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  • theinkling 7:57 pm on October 4, 2011 Permalink | Reply

    Diti and Hema

    This is another character pairing that I’m growing very fond of, and I thought I could maybe discuss it.

    Hindu mythology says that the Devas — demigods — and the Asuras — demons — each came from two women. The mother of the devas was Aditi. The mother of the asuras is Diti. (Diti means chaos, Aditi means “resolution of chaos”)

    When the Devas took the elixir of immortality after the churning of Vishnu’s ocean, they fed some to their mother. Aditi, agonizing over the decision, fed some to Diti. She and her sister were dear to each other, though Aditi’s frivolity often annoyed Diti. Diti, now immortal, now gets to watch her mortal sons die — and each generation of descendants. She grows to hate her sister for cursing her to see these generations die. What she really wants is to be killed

    Hema’s weapon, given to her by the goddess Parvati, is the only thing that can kill Diti. When Hema visits the underworld, she goes to see Diti, as Diti has the point of access to the Heavens and a way to rescue Nilam. Diti says she will help her get to heaven and conquer death in the process so that she can go to Amaravati without harming herself.

    Hema and Diti are joined by the grief they feel for their children. They bond over motherhood, a common and intangibly powerful connection that give them unintended power and consequence. They get to know each other, and Hema feels unable to kill Diti when they’ve grown to love and respect each other so much. And those quiet scenes where they talk and grow to understand each other, while death hangs over their head, constitute some of the favorite scenes I have to write.

  • theinkling 2:20 pm on September 26, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: conceptualizing   

    This is also a summary of my favorite scene of my upcoming NaNo novel, Adrishta. It may not make any sense at all; it comes somewhere deep within the novel — and I got excited because I’m using a character I used to write about extensively a few years ago — but I had a lot of fun writing it.


    Hema and Mani, from Timepass.
    Finally meeting.

    They meet in the airport, and Hema is drenched with sweat from an uncomfortable flight. She still looks young, even though she is worried. It’s that vulnerability, that wretched loneliness. She’s unused to being back in India, her Telugu is very rusty. She’s holding a battered suitcase with a change of clothes because that’s all she can manage. Every waking moment is occupied with thinking about her daughter, the diamond token from Parvati buried in her blouse piece between her breasts. She feels the guilt pierce her throughout, because she thinks about her nephew, Mani, as someone she neglected. She knows that even though she never got along with her sister, estrangement from her nephew is unforgivable.

    But Hema, still shaking, leaves the Hyderabad airport and, waiting for her in the dark, is Mani. Mani is tall — six feet three inches — and has a rounded face and a  sturdy, youthful body.(He’s not lanky, is what I mean; his black t-shirt hangs on him just so, and the beginnings of powerful arms. He is only eighteen after all.) It is at least thirty five degrees celsius outside, and Hema is unused to that kind of heat, but when she sets eyes on her nephew, she walks up to him and says her name. Just Hema. And Mani holds her hand. Grips it, not shaking it. There is that inexplicable connection, because they are bound by a common loss. But that shake means her mind is no longer so fragmented. She no longer thinks about the past. There is only love, and fear for what will come ahead.

  • theinkling 3:41 am on January 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: six-word flash   

    1. Sent to the gulag; it sucks.
    2. Sex droughts mean more free time.
    3. Wish I could leave with dignity.
    4. What if I can’t have children?

  • theinkling 1:14 am on January 22, 2011 Permalink | Reply

    I understand that there are a lot of all… 

    I understand that there are a lot of allusions to Indian mythology in this piece. To explain them all would blow my mind — and also add considerably to the word limit. If you have questions, please PLEASE ask me!

    Mani took Seshu back to the old apartment. Fifth floor, above Nayanamma’s. If Mani put his head out the balcony window he could smell the dish soap and hear the hysterical actresses from Chakravakam.

    “You have the monkeys?” Mani asked, fishing for the keys.

    He looked down at Seshu, still half-a-foot shorter, still a little awkward as he held the monkeys to his chest — action figures and two stuffed toys.

    “Kinda.” (Seshu’s Americanisms amused Mani.)

    One monkey was eager to escape his grasp, holding out a cottony arm.

    Mani opened the door — two hard clicks to the right, like a grownup. Mani made a good pretend grownup. Ties, socks, shoes, ready in the morning. A morning person, like a grownup. Slopping perugu annam in his hand, a noisy buttermilk eater, just like a middle-aged tray-dish-shinal Brahmin. Seshu from bed at the last minute, sometimes forgot his socks. Always forgot his bag at home, had to rush back for it. Very Un-Grownup-Like.

    (More …)

    • Shen Git 3:58 am on January 22, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Ach, I missed Mani!!! He’s such a cutie, him and Seshu. I love how the mythological/imaginary world paints their reality. This has all the flavor of the other stories you’ve written starring Mani.

      My first instinct for this was also to use kids. 🙂

  • theinkling 5:17 am on January 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    How do I fix this? Again, over dinner. W… 

    How do I fix this?

    Again, over dinner. We just finished eating the sweetbreads. I hated the taste of animal thymus. For now, I resented Carly for making it, so I procrastinated with my answer.

    Did you take the box to the incinerator?

    I pointed to the place on the table where I’d left it that morning. In its place, there was now an empty dish.

