Ram's Blog

Saturday, July 26, 2014

DNA Out Of Print Fiction Contest Winners

The Awakening by Shruthi Rao

Sudhir Shetty DNA

The Awakening by Shruthi Rao

One morning, Venkatesh decided to wear his wife's salwar-kurta. One moment saw him sitting on the sofa, reading the newspaper, and the next moment, he was standing in front of his wife's cupboard, fingering her clothes.

A purple set caught his eye, the colour of the smoky blossoms of the jacaranda across the road. He took out the salwar, kurta and dupatta from the almirah and laid them out on the bed, one next to another. The dupatta was particularly pretty, like the carpet the purple flowers made on the ground before the morning traffic crushed them into the tarmac.

Venkatesh took off his t-shirt and dhoti. He picked up the salwar first, and put it on. This was like his drawstring pyjamas, except that it was of a soft material that tickled his thighs. Then he slipped the kurta over his head and looked at his own reflection in the full-length mirror on the almirah. It was longer than his khadi kurta. This kurta's neck was round and large. His clavicle stuck out. And the dress hung loose on him as if from a coat hanger.

He frowned before he remembered. Of course, he had no breasts...

The Sad Unknowability of Dilip Singh by Tanuj Solanki

Sudhir Shetty DNA

The Sad Unknowability of Dilip Singh by Tanuj Solanki

The never-to-be-famous writer Dilip Singh died of his own hand in the winter of two thousand and six. He was twenty-nine. His mother returned from her grocery rounds on the unfortunate day of his death and found him hanging from the ceiling fan, one of her plain widow's saris wrapped tightly around his strained neck. In the hope that her son still had some life in him, she drew a chair (the same chair that Dilip had toppled earlier) beneath his feet and mounted another to untie the noose. Failing to do that, she noticed the loosened plaster around the hook that held the ceiling fan, and in her panic she began to pull the body downward. Some plaster and cement fell on her face, but the body could not be set free. It never occurred to her that had she managed to free it, the heavy ceiling fan, which was from an era when it was made of metal, would have crushed them both.

Dilip's choice wasn't something that the circumstances, or my understanding of them, added up to. To say that he was a writer is not to say much, for the label is a problematic one...

Birdwatcher by Monika Pant

Sudhir Shetty DNA

Birdwatcher by Monika Pant

Siddharth stepped back after an hour at the telescope. The pale cream wall with the framed photographs was unchanged. So was the streak of dampness that ran from the ceiling in the far corner. The indoor world was the same as always.

He packed away his instruments, his camera, his sketches and closed the window. His rucksack lay at the side of his bed. With a sigh he picked it up and left the house to answer his father's summons. A few hours later, he was in the city, speeding through in a black and yellow taxi. But when the streets narrowed down, they began to move more and more slowly. He could see the sweet shops, the cups of tea held by people and the pushing, elbowing men and women who always seemed to want to go somewhere. There were loosely strung groups of boys standing with hands on their hips or around the shoulders of others, their faces a blur, their eyes unfocused, their teeth bared in raucous laughter. He stared at them and at the buildings with blackened sides that had been whitewashed over and over again, and at the new ones, all glass and chrome, their tops chopped off by the frame of his taxi window.

His ears felt rather than heard the mangled mix of screeching tyres, rattling buses, purring cars, the incessant talking, the shouts, and the horns, the merciless horns laying claim to the atmosphere as though it belonged to them. A patriotic song from a teashop mixed inharmoniously with a cell phone singing 'You're my Hunny-Bunny' and 'Chikni Chameli' from somewhere juxtaposed with the blaring-out of the latest manifesto from a politico who was standing for the municipality elections next week. Already he was longing to go back...

