ABOUT THE STORY In a hospital room somewhere in Delhi, an old woman lies resentfully in her bed, stewing in both real and remembered time. For over a decade now, she has been contemplating a terrible conspiracy against her, beginning with what must have been a staged assassination. She is not sure if her family has any inkling of the truth, or whether it has remained in charge of Indian democracy since her incarceration. For years now, she has plotted one thing: escape. But her enemies have taken care to surround her only with their loyalists.
In Saskya Jain’s short story, we experience the excruciating world of a mainly horizontal protagonist fighting a work of fiction that others assure her is reality. One day, she wakes up to find a disoriented old man in the bed next to hers—a familiar face from her past. Is fate offering her a way back to her real life, with the help of her fiercest political rival? Saskya Jain presents a narrative that mingles paranoia, horror, decrepitude, determination, suspicion and black comedy. Somehow both familiar and strange, this is a fable about political power, history, memory and the human will.
Saskya Jain’s first novel, Fire Under Ash, will be published this month by Random House.