Sunday, August 4

Delicious Tamarind Rice



Life might seem like a precarious boat ride on an enraged sea amidst cold showers at times, but still, interlaced with snippets of calmness granted by a sunny day and the pacifying hopes of the sight of a sandy shore past the horizon, the ride can transform into an enticing one at the most unexpected of times. Such a sliver of joy knocked at my door last week, while my days had gone haywire for a few irrevocable matters. For a writer, to receive a mail with the subject emboldened in bright letters which screams out that ' YOU WERE PUBLISHED', in any sort of medium for that matter, would be an intoxicating feeling sans doubt. And one such rewarding moment completely made my day when i received a mail from the Tamarind Rice people notifying me that my story was published in their July issue. 

Being their subscriber,i could read the issue wholly and all the more easily by downloading the pdf and it wouldn't be ornamental if i state that i was thoroughly amazed by the quality of the contents, a few by bloggers i read and enjoy on a regular basis too. The readers can vote for their favourite write ups in the vote and win section of the website and better yet, can be winners too in the process if you are lucky. 

In the August issue, they are breaking free from their usual norms and are sticking to a particular theme, the details of which could be found Here. Go ahead and contribute if your nerve cells have already started firing away at the mention of the theme!

Tamarind Rice, in my opinion stands out from the rest of the online literary magazines owing to the fresh and absorbing contents and the vibrant ideas that they come forward with every new issue. 

They say, 'Never to judge a book by its cover'. And maybe extrapolating the idea a little bit, here we could say, 'Never to judge a magazine by its title'. But i would advise each of you to unhesitatingly go ahead and judge this online magazine by its befitting title, for every little bead of rice in this particular dish is as delicious as it could ever get.

You can reach the magazine here at Tamarind Rice. I had re posted my entry in this magazine 'At The Bookshop' as a fiction on my blog by another name- That Final Arc. If you like the story, vote for me here at Vote and Win. 


Thursday, July 25

That Final Arc - Fiction


The overpowering scent of freshly brewed coffee hung invitingly in the air. It had been remaining so for the past few minutes, quite daringly challenging my alacrity - the alacrity of a professional who was unflinchingly feeding raw materials in constant streams to the contraption at hand, so that it would churn out the desired products in another blink of her eye. “ The elixir will just have to wait for another half hour more”, I muttered under my breath as the tantalized bundle of nerves in charge of my senses kept firing away diligently, seeking respite. 

It was close to 6 when I left my cabin, hurriedly sloshing down my throat a cup of tepid coffee. Half of my colleagues had already dashed for the cab which would take the employees to their respective homes.

“ Hey Maya, late as usual ? No shortcuts to success eh! ”

The clutter of the rattling keys that accompanied the raspy voice was allusive. I turned back and flashed my boss my widest grin before embarking on the elevator that led me to the lowest floor.

The sky was alarmingly pale that evening. No crimson tinge. No home bound birds. The scenario that but unraveled before me was entirely one that defied the signs of nature – public vehicles that swished past me emitted venom from every single crevice of their being and the pudgy man who knocked me down to the pavement was more a critter of a less civilized world than that owned by Mother Earth, thanks to the cords that drained him of his senses through his ears, both figuratively and literally.

The loud blast of an unidentified vehicle ( The latest SUV perhaps ? ) nudged me back to the problem at hand – That I was ten minutes late. And that unfortunately meant I had to wait for twenty minutes more for the next bus which took me home. And they say troubles, when they attacked you, they did so in torrents. The street vendors, all at once, started shifting their temporary workplace to more secure corners as bulky drops of rain started pouring down on the already weighed down world rolling before me, igniting both a fury and inevitability in the home bound people to move faster.

My eyes had already started vying with the cue of sleep, the frozen joints of my body badly in need of soothing. Sans an umbrella, the wisest way to evade the unwelcoming shower was to seek solace under the nearest roof and I did just that, undoubtedly and unerringly.

“ Ma’m would you like to take a look at the newest additions that we have?”

People had a way with pouncing on me from behind when least expected and as always I jerked my head in startle to the gleaming, albeit coarse face of a middle aged man standing right next to me.

