Flash Fiction


By sushi

No, you are married now.

Anna had told him this minutes ago.

So what, Anna?

Prem had asked her this, as if he was a small boy who didn’t know what it meant to be married.

Don’t touch me, Prem.

How does my marriage change what we have, Anna?

We don’t have anything anymore.

I can’t believe this, Anna. A lifetime of love…16 years…Anna.”

You can’t betray your wife, Prem!

She can’t know, Anna.

And Anna had gulped her drink and collapsed on the couch.

She lay there now with her eyes closed and mouth open.

Anna had passed out.

Seconds ago, she was pushing him away.

He had shouted at her:

You tore my pocket…Anna…what’s with you?

Don’t touch me, Prem.

I am not a dog, Anna. Don’t shoo me away like this.

Anna had laughed.

How I wish you knew more about dogs, Prem. See my old Frodo? 16 years. Blind and limping. But still here, with me. Loyal and loving. My beautiful Frodo.

Prem looked at the dog now. Frodo sat on a rug near Anna and stared in his direction.

Could the dog still see a bit? Did he sense much?

The silver locket on Frodo’s collar glinted, like a heart full of hope.

Prem had gifted Frodo to Anna years ago when he first met her. He had married Uma to please his parents, but Anna held the key to his life.

She mumbled something and turned. Her head flopped against a cushion as she brought her knees to her chest.

Prem wanted to gather her in his arms and hold her face and…

He would do it.

Uma wouldn’t know. Anna loved him so she wouldn’t mind. She was just sad. Maybe mad at him too. But she definitely loved him.

Prem sat on the couch with Anna’s semi-conscious body on his lap.

“I have loved only you, Anna.”

Prem touched her lips and pushed her brown hair back. He ran a finger across her long black eyelashes.

His breath ran like a storm as he bent to kiss her neck, but the sound of Frodo’s locket made him stop.

Frodo had managed to limp towards the couch but he lay on his side now with his paws paddling in the air. His old body jerked wildly.

A seizure.

Prem left Anna on the couch and sat next to Frodo. He held the animal and spoke gently.

“Frodo…what happened?”

Frodo’s muscles twitched as he frothed at the mouth. The dog looked up at Prem for the last time.

“You have been such a good boy, Frodo.”

And just like that — within seconds — Prem saw a lifetime of love slip away into nothingness.

Anna’s beautiful Frodo was dead.

Had the dog tried to protect Anna from Prem?


Prem unhooked the locket from Frodo’s collar and called a pet ambulance.

He then left Anna’s house.

The phone rang as he drove through the silence of the night.

“Where are you?”

It was Uma.


“Oh…come soon.”

“Why?”he asked.

A minute passed before she answered.

“I…we…are pregnant.”

Prem parked the car at a side of the road when Anna’s message appeared:

Thank you for holding Frodo.

Prem closed his eyes. Anna didn’t know that he had tried to…to…

He wrote back:

Frodo may have lived on had I stayed away from you. The poor dog wanted to protect you…till his last breath, Anna.

Prem exhaled all the guilt that rose to claim his tired soul.

“Prem…what happened?”asked Uma.

Prem wished someone would hold him like he had held Frodo. He wanted someone to look into his eyes…and tell him he could be a good man.

“Will I be a good father, Uma?”

“Of course, Prem.”

He knew she was smiling. But all he could do was lean back and cry as Frodo’s silver locket slept in his half-torn pocket, like a heart full of hope.


Flash Fiction


By sushi

“Why are you sitting outside the sanctum, young man?”

Francis looked at the tall human standing before him. The man’s skin was brown and luminous. His sharp, black eyes matched the color of his long matted hair.

“Err…I didn’t wear temple attire…”

Francis pointed at his pants.

“Oh…hmmm…didn’t anyone tell you?”

“My girlfriend did…but I didn’t care…”


“I…well…I…my mother…err…I am a Catholic boy.”

