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Silver Hair Sins | Book Review

Silver Hair Sins – Book Review

Book: Silver Hair Sins

Author: Saumick Pal

Reviewed By: Manas Mukul

Publisher: The Write Place (26 March 2019)

Price: 249 INR

Pages: 158 (Paperback)

Language: English

My rating: 3.5/5

Religious fundamentalism is on the rise and the world is experiencing more and more barbaric acts in the name of God and religion. It has reached a fanatic level. Witnessing all this I, earlier, wrote a piece – What if there was no religion. Well, today I would be reviewing a book that suggests another alternative – merge all the religions into one and with the use of artificial intelligence create a more futuristic utopian society.

Silver Hair Sins by Saumick Pal gives a peek into a similar world. It is his first novel. I would like to express my gratitude towards Blogchatter’s Book Review Program for considering me this book review and towards Saumick for the wonderful personalized message. If you have been following my reviews, then by now, you would know how much I love thrillers. A thriller with religion and AI as its background suits perfectly down my alley.

About the Author

The author, Saumick Pal, is an engineer and has been working for 13 years in myriad fields. Also, he is a mentor to the youth of the country. He has worked as a scriptwriter too. His writing style is crisp, compact and will leave you wanting for more even after you read the whole book.

My Review

The cover of the book, along with its title doesn’t give much away but once you start reading, it will slowly begin to make more sense and now I can say that the cover is equally thought-provoking as the pictures inside the book.

The back cover blurb highlights Silver Hair Sins as one of India’s first visual-fiction novel, with more than half of the book narrated by cinematized photographs.

They say that the picture is worth a thousand words. It surely is true in the case of Silver Hair Sins, which has only 158 pages out of which about 60 pages are full-page photographs/pictures. These pictures are strategically placed in continuation of the chapters that streamlines the flow and pace of the book.

The message from the author.

The story is set up in a futuristic world some 200 years later and mainly revolves around three characters – Mary, Azad and Aasma. You will also read about two more characters that form the background story – Meera and Akbar. The story takes you to a time when the religio-politico divide reaches a tipping point and technology steps in to save humanity – AI merges all religions to create One God AI.

The algorithm picks up populist virtues of all the religions and not necessarily the best ones. This leads to a terrible dystopian environment of murder, manipulation and love where a father is justifying the rape of his daughter as a sacrifice.

The book also makes you think what if AI actually becomes so powerful that it begins to dictate the lives of each and every individual. What will be the outcome of that? Read the book to find out whether the AI remains powerful or the humans rise above technology and win over it with their instincts.

I am sure the writer takes a clue from the all-time classic 1984 by George Orwell where he spoke about the atrocities of a dystopian world disguised as a utopian society set in a time in future.

Pros

It is a very fast read and even if you are not a big fan of thrillers you are bound to finish it in one sitting. The vocabulary is simple and you don’t have to go looking for meanings of every alternate word. The pictures are very figurative yet abstract and each reader will have a different understanding of them.

‘Not everything is black and white’ – I will like to compliment Saumick on how he has used the colors like black, white and silver to showcase the criminality of a person. The colors, the day – Sunday and the dressing have a lot of significance in the narrative. The naming of the characters also has been done keeping the backdrop in mind and by the end, you will realize their importance for their characters.

Cons

The book doesn’t have many flaws apart from the fact that some incidents feel a bit rushed up. Given its size, it would more fit in the category of a novella. I personally didn’t like Kabir’s Dohas being quoted every now and then. For a book that is futuristically set it was a bit awkward for me to visualize the AI enabled beings speaking Kabir’s Dohas. I felt a little disappointed as there isn’t much description about the futuristic setup and many-a-time it feels as if the discussions are in context to present times and not two centuries later.

When I first received the mail to review this book, it reminded me of an important incident that occurred with my friend and me, just when I started writing about a decade ago. He came up with a photo-book, exactly like what this is, but after going door-to-door of various publishing houses all we received were rejections. ‘A book or novel full of pictures will never sell and it will totally add to the cost’, was all we got constantly. I am glad the Indian publishing world is changing for good.

This positively has the potential of being a game changer as far as the layout of a book is concerned in the Indian context. I have seen Dan Brown books having pictures for better illustration and explanation of certain facts.

Verdict

I would end it with a quote from Walt Disney – “Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language.” This book serves well as a commentary on the current religions and the perils existing in them.

Silver Hair Sins is a good debut effort by Saumick Pal, which stirs up a lot of questions about the existing religions and the extremism attached to them and how in the future technology can be used for mankind in the religious spectrum as well. I am going with three and a half stars for this visual-science-fiction thriller that will definitely make you think.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This review was done as part of the Blogchatter Book Review Program. Please sign up if you are a bibliophile.

My side of the bargain – an honest review – Find the Book here on Goodreads and Amazon.

About the author reference: https://www.marketingmind.in/saumick-pals-silver-hair-sins-is-a-must-have-if-you-love-thrillers/

 

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T – Terrorism | #AtoZChallenge

T – Terrorism | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

Terrorism is defined as, ‘The unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.’

The recent barbaric attack on CRPF soldiers in Pulwana has brought terrorism in the center of discussion once again. With every political party trying to score points on the martyrdom of soldiers and trying to garner vote, it is going to stay there at least till the end of general elections 2019.

The current government at the center claims that, through its various strategies, schemes and a zero-tolerance approach, they have been able to curb terrorism in the valley to a great deal. The facts tell a stark contrasting story.

According to a written reply submitted by Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansraj Gangaram Ahir in Lok Sabha on February 5, 2019, “The number of terrorist incidents in Jammu and Kashmir alone has jumped 177% in the past five years.”

Terrorism claimed a total of 1,315 live in the state between 2014 and 2018 – out of which 838 (63.72 %) were terrorists, 339 (25 %) security personnel and 138 (10.49 %) were civilians. As per the data from the South Asia Terrorism Portal, there has been an exponential rise in the death of soldiers in terror attacks – a 106 % rise in the past five years.

I guess this much data is enough to tell you the real picture. As per definition, each and every act of lynching and mob violence can also and should also be classified as terrorism. It is serving the exact purpose. I have previously highlighted the data on lynching as well, which doesn’t paint a pretty picture for the government either. Just to remind in about 123 incidents of mob lynching 46 people lost their lives and above 295 injured between 2014 and 2019.

I am not including killings of people like Gauri Lankesh or the killings from events like religious armed processions. They alone have claimed over 400 lives in various communal conflicts. Where is the conflict or terrorism dying? Didn’t the supreme leader claim that demonetization was done to eradicate it?

At one point of time, Punjab was the hub of terror and militancy in India but through a proper strategic approach, it has been curbed to a point of no return. Why can’t we learn from the episode of Punjab?

If you observe closely then you will realize that they don’t want the issue to ever get resolved. Otherwise, how will they create fear among the hearts of the public that they are under threat?

On one hand, you claim to be against terror and on other you are fielding a terror accused. She claims that so many atrocities were committed against her while forgetting that it was her party’s government at the state that arrested her first under suspicion.

Reports after reports, agencies after agencies have denied against it. Anyway, for a moment lets believe her; don’t we know how these agencies work against a terror accused to get a confession. Her character took a shape and form when she herself agreed to be involved during the Babri Masjid demolition. To be honest, if she would have been such a saint she shouldn’t get angry so quickly at everything.

Just when you know that now you cannot tackle questions and debates on the issues on which you rode to power, you play with your diversionary tactics of polarization. Anyone who claims that she was on the top of a mosque when it was being demolished should be simply barred immediately or otherwise stop hiding behind the garb of pseudo-nationalism.

They say that Kashmiris take up arms because of lack of education and job opportunities and claim that a solution to this is to make them a part of the mainstream. Ironically when they actually take up a ‘pen’ and try to come to universities to study they are being attacked there too.

You might shout at the top of your voice…claiming that everything is a caused because of a certain opposition…but that won’t change the reality. They were thrown out of power because of their incompetence and you campaigned against them to come to power. But now when you are in power you are still campaigning against them rather than answering on how miserably you have failed on the front of terrorism.

Actually, since they are so good at taking to the streets on every issue with their capable jingoism that they should permanently be a part of the opposition. At least that way the government, the opposition and the democracy, everything functions efficiently.

Its high time that they realize, whether they openly accept it or not, that their policies, strategies and this so-called muscular approach is falling flat on its face. And in the process is motivating more and more people to take up arms on the name of hate. If you feel that I am wrong – please go and read the definition of it…really slowly.

