Now we’re walking on this empty street and you tell me how we’re very much the same, how much our thoughts and choices match.

‘It has been just a month since I met you,’ you say, ‘and already I feel like I’ve known you for years.’

You said that on this same night five years ago and I laughed out loud then. I told you what a cheesy sentimentalist you are.

You looked straight into my eyes and said quietly, ‘You feel like home.’

Maybe that was the moment you sealed our fates together; I put a stamp on that seal when I kissed you in the next moment. Now I just nod and tell you that I feel the same way. I wish you would not say such things tonight. It will make what I am going to do so much more difficult.

This is one of the rare times when I have come back into a reality I have already been to, except for a few details of course; no two realities can ever be exactly the same. In a way, I am happy to be here – this is the reality, or dimension, whatever you may call it, where we first met.

I turn around once to look back at the softly lit café we have come from. You were eating tiramisu and I was sitting with a glass of wine in my hand. I sipped between your pauses and watched you, trying to learn every single line and every single movement of your face. The way you pick the tiniest morsels in every spoon so that it will last longer, the way you keep the cake in your mouth a moment longer than anyone else I know, so that the taste may fade away slower.

I replied without thought, almost mechanically: it is the same conversation we had five years ago, at the same table.

You have long, brown hair in this reality and I am still not used to it. Where I was up until a month ago, you had blue spiky hair and I had nicknamed you Pixie. That was a good month. At least until the last day when we were in your apartment and the curtains caught fire.

My guts clench as I remember the last words you always say to me: ‘Until the next time, my love.’

Why do you always say that? It isn’t as if you know how true it is…

There is only one street lamp on this stretch of the road and the shadows of trees look like cobwebs around our feet. In one of the houses by the roadside somebody is playing an old song by Kishor Kumar.

Mere mehboob qayamat hogi, aaj ruswa teri galiyon mein mohabbat hogi…

My darling, there will be apocalypse today, love will be disgraced in your street

You pick up the tune and begin to hum. Everything fits together, eventually.

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By Prathap Suthan

Arranging words one after the other doesn’t make you a writer. And putting them coherently in lines without making grammatical mistakes isn’t writing either.

Of course you can write. Anyone who went to school can write. And everyone who took an exam can possibly write as well.

In fact, the nice greying man at the post office can write. The elderly lady at the bank can write. The slightly portly doctor at your nearby clinic can write as well.

So can the cop at the local police station who will file your case sheet when you get booked for Whatsapping your boss along with Facetiming your girlfriend’s constipated hamster, all while driving.

Unfortunately, none of the above writers can write. None of them are genuine writers. None of them can write with the kind of ink that makes tears moist.

None of them can take a couple of words and put them in random order and change the way the world thinks about sport. Or war. Or peace. Or influence large tracts of barren land in your brain to think in a very specific way.

They can’t move ice-hearted people to jump into boats to save a thousand dolphins headed to a secret atoll somewhere in the Japanese archipelago to get their heads bludgeoned and guts pickled.

The author celebrates creativity in this collection — but knows that fantasy can be dangerous: FT

Hanif KureishiHanif Kureishi’s first essay in Love + Hate, “Anarchy and the Imagination”, was originally published in 2014 as “What they don’t teach you at creative writing school”, two months before Kureishi appeared at Bath Literature Festival and outraged “talentless” creative writing students by declaring such courses to be a “waste of time”. His role as their teacher was “part-mentor, part-therapist”. More interesting than the provocation and predictable uproar was his contention that a focus on the texture of sentences distracted students from thinking about how to entertain a reader with story and imaginative ideas.

David Davidar on his fascination with short stories and how he put together A Clutch of Indian Masterpieces: The Hindu

Apart from being a well-known publisher, David Davidar is also a novelist, editor and anthologist. He has been an attentive reader of Indian fiction from the time he was a teenager. His latest anthology, A Clutch of Indian Masterpieces, has 39 short stories from across Indian fiction selected by Davidar. From Khushwant Singh, Munshi Premchand, Chugtai and Vaikom Muhammed Basheer and Ruskin Bond to new voices like Shahnaz Bashir and Kanishk Tharoor, the volume covers a spectrum of Indian fiction. In this interview, Davidar talks about the short story and the making of the anthology. Excerpts:

What makes a short story?

R. K. Narayan, one of the world’s greatest writers, tells an amusing story about creative writing in general and the short story in particular. He writes: Once I was present at a lecture on creative writing. The lecturer began with: “All writing may be divided into two groups—good writing and bad writing. Good books come out of good writing while bad writing produces failures.” When touching on the subject of the short story, the lecturer said: “A short story must be short and have a story.” At this point I left unobtrusively, sympathizing with the man’s predicament. 

Indian American author Jhumpa Lahiri will join the faculty of Princeton University next month, as a professor of creative writing at the esteemed Ivy League institution.

jhumpa_lahiri-620x412Lahiri was named alongside 16 other individuals as the university’s newest faculty members, of which four, including Lahiri, will become “full professors”; the other 13 were given assistant professor positions at Princeton. As a professor of creative writing, Lahiri will be part of the school’s Lewis Center for the Arts, and will officially begin work on July 1.

Aoife Mannix, a recognisable voice on the UK live literature scene, has arrived in Viet Nam for the European Literature Days 2014 that begins May 22.

Mannix held a workshop on creative writing yesterday with Vietnamese writers and readers at the British Council in HCM City, and will speak today at another workshop at the English department of the HCM City Foreign Languages and Information Technology University on how to use literature in English teaching.