The Smell of Penance

Picture Credits: jenil-jain

They say that a fulfilled man is in want of nothing. To an outsider, Madhav Sundaram has
everything a man could possibly want – a devoted wife, a fledgling business, the promise of a
child and a set of satisfied parents. Yet if the outsider looks at him now, they would be
surprised to find him desperately searching for a ferry to Shanivaram, as if everything
depended on it.

And why not? For days now, an awkward stench has lingered inside his nose. He has been, as
any other man would, trying to find the source of the smell. Initially, he was convinced that
the garbage bins across the street were to blame. The bins were relocated upon his request,
but the certain smell still lurked at the back of his throat. Soon, the crude fecund smell had
trickled into his breath. Morbidly conscious of being questioned about his hygiene, Madhav
refused to meet or talk to anyone for days on end. He would ask his wife, Savita, persistently
about the presence of a certain odour coming from his mouth. She would always answer, “I
don’t smell anything”, to which Madhav responded with a suspicious silence. If she was
lying, he hoped it was her ignorance and not love that made his breath so endearing to her.
Unconvinced by the responses of those who tolerated him, he made futile trips to the dentist
and the otolaryngologist. But with every passing day, the thick stench pushed further into his
nostrils, threatening to fill his lungs with the smell of soot and festering flesh.

He waves off the smell as he waits to cross the river to Shanivaram. To reach Shanivaram,
one has to get to the east bank of the Ganges. The ferryman that takes people across is known
for his penchant to entertain his passengers with newly minted platitudes. “Everyone comes

looking for something to Shanivaram. You never cross the river; the river goddess allows you
to cross it,” the ferryman says as he lifts the oar out with his bony fingers. The passengers
worry that the loquacious old man would pull a finger and drown everyone. So they let him
get away with his words without any argument. A child sitting in front asks, oblivious to the
concerns of adults around him, “So, how does she decide who can cross, ferryman?”

“She only lets those cross over who can give something to her in return, my son,” he says
leaning towards the boy.

“But I have nothing to give,” says the child. He opens his tiny palms as proof of his honor.
The ferryman’s laughter wrecks havoc in the air, making even the disinterested turn. “The
Goddess only asks what we can give.” He pauses and puts a coin in the child’s palm.

Madhav notices the exchange and taps his pockets to see if his wallet is in place, lest it has
already been picked. He rubs his nose vigorously to get rid of the smell. He has been coming
to the city ever since, but never to find a witch doctor.

Madhav is a simple man. Having exhausted all his options, he had asked his mother if she
knew of any cure. She had advised him to visit the jhakri in Shanivaram during Dussehra.
Madhav recognized that he was not as worldly as his neighbors who were interested in
politics and cricket. He might not know his way around complicated things, but that does not
mean he was naive and would go to a so-called jhakri, a witch doctor, for an ailment.
“Madhav, worry you must not, son,” his mother said, placing a marigold in his palms. “We
have done no wrong to anyone, so no wrong will be done unto us.” He was the apple of her
eyes – eyes that were already clouded with milky cataracts. “Just tell the jhakri your problem
and, lo and behold, you have a solution.” She clapped her hands to personify the swiftness.

“Witch doctors cannot solve something normal doctors can’t.” He put the marigold inside his
pocket. “All they do is steal money and at best entertain.”

“You know, when I could not get a son, for the longest time your heaven-bound father went
to the jhakri and the very next month, I was craving tamarinds.” She stared at Savita, hoping
for a grandson this time again.

Madhav and Savita had been trying to conceive for the longest time, but without any fruition.
Like most anxieties, the inability to have a child somehow evolved into the question of who
was to blame – Savita, Madhav or God?

Savita is an undemanding woman. Madhav, to her knowledge, is the perfect match. A big
tailor in town, his clientele stretched way beyond his city owing to his extensive
understanding of human proportions. A religious man, he visited the temple every Saturday
to appease Shani, the God of delays and obstruction. And like one astrologer had foreseen,
her husband would be ‘tender-hearted who rarely looked at other women’. It came true.
Madhav was loyal like the astrologer had predicted, if not more. Since then, Savita naturally
and thoroughly held her belief in the workings of kismet. And as kismet would have it, she
was four months pregnant.

