Short Story: Eternal Swirl by Rochelle Potkar

The Best Asian Speculative Fiction

Gopuji tore away the blanket. His shirt was drenched in sweat. He dragged himself out of bed. When he foamed toothpaste in his mouth, he heard it again. It seemed to be a classical tune of great melancholy, of Western origin rather than a Hindustani one. It flooded his ears. His temples throbbed. Sudden chills in the forty-degree Mumbai heat and humidity. He remembered last night’s dream of feathered attacks. Yes, that was what it was. Wet wings slapping at him as if they would murder him in a pond or lake … hard forceps-like things clutching his neck … a thick fleecy rope winding around his neck … tighter and tighter, claws gripping him and tearing his flesh.

Even the memory of it sent streams of sweat down his body as he showered and got ready for work. The lilt lingered into his hearing.

Gopuji was accustomed to background music. In fact, he was more used to it than most average people. He was a filmmaker. How many times, while making films, had he ardently wished for a personal background score? A score that would act like lyrical second thoughts, drizzling around him, making his life more meaningful and understood by those around. Was it this wish that followed him now? This principle that if you wished for something strongly into the Universe it was bestowed upon you?

Music, never mind, Hindustani or Western, spelt out the replication in his daily life. Whatever a person does repeatedly becomes that person, Gopuji knew. The crooked fingers of men who had played cricket, the upheld chin in sleep of a ramp-walk model, the way film directors always looked at the way light fell on a person … The repetitions of work days always entered and invaded us.

Gopuji wiped off his sweat, got into a loose work shirt and baggy pants, and hurried to his film set.

The tune followed him in violin shards. It enveloped him in piccolos, up and down the streets that he rode. He inserted his little fingers into his ears and rung them rather wildly, but the song didn’t stop. He shoved an ear bud to clog out the sound, and even ran to a pharmacy for cotton balls, which he rolled up into his ear canal. Then he notched the car stereo to its highest volume and plugged on his hardly used mobile earphones. Nothing worked. The tune followed him up and down the stairways of buildings.

By the time he reached his studio, his head was as heavy as a camera on wheels.

As he dived into the chaos of the sets, the floating melody receded to a corner of his mind, reverberating from somewhere in the distance. Massaging his temples, he fought to remember the name of his own film: Mera Pyasa Badan (My Thirsty Body). He worked on horrex (horror and sex) films every other month with plotlines that were always the same: a revenge drama.

A mother-character would begin the film. Then, she would disappear through an accident or mistaken kidnapping, rescued by a single rich, old man who would fall for her and take her away. She would be kept away and safe until the film’s climax, where an emotional reunion was necessary to offset the gravity-defying sex scenes that overlaid logic.

The main story would be about the hero, poor of resources, meeting a rich girl into a syllabus of sexual awakenings. The villain would be the girl’s father.


Read the complete story in The Best Asian Speculative Fiction 2018. Show your support for contemporary Asian voices. Order your copy now:

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