“ Oh ! Sorry. I was trying to keep myself from drenching in the rain. Maybe some other time, if you will let me share an inch of your shop now till the rain subsides? Out of compassion of course?”

The chime of the golden bells left suspended from the entry door rang through the dingy, yet well cared to shop. A customer let himself in, brushing aside silver droplets of rain from his hair, though with an air of inquisitiveness, quite unlike the way I had barged in. Not caring to reply to my query, the shop keeper left my side, leaving me high and dry amidst a flock of customers who found their way through the shop with ease born out of practice. And that was what prompted me to look around and look around did I for the next few minutes.

Minutes zoomed past in a jiffy until that moment when the shop keeper startled me once again from behind.

“ So, are you from Kerala?”

“ No. Why ?!”

“ From the way you were sniffing the pages of ‘ The God Of Small Things’ a while back near the Booker Prize section, I deduced, however falsely, that you were intrigued by the theme of the book. “

“ I cant deny the fact that you were partly right. Indeed am i intrigued by the theme of the book, but that wasn’t the sole reason why I was found bonding with it”

“ So, have you read the book?”

“ A couple of times, yes. “

“ I see. Do you need anything from my book shop now?”

“ No, I don’t. I am not allowed the privilege of savoring the alluring pages of a newly bought book anymore. Working woman. Mother of a two year old. I guess that explains a lot!”

“Please enlighten me, will you ? I didn’t quite get the relation between the two.”

I watched the man as his sharp jet black eyes narrowed down to two slits, peering at me as if he was indirectly solving a riddle for me, a riddle which needed to be solved with utmost precision and direness. A desperate customer kept calling out to him from around the far dimly lit corner of the shop, perhaps seeking help to dig out his favourite book from the pile of Classics stacked against the edge. Ignoring the calls, he kept staring at me as if his next move depended wholly on my answer. 

I tried to laugh his query off, with a smug on my face, replying in a haste , “ You see, it is complicated. Reading was so much of a passion way back when I was in school and i used to be the happiest while cuddling up in my bed reading a new book. But now, the habit has died down or maybe I lost the drive someway down my neglected shoddy lane while I was scurrying past the polished highway in this mad race. I can squeeze in time if I need to at this point of time, but whether there be time or not, in the end, it is the inclination of mind that matters and unfortunately that is where i failed or rather that is where my life hassles failed me.”

“You cannot be truer ma’m. And maybe that is why only a focused few manage to live their lives the happiest while others live in desperation or at the least nurturing a slight yearning forever when all it takes is the right inclination of their minds to draw that final arc to perfect their life circle.”

As if it dawned on him just then that he had a customer waiting, he left my side, draped back in the cloak of a considerate shopkeeper, to lend his hand to the person at the far corner who was in search of that particular book he was dying to get hold on.

The street lay washed of all its sins at the mere touch of that steady rain. The parched sun had almost vanished behind night’s pall seeking a good night’s sleep, albeit not forgetting to hang his envoy, the round silver snippet of beauty, in charge of his kingdom while he peacefully slept. The city had r eclined back at the cue of nature and I stole a look at the book shop before boarding my destined bus. The shop keeper stood watching me from inside, his gaze implicit and his smile knowing. I tightened my grip on my newly purchased book, drawing it closer to me, before nodding a goodbye to the person who, out of sheer serendipity or perhaps even advertently, descended before me and slowed me down.
                                                 __________



P.S : Completely unrelated i know, still can't help but shout out that this is the 150th post :)

P.P.S: This story was published on Tamarind Rice, an online magazine, in its July issue. To know more about the magazine, visit their page Here. 




Thursday, July 4

Rivulet



A flash of beauty,
The crack of dawn,
Shimmering sun's ray,
The scent of rain.

A surreal soundtrack
Or a soulful note ;
They take me back
And leave me sour.

I tried my best 
To make you mine;
The fire in me
But,burnt me whole.

I let you go
As someone told
For if only you sought
You were mine.

 Counting tides
I waited days
But no one came
Nor anyone spoke.

Why didn't you notice
That i was gone ?
My screams had echoed 
Through mountain mounds.