But it took Savita some time to realize that clairvoyants aren’t particularly precise. Ever since
the Ayodhya riots broke out, something about Madhav had changed. The Ram Janmabhoomi
riots resulted in a demolished Masjid which created insurmountable communal uproar.
Madhav was a devout Hindu and hence took the side he prayed to blindly. Savita noticed that
the once forbearing Madhav had become more and more temperamental. Savita suspected it
was perhaps the news of the baby that kept Madhav on edge. But Madhav’s recent complaints
of some stench coming off his mouth made him look a bit deranged. So when her mother-in-law suggested he leave for the witch doctor to Shanivaram, she hoped that the trip would
yield some solution to Madhav’s growing temper. After all, her baby is a testament to the
miracles granted by the divine being.

Thankfully, Madhav visited Shanivaram every year, so he readily accepted his mother’s
suggestion. So, he takes the voyage across the river without any complaints. As usual, he had
booked a room at the end of the hallway in Lokeshwara Inn. The room is substantial enough.
It has pictures of deities cut out from old calendar rolls, hanging by thin nails, decorating the
pink walls asymmetrically. The cot is sturdy and could easily take on a heavy person. The
tiled floor is splattered with patterns that hide any dirt that the housekeeping might have
missed. But most importantly, it has a balcony with a view of the burning effigies, just to let
the blazing light grace the room that will otherwise be kept in the dark.

The place is at a comfortable distance from the big field where the Dussehra fair is held. It is
far enough for him to escape the fair but close enough to hear the effigy of Ravana and his
ten heads burn as crackers burst into the sky through the demon king’s belly. Dussehra is
marked as the day the king of Ayodhya, Rama, slayed the demon king, Ravana, as retribution
for abducting his wife Sita. Madhav found it strange that the day of good over evil was
named after the bad guy – Ravana, the god with ten heads – Duss-ehra.

The effigies were always a sight to behold, but Madhav did not visit Shanivaram for the
effigies. It was the fair. The fair filled with bodies of strange men. This was where he had
first encountered a man. He was young, with no care of the world. He read Sufi poetry then,
and his voice had a sing-song quality to it. Being in spaces full of memories he wanted to
forget felt divine. As if he had rubbed a lamp by brushing his hands against the walls of the
Inn and out came the reflection of his dalliances, if only in bits and pieces.

He opens the balcony. It reminds him of Raghuvir, his very first. “Why are you standing
outside? Aren’t you afraid of getting caught?” He remembers Raghuvir had wrapped a dhoti
around his waist and called for him from the back of the creaking door. Madhav recalls
Raghuvir’s voice had sounded prudent, like that of a middle-aged man in hiding. But instead
of Raghuvir’s eyebrows folding in with concern, they had lifted up with curiosity.

“What is there to be caught? Wine remains what it is, regardless of the vessel it is in,”
Madhav had said, turning around and leaning on the balcony wall. The only light that made
Madhav’s silhouette visible came from the earthen lamps that glazed the streets. Raghuvir
had laughed. “Poetry won’t take you far Madhav. Nor will pursuing men,” he said whilst
stroking Madhav’s swollen lower lip. Madhav felt the warmth of Raghuvir’s body on his and
had suddenly realized how naked he was. The clothes on his body make him lonely now.

It’s not easy to forget someone’s first, however good or bad. They taint people like tattoos
pervading deep beneath the skin. “Why don’t you sing me one of your Sufi poems as I get
ready?” Raghuvir had suggested. Madhav swung into the chair and raised his hands to recite
“Oh Khusrau, the river of love runs in strange ways.”

“Beautiful! Beautiful!” Raghuvir mocked him with unwarranted adulation. He flung his shirt
into the air then slid his left arm into it, then his right. Madhav was not surprised by
Raghuvir’s swiftness. At the end of the day he was, for him, another man, another somebody.

Madhav jumped up and loudly declared, “Oh Khusrau! The river of love runs in strange
ways. One who enters it drowns.” Madhav paused and got closer to Raghuvir’s face. “And
the one who drowns gets across.” He bowed.

He found it odd since the very beginning that strangers have been on the receiving end of
parts of his most tender self – his most real self. Perhaps, it was the eternal tragedy of men

like him that the only way he could reach out to others of his kind was through lyric, and not
in affirmations.

Raghuvir had buttoned up his shirt quickly and put on his shoes. Those fifteen minutes passed
very quickly. Madhav had wondered then what kind of excuse men like Raghuvir gave to
their wives. It took him a marriage to find out. Madhav knew that there was little for them to
speak about after that moment. They took up different lanes, different motivations towards
the same place. They were after all just bodies that were capable of affection, not affectionate
bodies in themselves.

