Our short story of the week is a story about prejudice by Vineetha Mokkil.
Vineetha Mokkil is the author of the short story collection A Happy Place and Other Stories (HarperCollins, 2014). She received an honourable mention in the Anton Chekhov Prize for Very Short Fiction 2020. She was shortlisted for the Bath Flash Award in 2018 and was a nominee for Best Small Fictions 2019. Her work has been published in Gravel, the Santa Fe Writers Project Journal, Barren magazine, The Best Asian Short Stories 2018, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Cosmonauts Avenue, Asian Cha, Fictive Dream, Spelk and Jellyfish Review, among other journals.
The Sunday Ritual follows a woman whose parents disapprove of her relationship.
‘In the Bakshi household, it was always family tradition to drink together on Sunday evenings. When we were kids, Nikhil and I used to sit at the table, orange juice in hand, watching Ma and Papa clink their glasses. We had a guessing game going.
“Guess what whiskey tastes like?”
Cow piss/Honey/Cough medicine
Grape juice/Goat’s blood/Gutter water
Whatever my pick, Nikhil would sound disappointed. “Wrong!” he’d say, putting on a grown-up voice. “You’re such a baby, Tara.”
Ma and Papa kept up the Sunday tradition all those years. No matter where Papa was posted – desert, mountain, glitzy metropolis or godforsaken outback – they clinked their glasses as the sun set on the week. Bahadur would bring out the bottles and glasses promptly at 6. Whiskey and soda, gin and tonic, wine, vodka, ice cubes – check, check, check. Bahadur ran our household like a well-oiled machine. Papa’s major domo, Ma’s man Friday, our devoted housekeeper, handyman and cook.
The Sunday in question, Bahadur served us our drinks in the living room. The light outside was fading. A chill crept into the air like a ghost. Ma wrapped a shawl around her shoulders. The burnt orange fabric was the same shade as the autumn leaves fluttering over our driveway.’