An excerpt from ‘The Broken Home and Other Stories’

An excerpt from my book ‘The Broken Home and Other Stories’ (Published by Authorspress, 2017).

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“When her letter came, I could not resist showing it to three bosom friends of mine. Astonished at her Bengali writing skills, they had remarked: “You are indeed very fortunate to have her as your wife.” In other words, she deserved a better husband than me.”
In fact, even before receiving her reply, I had written a few letters to her, replete with spontaneous, abundant emotions, but flawed, with errors in spelling. While writing them, I did not feel the necessity to be cautious about their perfection. If I had been cautious, the spelling errors could have been minimized, but at the same time the emotions would also have to be buried.
Under such circumstances, it became easier for me to profess my love for her directly, rather than through the device of letters. So, while my father would leave for office, I would elope from my college to meet her. If those meetings harmed both of our studies, we made that up with the fervour of our sweet nothings. This made us realize the valuable lesson that nothing was a waste in our world; rather that which was considered a loss in a way was a gain in another way. This was a popular theory in science, and I experimented with it in the laboratory of our love and was confident about its validity.
Meanwhile, there was a wedding in my wife’s family, that of one of her cousin sister’s. On our part, we gave her the last treat of her life as a spinster, which was a family ritual. On that day, my wife had crafted an emotional, affectionate poem for the occasion in red ink on red paper and was restless to send the poem to her sister. As luck would have it, the poem accidentally reached my father’s hands, and he was mesmerized to see the incredible literary, poetic and artistic skills of his daughter-in-law. He exhibited it to his friends, and the old men praised her writing profusely while consuming tobacco. Very soon, everybody around became aware of the creative writing skills of the new bride. As for my wife, her cheeks and ears were reddened in shame as her name and fame spread around. But she got used to the recognition gradually. As I had said before, nothing is lost permanently. Perhaps the tinge of shame which was there in her cheeks for some time had found shelter in a hidden nook of my own heart.
However, when it came to fulfilling a husband’s duty, I was neither miserly nor lazy to criticize and rectify the errors of her writing. On one hand, my father had indiscriminately fueled her creativity. On the other hand, I had been extra cautious to pinpoint her errors and keep her grounded. I went out of my way to show her the writings of the great craftsmen in English literature and to overwhelm her with their literary finesse. Once, she had composed a piece on a cuckoo. I read out Shelly’s ‘Ode to a Skylark’ and Keats’ ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ to her and silenced her. It was as if in my erudition and intelligence, I seemed to share these great poets’ glory. After this, whenever my wife would insist me to translate the gems of English literature for her in order to explain to her their greatness, I complied with her request with a sense of pride. Did I not try to suppress her own talents by highlighting to her the grandeur of English literature the way I did then? But I did that because I believed that women were in great need of a shaded canopy like the one I had provided. I do not think my father or my friends realized that, so I had to assume this hard responsibility myself. If the beautiful moon, at full bloom during the night ever tries to become the afternoon sun, one may praise it effusively for a few moments, but would try to think of ways to cover it immediately. This was how my wife had become to me and I was looking for ways to usurp her light.”

Do visit the Amazon pages of the book to know more about it, and to read it. Your readership and reviews are highly sought.

https://www.amazon.in/dp/B074FLYG3G/ (Amazon India link)

https://www.amazon.com/Broken-Home-Other-Stories/dp/B074FLYG3G/

The launch of the book in Delhi Litexperia, August 2017:

Book launch_The Broken Home and other stories in Delhi

Book reading from ‘The Broken Home and Other Stories’:

Book reading_The Broken Home

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Book Blitz: Fragments by Janaki Nagaraj

Print Length: 76 pages
Publication Date: July 31, 2017
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English
Available on Kindle Unlimited 
Genre: Fiction, Anthology 

“I often painted fragments of things because it seemed to make my statement as well as or better than the whole could” – Georgia O’Keeffe.

