Book Review: Love across a broken map is searing portrait of emotions

Standard

Book Review: Love across a broken map

Genre: Short stories from The Whole Kahani/anthology across Asia

Copyright Dahlia publishing

Rating: Four stars

Introduction:

In the foreword, Susmita Bhattacharya describes Love across a broken map as a collection of short stories spanning across the South Asian diaspora.  It’s not just an anthology but a stream of human emotions expressed through the stroke of pens touching lives and imaginations. The various descriptions are vivid, be it portraying migrants nestled in a new home in London and craving for this staple diet called love or coming face-to-face with destiny.  In short, the anthology of short stories finds its earnest place in the reader’s heart on account of the honest and sensitive expressions.

Blurb:

From London to Goa, Manchester to Mumbai, tales that span start-ups, girl crushes, virtual gigolos, obsessive fans and astrological mishaps. This eclectic mix of short stories from The Whole Kahani explores love and loss across the dividing lines of culture, race, and ethnicity. Love is celebrated, broken and forgotten; is embraced and remembered in this collection of stories of heartbreak and resilience.

More can be read here.

Narration:

The collection unfurl with ‘Watermelon Seeds’ where writer CG Menon injects prose pocked with gentleness and playfulness at the same time in the engrossing tale through the believable characters.  Alex Caan’s ‘Rocky Romeo’ stirs the taste bud in this heart-pounding offering where the words flow in the vein in narrating the otherworldly life fleshed in the most humane possible manner. Love can strike in the hardest way in the virtual world in this terrible fable beautiful marrying the road for thrill and unexpected love.

The Nine Headed Ravan served by Radhika Kapur is a real cocktail about an unusual love story between two incomplete humans and afflicted by the chasm of emotions or destiny, for that matter. The author throws an emphatic look at the gap in our relationships or fate’s way of snatching our identity that deprives individuals of becoming a whole entity.  It’s one of my favorite stories for the author doesn’t take the run-of-the-mill route but touches the story with a dash of realism, human emotions running high and the engrossing end in the quest for love built with a strong message about the heart’s peculiar way of joining the dots.

‘Three Singers’ is about well, three singers where Kavita Jindal weaves a compelling tale through her riveting language and effortless narration. You just cannot afford to put down this tale. Jindal has a rich language and the detailing in her repertoire, thus making it unique about the twin sisters and the subdued jealousy vying for love. The end comes as surprise but sensational in this down-to-earth story and refreshing story that captures the mind.

The anthology boasts of several heartwarming stories, right from Mona Dash’s ‘To London’ that gently reminds us that love needing no reason or logic. This impossible love story can get intense, repulsive and soothing at the same time which leaves a searing impact on the soul. Iman Qureshi’s ‘Naz’ brings an edge and rare intensity in depicting the gamut of feelings that we hide on the fear of being judged.  The story expresses the shady and dark sides of life’s various facets while at the same time, lending a ubiquitous charm and sensitivity to same-sex attraction. There is Rohan Kar’s ‘We are all made of stars’ who touches the issue of stars and planets in relationships and its violent bearing or the place of an independent woman in our society as well as the fact of coming to terms with the unpleasantness.  Reshma Ruia’s ‘Soul Sisters’ deserves to be read to understand the various nuances of human emotions and the therapeutic approach that effectively deals with darkness and disappointment.

Shibani Lal’s ‘Entwined Destinies’ is about the father-daughter bond where the theme of sacrifice captures the heart. Our relationships are precious so are our dreams, aspirations, and destiny that spans across generations. The book ends with ‘By Hand’ penned by Farrah Yusuf where loneliness is showcased as painful and the end of everything is the only reality.  It’s a heart-wrenching tale that makes one wonder about the fallacy of human existence.

Final Words:

Love across Broken Maps is a collection of short stories and it gets tricky to pick faults in the individually penned stories spanning across continents. The authors have offered a bouquet of emotions and relationships set most in England where hearts are strummed together and bearing souls open.  A commendable effort on the part of the various authors in narrative sensitive tales about lives, and unpeeling the layers of expression, love which is unrequited at times,  pain, angst and dreams to conquer ourselves and the world we live in.

You can click on the Amazon link to buy the book and click here for more information.

