(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Vibhuti was written by Vibhuti Bhandarkar.)
Walking along the beaten path, Kelly inhaled deeply and smiled when she smelled the familiar scent of the ocean. She could hear the waves, but it was just over the hill, so she kept walking.
At last she came to the top of the hill and simply had to smile. Though the sun was still high in the sky, it was beginning to sink to the horizon, so it began to cast different hues of scarlet, orange, gold, and purple across the sky and reflected on the ocean at the bottom of the hill. The view here took Kelly’s breath away, and she moved to the wooden bench someone that strategically place on the hill facing west, and she sat down. It wasn’t very often she came to visit her world of Elloi, but it was lovely here—always been one of her favorite worlds.
Wind whipped around her, and Kelly knew a portal had opened nearby. She glimpsed to her left in time to see Vibhuti stepping out of the portal and glimpsing around. Kelly smiled as she rose to her feet and went to greet her. “Hi! I’m Kelly—great to finally meet you! How are you doing today?”
Vibhuti hadn’t expected to receive such a warm welcome. It was like a blind date of sorts, meeting with this new friend in a whole new realm. She could feel a thousand butterflies fluttering in the pit of her tummy and her heart thumping wildly. However, Kelly’s broad smile that was as sunny as the beautiful beach-side and her happy voice that sounded almost like the humming of the waves, calmed her nerves. Vibhuti responded, trying to bring forth the same warmth, “Hi Kelly, So happy to meet you in person. Been waiting for this moment since quite long, feels like ages actually.”
Kelly smiled when she heard this. “Well, I’m glad we are finally able to meet. Would you like to sit on the bench or walk down to the beach?” She motioned to either option.
“Oh, I’d like to walk along the beach, if you don’t mind, Kelly.” Even at 33, Vibhuti was a child at heart. She could go wading into the waves at the drop of a hat but trying to veil her child-like excitement for the beach she continued, “…but if it’s been a long day for you, we could chat here at the bench too! You are the host. You can decide.”
“The beach it is!” Kelly grinned then motioned for Vibhuti to follow her down the winding path to the ocean shore. “So, Vibhuti, tell me about yourself. What is it that you do, and how does it apply to or inspire your writing?” She cast her a glance as they made their way to the sandy beach.
“Kelly, I’m a writer, been one ever since my school days!” Vibhuti grinned back. Being born and brought up in Mumbai, India (better known as Bombay) she had wonderful childhood memories of the beach. The feel of the soft sand at their feet, gave her nostalgia.
“It was at the beach that I first realised that I had a poet in me.” Worried that she was about to sound like she was beginning to brag, she sheepishly continued, “Then I went to college and studied the applied arts and graduated with a degree in commercial arts from the renowned Sophia College in South Bombay. It was there that my gurus pointed out I had a flare for English Copywriting. I have been writing for the advertising industry for more than a decade now.”
Vibhuti threw a glance at the beautiful young lady, walking by her side.
Kelly seemed to be listening attentively and had also thrown another of her bright smiles towards Vibhuti. Happy to see that Kelly wasn’t yawning yet, Vibhuti continued, “I was expecting my first baby boy in 2008 and was on a maternity hiatus away from work. Being a workaholic I missed my writing, so I took to blogging. The creative writing and short stories that I wrote at my blog, Klishmaklaver, was much appreciated and soon I realised that I could actually consider myself as a fiction writer too!” Vibhuti looked extremely happy at being given a chance to go down memory lane! She secretly appreciated how Kelly was had such a patient ear for her tale.
Listening to all this, Kelly grinned. She loved hearing how excited writers got about their passion. “Now, you said you began writing poetry in school. Was it a school assignment, or just something you picked up and fell in love with?” She cast Vibhuti a glance, but they had finally made it to the beach, so Kelly bent down, took off her shoes, and held them in her hand to walk the beach and ocean water barefoot.
Vibhuti followed suit. She was already in awe of the lady so much. It was rare that another author should show so much interest in knowing more about the little details of another’s life. Vibhuti began to think of Kelly as more of a friend from another life than a new acquaintance. There was a sense of familiarity between them, even though they hailed from very different worlds.
Like the soft wet sand sinking with the weight of her feet, Vibhuti was delving deep into her memories too. Kelly’s question had flashed back a scene from her school days at Canossan Convent. “Kelly, I must thank you for asking me. I am still so very proud of my achievements at school. I was a captain and in charge of maintaining my squad’s bulletin board. I loved to make it more interesting by pinning up reader worthy material. So I had drawn out a timetable for the posts. Each day there would be a story or a poem handwritten and displayed on our ‘Lotus Squad Board’.I’d received much praise for my efforts.” Vibhuti stopped and splashed some sea-water like a little girl would. She was clearly having a great time, talking and strolling along the beach. “It was in those days that I had ventured to put up my own poem and had received a lot of appreciation from my English teachers. Kelly, I still attribute my love for the language to my school teachers who helped me nurture it so!”
“That is fantastic. I’m glad you had such mentors!” Kelly smiled at her, but then she spotted a shell on the beach and scooped it up. It was an unusual color, and Kelly knew once she got it back to her Muse Shop, it could unlock something totally unexpected, so Kelly kept it in her hand as she straightened and brushed her long hair back behind her ear as she focused on Vibhuti once more. “So, have you published books? You said you also write fiction–what genre? What are you working on now?”
Vibhuti was intrigued by Kelly’s penchant for collecting sea-shells. She remembered she had carried along a small gift for Kelly’s Muse Shop. Vibhuti cursed her failing memory. Birthing and raising two naughty little brats had played havoc with her brains, she thought. Vibhuti sifted through her orange tote bag and fished out a small crystal horse. Vibhuti had a secret fascination for preening horses and thought it would be just the right thing to present Kelly with. “Kelly, here’s something for you before we go on. I’d read ‘The Black Beauty’ when I was at high school and ever since have been fascinated by this form. In fact I also used to dream of freely galloping black stallions So I think I was one myself in a past life!” Vibhuti chuckled at how funny her own statement sounded.
“Coming back to my story! I strongly believe in the power of prayer. I’d sent up one and wished that I’d be a published author before I turned 30. And voila! in May, 2011 a small collection of my short stories was published.” Vibhuti was obviously gleaming with pride. ” Its titled NOT TOTALLY UNBELIEVABLE because all the stories in the collection are based on true life experiences of the paranormal, magical, and mystical powers” Vibhuti added.
“I’ve dedicated the book to my mother and my Father-in-law who were the most inspirational storytellers in my life. Sadly both of them are no more.” The memory of their loss dimmed the light in Vibhuti’s eyes a tad bit but she regained her chirpy self and went on. “Kelly, I hope you liked my little gift for you and I also wish you to have a copy of my book. Please do read and tell me what you think of it.”
Kelly looked at crystal horse in her hand with fascination. “This is beautiful. Thank you!” Just the other day with her another author interview she had found a chipped figurine of a horse in an abandoned cabin. Kelly wondered what would happen if she put the two together in her Muse Shop where magic flowed.
Coming back to what Vibhuti had said, she smiled. “Congrats on getting published before thirty! And it is admirable that you dedicated the both to those two although they are no longer with you. I did the same for the brother I lost when I published my first book.” Taking both her shells and the gift, Kelly pocketed them away in her purse but thought of another question as they came to a rocky part of the beach. Kelly climbed onto a huge boulder, sat on it, and let her feet splash in the water. She looked up at Vibhuti. “So, are you do you merely write short stories, or do you also write full length novels and such?”
Vibhuti looked up at Kelly and thought she looked like a beautiful princess perched on her throne of sorts. raising her voice a pitch higher than usual, for the seagulls above were creating quite a ruckus, Vibhuti answered, ” Oh yes! I’m sorry I forgot to mention that before. I am almost done with my fantasy fiction novel for young adults but looks like I am stuck at the much dreaded last chapter” Vibhuti brushed aside her wavy black hair that the breeze and blown into her face and continued, “It’s a story of magic and mystery again based at a heritage mansion along a beach, very much like this place you have brought me to. Kelly, you make me wish I could just park myself here and type out the rest of my novel.” Vibhuti laughed.