A serial killer on the loose who chooses a particular day of the month to kill his victims; a strained father-son relationship, when the father returns home after being presumed dead; a girl who can go to any extent for her career and money; a woman openly acknowledging the presence of the many ‘other women’ in her life; a lady’s dark past finally catches up with her… Life is an ongoing sequence of events meshed with everyday mundaneness so that it becomes difficult to isolate them.

‘Fragments’ captures the essence of those parts of our lives that we are not proud to show to others. It takes you through a range of emotions and leaves a big question mark on what is supposed to be. 

It would be great if you can add this book to your TBR

Janaki has been a blogger for more than 5 years now. An English Literature graduate from the Bangalore University, she started writing stories for various online groups and publications. She also writes poetry.
Apart from being a homemaker she is also a fitness enthusiast, marathon runner, an upcoming entrepreneur and now a self published Indie author.
She lives in Mumbai with her two grown up kids, husband of 27 years and 3 cats. 

You can stalk her @
      
        

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‘Darkness There But Something More’: Up, Close and Personal With the Two Editors Dr. Santosh Bakaya and Lopa Banerjee

In conversation with the two prolific authors and editors of the ghost story anthology ‘Darkness There But Something More’, Dr. Santosh Bakaya and Lopamudra Banerjee (yours truly). The book has recently been published by The Blue Pencil and is available in Amazon and Flipkart.
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Sharing some excerpts from the interview:

As for me, I always seemed to have a keen interest in the esoteric and the unknown, the mysterious, and my background in literature and also avid interest in films portraying the other world have only fueled this interest. The enigma of the world beneath the mundane flesh-and-blood world has intrigued me to no ends. Be it the dark, murky world of the three witches, Banquo’s ghost in Shakespeare’s Macbeth or the sombre, haunting spirit world of the Mughal times and the captivating, mysterious woman in Tagore’s Ksudhito Pashan (The Hungry Stone), the exploration of the other-worldly has filled me with an insatiable awe and wonder that has been hard to resist since my college days.
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Be it in the Veda or in the scriptures of our ancient culture, it has always been propagated that we are not only flesh and bones and our ‘Atma’, the greater consciousness, that never perishes, is a vital driving force of nature. So as a conscious exercise, I always ask myself what happens to us after we exit the physical world. Though I have known there are quite a few schools of thoughts regarding out of the body experiences, the paranormal and the supernatural, one contradicting the other, the thought that there is a realm engulfed in mystery and speculation and will remain like that for many, many years, gives me goosebumps.

It is this ongoing quest in my mind that resonated with the infectious vigour of Dr. Santosh Bakaya in narrating her own ghost story The Boulder and in curating mind-blowing stories infested with other-worldly beings, and thus, gradually, organically, our book ‘Darkness There But Something More’ took shape. While trudging the road, I also happened to pen my own story in the collection, which came to me rather unexpectedly, as it is actually my first short story written about the spirit world.

Do read the full interview here, friends:

https://learningandcreativity.com/santosh-bakaya-lopa-banerjee-interview-darkness-there-ghost-anthology/

Darkness There But Something More: An Anthology of Haunting Ghost Stories

Back after a long time to the WordPress blogosphere, with a fresh new update for you all. Do you believe all ghost stories essentially need to have blood-dripping venomous vampires, blood-curdling ghostly shrieks and the deadliest of ghostly fangs? Do you also believe that some ghost stories can be emotionally gripping as well, to keep us at the edge of our seats while reading them? With this mission, me, along with my co-editor Dr. Santosh Bakaya, a prolific author and poet from India have come up with ‘Darkness There But Something More’, an anthology of 30 haunting, emotionally dense tales comprising of other-worldly beings, written by some very talented, seasoned as well as young authors dispersed all over the globe.

Darkness_cover

The blurb of the book in Amazon touches upon the essence of the stories in a succinct way.

