'Disappointment' is a piece of flash fiction published in Issue #14 of Jet Fuel Review, a terrific literary journal run out of Lewis University in Illinois. A man and woman run into each other decades after their college years in Chicago, when they were briefly a couple. With this story, I wanted to explore, within the context of race and gender dynamics, how disappointment is a layered, complex emotion and how, often and without sufficient awareness, we tend to disappoint ourselves a whole lot more than anyone else possibly can. Of course, some of us are also often skilled in externalizing/projecting such disappointment onto others around us, especially our loved ones.
Set in Gujarat, India around the time of the 2016 Dalit protests, 'Each of Us Killers' explores the present-day politics of Hindu cow worship — a highly-charged issue. It is also the story of a minority low-caste community struggling to reconcile their position in society with their need for personal agency. This struggle is, of course, universal wherever there is oppression of the minority by the majority. I also wanted to explore crowd psychology here. The actual main events of my story are entirely fictional. In fact, the village itself is fictional. However, like the Una, Gujarat flogging incident described in the story, I have also referenced a few other real-life acts of caste-related violence that have been reported or revisited in the last couple of years in Gujarat. While I am very interested in the religious and socio-political constructs that still drive casteism in present-day India, I have focused here on the aspects of human nature that allow us, collectively, to turn away in silence when witnessing injustice, violence, or murder — and what that might mean for us as communities/societies.
I wrote this piece of satire earlier in September when we were all awestruck with the hurricanes in the US, the journalist killings in India, the genocides in Bangladesh, and more. And, of course, the daily presidential disasters. It seems that the more outrageous our world becomes, the less we are capable of any sane response to it. Okay, maybe that's just a small minority of us who need to resort to absurdist tropes and satire in our work to be able to carry on with it. Anyway, this is an official layoff notice to the Patron Saint of Disasters, Saint Medard. You can read more about him here.