Special Post: Procrastination! Procrastination! And Procrastination!

I had earlier told you readers that I was about to contribute a story to PublicLiterature.org. That was what I was at work all these days. I wrote once, then rewrote, then rewrote, then rewrote, rewrote, rewrote,…………………. What the heck!

I could never get it right—to my satisfaction. I don’t think it will ever improve either. At last, now I just got something here and there right with that story. I believe it could be submitted to PublicLiterature now. I am about to do so. In this post, I would like to share with you my thoughts on working with that story.

It’s a short story (here is the link to it at PublicLiterature) about a girl being cheated to prostitution. It’s a story based in a small southern Indian city, Trivandrum, my hometown. I believe I can write a story based in my place better than one based in any other place. So, I decided to do so.

I sat down to write this story as soon as my friend Jack Dale of PublicLiterature sent me the user name and password for PublicLiterature.org, into which he invited me to send my contributions. Usually, I take too much time to decide what to write about. I strained my brain to get a story idea. My not going to the world of fiction for some time had rusted my creative bone. (I am more into non-fiction now.)

At last I got these characters of a good-natured girl and a lady-pimp, who tries to kidnap her. I envisaged the character of a poor girl, born to a far-below-average Indian village family. In order to develop that character further, I fired up Yahoo! Messenger and chatted to random people in the disguise of this girl. I tried to learn her ways, her mind, her values, her thoughts. The pimp lady’s character came then. I felt it more apt to describe the story from the pimp’s point of view than the girl’s. Because the girl was more detailed, people know her better than the pimp. But for the twist in the later part of the story, pimp’s character should have a little more importance. If I described the story in the girl’s point of view, pimp might not have enough versatility as required by her in the last part.

At last I created the first draft (a whopper). But I never felt it logical enough. It looked more amateurish. So, I rewrote the story several times. Took days to get it written fully. At last, I got it somewhat right. But it’s too late now, and I should not keep my friend waiting any more. So, I will submit it anyway. I hope you will soon find it in action in that website.

The story name is ‘Sacrifice’ which itself is inept as hell. I thought and thought for a better name, but if anyone could give a better name to call it, I would welcome it.

Here are some words you will encounter in the story that you may not in normal English.

The Story Glossary

Churidar (Salwar Kameez): This is an Indian piece of clothing for women. It’s a long ornate tunic-like thing with pants worn underneath and a shawl known as dupattah. The dress is very popular among young girls around here, of the age 12-25. Older women usually wear saree.

Model in Churidar (Salwar Kameez)Model in Salwar Kameez (Churidar)

Saree (Sari): The most distinctive women’s clothing in India. It is a single long sheet of clothing with ornate design and borders. It is worn around the waist, with one end laid crosswise over the shoulder. Over the waist, it is pleated artfully and thrust into an underskirt. The saree is extremely popular in India among women. It is an art to wear it correctly, and is believed to be one of the most beautiful clothing in the whole world. It is also a traditional dress. Usually older women teach the younger how to wear it properly. See the picture below.

A Model in Saree (Sari)A Model in Saree (I love this picture)

Hyundai Santro: This is a popular compact family car in India, from Hyundai Motors. The picture is shown below.

The Hyundai Santro Family CarHyundai Santro

Forester: The Subaru Forester minivan model cars. Maybe popular everywhere.

Character Names

Vimala: It’s a popular Indian name for women, mainly in my state of Kerala. It doesn’t have any holy connection as the other character names below. So, I thought it could be good for a more malicious character (into whose perspective the story is written).

Sita: The name of the protagonist, the poor girl in the story. Another name, very less popular here these days. But it is the name of the wife of Rama, a popular character in the epic, Ramayana, one of the holy texts of Hindus. Sita Devi (Goddess Sita) is believed to be a perfect woman, most loyal to her husband and flawlessly beautiful. She was kidnapped by Rama’s archrival Ravana and was persuaded to marry him, but she would not consent even after lot of coercion. She was even cheated by Ravana who took the shape of Rama himself and tried to persuade her. But he could not even touch Sita: Loyal wives in the epics cannot be touched by men other than their husbands. I found this name most apt for the straightforward main character in the short story.

Gita: Gita is the name of Sita’s sister in the short story. Gita is also the name of the most important holy scripture of Hindus, a part of the epic Mahabharata. But I used the name just to have it rhyme with Sita’s. Gita is also a popular name here in Kerala. In a conversation, Sita calls her sister ‘Gitu’ instead of ‘Gita’ This is usual in Malayalam talk, in which people call their related ones with slight differences in their names: Comparable to ‘Thomas’ being called ‘Tom’.

Zamindar Vasu Pillai: ‘Zamindar’ means landlord in Indian language. Vasu Pillai is a very common name here in Kerala. Pillai is the name of a higher caste, which indicates that the person is somewhat rich and influential in his place.

Some other special words used in the story:

Chechi: Means elder sister in Malayalam. This is also a calling word for elder sisters. The elder brother is ‘Chettan’ and people call using ‘Chettaa’. (In Malayalam, unlike English, people add an ‘a’ sound or ‘i’ sound when actually calling someone.)

The General Hospital: One of the government hospitals in Trivandrum. The poorer lot usually use this hospital, while the rich ones resort to bigger better private hospitals.

Women’s College Trivandrum is the main college for women here in Trivandrum city at place called Vazhuthacaud.

Savitri: Savitri is another mythological character popular in Kerala. It is also a popular Indian name. Savitri is the most loyal wife of Satyavan. She kept vigil for her husband (who was cursed to death at a certain time) and went to all possible extent of worship to bring her husband back to life. So, acting like Savitri means acting loyal and not resorting to the pleasures of the body.

Read an article on Mumbai’s Red Street.

The dialogs are a mix of mainstream English with Indian style. I have tried my best to incorporate both in it. Usually Indian girls from villages do not call their fathers ‘dad’. They just call them ‘father’. Malayalam word for father is ‘Achchan.’ In India, ‘auntie’ is very popular. Children here call the elder women with that term.

Please let me know your thoughts after reading this story. Either put the comments in PublicLiterature itself or here in this post. I will look forward to your suggestions.

Copyright © Lenin Nair 2008

1 Opinions:

  1. Lenin, a very interesting write up, this one. But I think you could have published this in 2 parts other than such a long one.
    Not everyone has time to read lengthy articles. This would have been interesting in parts and attracted more readers. Anyway, excuse me if you think I am crossing the lines saying these.

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