Chandramohan Sathyanathan – From the Beach to the Hotel Room

or how to become a ‘feuilletonist’

I am a struggling writer, yet to bask in the glory, the glitz and the glamour of literary festivals. The only luck I have had so far is that I was invited to volunteer for a poetry-fest in my hometown. Many gorgeous women poets were high profile invitees and I was to be the personal assistant of two of them. While walking with the older of the two on the shores of a sandy beach, an unexpected wave burgeoned past us but drenched only her feet. I was reminded of the ineffectiveness of certain stories I had endeavored to tell as do I dare … do I dare rumble in my head to ask her do I dare… to ask her for advice about my literary career.
She was a woman of ready sympathy, not only an acclaimed poet. She said never exhaust the cache of images you have, never repeat them, and use them exactly once like a cheesy pickup-line you try on damsels in distress.
When we were in her hotel room I said, ‘’Last night I read in an article, that ‘feuilletonist’ had become the nastiest insult in the German language”.
And we wrote together a ‘feuilleton’.
Here is an excerpt:

Which part of me do you like best?
Your feet are the best. I am reminded of my mother.
What? She giggles.

You know India is the land of snake-charmers.
Can you play the flute?
You could try

Show me your one-eyed snake.

What? I gasped for a moment.
But you need to use your feet.

She had awesome dexterity with her feet.
Her skin wasn’t as soft as it would seem.
I was able to hold-on and write this.

When she was in the bathroom, I opened her red notebook and read her last note there:

Mary Wollstonecraft said,
‘The mind has no sex’.

Short story chosen by Emilia Mirazchiyska

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Chandramohan Sathyanathan
Chandramohan Sathyanathan alias Chandramohan S. (b.1986) is an Indian English language Dalit poet based in Trivandrum, Kerala. He has been published in many magazines and anthologies and he has published two books of poetry in India: “Warscape Verses” published in the year 2014, and Letters to “Namdeo Dhasal” (Desirepaths Publishers, 2016). His accolades include being on the shortlist for the Srinivas Rayaprol Poetry Prize 2016 and a fellowship at the International Writing Program (IWP-2018) at the University of Iowa. With his poetry collection “Love after Babel and Other Poems” (Daraja Press), published in March 2020 in Canada, he won the 2021 Nicolás Cristóbal Guillén Batista Outstanding Book Award.