& occasionally about other things, too...

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Weather Permitting & Other Stories - Pratap Reddy

Pratap Reddy
My friend Pratap Reddy will soon have his first collection of short stories (Weather Permitting & Other Stories) published by the prestigious Guernica Editions.

Originally from Hyderabad in India, Pratap has been writing fiction since he came to Canada more than a decade ago. 

His stories have been published in Canada, India and the United States in several anthologies including Diaspora Dialogues’ TOK – Writing the New Toronto series, Canadian Voices, Indian Voices, The Courtneypark Connection, and in literary journals and websites such as the Maple Tree Supplement, among others.

Pratap wrote feature-length newspaper articles in India, and like many others, turned to fiction writing only after coming to Canada.

“I’ve been a voracious reader all my life, and when reading becomes a part of your life, eventually you also want to try your hand at writing,” Pratap says. Describing his collection, he said in some ways all the stories reflect his immigrant experience. 

Pratap has completed the creative writing program at Humber School for Writers and has been a recipient of the Writer’s Reserve Grant from the Ontario Arts Council, and awarded the Best Emerging Literary Artist award by the Mississauga Arts Council.

At present, he is working on his novel and hopes to complete it before the short fiction collection is published. One of the most notable features of Pratap’s personality is his utter modesty and down-to-earth simplicity. It’s a trait that has helped him create magical stories.

Here’s an excerpt from his story In the Dark, published in Canadian Voices Volume I. The story occurs during the blackout that stopped North America in its tracks a decade ago, and is about accidental encounters that surprise a couple and redefine their relationship.

Dev remembered the day he had asked Shalini to buy a box of strawberry pie from the grocery store. Shalini had been working for three months and he had been laid off from his job at the gas station. Shalini returned from her shopping and duped a carton of fresh strawberries on the table in front of him. As he looked up in amazement at her, she said: “You should stop eating those disgusting pies. You’ve put on a lot of weight.” Dev couldn’t think of a reply.

As they stood in the long line, they heard people talking about the blackout.

“I believe that the entire province is without electricity.”

“No. All of North America, in fact.”

“I’m sure it’s the work of terrorists!”

The cash register was not working so the clerk was collecting money and issuing change from a plastic box. They left the store and soon were on the street where Dev lived. The entrance to his basement apartment was in the narrow space between two houses. Dev locked the door and stepped inside.

“Isn’t your wife at home?” asked Anne.

“No,” said Dev, “She’s at work, packing undies.”

It was almost pitch dark inside. Anne started climbing down the steep staircase. The door behind her close by itself. She cried out, “I can’t see anything.”

“Here, grab my hand,” said Dev. “Ouch! That’s not my hand!”

Holding on to each other, they tottered down the steps. When they reached the bottom, Dev bent his head and kissed Anne on her mouth. Anne thought she ought to protest but her lips had a will of their own. Anne felt something hard at her navel. It was the carry-bag containing the box of strawberry pie.”

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