Love

V

Advertisements

Love melts and fizzling emotion

Standard

Love and emotions are popcorn,

let it melt inside the tongue,

for it will burst or fizzle like the colas,

joy is momentary,

craving for someone,

ice cream kiss,

enjoy it before it melts,

every drop of water counts,

love,

relationships,

passion,

burn the regret,

flush it down the drain,

time cannot be reclaimed,

be young and reckless,

again,

yes, you heard it right,

there is no age to love and lose,

be an emotional wreck,

so what!

avoid this trap,

they love to tell us lies,

dare and break bones,

conquer the heart,

trudge fearlessly,

bury the failures,

never shy,

fall in love over and again,

love

V

 

 

 

 

Mojo of heart break

Standard

Soak in the muddy mess,

untie the mind’s laces,

declutter the wings,

the love that wasn’t meant to be,

bury everything,

feed the pigeons with the disappointment,

sprinkle the tears in the ocean

the heartbreak will sway to your tune,

make it your mojo,

no love is too big to lose,

press the heart,

carve a house of free abandon,

let the hurt flow,

heal the bruise with mud,

make the pain a sheer joy and madness,

you’ve dared and love,

regret is another name for barely living,

burn the dead corpse,

residing with the ghosts,

no past is haunting,

it’s your moksha.

Love

V

 

 

Left Right…Romance Chowk: Panda love and Anarkali

Standard

Chapter 6: Panda love and Anarkali

“Abe Anarkali, at least say something? Why are you acting pricey like a mehenga bride and I am no sasta Dulha,” Sejal ruffled his hair. He gave her cold stares. He pushed her hand away from her. Mann shunned her and was in no mood to speak.

“Don’t you dare to touch my hair or come an inch near me or I will call aunty?” he warned her. She was unfazed by his empty threats and dared him by walking seductively in her shorts, moving an inch closer to him. Sejal eyed him like a tigress lusting on its prey. Mann almost shouted like a child, “Aunty…”

She was amused and grinned. “Let it be. I am not going to molest you in any case and drag you on the bed. Cry babies should be left on their own. You such a girl, Mann.” He protested, “It’s so racist and sexist. How can you speak like that?”

“Whatever,” Sejal muttered. “Ab agey bhi kuch toh bol. I ain’t going to sit in silence and please stop this tear jerking sullen act.”

“Why did you do that?” Mann sat cross faced in front of her.

“I did what?” she was perplexed.

“Don’t you try to change the topic and pretend to be innocent? We lost our sleep and courted danger to find you sitting inside the train on the Monsoon Day when the city was sinking. Is this your idea of fun? One rainy night, to run away and sit inside a train compartment that was filled with water. Are you aware how worried aunty was?”

She became silent and suddenly broke into a cackle. “You are such a cute chamcha! Abe oye! My Mom’s chamcha. What do you think that you got a legitimate fuck entry into my house as the official damaad.” She pinched his cheek. “You look like such a sweet little munchkin yaara. I couldn’t imagine that you are so stuck with this rain incident and in the end, like filmi people, we did smooch. Guys will be guys.”

Mann exuded a faint smile and went point-blank. Deep inside, he was trying to be pricey and putting an act pretending to be all hurt since Sejal didn’t bring up the topic of the monsoon tryst.

“Stop behaving like Dadaji,” she told him. “There is a big secret behind me sneaking out in the rain to go sit inside the train with a book as companion. See! I love thrills and adventure.”

She made a straight face and pressed her naked feet on him. “I am a bit, just little bit ashamed for that day but you saved my life braving danger.  I am sorry for putting you and Maa through all this. You love me a lot, na.”

Mann slowly moved his face an inch away from her. “Tell na. What are you being so shy? You became my Dabbang hero on that day and putting your life at risk to save me from the water. I was shit scared that both of us would never be able to make it.”

“Oh! Wow! Lara Croft you are. You had the time to think about us while drowning,” he teased.

“You see. I am a thoughtful girl friend. And, you were cross with me. Acha sorry yaar. What else do you wanna me do now? Uthak Bhaitak like a monkey,” Sejal flashed a bright smile. “At least tell that you love me, na,” she was eager to hear him spell the three-letter words.

Mann breathed in and out. “No! I was saving you and not to take Paap of letting a girl die. I am in love with Shaina.” Sejal turned her face abruptly and her voice rose, “Now who the fuck is Shaina?” It felt like a pinch inside her heart.

