Friday 1 December 2023

Write...Edit...Publish... December 2023 : Over to You

Hello writers, 

I can't believe the year is over, can you?! Personally it has been tumultuous, mixed is an understatement. As I discovered during the first Covid year, time flies whether one's having a good time or bad. I am back at Write...Edit...Publish... where the prompt is "Over to You." It's an open prompt where the writer chooses her/his favourite film/title for inspiration. I have so many favourites and they are all in different languages so it's a fairly impossible task to pick one. Therefore I decided to use the phrase itself as a prompt - btw, there is a movie called Over to You, which I haven't watched, not very helpful. :) 

So here's the final instalment of Chiaroscuro, which began in Dec 2022 with the Roberta Flack song 'The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.' I didn't think the story would get so lo-o-n-g,  I'm glad I can bring it to its conclusion finally, phew! 

What's happened so far:

The MC finds a B/W profile picture on a social media platform intriguing. He writes on an impulse to the woman and finds that the picture is of her grandmother and was shot in a studio that once belonged to a relative, now dead. 

The MC goes back to his hometown and explores the derelict studio. He finally comes upon a series of nudes of a woman in different stages of life, the last of which he recognises as the grandmother.

He finds a letter that breaks the bombshell news that his Great Uncle Sam, the studio owner and the grandmother had an ongoing relationship in the past. 

He meets with the granddaughter in their common hometown and shares the findings...which naturally shocks the granddaughter. The MC assures her that the secret is safe with him and he will support her through this bombshell discovery. They say goodbye but he feels she will not want to see him again. 

The MC goes to Sam's ancestral house situated a little way away from the city and finds the furniture that's used as props in the Janhobi's portrait - the radio, the table etc. He also chances upon an old tree engraving that clearly indicates Sam and Janhobi spent time in the house. Mukta does not get in touch as he had feared.

The old radio goes berserk in the middle of the night and Shovan doesn't get much sleep due to a stream of spooky electrical events. In the morning he finds further evidence of Sam and Janhobi's presence in the room from many years ago. His phone beeps meanwhile - it's from Mukta. 

Now please read on: 

Chiaroscuro VII : A different direction

“Sorry for vanishing. Crazy circs. Are you in India? Can we meet?”

My heart had raced, not sure whether due to the night’s events or at this overture from Mukta. But I had composed myself and texted her back.

So here we were again – at another of the boutique-y eateries doubling up as an art studio. It was busy tending towards noisy, the waiting staff moving briskly but discreetly between full tables, the music adding a further layer of sound, screening off the conversations of each table from its neighbours.

Mukta looked drawn, pale, still the same set to her vulnerable collar bones, absurdly beautiful shoulder blades.

“My uncle - . You know – Kaustubh. He’s terminal.” She launched into it without any preliminaries. “Just been insane. He’s the fittest, the most alive person I know.”

“I’m so sorry, Mukta.”

“I am too. He’s such a towering personality, it’s hard to come to terms with it, it’s all too sudden. That’s not what I came to talk about though. He’s -, well, tying up  loose ends. Called a family conclave and handed over…” she paused and brought out a rather large, paper wrapped bundle, “these.”


Turned out they were Janhobi’s journals and correspondence - some of the key ones that Mukta wanted me to read.


“It is not possible to live with this gentleman day in day out, this man who gives my children his name and social protection, who does his duty towards us, indefatigable, undemanding, uncomplaining, without feeling my heart bend and break under the weight of guilt. He is being shortchanged in all of this. He deserves better, we deserve better, we all deserve different…”

Mukta was watching me, I could feel her eyes on my face. “My grandmother handed these over to her first-born before she died. Now he’s doing the same, sharing them with the next generation.”

I nodded at her briefly in acknowledgement and picked another entry she had flagged.

Draupadi chose and loved Arjun, but was forced into a marriage with five men. She fulfilled her marital duties to each one, bore them sons each one - absolutely top notch at segregation and compartmentalisation. She favoured Arjun, yet it was Bheem who loved her beyond reason and rectitude, it was Bheem who jumped in to protect her every time…it was he who she went to when she wanted her problems solved. Did Draupadi feel as wrung out with guilt and gratitude?...”

I felt my nerves tauten and closed the hardbound diary. It snapped shut with a startingly loud noise. My voice when it came was croaky, just a shade above a whisper, “Mukta, does this mean… was Janhobi a modern day Draupadi then?”

“That’s a neat way to sum it up  – I understand that’s exactly what it came to be. It wasn’t legal, of course. But there were no lies between the three of them, and she ‘fulfilled her marital duty’ as she puts it, towards both the men. She bore children to both of them.”

My heart was leaping around trying to climb out of my chest. I felt breathless, out of control. “So – … so, you’re not my half third cousin of some sort or other? We don’t have a common ancestor, Sam Gain is not related to you?”

“No. I’m the biological descendant of my grandfather, not just on paper.”

“Thank heavens,” I reached out to take her hand. Even her knuckles were ridiculously beautiful, the skin whorled exquisitely round them, delicate and fine. “In that case, there’s nothing hampering me from coming clean? Nothing to stop taking things…erm…in a different direction?”

I gave her hand the briefest of squeezes, laid it back gently and looked up into her eyes. For the first time, she smiled.

“You know what?” she bent forward and interlaced her fingers with mine, one by one, carefully, deliberately, taking her time. “I really think there isn’t. Which direction will you want to be taking?”

She caressed the spaces between my fingers with hers, the lightest of touch, in a feathery gesture at once innocuous yet so intimate that it sent the blood coursing through my body. I could feel my face flush, the radiating heat of my hand against her cool, soft palm.  

