The write club July 2017 magazine has a total of seven stories (yup, we made a slight progress from our pilot edition) from seven 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!
Echoes from Vrindavan
The air burned with a cool, golden light. Krishna was not aware of opening his eyes, but he must have, because until a moment ago he did not see, and now he did. A large hall with rows of empty thrones lining the walls on both sides. At the head of the procession, on a pedestal raised by eight ornate steps, a seat large enough for twelve kings. On it a thin, black-clad man. Crackling his bony fingers, gazing fondly into the distance.
The light passed through Krishna as he floated along the length of the room. He looked down at his legs to check if he was walking; he wasn’t. The right foot, which had been mangled by an arrow the last time he’d seen it, was now whole again.
When he came to rest at the foot of the staircase, the man on the throne turned to him. The nose, which had a beak-like shape in profile, now resembled two straight lines joined by a child’s squiggle at the bottom. He sat in the manner of a general studying the map of a warring region, or a regent holding court in a room full of ministers. His dark tunic was held in place with a sparkling white diamond at each shoulder, and Krishna could see those hands – withering and frail at first glance – held a quiet sort of power.
A mace stood to his left, leaning against the armrest. Wrapped around it like a snake, a fraying noose.
‘Did you ever truly believe in me, Krishna?’ he asked. ‘You look a bit surprised that it has come to this.’
Krishna looked up at the man’s eyes for the first time; the eyes of a predator, set facing forward, a green smoulder lighting them from within. And yet there was sadness in them; sadness that came from seeing and knowing much; sadness that Krishna understood only too well.
‘I did not believe there were Gods beyond the ones we built for ourselves on Earth,’ said Krishna, lowering his gaze by instinct, he who had not bowed before the strongest kings of North Country. ‘It is as we have written it in the books, then? There is a Yama?’
‘You can call me Yama,’ said the man. ‘The name hardly matters. There is much to be amused by in the books of Earth, but not all of it is in error.’
‘We seem to have got your weapons correct, Your Highness,’ said Krishna.
Yama looked at the mace and whip. ‘These?’ he said, and laughed. ‘You know better than most that men make the world around them by what they hold in their minds. Is it not the principle on which you lived your life, Krishna? Well, it is truer here than it could ever be on Earth. You see what your mind’s eye compels you to see.’
Krishna straightened himself, and looked around the court. The chairs were still empty. Their voices boomed in the long golden hall. There was no discernible smell to the air he breathed – but then he caught himself. Was he indeed breathing?
‘I suggest that you do not ask too many questions of yourself,’ said Yama. ‘For here it is I who shall ask and you who shall answer.’
‘Is that how you decree it, sir?’
‘I?’ said Yama. ‘The decree has been made for me. I am but a slave to it.’
‘Who are your masters, then?’
Yama smiled down at Krishna and shook his head. ‘No more questions, as I said. We do not have eternity at our bidding, regardless of what your books say. Do you remember how you came into this hall?’
Krishna turn back at the green and gold entrance that towered behind him, through which he must have walked not too long ago to come here. But he had no memory of it. It was as if he had closed his eyes – his mortal eyes – at the glade, as pangs of pain shot through his foot and up his body, and opened them here, in front of this man who called himself Yama.
‘No,’ said the man now, as if ascertaining to himself a fact. ‘You do not. You will have noticed that the air in this place does not touch you, it drowns you. If you try to blink, you will find that you cannot.’
About the writer: Sharath Komarraju is an author of fiction and nonfiction based in Bangalore, India. His best known work (to date) is the Hastinapur series, in which he speaks into the silences of the Mahabharata story through the voices of the epic’s many women characters. His first novel, Murder in Amaravati, was longlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize, 2013.
Once a software engineer, now he tells stories full-time. When he is not writing or reading, he could be seen watching cricket on television, talking to his wife, or munching on the nearest chocolate bar.
Twice already, the guard with scowling brows, scoffing an air of reluctance, has allowed her acquaintances enter inside the apartment tonight. These acquaintances, who reek of tobacco and sexual desperation, disregard the guard’s intervention in their personal visits, by calling it a needless obligation.
“Sorry, Sir!” The guard mutters, masking an adverse tension. “Just doing my job,” he says, not submitting to the avoidable fuss he may have made on his part.
“Argh … hurry up! Block A-203,” the acquaintance complains, butting out a cigarette with his foot.
On the other side of the intercom, she sounds woozy, and her lisp – that often titillates the guard – is now fiddling with her diction, and turning her sentences into puzzles of rare kinds.
“But madam –” The guard mumbles, faking a cordial tone, and suppressing an urge of defiance, “He doesn’t have any ID on him.”
“How does it matter? I know him personally, so that’s okay,” she commands. “Let him in.”
And the guard compels himself to say, “Alright then, please come down, and sign him in?”
“Fine … fuck … fine!”
And for the third time tonight, she is at the entrance gate booth, arching her body like a sloppy contortionist, and making illegible entries in the register, that can’t be read without a disagreement about their true details. And while doing so, the strap of her brassiere has fallen sideways, and the guard in his full capacity, pretends to remain oblivious of the sexual tension that she has ignorantly weaved around him. While the acquaintance lights up another cigarette, and runs his hands through her skinny waist, sandwiched in an hourglass body. The guard looks away and grits his teeth, clasping the edges of the table, and making a sincere effort to not tear the register’s frail pages off.
“Thank you madam,” the guard lets out a smile with tight lips.
She acknowledges the guard with a vague nod, and turns around to hug the acquaintance. They hug for a second, a cold detached side-hug, and walk down in the direction of the window that opens to her bedroom, on a floor above the ground. The guard’s eyes follow them from a distance, till they mould into elongated shadows, and soon collapse into each other, becoming a distorted sketch of temporary tenderness.
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?