“I wish I could let you stay, but unfortunately that impossible.” Kelly gave her an apologetic shrug then leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees as she clasped her hands together—her eyes bright with excitement. “So tell me about this story. I always love a good fantasy.”
“Oh! If you have the time and patience to listen, I’m more than happy to share the outline with you!” Vibhuti’s eyes were dancing with joy at this invitation. “I have decided that the book will be titled ‘Infinimegistus’ because the story is about an Infinitely powerful mage who has started an enatic (matriarchal) legacy that is being passed down from granny to grand-daughter. There is an all encompassing grimoire of spells and knowledge of the esoteric. And it is from this grimoire that granny teaches Leila and ordains her as the rightful heir.” Vibhuti suddenly stops to look at Kelly’s face, searching for her reaction to her brief outline and decides to add, “There’s also a magically hidden treasure island full of treasure acquired from a Chinese trade junk of the 14th Century. So basically the story shuttles time, lands and cultures too. It must sound impossible and a little too fantastically over the top to you?” Vibhuti enquired for she was worried that she didn’t speak as precisely as she could write.
“There’s nothing over the top when it comes to fantasy.” Kelly encouraged her with a smile. “It merely depends on how well you handle it.” She then looked at the sky and saw an approaching storm and frowned. That was unexpected, but it shouldn’t hit yet. Still, Kelly knew their time was short.
She looked back at Vibhuti then slipped on her shoes and hopped off the rock. “Come on, let’s go to higher ground. So what else can you tell me about the story? The characters? The conflicts they encounter? And how is it unique from other fantasy stories out there?” She cast her a smile before leading the way up the path to the bench where they had met.
Vibhuti sensed why Kelly was hurrying her back. She caught up with her and began to take longer strides and spoke as they went. “The story revolves around Leila, the grand-daughter who has quit her stint in the modeling industry and is back at their ancestral home in Goa. As the story progresses, with Leila mastering the grimoire, she discovers theres two sides to her own coin. There are shades of grey in Leilas personality. The main quest in the book is her strife to discover the treasure island. Weather she resorts to wrong means to acquire the same and what she does with all that wealth is what we wait and watch.” Vibhuti thought she has simplified the story far too much while in a hurry to communicate the plot of the book to Kelly but left it at that.
At last they came back to the hill, and here they had a better view of the storm churning on the horizon. Kelly narrowed her eyes. She hated it when her characters interrupted her interviews even though bringing a storm was new.
She cast Vibhuti a look but then smiled. “I like the story, and I’m curious to know how it unfolds. Unfortunately though, we need to head back. One of my characters is mad, and she conjures storms when emotional.” Kelly gestured to the storm. “She’s probably mad at Horado again, and I need to figure out what’s going on. You know how characters are.” She gave her an apologetic smile, but then a portal opened nearby.
“Thanks for meeting me. Sorry we couldn’t talk longer, but it was fantastic to chat with you, and I’d love to meet with you again sometime. Keep writing! You’re doing well.”
“Oh! Not a problem at all, Kelly.” I appreciate you giving me your time and patience. The topic is such that we can talk for hours and never get to the end of it.” Vibhuti sighed, as the thought of leaving the fantastically beautiful world. ” We must meet up again. I’d love to know more about you and your books too!” Vibhuti blew her a kiss out of her heartfelt liking for this new friend she’d made. They bid each other adieu and Vibhuti stepped back into her own world with hope and determination to finish that book she was just rambling on about.
The tentative title of Vibhuti Bhandarkar’s work is ‘Infinimegistus’, and there is no set release date for it yet but hopefully mid-2016. But in the meanwhile, follow her on social media for more updates: