Blue-Skinned Gods
180 pages

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180 pages

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In Tamil Nadu, India, a boy named Kalki is born with blue skin. He believes that he is the Hindu god Vishnu and that he can perform miracles. The truth, however, is much darker...

As Kalki struggles to extract himself from under the thumb of his controlling father, he must also reconcile with the idea that everything he’s ever been told might not be true. When his father drags him on a tour to America, Kalki seizes his chance to explore what life as an ordinary man might be like.

Pulled between India and America, and his father’s web of control, Kalki must find his true place in the world.

‘Rich, beautifully told and moving’ Guardian

‘It is impossible not to be hypnotized... Sindu masterfully renders how our environments bake into our skin’ The New York Times

‘The richness of this story will take hold of you and never let go’ Roxane Gay

‘Marvelous’ Devin Murphy

‘A memorable and vivid coming-of-age story’ Elise Hooper

‘Stunning’ Kristen Arnett

‘An instant classic’ Nick White

‘Exquisite’ Patrick Cottrell

‘Profound’ Tessa Fontaine

‘One of the most original and beautiful novels I’ve read in a long time’ Brandon Hobson



Publié par
Date de parution 08 novembre 2021
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781800310001
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0000€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


Legend Press Ltd, 51 Gower Street, London, WC1E 6HJ |
Contents SJ Sindu 2021
The right of the above author to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data available.
First published in the US in 2021 by Soho Press, Inc., 227 W 17th Street, New York, NY 10011
HB ISBN 978-1-78955-9-057
Ebook ISBN 978-1-80031-0-001
Set in Times. Printing managed by Jellyfish Solutions Ltd
Cover design by Rose Cooper |
All characters, other than those clearly in the public domain, and place names, other than those well-established such as towns and cities, are fictitious and any resemblance is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher. Any person who commits any unauthorised act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.
SJ Sindu is the author of the novel Marriage of a Thousand Lies , which won the Publishing Triangle Edmund White Debut Fiction Award, was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and was an ALA Stonewall Honor Book, as well as the hybrid fiction and nonfiction chapbook I Once Met You But You Were Dead . She holds an MA in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a PhD in creative writing from Florida State University.
for Geoff

T he driver slammed the brakes, whipping my head forward and back. A chorus of honks crescendoed in the muggy New Delhi night.
A few cars ahead, in the middle of an intersection, an auto rickshaw lay on its side, its three wheels still spinning, the metal poles of its sides cracked in half. Tire tracks swirled into a small blue car with its front end smashed. Glass littered the road, glittering pinpricks of light.
People surged around us. My father, Ayya, opened the door of the taxi, and we pushed our way into the crowd.
Ayya weaved to the front. I walked in his wake.
An older woman was sprawled on the ground next to the auto, thrown out as it tipped over. The auto driver was on his back near her. His eyes stared right up at the sky. Red slashes glistened over their bodies.
People shouted in Hindi to call the police, call the ambulance. The woman was still breathing. Two men tried to lift her.
Stop, Ayya said. He raised his voice and yelled, Stop! You could make her injuries worse if you move her. He pushed his way into the clearing. I followed out of instinct, as if we had a string tied between us. I m a doctor, he said. Let me look.
The men put her limbs back down. Ayya crouched over the woman. He opened her eyes and checked her pulse.
She s losing a lot of blood, he said. She needs help, or she won t last.
Look, someone said. Kalki Sami can heal her. A man pointed in my direction. I wondered if he d been at my prayer meeting earlier, or if I d healed him before.
A hundred eyes turned toward me.
Yes, Kalki Sami, another man said. You can heal her.
I walked toward the injured woman and knelt near Ayya. Up close, the overpowering smell of iron and urine. So much blood. Cavernous slashes in their bodies.
I put my shaking hands over the woman s head, where a pool of blood grew on the asphalt. I chanted over and over, my lips quivering with the words. Om Sri Ram Om Sri Ram Om Sri Ram . Some of the crowd prayed with me.
I closed my eyes against the lights. I chanted and chanted. Om Sri Ram. Om Sri Ram .
T welve years earlier, a girl named Roopa arrived at our ashram in Tamil Nadu, India, dying from a sickness only I could cure. This, my father told me, would be my first miracle.
It was the eve of my birthday, an important transition. I was the tenth human incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu, and I was turning ten years old.
Like every Friday, the villagers filtered in with rice and lentils, fresh milk from their cows, spinach, moringa, and bitter gourd from their gardens. They put these gifts in front of me as I sat on the only pillow in the room and took their seats on the bedsheets we d laid over the cement floor. My father, Ayya, sat to my left, and my cousin Lakshman to my right. We faced the open green door that led to the veranda.
The village kids played outside. As a birthday treat, Ayya had promised to let us play with them after the prayer session, if Lakshman and I were well-behaved and lucky. My mother had wanted to have an eggless cake made to celebrate with the villagers, but Ayya thought it too Western and decadent.
One of the village kids had brought a cricket bat for the first time, and he showed it to the others, beaming as they touched it, demonstrating how to hit the ball. I d asked my parents for a cricket bat for my birthday. I imagined holding it, showing it off to the boys when they came for next week s prayer meeting.
Ayya nudged me with his elbow and I snapped back to attention, ashamed I d let myself be distracted. Now was not the time for cricket fantasies. Now was the time to focus and prove myself in whatever test would be demanded of me that night.
Lakshman jiggled his legs up and down, watching the kids too. He was my first cousin, a year younger but almost as big and much braver. He had the round face and big eyes that painters always gave Hindu gods. All I had was blue skin.
The Sri Kalki Purana , the Hindu text that prophesied my birth and life, said it was on my tenth birthday that my trials as a living god would begin. I would be tested three times, and I would have to prove myself worthy of my birth. Ayya had reminded me of the scripture that morning, though I read the Sri Kalki Purana regularly, and had been anxiously counting down the days to this birthday for over a year.
I saw a vision, Ayya had said after our morning meditation.
I d seen a vision, too, early with the sunrise. I d woken up dreaming of goat blood. In the dream, I d wrapped my hands around the neck of a month-old kid and held tight as it thrashed, then stilled. I d pushed my hands through its skin and felt its insides. I d smeared the gummy blood on my face, my chest, my feet, until my skin prickled and grew fur and my nails knit together into hooves. Until I was the goat.
But I was afraid to tell Ayya about this dream - afraid my vision meant doom.
I had a vision of your first test, Ayya had said, leaning against a plaster column in our courtyard. Someone will come to you tonight. A stranger who will need healing.
I d healed plenty of the villagers already. Arthritis, back pain, bad luck. I could handle one more healing.
This stranger will be dying, he said.
I watched the angles of his face for clues as to how I should act. I d only ever healed minor aches and pains. I d never brought someone back from the edges of death.
Do not doubt yourself, Ayya said. Disappointment tinged his voice.
I d let my guard down, shown my doubt on my face. I schooled my expression into something hard and impassive.
Yes, Ayya, I said.
You want to travel the world and bring it the healing it needs? The journey starts tonight, with your first trial.
In those days, I wanted more than anything to make Ayya proud. I believed only my own doubts and fears stood between me and my destiny as Vishnu s tenth and final avatar. I believed that if I had enough faith, I could do anything. But doubt crept up on me whenever I laid down to sleep, wrapped its invisible hands around my throat, burrowed into my skin, and refused to let go its hold on my brain.
Now, in the room facing the veranda, as the villagers got ready for our prayer meeting, Ayya reached stealthily toward Lakshman s jiggling, full-motion thigh, and pinched him. Lakshman jumped. The leg-agitating stopped.
Ayya stood and closed the doors of the large room. He lit two five-wicked oil lamps with a small one that fit in the palm of his hand. Lakshman rang the hand bell during the pooja. Om bhuur bhuvah svah , we chanted, tat savitur varennyam, bhargo devasya dhiimahi, dhiyo yo nah prachodayaat - a prayer from the Rig Veda , the oldest Hindu text in existence, calling on the sun god. I gathered up my god energy for the healing session that would take place after the prayers and meditation. If my first trial would begin tonight, I would need as much god energy as I could manage to build. In my mind s eye, I saw this energy like fluffy cotton, accumulating at the corners of how I pictured the inside of my body - an empty room the size of the one I slept in. I walked around the room, squatting and scooping up big armfuls of the cotton, soft and itchy on my skin.
Beyond the veranda, the village kids bowled and batted and ran around, their cries barely audible.
I tried to focus on the chanting.
The kid with the bat had been the hero of this game, and he ran around the others with his bat held high, pumping it up and down.
Lakshman was watching, too, and he sighed, rubbing the spot where Ayya had pinched him.
A man and woman from the village sang bhajans as the setting sun danced through the open windows. Two boys growing shadows above their lips played the wooden harmonium and tablas. When it was his turn, Lakshman sang his favorite Krishna bhajan, his voice achingly soft, arching high across the ceiling. Enna thavam seithanee, Yashodha, engum nirai parabhrammam Amma endrazhailkka , he sang. What great penance did you perform, Yashodha, to be blessed with a God for a son?
Finally, the bhajan ended and the healing

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