Literature, especially English litera-
ture has gained considerable limelight
in urban Indian society in the last de-
cade or so. Number of publication in
Indian English literature has gone up
many folds in the recent past. Fiction
by Indian authors, in particular, has
gained huge popularity.
Reasons for that are many. The new-
age digital platform has provided
many a social networking and blogging sites, encouraging
many to take up writing. In presence of an open publishing
platform, the limitations of the traditional publishing meth-
ods are cast aside. Starting out with tentative amateurish
writings, bloggers have gradually evolved and blossomed into
professional authors, able not only to hold their own but also
challenge the popularity of the veterans.
The changing socio-economic landscape, increase in buying
power has meant that the market of the published books has
become more lucrative. Publishers have in turn become more
open to the new breed of writers. Armed with this new found
confidence, many have chosen writing as a full fledged pro-
fession, leaving behind otherwise successful careers.
But perhaps there is a basic change in the writing industry (if
I may call it so). The new generation of media savvy writers/
publishers who are more focused on marketing, has a decisive
edge over the not so strong old war horses whose main weap-
on were their pen alone.
This has thrust upon all of us – the readers, the reviewers and
Storizen, the additional responsibility to consciously search
and promote meaningful literature.
Thank you for your patronage and overwhelming support.
We hope to be able to continue to promote and encourage
young aspiring authors to take Indian English literature to
new heights with your continued support and well wishes.
Trainee Sub Editor
The 1st ever action packed Annual Bangalore Comics
Convention organized by Comic Con India saw grand re-
sponse from fans from all age groups.
The two day fest was an effort put in to celebrate the love
for comics and give a boost to the Comic industry by in-
creasing local interaction and participation.
People were dressed in their favorite comic characters and
superhero costumes; Renowned Guests took Special Ses-
sions, there were over 10 book launches, tons of merchan-
dise & lots of activities.
So, you have this story bursting inside
of you, plots and sub-plots racing around
in your mind, vying for space. Yet, when
you finally get around to penning it
down, you find yourself stuck. So, what
are these intangible blocks that leave us
stumped one time or the other? Here’s a
quick list that I put together based on my
1. Procrastination: A variant form of
lethargy, procrastination tops the list
every time. Browsingthe internet or
slouching on thesofa while watching
TV seems tempting instead. But, no one
can teach you to discipline yourself. You
can take a horse to the water, but you
can’t make it drink. Not unless it wants
to. Push yourself to take that first step.
2. The Name Game: Are you one of those
who are so obsessed with the title, so
much so that you cannot pen down the
first word of the story until you have an
appropriate title in mind? No point in
fretting about it. If your naming kitty
is empty, look to friends for ideas.
Think of innovative ways to generate
names. Parents today even hold on-
line contests asking for baby names,
surely a story is no different.
3. Starting Trouble: Say you’ve got
characters, their intricacies and the
flow all lined up. Yet, you can’t de-
cide which incident to start with. If
you can’t make up your mind, put it
aside for the time being. Is there an
incident in your story which you feel
strongly about? Start there. Once
you start penning it down, sooner
or later, the start will fall into place.
You can always re-align the scenes
later as per your original sequence.
4. ‘Ender’ Bender: Have you read stories
that leave an unfinished taste in your
mouth? As if not enough work was
done to give it a smooth ending? I often
get stuck at Act III because I am not
sure how best to wrap up the story or
how effective my ending would be. Of-
ten I just ditch the story mid-way and
come back to it weeks later. If you’re like
me, explore different authors instead
– pay attention to the part of the story
which signifies the wrapping-up section
of the book. Try multiple endings. Get
reviews and constructive feedback.
5. Everything in the middle. Recently, a
writer friend of mine, was working on
a novella. Before she knew it she had
introducedunwanted flashbacks, irrel-
evant characters, and unnecessary de-
tours from the main plot. And then she
got stuck, unsure as to how to mould
the story back to the primary plotline.
It took a whole lot of rework to come
back to the primary plot. Instead, plan
your story well. Make a plot outline,
splitit into x scenes of y words each.
Expand each scene a little to note down
the main characters, the emotion, what
is expected from the scene, etc. This will
serve as a useful guide throughout your
6. Word count: I have known writers
to get stuck because of word counts.
Sounds strange, isn’t it? It happens
when you start out with a fixed word
count in mind but nothing more. And
then, one might end up stuffing un-
wanted details into the scenes simply to
fluff up the word count. Plotting and se-
quencing are essential activities to story
writing.Happenings should be engaging
enough to hold the reader’s attention
but a good amount of detailing also
helps in making the story come alive.
7. Negativity: There’s enough depres-
sion and sad news in the world today to
bog one down. This in turn affects our
mental state of mind andkills creativity.
Spend a little time righting the wrong
by doing your bit and force yourself to
spend the rest concentrating on your
8. I-m-Perfect syndrome: You want to
write the perfect story, I get it. But striv-
ing for perfection in the first draft and
driving yourself crazy in an attempt to
achieve that could end up in you ditch-
ing the idea mid-way. Get the first draft
down. Then work on perfecting it.
9. Social Media: Yes too much distrac-
tions from the much loved phenome-
non – Social media - Facebook, Twit-
ter, Google+, TV, Internet, Youtube
(especially sitcoms), even reading blogs.
There’s no dearth of distractions to pull
you away from what you really set out
to do. Again, self-discipline is the solu-
tion. Make a time schedule. Stick to it
10.Conflicting or Negative Feedback:
Don’t pull out your hair trying to sieve
through conflicting feedback. If you
find yourself in such a situation,I rec-
ommend following your instincts. You
know yourself and your writing styles
the best. Never say no to feedback,
especially the constructive kinds. But
picking and sieving through it will be
your responsibility. Blindly following
anyone’s feedback and incorporating
the same could end up doing more
harm than good. Use your judgment.
At the end of the day, remember.
This is how you do it. You sit down at
the keyboard and you put one word after
another until it’s done. It’s that easy, and
that hard. – Neil Gaiman.
