If Wishes Were Horses: A Cross-Gender Time Slip Story

A suicide attempt triggers a time slip to the world of 1935.
He finds himself to be in a 16-year-old female body on a wedding day.

24-year-old Addy has a gift. He can telepathically communicate with animals. In spite of his talent, Addy isn’t a happy man. He is inundated with numerous problems.

For some mysterious reason, he is detested by the elders in his family. As an Indian American living in New Jersey, he is ridiculed for his soft looks, effeminate mannerisms and sexual orientation. His overachiever brother taunts him at every opportunity. The only two sources of Addy’s solace are his lover Daniel Rickman and his pet horse, Zorro. However, there are problems associated with the two special beings in his life.

Zorro suffers from post-traumatic stress. Addy connects with the aura of the animal and discovers that Zorro’s stress stems from suffering a fatal gunshot. Yet how could that be? Addy has known Zorro since birth and knows that the horse hasn’t even been grazed by a bullet.

Addy is at his tether’s end. He doesn’t know how to help his beloved horse.

There are complications associated in being in love with Daniel. Addy doesn’t have the courage to tell his family that he is gay. Daniel is deeply hurt by Addy’s refusal to introduce him to his family and is on the brink of losing patience with Addy. Addy fears losing Daniel, whom he considers the love of his life.

When already immersed in the above woes, Addy learns the reason for his elders’ hatred of him. He reminds them of Sita, his great-grandma who had lived in pre-independent India. Sita had eloped with a British soldier and had betrayed her family and her motherland. Addy has inherited Sita’s mannerisms and even her gift of animal telepathy. The resemblance is so great that the family elders are reminded of Sita’s treachery every time they look at Addy.

Addy tries to end his life by swallowing a disinfectant. He immediately realizes his folly and purges himself of the disinfectant. On a lark, he goes into a family elder’s study and finds a wooden box. It consists of two things: a photograph of Sita’s and a plain wedding band.

Addy is startled. With his wide black eyes and delicate features, he bears great resemblance to the disgraced Sita. He slips on the wedding ring in the box before a fainting spell takes over.

Addy wakes up to find himself in an old-fashioned high-ceilinged house. He is being shaken awake by a young woman in a saree. Addy is stupefied to find himself in the delicate curvaceous body of a 16-year-old girl. He realizes that he has time-traveled to pre-independent India of 1935 and has turned into Sita. Incidentally, it happens to be Sita’s wedding day. She is being shaken awake by her cousin, Radha.

Addy goes through life as Sita for 12 long years. During this period, she experiences remarkable, even bizarre events such as making love to her own great grandfather and giving birth to her own grandma. She meets a charming English policeman called Drake Bentley and falls irrevocably in love with him.

Will Sita betray the family and country this time also? Or is she able to change personal history? Do the solutions to Addy’s current life problems lie in his time travel?

Characters:

Aditya “Addy” Chinappa: is the 24-year-old protagonist of the story. He is 5’6, slightly built and has delicate features. He is attuned to nature and communicates with animals. His manners are polite, his speech mild. Addy loves his family but gets only hate and ridicule in return. He is frustrated by being unable to cure an inexplicable problem his horse suffers. Addy is in love with another man but is unable to introduce him to his family. He doesn’t have the courage to admit he is gay. After a series of remarkable life experiences, pieces of Addy’s life puzzle fit in and he is able to find solutions to his problems.

Daniel “Danny” Rickman: is Addy’s 24-year-old boyfriend. He is ruddy faced, with orange hair and green eyes. Daniel is a musician and is especially proficient at the jazz piano. He understands and appreciates Addy’s sensitive personality. Danny is also attached to Addy’s horse, Zorro. Danny loves Addy deeply, but is losing patience with him. The latter lacks the guts to introduce him to his family as his longtime boyfriend.

Zorro: is Addy’s 4-year-old Arabian bay stallion. Zorro is brown colored with a fringe of black running along his head right down to his back. He loves Addy and is attached to Danny. Zorro is a generally happy horse but suffers from anxiety attacks. When Addy melds his mind with Zorro’s, he finds that the horse suffers from a scarring memory of being fatally shot. Yet this isn’t possible, as Addy has known Zorro right from birth. The horse hasn’t even suffered a superficial gun wound.

Kaveri: is Addy’s 82-year-old grandma. She is a Coorg woman who has lived in the US for 30 years. She has adjusted to American ways but is Indian at heart. She likes her older grandson but dislikes Addy. When Addy presses her for the reason for her hatred, Kaveri admits that it’s because Addy reminds her of her treacherous mother Sita, a woman who betrayed her family and country by eloping with a British police officer (in pre-independent India).

Sampath: is Kaveri’s 103-year-old father. He too has lived in the US for over 30 years. Sampath was an army man in pre-independent India. He quit his job to join the Indian National Congress. He married a woman called Sita, and disapproved of her Anglicized ways, communing with nature and talking to animals. He was shocked when his wife eloped with a British police officer. Like his daughter, Sampath hates Addy as he is similar to his disgraced wife.

Chirag Chinappa: is Addy’s 32-year-old brother. He is a cardiologist at a leading New Jersey hospital and has a body like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s. He is the epitome of “success” and the pride of the family. He is married to a beautiful successful woman and has a 2-year-old son. Chirag is supercilious towards Addy and taunts him at every opportunity.

Reena: is Chirag’s beautiful, successful and good-natured wife. She is sensitive towards Addy’s feelings and disapproves of her husband’s repeated taunting of his younger brother.

Leo: Chirag and Reena’s 2-year-old son. He’s taken as a further sign of Chirag’s virility and success.

Dr (s) Sean Archer and Aaron Yung. are veterinarians who work at the shelter Addy is employed in. Dr. Archer is experienced and grey-haired, while Dr. Yung is young, bespectacled and thorough. The two doctors check Zorro but find nothing wrong with the stallion’s physical health.

Django: is a horse in Rutgers equestrian club, which Addy insists on riding. The horse runs hither and thither, which leads Addy to panic. Danny runs after Django hoping to keep pace with him. Django finally stops abruptly leading Addy and Danny to kiss with relief. This is their first kiss.

Catnip: a 7-month-old kitten in the shelter which is calmed by Addy before her spaying.

Sheila: the protagonist’s mother. She was a warm affectionate lady who empathized with Addy’s sensitivity. She passed away in a car accident.

Sita/Sitara: is Addy’s great-grandma. She was a beautiful woman with creamy sandalwood complexion, long curly hair and wide velvety eyes. She has studied in an English medium school and is fluent in the English language. She loves reading classics and writing poetry. She is perfectly aligned with nature and can communicate with plants and animals. She sees the interconnectedness of the universe and does not see barriers of cultures, races and species. She loves every living being in the universe and is unable to see separation in nature or humankind. Her qualities are greatly misunderstood by her husband and the narrow-minded people of the village. Sitara finds her soul mate in a British police officer, Drake Bentley.

Drake Bentley: is a 26-year-old British police officer, who comes to Sita for help. His horse Victor is suffering from symptoms like sweating, shortness of breath, etc. Bentley has taken Victor to many veterinarians and knows that there is no physical basis for the horse’s problem. Sita connects with Victor’s aura and discovers that the horse is panicky because of his fear of abandonment by Drake, whom Victor is attached to. She traces the horse’s fear to Drake’s own fear of abandonment. Sita manages to treat Drake and his horse. Drake and Sita eventually fall in love.

Drake is originally from Manchester. He wishes to go back to England and live close to his parents. He wants to work as a teacher and wishes to be happily married to Sita.

Sherry Kent: is Sita’s best friend. She is a tall young girl, with blonde hair and grey eyes. Sherry is the daughter of the governor of the Coorg region. She is an interesting girl who crakes jokes and encourages Sita to write poetry in English. Sherry is present at Sita’s wedding.

Radha: is Sita’s cousin and childhood playmate. She is a pretty girl in her late teens who has been married a year before Sita. Radha is Sita’s best woman on the latter’s wedding day. She helps Sita bathe, dress in her bridal trousseau and performs important rituals during Sita’s wedding ceremony.

Mr. Mandanna: is Sita’s father. He is an indulgent father who loves his daughter. He has educated her in an English medium school. Even in 1935 (later years in India’s struggle for freedom), he is a Moderate. He believes that Indians and the British can compromise and rule India together. Many regard the idealistic Mandanna as a fool. Mandanna has no qualms about socializing with the British.

Ms. Ponamma: is Sampath’s paternal aunt. She is a tubby, middle-aged woman, who reproaches Sita over every little thing. She doesn’t like the fact that the girl sometimes speaks in English. She hates the fact that Sita has a profession (animal telepathy). She wants Sita to be a “good” housewife, who speaks only in vernacular languages. Sita refuses to conform to these expectations, hence becomes the victim of Ms. Ponamma’s malicious slander. Ms. Ponamma spreads rumors that Sita practices witchcraft. She sees Sita having tea with Drake and gossips about the couple.

Bopanna Ganapati: is Sampath’s late father. He was a freedom fighter who worked with revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh.

Dechamma: is one of Sampath’s sisters. She is an amiable young woman who is welcoming of the new bride, Sita. Dechamma suggests that the tired Sita take a long nap after her wedding ceremony. Dechammma helps Sita get ready for “Ganga puja” and makes the young bride feel comfortable in her new house.

Ipanna: Is a cook who works in Sampath’s house. He is comfortable taking orders from Sita, but is wary of letting her cook (lest he is reprimanded by Sampath)

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