Snowcase #16 • 17 August 2007 • The SnowBlog

Snowcase #16

Anita Sivakumaran is a PHD student in the department of Creative writing in Lancaster University. She has always wanted to be a writer, and "isn't qualified to be anything else". 'The Ghost That Killed Babu' is her first novel, literary in intent. Kavitha returns to Madras after years of trying to stay away. A ghost killed her childhood friend. Or was it her brother? A ghost tried to kill her brother. Or was it her? The Ghost That Killed Babu Chapter 1 The Day Babu Died The day Babu died was the hottest day in all the year. The kitsch Krishna calendar on Paatti's wall announced with a fat asterisk that it was the day of the Agni Nattrachatram, the Fire Star. The previous fortnight, almost seven hundred people from the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh had succumbed to the heat wave. They died of dehydration while working in farmlands and construction sites, or while pulling rickshaws on sticky tar roads. Chief Minister NTR held a press conference to which he arrived dressed in three shades of saffron and gave a speech advising people to stay indoors and drink plenty of water till cooler weather returned. Dry winds caused by low pressure in the Bay of Bengal had blown down trees and ripped apart power lines in Madras, costing the city corporation close to sixty lakhs in damage. Men complained about the unscheduled power cuts, leaning back in armchairs and fanning themselves with newspapers, while wives came and went carrying steel lottas of cool water, the armpits of their blouses darkened in a sexy spread of perspiration. But Babu didn't die of the heat. He drowned in the river. Sindoori Chitti had warned the children that it was going to be a very hot day. The previous afternoon, she had given them each a large lotta of buttermilk spiced with salt and asafoetida and had advised them to play in the shade. She knew they were going fishing, early in the morning and without any adults, but she didn't mind, and Paatti and Periyamma didn't mind either. They didn't mind because the river Puyalaru had shrunk so much in the recent years, the water in it wouldn't drown a tea cup. It looked less a river and more a muddy little stream in a vast tract of arid land. For even the December rains had started to fail, and as far as the eyes could see, Mother Nature in her every manifestation was wilting and crumbling like dried up pods of cow dung. Kavitha didn't get to go fishing with Babu, because Anand had tricked her into staying behind. Paatti said it was really lucky that she had stayed behind. Being the smaller child and known for her clumsiness, it could have easily been her who had drowned. And Paatti said it was lucky for Anand as well, that it wasn't him who came under the eye of Yama riding his buffalo looking for victims to drag into the underworld. She said this three days after the funeral, and Sindoori Chitti told her it was a not a nice thing to say, in light of 'their suffering'. She was referring to Babu's family, who were only distant relatives, more neighbours than family. Kavitha didn't think it was lucky for her to have stayed behind. She thought Babu wouldn't have died if she had gone too. Wouldn't have been killed. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Author: Anita Sivakumaran Email: a [dot] sivakumaran [at] gmail [dot] com Website:


The SnowBlog is one of the oldest publishing blogs, started in 2003, and it's been through various content management systems over the years. A 2005 techno-blunder meant we lost the early years, but the archives you're reading now go all the way back to 2005.

Many of the older posts in our blog archive suffer from link rot. Apologies if you see missing links and images: let us know if you'd like us to find any in particular.

Read more from the SnowBlog...

« Preposterously excellent Friday music
Snowcase #17 »