In the summer of 2004, S. wrote a short story about a little Bengali girl’s dreams of migrating from Kolkata, her hometown, to the U.S. She’d christened the character Dora Ray. Two years later, I was the first to read this sweet yarn in between short breaks in a slow newsroom in Connecticut.
Over the years, Dora has evolved into more than a fictional character. She’s roused from the flat plane of a page and assumed a three-dimensional life in our hearts. With every passing day, her existence has morphed from a figment of our rich imagination into a solid reality.
Anticipating that Dora could one day, even acquire flesh and blood, not unlike how the wooden puppet, Pinocchio, turned into a real boy, I’d even created her avatar.
Yet, S., on her part, didn’t quite work hard enough to get the story published. Today, nearly a year after submitting the piece, she learned that Toronto-based TSAR Publications would publish Dora’s story in an anthology titled, “Her Mother’s Ashes.”
An excerpt from Dora’s life:
Dora stared abstemiously at the suitcases that lay half-packed and bedraggled. A whole world of human needs was to be crammed into them.
Each day, a little something had been tossed in; the big things had entered first while the smaller essentials were held in abeyance till that time that she would be granted her visa, and released into boundless space like streaming confetti.
Something big was at stake for Dora.
Her fate would soon be decided at the consulate. She could either be spat out or she could be accepted into the fold. It was as if she was to appear before a jury—jury of blind selection and rejection. Their principles were mysterious.
The best she could do was to armor herself with luck.
“Luck’s all you need,” her bald, rotunda-faced uncle had said when she’d asked him about the questions they would ask her at the interview.
The uncle had held an important post in the consulate and was familiar with the inner workings of the bureaucratic machinery.
There were acid rumors about his secret pro-American activities in the city, but Dora liked him, and believed whatever he said about America and the American ways.
Listening to him, Dora had formulated her idea of America as a grand demesne, where she could molt her skin and become Arod Yar if she’d wanted. The dreams of magical transformations intoxicated her.