An excerpt of Manan appears in The Bombay Review

‘Is that you, Manan?’ Taiji’s voice from behind the window of her bedroom.

Has she been waiting there to pounce on him? ‘Yes, Taiji.’

‘Tauji is calling you.’

‘In a minute, Taiji.’

Quickly he hides behind the veranda pillar and then crawls on all fours into the side alley. Here, under the shadow of the porch and out of Taiji’s sight, and away from those idiots inside. Tauji is calling him – so what? Why should he answer their calls? He is a full, complete human being, not a toy, not a massage machine: why is he given orders when he never gives orders to them? He closes his eyes and, seething with anger, to vindicate his disregard for Taiji’s request, he summons up an image of a dhoti-clad Tauji lying half asleep on his round belly. The room smelling of iodex and farts. He is asked to climb over Tauji, rather Tauji’s hairy back, and, deeming any show of unwillingness as out of keeping, he does so. Cautiously he treads: from the naked upper back to the naked, sweaty lower back, over the hips to the unstable, wobbly thighs, and quickly onto the calves; the same way up with an about-turn. Tauji farts from time to time and he has to smell the hydrogen sulphide: his hands are stretched for balance, and for how long can one hold one’s breath? This … is wrong. Illegal. Child labour. He could be playing videogames or catch-a-catch, he could be preparing for the debate or dreaming of chance meetings with Hriya – doing things much more useful than this. Why should he go then? When will this sequence stop?

35kg – this is what Tauji is exploiting. 140cm, 35kg, his comfortable smallness. Not for too long then. Puberty will put an end to all these matters soon.

To read the full excerpt, click here.

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