Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Kodaikanal Gandhi Prize 2023 - The Prize Winners

The Kodaikanal Gandhi Prize 2023

Announcement of the Prize Winners

The Khushwant Singh Literary Festival, the Gandhi Peace Foundation and the literary journal Out of Print are honoured to announce the prize-winners of the Kodaikanal Gandhi Prize 2023-2024. The prize aims to increase awareness amongst our young people of the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi in promoting the values of humanity, compassion, democracy, non-violence and truth-telling. This, the fourth edition of the prize, asked students to imagine what a Gandhian approach would be to women’s reservation, a Uniform Civil Code and the conduct of elections today. The prise-winning entries will be published in Out of Print.

Discussing the student submissions, founder of the Kodaikanal Gandhi prize Radha Kumar said, ‘I was surprised and delighted to see how many of the students stressed the core Gandhian  values of consultation and processes of on-ground change for formulating or implementing a Uniform Civil Code; how many felt that Dalit, Adivasi and OBC reservation should form a dub-category of women’s reservation to parliament, and vice-versa; and how many were sharply critical of campaign finance in India today, both for its scale and in its nature.’ 

Emphasising the importance of the prize, Indira Chandrasekhar, founder and chief editor of Out of Print said, ‘It is heartening to see the effort students put into reading and understanding Gandhi, and in attempting to imagine his responses to critical political issues that impact the nation. In an age of information and technological advancement where it is easy to plagiarise work, and to use AI to generate writing, the jury looks for thoughtful analyses, and presentations that reflect, with integrity, the students’ individual thinking.’

Director of the Gandhi Peace Foundation and co-sponsor of the prize Kumar Prashant concluded, ‘I am not surprised but reassured that whenever our young friends get the opportunity to express themselves freely, they side with right, they side with morality, they side with humanity... and they side with Gandhi. Gandhi is not an individual for them but synonymous with values. Gandhi Peace Foundation is honoured to associate with this endeavour.’ 

The Prize winners are:

First Prize (shared):
Krishna Kalal                 Jasnoor Matharoo
DPS Bopal, Ahmedabad                 YPS Mohali
Topic: The Elections                 Topic: The UCC
Second Prize (shared):
Jeevitha S                 Samaira Gargi 
Parikrma, Bengaluru         DPS Bopal, Ahmedabad
Topic: The Women’s Reservation Bill            Topic: The UCC

Third Prize:
Chandana P
Parikrma, Bengaluru
Topic: The Women’s Reservation Bill

Creative Effort (Awarded by the literary journal Out of Print)
Ashaz Daud
DPS, Varanasi. Topic: The Elections

Honourable Mentions:
Jayesh Mahajan
DPS, Jalandhar
Topic: The Elections

Jayosi Gayen
DPS Bopal, Ahmedabad
Topic: The Women’s Reservation Bill

Lakshmi M
Parikrma, Bengaluru
Topic: The UCC

The prize-winning essays will be published. Links to the essays will be provided when the work is uploaded.

Friday, February 2, 2024

Out of Print Workshop Online - October 2023: THE STORIES

The Out of Print online workshop held over weekends at the end of October and early November 2023, featured four writers.

Experiencing a writing workshop online is very different from the fluidity and intensity of in-person engagements. The participants of this workshop were patient with technical glitches, committed to their projects and worked the final versions of their stories over the end of the year.

We present here, on the Out of Print blog, the stories that were developed in the workshop.

Marma: The Places that Hurt by Arshaly Jose

Death Wish by Niranjana H

It’s all About Her by Sushma Madappa

Home Story by Akansha Naithani

Out of Print Workshop Online - October 2023: ARSHALY JOSE

Marma: The Places that Hurt

Arshaly Jose

Arya woke up, engulfed darkness in the room. She blinked furiously to adjust her eyes. She picked up her copy of God of Small Things, dogeared and embroidered with underlines of different colours over multiple re-reads. She scoured the pages and securely placed her Fabindia kurta tag – that doubled as an aesthetic bookmark – where Velutha was brutally killed for the crime of being born a Dalit. But he had encroached her dream, fought valiantly with a ‘mass’ background score, against everyone he could not in the book, and just before he was united with his love, Arya had woken up. 

Dreams of dawn see light they say. What about the dreams of dusk? 

‘Someone ordered me. Delivery in 15 mins, mam😘’ The notification on the phone shook off the last remnants of her nap. She used to hate that emoji. And Aadhi used it obsessively since she confessed her distaste for it. Who winks when they kiss? She had asked him, trying to clinically dissect her idiosyncrasy, sitting at a respectable distance from him, away from the faculty and students on the empty stairs near the lab. He scrunched his face into a wink, pouted animatedly like only a twenty-one-year-old could, and quickly planted the first kiss on her cheeks. She froze. More than anything, she was scandalised by the speed at which he could convert a thought into action. Did his thoughts not have to jump through multiple sets of rules, then travel along the length of nerves, and then move the muscles to turn into actions like hers? She instinctively looked around. She had to. She was the teacher. She was the woman. She was the one responsible. She always was. After she ensured there were no prying eyes, a hint of a smile escaped the walls she painstakingly built. Like a kid sceptically reaching out for a chocolate offered by a stranger. Arya did not trust her ‘stranger’ but the love he offered was too rare for her to not at least try. That same smirky smile showed up whenever she saw the bright yellow emoji. It is an odd thing, this heart. It can drastically reduce the gap between the things you hate and the things you love. Like folding a world map one day and discovering Russia was so close to Alaska all along.

Arya looked at herself in the mirror. She tried touching the playfulness that still lingered in her dark circle-lined eyes. When she smiled, really smiled – not the fake symmetric one she had practised to almost perfection – her right side stretched more than the left and ended up seeming more like a smirk. She ran her fingers gently over her cheeks on the scars gifted by the parting bout of acne that seemed to have trapped her youth in them like a snow globe. 

She had thought a lot about youth since dating Aadhi. She would be thirty-six this year. It wasn’t too old. But the infuriating barrage of alliances her Amma brought up throughout her twenties seemed dwindle post thirty-two. And had almost dried up now. Oh, just what she would give to trade Amma’s quiet resignation of her singledom for her old fury when she turned down yet another ‘nice’ Brahmin boy. 

And men’s advances – they are just the most accurate system for tracking a single woman’s age. The earnest I-love-you-forever’s and I-would-die-without-you’s of the 20s slowly replaced by do-you-wanna-fuck’s in the 30’s and then to silence. Radio silence, leaving her wondering did ... did I change?

