Monday, October 15, 2007

Too hot to handle (Short Story)

What she lacked in looks, she supplied with her taste. Bold like a mushroom growing on a garden track, she called for attention at places where none of her kind could venture. Spilling skin like cracked shells of peanut, she sashayed through the malls, the local trains and poorest sections of the city. Her boots cover more legs than her skirts. Her shirts tested the bulging ability of eyes that followed her like dogs wagging tongues and tails. She was protected by her own wantonness. Her beauty was not of a well-designed nose or a nicely chiseled body. It was something else, indefinite like her promises, unexplained like her smile.

When I first failed her, I was twenty year old confused intellectual. Raised to conservatism, that valued books over looks, veil over skin, meekness over boldness. She was like a thorn on a stem, and I, who valued no roses, was disturbed by the red drop that came out of my flesh. She made the room around her shrink, such that bodies whispered around her, dancing to her voice, steps around her fell into a rhythm where she was the centerpiece, the piano in the sonata of sensations that unfolded in the drumbeat hearts of the dancers who were numbed by their free fall around her perfume that was an aphrodisiac. I was a twenty year old confused self, who felt that the sensations grip me like a vice, and in stead of feeling exhilarated, I felt choked. The commotion in my mind cursed her as a witch, for wasn't it her witchcraft that was rapturing the crowd with a touch, without a lick, without a whisper?

Five years later, I was in a strange city, traveling in my designer suit, packaged to please the buyers and sellers, as I represented my company that overpaid me for my craft. My craft was in my words that pleased the men like a balm on their tired backs, and touched the women like wind on their necks. My craft was in talking through wit and nuance, unfolding in them a curiosity for what our company was to offer, and leading them into a decisive yes, mainly by intonation of my voice, the demeanour of my hands and body, always inviting and promising control, release and future. I was the cupid sales director as my co-workers called me, and my University of Chicago MBA found me inside doors that businessmen dare not enter.

In an evening party, dressed in a dazzling evening gown, she sauntered down the stairs,. I watched her drift into the consciousness of the crowd, with a smile in their eyes, hum of approval on their lips. As an aftertaste, she had fashioned into a respectability that glided with her; her husband, proud and powerful, carried her like a trophy, displaying his joy like a guild of gold. Years ago, she was a sonata, and now her personality oozed as if a melody from the flute of Himalayan tribals, so unadulterated in its rendering, flowing like a hill stream, surging force at a pace that makes your heartbeat hear itself trickle into peaceful delight.

This was the second time I failed her, for what I just said is what I understood after the night was over. Her entry into the room trembled like a memory that is not easy to shake off, and roused my five years of want into a pledge of making her some kind of offer. I was still in the spell that a twenty year old boy made appear even more surreal. Her picture to me was of the vice I wanted in my veins and all my recent successes made me even more tempted and assured and hungry. I approached her with a pride in my shoes, flash in my tie-pin, and gurgled my words before saying, "Hello." Her recognizing me made me hope. I splurged compliments, laden with metaphor and meaning. Her cheeks reddened, a color that encouraged me further, and then suddenly, her words, "Are you in your senses? Go home. You are drunk!" fell like a hammer on a glass-box, shattering the protected toy house shrine I had built for her.

It was only a chance that I went alone to the symphony. In ten years after that party, I had evolved from a world of pleasure to that of luxury. My pride has become a fine representation of my class, my words were now folded and pocketed like an advice from an expert and my social position made me watchful of my every sigh or smile at a body or a voice. My personal space was shared with a pretty wife and two kids. The two year old and five year old hunted from my back, told me their own stories so rich in dialogue, so flourishing in detail and yet words that came out like blossoms in the wild, standing up for their own pleasure and perhaps my own. It was only a chance that my wife was not accompanying me. And she, she of my youthful fancy and failings, was present, draped in a black, lace shawl. I saw her first, in a row behind me, as I sat down, to hear Pavarotti slam his youthful voice out of his decaying body, till music of eternity silenced every breath and movement.

Yet here I was sitting rather unsymmetrically, with a hand over my face, and my face eyeing her changed self. The music had faded into a drab hum, only her profile was ebbing and echoing. Like painting made softer over time, like childhood memories made more delightful by the effect of nostalgia, like a completed poem or picture or symphony, she sat there, ever so beautiful in her own distinguished way. The face lacked what it lacked fifteen years ago, the forms were still common, and yet like always, she carried an attraction for me, and maybe it was always so, maybe it was always for me that she carried an attraction so vigorous, and violent, that I was ready to risk my smile and sigh for her.

We talked of her deceased husband and my lovely wife in the intermission. The third time I failed her, was perhaps my last, was that day as she offered to meet me for dinner and tell me her story. I cited a promise I hadn't made to the kids to keep me away. A curiousity flashed like a momentary flinch at her brow, and a smile rushed to conceal it. She bid me farewell, leaving me gaping after her. She left with words, "A dinner with your wife and kids would have served for a lovely introduction."


Vivek Sharma said...

comments from

dee_maini comments: on 15 Oct 07 11:38:00 AM
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It's good. I like the choice of vocabulary and the poetic soul of the piece. I would consider it more of a poem than a short-story. Apparently, the story lacks in dialogues.


MusingsFrom comments: on 15 Oct 07 10:35:00 AM
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vivekji... kya baat hain... badhiyan hain.

