The Curious Boy – A poem by Etash

// This quirky and offbeat poem has been penned and submitted by 8-year-old Etash from Hyderabad who attends my creative writing classes //

A boy saw a toy on the road,

It looked like a sword.

When he went nearer,

He found that it was actually a gaunt deer.

The sun was gone,

Suddenly on the road, the boy saw something like a bone.

He took it in his hand,

And realized that it was a wrist band.

Where have you been so far? – A poem by Rishika Bharodiya

//This beautiful poem with a haunting melancholy has been penned and submitted to us by Rishika Bharodiya who is a lovely 15-year-old girl from Mumbai//

Where have you been so far?

Look at us how grown up we are;

For no reason you have gone afar.

I wish the time could rewind to what we truly are;

But you have always been the one on my wishing star.

Book Review – The perils of being moderately famous

An excerpt:

The Perils Of Being Moderately Famous is a refreshing, breezy and compelling read. It is a heart-warming collection of personal essays from the various walks of life of the author. I have often wondered about how it must be to be known as someone’s sister or someone’s daughter or someone’s sister-in-law, and this book answers all this and more.

What works

The sincere, unassuming and clever style of narration is sure to win your heart. The author has recounted all the poignant moments of her life with utmost candidness, and has sprinkled the writing with dollops of humour as well as deep emotions.

Book Review – Nothing but the plane truth

An excerpt:

Nothing But The Plane Truth serves as an eye-opener for those who harbour such a shallow and ludicrous mindset. It shatters all the myths about the life of a cabin crew member, and brings to fore the challenges and struggles which lie beneath the veil of glamour and thrill. Authored by Pinky Eppaturi who has been a flight attendant with two international airlines and a qualified Human Factors and Behaviors trainer, this is a fictionalized memoir based on true incidents from her life, but with the use of alternate names for all the characters.

Book Review – Louisiana Catch

Louisiana Catch

Book Details

Author: Sweta Srivastava Vikram

Publisher: Modern History Press

Available for purchase at the below link:

https://www.amazon.in/Louisiana-Catch-Sweta-Srivastava-Vikram-ebook/dp/B0793N3ZTR/

Review

“You never asked to be raped. Biology works differently. So what if your body responded; your mind didn’t! He violated you…”

A sexual abuse survivor who I was once counselling told me about how she was accused of “enjoying her rape” because she had an orgasm, even though she kept screaming her lungs out to stop the perpetrator from committing the heinous crime. Thoughts of her ordeal make me shudder even today. So, when I read the above line in author Sweta Srivastava Vikram’s latest novel Louisiana Catch, it hit a raw nerve. It made me sit up and applaud the author’s gumption and valour to talk about issues which most would prefer to bury under their carpets.

This line actually encapsulates the essence of the novel which is an honest, uninhibited, sensitive and courageous story of a woman whose journey about finding her inner strength in the face of adversity will indubitably touch your heart.

Plot summary

Ahana is a 33 year old modern woman from New Delhi who is struggling to come to terms with her divorce. The toxic relationship has impacted her deeply, and just when she begins to pick up the pieces and move on, tragedy strikes again. She loses the most important person in her life who has always been her anchor in times of distress – her mother. Her life seems to be in shambles, and in order to escape it all, she takes up the responsibility of spearheading a feminist conference in New Orleans.

Two men enter her life at this vulnerable juncture and while one of them seems to be a friend she can open up to, she feels offended by the other’s bawdy sense of humour and ostensibly flirtatious demeanour. But, are people always the way they appear to be? Does the grief-stricken and distraught Ahana unearth the vigour from within to trust and love again? And most importantly, can Ahana break free from the gloomy labyrinths she feels caged in as a survivor of sexual violence?

