fiction politics Verse

Flower Writing

Being the second chapter of the Upper Balcony Sessions


Archer walked in as usual, the balcony floor which spoke only in the language of cleanliness now was covered with scraps of paper like a terribly dressed bride.

Archer never used think in imagery such as the above, in his previous employment as an assistant to one Mr. Abbot, a boring company man of yore who was needless to say; very very successful.

There Archer  was trained to approach with the directness of an archer, insights of a geographer and with the incisiveness of a diamond cutter from the farther provinces.

“Damn it, I’m doing this again, must stop” Archer muttered to himself.

The muddy puddle that was his mind settled to something like the soothing calm of the lake of reflection.

“In good time you have come, Archer” said the Sultan, still immersed in his paperwork like a….nevermind said Archer’s mind.

The sultan continued, “I am judging the annual poetry contest, and the entries this time have been more than encouraging, like a father who has just seen his firstborn smile, I go to work”

“But Sultan, your kingdom is at stake, your life is endangered, the poor people are restless; surely this not the time to judge the annual poetry contest” Archer pleaded but with a firmness in his tone that reflected his administrative capabilities.

Mr. Abbot would have been proud.

“But Archer, there is always time for poetry” saying so the Sultan started to look for one specific piece that had come in praise of himself and gave it to Archer for reading, but not before one more imagery.

“Read, my friend from the company, for a king and an elephant are alike, only others should speak of their greatness”

“But Jahanpanah, I do not understand, an elephant cannot really speak, even if wished to”

The Sultan’s stare alone was enough to silence poor Archer, he thought of how kind Mr. and Mrs. Abbot were before he read the poem.

“ I see your face in the sun,

For it is you who give us light

In the dark times though

You are the moon

A lion on the throne

An elephant on the battlefield

A crocodile to your enemies

A king among poets you are

A poet amidst kings

May your fame stand like a rock

While all others become dust”

Archer finished, his eyes widened in disbelief, his mind unable to come to terms with the situation.

“Wah! Wah!” said the Sultan, completely lost to the words.

“Surely, you are not going to give this piece the prize, are you Huzoor?” asked the bewildered Archer like a ….oh damn nevermind.

“Yes! This is a fine piece of flower writing, I recognize them at the instant, really your company men must be schooled in art and the aesthetics!” this was the Sultan.

Even before Archer could ask about this whole flower writing, the Sultan had started a recitation of sorts.

“like those soft petals

That adorn the heart

Words that come

Together like a garland

Those that please

The writer and the reader

Like a flower that smiles

With the light of the sun…..”

At this very moment, the assassin who was hiding in the nearby trees; obviously fed up with this recitation by the Sultan made the misstep of shooting an arrow much before his plan.

Obviously, the poisoned arrow, shrieking through the air like the yet to be discovered rocket, missed the Sultan by the breadth of a hair, panting for breath, the Sultan cried for help from below and God from above.

No one came.

It was Archer who took the Sultan to safety and sounded the alarm, the assassin who had managed to perch himself on the trees was later found to be an ex-poet of some repute, poverty had driven him to violence.

Sang the king in a high pitched voice much like a speaker of parliament trying to be heard.

“Why? This thirst for my blood?

Quietly flows the Yamuna

She who quences all our thirst..

She who….”

“Stop it! Oh King” this was the assassin (whose name has been withheld from history on request)

Archer was beginning to enjoy this final retort by the ex-poet now turned assassin

“Stop it! Oh King

The Yamuna is dark

As much as darkness can be

Made by the filth that fills this city

But not even the Yamuna can match

The darkness of our lives

The emptiness of our stomachs

The hopelessness of our children

Stop it! Oh King

For words may bring you the

Pleasure of flowers

But for us words are just words

Stop it! Oh King

Let not ‘art’ cloud your better judgement

Let not ‘poetry’ be your path to escapism

Let not ‘nature’ distance you from the people

Let not ‘words’ divert you from the message

Stop it! Oh king

Because not every time an arrow will miss”

Everyone in the royal court recognised the brilliance of this extempore performance by the ex-poet turned assassin, naturally no one applauded.

“Wah!Wah!” said Archer’s mind, “finally someone who was worth the prize for poetry.”

The prize for an attempt assassination was of course, public execution.





The Upper Balcony

      Archer looked at the city, very few were privileged to have this view. The upper balcony was for the king of kings, it had everything that the empire had wanted to convey to the world at large, grand yet simple, intricate but not extraordinary. The upper balcony was in fact a very ordinary name, the original name of course was lost in the fires that raged the city now and again, the company men could only come up with names such as ‘left court’, ‘right court’, ‘main corridor’ and ‘upper balcony’.

