Life Will Be Better
Short story, Life Will Be Better, finalist in the Out of Print/DNA Competition (India).
I rolled down my window and watched the street vendors stroll between the stationary cars, tankers, matatus and buses. I had a strange impulse to drive straight into the car in front, just for the satisfaction of knowing I’d made an impact for once. I gripped the steering wheel.
Dilip and I were stuck on Mombasa Road driving to the city centre of Nairobi from our offices near the Jomo Kenyatta Airport. We’d just passed the golf course on our left and the old East African railway station on our right. A street seller sidled up to the car carrying Kenyan flags of all sizes; the black, red and white fabric flapping around his face. “Madam, you need flags, sunglasses or a photo of the President?” he asked.
I shook my head, avoided his gaze and looked at the traffic ahead…
Short story, Dr Patel, published in Out Of Print.
Dr Patel ran his finger along the back of his collar and down the length of his tie. Smoothing out the striped navy blue and yellow silk with its embroidered Club crests, he rolled the tie half way up his shirt, then unrolling it, pressed it down on his belly. He made his way to the front of the reception hall that was filled with tables covered in white cloths, ornate flower arrangements and candelabras, till he got as close as he could to the head table. There he pulled out a chair and sat down to wait for the bride and groom, as if he were part of their family.
He was, as usual, too early. He was particular about timing. He hated being kept waiting himself, and so he made a point never to be late. But no one in Nairobi’s high society appreciated the finer aspects of his character, his sense of propriety and his polished etiquette. Dr Patel sighed, caressing the silky fabric of his tie, from the knot to the bottom. He was glad he’d decided to wear it, even though the famous crest and stripes design was never recognised and no one had ever asked him about his membership with the Club…
One Of Us
Short story, One Of Us, published in Two Serious Ladies.
“Rashid knows all these intimately, their contours, markings and curves,” Fatima said through the smoky haze of patchouli. I hadn’t expected to be meeting Rashid’s sister on my first visit to his home, although he’d mentioned her quite a lot over the few months we’d known each other.
“It started with these, which I inherited from my father,” Rashid said, going over to the mantelpiece. He picked up a statue. “You know Cleo; everybody does, and her brother, Ptolemy, over there. She’s crafted in clay, and moulded in poly-stone, and he’s made of the finest porcelain. They’re both hand painted with real, gold paint.” He cradled the object in his arms and caressed its belly. “Cleo’s very special.”
“Yes, she is,” Fatima said, rubbing her abdomen. “Please make yourself at home Simran.” When I’d shook her hand a few minutes earlier, her palms and fingers had caught my attention; they were like those of a child, petite with baby-soft skin. Her hand was limp and she’d withdrawn it from mine in an instant…