An archive of ideas and dissonant thoughts.


Three Stories on Class

June 10

3 flash stories that in varied ways address strange intersections of class and societal dynamics, from household help to trash pickers to hawkers in a city.

As part of an attempt to write more flash fiction, I tried to create a series of hundred word stories that could be easily read in a world of permanent attention disorders. Below are three of them that deal, in varied ways, with the experience of class difference.


There was an intimate connection between the two women, a familiarity and closeness that seemed to encapsulate centuries of behaviour and expectations. Within a couple of minutes, she was comfortable enough to shout about a stain on a coffee mug and inquire about the housing situation the maid was troubled by, demonstrating the kind of benevolent dictatorship whose unwritten rules were simply imprinted by generations of cultural tuning, a harmony whose resonance could only be identified if you too had grown up in this kind of setting, where the life of one is always subordinate to the other.



Many nights while walking home, I see a young man with his headphones in, collecting and separating trash amidst the stench of the massive dumpsters that serve most of the street. Like millions around the city who drive taxis or clean tables or press elevator buttons, it is unlikely that I would be able to pick him out in a line-up. Whenever our paths cross I feel intensely guilty that there is perhaps nothing in common between us, apart from being around the same age, that even on the same road he occupies a world completely separated from mine.



In the city center, a temple, an old church and a mosque stand with less than two miles between them. There, you often see a young boy with a folding table, selling trinkets of various kinds. He couldn’t be older than fifteen, but has the air of a seasoned salesman, imploring you to buy without coercion. When the authorities arrive, he packs up his large bag and disappears, only to materialise nearby a few hours later. You observe him and sense that perhaps he has grasped the essence of God better than any of the tourists, devotees or holy men.

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