Hijrotic

Monday, September 16, 2013
By: 
Beverly Almeida

headshot of Beverly Almeida
Beverly Almeida

A preview of the work of Beverly Almeida, a participant in the 2013 Writers Victoria mentorship program for writers from non-English speaking backgrounds.

"The one thing that was constant was change. Bombay had morphed into Mumbai. Bombay laid down and rolled over… it succumbed to a politically motivated mandate. It changed from Bombay to Mumbai. But it didn’t play dead.

Together with the free market and double digit growth, the city had grown into its new name. The spurt coursed through down town as well as the suburbs. Flyovers were inserted like stents conveying arterial traffic from one congealed road to another (note; handcarts, bullock carts, pedestrians or cyclist prohibited). Pedestrian foot bridges did the same. Shopping malls pulsed with life. Glass faced buildings reflected bursting slums and dwarfed roadside dwellers. Like most cities in neoliberal India, it had engorged like a blood sucking tick on a dog. The erotic monsoon-kissed sun drenched city epitomised on a Bollywood reel, with long sweeping drives by the sea, sweet smelling gardens, and unhurried paces gave way to throttling traffic, gastric bound markets with bile filled sewers spilling into the sea and, during the monsoons, into homes.

Not to be left behind, the beach had changed like cuffs of well-loved trousers. It was faded raw and edged with filth.

In the evening, it was as crowded as a nest of worms, and weekends even more so. On festival days, the only way you could tell it was a beach was to look towards the west; the waters were dark and patient. Everywhere else it was bright and noisy in the grip of a fun-fair that Adim did not feel a part of. His ghoda ghadi rides, that were once fun, were now tedious. He had to carefully run the cart along the water edge to avoid knocking over children, and old couples holding hands.

Now horses were only permitted between 5pm and 8pm. A few years ago, horses had been banned on the beach. But one of the more senior horse cart owners had negotiated a monthly payment with the police (which definitely included his cut as well)."

About Beverley

Beverley's manuscript received an honourable mention in Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript.