Short Stories 366:15 — “Delhi” by Vandana Singh

coverOh wow, this story. People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction delivers yet again. First, the concept of it is such a clever little wrinkle: a man, Aseem, can see glimpses of other times. For a long while, it was just assumed he was mentally ill; he was hallucinating of course, and as such his life sort of spirals a bit out of alignment. But he starts to realize this isn’t the case, and can even interact with the little schisms in time, which is where the story takes off.

Even with the awareness he is as sane as anyone else, the character, in Singh’s hands, still struggles with the reality of what he can see—and the limitations on what it might mean. The titular Delhi isn’t just the setting for the story, but a character in and of itself, an encompassing whole that seems to live and breathe (and suffer and struggle and rise and maybe fall) with Aseem sort of powerless beyond his glimpses of different times and the people therein.

There’s another layer on top of this, where Aseem encounters someone who gives him more of a purpose and a sense of something he can control, and that carries Aseem throughout the tale, and the journey is just freaking awesome. This was a short story that felt like a novel, and I would have happily continued for pages and pages more. It was moving, and I had such empathy for Aseem throughout.

 

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