Roots by Vrinda Baliga

Roots by Vrinda Baliga

Rahul and Mira Banerji had always tried to do their best by their son, even as the vicissitudes of life had taken a toll on their marriage. Now, however, with their savings stretching to only a couple of months’ rent, there seemed to be no way to fend off impending destitution, and their frustration and despair frequently found release in bitter quarrels and arguments. The very air in the house bristled with tension.

That was when the ad appeared in the newspaper.

“Free housing for families willing to participate in an experimental housing project. Interested parties may contact Kalpavriksh Inc.”

“Kalpavriksh?” Mira said, sceptically. “Never heard of them. And what do they mean by ‘experimental’?”

“Well, they call themselves ‘Kalpavriksh,’ so maybe we should go see which of our wishes they’ll fulfil,” Rahul quipped, though even he could not hide his cynicism. 

“Huh,” Mira muttered, “if it’s free, it’s probably a rabbit hutch in the middle of nowhere.”

Vrinda Baliga is the author of two short story collections–‘Name, Place, Animal, Thing‘ and ‘Arrivals and Departures‘. Her work has appeared in The Best Asian Short Stories 2018 (Kitaab International, Singapore), Asia Literary Review, Himal Southasian, The Indian Quarterly, New Asian Writing, Commonwealth Writers adda, Coldnoon, India Currents and several other literary journals and short fiction anthologies. She is the winner of the 2017 Katha Fiction Contest and has also won prizes and recognition in the FON South Asia Short Story Competition 2016 and New Asian Writing Short Story Competition 2016. She is a Fellow of the Sangam House International Writers’ Residency. Vrinda Baliga lives in Hyderabad, India, with her husband and two children.

The name ‘Kalpavriksh’ in the story is inspired by the mythological wish-fulfilling tree that emerged during ‘samudra manthan,’ the ‘churning of the oceans’ by the devas (gods) and their arch enemies, the asuras, in their joint pursuit of amrit, the nectar of immortality.

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