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Prologue

He looked around the store purple hues with just the corner LED bulb switched on. He couldn’t risk being seen. He would lose all that he had worked for in the last 10 years. He grinned as he remembered his journey… the hours of hard work, the greasing of palms, the lost body count….

His eyes widened as he took in the beautiful silk camisoles to his right… arranged as per the shades and sizes. On his left were pairs of corsets and panties combined and hung to give it an erotic hue… There were black and white portraits of women oozing sensuality… he had no doubt they did… if the growing bulge in his pant was any indicator of the same.

He took in a deep breath looking upwards and the lovely lavender peppermint flavor wafted through his nostrils. He smiled to glory and moved ahead in between the racks hearing the silky swish of the lingerie. In the next fifteen minutes he had seen everything… sensual night gowns so see through… he almost came in his pants, belt with stockings, garters, overalls and an assorted combinations of bras and panties. The woman knew what she was doing he shook his head thinking. She had a gold mine here… and in that head of hers. He held himself through his pant as he thought of her. How many times had he jerked himself off ever since she had been his object of fantasies? How many times had he wanted to just… spend a night with her…. feel her warmth as he rode her or feel her luscious lips around him moaning as he came?  He took a nearby nightgown and stuffed it into his mouth to stifle his cries as he came… 

He knew the property in and out.

The fiery bitch was all the more appealing when she opposed him…full of conviction. She would be an asset to his business if she joined him. She would do it… he would make sure of it… He chuckled as he thought of her abiding by his rules in and out of the bedroom… It would be fun… made him hard again…

Panting heavily, he moved towards the storeroom. He knew the property in and out. The storeroom had to be there and with it the information he wanted…. He would soon be a rich man. He reached the locked storeroom but with a snide smile used the key… one of the few he had made when she had lost her bunch of keys last week. He laughed as he thought about his brilliant plan…she was clueless. She was only too relieved to get back her keys which she had accidentally lost. But that’s how he was here now… in her world. Very soon he would be in her house too. He opened the door to the storeroom and walked in. He switched on the light bulb and looked around. He was right. What he wanted was right there in front staring at him… right where that map had revealed.

Before he could move ahead, he felt a prick on his neck. He could barely react, before that strong hands held him from behind and pulled him out of the storeroom. He tried to move his hands. He was a strong man for crying out aloud… but he couldn’t… he was paralyzed. His eyes grew wide as he realised the fact. His vocal cords weren’t working too.  He couldn’t utter a sound. The hands holding him released him and he fell like a heap on the floor. Suddenly his mouth was opened and something silky was pushed into it. His breathing was getting laboured… when he saw a purple lacy bralette hanging before his watering eyes. He blinked but that too was getting difficult. Soon a pair of gloved hands tied the skimpy lace around his neck and tightened it.

Rot in hell…asshole. I won’t let you lay your dirty hands on the box nor….on her” was the last whisper he heard and recognized in his ear before darkness claimed him.

Clinicologues fiction

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Clinical experiences embedded in the cocoon of the fictional world. The purpose being spreading disability awareness.

    the revelation….

    Chapter 4

    She was frowning …

    He then asked in his voice sounding hollow. “whaath happen?” (What happened)

    She was annoyed by now; she asked him, “Why are you speaking like that?”

    His smile dropped and he frowned and looked away… it was then she saw something in his ears. She was now in tears. “What… what is that? In your ear?” she asked pointing to his ear.

    He sighed and took that out of his ear. It was a pink coloured shell like structure with a wheel like thing attached to its one end. “Ith a hearin aidh. Aai haafa Hearin phoblam…. I am hearin Impaith…” (It’s a hearing aid. I have a hearing problem. I am hearing impaired. )

    She folded her hands. She didn’t understand the flow of emotions she was going through at the moment. She blinked back tears as she looked away. She was feeling cheated.

    She looked at him. He was putting the aid back into his ears and looking at her… his face devoid of expression. She said with a strained voice.  “Why dint you tell me this before? You discussed the world with me for…two whole months. Didn’t you… didn’t you feel it necessary to tell me about this?” she pointed to his ear.

    Amishi was rooted to the floor. Suddenly the whole world around her had stopped. She gathered herself and released her hand from his grasp. He indicated for her to sit. He dragged her chair out for her, like a gentleman and then took his seat opposite to hers. He kept his hands folded on the table and with that smile lodged on his face he asked moving his hands, “Tho… whaat dho yuu wan tho eeth? Thaanwith ith beth hei” (so… what do you want to eat? Sandwich is best here).

    He looked stricken. He drove a hand through his hair and said, “aam thsohrry… aai dhon no whath thu thse… I thoth yuu wiil Undhuhthsaan… thsohrry.” (Am sorry…I don’t know what to say…I thought you will understand…sorry)

    She stood up pushing back her chair. Sniffling tears she said, “I…I want to go home.”

    Then she turned and left without a backward glance.

    That night she kept looking at her phone but it didn’t ping… there was no message from him, for the first time in two months. She was surprised she was still waiting for his messages…

    Today…

    It was two days since she had last communicated with him. Last night she had googled about hearing impairment and its effects. She had stayed up long into the night reading about how people cope with the disability arising. She realised Pavan wasn’t stone deaf. She read about the different categories of hearing impairments. She also read about hearing aids. Their benefits for the hearing impaired and limitations. Considering what people face or go through, Pavan seemed to have done well for himself. She realised she wanted to know more about this part of him….this aspect of his life, his struggles and how he overcame them. The information on internet though was enlightening and she felt she understood his situation better. It wasn’t like she didn’t understand his speech at all… but she was upset because he had hidden it from her. Why did he do that?

    She wanted to speak with him and clear things. She knew there was more to it than just what met the eye. She wanted to hear him out… his side of the story…? Occasionally she felt guilty as well. The signs were there in front of her all the time… she was the one who didn’t realise it. Somehow it dawned on her that it made no difference to her if he had this impairment. He was still the same guy…whom she had fallen in love with…without hearing him speak…

    She was a social worker for crying out aloud. The first thing they were taught was empathy especially when they worked with the differently abled. Her Pavan…. Yes HER Pavan was different…he was special…

    She missed him…. Even yesterday when she was busy in the fieldwork she thought about him. She visualised his stricken look when she had left the café. Her heart was breaking. Her eyes welled up every time she thought about him. She wanted to share her day with him. Her project  had got cleared because of his tips. She wanted to tell him about that. She had started reading about parallel algorithms and had surprised her techie brother with her knowledge the other day… she wanted to boast about that to him… there was a huge void suddenly in her life.

    Somehow the library walls felt like closing in on her…

    None of her friends from school or college could match up to him when it came to comfort levels or matching of wavelengths. She had started to depend on him emotionally and intellectually. He had ruined her for anyone else. And the way he addressed her… her heart always fluttered and yearned to hear more from him.

    Yesterday she was busy with the emotionally draining field work but today she longed to see him… she wasn’t even able to focus on her lectures.

    She had to take action. Where was he?

    She took out her phone and typed,

    Hey football guy, you didn’t play the match today? SITians missed their defender today…where were you?

    There was no reply though he had seen her message. She waited for half an hour with a pounding heart before she dialled his number. The ring tone was heard but he didn’t answer it. She started to worry. Was he alright?

    She messaged again,

    Hey you ok? I am getting worried…

    Immediately there was a reply

                                     Hi beautiful

    Sorry for what transpired

    Trust me…though I ache

    That wasn’t what I desired

    Your heart I didn’t want to break

    I fought the world and now am tired

    I want to no more stay awake

    I miss our moments together

    Let’s stop this communication once and forever

    Henceforth find no more odes

    I will miss you for I love you loads…

    Pavan

    That broke the dam and her emotions flowed… She didn’t care that three were people watching her. She covered her face with her palms and sobbed.  Her heart fell… she could fell it break into tiny pieces…

    How could he alone decide to stop communicating? Why was he punishing her like that? What was her fault? Yes she was shocked…. But who wouldn’t be? She deserved a second chance… would he ever give her one?

    She wanted to tell him…She didn’t care he was hearing impaired… She still loved him for who he was. But if only he would hear her out….just once. Her study holidays were commencing in a couple of days. It was not possible to meet him for at least a week. How would she bear the grief? She had to be strong. She had to study for her final exams….

    She wanted to desperately mend things between them. As tears trickled down her cheeks she hoped it wasn’t too late for them…..

    As she travelled back home later that evening her brother had switched on the car stereo… He was a diehard Kumar Sanu fan. The song playing was from the movie Deewana suited her state of mind aptly:

    Teri ummeed tera intezaar karte hai

    Eh sanam hum tho sirf tumse pyaar karte hai….

    (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvevXfFGPFY)

    Copyright Disclaimer: All content posted here is a work of fiction and original work based on the author’s imagination. There is no intention to disrespect any person or faith. Any resemblance to any person living or dear is purely coincidental. No part of the content can be copied, reproduced or posted anywhere else either entirely or in parts, without the consent of the author.

    missing…

    Chapter  1

    Amishi was waiting for the lecture to get over… How she hated research methodology… She couldn’t tolerate statistics subject. In the final year of graduation studies, this was a compulsory subject. She was doing her bachelor of social work and loved studying humanities, science and technology and most of all the field work.

     She loved to be a part of the group visits to various places where the need of a social worker was immense. She loved seeing the changes they made in the lives of people who genuinely needed them. Just yesterday she had been to a municipal hospital. They were following up every week with this young girl all of 16years. She was from a remote village on the outskirts of Lucknow. She had an affair with her relative who was of the same age and landed up being pregnant. The girl had been scared to reveal anything to her parents fearing backlash. However one day her mother suspected something wasn’t right and by the time they rushed to the government hospital close by, it was late. The pregnancy couldn’t be terminated. The social worker there had counselled the angry parents and the girl too. They were convinced to go ahead with the pregnancy and give away the child for adoption. The counsellors there were threading on bare ice because there was a high possibility that the parents would have visited a quack and risked the girl’s life. But fortunately, they had agreed and brought her to Mumbai away from the prying eyes of the village. Here too Amishi’s team headed by her supervisor had been continuously counselling her, talking to her… for last 3 months. They had spent days and many hours of field work…even going beyond the call of duty to help the girl. Finally yesterday she had an induced labour and luckily without any complications delivered a healthy baby girl. Though the young mother was prepared to hand over the child, she was sobbing uncontrollably wanting to see her baby, even though she wasn’t shown the baby as per rules. The parents and Amishi’s supervisor who was a clinical psychologist tried to calm her down but eventually she had to be sedated. The child was sent to the NICU for care taking.

    But Amishi was pleased to bring about some kind of closure for that girl. Many times no one understood the importance of her work… accept for him.

    The professor announced the project work in Research methods bringing Amishi back to the present.  She was happy the lecture was drawing to a close…She had to rush out of her classroom before her friends started to question her or look out for her.  She couldn’t wait to visit the place she loved the most these days besides her field visit, the college library. She had her hours piled for study and project work and the next hours would be spent in the library… where she would get to see him.  Especially today….it was important that she see him.

    Amishi rushed to the library located on the fourth floor of her college building. She spent time after lectures in the library daily… especially in the last two months before leaving to go home at 8PM.  Her brother picked her up from the campus gate at 8PM daily. Today she had about 2 hours with her…  Most of her classmates either went home or stayed late in the cafeteria. She had escaped them to go to the library. Final exams were close.  Their study holidays were starting next week.

    Today there were barely two other people in the library besides the librarian and her assistant. Amishi was more than happy. It meant lesser people would spy on her. Not that she bothered but she preferred to keep her secrets to herself. She placed her book stack on the corner most table near the window and dragged her chair towards the window. She took a book in her hand and looked out across on the football ground.

    Where was he? She thought… the entire football team of Siddhartha Institute of Technology was present on the ground. But he wasn’t seen… her heart fell. She had waited all day long to catch a glimpse of the most handsome guy she had ever seen in her 21 summers.  The guy who had made a mark on her heart… on her mind…on her soul. She couldn’t sleep last night though she was bone tired after field work. He kept invading her dreams. She waited for the next half an hour for him to make an appearance but… he didn’t turn up. Every time there was a goal or cheer she looked back in anticipation but… he wasn’t there.

    Was he alright? She worried. Was he …angry? After what had transpired between them couple of days ago, would he ever want to even see her? But she wasn’t at fault, was she? What could she do? She just reacted that way….

    Tears rolled down her cheeks and she brushed them away with a frustrated hand. Since when did she care so much about a known stranger?

    Yes… he was a stranger who had the most expressive face and the most beautiful eyes that looked into your soul. He read her like a book.  He looked at her like she was the only girl on this planet… made her feel beautiful inside-out…  Before him, she had been like an empty canvas which he had filled with colours of life. Even now her heart fluttered thinking about him.

    If only life were so easy and restricted to special moments… If only life were predictable…If only she knew how she was supposed to react that day…. If only she could rewind back two days of her life she would move heaven and earth to change everything.

    But if wishes were horses….

    Copyright Disclaimer: All content posted here is a work of fiction and original work based on the author’s imagination. There is no intention to disrespect any person or faith. Any resemblance to any person living or dear is purely coincidental. No part of the content can be copied, reproduced or posted anywhere else either entirely or in parts, without the consent of the author.

    the special sister…

    The special sister…

    Sumona was waiting eagerly for the school van. It was 1PM and her younger child Raj was due to return from school. She was thrilled at the prospect of knowing how his day was. She wanted to find out all the information from the Ayah whom she used to pay extra for these tidbits. Today too she held a fifty in her hand and her eyes were glued to the entrance of the lane.

    Sumona felt a hand on her shoulder and turned around to see Kamala aunty.

    “Oh…hello Aunty, “Sumona said with her eyes back to the road.

    “Waiting for little Raj, Sumona?” Aunty asked.

    “Yes… actually they are late by five minutes…” Sumona sounded worried.

    “Don’t worry Sumona, they should be close. You know the traffic these days… Anyways I will take your leave. I am going to get bread. Do you need anything?” Kamala aunty asked.

    “No …. It’s ok Aunty…” Sumona replied distractedly, her anxiety levels starting to rise.

    Sumona had a reason to worry. Her five-year-old son Raj had Down’s syndrome. He attended a regular school in the nursery section. Her older daughter Ananya was also in the same school in the seventh grade. Raj wasn’t speaking fluently as yet and she began to fear for his safety. Sumona called the driver repeatedly but the call wasn’t connecting. She called the school and they informed her that the van was yet to leave today. They had gotten late because of some dance practice for an upcoming event in school and they had apparently messaged the parents. Sumona checked her mobile. There were no messages… the school was still considering Raj tentative? After four months? They hadn’t added her number to their group message system…

    Different scenarios came to her mind in the next five minutes. She was in tears… worry for her son eating her up… her heart shredded to every last bit.

    Sumona’s life from the last few years flashed before her eyes. She had a life she had always wanted. A loving husband Rakesh and a cute daughter Ananya who was a quick learner. Sumona worked in the IT industry and was a team lead in a software company. She had consistently moved up the corporate ladder. Rakesh worked in the pharmaceutical industry where he was the general manager in the company where he worked. Ananya had grown up with nannies and then from the age of two onwards she attended a professional daycare. She was an achiever from the word go and transition to school was a cakewalk for her. She was not just good in studies but also a lucidly competent dancer. Dance was not just her passion but she was touted to be a child prodigy and Sumona and Rakesh ensured she got the best training. They even had teachers come home on weekends in addition to the dance class she attended. She was also attending gymnastics to improve her flexibility further. They had a great lifestyle only confined to dreams of the common man. They lived in a posh locality in a huge three BHK flat in a high rise. The society boasted of all modern amenities with a huge play area for children. Ananya attended a nearby Cambridge board school which not only helped her maximise her potentials but also gently nudged her to become the confident little kid she had metamorphosed into. Sumona and Rakesh had loved the place at first sight mainly because of the proximity to Ananya’s school. The EMI was exorbitant given their expenditure but since them both had great jobs they had gone ahead.

    All was going great till one day, about five years back… Sumona realized she had skipped her periods. She had been thoroughly stressed at work and felt that must have contributed to the same. However, within two weeks her worst fears were confirmed. She was pregnant. They had thought their contraceptives were fool proof but were proven wrong. What followed was a huge emotional turmoil for Sumona. Rakesh and she were not prepared for another child…. They fought almost every day. Rakesh had even contemplated terminating the pregnancy to which she had initially agreed but then couldn’t get herself to do it. Her parents were no more and her in laws were in their village. They refused to help out. Sumona and Rakesh had an inter-caste marriage. Rakesh hailed from Vijaywada and was from a family of farmers and landowners. Her in-laws had never accepted her so she didn’t expect any support from them. Sumona had decided to bring up her second child just like Ananya and went ahead with her pregnancy. She worked throughout her antenatal days. She worked extra hard so that she could enjoy her six months maternity leave hassle-free.  She very often skipped her obstetrician appointments.

    Finally, on the day of her delivery she had some complications and had an emergency C -section. She wasn’t conscious but when she came to, she heard soft crying. She turned around to see Rakesh crying silently with his head bent low. She was suddenly worried.

    “What is it Rakesh? Where is the baby…?”

    Rakesh looked up into her eyes. He looked angry… “I had told you not to have this baby…” he said accusingly.

    Sumona was confused and scared…  “Where in my baby Rakesh? Is it a boy or a girl…?”

    “He…. It’s a boy. But…” Rakesh looked away.

    “But what… Tell me something Rakesh. Where is he?” She was getting agitated and breathing hard.

    Rakesh came to her and held her hands. “Sumi, our baby is not… not normal. Doctor said…something synd…syndrome. He is now in the NICU. He has trouble breathing. Doctor said something about a hole in the he…heart.”

    Sumona started to sob… Just then the room door opened and eight-year-old Ananya came running in. “Ma… my brother is the cutest baby on earth…” She was beaming. She held her favorite teddy from her childhood. “…Ma…I got this for him. Will he like it…?”

    Sumona hugged her daughter. She was already feeling better now.

    Soon they took Raj home and from day one it was a huge struggle. Raj was soft like a jelly.  He could be bent in all ways and Sumona was scared to even hold him. Rakesh plunged himself into work and was barely at home. Sumona suffered from post-partum depression and amidst this chaos it was Ananya who spent time with Raj. She helped Sumona with his baths, changing diapers… rocking him to sleep. She sang songs to him and even tried to play with him. Gradually Rakesh too started to show interest. When Raj was five months old, he had his heart surgery. It was a taxing time for the family but Ananya was at her chirpy best.

    All this while Ananya’s grades never fell, but her dance took a back seat.

    Raj started to develop better. But he needed therapies. His physiotherapy was taking place almost daily at a private center and Ananya used to visit the sessions every single time.

    Soon it was time for Sumona to join back to work. However, since she couldn’t keep Raj with nannies, she had to leave her job.

     The loss of her job meant loss of income and they had to heavily cut down on expenditure. The biggest blow was they had to change Ananya’s school to her current state board one  because the fees were now beyond their reach. And the final nail in the coffin came when they had to totally stop her dance classes. The ones she attended were expensive and the cheaper ones were not up to the mark. Ananya never uttered a word about the changes. Rakesh and Sumona had talked to her about these and she had accepted everything like a pro. Sumona was at times worried that her daughter had matured way beyond her years.

    The honking of the van brought her back to the present. A smiling Raj stepped out of the van assisted by the ayah. Sumona gave her the fifty and asked her about his day. She was pained to know that Raj wasn’t selected to perform in any event.

    Later in the afternoon as Raj slept after lunch, Sumona kept thinking how she could calm herself. She was agitated. She was tired of seeing people treat Raj like an outcast. Many of her neighbors sneered at him. Some laughed and made fun of him, called him names. But Raj only smiled and went to them. He was such a friendly and smart kid.  Ananya’s friends used to come home often and they would play with him for some time. He had learnt so many things from them. If only people gave him an opportunity…

    Ananya had taught him to dance. Raj also loved to dance.  He was very flexible. He was able to do steps which even typically developing children of his age couldn’t do. But why didn’t his school teachers give him a chance? Sumona knew it was futile to ask them to involve him. Later that evening when Ananya was back from school, Sumona told her about Raj not been taken in the programs.

    Ananya took out Sumona’s phone and asked her to record their performance. She switched on the stereo and it played Raj’s favorite song and they danced together. The number was choreographed by Ananya and she had taught Raj. Sumona’s eyes filled as she saw the performance. She felt awful… Ananya couldn’t pursue her passion and yet she never complained.

    Ananya convinced her to upload the video on youtube. Within an hour they had about fifty likes and views.

    Ananya’s friends shared the video among their families and within a day the video had gained immense popularity. The following day Sumona received a call from the school to arrange Raj’s costume since he was now a participant in a dance number in school. To their surprise he had picked up the dance with ease.

    On the day of the event, Sumona and Rakesh were thrilled to see Raj standing right in the front and he didn’t even need cues. The entire hall roared with a thunderous applause. The school gave him a special performance award.

    The event was a game changer for Raj and everyone around him regarded him with renewed appreciation. There was appreciation flooding in from all around and he thrived. He even started improving in his academic concepts. He now loved learning. Everyone around him tried to teach him something or the other and they were proud of him when he learnt them. Ananya and Raj made a few more videos which were all a hit.

    A few years later

     Sumona was very happy today. Raj was awarded the performer of the day award in his school. He was in the fifth grade in an integrated school, where there were other educable children with special needs. He was now loved and accepted. He was admitted to that school about three years ago and Sumona had started working again. It was difficult getting back and she felt like a fish out of water. But Raj had inspired her. If he could be a different fish in the society and stay in the water happily then why not her…? She restarted dance class for Ananya who was now in college doing her graduate studies in humanities. Even today she was Raj’s biggest supporter. She taught dance to Raj even today. Raj had become famous not just in India but abroad as well for his dance moves. He had given quite a few performances choreographed by his sister. She had even arranged a performance of his in her college festival which was appreciated by all. Ananya was approached by other parents of children with special needs to teach them dance and she was considering pursuing it after her graduation.

    Sumona’s phone pinged, getting her out of her reverie. She had received an email from an NGO which worked for the disabled and was asked to give an interview on her journey with Raj so far. She had already spoken with them last week and this was a formal invite.

    The interview was live in front of an audience. Many of them were parents of the children with special needs. Sumona spoke about Raj’s habilitation via therapies and his development so far. She then added, “We consider these children Disabled. But Children like Raj have proved that they are specially abled.  They all need an opportunity which itself is a blessing. Raj has been blessed too. He has a very special ability via a very special person. That’s Ananya, his guardian angel, a special sister…”

    There was not a single eye which wasn’t wet…

    Copyright Disclaimer: All content posted here is a work of fiction and original work based on the author’s imagination. There is no intention to disrespect any person or faith. Any resemblance to any person living or dead or any community is purely coincidental. No part of the content can be copied, reproduced or posted anywhere else either entirely or in parts, without the consent of the author.

     

    1) romance brought alive….

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    2) clinicologues….

    Fiction villa…

    #romancebroughtalive…

    #clinicologues

    “You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” ..

    It’s been a childhood passion for writing fiction. The tough perils of life left little time to pursue the same. But then you come to a phase of life where you decide…. THIS IS IT.
    My Eureka moment happened early this year. I got on the writing bandwagon and having finished my first novel… am on with my second. It’s been amazingly cathartic to pool out your fantasies in print.
    Will be sharing excerpts from my novels here. But this page is more about stories mostly short ones, I want to share with interested readers.
    Feel free to comment. I eagerly await your feedback.
    Thank you for reading and hope you enjoy reading them as I enjoyed writing

    -Priya

    Book review: Tinsel Town Affair

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    Author: Anjali Kirpalani

     

    The story is about a 26-year-old wannabe actress Meghna Saxena and her struggles until she finds her true calling.

    Meghana has one year to prove to her parents when she moves from Chandigarh to the city of dreams. HOwever eight months down the line, she hasn’t landed anything significant. To add fuel to fire her best friends receive accolades and success despite not craving for them and all that remains for her is just a ‘dream’. Things change however when she realizes her true potential.

    Aptly supported by her friends she launches on a new path and eventually lands in clear waters.

    The story brings out interpersonal relationships quite well. It’s filled with dialogues that enhance the reading experience. A light and breezy read.

    Book Review: Hide and Seek

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    Author: Supriya Parulekar

    Is love enough to keep up the facade of marriage from breaking down? What about adjustments, compromises, resilience and second chances? Are they important?

    The story begins when Radhika sees those texts on her globetrotting husband Abhishek’s phone and the doors to his clandestine rendezvous are opened. To her dismay, she is faced head-on with betrayal, and lies and is completely broken from within. She confides with her closest friend M and her comatose mother. She tries to be strong for her daughter Zoe.

    However, as she contemplates her steps, she is acquainted with Omar Rajput, a football coach, and a widower, by chance. He understands her angst without her voicing it out and she feels drawn toward him.

    Not the one to give up easily, Radhika decides to give her husband another chance only to find herself flat on her face.

    What would she do now? would she continue the farce of her marriage, give in to her feelings for Omar, or take another option, not in the kitty?

    The author has spun the tale around interpersonal relationships, eloquently tackling desires and fantasies. She doesn’t play the blame game but tactfully brings out POV of the characters in their own space. The reader can’t help but think….

     

    Book Review: I, Duryodhana

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    Author: Pradeep Govind

    Duryodhana is always projected as the antagonist in the Mahabharata epic. He is known as the tyrant who was opposed to Dharma and as a result, the Kurukshetra war happened that saw the destruction of lineages particularly the Kurus.

    However was he the only one to blame?

    What about the betrayals, he faced when the Kounteya’s arrived causing ripples in his childhood? As per the laws of the land he was meant to be the legitimate successor of King Dhritarashtra given that the Kounteyas weren’t Pandu’s biological sons. The book talks about straying away from the path of righteousness that happened on all counts and even by those who were the torchbearers of the virtue, eg, Yudhisthira

    The book takes you through the sojourn of the entire Mahabharata through Duryodhana’s eyes. He comes across as someone with not entirely black but grey shades. He faced betrayal from his kith and kin across the spheres of his life. He was disliked and wronged as well. Though that doesn’t excuse his actions, be it insulting Draupadi before the world or denying Indraprastha to Pandavas later, or the deceitful game of dice that changed the course of the history of Bharata.

    The book doesn’t take sides but makes you think. It makes you ponder over the what-ifs in a new light from Duryodhana’s perspective. It shows that all that glitters is not always gold.

    I first read about Duryodhana’s perspective in Maithili Sharan Gupt’s translated book years ago. This book only vindicated my stand. A great job is done by the author. Flawless language suited to the times with adequate hyperbole with a fast-paced narrative is the USP of the book. A must-read for mythology lovers.

    Book Review: Siddhartha Street

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    Author: Sudha Yadav

    Have you ever imagined a street being personified? A street is a mute spectator to everything that transpires on it, complete life cycles and a gamut of emotions.

    The Author has brilliantly brought out these occurrences through her characters who are residents of the street. There are ten short stories documenting and amalgamating the emotional roller coasters in the lives of these characters, respectively.

    Be it a gathering of men on a rooftop with varied reactions to their life challenges, after a drinking binge, or a broken single mother who struggles to run her ironing shop so her daughter doesn’t face the same predicament she did, or a maid who has risen from the ashes after her husband was killed by the local goon and children deserted her, or the perils of a retired couple…. each story is weaved in a unique yarn of susceptibilities. Each story tugs at your heartstrings and the authors writing style is exemplary.

    I loved how the author built the premise on mundane occurrences of daily life. I was reminded of ‘Malgudi days’ and ‘Nukkad’ (those who grew up in the late 80s or 90s would know what these are)

     

    Book Review: TRINOYINI, the slaughterer of Sonagachi

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    Author: Moitrayee Bhaduri

     

    The story is a Historical fiction, based on the life of Troilokya, India’s first known serial killer. It is based in the 1870s when British colonialism and commerce were spreading their roots deep within the country. Particularly the city of joy, Calcutta (presently, Kolkatta) sees innumerable changes that shake the very foundation of local culture and heritage, customs, and traditions.

    The story of Trinoyini begins as a beautiful little girl barely 12, belonging to the highest hierarchy of the caste system, Kulin Brahmin, is married off to a 40-year-old man. The latter only bleeds the family dry in form of dowry over the next few years and the marriage remains unconsummated. Eventually, the man passes and instead of living an archaic life of enforced widowhood, Trinoyoni chooses to elope with her paramour, to Calcutta.

    She soon metamorphosis into Tronoyoni Devi after reaching Sonagachi, the famed redlight district within the city. The forbidden by-lanes bring her fame and wealth where patrons vie for a mere glimpse of the damsel she turns into.

    But intense fame and wealth amassed in a short while, sow the seeds of downfall and unscrupulous decisions leave her penniless. She soon resorts to crime and the crux of the story speaks about her modus operandi. The narrative brings out the transition of the sensual seductress into a serial killer; the savage executioner behind the facade of breathtaking beauty. It’s an eventful journey of a child widow to a famed courtesan and eventually the remorseless murderer.

    However if one thinks deeply, Trinoyoni didn’t fit into the classic profile of a serial killer. She did what she did to survive and for her foster son. It however doesn’t justify the killing spree she ventured upon.

    A riveting read!

    Book Review: LA JAVVAAB Pizza

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    authors:

    1. Prahlad Hegde
    2. Jacob John
    3. Anamika Kundu
    4. Venkat Balantrapu
    5. Vishwanathan Iyer
    6. Amisha Shah
    7. Aparna Salvi Nagda
    8. Bhumii R Parwani

    This book is a collection of 8 short stories, each metaphorically based on the 8 chief ingredients in making a pizza. The acronym LA JAVVAAB represents each author. Just as the name suggests each component has its unique flavor that adds value to a pizza so does the associated tale.

    The story mainly follows an Italian Elena Berlusconi who arrives in Bombay looking towards unraveling the success stories behind the pizza chains in the city. The chef gets chatting with her and in turn, takes her through the intriguing journey of the tales behind each ingredient.

    Each story brings with it an exemplary emotional quotient that tugs your heartstrings and makes you want more. Whether it’s the story of the survival of the fittest in Bombay’s underworld or Jhumroo’s meteoric rise in the proverbial scandalous hierarchy, or whether its the gur-wrenching turn of events in Keshavji’s life filling it with abandonment and loneliness or the melancholic narrative of Chameli and her life on the other side of societal virtue, each story stands out on its own. The addition of poetic presentations adds to the literary hue, enriching the reading experience just like Elena relishes her pizza.

    Here’s wishing the authors a sequel to this one!

    Book Review: The RajKhowa Murders, A case that shocked India

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    Author: Nilutpal Gohain

     

    The riveting narrative is based on a factual account of gruesome murders in the same family that took place in the 1970s.

    The story begins with two young men who get posted in Dhubri, and are allotted a bungalow with its own mystic allure. However, there are sporadic whispers around them about the stories behind the bungalow and its not-so-pleasant history. Finally, they meet a man who tells them what transpired in that place around three decades ago.

