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‘I am a writer, but I wish I could write like that,’ said Durga, seated at the head of the rustic green, rectangular table. There were nineteen women on the sides, who turned to look. Then, some picked up their beverages and sipped them. In the background, a cash register clinked a tinkle closing in on a purchase. A TV peeping out of a corner behind Durga played, on mute, reruns of Kashmiri youth pelting stones at the Indian military. Somewhere, a coffee machine whirred to life and at the table could be heard the clanking of wooden and metal bangles on Durga’s wrists as she rested her elbows on the wood weighed down only by Priya’s bare elbows at the other head of the table.

They were there for an informal meet-up that Priya had announced on her blog, A Booklover’s Paradise, which was one of the Top Ten Blogs of the Year.  She intended to start a book club and nineteen of her thousands of followers had turned up at Magical Springs Café that sultry July morning.

Priya tucked a loose strand of her bob behind her right ear from which dangled a miniscule book covered in blue Ikkat, and then turned around to look at her friend Menaka, who was sitting beside her.

‘Yeah, how I wish I could write like that,’ established Menaka.

‘Menaka is a writer,’ Priya declared. ‘Her manuscript is with Ladies Finger.’

As in the vegetable? thought Arpita.

Nusrat who was sitting across from Arpita noticed the question flicker on Arpita’s brow and smiled in solidarity. There’s Penguin, there’s Harper Collins, now there’s one after a vegetable, she had begun to form the thought when she saw Arpita’s hard stare. Prissy Missy hunh. So, she turned away and decided to take a look at Menaka’s fingers. They weren’t long or slender, they were stubby and chewed at. Batao bhai, Ladies finger! Whatever.

‘In fact, it was Menaka’s nudge that pushed me to start this book club,’ Priya continued. ‘I had reviewed The Husband’s Secret on my blog and Liane Moriarty commented on my review.’ Priya beamed. Some of the women who had been looking into their swirly lattes looked up at Priya now; there was most definitely awe flickering in some of those eyes. Even the golden stars that dangled off the fake off-white balustrade, which ended on the ceiling, dazzled. ‘I review up to fifty books a year and have 3000+ followers on my blog.’ She smiled in acknowledgment, for she had to acknowledge, right?

The readers around the table, who were merely readers, seemed now in doubt about their presence among the honorable gathering.

Sakshi picked up her large mug and sipped the last shy bits of her staple beverage. Everyone seems to be an author here, she wondered how many more would reveal themselves before the end of the meet-up. Might as well bring down a gavel and declare this to be the moment. Out with it now all you who want to, or forever hold your peace. Though she did not know the technicalities of the art now, art, clearly, she guessed it to be. Not science for sure. Husband’s Secret had been fun, but was that valid anymore, or would only Jane Austen books qualify?

No one had said so as yet; the other readers, hopefully who were merely only readers, that is. Did they seem wary of their opinions on the book because they were, poor things, merely readers? wondered Menaka.

Was Durga a popular author? that other lone writer, Menaka, wondered. She most definitely seemed confident of her writing!

Priya decided to motivate her group because, around the table, enthusiasm seemed to wane. The book club was hers and seated around the table were the followers of her blog. It was time to spruce things up, instill confidence among the women for their respective points of view — important points of view. She nudged the gathering and thankfully the discussion propelled forward, way up until the last speaker. Phew!

It was definitely the ripe moment to take the Book Club forward.

‘Excellent!’ called out Durga, before Priya could take a moment to savor that thought. ‘Now that we have completed the discussion, how about we start a book club?’

‘Which is why I called this meet in the first place, Durga,’ stated Priya. ‘Menaka and I have a plan,’ she continued, picking up on that bite she was about to lose. She swallowed a lump in a hurry and it threatened to go down the wrong tube. Gawd! ‘We’ve been thinking of making this meet a monthly affair,’ she said, coughing it out.

‘Yes, we should. I hope that was the idea behind meeting today,’ Durga answered, smirking at Priya’s lack of confidence. She then looked around for acceptance.

The party of nineteen did turn around. Esther noticed the smile that lingered on Durga’s lips, but then she looked towards Priya, the blogger she followed for book reviews. So did all the others seated across her.

‘I wanted to check everyone’s availability at this meet,’ Priya said to the nineteen women.

‘How many of us can meet on weekdays, show of hands please?’ Durga cut in.

 Most hands shot up.

‘And weekends?’

Fewer.

‘Let’s meet on weekdays then,’ concluded Durga.

‘Great then, let’s decide on days and some rules, right Priya?’ butted in Menaka, wanting to pass the baton back to Priya.

‘I feel a book per month to begin with,’ started Priya.

‘I am part of another book club and we take one book per month,’ said Arpita who was sitting between Esther and Durga. A discussion broke out on this along the length of the table. Finally, the power balance included all the ladies. They had a democratic say as well, after all.

‘Ladies, let’s talk one at a time,’ interrupted Priya. Would the baton pass back to Durga, or would it now be shared among the nineteen women? Priya wondered.

‘Yes,’ restated Durga. ‘I have been in a book club for two years now and we take turns alphabetically. To begin, any lady whose name begins with A can make the first pick, we then take a month to read it and meet the following month to discuss it.’

‘Let’s not meet if we’re very few,’ tried Priya.

Thus proceeding, by the end of that hour, rules were agreed upon. By the next hour, as the ladies returned to their homes, Priya had created a WhatsApp group, Booklovers’ Paradise, adding the women who had shown interest. She named it after her blog, merely needing to tweak the apostrophe to accommodate the plural after all.

But wasn’t the name a bit tawdry Durga argued that evening on the WhatsApp group.

‘It does sound like the name of a motel,’ messaged Arpita who was to pick the book of the month.

‘It has a branding, my brand,’ texted Priya. Who knew this would be so difficult? she wondered. Her idea, her effort, and here were enough to steal it. ‘And since I called the meet, it should be associated with my brand, my blog. After all, the participants are followers of my blog.’

‘Well, we have the potential to attract more people with a better name,’ debated Durga.

Arpita agreed. The rest of the women were typing…, not typing, then typing… and then silent.

After the ensuing altercation between online participants Durga… and Priya…, Menaka, whose manuscript lay with a publisher, sent the final judgment. ‘Ladies, it is Priya’s initiative and I see nothing wrong with the title she has picked. It has to be associated with her blog. We are all followers of her blog and assembled today because of the influence she holds.’

Twelve thumbs went up in the WhatsApp group to seal the deal.

