‘Beautiful’: Winner of Indireads Short Story Contest, 2013

My short story, Beautiful, was picked as a winner in the ‘romance’ category in the Indireads Short Story Contest 2013. The story is centered on the memory of a teenage boy’s first love, and the recollection of it several years later. An extract is given below – you can read the full story at this link.

“You are sitting across the table, smiling at me. The candle placed between us, and the overhead chandelier cast a beautiful glow over your kohl-lined eyes. Or maybe it is your happiness that lends that sparkle to your eyes. Your lips are full and pink—beautifully contoured, and sparkling with lip gloss.

You love me. Do I love you? But you never asked. You just lowered your eyes and asked if I have ever loved anyone. I smile back at you. You always did have a way with words.

I would see her every morning, sitting on her haunches, stooped over to draw a kolam—a traditional pattern made with rice flour and nimble fingers. She would begin with a dot, a line, a curve. Within minutes, an intricate pattern would evolve.

The entry to her house was opposite mine. I was staying with my grandparents for the summer. My father needed to travel for work, and my mother claimed she was going along to ‘take care of him’. At 13, I knew it was not the full truth. But at 13, I didn’t know it was their last chance at making the marriage work.

I loved my grandparents’ house—it was small and functional, with a garden that my grandmother tended to religiously. There were a couple of trees and some flowering plants that grew in a neat line along the wall. At one end was the gate where I would stand each morning, a cup of coffee in hand, waiting for her. I was tall for my age, so I could easily peer over the top of the gate. When she emerged from the house, I would pretend to be lost in thought, and therefore, not notice her smile. 

For the next ten minutes or so, I would stand at the gate, watching her embellish the design with little details—a flower here, a dome there—until it all came together in an artistic piece. When she finished, she would look up and smile again. This time, I would smile back. She would pick up her bowl of left-over flour and head back into the house. I would drain the dregs of my coffee and head back into the house. We never spoke.

(The story continues – read the rest of the story here)