The lack of imagination of the company men deeply troubled the Shahenshah, a title he could still use officially; he was glad that he was not forced to use some governmental title such as “ex-emperor”.

“But then what is in a name, Archer? History that is recorded is without excitement” asked the Shahenshah, it was one of the questions that the Sultan posed to the open sky and to the vast city that stretched across the plains, as far as his eyes could see.

Two sets of eyes.

Archer maintained the silence which he had now learned to observe, the night was becoming slightly more philosophical for his liking.

But the silence had served Archer well, an unofficial list of most powerful men in the company presently had put Archer in the third place, right below the resident at Delhi and the viceroy; this had been the most pleasing news in the past week for Archer especially after months of trying to stop a rebellion on one hand and attending his uncle who had been tied to his bed or in other words his disease for the past so many years.

The thought of the list brought a smile to Archer’s face, and thought had taken him up and away from the upper balcony and into the higher but temporary realms of happiness, so much so the Shahenshah had to turn back to look at a smiling adviser.

“Ah! Archer, always a smiler” was the king’s refrain before he continued.

“I am called the king of kings, and I only have a balcony. I am also supposed to be the giver of peace in a city that is about to explode in rebellion, names are just names”

The moonlight made up for the lack of street lights in the old city.

The moon which had been the darling of the court poets now looked pretty much helpless and without inspiration while the Shahenshah and his adviser looked upon, one lost in his illustrious yet fading past, the other lost while dreaming up his near certain glorious future.

The slight wind kept them company.


cinema cinema:english Sketch Verse

The Man behind a thousand masks


Loved you in the Wicker Man
but you were born to play Saruman
Countless are your appearances as Count Dracula
Monster/Madman/Detective what was your formula?
As you retire into the long west
Deserved will be this final rest
Goodbye dear Christopher Lee
World spins without you, poorly.
‪#‎ChristopherLee‬ ‪#‎RIP‬

Books fiction



If I do not write this now, then someone will write it in the future and they will write it badly


The sun appeared untiring, relentless and omnipresent, the topic of discussion for today and every day and days to come. The heat dried up everything making the men and women forget the feeling of wetness. As lips dried and tongues could no longer help, the people turned to the minds of the poets, but alas; they could find no help there too. The word bank of the poets were empty, their brains too had become dry like cloth sold for cleaning computer screens, their imagination centred on the looming presence of Surya, the sun god.

An enterprising and unimaginative writer had just brought out a series called The Battle against the Sun. Since it was predictable, the comic made a modest profit and found some ardent collectors too.

One of them was Kuresan, he was currently trying to get any word on the monsoon; in his hands were the last two copies of ‘The battle against the Sun”. The penultimate issue was called the Final Recruitment: Battle Cry. These very words were written in ghostly yellow lettering making the reader wonder if ever a war against the sun could be won in reality.

As Kuresan passed a high window, little did he know that final touches on a novel called “Come December, my love, my rain” was being made, the novel would be quite useful in plot development in the future, but we leave it right now.

“Hail Kuresa!” called out one college student from a corner shop where a bunch of them had remained to waste away the remainder of their wasted lives, usually Kuresa used to take offense to these trouble mongers, but being senior to them gave him the look of maturity, if not maturity itself. He passed on without smile or frown.

The corner shop did not have any corners, as in, it was curved and its name by now you would have guessed would have come from the fact that it was in the corner and was run by an non local-ite, apart from stacking locally sourced high on oil highway snacks, the corner shop also sold ‘asli-tea’.

The corner shop also had a thick ledger which was neatly divided into two “College Guys Accounts” and “Jobseekers Accounts”, needless to say and still we would like to say that your name will ultimately gravitate from College Guy Account to Jobseekers Account section without much trouble (unless of your own academic doing or should we say undoing).

Kuresan used to have a Jobseekers Account with dues running up to the higher hundreds, but he then realised that no one will be giving him a job and he will have to make one for himself.

“Novelist” he came and said to owner.

The owner in spite of being a small time trader was also a learned man and he realised that as a novelist Kuresan would never be able to settle his dues in the coming hundred years or so. So he decided to be pragmatic and forced Kuresan to close his account.

This might partly be the reason as to why Kuresan did not stop at the corner shop.

No one can really say what the true reason is, but we cannot rule out some possibilities as well.

As Kuresan reached the Kanchipuram Gazette office, the three storeyed building built in 1832 by Sir Roland Dash, no one knew what the last name of Sir Roland was, but the reason for this however was singular. The commemorative plaque detailing the name and effort of the builders had been chipped exactly at the point where Sir Roland’s family name was etched in stone. This reason for this chipping activity is unknown, mostly miscreants with difficult ideologies.

