Saturday, 16 May 2015

An extract from my novella

“Hari? What kind of a name is that?”
“It’s a proper name.”
“As in Harry Potter or hairy legs?” 

“No, as in hurry up, please!”

Last December, I started writing a novella set in Mumbai. It is a crime story, though, let me warn you that it has a leisurely pace and is more atmospheric than hardboiled. The protagonist is Hari Hemmady, a mild-mannered detective in the crime branch with a nose for homicide cases. I meant to finish the story by Christmas but couldn’t due to various reasons. So far I have written upwards of 6,000 words and I hope to complete it in coming weeks. Alongside, I’m also working on a collection of fast-paced short stories that I intend finishing by Diwali this November. I don’t want to rush into either as I don’t write every day and, in fact, I write only when I have the time and the mood suits me.

For now, I thought I’d give you a glimpse into a portion of the first draft of my novella which I have gone through a couple of times. It requires editing and probably revision too which I’ll undertake after I complete the entire story. I haven’t figured out a title yet. Read on…



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“So you’re not going to use third degree on me, are you?”

Hari Hemmady backed away as Trisha switched off the kitchen light and swept past him into the living room. His 6'3" broad-shouldered frame trailed after her and almost knocked her down when she stopped abruptly and turned around to face him. He steadied her and stepped back.

He liked the way she looked at that moment, standing in front of him, her arms folded and her head cocked to one side, lips compressed, gazing up at him through shining dark eyes. God, she was beautiful, he thought. He experienced a familiar sensation but he knew better than to tell her what he was thinking.

“Hemmady, all I asked you was a simple question and all I wanted was a straight answer. Don’t give it to me if you don’t want to. I’m not going to beat it out of you, okay?” She whirled around and walked towards their study.

That did it. He’d have to stick to his side of the bed tonight. She used his last name only when she was upset with him which was rare. He decided not to mess with her.

“Look, Trish,” he began. “For whatever it’s worth…”

She turned once again and gave him a look that said, “I dare you to say the truth, mister.”

“…I think she still has her looks,” he finished.

“You think?”

He almost raised his voice in exasperation. “Well, I didn’t get a good look at her. I was there only a couple of minutes. Besides, it was dark on the landing and there were these potted plants all over the place. Anyway, how the hell does it matter? Dina was in my past. I love you and I’m married to you now and that’s how I want it for the rest of my life, and you know I do.”

And then he did mess with her. “You are jealous, aren’t you, Trish?” He said mischievously and regretted it instantly.

She gave him a fiery look. “Don’t even think of it tonight, Hemmady,” she said and walked away.

He stared after her. She did it every time! That’s what you get for marrying a psychologist. He started to say something but decided against it. He was contemplating whether to follow her and make up or spend the night in the living room when his cell phone rang. It was ACP Dhond calling to inform him that the last suspect, the building watchman, was clean. The man had a sound alibi. He had been on leave when the crime took place and was, in fact, in his native village attending a wedding the day Mrs. Seth was poisoned to death. Dhond said he had checked out the alibi and found no reason to detain the guard.

“All right, Dhond, if you’re sure then let him go. But did he say anything that might give us a paan to chew on?”

“Saab, he did mention a stranger who visited Mrs. Seth on at least two occasions.”

“Male or female?”

“Male.”

“How old?”

“Late thirties.”

“When was this?”

“About a week before the murder.”

“Did he say who he was?”

“The man didn't give a name but our man thinks he was a lawyer.”

“How come?” Hemmady wanted to know.

“The watchman said he thought the man was a vakil because he was carrying papers the way lawyers usually do. A bunch of them tied loosely together on an open cardboard file and held close to the chest.”

“Yes, I know the kind. Did he leave a number in the visitors’ book?”

“Mrs. Seth’s housing complex doesn’t keep one. People walk in and walk out, even at nights.”

And kill innocent people, Hemmady muttered under his breath. “All right, Dhond. First thing tomorrow we track down this lawyer. We might be on to something.”

“Will there be anything else, sir?”

“Yes, ask Rana to prepare a sketch of our new suspect.”

“He’s already working on it, saab. Anything else?


“No, Dhond, go on home," Hemmady told his deputy. 
I’ll see you in the morning.”

Hemmady put the phone down and glanced at the study. Trisha was probably busy with a case paper. She often sat up late writing patient reports. He decided to let things cool down. He plopped in his favourite chair, picked up In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, opened the bookmarked page, and was soon engrossed in reading about the real life murders of a Kansas-based farmer named Herbert Clutter and his wife and children. He lost track of time. He must have been reading for quite some time because once or twice his head dropped on his chest and the book slid from his hands. He glanced at his watch. It showed 11.15 pm.

“Hari,” a soft voice called from the bedroom. “Come to bed. You have a long day tomorrow.” Trisha was leaning against the door with her arms crossed. She had tied up her hair and had changed into a white shirt and shorts.

Hemmady got up, switched off the table lamp, and came to her. He enveloped her in his arms and held her close to him. She didn’t resist. She put her arms around him and buried her face in his shoulder. They rocked on their feet, slowly. She loved this moment. And then, she lifted her head and they kissed gently on the lips.

Copyright: Prashant C. Trikannad

22 comments:

  1. I enjoyed it, Prashant. Hope you finish this and the short stories soon. Do keep us posted about the progress. Good luck.

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    1. Thanks, Neer, I will. It's still a work in progress.

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  2. Good descriptions and atmosphere.

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    1. Charles, it is largely atmospheric. The more I read it the more I can see where it is flawed.

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  3. Sounds very good, Prashant. I like your writing style. Looking forward to more.

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    1. Tracy, thank you. I'm enjoying it too. At this point I'm not bothered about its publication.

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  4. Interesting start, well-written....looking forward to more.

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    1. Col, hopefully, I'll have the first draft of the entire story ready by next month, and then I'll revise it.

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  5. I enjoyed the excerpt, Prashant, and your writing style. By the way, do you do any fiction writing in a non-English language? Any translations?

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    1. Oscar, thank you. I'm writing with the Indian reader in mind. Atmospheric novels work well out here. Although I know three to four Indian languages, I'm not fluent enough to write or translate anything. There is some terrific literature in many regional languages of India, though.

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  6. I like the way you create an atmosphere, it works well.

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    1. Moira, would you believe it! The book extracts you reproduce with your reviews has inspired me to write in a non-formal way and I think that sort of style does work well, especially in the Indian context.

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    2. That's so nice to hear! Thanks....

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  7. Fantastic news Prashant - all the best of luck with the project.

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    1. Sergio, thank you! I'll need all the luck with this project.

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  8. Replies
    1. Patti, thank you! Your writing has been an inspiration.

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  9. Good to go, Prashant. I hope you do get a chance to write more. It will be interesting to see how crime is handled in your neck of the woods. :)

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    1. Thank you, Yvette. I intend to make time to write both this story as well as the collection I have in mind.

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