The Old Woman Who Could Fly by Deepak Unnikrishnan

Sudhir Shetty DNA

The Old Woman Who Could Fly by Deepak Unnikrishnan

Big-Shot Bhaskar knew what he was doing when he built the first nursing home in Trichur. He called it 'Gulf Party Peoples'. This was the early eighties. Families, especially matriarchs, would walk by the place in order to giggle at the lone sentry in uniform, some foreign fellow from somewhere whose job it was to stand at attention outside the building site. Bhaskar wasn't in a hurry to do more hiring. In a few years, he said. Fool's gone mad, everyone said. But I went to school with Bhaskar. The boy's brain was a crystal ball loaned to him by the devil himself. Early on, he'd calculated that geriatrics needing care would constitute the biggest market in Gulf-addicted NRI-obsessed Kerala. He was right. When I put my own mother in there, she'd been the last one holding out. Everyone else over the age of sixty had been cajoled, coerced, and convinced into locking up or subletting or selling their homes and moving into Big-Shot's Gulf Party Peoples. When family came to visit, these men and women representing various positions of familial authority were escorted by sons and daughters to locked homes which were unlocked for the duration of their visit, before being returned to the nursing home weeks (or days) later. Frankly, if you had someone in there, like I did, it was an excellent arrangement...

Shifting Lives by Ajay Patri

Sudhir Shetty DNA

Shifting Lives by Ajay Patri

The red mud underneath her feet is getting thicker by the day. The late rains do not have the strength to pierce through and settle on the surface, making the mud slushy. She wades through it with difficulty and upon reaching the field, picks up a bent stick lying on the ground and scrapes the layer of mud that cakes the soles of her bare feet. She looks up in time to witness Father looking at her with a frown on his weathered face. He doesn't say anything and turning away from her, goes on to join the others.

She hears rumours that she pays little attention to. The yield is disappointing, the weather unpredictable. The soil, which has seen them through so many years has now become stubborn. It has turned on them, choking the roots of the plants they depend on for their livelihood. There is little else to do but move on.

She remains aloof from such discussions but even in her aloofness, she knows that the basest of rumours have their origins in a tiny kernel of truth.

It is a warm night when Father brings up the rumours for the first time in their hut. He doesn't make a fuss of it, saying it while spooning the steaming potato gruel into his mouth rapidly, like he is talking about a sore leg.

We may have to leave this place soon...

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Finding Me

Facebook: ram.sadasiv
Twitter: @rsadasiv
Tumblr: Angarai
Google+: Ram Sadasiv

Prose: Out Of Print Magazine
Poetry: Angarai

Sampler: rsadasiv Newer: The Woodshed Tapes
Older: Dance Music For Grownups
Cover Band: Skinny Tie
YouTube Demos: Ram Sadasiv

Flickr: rsadasiv

LinkedIn: rsadasiv Clarabridge

Monday, April 28, 2014

Fire Island (1998)

First the sand
Then the sound
Then the sand
And then the island
Then the sand
Then the sound
And then you're there

At the Inn
And the Out
Girls walk in
And they walk out
And the men
Just sit there and stare

At the girls of Babylon

Birdwatching talk
Snakes across
The wooden boardwalk
Watching hawks
And nudists on the beach

Down on the point
Tony rolls another joint
As the sun
Dips down beneath the dunes

Over Babylon

Chrysler Jeeps
Drive up and down the beach
Toward the moon
Always slightly out of reach

And the tan gay men
Find their way home again
Toward the lighthouse
And the night siren

Over Babylon

Gotta get away
Gotta get away
Gotta get away to Fire Island

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Postcards and Trinkets

Don't come to London for sun
The days since I landed have been rainy and cold
And don't come to Paris for love
All the people I meet are unfriendly and old
Don't come to Milan for beauty
The city's a cesspool of gray industry
But all of these things would be different
If only you had come with me

I won't go to London for fun
I'm dreadfully busy right here at home
Neither Paris nor heaven above
Compare with the romance we have here in Rome
Milan, it has Berlusconi
I know perfectly well that it's frightful to see
But if you're on the road feeling lonely
Well, you should have stayed home with me