Since the time of the British the building was called Sir Roland Dash buildings as they knew there had to be a surname and substituted it with Dash. Over the years it was called the Dash and with the help of the tongue of local rickshaw pullers, it is now called just Das.

Uninformed and lazy historians attribute the building to a Bengali steel magnate Das who had interests in Kanchipuram and had since built these office buildings, nothing could be further from the truth. One such historian turned diarist turned newspaper editor sat at the other side of the shining long Burma teak table and he was the guy Kuresan was going to meet.

Like all 52 year olds, A.A.V.Alagesan was irritated and had problems at home, and like every other man holding prominent office; reflected his problems at the workplace. This did not go too well with the workplace as people feared to talk to their employer and innovative ideas, well remained as ideas.

Kuresan, unlike most others you will meet in this story was brave; it is also quite possible that he does not know this. He walked in with an air of privilege and belonging, smiling to all those who passed him, nobody however returned the greeting.

That might be because Kuresan’s uncle was A.A.V.Alagesan and the rightful heir to the constantly reducing in subscription but still functioning local newspaper with a global outlook “the Kanchipuram Gazette”

Before Kuresan drops and breaks his dark rimmed brown tinted Wayfarer modelled imitation power glass later in the story, we need to tell you that he does in fact wear glasses.

Kuresan adjusted the above mentioned glasses and focussed on his uncle whose face was extra worried today, but the magnitude of the worry could be guessed, he looked  like a sparrow that had forgotten to apply anti-ageing cream, to be specific his uncle looked like an out of work Tamil movie villain who had now outgrown heroine father roles.

While looking at all this, Kuresan also looked at a slender figure standing at one dark corner of the ‘three out of four” corner well lit room.

“Ah! Kuresan, it is I who sent for you” said the editor in his dying voice; it was not as if his voice had been that of an army commander or that his voice had given him considerable leverage over other contemporary editors, his voice was always in this near death tone which made people assume that his voice could have been forceful in the past. Nothing could be more wrong.

“We received a letter this morning….and the contents of which are quite, I should use the word shocking!” A.A.V continued, the very mention of the word shocking got Kuresan interested; he had already come to the edge of the seat.

“Seems like a threatening note it could well turn out to be a prank”

“Something like Jack the ripper!” exclaimed Kuresan and giving out reference points to the reader, so that a mental picture could be formed.

“No no, not in this town…here you read it aloud” A.A.V said as he pushed the piece of paper towards Kuresan, and so it began.

Long have I waited,

Not for work

But for a worthy adversary

In the coming weeks, my hidden acts

Will come to light, while I am in darkness

Where are you, O detectives?”

–         Someone You Need to Find


“This doesn’t look so threatening does it?” asked Kuresan, “it’s just a prank, no need to publish this uncle”

“But what if it really is a threat and these hidden acts could be horrible, truly horrible things that we wish would never happen to any man or woman on earth?” This was the voice of the slender figure which had come out and could be seen by all.

“Ah, Kuresa, I forgot to introduce you; this is our new head of the local crime branch Ms. Jayanthi Jayapal IPS, we thought she might want to have a look as well.

As they shook hands, the ever ticking mind of Kuresan realised “But surely you are not THAT Jayanthi Jayapal who wrote ‘Locked Out in Lakshadweep’?”

“Yes, but that was a long time ago, I am a crime novelist turned police detective” she said as she blushed.

Needless to say Kuresa couldn’t control his excitement, he went on to add how the novel had become something of a cult collector’s item in crime fiction and how it could be compared to all the classics of the genre.

“Thanks…but editor sir, you haven’t introduced this gentleman” Officer Jayanthi pointed out.

“This is my nephew…” A.A.V began but couldn’t complete

“I am C.F.Kuresan, detective turned novelist, at your service”

Only A.A.V and Kuresan in the room knew that Kuresan was neither a detective turned novelist and nor was his initials C.F.

A.A.V just sighed and called out for tea.

As they waited for tea, Kuresan made a mental note of two things,

“Unlike most crime novelists turned police officers Jayanthi was actually pretty”

Secondly, “I now have a case, finally”









The Sea-Snake #1.5

The Sea-Snake

A serial

Chapter One Point Five or The Mezzanine

<Temporarily suspending in time the events previously mentioned>

Same day, Madras of 1940



Drops of sweat fell to the ground silently as Detective Inspector Second Class Murugan B.A drank his coffee in the middle of the Officer’s Mess, Teynampet Police Station.

A picture of English Royalty hung on one side of him and a picture of an English politician on the opposing wall; he knew the politician’s name and he said that to himself. No reason.

