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Where Were You This Past Decade?

By 21/01/2020January 24th, 2020Blog Fest, flash fiction
How was your last decade?

I jumped on to the Decade Bloghop primarily because the topic intrigued me. In 2010, I’m not sure what I was up to, but I do not have even a fleeting memory of ruminating about the decade past. This year too, I’m not dwelling on what’s gone, a decade of my writing behind me.

I have thought of the process however, one of remembering and forgetting. Since the hosts allow fiction, here’s my attempt at capturing a decade in a few words (a first draft, and all feedback welcomed)

I cannot tell you what happened ten years ago, and no one can tell us about the next ten.

Sit here with me. Look up. The canopies do not intermingle, much like you and I, but from the gaps you see the sky, it is good—a bright sky after many days of gloom. The breeze is still cold but it carries the cackling of the geese from the lake, the geese you and I have fed all these years. They must be different geese now, but some must still be the same. This bench carries our names that we scratched ten years ago. More? Less? I do not remember, you say, but listen, what does it matter? It is enough that these scratched names, here, feel this, how rough and present they are. The bench is here, and this park. You and I.

Remember the time we promised to meet here and you did not show, not until much later, hours later, at night? I was so afraid you would do just that, you never carried a phone, and it was just like you, to enter a half-lit park in the dark uncaring of what might lurk. But you were coming to find me, to say sorry for being late, and I was here. Sometimes it feels like I was here always, embedded in this bench, a part of it like our names scratched into its paint, waiting for you.

Like the children we raised together are a dream, all three just a fog of the years, from which only you shine through. You kept us going, with your disastrous recipes that failed more than they triumphed in our tiny kitchen, the crazy parties where you invited homeless women and  men with Ferraris, all of whom cramped together in our living room as you held court, hanging upon each word. You kept us going through all the years of having just enough, when my salary and your royalties kept us in room and board, just about, but always this park each weekend, you and I, the geese. The kids, sometimes, but mostly you, and your cackling, ungainly laughter I haven’t seen in years now. Of course it was cackling. Ungainly. That’s why I miss it.

That’s why I miss you most days even when you’re with me, as I haul your once-beautiful body from wheelchair to bench, to wheelchair to sofa, to bed. You’re still beautiful, and now you’ve fallen asleep. You did this earlier too, you were one of those rare women who could fall asleep right after—it was I who longed to talk—ask you if it was good for you, whether you’d like to do it again.

I can only talk because you’re asleep. Who am I kidding, I can talk these days, because you never shut me up like you used to, and half the time you do not know what I’m saying and don’t care as long as my lips are moving. When I stop you look at me with those crinkled eyes, as if urging me to continue. I long for the times you used to interrupt me when I could never get an entire sentence out, when you constantly misunderstood because you never let me finish, but now I regret those times I wished you’d let me talk. I don’t want to talk now, you hear me?

You’ll remember some days. Others, you wouldn’t. Good days, bad days, they come and go, but know this. All of it will be past and forgotten.

Decades Sponsors

(Just to be clear, this bloghop prizes are sponsored, not this post.)

Forgotten sooner or much later, after you and I are gone. Until then, here you are, and I’m right here beside you on this park bench. The geese sound impatient now, but I’ll wait for you to wake up. Then we shall go and feed them.

Where were you this past decade? What do you think of this piece of flash fiction? Would you help me with naming it?

This post is a part of ‘DECADE Blog Hop’ #DecadeHop organised by #RRxMM Rashi Roy and Manas Mukul. The Event is sponsored by Glo and co-sponsored by Beyond The Box, Wedding Clap, The Colaba Store and Sanity Daily in association with authors Piyusha Vir and Richa S Mukherjee.

(I’ve decided to hang loose a little, so this is an absolute first stream-of-consciousness draft. Help me make it better.)


Do you enjoy flash fiction ?My debut literary crime novel,”You Beneath Your Skin,” published by the fab team at Simon and Schuster IN is making its way into the world.

It is available in India here.

Worldwide, here.

Reviews are appreciated–please get in touch if you’d like a review copy.

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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 forthcoming literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and will be published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 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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80 Comments

  • Rashi Roy says:

    Beautiful. The emotions, the vivid descriptions, all made it such a soothing read. Would love to read the final piece too. Glad you participated in this blog hop and shared this piece of fiction with us. Loved your take on the theme.

  • jazzytower says:

    Congrats on the novel! I just bought it, looking forward to the read😊. Love your picture on it, by the way😊. You’re a baby, thought you were older😊. Lots of success to you.

    Pat

  • marianallen says:

    Beautiful, as all your work is beautiful. You’ll sculpt it into perfection; the form is there. Title: Migration ?

  • Lavanya says:

    Loved the imagery your fiction take evoked. keep writing and delighting.

  • An amazing take on the past decade. I was actually imagining myself sitting on a bench watching the geese in the pond, thinking of the decade that passed by. I had a few flashbacks of my own decade.
    — rightpurchasing

  • Neha Sharma says:

    Ok, my eyes got filled while going through this fiction, it felt so real as if happening just in front of me. I could clearly imagine the bench and the sounds and more importantly the emotions. I have heard a lot about your writings and books in the past couple of days and now I know why everyone is in awe of you. Loved this flash fiction!

  • Hi Damyanti, this is my first visit to your website. You are a powerful writer and your forte is creating atmosphere. Since you asked for inputs, I admit that I found my mind drifting during this piece. It didn’t hold me till the end- I was aching to know more about the characters. That would be my suggestion- bring in a little more of them. The ‘who, what, why, how’ of their story. I look forward to reading more from you.

  • Jacqui Murray says:

    I agree–those points you make, they are the most important.

  • Ungainly laughter! How i loved this phrase! Somehow its the laughter that truly reveals a person’s character. An ungainly laughter shows that the person is brave enough to show his true (and unpleasant) side to the world – without apology! In parts, I found your post disconcerting, even accusative. An absorbing read, nevertheless! – Rohit Verma

  • The past decade has been an interesting one. From a lot of losses to laying a foundation for a relationship and starting a family it has been very different.

    I do not have words to appreciate your writing, but I’d say you’re a deep writer. I’d like to name this as “Just You and I”.

  • What can I write in appreciation of your writing that has not already been said. But yes, I have a confession to make. I thought I would rush through the post as their are 32 other posts to read and comment on. A generic, excellent writing style, love it kinda post. I hustled through the first two paragraphs. And then I slowed down beyond my will. I read it once and I read it twice. What more can I say. Loads of Love.

  • Heard a lot about you but this is the first time I got to read your work. I am glad I participated in this blog hop and stumbled upon your post. Such a beautifully weaved fiction, I could actually imagine myself sitting on that bench in a serene location. Would be grabbing your book soon.

  • DutchIl says:

    Thank you for sharing!!.. as for me, I were doing the same thing I am doing now, living life, learning more about the universe and following my dreams.. 🙂

    “ I am currently attending the School of Life, learning more about the universe and me… and Graduation Day will be the day of my funeral and it is then I will know if I failed or I succeeded and graduated”… (Larry “Dutch” Woller)

  • Priyal says:

    I am reading your post for the first time, must say you have penned down it very beautifully. For a moment I found this story real on

  • Geethica says:

    These beautiful words feel so real and I am instantly imagining the bench and the way two of them would have shared their relationship.

  • mahekg says:

    Wow, just a beautiful post, so wonderfully penned down. I loved it 🙂

  • Prerna Wahi says:

    Wow. I didn’t know so much about you and your journey is truly inspirational. Wish you the best for the coming years!

  • hilarymb says:

    Hi Damyanti – that is wonderful … and will apply to so many of us: excellent writing – which is why your book has been so well received and is so caring. I did write about turning 70 when I was in Canada, and when I started a memoir ‘class’ here – I talked (and wrote) about my life in ‘batches’ … and I’ve written the odd memoir style post of my experiences. Reading this – no wonder you are a writer … every evocative, and really paints us a picture … congratulations and cheers Hilary

  • writershilpa says:

    Awww…I loved this one, too! In fact, I have loved, and will love, everything you write, Damyanti!
    How do you manage this,tell me? Your book tours, this blog, reading others’ blog posts so regularly? How do you do it, babe?
    May you always find the stamina to do it all and some more!
    Love!

  • This is lovely and full of so much meaning. It instantly made me think of my mom and dad, of the six years she spent caring for my dad with ALS. But at least he could speak most of that time. And happily he retained his sense of humor up until the very end.

  • Rajlakshmi says:

    Oh why do you have to make my heart weep! I found the story so touching… Your words… They hold so much emotion. I wish I was better at writing, just to describe your incredible writing.
    As for the past decade, I have been building my life 😊

  • Unishta says:

    Sorry about things moving on? Even though this is fiction, it resonates with many of us who live a daily humdrum life. How many of us can really say that we do something fantastic every day that leaves us on top of the world? Or a prize that acknowledges our efforts?

  • The choice of words and lucid writing transported me to the bench and hear geese sound. Decade revisits are bittersweet.

  • macjam47 says:

    Beautifully penned prose, Damyanti. At times it was a bit melancholy, but I felt part of your story.

  • Deepika says:

    This is the first time when I am reading your post. This post gave me a surprise and excitement both at the same time. Salute to the imagination, I felt I was sitting there and witnessing all.

  • I could feel the park, the bench, watch the crinkled eyes. The writing is beautiful! And glad I am reading this.

  • Rachna says:

    I have been a nomad most of my life but this past decade I have been relatively rooted to this city and this home. It may change soon though. Last decade has been very eventful. Both my kids are now teens. One is an almost adult. Feels huge. And Coco came into our lives in this decade. I liked reading this flash fiction, very evocative and thought provoking. Title maybe A Park Bench?

  • Jyoti Arora says:

    Beautifully penned bittersweet !!!

    We ..forever!!

  • Meena says:

    The imagery is very vivid and melancholy. Great one!

  • What fabulous writing. It transported me to the scene where the geese and the bench was. Haunting and poignant, it leaves an impact on the reader. This explains why you’re such a celebrated writer. Kudos. Look forward to reading more of your writing.

  • Arushi says:

    What a beautifully written emotional piece of fiction. I could imagine each scene and had goosebumps. You have set the standards very high for fiction posts on the blog hop. 🙂

  • Simply beautiful. I loved the choice of words used and they definitely transported me through the last decade with your words.

  • Dr. Surbhi Prapanna says:

    This fiction piece defines your amazing capability as a writer..hats off to you for writing this fiction with so much perfection. it was beautiful but sad too.

  • JT Twissel says:

    Very melancholy – I would say Park Bench for a title. It is depressing to think about this last decade. A lot happened.

  • hemasha says:

    wow!!! what to write.. awesome, amazing, yah sab falling short so still thinking….

  • Both beautiful and sad…

  • Birgit says:

    This is a beautiful piece about time, love, missing, everything and it brings the memories of my mom who started down her path of dementia in 2010 until she died 2 years ago. I wouldn’t know what to name your piece because I was never good at titles.

  • This is the first time I am reading you and truth be told..I am hooked Heart and Soul.
    This piece sums up everything which any human can cherish for decades and decades.
    With the passing of time whether it is a year or a decade or life itself… it is the relations that remain; its the memories that we have collected.
    Nothing else matters…Nothing else should matter.

    I love the way you have given spotlight to those small things which are present around but people dont pay so much attention to. Be it the things in the park or habits of the wife. It was amusing (and am being honest here :D) when I realised that I too dont allow HIM to speak much ;p

    #readbypreetispanorama

    https://preetispanorama.com/

  • Disha says:

    We always want to hold onto the memories of times gone by. Lovely take on the prompt and I could visualise all the scenes while reading.

  • What a beautiful piece and visually satisfying.. loved the description… Amazing

  • Swathi C says:

    Lovely post . I particularly enjoyed the bittersweet experiences. Obviously they are two face of same coin .

  • So sublime! So nostalgic!

  • Pr@Gun says:

    Wow, that’s a creative take on decade gone by. You made me sad as well as happy, & I was actually visualizing all the characters even the geese, the bench, the wait for her to get up, ah its touching. After reading this I’m more curious to read your book now, ordering soon. Lovely post.

  • paviraman says:

    ooh I love love love this. The way you’ve weaved a story with the geese as an anchor point, is sublime. I’m glad you went the fiction route, because this short story right here is special. Now I’m off to visit your book on Amazon!

  • Ruchi says:

    I could feel that longing ! The need for companionship! The memories of past mingled with today ! The regret ! Amazing 👍🏼

  • “For June who loved this park and for Jack who always sat beside her”. Some people do love forever, don’t they? (Nottinghill)

    Beautiful storytelling and wouldn’t have guessed it’s your first draft

  • Meera says:

    Damyanti, this is a different way of sharing the story.
    I love this Geese,the park bench and those interrupted and, No interruptions in the conversation style.

    What name do I give this,
    “Ends to begin, to travel together…”

  • Varsh says:

    I want to be in a relationship like this. Where the love is alive despite the people in it slowly withering away from life. What name would I suggest? ‘The Couple on the Bench’ comes to mind. What do you think?

  • Such a lovely article…small moments make a lifetime memory..Some good, some bad, some ugly..

  • Meena says:

    This is a such a evocative piece of prose. The imagery is vivid and brought the whole scene alive. You have a lovely way with words. Cheers!

  • Debbie D. says:

    What a lovely, bittersweet story of long-term relationships! And one would never know this was a first draft. Your talent is boundless, Damyanti! 🙂

  • aditi says:

    OMG! You are brilliant lady. I read your piece, re-read and again. It gave me better understanding every time. Heart-felt❤️

  • Loved it. The words just flowed effortlessly. Excellent piece of writing. First time on your blog, but I will definitely be a regular here.

  • Piya Gajbe says:

    This post touched the chords of the heart. So beautifully expressed and the words simply flow…and I never realised when the post came to an end. I was actually flowing with it.Touching, poignant and poetic. Looking forward to reading your book.

  • Very touching and emotional piece Damyanti. The imagery is beautiful. Looking forward to reading more of your work 🙂

  • I read it once and then went back to savour it all over again! Lovely piece!

  • Wow!! So touching and heartfelt.Life changes each moment but it is all about being there when someone needs you.Not forgetting the lovely moments shared and being together in all the good and bad days..

  • Life is just as you said intermingled in between all sorts of emotions. It was so interesting to read, i didn’t realise when it was over. I am thinking of a name, and will reach out if something good strikes.

  • Supriti says:

    This is the 1st fictional take on the prompt and I was moved by it. No wonder it comes from a prolific writer like u. I could visualise every scene u scripted. The park, the empty bench with scribbled names, the geese… The dark night.. Everything… It is a delight to read it…

  • Loved the presentation and the interpretation…amazing piece.

  • Maya Bhat says:

    A different approach to presenting emotions. I liked it. Actually I was thinking it for real and imagined a lot of things. Thank god it was fiction. Good take !

  • Wow what a heartwarming and intriguing tale of joys and sorrows intermingles with each other. A fresh way of representing the prompt . I liked the imagery and the backdrop of the story !!

  • Shivani says:

    Whenever I read your words I’m amazed at the fluidity and an almost poetic touch to your prose. This one’s no exception. I could hear those geese waiting to be fed, waiting for her to get up. Totally moved.
    Looking forward to reading your book that I have long acquired but haven’t been able to make time for. Have a super 2020 and hoping this to be the year when we meet finally

  • Aanandika says:

    I have goosebumps. Need I say more? Beautiful prose and heart touching story.

  • shravmusings says:

    What an emotional piece. No wonder it came from you…it was overflowing with emotions and words are soo very subtle.

  • Nice take on the decade in a fictional form. You created stark images of the character and one could actually feel the emotions. Good one Damayanti.

  • Damyanti I have been loving your amazing fiction always. If I was to suggest a title I would say – the intricate lanes

  • Brian says:

    A lovely piece of emotional writing. And a beautiful insight into how it must feel to have loved and lost to some degree. Really enjoyed reading this.

  • OMGG this iss just amazing. Loved how you expressed! I love your book too!

  • Shalzzz says:

    What a beautiful piece of work this is, Damyanti! The words just flow. It was so beautiful to read.

  • Janaki says:

    Wonderful. Flash fiction for you but partly my true story. Brought out hidden memories and tears.

  • shail says:

    I know this might sound weird but reading your article conjured up memories of my grandmother she was wheelchair bound and paralyzed but mu strength. She was the strongest woman I known. She could not walk much but spoke a lot and advised me a lot. Some say I am like her. The title I can think of is “The sound of memories”. Lovely fiction piece!!!

  • Hi D, I read you for the first time and I must say I will be regularly reading your blog.
    I liked the way you handled the prompt in a story way.
    I remember everything what happened in 2010, 2011 or any other year of the decade very well but it is not possible for me to tell the world/people around me what would happen in the next 10 years, the current decade. As I was reading your piece, I would imagine it happening. This is what master story tellers/writers do. Thank you for writing this.

  • soniadogra says:

    I was eagerly waiting to read your take and I knew this would be it! And well, I will need years of writing to edit your draft.
    Now for your stream of consciousness..Well, I loved these in YBYS when Anjali went back and forth with her thoughts but here with the setting and the interspersed presence of the geese, it is so much more beautiful. In fact, these kind of pieces are my forever favourites. I would love to read geese and cackle in the title.
    And yes, the last bit that you’ve written. It is so endearing. Thanks!

  • Pri says:

    A beautiful account on life and the fluidity of our memories. How we always see the past as perfect (maybe only because we have lived and survived through it) while the future…well, the future remains unknown…unpredictable…and hence scary.

    How does ‘Until we’re here’ sound for a title? 😊

  • Swarnali says:

    Hi Damyanti! This post seemed to me like a fresh breeze of the dusk, someone telling me her story of the decade gone by. You know, somewhere I also wrote my post starting like cherishing those days looking at the sky and humming a song. We feel deep when we are alone. I just loved reading this slice of fiction. Best wishes for this new decade. 🙂

  • Beautiful writing and a touching story, Damyanti. Your words conjured up the couple and the park before my eyes.

  • jaya1966 says:

    A simply lovely piece of fiction Damayanti. Brings out camaraderie and togetherness beautifully. It outlines the fact that we take certain things for granted and it is only when the regular scenario changes we realize how much we take for granted. I read it twice to get the gist. Fantastic!

    • Archana says:

      So well said we can’t predict future nor we predicted our past, only the thing we live it we struggle, and we can conquer it only by effortThis prompt of fiction Left me teary eyes, so heart touching.Would love to read more of your masterpieces of fiction, many wishes for coming decades Damyanti.

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