    Two narratives run parallel. The first is about Upen Rajkhowa a District judge nearing retirement who joins Dhubri court as his last posting. A year later he along with his family consisting of his wife and three daughters, goes missing.

    The second narrative is about Upen’s Brother-in-law Barada Sharma a high-ranking police officer, who visits the family but is alarmed at their disappearance. He begins his subtle investigation regarding the same.

    Prima facie the story belongs to the Judge and his family which is shown as a happy one with everything one can have to live a contented life. However, things aren’t as they appear. The girls despite a strict upbringing in an archaic household of the 70s without social media influence, go astray to the utmost disappointment of the parents. His wife too is often dousing him with complaints about their daughters’ indiscretions like having an affair with a lower caste man or an unemployed man. Gradually the layers are peeled off revealing the turmoil the judge has been facing for a long time.

    Parallelly when Sharma congregates a task force to investigate the mysterious disappearance of the Rajkhowa family, he is stunned to find out the truth and the pieces of evidence that lead to the ultimate climax.

    So what did happen? Did the family really disappear? or was there something more scandalously sinister hidden behind the facade of goodwill and honor?

    The book is a combination of genres. Suspense, mystery, and horror as well. Brilliantly penned and hooks the reader from the first word to the last.

     

    Book Review: The Legend of Birsa Munda

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    Authors:

    1. Tuhin Sinha
    2. Ankita Verma

    The story is based in the nineteenth century when the Adivasis in modern-day Jharkhand were oppressed under the ruthless British regime. The Colonial administration not just burdened the poor tribals with unjust farm and tax laws in cahoots with the local Zamindars, but they also coerced conversions to Christianity. Everything, the tribals held dear, their cultural heritage, their ancestral land, and even their religion were lost as the British crushed them mercilessly in order to strengthen the Queen’s power and fill her coffers.

    However, a little closer to the turn of the century a massive rebellion erupted like a volcano that had been lying dormant for centuries, spewing hostile lava and engulfing the ruthless powers in its wake, In the eye of the storm was a young dynamic revolutionary Birsa Munda all of 25. He took the onus of guiding the rebellion and igniting the passion for freedom from oppression, to reclaim what was rightfully theirs. A true visionary, he spearheaded a massive movement that spanned enormous plains and brought the masses together. He channelized their frustration and anger and stoked their dormant desire for freedom. His revolution shook the British solid foundation.

    He died young and unsung despite his valor.

    About a hundred years later the independent state of Jharkhand was created.

    This thrilling chronicle is based on a true story, and it’s sad that the warrior who had started it all lies hidden in the cul-de-sacs of history.

     

    Book Review: A Price to Love

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    Author: Smita Das Jain

    The story is about a highly educated corporate woman Sonia who believes in love but with her conditions applied. She is married to Sameep and he has loved her since college. Her subordinate Mehul who is much younger than her falls for her. Also her boss Rishabh adores her and has liked her for a long time. Sonia however has had an unhealthy childhood and probably that’s why no person holds her interest beyond a certain period…

    Being married she has to juggle between high-pressure work scenarios and domesticity and that causes friction between her and Sameep.

    The author has craft fully used the retro themes, using ample flashbacks to help us dive into the characters. Though many of us don’t agree with Sonia’s methods, one can’t help but be in awe of her skills in the corporate world. She handles her professional and personal lives with amazing panache.

    The story talks about the boundaries that define love and faithfulness…, particularly for women.

    Book Review: The Royal Scandal

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    Author: Rrashima Swaarup Verma

    The story is based in the late 1700s during British Rule. It’s a love story in the backdrop of changing political liaisons and engulfed by the gloom of testing times when interracial marriages were frequently looked down upon with disdain.

    Recently appointed British Resident Lieutenant Colonel James Achilles Kirkpatrick falls in love at first sight with the 15 -year-old Khair-un-Nissa, belonging to a noble family, having close ties to the British, and holding tremendous political clout in Hyderabad.

    However, they are both soon submerged in the challenges posed by conflicts related to their religions, James’s work commitments as well as their quest for survival.  James’s relationship balance with both the Indian Royals and the British government becomes a bone of contention and despite being married and blessed with two beautiful children James and Khair do not have ever-lasting happiness.

    The story is heart-wrenching and the narrative keeps you hooked till the end. The author’s research of the times is remarkable and this story takes you along a tumulous journey of love, sacrifice, deceit, and heart-break. The descriptions of the palatial grandeur, regal lives, the picturesque detailing of the flora, and nature’s paradise hold the reader in awe.

    A must-read for a peep into the past!