The time was when the sun would reach a spot in the universe that is directly above the Officer’s mess.  The shortage of staff in the mess was not much noted as the shortage of air, while a man who should have retired thirty years ago dipped his trembling hands in brown water as he tried to wash the coffee remnants out of the white porcelain cups. His name was Javed something, even this the Detective Inspector Murugan knew.

Unaffected by the noise made by the washing of coffee cups, Murugan walked out of the mess, unconsciously checking and rechecking the weapon in his holster. A sentry saluted him as he walked past, which Murugan duly ignored.  He could afford it.

<A Coffee before a killing- interlude>

Some days ago, Murugan was having coffee with a man of questionable character, but with a scientific bent on crime.

“The European lady can’t sleep without it” he said “She needs some more”

“Which European?” Murugan asked.

“Look Inspector, I cannot give away my clients, it is only because I guarantee them absolute secrecy…”

“Look! I cannot be seen talking with you, I am an officer”

“Second class, that’s the highest you’ll get. They don’t promote Indians unless you are willing to wipe the shit off British shoes”

“This isn’t about where my loyalties lie” Murugan tired to reason, but this time a little softer than before, his eyes turning vulnerable.

The opposing man who now seemed to Murugan to posses every quality of the devil said, “yes I know where your loyalties lie” punning correctly.

Murugan did things with his hands that he had never done before, locked them on the sides of his forehead and clenched his teeth in shame.

“I’ll take that as a yes, same time next week, and usual place” the man left, sliding between the gap that the wooden table could offer the chair. Like a snake.

<End of interlude>

The Classic still reserved the balcony, that mezzanine floor was the standing memory of the wall that divided the city into the colonials and the brown masses who thronged below. Exceptions of course could be made in case.

The Monday morning show brought no crowds, Murugan walked into the otherwise empty balcony, showing “Of Mice and Men”. Detective Inspector Murugan had not seen it, he had no intention of seeing it. He would wait, saying thus to himself he closed his eyes.

Sometime had passed till the devious bald man had appeared, but no one could say exactly when this small man had taken the seat behind Murugan and hissed into his ear, “Have you got it?”

“Yes” Murugan said, tapping lightly on the gun that clung to his right leg and smiled in the darkness.

“You are professional as I was told, you would be” Murugan tried to turn and look behind when he was advised quite strictly by the man.

“Leave the package on the seat next to you, and walk without looking back; we shall part as friends and without bloodshed” the man said, it seemed that he had practised this dialog a hundred times.

“This is it” Murugan thought to himself, this is the moment between me and freedom from all this.  Having placed the token package as instructed, the inspector deftly took out the covered pistol from its holster thus terminally alarming his adversary.

“This, inspector is a big mistake; you know I’m not the only one who knows and i don’t like guns…they are noisy”

“Who else knows?” Murugan now pointing directly to the head

“Who else knows?” again, this time louder.

“Killing me would not serve any purpose…killing me”

“This land would be subtracted of one dirty middle-level pimp, now tell me who else knows”

“You know Murugan, this is actually what I did expect, after all the talk of what is coming… i hope to die before…you know”

“You do realise that I do have a lot of time” the inspector interjected “and I will not hesitate in killing a man such as yourself”

“tch.. then do it, you will not get any name from me, but ….”

Muffled BAM!

Murugan looked around to see if anybody had been alerted by the noise, but blood spurted out like ants coming out of a mechanically disturbed anthill.

Death instantly swooped from above and claimed the bald devious man with deadly secrets, his name would soon be known. He did not carry a gun.

Satisfied,Murugan walked away briskly not noticing the pamphlet that was in the pocket of the man whom he had just killed.

<Meanwhile somewhere on Marina Beach>

Something as large as three medium sized fishing boats joint together, washed ashore. So breathtaking was the sight, the people who had gathered there instinctively started to calculate its dimensions.

“It could eat all my goats back in Chingleput” said one concerned

“And mine too” said another

“Mine too, but I have none” said a steely voice that pierced through the concentrated gathering of anxious people who had stayed behind.

Three in the crowd gave way and Malayappan, the snake charmer with a mustache as swirly as the creatures he tames walked and spoke thus

“Where have you been all these years, my friend?  I’ve been waiting for you for a long long time”

The thing that had just reached the shores of Madras was so tired that it quietly ignored the attention it was getting, it was used to being alone in the sea bed that it never realised it was the last one of its kind. It slept.

Meanwhile Malayappan had announced to the world that ‘it’ was actually a ‘he’ and was duly named Rajan.

“Oh! Now, I’m called Rajan” thought Rajan the sea-snake and closed its eyes dreaming of the desolate sea bed.


     <Meanwhile in a press not far away The Madras Mail had just decided to the print the story of a murdered Chemistry professor from Madras University on the third page as they could not get a good picture of Silver Star Bama.>