Dance in wilderness

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Churning a miracle

vibes and bonding,

life has its own strange and intriguing ways,

a chain of liberated souls,

like the seamless ocean,

conspiracy of the divine,

magical are the relationships spurned,

words human speak,

connecting hearts and souls,

tapestry of dreams,

concocting a delicacy,

savored beyond life and death,

sweet and sour,

highs and lows,

for the elixir shall never be reached,

a limitless journey,

extraordinary waits behind the door,

we shall never know!

never abandon hope when there is none,

dance in wilderness.

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On the trail of Behind Bars with Sunetra Choudhury

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I have a special guest on the blog today. A popularly affable face and someone who has an electrifying presence, she needs no introduction. It’s a rare privilege to host one of the biggest names in TV journalism in India, someone who is extremely down to earth and has no starry airs about herself. Sunetra Choudhury is one such name who redefines elegance, charm, intellect and poise on TV with the unique capability of holding her forte effortlessly against ‘theatrically difficult’ guests  but also someone who flits and gel easily with the youth of the country, tapping their voice and the relatability factor in telling the vibrant stories of India. Today, NDTV’s Sunetra Choudhury speaks to me about her book, ‘Behind Bars’ on what goes inside India jails after the compelling but fun ‘Braking News’ where she traveled the length and breadth of the country. Sit, enjoy and discover what led her to explore the world of jails and do not hesitate to get your copy of the Prison Tales of India’s most famous, ‘Behind Bars’ on Amazon . If you still haven’t read Braking News which is a compelling book and a bible for students of journalism or anyone who wants to discover the real India, click here to buy.

Author and NDTV journalist, Sunetra Choudhury

1. Hi Sunetra, thanks for accepting my request to grace the blog. Let’s begin with an atypical question: Behind Bars is quite a departure from the compelling and fun Braking News where you explored the world of jails. How fascinating is the ‘Saalakhen’ to a VIP, something we’ve heard and as part of research, did the encounters scared you as a journalist taking into account closure is just a mere word?

Sunetra:  It wasn’t scary, it was intriguing. As a journalist, we are always looking for new experiences and so it can’t get better than this. The story came to me and so I was compelled to write it

2. The Vishal Yadavs and Manu Sharmas hogged the limelight not just for the heinous crime allegedly committed but also the five-star privilege in jail. Journalism is about the passion of bringing an amazing story and the vivacious personality that you are known for-the love to explore down-to-earth stories, what were the leads that pushed you to explore this dark and gritty world in ‘Behind Bars’?

Sunetra: One of my characters is the reason. A chance encounter with a Romanian model who tells me about her fight to get her rights in jail was what made me write this book.

3. Certainly, that woman on the other side of the call triggered the trail that you went after and the book has touched almost every aspect, be it Subroto Roy, the Talwars, and Indrani Mukerjea.  Did the revelations in jail come as a shocker and how the incidents related to rapists or dehumanizing victims changed you as a person?  

Sunetra: I kept thinking- if I with 18 years of experience don’t know that these things happen in jail, well then nobody does. And so I felt the need to tell it. The story that changed me was the one about Wahid- who spent a decade in jail and was tortured even though it was so evident he was innocent. What moved me wasn’t so much the way he was tortured but his kindness even after, his ability to use the experience as a fuel for his mission to save other innocent people.

4. A journalist is a human being with emotions. How do you put aside your emotions as a person during the investigation for your book and pursued the voice of reason since rationality is desirable to separate the wheat from the chaff?

Sunetra: I think it is a lesson we learn very early on as a journalist. You can see or hear some very, very disturbing things but at that time you don’t have the luxury to feel. You are focussed on your deadline. So you learn to put it away but it catches up with you sometimes and some of us write books because it is a bit less transient and constructive too.

5. I want to go back to Braking News where you traveled the length and breadth of the country in the iconic red NDTV van. You were very candid as an author and not shying to publish the hate mails and the messy makeup that you were pointed at or your seniors patiently explaining stuff… Being a public figure, were you not wary at some point or the other to share behind the scenes details and what were you thinking before asking the ‘gun totting someone’, Are you from a daaku family? Also, what does Braking News means to you as a journalist and a writer coupled with the fact that being a TV journalist, how do you juggle time to write?

