By Rituparna Mahapatra

Storytelling could have never been more interesting. The brilliant minds at Penguin have come up with a novel idea to sprinkle our lives and emails with a pixie dust of interesting tales.The stressful office emails can take a back seat

Their goal is to make your inbox a better , happier place- one story at a time.

Beginning October 11th, till December , they will email eleven fiction stories directly to you. All you have to do is sign up for it, which is very simple. You just have to provide your email id. You’ll receive a fragment of a story, one day at a time , till the full narrative wraps up just before the weekend. The stories are free and are exclusively available only on emails. If you have registered late , not a problem ; they provide you with a catch-up link, with a note : The catch-up link will expire every Saturday at midnight EST. From then on, the story will live only in your memory (and in your email).

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by Sindhu Rajasekaran

It is said that our river Namida was once a woman. When her husband, the river Sompura, touched her for the first time on their wedding day, the turmeric that covered her body fell to the earth and made the colour of our forest mud yellow.

I rub some wet mud on my cheek, then on my legs. ‘What are you doing?’ Lado’s last words coil around me like a snake, hissing: ‘Stories are lies.’

He is right. The paste is not as soft as turmeric. But this is what I do. I search the forest for stories. Imagine their colours and paint them on our walls.

Our tribe has always respected the painters, because our paintings are messages to the god of our mountain. We weave our prayers into our paintings, hoping the stars will turn in our favour.

But Lado doesn’t believe in the gods and says there is no secret magic in the skies. He and I have known each other all our lives; when did we start to think different?

I thought we were one since the day he gave me a chipna in front of the elders. I wore the hairclip everyday and never did I take a gift from another. I tried to see life through his eyes. Although, untrue to his word, he has strayed away from my arms.

I pull out Lado’s chipna and let my long hair hang loose. Our women aren’t supposed to let their tresses hang this way. It’s only done when there is a reason to mourn, or when evil spirits possess.

‘Mahua!’ I hear Pitti Pusika call my name.

by Sophia  Ali Pandeya

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©Kitaab

Dhaka, East Pakistan, 1970

Even now, after all these years have passed, rivers, all rivers, hold a certain fascination and dread for her. Back then before rivers of blood had been shed, when there was not even a ruby blood drop, not even the tiniest nipple dot to prick the endless flow of a day, it was Nubia herself who was the river.

Theirs was the last house at the phallic tip of the cantonment cul-de-sac, lined with rows of colonial era brick and limestone bungalows. Beyond their back garden lay the great glimmering eye of the lake, Moti Jheel, where Nubia was forbidden to go by herself. Under Ayah’s watchful eye, she would play for hours with Anmol in their garden full of banana trees, where the siblings would go goose-stepping round and round the lawn, “Left right! Left right! Pajama dheela, topi tight! Aagey husband peechay wife!” until they collapsed in dizzy heaps of giggles on the grass. When she got up, Nubia was thirsty. She stuck her tongue out and caught the drip of recent rain from the glistening elephant ear banana leaves in whose lap sat fat yellow fingers of fruit plush with beckoning. Ayah mashing up the bananas, putting salt, pepper and sugar in them. The butter-yellow disks sweating until they swam in their own spiced up juice. Banana chaat was yet another one of Ayah’s delicious creations. There is nothing, however, that Ayah could do to milk to make it palatable to Nubia’s six-year-old tongue.

“Every morning she throws the milk down the sink when I’m not looking! Begum Sahib I strained this milk with muslin twice and she still didn’t drink! Ayyo! My bones are too old for this. Look at Anmol Baba. Every day he drinks down two glasses of milk. Gut gut gut. Drinks it down. See how fair he is? You will be as black as coal if you don’t drink milk and then no one will marry you!”