We Will Meet Again – A Review

We Will Meet Again by Tarang Sinha

We Will Meet Again

The Story

We will meet again is the story of Paridhi, a mass media student in Delhi. Life for Paridhi is all about course assignments, lost pen drives and urgent submissions. Harried and running against an unexpected deadline, she bumps into Abhigyan, a young, good-looking, wealthy young man – every girl’s dream. This meeting however isn’t one bit romantic. She meets him again at her best friend’s wedding. While he is clearly falling for her she is rude and angry and rebuffs him all the way. However, Abhigyan is not one to give up easily.

What I liked

Told in first person this is no-pretence young love story. There aren’t many twists and turns – no unbelievable coincidences, no unrelenting parents, no over-the-top drama. And for that I liked it.
The book has quite a few characters, along with the protagonists, and each one is well crafted, except perhaps Abhigyan’s mom, who is a bit of a stereotype.
I liked the relationship Paridhi shares with her sister (she comes home to find her sister wearing her T-shirt – that was sweet, I thought, and so true). In fact Paridhi’s entire family – her dad and her aunt – is very believable, one you’d find in any regular Indian home. And that makes the story real.
I enjoyed the descriptions of hostel life (reminded me of my hostel days) as well as the wedding hullabaloo. That was nicely done.

What I didn’t like

Editing remains a sore point. I found many a missing article and wrongly constructed sentences.
Given that it is in the first person, we get Paridhi’s point of view, we see her falling in love and yet holding herself back but we get nothing from Abhigyan. Why would a man lose his heart to a girl who is unexplainably rude? Again and again and again? I would have liked to know what made him fall in love with her.
I also have a complaint with the ending – it was too clichéd (Something I’ve seen in one of my favourite SRK flicks, too).

However, this one remains a clean easy romance that college students would enjoy or perhaps one that can be carried along on a trip.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

A Broken Man – A Review

A Broken Man by Akash Verma

A broken man

The story

A Broken Man is the story of Krishna, A Dalit boy from a small village in Bihar and his love story with a Brahmin girl Chhavi from Lucknow. The two are students at the Lucknow University, which is where they meet and fall in love. Forced to choose between Krishna and her father, Chhavi chooses her father. A broken-hearted Krishna makes his way to Mumbai with a box full of belongings and Chhavi’s recommendation for a job at an advertising agency. Then on, the story traces his journey as he makes his way from the ad-world to tinsel town.

What I liked

I begin with a disclaimer of sorts. I picked up this book because of its setting – my hometown Lucknow. And it scores a perfect six on that front. As the story took me through the campus, the departments I’d been to, the library I’d passed a thousand times, the restaurant I go to even now, it left me with a warm nostalgic feeling.

My personal liking apart, A Broken Man captures student life at the Lucknow University to a tee. The hullaballoo of the election, the speeches, the street plays, the student politics – all just as it happens.

While there wasn’t much to the story I did like the way it was told. The bits of Hindi poetry were beautiful, the little grandma’s stories that Chhavi picks, endearing.

Also, I loved how Chhavi remains a part of Krishna’s life, how he constantly summons her in his imagination at every significant point in his life – at each moment of doubt, at each victory.

What I didn’t like

Editing editing editing. I am wary of new Indian authors for this reason alone and A Broken Man proves my point yet again. Phrases like ‘KK took a waited look’ (What is a waited look??), ‘KK had eyes that ached of pain’a drink from the well-stuffed bar (how about ‘well-stocked’?), stand out like sore thumbs.

The narrative is teeming with adverbs (The author would do well to read Stephen King’s On Writing, a very useful book for writers, aspiring or otherwise) and repetitions.

Take this instance – The blurb reads ‘high caste Brahman girl’.  Either Brahman or high caste should suffice, specially on a blurb. Am I nitpicking? Maybe. But the thing is, it can get tiresome when it goes on page after page.

There is much ‘tell’ and less ‘show’.

Lastly there are some factual errors. I know this is fiction not fact, and allows for liberties, but because I applauded the book for its real-life representation of the University campus it is only fair I point out the flaws too.

One, A girl could never ever walk into a Lucknow University boys’ hostel in 90s. I’m not sure it’s possible even now.

Two, a Dalit boy cannot arrive in a village with an obviously high caste girl (‘she can’t pass off as a Dalit girl…. her skin glows like fresh milk’. The author’s words, not mine), be seen by the high caste men and go without comment or action. Nothing remains a secret in a village. She will most definitely not be left in peace to make out with the Dalit boy by the side of the pond in the middle of the night. Just not possible.

Then, there’s Mumbai. Without adding spoilers, all I’ll say is that the story in Mumbai, becomes overly simplistic and predictable.

In the end I’d call it a simple story that could have been better told – pick it or leave it.

