Once Upon A Time…

dailypost.wordpress.com/2018/02/22/assay

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Once upon a time, in a world not so far away, under the watchful gaze of his tutor a bored little boy thought, “I wish this book had some conversations or pictures…”
Somewhere else in the same world, a writer looked up from his writing to look at a bored little with a book in his hand and wondered, “why does the boy only stare at his story book and not smile?”
That is probably how Children’s Fiction came to be as we know it today! From growing out of stories speckled with moral instructions to exploring themes of War, God and Love  from a child’s perspective—Children’s Fiction has come a long way. However, young adults who are growing up and exploring in terms of both their life and reading tastes might not appreciate it entirely. But let us remind ourselves of the wonderful aspects of children’s stories like happiness, hope, innocence and joy of being surprised will get one to appreciate what they have forgotten.
Yes, young adults are foraying into all that romantic, thrilling, suspenseful and science-fictional, having left that territory of elves, scary aunts, chocolate lands and secret doors behind. Surely, Three Little Piggies probably mean hot strips of bacon now and The Famous Five ( Enid Blyton) have long been replaced by Maroon 5.
However, if you wish you had a fairy godmother everytime you were late to submit an assignment or still hope Hogwards was real, then let’s rediscover all that wonder, shall we?
Lemony Snicket (Series of Unfortunate Events) said, “miracles are like pimples, because once you start looking for them, you find more than you ever dreamed you’d see.”
This is he kind of wisdom soaked in unbridled humour one can expect to find in Children’s Fiction. Characters like Gandalf (Lord of the Rings), Dumbledore (Harry Potter) and Charlotte (Charlotte’s Web) have prompted readers to think and have probably contributed to their sense of humour too.
Another wonderful element of Children’s Fiction is its unseen and unheard characters, i.e., Oompa Loompas, Horton, The Grinch to name a few. They are designed to amuse and entertain children and adults alike. And come to think of it, would Khaleesi have her three dragons if it wasn’t for the unique imagination concocted for Children’s Fiction?
It tickles the imagination with not just unthought-of creatures but also by weaving magic in all that is ordinary. Could a looking glass be a portal? (Alice in Wonderland) Can carpets fly? (Aladin) Can animals talk?
Yes! Magic can be found within pages of children’s stories, only if one is willing to embrace it. If not the magic then one might find it easier to embrace the sheer simplicity in it.

The story can be uncomplicated but it remains to breath a fresh perspective into our notions and ideas. For instance, when Ronald Dahl had Matilda conquer her terrible principle Trunchbull and showed us the power of intellect above all else.
Children’s Fiction is filled with instances when someone did the right thing, when someone choose to be kind and courageous, and telling us that just like the writer who decided to look from a child’s perspective and ended up putting smiles on children’s faces, anyone too with a dash of humor, pinch of imagination and all the right kind of intentions can live their happily ever after.
So let’s write another story, shall we?
Once upon a time, in a mysterious land filled with weird life forms, there was a being stuck between what it knows and what it knows not, but then…

Pic courtesy: google

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A Champion For Nobody

A hundred days of glory

A bright white stead

None shall come to thee

But pain and agony

 

You will be defeated

By those you save

Your reward would be shame

Your hope will be cheated

Again

 

Your purpose will be beaten down

Your intentions – misunderstood

For you, there is no brotherhood

In misfortune you will drown

For good

 

They want roses but no thorns

Stay, if you can keep them

from your thorn’s harm

Stay, if your crushed petals

Make you think no scorn

 

Get away O Champion

Now, when you have not lost much

Now, when you’re looking for no affection

Later, like skin, guilt you will have worn

Later, for even your lost dignity you might not mourn

 

To them you’re nobody

And that you shall always be

 

Snapshots: A Lot, Much Less And Nothing

via Daily Prompt: DegreeDaily Prompt: DegreeDaily Prompt: Degree

That day I lived in degrees and it seemed in those moments to be like a pendulum: swinging from a lot, then to much less and then nothing. I was hoping I would feel the degrees all over again. But the pendulum stopped swinging as she left.

That day,

I meet a friend, happy but much less. Day ends. She leaves. Degree of happyness- a lot. I walk home. Nothing.

I wanted to meet her, didn’t I?”

Rewind.

A cold, windy day. Just as I like. Book. Tea. Window. Just as I like.

She calls. Some thing of a pleasant past, like a familiar fragrance, reaches me. It felt warm. Degree of nostalgia- a lot. But then…

Much less. For her tone fails to veil  her rancid smug. Degree of hope- a lot. She didn’t mean to gloat. She wasn’t showing off. Was this always a competition and not friendship?

I guess it was. Lost an illusion, if anything at all.

Her big ring. Her new house. Degree of jealosy – much less. Her gossips and toothy laugh. Degree of irritation – a lot. Her remarks on my bad luck and stagnant life. Degree of pity for her -nothing.

I reset my mind. Block out her voice and while she talks, I say “hmmm” and “ahh” and “yeaah” and “totally” at the right places. She orders. We eat. We promise to meet again. Degree of excitement – nothing. She pays. We leave.

I walk home. Degree of remorse – a lot. The coldness creeps in my heart; freezes over the part where I had fondness for her. I turn around. Watch her get in her car. Degree of anything…any thing at all – nothing.

 

 

 

 

She Used to Say…

via Daily Prompt: Surreal

Rumaina used to say, “A lot is invisible; that doesn’t mean they aren’t perceivable.”
It always took Merve a while understand exactly understand her words and the intent behind them. Most often, the understanding would come to her gradually; there wasn’t any ‘eureka’ moment as such. She would see the truth of Rumaina’s words stitched in subtle colors around her- in people she lived with or in the patterns of situations/events.
In case of this particular statement, Merve when 14 year old, had an ugly spat with her mother. She often argued with her mother about how her father’s belongings should be chucked away and why he is not going to return. This time though, Merve went further and called her mother weak.
She pretended to be angry. But it was because of guilt and shame that with a deep frown and agitated steps Merve left home to find Rumaina, her 20 year-old neighbour, at the park where she spends her evenings babysitting kids of other neighbours who worked late.
On spotting Rumaina under a tree talking sweetly to a kid, invigorating the morose sky, shady clouds and cold breeze with her bright smile, Merve felt calmer already. Merve narrated the incident to Rumaina, all the while hiding her tears behind long pauses and lots of blinking.
That’s the day Rumaina said those words to Merve and that’s the day she began to notice the hope in her mother’s sad eyes, the dignity in her silence, the desperation in her anger and the strength of her broken heart.
Rumaina also used to say that, “A woman should take of her purse”; that “Keep learning. A mind should keep churning its wheels”; that, “ Our mind, heart and soul are our true companions anyway.” She used to say all that and much more.
Today, six years after that evening, Merve sits on the opposite sofa listening to Rumaina, for a millionth time  talk, about her obnoxious in-laws, her career that didn’t pan out, how noone listens to her and how she is right about most things. It could have been her emotionally distant husband, disappointing married life or she must have simple changed, Merve couldn’t fathom; she is too baffled to see how someone’s world could have shrunk so easily. It seems surreal.

She mutes out the gossiping, nitpicking, complaining and thinks about all the things Rumaina used to say.

 

Breathing Underwater

…I am walking into the sea. Salty air. Grainy earth. Heat. I breathed it all in for one last time and let the coolness of water take me in, bit by bit. Feet. Legs. A wave of relaxation travels from my legs to my mind, making the water more inviting. Thighs. Hips. I swirl my fingers on the surface of water that now lies just below their tips. Hands. Chest. Neck and finally all of me is surrounded by it. I open my eyes and even though I know I will see only the grey Arabian Sea, I bear the stinging saltiness in hope that I may stumble upon something; a shiny stone, may be a lonely little crab, tiny fishes perhaps.

My grip on the silky ground loosens slightly. I know I cannot go deeper anymore without the water pushing me above. I drop to my knees and firmly plant them in the ground.

I give up the rest of my body to the to and fro of the currents. Calmness and silence grows around and in me. I let loose my final breath and watch the bubbles, small and big, rise up to the surface. I feel lighter.

The breathlessness makes me feel livelier than the time I spent breathing. I try to stretch these few moments as long as possible…

The Rising Moon

via Daily Prompt: Delivery

The Twilight is darkening…
Round, big and bright-
It rises up in the sky.

The moon spreads
Its silvery shadows
Over the lake, the clouds,
The trees and the meadows.

The midnight is descending…
Round, smaller but bright-
It finds its place in the sky

~KB

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Book Review: Maharani by Ruskin Bond

20170405_153421You might find it quite odd for a literature enthusiast that I was and now a literature student, to be discovering Ruskin Bond just now. I am surprised too.

No one recommended this book to me and I did not randomly pick it up from anywhere. One very stressful day, I found myself in a book store with a very very very limited budget, in fact I wouldn’t even have had money left to go back home if I bought any book.

