I don’t quite know how to begin this post, so I write a line, delete and wait. And then I decide to tell you: I don’t quite know how to begin this post.

When I’m excited about something, I can never lead up to it with any amount of graceful restraint. I just have to put it out there – plop. And since ‘out there’ means out here, to you who know me, I can lose the grace and do a dance and tell you that my second fiction is out.

It’s a story called ‘Bilet’ and it’s now on the wonderful Tupelo Quarterly; it’s also my first publication in the US.

You can read ‘Bilet’ here:

[PS: Many of you emailed me saying that a comment you posted hasn’t been published. Please know that if you don’t see your comment here, it means it hasn’t reached me. Apparently, you need to be connected to your Google Plus account, or a Blogger account (even if temporary) to be able to comment. Or just choose ‘Name/URL’ from the drop-down menu at the comment box.
Thank you – for persevering and writing in; I appreciate it more than you know.]

42 thoughts on “Bilet

  1. See? You go and write something so heart-achingly beautiful and then I no longer how to comment. It's easy to speak of the extra-ordinary, the not-so-routine; they lend themselves to grand words and phrases. But the everyday, the mundane, the bits that seemingly no one notices? You made them come to life and how! I love how bittersweet the story is. I know I will be going back and mulling over this story for a long time.

  2. Congratulations! I can only imagine what it would feel like having your first fiction work published (though this is only your first in the US, but still!). But beyond that, your words have an achingly beautiful strength to them, and as previous commenters have said, you manage to bring your characters and moments to life. Well done!

  3. Big hug, Roxana! And much love for reading and loving the story. Yes, you're right – I wanted to explore an 'everyday story'. I had a thread of nothing much, and thought I'd see where it went.

  4. Beautifully written once again Pia! I just love reading your accounts of the little incidents and people in your life…you make them so real I feel like i am peeking into your life through your eyes.

  5. I don't mean to be casual or flippant about this at all Pia. But this IS a heart-achingly beautiful story. In its deliberate restraint, in its composure, in its finer details, in its ability to recall what love between an arranged couple in the India of the eighties was all about, this is absolutely peerless and it so gently reminded me of the craft of Mistry and Atwood and Munro. Like I had said earlier your journey in the world of literary fiction has well and truly begun. I will be thrilled to follow its trail out and out.

  6. Vispy, I can't quite tell you how much these words mean to me.
    You sit alone in a room, writing, tweaking, fretting over your words – a solitary craft. And then if you're lucky the writing gets out in the world. But it's only when someone reads it and responds to it, or connects with it, does it start breathing. At least for me. So, thank you very much. For your time, and for such an inspiring note. It'll stay with me.

  7. AD, a huge big hug for reading it and loving it! And most of all for writing in to let me know what you feel – I appreciate that more than you know. Much love!

  8. Hi Pia, First things first, hearty congratulations to you. I want to tell you so many things, a few about my self and the most important about you, I hope you will take this as a heart felt compliment and won't get offended in any way. About me Iam a huge bengali literature fan, I mean I love stories with bengali theme, I love the simplicity of bengali life, I love bengali food, I can even speak a bit of bengali, I have bengali friends and I am biased towards bengali beauties especially their beautiful eyes and many times when people have asked me if I am a bengali I have felt proud and happy may be I was one in the previous birth ๐Ÿ™‚ well about the story I just loved it so so much I could see it as a movie in my mind, I had once previously also commented but I could not see the comment published so I felt may be I offended you but please my intention is not so, Your writing, the essence of your writing the simplicity and the way you capture simple everyday things so beautifully and so amazingly reminds me of Jhumpa Lahiri and I am the greatest fan of her, I can read and re read her stories any time every time.. I wish you success and fame more than what she has got because after all you are a blogger and you are a friend… God bless you with lots and lots of stories and novels to your credit.. with best wishes, take care

  9. Soulsearchingdays, thank you so, so much for such a heartfelt letter. I started my morning with it today, and it made me very glad that I write this blog.
    I did not receive your first comment – please be assured that it would've been published if I had. There's not a single thing offensive about your lovely words. I've received a couple of emails about comments not coming through, so I'm guessing there's a problem with Blogger.
    But thank you for trying again – I would've been very sad to have missed your note. Much love for the wishes! xx

  10. Beautiful beautiful story! Like always, big fan of your writing Pia. Simple and warming. I love how every line carries so much depth in itself that reading every line is an experience. If you ever published a book, i would queue up to buy it! Keep writing ๐Ÿ™‚ Regards, Sneha

  11. Pai ni, Tandra – your first comment hasn't come through. The comment section seems to be a bit dodgy this week. Please resend if you have it!

  12. Sneha, I love you for this writing this note ๐Ÿ™‚ Simple and spare is what I strive for when I write. Thank you, always, for reading my work.

  13. Oh not again :-(…I have typed a comment, m first response the day you posted and hit publish and I am assuming it never reached you…and I tried twice today :-(:-(…Anyways, let this comment be about you and this story of yours…first things first, a hearty congratulations and a big hug for writing such a touching tale…I feel as always your words paint such a lively picture that I totally get lost in the world of your characters !…I want to read more, and know more and I can feel every emotion that your characters feel…You are brilliant Pia, and I look forward to reading much more from you…Good luck as always !!!

