Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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You blanket me
mold my bones
and flesh
sparing me
the comfort of
clarity. Brown
and brimming:
how i love you.

It’s the taunts, their
memory, stealth strikes
betraying secrets.
Must you be blatant?
So unforgiving?
Why hold my flaws
to the mirror,
to light?

Hold them instead in
the heart, a comforting
secret, till the heart
confuses it for love
for what else does the
heart know but love?

Until one day, deceived
it’ll give away;
splinters will run through
it, raspy breaths, maybe
i will clutch at it,
who cares?
so long as you
glow and radiate
outwardly.

© Anuradha Prasad 2019

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image: via goodreads

The unfolding of a woman

Janice Pariat’s novella The Nine-Chambered Heart is a collection of nine stories tied together by a single woman. The nine also references the paper folds that make up an origami heart – at least the one that I attempted. Eight people, men and women, who have loved or desired the young woman describe her and their relationship with her. Written in the second person, the narratives read like conversational letters of confusion, love, concern, nostalgia, and bitterness that the lovers felt.

A single narrator holds court in each chapter and is described with a title related to the role that he/she plays in the unnamed woman’s life at different stages. Only the Butcher appears twice. People and places have no names. Only the animals do: China, India, Scapara, Layla, Gramsci. There are cities with rivers and those without.

Over the course of the nine narratives, the reader sees the woman only from the perspective of various people. The multiple perspectives move on a ‘Rashomon’ tangent and as in the movie, the readers don’t get to know the woman in her entirety; she remains incomplete, an enigma, a mere sum of perceptions. A fear of abandonment along with a need for love and the pain of loss ripple through the narratives. Perhaps that explains the lack of names which brings with them the possibility of attachment that’s longed for and yet feared.

Most of the narratives offer the protagonist in small and similar bites, something of her background, her quirks, her love for cats and origami, her fragility, the aloofness she exudes. It is only in The Lighthouse Keeper’s narrative that a side of the woman is presented that jars against the impressions gathered from the others.

The most striking feature in The Nine-Chambered Heart is the well-crafted sentences, each precise and poetic. The novella is not something that a reader would down in a single gulp but something that one would want to slowly savor. And then round back for second helpings.

Title: The Nine-Chambered Heart
Author: Janice Pariat
Genre: Novella, Literary Fiction
Publisher: The Borough Press, 2018
ISBN: 978-0008272548

© Anuradha Prasad 2019

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I am from a loud place
of many small things
old things, old furies, old
hands saying stop.

I am from feathers angelic
of the flying kind, yet I’m
grounded, only the heart aerial
never carrying me away from
me. A homing pigeon, it returns
from far-flung places, telling me
stories in flutters, and feathers
fall all over me like promises,
maybe consolations.

I am from coffee, diluted
with milk to make me drink
milk, nurturing instead an
insomniac, a night owl who
burns like the stars and holds
in her veins the seduction of
the moon, dark and cold
moon with pause, of disquiet.

I am from pages torn, balled,
and burned. A bonfire that reduced
me to ashes. I rise again, the ashes
they cling, never am I free of
ashes. Burn child burn.

I am from no-nos. Don’t do this.
Don’t do that. Good girls are made
not born. Be a good girl. That’s like
a good girl. A good girl was forced
under my skin. I said my good byes,
she peers out at me now and again.

© Anuradha Prasad 2019

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image: via pinterest

Delighted to have my short story, ‘Tarla’s Homecoming,’ published in The Bangalore Review’s May issue.

Grateful to The Bangalore Review’s editorial team for publishing it.

Follow the link to read the story –

http://bangalorereview.com/2019/05/tarlas-homecoming/

 

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image: via pinterest | a pretty accurate picture of my home

On Bengaluru Review:

Read my review of Sylvia Plath’s short story, “Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom” here –

https://bengalurureview.com/2019/05/11/sylvia-plath-mary-ventura-and-the-ninth-kingdom/

On The Bookish Elf:

Three hours of book shopping and thirty-five books later this piece happened: Yoga for Bookworms

“Any bookworm worth their salt would know that reading books, buying books, and obsessing about books require physical effort. It is not all about flexing those mental muscles to plot twists and climaxes. Reading makes great demands on the body. There’s nothing sedentary about it. Enter yoga, a cure-for-all, book worming included.”

https://www.bookishelf.com/yoga-for-bookworms/

 

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A short story that Sylvia Plath penned as a student at Smith, “Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom” takes the reader on a familiar journey marked by the conflict between light and dark. While Plath’s descriptions at times are overdone, the story is ripe with symbolism that is largely expressed through color, the train journey, and the natural views.