Tight budget and an intense craving is not good, but I was ready to take an 8 km walk home. This was the cheapest book I could find and I even saved some change for the bus ride; I instantly liked the book.

Maharani could seem like a non-fiction with a few autobiographical elements as Ruskin himself is a character here, but it isn’t. It was published in 2012, it is available as a paperback for Rs. 200 and probably even less for the ebook version.

Content & Characters:

The book doesn’t follow the conventional narrative arc- rising action, crisis, climax, resolution etc., infact, it does not follow any kind of arc. You could call it a collection of random but important episodes in the widowed Maharani’s life and at times Ruskin’s as well that are arranged, interestingly, in the best way that could bring out the characters’ varied shades of vices and virtues. But it does begin with a crisis- Neena’s or the Maharani’s existential crisis–

‘ “I think I’m dying Ruskin,” said H.H. as I took her hand and kissed it in the manner of some knight of old.’

No plot. The story is driven by all the characters in the novel, especially central are Neena and Ruskin(since it is Neena’s story narrated by Ruskin). Ruskin is an old friend of Neena’s and drifts in and out of her life.

However, the book seems to be divided in sections for some coherancy- sections or you could say Neena’s colorful phases marked by the particular lover she takes in the said phases. But it is Ruskin’s platonic perspective that ties all the phases together and gives a complete insight into Neena’s character and life.

It begins with the charming diplomat, Signor Montalban. About half of the book is dedicated to the her rendevouz with him and Ruskin’s attachment to the diplomat’s family, in particular, his son Pablo. This is the brightest point of Neena’s life, her palace and her friendship with Ruskin. We get to see Neena at her selfish, arrogant, quaint and cheeky best.

Let’s just say that for a change the rich, lonely woman does not have a tragic past, is not drowned in regrets, and does not see the world through her cynical goggles. This is the story of H.H or Neena or Maharani of Mastipur who can turn a mundane moment into a party.

Her passion are her scotch and wine and her purpose is to indulge in every pleasurable thing or person. She has a stint here and there with spirituality, discipline and the world of films. The only commitment she shows is to her dogs.

The eccentricities of other characters, like Pablo’s innocent infatuation with cinema, Signora Montalban’s steadfastness, Hans’s (the henchman of sorts) loyalty and dedication, Kartik’s and Karan’s (Neena’s sons) uselessness, the late Maharaja’s secrets and death, and the mystery surrounding the nun- this all is used to reveal Neena’s personality and also keeps you going.

However, everything dwindles away including Neena’s optimism, health and the book staying true to life culminates with the writer’s reminder that “the party cannot go on forever…”

WRITING:

Ruskin Bond is delightful. I read two of his books so far and he seems to be a man in love with the beauty of nature. His writing is sprinkled with lively and refreshing descriptions of this beauty around him. His word picture of the perservering honeysuckle is my favourite part in the book.

Humour is the essence of his writing. If it wasn’t was his lighthearted potshots, banter and the situational comedy, I wouldn’t have been able to complete the book.

CONCLUSION:

It is a witty(style), easy to read(language), and simple(plot) book. A hot afternoon with some watermelon and this breezy book, is an afternoon well spent.

SnapShots: A Little Man, Hundred Rupees and The Conductor

Public Transport. Bus, to be specific. It’s a world of its own.

Ofcourse, if you haven’t travelled in a bus you have no idea what I am talking about. Let me explain.

You are bound to meet two kinds of people on a bus. The first kind forget the rest of the world the moment they plug in their earphones. You are not sure if they are thinking anything at all.
The second kind converse with whomever they can but sooner or later turn to the window and stare… stare so intently that you wonder what they are thinking.

Oh wait! There is a third kind. It’s me. People like me who are looking at everyone else. They seem to be staring at the loose change in their hand or staring at the back of the driver’s seat…no, don’t be deceived. They sure as hell are observing you.

If you have never been in a bus you might be of the notion that the journey is mundane and tiring. Yeah, if you are the first two kinds of people, I regret to tell you that it is. I must also tell you that if you are the third kind- like me, then you get stories.

A Little Man–

It is February and it is half past eight in the morning. But the sun thinks it is May and thinks it is noon, therefore burns into his skin. He wipes the sweat off his brow with his handkerchief. He is wearing a very neat school uniform; shoes are spotless, trousers and shirt freshly ironed, hair arranged in a perfect side parting.He appears to be a 10 year old boy.

He is waiting for a bus, probably, to take him school. He spots a bus and just then, fortunately, the traffic light blinks red. He climbs onto the bus. He looks at the conductor who is at the back of the bus, making his way forward, demanding money for tickets from people who got on at the previous stop and clicking his tongue when some of them can’t find their passes or money quickly enough.

The little boy grabs a hundred rupee note out of his pocket to avoid being subjected to the conductor’s impatient eyes and tongue-clicking. He finds no seat. The engines of cars and bikes and autos bellowed as they waited around the bus for the signal to turn green. The rising pollution makes the air thick and humid.

The boy finds a comfortable spot in the middle of the bus to stand and he stands straight without the slightest of slump in his stance as if the bulky bag on his shoulders is not a burden at all. Holds his chin in the air. His left hand slips in to his pocket. His eyes are so serious and face so rigid. He seems like a grown-up man. He is a bit worried. I will have a lot of change once I pay for my ticket. I hope I can hide the money and keep it safe from thieves all day, he thinks.

Where to?” the conductor demands of the boy.

The boy suddenly aware of the conductor, wastes no time and hands out his hundred rupees note, ” Birla Road.”

Ehhh! Who will have a change for this note so early in the morning!”  the conductor spits out. He raises his hand to point something ahead.

The boy doesn’t know what the conductor is pointing at. He face softens and the innocence, that children of his age usually have and he seemed devoid of, settles in his eyes.

The conductor collects tickets from others, sits in his seat but does not allow his gaze to leave the boy. He sees the boy walking towards the front of the bus. But instead of getting down the boy taps on the driver’s shoulder.

The conductor slaps his forehead and before the driver could turn around, the conductor with a rediculous smile on his face and his hand pointing at something ahead tells the boy to get down and catch the other bus ahead of them.

The boy, as he gets down, realizes that the conductor pointed at the other bus and not the driver. He had wanted the boy to get off the bus and had not asked the boy to take change for his hundred rupees from the driver. He feels stupid. Now there was equal amounts of innocence and embarassment in his eyes.

The much awaited green light returns.The vehicles begin honking. The boy manages to reach the bus stop in time but still seems lost.

The seriousness returns in his eyes and he stretches his neck out to look for the next bus amidst the approaching vehicles.

Short Story Collection

Hi!!

I am writting a short story collection on Wattpad. I have the blurb and cover here, but for the story(for the first chapter, to be precise) follow the link below. Thank you!!

http://my.w.tt/UiNb/Gu9M3ryq5A

 

COVER

2017-01-28_11-44-56

 

BLURB

One man believes its his destiny to wander. He has only a necklace to call his own. The silver chain is how it all begins and the assorted tiny objects he strung on the chain are beads to him…. his story beads.

He has no name. Long time ago, some people called him Shikoh but that was all false. His job, his purpose, his dream, his goal is to collect beads. He can tell you funny, happy, sad or magical stories of his travels, his misfortunes, his lucky flukes but he would only tell you these 20 stories.

A homeless man with a home, a dancer so innocent, a killer with a soul… 20 beads of 20 stories. They are important. Someone has to listen to them, remember them. Will you?

SnapShots: Of Pebbles and Puzzles

It has to be 2 a.m and you gotta be really sleepless to have such deep thoughts…

CAUTION: Reading any further might cause side-effects like self-absorption, absent mindedness, sadness, anxiety, dramatic mood swings or silent tears depending on the degree of relatability you feel with the following text. It might compel you to listen to Adele or Eminem on high volume. In such a case, please take a long walk, watch the sun set or call your mom.

~~ The wrongs and The regrets

When you throw a pebble in water it will create ripples. Everyone knows that. I knew it too well.

When I dropped pebbles I made sure I was at a distance. A distance safe enough so even if I threw a stone with might, the largest and most intense of ripples wouldn’t be able to reach me. You see I am the kind of person who makes the backup plan before making the plan. I was counting on the distance.

It took a while to realise that I wasn’t dropping pebbles in water but me. I was the pebble sinking lower and lowewith time by the weight of my delusions and by the force of my deeds.

~~ The uncertainty

I don’t know why but things often fail, they often come together too. It’s like executing a puzzle; you don’t know anything until you reach the end.

Everything in my life is a piece of that puzzle, and I can’t wait to get the whole picture.Well, I felt like that some millions of years ago.I was someone else then. I was sure of my identity, my role, my purpose…

Now, I feel like a piece of that puzzle; just trying to fit anywhere I can as soon as possible.