Tears rolled down
Formed eddy streams,
Till my rivulet grew
And left you far.

Wasn't he right ?
Who faithfully said;
That things sans reclaim
Were never truly ours to claim.

And that was when
It struck me hard;
That life was such -
So undeniably real!
_______


Wednesday, June 19

Of Pinto And The Return Of Gusto


Certain phases of life hit you hard. Merciless would be the apt word to describe those, if i insinuate myself deeper into the pile of specific words in search of one that brings to life the shade of grey in its totality. Merciless, because they simply don't let you wriggle away free from them quite that easily as our confident minds assume. Merciless, because they smother you till your life starts effervescing into snowy white foams to eventually fade into nothingness.

No, i am not clinging precariously on the steepest cliff staring deep into the abysmal low. But yes, i am partly gasping in the suffocating clutches of a dire work commitment, from which there seems little escape for a few more days at the least. 

Those minute seeds of literary inclination, that had been sprouting enthusiastically, though which much effort and sans perfection, seem threatened of being uprooted in the heavy monsoon that has been literally pouring down on my hectic days. More often , as i have always realised when skeptical, it is either everything or nothing at all for me. Either i give something my best shot or i don't even to bother to give it a try at all. Either i read a lot, burning the midnight oil for several consecutive days sans impatience or dreariness, or i don't read a single line at all for months. The same goes with writing. But then, i am not a professional writer barged with looming deadlines nor have i ever been a regular blogger. Infact, i see this space as my niche, my haven where i unwind when the flow gets fierce or where i confide in while sitting idle on my couch, with a couple of hours to spare from my routine to set ablaze those mysterious nerves specilised to fire off contrived pieces of work. 

When the situation remains so, with much acceptance form my part, out of the blue, there descended a bright sunny day on my otherwise murky cascade of events, when i decided to order a couple of books from Flipkart, one among them being ' Em and the big hoom ' by Jerry Pinto.

You may have the urge to label me as pseudo intellectual, but i have to admit this that post a particular write up of mine ( find here), i have been focusing less on Indian English works, a decision born out of the inclination of a working person to stick to the safer side lest you would have to sit back and helplessly lament over the loss of  hard earned chunks of money or worst yet, the sight of that hardly available slot of free time slithering down the drains - Until, i came across a few articles by Jerry Pinto

It might sound stupid, but truly, i have not been much of an admirer of satire. Somehow, satire has always hit me as biased with the cynical inclination of the writer projecting itself onto me more than the mastery of the craft which is particularly proclaimed by most literature savvy minds. But, Pinto, unabashedly and undoubtedly i say, has succeeded effortlessly in proving me wrong and that too, to a very intense degree! Check out this article for example -  Blame It On Wordsworth.

Well, and that was what prompted me to grab a copy of Em and the big hoom. Halfway through the book now and like every good piece of literature, this book too has struck me deep, igniting a spark in me to scribble down something on a piece of paper after a hiatus.

Words are magical and a good book sprinkled with meaningful thoughts is insatiable. Probably, the best inspiration for a budding writer. I know that this post is pointless, but i feel a lot relieved now. The vacuum that has been carving up my insides is being slowly replaced with a sense of purpose. I am reading a good book. And i cannot be happier. 

Leaving you with one of his astoundingly powerful interviews, for those who felt i was vague about the gusto part on my post title and would like to have a more reasonable proof than my imperfect write up to consolidate the same. Watch it. You will read him for sure, if you haven't already. 





Saturday, June 1

Black Or White ?


Image Source : here

24-10-2002 : 10 P.M 

Bulky drops of rain slithered along the side window, cleansing it of its adherent dirt specks. Somehow the rain, instead of cleansing Shikha of her pain, drenched the pall cloaking her, weighing her down even more. A loud cry from the next bed struck her fierce. Was that lady crying out for her loss too like her? Shikha strained her neck to peek through the narrow slit between the drapes to see the doctor standing patiently beside the woman on the next bed. 