Arya had changed. She used to be the cliché perfect girl. A spectacled, pimpled, wavy-haired topper. Her Amma strategically introduced her to books at a very young age so she would fall in love with the Mr Darcys’ and Atticus Finchs’ of fiction and keep away from the lanky crude boys of her reality so she could eventually fall in love with a suitable boy Amma picked. Amma’s plan worked well until Arya fell too much for the fictional men so she decided to pursue them. ‘Tch, what a waste of talent. She should take Engineering or Medicine, with that board score,’ everyone advised her parents. They initially tried cajoling her, but seeing she was adamant, they let her be. They consoled themselves that English literature is respectable. And most importantly it only would increase her standing in the marriage market where they could find her the perfect IIT Iyer boy while the fictional men kept her busy. Amma’s renewed plan worked well until she met her firebrand SFI activist Alex in second year of college. No one would have believed then that she would be thirty-six, single, and contemplating sending a sexy selfie to a twenty-one-year-old student. Even she would have scoffed at the possibility that out of all the fictional women, she imagined herself as, Mrs Robinson would be the one she would play.

Arya had an epiphany. She quickly grabbed a comb and ran it through her wavy hair, then searched around to find a companion to her trusty old grey rubber band that she almost only used to tie up her hair in a ponytail or an occasional safe braid on the days she oiled her hair.  Then, she parted her hair neatly and tied it up on either side in two pig tails. She pulled out few stay hairs and ruffled the rest. She changed her comfy tees to a white button-down shirt with one, no two buttons undone. She pulled out the sole red lipstick from among the nude lipsticks. Today was a red lipstick worthy day. She carefully applied it while practising this elusive perfect pout she saw on Instagram. After a few failed attempts and the help of Google she settled with tightly pursed lips and widened eyes. Hands on her hips and her weight on her left leg. Click. 

She sent off the picture before her relentless right brain could make another pros and cons list about the consequences. She felt excited. She looked hot. Cute even. And most importantly, young. She wasn’t a Mrs Robinson whose midlife came calling few decades early due to the clamouring of Indian aunties. She was Arundhati Roy’s Ammu today. And like Ammu, she loved her Velutha.

But did she love Aadhi? She knew had known love. Love that hurt enough to kill. 

‘Urvi,’ Alex had proclaimed, touching a point on her thigh about seven inches north of her knee.

 ‘If I massage here properly, your cold will be gone, like this.’ He snapped his fingers. 

‘Okay, ashane,’ she said without looking up at him from her assignment on Standing Female Nude. 

‘Even three decades after writing it, Duffy’s nude model is still trying to find herself in the art.’ She read aloud her last sentence almost expecting applause.

‘Wah! Let me revise my marma knowledge on this female nude. Stand. Stand.’

‘Adipathi, Phana, Vidhura, Amsa,’ he recited, touching different points from the crown of her head.

When he reached the middle of her chest, the model decided to take charge. ‘So, what does this marma do?’ 

‘This is Hridaya. It is the most important of the 108 marmas. If pressed they say it can hurt enough even to kill.’  

She placed her fist on his chest and applied pressure. ‘Like this?’ she asked in a flu-gifted extra sensuous voice.

‘No.’ Using the tip of his index finger, he gingerly drew patterns on her breast. She moved closer and closed her eyes. Suddenly, he sharply pushed in his finger at the centre of her chest.

‘AHH’ She gasped.

That night and many others in the sultry Madras air on the college campus, they searched each other for marmas that hurt deeper. His absent father, her body image issues, his anger, her limits, his surname, her surname. The list kept piling up as the years piled on. She found a little more love in each marma she uncovered in him. In return, she allowed him to create new ones in her. Until he walked away saying ‘Go fuck your paripu-eating Iyer boys your Amma chooses for you.’ hitting her right at a marma.  After that, she worked obsessively on insulating each of her marmas with varying levels of success. 

Arya was getting impatient. Did Aadhi not see it? Was he traveling on an Uber moto that he couldn’t’ reply? She had already contemplated and failed to come up with an explanation when WhatsApp would dutifully snitch if she deleted the impulsive selfie. How could she? It was one thing having a secret rendezvous with a student occasionally, but this would be incarcerating proof. And they had not even done anything yet.

‘Swipe left if you are looking for my surname.’ It was Aadhi’s bio on Bumble that had first caught her attention. She always struggled with Bios. How does any amalgamation of twenty-odd words describe someone? But Aadhi’s bio did it as best as it ever could. He was everything his bio said about him. And it was all of it that pulled her closer to him in their three months of ‘dating’ where they met occasionally in the sheath that the college could offer. She knew him more through his Instagram account @beingDaLit, where he posted satirical content on modern India. He was funny and unapologetic about being funny. In times where being angry is currency and typing speed the metric of passion, he chose to be happy, and it was revolutionary. 

He was her true rebellion. To date a Dalit, albeit an English-speaking, fair-skinned one was something unimaginable for her. Rebellion for Arya always stopped at the bed. And today that would change. She would let him touch her. With that, she decided she would erase years and years of oppression. 

Ding! The bell rang and Arya quickly changed out of her youth, draped a lavender cotton saree languidly around her and ran towards the door into his arms. Words had no more relevance. She stained his cheeks with the red from her lipstick. The lavender sari uncoiled with his touch and left their trail to the bedroom of her cosy 1 BHK. He had the impatience of a hungry child. A kiss there, a bite here, he ripped through the clothes and layers between them. She smiled and reassuringly ran her fingers through his hair. He awkwardly struggled to find the nooks and corners to fit himself in. With the patience of a teacher, she guided him into her. But her touch possessed him, and he felt unable to hold himself. As though clearing it off would clear him of his shame he picked up his t-shirt lying on the floor and meticulously wiped her body clean and laid down turning away from her.

She looked at his back, hunched into a cocoon, and felt it was like many other indistinguishable bad dates she had. Arya did not mind the early end of their endeavour as much as she was disappointed by how normal everything felt. As she patted him kindly, she looked for the earthy raw smell of Velutha but there was nothing exotic about the smell of cheap Axe deo. She gently opened his curled fingers searching irrationally for calluses in his soft hands. She searched for abs sculpted by forests in the belly filled with parcel food and cheap beer. He was supposed to be different. He was supposed to make her feel different, make her feel real, make her feel something. Otherwise, what was the point of it all?

