Tag Archives: TBASS 2018

Short story: Mrs Ahmed’s Diamonds by Rakhshanda Jalil

TBASS

There is a restless energy about Mrs Ahmed. She appears to be chewing on something all the time. Her jaws move constantly, distractedly. Her eyes, large and protuberant, are never still. Moving relentlessly, they skim the room, flitting from objects to people, seldom settling on any one for very long. And yet she herself is oddly still, sitting almost motionless for hours in that room filled with walking and talking people.

I have been seeing her for years now. She usually occupies one of the high-backed wingchairs in the Lounge, the one at the far end of the room. Set against large bay windows, it is an excellent vantage point to take in the activities both inside the Lounge and on the gravel path outside going towards the Bar. In winters, she has her chair pulled close to the roaring fire. Set at an incline to the fireplace, once again this position affords her a great view of the goings on in the room. In the warm glow of the fire, the light glinting off the many diamonds on her large, handsome person, she occupies the still centre of that otherwise frenetic room with its constant to-ing and fro-ing of members and bearers.

She is a handsome woman. The angular jut of her chin and the bulging eyes make her stop short of being a beautiful woman, but there’s still a great deal to declaim that she must once have been striking-looking if not a great beauty. Her unnaturally dark hair might owe much to a professional hair colourist but it’s still thick and long, piled up as it is in an artful updo. Her body, stocky and inclined towards stoutness now, shows a trace of its former nimbleness when she stands up to her full height or on the few occasions that I have seen her walking towards the Card Room. What is more, she wears her sari tightly draped across her chest and hips in the way that modern young women do, women young enough to be her granddaughters.

I am no card player and have nothing in common with the gin-drinking ladies who gather everyday without fail to play Rummy and Bridge. I come to the Club to use the Library and Swimming Pool and, increasingly, to pop by for some tea. And so, I have only ever encountered Mrs Ahmed sitting in the Lounge, possibly waiting for her friends to come at noon—or after her game, when the others have gone and she is by herself, alone. Once, I must confess, I even followed her till the Card Room to see who she would meet and, frankly, also to see how she looked when she spoke or interacted with others. For, I had only ever seen her still and silent in the Lounge.

 

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

For Indian buyers: Flipkart & Amazon.in

For all buyers (except India): Kitaabstore 

Short story: Cakes by Geralyn Pinto

TBASS

Monik despised procrastination, that sneaky little pilferer of time and opportunity. Besides, she liked a project. Her love of projects had caused her to walk down the aisle on two occasions because she couldn’t resist planning a new phase of life after the sad demise of a husband. It was time, however, to look to the needs of others.

Natalia needed a man.

At the novena the following week, there was the usual shuffling monotony about everything. Then a voice from the recesses of the church: “For all those who are lonely. We petition Thee, O Heavenly Father, to look upon them with pity. Saint Anthony Wonder Worker, pray for us.”

Could it really be? After all these years? It did sound a bit like him.

It was. Mathias Faleiro had returned.

After the service, he came up to her. “My dear Monik…”

“Mathias, how absolutely wonderful! When did you get back? Is it for good?”

“A week ago. Ah yes, we’ve returned at last to glad Goa.”

Glad? A man who smelt of camphor and old coats probably turned every celebration into a happy requiem. Still, here was a man. But just a coconut-plucking moment. “We’ve returned? You mean you got marri…?”

“Oh, no, no.” Mathias looked at his toes. “I mean Barkis, my trusty canine friend, and I. I retired from teaching five years ago. Then we lost Galileo, and it was a little too painful to stay on. Besides, the ancestral place here was falling to pieces.”

“Galil…?”

“My parrot.”

“Oh.”

“I promise to drop by sometime, Monik, as soon as I can get my place fit for habitation.”

Poor, ignorant man. He had no idea that he was going to be dragged to Villa Rosa. On-a-leash.

“Mathias, do. Please.”

Read more

Kitaab’s The Best Asian Short Stories (TBASS) 2018: Winners and selected authors

Today, when latitudes shift, cultures collide, and we are all travellers in one form or another, in ways perhaps unprecedented, these stories must be told.
              — Dr Debotri Dhar, editor TBASS 2018

The Best Asian Short Stories

Putting together an anthology of short stories is not easy. Reading across a continent and picking from among the best of its writers and their stories is a daunting endeavour. TBASS 2018 is the fruit of this undertaking — 24 writers, 13 countries — led by Dr Debotri Dhar, Editor, TBASS 2018 and Zafar Anjum, Series editor.

‘The winners of TBASS 2018 are Rakhshanda Jalil (India), Aditi Mehrotra (India), and Martin Bradley (Malaysia; originally UK),’ said Dr. Debotri Dhar. ‘I also loved the translation of Japanese writer Mogami Ippei by Avery Udagawa (Thailand; originally USA), and there were many other excellent entries, from more than 13 countries.

‘While Rakhshanda Jalil is a seasoned writer known to many in South Asia, Aditi Mehrotra is an aspiring Indian writer whose story delightfully juxtaposed textual passages and news clippings on women’s empowerment with everyday life vignettes of domesticity from small-town India. Martin Bradley’s story highlighted the intersecting themes of travel, historical memory, and communication across differences. Today, when latitudes shift, cultures collide, and we are all travellers in one form or another, in ways perhaps unprecedented, these stories must be told.’

‘The response to TBASS 2017 has been tremendous. That really encouraged us to continue the series and redouble our efforts,’ said Zafar Anjum, Series Editor of TBASS and founder of Kitaab. ‘TBASS tries to represent the best of Asian voices, and we are specially keen to provide a literary platform to emerging, new voices from the region.  The sheer writing talent that we have gathered in this volume is a testament to Asia’s creative fecundity.’

Winners: 

  1. Rakhshanda Jalil (India) Story title: ‘Diamonds are Forever’
  2. Aditi Mehrotra (India) Story title: ‘Don’t Ask! Poocho mat!’ aditi.mehrotra@hotmail.com
  3. Martin Bradley (Malaysia; originally UK) Story title: ‘Bougainvillea’ martinabradley@gmail.com
  4. Also, Avery Udagawa (Thailand; originally US) Story title: ‘Festival Time.’ Translation of Japanese writer Mogami Ippei. She is working on the translation rights. averyudagawa@yahoo.com

Read more