He realized then that rooms can contain bodies, but streets don’t. The street like the one
Madhav walks on, is taken by everyone. It does not see his sins, yet gives him a way.
Madhav’s sandals snap the concrete one foot at a time, as he speeds up towards the fair. Five
years ago he was walking to the fair just minutes after he had left the arms of Raghuvir in the
hopes of falling into another man’s. Today he is walking, as he tells himself, for an entirely
different reason.

Before leaving the boat, he had asked the ferryman if he knew the whereabouts of a jhakri at
the fair. “Find where people sell curd and ask them who their favorite customer is. They will
tell you where he is to be found,” the ferryman replied.

The jhakri is rumored to drink only curd during the holy days of the festival. Madhav asks a
few questions to ice-cream truck boys and dairy shopkeepers one of whom eventually show
him the way to a red and purple tent. Madhav enters. It is held up by two stick-like columns,
making enough space for two people. At the centre sits an ageing man with kind eyes who
looks at Madhav invitingly.

“Do you come with a problem, my son?” he asks tenderly. Madhav fumbles. “Or you must
have bought me some curd then.” He waves his hand, signaling Madhav to sit.

“So what is it? A love potion, or a grandson? What is it that you want?” he asks cheekily.
Madhav never anticipated that such a simple question would befuddle him so much. “Well I
could cast a spell and make you happy, or you could open your mouth and tell me your
name.” The old man laughs. He comes across as at least a hundred years old. His
cheerfulness makes him look like someone with no complaints. In the dimness of the tent, it
is difficult for Madhav to see whether the old man is looking at him or not, but his voice
comes straight at Madhav. Madhav reveals his name.

“Madhava – he who is knowledgeable, or Sundharama – the oh-so-beautiful one. What is he,
who has both, seeking at this haggard’s humble abode?” The jhakri bows like a performing

Madhav clears his throat and just then, the distinct odor catches his tongue. “I have a problem
with my neck.”

“Oh, I see you want medicine or you want release. What is it that your neck feels?” the old
man puts his back to Madhav already tinkering some concoction.

Unable to decipher the old man’s codes Madhav says, “Well, it is a strange and disturbing
smell, like rotting wood, and it won’t leave my throat, if that is what you asked?”

The old man’s arms stop moving and he asks to reconfirm. “You have a rotting smell in the

“Yes. It’s been there for some time now,” Madhav coughs to see if he can swallow the smell
to taste it and provide a better description. The old man brings a pot filled with clear liquid in

front of him and asks if he can prick Madhav’s finger. Madhav nods. The old man takes out a
rose stem, spots a thorn and pricks Madhav’s flesh. He lets the blood drop into the pot. It
turns purple instead of crimson.

“I see traces of some penance. I wonder what the depths of these fires are that seek to burn
the cot you sleep in. You have blood on your hands, my son, You cannot sever its ties.” The
old man looks him in the eye. “Fingers that touch any flesh that sours, carry ailments not
flowers. How can tender souls rest in peace, when we are but living cowards?”

Madhav grabs hold of the old man by his collar. “Are you suggesting I killed someone?” Just
then a young man walks into the tent with a bowl of curd. “Ah curd! Bring it here.” The old
man brightens up. Madhav immediately lets go, before the young man sees him like that.

Madhav puts his hands on his face, surprised by the silliness of it all. The jhakri dips three
fingers in the bowl and sweeps in a chunk of the white substance. Madhav leaves a handful of
ten rupee notes beside the old man who is devouring his curd. “Cross the river once you meet
god, cross it twice you get Pashmina. Take your turn to her this needy hour or leave your
head for time that is dour. Go and confess in Pashmina.” The old man sings into nothingness,
as if there were ghosts in front of him. Madhav listens and walks away.

That was a crazy old man, Madhav whispers looking at the pinprick that had coagulated. All
those metaphors made my head ache. I need some chai. His mind rushes as he looks out for
the sign of a tea stall. “How much for a cup?” he asks. “Five” the shopkeeper replies. “You
are stealing from people, you know that right?” Madhav tries to work his bargaining skills.
“Well, it’s the season to loot, my friend.” The shopkeeper happily puts the money in the
drawer and shouts out for one chai to be served. Murder. Madhav laughs alone in front of

everyone. What does murder have to do with any of this? he blows on the brown liquid and

The peace is short lived, as he is interrupted by the murmur of people crowding over at the
stall across the street. Curious Madhav walks up to the crowd and asks, “What’s the big
news? Did some celebrity die?”

“It’s Amba Kesari giving a speech,” a man replies and then goes back to listening. “What is
she saying?” Madhav enquires. “She wants Ram Janmabhoomi for the Hindus,” someone
answers. Amba Kesari is the political powerhouse who rose to fame on the wings of the
communal extremism she endorsed. She hasn’t won an election yet, so people see this as her
attempt to become a mantri. Regardless of what she propagates, she is a sensation around
town for flagrantly putting to words a hostility that people discuss only within the confines of
their homes.

Just then, Madhav’s eyes meet a peculiar man’s hazel ones for the first time. The stranger
hands him a wad of ten rupee notes. “Here,” he says, “uncle does not take cash. You can buy
him curd if you want.” Madhav is in disbelief that the young man had escaped his eye in the
tent. Madhav graciously nods.

The lady in the radio shouts, “The temple will be here, brothers and sisters, in Ayodhya! The
temple will be where Rama’s birthright lies! Nobody can take this from us!” The crowd jolts
into cheers. Some compliment Amba’s commanding voice and sing praises of her bravado.
Madhav gets distracted, but senses that the hazel eyed young man is still standing there. He
wears a beard and smells of rose petals left to dry between books, mildewed but sweet.

“Can you imagine she is contesting from the Khajuraho constituency?” the young man starts

Khajuraho was once the capital of Chandella kings who ruled Bundelkhand. Madhav knows
of it mostly as the consortium of Hindu temples with erotic carvings on its walls. “I am sure
people would love to visit the temple Kesari might build there,” Madhav says with a giggle,
“but at what cost?”

The young man exhales and Madhav looks quizzical.

“At the cost of a masjid, I guess,” says the young man, nonchalant.

Silence bleeds between them. Madhav is unable to understand the reason behind the
nonchalance. He wonders if it is the setting – being surrounded by a hundred Hindus in a
Hindu festival – that gave way to such an attitude. Or had the young man really accepted the
state of things in the country? But most of all, Madhav wonders why he is so invested in what
the hazel eyed man thinks.

Madhav tries to come out of his head and asks, “Does uncle talk in metaphors all the time?”

The young man answers, “He does not talk in metaphors, he just rhymes things. Most of what
he says is fluff. But he gets to the point eventually.”

“I see,” Madhav replies, then bites his tongue. He wants to ask things in detail but he is afraid
that might be pointless. “Do you know anything about Pashmina then? He asked me to go
there…” Madhav hesitates.

“Trouble in paradise with the wife, huh?” The young man smiles. “You don’t look like a man
with wife problems. But then again you are a man, who can tell.” He scans Madhav from top
to bottom, as though infidelity could be deduced from physical appearances.

Madhav’s nostrils flare up. “On the contrary, it’s an issue with my nose,” he responds without
looking at the young man.

“Then go to a doctor, why do you have to go to Koyali’s harem for that?” The youth sniggers.

Madhav could not decipher why the jhakri would suggest visiting a brothel. “The doctors
didn’t help, so I had to visit him. He wasn’t my first choice.”

“In that case, ask the ferryman to take you to Pashmina, you will land there.”

“Thanks!” he extends his hand. “Sorry for being rude, I am Madhav Sundaram.”

“Daanish.” The boy wraps Madhav’s palm and shakes it. Madhav immediately finds an
overpowering smell rush through his nose, making him cough. He decides to leave for
Pashmina at once.

He remembers meeting another Daanish a year ago. It seems anyone who invokes something
in him is named Daanish. He recalls the desire infused stupor that made him stare onto the
ceiling of his room. Heedless and swimming in reverie, his mind ran into a few questions
which he hoped the ceiling would answer as he stared. Wrapped within the folds of Daanish
Iqbal, a man he had just met, he wondered what he was doing with a man like him. There has
been no past, nor could there be any future with Daanish. But those sturdy moments of
ecstasy felt like they would consume everything, even the strangeness of the intruder.

“What makes you stand outside? Aren’t you afraid someone might see you?” Madhav had
asked Daanish, who was on the balcony. After getting married, Madhav’s concerns too
resembled those of men whom he had dated before. He realized that he had kept the balcony
door ajar to let the breeze in, but didn’t expect Daanish to be there in the open.

“My grandmother once told me a story.” Daanish turned around and entered the room. “A
father and a son along with their donkey were passing through the city of Alipur’s market.
People in the streets mocked the duo for their inability to gain any benefits from their donkey.
They ameliorated the situation by letting the son ride the donkey. Just then the crowd buzzed
with accusations that the disrespectful son was enjoying the donkey by himself. So the two
men sat themselves on their donkey to offer people some gratification.”

Madhav didn’t understand where the story was heading. For him, this was another man trying
to wise-crack him about living a meaningful life. Instead, he as usual tried to hold onto the
last corporeal moment with the stranger. So he had called Daanish into the blanket.

Daanish had continued. “Soon enough, people said that the poor donkey has to bear the brunt.
Then the duo tied the donkey to a stick and carried it. Do you know what happened next?” he
had asked Madhav.

“They died?” Madhav guessed.

“Well, they fell into the river. So we don’t know.”

“And that is why you are unafraid?” Madhav had asked, unable to connect the dots.

“I am afraid, but I no longer please everyone. We are bound to fail people. Just like Ravana
did. I guess there is no reason to fear then, is there?” Daanish looked up at the same ceiling to
which Madhav had posed questions.

Only a touch can stop the mind from rushing into infinite loops that seek no end. Madhav
could not understand why the Muslim body whose association might banish him from his
community seemed so elaborate and embellished. He felt as though a multitude of
adornments were strewn on Daanish’s body which no one else but only Madhav could see. So

whenever he was close to Daanish his mind would stop blinking and his body would melt in
the folds of his lover’s cage-like arms.

They must have a word for this, he thought. This feeling of betrayal and emptiness that
somehow casts the most luminous shadow inside the solar plexus. He had heard of his spleen
existing but he never knew it could be felt. Like the orgiastic response of the prostate, the
spleen was invisible, but could be poked by the right person.

Madhav knew then that it was no big deal, Muslims and Hindus get married all the time. But
he did not know why he was so consumed with this man in such a way that the only thing he
could see was his religion while he ran his fingers across the valley of Daanish’s chest. What
is it about his body that charred so deep within Madhav’s own? he thought. The mere act of
being in touch with a body of a faith different than his was so perverse yet so alluring. Like
the meanders of the Ganges, murky yet promising salvation. He couldn’t think of any word
but a feeling, a smell that stuck ever since. We don’t choose the memories we keep
sometimes. But Madhav is determined to get rid of the odor in his nose.

The banks of the Ganges are ominously quiet. The same gregarious ferryman holding the
zestful smile and wrapped up in the long jute cloak awaits Madhav. Madhav just mentions the
word Pashmina and the ferryman nods. The boat creaks as it moves into the misty abyss and
Madhav hopes it is the final leg before some peace.

“You know my son, love may be blind, but it also makes you see stuff that doesn’t exist.”
The ferryman is true to his reputation. Madhav nods, deaf to the musings of his driver. “Take
our god Ram for instance,” the ferryman says, and Madhav finally attends to the story teller.

“What of our god?” Madhav asks, hoping to end the conversation.

But the ferryman goes on, “Well Ram went to Lanka to rescue his wife. For that he defeated
Ravana. But he was so suspicious of her infidelity, that he asked her to walk through fire.”

“And the goddess walked through it unscathed. What is your point?”

“Well my son, even after passing through fire, he banished her, didn’t he? Simply because he
couldn’t believe that Ravana did not touch his beautiful wife. People we love carve in us
spaces that we have to fill even if it is not our lovers who fill them. Sometimes it’s doubt,
sometimes it’s women from Koyali’s harem.”

Madhav remains quiet. He appeases himself with the thought that the ferryman takes a jab
with this story at everyone who visits Koyali’s Harem, to sow some guilt in them. “Do you
know how much she charges?” Madhav tries to keep the conversation pragmatic.

The ferryman laughs. “She will take what she wants. That’s her pleasure. You go to
Pashmina to please Koyali, not the other way round.” The night is becoming more cryptic for
Madhav as it grows deeper.

Madhav enters the harem. The air inside the courtyard smells of smoke and agarwood. The
decadence pinches his nose. Soft whispers and giggles from women and men, reverberate off
the tiny mirrors that are hung together to form curtains. “What pleasure do you seek,
traveler?” Koyali’s voice enters the room first and her voluptuous body follows.

