February Froth

short-stories1

That’s it – weeks it has taken to come up with an eloquent (and remotely profound) post, but it’s February and it’s official – it is the month of dull froth and fulmination. Check online newspapers – articles under Mental Health on Depression are a mainstay. Enough said.

“Show up at the desk,” they all intone – those self-help books and the creative gurus . I show up, only to watch the life leach out of the computer screen and my brain – I need a transfusion, except what could the solution be in the IV? Something that transmits heat would be nice, to warm my frozen, coagulated veins and thoughts. Trying to spare a thought to my friends and family in the East coast and Mid-West in America. Compared to those Arctic conditions, the bleak, cold weather here seems trivial – but it is NOT. My feet and calves have not reached normal body temperature after the walk in the rain. Neither food nor coffee in this cafe has helped thaw the chill.

But there is no harm in thinking about a few silver linings in the general miserabilia – the Indian cricket team has suddenly found form and won both their early matches in the World Cup (Pakistan and South Africa – two big teams) Down Under. Seeing the huge Indian support in the crowds at the MCG makes me feel sad not to have planned our trip to coincide with this cricket carnival. Having visited the ground in Melbourne and felt all spiritual by being there in early December, let’s just hope I’ve left some good vibes behind for another victory in the finals.

There’ve been other cultural experiences that were satisfying too. I read my short-story Springtime – a caper inspired by my love of Cary Grant/Alfred Hitchcock films at the Hint of Crime event at the Foyles Bookshop along with the Bristol Fiction Writing Group. It was attended by a packed audience and was an enjoyable experience. To use yet another bit of self-help speak – ‘putting myself out there’ is probably a good idea.

This past week, I came upon these classic short stories.The Rocking-Horse Winner, by D.H.Lawrence was something we did in school – about a 12 year old boy, who can hear the house whispering to him that there was no money. By some miracle, he finds he can predict the winning horse at every race and manages to amass a fortune and organise this money anonymously for his mother. But, it is never enough for her and she wants more and more. The boy rocks on his horse like a maniac and eventually dies. It still manages to chill. Another old favourite is Saki (H.H. Munro) – The Open Window is the story of a cheeky 15 year-old – Vera who is an expert at telling tall tales. There was a Hindi adaptation on Doordarshan (Indian TV) back in the 80s, which I remember to be excellent.

Reading Nikesh Shukla’s novels Coconut Unlimited and Meatspace one after the other is proving to be an interesting experience. The author who is from London, currently lives in Bristol and came to fame with the second book in which he narrates the life of a writer through his interactions on social media throughout the day. The morbid, depressive humour is laugh-out loud funny in parts but I sense that it was written when the writer in the book and in real life was mourning his mother’s death. I’m halfway through that one but am finding it as soul-destroying as life can be on Facebook and Twitter. Coconut Unlimited, on the other hand is a lot more human – it is about three Gujarati grammar school-kids in Harrow, trying to set up a hip-hop band (with the eponymous name). It’s bookended by the narrator on the eve of his wedding and tells a now, fairly cliched British Asian tale in an irreverent and entertaining way.

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