She gently turned him towards her and looked at his young handsome face that refused to look into her eyes. She wanted to salvage the moment. She wanted to smother him in her kindness by not just letting him touch her, but in forgiving him. Who else would do that? She would make him feel like a man in exchange for giving her the chance to feel like a rebel. He slightly nodded his head and as respectfully as possible picked up his phone and started scrolling and noticed an unseen message notification on WhatsApp.

Before he could hide it, she saw the smile escape his lips. She saw her through his eyes fleetingly. It reflected the same pity she had for him, just of a different shade. ‘It is cute. Really, really cute.’ He said with all the earnestness he could muster. It hurt more than if he would have just kept quiet. She smiled her fake symmetric smile. Marmas hurt the most when caressed. 

She could suddenly taste the dryness of the late October air rubbing against the goosebumps on her body. She could distinctly trace the lights from the window bouncing off her unruly folds. She could feel every hint of the wrinkles on her forehead, every silver of the stretch marks on her thighs, every fold on her body that stored her stories. She felt intensely naked. In that long moment that stretched endlessly, her rebellion died. She felt a new marma take shape. They lay turned away from each other, two bubbles under a bedsheet, looking at the dusk sluggishly turning to starry night.


Out of Print Workshop Online - October 2023: SUSHMA MADAPPA

It’s all About Her

Sushma Madappa

The bottle topples over and water seeps into the patterned red tablecloth. I watch as the patch darkens and creeps up to the bottom of the fruit bowl. Mother gasps. The man with grey-green eyes looks up from the newspaper he is reading. He doesn’t say a thing. He has other ways of making his displeasure known. 

I wake up to the incessant cackle of crow pheasants from the Gulmohar tree outside my bedroom window. The bedside clock blinks sinisterly. Its neon digits announce 7.09 am. Are these harbingers of impending doom, warning me of the day that lies ahead? The faint smell of cigarette smoke still lingers in the air. I walk into the bathroom and gaze at my reflection in the mirror. A pair of dark brown eyes stare back at me. I stand there for a few minutes, eyes affixed to the image in the mirror. And once again marvel at how different we are, me and the man with grey-green eyes. Same gene but like chalk and cheese.


I look down at the toothbrush holder; it’s shifted a bit to the right. I finish brushing, splash some water on my face and reach for the towel. It’s not where it should be. I look around frantically and realise it’s hanging from the hook behind the door. Why must I be the only one to put things back where they belong?!

I walk down to the kitchen, pour some water in a pan and light the stove. While the tea is brewing, I step out and pick up the day’s newspaper. There are dark cumulus clouds looming in the distance. The breeze carries the fragrance of the Frangipani flower from the neighbours’ garden. I hear the susurrus of water and turn around. The man from next door is watering his plants. He turns away, avoids eye contact. 

I wonder what he thinks. What he knows.

I walk back in and pick the brass vase off the floor. The photo frame that usually rests on the side table is lying on the ground. The glass has cracked. I must get it changed tomorrow.

She is still asleep but I am dreading the moment she will wake up. How will she react today, what is she thinking and what will she say? These thoughts hang like a sword over my head.


I first met her at a common friend’s party. I was getting my drink at the bar when she walked up and asked the bartender to fix her a large Glen on the rocks. Her choice of drink piqued my interest. I observed her for a while that evening. Everyone seemed to know her and wanted to speak to her. She seemed to be equally attentive to each person; talking, listening and responding to them in a manner that made each one feel like they were the most important person in the world. Was she attractive? Yes, very. It was not just the men; the women too seemed to be drawn to her. She seemed oblivious to the impact she had on people. And this was the quality that drew me to her. 

I was too proud to ask the host for an introduction, but I got my chance later that evening. I was on my way out when I saw her waiting for her Uber in the parking lot. She was frantically trying to give directions to the clueless cabbie. I thought I’d take my chances. I walked up to her, introduced myself and offered to drop her home. 

She hesitated for a brief second before smiling pleasantly and accepting my offer.

Conversations with her were effortless. She was guileless, vivacious and exuded a confidence that eluded me. I desperately wanted this fabulous creature to be a part of me. 


Is that her phone ringing? Is she awake? Is she silently biding her time until I speak to her? Is she pretending to be asleep? Why does she keep me guessing? What stance will she take today? Will she be pliable or petulant? I don’t want to guess anymore! Why doesn’t she come downstairs and end my misery?! Why must she make me suffer?!

The first time I asked her out, it took a lot of effort on my part to seem nonchalant. Once she’d agreed to dinner, I tried my best to contain my excitement but still ended up in her studio on the pretext of seeing her work.

As she pushed open the door to her five hundred square foot studio space on the terrace of her apartment building, the first thing I noticed was a picture of her at the potter’s wheel. Her unruly curls were piled on top of her head in a careless bun; part of her forehead and the crown area were smeared with clay. She was looking up at the person who had taken the picture with an untamed twinkle in her eyes. There was a quote printed at the bottom that read, ‘At the end of the day your feet should be dirty, your hair messy and your eyes sparkling.’

I watched her as she moved about switching on the lights, explaining what her sculptures represented and how she visualised them. My eyes stayed glued to her hands as they danced about caressing forms, gesturing, stretching, withdrawing; as though they had a mind of their own. 

 That night, we swapped stories, listened to silly songs and found comfort in the warmth of each other’s skin. In the morning, I was dreading going back to my apartment and my mundane 9 to 5 existence. She asked me to stay on. I agreed and never left. Until we moved here. 

I had been a recluse for most of my life, until I met her. During the initial years, our weekends were always packed; visiting friends, watching films and planning weekend getaways took up most of our time. These activities have dwindled over the years. She has changed so much.

I used to wonder what she did holed up in that studio of hers. She could stick around there for hours; even forgetting to eat at times. How could someone be so much in love with what they did? So invested. So immersed. As though it actually made her happy. I can’t get through work without multiple smoke breaks. I can’t get through anything without multiple smoke breaks! But she was different. She was consumed by clay. But that was before. Things have changed since then.

Every now and then I catch her staring listlessly into space. Last week, she was lying on her side and staring at the sunlight streaming though the gaps between the curtains. What did she think of when she got like this? Why didn’t she tell me what was on her mind? Didn’t she realise I needed her! I’d let the glass in my hand slip through my fingers and shatter on the floor. This jolted her out of her stupor and as though on cue she stood up, walked towards the kitchen and returned with the dustpan and broom. The shards of glass don’t bother her anymore. There was a time she would have rushed to see if it was one of the glasses from her favourite set; chided me even. Not anymore. She has stopped caring. Doesn’t she notice it bothers me? Her passivity drives me insane.

