Sunday 10 May 2020

Megha Nayar, Prose 500 2020 Shortlist

The Sunset Lovers

It is a monsoon morning, and I wake up to the promise of some well-timed therapy.

A dust storm has brewed all night, leaving behind a thin film all over the house. The specks catch my eye first thing, and before I know it, vitality begins to throb anew in my veins.

I brush vigorously, ridding my teeth of much imagined squalor. As the brush runs over each tooth, I imagine a thick yellowness lifting. My mouth feels like the spring. I wash my face and comb my hair, both slightly alleviating the disarray in my heart. A bath beckons too, but it’ll be sweeter post the cleansing.

Five minutes later, I am armed with a wet dust cloth, a sponge, a bowl of water and a spray can. I begin with the TV cabinet – that is where most of the dust has chosen to settle. With a dramatic swipe, I run my armour over the intrusion, gathering up the muck and depositing it in the water bowl. Satisfied, I grab a look at the dust cloth – it’s turned a muddy brown already.

Over the next hour, I go from the cabinet to the couch, the study table, and then to the windows. With each swipe that uproots layers of dust, I feel my senses come awake. With each move, I feel my balance return.

The cleansing over, I collapse into my armchair. Sunshine has begun to stream into the room, filling my mind with its own sweet music. The yellow walls appear jaundiced no more, and the chirping of the birds isn’t grating on my ears. The morning has returned, her glories in tow. Or maybe I now see her better, with a sanitised heart.

I think Nature knows just when to invade my home. She comes visiting just when I’m beginning to lose my resolve to face the sunrise.

Entry 2: Getting Appa to agree

He was engrossed in the newspaper. Today, the big news was the new-found friendship between America and North Korea. He read the special edition cover-to-cover.

In his 64 years, Manichandran Iyer had never stepped out of Mangalore. But reading international headlines made him feel in control, like he was in sync with the world. It gave him power and superiority.

Anushree lingered in a corner. She wanted an approval from him but was considering her chances. The prospect of rejection was petrifying. No, she couldn’t allow that. He had to agree.

Anushree had always been a “good girl”. The open book types. The kind of kid whose confidence comes not from having a high self-worth, but from having nothing to hide.

Today though, she felt her approach would have to change. A straight question would not do. This game needed strategy and new moves.

“Appa...” she ventured.
“Remya and Dhivi chose Mumbai for their internships.”

“Remya got Indian Express and Dhivi got The Hindu.”


“Surprisingly, both their dads agreed.”


“Venkat Uncle and Padma Aunty were asking me too… but I told them you wouldn’t allow me. So the college will send me to a local newspaper here only.”


“So, the Placement Council is thinking of approaching Mangalore Daily for me.”

His head was churning. She could hear it. The mention of the other dads had triggered it. She waited.

The answer took a full twenty minutes coming.

“You can also go to Mumbai. Will give you my authorisation letter today. But, be very careful. Don’t let me down.”

“Thanks, appa!”

The game had paid off. Ego had defeated patriarchy.

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