It was his turn to laugh gleefully. “My neighbor’s pet dog. Of course, I love you, idiot.” Sejal pushed him on the bed, pressed his chest with her leg and pump fisted him on the stomach. Both wriggled and rolled with each other between laughter and cuddled each other. She smacked him on the mouth and whispered, “It’s a secret that I am going to tell you. The day I sneaked out to sit inside the train…”

He moved his eyes furtively to ask in a hush and seductive tone, “What’s your train secret?” She dragged him off the bed, “Now! Let’s go out and unravel the mystery. Another clue, the secret destination lies in a public glare.”

Mann protested that they were not able to make out, “You are such a kabab me Haddi’ and to which she responded, “That I am! I promise you the spicy sex if we unravel the mystery together. Well! It’s not over and patience will reap the fruit, my dolled panda.” She scratched his nose.

Love

V

Left, Right…Romance Chowk: Drip of stormy love

Standard

Left, Right…Romance Chowk

Chapter 5:

The car wiper was stuck. Mann lunged towards the front seat and grabbed the dusty garment to wipe the window sheet. The cab slowly ambled its way towards Churchgate but hit a dead-end to wage a battle against the water raging its might. Water seeped inside the car that soon replicated into miniature version of a swimming pool.

The two car occupants, Mann and the car driver impassively watched people stranded, kids doing a somersault and flowing on a container substituting for a boat that turned the road into a vast sea expanse.  The driver was having a tough time, igniting the battered engine to life that screeched and timidly lurched ahead. Wrong signal. The water escalated like a rush of electrical wave and ran wild on the otherwise busy road at Eros Theater.

The black umbrellas mushroomed on the road past 2 a.m and flapped open, thrust forward and backward where people had a tough time holding on to. The car again battled the rush of water spurting under its wheel. The phone battery was almost done and Mann managed to make a call to Sejal’s Mom.  “Aunty! I cannot speak much since my phone is dying. I have reached Churchgate but we are stuck. It seems like it will take me another hour to reach your house,” his voice wobbled with emotions.

The TV reporters clumsily walked inside the flood to report and stood on their naked feet with their pants rolled till the knee, battling the heavy rain and cloud outburst to report live on the state of the city. There was panic everywhere. It was may hem everywhere. The car engine conked. There was no way it would leap to life.

The police were trying their best to help stranded citizens who were lost and moving in various directions with difficulty to find shelter under the roof of nearby restaurants, hotels and the station. Together, Mann and the car driver held to each other’s arms to wriggle their way in the water and crossed the road for shelter.

As Mann trudged inside the water that ran deep till the knee, the cab driver called, “Sambhal ke Jaana.” They exchanged sympathetic glances and smiles, a rare luxury in Maximum City. A tale of two humans and strugglers in the city who understood each others’ emotions without uttering a single word despite coming from two extremely different background.

Mann tried to find his balance by walking slowly in the water, battling the fear of being carried away by the waves when a cop held his hand and escorted him towards Churchgate. Sejal’s Mom was waiting in front of the gate housing the line up of plush apartments and she hugged him. “Are you okay, Beta? Let’s get inside the car,” she was on the verge of tears.

The car slowly trudged inside the water that made a splash like a stormy river. “Where are we going to find her?” her voice choked with emotion. “Pray that nothing will happen to her,” tears welled on her face.

The vehicle slowly ambled. It was dark everywhere. Mann called the emergency number but no one was picking up. He tweeted and sent a message on Facebook with the picture of Sejal. It was 3 a.m in the morning. The status and tweets were shared zillion times.

“Where to find her?” she stammered. Mann scratched his hair and tilted his head towards the rooftop of the car. He urged the car driver, “Bhaiya, let’s move towards Churchgate station.” The driver nodded. The tide was growing at every second. It was a five minutes distance but the car was stuck for almost one hour and the wheels turning into a ship flowing in the water.

The deserted road resembled the cramped space in the city pocked with vehicles, from cars to black-and-yellow taxis and a Best Bus all flowing together in a chaotic manner like the serpentine queue. Car drivers honked blaringly in sheer desperation. The vehicles were zigzagging inside the water from left to right and entangled in a circle. They were stuck inside the car, sandwiched between vehicles across all sides that felt as if a wall has been built.  It was impossible for the driver to thrust forward or pull back.

The car stood parallel to the platform facing gate and next to the yellow and brown local taxied on the railway track drenched into a vast pool of water. There was chaos inside the station packed with the seamless crowd mushrooming like eggs in a nest sprawled with tensed faces running amok and screaming for help. Battered faces, whispers and angry voices howled with palatable tension, wondering on how to get out of this mess.