What works

Realistic and relatable characters

I was mighty impressed with the way the author has fleshed out each character in the novel. They not just contribute significantly to the plot but are convincingly portrayed.  In Ahana, the author has created a protagonist who will make you experience a myriad of emotions just by the way she is. You will find yourself rooting for her, cheering for her, shedding tears with her and smiling with her. She could be anyone you know. And while the story is narrated from her perspective, you get to know as much about every other character in the tale. They are the kind of people we meet in our daily lives, bringing their own unique flavour to the novel.

The Homecoming

He tenderly caressed her cheeks which had turned crimson red. Her heartbeat had accelerated and sweat ran in rivulets down her back. And then, all of a sudden, panic slithered inside her. She felt a gnawing, stomach-churning twinge and turned around to scurry out as fast as she could. But, her body seemed to betray her emotions and her legs froze.

Roshni, are you OK? What happened? I am sorry if I …”

Before Vishal could complete, Roshni zoomed past him with all the vigour she could congregate from every muscle within her and soon she was out of his vision, leaving him befuddled and disenchanted.

Roshni stood still outside the shopping arcade exuding copious tears. Dark grey clouds were looming large in the sky, as if the reason for their precipitous emergence was only to serve as a warning for her. A blazing red Swift screeched to a halt right next to her and an effervescent woman screamed from inside.

Let us stop the glorification and unburden mothers – Happy Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day! This day is special to me for more than the obvious reasons. Call it destiny’s decree that it was on this day I saw the two pink lines which transformed my core.  Months later, my daughter sashayed her way into our lives and became the epicentre of our world with her exuberance and delightful impishness. Like it is in the case of a majority of mothers, the first few weeks post her arrival were overwhelming and every cell of my body used to be in a dead beat state for most part of the day.  And then, there came a time when I was not enjoying motherhood. I was, however, petrified to share my thoughts with anyone about what I was going through. After all, how could a mother not take pleasure in playing the role which is celebrated by one and all? Aren’t mothers the embodiment of sacrifice? There was an outbreak of questions in my head during that phase and I was too hard on myself.  I could not handle this thwarting feeling and just kept mum and carried on with my farce. But, fortunately for me, I reached a breaking point one day. And that is when one of the most important life lessons I have imbibed from my mother came to my rescue – to take charge. Hence, after shedding bountiful tears, I began to perform my own research and discovered gradually that it is quite normal to feel the kind of emotions I was experiencing during motherhood and not acknowledging them makes matters worse. In my case, acceptance and minor changes in my routine helped me to get my positivity and zeal back but I know there are many mothers out there who are having a tough grind and are struggling in their own ways to live up to iniquitous expectations. This can be detrimental to their mental and physical health, and it is a matter of concern that so many of us are not willing to even acknowledge the situation, forget acting upon it. There is also a lack of awareness about the reality of motherhood because its glorification is so deeply entrenched in our minds that we cannot think about mothers beyond “greatness” and “selflessness”.

When My Daughter Was Ready To Let Go Of Breastfeeding But I Wasn’t

It was my 2nd week post partum when the discomfort had begun. My nipples were so sore and sensitive that I had lamented about not having the strength to continue breastfeeding in the presence of my lactation consultant. And here I am, writing about my breastfeeding journey of 3 years today! I don’t know if words can do justice to this journey which has been exigent and fulfilling, with steep falls and euphoric highs. But, it’s only these words which can prove to be cathartic for me in my current state of dishevel.

More than a year back, I had penned a blog post titled “Breastfeeding – The Natural Phenomenon That Does Not Always Happen Naturally”. Breastfeeding is as natural as it is a learned activity. Though nature has designed it to happen instinctively between a mother and a child, more often than not it takes practice and a number of permutations and combinations to get the position, latch and technique right.  Like most new mothers, I have had my share of struggles and moments of self-doubt in the first year of breastfeeding. It started with nipple sensitivity and soreness, and then when that settled down after figuring out the deep latch technique through online tutorials and forums, uncertainty about the adequacy of my milk supply crept into my mind due to frequent demands of feeds from my daughter. When access to the right support and information helped curb this apprehensiveness, my little one started teething and then began the biting and clamping which led to bruising and excruciating pain. I had to pump milk using a breast pump so that I could give my nipples time to heal and my mother would feed breast milk to my daughter through a feeding bottle. All these hurdles coupled with the fatigue resulting from sleep deficit and body ache bogged me down completely at that point. I had almost decided to give up on breastfeeding. The constant twinge, the feeling of being thwarted and the frustration came out in the form of tears practically every night. Then I happened to read inspiring stories of mothers who managed to breastfeed for years in spite of all the hardships on a breastfeeding support group on Facebook. Something changed after that. Something within me gave me the courage to carry on. I tried some hacks suggested by experienced mothers to reduce the biting and clamping, and gradually my tiny tot got the message and stopped doing it. By the end of our first year, breastfeeding had become a comfortable and effortless experience for both of us, and I decided to continue breastfeeding till the time my daughter self-weaned.

Book Review: Shashi Tharoor’s Inglorious Empire

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 “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressedby Martin Luther King, Jr.,

Dr. Shashi Tharoor is an Indian politician, a former United Nation diplomat who is currently a member of Indian parliament (Lok Sabha). He is also an acclaimed and an amazing writer who has authored over 16 bestsellers, all of them centered on India’s history, culture and politics.The Inglorious Empire is a manifestation of the British legacy of imperialism and oppression which gives a bitter account of India’s devastation by its Colonial masters.

Shashi Tharoor, the author is known for his fiction and non-fiction works. He is also a globally recognized speaker on India’s economics and politics. He is the author of hundreds of articles and columns published in The Indian Express, The Hindu, The Times Of India and many other global publications.The book reiterates and reincarnates the planned exploitation done by the Britishers in India in a very factual and self-explanatory way. Some of the major themes and ways in which the Britishers oppressed the Indians are mentioned by the author in the book which includes:

Book Review – Elixir by Sinjini Sengupta

Elixir

Book Details:

Author: Sinjini Sengupta

Publisher: Readomania

Available for purchase at the below link:

https://www.amazon.in/Elixir-Sinjini-Sengupta/dp/9385854542

Review:

I was aware about the success of “Elixir” as a short film and the rave reviews it had been garnering at various International Film Festivals. So, when I read that the story has taken the shape of a novel, I was eagerly looking forward to get my hands on it. However, I wasn’t aware of the plot of “Elixir” till the time the book arrived at my abode. The moment I read the fascinating blurb, my curiosity was piqued and I was intrigued to know more about Manisha and her parallel world.

Plot Summary

He is an affluent entrepreneur and she is a successful professional. They have a perfect life or so it seems. It is their 10th anniversary – the big one, the special one! But why isn’t Manisha happy? Why is she feeling a void? On a perfectly normal day, while on her way home from work, Manisha enters a coffee shop and then her life starts changing. She meets a man there and he comes to her in her dreams that night, and every night thereafter.  She starts a new journey with him in parallel to her existing life. But what happens when the lines between her reality and dreams get blurred? Will Manisha be able to find her answers through her parallel existence?

What Works

  • The vivid and poetic prose – With Elixir, the author takes the reader on a journey which is heart-breaking yet fulfilling, melancholic yet uplifting. What I loved the most about the novel is its sublime poetic prose and vivid imagery which hooked me right from the beginning. As the story progressed, I was gradually immersed into Manisha’s world and was a part of her reality as well as her dreams. When you get to read lines like the ones I am quoting here just a few pages into a novel, you know you are in for a literary treat.

“When rain hits the earth, it brings a few pieces of the sky down with itself…have you ever seen it? The pictures shift as you do…the tall towers, the TV antennae, the row of pigeons on electric wires…and far beyond, if you look, the endless blue of the horizon. These solitary reflections, they last throughout the dark nights…And then? Then, on the morrow when the sun comes calling, they go back. To make the sky one whole again. But wait. Can the sky ever be whole, with such void all over itself?”