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Rustam Vania
Smita Lohia


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Fiction // Short Stories
Some short stories and short story series that got published in between

DIFFERENT WORLDS / Nthpositon / 2009

excerpt :

What can I say? However hard I try your mind refuses to change its skin. Mind you, it is getting thicker by the day. One day it will feel like a coarse rubber sponge and what will you do then? Auction it? Put it in a safe deposit? Clean the floor with it? There are always possibilities.

Go to Nthposition to read the whole thing

CAPTIVE SUN / Verve Magazine / 1998

excerpt :

The priest rattled out the prayers for the morning ceremony. In between he coughed. And a mundane balance of things that she had never noticed before, cracked like a dry biscuit. Her head snapped up. The eyes of the goddess regarded her with infinite boredom.
That year, Durga looked like Hema Malini, the favorite matinee idol from Bombay. She looked down upon the devout with large lotus eyes and a docile smile accompanied by loudspeakers blaring out Tere Mere Sapne, the preferred hit song of the season.

The goddess had come from Kumartuli, a colony of potters in North Calcutta, where new clay divinities were fashioned each year. She had traversed India by truck and train, wrapped up in straw, newspapers and jute. Once in Benares, she emerged from her wrappings astride a fierce lion with yellow nylon hair, and even in Benares, a place well frequented by the gods, people stood amazed.

The priest resumed his droning rattle as the herd of bowed heads followed in monotonous sing-song. Gayatri’s head went up again. She looked around quietly. What was going on? It occurred to her for the first time, that she did not know what she had been saying to the goddess all these years. Possibly the bored goddess didn't even care. Gayatri glanced at the Hema Malini clone with suspicion.

Prayers over, the priest rang his bell. People threw their flowers fervently at the clay feet of the goddess in hope that she would answer their prayers. Gayatri shot up a furious glance at the goddess. Did those placid eyes care at all? Or did this goddess need a bribe?
She slipped out of the pandal and walked away. She was fifteen and confused by a flood of uncertain understanding. The world was not what it seemed. Nor its truth final…

A HUMAN RACE / The Eye / 1996-97

A short story series //// Adult / YA crossover

Briefly : World Management Inc. is in trouble. God has overtaken them again and messing
up their plans. Something has to be done. A contest is called between the best of World Experts and God. Who has greater speed? To make sure they win, World Management Inc. hires Aditi Singh, the latest Miss World, from New Delhi, and blasts her off to space secretly. Her mission?
To check in with God and steal his secret, if any...

An extract from Episode #2: Miss World has just returned with her first message from God but no one is pleased. Instead, she is fired. Thus Aditi Singh takes things firmly in hand. Read on…

Miss World shut the door behind her softly and took the elevator down. In the Security Council chamber, where a high-level meeting was still going on, no one noticed. They had just fired her for brining back a useless message from God.

One unmoving that is swifter than mind. That the Gods reach not, for it progresses ever in front…

‘You need to find That,’ Aditi told them earnestly.

Absolute rubbish. There was no point wasting more money on the woman anymore. They needed facts. The actual equations of his unbearable speed. Not this crap. Maybe it was a mistake sending a woman up. They could do without one for now.

And so Aditi Singh, the latest Miss World, was fired from her top secret job. God had tricked them all once again and no one was pleased. World Management Inc. did not bother to thank their lovely spy for her efforts. They even missed the look on her face as she slipped away.

Outside the U.N. building Miss World hailed a taxi and returned to Broadway. The space shuttle was still safe behind the large yellow Kodak sign. No one had noticed anything. She rode the elevator up to the top, opened a hatch of the small silver spacecraft, climbed inside and blasted off discretely.

But, as things happen, a young television reporter acting on a tip-off from a man called McGod, arrived on the scene just as the shuttle lifted off. The reporter swung out his video camera and filmed the space-shuttle as it rose gracefully over the Kodak sign and shot up through the high rise forest of New York, into the big grey sky. He raced back to the studio, barged into the chief’s office out of breath and showed him the tape. It was a scoop. Half an hour later the top-secret story was out.

Miss World picked up the news story as the shuttle went into first orbit. She altered the flight plan immediately. Non-stop Orbit Till Further Command. She was in no mood to land. There would be hordes of reporters everywhere. She leaned back and rested her head against the cushioned head-rest. A few weeks ago she had been just another routine beauty queen answering stupid questions. Then she met God. With sudden anguish Aditi realized that life would never be the same again.

Many thousand miles below, on Earth, a pair of immortal eyes detected a silver flash in the sky. He pushed up his reading glasses. One more blip. Then it was gone.
‘There she goes again,’ he murmured with satisfaction. ‘Twenty-third orbit.’

DOT MATRIX / Auroville News / 1995-97
Short story series /// Adult / YA crossover.

Briefly : Dot Matrix exists in another Time Zone. The city has a dream - to anchor the Light Parallel at the heart of things and let life blossom from there in all its unity. Very unlike most cities where people are born as usual, get on with life as usual, and, as usual, go to sleep after watching TV. So, there were problems. Dark Parallel, for one, was most displeased. Dot Matrix had to be stopped. People had to be made to toe the conventional line. Thus the Dark Parallel began hindering the dream in any and every way. Naturally, it was not easy, specially the early years…

Excerpt from Episode #2: Snapshots in Dot Matrix

Ria and Velo who lived in a further future of Dot-Matrix often wondered about those early days. One afternoon, walking through the canyons, they stumbled across an old bag with photographs that were live. Read on…

Snapshot No.1: This is pre-historic Dot-Matrix. A man is standing in the middle of nowhere. He is wearing a pair of shorts and sweating profusely. ‘New world…’ he says expansively. The sun blares down upon the empty land. Velo recognizes the man in the photograph suddenly.
It is Zed! The photograph jumps to life.
Zed rubs his chin as he squints at the empty horizon. Not one tree. A few goats come wandering and nudge his knees. The land is barren save a few lonely palmyras. The land is parched. Eroded. Not a blade of grass anywhere. A few cows enter the picture placidly. They’ve come to graze. Zed swears under his breath...

Snapshot No.3: The High Biscus. A meeting is in progress. Many people. The atmosphere is tense and uncertain. It is evident that the town does not have a decent hairdresser yet. Sola is holding up a piece of paper that the Council has just received. He reads it out for everyone. It is an eviction notice followed by an order to stop all work at MIRRA with immediate effect and clear out. Outside men are gathering. The photograph croaks and goes grey. They can hear someone coughing. Ria searches through the dull haze. It is Ruma Haven. She is new in Dot Matrix. She signals nervously to Sola across the room. Sola looks out of the window. A jeep was driving up, followed by a bulldozer. The men outside get ready to strike…

Snapshot No. 11: Years later. A huge gathering. Tons of people, of all ages. They are better dressed now, have decent haircuts. But something strange is going on. The hum from the bag is almost a question mark. People are looking at each other guardedly. Velo looks closer. Each one is wearing an identity button. Some have large ornate buttons that say: Senior Citizen, Important Citizen, Irresponsible Bum. Triangular buttons say: Superior Green or Management Fanatic. Others in colour say: Truth Only. Goodwill Only. Trees Only. Development Only. Cash Only. Sambar Only. Where’s the Art? It is all very mind boggling…There are new faces, also wearing buttons: Totally Bewildered. People look at each other uncertainly. They try to speak reasonably. But those colourful buttons are staring them in the face. It’s a bit ridiculous. They try not to smile. Not too much at least, but something is cracking up inside. Sola leans against the banyan tree, laughing helplessly. Ria looks at his button. It says: Never Mind.



A Human Race

Dot Matrix


Pierre Legrand