What’s even more appalling is that they are claiming to be strengthening our armed forces while continuously decreasing their budget allocation. Isn’t that a strategic error to being with?

Let’s end today’s post on a humorous note. When she claims that her cancer was cured because of cow urine and I am not against that in fact completely in favor of her superlative ways of treatment, shouldn’t someone ask her – what exactly was she practicing in the first place that she had to suffer from such a disease.

I know many of her supporters will come crying that I shouldn’t make fun of her disease, well, if you go by the state government’s report, which was of the same party, she never suffered from cancer. It says it was just a small tumor.

To be honest – the current ruling party is making a mockery of every citizen by fielding such a candidate and then creating noise pollution on the name of eliminating terrorism and their so-called Hindu nationalism.

For all those who are against hate,

For all those who are in for peace,

For all those who say no to war,

And

For all those who believe there is a solution to terrorism…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 20th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Politics Category is ‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’, where I would be covering some relevant issues with the General Elections 2019 through the course of 26 posts.

Read the previous post here: IPL – Indian Parliamentary League

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with letter ‘U’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘Dubai – City of Gold‘. If you love travel head over to the Travel Theme and share your feedback.

6

K – KASHMIR | #AtoZChallenge

K – Kashmir | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

Post World War II the British were left bankrupt. They started abandoning and leaving the colonies and in the process giving them independence. Lord Mountbatten arrived in February 1947 and was supposed to take till June 1948 to come up with the proposal of how India would be divided. He invited Cyril Radcliffe, a barrister who had never set foot in India before then and only gave him five weeks to do so.

He did it in a hurry and within two months a line was sketched on a map of the then India dividing in on the basis of the religion of the majority that resided in that area. Everyone knows that came at a price of more than a million lives and fifteen million displaced.

Maharaja Hari was a Hindu ruler of a Muslim majority princely state at the time of partition and he was to make a call whether they want to join India or Pakistan or remain independent. A kind of civil war broke out where groups of both religions want to eradicate the other one. The Maharaja then wanted help from the Indian government to fight the Pashtuns. The help was promised at a cost.

Though the politicians can claim and say that Kashmir was forever a part of India – it was not. It came under a signed agreement to side with India, so that India could send their military to fight the Pashtun infiltrators. The UN interfered and slowly by 1949 the war came to an end but the vote with which side Kashmir would finally go never took place. The UN then established the LoC, which was formalized in 1971 – India controls 43% of the land, while Pakistan and China 37% and 20% respectively.

If you go into the history of Kashmir, infiltrators forever ruled it whereas the original people of the land never got to rule it. I believe they were the most secular around the 14th century where all the three religions coexisted and lived in harmony.

The killing of Kashmir Pandits was a sad event which led to their mass exodus but equally horrifying was the killing of Muslim after independence which continued for more than a year resulting in a massacre that amassed somewhere close to 100000 deaths. Nobody knows how over the years the fight against a small group of Pashtuns has become a fight against the local people of Kashmir.

The current dispensation mentioned in their 2014 manifesto that they would look after rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits in their original land. I have hardly seen a single family being brought back. The irony is they were in power there for a decent number of years to at least show their will to do that rather than just slogans. Even shocking was the way they came in power, aligning with a party that is completely opposite to their core ideology.

I feel the ruling party, when they gave the mantra that they want to eradicate a complete political class from the nation, just focused on forming governments. They used any method possible to form a government whether it was Goa or NE states or even in Kashmir. What they don’t know is, after they have staked claim to form the government, how to govern it then.

The condition has been continuously deteriorating since they came into power with stats showing an exponential rise in terrorist attacks and people joining militancy.

After the recent terrorist attack of Pulwama, there was an outcry to boycott all the Kashmiris from India. Many of them fled back to their natives. Isn’t this hypocrisy of the highest order that you want Kashmir to be a part of India but do not want Kashmiris?

They stirred the nationalist sentiment and got the backing of a lot of people when a senior leader in the government announced that they will stop water to Pakistan. Honestly, that is a joke. As per the Indus water treaty, India can only at most stop 20% of the water that is flowing. Currently, there is no practical measure to even stop that much but you cannot simply change the natural flow of a river against gravitation. No one knows how many decades it will take before India can make enough dams to even contain 20%.