But some weren’t quite sure.  Esther wondered whether Durga would leave the group in fury. Arpita wondered whether she had been sufficiently neutral, Nusrat and Sakshi were baking and sprinkling in their respective homes when they decided to exit the group.

But Durga had no doubts.  She would stay. After all, she read and taught English at the Voice and Accent centers of a call center in Gurugram, and of course she was a writer and that most definitely made her a valuable member of the group.

The following month, the group met a second time. That August, Priya, Menaka, Durga, Arpita and Esther met at a coffee shop inside a mall to discuss Arpita’s pick, A Fine Balance, by Rohinton Mistry.

The following month, Durga, after treading on A Fine Balance decided to host a Monsoon farewell at her place. The book that month was her pick, Malice by Keigo Higashino. ‘Murder and mystery over schnitzel and wine @my place’ she messaged on the WhatsApp group one evening.

‘Awesomeness.’

‘Terrace garden fun.’

Dancing emojis flooded the message board on WhatsApp.

Priya, Menaka, Arpita, Esther, and Karthika, a new friend whom Durga had added to the group, confirmed their attendance.

‘Who has read the book?’ Durga messaged a week before the meet-up.

‘Read it earlier, revising now. Thumbs up,’ messaged Priya; Menaka followed suit. Well, Durga was a writer, now wasn’t she?

‘I’m not missing the wine sweetie,’ said Arpita.

‘Anything for the blossoms on Durga’s terrace,’ said Karthika, remembering the fragrance of the frangipanis, the jasmines, and the chrysanthemums that flowered in pottery that she had made herself. Durga had helped Karthika in making her shop The Potter’s Terrace a reality.

‘How sweet K,’ replied Durga.

Esther sent a thumbs-up too.

‘Looking forward to hosting you ladies,’ Durga continued.

The next day Durga took a headcount, ‘so we have Priya, Menaka, Arpita and Karthika. Ladies, we’re eighteen in the group, and only five of us are reading the book? Please do try to make it.’

‘Esther had agreed too,’ butted in Arpita.

‘I’ll bake a Bundt cake for Malice,’ messaged Arpita early the next morn.

‘I’ll toss an orange and apple salad,’ promised Menaka.

‘I’ll bring along brownies with hot chocolate sauce,’ pitched in Esther.

‘How sweet. Thank you, darlings,’ replied Durga before recalling a final count of five again, ‘Priya, Menaka, Arpita, Karthika and Durga.’

Two days later, Esther was unable to attend that meet-up due to unforeseen circumstances. Nevertheless, the ladies discussed Malice and by evening the WhatsApp group was inundated with pictures of the meet-up. Hugs and kisses overflowed in the pictures, and Priya, Menaka, Arpita, Karthika and Durga could be seen passionately discussing the book, the recipes and the flora; conversations overflowing onto the WhatsApp group. The pictures were zoomed in on baskets of delicacies as rainbow-hued carpets of blooms and blossoms skirted the backgrounds. Esther, meanwhile, spent the evening peering into her TV gathering details of the lynching crimes that had risen in the country.

She managed to join the next month’s discussion, though. They were to discuss her book choice that month, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. ‘Let’s meet at the Piano Man café,’ she had messaged. ‘It’s within a golf course and is an outdoor café; breezy enough for a balmy October morning in Gurugram.’

‘Hats and halos ladies?’ suggested Durga fanning emojis of excitement into the chat window.

‘Wow! Such creative ideas Durga!’ exclaimed Karthika. The other women agreed. She adds excitement to the group, most clearly, thought Priya. She’s a writer after all. Sitting at her writing table, Menaka sighed. She rued over her lack of spontaneity and sparkle.

With that, on the designated morning in October, as the polluting PM 2.5 began descending down on the city’s air, the rustic café began filling up with hats of every kind. Menaka walked past the vine bower at the entrance to the café wearing a fuchsia pink fascinator. Arpita had on a straw hat with a floral silk scarf tied around it in a bow. Priya’s head fit snug in a soft pink golfer cap. Karthika had covered her head in an aquamarine organza scarf with Cartier sunglasses perched up to hold it in place, and Durga strode in with a straw hat and a printed cream stole tied around in a bonnet to honour the life and times of the book. Esther wore a headband of sunflowers over her silky mocha highlights like a halo. Oh! and the book discussion? It hummed along at a merry pitch.

‘That’s what a good book does, encourages empathy for people different from us. Nice pick Esther,’ endorsed Durga from the head of the cane table in that garden café.

‘I thought it ambles away, though,’ voiced Arpita.

Menaka and Priya liked the book. However, they preferred thrillers. ‘You know, with plot upheavals, suspense and drama. Movement, basically,’ said Menaka with a dance of her chubby hand, the diamond on her ring finger catching sunlight.

‘Literary fiction tends to put me to sleep,’ concluded Priya taking a bite off her bruschetta. Durga interrupted by plunging a hand into Priya’s platter. ‘Let me have a bite, sweets, that bruschetta looks tempting.’

‘Sure, would you like to try my Oreo shake as well, goes very well with the bruschetta,’ Priya offered.

‘Ooh lovely and your quill danglers, aren’t they something, girls?’ said Durga looking around and prodding the ladies.

Esther used the interlude to sip her coffee. How has she stuck on so long? Durga wondered. What does Esther mean anyway? These questions seemed to leave Durga a teeny-weeny nebby. Perhaps, she could catch up with the woman after the book discussion.

Esther was waiting for the valet to bring over her car when Durga spotted her in the distance, beyond the vine bower at the entrance of the café, beyond the creepers that creeped up and down the arch and grew into a hedge forming a waist-high wall around the cafe. Durga hugged Priya a quick little hug lest she miss Esther.

‘Hey, nice book choice there,’ she called out to Esther, putting on her Ray Ban shades as she walked up.

‘I’m glad you liked the book,’ replied Esther.

Durga smiled. ‘So where do you stay?’

‘Phase V.’

‘Ah! What a coincidence. Can I ride along? My driver called in sick this morning and I had to call in an Uber to get here.’

Durga thought she sensed an eagerness in Esther. She read this in the slight curl of Esther’s lips at the corners, a tad bit up, was it? Much like those sad-little girls in her class, wanting to be friends, back in her teenage days. She had been the Hema Malini of her school. Things hadn’t changed much over the years.

‘Where are you from, Esther?’ she asked, sliding into the beige Honda City that had rolled in.

‘Delhi,’ replied Esther.

‘Umm, you don’t look like a Delhiite.’