 Sunetra: You can’t write thinking what will people say?! You write because you can’t help but write sometimes. Braking News was like that. I had such an intense experience, I had to share it. I had to put it down. It gives me immense joy to hear that you or anyone else enjoyed my journey in that book. And yes, the compulsive story is written by staying up at night, or just writing all day. That’s how I did both books.

6. You have been both in print media and TV for years witnessing the birth of social media, digital and of course the juvenile trolls hounding journalists with name calling. Do you have apprehension on the future of traditional media such as print and TV? Do you see the need for media reinvention as well as the fact that how one challenges hateful fake news, from a citizen and journalist perspective? 

Sunetra: There are many challenges and yes, people think much less of journalists these days. But, I am an optimist and think of myself as a storyteller. People will never tire of listening to stories and that’s why our trade will survive and thrive.

Love

V

PS: The answers from Sunetra Choudhury are unedited and the interview was done on e-mail exchanges.

 

Tribute to the down-to-earth filmwallah Shashi Kapoor

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He was christened taxi by his legendary brother, the greatest showman, Raj Kapoor for hopping between different shots and dropping his co-stars before finally wrapping home production helped by the former in the last.  Shashi Kapoor belonged to the rare breed of actors who immortalized the pause in his dialogue delivery. There are very few actors who would go into pause mode and inject their own style to pack a punch.

Image credit: google.

It’s a real treat to watch Shashi Sir perform on screen. He was a heartthrob, an actor par excellence much ahead of his contemporaries who bridged the gap between what we call art house or meaningful cinema and entertaining flicks. It wouldn’t be wrong to call him the Thinking Actor who unpeeled the character layers in sketching what he was known for, donning simple and middle-class roles.  He lent so much credibility and gave rare depth to the roles that he played on-screen. There was a certain grace and suaveness in the way he trotted on celluloid.

Balbir Raj Kapoor, that’s his real name who belonged to the first family in the Hindi industry dared to go against the crowd in playing memorable roles, be it in Junoon, Shakespearewalla, Utsav, 36 Chowringee Lane, Kabhi Kabhi and his last appearance Jinnah. There is a considerable debate that rages over time whether an actor should act into mainstream cinema whose aim is to entertain or do realistic artsy cinema. Somebody of his stature has put all debates to rest not through value statements but the rich repertoire of work by striking a fine balance between films that entertain and educate. At the end of the day, it’s a tale of making two kinds of movies, either a good or bad one. There are no two ways about it.

He was debonair, charismatic and a legend in his own way. There was no starry air of arrogance on screen, no overbearing act or yelling at the top of his voice. Shashi Kapoor’s performance was natural, effortless and to the point. Remember the effective Mere Paas Maa Hai in the classic confrontation scene as Ravi with Vijay immortalized by Amitabh Bachchan in Deewar?

It is very rare to find an actor of the stature of Shashi Kapoor in today’s time of social media, Insta world and tweet at every second that seems to replace histrionic performance on-screen. Gone are the days when the mere presence of a Shashi Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan or Dilip Kumar would make us sit and watch in awe. I think it’s very tough to list the top performances of the first crossover actor who acted in several international projects much before the overpublicized Indian film stars testing the Hollywood waters since he was in competition with himself.

Deewar, Jab Jab Phool Khile, Utsav, Kala Pathar, Shakespearwala, Satyam Shivam Sundaram, Junoon, Sharmili, Trishul and Aa Gale Lag Ja are some of the memorable movies that remain entrenched in our minds. He was underrated as an actor but unfazed by stardom in the film industry. One of the rare actors who believed more in playing a character than taking the entire screen time as showcased in Deewar. It is perhaps attributed to his training at the Royal Academy of Drama and Art (RADA), one of the rare if not the only Indian who become alumni of this prestigious institution. Shashi Kapoor was secure as an actor and no matter the length of the role, he not only stood tall but shone with his soul looming large throughout the film. One such film is Silsila, the bonding that he shared with Bachchan electrified the screen and one among my favorite is the drunk sequence where both sang, ‘Neeche paan ki dukan upar Gauri ka makaan. Zara Jhoom Jhoom ke.’

One of the most handsome and secure actors, his energy was unmatched, the zest and passion for his craft as an artist or filmmaker something he shared with Dev Anand where both invested every cent into films.

