Archives for category: fiction

Being British I have grown up exposed a great deal to multiculturalism, where I am from in sub-urban London that is mainly in the form of an Asian community. I have been fortunate to have friends who were born in Britain to Indian parents, and also to have known students from India who have come to Britain to study. I have also been able to watch and enjoy a great amount of Bollywood films. I indicate all of this at the start because it is important to my understanding of the writings of R. K. Narayan (I will skip a brief biography as it is easy to find in the link for those interested) who is an Indian author who writes in English, and has added a great many new chapters to my understanding of India and its people, history and culture.

It is fair to say that the stories I have heard previously had always been told for some sort of reason, and often the sotry would be something I could not essentially grasp. I would understand what it had to do with the person/people telling it but not how it fit into the jigsaws that make up my thoughts. This was often true with Bollywood films which are unashamedly made for middle class India, and this has asmuch to do with my financial/social standing as it does my understanding of Indian culture and society.

Therefore, reading Narayan’s books was eye opening, his prose exposed me to an India I had only previously seen in glimpses or phrases, and with Narayan came full novels and a set of short stories. All dealing with an India which feels much more accesible to the casual reader. It cannot hurt that the texts are written in English forgoeing any problems of translation. Narayan’s India stretches from the rich to the poor and untouchables. In several cases it deals with the future and tradtion of India. ‘The vendor of sweets’ is just such an example in which the owner of a local sweet store (in the Indian sense of sweets) sends his son to America as that is what the son wishes. upon the son’s return he desses and talks like and American and even brings a wife who is not Indian. Through the father and son we see two generations ‘butting heads’ not because they do not like one another but because they do not and can not understand one another.

Perhaps though what is most accessible is the feeling of timlessness to these stories. I am sure that if I was better acquainted with india I would be able to discern a time period for the stories. This however is not necessary, as the stories are not historical chronicle they are instead commentary on the life people live, in this case Indians, and how this can bring about conflict and humour, while at the same time trying to discuss meaning and importance in life, which can not help but cross over into the readers own thoughts, even if they are not Indian. I hesitate here to say that they are ‘universal’ stories and narratives. That is not the case, but neither is it the case that they are inpenetrable if you are not Indian.

(While these burst fo fiction posts have no on going story between them, this post could be related to the post below )

My name is steven, and today I flew. I proved them all wrong! I saw the earth as on-one has before, I felt alive, liberated from my existence on the ground. Today chaned everything. No longer will I be laughed at by friends and family, no longer will the royal roayl society thumb their noses at me. Today I will be listened to. Today, I WILL BE SOMEONE!!

“Today I will fly!”

Out of the dark shed, a vaguely human shape appeared. I say vaguely because it was possible to discern arms, legs and a torso, but where there should have been a head, there was only a bump. As the figure came further into the light more detail was discernable, and it looked like a juggernaught submersible suit, like the ones used for laying undersea telegraph cables.

When the suit had advanced 10 metres from the shed, a metallic voice issued from the suit “3…2…1…launch!”

And with that, the large man like suit, shot into the sky, leaving smoke and a single startled sheep.

what is there to say except you can’t always win

 

well maybe I should add you can’t always win by playing fair

 

so with this thought, i slugged him hard in the face saw his head twist and lurch back, felt his cheek crumple under my punch. At the same time of course i felt each of my gloved fingers break.

 

but hey what’s a handful of broken fingers compared to being alive instead of dead.

 

you see there was no way i was gonna make it out of this alive, not without cheating. So that’ what i did.

 

My dad always used to say that if you could think of how to cheat and get away with it then you deserved to win. My dad saw that the only ones who cheated and got away with it were the real smart ones, those who could outhink the system, those kinds of people were needed.

//The beginning of something? I dunno//

(copyright Benjamin Manktelow 2008 etc)

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