{Excerpt} Santosh Bakaya’s “A Skyful of Balloons” (Novella) Authorspress

Many colorful shikaras dotted the Dal Lake, and many houseboats with intriguing names caught their attention.

The shikaras were brimming over with excited tourists singing songs, yelling and clapping. A little distance away a lone boatman sang a Kashmiri song, [khabar cha subhuk damm roza na roza, Who knows whether we still have breaths left in us, tomorrow], its notes soaring high to merge with the clouds, seamlessly.

“What is your name?”

“Arjun Pandit is the name of my shikara.”

“What a weird name!”

“I love Sunny Deol and I also loved this movie starring him.”

“But what is YOUR name?” He uttered his name but it got drowned as the wind suddenly started howling in a strenuous note, and the watery chasms snarled ominously in response.

In a spurt of villainy, the frenzied wind scooped up armfuls of silvery wave crests, dashing them into sprays.

The boat was having a tough time being tossed about like a nutshell, and Preeti clung to Vivek, her trembling hands clawing into his biceps.

“Vivek, I am scared.”

In another spurt of mischief the wind, tore up the canopy of the shikara, throwing it into the rolling and roiling waters.

Arjun Pandit was in danger!

“What if we drown?” She gasped, her heart coming to her mouth.





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