    You’re not answering my question, Carly said. She never wavered.

    Carly also never let anything go. I took our plates to the sink and let the juices down the garbage disposal. I leaned against the sink and watched as she tried to put things away, but her hands were shaking.

    It’s been three months, she said. And I can’t get over it.

    Fix what? I asked.

    Carly walked over to me and placed her hand in mine. She’s short and likes sweaters that cling to her thinness. Exposure without exposing.

    Feel it, she said. Redundant. I couldn’t feel anything else.

    Should I call the doctor?

    Don’t bother him now, she said. It’s been twice this week.

    You got rid of the clothes, I said. I rubbed my thumb over imaginary terry cloth and imagined it seared by fire.

    I suggested we go outside and set up the telescope. Friday nights we always stargaze, and it was such a beautiful night out. Clear, too, no smog.

    I can’t, she said. No more closeups.

    Her lips started to tremble. Finally I walked over to her and put my hand on her waist and led her away from the kitchen and where the box had been on the table. The food rankled in my stomach, but I helped her sit down and let her watch the blank screen while I fell asleep on her shoulder.

    • roxythekiller 3:36 am on January 22, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I reread this one twice over, to get a feel for it. Maybe this is just me overthinking things… but it’s as if there is a third person in the story, a ghost who is sensed but not discussed. I like how the female lead consumes those around her, even as she feeds and acts affectionate towards them. She demands things from them, feeds them what they do not want, and keeps them indoors… to herself.

      Maybe it wasn’t your intention, but she casts a shadow over every part of the story, like an ill-fated Southern beauty. There is something very morbid about this story. I like it!

    • Shen Git 4:50 am on January 22, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      It feels like a variation on Hills Like White Elephants. Roxy’s right, there is a third person here. My guess is a baby that miscarried, though Carly wouldn’t necessarily be thin after that.

  • theinkling 4:53 am on January 20, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    New prompt: Have a character eat some … 

    New prompt: Start with a character eating something unusual, or, at least, have the character eat something unusual in the course of that piece.

  • theinkling 4:32 am on January 20, 2011 Permalink | Reply

    It smelled like oranges. The slender par … 

    It smelled like oranges. The slender part of her wrist, the purest skin on her body. Dan kissed her there, but briefly; it was a mark she couldn’t resist. For fifteen years, she breathed and bled the scent just for him.

    Though they went out, they ate their dinner in perfect silence. The only concession they made to one another was an empty table. No phones. Instead, her hyperactive Blackberry sat between her thighs, buzzing uselessly against her leg and then at her crotch as she pushed it upwards.

    Dan kept his phone in his shirt pocket. Sometimes it glowed, straining against the thin material of his shirt. She ordered gnocchi — perfect for stabbing once with a fork before bringing it to her mouth. He ordered papardelle con porcini, which he ate without creating a single stain on his impeccable shirt.

    No hello, how are you, nothing. No hint of his love for her satsuma scent, something she achieved by placing the orange on her skin, rubbing it there for hours. She wanted to smell edible for him.

    They say that the desire to eat one’s love is the most visceral and genuine response possible. It transcends language, forces the mouth to bend to some other purpose.

    When they were finished eating, they left slowly. Like liquid statues, they put their jackets on. Not helping each other, not even noticing the other. The mere existence of others was crass. Even their whispers were shrieks that clawed at them.

    Her first words to him were, Did you like that?

    And the silence made her pant hard, as if she’d just had sex. The slight, chemical shaking of the blackberry left echoes in her skin.

    Sure, he said.

    She was too short to see his face as he turned away from her to call for a taxi. His voice sounded so robust when he yelled, a single, sharp cut in the wind.

    They reached home in mere minutes. Not touching, not speaking. He led her up the stairs and they started kissing as soon as the door was shut, her skull banging up against the door, her hair brushing her shoulders, scratchy and greasy at intervals. Dan had his fingers thrust under the waist of her skirt; he was going to pull it down, and then she smelled it again.

    The oranges.

    She pushed him away.

    Dan titled his head but did not ask. He tried to kiss her again; this time, more gently, though they did not move away from the door, and her skull hurt. She pulled away again. He brought her wrists up to his lips and began to suck the scent from them. Transcending language; it was all he was capable of, anyway.

    • Shen Git 7:28 am on January 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Your poor unnamed heroine…

      Who else could be giving him sweet orange bliss?

    • theinkling 1:51 am on January 22, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Yeah, my poor unnamed heroine. Maybe she oughta start smelling like other fruit and he’ll get the message.

  • theinkling 4:34 am on January 16, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    I always figured he’d die young. I scra … 

    I always figured he’d die young. I scrapped the line and threw it away.

    Why did I have to kill him at all?

    The mad demands of an editor too bloodthirsty for words. I could not bring myself to kill him. We were in love in a way. I damned him, tore him, pushed him into walls, and he still came back to the page, sighing under the invisible direction of my pen.

    The phone rang.

    “Did you kill him yet?”

    My apartment, dark except for the failing lamp on my desk, felt like a funeral.

    I whispered no.

    The raspy voice on the other end turned sour. Within two minutes, my editor cut the call. I took the pen from the drawer (where I kept it, uncapped) and brought my character, my paper love, to the precipice again. And then I pulled him back with ropes of ink.

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