My arms gripped the backpack…

My arms gripped the backpack. I gazed up like an ant looking through a crack in the ground. All around me, the giant creases of brown and green snatched clouds on their points as my lungs fought hard to absorb the thin air.

Ever since landing in Kathmandu, it seemed to me that everything in Nepal sat on a delicate balance, at constant threat of crumbling if man and nature didn’t play their part. All life seemed to jostle for space on the streets of the city, and the winding roads that led up to the border dangerously hung above gorges of green as they passed beneath waterfalls. It was as if the people had asked the land for permission before building.

Along with the rest of the group, I’d been whisked to the very edge of Nepal in a land cruiser, ready to be pushed into another country. Now, only a few yards from where I stood, the land dropped into a ravine. On the other side was China. In a way it was a replica of the Nepalese side with the same sandy peaks beneath open skies. But there was one striking difference. Clinging to the mountains on the Chinese side were multi-storey buildings that looked like toys perched precariously in crevices. The slightest jolt could have sent humanity’s intrusions tumbling away like dust. The echo of the major earthquake that had struck the area still hung in the air.

Led by the Nepalese guide and luggage porters, we crossed the ravine on the iconic Friendship Bridge. The guide mentioned that the bridge was built in the 1960s and served as a major trade route for Chinese goods into Nepal and India. It also boosted relations between the neighbours, hence the name.

Midway across the twenty five metre bridge was a simple red line indicating our last steps in Nepalese territory. As we crossed, everything changed. It was the same bridge, but somehow sturdier than the Nepalese side. Maybe it was an illusion created by the Chinese soldiers that now lined the perimeter with guns strapped to their chests.

Up ahead, the tightly controlled checkpoint came into view, a thought-out urban construction that seemed out of place in the rugged setting. The multi-storey buildings, now more visible, rose in steps around the distant peaks. But behind the show of might and money there was something else, like screaming underneath a blanket, as if the mountains were elbowing through a crowd. The ancient identity of the land was calling out. Yes, this was China, but it was also Tibet, the gateway to the Himalayas…


An unedited sample from my upcoming book, tentatively titled, Road to Shiva.

For updates on this book and my other works, please follow this blog or join my mailing list on my website:



Floating in the light…

Floating in the light,

Atoms swimming in the room,

Disturbed by a breath,

As if stirred by a spoon.


A vista of wonder,

A moment of awe,

Taking shape slowly,

Rising from the floor.


The mind takes form,

Drawing shadows on the wall,

Emerging from nothing,

A projection of the soul.


Reflecting on a surface,

In the mirror I can see,

A figment of myself,

Imagined and free.

A breath is all it takes…

The thoughts inside my head,

Like a cage of angry bees,

My mind wanders through the shadows,

It’s enough to bring me to my knees.


A breath is all it takes,

One moment of inhalation,

A deep silence falls over me,

A lake emerges from the ocean.


A frequency within,

Intuitive and free,

It speaks without words,

That voice that is me.



Rain thrashed the walls of the temple.

A shadow moved.

It was the last of the final three humans left on earth.

He was the youngest.

The boy’s thin frame shivered, freeing drops of rain which collected at his feet.

He was unfurling two pieces of paper that he’d slipped out from under his tunic.

He seperated them on the stone floor.

For a while he just stared at them before edging forward to light a candle.

Light danced on the walls.

The old tree before him seemed to step out of the darkness, its ancient roots falling deep into the earth.

“It’s happened again.”

The boy raised one of the pages.

He’d drawn a large triangle with a thick blotch of ink at the base.

The candle flame grew in intensity.

The blotch had been created by hundreds of words and sentences written one on top of the other, masking the paper underneath.

“There were so many voices,” his words cracked. “Maybe we’re not alone.”

He placed the paper on the floor and exhaled deeply.

“I can’t stay long, we’re going to investigate a cave. Dad spotted it a few days ago.”

He held up the second page showing a pencil sketch of a cavernous entrance at the top of a steep hill.

“You remember, the one I dreamed about last week.”

The candle flame licked the electric air.

It happened…

It happened…

The boy fled north through the dense woodland, his breathing laboured and shallow. The soles of his feet were being ripped by the thorns and rocks. But he didn’t care.

