To read this series from the start, visit here.


Daniel’s slow gait through the school corridor only indicated nostalgia, his town high school was completely different to this private school whose class windows were fitted with frosted glass and department buildings named after Nobel Prize winners whose name was difficult to spell even for the brightest minds that attended the school, but it was a matter of school policy rather than reverence. Nobody cared.

A far cry from his school which had a fountain in the main courtyard, the centerpiece of it was the goddess of learning. In a sense, his was also an initially a private school but later dedicated to the nation in the events following the achievement of freedom. The goddess was not taken down even when the school went secular and it did not bother the school going Daniel one bit.

The Lord Rayleigh Administrative block seemed to the newest on campus, given to the hands of a amateur but willing to please architect it passed off as a building with an amount of admissible strictness; much like the principal Ms. Deepa Prakasam M.Ed, Honorary Chair Person The Burning Candle Foundation as the wooden board neatly painted in white said.

Inspector Daniel needn’t ask what the foundation stood for, once he had been admitted into the cool office he knew from the posters that showed the glowing face of a poor child learning used metaphorically as a candle flame.

“What is that you would like to see me about Inspector?” said the principal who didn’t look the age that Daniel had imagined all principals to be but had distinctive goggles that somehow suggested an optician who made a killing by providing glasses to the  upper academia.

“The boy, Ramesh Mangal”

Not so far away, in the cold comfort of an air conditioned room Ramesh Mangal, who for a while had been dubbed as ‘the boy who returned’ sat on his parents’ double bed and read the previous week issue of ‘Balloons: the weekly magazine for gifted children’ . Although his mother had barred him from reading the magazine, Ramesh thought that his life wouldn’t be complete without the latest issue of Balloons. He never really understood why his mother had forbid him from reading the colorful magazine, but for any considerate parent it was obvious from the title that the magazine contained lewd imagery.

His mother was somewhere in the house (he could hear her talking in Hindi to the maid, scolding perhaps because the maid was Tamil) and his father was away as usual. This was the perfect moment to catch up on Spy No: 12, the best story according to young Ramesh.

Then he remembered, like the time how he used to remember suddenly in mathematical examinations: the method to solve a problem that he was currently not working on. He would usually stop working on the exam paper and continue to do the numbers of his mind.

He remembered the voice of the woman. Yes, there had been a woman and he had not told the soft speaking policeman about it. The woman had said thrice, “Careful, do not mess with his head”. He partially understood what she meant; he did not say a thing.

Instinctively he dropped the magazine; his mother came in and said “there you are beta, time for lunch!”


<Author’s note: this publication marks the 40th post of the Lowly Laureate, 40th reject scrap in unkind terms. Unkind but true>



To read this series from the start , visit here


Extract from “The Book of the Unexplained”.


The old man was the first to be ‘corrupted’; it was an experiment the visitors were willing to attempt. It failed, the corruption however was easy. The visitors had knowledge of the fact that man could be easily corrupted. Maybe they took that saying a little too literally and they never tried it on the female of the species. That was too large an error.


E.L.Somu was at his usual corner at ‘The Honest Bookseller Co’ a not so fitting name to a shop which now predominantly dealt with watch service and paper plate sales. The books had receded to the other end of the shop, then end which had an undusted corner which could accommodate an antique stool on which rested the mind and body of pulp writer E.L.Somu.

Maran was late for the unofficial appointment; he was only late because it was unofficial. For an officer who was working in 21st century Madras, Maran was moderately honest but he still had those guilty gulps when he looked at his vintage BSA A7, it was one of the many reasons he never shows it around as much as he should. Nights, he spent thinking whether he should give it away to some charity, but only her beauty prevented him from doing it, also it was cool for a detective to own a vintage vehicle and he had known many heroes who had such beauties. She, now rested in his backyard silent, but clean.

Through the glass panes of the bookshop, he located his brother the writer  flipping through pages and having the familiar expression, that everything in other books had been stolen from his brain. Maran chuckled, technically they were not brothers. They did not share any parent, but had grown up in the same household. Their back-story would have made an interesting premise to a Tamil movie, but nobody was interested in making interesting movies anymore.

The same balding man still operated the door, but this time he had lost one or two of his front teeth, the man saluted Maran in the same bad way and smiled in a manner which would narrate his poverty to even the most uncaring of observers. Maran smiled back in the same way and quietly enquiring about the man’s school going daughter while he passed the dirt accumulated shelves of stuff nobody has ever wanted to buy for the past many years.

There sat Somu with his eyes fixed into whatever he was reading, pierced the black and white as it were subatomic particles, he then looked up at his brother. They did not exchange pleasantries.

“A man once gave me good career advice, never write books into chapters while you are at it, in the end just put the interesting bits in the last page; so that you don’t need to bother much about content”

“I assume you never followed that advice” said Maran while leaning on to look what book his brother was reading. It was about the small savings scheme for farmers brought out by the government in the seventies.

“I tried, I really did but sometime through the whole painful exercise I thought I was being out of character! Somu never follows advice, Somu just writes. Just puts word to paper”

“I’m sure the Gyanpith committee would look into that angle as well” Maran chided. They both laughed, only Somu did it with half concealed contempt.

“If some common man gets a call from his brother, he fears. He is afraid if his brother might ask him for extra money, tell tales about the house rent being paid or a whore’s fee left unsettled, but Detective Inspector Maran does not fear, he responds immediately by coming. That is some sort of honor”

“I know you don’t need money, at least not now and you know that I can’t afford to lend you any. Now what is it, this time?”


“Aliens, Maran aliens! They must be here somewhere or they must be as intelligent as they are shown in those Hollywood films I used to see from time to time” Somu began on his drawn out rant while Maran sighed. Sensing his brother’s minute irritation he decided to slow down and said.

“Stop it will you, already half of this state think and I’m mad. Not that I am complaining, sources tell me that it is only because of the supposed madness my books sell. So you are the only channel to which I can address my problems with some amount of seriousness, so listen”

“Umm…simply because your problems aren’t what normal people have, that should tell you about finding solutions to those. Why don’t you tell your wife?”

“She is too young”

“She is thirty, which is twenty years away from young!”

“Maran, if only you would get married you would understand”

“A good detective never gets married” Maran said as he pulled out another stool and with palms on his dusty black pants.

“That’s not even your line” Somu smiled.


News of an Abduction #6


The dreams Of E L Somu were as bizarre as his own persona and his writings, with sweat falling like bubble size tears onto the bed he awoke with fright. He did not dream of dragons, he dreamt of plagiarism.

His wife as was the usual slept in the next room on the mosaic floor, with unusual agility he reached her room and in a second later his common sense caught up with him, Somu decided not to wake up his wife. “Let the woman sleep, I don’t even remember the number of cups of coffee she had made since I began to write this thing”

Marriage was a luxury for a fifty seven year old like E L Somu, an extended lap of luxury you could say since his wife was two years more than half his age.

Resting his wet shirt back on the typical unpainted cement walls of the terrace E L Somu looked back on what was his dream.

Like most people suffering from post-dream trauma he felt better now, but that Is primarily because he had forgot the most alarming parts of the dream, but there was one thing that he could clearly remember: A court room.

It was something to do with the work he had been writing for the past two weeks, not one for his pulp weekly but something which he had not attempted before.He put down the smoking cigarette and crushed it under worn out rubber slippers.

‘I should call someone’ he thought to himself, it was a sort of therapy to tell out one’s innermost fears.

It would seem silly and most inappropriate, but he nevertheless called Maran’s mobile phone.




“The Boy Does not remember a thing sir” one of the constables at the house interjected.

“Not even their voices…” said another.

“They did not speak, they had no faces” Ramesh mangal, the boy who had been abducted sat in a corner and said simply.

“Not a word?” Maran sat on his haunches, trying to read something out from the boy’s face. The boy never looked up from the tennis ball he had been given by one well meaning lady family doctor to reduce any sort of stress.

The boy did not say anything, but made signs to say no.

“please, please I think you should leave my son alone . All things must come to rest, we have our son back hale and healthy and thanks to god we have him. I think you should leave” the father Mangal in his usual ‘I’m the man with connections around here’ tone said asking Maran to leave.

“But sir this is insane, we should know why your boy was taken away and sent back, you must understand that I am trying to do my job here”

But like most interesting cases, this one too was finished before things began to get interesting; orders from the very top wanted the case to rest. They did not care why such an event had happened and why suddenly the boy had come home.

Maran was back on his sofa watching a late night edition from a tamil news channel covering the celebrations of the Mangal family, the channel offered no explanation about the case, but the chirpy girl reporter seemed as happy if not more than the family. But there was the hauting image of the boy Ramesh, staring by widening his small eyes into the camera, refusing to smile when the reporter asks him to. The rest of his face was like how it was when Maran had left him the previous day. It was as if he had seen something he shouldn’t have.

At that opportune moment, his phone rang and without saying the usual hello an impatient voice blurted out.

“Dei…I told you about the book I was writing didn’t I? The one where a boy is kidnapped by aliens and he loses his ability to differentiate between aliens and humans? Some moments back I dreamt of that being copied!”

“Maran…no reaction?…are you there?”






News of an Abduction #5


“Lime Juice” said Maran looking around those people dressed in wet raincoats sipping hot tea. It was raining and it was a dirty place, the detective was thinking about the missing boy and the dead girl. He could break into anything; he searched his mental archive as to how detectives in movies cracked cases. Only a little while later he realized that these stories were scripted by smart writers. If this case had been a screenplay, at this point some anonymous source would throw an unused matchbox with a hidden message which would ultimately end the case.

It didn’t make sense, The Mangals were not as important as they thought to have their son to be abducted, if there were any internal squabbles they weren’t anything major.

And at that moment of thought, Maran was interrupted by a mobile message. It was the message that broke the case and swept the remaining pieces under the rug.

“Mangal boy returned home, no clue on abductors. Come immediately to Mangal household.”

It was a telegraphic message from inspector Daniel. Maran quietly finished the lime juice, he should be happy but he wasn’t. It was still raining.