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Authors: Gabbar Singh,Anuj Gosalia,Sakshi Nanda,Rohit Gore

Mango Chutney: An Anthology of Tasteful Short Fiction.

BOOK: Mango Chutney: An Anthology of Tasteful Short Fiction.
6.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Published by RUMOUR BOOKS INDIA 2014
Copyright © Harsh Snehanshu, 2014
Harsh Snehanshu has asserted his right under the copyright, design
and photographs to be identified as the author of this book.

This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of
trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated
without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover
other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition
including this condition, being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents
either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used
fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead,
businesses, companies, events, or locates is entirely coincidental.

First published Worldwide 2014 by
Rumour Books India
Cover Design by Saurav Das
Typesetting by Rumour Books India
Printed and bound in India by
Rumour Books India

Dedicated to Ramya Maddali,
for teaching me what good writing means.

Much like all good things in life,
Mango Chutney
just happened to me.
Rumour Books India
approached me in May 2014 to compile an
anthology, I sat up and thought why not. I was free for three months,
had been writing stories for quite a while, and keenly followed some
outstanding, yet unpublished, writers on social media. In less than two
months, we managed to put together 27 extremely fine stories – some
descriptive, some light-hearted, creating a potpourri of diverse writing
styles and subjects, encompassing all genres from crime, romance, hor-
ror, satire, children’s fiction, young adult, to travel. In an unprecedented
move, we even transgressed to the domain of translation and unearthed
a delicious tale,
Prem ki Chashni
by Sudhanshu Shekhar Pathak, translated
from Hindi for the readers of
Mango Chutney

So great is the quality of writing that I was witness to that I realized that
the prudent thing to do would be to refrain from including any of my
stories in Mango Chutney. From twitter celebrities Abhishek Asthana (@
gabbbarsingh) and Shruti Vajpayee (@Oinkoo), published authors Ro-
hit Gore and Deepti Menon, award-winning bloggers Purba Ray, Alka
Gurha, Giribala Joshi and Sakshi Nanda, to the journalist Urvashi Sarkar:
our contributors are stalwarts in their fields. For the first time, we have
Anuj Gosalia, the founder of the popular social media brand
Terribly Tiny
, writing for an anthology. Under the pseudonym Shikhandi, we have
one of the country’s acclaimed poets writing a lyrical story for us. Be-
sides, through online submissions, we discovered a 14-year-old prodigy
from Odisha, Harsha Pattnaik, whose story stands shoulder to shoulder
with the older writers amongst us.

During our search, we discovered an assortment of inimitable talents:
Aathira Jim, Abhilasha Kumar, Arjun Bhatia, Ashwini Ashokkumar,
Krishnaroop Dey, Krshna Prashant, Ramya Maddali, Riti Kaunteya, Ru-
chika Goel, Sidhharth, Sayan Haldar, Shubham Kapur, Shweta Mukesh,
Pavithra Srinivasan, hailing from diverse backgrounds – students, manag-
ers, engineers, MBAs, media professionals, accountants, housewives, and
one, a post-graduate at Oxford. Their ideas and thinking come together
to create the requisite sweetness and tang, making
Mango Chutney
delectable and memorable. I’m extremely grateful to all the contributors for
their camaraderie and cooperation, at times tolerating my cruel critiques,
at other times, my annoying requests to redraft.

This book wouldn’t have been possible without the kind editorial help of
Smruthi Bala, Shweta Mukesh and Urvashi Sarkar, who helped shortlist
and polish the drafts. Special thanks to Pratik Dasgupta, Abhishek Ast-
hana and Vibhor Saxena for their helping hands in the marketing domain.
The book as much owes to my family, my parents and sister Saumya, for
tolerating a geek hunched over on his laptop all day, everyday. Without
their support, it would have been impossible to work full-time on this
project. I’m pleasantly surprised at the editorial independence and 24x7
cooperation offered by
Rumour Books India
to me for this book. Thank
you Reekrit, Radhika and the rest of the team.

My most important thanks goes to Ramya Maddali, the ghost editor-inchief of this book, who coined the name
Mango Chutney
, patiently went
through each of the drafts, and ultimately, dealt with my perpetual growl-
ing with a kind, ‘Shut up!’ Nothing else could have calmed me as much
as those two words of her. If there’s a flavor to this refreshing anthology,
you know whom to credit.

Harsh Snehanshu
August, 2014
New Delhi


by Sayan Haldar
The Creation of Love
by Deepti Menon
by Anuj Gosalia
My Grandfather Shirt
by Shikhandi
by Abhilasha Kumar
The 37
by Abhishek Asthana
Valentine Lost
by Sidhharth
Tainted Red
by Aathira Jim
The Birthday Boy
by Harsha Pattnaik
The Girl Who Owned Castles
by Giribala Joshi
The Perfectly Poached Egg
by Ramya Maddali
by Arjun Bhatia
Someone with Character
by Alka Gurha
by Rohit Gore
Not Understanding Schnapsens
by Shweta Mukesh
The Lost Cause
by Krishnaroop Dey
End of a Weekend
by Ruchika Goel
by Shruti Vajpayee
by Pavithra Srinivasan
The Life Changing Present
by Ashwini Ashokkumar 154
The Rejection Ceremony
by Shubham Kapur
The Proof of Birth
by Urvashi Sarkar
One a Penny
by Krshna Prashant
Angels and Demons
by Purba Ray
On the Other Side
by Sakshi Nanda
Prem ki Chashni
by Sudhanshu Shekhar Pathak
(translated by Harsh Snehanshu)
The Postman
by Riti Kaunteya
Contributors’ Details

Sayan Haldar

“God, I promise, just let me see my kids once and I’ll ask for nothing
else.” Suddenly the bells started to ring, the gates were thrown open and
a five-year-old screaming “Mom” collided with her, and she turned.