Now, I hear the water rumble through the bathroom pipes, the gurgle of the flush and the shuffle of feet upstairs. She is up! Please, please God! Let her be cheerful today! I can’t bear to watch her doleful face anymore. I won’t allow her to drag me down with her. 

I look out of the window. The neighbour is trying to get his golden retriever to go inside the house. There is a faint smell of wet earth in the air. It has begun to drizzle. 

Yesterday before I left for work I had asked her to get a gift for Krish and Nidhi. ‘Could you pick up something they can use and get it gift wrapped? I’ll be back a little early so I can change before we leave for the reception hall,’ I'd said.

‘Hmm ok,’ she said incoherently.

When I got back she was all dressed-up in this green silk sari. She looks good when she makes an effort but she rarely does these days. The last few years have dulled the sparkle in her eyes. Her lackluster hair, dreary clothes and lack of enthusiasm have begun to embarrass me. It’s like her spark has been snuffed out. Can’t she at least make the effort for me, if not for herself!

‘I have run out of wrapping paper. I bought two sheets but they are not enough to cover the whole box,’ she’d said her lips quivering and eyes brimming with tears as she frantically tried to cover the rectangular patch of cardboard that was left bare.

Why must she always be so melodramatic? 

‘Couldn’t you have gotten it gift wrapped at the store?’ I said.

‘I meant to, but I got out of the studio at six thirty and was running late. The lady at the counter wouldn’t hurry; so I thought I might as well get home and do it myself and picked up a couple of sheets,’ she said. 

She can’t do anything right. Why must she make everything so difficult for me? Why should I put up with her carelessness! Yesterday, I made sure she understood this. She can't continue to make these mistakes.

I ended up going to the reception alone. This isn’t unusual. I have made excuses on her behalf plenty of times before. When Krish and Nidhi asked I said, ‘You know what artists are like. Taciturn and temperamental.’

I could see they were disappointed, but how could I have helped it! 

At parties and weddings, I used to like watching her move around talking to people. No matter how many people laughed at her jokes or were on backslapping terms with her, I liked knowing that I was the one who got to take her home. At a gathering I’d follow her with my eyes to see how much time would pass before she looked in my direction. I would time the frequency of these glances. When she did glance my way she would smile with an unabashed twinkle in her eye. Or so I liked to believe. But as our relationship progressed these glances began losing their charm. These days, she seems sad when she looks at me. At times, even furtive and fearful. I wonder what’s eating her? I wonder if she shares her fears with anyone?

But who could she be talking to here? We now live an hour and a half from the city. And the cellphone reception is patchy at best. We don’t have any friends here. But I believed leaving behind the hustle and bustle of city life and living closer to nature would calm her down and help with her headaches. Also here, she can rent a larger studio space at a lesser cost. This last bit sold her on the idea. So after the initial resistance, she caved.

I hear the dull thud of footsteps on the stairs. The wooden staircase creaks under her weight. I hear the roar of thunder and catch a flash of lightening bounce off the neighbours’ car. I prepare to steel myself against her reproachful gaze.

It begins to pour with a vengeance as she gingerly walks into the kitchen, limping a little. Her eyes, as usual, don’t give away her thoughts. I hand her the tea in her usual cup. She accepts it silently and wearily gets on with the breakfast preparations. 

Why doesn’t she say something? Why does she torment me? Does she enjoy my misery? Does she get a kick out of the fact that second guessing her thoughts drives me crazy? Why is she doing this to me? Her subservience irritates me. Where is the feisty woman I first met? I feel cheated. 

The oil sizzles on the pan; the smell of processed meat assaults my senses. She cracks one, two and then three eggs and starts blending the yolks and whites, beating them with a fork; all the while staring listlessly at the rain pounding against the window behind the stove. 

It’s only eight thirty in the morning but it’s dark and gloomy inside. I switch on the light, walk up behind her, circle my arms around her waist and bury my head in her hair. She still smells the same as she did on that first day I dropped her home. The flowery, fruity fragrance of her shampoo drives me into a frenzy. I can feel her body stiffen. I graze my lips on the bluish-purple bruise on her bare back and mutter an apology. She is still, her body neither resisting nor yielding. I compel her to turn around. She doesn’t protest, says nothing and soundlessly crumples into my arms; as she always does. I let out a sigh of relief and catch my reflection on the windowpane behind the stove. The man with grey-green eyes, stares back at me.


Out of Print Workshop Online - October 2023: NIRANJANA H

Death Wish

Niranjana H 

Muthassi died that afternoon. No one knew the exact time. The family had palada pradhaman for lunch and was fast asleep over the humdrum of October showers and the afternoon matinee that was coming to a climax on the television that was accidentally left on. 

It wasn’t an eventful death. A few gentle wheezes in tune to the table fan, and a paper-thin hand that fell limp as her eyes closed and her pulse sagged. A heart that ticked for ninety years slowly came to a halt.

The clock on the mantelpiece limped on: 3:54 … 3:55 … 3:56, an eyelid twitched for the last time. It was a pity she had no audience.

By the time Meenakshi came in with her mid-afternoon lemon water, Muthassi was long gone – leaving only wisps of white hair, her muslin sari and sluggish afternoon dreams behind. Meenakshi had anticipated this coming, but not such a quiet passing. Her afternoon slumbers and 2 am musings often involved Muthassi falling off her bed and to her death, or a heart attack that called for an ambulance to come trundling through their pave way to take her off. Meenakshi had always imagined herself – the oldest daughter sitting importantly by the driver as the sirens wailed and whined, painting the town red with the news of the passing of the matriarch. 

But it had come to this end. Muthassi wouldn’t have liked it – she had a penchant for drama. She’d have liked her grandchildren to have sat by her feet thumping their chests and calling out her name while blaming Yamraj for taking her away. 

Meenakshi surveyed the room as Muthassi snored on in her afterlife. She straightened the old green cushions and removed the stray threads of silver around her mother’s forehead. She’d need to get new cushions – probably rose pink, to offset the pista green walls of the room. The glass of lukewarm lemon water sat weeping by her bedside table. Meenakshi downed it in short sips as she surveyed her mother’s bedside cabinet – nestled between stray stick-on bindis, some loose change and a toothpick, her fingers caressed her mother’s collection of books. She impatiently flicked past the Ramayanam and Bhagwatham and found herself staring at the three Mills-and-Boon paperbacks, dog eared and drenched in Vicks vaporub.

