The write club July 2017 magazine has a total of four stories from four different authors. You can read the excerpt of the featured title story (and my story) in this post, and decide to buy it by clicking on the link below, or you could give it a pass 🙂
Either way, I am glad you’re reading this right now!
… But if you happen to read the magazine, do leave a comment. We would love to see your honest reviews on Amazon.
The Curious Case of Laura
I light my third cigarette in the last fifteen minutes, when Roy exclaims, “Oh, come on Sunny. Look at Papa, it is not good for him. The fumes.”
I turn towards the pale, frail man that lay on the bed to my left, barely breathing, connected by tubes to as many as eight different apparatus.
I expect the usual knot in my gut to hit me anytime, that knot of pure, raw dread of my father. I get nothing, nothing at all, sitting there watching him take his dying breaths, inhaling fumes of tobacco, I feel neither fear nor any traces of remote affection. I wonder, how soon before he takes his last breath, before he frees me from the clutches of my childhood nightmares?
“Ah, fuck Roy,” I turn back towards him, exasperated. “Papa is as good as dead, anyway. What is another round of passive smoking going to do to him? Plus I’m bored, waiting for Bob and Mia.” I speak the last sentence sulking and burying further into the Victorian Lounge chair that was plush enough to engorge my frail body. This is my father’s room, always has been; the largest, plushest, most masculine room in the whole mansion. Perhaps a London flat would comfortably accommodate itself in Papa’s room. It sits above everyone and every thing in our three-floored mansion. We were never allowed in there as kids, not even Mom, when she was alive, only the maids and only to clean up whatever my father used to do there all those nights my siblings and I were…
“I am here, Papa”. I hear the familiar voice of my elder sister Mia, exclaim breathlessly, rushing to my father, softly caressing his forehead. She even manages to coerce a single, dramatic teardrop for special effect. She then puckers her lips to plant a soft kiss on his forehead, which I observe to my sadistic satisfaction, barely touches his grey, pasty, pale skin. She turns around and looks at me, fury marring her eyes, as if Roy and I had been doing jack shit for the last hour, sitting there and smoking fumes, while our father is constantly being consumed into fiery depths of hell.
“Papa, is fine.“ I say. “We have been keeping an eye on him – and hi Mia, Bob.” I look at both of them, the twins, my elder brother and sister, older by just a year and two sides of the same coin. They used to look so much alike when we were kids, but time had changed them both. Transformed the boyish, bossy Mia into a proper society lady and the awkward Bob into a jet setting, go getting, corporate slave.
“Hi Sunny, Roy, Mr. Poof.” Mia responded eyeing me, Roy and Roy’s old, battered teddy bear, with one eye, Mr. Poof. I am still pretty flabbergasted that after all these years Roy, the youngest amongst us, has kept his tattered Teddy bear alive in his own head. Some how at twenty-four years old, having an imaginary friend in a teddy bear stops being cute anymore, at least stops being cute to me.
About the Author (Ell.P) in her own words : Writer. Artist. Dreamer. Coach. Hi, I am Lakshmi Priya, but I respond better to Ell.P; a leadership consultant/coach when the sun shines, and a writer/artist past midnight.
Most of my childhood memories come to me as a reminder of how we overlooked dad’s strange demeanor and his relationship with the radio.
We would flock out behind him every morning, pressed against his legs like clueless kittens, whilst he stared out of the window at nothing for good fifteen minutes, sipping his own made ginger tea with extra sugar and smoking his own rolled tobacco cigarettes, as the All India Radio jingle in the background reached a crescendo.
If we ever spoke over the news updates, dad would yell out a sharp hush, eyeballing at us from his reflection in the mirror, and giving soapy brush strokes on his chin a pause for few seconds; we would freeze, and pretend to read our books with diagrams and numbers in them. This happened almost every day, and it taught us two valuable lessons: One must not talk when the news updates are being read out and shaving daily counts as body hygiene. Although, in dad’s case, it seemed more of a compulsive behavior than a need; his skin often caught rashes and his beard did not grow as much as he shaved it.
During the early 80’s in western India, the summer vacation had sultry afternoons, and we snuggled like a brood of chicks near the table fan on our verandah that arched facing the west, and had a lopsided wooden swing tied to it. Once we also tried to make a hammock in the porch using dad’s towel and it tore from the sides when my brother sat on it the very first time, so we lied about losing the towel to the wind.
We often hoped dad would tune into some songs on his radio during those stodgy afternoons, but dad jumped the songs – maybe, on purpose – to play the news updates over and over again, until we fell asleep on our shoulders or went indoors and asked mom, if she planned on taking us out in the evening.
“Ask your dad,” that was her usual response. Which we later figured, simply translated to her ways of saying no to everything we aspired for.
The city we lived in, did not offer much of sightseeing anyway. There was one amusement park with unhinged seesaw levers, unsafe rocky grounds and untidy water coaster rides that smelled distinctive of piss and algae. The zoo next to the park had scrawny starving tigers that slept the whole day and woofed when kids with negligent parents threw peanuts at them.
Once a man, not in his senses, had jumped in the tiger pit and had managed to trick and outrun the tiger.
“These tigers have forgotten to hunt,” dad commented, when he heard the news of the great escape the day after on his radio, and I nodded sitting across the dining table, with rice stuffed in my mouth, wondering what else he thought of the incident other than the obvious.
Whenever our family friends or relatives visited us, as a courtesy, we showed them the park, the zoo and the colossal city hospital – that was funded by the church and a few other holy missionaries – as if it were a monument. Dad recited the same story every time, of how the hospital came into existence as a part of a big money laundering scam by billionaires, and all of us sat in the backseat of the taxi, with our ears perked up, pretending to listen carefully, lest he asked questions.
About the Author: Well, that would be me 🙂 And you’re reading this on my blog. So …
About Write Club Bangalore: It’s a weekly meetup group of writers, that’s been consistently running for past 7 years.
Every week we assemble at 2 in the afternoon and write on a prompt given to us by the host. Then we read (out loud) whatever we have managed to write, one by one, and the host, or the other members of the club, tell us how good or bad the pieces are.
Post the writing session, we have coffee at a close by restaurant and we often debate (and/or joke) about everything under the sun. The waiters at the restaurant probably hate us, because we are usually very loud. But then it’s a lot of fun. I mean, I could go on and on about the group, but I can’t put it in words. Why don’t you check out the official website instead?