Deepa’s stories have been published in two multi-genre an-
thologies - Ten Shades of Life and Kaleidoscope - both of
them fetching good reviews. Basically a fiction writer, she
also loves to write about experiences that mould her life!!
Thou shalt not take the cri-
sis/climax out of the protagonist’s
Comments: Make sure your hero
(protagonist) is the one which re-
solves the mystery in the end or as
a matter of fact, destroys the villain
in the end. The last thing you want
in your story is – It’s the last ball of
the match, 4 runs to win and your
hero is at the non-striker’s end.
Thou shalt not make life
easy for the protagonist. Noth-
ing progresses in a story except
Comments: Your hero has to over-
come hardships. If life is easy for
the hero, it will not be of much
interest to your readers. It doesn’t
matter whether his life is awfully
poor or extremely grand.
Thou shalt not give expo-
sition for exposition’s sake. Drama-
tize it. Convert exposition to am-
Comments: Do not give compre-
hensive descriptions and explana-
tions when it’s not needed. Instead,
dramatize it and make it count.
Thou shalt not use false
mystery or cheap surprise.
Comments: Be authentic. A fake
flower, no matter how similar it
looks to the real one, can’t emit
long lasting fragrance.
Thou shalt respect your
audience. The anti-hackcommand-
Comments: Your audience is not
stupid. Stop treating them as if they
Thou shalt know your
world as God knows this one. The
Comments: Be a master of your
domain. Research and make sure,
you’re second to none. Also, know
your characters as if they are your
children (or family members).
Write a quick story about each
of your characters from birth till
Thou shalt not complicate
when complexity is better. Don’t
multiply the complications on one
level. Use all three: Intra-personal,
Comments: Don’t over complicate
things for your hero or the story.
Don’t treat your hero as if he was
the protagonist of a ‘game’ where
he has to fight with increasing ar-
mory as the level progresses.
Thou shalt seek the end of
the line, taking characters to the
farthest reaches and depth of con-
flict imaginable within the story’s
own realm of probability.
Comments: Make sure you exploit
all the situations which makes your
hero weak, strong, sad, happy, etc.,
within the boundaries of your sto-
Thou shalt not write on
the nose. Put a subtext under every
Comments: These 3 words should
explain this. “Show, don’t tell”.
10. Thou shalt rewrite.
Comments: Never ship your first
draft. Someone said, “Writing is
If you don’t know Ravi Subramanian, then the best way to describe him would
be as someone who is in possession of a philosophers’ stone. Everything he has
touched, or got associated with, turns in to gold. For instance, when we did a vid-
eo on his book ‘The Bankster’ on Storizen TV, the viewership soared and till date
it has been the most watched video. When we asked, if he could take time out for
our magazine, he obliged enthusiastically.
The first questions that we asked him were about his IIMB days, were they
fun? To which he replied.
“The two best years of my life were spent at IIM-Bangalore. Small town
background, protective family, conservative values: I felt like a misfit on
day one. In the midst of super confident students from metros, it was not
too difficult to get intimidated. While keeping ones chin up was difficult, it
helped me evolve. I had to work harder for success, but when it came, the
same success was sweeter. By the time the first term ended, I was in the top
20 on campus. Not a mean achievement by any standards. I made quite
a few friends; many of them still remain friends. I owe a lot of what I am
today, to my days at IIM Bangalore. Having said that the writing streak
in me was not at all evident at that
time. Many of my classmates were
surprised when I wrote my first
book. I was not the literary kinds,
not at all. I was more of a fun loving
guy, always out to pull someone’s leg,
play a prank or two on others, listen
to the absolutely latest in Bollywood
at the middle of the night, that too
at peak volume – definitely not the
kinds you would associate with the
Ravi, who grew up in Ludhiana where
his parents were teachers at an engi-
neering college, was exposed to people,
language and culture that were dramati-
cally different from the one at his home
Interestingly, we also did an MBA spe-
cial episode of Book Samachar on Stori-
zen TV. This was also well applauded by
We next asked Ravi as to why bankers
and especially MBAs are taking tow-
riting, tell us why?
“I guess many bankers are losing
their jobs today. Guess writing is
an insurance against loss of job and
consequent income. On a serious
note, When I started writing, there
weren’t many banker / MBA au-
thors. Chetan Bhagat was one. And
may be a few others. But definitely
not the numbers that we see today.
To my mind, there are multiple rea-
sons for this change that is taking
place. Firstly, publishers, after tast-
ing success, are more receptive to
Indian Authors. I guess the market
was always there but supply to ful-
fill the need was not there. No one
was confident of publishing them
profitably. Now when publishers
are taking the lead, the writers are
responding enthusiastically. Second-
ly, the media glamourized authors.
Authors are beginning to be seen as
Intellectually glamorous now. And
the ambitious bankers / MBA’s see
this as a way to glory. Thirdly MBA’s
have been able to successfully stand
up and market their books well, a
bit shamelessly too. And this has
helped them build their own brands.
This leads me to the most import-
ant point, we as Indians always look
for role models. And when we see a
Banker / MBA become a successful
author, he or she becomes a success-
ful role model for many other bank-
ers or MBA graduates. And that
becomes a trend to follow.”
Ravi has spent close to two decades in
the financial services industry. After
having worked with companies such
as Citibank, HSBC and ANZ Grin-
dlays, Ravi is now the president and
chief executive officer ofShriram Group
(non-chit). He has brought in many
innovations at his work place, but we’re
curious to know about his writing ca-
When asked about “the trigger” to
write a full-fledged Novel, he said!
“Writing for me was a journey I
embarked on very late in my life. My
first book, “If God was a Banker”,
was pretty much my first attempt at
writing fiction. Yes, had written a
few short stories, a few poems when
I was a teenager, pretty much the
way most teenagers do. But serious
writing began with If God was a
Banker, in 2006.