The story’s beginning reminded me of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.” It too begins innocently enough. The first scene is of Mary boarding a train despite her better judgment. She meets an unnamed woman and over the course of the journey, her will and awareness sharpen and she realizes that she does not want to be on this journey.

While the language lacks the intensity and concision of Plath’s later work, the themes of darkness to light, apathy, and free will are familiar and hold the reader to the story. Though it isn’t one of Plath’s best works, it is relevant as part of the author’s entire body of work and in tracking Plath’s growth as a writer.

Title: Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom
Author: Sylvia Plath
Genre: Short Story, Fiction
Publisher: Faber Stories
ISBN: 978-0-571-35173-2

© Anuradha Prasad 2019

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the egg, once warm
and protective,
grew into suffocation.
growing bigger
against the fragile
resistance
the chick knocked
it down, cracked
its prison open.

falling out
wet and ugly
little blind eyes
squeezed shut
hurt by sunlight.
it grew stronger
fed on sun, rain,
worms, berries.
downy feathers
appeared. Pleased
mama chirped goodbye.

the fledgling
stretched its little
wings
opened it, danced
looking up
it saw the miles
of blue it would fly.

one blue day
it watched a
great big eagle
of might and beauty.
the fledgling
struck by the
breathtaking vision
puffed its little
chest and flapped
wings just as the
eagle fell, stone
to ground, going
splat and none
of its regality
remained –
guts spilled
feathers flew
a foot high,
fell fizz flat.

The fledgling
put its wings down
lay in its nest
watched the
sky, now bare.
The fledgling
learned to love
her nest
her fate
until one day
when she said,
oh, sod it,
and flew
the blue sky
her destiny.

© Anuradha Prasad 2019

 

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My short fiction piece “A Scene of Grief” is up on “Literally Stories.” A thank you to the editors – Hugh et al for featuring it. Give it a read here – https://literallystories2014.com/2019/04/22/a-scene-of-grief-by-anuradha-prasad/#more-16938

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image: youtube / slimani reading

Lullaby is the song which puts you to sleep, lose awareness, become unconscious. Its layered meaning is fully exploited by Leïla Slimani in “Lullaby,” also known by the titles “Chanson douce” and “The Perfect Nanny.” The novel begins at the end. And then it starts again, innocently enough, a child-like quality to its simple sentences told in the present tense. The steady rhythm of the sentences lull the reader to sleep, even as the novel, not so much picks up pace, but intensifies as it shifts from one point of view to the other, reconstructing lives, getting under the skin of characters.

Myriam and Paul are just another couple in Paris. Both are ambitious and both love their children, Mila and Adam. Myriam’s ambition leads her to return to work as a lawyer and the couple decide, not without apprehension, to hire a nanny for their children. Louise is the nanny of dreams, doll-like with immense strength, with her Peter Pan collar and varnished fingernails, descriptions which Slimani repeats. It is this too-good-to-be-trueness that heightens a sense of foreboding. Soon cracks – at times, vicious and at times, pitiful – begin to appear. But when things are convenient, red flags are ignored and justified, which is precisely what Myriam does.

Slimani unearths many underlying tensions in the situation: complexities of motherhood, conflicts of a working mother, loneliness, how nannies are treated, confused intimacies, and the final spiral into darkness. In the end, everyone stands guilty.

© Anuradha Prasad 2019

(also here!)

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crouching
moving
child shadow
within
long shadow
within
old shadow.

flailing
hands
feeling
skyblue windows
milkysap tree
icecold ghosts.

tracing
fingers
indigo
glass pregnant:
living snow
buzzing bees.

inhaling
caverns
mustylined
tube twist
crayon pillar
making lips.

flowing
life
whitelaced
satinsashed
sea streaming
face buried
cotton shoulders
birthday baby.

whistling breath
beheading
flames whoosh
three candles stand
dead.

© Anuradha Prasad 2019

(Written in response to one of the prompts at the poetry workshop by Sourav Roy at Atta Galatta)