Sidharth Vardhan

A Nightmare

(A Short Fiction) Part I 1. Twelve years later, V___ wakes up tormented by the nightmare. An unsatisfied, undesired feeling that will not go away – all these years and, for no reason that he can think; he has tried hard to remember if he had talked about, thought or alluded to her yesterday; anything which might have caused the dream but, no, nothing whatever comes to mind, then why should she be intruding into his dream again and giving him restless mornings? 2. He still remembers how he had been rude to her initially; perhaps what he felt was the result of guilt from same. Yes, that will make sense. The left-over of the feelings are the waste that is most harmful to the environment of the psyche. But what could he have done? Just last year he had changed school as he had come to stay at his grandparents’ home after his mother’s death following a long  period of illness (his father had died a few years back). He was a highly reserved skinny new admission to the school with a tragic background and so he got attention for all the wrong reasons. There must be a look of sorrow

The Bell

(A short story first written on June 26, 2016) For generations, we have lived in this jail, in this hole – so long that we might as well have imagined that this is the only world, had it not been for the stars, visible in the oval blanket over our head, which show us the glimpse of the unknown worlds. And stars are the hope, every child in this hole is taught to look up towards them and somehow they fill us with this hopeless hope that keeps the life going. But why are they there? Forever there, filling us with temptations to make fruitless efforts to grab them. Are they just another addition to the suffering of this hole? Why were we given hope? Are there better worlds which hope teaches us to look forward to? Or is hope just another part of the punishment? Perhaps it is neither, rather it is the jailer who makes sure we don’t try run away from this hole. And it is successful, isn’t it? After all, how many of us ever try to escape? This hope keeps us from trying to escape.

Vani

(A short story by Sidharth VardhanFirst written on June 24, 2016) “Papa, Pa-Pa, Pa, Pa” he has rolled the variations of the word;‘Daddy’ or ‘Dad’ too, but he wishes that Vani will call him papa. It has just the right kind of sound to it. It has always felt like a big responsibility – inwardly he still has a lot of mischievousnesses, immaturity in him. ‘Will he make a good father?’This fear has been in him though he hasn’t shown his nervousness to Taruna – not purposefully; it is just that with her around, he just forgets his worries; there has always a reassuring wisdom in her eyes; as if she held a sort of secret, a secret that will ensure their happiness, which she has kept so gracefully from him. Even now, if only she was around, he would rather be focusing on –‘Today I’m going to be the father’ version. But she is not around. She is in operation ward with doctors and he is waiting at the door of the room pacing up and down like a character in his position in a typical Bollywood movie would. He still can’t see her in pain. And especially not in

A Loss

(A short storyFirst written onJune 8, 2016) Four-year-old Arun is playing with his toys – making the bull and the horse in hands wrestle, the horse is winning, Arun wants the horse to win, he likes the horse, he knows it will win ….. When he hears the voices of his parents arguing. He turns around to see them entering the room but they are not themselves. Though he has seen them angry before but never this much, he has always been sensitive to their anger but this is something else, something…. their anger, the cruelty in their faces, their bitter voices, the swift movements of hands (that they are making in their argument) .. all that has something ugly in it. So ugly it shouldn’t have existed. A child can’t understand the mixing of the opposites – good and evil, angels and monsters, beautiful and ugly; they all must remain separate …the ugliness of that bitter anger on the faces of his beautiful parents was an unbearable mix, they, the ones to whom he turned to in times he felt scared of monsters sitting under his bed, now themselves looked like monstrous … and besides this fear, he felt

Helen Keler

(A review of ‘The story of my life’ by Helen keler.) “Have you ever been at sea in a dense fog, when it seemed as if a tangible white darkness shut you in, and the great ship, tense and anxious, groped her way toward the shore with plummet and sounding-line, and you waited with beating heart for something to happen? I was like that ship before my education began, only I was without compass or sounding-line, and had no way of knowing how near the harbour was. “Light! give me light!” was the wordless cry of my soul I had long intended to read biography of Helen Keller. (Have you ever wondered how when we use first names when talking about characters but last name when talking authors?). Helen wrote this biography at age of 22 (two years before getting her graduation) – so most of it is about her childhood memories. Her communication with outside world was limited to touch and smell which wouldn’t have been enough, if it wasn’t for her teacher. “I felt approaching footsteps, I stretched out my hand as I supposed to my mother. Some one took it, and I was caught up and held

The Lonely Hunters

(The review of ‘The Heart is a lonely hunter’ by Carson McCullers) “The way I need you is a loneliness I can not bear.” Male whales attract their partners by making voices called ‘songs’. The pitch of the sound is normally below 40 Hz, inaudible to human ears. Female whales of each kind will recognise songs of their own kin. Now, there is believed to be an individual whale (only one of its kind) whose voice has been heard in Pacific Ocean at 52 hertz. Ever since 80s, his lonely songs have been heard – seeking, asking uselessly, year after year, for a companion in an ocean full of whales. This image of this lonely animal is as close as I can get to creating an impression of the book. Four characters in this novel – a teenager girl, a diner, a doctor, a labour worker aren’t much better than 52hertz whale. They too have their songs sentiments and they too have gone a long time of their life in lonely hunt for someone who can understand them. For different reasons, they are all very alone. The diner is struggling with loneliness of a childless, unhappy marriage, the labour worker

Hadrian

(Review of ‘Memoirs of Hadrian’ – a novel by Marguerite Yourcenar 5*/5* ) “But books lie, even those that are most sincere.” It is supposed to be historically most accurate novel – I can’t judge about that but I’m willing to take the word of knowledgeable people on that. What is so far more incredible is the way the author managed to make herself invisible in her work – you know how novels have their authors’ personality in them. You can’t normally come out of a novel without having some idea of author’s personality. Narrators of Proust and Celine look like so much like their mirror images; in other cases it is true to a lesser extent – but not in this case. The only thing you will have guessed about Yourcenar by reading MoH, is that she is genius. To create this believable a first person narrator is genius enough, but to recreate a fictional account of a real historical figure who lived in another age, was of other sex, much older  – well, we need a new word here. If I believed in spirits, I could have asserted that Hadrian’s had possessed Yourcenear. An innocent reader can easily led

The nights of wonder

(A review of ‘[Arabian Nights’ –  5*5*) A Story to Save a Live The beauty of the stories and the poetry of the thought that most destructive demons can be tamed back with a few stories was fascinating to me even when I first saw the serialized version on tv. What I didn’t realized was that the stories Scheherazade, that great goddess of story tellers and inventor of cliff-hangings, told the king weren’t as random but had an order in themselves. This book has made Scherzade my favorite superhero – superhero was the word we use for one who risk one’s life for others, don’t we? I mean we like Doctor Who for he won’t use weapons – and yet the enemies he fought weren’t in any way real. What Scherzade had to fight was real, and after centuries of her single victory continues unfortunately to remain real – lack of trust among sexes. Sheriyar is misogyny humanized. There is another famous collection of stories called ‘Tota Maine ke kise’ from same regions (Iraq, Iran, India etc) which comprise of a parrot and she-parrot who are in love. The frame story is simple. The parrot would say mynah is sure

The misery of Atonement – a review of Ian McEwan book

(A review of ‘Atonement’, a novel by Ian McEwanNominated for Booker Prize in 1998first written on October 25, 2013) “It was common enough, to see so much death and want a child.” Ian McEwan (Atonement) We each live in our own world – and worlds of children are so far simpler than those of grown-ups; the friction between these worlds allows chances for misunderstandings. McEwan, who seems to have a thing for misunderstandings, banks on them for the beautiful story. A still from the movie based on the book with the same name The number of coincidences in the first part could have looked objectionable in hands of some other author. Robbie suddenly finds his life thrown off the track and is made to bear punishment for a crime he never did – that must be how most of Europe have felt during second world war. A child’s innocent mistake destroys future of a young man. But scratch the surface there – was she as innocent as she claimed? Or was there malice, at least at subconscious level? She repents as she realizes her mistake, but the wrong done can never be corrected fully. It is so far easier to

Our lady Chatterlay

“Sex is just another form of talk, where you act words instead of saying them. Lawerence’s last novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover is one of most challenged works– on account of its use of then unprintable words. Its free publishing was one of the main events of sexual revolution of 1960s. And okay, I mean it is a great book but what will you say to a book that has conversations like these: ‘Well, young man, and what about my daughter?’ The grin flickered on Mellors’ face. ‘Well, Sir, and what about her?’ ‘You’ve got a baby in her all right.’ ‘I have that honour!’ grinned Mellors. ‘Honour, by God!’ Sir Malcolm gave a little squirting laugh, and became Scotch and lewd. ‘Honour! How was the going, eh? Good, my boy, what?’ ‘Good!’ ‘I’ll bet it was! Ha-ha! My daughter, chip of the old block,what! I never went back on a good bit of fucking, myself. Though her mother, oh, holy saints! … Did I tell you the daughter in question is already married to another man? And believe me, it is a very modest sample compared to what this book contains. Emma and Connie Connie Chatterley sometimes reminds you of

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