I’ve rewritten my poem “Infantaria” as a short story. I hope you like it.

Call out for Fernandes, you’ll meet a Fernandes. Any restaurant or a bar in Goa, you got to find one perhaps two.
I had but found a forsaken table in an odd corner by a stupid well propped up with a drab metal bucket, an Old Portuguese house, now a colonial café “Infantaria”
I dread stepping in bars, with no bar counters, no bar stools. You got no choice but to sit on a table of two or worse four. The empty chairs moan their fate, people brazenly stare at you. Yes! I’m a loser and I need a drink badly.


“Was I loud?”

Puny nose, squeaky eyes, lips like two thin blades, chop-chop monster frowning at me. MEAN!

“Fernandes, large rum and a beer pint.”

I sneaked a glance. Her fiery eyes glued on me. She was waiting for a sign, any sign to tear me apart.

“Ahem…Fernandes, get me a repeat, I hate to wait”

Two on table no 6. I could hear her squirrel, black halter, back facing me, curvy neck, few strands of her hair waving me hello. Guy with her was smothering his belly. Severe case of ulcer. Table no 5. Tender face, nice smile, gentle eyes paused on me. I let her go. She was cute. I had to. Outside on the bench a couple, hooked on a joint. They seemed alright. Table no 11. Two quiet couples. Mid-life crisis.

Right then, she walks in and I liked her very much. Strawberries chimed on her fluttering feathers, streaks of red splashed on my cheeks, a blush. She noticed me. I smiled. She smiled back, lit a cigarette, surfed her bag, pulled out a book. The author had her.


But I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Her light brown hair tied back, the tail resting on her shoulder, almost touching her breast. Her loose white shirt, top two buttons unhooked and I could see her flawless skin breathing gently as she slid the pages of her book.

She ordered a clear soup. She was on liquid diet just like me.

“Fernandes, another repeat”

She called for her check. I in a jiffy got up, followed her waiter. I didn’t care to wait for Fernandes, I never did.
“I need my check, right now”
I cleared my bill, walked out of the place and stood at the entrance. I held a fresh cigarette between my fingers and waited.
I knew it was her.
“You got a light on you?” I barely managed.
I could feel her warm breath on my folded hands holding a lit match close to her face. Pretty eyes.
She took a drag from her cigarette, so was I from mine.

“Care for a walk?” I had a look of a beggar.

“Let’s go to the beach. Its quieter there” She calmly replied.

I climbed on the back seat of her rented bike. She started. I held her with unsteady hands as we cruised through quaint streets.

We walked towards the beach, back of my hand rubbing against hers. I slipped my hand in her palm. Her fingers firmed our grip. We made it to the round of the thin river stream merging into the sea, stretched out on the sand, letting the stream water breeze past our feet, our eyes gazing at the night stars but not for a bit more we could resist. We turned facing each other.


“I’m A J”

“That stands for?”



“A J”

Her sublime chuckle had me in shambles.

“Is this your first time in India?” I asked.

“Yeah” She paused, seemed a bit lost “I thought I’ll find my answers here”

“Did you?”

“No in fact I’m left more confused, and it’s only getting worse”

“What’s on your mind?” I inquired.

She pressed her lips, looked me in the eye. Blood gushed in my head and I threw myself in her arms. We kissed.
Sand sucked us in her hollow. Tequila waves high on full moon slipped behind the sly cloud and a lonesome jived with strings of his guitar not so far away but my bladder was pounding for a release. I had the most beautiful woman in my arms but my bladder…

“Damn! Can you give me a minute?”


I got up, looked at the wide beach to find some place to walk behind and empty. The nearest shack was 300 mts away. I walked as far as I could hold and unzipped. “This is so uncool” I was so miffed with myself and the damn thing just won’t stop.
On my way back, I pondered whether to take her at my hotel room or hers, “God, forgive me. I cursed you a lot yesterday. Peace”
She was waiting for me but upright, bag on her shoulder, she looked not the same woman. Something had changed. She stepped forward, gave me a peck on my cheek and she left. I chased her but she waved me off. Just a while before she had me and I had her, the moonlit sea, our kisses and the quicksand.

