“Figment of Footlights and Reverb”, an excerpt from the short story

…Another alley, somewhat wider, crosses this one, meanders west, invites her in. When she steps, sudden, into it, there is now just a little more light; fading garlands roping a splintering roughhewn door, candles in a window, sleeping or sliding figures that flash in moon glow on either side. The sudden gleam of brass hinges, a silver latch, then fluted window frames in rose-pink walls…

Silhouettes bend whispering around a fitful circle of spark and glowing coals. A sleeping cow; nearby the flat blue screen of cellphone cradled in a wrinkled hand, a twist of incense. Princess’ heart quickens. There really is everything yet to know!

As she performs a clumsy pirouette, wanting to pull every vision, every sound into her mind, twine them around her soul, there is a tap on her shoulder.

“Hey.”

It is the boy, the handsome one, the one from Ramlila Maidan. Right. That one. Rude it may be, but she does not answer him a word. How did he― What is he even doing here? This moment? It is only hers

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