The prime motivation behind writ-
ing a book was a bit philosophical. I
wanted to leave a legacy behind, to
be remembered. And I felt, at that
time, that long after I am gone from
this planet, a book in some library in
some remote corner of the earth will
remind people that someone by the
name Ravi Subramanian walked the
planet. No one remembers CEO’s,
put people do remember creative
outputs. All of us have certain quirks
in life, well this was mine.”
We asked him about his journey of “If
God was a Banker” (from writing to
getting a phone call from publisher)
and this is what he has to say!
“Publishers are busy people. They
seldom call back an author writing
his first book. Its always an author
who follows up. A few days back,
storizen.com | July 2013 | 17
a close friend and a fabulous writer,
PrakashIyer told me that he signed
his first book with Penguin after he
sent them a very brief concept note.
In my six year career as an author,
he is the only author I got to know,
whose first book deal got closed
out on the basis of a one page note.
Otherwise it is still a struggle un-
less you know someone at the top
or have birth marks at places deep
in the cervices of your body which
you yourself cannot see. (It is said of
such people that they are extremely
I do consider myself extremely lucky.
This is a story not many people
know. When I finished writing If
God was a Banker, I knew only one
author and that was me. I didn’t
know who to send the manuscript
to. From the publisher’s websites,
I got their email id’s and sent the
manuscript to those id’s. No re-
sponse. No acknowledgement either.
I was later told that this was the
norm. I was getting restless. I had to
do something about it, so I tried to
get Chetan Bhagat’s contact number,
to speak to him and get some gyan
on what to do. I stumbled upon a
press release of his and that had the
number of his publicist/PR – a girl
called Bhavna. I called her out of
the blue and she recommended that
I not speak to Chetan, but speak to
his publisher directly instead. And
she gave me Kapish Mehra’s (MD of
Rupa Publications) mobile number.
I thanked her and called Kapish.
The rest is history. Rupa moved real-
ly swiftly after that and If God was
a Banker deal was inked in three
Remember, only the first deal is dif-
ficult. Once your first book comes
out and does reasonably well, it’s not
at all difficult to find yourself a pub-
His book, If God Was A Banker, un-
covers the darker side of MNC banks
in India. The book sold more than 2.65
lakh copies. The book went on to win
him many awards and this is what Ravi
said, when asked about the accolades
“f God was a Banker won the Gold-
en Quill Award in 2008. The In-
credible Banker won the Economist
Crossword Book Award for 2012.
Winning awards feels great, mas-
sages your ego quite a bit, gives you
bragging rights, and lastly when
you write the author bio, you can
write the words “award winning” in
front of your name. But if you ask
me what’s important for me – win-
ning awards or selling more number
of copies, I would any day take the
When we asked him “have you sold
movie rights of the book ‘If God was
a Banker?”. He said;
“Not yet. I guess the Indian audience
is not ready for movies based on the
perceived complex world of interna-
We nudged him to tell us some real
life episodes that he has translated in
to his latest book. He coolly said ;
“Every writer is inspired by what
he sees around him. To that extent
there are various parts of my books
which have been inspired by various
things I have seen, heard and expe-
rienced over years of working in this
industry. But the challenge is how
you convert the 10% of inspiration
using 90% creativity, into a fabulous
story which keeps the reader en-
thused over his 360 page journey.”
We poked him further with the ques-
tion “You work in the world of global
banking, is it as crime-ridden as your
books describe?”, He cleverly respond-
“Crime is a relative term. I am of the
belief that banking needs to be dif-
ferent from other industries, simply
because in banking, you deal with
customers hard earned money. More
than anything else, you are the cus-
todians of their trust. If you look at
it from this pedestal, banking today,
is far from clean. Tolerance levels for
crimes and frauds, irrespective
storizen.com | July 2013 | 19
of nature, size or materiality should
have been close to zero, which is
not the case. Lack of controls, high
pressure on delivery and no job se-
curity is leading to bankers across
levels taking shortcuts. We only
hear of mis-selling in Wealth man-
agement, insurance, trading, struc-
tured products etc. Why not in any
other industry? That said, honest
and competent bankers also exist in
our system, but they do not make
interesting reading and hence I like
to write about the dark underbelly
of this industry. Reading my books
and assuming that all bankers are
corrupt is like reading John Grisham
and saying that all attorneys are on
In his book “If God Was A Banker”
Ravi, understandably, did not name
anyone. But those in the trade and
journalism had no problem in spotting
the institutions and the real characters
behind the fictional names. For the
readers it was an awesome read and as a
We asked the question that everyone
wanted to know, that was about his”-
John Grisham” connect. This is what
he had to say;
“John Grisham is a phenomenon.
My favourite author.The way he
has created a new segment of legal
thrillers and made it his own, can
only be done by a creative genius.
Not only do I love his thrillers, I also
admire the way he has gone about
his task, year after year, month after
month. No surprise that he is one of
the leading bestsellers in the world
today. It was a matter of great hon-
our and pride when the Wall Street
journal called me the John Grisham
of Banking, the reference obviously
being the series of thrillers set in a
banking backdrop, that I had writ-
ten. It is both flattering and hum-
bling at the same time. Having said
that Grisham has accomplished a
lot, and it will take me a long while
to even consider myself worthy of
Not very often do we find Indian au-
thors writing good thrillers. When
asked about it? He said;
“Writing thrillers is no different
from writing any other fiction. It
takes the same effort, the same ded-
ication and commitment and the
same rigour. However what works
for me is the manner in which I ap-
proach a book. Unlike many other
authors, I don’t have the blueprint
for the book in front of me when I
begin writing. I start with a subject.
One page leads to the next, and one
chapter leads to the other. I seldom
have a clue on what direction the
next chapter is going to take. When
I myself don’t know what the next
chapter is going to be on, it is highly
unlikely that the reader will be able
to predict what’s going to happen
next. This keeps the readers turning
the page wanting to know what’s in
Its not that Indian authors don’t
write good thrillers. Its just that
most of the new generation Indian
writing is inspired by real life exam-
ples. As a result, most of them end
up writing romantic novels, family
stories, stories based on scandals etc.
but not thrillers. Writing thrillers re-
quires an intricate knowledge about
the system you are writing about”
When asked about the number of cop-
“They say, never ask a girl her age, a
man his income and an author his
numbers. Close to a Million copies.”
