Wednesday, 3 October 2012


The 10th part of Lakshmi Raj Sharma's new short story based in India.


                                                          THE STARCHED WOMAN (Part 10)

The scene was getting very inauspicious and things didn’t seem to be boding well at all. Then the huge monkey came down on the ground with a loud thud and sat very close to me. It smiled at me, its big teeth showing, in an ominous way and I decided to run back the way I had come. For the first minute or so I felt that the monkey was chasing me but then that feeling di
minished as I reached the border of the wooded land. There I found the woman standing. For the first time I saw some expression in her eyes. She was looking at me furiously, as though I had entered her territory or violated her peace. I was not in the right frame of mind to talk to her and so just kept moving. I left the place as my confidence was shattered. I had made an ass of myself. What an idiot I was, I thought, to have entered an unknown place like that, and without another living presence to assist me.
I had worsened my conditions and now getting to the root of her story was becoming more difficult. I did not know how to make up for what I had lost. I was also losing my confidence as the situation was becoming more and more supernatural. I was travelling from the realms of realism towards a kind of magical realism. Who could have thought that a simple tale relating to a simple woman could take such a twist?
On an impulse I got up and went to the Oxford Bookstore on Park Street. There I asked for books that dealt with extra rational happenings. I liked one that was entitled, Death and Beyond. It was a book about how the dead could be approached. It dwelt at length on the significance of dreams. I returned to my room, had my light meal quickly and lay down on my bed to read. It was very fascinating reading and I don’t know when I fell asleep. I saw a dream in which my dead grandmother came and stood in front of me. This was the first time I had ever dreamt of her. She looked so real that I could never imagine that this was merely a dream. For some time she said nothing but then she spoke in a voice that was a scraped version of her living voice.

‘Shubendu, what makes you want to know of the dead? By trying to find out about Neela’s son you can become as stiff and lifeless as Neela herself. The worlds of the dead and the living are two separate worlds and the one should not interfere with the other if good health is to remain.’
I wanted to ask her something but I awoke and realized that it was only a dream. But the dream did make me think.

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