“Honey, will you shut that thing, I’m trying to help Ron with his home-
work,” my wife screamed from the other room.

I groaned and turned it off and walked across to the other room. “Did
you hear the TV? God! How does anyone buy these?” I hated those
soaps, probably more than she did, too, but there wasn’t anything to do
that evening.

“Yes, honey, I think there are a couple of people three blocks away who
didn’t hear it.”


I shrugged. “Imagine if God heard your prayers instantly like that, hah,


“You’re doing it all wrong,” she said, “place the decimal point in line.”

I went into the drawing room, stared at a painting on the wall, lifted my
arms and pointed them straight towards the frame and said, “God let it
fall.” The painting slid smoothly off the hook as if somebody had or-
dered it to and crashed to the floor. Katie rushed out, with a scared face,
glanced once at the shattered pieces of glass on the floor and once at me.
She puffed up her face, looking as if her eyes would pop out, turned back
and slammed the door shut.

Next day at work, the files kept coming. I couldn’t open a single one.
Jose looked over from his desk and mouthed a “What?” I shook my head
slowly and turned my attention to the pencil in my hand. It was the only
company I had had since last night. The hardest part was to not make
anyone else believe what I had witnessed; it was to make myself believe it.
It must have been the wind, I thought, only I knew full well, the windows
were closed.

One p.m. Lunchtime. I walked out and tried to think about something
that would make me forget last night.

“Those Joe’s sandwiches,” I said dreamily. But they were on the other side
of town and somehow I didn’t feel like driving fifteen miles. I looked up
and muttered, “If you’re listening then send me one of those sandwiches,
will you?” I looked both ways and the only recognizable face was Jose’s.
He was staring at me as if he thought I had completely lost it. He came up
to me and said, “You look sick, man. I got something that should cheer
you right up.” He took out his lunch and gave me a sandwich wrapped up
nicely. “My wife got these from Joe’s this morning. You’ve never tasted
any of these before. They’re grand.”

I snatched it from his hand and rushed to my car. I must have driven at
ninety miles per hour, ‘cause I was back home in a flash.


“Honey, open up,” I yelled, banging on the door.

“You remember that painting yesterday,” I began, as she looked at me
with disinterest, convinced that it was just another one of those ridicu-
lous stories I often told Ron.

“And look.” I handed her what was left of the sandwich – only the nap
kin – but it had Joe’s written over it. I stood awaiting a gasp; after all, the
evidence was here.

“You got me a napkin to make up for that painting, pathetic!”
I grabbed her wrist as she walked away. “You don’t believe me, do you?”
I could feel her getting angrier by the second. “Wait, watch this.”
I lifted my arms again and pointed them this time to a beautiful blue vase
on the mantel.

With the confidence of Hitler I shouted,” God, break it!” Nothing hap
pened. I tried again. Nothing. I looked at her hoping she had a better
explanation. She said quietly,” I’m not amused”. One more night on the
couch then. But why hadn’t it worked?
“Once every day and tell nobody,” I could hear these words clearly as
Ron picked up the telephone in the corner. I stared at him, but he wasn’t
looking at me. He was talking to one of his friends, maybe. Was I really
talking to God through my son? “That’s right,” blurted Ron once again.
The contract was there. Okay then, I thought, I play by your rules.

Next day at work, I was multitasking. Finishing off yesterday’s work as
well as thinking about what I would wish for today. The first few thoughts:
social service, charity, food for the poor. Later, I thought. There was
plenty of time for social reform. What did I want most? I should be care-
ful not to offend him. After all, that was the message behind yesterday’s
instruction – not to be greedy. I wasn’t a selfish man. I didn’t want a red
Ferrari F-40. Maybe I did, but that wasn’t the point. Nothing irrational
was my conclusion. By lunchtime I had settled the matter in my head. A
promotion and a new car.

I worked in a small private firm whose exact motives were unknown to
me. Business wasn’t all that good, promotions were rare and all of this
was due to a rival company that had sprung up recently. From what I had
heard, they were set to completely destroy us and take over the business.
Many of my friends had resigned and joined the enemy. I hadn’t, simply
because I was unsure of whether they would take me or not. As I looked
outside I saw my tiny blue car parked neatly near an area where wooden
crates were being unloaded tucks on to forklifts. As I watched, one of
the forklifts veered off course completely. I had started to rise when it
gathered speed and headed in the direction of my car. I scrambled to
open the window, but either I was too slow or it was too fast. Steel forks
smashed into the side of my car and the momentum pushed it sideways
into the wall. I watched helplessly as people started to gather around the
site. I rushed downstairs and found my car helplessly stuck between the
forklift and the wall, crushed to half its original width. The crates had slid
off and onto the roof of my car, which had no choice but to succumb,
no longer fit to be driven, ever again.

Jose gave me a lift home that day. I wasn’t in the mood to talk to anybody.
Had I asked for too much? I didn’t think so. Granted, I was not one of
the best workers around but I did the best I could. A promotion would
have been a welcome change and I was even planning on a new car. The
telephone rang as I groaned. I let it ring until my wife came in from the
kitchen and answered it.
“It’s for you.”

“Who is it?” I snapped.
“Some legal advisor from ATKOM.”

I remembered. ATKOM was the rival firm that wanted to make us job-

“Am I speaking to Mr. Anderson?” I replied he was.

BOOK: Mango Chutney: An Anthology of Tasteful Short Fiction.
6.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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