Another flash fiction piece of mine, titled “Whim“, has been published in Flash Fiction Magazine. Creativity has sort of taken a back seat these days, as I’ve been guiltily trying to get back to writing my dissertation. This is actually a rather old story, written quite a few years ago, as an experiment on a little writing group I had started with two friends. The game was for each person to choose a word, and then to write a brief story on one of the words, preferably not the one that she herself had chosen. That’s how this story came to have this one-word title; well, that, and the fact that I was too lazy to change it. The starting point of the story (the shock of having a perfect stranger access something embarrassingly personal) was loosely based on a personal narrative related by yet another friend, though of course I took great liberties in embellishing it — had great fun doing that, too! It’s fun to imagine that you’re the kind of smoking hot woman that gift store clerks leer at, not the kind whose existence they grudgingly acknowledge!
Cafe Dissensus, an online journal on contemporary politics and culture, has come out with a special issue of short stories on the theme “night”, and my short story, “The Blue Room” has been included in it. The issue is guest-edited by Sumana Roy.
The story is based on my experience of attending a concert in a Berlin bar, a few days before leaving the city after a 6-month stay there. The feelings evoked in me by the concert seemed to be the essence of what it meant to live in Berlin, and I was simultaneously exhilarated, and disappointed that I was discovering it just when I was leaving the city. It was those feelings, rather than any specific experiences, that I wanted to express in this story. Who knows if the feeling would’ve lasted if I’d stayed longer. The Blue Room is thus the Berlin inside my head, and Berlin will always be the Blue Room inside my head.
I thought it would be easy to write a story in exactly 100 words, but it was the “exactly” that foxed me. It was an exercise in economy. I first wrote the story, and then kept slashing and slashing till I got it down to the requisite word length. Every time I pressed the ‘Delete’ or ‘Backspace’ key, it felt like I was erasing a piece of my soul! But I persevered, and finally “Voodoo Graffiti” got published on A Story in 100 Words. This was my first real story publication. Hey, it might be just a 100 words, and maybe it’s slightly weird (heck, I know it’s completely weird but that’s the point!) but it’s still a story!
I stole the idea of writing a 100-word story and publishing it on this site, from my cousin and fellow writer Namitha Varma’s experiment in writing a 100-word story. Namitha’s story “Guilt” is a sombre and sobering meditation on ethics in the face of chaos, while mine is just a fun-fest!