Pin It

kashmiri womanI think I am sure you are the one who’d like to share the drinks with me. I feel happy to have come across you. Yet I feel the distribution of liquor hasn’t started. Or have we entered late in time? Anxious people will never be time-bound.

The tables and chairs are now getting cleaned. The brightness on them seemingly disturbs the eyes. I now feel I have worn the pince-nez that’s so bright. Perhaps, in this stumbling night, they will lose their cleanliness and become moisture-prone. The girl who sprays a kind of liquid on them is seemingly alien to this atmosphere. She is lean, and her face looks shapeless. This ritual of cleaning may take a bit more - Oh, come on, let’s stay on cleaned furniture.

Let me ask you about your favorite drink later, yet I don’t specifically need a variety to immerse myself within. I need something to rid of my phobias and dreams to close my eyes and keep intact to feel sleepy, who’ll distribute the drinks? I think the one cleaning the furniture will not… but yesterday, the proprietor told me that he wished the shop to be entirely managed by women. It’s also a different affair. If you come across any fearless and cheerful women, you may recommend her to him.

The snowfall out there shakes my body. I think the fear of getting lost into the mist only keeps us inside this bar. The moments which have the desire to be lost make their entry from nowhere quite frequently. It also happens to go in search of those lost, too successively. Today, I had gone in search of one of my friends who has been missing for a long time in the morning. The Government Officer clearly told me that the file containing the details of my friend was lost. As the file was lost, I should not approach them anymore was his instruction. It was also their duty to find the lost file, otherwise finding my friend, as both were important.

I used to meet my friend at a petty shop found in the south street. He had the habit of smoking and was always found with a cigarette in his mouth. I never like smoking. I never felt attracted also. “It is true to receive smoke to fill the nicotine inside the lungs” will be my friend’s opinion. But for me, it seems like keeping small, burning firewood in between the lips. Do you have the habit of smoking? This liquor shop is seemingly surrounded by mist in this midnight. The room resembles so. You can even smoke, I have no problem, or do you like a filtered one.

One day it became a bit late to reach that petty shop. All shops in the town got their shutters down, and the street looked empty. Rarely that shop was found with its door partially opened. My friend was found standing with his favourite cigarette in his mouth. A tense situation was prevailing as a petrol bomb was thrown into a bus. He didn’t even complete his cigarette. He was taken away by a military wagon suddenly. I could witness this while approaching the petty shop from a distance. I was even rushing forward to catch the wagon I stood still for a moment recognizing the military procedures. The wagon went into a dot and vanished.

The petty shop was rapidly getting closed by his father; his face got wrapped up into tears all over, and the hands were shaking to close the lock improperly. I gathered the bunch of keys and locked the door. He was about to cry. His mouth was stuttering with monotone.

 “Let me go to the police station; perhaps it might be for an average inquiry” while making this, he stiffened his body and altered his throat.

“You see, it was those days when people were taken to the police station, nowadays, it’s military, see them everywhere, and we have to approach some military camp. Shall I join you?”

It becomes too difficult for me to avoid an old man and make an observation of his anxiety. I went to the military camp, leaving him aside. The name of the camp is “Vasantham”. I asked the personnel there about the reason for picking my friend to the camp. I felt that I could not pass through the stiffened posture of that man. He revealed to me that those who were taken recently were kept in “Vasantham2”. This name Vasantham (spring), ignited laughter in me. In Vasantham2, the soldiers themselves encircled the camp like a fence.

Initially, they refused me about picking up a person like my friend. They even told me to lodge a complaint with the police station. In the state government also a file in my friends’ name was created. The photograph of my friend found in the file was seemingly strange, He was wearing a shirt engraved as, “towards spring” with a rose and a bright collar were all found in that photograph. There was also a serene hills terrain at the background of the photograph. The photograph was given because such a one was required by the military officials. His young wife liked it very much. When I met her in some other day, she was all the way severely crying and reminded me of that photo, while sleeping she used to wake up with his thought and sleep would fail her afterward in every night was her agony. It was still worse. His face was receding from her memory day by day. If anybody else would know about it, they might mistake her was her opinion. In our Tamil films, when seeing the weeping heroines, the villains would say, “ah, you look so beautiful when crying” But in her case, I felt she looked so ugly when weeping and what’s your experience? Are you inspired or depressed when seeing such cases?

The melancholy of his mother was in a different core that even prevented me from going there for enquiries and consolations. She was attacked by paralysis, and the profile of her face was paralytic and one-sided. Two of her teeth were protruded beyond lips, and while crying, the entire posture looked as if a different monster. It was horrible to have these faces in your memory. She would even beat her bosom, which would echo into the mountains. His father’s face might be familiar then as he was loitering the streets in search of his son. He had gone in for his son on all streets and all valleys for his corpse. While going in search of between dense plants, when birds chirp, he’d also hail his son's name, louder and louder.

He nowadays opens his petty shop very rarely; when policemen or defense personnel purchase anything, he becomes disturbed. Previously with weeps, he’d make certain enquiries with them; nowadays, his lips only shiver. Perhaps the reason is that they buy only cigarettes. You can smoke eve; you are permitted.

I, too, even in severe alcoholism, cried in high velocity about my lost friend. When there was no parade during the night, I even paraded the street shouting his name. Umpteen such names are floating in the sky, do you know? And all their families are in no way different to his, in melancholy. Even you may know a few howling with chest-beating about their lost family members. If you’d try to reveal their stories, it will be no more than a reprint of mine. Those lost beings could be shot dead, blasted, or thrown somewhere in the valleys or even could be imprisoned in military camps. We may not even know about a set of other information. It has become our habit to go in search of certain lost details in files or lost persons. If you have any second thought, please share with me.

Now we have come to the zenith of alcoholism. It has become my responsibility to safely handover you at your house. Though it is misty and too wintery, come let’s stumble to reach our houses, or shall we shout my friend’s name so that it’ll become a partial search.?

Oh, I never felt that you’d slip off like this; you have shrunken in somewhere in the darkness, I don’t find you anymore, or you got vanished into the mist… Somehow you were also lost.

“I found somebody pulling me from behind; if it’d be a beautiful woman, fine or a brother well and good,” I have money to share her bed. But I am afraid that the hand that now braces my shoulder might be that of military personnel. This very feeling brings my consciousness into balance slowly…

Written by Subrabharathi Manian (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Translated by  R.Balakrishnan

Painting courtesy: Pariplab Chakraborty

(Subrabharathi Manian has been writing short stories, Novelettes, and Novels with care and concern for the marginalized for whom existence itself is a battle, they have to fight daily against the merciless forces of society. Through a careful blending of monologues and dialogues, he carves out his characters with a rare degree of dexterity. 

Mr. Manian has won many awards, including the prestigious ‘Katha’ award for the best short story writer from the President of India and the best novelist award for Chayathirai novel from Tamil Nadu Government. He has published more than 200 short stories, ten short- story collections, and quite a few novels. (Totally 60 books including 15 novels).

His stories have been translated into many Indian languages, English and Hungarian. His books are prescribed as textbooks in various universities. He is also the editor of the Tamil literary magazine, ‘Kanavu’ since 1987)


 You can send your articles to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Pin It

Add comment


Security code
Refresh