Today, he takes an immense chunk of cinema with him as he bows out and experimenting with roles that made his journey into filmdom memorable.  The death of Shashi Kapoor is a huge loss to actors and the industry as a whole but he also leaves a void which is almost impossible to fill. The charisma and sheer passion which made him a cut above the rest and set him apart, the vulnerability showcased that made the actor  far ahead of several of his film contemporaries. Film-making is a risky proposition but at the same time, is listening to the heart like love. He was way ahead of his time. The history of Hindi cinema cannot be written without an artist of Shashi Kapoor’s caliber and truly the first filmwallah who nurtured his dream and dared to go beyond the kind of cinema of what his family has always done.

There is an interesting anecdote that Amitabh Bachchan once narrated on his blog. There was a time when Bachchan was struggling as an actor and stood among a crowd of extra for a flick when Shashi Kapoor saw him. Kapoor immediately walked to him and asked not to do small parts since he was meant for bigger things. The thespian actor told Bachchan to never hesitate for any help and his door is always open. It speaks volume of Shashi Kapoor as a large-hearted man.

http://zeenews.india.com/entertainment/celebrity/amitabh-bachchan-shocked-at-shashi-kapoors-plight_55340.html

Shashi Kapoor shall be sorely missed. He was not just a versatile and charismatic actor but a true legend.  The down-to-earth and affordable personality, memorable screen presence and a smile that would warm the heart of the most ruthless person must be told to aspiring cinema artists in film schools to help them hone their craft. The theatrical pause shall always be a legion to Shashi Kapoor and the ease with which he injected theatre into films made his screen presence relatable that aspiring actors must take a cue from. Unfortunately, not many could understand his Ajooba as a director, a modern take on the Arabian Nights with Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor in the lead.

RIP Shashi Sir! You shall always stay in our hearts forever. Can’t believe that an era has come to an end with your death as you leave behind such a rich film legacy.

V

How Tamasha changed my life!

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Life is a Tamasha. We are social actors emulating our part and most of the times screwing our lines, afflicted by social conditioning since childhood but also largely afraid to change the established rules of the game to grow.  We are cowards. I was a big coward. I am a still one.

This week Imtiaz Ali’s Tamasha celebrated 2 years since it hit the marquee at the Indian box office. A movie that changed my life and brought me face-to-face to challenge my inner and outer demons. We are conditioned and wrongly taught to behave in a certain fashion and reluctant to dare challenge the status quo. We are the products of a failed system. I am one. Time to accept it.

http://reveringthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Tamasha-movie-review.jpg

There is a little bit of Ved, the character effortlessly played by Ranbir Kapoor in all of us, men and women. We are cowards. We seek social validation from others and if a crystal ball could whisper our deep darkest fear, secrets, and future, we would respond accordingly.

The year 2015 was a horrible phase in my life and it was a repeat of the turmoil that I was facing since 2013 and 2014. I became cranky, negative, pessimist and frustrated for nothing was working. Failure was written all over my face. I was battling an identity, social and professional crisis with debt mounting large on my head. My approach was wrong. I never had it so tough and odds were stacked against me. There was simply no way out to overcome my troubles. In short, I lack (ed) the social skills to deal with things.

It was an unsatisfactory job where we were not paid our salary in time that pushed me to desperately take a low paying job in a factory that was much below my academic and professional achievements. To wake up in the morning was a pain and was counting every second, minute and hour.  I became a living corpse. But, I had debts to pay and the money came from that fucked up job. There was no way for me to afford to sit idle at home minus the fund.

Then, the universe conspired with each other for Imtiaz Ali to make Tamasha for me and millions across the world. There was something about the film. Remember Piyush Mishra telling Ved, ‘Kayar ho tum (You are coward). Ouch! It hurts. I was Ved. I may employ defense mechanism refusing to see reality but deep inside I know that risk tasking has never been my forte.  I have always dodged challenges in life and refused to face grief, pain, rejection, and failure in life. I ran away from Mumbai years ago when the last relationship didn’t work out for I know staying in the city would remind me of her.

Suddenly, everything that blocked my nerves and mental well-being cascaded on my head and emotions steam rolled to make me see things with a clearer mind. I had to carve out my own script. I was sitting in the theatre. Tears rolled down the cheek. It cannot continue in this way, I told myself. Then one day, I woke up in the morning and watched myself in the mirror. I couldn’t recognize that guy. It was not me. I lost the verve to live and asked where has my never-say-die attitude gone? I was always someone who would never accept defeat. But, in that stage, I lost my mojo. I was not real. I became fake. Something must be done. The Ved in me was convinced.