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from Writers Melon in return for an honest and unbiased review.

Go Read a Book

Read a book

As I pack a gift for your friend’s birthday I hear you groan, “A book, again?” I hear it, though you think you’re being discreet, trying to spare my feelings. And yes, it’s going to be a book every time.

When you come to me and say. ‘I’m bored,’ I know you have your eye on the iPad. But all I say is, ‘Go read a book’.

When I start a book club I know you come for your friends (and for the cupcakes!) but I go ahead anyway. I invite your friends, I get the cup cakes and I pick out stories – of thrill and adventure, of children like you. And as we craft and play and eat and talk I quietly squeeze in Gaiman and Rowling.

I do it because I once made a promise.

Years ago, when I was a child like you, I had a somewhat drab existence. Until one day I fell in love – deeply irrevocably. This love of mine swept away the dreariness. It opened up a canvas wide and colourful and so very cheerful. It made me new friends – toys that could talk and little pixies, a Polish boy and a German girl, a mighty magician and a young ballerina – I shared their stories – their joys, their sorrows.

I had fallen in love with the written word.

Then one day, wonder of wonders, I found I could create a world of my own, my own colours and my own friends. And that filled me with such great joy. I was a creator, a little like God!

I had learnt to make up my own stories.

That is when I made that promise: that I’d never stop trying to share my love, that I’d help it touch each life it could, I’d help it help each one get wings and I’d help it make many little gods.

That’s a promise I’ll always keep and so I’ll try to get you to read.

I’ll push and I’ll wheedle, I’ll tempt and I’ll tease. And it’s not going to stop till you open a book, till you begin to read.

It’s the  very last day of the # BarAThon Challenge from 1st to 7th August 2016.
The prompt for today is ‘Promise’.
I am with Team #CrimsonRush

BAR-A-THON

 

 

Tweaking the tales

heart.jpgIf I had a wish to wish for me
I’d go on quite a wishing spree.
I’d ask to get into my favourite tales
Just to make sure they stick to the rails.
A little tweak here, a gentle twist there
And I’d save people from much despair.

When I’d see Romeo at Juliet’s grave
I’d jump right there in time for a save.
And “Thus with a kiss I die” as he says
And to his lips the poison raise,
Stop! Will you! She’s alive, I’d cry
There really is no need for you to die.

And when Darcy’s making his darned proposal
The one that earned Lizzy’s disapproval.
Tread here with plenty of care, I’d advise him
For goodness sake don’t be condescending.
Let your heart talk, the one that loves her
Lose your pride, that really bugs her.

When Scarlett is abandoned by Rhett all alone
I’d tell her he’d be back, he wasn’t all gone.
And while I’m there I’d give her a shake –
It’s him you love though he might be a rake.
Look carefully, will you open your eyes?
it was never Ashley, it’s Rhett who’s your prize .

Perhaps I’d drop by Jeeves for a chat
I’d tell him all my tales and hope for a pat.
He’d give his wise head a supercilious shake
Unimpressed he’d say, ‘That’s a piece of cake’.
Don’t want to spoil your congratulatory party
But I’ve been doing this for years for Bertie.

That’s true of course, his case he does rest,
As a setter-righter of things he’s the best.
All along this time that’s exactly what I’ve wished for
I want to be Jeeves to my favourite characters.

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

It’s Day 6 of the #BarAThon Challenge from 1st to 7th August 2016.
The prompt for today is ‘Wishful Thinking’.

I am with Team #CrimsonRush

BAR-A-THON

Also linking to  Mackenzie at Reflections from Me

The teacher

slice of life fiction

The Teacher

Sangita’s eyes drooped. Who ever said sleep deserts the old, she thought to herself, as she struggled to keep her eyes open. There was a time she could stay awake well past midnight, waiting for her husband to get home from his shift at the steel foundry. But now, come 10 o clock and she was asleep already.

Nani ma you need to pay ATTENTION!” Pia’s plaintive cry snapped her eyes open. This little granddaughter of hers – what a delight she was and how determined, just like her mom… and like me too. She smiled to herself. Oh the wars she had fought with Pia’s mom! There was the great tattoo fight and the late night curfew battles…..

Nani ma you are dreaming again.” Ah Pia..

“Come on. Hold the pencil like this and copy that first letter once more. Remember I told you it stands for the sss sound in your name? And that dot on top – that’s for the nnn.”

“Just three letters Nani ma and then you can sign your name,” enthused Pia, “Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Then you can learn to read. You can read up new stories to tell me.”

Sangita looked indulgently at the eager face staring up at her. She adjusted her glasses. She had been trying but those squiggly letters refused to make sense.
“I am too old for this, darling,’ she said with a sigh.
“But you say one is never too old to learn new things. You don’t know what you’re missing. Come on, take the pencil and try again, please,” begged her granddaughter.

She couldn’t say no to the fervent entreaty in the those honey brown eyes. Struggling to put herself in Pia’s tiny shoes, to feel at least some of her enthusiasm, Sangita wrapped her bent old fingers awkwardly around the pencil and began to write.

It’s Day 5 of the #BarAThon Challenge from 1st to 7th August 2016.
The prompt for today is ‘Tiny Shoes’.

I am with Team #CrimsonRush

BAR-A-THON

The Reader

Beat About The Book - fictionThe reader

Craft class was in progress. Forty girls sat on either side of a long table bent diligently over their embroidery frames. At the head of the table sat Ms Mathew, The Dragon. That’s what the students called her, for she breathed fire at the littlest opportunity.

Did I say 40? Well, I meant 39, for the 40th girl was not quite there. Sara sat right at the end of the table, with her head bent like the others, except she had no embroidery frame. On her lap rested an Enid Blyton and she was far far away in a land where a gorgeous tale was beginning to unfold.

DEAR BESSIE, FANNY, JO AND DICK,
We know that you don’t want any more adventures just yet, but you might like to know that there is a most exciting land at the top of the Faraway Tree just now.  It is the Land of Do-As-You-Please, even nicer than the Land of Take-What-You-Want. We are going there tonight.  If you want to come, come just before midnight and you can go with us.  We will wait for you till then.
Love from SILKY AND MOON-FACE

Midnight! This sounded dangerous… and exciting.

Oh go go go! urged Sara as she read on, her eyes shining brighter than those of the kids in the story. ‘The Land of Do-As-You-Please!! Wow! I’d eat honey pops and read all day‘, thought she turning over the page.

Of course the children decided to go – down the garden, through the lane, into the Enchanted Wood. Their torches shone in the moonless night. The forest was silent. Ominously so. Wisha wisha wisha whispered the mysterious trees.

An owl squealed and something ran across their feet.

The kids jumped and so did Sara, upsetting her neighbour, who pricked her finger, dropped her needlework and squealed louder that any owl ever could.

Tiny drops of blood were beginning to blot her young neighbour’s lemon yellow runner and before Sara could apologise she bawled, “OUCH Miss.. Sara pushed me and I hurt my hand, it’s bleeeeeding.”

O get on with it drama queen!‘ thought Sara, the apology dying on her lips, ‘It’s just a tiny prick for goodness sake!

She did try to look contrite but The Dragon was already bearing down upon them. Sara glanced at the book in her hand. Too late she realised she had no embroidery frame. Her heart sank right into her shoes. She would be caught red-handed.

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

I need to put in a few apologies: One to Enid Blyton for taking liberties with her writing. And two to Bernhard Schlink, for borrowing the title of his book although there is nothing similar between the two tales except perhaps, a love for the written word.

It’s Day 4 of the #BarAThon Challenge from 1st to 7th August 2016.
The prompt for today is ‘Caught Red Handed’.

I am with Team #CrimsonRush

BAR-A-THON

Fragile Lives

Beat About The Book - fiction

thoughts

It’s crowded in here. The good and bad, small and big, beautiful and ugly, jostle for attention, clamouring for life. Fragile lives, all. His attention means life, his disregard is oblivion, death. I am but a tiny germ, too weak to move – frail, nebulous – a beginning maybe, but nothing just yet. How is he is ever going to notice me?

I wait..

I dream.

Somedays I feel full of possibilities. I can grow up to be anything. A powerful king, a shy little boy, a drifting vagrant, a wily old woman.

Somedays I grow tired of this existence – this half existence. Am I destined to die before I’m born? Will my time ever come? Will he ever know I’m here… waiting? For in his knowledge lies my life.

And I wait..

One summer day as the yellow sun shines, I feel a surge of blood through my veins, red-hot blood. He sees me! It’s here, my time is here. I take a deep breath and I grow with his consciousness. I am growing …… taller, stronger.

He smiles at me. I fill his thoughts, taking shape and form. All others are now mere dwarfs before me. Then I’m walking, running, flying. He gives me wings. And I’m slipping out of my home, into a new world. A world he builds for me.

He is in falling in love with me. The knowledge makes me powerful. I give a triumphant laugh as I take charge. No longer fragile, I drive him now. He forgets to eat and to drink. He loses track of time. He sits lost to the world, consumed by me.

Is it days or months? Or has a year gone by? He does not know.

He looks up one day. “It’s done”, says he, “My book is done”.

That’s me, that fragile thought in his head. I am his book!

 

Day 3 of the #BarAThon Challenge from 1st to 7th August 2016.
The prompt for today is ‘Fragile Lives’.

I am with Team #CrimsonRush

BAR-A-THON