The man nodded.

“Today is a special day for girls…they seek blessings for their beloved…from me.”

“From you?”

The man was surely mad.

Francis wanted to get up and run, but his damned girlfriend was still inside.

“I am Shiva.”

“Err…I am Francis.”

The god looked at the cross around Francis’s neck.

“Do you want to marry this girl?”

“Yes, yes…she fills my heart with love, but her mother…her mother calls me a dirty imbecile.”

Shiva frowned at Francis.


“You know how they are.”

“Who are “they”?”

Francis sweated like a woman in labour.

“Don’t take this badly…we eat meat…and…Lakshmi’s people…they don’t eat meat or drink.”

Shiva’s third eye throbbed for a second.

“Does your mother like Lakshmi?”

“Oh…my mother is even more horrid…she calls her a pagan fool.”

Francis bit his tongue, and spoke again.

“But I have already decided…I confessed last time I went to church…I told Father Ignatius that I am willing to burn in hell for this pagan woman…she is my life…The Lord can judge me for it.”

Shiva sat next to Francis.

“What did Father Ignatius say?”

“Trust thy Self.”


The god stood up and danced to the beat of the two-headed drum that moaned near the sanctum.

Francis watched with his mouth open. His heart thumped and his toes were almost numb with fear.

What would his mother say if she knew where he was and who he was with?

Sacrilege…blooming sacrilege!

The old mosque opposite the temple lit up just then. Its loudspeakers reminded the world to gather together and pray.

“Namah Shivaya,”mumbled Shiva.

He stood facing the mosque. His hands were folded above his head and his legs stayed slightly apart.

In the light of the setting sun, the god glowed like a star — the symbol of Christmas.

“Won’t you help her?”asked Francis.

Shiva looked at him.

“How do you know what she is asking?”

He went inside the sanctum and came out with many fried appams in his hands.

“She believes in you,”said Francis.

“That girl is asking for a man who sees her as he sees himself…not as part of a “they” he isn’t part of.”

“Oh…I didn’t mean it that way…just that we both were raised differently by…”

The god leaned towards Francis.

“You both aren’t cattle to be raised by others. Find your Self first before you learn to trust it.”

He spread out his hands full of sweet appams.

“Go on…take one…”

Francis froze when he saw Shiva’s outstretched palms.

There were deep gashes on them. They rose from the centre of his palms, like the buds of red roses.

“What’s this?”asked Francis…

…but there was no one sitting before him.

“But…how can it be…?”

Francis ran to his church and kneeled at the altar of his beloved Lord. The Christ stood with open arms, the wounds on them glinting in the light…like the buds of red roses…

“You…it was you…”

Francis broke down and wept till midnight when Father Ignatius appeared with a Christmas star in his hands.

“What happened, Francis?”

Francis looked at the glowing star.

He remembered the beat of the drum and the dance of the good lord, and smiled.

“Sacrilege, Father…blooming sacrilege!”


Flash Fiction


By Sushi

“Jakapaasupase bujje papa bubbu bosa!”

Arvind turned around to see a woman pulling her dog towards the garden near his building.

She yelled at the animal in a language he had never heard.

He sat on a sunlit bench as the dog jumped up a muddy slope.

“Pore pore pore baba badu saba!”

The woman was in her 30s with golden hair and big black eyes. She struggled to make her little dog sit opposite Arvind’s bench.

Then she sat too with the leash coiled around her hand.

“Baba…you must sit like this…like a good boy…else everyone will say Rocky is a bad dog.”

Arvind looked at her.

“You speak English…?”

“Yes,”she said.

“Where are you from?”

“Mumbai…and you?”

“Mumbai too. But the language you used a while ago…neither Marathi nor Hindi…or…”

“I invented it.”

Arvind laughed. The woman laughed too. Her hair moved around her like a halo.

“I use that language when I am angry,”she said.

“What if you are angry with human beings?”


Arvind shook his head.

“How would the other person know what you are angry about?”

The woman leaned towards him.

“I only want to let my anger out, not prove its rightness.”

Arvind kept his water bottle down. One of his earphones fell to his stomach.

“Now look at you,”she said. “I was talking the whole time thinking I had your full attention…but you were listening to music perhaps, or some dull colleague blabbing about some nonsense.”

“No, no…I heard every word you uttered. See, it’s okay to use that language with dogs. They catch your energy, not your words. But humans…”

“Humans may have saner lives if they learn to catch energies, not words.”

“We aren’t dogs, Madam…”

“Maria. My name is Maria.”

“I am Arvind.”

He got up and shook hands with her. Rocky immediately grabbed Arvind’s shorts.


Arvind laughed like a mad man.

“How…how do you do this…?”he asked.

“It works.”

The dog pulled some leaves off a shrub and barked.

“It works for me…not for him,”she said.

Arvind chuckled.

“Perhaps you should teach him a word like NO…and say it firmly,”he said.

Maria pursed her glossy lips.

“He may listen to me then,”she said.

Arvind shrugged his shoulders.

“Isn’t that what you want?”

“Our walks won’t be entertaining then…plus…it’s such fun to speak whatever the hell you like…it’s more fun when no one understands.”


“If you understand my anger – and if you care – you will force yourself to be a different man…and if you don’t care, you will start fighting with me…I want neither.”


“I only want a way to let my anger out.”

Arvind sat next to her. She smelled like a pot of honey.

“What if your anger is justified, Maria?”

She noticed his eyes soften. They conveyed interest, a willingness to dive deep into her.

Maria lowered her gaze and spoke.

“We don’t need words to communicate anything — grief, anger, joy or love. And there’s no such thing as justified anger. Rage is never right.”

She rubbed her dog’s snout and got up. Arvind walked with her.

“Then why do we have languages?”he asked.

“To understand dull colleagues.”

They both laughed as she stopped near her bungalow. She let the dog in and turned to look at Aravind.

“It was nice meeting you,”she said.

Arvind’s fingers gripped the gate a bit too hard.

Did he want her number?


What if she slapped him?

But what if she wanted to know him too…the way he wanted to know her, this woman with golden hair and big black eyes and child-like laughter.

Arvind thrust his hands into his pockets as Maria stood staring at him. A tiny smile played on her lips.

“Kuranahutoreburraburraparma?”he asked.

Maria threw her head back and laughed.

“Of course…9765890038…Call me anytime,”she said.


Flash Fiction


by sushi

“What do u mean u forgot your IC?”

Ramesh brought his car to a screeching halt at the signal.

“I forgot,”said his wife.

“Shilpa…the restaurant will not let us in unless we prove that we live under the same roof!”

Shilpa touched his arm and mumbled.

“Can’t Ishu tell them we are his pappa-mamma?”

Their teenage son pressed some buttons on his device behind. He looked up once and went back to his game.

“Shilpa…such rubbish you talk! Only vaccinated members from the same family are allowed to eat out and our ICs have our residential address.”

“We can prove we are married to each other.”


“I still have this pendant with both of us in it…see?”

She pulled her chain out and unlocked the heart-shaped pendant Ramesh had gifted her decades ago.

Ramesh glanced at it. A younger Ramesh and Shilpa smiled at him.

“My god…Shilpa…stop being silly!”

Ramesh’s breath fell out of his nostrils like the angry chug of a train engine. He shouted again.

“Why are you so damn forgetful…careless…”

“Maybe I am old…maybe meno…”

Ramesh interrupted.


He shook his head.

“I handle work and investments and bills and crap…but I don’t forget as much as you do…and you are not old…”

“How do you know?”

“Women your age work with me…some run daily, some manage home businesses and some even climb mountains.”

“I looked after the house and you and our son and our parents…why would I climb mountains?”

