"If the doctor told me I had six minutes to live, I'd type a little faster." --Isaac Asimov

Monday, October 21, 2013

Bombay Bhel excerpts #1

This excerpt is from the story Aam Papad. A street vendor returns to his home town after Hindu-Muslim riots affect his family. Meanwhile, a schoolboy who depends on him for his daily snack tries to find out where the vendor has gone.

Hassan ran out of Kapilgaon station, stumbling across a homeless man lying near the exit. A horde of auto rickshaws veered towards him, each driver vying for the fare by attempting to shout down the others. He got into the nearest one and gave the driver directions. The dust, noise, and smell of the train journey had left him feeling dazed, imparting a dreamlike aura to his surroundings.

The driver shook his head. “I can’t take you there, sahib.Too much trouble, still, in that neighborhood.”

Hassan’s heart thumped with an erratic, wild rhythm. “What do you mean?”

“The riots, sahib. Many parts of the chawls burned to the ground. It is too dangerous.”

Hassan swallowed, wishing he’d stopped to get some tea at the station. He didn’t have the energy for an hour-long walk, especially with the afternoon heat closing around him like a vice. Already, sweat was puddling in his armpits and running down his back.

The driver coughed and spat a thin, red streak of paan juice into a deep trench in the pavement, a relic of a municipal project begun but long forgotten. “You want to go somewhere else, sahib? I will take you very fast.”

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