Postcards and trinkets
Airport souvenirs
Say that I love you
You know that I love you
And I miss you each day you're not here

20 Years

The smell of fresh whisky and stale cigarettes
Like gently used clothing or Evite regrets
You wear your moods like the rain wears a cloud
And your inside voice has been speaking out loud

Twenty years in and twenty to go
It's not what you've done it's all who you know
Uncomfortably poised on the edge of the show
You're twenty years in with twenty to go

Friday, March 14, 2014

After Ankitha

Oh God
Crow, horseshit, narcissism reeking
Why am I attracted to you? 
I hate you so much for what you’re doing to me
I was jealous of the girl who played your girlfriend
You’re disgusting and vile and the only male I can even talk to
Why do I do this?
We bought Samosas and headed to class
We scramble and fall and try and remain
Like we always have

Crocodile Tears for Musthapha

Do you want to get high?
He smiled like a toothpaste ad
She couldn’t decide
If she was good or if she was bad
They went outside
With the bartender on his break
Nothing to hide
It was a chance that she had to take

She was a girl
On her way in the big world
A month by the bay
To be free in her own way

Once you go brown
Can you ever go back?
She’s coming down
There's a bruise up on her neck
She saw him around
Might have been Houston or LA
And here’s what she found
That she was not ordinary

Wednesday, March 05, 2014


I knew she was the one
When I woke up inside her
Still hard and ready to finish
But narcolepsy means
Different things to different people

Of course her tight little body
Corvette curves
Mustang lines
Edges like broken shards of fiberglass Camaro
But narcolepsy means
Different things to different people

I've so internalized the workshop
That I talk to myself
Always answering
But narcolepsy means
Different things to different people

A picture of many hands
Or of one hand
A figment
Of auto focused
But narcolepsy means
Different things to different people

Cutting yourself
In the middle of the night
Is not the best way to
Get back to
But narcolepsy means
Different things to different people

Monday, March 03, 2014

Shall I tell you a story?

The most beautiful wedding ever seen in Valhalla was the marriage of Njord and Skade. Njord came from the race of Vanir; he was a great swimmer and sailor and like all the Vanir he could summon the rains so that the fields and forests became verdant and green as he made his way across the land. Skade came from the race of Jotuns; she was a great skier and skater and like all the Jotuns she could summon the snow so that people could travel at the speed of the wind. Their courtship was complicated but they loved each other deeply and when they finally married all of heaven and earth rejoiced with them.

But once the feasting and celebrations were over, and it was time for them to return to their home, they faced a dilemma. For Njord’s house, Noatun, was by the seashore; near the waters that loved him so and near the forests and fields that he so loved. And Skade’s house, Thrymheimr, was in the mountains; at the top of a glacier with a magical chairlift so that you could ski down wherever you wanted and always have a way to get back to the top.

Now they loved each other deeply, and wanted to be together always, so they compromised: nine days they would stay at Skade’s house in the mountains, and nine days they would stay at Njord’s house by the seashore. But despite his love for Skade, Njord was unhappy in the mountains, and on the tenth day, as they came down the mountain back to Noatun, he sang this lay:

Loath were the hills to me,
I was not long in them,
Nights only nine;
To me the wailing of
Wolves seemed ill,
After the song of swans.

And Skade loved Njord, and wanted him to be happy, so she stayed the nine days in Noatun. But Skade was unhappy away from her mountains and on the ninth morning she sang this lay:

Sleep could I never
On the sea-beds,
For the wailing of waterfowl;
He wakens me
Who comes from the deep –
The sea-mew every morn.

And so she returned to the mountains, and he remained by the sea, and their two children, Frey and Freya, split their time between the two houses, spending the summer with their father by the seashore bathing in the fjord and wandering the meadows and the winter with their mother in the mountains skiing the steep slopes with the speed of the wind.