She put two of them under the pillow. They would have to wait until nightfall. Until her mother left the nest.

She clicked her tongue, and took a seat by the bed letting the loss and lemon water soak over her.

The clock on the mantelpiece ticked a minute. The rest of the house was still asleep. Let them sleep a few more minutes – once word got around, the entire village of Killikurishi would be flocking here to pay their respects. They wouldn’t even be able to have tea. They had not bothered to show up at the doorstep in the last ninety years but Mandakini Amma’s death would spread like the virus that was taking over the country – or was it the world? One couldn’t trust the news these days.

She wanted to go into the kitchen, but her feet felt heavy. She shouldn’t have eaten the palada. It sat heavy in her stomach – curdling away with the feeling of trepidation of what was to come. Meenakshi hated change – especially those that made her alter her days. She despised it almost as much as she despised loosely tied saris with mismatched blouses, or crumpled wrapping paper or her husband’s breath that smelt of cheap cigarettes and cabbage.  

4:12 … 4:13 … 4:14. Time was ticking on. She must get on too.

4:16…. The kitchen light is flicked on, the long-tailed vessel filled with water and tea leaves –  three extra spoonful’s of sugar to get through the evening. Her daughter Ambily would be pleased. She liked her tea sweet – the syrupier, the better. Probably helped her connect with that Guruji of hers as she meditated well into the evening. It was probably Prakash’s idea. Meenakshi didn’t think much of her son-in-law but he provided well for the family and showed up for family dinners, so she’d have to excuse the long satsang Ashram visits that came with it. But there wouldn’t be any meditations today. Muthassi was dead.

Which brought her to the subject of sleeping arrangements. She’d been sleeping with Muthassi for 13 years now, a practice that began ‘only for a night’ lapsed into many – a fall in the bathroom, someone to read out the Bhagavatam, her 3 am diabetes injection, the invisible ghost in her closet. Small asks, big adjustments, done gracefully, almost too graciously. Meenakshi had picked up her micro-fibre pillow, her copper mug and her blanket and never returned to her husband’s bed. She brought them back diligently every morning, an excuse for the previous night’s disappearance frothing over his morning cup of tea. Not that he asked. He’d replaced her presence with a stack of his bedtime reading and a portable radio.

Now, thirteen years later she’d have no reason to respond to an imaginary call of duty and stumble out of the room. She had to face her husband of thirty-five years tonight. She’d also have to deal with Muthassi’s death. But not before that cup of tea. The elephants could wait a little longer.


4:41 … Ambily was still fast asleep. In her dream, she is at the ashram, walking by the lotus hall with a tray full of white parijat flowers and saffron laddus while the other devotees look at her admiringly – even covetously. She is the best dressed of the lot, in a white ikat sari and antique gold jewelry. All eyes are on her – even Guruji’s, but her own seek her husband’s, which are closed in meditation, or whatever it is he thinks about when he shuts her and the world out – but in her sucrose-fueled dream, they suddenly open and devour her like they did fifteen years ago when they’d first met. Prakash reaches out to kiss her on the lips at the exact same time that Ambily wakes up. 

She curses her mother for the timing. 

‘Your tea is getting cold Ambily.’

Her mother is setting a tray of tea by the table. In the other room, her father is taking loud sips. He sounds like he has been roused from his sleep for an impromptu tea too.

‘The palada was probably a bad idea. It has made me groggy, and I need to get ready for the virtual bhajan session this evening.’

‘Muthassi is dead.’


‘Finish your tea. we can talk about it later.’

‘Does Achan know?’

‘You need to tell Prakash. He needs to be here for the last rites.’

‘But … he has a press conference with Guruji tonight.’

‘Call him. Nair from the funeral home will want to see him. He needs to be with you in mourning right?’

Her mother’s lips say no more but her eyes pierce into Ambily’s searching for answers she’d never got, since her daughter had come home without explanation, a week ago. 

Ambily sighs and picks up her phone. 

A decoction of trepidation brews over the afternoon, as Muthassi’s living family condoles her death.


7:23 am

‘M-A-N-D-A-K-I-N-I, Survived by whom?’

‘Mandakini Amma, survived by her children, the grandchildren and their husbands.’

‘And where do the grandchildren live? I can mention the location here if they’re overseas.’

‘Can we mention Bangalore?’

‘Amma, they call it Bengaluru now.’

‘Bangalore is like Kerala only. Do we want to waste space on that? It is two Rupees a word for the paper.’

‘Hurry up Ambily, these formalities need to be finished before sundown. And keep your voice down. It is inauspicious to talk so loudly in a house of the deceased.‘ Her mother’s voice cut like a knife.

Her husband coughs awkwardly. 

‘Meenakshi, will you please finalize the breakfast menu for tomorrow’s service?’

‘Idli or Vada?’

The house is teeming with activity, for the first time since the lockdown. Nair and the team from the funeral home are sitting importantly on plastic chairs they have carried down the road with them (sanitised of course). Meenakshi is serving them tea in plastic cups, as they sit in a circle on the porch, careful not to set foot indoors because in the living room by the tv lay Muthassi, fast asleep, crystalising in her glass box. 

Nair is holding fort. He’s excited and there are beads of perspiration forming on his lips. This is probably a better evening than he’d anticipated – watching his wife while away her evenings, wailing over the rising cases. He’s in charge here, sitting in the centre of his plastic circle – planning the last rites of a dead women for the two women who seem to be all over the place. Death does that to the household. The women need a man to shepherd them, the old husband of Meenakshi seems to pale in his existence like a zero-watt bulb, only caring about finishing the rituals before raahu kaal. Lucky for them Nair was here to be the acting man of the house.

Fifteen’ sets of vada, searing hot from the pan served with chutney and milky tea. No sambar. It is a time of mourning after all. Let the family have a hearty meal before the funeral.’ Nair would tell his wife not to make him breakfast. His mouth watered.

The rules for the funeral and the mourning period to follow are explained. There are three versions – the express version of three-day mourning reserved for Emirate returnees, the ten-day medium version and the sixteen-day traditional one that old Malayali families follow. This is a new normal though, there is a virus on the prowl.

Nair carefully nudges them to pick the medium mourning package.

Ambily wants the express version. she’s sure she can coax Prakash into staying with her for three days. Seventy-two hours. It’d take her only that long without Guruji to rekindle what was lost.  Muthassi had given her a golden ticket in her passing. She turns to her father to bail her out.

