‘India’ by Ramapada Chowdhury, translated from the Bengali by Arunava Sinha

As for openings that set up a lot of reader expectations, here’s one more. Please read the translator’s note provided with the story there. Set in British India, this story is really an allegory for colonialism in India. It’s also much more, of course, in how it depicts human nature and all our deepest needs. Chowdhury was an astute socio-political observer and he wrote about the world wars, the Bengal famine, the India-Pakistan partition, and such big, historical events. His storytelling was all about getting readers emotionally vested so that they would be left disturbed. This story is very Chekhovian in how it builds complications very matter-of-factly, and yet keeps the action always escalating. The three-sentence ending is an efficient but heartbreaking summation of what colonialism does to the colonized.

First published in Asymptote and available to read here. Also collected in The Greatest Hindi Stories Ever Told, Aleph, 2020