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

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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.

 

 

Book Review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

I bought this classic from a book sale last year. As a writer, you learn a lot from this book. Also, as this genre has come a long way since the early 19th century, and as we are often subjected to modern-age movies, novels or series that have much gory, gothic and horrifying stories than Frankenstein one might not be able to appreciate it entirely.

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Frankenstein is a science-fiction novel belonging to the Romantic Era*, written by Mary Shelly and published in the year 1818. You can buy from any bookstore and online shop or simply download a PDF file.

Prelude:

Mary Shelly is one of the earliest writers of the science fiction genre, and Frankenstein is probably  the first book in the genre to lack magic or fanciful elements and to be based on science alone. In fact, Frankenstein is also a progenitor to the horror genre in films. There is a lot of backstory to this particular book, also a few controversies, huge pile of speculations and the book had garnered a lot of rejection in the literary circles as well as the then society in general. Surely its Wikipedia page is worth the read…

Fun Fact: Mary Shelley was only 18 years old when she wrote this book from which probably spawned the modern science fiction genre.

While you read the book, it is apparent to you why it is regarded as a Classic; it’s perfect in so many aspects and as I have emphasised earlier, original in its idea. The prose is unexpectedly beautiful for a book whose subject is gore.

Content:

Victor Frankenstein is introduced to the world of alchemy and natural science by a few theoretical books written by scientists who lived thousands of years ago. He has marvelled at the wondrous workings of nature from a young age and develops a deep awe for these old-age scientists and their methods.

In his pursuit for knowledge, our genius scientist becomes a pioneer for a lot of things. His knowledge, his capabilities increase and with that his ambition too. He remains unrestricted and forays into different fields of science like chemistry and anatomy.

While working on dead bodies he figures out the secret to life. I am leaving out many details here but ultimately Dr.Frankenstein brings his vision to life. He is about to fall in love with his capabilities when he notices the hideousness of his creation, and is revolted by it.

The monster, upon realising that he has been shunned by his creator, sets out to hurt Dr.Frankenstein in every way that he was hurt, snatch away everything  from Dr. Frankenstein that he was denied.

Characters:

Well, you already know Dr. Victor Frankenstein and his Monster. The third main character is Robert Walton. Walton is a traveller, an explorer to be precise, and it is through his letter’s to his sister that we hear the story.

There is Dr.Frankenstein’s family, his love interest- Elizabeth, his friend- Henry, and a family in a remote village which are all secondary characters that drive the sub-plots.

I love how Mary Shelly brings every character to life; she describes their mannerisms, portrays their nature. You connect with them, you like them and you feel bad when she kills them off ( oopppss!Spoiler.My bad).

In fact, the only characters that are truly unlikeable are our tragic heroes Dr.Frankenstein and the monster. This book comes from the Romantic Era; the significant characteristics of this age were, firstly,the authors dwelled more on their character’s emotions & thoughts than their actions. Secondly, they had atleast one tragic hero, a guy who through his own tiny flaw or misjudgement or tiny misfortune ends up losing every good thing. The readers are left feeling sorry for him because apparently he paid a lot more than he should have.

Our hero and anti-hero are no different. I am sorry if I sound condescending. I personally feel the concept of a tragic hero, though interesting, the portrayal is shallow and at the end of it I just think- ” Bro, you had it coming…”

I am yet to meet a tragic hero that I really sympathize for. If you happen to know any, tell me about them.

Writing:

The prose is smart, eloquent and the imagery is…you see for yourself!!

“I [roamed] through the valley. I stood beside the sources of the Arveiron, which take their rise in a glacier, that with slow pace is advancing down from the summit of the hills, to barricade the valley. The abrupt sides of vast mountains were before me; the icy wall of the glacier overhung me; a few shattered pines were scattered around; and the solemn silence of this glorious presence-chamber of imperial Nature was broken only by the brawling waves, or the fall of some vast fragment, the thunder sound of the avalanche, or the cracking reverberated along the mountains of the accumulated ice, which, through the silent working of immutable laws, was ever and anon rent and torn, as if it had been but a plaything in their hands. These sublime and magnificent scenes afforded me the greatest consolation that I was capable of receiving. They elevated me from all littleness of feeling; and although they did not remove my grief, they subdued and tranquillised it”

This is where Victor is right before he is going to confront the Monster. His state of mind and his emotions are often weaved in the writing compelling the readers to feel what the characters feel.

 

Conclusion:

It’s surprisingly refreshing. It dwells on emotions but hasn’t got an ounce of drama. And like I said earlier, it deals with gore and horror, but somehow is beautiful.

 

 

 

 

SnapShots: To My Bully

We have all known bullies; either we have seen them, met them or had the unpleasant experience of being bullied by them. But I have befriended One.

Dear Bully,

When I first met you, it was the first day of school. I smiled at you because that’s a nice thing to do. You smiled back and I took it as a start of something new.

Yes, it was new indeed. I was never a part of a pack of wolves before.We were four; four powerful, toxic girls, but I laughed the hardest, I daresay. And became more like you everyday.

So, dear bully, one day when we huddled together and poked fun at him, I had to stop laughing. To see why he was quiet. You shouted out your slurs but he stayed still. His eyes were blank, you said he is just playing dumb. I felt depth in them but you said he is too cowardly to retaliate. I believed you. You are my friend, you see, I truly loved you.

As days went by, I saw you mock him in corridors, in canteen, in class. You were so mean, and so was I. I saw you befriend beautiful people, intellectual people or anyone you could use; you  are like the sweetest drop of dew. But people who didn’t fit in either category, you mocked them.

Whenever you were in a good mood, you mocked. And I laughed.