My phone rang.

“Our microwave is a mess”
“What happened now?”
“Don’t talk to me like that as if it’s my fault. This thing just won’t heat up. I don’t understand. Everything is in a mess here and you’re in Goa. For what? Why can’t you write here at home, dammit”

“Sweetheart, I’m coming back. We’ll buy a big one, a very big one”

43 thoughts on “Infantaria

    • Yes if you mean drinking eventually. Before the woman makes up her mind, man lands up in the hospital or straight up. Why take half when sooner than later you can claim in full 😉

  1. Excellent story, AJ! This is my favorite part….
    I dread stepping in bars, with no bar counters, no bar stools. You got no choice but to sit on a table of two or worse four. The empty chairs moan their fate, people brazenly stare at you. Yes! I’m a loser and I need a drink badly.

    That rings of truth and experience, so many men who read that will nod their heads knowingly.

    Bring her some flowers along with the microwave(1200-watt, prove you love her)

  2. Molto bello, si…la traduzione di google lascia a desiderare ma il mio intuito ha completato il tutto.
    Molto bello…e particolare.
    A volte basta un attimo e le cose vanno diversamente.
    Il più delle volte è un … bene.

    Buon fine settimana

  3. Really nice, Arjun. I enjoyed how the pacing, the staccato rhythms of description, and the pattern of dialogue all seem to reflect this ephemeral connection. Excellent craft.

    • Thanks Chris,
      You are a brilliant writer, avid reader and a sharp critic. It’s an honor to hear from a versatile talent as you say kind words of appreciation for my humble attempt.

      • You’re too generous in those complements, but I feel lucky to have this chance to exchange ideas with other writers around the world. It’s really amazing, isn’t it? I hope to get some of my work up on my site soon to hear other’s feedback. It’s been a hectic past few months. All the best, Arjun.

        • Hey Chris, My apologies for the delayed response. Back to back posts got me entangled.
          I have something important to share with you. This and my new post Maria is exactly up here for feedback and the response is for you to see. Not flooded with comments but any doubt that I had regarding the story idea is gone and that’s a big relief.
          Please put up your work, a glimpse is good for feedback, right?
          Looking forward 🙂

          • Thanks, Arjun. I agree completely. I’ve been bogged down with work the past month or so and just managing to get a few photographs up on that blog. But I will get some new writing up soon, too. You’re right, the feedback is invaluable. All the best, Chris

          • Work comes first. Please take your time.
            Your images along with excerpts/quotes was a treat. Keep them coming, Chris.
            Thank you for the support. Warm Regards. Arjun

  4. Oh, Arjun… What will you do with all this praise? I too have nothing but lovely things to say about this piece as well. I can only offer my modest perspective on Goa perhaps. I loved the way you treated the fact that answers are not to be found in the geography of Goa. Goa has to be in the mind. Everything is in the mind.

  5. I can do with one more 🙂 especially when it’s coming from you and Your perspective matters. It has always given a new dimension, distinct understanding of my own words. You’ve always been around in spite of your busy schedule, means a lot to me. Thank you Elettra!

  6. Amazing description of what life really is… desolating places, sadness, poverty, drink, long waiting time for something that might or may never come your way… love and loss and stupid moments…
    Really great story Arjun.

      • You know, show someone a story and listen to what they see in it and you will see the mirror of their soul. It’s almost like a psychological test: draw me a tree. You will draw but you don’t know that the image of that tree is the image of yourself.
        We tend to see what we want to see or what we are. Or what we need…
        I’ve met in my life (let’s put it like this) all the characters in your story. I know the feelings and the deep thoughts of both the young woman and the story teller(the young man that is in a relationship yet needs something else, or lacks love).
        Love has many faces and one of them is to step back before something stupid happens. Sometimes to love is also to respect and protect and to act with wisdom.
        Of course you can keep or delete my comment. But I just wanted to tell you that I think I understood deep enough the meaning of your story and of why you wanted it to be read. 🙂

  7. women, what can you say, I usually have problem with the other end. good story bought you right in I was cheering for you, I liked it

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