Today I'm delighted to welcome fellow Sostice author, Malay A. Upadhyay to my blog. Malay's debut novel, Kalki Evian - The Ring of Khaoriphea, is out now.
About the Book
Every choice we make leads to its own unique consequence. To change the consequence, therefore, one must travel back in time to change the choice. But what if such change, instead of altering our future, simply created another - one that came to exist simultaneously with our world?
This is a story of how one such moment of love led to two parallel futures; a story of how your choices have an impact far beyond the world you know; a phenomenon that we had sensed, and wished for, all along. Set in Italy, while one timeline scales a city of the future where not just people but also things like money evolve, the other cradles itself in an amalgamation of contemporary Europe with ingredients of a new age. Step by step, the story embarks on a journey in a parallel world that we all live in but rarely see.
Thoughts remained hazy and many minutes passed until she heard a knock on the door. The prospect of moving felt like too much effort. So she simply used her own version of the mid-air frivolities to unlock the door. It was pushed open and Qin stood there, hesitantly peeking in.
“Umm,” he hesitated, “could you come with me for a second?”
“What is it?”
“Please, if it’s not too much trouble.”
She forced herself to get up and asked, walking up to him, “What did you do now?”
“Well, I tried,” Qin replied and led her to his room. He opened the door and bent forwards to check inside while she waited behind him. He then stepped back and signalled her to go in. She gave him a scrutinizing stare and walked in restlessly, only to have her feet stall at the door.
The room was as dark as darkness could allow without losing out on charm. There were just two distinct divisions in its ambience, physically divided midway through its height. The roof and the upper half of the walls seemed stretched out into an infinite space, showcasing a starry night, populated with little sparkles beyond count but not without meaning. There lay clear patterns of constellations and distant hints of planets and moving asteroids as if the room had lifted itself up into Earth’s exosphere. And yet, it could not possibly be as the lower half of the room was submerged in soft waves of water, lit up underneath with careful streaks of turquoise light. The projection lay complete with a glimpse of the waterbed superimposed on the floor while their bed lay risen inches above the surface, in between like a hammock. The three-dimensional theme had come alive with slight sounds of water hitting against the surfaces around even as they moved in little waves. As she stepped in, ripples began to radiate out from her legs. It was all very magical and yet, all very real.
Friuli stood in a trance, unmoving. She then turned towards Qin, her lips still parted but with eyes far more at ease than they had been. He took her hand in his as he led her to the bed. He moved along to the northern end of the room while she lay down. Both her legs bent backwards and her head rested on her palm which in turn rested on the pillow. She looked at the sky, wordlessly staring at the stars – static and shooting across – while the sounds of the water filled her senses. She then murmured as if to avoid disturbing the ambience that prevailed in the room, “Thank you.”
Qin looked at her and smiled. He followed it up with an equivalent counter, “Something happened to you back there.” Friuli looked at him and turned back towards the stars. She did not really wish to talk much but then, he deserved to be answered.
“What you said was absurd,” she joked, “but unfortunately, it carried traces of an inconvenient reality. The group of companies that came to nearly monopolize all digital space, through acquisitions and a very smart play of marketing that spanned many years, were led by a similarly ruthless drive of ambitions that marked perhaps the only emotion left in its bearer.”
“From what I see so far,” Qin said, pointing out at the theme at play in the room, “it is all quite beautiful.”
“It definitely is. People wouldn’t accept change if it did not appeal to them.”
“Yet, you speak of it as if it were decadent.”
“All that glitters, Qin,” she left the proverb hanging.
“Ah, I am surprised gold has retained its privileges even in this age,” he remarked but it took him a couple of seconds before his smile disappeared under the realization of its true significance: Gold or diamonds should have lost their status in such an age as this. He did not stretch the thought but let it implant itself well within him.
Friuli stammered, clearly acquainted to that realization only now and out of her comfort zone, “I . . . thought you would, umm, be able to identify with it.”
“And that would mean you are mindful of what would and would not affect me,” Qin quipped, now with some idea as to the source behind the appearance of the fly. He waited, she stared and the turning of tables ended soon after. Qin was careful not to damage a rare moment of an unexplained dominance he had stumbled upon. “Quite an exceptional and caring nurse you are,” he said on a lighter note, “So what was wrong with the changes? Short-sightedness?”
“Yes,” Friuli answered quickly, “A concoction of technology that no one could have imagined, and no one did, except perhaps one,” she said with some thought. “We were mostly oblivious to where it all headed as we became an unassuming part of another worldly evolution, this time more personal in effect.” She obstructed her own statement with an impatient expression and turned to lie on her back with both her palms held over her stomach and feet stretched out straight. “Let me soak in this place for now,” she exclaimed, “These are two of my favourite themes but it never occurred to me to try them together.”
It was easy for him to stop questioning. His mind was stuck on her discomfort. It was something personal to her and yet, he felt it clog his thoughts more than whatever had happened to the world itself. He fought off the urge to inquire further. She now lay deep within the projected space. He let a few moments pass before suggesting, “You should rest. I will sleep in your room. Just try to get the bitterness out of your system for now.” She turned to him and smiled. Qin’s reply was quick, “okay, so you won’t.”
He did not ask why, even though his eyes did. She continued to smile but did not answer. It slowly faded as he left the room. In her head there was just one sentence running across – one she whispered as if with hope that it would get lost in that dark sky, Cos it were the wild ambitions of a loveless woman that took away what once mattered the most to me. That was Friuli’s experience with a creamless Canneloni.
It's a fascinating story. If you want to read more you can buy the book here:
About the Author
I asked Malay to tell us a bit about himself
How did you get started writing?
I used to write poetries as far back as in middle school for elocutions. That was for fun and I never gave writing a serious thought. In fact, I was hardly a reader even. All that changed and in 2009, while on a pan-India trip, I first felt a craving to record the experiences I was going through. And I ended up writing a book, though without any strong inclination to publish it. I don’t know if that’s normal, but that was perhaps the greatest evidence of my affinity for writing. Anyway, late in 2010, I decided to try getting it published and to see what happens. However, it was only in 2012 that I took the call - a rather tricky one - to write a proper tale and go all out with it.
Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?
I blog as a Fly. www.kalkievian.com. I’d say that’s the latest in a series of craziness I have employed over the years.
What’s your top writing tip for new writers?
There is no specific rule or method to go about a story. It just needs diligence for as long as it takes to write, and a balance of thought - to ensure that you go with the flow without losing sight of where you are going. Also, keep in mind that selling a book is as slow, patient and strategic a process as writing it.
What was the first thing you had published?
Unless you count my Masters dissertation, it would be the novel, Kalki Evian - The Ring of Khaoriphea, which is strongly influenced by the former anyway.
What do you like to do to relax?
Little things - from a glass of water, to an idle stroll. More often, I resort to movies - some that always inspire and influence me. I think to have one’s own little ritual of instant relaxation is one of the most important things to have.
Malay A. Upadhyay grew up in the Eastern provinces of paradoxical India. It was a childhood of anomalies - a different spacetime, where he could not understand a friend's passion for books on one hand even as he wrote for school elocution on the other. Recently back to contemporary Earth, he conceived many of the techno-economic ideas described in his book - Kalki Evian: The Ring of Khaoriphea - at Bocconi University in Milano. His Blog of a Fly subscribes to the elusively effervescent, ephemeral connection among beings across space and time. That is after all, a belief that underlies every piece of literature ever written.
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Thanks for dropping by to tell us about your book, Malay!