11

The FISHBOWL

It was dark and crowded. The DJ was in his groove and the music was too loud for my eardrums. The neon and laser lights kept on flashing and at times irritating me. Though the room had varied beauties dancing off to the latest numbers my eyes were still in search of something else. Everything that I was seeing didn’t seem to excite me.

They (eyes) started scanning the room from one end to the other slowly following a green laser light. The freshness of the sweat glistened faces had long gone. The intoxicated arms were beginning to loose rhythm and were now not in sync with the electro mix that was screeching through the human sized speakers.

Suddenly I felt there was a gaze constantly fixated on me. I took a sip of the single malt (my second large) and tried to follow it but the inebriated swaying bodies were making it difficult.

The DJ changed the track and made a hand gesture in the dark. A help in the form of a spotlight appeared. It kept flashing on random people till the time it was on her. It didn’t seem random anymore.

She was in a white breezy summer dress, something perfect for the weather and occasion, standing near the bar counter. Her gaze was still on me. If it would have been some other day, I might have felt uncomfortable but on that day the confidence was there in the right place (thanks to single malt). The moment her gaze met mine, her lips responded with seduction. She was like a true magnet and I, like a raw iron piece, started getting attracted towards her.

Unconsciously my feet started moving towards those eyes. I couldn’t care for the crowd, the pushing or the shoving. The hypnotized me kept moving on. I stopped a good three feet away from her. Smile was a permanent feature of her exquisite face. I realized my lips were already resonating with the shape of her lips.

I was yet to speak to her but something in her face especially her eyes through her round retro spectacles suggested that she was yet to consume any alcohol. For some strange reason I felt she doesn’t belong here and blurted, “Are you looking for someone?”

She moved her red lips and answered, “YOU”.

The ‘you’ echoed in my head. I felt this couldn’t be real and I had to regain my senses. I kept my drink glass on the counter and took a glass of water and guzzled it in a single go. She was watching me patiently.

“Yes you heard it right. I am looking for you”, She said playfully. There was calmness about her face and was sexy in a soothing kind of way. She was flawlessly beautiful.

“Do you like such crowded soulless places”, she asked.

“Not usually. Only with my friends”, I replied.

“Then how come you are alone today? What brings you here?” she questioned.

“I guess for the same reason that brings you here”, I responded.

“Oh! That means you are here for ME”, She said and broke into a gracious laughter. I was matching her giggle by giggle, mesmerized by the serene sight.

We both had signed up with a dating app, which after proper scrutiny of profiles organized events where singles could meet up. Their interview process was like obtaining a job offer.

“It is getting late and I don’t like it here. Shall we go to my place”, She asked. Though it was a question but she already knew the answer. After clearing the cheque we exited from the place and reached the car park and from there drove to her expensive high-rise apartment.

I know what you are thinking but she was way too classy to be an escort or something of that sort (at least that is what I thought).

It was a huge apartment, which was very tastefully done. We sat in the living room on the smooth plushy couch.

“Would you prefer whiskey or some wine”; She was being a good host.

She poured some wine for herself too. We sat there, chatted and had our wine late into the night. It was too blurry to exactly remember the time when we started melting into each other. She maintained great poise doing everything.

We made insane carnal love. It was pure bliss at least her expressions suggested. Completely spent we both dozed off with her head snuggling into my chest.

A tickling sensation broke my slumber. It was her hand on my chest. She was awake as if she never slept. We again started sharing talks.

I asked, “What do you like as in hobbies and all?”

She looked outside the window. The morning was just round the corner. She turned around towards me with a naughty smile and said, “Morning sex”.

Right after the morning session of love making just when that feeling of love and affection was about to sow its seed, she said, “Could you please do a favor for me?”

“Please go ahead”, I replied.

Photo by Sadiq Nafee on Unsplash

She handed me a small piece of paper and said, “Please write your name on this”.

“That’s it”, I said still unable to make anything of it. I wrote my name on the piece of paper and handed it over to her.

She kissed the piece of paper and put it in a flashy fishbowl that was kept on an antique table right next to the window.

“What happened? Why did you do that? And why doesn’t this Fishbowl contain any fish and more importantly Why are there so many pieces of paper inside it”, I quizzed.

She stood there quietly. My expression told her that she would not get away without giving an answer.

She replied, “The pieces of paper in the Fishbowl contain all the names of men that I have made love to.”

For all those who have been in such scenarios,

For all those who have made morning love,

For all those who have fallen for beauty,

And

For all those who still believe in true love.

It’s not a Goodbye…

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas “Sameer” Mukul

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204

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

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21

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. I 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

5

The Tree Bears Witness – Book Review

The Tree Bears Witness

Cover – The Tree Bears Witness

The Tree Bears Witness

Book Review:

Book: The Tree Bears Witness

Author: Sharath Komarraju

Reviewed By: Manas Mukul

Publisher: Westland (17 November 2017)

Price: 350 INR

Pages: 250 (Paperback)

ISBN-10: 9386850443

ISBN-13: 978-9386850447

Language: English

My rating: 3.5/5

Keeping in sync with the author – reviewer relationship I again get an opportunity to review Sharath Komarraju’s work, his latest, The Tree Bears Witness’. This time it’s the publication Westland’s marketing team, which is taking the initiative – all kudos to them.

Every childhood in India has encountered an ‘Akbar Birbal’ story at some stage or the other – who can forget the epic ‘Birbal ki Khichadi’. After successfully biting into the Mahabharata with his Hastinapur series, Sharath Komarraju now tries to reincarnate the duo with his spin of storytelling to the tales. ‘The Tree Bears Witness’ is his second novel in the Birbal series.

The story revolves around real characters from Emperor Akbar and his Rajput wife Jodha’s life, which gives it a very real feel and makes you think on several occasions whether this story is actually true or not. Frankly speaking I am not sure myself. The main plot is shrouded around the mysterious death of the newly wed Jodha’s brother Sujjamal. Sujjamal, along with other royal guests, was still staying back in the palace after Akbar and Jodha’s marriage when the unfortunate event takes place.

Emperor Akbar, as is in the case of every mystery escapade, entrusts his most intelligent ‘Navratna’…Mahesh Das aka Birbal to come up with the answers. The mystery is heightened by the fact that the eyewitnesses to the murder are a couple of guards, who at the time of murder were in an inebriated state. They both have blurry conflicting versions of the murder, which makes the plot even murkier. Birbal has to finally rely on a Tree to serve as a witness…yeah you read it correct…The Tree is the Witness here.

Sketch of Palace Garden

Sketch of Palace Garden

Like his previous work Sharath doesn’t waste much time and straightaway gets into top gear. By the 10th page we encounter the murder and the story never runs out of breathe from there. It has a commendable pace, which keeps the reader hooked-on all throughout the book. I completed the book in flat eight hours, which is the fastest for me. The pace is also helped by the vocabulary which is neither too naïve nor too complex. I was really impressed how Sharath has given a sketch of the palace garden in the beginning of the book, where the actual murder takes place. It really helps the reader’s curiosity in trying to figure out the killer.

You can tell that a murder mystery is good from the simple fact that you have multiple suspects, each with a strong motive of their own. Here Sharath very masterfully incorporates this where we have many suspects including Sujjamal’s own blood relatives. It goes to an extent where it doesn’t even spare Emperor Akbar, who is in a way responsible to get the mystery solved.

The character sketching is also great. The writer has smartly given a peek into everyone’s mind where you encounter political intrigue, personal enmities and hidden rivalries.

The only negative I found was, if you read attentively you will be able to guess the murderer by the time you reach two-third of the book. In fact the fun in ‘The Tree bears Witness doesn’t lie in that. The ride is exhilarating from the fact how Birbal uncovers ‘how’ the murder was committed. Because when the murder happens Sujjamal was in full view of the two guards and he was standing alone.

I would take this opportunity to congratulate Sharath where he has successfully teleported his career from a 9-5 corporate job to full time writer. He is skill-fully mastering his craft and continuously coming up with good work.

The narrative is fluent, crisp and without too many subplots. From the first page till the last the writer never loses focus and keeps the reader engrossed and engaged. I am going with three and a half out of five for ‘The Tree Bears Witness’. Do grab a copy of this wonderfully crafted royal tale of murder and deception.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

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

36

A KISS that never happened

A KISS that never happened…

“Will you be my Dance Partner for Life?” was all I could muster. She cautiously mentioned, “I need some time to think as I am not sure what exactly I am looking for”. 

Some days back while I was in Dubai…

I: See my intentions are very clean and pure for you…but I guess we are not on the same page…at least at this time and point in our lives. You are on my mind and thoughts always and I am not saying this to flatter you. It is really the case.

She: I think we should sit and talk about this. I would want to settle down for sure but I don’t know what I am looking for and even if I say I will think about it I am uncertain how will you take it plus I am skeptical about what I want.

I: Okay then lets sit and talk.

I came down to her town. Was there for about a week and tried to reach out to her everyday and plan a meeting. She was either too busy or too busy, but all in all didn’t meet me. I was hurt and on top of that she forgot my birthday. The only thing that came to my mind was it’s all about the priorities and my name wasn’t on that list. “When she has her priorities cut out then why are you busy trying to woo her”, the mind questioned. The mind understands and takes a stand but the poor heart gives way.

When the meeting finally took place

I drove to her place and from there we went in her car to a Gurudwara. Just before leaving She had washed her face and forgot to put any makeup. Her kohl-less eyes were really piercing. Her face was looking simplistically amazing and serene just like the face of a newly born. She wrapped around a ‘duppatta’ (Indian Scarf) around her head before entering the premise. I am not finding any words to describe her. It’s in my memory and every time I close my eyes I can see her. She was looking like the perfect wife that I always dreamed off. She herself was not at peace from within but for the first time I noticed that there was a lot of calm on her face, which was actually getting transferred on to me. In fact the peace returned to the Gurudwara once she arrived. After she prayed we sat on a bench inside the premise.

She began, “I guess you are not planning to shave off your beard anytime soon”. “I celebrated a very dear friend’s birthday in January and that was the last time I shaved”, I said mischievously. She interrupted me mid sentence, “yayayaya…I know I know…it was my birthday only”. I smiled sheepishly and began:

You said that you are looking for someone who is mature…who is elder to you. My question to you is what is the guarantee that a person who is elder to you is definitely more mature and a guy couple of years younger wont be. A guy who has shouldered a lot of responsibilities and seen a lot in his past and who has tried to do justice to each one of them would have some level of maturity and understanding to do it.

All this while I have loved you…the form might be different. I never judged you for you being you. I never judged you for your scores, I never judged you for your lifestyle, I never judged you for how you dress up, I never even judged you when you went after other guys, I was always with you…but now I believe I should be given a chance to prove my worth. How can I convince you to be mine?

Her puzzled look conveyed that she wasn’t ready with an answer and the talkative me continued.

I love the way you are. The complete you…not a percent here and there. I guess I have fallen for this imperfection. I love your innocence and at the same time your carelessness. I love your smile and at the same time your temper. I love your giggles and at the same time your anger. I love your warmth and at the same time the way you shun people away. I love the genuine friendliness in you and at the same the difficult being that you are. I love your dance and at the same time the flaws. 

he found peace and solace

What my heart felt

I believe love is binding together of all perfections and imperfections of two souls. If it’s too perfect then it can’t be love. That way it would be become too boring and the love will slowly find its death. The beauty of it lies in it only. What’s the point of happiness if there is no sorrow…what’s the point of day if there is no night…what’s the point of good if there is no bad. Imperfections bring a sense of realism to everything. The most important thing would be how we use all these to our advantage…to our bond…to our relationship.

“I feel there isn’t any spark. We don’t have that connection and on top of that I am myself not sure what I am actually looking for”, she reasoned.

Irony of my life would be our relationship getting burnt when there was no spark in it 😦

I Continued, “It took a lot in me to bring back to life that part which died 3 years back and I decided that I wont consider anyone to be my soul mate ever again. But with you I can see a future, I can see a way and above all I can see a life. If I can do that so can you. In any case you are going out to screen candidates for a perfect arranged marriage. In the first couple of meetings can you imagine kissing someone, that spark might be there…but how would you make sure of his nature, behavior and his real self? At least with me you don’t have to make any guesses. You know who I am or is it going to be another case where a guy who is friends with someone for so long, will lose out just because he was a genuine dear friend.”