As per our research, till last year, he sold
half-a-million copies (before the release
of his novel The Bankster, which was
a runaway bestseller). This makes him
Rupa’s second highest selling author after
Chetan Bhagat. Interestingly, Penguin
has offered the author Rs 1.25 crore for
a two-book deal making it the highest
advance given by them to any Indian
There’s a rising trend in India, thanks
to big-hearted publishers, few MBAs
(especially Bankers) gave up their jobs
and became full time writers. Authors
like Chetan Bhagat, Amish Tripathi
and Manreet Sodhi Someshwar to
name a few. When asked when is he
planning to cross-over and be a full
time writer? He surprised us with his
“Never. If possible to keep it the way
it is, I would love to let it be. I will
never plunge full time into writing.
Banking is my profession and writ-
ing is an avocation. It will always
stay that way. The fact that I pursue
writing as a creative outlet and don’t
depend on it commercially makes it
an interesting passion for me. The
day I depend on writing for a liv-
ing, it will become a job, and like all
things thrust on us, writing too will
lose its fun element. And the fact
is that thus far, I have managed to
balance both my career and writing
quite well. I have not felt the need to
give up one for the other.”
We got bowled over by his answer and
that made us ask this tricky one -
“Do you think writing in English is a
feasible niche for upcoming writers?”
“I heard Jeffrey archer once say, that
a hundred manuscripts hit a pub-
lisher every day, of which one hits
storizen.com | July 2013 | 21
the editors desk. Of hundred that hit
the editors desk, one gets published.
Of hundred that get published, one
makes it to the best seller list. You
can judge the odds for yourself.”
Writing seems glamorous from the
outside. People read success stories,
glamorous media feed-ins and as-
sume that this is the place to be in.
Trust me it requires months of hard
work to bring out the book. And it is
one profession where effort does not
guarantee success. It’s a lonely pro-
fession too. Writers are pretty much
on their own.
If one wants to make writing a full
time profession, I would recommend
that you do it in phases. Do not give
up everything and become a writer.
Begin your writing career as a part
time. Test the waters. See if you are
able to find your space. Build your
reader base, and hence royalty in-
come. And once you are comfortable
then dive headlong into writing.
While I do not want to sound too
negative, If your sole aim is to make
money, writing is not the place to be
in. There are better ways to make
We asked him whether he networks
with other authors,and with which au-
thors does he talk on a regular basis?
“I enjoy talking to authors and ex-
changing notes. In fact I find authors
these days a lot approachable and
willing to share notes with others. A
realization is slowly dawning that
authors are not commodities. They
don’t eat into each other’s market
share. A reader is not going to not
read me because he is reading Ash-
win Sanghi or vice versa. A reader,
if he likes your books, will read you,
irrespective of which other books he
is reading. Hence the entire author
community is coming closer. A good
sign for the industry. I talk to most
of the Indian authors. No point tak-
ing names here because it’s a long
list and each one of them is equally
In 2012, Jaipur literature festival,
everyone was mesmerized by the
segment where he was in conversation
with Lord Jeffery Archer.
When asked about it, he said;
“I am what you would call the
Owl-Writer. I normally write be-
tween 9.00 at night and 1.00 AM
in the morning. Having said that, I
don’t write every day. When I am
in the flow I go up to seven hours
a day, or even more. Sometimes, I
don’t pick up a pen for weeks.”
Writers block? is it fact or fiction?
“It does happen at times. When you
are stuck at a point and you have
no clue where to take the story from
there on. Various authors have dif-
ferent means of dealing with them.
A long drive, discussion with people
who are aware of what you are writ-
ing, debating ideas etc, has worked
for me. Some of the interesting ideas
and possible directions the story
should take, come from my dis-
cussions with my thirteen year old
daughter. And no… like Dan Brown,
I don’t don a pair of gravity boots
and hang upside down from a spe-
cial frame, in case I am faced with a
Well said Mr. Subramanian. He resides
in Mumbai with his bio-technologist
turned banker wife Dharini and their
Finally we asked him if he has any
pearls of wisdom for wannabe au-
“Most people who want to write,
never even begin their journey be-
cause of two reasons – firstly they
are unable to find time to write and
secondly they keep waiting for the
entire story to take concrete shape.
The former is easier to handle
through proper prioritisation of time
spent on daily activities. As far as
the latter is concerned, most of the
writers do not wait for the story to
take shape from end to end, before
storizen.com | July 2013 | 23
they begin writing. All they need is
an idea. For example in The Bank-
ster, the story has taken a completely
different shape from what I had en-
visaged when I began writing. So if
you have an idea, start writing. Like
any other journey, the first five pages
you write will give you ideas for the
next ten and thereon the story will
evolve. This is the best way to give
yourself a realistic chance of finish-
ing the all elusive book. Times have
never been so good for an Indian
Author as they are today. Publishers,
distributers, bookstores and readers
are all laying out the red carpet for
you. Back yourself and prepare to
walk bravely on the red strip”
With that ended an interesting con-
versation with the “John Grisham of
Banking”, we wish him a hundred more
bestsellers. Thank you Ravi Subramani-
• 2007 If God Was a Banker
• 2008 I Bought the Monk’s Ferrari
• 2010 Devil in Pinstripes
• 2011 The Incredible Banker
• 2012 The Bankster
What prompted you to start
Sometimes, you can’t always tell the
truth, neither, you are strong enough to
face it, nor people around you. So, you
camouflage it, present it in a manner
that people find it palatable, digestible
and even lavish praise in return for your
Maybe not all, but most great stories are
born out of a conflict that a writer expe-
riences within and without. Writing to
me is just a way of answering my own
unanswered questions and I have many.
Which is your favourite book? And
who is your favourite author?