There was no point living a life replete with suffering and unhappiness. What was I doing to myself? Except carrying my coffin on an overburdened shoulder. So what? Yes! This Ved had to reclaim his mojo. It doesn’t matter that I will have no fund and swim against the tide. But, I promise not be carried away by the tide of unhappiness and growing frustration. It was time for me to experiment, go blank and tread in the present or future that bears no uncertainty.

The first thing that I did: Took the risk to resign. It was a huge gamble financially. I had pending loans and EMI bill to settle. But, there was a force within that told me that things would fall into place.  It felt like every possible force conspired for my well-being. I pulled my luggage stacked with memories of my college days in Pune and found a poster I bought in the year 2005 on the pavement on FC Road for 5 bucks.

‘Don’t quit…when things go wrong as they sometimes will…when the funds are low and the debts are high…rest if you must but don’t quit.’ I stick the poster on the wall. It emerged as a catalyst. My friends during the formative years at Fergusson College have always been my strength who keep defining my identity and something that I forgot but Tamasha served as a reminder that things will not be awry forever. After all, I studied in the best place in Pune, Fergusson College and had a successful stint as a journalist. If things have been good once, life ultimately gives a second or third chance.

If there was one thing I learned from Tamasha, it is be unafraid to fail, take risks or experiment with life, no matter what. Immediately after my resignation, I landed into a freelance contract and a second project as a survey consultant followed. It felt that my voice and pain never went unheard. Today, I am a consultant for a PR firm and Senior Special Correspondent for a business website, surrounded by the right kind of people where I can afford the luxury to work from home. I am a late bloomer. I may not be in the perfect stage of life but am today in a very happy space.

I am a work in progress. There will always be ups and downs in life. Thank you, Imtiaz Ali, for Tamasha has taught me a great deal about never shying to take risks, not be bogged down by social conditioning, experiment while on the edge of the cliff and accept the coward that I am. Being self-aware and living in the moment or never be shy of dreaming the life I always wanted to is my real Tamasha. Yes! I haven’t given the hope of making a short film or acting on the silver screen one day. There is no age to pursue one’s dreams and taking risks no matter what happens for life has a way to hold your fingers to carry you on this journey. Tamasha has been a game changer in my life and altered my destiny.

Love

V

Pune Memoirs (III): Dedicated to a friend and lifetime’s bond

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Pune Memoirs, Third Year (2005-06)

Savera/Namaskar, Pune, 2006:

The ceiling fan slowly whirred to life in BJ Wadia library at Fergusson college and hot air percolated to battle the flies in the British style architectural marvel as the head was buried not inside the boring notes but the wooden table. I was feeling sleepy. It was a tale of swimming against the tide. Exams were around a corner which looked like a marathon run to cover ground and cursing the self for not studying for the entire year.

I accepted defeat and strutted my feet in the sweltering heat to wade past FC gate, crossing the road to land at our mecca, Savera. Sweat dropped on my face and the sticky skin.  I ordered coffee and removed a classic mild fag to lit. The huge table was shared by a couple of usual suspects and a dude that I came across and exchanged fleeting Hi struck a random conversation to ask who is my favorite actor.  I said Amitabh Bachchan. I never know that the Bachchan tag would stay forever with me by the entire gang and everyone knew me by that name in college. I almost forgot that I am Vishal.

He was a rockstar incarnate with the long hair locks and always sporting an unkempt beard to give the Beatles dude a run for their money. Meet Sudhendu. He became a friend in the short span of time that I have known him in Savera and the gang that we became with Koko, Chanda, Beast, Regy, Ajitabh Bhaiya and so many of us, laughing over mundane stuff and of course, muttering fuck bhenchod, madarchod over every small thing that we fret about. One dude that waded leisurely on FC Road and sitting at Savera with a diary and pen. There was no pretension and he defined what easy meant to souls. I can still see him in the Monsoon wearing his jeans pulled till the knee and strutted as if trouble never existed.

The first monsoon shower hit Pune and in the flick of seconds, heavy rains lashed on the city. I was bored sitting in the flat since during the afternoon and came to Savera looking for people to chill out with. The rain plopped inside our tea glasses as we sat outside in the smoking zone.  It was the carefree days. An era to be cherished over tobacco stench and intoxicating spirit of rain, friendship and sprinkle of water. College was over and was just hanging around in the city.

I was sitting at Savera wearing a favorite white shirt tucked inside the jeans. The rain shooed everyone away from Savera but I sat inside enjoying the rain and the crowd. He hailed me from outside, “Bachchan daaru piyega?” I was humphed with an ‘abhi’ expression alluding to the heavy rain.  It was simple and casual, “Baarish mein hi daaru peene chahiye (Rain is a good time to booze). He hailed me with his hand to join the gang.

The apartment was 10 minutes walk away from Namaskar. I ran back home to take money and scampered back to Namaskar which was just behind Savera and the inside compartment housing Dewar inside which are all part of the same compound. The entire gang was sitting outside and sheltered by the umbrella under the table with alcohol and starters flowing. I ordered the favorite Imperial Blue whisky and lit a smoke every now and then. In those days, I was a chain smoker like most of us in the gang…carefree smokers and monsoon bhewre. It was a monsoon treat offered by Vasant bhaiya and later Ajitabh Bhaiya joined the fun, along with Sudhendu we were having so much fun. I poured a peg of whisky and mixed with soda and ice. Sudhendu remarked, “Yeh apne hi jaise pita hai.” The rain was not in a mood to be tamed and after fighting under the umbrella, we decided to shift base inside the warm comfort but we witnessed moment with Vasant Bhaiya sitting in the heavy rain outside and adjusting the umbrella to save his alcohol from the rain when everyone was taking shelter inside.

The fun continued inside Namaskar and we were joined later by Koko whom I have met in a blank and eye moment at Savera having chai. It was the start of a long and lasting friendship. I already downed a couple of pegs and found myself shifting from English to Hindi when Sudhendu remarked, “Daaru pee ke ab Hindi mein baat kar raha hai.’ Today, it feels like a life-long memory and a dream sequence as if those priceless moments just happened a few seconds away.

The bamboo thread separated Savera and Namaskar. One moment we were sipping chai, coffee and SPDP. The next, we were having alcohol inside Namaskar to beat the cold that engulfed our legs and warmed the throat after being drenched in the monsoon magic of 2006. I remember that Friday when I was sitting with Sudhendu along with someone else, drinking inside Namaskar when he saw a chick walking out of the college gate past 7 p.m. She happened to be a classmate. We were smoking outside when he saw her. She was quite a hot mulgi in college in those days. He ran in the rain and asked her out for beer. We waited and expected the girl to accompany him inside. Sudhendu came alone. What happened was hilarious. The girl declined the beer invite and came up with this lamest excuse, ‘I am in a hurry. I have to go home for my Mom is waiting for me.’ We all laughed. A sheepish smile flashed on Sudiya bhai’s face.

Our conversation always veered to films, spirituality and of course, chicks. There was not a time when Sudhendu never spoke about girls to me and something which someone remarked just after he left for his destination. You should introduce me to the girls…how do you know her…she’s hot yaar. We spoke about sex life and we were like how things not happening in our lives.

I knew that he has always held me in high regard and remember the day that I hopped to Mumbai for my admission since I was planning to move there when the train blast happened in July.  He scrapped me on Orkut with, ‘Bachchan! What’s happening in Mumbai?’ It was his way of checking if I was fine.

There was a book that I was reading in those days, ‘Maximum City’ by Suketu Mehta at a time my fascination for Mumbai grew in leaps and bounds. The days of dreams and nurtured the aspiration of making it big in the film industry the time I would shift base. No wonder Maximum City gave wings to the dreams and the book was passed to Sudhendhu as well as to a couple of friends. It was Diwali when I came back to Pune and we were boozing in the car with C, reminiscing of the times spent with Sudhendhu who told him, ‘bhenchod dhyand se rakhna yaad se dena yeh Bachchan ka kitaab hai. Genuine hai Bachchan.’

There was another anecdote that happened much before we hit it off and it was in the good old Namaskar when he was sitting and drinking with some friends. I said Hi and joined them for a while but sensed some discomfort. I don’t remember well but I think he told me that they are having some reunion. I left but was somehow awkward and felt bad. But a couple of days later, he explained emphatically to me in Savera, ‘Sorry for the last time. But, you know they are very old friends and they won’t understand.’ It touched my heart for not many people would explain things. It’s on very rare instance that you meet such pure souls.

Savera was always the first place I hopped and a second home for us in Pune. I couldn’t imagine spending a single day in Pune without sitting inside our favorite hangout which has now pulled its shutters due to some court dispute. A couple of flaneur days were spent in Mumbai and came back to Pune when I walked past the table when I saw him sitting in the non-smoking zone with some chicks. He was like where I’ve been and me being me said, amchi Mumbai. He was a bit flustered on hearing it from my mouth since I do not hail from there and conveyed to me. I don’t remember what I said but something along these lines that either the city has adopted me or showering love on Mumbai that already embraced me. He cheerfully said, ‘Hum Saab ka Mumbai’ and adding prose to it, I was like, ‘Aap ka Mumbai…Mera Mumbai.’ Such was our friendship with the gang.

Sudhendu was one guy who always gave me cool names and was the first person who christened me with Bachchan pseudonym. But, it was not the last one. Cut back to the final year in college with two new entrants in our gang, A and S, a newly married couple who shifted from Kerala to Pune.  It was a lazy afternoon. I took S around for a guided visit inside our huge campus at Fergusson College and when her husband came in the evening, she enthusiastically told him that I showed her around the campus. Sudhendu being him and gave me a name which didn’t stay, Raju Guide.

The last time we had a conversation in Savera was long after I moved to Mumbai in the same year and came back to Pune which has always been home to me. It was probably the last time we met over coffee and smoke. We spoke about the Osho ashram and he asked me what’s the plan post-Mumbai, to which I said it’s settling back to Pune.  I vividly remember him telling me, ‘Most welcome.’

Post script:

The time I moved to the hostel in Mumbai, I lost my brand new handset, the prized Nokia 3330 and was out of touch with everyone. But, Orkut was the grace and small mercies to keep in touch. I haven’t logged on Orkut for a very long time in the cybercafé since I was down with malaria. The rain continued unabated in the city and after I logged, I received a scrap. I couldn’t believe it. Koko sent me, You must have received the terrible news by now…Sudhendu was washed by the rain at Khadakwasla Dam. I didn’t know what hit me on the head. How I hope it wasn’t true at all. A friendship made in such a short span of time but didn’t stay for long. Sudhendu’s death took along with him an immense part of the memories. But, I know he is still here and last week made 11 years when he passed away but I know that some equations are too hard to find but stays forever. He cemented our bond again.

We shall meet my friend someday in the sky and I know you are smiling reading the post.

Love

Bachchan

Book Review: Love across a broken map is searing portrait of emotions

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Book Review: Love across a broken map

Genre: Short stories from The Whole Kahani/anthology across Asia

Copyright Dahlia publishing

Rating: Four stars

Introduction:

In the foreword, Susmita Bhattacharya describes Love across a broken map as a collection of short stories spanning across the South Asian diaspora.  It’s not just an anthology but a stream of human emotions expressed through the stroke of pens touching lives and imaginations. The various descriptions are vivid, be it portraying migrants nestled in a new home in London and craving for this staple diet called love or coming face-to-face with destiny.  In short, the anthology of short stories finds its earnest place in the reader’s heart on account of the honest and sensitive expressions.

Blurb:

From London to Goa, Manchester to Mumbai, tales that span start-ups, girl crushes, virtual gigolos, obsessive fans and astrological mishaps. This eclectic mix of short stories from The Whole Kahani explores love and loss across the dividing lines of culture, race, and ethnicity. Love is celebrated, broken and forgotten; is embraced and remembered in this collection of stories of heartbreak and resilience.

More can be read here.

Narration:

The collection unfurl with ‘Watermelon Seeds’ where writer CG Menon injects prose pocked with gentleness and playfulness at the same time in the engrossing tale through the believable characters.  Alex Caan’s ‘Rocky Romeo’ stirs the taste bud in this heart-pounding offering where the words flow in the vein in narrating the otherworldly life fleshed in the most humane possible manner. Love can strike in the hardest way in the virtual world in this terrible fable beautiful marrying the road for thrill and unexpected love.

The Nine Headed Ravan served by Radhika Kapur is a real cocktail about an unusual love story between two incomplete humans and afflicted by the chasm of emotions or destiny, for that matter. The author throws an emphatic look at the gap in our relationships or fate’s way of snatching our identity that deprives individuals of becoming a whole entity.  It’s one of my favorite stories for the author doesn’t take the run-of-the-mill route but touches the story with a dash of realism, human emotions running high and the engrossing end in the quest for love built with a strong message about the heart’s peculiar way of joining the dots.

‘Three Singers’ is about well, three singers where Kavita Jindal weaves a compelling tale through her riveting language and effortless narration. You just cannot afford to put down this tale. Jindal has a rich language and the detailing in her repertoire, thus making it unique about the twin sisters and the subdued jealousy vying for love. The end comes as surprise but sensational in this down-to-earth story and refreshing story that captures the mind.

The anthology boasts of several heartwarming stories, right from Mona Dash’s ‘To London’ that gently reminds us that love needing no reason or logic. This impossible love story can get intense, repulsive and soothing at the same time which leaves a searing impact on the soul. Iman Qureshi’s ‘Naz’ brings an edge and rare intensity in depicting the gamut of feelings that we hide on the fear of being judged.  The story expresses the shady and dark sides of life’s various facets while at the same time, lending a ubiquitous charm and sensitivity to same-sex attraction. There is Rohan Kar’s ‘We are all made of stars’ who touches the issue of stars and planets in relationships and its violent bearing or the place of an independent woman in our society as well as the fact of coming to terms with the unpleasantness.  Reshma Ruia’s ‘Soul Sisters’ deserves to be read to understand the various nuances of human emotions and the therapeutic approach that effectively deals with darkness and disappointment.

Shibani Lal’s ‘Entwined Destinies’ is about the father-daughter bond where the theme of sacrifice captures the heart. Our relationships are precious so are our dreams, aspirations, and destiny that spans across generations. The book ends with ‘By Hand’ penned by Farrah Yusuf where loneliness is showcased as painful and the end of everything is the only reality.  It’s a heart-wrenching tale that makes one wonder about the fallacy of human existence.

Final Words:

Love across Broken Maps is a collection of short stories and it gets tricky to pick faults in the individually penned stories spanning across continents. The authors have offered a bouquet of emotions and relationships set most in England where hearts are strummed together and bearing souls open.  A commendable effort on the part of the various authors in narrative sensitive tales about lives, and unpeeling the layers of expression, love which is unrequited at times,  pain, angst and dreams to conquer ourselves and the world we live in.

You can click on the Amazon link to buy the book and click here for more information.

Love

V

Full Moon Halloween Night (3): Blood bath

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Gentle acoustic pulse shook the ground and was felt beneath the huge bed. Two pairs of eyes and necks veered their gaze towards the colorful crystal chandelier on the roof.  The sound of coke fizzing inside a glass played gently inside their ears like a lullaby and almost did them to doze off. A strange burning sensation wafted through. Strong odor burnt their nostrils and ripped their eyes.

From tiny droplet to stains, entire bloodstream washed the shiny cream floor and in a hurricane fit, the thick red liquid descended like current voltage swirling its might and ran wild like the waves crashing on the wooden stairs. The hot bubble stream of blood rose like the huge tide and washed the vast space in the house and spread its violent might, breaking the expensive wooden chairs, glass tables, and furniture. Print and blood shaped hands flapped with force and hit the roofed blue sapphire lamps that crashed on the ground and scattered into tiny shred.

A brutal force grabbed the vampire and pulled him into the bloodstream. The overpowered body jerked and was ruthlessly flung in all directions to finally crash on the wooden stairs. He lumped like a grain sack on the floor in a maelstrom movement and traveled like high electric voltage swayed by the tide of the steamy and seething hot blood temperature. The vampire’s wheatish complexion was smeared with blood and plastered all over the face.

The house was transformed into a graveyard with crosses snuggled and sat on the white concrete cement on the frigid night.  Dry leaves were strewn across the graves and flickered towards the mossy tree trunks and the drop of blood plopped into the silent water in the lake.  The fog billowed into a serpentine form and curled into a thick white spot around the graves.

A dark shadow loomed and strutted. The dark-complexioned man appeared in front of Jason and wore bruises on his long wrinkled, stiff and hardened face. He lifted Jason with his rough but strong shoulder and made him stand on his feet.

Thyonine is immortal in the world of vampires and ghosts where his name spells chill and respect. He turned towards Jason and Menka, who clumsily walked the stairs to enter the transformed graveyard, “Kill the fear inside you, son. I was able to stop the sea of blood conjured by Marcellio to kill you. I destroy evil but protect innocent children with a clean heart. We have a pact among ourselves and I cannot harm my tribe or protect you. It’s your fight and only you can overpower him.  There is only one way for both of you to reclaim the human form. Your souls and bodies are at odds. There is no guarantee to claim both. You have to kill the strong, powerful, ruthless and mighty Marcellio when it’s neither day nor night at full moon.” Thyonine disappeared inside the patch of cloud.

In a twisted movement, black cloaks traipsed and spun around Jason and Menka, dancing madly in an immovable circle.  White swords spun and twisted in the air like fire jets to assail both the vampire and witch whose powers were on the wane.  Motley fireballs were thrust in the air, exploding in a crackling sound and zipped towards the sky to hit the ground encircling them with raging fire burst.

Pack of furious werewolves, dogs, tigers, and vultures lunged at Jason hitting him on the bruised body and voraciously scratched his face.  He spun his body in a round movement and feet deeply entrenched on the ground to face the heinous creatures pouncing on him. Menka clutched to his back. They caught hold of knives, swords, and daggers to cut the animals into pieces as the blood sprinkled on their faces. It was a multi-fold fight against dreaded animals. Their souls and bodies lashed like foes hitting them inside out and blows were felt inside.

The coarse voice of Thyonine voice kept playing inside Jason’s mind, “Remember the rule: You have no choice but sustain the massacre on your body to hold the enemies throughout the night.  Neither day nor night.”

The full moon was fast approaching. An invisible force lunged at Jason and punched him in a violent move. The voice thundered, “Come and fight me. You have made our lives hell and upset the balance of power. Both of you have to die today.”  The hairy bare-chested demon towered above Jason to reveal his form.

Asmovolde is the most ruthless among demons and vampires. The white demon raised his fist to assault and clutch Jason’s throat. He whooped like a bruised tiger and struggled to release himself.  He tried to block Asmovolde with his hand and thwart the kicks but the white demon was wrecking havoc on him in successive burst striking his face, chest, and legs.

Jason was becoming weak in the knee, limb and felt his chest exploding as this brutal force almost ripped him apart. The half man-half vampire moved backward. Asmovolde leaped on him and kicked on the groin. He sensed the entire graveyard spinning around him. Sitting on the knee, Jason blocked the demon’s fist with both hands and shielded his body with a metal surface but Asmovolde punched him hard on the face.  His jaw broke and tooth broke into tiny pieces.

Manka lifted a sword on the ground and threw bricks on Asmovolde but he coiled into the form of a snake in a swift movement to grab her hair, legs and entire body in a clutch wrestling her to the ground. She rolled and cascaded her way to take a hit on the huge boulders.  Blood oozed from her forehead. She passed out on the muddy graveyard.  The moonlight was approaching. Asmovolde dragged the inert body of Jason when Thyronine’s voice kept rehearsing, “Hold on boy. Wake up and stir yourself. Asmovolde will become weak as the full moonlight strikes.”

She blinked and felt dizzy with her forehead drenched in tiny blood patch. She lumbered her aching body off the ground and knew that the moment was now.  In a moment of luck, Jason slipped on the mud and freed himself from the clutches of Asmovolde and swiftly hit the demon hard on his face with a metal knuckle. Jason spurted towards Menka at a frenetic pace and both moaned in pain, using all forces in their bodies and hands to uproot the cement tomb.

The moon almost faded. A silver weapon buried under the mud stared and shone on their faces. They lifted the weapon and thrust towards the demon in a coordinated pace and movement. The faded moon waited for few seconds. It was neither day nor night.  The moonlight has seeped. The demon’s power was diminishing and the two, jettisoned by an unknown force pierced the weapon which slid inside the demon’s chest.  A ravaging fire consumed Asmovolde’s soul and flesh.

A huge lump was felt inside their throats and a numb feeling captured the human bodies that felt like thunder balls hitting them. Jason and Menka crashed on the graveyard on top of each other.

 

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A train spiraled like light and flicked past humans at Pennsylvania station in New York where Pumpkin shaped Halloween strutted busily and the youth were making merry, boozing and wore modicum of colors on their faces. Two souls sat inside the light speed train and watched helplessly as it flitted past a ruined building with the statues of Jason and Menka painted in white ochre. It was the only thing that was undamaged with time. The souls lost their voices and wanted to raise their hands in a flurry of protest. They shouted, “We are you. You are no statues. See, we are alive.” Their voices were stuck and unheard by the bustling crowd jeering to the tune of Halloween. The train whooshed with speed leaving the statues behind as tears of blood dropped.

The end

Love

V