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Writing Prompt Fiction in the Blue Monsoon Universe: #WEPFF

By 16/08/2023August 29th, 2023Blog Fest, Featured
Do you read or write prompt-based fiction? Have you ever participated in the WEP? Have you read an ARC of The Blue Monsoon ? What do you think of this character? Would you like to read his story?

This edition of WEP Writing Challenge is a prompt fiction based on the movie “Chocolat”

As usual, I’ve used characters from my writing universe: from upcoming literary thriller, THE BLUE MONSOON. These snippets of prompt-fiction show aspects of the story only hinted at in the novel. Since this is a thriller, and I didn’t get to explore the characters as much as I’d have liked, I’m adding to the cannon, and it will all  (hopefully)  blend into the tapestry of the book.

——–So here’s my WEP entry, a prompt fiction flash piece I’ll feature only here on this site.—-

Damyanti Biswas © 2023

TAGLINE: Stay in your lane

WORD COUNT:    705 words, FCA

It is one of those new-fangled things, I want to tell my grandson, Pravin. But will he listen to me? Grandkids are fun, let no one tell you different, but a teenager with exploding words, hormones and pimples has no time for advice from a grandfather.

Mumbai, Manesar, Manhattan, makes no difference.

I know this. After all, I’ve had children. My son was just as much of a pain in the neck, never listened to me or my dad.

But my grandson’s plans are something else.

I mean, look. I know our history.

My grandfather cleaned out toilets for a living, the ones from those times when there was no running water. He carried out buckets of shit on his head, for decades. That’s how he raised my father. I try to imagine my grandfather, how he must have borne the stink, the baths he must have taken in the days of very little soap and no water on tap.

My father ended up merely cleaning toilets, because India now had running water. My earliest memory of my father is his hard, phenyl-smelling hand on my head, stroking my hair.

We’ve been making progress, the Tambe family.

By the time I, Surat Tambe, came along, we had schools, and I got to study in them. Not the best ones, because my father could afford no better than government schools, but I studied. Books, notebooks, pen and paper. Math. Biology. Chemistry. And no matter what my father said about ‘cutting dead bodies for a living’, I once caught him stroking my blue forensic gloves, probably wishing he had them in his time.

My son is a physiotherapist. I cut through bones and muscles on dead people. He sets them right on his patients. Sudhir Tambe, son of Surat Tambe, makes people’s pain go away.

My grandson, now, my grandson Pravin Tambe he wants to be a chocolatier, and one day own a chocolate shop.

At dinner tonight, he’s served us chocolate tarts. My son’s apartment is small, his kitchen minuscule, but Pravin vibrates with energy as he shows us the tarts he’s made in the tiny oven that’s turned the warm, humid apartment well near oppressive with heat.

In the family home built on shit and phenyl and formaldehyde, he wants caramel, vanilla, and cinnamon.

He watches videos with recipes. He buys stacks of chocolate and nuts and essence. He talks about the tempering of chocolate—heating and cooling it, the structure of molds, ways to combine chocolates with fruits and nuts. He waxes eloquent about caramels and profiteroles, pastries with chocolate fillings, chocolate mousse.

My phone rings. An unknown number. I know what it will say if  I pick it up.

“Stay in your lane, you low-caste turd. If you don’t know what’s good for you, you won’t live to see retirement.”

I’m afraid. I should be afraid, I’m not stupid. Today, the threats are for me. They want me to lay off the case of temple murders. Tomorrow they will find Sudhir and Pravin’s numbers. Threaten my children, my family.

I can tell them to lie low. I can give up the case. But will that stop the name-calling? The derision? The way those high-caste men look at us as we pass on our street? I love Mumbai’s cloak of anonymity, but there’s always someone who knows you, who remembers that your grandfather carried buckets of human waste on his head for a living.

The phone rings again, and I switch it off.

And so what? My grandfather earned an honest living. He raised a good son, and hopefully, a grandson who wouldn’t cower down. I’m the grandfather now. Why should I trample all over the dreams of this teen just because I’m afraid?

“Do you like the tart?” Pravin asks me.

Why should he not make chocolate pastries if that’s what he wants?

“Yes,” I tell him. “You’re good at this.”

Pravin’s pimpled face erupts in smiles. Maybe he’ll lose all interest in baking tomorrow. Maybe he’d want to open a shop, or train to be a neurosurgeon, join the air force.

 For each one of his impossible, impractical dreams, I’d say the same thing. Yes, my son. Why not? You’re good at this.

This story is part of The Blue Monsoon universe. This sequel to The Blue Bar is now available for pre-orders here.

Do you read or write prompt-based fiction? Have you ever participated in the WEP? Have you read an ARC of The Blue Monsoon ? What do you think of this character? Would you like to read his story?

My literary crime novel, The Blue Bar is on Kindle Unlimited now. Add it to Goodreads or snag a copy to make my day. The sequel, The Blue Monsoon is up for pre-orders! And if you’d like to read a book outside the series, you can check out You Beneath Your Skin.  Find all info about my books on my Amazon page or Linktree.
My literary crime novel, The Blue Bar is on Kindle Unlimited now. Add it to Goodreads or snag a copy to make my day. The sequel, The Blue Monsoon is up for pre-orders! And if you'd like to read a book outside the series, you can check out You Beneath Your Skin. All info about my books on my Amazon page or Linktree.

Books by Damyanti Biswas

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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Beautiful post

  • jlennidorner says:

    Easily relatable. Very well written. I love that the prompt inspired the job.
    The IWSG is celebrating 12 years today, which is so amazing for a blogging community of writers. A dozen years of support! 🎉
    “The only thing you absolutely have to know is the location of the library.” – Albert Einstein quote
    September is library card sign-up month! Get one, use one, and be grateful such places exist.

    J Lenni Dorner (he/him 👨🏽 or 🧑🏽 they/them) ~ Speculative Fiction &Reference Author, OperationAwesome6 Debut Author Interviewer, and Co-host of the #AtoZchallenge

  • Excellent story! I love the generational ripple. And the support for his grandson. Love it.

  • Superb! I love how you managed to 5 generations worth of stories in such a small piece.

  • I really loved this generational story, Damyanti!

  • Nick Wilford says:

    I love the layers of detail you add to your world with these stories. The wisdom passing down generations. Each making the best of their circumstances at that time. There’s a lot of love here, for sure.

  • Carole Stolz says:

    Oh I LOVE this! (Of course being a Physiotherapist myself, I want to know more about Sudhir Tambe, who is an “also mentioned”!!!!!!) The vividness of your imagery and the truth of your words are so compelling! What a great Grandfather…”For each one of his impossible, impractical dreams, I’d say the same thing. Yes, my son. Why not? You’re good at this.” That’s the way. Encourage your children in their own paths, not the path you’d like them to take. Our world is so discouraging. Encouragement and Chocolate – an irresistible combination!!!

  • Discrimination battled with chocolate! This was heartwarming and delightful yet kept the seriousness of its message front and centre. Beautifully done, the grandfather’s voice was just perfect. Loved it!

    • DamyantiB says:

      Thank you so much! I must say, chocolate is the solution to many of my problems 🤣 I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  • Donna Hole says:

    This family has come a long ways. I tell my own grandchildren to try everything, and if they change their mind, thats ok too. The backstory is very intriguing. Surat seems to be in deep with something.

    • DamyantiB says:

      That’s a wonderful way of thinking. Life is based on change, so we can only try to go with the flow! Thank you for your lovely comment.

  • Jayanthy G says:

    Such a warm story, Damayanti. What a long way they have come, we have come. It’s nice to see anyone who says YES just to let them explore the field. I am thinking to say Yes as much as I can.

    • DamyantiB says:

      I really appreciate it, Jayanthy. It’s a good feeling to be able to look back and reflect, while recognizing how far you have come and knowing you have so much more to explore!

  • Beth Camp says:

    Sometimes it seems, regardless of country, that every generation must fight against class-based discrimination. And yet, step by step, we persevere, as shown here in the stubbornness of a grandmother. Beautifully written!

    • DamyantiB says:

      I completely agree, Beth. Discrimination is everywhere, and we can only do our best in staying true to ourselves. Thank you for commenting!

  • Tulika says:

    This was such a heartening/heartwarming read. It’s wonderful when grandparents come out in support of their grandchildren, cutting across the generation gap. What a grand leap this one makes!

    • DamyantiB says:

      Thank you, Tulika! Having a strong support system is so important, and something I will never take for granted!

  • Shilpa Gupte says:

    I always lose myself in your stories, Damyanti. I don’t want them to come to an end.
    I loved this story, too, especially the grandfather, who wants his grandson to follow his heart, fulfil his desire, even if it means doing something others may never approve of, or consider worthwhile.

    • DamyantiB says:

      I loved reading your comment, Shilpa. Thank you for giving your reflections on my story — I’m grateful to be able to share my words with wonderful people like you!

  • Cara Hartley says:

    An inspiring tale about multiple generations of a hardworking family doing what is necessary to live while also trying to overcome prejudiced ideas that should have gone extinct long ago. Excellent work. Tweeted.

    • DamyantiB says:

      Thank you so much! I appreciate your support and the time you took to comment, and I’m thrilled you enjoyed the story enough to share it!

  • patgarcia says:

    You got me engaged with this excerpt. I especially like the line, “Why Not? You’re good at this.”
    There’s so much history in your country, and I’m fascinated by it.
    My reading list is way longer than it should be but I will head over to Amazon Germany and put your book on my to buy list.
    All the best.
    Shalom shalom

    • DamyantiB says:

      I’m very glad you enjoyed it! It’s lovely to hear about your interest in the story and its origins. Thank you so much for your support!

  • Denise Covey says:

    Hi Damyanti. This is one of my favourite excerpts from your stories. It fits the prompt so well, showing the upward mobility of the family and the resistance from others who think themselves above others. Anyone wanting to be a chocolatier I applaud. Hand me a plate of deliciousness.

    • DamyantiB says:

      Hi, Denise! I’m so happy you liked the piece! It warms my heart to have you supporting and rooting for my work, and I couldn’t be more grateful. Thank you for being here!

  • Sonia Dogra says:

    Hi Damyanti! So glad to see you join the WEP this month. I love, love your character exploration. Since I understand the caste structure in India, every bit of this piece speaks deeply. Food has played an important role in the politics of caste and Pravin looking to become a chocolatier, unlike his father or grandfather who took up very different professions, albeit a step-up the ladder. But Pravin’s desire is like breaking the big caste barrier and rebelling against the politics of food. Excellent use of the prompt. The Blue Monsoon is much-awaited.

    • DamyantiB says:

      Thank you for commenting, Sonia! Joining the WEP was a wonderful experience, and I’m thrilled to be able to share The Blue Monsoon universe, even if only a small slice of it. Food has such a great deal of cultural significance, saturating the backgrounds and memories of so many, including myself. I loved reflecting on its influence in this piece.

  • Olga Godim says:

    What a great story; it shows the generational upward movement in a resisting society. Thoughtful and suspenseful.

    • DamyantiB says:

      I’m glad you think so! This story’s message is one which is close to my heart, so thank you for the kind words.

  • As usual your writing style is highly visual 🙂

    • DamyantiB says:

      Thank you, Ian! It’s good to hear from you, as always! I’m looking forward to reading about how Herbert fares in Manchester.

  • Jemi Fraser says:

    Love this! Everyone should have a grandfather this wise and wonderful!

    • DamyantiB says:

      I completely agree! The unconditional love and support of the ones you cherish most is undeniably powerful. It’s a wonderful feeling, and one which I’m lucky enough to be able to experience. Thank you for being here, Jemi!

  • SUCH a wise and loving grandfather. Thank you for this. I am blown away (again) by the very different takes on the prompt.

    • DamyantiB says:

      I know what you mean! It’s incredible to see the creativity of all the writers involved in this, and awe-inspiring, too. One of my favorite things about writing prompts — reading all the unique takes!

  • hilarymb says:

    Hi Damyanti – such an interesting take on the Chocolat and WEP prompt … fascinating to bring in your history … as no doubt it was for so many at different times in history. Each generation has its opportunities – some can take, some will create them for their children and families … and why not indeed be a ‘Chocolatier’ … his passion is there – he won’t change his dreams. Lovely – cheers Hilary

    • DamyantiB says:

      Thank you, Hilary! I agree, passion is incredibly important. I love what you said about each generation having its opportunities. A very wise way to look at things.

  • Going deeper into your characters backgrounds is what makes your writing so wonderful for the reader. Such deep motivations based on a surprising history makes for intriguing reads. Thanks for sharing. I do hope this character sees his dreams come true!

  • I just pushed your book up my TBR list, Damyanti. What a great teaser.

    • DamyantiB says:

      Thank you so much, Jacqui! I’m really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it. I’m so grateful for all your support and kindness.