The next moment, Shikha felt the ragged cotton drapes shielding her from the rest of them slid from her hand, as a sudden pang of pain shot through her, a pain which would bring along with it a reason to cry over for a long time to come, if not forever. Before she knew she had drooped down to her normal state, drops of perspiration settling down on her lacklustre skin and droplets of tear clustering on her congested eyes.

                                                ~~~~~~~~~~~~

25-10-2002 : 8 A.M

I rushed through the rooms to complete my morning pre rounds, lest the professor would  pounce on me unleashing her fury, oblivious to the presence of her patients watching us. And that would amount to an inexplicable and embarrassing situation, something which was extremely discomforting for me.

As an Obstetric intern, the last night had been hectic for me with a handful of deliveries to attend to; and in a way, undeniably harrowing as well. 

' What was that patient's name? Yes, Shikha.' 

In a flash, the painful sight of Shikha crying on the shoulders of her mother for her stillborn child retreated to my mind, a sight which could haunt anyone who witness it for a few days to come. Having dissected the scene all night, the incident had started descending on me as a shock by then, with a revelation dawning on me that never before had i the breathing space nor the state of mind during my duties to even notice such distressing interactions between the patient and his/her relatives.

As i entered Shikha's room to enquire about her condition, i was greeted by her son, a three year old, with the cutest face i could ever imagine.Perched on his grandmother's waist, he started clutching on my stethescope playfully and in between bated breaths, asked curiously about his mother who had been confined to bed to his awe for two whole days. 

" Can my mother come home today?"

" Oh yes she can. She is perfectly fine now"

" Can my father come home now?"

" He can as well baby. But we wont be letting you go home today. You need to take a couple of injections to keep you healthy", I let out a joke blatantly, not remembering how such a statement would create a havoc when uttered to a kid. But before long i happened to realise that i was conversing with a wonder kid, for he seemed the least fettered by my comment. Instead, he hopped out to the next room to play with the kids there, concocting illegible lyrics for a famous tune, at the sight of which a dash of warmth sprouted on his mother's otherwise sullen face, for once forgetting about her loss, however momentary that tryst with happiness be.

Sensing her face swelling up the next second, i continued,

" If a woman comes to know that she is carrying an anomalous child, it is always advisable to let it go at the earliest. In your case, it has been a spontaneous loss, something which no intervention could prevent for good. With God's blessings, you already have a healthy child, the sweetest and the most adorable one in that regard too. Isn't it better to be happy with one kid than giving birth to an anomalous child?"

She looked intently at me as i said this and the wry smile that had been shadowing hesitantly on her face widened to a beautiful curve, granting a fresh glow to her eyes, a sign which reflected a soul pacified after much torment beneath, as we listened to an imperfectly moulded 'shiela ki jabaani', sung in a way as if it were a kid's reply to every single question thrown at him, drifting to us from the adjacent room.

As someone said, a loss makes you appreciate your blessings like never before and sometimes, holding tight onto your blessings could be the only means to push your life ahead from the misery.

                                            ~~~~~~~~~~~

P.S : This is a work of fiction. 

Wednesday, April 24

The Cocktail That Is Memory


Image Source: here

" Skipper ennu vechal?" (What is a skipper?)

I would continue to stare at my brother, wide eyed, munching on a chocolate bar, in eager expectation of a solution to suffice my confused mind. My brother on the other hand, would sweep back the unruly hairs scattered on his forehead and acknowledge my query with a soft brusque reply - " Ummh", with his eyes unflinchingly focused on the television set. 

The silver rays emanating from the T.V would be morphing into interesting geometric shapes on his glowing face. Unperturbed by the many subtle motions unfurling around him in our living room, he would keep watching the cricket match, as if in a frenzy to dissect each deft motion, shred by shred so that those would eventually leave an indelible trail of images on his mind. His staunch worship of the game used to intrigue me, which in turn might have prompted me those days to return my gaze towards the uniform clad players, to satisfy my burning curiosity to find out what the big fuss was about anyway.

My brother wouldn't have had the slightest of clues at that span of moment that his sister could be the most pestering of his companions. For to his dismay, an untiring torrent of questions were to be thrown his way without fail, during every cricket match that we watched  huddled together on our living room couch thereafter:

" What is off side?"
"What is on side?"
"What is a yorker?"