‘Achan, three days sounds ideal given the times. Prakash can make it too, and then return by Monday for his ashram duties. Besides, there are rules for mourning. You’d go mad without tuning into your 7 pm news. No television during mourning remember?

Her father’s face is impassive.

‘I can read the paper. That is allowed, isn’t it Nair?’

Nair’s mustache twitches in importance.

‘No entertainment. No family gatherings. No visitors except for Saturday and Thursday. No non-vegetarian … not even egg, and someone needs to sleep in the departed woman’s bedroom until the mourning period passes – they say the body leaves, but the soul lingers. Visitors coming to pay respects to carry a care package of sugar, tea, dal, soap... 

Over Nair’s rumbling monologue, a loud bell suddenly rings in Meenakshi’s brain. She sends a silent prayer to Guruvayurappan. 

‘I think Amma would have preferred us doing the sixteen-day ritual. I vote for that. I will sleep in her room on her pillow to pay my respects. I have been doing it off and on these last years,’ a pinched look in her husband’s direction. Four fingers, on two different sets of hands, crossed in prayer.

Her husband nods before she finishes. He pulls out a mask and puts it over his face- blocking out the world. Period. 

‘Yes, I also think we need to do sixteen days. It’l keep the visitors away. I am wary about visitors who could be asymptomatic.’

‘But Amma, sixteen days is a long time for…’

‘Keep quiet Ambily,’ two voices chime in unison, for the first time in thirty years.

Nair smiles, and scrawls into his diary.

From the box in the living room indoors, Muthassi sighs.


9:48 pm

Prakash is undressing in the guest room. He gingerly peels off his sheer white kurta and hangs it up.

‘You can wear it for the service tomorrow.’ Ambily comes in with a cup of tea laced with saffron – an aphrodisiac. She’s changed out of her tracksuit and pants into a pristine white sari, and her eyes are smudged with kohl. She’s left her curls open in a show of despair and loss. 

She is a vision in mourning. But Prakash doesn’t pay attention to her. 

‘Keep that away from me. Guruji has advised us to drink only pure cow milk now. Are you still drinking tea?’ A derisive glance from those peace-loving eyes. 

Ambily sits cross-legged by the bed. She calls on her dead Muthassi, ace seductress in her time to help her through hers. 

‘No, just this cup. I guessed it was a long night for us, having to keep the lamp lit by the body. Nair says one cannot sleep (without it?) until the dead leaves the house.’

The eyes glaze over again. His mind is back at the ashram. She watches him with his long lashes and longer legs as he moves around the room in a trance – removing pieces of clothing and donning a mundu and t-shirt with the ashram logo. 

Ambily stifles a well-timed sob. She beckons to her husband to sit. He does and holds her hand as though on autopilot.  His fingers are cold, and there’s a new ring on one, it has a picture of Guruji on it. 

Prakash rubs her fingers comfortingly, then perks up as an afterthought.

‘Do you want to engage in a peace meditation before dinner? I taught it to some Filipinos yesterday and they were so relaxed.’

Meenakshi squeezes out a tear. 

‘I want to talk about Muthassi, Prakash. Can you just hold me please’ Prakash puts his arms around her awkwardly. They’re like a jigsaw that doesn’t quite fit anymore.

She's at eye level with the ashram logo on his t-shirt, until she, Ambily, snuggles closer to him, wipes her snot on it. 

‘As a well spent day brings happy sleep, so life well used brings happy death.’  


He parrots into her ear. 

Ambily stiffens. 

‘Didn’t Davinci say this?’

Prakash’s demeanour changes, his arms coming loose from the embrace. ‘Guruji did, summer of 2018, Australia. Keep track Ambily. Guruji is there with us, in joy and in despair.’

Ambily sighs and picks up the glass. The intimacy she’d tried to orchestrate is submerged in the glass of milk she downs. Guruji has one upped her again.

‘Will you be staying here for sixteen days? My parents have decided they want to do it the good old-fashioned Malayali way.

Prakash’s nose twitches and she rushes on.

‘If you could at least stay till day three, that would make Muthassi so happy. She respected you, and it’d mean so much to her soul if you could do this much. I’m sure Guruji would understand your need to serve our elders.’ 

Prakash was looking troubled. She’d used Guruji’s words against him. He runs his fingers through his hair, and Ambily sends Muthassi a thank you guys up in heaven.

‘I need to be at the ashram Ambily. They are doing a massive puja with over one lakh chants to drive the virus into hiding. I am coordinating the logistics on Zoom. Muthassi would understand, wouldn’t she? She used to love Guruji’s organic soaps after her chicken pox. I’m not asking you to join us right away. Guruji would understand you want to mourn with your parents. How will Amma manage without you. 

He holds out his hand in a peace offering, his long fingers snaking through hers. Guruji seated in lotus position smugly on his ring catches the light and smirks at her. 

Guruji 02, Ambily 01.

She nods mutely as he takes her through his plan for the great Puja that’d put her husband on the ashram website.

She even smiles conspiringly as he opens YouTube and plays the evening Bhajans for them. They share an earphone each, and sway in unison to the songs they have long learnt by-heart now. Thank god for Guruji. Thank god for good internet.

The elephants in the room retreat for the night. 


The next afternoon, twelve hours after Muthassi left: the funeral was quick and uneventful. The stipulated twenty people had shown up at their doorstep, lowered their eyes in respect and left care packages by the doorstep. Twenty packets of tea, sugar, semolina … enough for sixteen days. Several packets of sanitiser lie at the doorstep along with Muthassi’s ivory gold shroud, her only living memory flailing on the porch. She’d flap here for fifteen more days.

The household is quiet. Prakash hasn’t changed out of his funeral whites, despite having cremated her while wearing them. He is smoothing out the creases and humming under his breath – one eye on the clock. 

‘Achan, is Raahu Kaal over?’

Meenakshi’s husband responds from the head of the table he’s been seated at since Muthassi died. He’s wasted no time taking her spot in the family.

2:45 … 2:46….

Eight sets of eyes watched two hands take a turn around the clock.

‘Yes, it is over. Prakash, you should leave now. Nair says no one is allowed to leave the house after Raahu Kaal. We are in official mourning now.’

Prakash frog leaps off the table and regains composure by bowing his hands in namaste to his in-laws. Ambily walks him to the door.

‘Call me when you reach.’

