01 January 2010

THE WHORE’S HAIR WAS SPREAD OUT down her back till her ass. She was lying on a sheet of black hair with her legs wide open. Her eyes were shrunk within her brow. On both sides of her forehead, on the right and on the left, like purple figs that had been pasted on, were two holes. Her body was utterly soaked from the rain that had begun late in the night. The rainwater had thoroughly washed the unusually long arms, stomach and feet of this corpse.

They had torn a piece of the sari she was wearing and used it to bind her mouth. As the flies buzzed around the dead woman’s face, the villagers stood by, brushing their teeth and staring at her.

The corpse was lying in front of the village’s main market. The villagers kept circling the body again and again. They had never before in their lives seen anybody killed by bullets and were exclaiming loudly with great surprise and sympathy.

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    Shobha Shakti is a former LTTE child soldier who now lives as a refugee in Paris. The English translation of his second novel, Hmm…, is forthcoming from Penguin India.

    Keywords: translation Anushiya Ramaswamy fiction Tamil shobasakthi