THE SALT OF LIFE – A Short Story by Naval Langa

 

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AUTHOR : NAVAL LANGA

 

“MAMA YOU DON’T know how hard it is to earn money.”  Sammy hurries for reaching his factory.

“My child, it’s your father’s death anniversary. I need some money for offering puja at the temple.”

“You can do it here in a temple of the city, too.” Sammy’s wife suggested a practical way-out. Sitting on a high cot, she dangles her legs and looks at the old woman as if she is a recurring cost. Vijaya the old woman sits back. She is on a costly sofa, but with a rundown face. The amount she needs is a peanut for her son, a reputed exporter of garments. For him his father is a thing of past, and to chew the past is ‘wasting of time’. He remains so busy, so occupied, so unconcerned about family. 

But for the old woman Vijaya, her husband is still the present, present like the tears in eyes, which have not dried yet. She remembers how they were caught in the fire of worries. She recalls how jointly they had recollected the lost tunes of life and composed a song of happiness. She rubs her eyes first, and then rubs her spectacles. Her cleaned glasses help her to see the scene of her past.

 

THE BELLY OF THE dam was torn open. Water had run into in the streets, the homes, and the destinies of the villagers who were not left with a single cloth dry. The Rain God had displayed its wrath. And the wrath was flooding everywhere.

What worried Sampat was the stock lying in his shop. The entire stock was weak against water. Water is Sampat’s enemy in a novel way. Here a touch of it, and his whole trade would meltdown. On seeing the oozing flood in the street, his face turned white as the crushed rice. He feared for the loss. He feared for the struggle ahead. Vijaya, his wife was still driving out the water from kitchen.   CONTINUE READING>>>>>



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WHEN FICTION VISITS THE FACT

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AUTHOR : NAVAL LANGA

 

I have tried to narrate and show in this short story that somethimes face a strange situation. We are unable to decided whether an incidence occuring before our eyes is FACT or a FICTION. Here by the word ‘we’ I do not mean only the writers and poets. If any one has encountered such an incidence in his or her life, please help me to know about it. —-Naval Langa

THE CITY WAS under fire.

From my third floor window, it looked like a woman who had committed suicide, by setting fire on herself. People burnt their own homes, looted their shops, and sent dozens of their own neighbours either in kabristan or on pyre. The disturbance had no reason. If it was there; it was utterly baseless. If truth were to be told, it had originated from a minor scuffle. Where to place an idol of a God: that was the cause of all the turbulences. Two different communities claimed ownership of the place, the proposed site for placement of the idol.

There was no possibility of going out of home, as blind curfew was imposed on the roads, on the streets, on every leaf of the trees in city. So I decided to bury myself in a book. I read literature with the participating passions; sometimes I walked with the characters, too. Though it was difficult to walk along with a man like Jerry Cruncher of A Tale of Two Cities

Suddenly there was ringing of the door bell and thumping of the door. I hurriedly opened to find a woman, frightened and perspiring.

On seeing her, I thought I had never seen her.

‘Ma’am, they have set my house on fire. Some of them wanted to rape me, too. But I… I am here anyhow. Except you, I don’t know anybody in the city. Would you help me?’

I got her inside. We sat on a sofa, side by side. “Don’t worry, you are safe here.” I assured her about the shelter and my desire. On my insistence she went for a bath, but denied to wear my clothes. After the bath, a cup of warm coffee, and a series of long breaths, she looked to be at ease. Then I asked her how she knew my address and me.  CONTINUE READING>>>>>

COMING TO THE UK

AUTHOR : Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani 

Somebody stomped on my foot while another person dragged at the collar of my brand new polyester shirt. I felt my feet being hoisted off the ground; my face became trapped in a damp, bristly female armpit. Nevertheless, I pressed on through the horde of morning breath and adrenaline-soaked sweat without stopping. All of us had one common goal. Everybody wanted to be first to cross the partly-opened gates.


‘Behave yourselves, behave yourselves!’ the potbellied security man howled. But the gusto on his face did not correspond with the rage in his voice. He was living the plebeian’s dream — the opportunity to exercise some morsel of tyranny. ‘You people shouldn’t annoy me this morning!’ he continued, howling even louder than before. 

The crowd paid no attention to him and continued surging forward like a plague of rats being lured by the Pied Piper of Hamelin’s tune. Seeing their high commander so defiantly ignored, the more gaunt security men descended on the crowd with curses and whips. Yelps of pain sprang up from the crowd in rapid intervals, like firecrackers on a New Year’s Eve. Half-heartedly, we attempted to restore what had just a few seconds ago, been an orderly queue. A few clever ones exploited the commotion as the perfect opportunity for them to steal a place or two ahead of their original positions.  

I had arrived as early as five o’clock that morning to queue up in front of the vast British High Commission building on Walter Carrington Crescent in Lagos. At the time, there must have been at least one hundred and fifty other visa-seekers waiting ahead of me. Many of these pilgrims had camped there since the previous night. The American Embassy at the other end of the crescent must have had about five hundred people gathered in front of their own building at that same time of the morning. But at least, the Americans were kind enough to provide semi-adequate shelter and seats where their customers could feel at home. Never mind that about ninety percent of those people seated so comfortably now, were soon going to depart with their hopes of living in God’s Own Country squashed like lice between the fingernails of the remarkably swift American Embassy clerks. Without even being given enough time to recite their expertly-composed fibs about what they were going to America to do, whom they were going to see, and whether or not they intended to return home. After standing in the unfriendly Harmattan draught for hours, finally, at noon, the gates to the British High Commission compound had been thrown open to allow us into the visa-processing section of the building.  Read More>>>>

MY TEETH Vs A DENTIST’S MARKETING SKILL

AUTHOR : NAVAL LANGA 

 

My wife is very proud of her cost-cutting virtue. One more example would be a sufficient proof. Last month one of my lower teeth had revolted and had decided to go out of my mouth. Hence it had started making its presence painful like a naughy peon in an office. I had to go to a dentist for removing and fixing a tooth.

She was with me like the shadow of a big tree.

As the dentist took a fork in his hand, I feared that he would make my mouth-opening wider than the God had designed for me. Before proceeding further he said, “It would cost Rs. 5000.”

Before I speak anything my wife asked him, “Can’t you make the bill reasonable?”

“Yes, ma’am. I can fix three teeth in just Rs. 10,000,” the dentist was a good salesman, too. The dentist is a person before whom the greatest and the strongest of the men lose teeth.

Cost-conscious is my wife: so she had decided to buy the three-teeth package for me. Resultantly I have to lose extra two teeth. But she was pleased, as she had managed to snatch a prudent deal from a hard professional like a dentist. READ MORE HUMOR>>>>


MY NAME IS RED : NOVEL’S REVIEW By NAVAL LANGA

opa1The story of the book ‘MY  NAME IS RED’ revolved around the Turkey of sixteenth century. But the point Orhan Pamuk makes is the recent one.
 
The gist of the story is that certain communities block the modernity in any field of life. Even the artists are prevented, even beheaded, for disobeying the so-called religious truth.
 
In ‘MY  NAME IS RED’ there are number of point of views, and the several story tellers. But that has barely affected the flow of the narrative: Orhan Pamuk is such a master of keeping continuity.
 
Primarily the novel walks around the life of the miniature artists living in Istanbul of late sixteenth century. But it depicts all types of human follies and demonstrates how the negative forces sway over the positive ones.
 
Narrative techniques Orhan Pamuk displays in the novel justifies the Nobel Prize given to him. He loves his city of Istanbul and he praises the city for its unmatched history of arts and the human tragedies the wars had given to the city. 

MY MOTHER’S REMARRIAGE

AUTHOR : NAVAL LANGA

Naval Langa

Naval Langa

 

 

HAD IT BEEN a normal day in office, I would have called my assistants in my cabin, in order of their height, their intellectual height. Then each one of them would get sharp-bordered printouts, with deadlines bolded on top left corner. Their day’s work. It was my formula by which I had made my official journey smooth. My life was not my planning. It was not like that I took a piece of paper, sketched a portrait of my choice, and then animated it on a canvass with soft brushes dipped in blobs of pleasant colours.

My initial spell at job was easy, as easy as walking on a sword. I didn’t find it strange for me—that walking on a sword. But today’s sword was the sharpest blade. The blow had come from my mother, my only surviving relative. In her early fifties with a recurring back-pain, she worked in a school. The school’s head master was kind enough to adjust her working hours. I hadn’t seen him, but she held much respect for him. 

On that day she talked with me on quite a shocking subject. I was an event manager, but in my memory I had not handled such an event. My mother had thrown me again on the memories of my childhood.


My first memory of childhood is the collapse of our roof. Our house was nothing more than an assembly of tin-sheets, used out boards, and hay. Everything was either collected from the municipal garbage or acquired by theft. It was nothing more than a patch that covered the space of a cot, a tight mud plastered corner, and a broken suitcase that had migrated with my mother. We called another corner as our kitchen that ran on my mother’s meagre wages. In addition to my mother and me, the space, the suitcase, and the tight corner, there lived a man. People called him my father. 
When the roof had lost its strength against the Rain Gods, and fallen on us, I had a struck on my head. I was of three or so. I don’t recall whether I cried or not. But I do remember what I had thought. I thought there would be no sky next day, as it had fallen down—half on me and the rest on my mother. 

Another incidence I still remember bit by bit had occurred when I was in high school. It was fag end of my girlhood, the days of bordering womanhood. Seventeen. In those days, I respected one man. He taught me language. My English teacher. He owned a lot of things: his own house, a two-wheeler, and good repute among women. That was luxury in the town we lived. He gave me books to read and paid my library fees, once or twice. If his age were considered to be a meter, he was just like my father. Though I had no such respect for my own father.  CONTINUE READING>>>>>

RECALLED TO LIFE

 

AUTHOR :  NAVAL LANGA

 

I HAD NEVER EXPECTED the revival of my life, in such a full swing. I never expected that I would start learning to live so differently. Till that day the signature my past had put on my life had not faded.

Until that day I had fiercely guarded my heart from letting it out. But on that day I was on a journey, the journey that changed everything that was I. The journey worked like a bridge that has separated my past and what I am today. The train headed on a plain land, after leaving the rocks and the thorns behind.  I opened a side window. It opened like a book that I had read and loved—the green leaves, the green plains. I took the fresh breath and enclosed the green expanse within my eyelids.

The nightlong journey ended with slight fatigue inside and heavy brushing of shoulders outside, on the platform. Ticket collector stood with notable negligence, polishing a brass buckle of his belt. When I smiled at him, at the buckle, and at his blue coat, oily at the collar, he responded with professional apathy. Collection of tickets was a mandatory work, and to smile an optional. He only did his mandatory one. Then the blue coat turned his red-wet lips to spray some remnants of his chewed stuff in a give-me-the-waste box.

For going out of the station safely one would have to avoid looking at station ground that would be emptied and refilled by the whistles of trains, ignore the boiling sea of the people, unlike each other in caste, colour and creed, and sizes of their heads. Then there would emerge some faces, too, standing discretely at periphery, seemingly wearing an aged dilemma over their tense foreheads that should they move left or right. Thereafter one would come out, reaching at the main gate.

I was at the main gate. 

CONTINUE READING>>>>>