Fiction Contemporary Desi

CW: Language

Reverse the mini truck. Wedge it between A4 and the parking ramp. Tease the stacked crates. Lay them out. Fresh oranges, spinach, and coriander. Day-old beans, cucumber, and cauliflower. Many days old onion, yam, and the rest. Set up digital scales. On the steel table. Punch in the day’s rates. Set the register. Put up QR code signages. Go pee in the common toilet. Check your teeth. Come back to the cold table. Check the messages on the cell. Play a couple of videos. Lean on the wall. Leave the right shoe imprint.

People trickle out. In tracksuits, salwar suits, night suits. With dogs, uniformed kids, alone. A few go back. Barely breaking a sweat. A few linger. Near the crates.

Snap, sniff, select.

Weigh, bag, collect.

Snap, don’t select, snigger- “not fresh!”

Breathe, smile, utter- “come tomorrow!”

Twelve noon. Time to stack up the crates. And drive away the truck.

A pile of rot. Left near the maintenance shaft.



Leela, 62, in a tracksuit, climbs up the staircase, picks up the newspaper, turns in the key, and enters.

Krishna, 64, in a night suit, sits on the balcony, sips the coffee, and turns back to smile at her.

She hands him the newspaper, kisses him on the cheek, and gets herself a glass of lemonade.

They sit together. He reads the paper. She peers at the plants.

Outside, a yellow school bus picks up kids. Young parents wave goodbye.

Leela and Krishna, sip the last drop. Move back to the living room.

A sofa, a coffee table, a display cabinet, many memories- a few dusty, a few sparkling.

The brightest gem- a photo of a young man with Leela’s lips and Krishna’s eyes. With his right arm around his blonde wife. And a little girl at the crook of his left arm.

He visits them: once a year, once in two years, once in three years, once in four years- with a laptop, smart tv, Ghiradelli’s chocolates, daughter-in-law, granddaughter, and a wheelchair. State of the art.

The visits seem short. Make them long for the next.

But over the years, they have made their peace.

Krishna pirouettes on wheels. Leela pirouettes around him.

A lifetime of memories pirouettes around them. They hold on to the best.

And let a few make their way down to the maintenance shaft.

At times, unknown to Leela, Krishna baskets newspaper balls. Into it. In his night suit.




For kids under 12. Once a week. From 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Next to the children’s park. Behind A4 block.

I love the skates Mama bought. Red inline wheels and a red helmet! with red knee and elbow pads!!

And the instructor- super hot! I am on top of the world.

Till I fall once, twice and every time it is my turn. Humiliating myself between red cones. On the first Monday.

Next Monday, I don’t want to go. But Mama wins.

I watch everyone in line go. Before me, after me. I am not the only one who falls.

Next class, I’m better prepared, to fall. Every time I fall, I laugh before anyone else does.

Birds in V formation fly into the sunset.

With every passing week, my wheels make more contact with the ground than the plate.

I think the instructor likes pretty Reena more. She still keeps falling! I like him a little less.

Mama sits on the park chair and waits. As before. Chats with other moms. More proud, less worried.

“Now you can do what I couldn’t,” she says. I can’t read her face.

On our way back she stops. Near the maintenance shaft. And presses in the empty chips packet. Like a postcard.

I skate down the path to the elevator. With wind under my arms.

I can fly!!


You bi**h! You couldn’t have chosen a better time.

You couldn’t even wait for a week. After I was fired. Through email. Yeah, the convenience of being a techie. In a company that specializes in communication.

You think I am a loser. For losing my sh*t after that mail.

Because I couldn’t float. Like a blob of cream to the top. Along with you and a handful of high performers.

You know what? Maybe I was a loser from much before.

Like, when I agreed with my father. “Arts is for girls; Tech is what boys do!”.

Man and money- a must combo. Like popcorn and cola.

My grades in the first semester. Most of them E. A bit better than my rusty E string.

Second semester. You were the lead vocalist. To my re-stringed guitar.

You remember the college fest? And what we did after?

You were the girl my father should have had as his son. You knew what a hobby should be and what a career should be. You drilled some of that into me.

Campus placement. We made it. You like a champ, me like a chump.

You thrived in that mind-f**king, b*ll-numbing cubicle. With a blinking cursor for company. Without blinking.

I squirmed. In my sweaty chair.

I knew it was only a matter of time.

But tell me something. Honestly. What made you kiss me first?

Not that it matters now.

F**k, this damned cigarette. Slipping off my fingers. Perfect!!


The night shift starts at 8. Fall in by 7.30. Scorpio Security Services is very particular about that.

Mahto’s second week at Greenwoods Apartment. His third week slumming with other migrants. Fourth week in the city.

He loves his uniform. Navy blue. With proper cap. And a maroon line yard. Makes him feel like a soldier.

He takes his position for the night. Tower A4.

A line of round-bodied trees sway. A few bikes and cars make their way. To the basement.

Two hours into his duty. The night grows still. His mind chatters- girl.

My girl! She will wait for me. If her father lets her.

He knows what he has to do. Keep his job. Save money. Grow in his job. Save money. Move out of the slum. Move into a shack. Save money.

Go back to the village. Marry her. Bring her to the city. Save money.

Move out of the shack. Move into an apartment?

He smiles. Goes around the block. The night is still. Still.

Save money. Have kids. Save money. Send them to English school.

The skating rink. Reflects the solar light.

Save money. Send them to learn skating.

He chuckles. Then smells.


Hurries down the stilt. Eyes burning. Nose tingling.

Where is it coming from? Should I press the fire alarm? Is my job under fire?

He runs around the block. Twice. The guard in the next block squints. Then shouts.

“The maintenance shaft!”



1.     Blah blah

2.     Blah blah

3.     Blah blah

4.     Blah blah

5.     Fire Incident on 30 Jan 2023 in A4 Tower.

A case of fire incident was brought out by Security. The cause was apparently due to throwing waste, clothes, paper, lighted matchbox and cigarette butts through the maintenance shaft and these stuffs/trash getting accumulated inside the shaft. Therefore, all the Maintenance Shafts in the apartments need to have proper covering so as to avoid the recurrence of such fire incidents.

February 23, 2023 07:58

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Charlie Murphy
02:09 Feb 28, 2023

I like the descriptions and the blah-blahs! Great job!


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Tara Leigh Parks
03:06 Feb 27, 2023

You created depth and character (s) with fragments, and in doing so, a story that intrigues. Your settings are distinct and evocative. There's a lot of meaning and relatable parts, including fun parts like the instructor being hot and the embarrassment in the class. I enjoyed this piece. "Love the blah blah blah" and the ending. Thank you and wonderful work!


Suma Jayachandar
07:02 Feb 27, 2023

Thank you so much for such a wonderful comment!


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14:56 Feb 26, 2023

Suma, this was so well written! I especially loved your opening. The walk through the set up of the seller’s vegetables and their stand was just beautifully executed. The ending surprised me! Great build up to that! And I love how you frame it within someone’s disinterest (the “Blah blah blah”) of the notes. While one person isn’t so invested, they’re discussing a very sad accident. Great job! 😁❤️


Suma Jayachandar
07:02 Feb 27, 2023

Hannah! Thank you so much for the read and comment. Sorry for the late response. Kinda caught up in something. Will head to your story soon. 😊


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Wendy Kaminski
00:49 Feb 24, 2023

Nicely done, Suma! I was really impressed by this full-story-in-fragments! I tried this prompt a couple of times and gave right up, so it is lovely to see it brought so handily to fruition - excellent story! :)


Suma Jayachandar
06:14 Feb 24, 2023

You are too kind, Wendy! I’m honoured to receive such a high praise from a prolific writer like you.


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Cindy Strube
20:32 Mar 01, 2023

Suma, once again the atmosphere is beguiling. I’ve been in several places with similar types of markets, and your bit-by-bit description suits perfectly the activity in such places. In each section, the characters are brought to life with their individual problems and pleasures—then shown to be connected by their actions of abusing the maintenance shaft. Even something so seemingly inconsequential as Mama pushing the empty chips packet in, contributes to the near-disaster. Love the “blah blah blah”… Fire Incident! Something about the flavor ...


Suma Jayachandar
08:31 Mar 02, 2023

Cindy, Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a lovely comment! I must check out your fav author when time permits :-) really need to catch up on my reading. Thanks again for the read, Cindy.


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Nathaniel Miller
02:48 Mar 01, 2023

Really an incredible story, Suma. Love the stitching together of these individual story fragments in the final story, quite the thought-provoking turn. Well-told. Also, really a fan of how self-absorbed each of these are. How strikingly individual, how developed, how thought-out. Creates a great effect, a great commentary on the inevitable intersection of individualism and communalism. Very nicely done; thanks for sharing!


Suma Jayachandar
05:25 Mar 01, 2023

Wow! Such a heartfelt and thoughtful comment. It was a fun prompt to write for and i enjoyed the process ☺️. Thank you Nathaniel for reading and being so generous in your feedback. Appreciate it!


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Michał Przywara
21:44 Feb 23, 2023

Oh, I did not see that twist coming :) Initially, I was thinking this was the story of A4, told through the people that live and work there. Each of the stories highlighted a different person and a different set of worries and concerns. In their own way, they were all struggling, and some found ways to deal with it while others were still looking for a way. Hopes, dreams, and worries, everyone in their own lonely world and perhaps unaware that they weren't alone at all - that everyone around them was in the same boat. But of course, th...


Suma Jayachandar
06:11 Feb 24, 2023

The tragedy is, how invested in misery humanity is, even if half of the time it’s only in the mind. At times, it needs a jolt from reality - like one’s butt is literally on fire. I thoroughly enjoyed doing this experimental challenge 😊. Thanks for your brilliant reading and analysis, as usual, Michal!


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Laurel Hanson
20:57 Feb 23, 2023

Skillfully done to bring the different voices into a coherent story. Love: "Krishna pirouettes on wheels. Leela pirouettes around him. A lifetime of memories pirouettes around them." Each character develops uniquely with their own voice and as always, your settings and details are just so vivid. Well done.


Suma Jayachandar
06:02 Feb 24, 2023

Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful comment, Laurel. I value it a lot!


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Delbert Griffith
14:53 Feb 23, 2023

I love how all of these separate lives have contact with the maintenance shaft - and the semi-disaster that is wrought by their actions. People with dreams clash with people dreaming of the past clash with a girl dreaming of romance on her roller skates clash with a dream that crashes (and burns). Beautiful work, Suma.


Suma Jayachandar
05:53 Feb 24, 2023

Thanks again, for your ever warm and encouraging comment. Truly appreciate it!


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Lily Finch
13:40 Feb 23, 2023

Suma, The story is evolving yet demonstrates the mundane within the dream of daring to dream ideas. Where dreams take focus away from everyday happenings. (IMO) Each section deals with an unsure moving into a new reality that just is. The characters left to pick up the pieces and keep going. Thanks for the good read. LF6.


Suma Jayachandar
05:58 Feb 24, 2023

Lily, Thanks for being the first one to comment, again. I do really hope to make time to read more and leave comment. I’m happy you found the different fragments coming together to make sense out of chaos. Thanks again!


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