I thought people seek someone who never asks them to change and accepts them the way they are. I have heard many of my friends complain that they have found a husband and he loves them but they haven’t found a friend in him. I totally believe that if there is love and no friendship then a marriage might flounder but if there is a strong bond of friendship between a couple where they can share each and everything with their partner without the fear of being judged, a marriage can withstand any storm.

“You do not understand my point of view. I can’t force myself to love you or even like you”, she was beginning to sound desperate. I listened to her reasons but they weren’t making sense…I guess for the first time I was finding it really hard to decrypt the fairer and better gender.

I tried to reason her out, “See in 99% of the cases when two people fall in love with each other, its always that one person falls in love and then woos and convinces the other.” We fall in love with our puppy or the recently gifted sapling. It’s all in the mind. It just takes one thought to be in love with someone.

I could sense that she was now very edgy and was beginning to lose her patience. We got up from the bench and headed towards the car.

You won’t believe but this year whatever decisions I have taken were totally based on us. I have not been able to make the next career move because you are not sure how you want us to proceed.

I am ready to love you with all what I have…with all what I am. And if you don’t know it I am already in so much love with you. I want us to dance together, to travel to see the world together, to laugh together, to fight together, to make each other feel safe, to complete each other and to grow old together, and in the process to love each other so that our bond of friendship grows forever.

“I cannot imagine kissing you”, she shouted back irritatingly while putting car in the top gear.

There was silence in the car after that. After a while she said in a dejected tone, “Now you will go quite”. I shyly mentioned, “I am thinking…”

We reached her place. I chose its better to bid goodbye and let her be happy the way she wants to be. I leant forward placed a safe kiss on her forehead, tightly hugged her and whispered; ”All I wanted was a chance and I really wanted this to work…anyway…this is the final time that we are seeing each other”.

I turned around…got on my bike…with moist eyes…had a joyless smile on my face, which echoed with my broken heart…rode away.

Image Ref: Poetry Language

Image Ref: Poetry Language

For all those who have suffered heartbreaks,

For all those who are with their love,

For all those who are friend zoned,

For all those who still can’t convince her,

And

For all those who smile in that pain…

It’s not a GoodBye…

But It’s a GOOD BYE

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

 

1

God is a Gamer – Book Review

Cover - God is a Gamer

Cover – God is a Gamer

God is a Gamer – Book Review

Author: Ravi Subramanian

Reviewed by: Manas Mukul

Price: 299 INR

Pages: 310

ISBN: 978-0-143-42139-9

My Rating: 3/5

 

My affair with reviewing thrillers and murder mysteries continues and I am really thankful to Blogadda to keep blessing me with one of these every other month without charging me anything. I have never read Ravi Subramanian before, though this is his sixth outing, I know for sure he has an undying love for keeping banking and financial services as a backdrop for his novels. And I could make all this just from the titles of his previous works where the word ‘Bank’ will feature in some way or the other.

My Review:

The cover of the book again has an international look and feel to it as there is a pic of White House with the shadow of a Julian Assange kind of figure overlooking White House. This is the first time any Indian writer has tried to play with ‘Bitcoins’ in any form, in fact God is a Gamer is publicized as the first Bitcoin thriller. I believe it has lot to do with Ravi Subramanian’s two decade old background in Banking Industry and he wants to bring out every shade in a thrilling format what this industry can offer to us.

The back cover page highlights, ‘What Happens When You Cross Gamer, Banker, Politician and Terrorists with Virtual Money’, so be prepared for a lot of action and a lot of characters. The book begins with the murder of a US Senator that too in an unholy manner where his car is blown into pieces. Like many characters, the story moves around a lot of locations as well. The chapters keep bouncing between these locations. I recently reviewed Private India where there was a central character and the story moves from his perspective and based on his actions and investigation. In God is a Gamer you won’t find that, at least I didn’t. The story kept juggling among the characters and it was left on the readers from whose perspective they wanted to move forward.

The story has a tremendous pace to it. If you are a regular reader you might end up finishing this one in one sitting. The vocabulary to my surprise was very mediocre but to me that’s a positive as it helps the story to move at a faster pace and you are never interrupted wondering about the meaning of any word.

The biggest positive which I felt was how Ravi used the underlying theme of banking and how he intermingled it with politics, drugs and even gaming companies. There is a good use of knowledge of IT technologies which also adds spice as it keeps your brain ticking while you are already engrossed in unearthing the killer as well as the conspirer. The very fact that how gaming companies these days are using social media to gain mileage over rivals in itself tells us that it has a very modern day feel to it, which everyone can relate to.

Though it’s racy and lot of locations, technologies and newer terms with proper information and explanation have been used I felt as if there were too many characters with too many sub plots. There were characters and names which were mentioned, you took a mental note of it only to find out later that it was non-existent for the outcome. The quality of a thriller should be that the buildup should increase the excitement and when the truth comes out one should be shocked as well as ‘goosebumped’.  God is a Gamer will disappoint you in that respect. You might even get a feel that you predicted the end. The buildup was good, which was helped by the impressive pace of the story but the climax for me was a bit rushed where the shock’n’surprise element was missing.

I am going with three out of five for Ravi Subramanian’s God is a Gamer for the simple reason that it could have been way…way better keeping in mind all the characters and locations that were added to the mix. Nonetheless, it’s a racy, informative and a good thriller.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

6

A Tale of Malabari Chicken Curry and Two Tomatoes

A Tale of Malabari Chicken Curry and Two Tomatoes

‘Bhaiya it’s my birthday!!! Please make that special Malabari Chicken Curry for me na…Please’. My cousin was after my life. Ok…ok…don’t do this Emotional Attyachar…I’ll prepare it…but I am only doing this because it is your birthday.

I poured myself an extra large of ‘Kala Kutta’ (Black Dog) and took out the necessary two tomatoes from the fridge. He again started, “Bhaiya!! No one in your family consumes chicken…so how come this knowledge of ‘Malabari’ Chicken Curry…hmmm…bolo bolo.” He immediately sensed it that I was not at ease with this question. The best I could manage was a smile…emptied one (more) large in a single go and began…

Few years back…

‘Ladies and gentlemen! Our next performer is surely going to take your breath away. When she moves…even her eyes dance with expression…and please get hold of an armor…as her smile is for sure going to stab your heart and take your life away ;). Please put your hands together for our very own Malabari Tomato’, the anchor announced. Actually, I was the one who gave her that name as every time I looked at a tomato…they always reminded me of her pink chubby cheeks. (Sorry can’t mention her real name)

He disappeared behind the curtains. Slowly the lights faded…the huge maroon curtains, which were hiding her from me, sluggishly began to move apart. She didn’t have a clue that I was a part of the audience…not even to this day. Several spotlights began to bathe her in various colors. It was a scintillating sight.

The music reached our ears…it was a malayali song and my Malayalam being so awesome that apart from that I could not make out what a single word meant. Some other guests told me that it was a mallu song…otherwise I didn’t have a clue 😉 . She was at her graceful…stunning best in a blue sari. She had this uncanny ability of carrying off a sari from her school farewell days. On those particular days…elegance…poise and grace became her best buddies (read biggest virtues). She was the one who in stored my faith in the fact that a girl can look her superlative in a sari too with the perfect spice up of seduction.

She commenced. Her moves…her dance…made it appear as if she was effortlessly floating like a mermaid. She was glittering more than all the jewelry she wore…but it was her big brown eyes that outshone every jewel. Every time she smiled…it gave an instant kick…with a high that lasted longer than any intoxicants. It was literally impossible for me to take my eyes off her…actually no one was able to. That very instance a thought whispered to me. If ever I am going with a dancing partner…she should be her, if ever I am going to marry anyone…she should be her and if ever I am going to love anyone…she should be HER. My heart without informing anyone…even me…was now already in love with her. But I could never muster the courage to let her know how much I loved her pure soul…that had the innocence of a nine year old and maturity of someone way beyond her ages. To add up to my woes, I knew she was already in love with someone else. He being a mallu…I gave myself no chance and hence never confessed my love to her. I was just content cherishing the friendship that we had.