Mann furtively looked around and his eyes cocked towards the road and railway station, silently longing for the sight of Sejal.  He fixed his gaze towards the train that was filled with commuters who couldn’t get out on the platform that was filled to the brink with water. A face struck him. He looked again and was bewildered. Sejal was sitting on the seat and her head buried inside a book. She was sitting in a casual manner and unperturbed about the city drowning and rain water spurting like electric waves.

He gently touched the shoulder of Sejal’s Mom, “Aunty, look there,” he pointed out to the train. She was flabbergasted and speechless. “Look at her. I can’t believe it.  We are so worried and she is casually reading a book inside,” she heaved.

“I wonder how we are going to walk past the water to save her.  Sejal! Sejal!,” her Mom lunged out. The voice went unheard and lost to the noise.  Mann yanked the door open, dithered at the water flowing till his inch and saw a long cardboard flowing in the water. He didn’t think twice and thrust his body that landed straight on the moving object. Mann held tightly to the cardboard and pushed it as if it’s the gear of a car, pressed hard planking his body on it to wriggle his way till the stairs of Churchgate station.

Mann stormed inside the station, battling the crowd of people and pushing his way between them to leap inside the train. She was oblivious to the voices and his presence. He pressed her arms and she almost yelped. “You! Almost scared me like that,” Sejal protested. Mann berated her, “You got the nerves to  complain when the entire of Mumbai is sinking under the water and the whole world is stranded.  Your Mom is in tears, sitting inside the car and I travelled on a dirty cupboard like a fish in water.”

“Oh! Yeah! That’s why you are completely wet. Dude! You are not wet. You look like a water man,” she appeared nonchalant. “Let’s go,” Mann dragged her out of the train. The tide was growing and spiralling like a tornado. Sejal and Mann clutched to each other, trying to get out through the main platform but the waves shook them as they took steps back and waded through the small door at platform No. 1.

The water was roiling like a steam bath on the road. Both of them were tensed and figuring out how to find their way inside the car that was stationed within a touching distance. They stood on the stairs and in the flick of seconds a flash of current waves knocked them off their perch that dragged Sejal inside the storm. She howled and shouted, ‘Help’. Mann flung his body inside the water and held to her fingers. The violent waves pushed him away from her and she was thrust to a faraway distance. His body spun in the water from right to left. He hollered, ‘Help! Help! Help!’

Battling the angry water that run above the knee, he struggled to stand on his feet in a stiff position to fight the angry waves. He lost control of his body that jerked backwards towards a hard object. A dash of hope surfaced. It was a motorcycle that lay abandoned against the wall. Mann removed the stand with force and held on the bike that stumbled inside the water and hit the pavement filled with water. He sat on the bike and pushed it with all his might.

Sejal was struggling inside the water and nearly tripped before getting up again. She was choking. Mann caught sight of her and was unsure what to do to save her since he didn’t want to lose the bike that would shield both of them.  He twisted his back in a reclining position and tightly held to the handle as he fell along with the bike inside the water and struggled to hold the fingers of Sejal.  The huge machine pressed his body. He was reeling in pain and stretched his hand to clutch her palm.

Sejal hands loosened away from him and he struggled to unfetter himself under the bike’s clutches. Mann limped his way towards Sejal and almost swam in the water covering the road. She was moving further away from him and was carried by the tide.  He pressed his hand to the ground to find his balance, wading through leaves and mud, battling his way and being hit by objects on the body.

It was a battle against the storm. Sejal’s body twisted and recoiled like a snake. Mann saw a wheel flowing and flung it towards Sejal who held to it by using the feeble force inside her. He finally held one side of a wheel flowing in the water and pressed her hands tightly. Mann shouted, “Don’t worry about me. Fucking put your head inside the wheel.”

He pushed the wheel and pressed Sejal’s back towards the wall, covered her with his body. She was choking. Both were tightly holding to each other. He kissed and hard pressed her back. The water has reached their necks and they exuded relief to see the rescue team of police and citizens taking a dive into the water. They were ushered towards a safe spot on the pavement coated with red bricks.

Their lips sat passionately tight on each other and curled together in the monsoon drip. They stopped in their track and smooched again. Sejal and Mann embraced each other and oblivious to Sejal’s Mom standing silently behind them. They smiled sheepishly. Sejal held on to her mother like a child guilty of a crime. Mother and daughter wiped each other’s tears with their hands.

 

 

Love

V

 

 

Unclip the wings, dreams and undampened spirits

Standard

to conquer dreams and soar in the sky,

never asked for extravagant,

humble dreams and aspirations,

to make it big,

years have passed,

battered I may have been,

weakened and bruised,

the desire to win may have calmed down,

knocked I am,

slowly getting up on the heel,

ready to run,

dare you,

come and beat my spirit,

undampened enthusiasm,

the heart is young,

raring to fall in love again,

no age to fuck up,

unclip the wings,

soar in the sky,

dream catcher,

holding the stars in the hand,

the destination is waiting for me,

i still dream,

make paper boats to carry me in the storm,

keep dreaming,

stay inspired forever,

falling in love,

tripping,

chasing the aimless.

PS: Dhadak Dhadak is one of my favorite songs in the college days and it inspired this poem taking me back to those days. It still inspires me to chase dreams.

With love

V

 

Left, Right…Romance Chowk: Chapter 3

Standard

Chapter 3: Stony trip, flying balloons and the invisible woman

Sejal almost panted and exuded a sense of relief when she successfully thwarted Mann’s questions on her estranged Dad. She was reluctant to confess how she abhorred her Dad who left her mother in the lurch and took a mistress who was half his age. She was a new-born baby who made the cradle her universe.

It was sheer luck that Mann didn’t prod her on the family, mother and her half-brother after whom she secretly lusted. She wanted to seek revenge on her father by playing hide-and-seek and tried to seduce her half-blood brother by using her body as a bait to get even. The last time she wore a short skirt and dropped something on the floor to reveal her legs in a move to glaringly distract his attention by moving her tits and boobs. It pissed her when the half-brother from another mother didn’t react to her sensual gaze. The last thing that Sejal wanted was to have a face-off between Mann and her estranged half-brother. Revenge has always been playing on her mind but not in a tragic fashion to breed jealousy or conflict between this brother and Mann. It was the last thing that she wanted or else, her carefully laid plans would have gone for a toss.

It rained heavily that night. She slouched on the bed and emptied the tobacco to fill it with ganja leaves. Sejal expertly rolled the ganja leaves inside after rummaging to remove the dirt where everything was spread on the morning Bombay Times supplement. She took a drag deep down, wafting through her nostril and the sensation running high inside her body. The water rattled on the window bar and she enjoyed listening to the plopping sound outside. It gave her a high. She took another drag and glugged the Old Monk Rum mixed with Cola. The rum taste swirled around her tongue which was her favorite exercise as she thrust her long leg on the wooden bed handle. She sat in her short and caressed her leg. It gave her a high. There was something that occupied her mind and took another drag wondering how to solve the puzzle. Stoned to death, she burbled endlessly to herself and fidgeted with her phone when a WhatsApp message flashed. It was Mann.

“Fuck,” she moaned. It completely slipped her mind that they were supposed to hang out together in his suburban apartment. He was irritated and pissed off. The phone buzzed but she cut it off several times. Sejal wanted to fling it outside the window when her fingers accidentally stumbled to pick up the phone.

“Hella,” her voice slurred. Mann first thought that he must have dialed a random number who substituted hella for hello. “Mannnn,” Sejal broke into a cackle. “Sorry,” she coaxed him. “I forgot my munchkin.” He was bewildered but got it that she was high under ganja. He gently said, “You having the shit without me baby.” Sejal felt that she was traveling in the air and spoke in lyrical tone, “You know! I am seeing condoms in the air and spurting in the rain like blown balloons. I am whispering in its ear…you know condom can listen and that’s how we fuck,” she palavered. “Baby blow inside the condom to release air and send me a love chit. Tab, you shout Kabutar jaa jaa and it will fly in the rain to pop in front of my window.” Sejal havered and rollicked in laughter.

Sejal weltered towards the hall and wadded to open the door, grabbing the house key from the table, almost tripping on her way out. The door was closed behind her. She oscillated from right to left, doing a zigzag of sort as she rifled her steps inside the elevator.

**********************************************************************************************************

An unknown number flashed on Mann’s cell phone and was wondering who was calling at this odd hour. He reluctantly picked up the phone when a worried female voice gently spoke, “Hello beta! I am Anita here, Sejal’s mum. When was the last time you spoke to her? Is she with you? I have tried her phone for the last 24 hours and she is not picking up. I am really worried. Please tell.”

It was raining heavily outside. The roads were dark and deserted. Mann braved the rain and after much convincing, he hailed the taxi after agreeing to pay the cabbie double fare. The car headed towards Sejal’s apartment. He tried calling but looks like the network was jammed. He sensed trouble.

Love

V