The morning sun was rising in the east but dawn struggled to penetrate the dense canopy.

Further north, the land dipped into a valley but the boy kept to the high ground. Any other day he would’ve ventured down to speak with the tigers, but not today. Charred bodies flashed behind his eyes, but he couldn’t think about that either. He glanced back, beyond the trees. All was still. Maybe they didn’t see him scurrying away.

Placing an ear to the trunk of a very old oak tree, he listened. They appeared in his mind’s eye; menacing and thunderous forms with pointed instruments to ravage the earth. He’d never seen anything like it. And the way they sat atop horses, plunging their ankles into the ribs of the creatures, bending them to their will. A bitter taste rose in his mouth.

His eyes flew open. They were coming.

The path circled the valley and ascended finally to a plateau. There were less trees – each one he knew by name – and the sunlight fed the ground encouraging the growth of his favourite cushioning moss. The constant rush of falling water echoed in the distance and the comforting smell of sandalwood filled the boy’s nostrils.

He ran.

Up ahead, under an umbrella of foliage was the sage’s hermitage. I’m safe. He collapsed on the ground like wet clay. The sage hurried from her wooden hut.

“It’s happened,” the boy wept into the earth, “The world has changed.”

forest with light
Image : Sebastian Unrau


When I was a child…

london bridge
Image : David East

When I was a child, mum used to wake me at five o’clock in the morning, every morning, tugging at my blanket and whispering, “When you sleep, your luck sleeps with you.”

Mornings were much the same in our apartment. The banshee screams of neighbouring families would greet us as we sleepily navigated the concrete steps up to the communal terrace to welcome the rising sun. We had our routine. Dad would hold up a small copper pot of water to the deep orange part of the sky and whisper a prayer. Then he’d tilt it forward slowly until a thin braid of water splattered on the terrace floor. Mum and I, a few steps behind, would hold our palms together as first light appeared over the Kolkata skyline.

The following day, the sun shone just as bright above London as the train, crammed with dozing commuters, crawled into London Victoria Station.

From the concourse, most of the commuters spilled into the vast London Underground network. I could’ve followed them and taken the stuffy tube to Piccadilly Circus, but I decided to take the scenic route past Buckingham Palace.

London was a proud city and that was evident in its traditions. The palace towered on the left with an unending throng of tourists plastered to the gates outside, eager to catch a glimpse of the ancient guard-changing ceremony.

All the while, my mind was replaying the moments from the day before. Why was it so necessary to be invisible? What kind of work were they doing? I’d imagined all sorts of fancy things from controversial self-sustaining fusion experiments to gesture-controlled drones for the government.

In St. James’s Park, the lake under the bridge that seemed to connect the palace to Horse Guard’s Parade on to the right was ablaze with the light of the sun. I crossed the thick red road leading away from the palace and climbed a set of steps on to Waterloo Place. The tree-lined road seemed to jump out at me as if to grab my attention, to stop me from going any further. But I couldn’t see beyond the salary I’d be receiving. For that and the recognition that came with working in the capital of England, I’d sell my soul.

Sample from a science fiction novel that I’m currently working on. More to reveal in the coming months.


I see my home in a field of corn…

I see my home in a field of golden corn becoming as tiny as a star in the night sky.

My little sisters are in the field, picking corn like I used to.

There are other girls in the truck just like me. They’re also wearing their best dresses. One of them is crying. Maybe she doesn’t like adventures.

I ask, “Please sir…how far we goin’?”

Maybe he didn’t hear me.

There’ll be a palace made of the colourful, shiny stones like the ones Mama used to talk about, in the middle of green rolling hills where children laugh and play. I’ll tell my sisters all about it.

I can’t move much. Outside, there are trees, so many trees, and roads I’ve never seen before and different smells that remind me of the village fair.

There’ll be iced tea and butter, fresh bread and jam served on a great big table.

There’ll be rainbows in the sky and women singing under the trees.

I think about why the man in the suit didn’t answer me when I asked about our trip.

Mama said it would be a surprise I’d never forget. Maybe that’s why she was so happy, and all that money in her hand that the man in the suit had given to her must’ve been too heavy for her to wave goodbye.

child peering out
Image Courtesy: Dmitry Ratushny