Kuzhali Manickavel

The Ash Eaters

We drew maps. We made a Power of Positive Action Map to show how sand from Parangipettai pushed its way towards Chidambaram. We made a Heartless Fuck Map from diagrams of reproductive systems while suicidal ash trickled from our lips. B. Lakshmi said the ash came from cremation grounds and we were going to get massive bad karma anemia. We said vasadhi mappillai, dragging out the words like we were going to rape her. Then we made an Anemia Map filled with islands of hard-boiled eggs and rivers of iron tonic. B. Lakshmi drew stick figures drowning in the river and said that was us. A year later her body sat up in her funeral pyre like she had suddenly remembered something. Fat flakes of ash hung in the air while a man beat down her burning chest with a stick.

Kuzhali Manickavel's debut collection “Insects Are Just like You and Me except Some of Them Have Wings” is available from Blaft Publications Pvt. Ltd. and can be found at Powell’s Books and Amazon.com. Her work can also be found at Subtropics, Per Contra, anderbo, Quick Fiction, Caketrain, The Café Irreal, Annalemma, FRiGG and Smokelong Quarterly. She lives in a small temple town on the coast of South India.


  1. What a fist-slammed-into-the-face of a story!

  2. wow wow wow

    not even sure what else i can say. this is a story that chokes the reader out.

  3. I dearly loved Kuzhali's "Insects". My review can be read here.

  4. could make no sense of the piece...is it so esoteric and opaque so as to make the not-so-smart lierary entusiasts feel all the more hopeless and marginalised?

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