‘Ezekiel Solomon’s Shoe’ by Kuzhali Manickavel

This is the funniest and saddest story I’ve ever read, and it’s by a writer I have adored for years, not least because no one else I know does hilarity and distress in short fiction with such alchemy. The brevity is devastating, but the story is not devastating merely because it is brief. This story ostensibly centres on a single shoe, the very eccentric and unassuming Ezekiel Solomon’s shoe—and tie, and watch, and a banana spider, come to think of it—which shows up outside our man Seshadri’s bakery in Chennai. Seshadri recognises his friend’s shoe, and tries to get rid of it, but cannot, as it reappears every time he tries. There are so many ghostly stories in my personal anthology, but Manickavel’s remains a sparkling little gem amidst them all.

First published in Insects are Just Like You and Me Except Some of them Have Wings: Short Fiction, Blaft Publications, 2008