‘My parents are from Nagercoil, but I was born here in Delhi.’

‘Ah.’

 Durga looked at Esther and wondered what it was she disliked about the woman’s silence. ‘Is that a rosary?’ she decided to ask pointing to the wooden beads dangling from the rear-view mirror.

‘Yes.’

‘Are you Catholic or Protestant?’

‘Catholic. A rosary is used in prayer to the Mother.’

‘Oh! The virgin,’ said Durga with a smirk, inviting it was too.

‘What about you?’

‘I was Durga Ghosh. I married Venkat, he’s an Iyengar. Now I’m Durga Iyengar, you know Tam Brahms.’

Esther knew, for Nagercoil was the southernmost tip of Tamil Nadu and Tam cats they were called. Rarely though eh.

It was a 10-minute ride and there wasn’t much left to say, so the ladies stayed quiet for the most part.

That evening, Karthika revealed her pick for the month on WhatsApp, The Palace of Illusions, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. It had been one of Durga’s best reads of the year, and she could not help her fingers hold down the dancing girl emoji and shooting it across to the group. Priya could not hold onto her excitement either. She sent kisses with hearts so red they beat in imagined 3D. Esther sent up a thumb while Menaka sent a mug of beer, and Arpita clinked it with champagne flutes.

The women made a decision to dress up in sarees this time around, and Menaka decided to invite a friend who had loved the book too. Meera was an ardent fan of mythology and Krishna, much like her namesake. Perhaps, a love that grew over years of listening to her grandmother’s tales of Meerabai, the ones her Dadi whispered at night into her ears as she stroked Meera’s hair, while she lay in the nook of her Dadi’s arms drifting into sweet sleep.

As a new genre, literary mythology fascinated Meera. It offered new and diverse perspectives to universal truths. She had devoured Devdutt Pattnaik, Kavita Kane books, and Chitra Bannerjee Divakaruni flagged the summit of her hunger.

That beautiful November morn, Meera dressed up for the book discussion, as she always did, in the best of her sarees and little jhumkies and a grey coiffure of unblemished strands. At the café under the Metro station, the ladies gathered. Meera was elegance personified in her cotton jute, ochre and orange saree. The discussion continued, caffeine flowed, words and sighs enlivened the café. ‘Your saree is lovely,’ Durga complemented Meera after the discussion. ‘It’s refreshing to hear your thoughts on the Mahabharata, ain’t it girls?’ The ladies nodded. Menaka leaned on a corner of a table waiting to leave with Meera, a smile adorning her face and heart.

The Palace of Illusions had evoked sentiments of love, devotion and feminism, like no other book had thus far. Karna was loved as was the feisty Draupadi, emblematic of the fire that had arisen within each woman at the meet-up that morn. The pictures in the WhatsApp group were aflush with energy, zeal, ochre and orange. Words of praise for Draupadi and her feminist stand flooded the messenger window. Draupadi’s was the voice each woman wanted to represent, to fight for, to justify, to love. And because these were liberated women, they could not help but hail her possible sexual freedom as well. As it were wont to, the discussion meandered towards Sita in Ramayana and her contrary plight. The fate she succumbed to, the hypocrisy of society and the villainy of Ravan.

‘But Ravan was not a bad fellow, to put it lightly’ messaged Durga. ‘In fact, he was an extremely intelligent person. Alas, he desired another’s wife,’ she debated speaking in favour of intellect, for intellect had to be acknowledged now, did it not?

‘I read somewhere that his ten heads were not physical heads, they were a metaphor for his intelligence,’ messaged Arpita.

‘A man with the intelligence of ten heads put together, a Brahmin. Albeit, for his one misdeed. Imagine being called Ravan or Iravanan in Tamil,’ texted Durga with a squiggly faced emoji, didn’t it accurately reflect the face she could see in the mirror across from where she sat? Rubbing the kohl from her eyes, she sighed, ‘dark circles!’

‘But why would anyone name their child that?’ reasoned Priya, simultaneously reading through an email on her laptop, an advertisement request on her blog it was.

‘Apparently, the word Ravan means powerful and victorious,’ explained Menaka.

‘Oh! The fate of that child,’ assuaged Durga.

‘Mohammad, Jesus. Oh! The fate of those children too,’ pursued Durga.

The minutes that followed were silent; no one in the group was typing.

‘No, we are not averse to the name Jesus or its synonyms,’ Esther, who until now had been looking at the conversation intermittently, typed, deleted, typed again and eventually sent. ‘In fact, synonyms Emmanuel and Chris are popular names for our babies, a matter of pride rather,’ continued the stream of messages rather promptly from the, well, rather deceptively quiet girl, as can be seen.

‘Really?’ messaged Durga rolling her eyes - an emoji. Durga dunked a cotton ball into a pot filled with a homemade concoction of equal portions of aloe vera gel and rose water. She then swiped the cotton ball around her eyes, over the dark circles, over and over again. Sigh!

Venkat, whom Durga had loved over and over for years, walked into the room. His fingers flying over his mobile phone, typing out the minutes of a conference call he had been on with the East Coast. Venkat had caught the roll of Durga’s eye right on time and peeped into her phone.

 ‘Ravan might have ten-headed intelligence, but he did commit the one crime. Jesus did not commit any, so the scriptures say and so we believe. He was the Son of God,’ messaged Esther.

‘I did say that Ravan was intelligent too,’ Durga typed. Venkat approved. She sent it quickly for fear of losing control of the conversation due to any delay, as go fears in WhatsApp conversations.

‘We know Esther. He is considered saintly. The good person. The one with high clarity gloss shining through,’ messaged Arpita, who was trying to work a lump of dough into a croissant to bake but had unwillingly rolled it into a Celtic knot instead. Is that Christian, she wondered, stretching the dough into an Om. Later, she would place a warm and flaky croissant on an asymmetrical wooden platter, throw in a sprig of rosemary, sprinkle a trail of breadcrumbs and place a vial of vanilla essence by a corner for rustic charm. She would then take a picture and post it onto the Innovative Baking Group on Facebook, where she often garnered praise and appreciation for her baking skills, her USP, her identity.

Priya, meanwhile, typed and deleted and typed again and deleted again. She couldn’t be bothered with the communal discourse on a WhatsApp group, or should she? The thought did cross her mind. But wasn’t the discourse in the country ochre, orange… saffron anyway. Needn’t Priya only secure her WhatsApp group against libel? This was not libel.

‘As was Ravan, a wise man,’ Durga debated.

‘But he did commit a crime, whatever his qualities. In the Ramayan, he stands in place of a villain,’ debated Esther. ‘That would be the place of Satan in the Bible. Jesus would be comparable to Krishna from the Mahabharata if at all comparisons were possible,’ she messaged in frantic, consecutive lines, her fingers flying all over the keypad, tuck, tuck, tuck, tuck, tuck.

‘I’ve heard that comparison before,’ messaged Arpita along with an uplifted thumb.

‘In the south, as far as names and their interpretations go, a womanizer is often called Krishnan,’ continued Esther. ‘He’s a Krishnan,’ people will often say, though endearingly, in praise of a cousin or a neighbour who has girls flocking after him. And   yet, we know these are merely folklore and the place Krishna holds in people’s hearts cannot be trampled over.”

The group lay silent. No messages, no typing.

‘These converts,’ said Venkat as he walked over to the refrigerator leaving Durga fuming over the messages.

‘Uff! This girl Esther Whatever jumping on us—on me—like a wolf,’ Durga whispered to herself sauntering into the living room for her evening hour of TV.

In the kitchen, Venkat hung onto the door of the refrigerator looking for that wholesome thayir sadam that his Durga had learnt from his Mum to a perfect T. ‘I’ll just have an early dinner,’ he decided against the ayurvedic practice of avoiding curd at night, ‘plus I can’t take thayir sadam to lunch at my MNC anyway, right Durga?’ he yelled from the kitchen.

‘Durga’s salad jai, jai,’ he mimicked with a smile scooping out a spoonful of the thayir sadam as he plonked himself next to Durga on the couch. But Durga was distracted. She seemed to be staring at, wait, ‘a saas-bahu serial?’ asked Venkat picking up the remote from the table and switching over to the news. A journalist was screaming questions at the left-leaning intelligentsia on the issue of the disappearance of a Muslim student from a premier left-leaning university in the nation’s capital. Durga remained distracted, her mind still with her group. It was a first this questioning of her position by a woman so insignificant. Was she losing her touch, she wondered? ‘These Muslims should each disappear one-by one, I say,’ continued Venkat, staring at the TV. ‘Hinduism was always better than Islam or whatever. It will always be. Just wait and watch you non-Hindus, we’ll throw you all out, Muslims, Christians, all you dogs. Just you wait.’

‘Yes Venkat,’ muttered Durga.

The other members of Booklovers’ Paradise slept peacefully through that night and went quiet for the rest of the month, with the exception of Meera announcing the next book, Night by Elie Wiesel.

But on the morning of the book club meet-up Durga was suffering from a wobbly stomach. ‘Won’t be able to make it today. Sorry sweets,’ she messaged Priya with hugs and hearts, and Priya replied with many more.

Meanwhile, in her kitchen, Esther stood holding open the door of a wooden cabinet. Inside sat five loaves of plum cakes wrapped in cellophane sheets, tied up in red and green satin ribbons. The warm smell of the spices had begun to lift the family’s spirits into a celebration since the previous evening when they had been delivered by a home baker friend.  It had been on order for over a month for the book club meet-up. The dry fruits had needed to soak up rum for that long, according to the recipe. But that morning, she decided against bringing the plum cakes to the ladies. ‘Inducement to convert, they will say.’

At the café, no one dressed up in black or white or any other colour of mourning. But weren’t they discussing the horrific details of the holocaust? Well, neither did they dress up in the holiday colours of red and green. Although, through the discussion, eyes enlarged in shock, heads hung low in pity and mouths were covered in dismay as each lady sighed and recollected the horrors in the book. Priya sighed and ended the discussion by reading a few lines from Elie Wiesel’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech for the book:

‘…the world did know and remained silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere.’
                                -Elie Wiesel

‘True,’ whispered the women, their chins and hearts held in the nook of their palms coming together.

Meanwhile, at work, Durga read through a WhatsApp message that had come through in Venkat’s family group.

‘In 1378, India lost a piece of its land. It became the Islamic nation of Iran.

In 1947, India lost another piece. It became the Islamic nation of Pakistan.

In 1971, India lost another piece. It became the Islamic nation of Bangladesh.

Now, these converts are after Assam and Kerala. Wake up my Hindu brothers.’

Durga responded with an uplifted thumb and forwarded the message to the Ghosh family. There wasn’t a need to verify the facts of the message, they were sent from the Brahmin side of her family, after all. ‘Forwarding,’ she messaged. Venkat would notice. His Brahmin family would notice.

By evening, Menaka messaged the next month’s book choice, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Though fantasy was not to everyone’s fancy, the ladies decided to rejoice in the choice after the despairing Night.

The following month, Priya chose Serious Men by Manu Joseph and soon the book club entered its second year. New members joined the group, some old members marked sporadic attendance and publishers and writers offered to launch books at its various meet-ups. Priya’s reviews were now acknowledged by most writers, Indians and internationals. Durga’s attendance and relationship with Esther had also found a steady distance to traverse along.

But life for Durga was wrought with troubles, and a few days after the group celebrated its second anniversary, she began pouring out her inner turmoil onto a mothers’ forum wherein she unveiled her personal journal of sorts, Fighting Autism: a mother’s journey.

It must be said that many-a-troubled heart found resonance and solace in Durga’s words and the women of Booklovers’ Paradise held her up through her troubled times, sharing the posts and encouraging her with positivity when she needed it the most.  

‘Today’s link…’ Durga would often send. The women would comment and reinforce their faith in her. In one such post, Durga spoke about her exasperation with her daughter’s saree for her 12th grade farewell party. Jaya was finishing school that year and the border of the neel blue saree that Durga had picked was 3 inches thick while all along Jaya had wanted one with a 2.5-inch-thick border. Durga had walked into every shop in Gurugram in her search for the ideal saree. Alas, each variation had a different design, a different shade of blue, or the border of a different thickness. Writing her struggle down in a blog post had helped, though, if some souls could not lead her to the required saree, they could talk about her helplessness and perhaps help another helpless soul by way of shared dead ends. When the women in Booklovers’ Paradise commented, Durga had felt relieved and understood. She was thankful that Priya had not deleted her post, even though Priya was strict against links to third party blogs, forwarded jokes and Good Morning messages on the group. And as Durga sent the blog post to the group, she also decided to post vital details she had received about a Booker Prize winning author whose second book critical of the situation in Kashmir had hit the stands after a gap of twenty years.