"That," I said, "will depend totally on you."




It’s still too early to say – ‘Reader, she married me.’ But Mukta and I have somehow managed to make our long distance relationship work so far. I’m trying to make her come round to the idea sooner rather than later.

I have read more of Janhobi’s journals, I am in awe of the lady – her courage, her integrity, her utter rejection of superficial societal norms of her times, of caste and class and gender stereotypes . Her conduct of her entire life on her own terms. Her impeccable evenhandedness, love and loyalty to her two men.

I have spoken to my family, it seems my eldest aunt vaguely knew about Sam and Janhobi all along, except her exact identity. So it has been easy to convince them to turn the studio and its contents over to Kaustubh’s son,  though technically it has been sold for a sum of Rs 101.

Kaustubh is battling on, though the signs are…well, the family know how this is going to end. He knows it too. Mukta took me to her grandma’s home and introduced me to her family living there. I was moved by their warmth and welcome, especially so by Kaustubh’s acceptance of me, given that I was the one who unearthed the photos of his mother.  

To hear his tone you would not ever guess that he knew his life was drawing to its close. He said to me he hoped we would make things official as soon as possible, so that when he went, he could personally report to Sam and Janhobi that their descendants have finally achieved what they in their life time, could not.

~~*~~ The End ~~*~~

Tagline : Sometimes just the touch of a finger can change the direction of an entire life.


WC : 988

Read the other entries here :  

So that ends this story and this year. The thing is - another, much longer story is coming to an end too. This is the last WEP Challenge, as we are shutting down, no more Challenges from 2024. Please go here to read the details. If you intend to submit to the anthology, please make that clear asap because we can go ahead with it only if we have a minimum of 20 entries. Comment here or at the WEP site or mail me: nilabose306bATgmailDOTcom

Endings are always a bit bittersweet. WEP has been a part of my blogging and my life from the start of M-i-V so it is not entirely easy to navigate, or even visualise the ramifications of this change. However, the one truth I have learnt is - things pan out. Every ending is always the beginning of something else. Keep positive and carry on is a mantra I've found useful. 

I'm travelling for most of December, visiting friends and family in the US. I'll be online sporadically but back here again in January. 

With loads of good wishes for the festive season and New Year 2024. Stay well and happy, and stay in touch. 



  1. Hari OM
    Oh, this tale has held us in thrall so wonderfully all this year... it's conclusion just grand!

    Enjoy all your travel. Be safe, be well and most of all, be happy as we bring this year to a close and embark on yet another. See you on the other side! Pranaams, YAM xx

  2. Wow. What a story. What a grand finale to this writing chapter. Safe travels. Will you be in Texas? Reach out. It would be amazing to meet.

    Take care and enjoy December.

  3. So you've wound up 2023 very nicely, Nilanjana. Congratulation on a job more than well done.

  4. Enjoy your travels, Nila. Nice work with your Chiaroscuro. People will miss it. It could be expanded and published as a little novella. Thanks for your kind words re WEP. You've certainly been a mainstay throughout. But we'll be in touch.

  5. I'm glad those two got together. I knew they were attracted to each other. Be safe in the US. I must confess, it is scary here at present. Nancy

  6. Enjoy your travels! I'm so happy with the wrap up to this story - lovely as always!

  7. I enjoyed all the instalments of your fabulous story about Janhobi. Also liked the twist in the end that brought the prospective lovers together.

  8. I am so glad Sam and Mukta could fulfil their dreams of togetherness. I loved this story, Nilanjana and the happy ending made it so special. I like happy endings. :)
    Happy holidays to you, too! See you in the new year.

  9. I'm glad that you were able to wrap up the story. I'm really going to miss WEP. This was a spectacular ending to your story.

    I didn't think much about the Gone, Gone, Gone prompt, but perhaps I should try to give it a go next week. I'm still finishing my Dec story.

    What book did you most enjoy this year?
    May joy, peace, and goodwill be with you this season and always.

    J Lenni Dorner (he/him 👨🏽 or 🧑🏽 they/them) ~ Speculative Fiction & Reference Author and Co-host of the April Blogging #AtoZchallenge

  10. Hi, Here Pat Garcia. I want you to know that I have loved this story and that you have put a fitting symbol of hope and love in it at the end that gets to me. Wonderful job, Nila.
    Thank you for being a part of the WEP team. I do plan on submitting for the WEP Anthology. I hope to have it written by the end of next week. I have my theme but haven't had the time to write it out properly.
    All the best to you. Merry Christmas and have a safe crossover into 2024. Shalom shalom

  11. I've been pretty much AWOL this year--thanks for the summary that made this story make sense, though I'll want to go back and look at the others!

    Even though I've not been participating much lately I'm sorry the WEP is shutting down. It introduced me to several great writers and great people!

  12. A happy ending, my favorite. Such an intriguing story too. Excellent job and I agree with Denise, soon to be published I hope! Safe and happy travels. Enjoy the holidays!

  13. A wonderful conclusion to your story. I so love happy endings!
    Olga Godim from

  14. I am glad I go to be here for the end of the tale, saddened that it is also the end of the trail for WEP.

  15. Hi Nila - Chiaroscuro has been a fascinating read ... I've loved each chapter ... and as Denise mentions - it could definitely be longer ... you write so well. Your tag line is just right - I probably should have used that for my Chocolat tagline ... time will tell though.

    I'm so sad WEP is closing down ... I've so enjoyed entering, though it was with fear and trepidation at the beginning ... if an anthology entry is needed please let me know - I've an idea ... cheers and thoughts for your travels and future - especially the coming 2024 year - Hilary

  16. A lovely ending to this lovely story :)