The Windfall – Book Review

Book Title: The Windfall
Author: Diksha Basu
Format: Paper Back
Language: English
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Total Number of Pages:  294  pages

“ The windfall ” by Diksha Basu is not a slice of life but a scoop of life garnished  with crunch of sarcasm . One of the finest social satire about  Indian families I have read. The underlying humor found all along the book is not loud but it hits the right notes.

Blurb

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Anil Kumar Jha has worked hard and is ready to live well. After thirty years in a modest flat, he and his family are moving to Gurgaon, one of Delhi’s richest areas. But his wife, Bindu, is heartbroken about leaving their neighbours, and doesn’t want to wear designer saris or understand interior decoration. Meanwhile their son, Rupak, is failing business school in the US – and secretly dating an American girl. Once installed in their mansion, the Jhas are soon drawn into a feverish game of one-upmanship with their new neighbours, the Chopras, as each couple seeks to outdo the other with increasingly lavish displays of wealth. As an imitation Sistene Chapel is pitted against a crystal-encrusted sofa, Bindu wonders where it will all end.

******

My Take

The book is a breezy read and the plot is mostly event driven which just tumbles one after the other smoothly . The story is simple without much surprises but engaging . Overall the book is  a humorous take on an Indian middle class family who acquires sudden wealth and how they get entangled in an up-manship game with their neighbours in the light of the newly acquired wealth. Author takes a dig at various aspects of “society politics” as the Jha Family tries to fit into the elite prototype . The inquisitive  parents and the intrusive neighbour anecdotes are so relatable that it brings a smile at many situations in book.

The well fleshed characters were the highlight of the story. The initially insecure but later self-assuring  Mrs.Ray and the confused teenager Rupak were raw and realistic . Mr Jha and Mr Chopra were slightly  caricaturish,  maybe because the genre and plot demanded it.

 The language and fluidity in writing  set the perfect tone. The insights which author gives through various incidents is worth the time and gives a chance for introspection  . There is nothing much drastic happening over the pages but the narration and satire keeps the reader  hooked till the end.

If you are looking for light read with humour and some food for thought  this book is a perfect pick . Go for it !

About Author

Diksha Basu is a writer and  actor. Originally from New Delhi, India, she holds a BA in Economics from Cornell University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University. Her writing has appeared in New York Times, Cosmopolitan ,BuzFeed and BBC.

contact https://twitter.com/dikshabasu

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Call me Saaya #Book Review

Book Title: Call me Saaya
Author: Zoe M
Format: E book
Language: English

Blurb

Shamsher Singh Rathore has it all. A job he loves and a life he lives every moment. Until an untimely call from home embroils him with a woman called Saaya who proceeds to turn his orderly world upside down!

The only interest Sayana Singh Rajput had in him was the prized Sheesh Haveli. She had never believed in love until destiny threw her this impossible challenge.

What do you do when all that you believed in turns out to be a lie?

Will Shamsher be able to save his world?

Will Sayana believe in love or will she allow avarice ruin it all?

What about Saaya?

What happens when desire meets destiny?

Set in idyllic Rajasthan, Call me Saaya is the story of two souls in pursuit for true love while destiny has other plans for them.

My View

The first thing that drew me to the book was the title “Call me Saaya” .There was something about it which made me inquisitive  as a reader . It had an authoritative as well as intriguing tone to it. Of course the title had relevance to the plot . The name of the girl and the story was indeed perfect.

The characters were interesting. Shamsher was a perfect hero material you immediately approve of : Good looking , rich , belonging to aristocratic family , exposed  to world yet connected to family and roots . I liked the fact that sayana was flawed ,she was moody ,not quintessential pretty and a difficult nut. The diversities in the main two characters made the banter between the two  more spicy. Even the rest of the characters were edged out well and merged perfectly to the story . Although I wished to hear a bit more of Ravindra Rajput Kuma towards end.

There is a travel element in story especially during initial portions which was authentic and gave a flavor of Rajasthan, which I enjoyed . The narration was simple yet captivating .The usage of words were really apt throughout the story and yes it taught me few new ones too.

The plot was engaging , it had all the right elements love, suspense , twist but the latter half was little stretched and predictable. It was a roller coaster ride of emotions. The vulnerabilities of the characters  at different stages were relatable .The  suspense elements could be more convincing if it was devoid of certain loopholes . At the same time the truth in the two main protagonist and the author’s writing skill keeps you hooked.

The debut author Zoe M has written a wonderful story of  how a love blooms in the backdrop of Rajasthan. Its enjoyable to read how these characters find out their true self and discovers each other . So if you like a light read about love in its true form with  friendship ,beauty, banter, insecurities along with some suspense to pep up things this book is a perfect choice and I strongly recommend it.

About the Author

Zoe M lives and works in Mumbai. She fell in love with the written word at the age of sixteen. Her affair has only matured over the years as she read stories that captivated her. Now, she uses the magic of words to help her spin her own stories. Her love of reading was born when she read The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. Call Me Saaya is Zoe M’s debut novel.

Connect with the author:

Twitter

The book can be purchased from Amazon Amazon Link

I received the E book copy from https://keemiyacreatives.wordpress.com/ for an unbiased review.

Unrequited

Book Title: Unrequited 
Author: Dipanjana Nath
Format: Paper Back
Language: English
Publisher: Notion Press
Total Number of Pages:  172 pages

Unrequited by Dipanjan Nath is a collection of nine short stories about unfulfilled love and heart breaks .

The shattering of a heart could sometimes be very quiet, and sometimes, it could cause a huge irrevocable outcome leading to physical and mental trauma for any individual.

Story Descriptions:

Would his expectations meet reality when obsessed-in-love Tuhin tries to get back to his long-lost girlfriend Debi’s life? Can a naïve animal show the care when Monisha is really in need of it? What happens when Shalini tries to get rid of a lecherous character who becomes a part of her day-to-day life? Would a Tomboy ever be able to save her true love? Or why did the thrust of Sheela’s anger drive her to a ruthless crime? Talking about her spine-chilling past, would Meera be able to solve her daughter’s teenage crisis? What was so eerie about the blue necklace? Or would Zubin’s daydream take him anywhere other than a crestfallen heart?

Above is the description given by the author about each story ,  which gives  a rough idea as to what to expect from the  book.

My take :

Though the book is invariably about love and heart breaks it has  still manged to touch various other dimensions of life . It feels like we are reading more than just love stories and it deals with all kinds of emotions which humans go through . The language command and the use of words by author are engaging . The narration and the premises are entirely different in each story so it doesn’t make the reading monotonous .Each of the stories has a different dimensions of human relations as backdrop like friendship, long distance relation, family commitments, mother daughter love etc.

The only issue I felt was that the  plot of certain stories could have been a little more stronger . There were few lose ends and the culminations were little unconvincing  and deliberate to make it in unrequited category .Therefore they lacked a smooth reasonable conclusion.  This may be because it is short stories and it had a restriction of word count . I really liked the fact that each story was unique and had a very distinctive hue , character and plot wise .Credit should be given to the author for displaying such variety in such a limited space.

Title and cover :

I liked the name “Unrequited ” . The only trouble is before the story begins I start thinking of all  possibilities of the plot turning out to be unrequited ,which of course is unavoidable. The cover is simple and basic.

Author :

Dipanjana, an engineer by profession, loves to pen down her thoughts during her free hours, shaping them up into a puddle of romance. Even though her early life was a roller coaster of science and mathematics, somewhere at her inner core, she had nurtured a dream of being a writer, and hence started writing short stories, unfinished novels and novellas during her free evening hours, sitting at the cafeteria, while pursuing her post-graduation.

Her first book, a romantic novel Scandalous Disclosure was a love story inspired from her own life, whereas her second book Unrequited is a collection of nine heartbreaking love stories about individuals who could never find their ultimate soulmates. In Unrequited, Dipanjana tries to put together different aspects of love and their impacts on human life. According to her, love is at its best when the heart is broken, and this book paints a generous picture of one-sided love and crestfallen lovers. Even after the busy schedule of her work life and usual household chores, she had tried her best to give a tribute to all the romantic people out there by writing Unrequited.

Find her on twitter here: @NathDipanjana.

 

Jugnu

My entry for #FlasFiction Contest which was the winning story for the author #RuchiSingh

 

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It was a starlit night, the lofty mountains embosomed by the darkness and the cold breeze that sneaked through her window reminded Ashima of the emptiness in her life. Ashima was in her mid thirties. Her life was never easy, meeting an accident early in her life she had to drop out from college . After her Abbu’s death she was the sole breadwinner of the family comprising of ammi, widowed sister Zoya and her son Rishab. Ashima brooded over life when a tiny pair of hands clasped her legs and a smile surfaced as Rishu snuggled into her arms. She rested her cheeks on Rishab’s face, held him tightly and swayed along playfully to his amusement.

The lights went off suddenly and they heard a knock outside. Ammi opened the door and informed that the guest their house owner mentioned has arrived.  Ashima was about to get up when a jugnu appeared from the dark, it travelled all the way from window, circled over her head and flew to the main door. It was a belief in kasauli, their village, that a firefly hovered over the head when someone was about to fall in love. Knowing this, Rishu wriggled out of her arms and started clapping his hand:

“khala ko mohabbeth hone wali hai” he shouted and ran to the door with Ashima trailing behind.

She felt embarrassed and angry to see that the visitor had overheard them and was waiting with a smirk, flaunting  dimples through his stubble.

“I am Zayd Abbas Rizvi” The tall figure mentioned and Ashima felt uneasy at his presence.

“Are you married?” Rishab enquired , Zayd  entered into a loud laughter.

Ashima closed Rishab’s mouth and pulled him inside. Zayd saw Ashima’s amputated hand for the first time and stopped laughing abruptly. Ashima realised the awkwardness, “Your room is downstairs” she tried to evade him.

“Help him out, Ashi” Ammi said. Zayd moved down stairs and unwillingly Ashima lighted a lantern and followed him. As she opened the room Ashima could sense his eyes lingering over her. She entered the room , a table was lying blocking her way. She tried to lift it when Zayd moved forward to help her.

“I can mange “She said firmly and zayd backed out. He watched admiringly as Ashima dragged it with her arm and did all the other odd jobs seamlessly.

She placed the lantern on the table and was about to leave.

“jalth hai kiske liye there ankhon ke diye ” Zayd’s voice floated into her ears. Those lines were very familiar and nostalgic to her, she fumbled knocking the lamp. It was about to fall on her when Zayd grabbed it burning his hand.

“Ashima are you trying to pretend to yourself that you don’t recognise me?”

She tried to move past him but he held her hands firmly.

“You disappeared from my life after our accident, because you thought you are going to be a burden for me?” he said.

“Please go away, you deserve better” Tears rolled down her eyes as she nudged him and tried to move away.

zayd pinned her to wall and said  “Ammi passed away recently, she had told me you moved on,  but in death bed she regretfully told me how she had lambasted at you when you came to reply to my first proposal”

He hugged her “Come back Ashi, I need you, it’s not you who need me “.

She couldn’t stop herself anymore and hugged him back .All the chidings drained away in their tears .

 “So here Ashima Khan I invite you once again to my life’, Zayd  held out his hands.

Ashima smiled and placed her special hand in his, as the jugnu gleamed high above them silently.

 

 

 

 

Featured image credit to its owner 🙂

Frida and her Mind Readers

via Daily Prompt: Cranky

Frida kept secrets from herself …Each time an urge or desire crawled up her mind she pretended to be not interested . Wonder why? Because she believed that, if her heart longed for something the entire universe conspired against it from materializing in her life. Frida considered herself unlucky and her desires as a hindrance to her goals.

“Sometimes I feel there are spies suppressed in my heart … They rebel stealthily as if they hold me responsible for their oppression.

They crawl out at nights .When heat of my thoughts smolder them they stealthily wriggle out and acquire their mighty form and conspire against me. Conspire against me with nature and my destiny…They are the mind readers….They read my mind  .

They whisper …I don’t hear their voices, but I feel them. My intuitions warn me. Whenever I plan something…They conspire and topple my plans.”    : Frida believed.

So she devised an easy way to escape her fears. She despised her feelings , and started treating her thought and mind as two mutually intangible separate entities. She tried to fortify her dreams by keeping her desires elusive .

Frida was not like this always. In her growing years she was a bubbly kid. She had tinkling hazel eyes and her hair locks bounced with vigor in the little ponytail her mom made as she hopped through her neighborhood in her colorful frocks.

All this started in high school. Frida was popular in her school for her painting skills. As a kid whenever she saw those sparkling trophies in principal’s shelf she dreamed to hold one of it amidst an applauding school assembly some day. Finally in eighth grade her name was suggested for Inter school painting fest . Frida was  excited that she got the much awaited chance to fulfill her long lasting dream. She even broke her piggy bank to get a new set of water color.

 “I am sure to win this one, papa “ she promised; but things didn’t materialise as little Frida planned.

She got injured while playing with Tom her neighbor’s Lab, and couldn’t attend the fest. She shed tears for a week after seeing her friends applauding the winner in assembly.

Everybody including teacher consoled her : “it was just misfortune” and advised to try next year.

That next time never happened. It was either some illness or miss happening; she could never attend the fest even in the following years .Each year she became more dejected and the phrase “unlucky “ got stuck in her head.

That was the first instance when she felt that sinking melancholy. From then it was  a trail of such events .Even though she was best in class she never got admission in the college of her choice nor did she end up in the kind of job she desired. She always had this feeling of unfulfillment even when she was doing well and always felt things happened not according to her preferences and choice.

As she grew her believes resized itself too. Frida was rarely impressed by men. After years of plodding life ,she felt little jaunty after meeting Thomas her new colleague. She started to develop fondness for him and his witty ways. Thomas was a tall, dark man with chiseled face and good humor .Her happiness grew in leaps and bounds when he invited her to join him New Year dinner. Just when they were about to head for the restaurant Thomas realized his car Tyre was flat and had to drop their plan. That was when Kate happened to hope in from nowhere. Kate was her college mate, quintessential beauty with brain.

“Thomas, this is Kate my college friend ” Frida introduced her.

Their rendezvous ended up as a friendly chat among three friends than a date.

Thomas even took initiatives in organizing few more meeting between three of them .  Frida felt gleeful as Thomas continued to impress her each time with his charms.

Her happiness didn’t last  long . After few months Frida found Kate and Thomas in a mall shopping together holding hands. Frida couldn’t stop blaming herself for the strange line up of coincidence that toppled “her share of luck”.

This incident kind of reinstated her belief.  A strange fear started to consume her that her feelings will turn as a curse to her dreams.  She was scared to dream…it was like someone secretly was spying on her mind. Frida constantly tried to push back all her qualms from appearing on her mind frame while she secretly urged to fulfill her dreams . She tried to detach from her feelings.  As time passed she became a master in disguise …disguise of her feelings.

She became totally reclusive from the world and cranky, withdrawn from hopes in life.

Life rolled on. It was one of those usual mornings when she was trying to gather herself in bed, when her mobile rang and screen displayed an unknown number. Usually she avoided calls especially from known numbers, but since she had just ordered food she picked up the call. Contrary to her expectation the call was from Medical center a hospital near to her apartment and the lady informed there was an emergency and asked her to reach hospital immediately. The five minutes seemed never so long before and her mind had already imagined several permutation combinations of worst scenario possibilities. She parked her car and ran to the reception with heavy breath where a young nurse with thick framed spectacles finally informed that Kate was admitted in the hospital after having a bad fight with Thomas. Frida realised that Kate had called her in the morning for an advocate’s number and the hospital had dialed up the last number on her call list.

Frida supplied the prescribed medicine and was waiting outside the room. She couldn’t but mock at the irony;

“See destiny tried too hard to spoil my plan, they were never meant to be”.

As she was blaming her mind readers again, Ryan a little boy came running towards her. Ryan was lean boy, tall for his age with trimmed hair and a divine smile .They exchanged a friendly banter over his ball when a lady came running after him.

Frida tapped the boy’s cheek and said “he is a cute smart boy, why is he here? Who is not well?” .

The lady’s face dimmed and she said “Ryan is the patient; he is diagnosed with a heart disease”.  Even though Frida met Ryan for the first time his energy and vibe was so contagious that she felt her heart was sinking.

Seeing Frida worried Ryan ran towards her, hugged and said “Don’t worry I am lucky it is just the initial stage and doctor uncle said it can be cured”.

That hug actually shook her too hard she felt like liberated from those shackles that had captivated her for so long. She embraced and scooped him up in her hands as tears tickled down her face. Ryan wiped her tears with his tiny hands and pecked her forehead.

Frida thought “Look at that boy he was going through so much but yet he kept his hope kindled and more than anything enjoyed his life”.

She felt like the cage in her head just released all those captives up there, but more than anyone else she felt liberated from her cranky self. That little boy just managed to change her perspective. Few minutes ago she was spiteful but now she felt sorry for Kate, at the same time felt relieved to have stayed away from an abuser like Thomas.

The talk with Ryan was like untangling all those knots around her mind… she felt free from all fears at last. As Frida dodged Ryans hand ball, she couldn’t stop thinking how everything fell into place by having a positive perspective and how events had taken its course this time in her advantage.

Header Credit : to the owner (via google)

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