‘Lorry Raja’ by Madhuri Vijay

Lorry Raja by Madhuri Vijay, 2012

The magic trick:

Funny from start to finish, yet powerfully meaningful

I can’t recommend this story highly enough. Definitely one of the best I’ve read in a couple years.

The story takes a while to solidify. Slowly, we get to know the characters and better understand the shockingly bleak setting of the mine. The picture remains out of focus, however, until the third act when the plot specifics become clear in a way that feels earned and organic.

And that’s quite a trick on Vijay’s part.

The selection:

The day ripened into purple and then rotted into black, the air sagging with the smells I never noticed when the sun was there to burn it all away, the stench from pools filled with stagnant water and buzzing with mosquitoes, the sweet whiff of shit drifting from the field we all used, furtively or defiantly, even the women and girls. I registered my last load of iron and returned to our tent, where Amma was preparing the coals for dinner. Clouds pressed down on the camp, our city of plastic tents, and we could hear the voices of the men coming down from the top of the rise where they gathered to drink after work every evening. I could hear Appa’s voice above the others, his laugh the loudest.

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