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Showcase: Heritage + Brown + Posthumous Literary Surprise + Winner’s Cry + The Milkman

By Dr Afsana Elanko

As we start South Asian Heritage Month (18 July – 17 August 2023), I’m honoured to be including some amazing writers’ work giving a nod to the month. I wonder, if English isn’t your first language, do you think in your mother tongue and then translate, or do you just write in English? How do we keep our heritage alive and live within current environments and times? All questions to ponder over while reading this first piece, which, I’m sure you’ll agree, is an appropriate way to open this Showcase.


“Only by keeping our heritage alive, we keep our ancestors alive and move forward to a brighter future with their wisdom and blessings.”

© Mr Sebastian Elanko, 2021


This delightful poem jumped off the page when I was reading submissions. It creates a beautiful image.


Brown and beautiful,
A brimming bronzette star,
Blooming everyday, just to be
Brown and beautiful!

(c) Akshitha Ramalingham, 2023

Connect with Akshitha on Instagram: @akshitharamalingam, on LinkedIn: @akshitharamalingam and via their website:


The following short story highlights the connections we have with our pasts and, no matter where have been relocated to in the world, they very much remain with us. We may have similar life experiences we can share, irrespective of cultural background or heritage.

Posthumous Literary Surprise
Best Friends Journey For Life © Dr Afsana Elanko, 2023

It was a mid-October 2020, Saturday morning in London, sycamore leaves slowly swayed in the air and landed softly on Ravi’s back-garden lawn. It was a little nippy but sunny. Ravi was awoken by a text message from DPD saying delivery would be between 7.00 and 8.00am. He slowly sipped his coffee while gazing at sycamore leaves through the patio door window. He was wondering what the parcel was.

Ravi was in his 50s and had migrated from Sri Lanka. His mother tongue was Tamil; he’d been working as a Clinical Medical Pharmacologist for more than two decades. His wife passed away from cancer. They didn’t have any children. He was desperately lonely. Health had deteriorated. Life had no meaning.

The doorbell rang.  Ravi rushed to the front door and signed for the parcel. He placed it on the coffee table and immediately opened it. The content was a neatly bound series of Rip Kirby comics.  He recognised them instantly; these were published in the Sri Lankan Tamil weekly tabloid newspaper in the 1970s. But this book was well-maintained and looked brand-new. Ravi’s eyes were wide open with surprise. He’d never seen such a book before. There was a note:

Dear Ravi,

As you know, Ranga passed away three months ago following his long battle with cancer. He asked me to send this to you. It’s in Tamil, which neither I nor my children can read. It may mean something to you.

Best regards,

PS: Children send their love. They’re missing their dad dearly.

Ravi opened the first page. Ranga’s handwriting jumped out at him:

Dearest Friend,

My father bought the weekly newspaper while in Sri Lanka at least 40 years ago.  I collected them for more than four years and tore off the comic pages just for you. There are probably more than 200 pages. A week before moving to the USA, I had the book bound to give it to you as a surprise. With the rush, I forgot.

Remember the happy times!

Your Best Friend.

Mysterious Book Of Delights © Dr Afsana Elanko, 2023

Ravi’s eyes blurred as the tears rolled down his cheeks and landed on the book. He couldn’t travel to Boston to Ranga’s funeral, due to the pandemic. He sat on the coffee table, childhood memories sweeping over him…

In May late 1970s, the early morning sun beat down on the heads of two nine-year-old boys on their way to school in hot rural Eastern Sri Lanka. They looked like misfits; the one with smart attire, expensive flip-flops and a school bag was Ranga. The other was Ravi, who wore simple clothes and cheap flip-flops through which he could feel the sun-baked pebbles as they walked. They were best friends, attending the same rural poor school with basic facilities.

“Did you bring it?” Ravi asked excitedly.

“Yes, it’s in my bag. Will give it you later.”

“OK,” Ravi replied, with joyful wide-open eyes.

“We should be careful with Sarojini teacher,” Ranga whispered as they were entering the school compound.

They sat down in the classroom next to each other. The first class was cancelled as the teacher was off sick.

“Can I have it, Ranga?” Ravi whispered.

Ranga took out a book and secretly passed it to Ravi. The comic book of Rip Kirby by Alex Raymond translated and published in the Tamil language. They both were very interested in comics. Ravi’s favourite was Rip Kirby and Ranga’s favourite was The Phantom by Lee Falk. Ravi couldn’t afford such comics. He’d stand and look at bookshop windows and walk away with a big sigh. Ranga’s parents were doctors and could afford many things. They sent Ranga to the local primary school for their convenience, as they had bigger plans.  Ranga always lent his comics to Ravi after he’d read them. Ranga hardly met Ravi outside school, due to private classes.

Comic books were banned in school. Mrs Sarojini, the discipline teacher, was renowned for confiscating and giving detention. They’d lost many books and received serious punishments from her and the Headmaster in the past. Guilty feelings of breaking school rules outweighed the pleasure of reading.

Life continued. Ranga’s family moved to Boston when he was 12 and Ravi went to the local secondary school. Ranga frequently wrote to Ravi and sent TinTin comics. Ravi very rarely wrote to Ranga, as he couldn’t afford the stamps for the USA.

