In which I Apologize to Parents Who (did not) Eat Their Kids


Parents who ate their kids...not!

Black Angel

Remember the time I told you guys about the parents who ate their kids?

You don’t? Here it is again. Read it, go ahead, I’ll wait.

Now that you know what I’m talking about…turns out I owe said parents a public apology.

The pair of  are very much in love, and they’ve laid eggs thrice since then. And yes, the eggs have disappeared each time.

So this time, I had the (brilliant, if I say so myself) idea of plucking the large leaf on which they had laid the eggs and putting it in a mini-floating aquarium. So now the parents could see the eggs, not reach them.

After two days, the first tadpole-tail emerged from one of the eggs. Very soon it became a writhing mass of minute tadpoles attached to the leaf.

Research on the internet revealed that these ‘tadpoles’ will detach themselves in a day or two and become free-swimming. Problem was, my mini aquarium had holes big enough for them to wriggle through and get eaten by the parents.

So, I went to my aquarium shop and got me a ‘breeder net’….feeling all kinds of professional, of course! A breeder, imagine that!

Then came the tricky part of transferring the leaf with the wriggling ‘tadpoles’ from the aquarium to the net, without losing any.

I tried, but despite my feeling of professionalism, I had unfortunately not overcome my clumsiness, and managed to lose a bunch.

A few minutes later, sitting beside the aquarium in utter doldrums (my husband said the net held a few, so look at the bright side, but I’m not naturally gifted with a bright disposition), I noticed some wriggly bits on a leaf.

‘Wow, they managed to land on a leaf!’ I squealed to my husband, who by this time had had enough of me, my fish, and their wriggly bits.

Being the patient man that he is, he came over to have a look, and with slow horror we watched the parents gobble up the wrigglers, one by one.

I wanted to strangle them. My husband went back to watching television, and I went back to aforesaid doldrums.

A few minutes later, one of the parents spat out a stream from its mouth, and lo and behold, there were the wrigglers, back on the leaf! The other parent did the same. Of course I squealed even harder, bringing my irate husband to the aquarium, but this time even he had to smile, the parents sucked up and deposited the young…and were every bit as solicitous as parents ought to be.

I’m no ‘professional’, or I’d have known that when articles mentioned that parents ‘move’ their young, this is what they meant! These parents rescued their kids from certain death by catching them and depositing them on a leaf
when I managed to drop them!

So I went and removed the remaining egg-demolition suspect, the Pleco fish, which I thought was a vegetarian and ate only algae that grew on the glass of my aquarium. Shows how far I have to go in learning about fish.

The wrigglers have survived, both in the net and outside, and the parents are ‘moving’ their kids every now and then.

So, in this rambling, incoherent post, I hereby apologize to my pair of black angelfish (who, of course, don’t have a clue about my entire dilemma).

In the coming days hopefully at least a few of the wrigglers would actually become fry, and some of the fry become angelfish.

And all those things I implied about my fish…monsters, cannibals etc. etc.? I take that all back.

P.S: Just wanted to write an update on the anthology  Stories for Sendai edited by the awesome partnership of J.C. Martin and Michelle Davidson Argyle. The book is now available on Amazon in the print version, and tomorrow it will be released on Kindle! They would like everyone to buy their kindle books on the 30th June, so it can hopefully get some exposure on the bestseller lists. Go buy a book and help a good cause!

 

Writing on Guilt, and Breaks


Someone, I don’t remember who, said: “I like myself better when I’m writing regularly.”

I’m that kind of person.

But for the last few days, I haven’t been able to drag myself out of bed at ungodly hours to do my writing, and daytime has been reserved by life activities, and revisions of stories already written, especially the A-Z ebook. (By the way, I’m officially thinking of calling it A-Z Stories of Life and Death)

So the upshot of it is I’m going to bed guilty each night: how could I not write a single good line all day, and still get on with life?

I need to relax a little, I think, and not haul myself over the coals every time I miss a day or two of writing practice.

We’re all allowed our breaks. (Aren’t we?)

Writing and Living


For the longest time, I’ve heard that art borrows from life. For the last few days, however, I’ve been fascinated by the possibility that a writer’s life is affected by the fiction he or she writes.

Been reading writing advice that says: take the learnings from your writing and apply them to your life. The focus and discipline needed for the writing life can be applied in other facets.

What fascinates me, though, is whether a story affects a writer …a friend of mine reported feeling depressed in a period of her life when she was writing a sad part in her novel, another felt unreasonably snappy in a period when she wrote violent scenes.

I myself have been feeling rather suffocated the past two weeks, and this could be because of the short story I wrote. It is going off for a call for submissions,or I could have posted it for my kind blog-readers to judge.

To the writers amongst you (and I know there are quite a few): do you get affected by what you write?

Back Again and Thank-yous


I talk quite a bit on this blog, post pieces of my writing and so on, but mostly I keep it impersonal. In that spirit, I wrote my last post about seeing the world from a wheelchair…and  my post was all about being grateful.

Then of course, I went into a funk, and offline.

I started on a short story and finished it in a week. It could possibly be the best I’ve written so far, (or the worst,) but it certainly was the most difficult. I had to go off the internet on my laptop, and shut myself in a room every chance I got.

Which means I did not check my blog the last few days.

And now that I did, I’m moved by the outpouring of generosity, kindness and concern from my blog friends.

To answer everyone, I am back on my feet, I have chronic problem/s, which would require moderately ugly shoes and a restricted diet, but other than that I’m good. I’d rather not go into details here, so as not to bog down the blog with my health issues :)

Thanks go to everyone who took the time to ask what was wrong and wish me well, I’m grateful to have each one of you on my blog, and as a consequence, in my life.

Thanks also for reminding me that my online existence is an inseparable part of who I am, and that I can’t just write about me being in a wheelchair on this blog, then waltz off and  expect everyone to take it in a theoretical sense…..my virtual life is very  real in some ways.

Special Thanks to Stuart, who gave me such a wonderful shout out on his blog about this space and also about the A-Z ebook I’m working on, and also to J.C. Martin, for publishing this interview based on Stories for Sendai.

I think I’m back again… and I think I’m happier than usual to be back. I missed you all—- I did not know how much till I read your comments. Thankyou.

A Wheelchair Reminder


A few days ago I saw the inside of a hospital from a wheelchair. A first for me, and definitely ‘enlightening’.

The way people look at you when you’re in a wheelchair. Some meet your eyes with concern, some with indifference, and the very worst, those who look away.

I realized I’m one of the lookers-away when I’m among the walkers.

I didn’t have much wrong with my leg (I hope, I’ve to wait for the tests though)…but for the first time I not only thought about but Realized what it is to not have the use of my legs and feet, those parts of my body I largely ignore other than the odd pedicure session, or the wearing of  heeled shoes when in a dress.

I take my mobility for granted. I felt a chill at the thought of living without it.

This was a reminder to be grateful, I think, and to actually see the little things in life and celebrate them, to take nothing for granted, not my body, nor health, not even life.

For the last week, I’ve spent a lot of time simply being grateful.

 

Flash Fiction Challenge: Unexpected guest(s)


Chuck Wendig at Terrible Minds holds a flash fiction challenge each week, and today I thought I’ll give it a go.

He says:

Flash fiction, 1000 words. The subject?

An unexpected guest.”

Interpret that as you see fit.

Any genre is apropos.

Here is my entry:

———————

Sakhi lived with her father, mother, and six siblings in a section of a large drain pipe. This pipe lay in the middle of a road near one of the richer neighborhoods of Mumbai’s Bandra district. The drain carried no water. It began and ended nowhere, just like the lofty plans of sewerage restructure by Mumbai’s powerful and wise after one of its yearly floods.

Sakhi’s father had staked his claim on that section of the drain by covering one of its ends with tarpaulin, and creating a makeshift door with a cardboard plank on the other. The family lived like hobbits in this windowless, cylindrical home, lulled to sleep by the sounds of traffic at night in the city of Indian dreams.

Their only visitors, social workers,  tried to coax the mother to give up begging and the father to give up rag-picking, then learn a craft at the worker’s centre and enroll the kids in school. They had an unfamiliar scent, these women. Sakhi had never taken a bath in clean water, or worn laundered clothes or perfume, so she did not like the way these women smelled. She paid as much mind to them as her parents did. Which is to say, not at all.

At six years old, she still needed a few inches to hit the roof of their home like her parents and older brother, and she wanted those inches more than anything else.The day her head touched the roof, she could go out on her own to the nearby traffic light, and tap at the black windows of the big cars,  one of her younger siblings on her arm, fake tears in her eyes. No more cooking, or looking after the younger ones, who seemed to live in order to crawl or toddle out of their home and straight into the traffic.

One morning, Sakhi’s mother came back in a foul mood, screaming and knocking things around. She cuffed any child who came within her reach, which wasn’t hard given the amount of space they had to get away from her.

Sakhi grew desperate as all the kids and their mother bawled, the mother hurling insults at policemen, names Sakhi did not recognize, and men in general. She disappeared that night.

All Sakhi’s father would say in response to questions was, they got her, and they’ll get you too if you don’t shut up and mind yourself.

So Sakhi shut up and waited for her mother to return. A week passed and then another. The kids asked for their mother, and in her absence, latched on to Sakhi.

One night, Sakhi sat till late at the door,  a six-year old with enough worries to crush shoulders  ten times older. Her stomach demanded food, her arms and feet ached from chasing her siblings to sleep. She smelled rotting food from the dustbin across the road, and wondered if she should go scrounge for a piece of bread, or a half-finished bottle of coke somewhere among the piles.

Sakhi, said a voice next to her, girlish, soft. Sakhi turned, but saw no one.

Sakhi, you’ve got to listen to me, said the voice and then Sakhi saw her, a little girl with matted hair, not much older than her.

They got to me Sakhi, and they’ll get you too, said the girl.

And they got your mother, said a woman, stepping out of the dark. They got her, and she will be with us soon.

They got me too, piped up a tiny voice from that woman’s arms, and Sakhi saw a babe, her head impossibly small. They got me before I was born.

Sakhi stood up, her eyes wide under the faint streetlight, acting her age for the first time in years.

You will be lost like us, said another girl stepping out of the shadows, her face a grotesque mask. They threw a glass bulb full of acid on my face.

You must stop this, they said, their voices rising and falling in chorus, your name is Sakhi.

What does Sakhi mean? she asked.

Friend, best friend, girlfriend. You’re our friend, and so we come to warn you, the voices replied.

What can I do? said Sakhi, I’m only six years old.

But you’re alive, they said, go to your friends, and vanished.

The next morning, when the strange-smelling social worker came for her rounds, Sakhi walked up to the woman. She held the baby in her left arm, held the hand of one of the toddlers with her right, and let the other sister follow.

We’re coming with you, she said, my name is Sakhi, and I hope you are my friend.

Stories for Sendai and A-Z Challenge E-book


The posts at Amlokiblogs would tell you what I’ve been up to…am kicked about making it to the charity anthology : Stories For Sendai.

If you haven’t heard of it yet,  I have to tell you, it deserves your support.

I’ve also been working, trying to fit in writing wherever, whenever I can, in between chores and errands and what-not.  Am compiling the A-Z e-book, consisting of the stories I wrote during the A-Z blogging month. (Can’t believe May is over and we’re in June!)

Most of the weeding on the book is done, some stories replaced, editing in progress.

I’m aiming this as an experiment in e-book self-publishing. Since everyone seems to think it is the thing of the future, I thought it would be good idea to learn about it and what better way to learn something than do it?

I have had stories in printed books before, and perhaps will have more stuff in print one day. But e-books are fascinating, and if I’m to discuss e-book contracts and so on sometime, better figure out what it is all about.

The material is all published in some form on this blog and elsewhere, so it is not ideal for traditional publishing. But I hope it will make a good e-book.

I’m not taking any shortcuts, however. I’m polishing the pieces the best I can, with help from a few kind writer friends, and will hopefully have a cover design organized soon.

I’m not looking to make money, but knowledge is wealth, and my learning curve going into this should make it worthwhile.

Wondering what to call the book. Ideas?

 

Update: In the A-Z e-book, I’ve included an excerpt K for Kill, which figured in the Power of Tension Blogfest, and made it as one of the 6 finalists out of a total 48. I loved the other entries, and I’m thrilled to be on the list.

Go over to the list and vote for your favorite!