Knowing how stubborn i could get, he would, at most instances, be left with no option but to clear my doubts and thus before we both knew, slowly, but steadily he ended up hauling me deeper into the game with each passing year. And thus incepted a cascade of  some of the best moments of my life - sprinkled with the joy of fun, frolic, fervor and exhilaration of celebrating together something we both loved truly, madly and deeply. Harking back, those sessions were easily few of the best moments of our childhood, second only to the out door games we indulged in along with a bunch of equally exuberant kids from our neighbourhood. 

Several summers down, when the kids around my place indulge in the joys of their longest vacation now, it dawns on my mind that it has been long, awfully long since i watched a match with my brother, or for that matter even alone. The much looked forward to habit had ceased to exist the day we chose our unrelated future paths, as life embraced us with its many vigorous hopes and tantalizing dreams. ( Unfortunately, the habit of throwing questions at the fellow spectator has outlived years to continue to be a menace till today and has even become a matter of disgrace for i have been shooed many a time by a couple of irritated friends during my college days) 

Memories are strange, aren't they? Rediscovering them at the most unexpected of circumstances can be stranger. They come seeking us out of the blue like they have been inscribed with a written fate as to the moment when they should seek us a second time; making us laugh, making us cry, making us reminisce, leaving behind an insatiable craving in the form of a wish for the past to come visit us from the yonder one time more for real. 

We speed past the days into our future perched on the wings of our dreams, but somewhere down the lane, unintentionally or intentionally, we pause for a while to realise that there are certain snippets of the bygone that even time wouldn't dare to bury under its dark opaque and ever defiant pall. Those memories are destined to flourish in every cell of our body as a lingering presence of the many jubilant yells and the many miasmic groans that constituted our life once upon a time. 

Now that i have written this, suddenly it seems silly how a flashing memory of a joyous time spent years back could invoke a string of reflective thoughts. But then, such is the way of life. A seemingly simple thought would stir up a relentless flood of emotions, while an excruciatingly intense one would leave us strikingly numb right to the core, much to our surprise. Strange, but true. 

Why then should we discard these thoughts tagging them merely as a collage of a dead past? Why not catch hold of that flash of memory and give yourself that much needed introspection as to why such enviable moments happened to slip through the sands of time? Why not do something to recreate the magic rather than simply pining about the glorious days of your past? - Call up an old friend, revisit that special place, if there is one, that witnessed many a heartwarming moment in your life and savour the unique feel of togetherness - These are undoubtedly Kodak moments, i tell you! Sadly such things are easier said that done most of the times,  especially when every other person today is in a frenzied chase to amass his/her share of an enviable life. Perhaps, the recurrence of such moments too would have a pre written course of action. To keep our minds and eyes open is the least we could do to not let a good opportunity fade away right before us. 

As for me, i have already jotted it down in my mind to watch a game or two with my brother when we meet at home the next time - and yes, silently with no probing in between. Except of course for the regular outbursts of excitement in the guise of laughter that is normal when two siblings reunite under a roof after long. Things like that stand the test of time and we go ahead and rightly term such moments 'priceless'. And priceless they are indeed.

                                                                            ~~

Tuesday, April 16

A Journey And A Revelation



Image Source : here

The fiery red ball had rolled back to its assigned slot sharp at the strike of dawn. The unerring pattern of the nature was slowly being unfurled. The exhilarated birds, cluttering their ever vivacious wings, had already propelled out from their nests. A mesmerizing shade of crimson had been sprayed unevenly on the nature’s canvas signaling the fervour of a new start . It was time to pull myself up from the cozy comforts of my quilt and head to work, for not an element of nature would defy that vividly sketched out schedule of this world – a schedule that commenced with the crack of dawn and ended with the fall of dusk.

But why oh why, didn't the dawn ever sleep in? Why oh why didn't the bird ever feign sickness?

For the consequences of a speck of laziness creeping into the well polished sheen of disciplined nature would be drastic. The same holds true for our lives too. A day that rolled by sans the assurance of that one penny would be akin to a day simply not lived at all. Or, is it so?

In search of sanity, seeking solace from the chaos, I once decided to paint my walls blue. The hue would ultimately pacify my distraught mind, I believed so direly. As an extension to this mire of thought, I decorated my cabin with the prettiest of articles – a frilled purple glinted photo frame encasing my dearest family, vibrant files, an artistically carved wooden deck on the side wall and a lot more that fail to resurface from the neglected recess of my memory right now. Slowly as days rolled by, my visual field failed to register the presence of those much loved accessories. No, i hadn't turned blind at a spiteful snap of fate, but my mind had indeed turned blind to those perky additions crafted by me, solely aiming a rescue from my redundancy. Before long, proving my worst fears right, the whole world started morphing into one huge monochromatic grey wall encircling me, restricting my exit forever.

Life continued in misery, until that bright sunny morning when the weather was at its allure best and the shimmering clouds seemed to float fast as if in a hurry to cross timezones. Tired of my hibernation and inspired by the swell of energy around me, I decided to break down the huge repulsive grey wall forever that particular day - All by myself. Blowing away the powdery past that settled on my skin, and along with it my worries and woes, I set out on a journey, a long pending trip to a far destination, alone.



With a sagging backpack slung over my shoulders, spiked soles adorning my feet, a denim blazer wrapping me with comfort and dreamy eyes twinkling with excitement, i knew I couldn’t wait a second longer once the decision had been made.

 Trudging the road, I savoured places I had never seen before; Boarding trains, I explored spaces I had not a minute clue about. The wind that blew against my face was succulent at few places and at other places it surprised me with its tantalizing scent, probably the scent of a blossoming garden it had emanated from. I roved in search of those places and discovered fruits that tasted exotic and flowers that were outwordly. The zest of the hail storm that shook me wild never saw me wavering from my goal. Instead I sailed with it,on its wings, to the unknown, unexplored places it hauled me to on its way.

Resting under the pine trees, mad with happiness, I hummed loud my favorite tune against a soft rumble of the receding thunder. Dangling my legs from the formidable velvety rocks, I delved into the mysteries of the lusciously vast ocean sprawled ahead of me. Trekking the steepest, tortuous rocky mounds, I shed my worst fears one by one. Embracing cultures and observing beliefs, i realised that variety is indeed the spice of this world. Days saw me rejoicing with complete strangers who with utmost compassion fed me when i was utterly hungry and sang songs with me in between those scrumptious meals. Cracking jokes with them i laughed out loud, uninhibited for once, uncorking the bottled up frustrations which frizzled out with each hearty laughter, ceasing to exist thereafter. Sleeping under the milky white blanket of a full moon, locked in night's embrace, admiring the sparkling necklace knit by stars, I savoured few of the best days of my life - days which taught me that it was indeed the journey that mattered and not the destination.

Strolling back to my mansion a few months later, i was spellbound by the sight of those invigorating deep blue walls looming ahead of me in all its pristine beauty, the beauty which i feared was lost forever somewhere beneath the ugly grey tentacles of the surmounting doom. The tentacles never bothered me from then on. For I had discovered the perfect antidote for drabness - a stroll, a ride, a hike, a trip - a journey in any of its varied enriched form.
                                                        ~~~~~


P.S : This is partly fictional, partly the creation of a reverie. But i do believe in the therapeutic effect of a journey - True to what i had said in the post, even a walk or a short ride serves as the perfect stressbuster for me.

Sunday, April 14

Guest Post - For A Dream



Image Source : here

Last week, my dear blogger friend Prasanna Rao who blogs at Life Under Microscope invited me to write a guest post at her blog and i had to instantly agree to the offer as i have been reading and admiring her blog for quite long now. If you haven't visited her yet, do that at the earliest for otherwise you would be missing out on a unique collection of short stories and book reviews from her part. 

Here is an excerpt of the short fiction by title ' For A Dream ' that i wrote for her blog : 


" 'How would grown up Sonu look like in a pilot's attire?' The query seeped into my mind while I sat watching him in the pale glow of the twilight rays. Hunched forward on my tall, sturdy, polished wooden desk, his usual weary, lackluster face seemed to have acquired an unprecedented charm. 

'Thank you didi'. I remembered the deep felt words he had uttered, words garnished with all the innocence and exuberance of a 7 year old, on seeing me switching on the ceiling fan to make him feel comfortable in a weather which was sultry and depressing. He had long unkempt hair - an uneven bunch of black and brown mopy strands, a mellow voice, deep set, large jet black eyes and a demeanor which was precociously mature for his age. " 

--- To read the rest of the story do follow this link Guest Post - For A Dream. Expecting your opinion as usual, but this time at her space :) 

Wednesday, April 10

Musings of a confused reader


Image Source : here

I have been reading a few books lately, maybe a tad bit more than my usual numbers. Pausing for a while to steal back a glance, it dawns on me that i have been savouring a couple of varying genres back to back, with equal alacrity and inquisitiveness, an ardent spark which unfortunately, incepts only once in a while every year.

There has been a thought penting up all this while too, rather a conclusion, something similar to the music or lyrics scenario when it comes to judging a song. Replacing the concerned terms, the million dollar question when it comes to books would be : 'Which matters the most to you - Story or the style ?'

There are authors who dissect each shred of sun's ray to its minutest layer concentrating on its spellbinding anatomy and contrarily there are authors who tend to sideline the nature to a mere statement and pass on to delve in more practical and pragmatic nuggets and there is yet another group who are oblivious to the mysteries of nature, but has gripping and fine tuned stories which leave you glued to the pages from end to end. 

There are readers who would devour a book for the sole purpose of satiating their passion and there are readers who in addition to sufficing their urge to read, utilise a book as a means to polish their own grip on language - the aspiring author bunch. For some its the fast paced propulsion of the story that matters, but for some, the succulent details and subtleties would be the elixir. I have seen people who chuck away a Amitav Ghosh and the likes ranting about its monotonous pace, instead they relish each and every word of the burgeoning pile of those ' You - may not - like - how -  i - say - it - but - you - will - definitely- like - what-  i - have- to - say ' kind, like there is no tomorrow. 

Is it just me, for i do feel that a realistic fiction written in superlative language is more appealing and engrossing than a thriller tagged one or for that matter any book contrived using a mediocre array of words and a bland style. On the contrary, definitely a thriller if sprinkled with an enviable choice of words can sometimes be the best too! And so is a book rich in enlightening or contemplative nuggets though written in a simple and lucid manner. Briefing it, i guess a good book for me is an amalgamation of good content and elegant style with equal weightage to both. Its not the story alone that matters, at least not so for me , but the  richness of the content and the way it is conveyed. There might be naysayers to this theory, but i believe i am not alone in this regard.

I strongly believe that getting published, to this day, hasn't become a smooth joyride devoid of bumpy obstacles, though the current publishing scenario might seem like one and i highly respect and admire the perseverance with which those books have been crafted. But somehow, a bunch of those books doesn't seem worthy enough of the time or effort from the part of the reader. On the other hand, good writers who are obstinate about getting their work published by an acclaimed publishing house get rejected, and they live with their worries for they are purists who are against the idea of self publishing. (On a serious note , with no tinge of sarcasm, do good books get released in that manner?)

There was a time when as a kid, i used to look upon published writers as the most gifted people in the world. They were mature people who wrote sensible stuff and had me reading late into the night while i rejoiced in the sheer beauty of the world they led me to. Now i see a published author in every other alley, some classy, but the others way too clumsy and casual; i see toddlers, teenagers and even infants signing their published books in every other corner and the confused and flabbergasted me has made it a habit to search the web for reviews before grabbing a freshly churned out book to read, instead of the usual norm of reading whatever one could lay one's hands on. On the other side of the coin, there are subdued prolifically penned works too whose existence is sometimes masked by the shimmering book releases of the over hyped ones.

It seems all that glitters isn't pure gold after all, especially not in today's world. It is high time we imbibed those proverbs rather than merely acknowledged them. Seriously. 


Monday, April 8

Unfinished Tale - Short Fiction

Image Source: here 

I sat huddling on my chair, slowly sifting through the delicate white leaves of Ruchita's diary, the only faint sound echoing through the room being the alerting beep of the monitors perched on bedside tables. The elegant cursive letters, with a characteristic oval notation instead of the dots for the i’s, written in jet black ink, allured me more into the mystic tale each passing second. Ruchita was a writer and the prowess of her talent was evident from the tangled manner in which she moulded her sentences, even though the lines spoke of her life story and not of a tale churned out by her creative mind.

For the past one hour I had been drifting on a completely different world, traversing through the intriguing life events of Ruchita and Abhay, narrated through Ruchita’s beautiful words on her diary. She was amusingly garrulous at times and at other times, embarrassingly romantic. Ruchita and Abhay had been married for two months now. However, the journey that concluded on an exhilarating note in them getting married, hadn’t been a smooth joy ride all through. Tumultuous it was when Abhay refused to marry her on grounds of his parent’s disapproval; harrowing it was when Ruchita spent days encaged in her room cursing her unhappy life in between suppressed sobs and liberating wails; miracle it was when Abhay finally returned back to his only love defying his parent’s obstinate demands, to seek refuge in a completely alien city where he and Ruchita could carve a niche out for themselves, without being deterred by both their families.

The final account on the diary, the one that was written by an exuberant Ruchita madly in love with her husband Abhay, ended on 20th November, 2010. Today was the 30th of November, same year and the time was 8p.m.

At the far end of the brightly lit room, i could see the duty nurse, hustling through her duty report which was to be handed over to the person handling the night shift, with the fervour of a school kid ready to prance out at the first toll of the school bell.

Placing the light brown shaded diary softly on the side table, I grabbed the B.P measuring apparatus from its usual position near the head end of the patient. My movement, though mild it was, might have irked her, for Ruchita peeked at me through the narrow slits of her eyes. A smile broke out on her weary face on seeing me, but her eyes eluded me for i could hardly make out her gaze through the multiple cotton bandages fastened around her head and face, drenched in a repulsive shade of pale red. Even as the numbing cold waves from the air conditioner lashed at me, not sparing my overcoat clad body or my glove adorned hands, i could see tiny pearl sweat beads glistening on her bruised forehead.

Her speech which was almost lost the day she and Abhay were rushed to the casualty from the site of their accident on the wee hours of the morning nine days back, was gradually recovering, though she preferred to remain silent most of the times, lest it should cause her to wince out in pain on each movement of her lips.

“ Did you read it?” Ruchita asked me with much difficulty, her speech slurring, while I wrapped the cuff onto her arm.

I replied in affirmative as she continued in broken sentences.

“I never thought that his parents would make it here despite their enmity. How is Abhay today, doctor?"

"He is keeping alive, Ruchita. His parents are with him. And your mother will be here tomorrow morning too. Now i need you to get back to your sleep. You shouldn't be stressing yourself much ", saying that i gestured the duty nurse to administer her the night dose of sedative. She curved her quivering lips while the medicine seeped into her slowly. Before long, surrendering to the drug, Ruchita was sliding back once again to her relaxed sleep, her chest heaving up and down heavily as she sucked in life air with utmost direness.

An uncomfortable dark cloud started looming in the back of my mind, as I watched her serene face glowing in the ever luminescent I.C.U room. I saw her smiling in her sleep, a smile that only a woman in love would be blessed with, even amidst the most trying of circumstances.

No tear clustered in my eyes looking at her heavily tattered body. My eyes had been trained to remain alert, sharp and dry twenty four hours a day, while I was on duty. But i could sense my heart weeping silently for the shriveled fate of this dainty young girl. A part of my disheveled mind cursed fate, not for her debacle, but for the strong effervescing emotions that she nurtured towards Abhay even while she was clutching onto medicines, barely conscious, for her revival.


An inexplicable overplay of peace danced on her face, on the sight of which I felt my conscience weighing down heavily, as the thought of the blatant lie that i had helplessly uttered a few minutes back as the answer to her concerned query gnawed at me, leaving behind a searing pain.


"He is keeping alive, Ruchita".

                                                           **