Dancing Tomato

Dancing Tomato

Years flew…

By now, she had a blog…sorry two blogs. One was dedicated to her cooking and the other – for her real self. I feel that these days’ urban girls are more of a food blogger and less of a cook (no offence to anyone). There was no chance in hell that I was not following her on them, as it became the only medium to get to know about her after college. She was like that old coffee addiction…no matter how many times you have had it…the addiction never fades away…and yeah…I was addicted to her.

One day She wrote a poem…a real heartbreaking one…a rare tearjerker even for the Joker. I immediately guessed it what the reason could be. But me being I…again was ditched by confidence and courage to man up myself and walk up to her and let her know that I have always loved her and I am always there for her in any and every sense she wishes me to be.

A year later…

The moment my flight landed…I switched on my mobile phone and messaged her, ‘I am in your city’. I literally had to dig deepest inside me to find this much mettle and character to make this day actually happen. I had to meet her…I had to tell her how much I care for her…how much I love her…how much I need her…before its too late.

Two hours later I was standing outside her home. I rang the doorbell. From behind the door I was very easily able to make out her childish squeaky voice. ‘Who’s there’, she shouted. With no response…she opened the door. For seconds she wasn’t able to recognize me as in these years, I had gone from a Hrithik Roshan (Hair wise) to a Anupam Kher. She was taken aback…the moment she realized…or I should say…she recognized me. Fighting hard with her emotions and trying to resist her tears…she finally gave in…and gave me the warmest hug ever. Time did not have any effect on her eyes…on her cheeks…on her hair…on her fragrance…on her smile…even on her mallu accent…every thing was just the same. For me… time simply stood still

After catching up with some college ‘gupshup’ and what she was up to these days…she immediately remembered that she hasn’t served me anything. She forced me to have lunch and then go back. She even tempted me by saying that she was going to prepare my favorite malabari chicken curry, which she always got for me during college days. I questioned her, ‘How come the recipe for this is not on your blog?’It’s a secret recipe which has been passed on for generations in our family’, she replied. I pleaded her to share it with me…and to my surprise she agreed today. She gave me two tomatoes of average sizes and told me that to get that perfect taste one needs to put two tomatoes of these sizes.

The moment I took the bite…the years started rolling back…tears started finding their way from my eyes to cheeks and to the plate. I confessed why I was there…and what I felt for her over the years with utmost honesty. She simply smiled through her moist eyes and said I knew this all along…but I guess it’s too late. Her eyes guided me to her marriage portrait on the wall at the bottom of which was inscribed, ‘who needs a prince charming when I am already married to a soldier’. I looked back at her…couldn’t swallow any more bite…the lump in my throat was eating me from inside. I was trying desperately hard to hide behind a teary smile…my stupidity…of not noticing that portrait the moment I entered that room. I was too mesmerized to be in her presence that for a moment forgot a world still existed outside this room.

She moved close to me…way too close…held my face in her hands…trying to wipe off the salt water at the same time. She said ‘Hold me…close to you’. She leant forward…our tears met…our eyes met…our lips met…and we met. She shattered me back to reality…before my hands could ignite anything in her, by saying, ‘I am a loyal wife’. My already broken pieces of heart were now further broken…

Life again made a mockery of me…Destiny again was laughing at me…God again was playing with me…and the joker again was smiling through me…

Every night just wanted to sit next to her…be invisible (if given a special power) and see her type the chats…see her expressions…see her big eyes move more than her lips…remove those strands of hair which disturbed her while she worked…listen to her endless talks in her childish malabari accent…sleep with her head on my chest. The next mornings prepare for her, her favorite coffee before she gets up…give her a forehead kiss before I leave for work everyday…and simply be a part, however small it may be, of her life for the rest of my lifetime.

Today when I miss her…I pour myself endless pegs while I m cooking the same Malabari chicken curry with two tomatoes. Read her blogs…look at her graceful saree pics…her eyes…her smile…her hair…mixing the salt on my cheeks with the bitterness in my mouth…till I the time I start seeing her…and…simply go numb.

For all those who love to dance,

For all those who love tomatoes,

For all those who love Malabari chicken curry,

For all those whose love is still hidden in them,

For all those who have confessed it to their love,

And

For all those who still go numb…

Its not a GoodBye…
But it’s a GOOD BYE…aur han…this one is purely fictional 😉

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul