with proper pauses. I explain it because there was something within me so strongly says it is not a bad poem and I believe my inner voice. Someone told me “just give it, it is for charity, let them use it as they want and you use the original in your own book” – but I just couldn’t kill it just like that even for charity. Sorry for that. This is also not intentional to hurt anyone but it is necessary to clear my side.

The Weekend Plan

 

There was one particular thought that kept buzzing around my mind as I closed for work that Friday evening – the thought of a romantic weekend with my lady! I hastily packed my bag, placing my laptop upside down – something I never do – with a smile on my face while humming Don Williams’ ‘Shelter of Your Eyes’. She should almost be home by now, if not already at home. Moyin likes to surprise me whenever she’s visiting, or so she thinks but the way her face lights up when I feign surprise gives me a kind of happiness that makes me want to keep that smile on her face forever. It’s been five months since her last visit so when she called me Wednesday evening to tell me she was coming that Friday, you can imagine my excitement because that meant romantic dinner, cuddling, staring at the night sky in each other’s arms, giggling like kids and, I won’t bother telling you about the sex other than it always left us breathless and satisfied.
I got out of the office feeling fly, hailed a cab, and luckily the traffic was light. I checked my wristwatch, it was 6:10 already so I told the driver to step on the throttle as I was in a hurry. I wanted to get home as soon as possible for my weekend to start early, but the man didn’t even acknowledge me. Any other Friday night, I’d have called my best friend, John, to let’s go see a movie or something. We’d then go back to my place or sometimes his, and play video game till midnight while sharing how the week went, whatever we left out during our chats. I’d tell him about the stupid guy I met and how I’d wished I could punch him In the face, but after considering my size, I’d decided that what he’d done was not worth me going home with broken nose, and how I’d smiled instead. And he’d tell me about the hot girl that came to his workplace and how he was convinced she was his soulmate, how he’d had the best conversation ever with her in his head but was too shy to walk up to her. We would drink beers some nights and play game some more. We rarely go to parties or clubs and the reason is simple, we don’t see a point to it. However, the last time we went to a club was for a friend’s birthday and I woke up with the worst hangover having no memory of how I got home. That day, I vowed never to get drunk again…but that was any other Friday, today was different.

 

Today, Moyin is visiting me. Tonight would be one of the best nights I’ve had in five months and I could hardly contain my joy. The driver pulled up in front of my apartment and I hastily got down, dropping my phone on the curb in the process. I paid the fare and let the driver move before picking my phone and as I rushed into my building, I put the phone in my pocket. I live on the first floor of the three-storied building that houses my apartment, so I took the stairs two at a time. With my heart racing by the time I got to my door, I took about a minute or so to catch my breath and tried as best as I could to have a neutral look on my face. I put my key in the lock as I began singing “…tune out the world and rest my head neath the shelter of your eyes”. She always kept the door locked when she wants to surprise me, but tonight the door was unlocked. I paused for just a split second thinking she probably forgot to lock the door.

Stepping into my apartment, the first thing I saw gave me another pause. There she was seated on the couch looking like the angel that she was but there was a brave-yourself-for-what-comes-now look on her face. I smiled at her nonetheless. Dropping my bag as she got up to meet me, I gave her a tight hug that says ‘I’ve missed you so much, babe’, but she barely returned the hug. As I let go of her, wondering what was wrong, the first thing she said told me all I needed to know.

“Segun, we need to talk”.
I was still staring into empty space twenty minutes after she’d left, that statement of woe ringing in my ears. Trying to figure out what I’d done wrong as I sat there just staring at nothing. Of course she gave me the cliché speech of “it’s not me it’s you” and “I need to work on myself”, but all she said after that first statement barely registered. I knew she was the best thing that had happened to me in forever. I knew she was a prize, a godsent, and I knew I treated her like a princess that she was. I adored her. So I couldn’t understand what just happened. After a while I picked my phone to call John only to see the screen damaged from the drop earlier, still I tried to dial but his number wasn’t going through. I got up, went to the fridge and got a can of beer. I tried John’s other line and it went through.

“Moyin just dumped me”, I said.

“Oh!” he paused for a while, then “get dressed, I’m getting you drunk tonight”.

Twenty minutes later we were heading to a club.

As I woke up next morning with a banging headache, I tried to figure out where I was and the events of last night. Turning in the bed, I tried to locate my phone so I could check the time. I felt for it on the nightstand by my bed, it was there. Picking it up and squinting as the light hurts my eyes, I checked the time, it was 10:53. I was about to put it down when I noticed I had missed five calls. I unlocked the phone but the password wasn’t working, I tried two more times and got the same “Wrong Pin” alert. Confused, I examined the phone to see if it wasn’t mine or last night’s event had messed with my head so badly I couldn’t remember my pin, it was then I noticed that it was John’s phone. We use the same type of phone so we sometimes take one for the other. He is my best friend and I know his pin, so I entered the right one this time thinking he probably already noticed it was my phone he took and was the one calling to tell me. Just like I thought, my name was the first on the list, but the other four calls were from Moyin.

I was curious. Why would she be calling my best friend after dumping me the night before? Was she concerned about me? Or perhaps, she had called me and John told her his phone was with me. Thoughts were racing through my mind and I ignored the pounding in my head for a minute. My excitement was building up again as I saw a message bearing her name. I opened the message, my hand shaking slightly, the message read:

“John, where are you? Waited up all night for you. Call me back as soon as you get this.”

Confusion.

Why would she send this message? I was more curious now, so I checked to see if there was a message before that. Lo and behold!, there was.

“Hi, I finally ended things with Segun. I don’t think it’s a good idea to tell him now as he looked pretty shaken when I left his place just now. I’ll be at your place in thirty minutes. XO”.

A wave of nausea hits me, and I rushed into the bathroom to throw up. The headache now seemed stronger. I couldn’t breathe. My brothers used to call me a sissy because, they said I was too emotional and emotions are for sissies. I didn’t think about that as I sat there and cried my eyes out. When I was done with my self-pity, I got up cleaned myself up and took some aspirin to dull the ache. I didn’t know what I was going to do but I knew I needed answers. As I finished dressing up, John came in, he greeted me laughing just like he would any other day. I smiled at him. He told me he left his phone and I replied “I know” handing his phone to him. My sombre expression must have told him my response was double packed; I knew he left his phone and I knew what he didn’t want me to know.

He spent the next ten minutes telling me how they had just connected and they both didn’t act on it, because they respected me. He told me how they’d stayed away from each other trying to see if the feelings would go away and I tried to remember the last time they were together in a room for more than ten minutes but couldn’t, John always gave an excuse for having to leave. He also told me they didn’t cheat on me, because that would be wrong which was why she decided to end the relationship. I just sat there and listened. He told me they didn’t mean to hurt me and the way I was last night, he couldn’t have explained to me which was why he suggested we go to the club.

He is my best friend. I love him like a brother that he is. But now my angel, my godsent has picked him over me. I know things would not be the same from that moment but instead I told him I understood what he was saying, after all I did understand what he said, it was just hard to believe he was saying those words.

That weekend turned out to be a type I hadn’t had in five months and over. It turned out to be the worst weekend of my life so far. I lost a best friend and a lover. Thinking about it now only reminds me that life is a like a book, some chapters interesting while others, not quite interesting, but until you open the next page you won’t know how the story goes. I learnt this six months after things with Moyin ended when I decided to close that bitter-sweet chapter of my life, and open a new one. I started seeing a therapist, one Doctor Kemisola, to help me move on with my life. Turns out Moyin breaking up with me only happened so I could meet the right woman for me, as Kemisola and I are set to tie the knot in two weeks. Today John and I are going to get the wedding suits, he said he’s honored to be my best man.

Politics of hatred

Two South Boston brothers Scott and Steve Leader beat a homeless man

A 58-year-old Hispanic, on August 19, inspired by the hate speech of a man called Trump.

Hispanics, homeless, blacks, Arabs, Sikhs, Muslims, Indians and practically every immigrant are suddenly suspect and these groups kick up hysteria on those mean streets that were once made by the immigrants from Europe and UK and slaves from African continent!

How immigrants demonize others as illegals and sub-humans and even zombies!

The one appearing different—in a hoody or tattooed or with a top bun—can become a grave threat to the commune/collective/gated communities. Paranoia has no expiry label, feeding upon our urban angst, fears, insecurities and make us all vulnerable!

The politics of hatred spreads everywhere like a swollen river of toxins flooding the cities and towns on its destructive course.

In this era of Internet and social media, such messages circulate seamlessly and create the Instant Other even in advanced nations, transforming friends and neighbours into enemies.

When politicians in democracies talk of the Hispanics and immigrants as threats, the virus kills the conscience…and nobody wants to see the deadly power-games.

The two brothers urinated on the old victim’s face and beat him with a pole and broke his nose and teeth…and laughing, went away from crime scene, feeling vindicated for a vast nation built upon the bones of the previous immigrants and massacred indigenous folks.

If looks decide the fate, we all are doomed, one place or the other; we are the fall guys for the wrong lingo, clothes, beliefs, hairstyles, sexual orientation and skins; the 21-century sadly rewinds to an age of feudal anarchy and bloody revenge.

 

 

A review (PART ONE) of THE SIGNIFICANT ANTHOLOGY written by LALIT MAGAZINE

PART ONE of a review that is going to do justice to The Significant Anthology by Lalit Magazine who is in his own right a great writer!

REVIEW OF THE SIGNIFICANT ANTHOLOGY

Divided into three parts: Prose, poetry and a long poem, Oh Hark!, this
anthology of more than 300 pages is indeed a treat for bibliophiles.
Bringing out an anthology of this magnitude where young and old,
veterans and amateurs, Indians and foreigners rub shoulders, is indeed
a very significant achievement. Allow me to add my voice to that of
Dr. Ampat Koshy, who says:

“The best thing about the anthology is that it stands for peace. Here,
Pakistani and Indian, young and old, man and woman, black and white,
Muslim, Christian, Jew and Hindu, and people from all professions and
walks of life or ones without jobs as well as from places as far flung
as Ghana or UK or Australia, all nestle together in the pages of the
same book, with no wars amongst them.”

As Reena Prasad so poetically puts it in the introduction:

As submissions kept pouring in, “Opening the mailbox was like
opening the clinic door, and finding graceful birds, comic bears,
erudite foxes, and angry cheetahs waiting in orderly chaos …….”this
line itself is a scintillating piece snipped from a literary gem
which glints and shines with the brilliance of 176 writers from all
over the world . Poems- big and small, prose pieces, stories and a
play, all set an example of peaceful co-existence and orderly chaos
.Tragedy and comedy, satire and surreality all coming together to form
a heady brew , leaving a taste which lingers and lingers, wanting one
to go back and again have a second and third helping, without the fear
of indigestion. “.Some books should be tasted,, some devoured , but
only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly .”
And this book, is one such book, which is meant to be digested.
Francis Bacon would have surely remarked thus about this book.
All the prose pieces offer something, but some pieces tugged
at the heartstrings with their tragic intensity. The Keepsake by
Namrata Privy Trifles, from India, Father and daughter, by Animesh Ganguly, tire by
Michele Baron from U.S. A were some such pieces. The effortless ease
with which Michele Baron’s prose flows is indeed amazing.

The boy who wished for rain, by Ushnav Shroff from India, I found
exceptionally well- written, and touched a chord in the heart. So did
Pamposh Dhar’s reminiscences about her father. Shriya Pant’s Cauldron
of Dreams, poetic in expression, with its refrain,” the wispy dark
woods have secrets of their own”, was another piece which gripped me
completely. Tearful Memories, by Sajini Chandrasekera, from Srilanka,
a poignant piece about tragedy and devastation in the aftermath of
Tsunami, made me cry unashamedly at the injustice of it all. Tribhawan Kaul’s piece The Present left a lingering smile on my lips.

Let me hasten to add, that all the pieces are commendable pieces of
art, and I feel pathetically small in the face of such greatness to
review all pieces. You need to grab your copy soon to partake of
these literary delicacies.

The solo short play by Jawaid Danish, from Canada, is indeed the tour
de force, short in structure, but monumental in its message – a power
punch of a play .One lives the emotions of the mother of the autistic
child- the narrator- with every printed word. Through this intensely
moving play, I could sense the magic in the child’s eye, and “his
sweet smile, the spark in his eyes, his unblemished innocence, his
playfulness”.

Reena Prasad further says:

“To read an international anthology of poetry is to glimpse how life
treats people in different parts of the world. Each time the twenty
six letters of the English alphabet are rearranged into silences, into
music and thrown into dance moves using a refreshingly unusual grammar
and unique structure, our limits of ‘English’ imagination expand a bit
more – till all images foreign seem to communicate effortlessly with
more rustic, close to-home voices, literarily yelling to each other
over neighborly walls.” Yes, indeed, this anthology with its varied
themes, carries fragrances from all over the world and they waft
across to us singing the tune of peace and love.

The second part of this anthology focusses on poetry, and has some
immensely great poems, which refuse to leave the mind, even when one
has finished reading the poem. One such poem is by Christopher
Chiwanza, from Zimbabwe. This sensitively written poem touches one to
the core. In one stanza he says:

“And I’m going to teach our son

Not to be man first but to be human first with women

And I’m going to teach our daughter

Not to let patriarchal pretenders usurp her greatness

I’m going to wring apologies from every patriarchal man in this world

Until they ring in the echoes of truth and sincerity

Because woman, you deserve to be deserved

You deserve to be served

A buffet of love, respect and honour”.

The poem which completely bowled me over was A Boy and a Girl Sat By A
River, by Joanna Sarah Koshy, India. Its narrative style transported me
back to the classical poets, and I found myself reading it aloud.
.Here is one poem which enchants by its mellifluous strains, and
here is one young poet all set to create waves in the literary world.

I read the almost hundred page prize winning poem Oh Hark ! with a
finger –in – the mouth awe. Intrigued by its weird characters, I found
myself chanting with the three witches and the selfie scene had me in
splits.

Let me congratulate the indomitable editors, Dr. Ampat Koshy, Reena
Prasad, and Michele Baron for enriching the literary world by this
praiseworthy effort. It has something to suit all sensibilities.
Soothing and sensuous, sublime and stunning, it is pregnant with the
promise of proving a wonderful companion in long journeys, and a
permanent part of one’s book-shelf. The poems enthuse and energize,
initiate and inspire, stimulate and stir, throb and titillate, they
caress the emotions and soothe frayed nerves. The stunning use of
imagery and metaphor is indeed praiseworthy. Some poems with their
gut-wrenching intensity are like a poetic squall sweeping right
through the literary world rearing to knock down retrograde beliefs
and skeptical mindsets. One has to read the anthology thoroughly to
believe what I, with my pathetic vocabulary , am trying to convey.

Taking into consideration the high quality of the literary pieces
here, it would indeed be gratifying to see this book adorning the
shelves of college and university libraries. The publisher
George Korah, Morph Books, Bangalore, also deserves hearty congratulations
for this stupendous effort.

Hoping to see more such literary magic, some more sleight of hand and
heart from the invincible editorial team of Dr. Ampat Koshy, Reena
Prasad and Michele Baron in the future .

(to be continued…..)- with Santosh Bakaya