“The old man asked me to come here to Pashmina.” Madhav’s eyes trace her as she seats

Koyali laughs. “Which old man, traveler? We have a thousand old men seek us every day.
You can’t expect me to remember all of them, can you?” She slips into the lounge chair like a
cat and rests her head on her arm.

“The old man from Shanivaram.”

“Aah, the curd eater! Did he offer you some curd to bring here?” She smirks.

“No, I went there to cure an ailment of my throat, but he riddled me and then asked me to
come here.” Madhav is perplexed at the sight of the radiant woman quizzing him like the old
man, as if they were the same apparition.

“Ah, I see. So what do you have to offer?” Koyali winks.

“I could give you money, if that is what you want?”

“I have all the money that I could want and need.” She scoffs.

“What is it that you want, then?”

“Something that only you have. That only you know. That only you can give.” She wraps her
fingers into a circle and peeps at him through the hole inside.

“I don’t understand.”

“To tell me dear, whatever your name is.” She stands up and saunters towards him.


“Yes, rightly so. What is it that you have that no one does, Madhav?” Her fingers walk along
his shoulders.

“I think I should leave,” Madhav replies, agitated at the incomprehensibility of it all.

“Unfortunately, you can’t. The ferryman only listens to the guards at the gate. You can’t
swim across the river in the dead of the night. It’s unholy.” She laughs

“I don’t know what you are talking about and I don’t have anything to offer you.” He moves
away from her gaze.

“I disagree, beautiful Madhav. I know you have something to spend in Pashmina. Otherwise
you would never have found this place. Everyone who comes here wants something, but no
one is willing to give anything in return.” She blows on her fingernails, pretending to dry the
glittery lacquer on them. She tries to mock humans and their double standards as much as she
can by making them give her, voluntarily so, something only she can have. But sometimes
she has to prod. “Are they doubts about your wife? The vestiges of incest? The envious eye
on an enemy? Or the inability to accept the child?”

Madhav breathes in. “Alright, I sleep with men whenever I come to Shanivaram. Are you
happy now? Can I leave?”

Koyali laughs. “A man sleeping with another man. What a wonder! But that is not news, is it?
It’s a matter of the mundane. I don’t know why, handsome Madhav, I don’t think this is your

“I don’t know what you want then. Everything is a matter of the mundane,” he argues.

“Not everything.” She raises her brow. “Something deep enough to constantly arrive at your
nose through your throat. Something you cannot escape.”

It took him sometime to get here. He thought that the heaviness in his heart could be swept
away by swarming himself in bodies. He presumed one can by touching other bodies forget
any distinction between all of them.

“I killed him,” he whispers. “I stabbed Daanish Iqbal until he bled to death. I severed the
head that spoke of freedom.” He looks at the pinprick on his finger.

“And…” she takes her seat, content.

“I had loved him more than anything in this world.”

“Then why did you kill him?” Koyali asks, yet again proving to herself that the human
condition is but delicate and enjoyable like the flesh of a crab under the hard exterior of their

“I couldn’t let him go.” Madhav clenches his fist.

“Or you could never come to terms with being in love with a good man,” she suggests. “You
can leave now, lover boy. Perhaps over the years you will get used to the smell, just like the
pain. Isn’t that scary?” She smiles and walks away.

Madhav is frazzled by the voices that pop in his head. One of them sounds like Koyali’s –
soft and remorseless. He runs in her direction, but cannot find anything besides the strings of
mirrors to grab onto. He finds a door and rushes out.

People take a dip in the Ganges hoping that the goddess will wipe their mortal sins off their
body. Madhav wonders if Ram did that – if gods have to wipe their bloody hands as well. But
no one tells people that one can’t wash away sins that don’t linger on their body anymore. So
Madhav repeatedly dips himself in the river, hoping the water will wash away the smell in his

Mayookh Barua

Mayookh, an Indian writer based in North Carolina, is always working on stories that explore sexuality, art, mythology, and family through a queer South-Asian voice. Some of his publications include The Audacity, The Third Eye, kal-FICTIONS and elsewhere.

Mayookh, an Indian writer based in North Carolina, is always working on stories that explore sexuality, art, mythology, and family through a queer South-Asian voice. Some of his publications include The Audacity, The Third Eye, kal-FICTIONS and elsewhere.

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