“Who has not been intrigued and enthralled by the spirit world, ghosts, other-worldly beings, or in other words, the paranormal? Ambiguous presences around us, whether in the form of orally narrated stories by our grandparents, or in the form of haunting, riveting supernatural stories in books and movies have held us in their spell, engaging, alluring us even to this date.

In fact, the prominence of paranormal investigators, ghostbusters and others documenting the other-worldly in today’s age overpowered by science and technology only points to the fact that we crave to push our boundaries as rational beings and delve into the phenomena which we cannot define or explain tangibly.

This anthology of 30 selected ghost stories by authors dispersed all over the globe celebrates the spine-chilling thrills and sense of awe and bewilderment of this very inexplicable world inhabited by the other-worldly beings. Come, experience the cataclysmic, weird, and at times, benevolent spirit world and you will never have a dull moment in this roller-coaster ride!”

Darkness poster

In the editor’s note, Dr. Santosh Bakaya writes:

“Some of us are wary of ghost stories, some are skeptical, scoffing at the very idea, and some prefer to ignore the topic with a supposedly wise shake of the head. Whether ghosts exist or don‘t, whether these spectral illusions are the result of an overworked imagination, whether they reflect our subconscious, the fact is, everyone likes a ghost story. It has never failed to enchant us with its eerie gothic ambience, of hooting owls, of bats hanging from cobwebbed ceilings, of terrifying screams, goose bumps, poltergeist activities, and also vulpine jackals howling, with their snouts raised to the moon! My mind is brimming with those horror stories of childhood, which have left an indelible impression.”

To which, I add, in my turn:

“The paranormal, ghostly, eerie world of spirits, witches, demons and other corporeal beings have been endearing, timeless entities in literature, films and other mediums of human communication ever since one can remember. As for myself, my early memories of encountering ghostly beings have been in the tales of the Arabian Nights, as I clearly remember the jinns and monsters, the impervious souls being invoked, or even coming out of bottles, casting magic spells, granting wishes, while even the seemingly benign narratives would be shaken and stirred by the thunderous gust of their sheer presence. The wondrous supernatural phenomena in Sinbad‘s tales that I read in school still lure me as magical memories with their gripping images; his fantastical adventures of encountering the monsters and other supernatural beings had me under their spell for quite a long time, when an indescribable chill ran down my spine, reading of the giants, monsters and the stories of entrapment during his vicarious voyages.
In my college years, my tryst with Victorian literature was embedded with the first memories of the spine-chilling image of Catherine‘s unquenched spirit roaming within the precincts of Wuthering Heights, the paranormal figure with icy hands that haunted her sadist lover Heathcliff. In fact, Heathcliff was steeped in her ghostly essence, and said: ―I know that ghosts have wandered the earth. Be with me always—take any form—drive me mad.”

The cumulative passion of Dr. Santosh Bakaya to attempt to unravel this ambiguous terrain of the human experience has resulted in this anthology of fiction.

darkness book launch

Do check it in Amazon Kindle:

Amazon India (paperback):

https://www.amazon.in/Darkness-There-Something-Stories-Anthology/dp/1635359503/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1506311534&sr=8-2&keywords=darkness+there+but+something+more

Amazon India (Kindle):

Book Review: Knitted Tales by Rubina Ramesh

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The cover of ‘Knitted Tales: A collection of emotions’

When I first browsed through the pages of Rubina Ramesh’s maiden short story collection ‘Knitted Tales: A Collection of Emotions’, the blurb of the book gave me the impression that the stories would unfold the dark, grim and intriguing side of the human mind and the harsh truths that spill out as the inevitable consequences. But as page after page unfolded the subtle nuances of every story in the collection, I realized that the book was much, much more than a collection of dark, intriguing tales and the twists and turns and emotions that define each one of them. It was, in reality, a journey, a revelation of the quintessential human saga which spoke of the fragility, the vulnerability of the human soul, on one hand, and on the other, the strong, feisty, spirited flow of human life as well. Keeping this in mind, I would say that all the stories are defined by the sheer fiber of pathos and the captivating secrets evoked by the storyteller in Rubina, be it the unfolding of an eerie past rearing its head out of the closet in ‘A Secret in Their Closet’, the unfolding of the raw emotions of anguish, betrayal and thwarted trust in ‘Lolita’, or the unleashing of the stark, heart-wrenching tragedy in ‘Suvarnarekha’.

Keeping in mind the colossal trend of theme-based anthologies in today’s times, categorized in easy, water-tight genres of romance, thriller, supernatural, horror, feminist stories or children’s literature, here is an anthology that captivates even more because the myriad themes it represents makes it a massive, yet delectable canvas. For me, as I read it, each story filled in the gap of the earlier story, though they were not technically interconnected stories. However, the undercurrent of loneliness, deceit, agony and the fragility of being a human shines so strong in most of the stories that often times, while reading, I felt one story feeding into the emotions of the other. The narration, sometimes pacy, dramatic and sharp, sometimes lyrical and full of cadence, compels the readers to get at the heart of the emotions of the protagonist of every story. So be it the immigrant mother and her daughter who confront racism in ‘Chicklet’, the fiercely introvert filmmaker Abhijit who wronged his wife and the lady-love of his growing up years in ‘Forgive Me, For I Have Sinned’, the tremendously intriguing wife Raima with a clandestine online friend in ‘No Regrets’, or the vulnerable Jyothi in ‘The Other Woman’, somewhere the storyteller makes them all splinters and shards of our own unacknowledged selves, and we cannot help but get drawn into their fractured walls.

The element of the dark and supernatural is yet another strand which makes this assortment of stories of elemental human emotions so delectable and engrossing. Right in the first story of the collection, ‘The Secrets in Their Closets’, I had been startled with the stark revelation of long-buried crimes and the way the narrator revealed it in astonishing, shocking spurts. In ‘Betrayal’, the ghost of a dead husband presents a riveting, shocking tale of a conjugal life gone awry, a tale of domestic violence where the festering stench of morbidity seeps through the senses of a sensitive reader. In both ‘The Missing Staircase’, and ‘Cliff Notes’, the last story of the collection, though the themes are diverse, the narrators in both the tales take the element of the supernatural in its most elemental form and build it up to a crescendo where the readers are transported to a world, sinister yet irresistible, a world which we are compelled to explore, tearing apart our comfort zones. In the final analysis, I would say it is an extremely courageous and compelling book by Rubina where she has shown that the true power of a storyteller lies not only in writing intelligently crafted tales, but churning a world of tantalizing, memorable emotions out of the tales. ‘Knitted Tales’ is mostly successful in accomplishing that, where the last page makes the readers yearn for more.

Definitely a recommended read for lovers of short fiction.

Know more about the book and read all the reviews here:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32446826-knitted-tales?from_search=true

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Author: Rubina Ramesh

Book Review: The Haunting and Other Stories by Dr. Sunil Sharma

Published by: Authorspress. 2016

ISBN-10: 9352072723

ISBN-13: 978-9352072729

168 Pages Haunting_Cover image 

‘The Haunting and Other Stories’, a collection of short stories by Dr. Sunil Sharma, an extremely erudite professor of English, author, poet and editor starts off in an almost fable-like manner, weaving a story within a story narrated by a nine-year-old child, combining the elements of fantasy, folklore, adventure and the stark, seething world of our everyday realities. The reality of the daily ignominies of a struggling labor class family slaps us hard on the face, with the deep, haunting narrative of human trafficking that takes us to a grueling voyage to the city’s vicious underbellies. A widespread, crude, vicious world is woven with the author’s dexterous use of images that cement the apparently disparate worlds of Laxmi and Tanya, the burgeoning, sedate upper class and the trampled, anguished working class, and at the end of the story, their worlds collide in the subtly symbolic, allegorical way of storytelling.

In the stories that follow, including ‘A Teen Daughter’ and ‘An Indian Police Station: A Philosophical Thought’, ‘At The Party And After’, we see the subtle and timeless manifestations of various multi-faced urban voices that coalesce as a collective consciousness. The voices, that of the anguished daughter missing her mother in a critical, apathetic parochial family, the harrowed woman trapped inside the police station, looking into the inherent doom and catastrophe of humanity inside the surroundings, the bespectacled bald loner trapped as an odd display amid a vain, wealthy social gathering are pitted against each other as emblems of diminishing humanity, of a skeptic and brutal moral world where essential human values are dead and replaced by a sinister, decaying reality. The collective psyche of the protagonists of each individual story embraces a subtle, essential suffering, the suffering of a burdened human existence. The burden of the mutilation of a world of emotions, a world of deep-rooted human values lies heavy on their shoulders.

The protagonist of the story ‘At The Party And After’ mutters to himself over phone: “I am unwanted everywhere…In my family, by my brothers and sisters. In my office, in my neighborhood…..” In an interior monologue that follows, the author sums up his plight. “He knew he was trapped inside a hopeless social situation….he felt he was neither inside or outside. He did not belong…. felt like a permanent outsider.” With deft strokes, here the author highlights the pain, the alienation and the internal crisis of the ones living on the fringes of an emerging Indian society, a merciless, ruthless and banal society.

In the story ‘Borderless’, the fluid, multi-faceted visages of humans intersect with each other in a surreal, almost seductive journey into the Alphs, where each of the travelers, including the protagonist discovers his self-identity in an uncharted territory miles and miles away from their ancestral moorings. In the process, he, along with his co-travelers, rediscovers the true meaning and essence of ‘home’. “Janaab, home is where you truly get a feeling of belonging. Where you are able to do what you want to do. Where you feel respected, wanted and loved. Not a place, even if it is one’s home country, where there is always a sense of dread amongst the people and in the streets.” The introspective lines from Sahil, the immigrant from Pakistan sums up the human need for looking into the essence of our self-identities as integral parts of a country, a race or in terms of an overarching humanitarian landscape that defies spatial boundaries. Also, as humans, we are trapped into a lot of human-constructed parameters, and the evils of those parameters keep lurking from the nooks and crannies, the fissures and crevices of our mundane urban existence, which is evident in the immensely sad, dichotomous depiction of the urban India he portrays in this rich, dynamic collection of stories.

For me, personally, some of the most haunting depictions of the collection include the fictitious young waiter at the wayside hotel, who later is transformed into a ruthless hunter, the vulnerable, emotionally fraught parents of the little girl Smita in ‘Change’ who disguises herself as a boy in a desperate bid to earn acceptance and love from her gender-biased parents, the ruthless male chauvinist tormentor Sukumaran and his coy, timid wife Sudha in the story ‘Dream’, the guileless Ram Babu and his vain wife who had to pay an extreme price for her frailties and life choices in ‘Second Chance’. The author’s touching, gripping vision of suffering of the urban characters takes us readers on an unforgettable voyage, where he explores the dwindling emotional fabric of humanity. In the entire short story collection, the characters, images and their subtle representations are born out of the inimitable passion and instinct of the author/storyteller consumed in their complex, emotionally fraught microcosm. These are the stories that draw us to our own dark pits, where the author weaves the urbane human journeys of getting lured and sucked into common human frailties.

While the emotional journeys of the characters and their subtle epiphanies are riveting and profound, the author’s depiction of those journeys are unique and remarkable, as he leads us to some quintessential universal truths through those journeys, with his deft, inimitable use of images and metaphors. The images and metaphors are mostly the nucleus of these poignant narratives, and through them, Dr. Sunil Sharma, the academic and the author weaves his open-ended, deep, visually rich stories with a highly discerning emotional lens. Through this lens, he reflects on the decomposing fabric of a contemporary India, pitted against the relentless struggles of a socially conscious author.

The book is highly recommended for lovers of literary fiction, for those who love the presence of a subtle intertextuality running through seemingly benign narratives, also for those who love layered, canonical reproductions of literary classics with a subtle and unthinkable twist.

