Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Back to School - Happy Days - Nostalgia


School. An immediate nostalgia perks up on hearing the very word. Of course, those who are still studying in school will not get nostalgic, because they are there since they were kids. But, the passed out students, I guess, will feel the same way as I did while going to school after a long, long time.

It was a bright sunny Monday morning and I got up at around 9:00. It was a holiday, of course. And to be frank, I had no work, really. The day was going to be as dull as the other days in the holiday had been, or so I thought.

I was chatting with one of my old school friends and we were planning to have a reunion anyway. And suddenly, an idea formed in my mind. I asked him if we could go to school, meet the teachers and come back. After all, it had been a long time since we went to school. He readily agreed. Another friend of mine agreed to come as well.

And so, it was fixed. 1:30 in the afternoon, we decided to meet at the school front gate. I don't know if it would have such a sweet nostalgic moment if I had taken my vehicle to school. I had given my vehicle for service and I had no other option but to take the bus.

As I made my way towards the bus stand, a zillion memories came dashing to my mind. I pictured myself wearing a school uniform and running frantically to catch the bus. The memories were fresh, as though it happened yesterday. As I sat down on one of the seats the bus stand offered, I could see myself in the distance, trying to catch a bus, running. I laughed at myself and then smiled. I could see that a few people waiting in the bus stand were noticing me, but I still couldn't help but smile.





The familiar bus came. 27D deluxe, and to my surprise, the driver and conductor were familiar, too. Nothing has changed, I thought to myself. Except me, of course. I boarded the bus happily.

There was a seat, yes. I sat. In school days during the rush hour, there wouldn't be any. But I wouldn't mind as well. I'd be happy at the foot-board. I looked at the foot-board, the place in the bus where I had made most of my journeys from home to school and back again. It seemed to smile, as if to welcome me back.

The whole trip to school, though just a half an hour affair, a cluster of memories bombarded my mind at each and every stop. The stop next to mine, a stout good friend of mine used to take the same bus and travel with me, the stop next, another good friend used to travel and I remembered the way we used to talk and talk and talk till we reached school.

Then, I reached the familiar bus stop, the bus stop from where I would be travelling a few more steps to get to school. I realized that I had been travelling along this route all my life and at this particular bus journey, it felt good. I could feel the positive vibes around me. The pani-puri chat shop, the dry cleaning shop, the bus stop, all seemed to welcome home a child who had been away for a long time. Even the traffic lights seemed to nod in agreement as it turned green as I passed.

As I neared the school, I seemed to be getting sucked into a vortex full of memories. I could see different versions of me everywhere in the little road. The platform from where I fell down, my first ride in the little school bus, my ride on the van to school, my first bicycle ride to school, the way we used to eat pani-puris, the way we used to eat ice colas, the way we used to have ice-cream contests, and many more memories gushed through my mind like pleasant breeze across my face.












The feel was ecstatic. In my heart, I could feel the beat getting faster, and I could sense that happiness was up until the brim. And for each step I took, a hundred more memories whizzed past. Patiently, without any hurry, savoring and cherishing all the moments, I reached. Sindhi Model Senior Secondary School, a place that housed me for fourteen years.

My friend was waiting already. And we talked of more fun times that we had while at school. The other friend dropped by about fifteen minutes later. We trio, marched into the school. And there! You could imagine, if travelling to a place revealed so many memories, what about the place itself?

The ground that we used to long for, the basket ball court, the cricket nets where we used to do bowling practices by bunking classes, the school buses, everything seemed to pat on our backs and tell us that we are home.

And so we entered into the school where we had practically spent most of our lifetime. Our steps ordered like breathing, we slowly made our march upstairs. First floor! Ah! The memories again! The floor which we were in for the last two years. One friend saw a teacher who taught him Tamil and they had a good chat, and in the meanwhile, the other friend of mine and I saw our computer teacher, the teacher to whom we gave loads of troubles.

As she was walking, unaware of our presence, we went with her and what a surprise! She was especially surprised to see me, Aravind, The Trouble Maker. We had a good chat with her and the accounts teacher came by. She hasn't taken classes for us, of course, but she remembered us all well and chatted with us.

Then, we took a stroll to the second floor and went into the class where we had studied tenth. And another surprise awaited for us there. Our fourth grade math teacher. She was sitting there. We spoke with her. We wanted to meet many more teachers, but sadly they retired.

We so wanted to meet our Tamil teacher, but she was nowhere to be seen.

Then, we dared entered the vice principal's office where the principal was  seated, doing some pending works. At school, we used to feel afraid to open our mouths in front of him. One wouldn't believe if we said that we were still afraid. He finished all his works, looked at us and smiled, then spoke about the changes that has happened to the school and updated us. We thanked him and left the room.

We were on the verge of leaving, and a friend of mine, captain of the school basketball team laid his eyes on the court. It was occupied and students were playing and there was absolutely no stopping him. While the other friend and I waited in the open auditorium, he played and played and played and we chatted and chatted and chatted. After some time, we decided to make calls to a few of our friends and ask them to come to the good ol' McDonald's. Two of them agreed.



And we left school at about 2:50 and reached McDonald's at around 3. The other friends turned up at around 3:15. One friend, I haven't met him in years. It was good to see him after a really long time. And believe me or not, the food session was complete by 4 and we chatted at least until 5:30. All the silly things that we used to do at school, we talked endlessly about it and I haven't laughed that hard in months. Finally, when I reached home at around 6:45, I felt content, glad and happy.  






Monday, 30 March 2015

Crossed and Knotted : An Amazing Ride that Takes Great Twists and Turns When One Least Expects


I ventured reading Crossed and Knotted, published by Readomania a few days ago. I had borrowed the book from a good friend, Deepti Menon, whose story is also featured in the book.  I had the book with me for quite long a time and had also read some wonderful stories from it, but couldn't complete. This Saturday, I started to read again from the start. It was 11:30 in the night when I started, after waking up from a deep sleep. But the twists and turns that went by in each chapter were as fresh as it had been when I first read them. I was done with 230 pages and was getting all excited to read what comes next. I just by chance checked my clock and it was 5:30 in the morning. Oh my God, this book kept me so hooked that I didn't notice that I have stayed up this late, I mutter under my breath, and eventually fall asleep.

The next day, I finish reading the last few pages and connect all the dots to see what an amazing novel this has turned out to be.


The Curious Dalliance by Sutapa Basu:

There couldn't have been a more gripping start. The pace was amazing, the story moved on with a full-fledged flow and one wouldn't want to take his/her eyes off the book until he/she has completed the story. This is a story where a Sudip Roy falls in love with Megha, a girl with all her charms, but after marriage, the other side of her is unveiled and her dominance is uncontrollable not only over Sudip but also his parents. What will Sudip do? That's the best part of the story.


The Diary of Joseph Varughese by Ayan Pal:

This is easily one of the best stories in the book, and the connection starts right from here. This story's protagonist is Shivi, the daughter of Sudip Roy. Shivi is a voracious reader, and an avid follower of diaries. One fine day, she finds a peculiar sort of diary, 'The Diary of Joseph Varughese'. Overlooking her friendship with her friend Siya, and love interest James, Shivi is sucked deep within the mysteries of the Diary. What follows next is a series of events that culminate in a spine chilling climax. Especially the last paragraph with its 'Oh my God!' moment. The author has written the story with such flair that this chapter/story turns into a huge plus for the book!

The Web of Life by Sanchita Sen Das:

It is a story about the less-spoken about girl from the previous story, Siya, who has grown into a journalist, who needs to go to Kerala and interview the families/survivors/locals about a flight crash. She at first finds it difficult having sent her husband on a flight, and then manages to get on with her job. As she gets different stories, one particular story about a certain Varu Nagar makes her curiosity rise. And Siya fails to convince her boss to ponder more upon the story. And as years pass by, Siya gives birth to Sian who has a peculiar problem of inability to sit at a place for more than ten minutes, and when he'd be cured of it, the reader is in for a sweet delight. Kudos to the author for coming up with this story!

The Real Fiction of Illiana Braun by Arvind Passey:

When everyone would be wondering what happened to the mysterious case in the previous story, Arvind Passey did not make it late in pondering upon the fact. This story reveals the past life of Illiana Braun. The reader is in for a shock after a revelation, but it also leaves the reader trifle confused as it seems to not get in line with one of the previous stories/chapter. Nevertheless, 'The Real Fiction of Illiana Braun' is definitely a literary piece of writing and makes a great short story material and as for the sequence, it keeps the mystery alive.


Burning Candle by Mithun Mukherjee:

Though the previous story narrates the past life of Illiana Braun and how she ends up in Kochi, it doesn't say anything about how or why she went missing and Mithun Mukherjee takes over the reins from Passey and has done quite a commendable job in dwelling upon this mystery. The story has been written from a first person's perspective, and a journalist called Catherine narrates it. Catherine goes to Kochi for an assignment where she befriends Illiana who was also there for her project. The two ladies mingle with each other quite well. Catherine is shocked when she tells something and along the way, she goes missing, perhaps in search of the truth. The last line is sure to give goose bumps to the reader!

Relics to Ruins by Avanti Sopory:

With the mystery of the missing Illiana Braun ending, Catherine travels all the way to Afghanistan on an assignment only to slowly start losing faith in humanity. There she meets the gutsy Jameela, a bold woman who narrates all the stories to Catherine. And Catherine, shocked by the strength possessed by Jameela, gets her lost faith instilled in her once again. I clapped hands and was all praises for the author as I finished reading the story. A double kudos to the author!

Leap of Faith by Bhaswar Mukherjee:

Bhaswar Mukherjee, a versatile writer he is, doesn't fail to make an indelible impression here too. This story is about a kidnapped girl believed to be dead in the previous story – Ruksana who has actually fled to Kabul with an unlikely accomplice. The story tracks her journey from Kabul to India and transformation into the indomitable Dimpy.

Reclaiming Life by Anupama Jain:

I loved this story. The story starts with a submissive wife Poorni’s chance meeting with her husband’s friend Ashok and his wife Dimpy. What follows is an inspiring tale of a woman’s spirited attempts at reclaiming her life. The last page is the highlight of the story. This one is a treat to the reader's eyes!

The Dragon Lady by Deepti Menon:

I am an ardent follower of Deepti Menon's writings (fan) and she hasn't failed to impress me this time as well. This story is about Kamala Devi, the mother of Pankaj, as the protagonist. The story travels from her early life as a rebellious daughter and moves on to show her shades as a trying-to-be-submissive wife, just so her marriage wouldn't drop off and just after a few days, she tends to show her true colors even as she gives birth to her sons Pankaj and Binoy. The story ends with Pankaj marrying Poorni and the final act of what Kamala does is indeed shocking. Deepti Menon strikes gold yet again with is commendable piece of literature.

For a Speck of a Moment by Amrit Sinha:

I was hoping that someone would write a story on the boy who deserts her mother, and luckily, Amrit wrote it as the very next story and has indeed done a brilliant job. Binoy boards a train to Mumbai to make a living. He stays at Mumbai for two long years and all his efforts in finding his true calling, his dream job, goes in vain.  A shock awaits the readers as the story progresses, and through the journalist friend that he gets after the shocking incident, he'd set up a business at an office and after a steady success, there would be three more branches. And then, he meets this girl called Binita whom he allows to do an internship. Love ensues slowly and steadily and he decides to make a proposal to her in a very fashionable way. But then...

To Ma & Pa, Con Amore by Monnika Nair:

I must admit. This story left me teary-eyed. This story is about a girl called Mona Lisa, who is carefree and a jolly-type. She meets her friend Dimpy who is accompanied by Binoy. Mona Lisa badly wanted a job in the corporate field and Dimpy would suggest just the guy. Yes, Binoy. He gets her a job and she couldn't thank him much. They would often meet up and would be in constant touch at least through texts and phone calls. When the couple eventually fall in love with each other, Mona Lisa is faced with a battle between her heart and mind, that goes onto make her embark upon a life-changing decision.

Look Beyond by Amar Lakshya Pawar:

This is the shortest story in the book, but this story proves to be the pathway for the next two stories. Though quite short, it is effective. Here's were an Aditya Rao dies in a flight crash, thus widowing Meena, his wife and that has been explained in an laudable manner.

Dawn at Dusk by Bhuvaneshwari Shankar:

Remember Sudip Roy? The protagonist of the first story? And Shivi, his daughter? They come into play here, with Meena, Aditya's wife joining in with her daughter Pragya. Meena visits the library where Sudip works as the librarian and the story takes an interesting path which leads to the inevitable end. Bhuvaneshwari has done a great job by setting the story's pace at a rocket speed and the reader would not be able to bat an eye before he/she finishes the story.

The Last Act by Arpita Banerjee:

An apt title and what a fantastic finish! The story involves starts with an ambulance making its way to the hospital. It cuts to the now grown up Pragya fighting a battle within to believe or not to believe a fantastic tale by a watchman of an old property of her parents. Will she be able to fathom the shocking truth about her father? Will the truth lead to an unforgettable ‘last act’ that might surely tear the families apart? The readers would welcome the twist with all heart when they get to know what 'The Last Act' actually is. The author has done a great job in typing the loose ends purposefully left open in the first chapter/story beautifully!

On the whole, the chapters are in a jumbled form that if arranged sequentially and seen, would make a great story altogether. As the book says, the chapters as in itself could be read as a short story and if connected, they together make a strong novel. I can't compare it with any book as it is the first of its kind, but if I could compare it with a movie, I would have to pick the legendary Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. This one is a class apart.

My rating for Crossed and Knotted:



Monday, 23 February 2015

The Bar Encounter - A Short Story





It was meant to be a bad day. Akash's best friend Sunil's wife, Gargi had been murdered. Sunil was inconsolable. He and his wife had a good time together last night, a good time together after ages. Letting all their ego to die, they spoke their heart out, cried together, made love after what seemed to be an eternity. In the morning, Gargi gave a kind kiss to Sunil before he left for office and in the afternoon when he went home for lunch, he found her to be dead, a cold blooded murder at that. 
The very sight was horrible.

Sunil was telling his staff that he and his wife had come into terms of understanding last night. He seemed so happy, and this had totally shattered everything. Akash had tried his best to console Sunil, but to no avail. He then turned up at a nearby bar to console himself. Gargi was a good friend of Akash too, they were classmates and her death was indigestible for him as well. He bought a cooling beer and settled down to drink. The man opposite him seemed so drunk, with his long unkempt hair that covered the most of his face, and the only thing that was visible on his face was the one week stubble.

Without giving any more attention to the rag of a person, Akash opened the seal of the bottle with his mouth and poured the drink in a glass. Before he began to drink, the man in the front started to talk to Akash. 'My buddy Karan, I had no other option. I had to kill Gargi'. Akash who was in a hurry to get to the next seat to avoid the man's blabbers, stopped in tracks and looked stunned.

Almost immediately, he retaliated and caught him by collar and pushed him up to the wall.

‘Speak up, you bastard. Why did you kill Gargi? Speak up, or I slice your throat’ said Akash as he broke an empty bottle that was lying astray on the table that was adjacent to where they were seated, and brought its sharp cracked up ends up to his neck. The man was clearly petrified, but he didn’t show it. He pushed Akash’s hand forcefully and placed a feral right hook that almost fractured his jaw. Akash was visibly stunned, but then, infuriation overcame it and he charged again like a raging bull and managed to tie his hand at the back and incapacitate him. If he wasn’t so drunk, Akash wouldn’t have stood a chance to do so. With more than fifty or so people getting into the world of theirs after drinking and the hustle-bustle in the bar, none noticed Akash carry the unconscious man slowly to his car. Naturally, everyone would have thought that they are two drunk fellows staggering their way back.
He drove straight to Sunil’s place. It was a grand one, Sunil’s ancestral property that seemed to gain lustre as the days rolled. He pushed Gargi’s killer, the self-confessed fully drunk man who was still unconscious and put him in front of Sunil.

‘He’s the killer, Sunil’ Akash said, crying. ‘He killed our Gargi’
‘What’s happening, Akash? The Police just confirmed it as a murder, and you turn up and say that he is the killer?’, Sunil asked, quite confused, and the sadness in his tone was still fresh.
‘I stopped by a bar to console myself, and this man was so sober and he thought of me as his buddy and confessed that he murdered Gargi’ he kicked the man forcefully which made him conscious.

He seemed as if he was familiar with the surrounding. Slowly gaining his control over himself, he pulled his long hair back and his eyes were fixed on two seemingly angry men. He recognized one of them to be as Gargi’s husband. He cursed himself for getting so drunk as he vaguely recollected from his subconscious his revelations about his crime.

‘Is it true?’ asked a genuinely angry Sunil.

Beads of perspiration formed and trickled down the man’s forehead. One could wonder why a man who was daring enough to murder a person looked terrified. Well, that was because Sunil cocked a gun and held its barrel right on his forehead.
Lighting up a cigarette, Sunil took charge, putting the best of his private detective skills to use.

‘You have just two options, dear. Confess as to why you murdered my wife or my assistant clears your corpse. Your brain will be fed to the stray dogs’, Sunil said, totally unperturbed.

Having heard this, the man’s fears seemed to have increased manifold.

‘Please, don’t. I beg you, sir’, the man pleaded.

‘This is not the answer that I expected, dear. I give you one last chance’ Sunil said and pressed the gun harder that it created an outline of the barrel on his forehead.

‘I am just a thug, sir. I don’t know anything. I just get my orders as to whom I should murder. That’s all I know. I get a call from a private number. I’ve only heard the voice of my boss, I haven’t even seen him. After completing the assigned job, the agreed amount will be transferred to my account. I'm just a tool. I know nothing more’ the man pleaded.

Sunil laughed. ‘I can’t believe that you could actually murder a person. You aren’t all that grotesque-looking mainstream murderer types. Pity that my wife had to die from your hands. Anyway, you tell me the reason, and I promise, I’ll let you go. Not even a case would be filed against you. I am a private detective. I will make a cooked up witness and shift the blame on someone else. There are some people who are indebted to me, people who’d do anything for me. I can get you totally off the record, baby. Just tell me the reason’, Sunil said, gaining back his professional ethics.

The man started to cry. This frustrated Sunil and he fired a shot in air and the man was shell-shocked. Sunil drew a deep breath and said, ‘Don’t fool around with me, you sick moron. My loyal friend has luckily caught you red-handed, and if you don’t tell me who sent you to kill my wife, I will kill you right here and bury you at a faraway place, without leaving any trace that would tell that you even existed. You will simply disappear’

The till then silent Akash intervened.

‘Calm down, Sunil. We will hand him over to the police. They will take care of him. We’ll tell the whole story to inspector Singh. I will make sure that this ragamuffin gets a lifetime’ Akash said.
‘But I am a private detective, Akash. I’ve interrogated and found about the people who were murdered and the reason too. Do you think that I will just let him off without finding out who wanted to murder my wife?’, asked a perturbed Sunil.

‘No, we will find. Let the police interrogate, and since you’ve been a great help to them in the past, I am sure they’ll help you this time for sure. Let them get involved. You are already broken, buddy. Don’t strain too much. I will call inspector Singh now’ a concerned Akash said, and Sunil didn’t retaliate, as he was too exhausted, from crying, interrogating and he knew the bitter truth as well. The man seemed to be telling the same thing right from the start and he seemed to be genuinely true.

Inspector Singh turned up with his team, cuffed the man and took him to the station. If the man could feel something, he felt relieved as the police van seemed to be a much safer haven.

‘I am sorry, Sunil. The doctor is preparing the post-mortem report now. You can collect the body tomorrow and proceed with the funeral’ said Singh, and patted Sunil’s back, in a way to console him.

After the police had left, Sunil thanked Akash and said that he’d be always grateful to him for all the he had done. After an hour, Akash left at about midnight, as it was getting very late.

***

‘All good?’ a voice from the other end asked.

Yes, master’, said the man who was arrested. The master’s influence and his contacts inside the prison made it possible for him to converse with his loyal servant.

‘Good. Remember all that I have told you, right? Singh doesn’t know about it. The constable who gave you the phone too wouldn’t utter a word. Maintain the lie, alright?’ the voice said, now domineering.

‘Yes, of course, master. I will always be grateful to you for all that you have done for me. Will not utter a word to the Police’ said the master’s loyal servant.
You are as loyal as a dog’, the call was cut.

***

Sunil came back home late. Gargi smiled at him, and Sunil didn’t reciprocate the same. She stroked his hair and tried to make a conversation.

‘A new nut case? Tough investigatory job, I assume?’, she asked.

‘Yes, and the revelation of this investigation seems beyond digestible’ said Sunil, trying his best to hide his anger and frustration, but it was quite apparent in his tone.

‘What do you mean, Sunil?’, asked Gargi, a little frightened, more because she hadn’t seen her husband so angry.

You exactly know what I mean, Gargi’ smiled Sunil, with a devilish glare in his eyes.

***

Sunil visited the bar that Akash had visited later that evening, before leaving for office. He had arranged for a meeting with a man who was indebted to him, for saving his life. Sunil had that type of friends who were even ready to give their life for him.

He told him the whole story, about his new investigation and its revelation. The man looked shocked and he was thrown off the rail as Sunil finished narrating the story. He told that he will definitely help Sunil by taking up the blame. This bar encounter with this man proved to be the sole cause for executing Sunil’s master plan.

The same man was later met by Akash who carried him all the way to Sunil’s place.

***

In a way to pull Sunil back to the present, his phone buzzed to life.

‘Master, do you need me for the final task?’, the man asked.

‘No thanks, John. This is a very special endeavor and I’d like to do it myself, thanks. There are some more loyal men who are ready to take up their place in jail, for the same anonymous boss’ Sunil said. They both laughed and Sunil said, ‘Be good. I’d make you come out in about three or four years, on account of Gandhi Jayanthi or Independence day’

‘I always trust you, master. I’ll be good’, said John. Sunil smiled and cut the call.

The finale had now come. He checked his grandfather clock. It showed two in the morning.

He placed a call to Akash.

‘Hello’ said a very sober voice.

‘Akkkaassshhh’, screamed Sunil that cleared the soberness and he instantly replied ‘What happened, Sunil?’

‘Come to my place, soo.. sooon. That man... That man... That maaa...’ Sunil acted perfectly.

Akash cut the call and started his car to Sunil’s place.

In the meantime, Sunil loaded his gun with the single bullet, yet again.

Never expected my wife to cheat on me. Highly unexpected that my best friend was her boyfriend. I had to kill her. She betrayed me. His death will be even more uglier. Thanks, John, for accepting my crime, I will always be grateful to you, Sunil thought and as if it was just about time, Akash turned up.

Sunil cocked his gun, but smiled as some other thought crept his mind that got the better of him. He placed the gun down and grabbed the kitchen knife and got ready, as Akash entered.


Sunday, 1 February 2015

Her Story - A Decisive UpperCut to the Society



First off, I'd like to immensely thank Neelam Saxena Chandra ma'am to have agreed to send me the review copy of the book without any second thoughts and Harpreet Makkar sir to have sent me the book without any cross questions. I'm going to be playing it straight and  write from my heart about how I felt while reading every story that is there in this book. I must confess one thing. This is one book which made my time worthwhile in reading it, in college, when in other times, I would have been sleeping soundly.


The Cover:

This is the most apt cover that covers the essence of what is actually there inside the book. Fantastic design by Jimmyeric Films and Media. The back cover doesn't have a blurb, but it has the name of the contributing authors written in various font sizes. This book doesn't need a blurb as the cover in itself is self-explanatory. As one can see from the photograph, a woman is trying to break from the many insecurities that she is facing in the workplace, and in the back cover, there is a strong woman with a determined look on her face. That's about it, even though women are belittled by this society, they overcome all the obstacles and are strong enough.



The Book Quality:

The quality of the book is at its best. I'd like to give a 5/5 to Petals Publishers and Panchajanya Corporate and Creative Solutions, for the paper quality that the book had. They clearly know that appearance as well as the content inside are the two major factors that determine the success of a book.


Neelam Saxena Chandra's Stories:




The book starts with the stories written by one of my favourite poets. Yes, I have not read her stories previously. But after reading these five stories, she instantly became listed in my 'most favourite authors' list. Be it 'A Daunting Journey Indeed' which narrates the struggles faced by a woman with two children, with her husband just deceased, and yet puts up a brave front or 'We Shall Overcome Someday' which is a story of two friends of the opposite sex who grow together and also finds a job in the same company, and how due to gender discrimination, the boy is always preferred to the girl, though the boy himself wouldn't have any kind of discrimination in his heart, and how the girl is faced with the usual struggle a woman faces, and how they overcome it together, where the end is sure to raise the goosebumps of the reader, or The Feeble Voice that shouts out the need for equality between a working man and a working woman, that is sure to touch the hearts and make it tingle with happiness towards the end, or The Solitude of Life's Eve that says about an ailing mother who had lost her husband, and how a helping hand gives hope and becomes the reason for her existence, and of course becomes the reason for her putting up a brave front or The Chain of Love, where a girl from Lucknow comes to the mysterious Mumbai to end up gaining a good name in the office by a very generous act that many fail to do, and win many hearts of the people, including mine, and the title would be justified in the end of the story. Her stories are sure enough to leave a lasting impact on the reader. I can't choose one best story out of the five, as each story is one of a kind.

The Beginning, by Vivek Banerjee:

This is one story that made me get hooked on to the book. This is one story which yet again raised my goosebumps when the story was on the verge of ending. However, some words in the story were typed in Hindi, which could have been avoided, other than that, it is a brilliant story of how a budding gynecologist's confidence is raised when she performs her first operation alone.

One Big Mistake, by Rochak Bhatnagar:

There were no apparent mistakes in the story, though. This is a story of two good friends working in the same place. who turn as rivals, as one friend realizes the one big mistake that she committed. The story is fast paced, but not rushed through. This is certainly one of the better stories in the book. Kudos to the author.

The Eternal Middle, by Bhavya Kaushik and Shruti Fatepuria:

I never knew that two authors could pen a beautiful story about a girl who doesn't have a story. This story is about a dynamic woman at work, who is very strong as far as her job is concerned, but still finds her life incomplete. She sets out on a journey to Ladakh only to find Her Eternal Middle. A light-hearted story, masterfully penned. Credits to the authors.

Is Anybody Listening, by Ruchhita Kazaria:

This story is about a village girl who completely changes her look as she joins an advertising company, mostly because she was belittled by her boss's disgusting comment about how she looks, and after she changes her look, the disgust changes to lust, and even the co-workers would be trying to have a piece of her. But then, a brave post-production manager helps her overcome the insecurities by her advice, and change her mindset towards the corporate world, so that she could take over the reins from her and help her friend overcome the same. A brilliant story, praiseworthy!

Hand that Rocks the Cradle, by Paulami Dattagupta:

This story is easily one of the best stories in the book. The story opens with a maid who goes to work that is far from her place, and to top it all, her boss is a lady who is so domineering, but thanks that her husband and kids are as sweet as ever. The maid's husband wins a jackpot of two lakhs, and they decide to open their dream hotel, also have their own baby and live the life the way they had planned. When everything was going as per plan, but then, the Pandora box opens up as her domineering boss does something wild, and make the maid take a decision to rock the cradle when it is most necessary, is sure to evoke tears from the reader's eyes.

Parallel World, by Megha Sumant Sharma:

I loved reading this story. The protagonist gets pregnant, and breaks the news to her husband who is at first reaction-less, but then, as time passes, he'd be dead against her having the baby, as he'd think that they were financially unstable. She is determined to have the baby at all costs and goes to work as usual. She'd struggle during her first three months, and after she breaks the news in the office after her first trimester period, everyone would turn to be very understanding. She'd gain love in the office, but lose it at home, thus live in two parallel worlds, The couple's love for each other would be rekindled in her third trimester period, by a fantastic act by her friend and it is no less than a treat to the reader.


Predators, by Renuka Vishwanathan:

By reading this story, one can judge that the author is versatile. The story starts with the protagonist filing a complaint that makes the interrogators, her superiors in work, awestruck. The reader would be urged to turn the pages to know what is going to happen next. It progresses the expected way where the protagonist's friend advises to be aware of the predators in the office, but in the end, when the reader gets to know who her real predator was, the twist is sure to throw the reader off the rail.

EndGame, by Rafaa Dalvi:

This is one of my most favourites in the book. This is a story where a girl seeks revenge on a guy who is responsible for the cause of many woman workers in an office to have left their jobs, in the most different manner one would expect. She'd join as a receptionist in the office, and after performing a stunt and after the revelation of who she is, would certainly end the game of the boss, and thus her revenge would be sought. I have become a fan of the author.

Arundati, by Ayan Pal:

I have always been a fan of Ayan Pal's stories. He experiments with different genres and most of his stories have left a lasting impact on me. This is one such story that doesn't fail my expectation. As the title suggests, this is a story about a working woman called Arundati, with a husband who one day aspires to be a film director and a very young son who longs to be with his parents. Due to Arundati's consistency and leadership skills at work, she'd overthrow her rival at work, and win a once in a lifetime opportunity. But then, after she returns home she finds her son who should have otherwise been neatly tucked into bed on any other day, waiting for her. His innocent talk is sure to evoke tears from the reader's eyes. And the best part is Arundati's decision at the end of the story. My respect for Ayan Pal increased manifold after reading this piece.

What!!! by Shubhasis Das:

There really is a What!!! moment that would be awaiting the readers as we read the story. The story is about an IT professional, whose maid's daughter wins a scholarship in a convent school, but to everyone's surprise, the school's management expels her because of a reason that'd make the readers say What!!! And then, there is a predictable ending, nevertheless, Shubhasis keeps the readers hooked to the story until one reads the last word. This is one light-hearted story, that is carried out beautifully.

A Letter to the World, by Khushi Gupta:

The author's age and the level of maturity in this story is quite contradictory, in a positive way, of course. Khushi is I guess the youngest author who has contributed in this book, and has carried a sensitive story quite effortlessly. This story is about a young girl with loads of dreams that are hidden within her eyes. Her mother passes away right after giving birth to her. She has a father, and a brother who loath her, and one brother who shows some amount of love to her. An unimaginable act of her brother and how she at last finds the light in the end of the tunnel, a ray of hope that still life has a meaning, makes this story deserved to be read.

Barren Oasis, by Smriti Mahale:

This is again, one story that holds a place very close to my heart. This is about a very sweet girl, who is well-versed in gynecology, but the harsh truth is that, she can't conceive. Multitudes who'd make a marriage proposal to her, would turn their backs on her, as they get to know about the truth. But how does she find love in her otherwise pitiable life? What is the one silver lining in the cloud that makes her heart tingle with joy? When the reader reads it, it is certain that his/her heart would also begin to tingle with joy.

Trigonometry of Codes, by Snigdha Gharami:

This is a good story, but it could've been written in a better manner. The author seems to be confused with the grammar as well. Somehow, my heart sank as I did not feel emotionally connected with the story.

Her Mistake, by Surbhi Thurkal:

This is one story where one can literally feel the guilt pent up within themselves, for Her Mistake. Here, the protagonist and her husband do not lead a very understanding life. Both are busy in their own ways, and their love for each other slowly begins to dwindle. She commits an unforgivable mistake without the knowledge of her husband, and it starts following her like a cloud. The guilt within her increases manifold when her husband confesses his mistake and his love for her. The choice of words by the author is such that, the reader can feel what the protagonist is going through. She made the reader to envision the feeling that a girl would go through in such a kind of situation. A great job, brilliantly done!

Let Her Die, by Priyanshu Saxena:

This story will not fail to win the hearts of the readers. A lawyer pleads for mercy killing for her client, based on humanitarian criteria, as her client would be in coma for more than three and a half decades, because of a grotesque event that happened in the past. The story moves at a good pace, and it has no plot holes. The author has masterfully revealed how euthanasia plead works in India, and there is a great twist in the end about the relationship between the client and the lawyer, that made a good read a fantastic one.

Beyond the Shallow Realm, by Warishree Pant:

Two thick friends from college are into a big consultancy firm, who work under different teams. One of the friends gains great heights in a very short period of time, and of course gossips start to spread like wildfire, that she gets her job done by pleasing her superiors. Her friend is taken aback by hearing this. During the great economic crisis of 2008, the girl who would be abused verbally in the back by her fellow-colleagues would be the one to solve it, and her final act that proves to be a slap on the cheek to those who spoke ill about her and would make them think that she is something beyond a shallow realm. Warishree has done a brilliant job on this story.

Au Revoir, by Amrit Sinha:

I never knew one could write a true story so brilliantly. The story was fast-paced, and quite excellently written. The end leaves the reader to be awestruck, more because it was a true incident. A final year engineering student joins as an intern under the first ever RJ in Ranchi, and she is able to provide her hopes to her intern. The intern, though she becomes a close friend of the RJ, quits before her time as the placement drive was on. She loses touch with her, and she does quite well in her job and eventually also writes a novel. To promote it, she'd search for her RJ friend, only to be shocked to find the fate of her friend. The concluding paragraph of the story is very thought-provoking. Amrit, I am still yet to get out of the shock.

Griha Lakshmi, by Nehali Lalwani and Siddhartha Yadav:

It is a simple story that revolves around the age old problem that India faces. A doctor marries a Bank officer. Everything is uphill for them, then. The doctor is able to build his own multi-specialty hospital, and his wife helps it to grow and one find day, she conceives. Her mother-in-law, much against her son's wishes, wants to know the gender of the yet-to-be-born. On knowing that it is a girl, she forces her son to get the child aborted. The son's efforts to make his mother to understand goes in vain. Karma follows them, everything goes downhill for them. And in the end, they both decide something, and hope for everything to go uphill from then. This is one of the better stories in the book, that could have been written in a better way.

Her Story (Title Story), by Ruchi Chopra:

Ruchi is called the debutante of the year, and she is quite rightly called so. This is a story that every Indian woman born in orthodox family faces. The story is segmented into prose and poems, where a girl is born, and grows, as every poignant poem is passed. The girl's alliance is fixed by the family, without even consulting her. But she stands up for what is rightfully hers. The prose and poems are sequential, and maintain the rhythm in the story. The ending poem called 'Respect' is sure to make one realize the fact that girls need to be given their chance in this society.


As a whole, I loved reading the book. Though there were some stories which could have been written slightly better, it was a wonderful read. I hope to read an anthology of this standard, and that said, an anthology that is as thought-provoking as this, in future. Her Story indeed proves to be a decisive uppercut to the society.

My Rating for HER STORY:






Thursday, 1 January 2015

A Friend Indeed

"No, he isn't the right guy for you. Trust me, his feelings are fake. You need to come out of this, Jiah. It's better to leave him now rather than have repercussions at the end." his words kept ringing in her ears as though an old cassette got stuck in a tape-recorder. 

If only I had followed Ashwin's word, her thoughts forming a cloud. 

She was completely broken down after such a horrendous text from her boyfriend, now ex, when he stated that he had found a girl with better prospects.

All the love which he showed to me was fake, she thought, when first drops of tears trickled down her eyes and little drops began to form a mighty ocean and that's when she made a drastic decision.

She found an old rope from the girl's guides kit in her almirah, and made a knot such that her head fits in and hung it on to a ceiling fan and inserted her head inside. That's when her cell phone buzzed into life.

Ashwin Calling.

She smiled and removed the rope from the ceiling fan and untied the knot, slapped herself on her foolish act and thought, why should I die when I have a friend to whom I mean the world and when I know he'll do anything for me? and attended the call.

Love maybe considered as the greatest feeling in the world, but when it betrays a person, it's a friend who comes all the way to wipe off your tears. 

Nothing Ever Ends


There was an old man, in Northern part of America, with his hands pressed against his chest, with pain racing all over his body. He struggled for more than half an hour, with none of his family members beside, for he was a loner. The pain was chronic and intolerable as the last moment arrived, the God of death was smiling at him. His time had come. A nanosecond before his death, he returned his smile and left with the God of Death, leaving his body behind.

In the other side of the world, in southern India, a lady was struggling to give birth, crying in agony, undergoing excruciating pain, pushing her stomach with her hands for her long-yearned child to finally see the world. 

Death said to the old man, or more precisely the soul of the old man, for the soul is formless, ". The life which you lead over there was pointless, with all your immediate family gone" He pointed his hands to the woman and continued "the lady who is about to give birth to the child, is your wife who died 28 years ago. In this life, you'll be her son. You see, you don't really lose your family members. Everyone who had loved you in your past life will continue to love you in this life as well, in very many different forms. You will never remember your past life, and I'll not reveal about your life which you're going to lead from the next few minutes, for you'll lose the thrill and suspense. Embrace it, endure it. It'll be long before we meet again." and flew away.

That was when two cries were heard in the hospital ward. 

Nothing ever ends; it's just a new beginning.