  14. Pia, reposting my comment (variation thereof), yet another that I assume was lost..
    That you have a way with words is obvious from even the most casually written of your posts. But what makes this blog even dearer is that those words are employed to capture the wonderful insight you seem to have of people, culture, relationships and everything around you..
    The story as well, so everyday in its plot and yet so extraordinary in telling. Here's to more from you!

  15. I can't believe how horribly bothersome it's been to comment here this week. Nor how lucky I am to have you writing in still. I would've hated to have missed your note, which I have now read twice.
    Thank you – for loving the story, and for giving me company on this writing journey I suddenly find myself on.

  16. Tandra – a big, big hug for not giving up with the comment. I'm so touched; and terribly sorry that it's been such a bother!
    I love the fact that the story took you into its world, that you connected with the characters – what better response could I ask for my work, and for this story? Thank you.
    Much love!

  17. I knew that I had begun to read something extraordinary when I started reading the 'Bilet” It was painful as it was beautiful. But then you do this conflicting emotions so well. I have seen that in many of your posts.

    I enjoyed reading it and it still lingers.

  18. Do I do that in my posts? I wasn't aware I did. So that's what happens when you write without a plan ๐Ÿ™‚ 'Bilet' started off as a very different story, but changed course midway without asking my permission. All my writing seem to do that.
    Thanks Anita – much love for reading, always, always. And for letting the story linger.

  19. Such intriguing characters. They feel real. I am left pondering what happened to Mrs. Bose between crying into the dal as a young woman and becoming a forgetful woman in her eighth decade of life. I wonder if she ever grew close enough to Bilet Bose to have a fight, or if they remained emotionally distant from one another. I think of the toast my husband gave about the beauty of shared interests at his brother's wedding. I contemplate how one person could feel such a fondness for someone with whom he has so little in common. Even though much is shared here, as in life, there is still so much we do not know. Thank you for sharing this story, Pia.

  20. The 'beauty of shared interests' – it's what I put on top for two people to live their decades together without losing the excitement of coming back home to spend the evening with each other.
    But in Indian arranged marriages of the 70s, shared interests would be considered a bonus, not an essential, if at all. These marriages, almost always, started off on the same note – a few short meetings and a wedding, but then took different shapes: some would fall in love, some fall into duty, some would teeter in between, and others resist forever.
    Maybe Bilet fell in love with Bula, or maybe he fell in love with a 'version' of Bula built out of loneliness in a foreign land. Or a version he created from a sense of self-preservation: where you choose to see the best of a person you know must spend your years with. Separation was not a frequent part of the social vocabulary in India then, so you often wired yourself into love. If you could.
    Who knows if Bula ever did. Maybe; maybe not. My ending is as good as yours.
    Thank you, Denise, for reading and sharing your thoughts about the story x

  21. Dear Pia, it's always a joy to read you and moreso to see you flourishing in this longer format. The control and care you show your characters in 'Bilet' and the rich, rich details you embroider their lives with is so impressive. The delicacy with which you describe a suitcase and the items placed into or taken from it; the way you acknowledge the prosaic as something so magical; and the way you give life to characters whenever you write — sometimes like a painter adding layer upon layer and sometimes like a sculptor carving things away from a form we think we recognise. This is quite possibly the most wonderful thing I've read this year — sincerely. And when the line came, which I was expecting to come, it arrived with all the bruised calm that was there throughout the rest of your beautiful story: “For he had fallen in love with his wife of two years for the first time, five thousand miles away.” x

  22. One of those stories that stays with you even after you've finished reading the last word. I am now spinning stories in my mind about Mrs & Mr Bose's lives in the next 30 years – a relationship of compromises & sacrifices perhaps, of dependence and indifference, love and loathing. I am thinking of their children & grandchildren who would have brought some semblance of commonality in their otherwise dissimilar lives. A story of simple lives, with their own complexities. Brought out so beautifully by you, Pia.

  23. Sasha, you read between Bilet's lines so beautifully; and so perfectly. That's where I wanted to leave the story – with those very questions that you mulled over. A big hug for taking the time to read it. Please know that means a lot, always.

  24. Matt, your words are so beautiful that I forgot to read it as a comment about my writing, and read it more as a piece of writing in itself.
    Thank you. For experiencing the story as you did, for giving it such consideration and thought – so that it became larger than a piece of fiction. And “bruised calm” might be the most beautiful thing I've heard about my writing.
    I'm utterly touched x

  25. Mummum,
    Nothing, absolutely nothing could, can, give me more happiness, no gift more joy, than your writing does.
    My heart is so full.
    I am so proud of you, Chottoma .
    Onek onek chumu .

  26. I read this soon after I woke up, so I got out of bed with a big smile and a full heart.
    So much of what I do comes from you, Ma.
    Onek onek aador!

  27. Opurbo lekha hoyeychhey Pia. Your imagery is as vivid as your language poetic. That last scene in the dusty flat, where her tracks showed her slipping into habit descended like a sledgehammer coming on the heels of his dawning awareness. Haunting writing. I hope you produce many such gems. Your ma is right to be proud.

  28. Chandreyee, sending you a big thank-you, and a bigger hug. Midway through the writing, Bula's character took over, so the ending worked itself out somehow. She knew where it had to finish. So happy you liked it.

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