‘The famous far-leftist, pro-Maoist, pro-Naxalite, pro-Kashmiri terrorist intellectual Arundhati Roy is Arundhati Suzanna Roy. She is said to be funded by foreign groups to unsettle focused developmental efforts and firm actions by the government. Arundhati Suzanna Roy is a Christian who has retained her Hindu name to spread hatred about India and Hindus through her books,’ said the message.

Booklovers’ Paradise was silent. Esther, munching on an orange while scrolling through her WhatsApp messages, pondered whether to comment against the insinuation about Christians and risk be called unpatriotic, whether to rake up the issue of fake, contorted news (for Arundhati had never claimed to be a Hindu), or whether to debate the issue of having to be defensive in her motherland while the other women in the group were never put in a defendant’s box. Esther decided to ignore Durga’s message for peace and a daughter who was excited about a blue saree with a 2.5-inch-thick border. Instead, she read through the word of God that someone had sent in her family group, ‘bearing with one another, and forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:13’

The following month the group was to read Meera’s book choice. She had picked Lanka’s Princess by Kavita Kane and to set the mood forwarded a riddle with the names of Hindu goddesses. Oh! The women had enjoyed the fun trivia. The following day, Durga forwarded a message detailing scientific evidence of the magical properties of the holy Cow’s urine.

It also seems that the discussion on Lanka’s Princess went well, which would perhaps be why Menaka picked 99 Thoughts on Ganesha by Devdutt Pattanaik as the following month’s book choice. Esther debated whether to continue with the book club. She knew trials formed the corner stone of a Christian life as affirmed by two messages on Corinthians 4:8-9 that someone had sent in her family group.

‘We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.’

Esther forwarded the message to her group of best friends from school who had reunited on WhatsApp, for shouldn’t she give strength to her flock?

The following year, when Esther’s short story saw the Gurugram morning ray in a Literary Magazine, Booklovers’ Paradise, with Priya, Durga, Menaka, Arpita, Meera and many more, was abuzz with the link to the story. Encouragement flowed in for the hidden talent in the group. Durga, then, was forced to message the quiet, cunning Esther now, wasn’t she? ‘Congratulations! You’ve grown from the short stories you would post on your blog back in the days,’ the private message said, ‘you’re bigger than me now.’

Bio: It was while working on the corporate ladder that Donna Abraham Tijo’s first short story won a contest and was published in ‘Chicken Soup for the on a whimSoul, Indian College Students’ (Westland Ltd, 2011). She then went on to publish her first novella ‘Or Forever Hold Your Peace’ (AuthorsUpfront, 2014) . With learnings gathered over the following years, she contributed a short story ‘My Mama’s Girl’ to ‘Escape Velocity’ (Write&Beyond, 2018). These days she’s adding final truths to her second novel, The Pheeki Lives of Geetanjali and Maryann.






Safe

by

Brian Hunt

Everyone wore a mask now, but why they did was no longer a question. Those who asked either disappeared or, after a suitable period of re-education, joined their faceless colleagues. The masks kept us free not just from airborne threats to health but from the complexities of signalling...

Read more: Safe

 

 

 

Eagles’ Run

by

Sandra Niedzialek

Sarah Jensen works at the county morgue. It’s the only job available, her probation officer tells her. She’s a lousy thief, it seems. Gah, she hates scrubbing stainless steel. She’s the only one in the morgue because her shift is from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. As she...

Read more: Eagles’ Run

 

 

 

How Horrible the Moon

by

Brian Hunt

How horrible the moon. How horrible the pale light it cast upon my grave as it called me to my duty.

In a few short hours I would leave the comfort of my grave to walk among the living. I scared most of them, but now after over...

Read more: How Horrible the Moon

 

 

 

The Woman in the Mirror

by

Miriam Manglani

Jack pulled the comforter over his head and clamped his hands over his ears, but it did
little to block out his parents’ screaming. If it got any worse, he would hide in his closet.

“I told you I wanted shrimp for dinner,” Amit, Jack’s father, scowled and...

Read more: The Woman in the Mirror

 

 

 

To the Moon

by

Brigitte Whiting

"How terrible the moon," Mr. Abrams said each time there was a full moon. "There's sadness with beauty."

At first, when the future Mrs. Abrams met him, she thought it was odd. When he was young, he'd wanted to ride on the back of his older brother's motorcycle...

Read more: To the Moon

 

 

 

One Precious Day

by

Paul K. McWilliams

“We love those who know the worst of us and don’t turn their faces away.”
                                                                                                                     -Walker Percy

                                                                   

Mike Hanlon, an old childhood friend of mine, had cultivated the pot, not for kicks or profit, but expressly for relief.  He was a poor and suffering soul growing...

Read more: One Precious Day

 

 

 

SkippyGraycoat

by

Peter Mancusi

Skippy Graycoat woke up early to the chirping of birds. It had been a long night for the young squirrel. He spent hours fixing up his new apartment, a fancy little hollow inside of an old, maple tree, and he was happy to finally have some privacy. No...

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A Pot Full of Beans

by

Brigitte Whiting

Clara Beth didn't remember that she'd promised to fill the cast iron bean pot for the Smithville Annual Bean Hole Bean Pot supper until late Friday afternoon when she received the call that the bean hole was prepared, the embers hot and ready. "Almost ready," she lied. What...

Read more: A Pot Full of Beans

 

 

 

How You Can Go Wrong

by

Lisa Benwitz

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Angelina scoffed at Sam, her husband of sixty years. “You’re not leaving. You won’t last a day without me.”

“I can’t deal with you anymore,” he said as he walked out the door. As if she’d been the one to disappoint, to betray.

Angelina’s sagging...

Read more: How You Can Go Wrong

 

 

 

The Piano

by

Nitin Mishra

The old grand piano sat in lonely corner of the room. Dust covered the piano body, and insects crept in through the keys. For the house’s inhabitants, the grand piano was merely a dead wooden sound-making device mechanically operated. No one ever tried to infuse life into the...

Read more: The Piano

 

 

 

Makers and Takers

by

Kim Bundy

Jake dropped the baby off at daycare early that morning and replaced three water heaters by lunch. There were two HVAC systems left to service, so he wolfed down a sandwich as he drove between jobs. When he got back to the shop that afternoon, his boss called...

Read more: Makers and Takers

 

 

 

The “Ely Kay”

by

Paul K. McWilliams

It’s my boat yard, and I don’t much care for the look of her. It’s a point of pride. You should be able to take a level to a boat up on lumber. Every day with her list, she stares me down. She looks guilty and sad with...

Read more: The “Ely Kay”

 

 

 

What We Long For

by

Cyril Dabydeen

Creating an imaginary garden
                            with real toads in it.
                                    --Marianne Moore


Frogs circle the yellow-and-black snake in the trout stream by instinct, no less. Mr. Yorick, tall, but roundish, ...

Read more: What We Long For

 

 

 

Emerson

by

Paul K. McWilliams

He hurts, body, mind, and soul. Death has made its introduction and he has given it a knowing nod. At this moment he’s in a hospice unit. The head of his bed is elevated and he’s in the consoling company of his dog, Emerson. The dog proved quickly...

Read more: Emerson

 

 

 

Blunt Trauma

by

Paul K. McWilliams

To all, excepting only Annie, Charles W. Durgin fell while fishing and drowned.  It has been nearly ten years since she struck him with his own club, the club he affectionately called “the priest.” Nightmares still waken her upright and screaming. Not the stifled screams into his calloused...

Read more: Blunt Trauma

 

 

 

Man in the Mirror

by

Nitin Mishra

It may have been the sultriest day of the decade, who knows, maybe two or even three decades and the excessive humidity had invited swarms of insects. In such a sweltering afternoon people were destined to stay indoors, and if anyone ventured out, the insects would certainly torment...

Read more: Man in the Mirror

 

 

 

The Impostor

by

Mick Clark

I was amazed by how many people were stuffed inside my uncle Henry’s corpse.

My aunt clung to me for the first time in her life, bird-bone brittle and ashen pale, while the mourners breathed crowds of ghosts into the icy morning air.

The coffin swayed...

Read more: The Impostor

 

 

 

21 Days of Lockdown

by

Donna Abraham Tijo

Day 1:
When Coronavirus Comes Calling
A five-year-old declares, 'I wish to always have my favourite pancake in my world.'

Day 2:
An E-mail of Hope
He sent the e-mail to the school reserving seats for his daughter for the fall session. It’s in the new city they...

Read more: 21 Days of Lockdown

 

 

 

Sugar Daddy Dreams

by

Enza Vynn-Cara

Burnt toast, avocado, honey, two poached eggs laced with turmeric and garlic, and a new vitamin concoction that makes my stomach churn, and still, I guzzle half of it down with gusto, as if it’s our first Godfather Cocktail at Carlo’s Bar.

Why, you ask?

Because...

Read more: Sugar Daddy Dreams

 

 

 

The Visitor

by

Brigitte Whiting

Madeleine saw the visitor in her Sunday school class, a man her age, maybe fortyish —she considered herself a youthful fifty —with a deep dimple in the middle of his chin. He wore no wedding ring. He introduced himself as having just moved to Cannington, and was the...

Read more: The Visitor

 

 

 

Chickens

by

Brigitte Whiting

First, there was dust everywhere, but now, far worse, there were chickens everywhere. They were pecking through the yard, leaving puffs of dust. They were roosting in the pine trees. And they clucked from morning to night. The five roosters vied for which was loudest and shrillest. Amanda...

Read more: Chickens

 

 

 

Desiree

by

Joe Cappello

I buried him in the backyard one night after a rainstorm. The soil I removed from the hole was thick and sticky and clung stubbornly to the surface of my shovel.

I connected the hose to the backyard spigot and used it to clean off the shovel. Then...

Read more: Desiree

 

 

 

The Anointing of Mary Ballard

by

Joe Cappello

The young lady entered the laboratory with her eyes cast down reverently, as though entering a church. When she reached the gurney, she pulled a chair close to it and placed the things she was carrying on a nearby table. She removed the sheet covering the body and...

Read more: The Anointing of Mary Ballard

 

 

 

Beginning at the End

by

Joe Cappello

I am in a meeting at our England location in a typical rectangular conference room walled off from the real world of work taking place outside. Suddenly, I am a spirit floating above my colleagues, as though I had died only seconds earlier and am waiting to be...

Read more: Beginning at the End

 

 

 

Hope Held My Heart

by

Chel Talleyrand

We were isolated that summer from the rest of the world. The excessive rains had pounded the fields into mosquito-infested pools, destroying our harvests of corn and beans. We heard it was worse in the cities. As food supplies depleted, guns decided distribution. Friends and families banded together...

Read more: Hope Held My Heart

 

 

 

Bibliosmia

by

Penny Camp

My love for reading started early. I traveled the world and rode dragons, fought knights, stormed castles, stole treasure with pirates and rescued kidnapped princesses. I floated down rivers in the deepest regions of unexplored lands. I climbed trees and mountains and flew on clouds.

Mom read to...

Read more: Bibliosmia

 

 

 

To Thwart a Wild Turkey Hen

by

Brigitte Whiting

A flock of wild turkeys has wandered in and out of my yard for years. I have a raised deck so my birdfeeders stand ten feet off the ground and the turkeys graze under them. They are timid birds, and typically when I step out onto the deck, ...

Read more: To Thwart a Wild Turkey Hen

 

 

 

The Style of No Style

by

Frank Richards

I must be the Charlie Brown of writers because I’ve never been able to figure out what “style” is all about. What does that word, ‘style,’ mean? I’ve always had a problem with it. If there were such a thing as “styleblindness,” a disease like colorblindness, I’d be...

Read more: The Style of No Style

 

 

 

Corona Clean

by

Fran Schumer

The Corona virus presents new challenges. Stuck at home, and with more of us sleeping, eating and working here, and a dirtier house, I was finally going to have to figure out how to use my new vacuum cleaner. Ordered a year ago, it mostly sat in its...

Read more: Corona Clean

 

 

 

Occasional Neighbors

by

Brigitte Whiting

I understand a little bit about wild turkeys. They're on a constant hunt for food, drifting through the neighborhood scrounging what they can. But I don't know how it happens that a few will either be left behind by the flock or leave it. This past fall, I'd...

Read more: Occasional Neighbors

 

 

 

Enjoy the Ride

by

Penny Camp

Get up early. You can’t ride all day if you sleep in. Braid your hair tight — you don’t want it flapping in the wind. Make sure you don’t wear the undies with the seams down the back because after a long day of riding they will make...

Read more: Enjoy the Ride

 

 

 

Cocoa and Biscuits

by

Penny Camp

Saturday mornings were special occasions at our house when we were growing up. My friends begged to spend the night so they could be part of the Saturday morning ritual.

Mom would take out her green plastic bowl and splash in a little water, a little cocoa powder, ...

