She Writes Story Contest winner: Jyotsna Jha

Jyotsna Jha is one of twelve winners of the MSN-Random House She Writes a Story Contest', as chosen by our judges. Her story 'The Tourist' features in the 'She Writes: A collection of Short Stories' published by Random House India and available at all leading bookstores.

Jyotsna Jha

Jyotsna Jha

Jyotsna Jha belongs to Kolkata. She has an M.Phil in English Literature and has worked as a teacher, instructional designer, and editor. She is married to an army officer and has two sons.

Read an extract from Jyotsna Jha's story 'The Tourist'

  • The ungainly mass of yellow slowly navigated through the narrow Amherst Street of North Calcutta. As her rickety taxi approached that familiar-looking bend on the road, Michele felt an unexpected peace enveloping her, instead of her emotions spiralling into an uncontrollable rush like she had expected them to do. She was supposed the take the British Airways flight back to London the day after, but she needed to sort out a few matters before her departure.

  • It had been almost two months since her arrival in India. Taking such a long leave from the school she taught at hadn't been easy, but her mother had been adamant. She was not getting any younger and reminded Michele that she would be soon become incapable of undertaking such a long journey back home and she must visit Aunt May and her old friends from the school she had taught at for ten years. Reasons enough to pay a visit to her native country, she believed. Michele finally gave in to her mother's wishes after a great deal of persuasion. But the thought of visiting the country she had left fifteen years back as an eight-year-old was unsettling for her.

  • Having moved to the UK at such a tender age, she had almost forgotten that a part of her was Indian. Her grandmother was Bengali, whose large eyes and soft features she had inherited. However, the blue-grey eyes and white skin from her Scottish grandfather had made it easy for her to disconnect herself from her Indian blood.

  • Her initial experiences in the city of her birth filled her with disgust. Evading the insistent taxi drivers outside the Kolkata airport on her arrival and navigating through the chaotic crowds that never seemed to dissipate, she was certain it was going to be a difficult two months. In the days that followed, the leisurely trams, ubiquitous yellow taxis, claustrophobic metros, dilapidated brick houses, and tapering alleys only added to her exasperation with her mother's old infatuation. She tried to stir a faint connection, some faded reminisces about places and the people she was meeting, but all she could think about was the orderliness and flower-lined pavements of her London home and the cool, crisp air she missed so much.

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