After Ravi passed his A levels, he obtained a scholarship to study at a UK University, with the help of a parish priest. He found part-time jobs and wrote to Ranga. Ranga phoned Ravi weekly and they reminisced about their childhood memories. At the age of 43, he was diagnosed with cancer and passed away at 53.  This broke Ravi’s heart.

Ravi’s alarm went off, bringing him back to the present. He took his medication and sat down again. Wiping his tears, he opened the book and started reading.

© Sebastian Elanko, 2023


I wanted to include this quote from Akshitha that takes a twist on how we look at colour:


“If copper rusts your heart, you still have the pink, blue and green.”

(c) Akshitha Ramalingham, 2023

Connect with Akshitha on Instagram: @akshitharamalingam, on LinkedIn: @akshitharamalingam and via their website:


The following short story extract highlights the twists and turns of life: the challenges faced, decisions made and the love shared. I thought it was beautiful and hope you enjoy it as much as I have. It captures so much.

Winner’s Cry (Extract)

Thinking of my school days, I never had big goals in my life. I didn’t live in pretence, either. Like the majority of my friends at school and college, I was groomed to become a skilled homemaker. We lived in a relatively small town and many of my cousins in our community were groomed to become young brides.

I wasn’t a great accomplisher till grade ten, just an average scorer. For reasons unknown, I had an inclination to choose subjects I thought I’d excel in. Surprisingly, I scored well in my school final and excelled in my college courses, which upped my self-esteem.

Just as this tiny dream to accomplish in life started germinating in my late teens, an early marriage was scheduled. This lead to an early pregnancy and made me enter ‘samsara,’ our term for ‘the cyclicality of life’ in Sanskrit.

My husband motivated me to pursue a career for myself after I passed a Business IT course from Edinburgh with merit, where I lived with my husband for a few years. But I had to move back to India to the same native town, as it suited the primary breadwinner’s career graph. ‘Samsara’ had struck again, with my worry for my child’s future in the small town.

My dreams became diluted. Like many Indian homemakers of the southern districts, my child’s education became my primary career goal.  The journey began in assisting her to become an all-rounder and excel academically.

While she was trying to find what interested her, she chased the dreams of her competitive peers. I realised she was the hard-working type and not the intelligent genotype. As parents, we reinforced our child’s ambitious journey, extending unconditional support.

She didn’t excel as she’d wished, but accomplished what many her age couldn’t that year, getting into the most competitive college in the capital. More than five hundred thousand students appeared for the exam, competing for nine thousand college admissions.

It’s still an uphill journey. Even now, she’s aspiring for a breakthrough. After a decade of passing out of college and accomplishing a Doctorate from Oxford University, her focus is unchanged. She’s  determined and looks as though she won’t be tiring out anytime soon.

My child’s educational journey, involving shifting from a small town to a bigger one, just the two of us, leaving behind all the home comforts, changed my outlook on life. I underwent a personal sea change. Witnessing the herds of children preparing for one of the world’s toughest entrance exams, IITJEE, was powerful, with the attributes of victory and failure seeming to unfurl inexorably.

© Latha Rajasekar, 2023

Connect with Latha on Facebook:, Twitter: @raj_latha and via their website:


I’d like to close the Showcase with an extract from a piece of work I found a rhythmical read. It was sent to us by Asquith Gibbes (on his and his sister’s behalf) in memory of their beloved mother, Norma. She is no longer with us, but dearly remembered.

The  Milkman (Extract)

The dew-damp grass was not yet bathed in sunlight as Sam slowly crossed the slope to get to the tree where he’d tethered the animal. He hardly looked where he walked, for each morning before sunrise and before most other people had got out of bed, he trod the same path in his heavy waxed boots with their steel heels and toes. These boots were guaranteed by the local shoemaker to last a farmer a lifetime in the fields. He so enjoyed this time, sitting by the animal and working long gentle strokes into her reddish skin.

Behind him, still in bed, was his wife, Lou. She’d soon be up to feed the fowl, sweep the yard with the bush broom and prepare a breakfast of sage tea, salt fish and green bananas. Or would it be roast breadfruit today? Either way, breakfast was his second love. Lou really did take care of him!

Before breakfast, however, the cow needed to be milked. If he was extra lucky, that young Miss Mary would come to buy some instead of sending her little boy to fetch it. Oh, the pleasures of milking! He even dreamt about it, sometimes he even  called out in his sleep, “Betsy, Betsy.” Lou had nudged him once and demanded, “So who is this Betsy you calling for?” Quick as a flash, he’d replied, “Betty Lou, what you on about? Don’t you remember dem days when we call each other by our pet names? You must be going deaf yu old age,” he added crossly and Lou, who worked hard at keeping her increasing loss of hearing to herself and only herself, moved closer to Sam and murmured, “Yeh, dem days, eh!”

© Ms Gibbes, 2023


Title image: Memories Meet Heritage © Dr Afsana Elanko, 2023

If you’d like to see your writing appear in the Write On! Showcase, please submit your short stories, poetry or novel extracts to:

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