Sunday, 10 May 2020

Drabble 2020 Shortlist

Poetry
Short Story
Prose 500



Winners
top



Anindita Janhabee Swaro Bindu Saxena



Chandrika Radhakrishnan
Ermelinda Makkimane Gargi Mehra



George Swaim
Gitanjali Maria Harmony Danbey



Haimanti Dutta Ray
Megha Nayar Muniza Tariq



Nivedita N
Preeth Ganapathy Romila Chitturi



Sudha Viswanathan
Samarth Sadhu Ursula Gomez



Vandana Jena



Flowers For Amelia Sandhurst by Amar Agarwala

Nearing the cemetery, he rued his forgetfulness to bring flowers for his wife. Suddenly a little girl appeared and thrust two bunches of orchids into his hands.

“I only need one. How much for these?”

“Nothing- please take both? One’s for Amelia Sandhurst; her grave’s behind the mulberry tree,” saying she disappeared.

Having done her bidding, he told the caretaker, “A girl brought me orchids, never took any money.”

“Oh! She’s a sweet girl.”

“You know her--?”

“Yes...”

“Who’s she?”

“Today’s her birthday. She brings flowers for herself and anyone who needs them. Girl you met was - Amelia Sandhurst!”




The Nature’s Candle by Anindita Janhabee Swaro

All that she had ever wanted to reminiscence while falling off at the eternal corridors of death was him. His very presence had been the holy water to her existence. The fruits of her love were consumed many. While she breathed her last, he stood a mile away. With misfortune’s grasp he couldn’t be by her side. With no movements, one shed invisible tears and the other died a visibly worn out death. The second person to see the dead soul was a kid, whose kite was caught in her dead body.



A Thick Twine by Bindu Saxena
It’s difficult to summon the last image: the breaking open of her skull by him with a long pole to let
the soul escape. His wife’s soul: An agnostic who was impatient with the religious rites, but
understood that they were only meant to hammer the utter irrevocability of death into the obdurate
hearts of those who were left behind.


Today on her first death anniversary, the attic of my memory and me stand in solemn, looking at those
flaming bundles of dry grass that lit the pyre and, an unnameable burden of a widower, my brother,
who’s saddling it since!



A Lifetime within One by Chandrika Radhakrishnan

“Do you want more *curry*?” she asked him the spoon hovering over the stainless steel *tiffin* box.

It was late afternoon and the couple was perched uncomfortably on the bench placed under the lone tree of the sprawling hospital. The serpentine queue and long waiting time was sufficient proof on the popularity and success rate of the hospital.

“Worry? I am not worried.”

She did not have the heart to correct him for she knew that he was more anxious for her if his biopsy report came back positive.

After sixty years of togetherness, this inevitability of life was petrifying.


The In-Between Woman by Ermelinda Makkimane

She breezed into the train compartment as elegant as any other lady in the coach.  She swiped on the screen of her smartphone, put it into her fancy purse and started moving around with practised ease. The typical clap was missing though.


Some of the commuters dropped a coin into her outstretched palm. Others ignored her. She didn't seem to mind. She finished her round and got off the train just as it was pushing out of the station.

Her exit was just as graceful as her entry had been. I wondered how the day panned out for this transgender.



Next to Godliness by Gargi Mehra

Maya slides her finger down the length of the tabletop. It's clean, but she wipes down the surface again.

A musky scent hits her nose.

He’s prowling through the house, his eagle eyes scouting potential spots of dirt.

“Maya!”

Before she knows it, he drags her by the hair to the table.

He lifts the crystal vase, and there is that confounded circle of dust.

She scrunches the cloth tighter in her fist. He raises his hand. Before his knuckle cracks her skin, her blade tears through his cheek.

Now he’s just as scarred as she is.




Method to The Madness by George Swaim

"Be methodical," my father used to say. My father, the famous surgeon. He would have loved me to follow in his steps. But how could I? His determination against my sloppiness, his nimble, soft hands against my bulky, callous hands.

Before I gave myself to drugs and drinking, I used to watch him everyday at his work. His hands, fast and deliberate, cutting into the flesh without a drop of blood trickling out of patients. That was how he was found when he died. They said the work was so well done, only he could have done it. That’s when my art met his skill.



Where is The River? By Gitanjali Maria

“Another inch won’t hurt the river”, Susheela said to her son as he filled more earth over the marshy area adjacent to their riverside house-cum-homestay.

“Let’s add more rooms, reclaiming some parts of the riverbed”, her son said after a few months.

Debris helped fill it. More tourists came to stay, and they got more money and they added more and more rooms on the riverside. Their neighbours and friends also did the same. Everybody prospered but the water shrank, till one day a guest exclaimed, “Hey man! Where is the river?”


The Hiding Green Man by Harmony Danbey

They had been doing it right under everyone's gaze, practising their faith. Only no one knew.
They had been secretly reading the runes to guess the tide of time and openly naming their children Aiden or Rowan. They had been planting hollyoaks, birches and cedars, and smudging their homes with sage.

Most others never knew the true old gods of their lands, the times had changed. And those who knew winked with acknowledgment.
And when they were made "Environment Warriors," they smiled at their god who had never left them.


Having & Losing A Pet By Haimanti Dutta Ray

I had hankered for a pet all through my life. But when Mowgli entered our lives, we knew that joy and happiness can also come in a jumping ball of wool.

She became the centre and the ectoplasm of my breathing space. Ears always pricked upright and game for all kinds of mischief, she came to our lives, only to render it barren upon her demise.

One should never, ever, have a pet. Because losing the pet causes more pain than the joy caused by its arrival. But one is left with memories which are worth their weight in gold.



Honesty by Megha Nayar

Aarthi had learnt from her Amma that honesty was not always the best policy. Sometimes you had to be sly.

Like hiding the papads whenever Appa’s blood pressure shot up. Or assuring him that the lawn had been mowed so he wouldn’t rage at the old gardener.

Today, despite fervent appeals to stay indoors, Appa wanted to go to office.

“Appa, the Police Commissioner has announced that those caught in the streets will be sent to volunteer in the isolation wards.”

As Appa surrendered, Aarthi looked up and winked. Amma, from her celestial abode, smiled down at her benevolently.



Luggage by Muniza Tariq


‘You trust that the universe talks to me?’ he asks.


‘I trust everything you say,’ she says.

They are camping in the mountains. They are cold.

‘The universe has spoken to me. You will take one thing with you when your time comes. Choose and keep it close.’

From that moment, her quest for that one thing swallows her day and night.

Her parents? Her lover? No, my end shouldn’t be theirs, she thinks.

One day, she sees her reflection in the mirror and she knows.

Her lover finds her with a slashed wrist and a note: I choose youth.



The Lake by Nivedita N

Junaid stared at the Dal lake through the ragged curtain. In the nascent summer sun, the Dal Lake shone bright blue. “How much time will you stare at it? Come in. Not safe,” Ammi warned, in between her prayers. He smacked his dry lips in derision. He stared at the lake—tomorrow he would meet Asma, Aamir, Abrar and his classmates—after seven l o o o n g months. The sound of bullets made him pee once, but now he was in fifth standard and he was braver. He stared at the lake, one last time and went in.



The Faithful Follower by Preeth Ganapathy

Hundreds of birds sat on countless branches of the tree. They were all bickering and warbling, twittering and squabbling with one other. Until a gunshot rang out of nowhere. Startled, all the birds flew away. An eerie silence descended.

One of the birds returned. His partner had not flown with him. He frantically cooed in search of his soulmate.

He found her lying in a pool of blood, motionless on the ground.

Swooping down beside her, he waited. He wished to be an easy target for the hunters, for the next call of death.



Inferno by Romila Chitturi

Every vulture has an ugly character, sometimes I feel God hurriedly did not quill its features. Its pure voyage with those inflamed eyes that see the dead as they leave the deceased; it alights amid the dry around the mountains and the peaks. The featherless faces appear like a hanging cloak above from the face of the sky. There in the middle of the fields of death, the wings are like an impulsive shady breastplate, cruising like a bygone idol connected in vibes. The vultures fly into the sky swathed in fine light watching the souls depart the colossal earth.




Stay In by Samarth Sadhu

Her restless soul wanted to hike on the city streets, walk through the promenades and look at its old buildings of the centuries old Mumbai.
But her husband said to her, "Why do you want to make so much effort? Stay in, relax. You have everything you need at home."

Their neighbours gave her an odd look and threw appreciative glances towards the caring husband.

Why did she want to go out so much anyway?

Then he took off for his duty in Kashmir, and he told those people the same thing, "Stay in, relax. It's for your own good."
He took to Facebook and congratulated the prime minister on his move and his neighbours and many more liked his post for their wisdom and courage.

When he returned to the city, ready to meet his friends and party.

Karma said, "Nope, stay in, relax."

And he sent Covid and shut him and his neighbours in.

And the Kashmiris sighed.




Ageing Together by Sudha Viswanathan

“You have decided to leave me after seventeen long years of married life?” Shuba raised her brows, but was unperturbed.

Her husband, Keshav asserted with a nod.

“I am glad you broached this subject. I was myself going to tell you that it would be good if we called off this farce of a relationship.” Shuba sounded firm.

“Shuba, are you serious? Today is first of April; I was just trying to fool you.” Her response literally jolted Keshav.

“When did I say it is March 32nd? If you can crack an April fool’s joke, can’t I?” She smiled.


Bitch by Ursula Gomez

She was a late bloomer. When girls were enchanted by the wand of mascara, she refused to give up her pen, her sword, ready to change the world but not her dressing sense. She was a doll face but with her glasses on she was a threat to no one.

So when she flipped, no one was prepared for it. As if running out of time, she decided to take love by its horn. That's when boyfriends got stolen, cliques were changed, along with her wardrobe change. She was called a bitch, first by prom queen Amanda Burnhart (indeed!) and then by many. Like a true dictator, Amanda crushed the revolution before it took momentum. And she went back quietly to her pen, and to take up revolutions she could actually take on.


Cliffhanger by Vandana Jena

I keep awake every night. Not because I have coffee. I cannot sleep even after having warm milk. And that is a soporific. I close my eyes but all I see is a pair of terrified eyes, looking at me imploringly. Willing me to come and rescue him as he hangs by the cliff, terrified. I rush ahead, my hand extended. But I freeze. I see the look of terror in my brother’s eyes as he loses his grip and plunges down. Or did I step on his hand to aid his downfall? I don’t remember.

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