With a few we were openly enemies; they retaliated with hate. A few were nasty like us but intimidated by us, they pretended to be nice and we pretended too but mocked them the hardest. Many stayed away from us; their indifference made us huddle closer into a gang. You said it was all fun- we are friends, right? Wouldn’t we make fun of each other as well if we did something or looked somewhat stupid and weird?  I believed you. I ridiculed and made fun of people too. I insulted others for you and the gang. I embarrassed people for you and the gang.

What we didn’t understand was that we were not laughing with them, we were laughing at them. Deluded we are. Our age, our beauty, our skills, our talents, our attitude we were so deluded by these. We failed to see the innocence in his eyes. We failed to see the dignity in his silence.

Dear Bully, when you mocked me, I would have believed you were just being goofy, if it was not for the spite in your words and cruelty in your tone. I was hurt. You see, I loved you. You were a friend to me. I never thought I could be at the receiving end, atleast yours. I didn’t leave… because guess who turned out to be a coward.

THE TIME-KEEPER by Mitch Albom

A penpal of mine introduced me to this book and the author. It sort of had a calming effect on me, like that of sea waves.

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The Time Keeper is an inspirational fiction novel written by Mitch Albom. It was first published in 2012 and has been in  reprint ever since. You can easily find the book anywhere in any part of the physical or virtual world.

Prelude:

Mitch Albom says that he wants to “provide hope and inspiration to his readers as they have provided to him.” And hope and inspiration are the essence of this book. With The Time Keeper he tries to discover the meaning of time.

When we think of inspirational books,whether fiction or non-fiction, we expect them to be preachy, unsparingly philosophical or downright unrelatable. I put the book down initially thinking it would be filled with cliches that mock the genre , vague reflections and rootless insights. I have read inspirational novels that made me feel like I have been listening to a self-important jerk for hours.

Well, we might even take it to be like one of Paulo Coelho’s books. But don’t. His books are sort-of mystical while The Time Keeper is magical.

Content:

The story is essentially about Father Time- the first person on Earth to measure time.who began to count everything from his own breathe to pebbles, sticks etc., and who eventually  ended up counting hours and minutes.

An Old Guy in long, white beard(read: Supreme One) is keeping a close watch on Father Time[DOR]. When Father Time, out of deep remorse, tries to turn back Time, The Old Guy strikes and locks away Father Time in a cave where he is to wait until a certain time. Ages and ages pass and he has filled the cave walls with his story and listened to billions of voices seeking more of time or less time., until one day he hears two voices[SARAH and VICTOR], both of them are trying to make the same folly as he did- alter time. He is released and has to save them so that he may be saved.

Writing:

In terms of flow of text and clarity it is just ten on ten. The book is shifting perspectives, it is moving back and forth from past, present and at times future too, but not in one instance it seems incoherent. What I truly love about Mitch Albom’s style; that which makes me read more of his work is this subtle and simple thing he does. He puts the wisdom before you just as it is. Just one simple sentence and it unleashes a stream of thoughts in your mind.

For example- “But a desperate heart will seduce the mind.”

Yeah, these are very obvious but presenting it in a way that is not explaining or persuading  but simply telling is what makes it impactful.

Coming to characters. Dor, Sarah and Victor are all complex and relatable. You may love them, dislike them or pity them, but you will feel connected to them.

Conclusion:

Overall, it is an engaging plot. You won’t probably come out of it with more appreciation for time, but you will love the time you will have spent on the book.

 

 

 

Snapshots: Another Morning, A Smiley and The Ticking Clock

7:15 am. Nadia knew she couldn’t hit snooze anymore. But she hit it anyway. “Last 5 minutes. I won’t take a bath”

7:35 am. Officially late. May be too late even. She snapped her eyes open. She “dismissed” the alarm and slapped her phone screen-down on the pillow with frustration. With some strength from her belly and arms, she sat in her bed facing the wall clock.

” 25 minutes… I really don’t have time for a bath now. 10 minutes for assignment. 5 minutes for changing clothes and for breakfast. 10 minutes to get to the bus-stop.”

Nadia threw the comforter aside and pulled out her assignment papers and pencil from under the bed. As if the reading , re-reading and staring at the question last night wasn’t enough; she reads the instruction again.  As she reads the first words, the following words form in her mind. She knew exactly what she has to do- write a limerick.

She groped for words. She came up with ideas and then shot them down. After a little more thinking and over-thinking she decides to skip the English class today. She shoves all her books in her bag and rushes downstairs.

She climbs down the stairs, skiping one with each step. She makes a final jump anticipating the floor of the dining room ahead, and eventhough she lands perfectly, the surprise of finding one more stair puts off her balance, she trips and crashes into her mother’s wheelchair. The wheelchair stops at a distance while Nadia is struggling to get up.

The loud thud reaches her father. He comes out of the bedroom, soap dripping from his hands.

“What are you upto?”, he says that as if he is making small talk with a co-worker, ” Are you fine? I am sorry I must have left it there…”

“Yes, NO! You… didn’t. It was…umm.. just..there….I..rammed..”

She is fighting for every bit of air now and soon it will be hurting in several places around her ribs and legs.

“Please just finish your breakfast. Be careful. Don’t forget your lunch.”

“Damn it”. It’s 7: 45 already. She sees her father turn towards the bedroom, walk into the washroom and close the door behind him. She had noticed the water stains on his clothes, the soap and realises that he had been giving  mom a bath.

She went into the kitchen to find  bread and egg for lunch packed. Bread and jam for breakfast ready. Mom’s soup is also ready but Dad hasn’t made himself anything yet. She puts together two slices of bread and fried egg together and makes a smiley face on the bread with ketcup. She leaves that at the dining table for Dad and does a time check.

7:50 am. Damn! No time for breakfast. Several siren go off in her head. She wraps the scarf around her head,  puts on the burkha and runs for it…