(A short fiction by Sidharth Vardhan First written on December 4, 2018) “It started suddenly one day. We – me, my brother and husband, suddenly heard her screaming in her room. We ran to her room, the door was shut but not locked. She had developed a habit of spending more and more of her time alone in her room and often locking it. We thought it was all a part of growing up but this time the door was not locked.” John the priest entered the house. A large old bungalow probably made during British Raj time and which in fact was once a place of residence for British colonials. The place was too big for a family of four and as is often the case with such houses wasn’t well lit. “When we entered the room, she was scared. Her eyes were widened in shock, frightened. She kept telling us about a ‘him’ – we soon realized there was some sort of evil spirit in the room. That he was smiling at her, was going to ‘touch’ her. He touched me, mamma, she kept on insisting with a stress on word ‘touch’ …. She was too naive to
(A short fiction by Sidharth VardhanFebruary 17, 2018The story of patient’s sister which is mentioned in the beginning of this story can be found here. ) 1. “You, psychologists, are rather patient people – or perhaps you aren’t even listening. For here I am talking about my sister and her comfort object when this is supposed to be about myself.” “My purpose? So you want to say that you think I have a purpose behind telling you about my sister and her need for her comfort toy to be able to sleep? You are right. There are poets in spirts who never wrote poems because they lacked the necessary language skills to translate the poems in their heart. I, sometimes, have the vanity to feel that way – and I feel the key to my being here – the reason of my trying to kill myself is so nice parabled in my sister’s need for her comfort object. I spend a lot of time psychoanalyzing myself – you see, that is habit one develops when one is a literature professor and, I have lately reached the conclusion that what we call love is, in my case at least, a need
(A Short Fiction by Sidharth Vardhan February 2, 2018 Part two of two – the first of this story can be read here.) Back in their home Daya had kept returning to the subject of the corpse for a while and mother had kept asking her to not think about it until finally mamma was irritated and told her to never mention the subject again. Of fear of her mother’s scolding the child didn’t mention it though she kept thinking about the corpse. Then finally she was distracted by her favorite cartoon serial. Though the memory of the corpse kept on seeking the attention of her consciousness but, with time the later find it easier to not give too much attention to the memory as the physical evidence was no longer there. It was while she stepped out of the car upon their return from shopping trip (her mother had avoided the corner where the corpse was when leaving for the mall and while coming back) that the central event of this second part of this story took place. She saw Toffee running towards her to greet her. And in its mouth was what she thought to be a polythene. (He
(A Short Fiction by Sidharth Vardhan February 4, 2018 Part 1 of 2) “Come here Daya, he will bite you” “it won’t mamma, it is so cute” but the mamma still watched with concerned eyes, she disliked Daya’s love for animals. The eight-year-old girl can’t see an animal without also going “ooo”, wanting to touch it and hold it – whether it be a bird, stray cat, dog or cattle. Once mamma had been just in time to ask her to step down from window frame of their third-floor apartment which she had climbed in order to reach out to sparrow sitting on the branch of a tree in the park of their building. Ever since Mamma won’t let her out of eyes (except for school) and she was right in that attitude. It was as if Daya could get high on mere sight of animals. Daya’s love for the puppy she was holding at the moment only increased over time. She named it ‘Toffie’ and even trained him to some extent for such simple things like ‘sit’, ‘stand’, ‘be quit’ – the English words that is, for she was one of those city children whose English-medium educated parents always
(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.
(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 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
(A review by Sidharth VardhanOf ‘The Dream of a Ridiculous Man’First written on November 30, 2015) “Only perhaps in our children, in their earliest years, one might find, some remote faint reflection of this beauty.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Dream of a Ridiculous Man) Do you remember losing that treasured innocence that we were born with? that old childish ‘innocence’ (there might be a better word to describe it, but my vocabulary is poor) – the nausea of which we live with for rest of our lives? We know, or at least we think we know, that it can’t be helped, and we would consider someone a weakling, a divine fool or ridiculous if he or she retained that innocence beyond a certain age. We even laugh at our own foolishness of old days: “They hardly remembered what they had lost, in fact, refused to believe that they had ever been happy and innocent. They even laughed at the possibility of this happiness in the past, and called it a dream.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Dream of a Ridiculous Man) Yet, we look at children, ever cheerful, and feel sorry for the loss they are bound to suffer one time or another in their