For the past seven decades under all the governments, there were conflicts. For some period it dies down but then it again aggravates. Nobody wants to understand the root cause of why the local common people are willing to pick up arms. Some say education is the cure but haven’t we seen even the educated do that. More than the education they require Inclusion and until that happens they will continue to keep doing so. It suits politicians on both the sides of the LoC that the conflict keeps simmering – if the issue itself will die what will they ask vote on?

My opinion is this issue will continue to boil. Even if Pakistan decides not to pursue it any further, China will not allow it. And if a day comes when China decides to leave Kashmir alone then also the western warmongers who just want to sell their weaponry on the name of national security will not let the conflict die away. Do one thing every time there is an attack in Syria, Palestine, India, and Pakistan or anywhere in the world, just check the stock prices of the arms manufacturers. They simply shoot upwards.

After decades of bloodshed, three wars, lakhs of deaths, millions of human rights violations that continue on a daily basis, whether India wins or any other country, the biggest sufferers and losers are the real people of the land of Kashmir who continue to live each day as if it is going to be there last.

Someone said that Kashmir is a heaven on earth, but I say if this is how heaven is, better call it hell and there might eventually be peace.

For all those who believe Kashmir belongs to India,

For all those who believe the killings should stop,

For all those who believe there is no winner in a war

And

For all those who believe there should be peace in the Kashmir Valley…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 11th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Politics Category is ‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’, where I would be covering some relevant issues with the General Elections 2019 through the course of 26 posts.

Read the previous post here: IPL – Indian Parliamentary League

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with letter ‘L’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘Dubai – City of Gold‘. If you love travel head over to the Travel Theme and share your feedback.

19

Happy Birthday Papa

Happy Birthday Papa

The year was 1991. I was about 5 years old then. Papa always motivated us to be courageous, brave and work on our fitness and had this habit of saying that his body was made up iron and how I should also exercise and eat right to get that perfect balance for the body.

It was a hot summer morning and my summer vacations were going on. Papa was following his daily routine of exercise. I was in a fun mood that day and somehow got hold of a huge stick. He was sweating profusely and was exercising bare-chested. I was always a naughty child and was always ready with one or two tricks everyday.

That day I dared him, “Papa you always say that you are made of iron. Right. I want to test it today.”

He casually replied, “Yes I am and so are you. So how do you plan to take the test?”

Exuding my childhood innocence I stupidly suggested, “I will hit you with this stick on your back and lets see whether you feel any pain or not.”

One thing I would like to highlight about him; he was exceptional with kids especially when it involved their curiosity. He would never shy away from answering lamest of queries and encouraging them to try out new things. He always taught you would never learn until you fail.

He persuaded me to go ahead.

I kept on asking him again and again whether he was sure. Each and every time he confidently replied, “Yes! My son. Bring it on.”

I thought that I had thought this through but I was too naïve.

With all my might I swung the stick hard and bangggg!!!

Papa and Me

A crimson cylindrical line appeared where the stick hugged the skin.

Moments later similar crimson lines appeared on my cheeks with the love that was showered by my mom after the Iron Man test was completed.

Everybody in the family including my mom was shocked that I actually did it. They all thought I was just playfully bluffing. For a moment I was appalled too that I actually did it but it was all too late by then.

This was the kind of bond Papa and me shared for the major part of our lives. I remember he being either my partner at the running end on a cricket pitch or would be bowling to me being as part of the opposition. He always said that we are friends first and father-son later.

I clearly remember the nights scarred with power cuts and me spending most of them on his shoulders bombarding him with innumerous ‘whys’ and then would doze off on his chest. I would suck the juice out of oranges and then would give him the pulp to finish. How he would take me to buy cream rolls every evening. How he would take me on a bicycle round and round every time it rained. The memories are uncountable and the vacuum is forever.

For the last 3-4 years he would constantly say to me that I want an hour from you and want to discuss something but destiny always deceived us. In fact there was a trip, which we both undertook and the only time that we were separate was the time when we would use loo. I guess this sums up what a father-son relation actually becomes when they grow old. Both of them have so much bottled up to say but none of them has the courage to look weak.

