Smoking With Kuzhali Manickavel

Read the Story September 15, 2005

And what if her sleeves had gone up “inadvertently”? What then?

There is something very vulnerable about having your sleeves go up by accident and letting people see what they weren’t meant to see—scars, grubby pieces of string tied about the wrist. In this particular case I suppose the narrator has already allowed that to happen, meaning that she has let Mrs. Krishnan into her life and is being healed by the relationship that they both share. It’s a slow process, but by allowing her sleeves to go up I think she starts to heal a little bit.

“Time always tosses me out.” Golly, that’s great. Do you perceive the world in such a way?—or is it desperately hard work to find these absolutely gorgeous phrasings?

I perceive time in that way. So often we are asked to move along when we’re not ready to go.

We have to go because it’s time, it’s getting late, you have run out of time. People shrug and point to their watches like there’s nothing they can do about it. But it’s tough to find a phrase that will do justice to something like that. I got lucky that time I guess.

Do we all need a Mrs. Krishnan in our lives?

I think we do. Sometimes we need that to provide a certain amount of stability—it’s what stops us from completely tipping over.

How’s life in a temple town on the coast of South India?

Quite nice actually. It somehow manages to be hectic and slow moving at the same time.

We’d love to hear more about your roommates—”a cursed mango tree and a rhinoceros beetle in a shot glass.”

The cursed mango tree is a rather fine specimen, only it gives these huge, sour mangos which are fine for a good bottle of pickle and a long string of stomach aches.

The rhino beetle is in the shot glass because I’m scared it might bite me if I let it out.

About the Author:

Kuzhali Manickavel's debut collection Insects Are Just Like You And Me Except Some Of Them Have Wings is available from Blaft Publications Pvt. Ltd. Her work can also be found at Subtropics, Per Contra, Quick Fiction, Caketrain and The Café Irreal. She lives in a small temple town on the coast of South India.

About the Artist:

A native of Ohio, Marty D. Ison lives with his wife transplanted in the sands of the Gulf of Mexico. He studied fine arts at Saint Petersburg College. In addition to the visual arts, he writes poetry, short stories, and novels. See more of Ison's work here.