“Heartwood” in The Brooklyn Review (2024)
Before living inside a giant sequoia tree, Bhumi used to live in a townhouse in Fremont, first with a professor of poetry, and later, with a data engineer. Although she didn’t come from money, she made decent wage working as a programmer at a social media company and could afford the rent by herself, but four years ago, during an afterwork social, she had accidentally ended up at an open mike on Shattuck Avenue, where the poetry prof gave the evening’s standout reading, demurred like a real celebrity in the face of applauses, and the next thing she knew, they were making out in his thriftily furnished studio on the next block. She was prone under him, locked in the simple geometry of his limbs, her eyes on the two gerbils digging up primal chaos in a cage opposite the bouncy mattress, when her jaw loosened. Her ulcerous mouth softened. She knew she had to see him regularly, so she could relax and metamorphose into a more positive person. Read more>>
“Oasis” in Shuddhashar, Issue 32 (2023)
Special short story issue, guest edited by Shabnam Nadiya
Iniya dragged herself to the motel’s front desk, but no one was there to check her out. She poured some free coffee—it was decent for a hotel brew—and waited, before deciding to leave the key cards on the counter.
The rest of the gang would be testy, she knew. They had been waiting for her inside the airless Camry baking in the morning heat. But Jai had an unsettled look on his face. He pointed to the room on the second floor where they’d spent the night. “Why did you leave it like that?” he asked her, his tone accusatory. Read more>>
“Camp City” in Berkeley Fiction Review, Issue 42 (2022)
Winner of BFR’s 2022 Sudden Fiction Contest, judged by Ben Loory, Beth Piatote, and Anne Nesbet
“Good Deity” in Necessary Fiction (2021)
…Once we caught Badal levitating in a photo taken during the annual cockfight and WhatsApped it to one another, several times around, changing captions. Good Morning. God is watching. At its peak, the image touched thousands of people, most of whom will die without knowing the town where it was birthed. Badal’s win in the mud arena felt inevitable to us. His forefathers had planted the species of berry tree Rudradeb is known to visit. It was bearing fruits for him, as we saw with our own eyes. Badal threaded the fruits’ seeds to wear around his wrists and the good deity blessed his barnyard, where he taught game fowls to fight. That is why we wore the excitement of the clash our town remembers as the Supreme Battle like a brand new puja dress. Read more >>
“Battle of Plassey” in Queen Mob’s Tea House (2020)
“In 1757, the Nawab of Bengal’s army fought the British East India company for half a day here, and lost. Fifty thousand men were butchered wholesale where this grand manor house stands,” I overhear Mannu say. He has once again rounded up tourists from the Plassey monument, which sticks out like a giant’s middle finger in a field skirted by banana and jamun trees, and brought them to look at the rippling brick façade of our house. It is lunchtime—so, back in the dining hall, I continue to tear through fish-heads our cook baked into mounds of flavorful rice. Later I walk down to the corner tea stall to ask Mannu why he feeds visitors to our town the stupidest lies. The river swallowed most of the battlefield, I remind him, and whatever the water set aside turned into the sugar mill where his father, the swollen maggot, loads gunny sacks. My house has nothing to do with the bloodbath that took place more than two centuries ago. Read more >>
“The Time of Birds” in Pigeon Pages (2019)
Honorable mention for Pigeon Pages Flash Contest, judged by R.O. Kwon
…Your uncle was kind to you, the priest reminds me, before advising me not to surrender everything I have inherited. There is a wolfish promoter razing old family mansions in the area to build high-rise apartments. I know the priest from another time, when he granted the rite of passage to my parents. Read more >>
“Prayer of the Crossing” in Himal Southasian (2018)
…Well, no, your soul may not return at all. So says the old widow Mandira sees at the river’s ghat every day. That one widow among the thousands of Hindu widows who come to pass through the holy city of Kashi because the ferry is supposed to be one-way.
–Madam, can you come to our front desk?
Why, Mandira wonders, without committing an answer. Read more >>
“Erhebung” in DNA-Out of Print (2017)
Shortlisted for DNA-Out of Print short fiction prize
Something of his cut across the slivered light framing her office’s nearly-shut door. Inside, she was following an eye-float that, after appearing against the desktop screen about a month ago, had not left her alone. She was learning how to live with a speck in sight just as she was learning other rituals in this desert town. Open-air market on the dry streambed every Friday, seizing the karst terrains of the nearby hills on Saturdays, and manoeuvring past the environmental activists who blocked some part of the main road every day. Read more >>
“Chasing the Northern Lights” in The Hindu BLink (2017)
We run, three-legged, to touch the face of the sky. In its gut churns a legion of excited particles, or is it a colossal cat’s eye? Nebulous, nebular, nebulium. Are you aware of the risks, they had asked before laying the consent form on the table. We pant. For seven years, we had seen no stars from the attic of 1/B Shyamaprasad Lane but for the plastic constellations pasted to the lime-plaster ceiling. Falling stars were choking hazards. Our boredom in that room had its own seasons. Read more >>
“Pratima” in Himal Southasian (2015)
Wet clay weighs down the damp air, competing with the hard sun’s sultriness. Earlier, a crow collapsed on the balcony. A coterie of mourners in black took charge of the morning’s soundscape. How dare anyone interrupt their incessant cawing? If you do not like the sound you can always shut your wooden doors and hope for the best. That’s what she did. Now the crow and its companions have disappeared. How far can they go? They must be in the thickets, out of sight.
As usual, the balcony rattles just a little with the whizzing Circular Rail. Behind the passing train daily bathers take another dip in the Hooghly River. The quick fingers of a fettler scrape the glaze off the arms of a Kartik idol. A neatly pleated, gold and blue-embroidered dhoti flutters impatiently next to the naked, half-painted model. Nowadays, Kartik – the pretty god – commands attention only after the larger Kali and Jagadhatri puja orders are complete. Read more >>
“Jatra” in Poydras Review (2016)
Translated to Bengali by Asif Iqbal (2020)
Cover photo by Siona Benjamin, Improvisation #12, 10″ x 10″, Gouache on mylar, 2011, used to illustrate “The Time of Birds” in Pigeon Pages NYC.