‘Mmm.’  His eyes are searching the depths of the gate as his fingers latch onto an ashram access card. Several Guruji’s facepalm her. 

She knows he won’t call. She’ll see him next on the 6 pm Facebook Live. She tuned in religiously to ensure he was there.

It was like he’d read her mind.

‘I’ve left the earphones by the bed. Meditate, know you’re blessed.’ A cold set of hands touch her head.

A tear escapes Ambily’s carefully made-up eyes.

Prakash smiles.

 Gratitude is the best prayer. I’m happy to see you practice it. See you at the ashram, Ambily’.

She watches the car leave the driveaway. He was a good man. He had come here to do his duties. He was probably rushing to save them all from the virus. That’d be a story to tell the extended family. Their relationship could wait. She was in mourning now. 

She locks eyes with Muthassi who is sitting sagely in a gilded photograph on the wall. She shakes her head, and a tear escapes her. She’s mourning. For her Muthassi and for herself. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees her mother walk into Muthassi’s room. She hears the bolt. She wonders if this would be her, twenty years from now.

She downs her trepidations with a glass of pure cow’s milk and lies down by the tv that will now be switched off for sixteen days. She closes her eyes and waits for the dream.

In the bedroom recently vacated by Muthassi, Meenakshi lies reading a book – her dog-eared Mills and Boon. She doesn’t have to read aloud to let the household know she was serving. The server was being served. She could sleep in peace knowing that her Amma’s soul wouldn’t leave the room for another sixteen days. In the room adjoining hers, her husband lay on his queen- sized bed, listening to his wife’s happy sighs. He gets up and bolts the door.

Sixteen days more. Then he’d keep it unbolted through the night.





Out of Print Workshop Online - October 2023: AKANSHA NAITHANI

Home Story

Akansha Naithani

‘He’s gone.’


‘He’ll be back.’

‘Last time he went missing for almost a week.’

‘He always returns.’

He knew his way home, she thinks. But it wasn’t fair to have them fret over him. To have to test their patience this way. Even when he was here, she was always monitoring his quiet movements around the house. Gauging minutely what disappointed him, cataloguing what caused him displeasure. Anticipating his every need. And yet he remained a creature of his own whims. One day, he would bestow affection on you so wholeheartedly that it felt the sun was golden turmeric on your skin, soaking it like milk. On another, like today, he would be wretched without cause. Holding the house hostage. Gloom and despair hanging over their heads, obstinate as dense cobwebs, threatening to fall in your open mouth while you slept. There were no patterns to alert you. Only unprompted disappearances. She was attempting not to keep track. But she felt his absences grow longer. They marked her with an inconsolable worry. She decided to let her mother’s conviction ring true to her today.

‘When did he leave?’

‘Last night. He was upset with the noise, I think. You girls were making a racket. He wasn’t
being heard. So he just left in the middle of the night. We must have left the front gate unlocked, so we didn’t hear him.’

She imagined him, sick and ambling down the cobbled road with the spotty streetlights.
Vulnerable to anything lurking in the shadows. Guiltily, she remembered last night. Her careless hands pouring gin from the teal-stained bottle – the cheapest they could find. The hiss of the bottle of soda, cupped in the wide mouth of her mother’s favourite mug. Their frothy laughter bubbling over as the woman in the horror flick, levitated in a white chemise while her husband watched in horror. A priest spraying the air with holy water, while their knees touched under the pink chikankari duvet which her mother only retrieved from the drawer under her bed, for special guests and now her friends. The night was so rare because his presence was so volatile, they never knew what made him erupt. She even had a Sprite bottle lie half empty on the bedside table, in case anyone interrupted them. A red herring, like the ones her mother enjoyed from sepia stained detective novels that lay locked in a metal trunk, along with other memorabilia from her childhood. Sometimes she watched her mother rifle through them, peering into the coffin dark and imagined her tumbling down that portal. The way the news told you of children who had to be rescued from half covered wells. She hadn’t realised it but perhaps, their laughter hadn’t been contained in the four walls of her room. Maybe, his presence outside her door, as always, had been perturbed.

Where was he now?

Her mother shrugged while washing a borosil glass in the sink. The tap water was gurgling,
splatters of soap suds sprayed on the plates below. She watched her
mother’s industry in awkward silence – she wiped off her hands on her polka dot pyjamas and moved towards the stove.

‘Your friends awake?’

‘Not yet. Not before ten’

‘What will they eat? Poha? Pancakes? Eggs … I need to get some. No six will not be enough for three girls.’

‘I don’t know yet’

‘Okay. Oranges. Juice they’ll have? Fresh. Arrange the napkins on the dining table. Go to the
park. They have champa – white flowers. Yellow in the middle. Pluck a few. Don’t let anyone
see you. When didi comes, ask her to make the bed when your friends are awake. Even if they’re not, just nudge them. Switch on the lights or switch off the ac. Okay I’m going.’

‘Amma wait.’

For a second her Amma’s face flickered in annoyance. She could tell it was not the right time. Her mother loathed nothing more than uninvited concern over her affairs.

‘You’re wearing pyjamas. With a hole in them.’

Her mother’s mouth ballooned in laughter.

‘This is only what happens. Look at your old mother running around for your friends. Then
you’ll say Amma never does anything for me.’

‘I never said that.’

‘No but you say ‘Amma, this isn’t my home. It’s yours and his’. Chattering absolute nonsense. I don’t care how old you get. Till you're under our roof, you’re my child. Now go…’

She watched her mother briskly walk out with a large bag with lemons printed on it, taking the car keys off the holder by the door. She chuckled, thinking of her mother still in polka dots. She imagined her scampering around the aisles. Reaching her small hands to the packaged food, furthest in the back because it was the freshest. She returned to the room where two bodies were bundled in cotton, their soft snores filling the stale chill of the darkness she knew was hers alone.

At least for a while.


The suitcase drags, one of its wheels wobbling over the tiled floor. She waits outside in the bright yellow light of the fifth floor. Her mother opens the door, almost on tiptoe, hugging her inattentively. She is led past her own room and into her mother’s. She looks quizzically at her own room’s locked door.

‘He’s taken over your room.’

She is resigned, removing the socks damp with sweat. Her mother takes the shoes to put them outside and asks her to head to the shower while she prepares dinner. The clutter of shampoo bottles and bath condiments in their bathroom is colourful and likely past its expiration date. Without her glasses, she surveys the back of each bottle looking past the bush at the brown chappals. The water runs over her, tiny pricks of cold injected within and she grits her teeth at their piercing. It is chipping off the thawed expanse of deadened feeling at the edges of all her moods. It exerts a gentle, rippling influence. At the periphery of each act of volition, it lingers, reminding her that she is never singularly making her decisions. But sometimes, it is soothed, like now when her fingers rub deep into her scalp, allowing the unclotting of gathered emotional residue.

Her mother is knocking at the door, asking her to switch off the geyser when she comes out. And wipe the floor. On the bed is a plate of roti and mushroom peas. She can tell the chapati’s been warmed again because it has the same soggy crater that she remembers from childhood. Black spots deflated on the surface. On the television is a youtube lifestyle vlogger. He’s visiting extended family in Canada. The chatter of different voices –grandmother, aunt, cousin all talking one over the other becomes the background.

‘So how was your trip?’

‘Fine only’

‘What’d you do?’

‘Not much. Just worked and hung out. I met Tanisha.’

‘Did you meet your aunt?’

‘No time’

‘In one month?’

‘Amma please, I had a long flight. I just want to watch tv and sleep.’

She ignores her mother’s wounded expression as she goes to keep her plate. Promptly, she is lying in bed and waiting for the drowsiness to numb the exertion she can feel till her toes. Instead she finds herself scrolling through Instagram. Behind her, the sounds of a courtroom trial show that her mother has switched to. Something about beheaded women who get torn limb to limb puts her mother to sleep in ten minutes. She keeps her phone beneath her pillow and sets a single alarm. She can hear the fan loudly chopping up the air in the next room. The way a butcher's knife cleaves clean through bone and flesh. She misses that seclusion of inhabiting her own space. Instead, she bequeathed her will to her mother and so his conquests over her. She imagines him rumbling in his sleep. Her mother’s face is outlined by chalky white static from the television and the dark circles under her eyes seem to be waiting.

‘Goodnight ma’

Her mother’s eyes flicker to her, as if pleading, then the skittish desperation rescinds.


She knows it is a dream because she knows that the force of the waves hitting her is muted.
Saline, silt shimmer around her toes, layering them sensuously. The wet cotton vest she is
wearing has a yellow Donald Duck printed on it, wet and clinging in soft folds to her chest. Her parents are in the distance. Her mother is rummaging around in one of the many bags they’ve bought of home packed refreshments, extra clothing and shoes, bottles of Glucon D. The souvenir shirt her mother is wearing is white with a printed beach and palm fronds. Her mother takes out a straw vacation hat and fastidiously fastens it over her head. Her father is wearing long cargo shorts, lying under a fluorescent umbrella with his eyes closed. She knows they are behind her, watching over her. So she resumes looking for half broken shells, afraid of dead jellyfish washing up ashore.

The sky is covered by an orange soda coloured rind. The sea is leaping in flickers of little flames splashing against topless bodies reverberating in mirth. Her father’s presence behind her is sudden and comforting. She looks first at the thin wisps of twisted hair on his legs, then his spectacled face, cracked open in excitement. He takes her by the hand and she can hear her mother cautioning in the distance, flapping with the wind.

Her father glides through water, cleaving it as the bow of a boat. Besides him, she bobs up and down. Slowly the sea rises to welcome her. Soon it is at her neck, flicking her lips. Mouthfuls of salt wash her throat and she struggles to open her eyes. Her hand held in her father’s anchors her as her toes grip the slippers with as much strength as she can muster. Then comes the wave. The slow sinking, turning of her body. Losing hands. Eyelids blocked by wallowing light.

She knows what happened next. Her father’s hand finding hers, clasping her like net. Her open mouth taking in everything. The sagging weight of his shirt as they walk ashore. Him
overturning pocketfuls of sand, falling like damp dung. No keys or wallet. Her mother’s face
patient in its resignation and concern. The silence as they make their way to the car, past all the cheery rowdiness of other families. The key in the ignition. Mother’s hands across the steering wheel, asking her to use the towel to wipe herself off. Father’s face turned towards the window. His blurred vision without his spectacles flitting over the sinking sun. His fist clenching the water bottle. The loud gulp of silence as faraway a bridge’s colourful lights dance across the sea – stretched opaque darkness of impenetrability.


Monday, October 16, 2023

Out of Print Workshop at Infinite Souls Farm: FEEDBACK

What the Participants felt after the workshop


Had a wonderful time at the Out of Print Magazine writer's workshop at Infinite Souls Farm. Between the beautiful view of Savandurga ... delicious home-cooked food, the birds..., we read amazing stories and saw them come to life in other people's words. Thank you Indira Chandrasekhar for making this possible and being there and encouraging us. Thank you Zui for providing extensive feedback, for being as equally invested in our stories as we are.

Anusha M

The Out of Print short story workshop was an immersive and indelible experience. I went in like a sponge and absorbed every single word, debating the motivation while learning to observe my stories from different viewpoints. The nuanced structure of the workshops is a great platform to examine your perspective as a storyteller, and one would benefit immensely from workshopping your stories with other writers.

Bodhi Ray

I’d attended writing classes before but Zui’s class at Infinity farms was something very special. Set amidst rolling green woods, the farm animals, the deep discussions and feedback and the various perspectives from which to look at our stories opened up the rusty hinges to creativity. I was amazed how deeply Zui critiqued my writing. I connected with the pre-reading materials which were carefully curated and gave me the much needed sense of why I write and to see the shimmers. Strongly recommend this workshop to serious writers.

Anushka Chatterjee

Having attended OofP's residential workshop, my mind is brimming with feedback, afterthoughts, and most importantly, boundless love and warmth. I'll forever be grateful to OofP for the much-needed surgery done to my fiction, and for the community we've built thereafter. Of course, one can't not mention the gorgeous backdrop of Savandurga, and farm-fresh food to top off the entire experience.

Amritha M Berger

The Out of Print Workshop on the Infinite Soul's farm and retreat was a truly magical experience. Being surrounded by nature and getting to immerse myself in sharing and critiquing work for an uninterrupted period of time in that beautiful and serene space was a unique and rare gift. 

Indira and Zui were the kindest and most welcoming, as were her family, who treated everyone like family, and treated us to the most delicious, homemade food. By the end of it, even though it was only a couple of days, strong bonds had been formed and friendships made.  

After the workshop was over, I was able to get the ongoing support of Zui in the editing process of my submitted piece, which helped my writing so much and brought me closer to crystalising the vision I had for the piece.