Nice alchemy of words although was a bit lengthy but still held the attention especially because of the choice of words at the end.

I felt as if all this did really happen with you -- is it? Nevertheless, a nice post and quite hat-ke from ur cricinfo beat.


Anne-G comments: on 15 Oct 07 10:18:00 AM
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SujanMandal comments: on 15 Oct 07 09:28:00 AM
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Woah woah woah ....heady stuff ....u got some talent with words there .....keep it up . :)

Vivek Sharma said...


Vivek Sharma comments: on 15 Oct 07 12:10:00 PM
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It is a kind of prose poem I imagine, but Deepak, whoever said that a story requires dialogues? To make it a prose poem, I will need to throw out a lot of words, and cut the length of the piece to one third.

Thanks Sujan, Anne, Deepak and MusingsFrom.

The cricket piece are just an attempt to get audience to the regular pieces I write here. All short stories and poems are tied together by the imagination of the author, rather than my personal experiences. If I were to write stuff based exclusively on my life, I would have few very things to write about:)

Vivek Sharma said...

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Vivek Sharma comments: on 16 Oct 07 08:27:00 AM
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Supriyad: Perhaps the write-up requires a slower read to see where it leads to. The "he" in the story refuses dinner for he is still stupified by the woman; the "she" realizes what "he" is upto, and closes with a dialogue that makes light of the situation. This is one interpretation, and I am sure I created occasion for many.

Thanks SweetmSimple... I try to type things every now and then

SwEeTnSiMpLe comments: on 16 Oct 07 04:03:00 AM
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Dear vivek,

Whoa !

My, you ARE prolific!


supriyad comments: on 15 Oct 07 18:17:00 PM
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Vivek - can you explain me the significance of the last line - I know - I sound like a dimwit. But wont you please?
Vivek Sharma comments: on 15 Oct 07 17:22:00 PM
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Thanks Som.
Isn't it a prerequisite for someone who wants to be identified as a writer?:)

sam-mom comments: on 15 Oct 07 12:52:00 PM
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lovely n apt choice of words

Vandana said...

I love how poetic yet personal it sounds... I also like your metaphors and your use of long, 'convoluted' sentences... For all the discouragement on that front over the years, I love the effect of writing that way. Keep up the good work!

Vivek Sharma said...


October 16, 2007
01:16 AM

Um, so was she ur teacher when u were 20 or was she ur age or what??

I guess my language isn't up to the mark, but who exactly was she?

October 16, 2007
09:39 AM

1) Who was she? Left to reader's imagination. (But story might tell you that she was quite young when the "I" of the story was twenty).
2) It is a work of fiction. The "I" is not the writer himself, and the story is not the story of my life either.

Vivek Sharma said...



Tue, 2007-10-16 06:46 — Pradzie
Should i call this brilliant

Should i call this brilliant prose or intoxicating poetry?

Whatever the adjectives, it wouldn’t do justice to the work you’ve penned here. truly remarkable! I enjoyed it thoroughly!

* reply

Tue, 2007-10-16 16:39 — La Louve
agree with Pradz, this read

agree with Pradz, this read more like a poem– captivating descriptions and frappant read.

Tue, 2007-10-16 20:56 — Vivek
Thanks Pradzie, la louve

It could have been a poem, but there are too many words in it.
But I am all smiles with your comments:)

* edit
* reply

Vivek Sharma said...

Thanks Vandana:)

Poets always make everything sound personal, for feelings lie in a domain of personal. Yet to achieve a diction, where what appears personal is universal at the same time, is what we and I aspire for.

Vivek Sharma said...


Too hot to handle

Vivek Comment By : Vivek
Posted On : Oct 16 07, 03:27 PM
The "I" in the story did:)

Original fiction means it is an original piece as opposed to a comment or blog on or about Fiction written by someone else.

Publish | Delete

jaijui Comment By : jaijui
Posted On : Oct 15 07, 06:04 PM

hi vivek ,

you failed her three times !!!

bad boy ..

original fiction ......means true story ?

take care :)

Vivek Sharma said...


Die Hard
October 18, 2007
02:46 AM

Interesting. It isn't a love story but a story about lost opportunity, Vivek? I don't know why but to me she sounds good five years older than the narrator.

I don't fancy the title though.

October 18, 2007
10:00 AM

The title is a lost opportunity I know, but this particular choice did send me more readers than my other short stories.

The age of the woman is left to the reader's guess, though I guess, I would have written things differently if it was a student and a teacher. The story only details her as unmarried when he was twenty, married when he was twenty-five, and widowed, when he was thirty-five. It is all about lost opportunities I guess, and how close we get to people and yet how far we manage to stay from them.

Ruvy in Jerusalem
October 18, 2007
10:54 AM


Enjoyed the story. I've written fiction myself (some folks think my political analyses are fiction - heh), so I know about how people think that anything in first person POV is biographical or "real".

But I do know the tension in a meeting that can determine if it will turn into a relationship or not. I could have pursued one such meeting myself a couple of decades ago - the tension certainly was there - but then I would have missed out on the wonderful lady who is my wife....

Thanks, Vivek.

Anonymous said...

Interesting choice of words...I cannot remember who suggested your blog to me or how you ended on my favourites and how I managed to click on the link by mistake ...and must say was a really pleasant one....keep up the good work