 

The Amazon link to buy the book:

http://www.amazon.in/Haunting-Other-Stories-Sunil-Sharma/dp/9352072723

Review of Defiant Dreams: by Jean Spraker

Hello friends, it is a pleasure to share a wonderfully written, intensive and thought-provoking review of Defiant Dreams: Tales of Everyday Divas, a collection of stories about woman protagonists that I have the privilege of co-editing with my friend Rhiti Bose. The review, written by Jean Spraker, our friend from a thriving writing community in Facebook, For Writers By Authors, started out with wonderfully engaging twitter posts about each individual story in the collection and what, according to her, makes them linger in her psyche. The way she dissected each story with her sensitive, powerfully analytic lens was commendable, to say the least, and here she follows it up with a brilliant overview of the book, analyzing its strengths and also its flaws. WE the editors and authors of Defiant Dreams are grateful to you, Jean, for your masterful observation and analysis.

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The cover of Defiant Dreams: Tales of Everyday Divas, published Readomania. 

Sharing excerpts of the review here:

About the book

Defiant Dreams: Tales of Everyday Divas is a short story collection from Incredible Women of India, an online magazine that features life stories of everyday women. In 2015, Incredible Women conducted a short story contest called Stree. The contest had more than 100 entries from across India and beyond. 24 authors were chosen to contribute to Defiant Dreams.

To read the entire review, do visit this page in Jean Spraker’s website:

Review: Defiant Dreams

Do grab a copy of the book here:

http://www.amazon.com/Defiant-Dreams-Tales-Everyday-Divas/dp/9385854046/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1451409685&sr=8-3&keywords=Defiant+Dreams

Defiant Dreams: Tales of Everyday Divas

Hello friends, sharing with you all the birth of a very special child of me and Rhiti Bose, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Incredible Women of India, which we have named ‘Defiant Dreams: Tales of Everyday Divas‘. The book, published by Readomania in collaboration with Incredible Women of India, is a collaborative dream of Rhiti and mine which originated from a nationwide short story contest in India, ‘STREE’, which focused on articulating the extraordinary journeys of everyday women.

Defiant Dreams_book

Sharing a few lines from the blurb of the book:

Defiant Dreams: Tales of Everyday Divas is a collection of twenty-four stories handpicked through a nationwide contest.  It is a collage of love and patience, courage and determination. Between the covers is a chronicle of love that refuse to be crushed by life’s injustices. The tales are portrayals of everyday women rising to extraordinary challenges, women who transformed themselves into mistresses of their own destinies. From the lanes of Banaras to the hills of Assam, from the high rises of Delhi to the household courtyards down south, across urban landscapes and rural settings, these incredible women are here to inspire.”

To know more about the book, do visit:

http://www.readomania.com/events/defiant-dreams-tales-of-everyday-divas

To buy the book in Amazon.com, go to:

http://www.amazon.com/Defiant-Dreams-Tales-Everyday-Divas/dp/9385854046/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1451409685&sr=8-3&keywords=Defiant+Dreams

To buy the book in Amazon India, go to:

http://www.amazon.in/dp/9385854046

 

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DEFIANT DREAMS debuts in Amazon India as number 5 under Fiction/Anthologies (image courtesy: Defiant Dreams Facebook page)

 

Our Goodreads page:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28257467-defiant-dreams—tales-of-everyday-divas

Also, sharing the opening speech and the introduction to Defiant Dreams, by Mona Sen Gupta, Ahava Communications, during the official launch of the book at Weavers Studio Centre for the Arts, 94, Ballygunj Place, Kolkata.

Enjoy Part 1 of the video:

 

 

Defiant Dreams sits pretty on a shelf at the World Book Fair in Delhi.

All Readomania Books are now available in World Book Fair 2016
Hall No. 6 – IBH and Amar Chitra Katha Stall!
Readers, Go grab your copies
Authors, Go take a Selfie…