Read more: Cocoa and Biscuits

 

 

 

Livin’ the Dream

by

Holly Miller

When I was a child, my mom and Aunt Leona would pack us six kids into our blue Chevy Belair and drive to a local mobile home dealer (they were known as trailers back then). We would walk through the new homes, just for something to do. How...

Read more: Livin’ the Dream

 

 

 

Fall in Maine

by

Brigitte Whiting

Autumn is falling in Maine, harder this year than I remember over the last few falls. We've had two nights of close to freezing temperatures, not enough to ice over the birdfeeders or kill any of my plants yet, but cold enough to turn the furnace on. My...

Read more: Fall in Maine

 

 

 

Best Laid Plans

by

Penny Devlin

Every year shortly before spring, the Gurney’s Seed & Nursery Co. catalog shows up on my doorstep. The cover is plastered with a WARNING label in big black letters informing me that if I don’t order now, this will be my last catalog. It also has coupons: $100...

Read more: Best Laid Plans

 

 

 

One January Morning

by

Brigitte Whiting

Mornings, I like to have a Kindle eBook open on the dining room table so I can read and look out into the backyard to see what might be happening. 

I live in a raised ranch with an attached two-car garage. My deck, which is off the kitchen...

Read more: One January Morning

 

 

 

The Ruins and the Writing Technique of Negative Space

by

Sarah Yasin

A book club I’m part of recently discussed The Ruinsby Scott Smith. It’s not a book I would have finished reading based on the first 50 pages, but sticking with it afforded me insight into what a narrative voice can do. The story is about a group...

Read more: The Ruins and the Writing Technique of Negative Space

 

 

 

A River of Words

by

Penny Devlin

Go to work every day. Do your job. Do it well. Always learning, getting better every day. Soaking in the letters that become words, that lead to success.

Meetings, instructions, to-do lists, directions — the words start to drown like a river of brown muddy water rushing through...

Read more: A River of Words

 

 

 

Canada, Marty, and The Exorcist

by

Jen Lowry

On our homeschool adventure today, we dreamed aloud of the places we would travel to if we could. My kids and I agree: Ireland and Scotland are our top two places to visit. We played music from Spotify and sang aloud to the merry tunes of the Irish.

...

Read more: Canada, Marty, and The Exorcist

 

 

 

Monarch Butterflies

by

Brigitte Whiting

I had no idea what milkweed looked like because I'd never seen it, but I'd always wanted it to grow in my yard so I could see the monarch butterflies.


For the longest time, I've hoped the patch of wonderfully fragrant plants with pale purple flowers growing...

Read more: Monarch Butterflies

 

 

 

A Monarch Chrysalis

by

Brigitte Whiting

The monarch caterpillar couldn't decide where to turn itself into a chrysalis. He wandered across my front stoop so many times I was afraid I'd step on it so I stopped using the front door. One time, he'd be crawling up a post of the front railing. Another...

Read more: A Monarch Chrysalis

 

 

 

Truth

by

Angela Hess

I am twisted, bent, and deformed on every side. Everyone trying to use me to serve their own purposes, to justify their own beliefs and actions. Their eyes constantly sliding away from my pure, unaltered form, too brilliant and painful to behold without their chosen filters to dim...

Read more: Truth

 

 

 

The Goldfinch

by

Brigitte Whiting

On a Monday afternoon, I carried a bucket of water outdoors to refill the birdbath. A male goldfinch jumped down from the bath’s rim, and hopped away as quickly as he could to creep beneath a nearby spruce branch. I thought how odd he was...

Read more: The Goldfinch

 

 

 

Of Heroes and Holiness

by

Angela Hess

What does a hero look like?

 

George Bailey is a hero.

 

George Bailey dreamed of traveling the world.

 

George Bailey gave up his dreams to care for his family and community.

 

Rudy left his family...

Read more: Of Heroes and Holiness

 

 

 

My Desk

by

Luann Lewis

Another rejection letter and I feel like a loser. Yeah, I know, I’m not trying to make a living doing this. I even claim to be “writing for myself.” Butwe all want validation and, let’s face it, us writers want readers. So here I sit, ...

Read more: My Desk

 

 

 

My Mobile Space

by

Janet Harvey

 

In June, I will expect to find my special place in Townsville, Queensland. Last year it was in Darwin, Northern Territory, and today my place is in Hobart, Tasmania.

 

 

We live in a truck, a 2004 Isuzu 350NPR turbo automatic...

Read more: My Mobile Space

 

 

 

A Red Squirrel's Narrative

by

Brigitte Whiting

This past summer and fall upturned me. The birdfeeder, usually so generous, abdicated her job, and I had to scrounge for food during the long wet season. My mother told me it was unusual to have such a rainy August and October. She would know. I was born...

Read more: A Red Squirrel's Narrative

 

 

 

Talk-Back, Dear Lia, on FnF

by

Joy Manné

This essay is part of a Talk-Back series – I owe that title to Karen. A Talk-Back is my response to a chapter in a WVU textbook, my communication with its author.

This Talk-Back is a response to the exercise in Lia Purpura’s chapter, ‘On Miniatures,’ (Flas...

Read more: Talk-Back, Dear Lia, on FnF

 

 

 

Reunion

by

Lina Sophia Rossi

“Why the F--- Do I want to see a F—ing alligator jump up to eat a F—ing chicken hanging on a clothesline?”

 

The last time I hung out with my Uncle Dan is when I dragged him to Gatorland to do something touristic. ...

Read more: Reunion

 

 

 

A Fear of Broken Things

by

Angela Hess

“Does he look at you?”

 

My cousin’s innocent question triggers a flashing red warning light in my brain. My baby doesn’t look at me. I assumed he was too young still, but my cousin’s baby is only four days older than mine, and they are...

Read more: A Fear of Broken Things

 

 

 

Neighborhood Walk Meditation

by

Lina Sophia Rossi

Vultures gather on the old man’s neighbor’s barn,
‘decorated with ravens and barren trees.
A small cottontail stirs...

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Dream Metaphor

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

I shiver in the darkened room,
stretch, try to pull the covers higher,
suddenly I am floating near...

Read more: Dream Metaphor

 

 

 

A Whitmanesque Inventory: Spring

by

Phebe Beiser

So glad it rained last night. Now, late morning, sun shines,
an unexpectedly warm early March. What a...

Read more: A Whitmanesque Inventory: Spring

 

 

 

Solitary

by

Malkeet Kaur

For eons now, the very core of my being
has become inaccessible.

Solitary.

Once it used to be...

Read more: Solitary

 

 

 

The Blanket Hugs Me

by

Louise E. Sawyer

I’m grateful that I have a daybed
downstairs where I can rest during the day
with my Guinea...

Read more: The Blanket Hugs Me

 

 

 

On Love and Dreams

by

Miriam Manglani

1.
Love is a beast and angel and dream on fire.

2.
Your soul wakes in your dreams.

...

Read more: On Love and Dreams

 

 

 

The Writer’s Breastplate

by

Louise E. Sawyer

…apologies to St. Patrick


Creative Spirit with me,
Creative Spirit before me,
Creative Spirit behind me,
Creative Spirit...

Read more: The Writer’s Breastplate

 

 

 

The Sweater

by

Malkeet Kaur

As I rummage through the clothes,
I spot it, the well-worn white sweater
that now had aging spots...

Read more: The Sweater

 

 

 

The Holly Tree

by

Nolo Segundo

We have a large holly tree
in our backyard—
is it foolish to say
you love a tree?

...

Read more: The Holly Tree

 

 

 

waiting on an email

by

Gerardine Gail Esterday

rain beats against the metal awning.
winds whipped up against two storms
racing each other over the Mississippi
...

Read more: waiting on an email

 

 

 

Looking for Weeds

by

Louise E. Sawyer

Pushing my walker with the purple
pet carrier propped up on the seat,
I walk down the driveway.
...

Read more: Looking for Weeds

 

 

 

Ocean Mood

by

Malkeet Kaur

The roaring, crashing surf summon us.
Soft and damp ecru sand lies beneath our bare soles.
The sun-baked...

Read more: Ocean Mood

 

 

 

The Beetle in the Sink

by

Miriam Manglani

There is a beetle in the sink.  
A big fat one,
shiny and black
with sharp needle...

Read more: The Beetle in the Sink

 

 

 

Four Cats – Four Friends

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

I
the painting of four cats
hangs on my living room wall


II
you can see
Glory Barrie...

Read more: Four Cats – Four Friends

 

 

 

On Eating an Orange and Seeing God

by

Nolo Segundo

I miss the big navels, the big navels when they are not in season,
but almost any orange...

Read more: On Eating an Orange and Seeing God

 

 

 

Summer – A Pantoum

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

I sit on my deck and enjoy summer sun.
Zephyrs caress my cheeks with soft kisses.
Bombay cat...

Read more: Summer – A Pantoum

 

 

 

Your Broken Heart

by

Miriam Manglani

I found your heart’s hinge —
I knew it could open!
Inside, I saw all of its broken...

Read more: Your Broken Heart

 

 

 

Who Is Margaret?

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

I find the small black and white picture in a box
of old letters untouched for twenty years.
...

Read more: Who Is Margaret?

 

 

 

Made Whole by Others

by

Miriam Manglani

Some people fill deep holes in us
the space that’s left when our loved ones leave
they plug...

Read more: Made Whole by Others

 

 

 

Autumn Villanelle

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

leaves don orange, crimson and yellow gowns
as they prepare for Cinderella’s autumn ball,
soon the leaves will...

Read more: Autumn Villanelle

 

 

 

Sunny Day Epiphany

by

Lina Sophia Rossi

Umberto, my Golden Retriever is sad,
Sparkie and Sal, his companions, have died

I wanted to adopt a...

Read more: Sunny Day Epiphany

 

 

 

Ocean City

by

Nolo Segundo

I saw it then as my own little Shangri-la,
for I was very small and knew nothing
of...

Read more: Ocean City

 

 

 

All The Dead I Know

by

Nolo Segundo

Let’s start with Eric—a nerdy-looking kid before
nerds were invented, and only 18 when he crashed
his funny...

Read more: All The Dead I Know

 

 

 

The Dinosaur Will Get a Makeover

by

Miriam Manglani

She talks of makeovers with friends,
using contour sticks and beauty blenders,
making “Tiktoks” with dance moves
called...

Read more: The Dinosaur Will Get a Makeover

 

 

 

Fireplace Camping

by

Louise E. Sawyer

After supper, my brother Frank and I beg Dad,
“Tell us a story in front of the fireplace.”
...

Read more: Fireplace Camping

 

 

 

My Love

by

Miriam Manglani

My love for you was tentative and tender
Now it blazes like wildfire through dry fields
Cuts through...

Read more: My Love

 

 

 

The Never-Was-But-Could-Have-Been

by

Miriam Manglani

I never doubted that he loved me
even after he died from dementia —
There were tight hugs...

Read more: The Never-Was-But-Could-Have-Been

 

 

 

Farley vs Apricot

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

Apricot the Beanie cat
perches atop the bookcase,
guards the books,
taunts the ginger kitten down below

Farley’s...

Read more: Farley vs Apricot

 

 

 

Define Self Truth

by

Gerardine Gail (Esterday) Baugh

How blind are we with
wishes that bite; with
memories that burn;
that we choose, to be
trapped, ...

Read more: Define Self Truth

 

 

 

Invisible Lines

by

Miriam Manglani

When I first saw their formless
bodies on screen,
worlds unfurled
in their grainy black and white images,
...

Read more: Invisible Lines

 

 

 

She Bikes for the First Time

by

Miriam Manglani

“Keep peddling!” I call.
Not prepared to watch her fall.
I hold the bike steady
and let it...

Read more: She Bikes for the First Time

 

 

 

The Stranger

by

Miriam Manglani

You were always quiet but
grew quieter.
Unable to retrieve basic words like “cat”.
There were other small...

Read more: The Stranger

 

 

 

A New Day Begins

by

Bob Hembree

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Angst

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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The Fly on the Wall

by

Bob Hembree

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Glancing Vulnerably

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Fowl Squabbling

by

Bob Hembree

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A Mid-Photo's Daydream

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Solar Reflection

by

Bob Hembree

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Being Held Up

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Reflections

by

Paula Parker

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Jack

by

Gerardine Gail Esterday

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Hollister

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Evelyn

by

Gerardine Gail Esterday

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Curiosity

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Rebecca

by

Gerardine Gail Esterday

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Hazel

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Working Hands

by

Paula Parker

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Maya

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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The Birds in the Flower

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Pst... Hey

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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The World in Her Hands

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Oak

by

Craig Gettman

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Flower

by

Craig Gettman

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Berries

by

Craig Gettman

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Winding Road

by

Craig Gettman

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Sunset - April 2020

by

Craig Gettman

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