“That’s not the point…you are NOT old.”

“Maybe they are all old and yet do what they want to do.”

Their son sighed.

“Stop it, guys.”

Ramesh drove down the winding carpark that always made Shilpa queasy. She rubbed her chest.

“Ah…claustrophobia,”he said. “You know what? It’s all in the mind…getting old, feeling queasy, menopause…”

Shilpa stared at him but he looked straight ahead and drove on. It had been ages since she had made any eye contact with him. They spoke in the car mostly, or while having meals or on the phone.

She noticed some grey hair behind his ears. But that was all.

“Women do age faster,”she said.

Ramesh frowned as he parked the car and got out.

“I hope they let us in.”

He strode ahead with his son as Shilpa walked a few steps behind.

They reached the restaurant. Two waiters dressed in black threw fake smiles at them.

“Your vaccination status, please?”

Ramesh, Shilpa and their son thrust their phones out.

“All same family?”

Ramesh marched in saying “yes, yes”.

“IC, please?”

Ramesh gave them his card and pushed his hands into his pockets.

Their son did the same.

The waiters bowed and smiled again.


Before Shilpa could say anything, Ramesh shouted.

“She is my wife.”

“But Sir…”

“We are together under the same roof, on the same bed, in the same car, at the same dining table…”

The waiters laughed.

“Rules are rules, Sir…”

“But I am telling you I know this woman for the past three decades and…”

“Do you?”asked Shilpa.

The waiters stopped laughing. Their son scratched his head.

Ramesh glared at his wife and came out of the restaurant to see her standing like an abandoned ghost.

Her bleached hair died at her shoulders and her arms sagged out of her sleeveless dress. The blue eyeliner on her upper eyelids highlighted her lightless eyes.

Ramesh saw – for the first time in years – his wife’s painted lips. Bright red lipstick bled from the little cracks on them. Her body slouched and her skin was as dry as a dead leaf.

His eyes took her in slowly, this woman he thought he knew.

“Do you actually know me?”

She asked again.

Ramesh took a step towards her and stopped as her pendant glinted in the sun like some kind of warning.


Shilpa pulled the chain off her neck and gave it to Ramesh. She pointed at the pendant.

“You know this woman…not me. You stopped knowing me long ago.”

Their son sighed again.

“Come on, guys,”he said, but Shilpa turned around and walked.

“Where are you going?”asked Ramesh.

Shilpa didn’t look back.

“To run perhaps…or start a home business…or even climb a mountain or two,”she said.


Flash Fiction


By Sushi

Diwali was over.

The sweets and lamps and firecrackers and school holidays…they were all over too.

Little Tara rested her head on her grandfather’s lap. They sat together on a bench at a neighboring park.

Her eyes were moist. She didn’t dance before him like she always did.

“When will we go home, grampa?”

“I’ll take you home after sunset, like always…”

She threw a pebble in a stream that gurgled through the park.

“Grampa…i want to go home now…”


“I feel…weird.”


“I feel like someone picked me up and emptied me…like how mummy empties the garbage bin every night.”

Her grandfather’s laugh turned into a rasping cough. She heard his chest squeak like a mouse.

“Festivals fill you up…and empty you,”he said.

“Grampa. Why can’t festivals last forever?”

“If diwali lasted forever, how would you celebrate christmas and new year and holi and so on?”

Little Tara took a deep breath.

“Grampa. Why does the heart have a hole when we are sad?”

“So you know when it’s empty…and so you know when it’s full. If the heart were forever whole, how would you know it’s sad or happy?”

“Why can’t the heart be always happy?”

Her grandfather spoke slowly.

“So you know joy from sorrow, love from loss, light from dark.”

Little Tara furrowed her brows. Her lips drooped.

“Why should we know all this?”

“So you know everything changes…nothing remains the same.”

She looked up at her grandfather. His skin was pale and beads of sweat gathered on his forehead.