Everybody loses someone in his or her life and my case isn’t special. It’s just that sometimes when the people are alive you don’t have the words and expressions to convey your feelings and this is my way of communicating to him. I am sure wherever he will be he will be in peace and would definitely be smiling over me; reading what all I write. It’s been 530 days since he left us and he would have been 65 years old today. There hasn’t been a single day where I haven’t craved to speak to him and hug him. Some would say he left too early…All I would say is that he lived like a king and he left royally too where he didn’t give anyone a chance to serve him in any manner and take care of him.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

A poem by my sister Shraddha Mukul

Life has moved on, and yet you still remain,
Your absence your memories is unbearable pain.

Every day I wait to sleep wait to be with you in my dreams,
I hug you, I hold you so close … your presence makes me smile,
And then I wake up and see you gone,
And that you were never there …you are gone for a while.

I waited on my bday … coz you promised you will always be there,
No matter which part of the world I am, you will come to me to celebrate,
You didn’t come … I am still waiting…
And now I wonder I might go crazy at this rate.

When I was little I always thought … nothing will ever happen to you,
And that you are “my daddy strong”
Look where I am standing Papa,
I feel so so very wrong.

I am angry at you and I feel cheated,
You promised you will never let go of me,
I am falling in the dark Papa,
Don’t you care anymore, can’t you see?

People say I am silly,
that one who goes never comes back,
They don’t know our connection, Papa
I know you will find me even in a world pitch black.

– Shraddha Mukul

30

I wish an Alarm Clock would Ring


Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

 

 

 

Mom was seemingly perturbed by the last call. Her uneasiness was pretty evident and had started sweating profusely. I knew I had to talk to her.

“Mom! What happened? Who was that on the call”, I asked worriedly.

She was in a state of shock. I asked her to sit down, handed her a glass of water and questioned again.

This time she somehow managed to articulate that an aunty in her close set of friends has committed suicide. I was astonished to hear that.

On further probing mom told that the lady was suffering from depression. Depression was successful in claiming the second life in the past two months in my neighbourhood. Mom informed that she had two kids, a loving husband, a well-off background and a perfect happy life. Mom is still not been able to completely come to terms with the suicide.

Such is the beauty of depression. You never know that it is eating you till it suddenly engulfs you completely.

I said to her, “If we were aware that she was suffering from depression…if only we could have got a chance to speak to her…a life could have been saved.”

The WOW Prompt

There are many people who seem completely normal and happy but are suffering from depression and most of the times they themselves don’t know. Their lives may look perfect on the outside and you won’t find a reason as to what’s the cause but depression sneaks in silently. All you need is to talk to someone. If one feels that someone is suffering from depression or exhibiting certain symptoms, please, the first and the best thing you can do is to talk to them.

Some startling facts related to suicide & depression:

  • About 135000 people commit suicide in India per year.
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the 18-29 age group.
  • Most suicides in India are by people aged below 44 years.
  • Around 57 million people are suffering from Depression, an astonishing 18 % of global estimate, as per WHO.
  • About 15-20% of those who are clinically depressed commit suicide.

Some days ‘I Wish An Alarm Would Ring Loud And Notify Me Whenever someone is about to commit suicide and I could speak to that person and bring a smile to their face and somehow manage to save a life.’

Anybody who feels like they want to talk…just about anything…I am all ears 🙂

For all those who are sad,

For all those who are depressed,

For all those who have these scary thoughts,

And

For all those who consider such steps…

PLEASE SMILE AND TALK TO SOMEONE.

It’s not a Goodbye…

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

 

References:

http://yourdost.com/blog/2017/03/depression-statistics-in-india.html?q=/blog/2017/03/depression-statistics-in-india.html&q=/blog/2017/03/depression-statistics-in-india.html&

http://www.allaboutdepression.com/gen_04.html

https://www.medindia.net/health_statistics/general/suicide-in-india-statistics.asp

From depression to suicide: Why more Indians are falling into the trap

205

Death on Karnataka Express

Death on Karnataka Express

The sudden jerk of the train coming to a halt shook me out of slumber. I was sleeping on the middle berth of a three-tier AC coach. I moved the pungent smelling inflexible curtain and tried to peep through the window. The sun was yet to rise but the morning blue had taken over the milieus. It looked like the train was moving through the outskirts of a city. I got my wristwatch out of my backpack and checked the time. It was 6:30 am.

We were travelling in Karnataka express from Bangalore to New Delhi. My initial job training got over in Mysore and I got posting in Chandigarh. Mom was paying a visit to my sister in Bangalore and hence was accompanying me back till Chandigarh.

The last time I checked in the night, when we reached Bhopal, the train was running on its scheduled time.

I thought, ‘we must be approaching Agra by this time.’

I slid to my left and looked down at the lower berth. Mom was still sleeping peacefully. A sensation urged me to use the washroom. I slowly got down in a crouching position, making sure not to wake her up, slipped into my slippers and walked through the narrow passage towards the washroom.

Death on Karnataka Express

After using the washroom, I decided to look outside the entrance door of the coach, since the train hadn’t yet moved. There is no more serene sight than countryside right up early in the morning. I leaped outside the gate but there was no one in sight. ‘Probably most of the people are still sleeping’, I supposed. ‘It was a good four hours still left for us to reach New Delhi, if the train reached at its timetabled arrival time.’

The huge iron wheels slowly started moving making a screeching sound. I shut the door and walked back to my berth. The berth opposite to mom’s berth was empty.

‘The elderly man would have got down at a station somewhat late in the night, as I was pretty much awake past midnight’, I pondered.

Five more minutes passed by and the train gathered momentum. The rural dwellings in the landscape were being replaced by more urban infrastructure. I knew that the railway station was about to arrive and considered having a cup of tea and some biscuits. Mom usually is an early riser and it was way past her regular wake up time. ‘

‘I guess she wouldn’t have an idea what time it is’, I assumed.

She didn’t prefer tea prepared at stations but I, nevertheless, thought of asking her before the station arrives. I feebly called out, “MOM.”

“Mom…Mom…MOM”, I kept calling gradually increasing the pitch of my voice. She didn’t respond leave alone waking up.

I touched her feet to wake her up but she didn’t respond this time either. I started shaking her arm slightly and simultaneously calling out ‘mom…mom…mom.’ It felt as if she was intentionally not waking up.

I touched her forehead. It was damp and cold. Initially I thought that the air-conditioning might have done it. Her cheeks were even icier. I didn’t know what had happened to her. I kept shaking her arm and calling her for more than two minutes but she didn’t budge a single bit.

I was beginning to get worried. I didn’t know what to do. I could see the train slowly entering the station through the window and thought of trying to wake her up one more time.

She didn’t respond.

By now the glitter of sweat was shining on my forehead. I was getting more and more nervous and anxious as time passed. Somehow in these sorts of situations, negative thoughts are the first ones to swarm your mind.

They didn’t spare me either and for a second I thought, ‘Is Mom dead?’

The more I was trying to wake her up, the stronger the sinking feeling became. I knew I had to remain calm and try to think my way through, ‘what if she was actually dead.’

In my custom and tradition the first thing that happens is, as soon as you get to know that either of your parents or any blood relative has passed away, we aren’t supposed to eat anything till the final cremation rituals are performed.

I quelled my mind and focused on the difficult task at hand. I started deliberating, ‘should I get down at Agra or should I continue till New Delhi and seek some help there? Should I call someone right away?’ Should I seek some medical help in the train itself?

My heart was breaking in fact shattering.

I knew it was going to be a long…really long day ahead. The thought of not eating anything for the next two days was already eating my mind. I decided to get down to at least have a cup of tea and couple of cookies. The train was about to move and I had to act fast.

I immediately got down and went to a railway tea stall. The vendor was selling some stale tea but there wasn’t any other option in sight. I decided since I might not get anything else; let me purchase two cups of tea. I purchased a packet of biscuits and put it in my jeans’ rear pocket. I thought of having one cup right away but that same screeching sound of the iron wheels started.

I hurriedly reached the metal door and a fellow passenger helped me board the train again.

I was making my way through few people who were beginning to wake up, making sure I don’t spill any of it.

The eerie feeling of having tea right next to my dead mom also came over me for a second but the contemplation of being hungry for the next two days made a starving sensation in me and I thought, ‘what the hell! Let me have it. There wasn’t anyone who knew me or would complain that I had tea and cookies after mom passed away.’

As soon as I reached my berth, I was dumbfounded and speechless by what I saw.

Mom was wide-awake sitting upright and combing her hair. She annoyingly looked at me and began, ‘how many times have I told you not to get down on every station. What happened to you is everything all right? Why do you look so astonished?’

I handed her a cup of tea interrupting her and sheepishly said, “I got down to bring you some tea and biscuits.”

“In all these years have you ever seen me have this railway station tea?” she added.

I knew it was embarrassingly awkward what had conspired into my head and decided to tell her the ordeal of buying two cups of tea.

She broke into a loud uncontrollable laughter. I joined in. I told her that the first thought that came to my mind after seeing my mom dead, was to have tea and biscuit.

We kept on laughing till we reached New Delhi.

To this day, whenever we discuss a train journey, we roll in fits of laughter remembering this episode.

For all those who love their moms,

For all those who have lost loved ones,

For all those who are fed up of such rituals,

For all those who love trains,

And

For all those who love humour…

It’s not a GoodBye…

But It’s a GOOD BYE

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with Blogchatter

#MyFriendAlexa #ContemplationOfaJoker #CirqueDuJoker

22

Deal of Death – Book Review

Cover Page – Deal of Death

Deal of Death – Book Review

Book: Deal of Death

Author: Sonia Chatterjee

Reviewed By: Manas Mukul

Publisher: Self – published

Price: Free (As of now)

Pages: 65 (pdf)

Language: English

My rating: 3/5

Watching ‘Vyomkesh Bakshi’ on Doordarshan is one of the favorite memories of my childhood. It was a prominent and popular Indian detective series in the early 90s. Since then I am huge fan of this genre. Nothing noteworthy popped up on the Indian TV scene after that.

Breathing books reintroduced me to genus once again. To review a detective thriller is simply bliss. If a writer can come up with exhilarating suspense stuff, nothing can be better than that as it always gives the writer an opportunity to convert the protagonist or the lead detective into a character associated with a series. I feel that if you can write and can cook up surprising roller coaster events then one must definitely try their hand on a detective novel. Most of the books that I have reviewed so far belong to the same category.

Continuing with the books from the Blogchatter Ebook carnival my third pick is a suspense thriller. It is actually one of the most downloaded novellas, ‘Deal of Death’ from Sonia Chatterjee.

Deal of Death is the story of Raya Ray, the leading lady, who dons many hats. The beginning of the book showcases how Raya Ray and her supporting husband tries to cope up with their stillborn child. The greatest loss for any woman…any mother. It’s a journey of how she overpowers her emotions and tries to get her life back by opting for a new place and profession.

Raya ray’s character is multi-layered but it is the thread of her unquenched motherhood that plays the underlined theme. The case she entrusts herself is also of a stillborn baby, where the mother of the child, Sharmila, is indubitably confirmed that the baby was alive at the time of birth and had suckled on her in her half conscious state. Hence the story is about whether Raya is successfully able to unveil the mystery around the missing child.

The major portion of the plot is based in and around ‘Munshiganj’, a forgotten city, which had a lot of prominence in the pre-independence era. It was once the capital of old Bengal during the early 1900s. The city helps in blending the cocktail of Bengali backdrop with Nawab connection. Sonia puts in few photographs in the book to bring that old bucolic lure and pragmatism to the content. The selection of such a city was important as the plot discusses supernatural and blind-faith.

The story has few characters along with Raya Ray but each and every one of them gets their space in the narrative. No character has been introduced unnecessarily. It is a fast read with only 65 pages and modest vocabulary.

No story is perfect and Deal of Death also has its share of negatives. The story doesn’t answer the question as to what happened to Sharmila’s Child. There are some sub-plots, which are unnecessary since they don’t add to the main plot and sometimes work as extra information. I also felt that more detailed work would have made the story more compelling but given the time constraint in which Sonia has come up with this is still appreciable. The book calls for basic editing, including grammar and formatting. A good re-editing of the work would definitely benefit the book.

Deal of Death, portraying an empowered woman with a gritty character, is a good debut effort by Sonia Chatterjee. Raya Ray certainly has a lot of scope for future novellas. I am going with three out of five for Deal of Death.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

You can Grab a FREE copy of the book HERE

The Joker has published his own ebook and you can give it a try for free here