“Are you sleepy, grampa?”

“No, no.”

“Will you change too, Grampa…will you be over…like all the festivals?”

The old man kissed the little girl’s forehead and leaned against her.

Little Tara sat still for a long time thinking her grandfather had gone to sleep. When the sun finally set, she spoke to wake him up.

“Grampa…look…a fallen leaf. It’s flowing on like a brown boat in the stream…”

But Little Tara’s grandfather had flowed on too, like the twisted brown boat. This time, he couldn’t take Little Tara home.


Flash Fiction: Durga Comes Home

By Sushi


Damodar closed his eyes and prayed for a while. The Durga of their colony pandal glowed like a thousand suns as his wife touched Her feet, but Damodar didn’t notice it.

Back home, Damodar carried his wife — without her consent — to the bedroom and threw her on to his bed. He climbed on top of her to pin her hands down.

The woman would scream in a while. That would lend some fuel to his train of excitement. He removed his cotton kurta and looped the loose end of her sari around her neck.

Half her hair covered her eyes.

“You enjoyed the pandal visit, didn’t you?”he asked.

No reply.

He slapped her cheek.

“Maa Durga was magnificent, wasn’t she?”

No reply.

Damodar pinched her stomach hard.

“Maa Durga will save you today?”

He kicked her legs.


“How about a kiss?”he asked.

He pulled her face to his and leaned down to bite her mouth, but the wind rushed in from the window.

It blew the hair off her face so Damodar could see her eyes.

The man couldn’t move.

Her big black eyes were like two shining mirrors in which he saw his pitiful face — the sweat falling off his chin, the ugly leer on his lips, and the fear that engulfed him as his wife breathed in and out, like the Universe beyond the open window.


Damodar backed off her body and fell at her feet. She glowed like a thousand suns.

“Forgive me,”he said.

He closed his eyes again and prayed as the sun rose and set — like birth and death — with his wife’s gentle, rhythmic breath.


Zen Love

By Sushi

set aside the lines around my eyes

my lustful friend

and the chin sagging just a little

pay no heed

to the drooping of my lips

or the white hair that spells the end

of my little life

ignore the cracked lips and toes and go

beyond to see what you sought

was not the periphery but the abyss

where lies a love that leads

from the deceitful bog of desire

to a sea of truth, peace and prayer.

The Best Asian Short Stories 2021…

Kitaab International’s The Best Asian Short Stories 2021 brings together the works of twenty Asian writers and writers residing in Asia, namely from Canada, India, Malaysia, Japan, Singapore, Philippines, United Kingdom and United States of America.

If you like reading stories, please pre-order your copy (at a discount) of The Best Asian Short Stories 2021 from Kitaab:


Flash Fiction


By Sushi

When Romeo the Rat ran across the road – full of love and hope – for his sweetheart who lived on the other side, he got run over.

His little heart throbbed like crazy as his body twitched under the morning sun. He looked around with his eyes half open.

A young man stood staring at him at a traffic signal.

“God,”he said.

The woman near him covered her mouth with a slender palm.

“How awful,”she said.

“Hope he passes peacefully,”said the man.

“I wish humans weren’t in such a hurry always,”said the woman.

“Well, one can’t help it sometimes,”said the man.

“We get nowhere despite all the hurry we show. Why not slow down and see where that takes us?”

The man smiled.

“How do we do that?”he asked.

The traffic lights changed as the man and woman crossed the road, still talking. Romeo’s pale eyes followed the couple.

“Where do you work?”asked the man.

The woman spoke in a sing-song voice now.

“Juuust round the corner.”

The man asked her out for coffee. She raised her eyebrows but a flirty smile played on her lips.

“We will go slow, I promise,”he said.

Romeo breathed his last as the woman laughed.

All the love in his little heart pooled around him like the petals of a red hibiscus. It was Romeo’s parting gift to the couple. A new love story had begun as his ended.