The Seven Spiritual Laws of life by
Deepak Chopra. He’s also my favor-
ite author. His writing is simple, yet, it
possesses great depth and wisdom. No
writer can hope to create anything im-
pactful, if he doesn’t first dwell, dip into
the dark crevices of his own mind.
Which author do you feel has in-
fluenced your style the most?
Sydney Sheldon and Ken Follet
How did you get published? And
how did the second book happen?
I got lucky with the first book when
Penguin offered to publish my first
book Love on the Rocks. Jacob Hills is
actually my third novel, Harper decided
to release it ahead of my second, Love
Kills because it seemed like a book that
was destined to be big. The decision has
proved to be right.
Tell us something more about Ja-
The shadow of the erstwhile British
army lingered long after they left the
country. Their drinking, smoking,
womanizing culture was eagerly em-
braced by the cream of the crop in the
organization. Flirtation is a norm of
an elitist, high flying society and it was
used to further, both personal and pro-
The seventies and eighties was an era
of great suppression, men and women
were not allowed to mingle freely. All
over the world the hippie movement
was on a roll since the sixties but pre-
marital sex in India was seen as an ab-
Under the garb of British legacy, syco-
phants and lotharios in uniform thrived
and carried on the tradition left behind
by the Gori Chamdi.
Every organization has its grapevine,
I grew up hearing rumors, snatches of
conversation, old wives tales. With an
active imagination, the blanks were easy
to fill and Jacob Hills was born.
Why/ How did you decide writing
Like any teenager I used to enjoy read-
ing romance, but I soon realized that
romance without suspense was just
the same rubbish presented differently.
The protagonists kissed or made out in
varied settings, one of them was always
unavailable till the end and chapters
dragged on endlessly. However, in a
murder mystery, there’s so much to play
with, to drop red herrings for the read-
ers; to keep them from guessing, who
the murderer really is. It requires cer-
tain cunning to mislead people into
storizen.com | July 2013 | 27
“IsmitaTandon Dhankher is ‘A Lesser Known Poet’. Her poem, ‘The Beasts Run
Wild’, is currently up on MSN, as part of an ongoing exclusive feature “Her
Courage” in tribute to Indian women. Her second mystery novel Jacob Hills is
just released by HarperCollins India.”
believing that they know how the plot
is going to unfold. It’s the craftiness that
makes me want to write murder mys-
Which is the best and harshest
feedback you have received from
Truth be told, as a writer I am easily
flattered and take all feedback, good
and bad in my stride. My debut novel,
Love on the Rocks had just released.
Hindustan Times pegged it as a, ‘A fast
paced thriller for those who like their
whodunit racy and crisp’. It felt good!
A particular snippet that remains in
my memory, featured in TOI’s Crest
edition in 2011. A journalist had tak-
en a line out of my author bio, which
read something like, ‘After a brief but
highly successful stint in the Forex
division, Ismita quit her management
career and took up prose and poetry
He went on to write, ‘if a author quits
her management career to be a full
time writer then just imagine how
smart she must be’, or something to
that effect. That rankled!
So, yes, it’s easy to judge and dismiss
books and their authors, but I would
like to believe that if authors perse-
vere, they get to have the last laugh.
Some words of wisdom for aspir-
Believe it or not,
The wicked are closer to finding God,
Their flaws like flowers,
Waiting to blossom when the season is
Just put your most powerful emotions
on paper and you’ll be surprised to see
that it makes one hell of a good story; a
story that sells.
Does an author have to be crim-
inally minded to write Crime nov-
Not at all…I have never intentionally
hurt anyone…but wrote a crime nov-
el—just imagination is required…not a
Take us through the journey of
“Firting with fate” from getting the
idea to getting a call from publish-
It’s been one long journey…as the idea
was the brain child of a Bengali gentle-
man Pinaki Chaudhuri who started me
on the project about 5 years back but
had to leave midway. I picked up the
threads of the unfinished book in Jan
2011, simply to fulfil a dream of seeing
my work in print. Like I often say, writ-
ing a book is like pregnancy, a cakewalk
but publishing is like the delivery…a
tough struggle. It was not easy being re-
jected by most publishers, but it’s never
impossible either. My manuscript was
accepted because perhaps it was differ-
ent from the books brimming the mar-
ket, It was not just another love story…
it was a crime novel with the theme of
how Karma Returns in our each action,
good or bad.
What about the book trailer, tell us
more about it?
Honestly, I never made a book trailer…
coz I didn’t know how to make it..sim-
ple. But when I received the Best Debut
Crime Fiction of 2012 Award by Butter-
fly and Bee, Sumit Sehgal, the CEO of
this literary company, made a wonder-
ful trailer for me. You can find it on my
And your day job?
Apart from being a freelance writer,
author and editor I am full time mom
to a young teenager and a demanding
dog, who is an interesting character in
When do you write? how often do
Good question !! But I belong to that
breed of writers who are slaves to their
moods….I write when the mood hits
me, the moment when food…the
world…the kids all take a back seat and
the fire within wont subside till you pen
down your thoughts. People like me do
not like being tied down to completing
writing projects….set us free…we give
you a masterpiece ( not that mine is
one…but I honestly tried ! )
Which are your favourite authors
and books? and which ones from
Well… last I read fiction was in school/
college…with the best being Sidney
Sheldon and Agatha Christie (maybe
that’s why I wrote crime ). Now I do not
read fiction but prefer spiritual and self
help books with the best being POW-
ER OF NOW by Eckhart Tolle. Among
the new budding Indian authors, the
only book I hv read and loved is Bhavya
Kaushiks’s –The other side of the bed…
as I relate with its theme of Kal ho na
storizen.com | July 2013 | 31
Preeti singh is an author, editor and writer based in Chandigarh. Apart from
being a full time mom, she actively involves herself in social activities to help
the needy as she believes life is too short and one should live each moment
with gratitude. Kal ho na ho is her motto.
Which is the best feedback you’ve
received from an ordinary reader?
When few readers asked me the same
question….that they had wronged
someone sometime in their lifetime…
will the karma return ? will they be
punished ? I felt that my book message
had reached home. My work was done.
Are you writing any other book?
Yes, in the middle of my next book…
will be a year almost before it hits the
shelves….am in no hurry.
Any plans or timelines when are
you ready to crossover and write
Nopes…I have left it to time and my
mood….writing is my passion but not
an obsession…I like to enjoy every field
of life…explore my various other po-
Do people mistake you for some
Lols…even if they do I wish they
don’t…as celebrities are non approach-
able and I wish to be always there if
sumone needs me….i am the girl next
door and wish to be just a call away….
Some words of wisdom for aspir-
If you have seen a vision to be pub-
lished, don’t give up. If I could achieve
mine at 40, so can anyone. Just be per-
sistent and patient in following your
heart…you shall reach there. And like
I said, I am a call away…reach out…if
I can help anyone…anytime, it’s a life
Ialways felt the ‘writer’ label is an
unnecessary one. At one point, we all
become writers, scripting our own lives,
penning our deeds, to be read by others
on the pages of their lives and expe-
riences. I guess for me it all started in
school. I liked creative writing. I won in
fests and competitions. But in college,
the writing activities kind of dried up.
And then when I had a job, I started
blogging. My first baby steps were hes-
itant and uncertain. I kind of found the
idea of advertising one’s own thoughts,
feelings and opinions on an online fo-
rum the exclusive privilege of people
who actually are damn good at writing.
And I was never damn good. However,
luckily I broke through my self-doubts,
courtesy the encouragement from two
colleagues I’ll remain always grateful to.
I never looked back since. Traffic to my
blog was a slow trickle at first, it then
swelled; I guess people actually were
fond of whatever I chose to regale them
with. It was a wonderful feeling. Like
someone getting an inkling of what
might be his true calling.
Blogging helped me a lot. It wasn’t just
the writing experience which it drilled
into me. I met so many people, people
I would never have met otherwise. A
part of them rubbed off on me. And (I
hope!) maybe a tiny bit of me rubbed
off on them. Because suddenly my
world was getting bigger. I had access
to other opinions, different perceptions
and various experiences. All of which
made me rethink and re-evaluate my
ideas of where I was and where I want-
ed to go. One thing I discovered is that
you never really know when opportu-
nities come knocking. The least you can
do…besides waiting…is to be prepared
for them when they come. They have
the habit of dropping in unannounced.
In the month of October 2012, I learnt
that Fablery was hosting a short-story
contest in association with Mahaveer
publishers. Fablery is the brainchild of
Bangalore based Nethra Ajnappa who
wanted to give newcomers like me a
chance to get published. The idea of
the contest was novel. Ten genres. One
winner per genre. There was one small
hitch. Nine genres and their winners
had already been decided before Sep-
tember 2012. The last genre was left.
OCCUPATIONAL FICTION. Wait
what? I was stumped! Stories on…jobs?
Aren’t our boring jobs the very reason
so many of us turn into part-time writ-
ers in the first place? And a story re-
volving those? Shudders!
Google came in handy…a bit. But I was
still a clueless and confused baby lost in
a bustling market. And I had a month
in which to write the story because the
deadline was end of October. In that
one month, a couple of realisations
landed on my lap to munch on.
I chose the setting of my story as the
Mumbai Fire Brigade. While research-
ing for the story, I discovered a lot of
shortcomings in myself and my writing.
I was having difficulty describing many
of the scenes that occupied my mind;
I just couldn’t hit on the proper tone,
narrative and flow to express them. Till
then I had only churned out romances
storizen.com | July 2013 | 35
Rahul Biswas is a software engineer working in Kolkata for a reputed MNC.
Born and brought up in the City of Joy, he wishes he can sell some joy of his
own with the stories he creates.
on my blog. Sure, I had written a cou-
ple of thrillers, sent one of them to
two online magazines, got summarily
rejected by both, wallowed in self-pity
ever since. So when the story was final-
ly ready, although I loved it, I was pretty
sure it wouldn’t be selected. My past
failures and frustrations were weighing
down on like a ton of bricks. I need-
ed validation of my skills. I wanted to
be acknowledged as a talented writer.
I needed others to tell me I am good
enough. Yes. I was pretty messed up
at that time. And as the stars a million
miles away would have it- I won. Final-
ly, I was getting published! The dream
had come true. ‘Ten Shades of Life’ by
Fablery and Mahaveer Publishers was
out in the market by February 2013.
For me, a major battle had been won.
The favourable reviews the book has
been scoring ever since only made my
victory taste sweeter. Things had been
a lot smoother after that. I won another
contest. This one was hosted by Wassup
Andheri in association with Grey Oak
Publishers. And then I won another-
hosted by Springtide, an online youth
magazine, in association with Par-
lance Publishers. They chose 25 stories
out of close to a thousand entries and
yours truly’s name was shining brightly
among them. Their book ‘Kaleido-
scope’ just launched last month. It has
the blessings of India’s cherished au-
thor Ashwin Sanghi (The Krishna Key,
Chanakya’s Chant) who chose the best
author among the 25. And finally, here
I am, announcing to the world how I
made it this far. Yes, another tick on
my checklist of dreams to fulfill before
I die. On a parting note, I would like to
share a lesson I learnt in the process of
becoming a published author. As with
every other thing in life, we should
never seek validation of our worth from
sources external to us. You write be-
cause you want to, you write what you
want to and you write what feels right
to you. While all of us want to see our
works make their way to the printed
world, at the end of the day, you’re still
writing mostly for yourself and no one
else. So do your own thing and stop
worrying about how others will receive
your work. I am not asking you to com-
promise on quality. You should always
strive to improve it. But I am talking
about content. You should create con-
tent you believe in and not what you
think others want to read. Because you
never know whether others would want
to read you until you’ve actually written
something. So go ahead. Write. Some-
thing close to your heart. Something
you really want to. It should be an ex-
tension of what you see yourself as and
not what others want you to be.
If I was told in Class 8 that I would
one day publish a book, I would have
keeled over in violent hysterics.
Everytime I read a rave review on Un-
truly Yours, I am catapulted into Ms
Serrao’s English class.
Tall, slim and brimming with sar-
casm, Ms Serrao’s face rarely erupted
into a smile. I think I may have been
the only one in class to ‘get’ her clever,
sharp, sarcastic wit. The rest of the class
ducked, dived, quivered and hid behind
the person in front, just so they weren’t
singled out and ridiculed in front of the
class.Even the most notorious boys and
girls were in their best behaviour in her
class, almost unrecognisable to the ones
who knew them.
I have no idea why, I had made it my
mission to appease her. We were asked
to write an essay on some random sub-
ject she’d plucked from thin air (as she
would often do). I curse the day I had
‘that’ light bulb moment. I meticulous-
ly cherry picked unusual words from
the Oxford dictionary to embellish my
The essay was submitted and marked.
The results were out. Predictably, my
name was announced first. Heads jerk-
ed around in my direction. I had ar-
rived. My moment of glory was inches
away from me.
Swishing my two long braided plaits I
walked with tremendous pride and took
my place in front of the class. And then
came the brutal humiliation. I was told
it was the worst piece of ‘laboured’ work
the class had ever produced! I was made
to re-write the essay, this time without
the help of the dictionary.At the time, I
wondered what gave it away.
So you see, writing was never in my
agenda. However, years later, a friend,
twisted my arm and germinated the
writing bug, in me. She loved the
(many) anecdotal stories I shared with
her when we exchanged emails. A few
other episodes in my life seemed tos-
teer in me in the same direction. I made
an earnest start. Chapters were shared,
characters passionately discussed as if
they had taken life and were lifted off
from my pages. It was a fabulous ex-
perience and I seem to have such fun
evolving each of my quirky charac-
ters. I can’t remember at which point
it stopped being a release from the real
world pressures and became an obses-
sion to complete what I’d started. I re-
member finishing the manuscript and
staring at it for a few minutes. What
now? I emailed all my friends who had
promised to assist me with the publi-
cation.I suppose, I momentarily forgot,
they led busy lives themselves. I let a
few months pass and instead of sending
gentle reminders to friends, I started
approaching some leading publishing
houses in India. I am not sure why I
didn’t approach the ‘not-so-known’
publishing houses. I clearly believed
in my craft! My first submission went
through two stages of evaluations by
which time I had already signed multi-
ple projects with top publishing houses
and movie deals…in my head. I had
also fleetingly strutted on the red (and
green, blue, pink…you name it!)
storizen.com | July 2013 | 39
Renowned for making things up as she goes along, Smita Shetty stumbled into
the literary world quite by accident. The release of her debut novel ‘Untruly
Yours’, has found her contemplating taking up writing, full time.
carpet, smiling and waving passion-
ately at my admiring fans. Again, all
imaginary. You can tell why I enjoy
writing (!) Then came the brutal re-
jection. The blow was harder than the
one I’d experienced in Class 8. I took a
break from my frenzy submission rou-
tine. It took a while to pick myself up
and get the process in gear again. To
begin with, it was a challenge in itself
to find an Indian publisher when you
are not based in India. Residing away
from India and writing and market-
ing to an Indian target audience has
its own disadvantages. Besides, I work
full time and have my personal fami-
ly commitments. Eventually, just as I
was almost forgetting the existence of
my cherished manuscript, I received
a promising email. Again, I was filled
with hope and optimism. From there-
on, things started moving quite quickly.
Phase two included editing, designing
the cover, etc. It was most fun but felt
strangely surreal. The first copies of the
book were delivered to my address in
India. It was months when I finally held
the copy in my hands. Again, an out-of-
body experience, as you would imagine.
However, all these precious moments
pale in comparison when you read pos-
itive feedbackabout your work in print.
I have relished each of my milestones
whilst penning and publishingUntruly
Yours. There is an element of darkness
in Untruly Yours and I must admit it
was tricky maintaining humour. I may
not be a literary genius but I have en-
joyed making my readers smile through
my writing.As a writer, the true rewards
are when you see your hard work being
appreciated. It’s hugely encouraging!
Tell us something about your exciting career ?
As a career, nature photography is never a good option. It is very
challenging financially. After finishing college, I hated the idea of
trading my outdoor life for an indoor job and choose instead to
take up Wildlife Photography as a full time occupation. I was deter-
mined to try it out as a career. That was more than a decade back,
when there was hardly anybody pursuing this as a profession, let
alone finding anybody to provide guidance in India. So I learned
the hard way, taught myself the ABCs and was a trendsetter way
back in 2002. Good old books, the internet and my steadfast belief
helped me realize my dreams. Born and brought up in a lower mid-
dle class family, and being the only son, earning money was very
important. But my parents were exceptional; they encouraged me
in all manners possible manner. They became my support system,
both mentally and financially. I struggled a lot in the initial years;
the income expenditure ratio was to the order of 1:100. Then came
the digital era and it became a compulsion to go digital to stay rel-
evant. Equipment were exorbitantly priced and I had no option but
to sell a part of my house to afford my equipment. “I’ll do it some-
day or the other and that mere financial difficulty will not deter me”
became my Mantra. Slogging more than 250 days a year relentlessly
for the last 11 years is finally bearing fruit and my
cherished dreams are coming alive.
With wildlife destinations becoming
even more expensive, life of a full time
Nature and wildlife Photographer is not
a bed of roses!
But, nonetheless, I am living my life
with the way I always wanted to. I trek
for months for a rare bird or a brown
Bear, I stay days on end freezing in
minus 30 degree Centigrade to pho-
tograph the ever elusive snow leop-
ard, paraglide with vultures to get that
special angle, dive deep down to the
unknown depths for that special fish.
That’s all my career is all about.
Is there any Book which have in-
spired you to take up a career in
wildlife photography ?
When I was a kid, I used to read and
re-read a particular bengali book
called the “Chnader Pahar” (Mountain
of Moon) written by Bibhutibhshan
Bandhapadhaya, a great Bengali writ-
er. Every time I read the book, it was
always a journey through wilderness
and dreams. This book influenced me a
lot to love nature and to be passionate
about the outdoors.
What kind of books do you read ? /
Which books or author have left a
mark on you ?
I don’t read much. While growing up
I used to read adventure books and
science stories. Later on, rather than
a hobby, reading became a necessity.
Most were knowledge based books.
Who are your favorite Indian au-
Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray
Do you take Book on a wildlife
photographic assignment ?
Only field Guides
How do plan for your storytelling
in your pictures ?
I decide my place or subject and it de-
pends on how much that subject or
place has been explored before. I never
ever decide a subject or place from a
commercial viability or personal gain
perspective. My only priority always
is that it should contribute to natural
history in some way or that it should be
visually different enough to impact the
viewer. When I decide a project first I
do a home work, try to find out what is
done all ready. That helps me to decide
what to do. Then I collect information’s
from experts, local people from the
field etc. On the basis of that info I start
my execution plan. I try to visualize
the frame I want or the the way I want.
Some time I draw the frame before. To
me clicking shutter is a very small part
of long job.
Any plans for penning down a
wildlife book ?
Sure. But not now. I want to work and
absorb and be Nature’s student for
sometime to come. Nature is so vast
that I have a lot that I want to do. Then
probably someday I will share them in a
Which one is your favourite Wild-
life Assignment till date ?
I always enjoy whatever subject I am
working on. So in that sense there isn’t
any favorite assignment I have had. Be-
ing able to work in the field for as long
as I want to, being amidst nature, exe-
cuting my dream frames are the most
satisfying part of the job for me.
How do manage time between
running a Saevus and your wild-
life assignments ?
We did Saevus to provide a platform to
all nature experts, photographers and
the conservationists out there. We have
an editorial team. I am field guy and al-
ways in the field. I collaborate with the
team over phone and the internet. It is
very difficult but we also have a fantas-
Any suggestions for wannabe wild-
life photographers ?
For beginners I have few suggestions.
First thing remember this is wildlife
photography. Hear the term wildlife has
a major part. And then there is a pho-
tography part. For wildlife it is a must
to develop the knowledge on every
thing related to nature.Without know-
ing this one can not become a Nature
photographer. One must need to read
books on ecosystems, field guides etc.
Interact with people who work in the
field. Above all nature is our best teach-
er. So be in the field as long as possible.
So one can read the nature and can
predict all the happenings in nature.
Remember it takes time one can not do
it over night. So be prepared to give at
least3 / 4 years to develop the knowl-
edge. Another thing I want to say that
don’t be involved much in equipment.
It just a tool and treat it like tool. Oth-
erwise best equipment owner would be
the best photographer in the world.
Do not copy others work. It will take
you no where. What is done we all have
seen it . We don’t want to see them
again.Try to develop your style. Its diffi-
cult but keep trying. It will happen one
day. And lastly nothing is more im-
portant than the wellbeing of nature. So
remember the ethics and help to protect
storizen.com | July 2013 | 45
A student of Photojournalism &
Travel photography from Kolkata,
pursuing his dream to became a
professional travel photographer.
Practicing photography vigor-
ously for last 1.5 yrs. Main area of
shooting are people, their differ-
ent rituals & events. Landscape & cloudscape.
I am enjoying photography from
the year 2005. Over the period of
time I realized that I like to shoot
subjects having interesting shapes
& colors more than story & con-
tent so I am working mostly on
abstract photography now.
I am a native of Kerala and am a
software engineer by profession.
I like to try all genre of photog-
raphy. Even though I started
photography 5 years back, I only
have a very small collection of
photographs, mainly because of
Partha Pratim Saha
I am a serious amateur photogra-
pher. Special interest in human
and nature. I am a member of a
Kolkata based photoclub named
“Photographic Association of
I await your return
You left me in shambles
Profoundness is lost on me now
I am alive in an empty world
The girl stands alone in a lifeless world
The bare tree stands beside her
The tattered toy hangs limp from her arms
She is my daughter
She has your face and spirit
She was born when I was naught
I whispered to her the secrets she was too young to understand
She will understand when she is young enough
She will await your return on the porch
With a june bug buzzing around her
She will hold it in her hands and confide in her
The light of the insect will go out.
You will not come back.
She will wait.
You will not come back.
She will wait.
She will wait
Asmita Sarkar is a final year MA English student from Hindu College, Delhi
University. She has been inflicted with the reading bug since she was a child
and has been blessed with parents who encourage her to write. Exploring the
contemporary sociology and the psychological make up of a being is what in-
spires her to write.
A student by profession,a blog-
ger by choice, a new book-addict,
a dreamer and a dance-lover and
someone who is yet to find her true
calling in life and is not willing to
settle down until she finds out.
Some unsaid thoughts,
Some undone walks
few misunderstood words
Some untried routes
Calls him out from the past
Over and over again
Throughout the day.
He tries to push, kick them away
and occupies himself in the best
With jogs in the mornings
With files at work
With mugs of coffee
And sitcoms at home.
They come back, they are stronger this
Making their way to his bed
Insisting to be with him.
He accepts them now
Coz He is too tired to fight.
Without giving them an ear
He turns off the lights.
Stronger they are now,
They enter his peace.
Taunting, hurting, cutting,
Screaming at him.
Exhausted him, gives up once again.
And they continue,
For He has accepted them now.
He calls them His Strange Bed Fellows.
I try and enjoy everything in life
and good company just makes it
easier. Poetry, for me, is comfort. As
for my profession, I am basically a
dreamer. In my spare time, I visit
Alcatel-Lucent 5 times a week, 9
hours a day.
Treaded along the vast, dreary desert
Trekked on the steep, craggy mountain
Sailed through the illimitable, calm ocean
Breathed the fresh, pure air
But you seemed to be nowhere!
Then I closed my eyes
As I let my mind open
I saw those images rush past
The beauty seems to be everywhere
But you seemed to be nowhere!
Enchanted and enthralled by my life
Success being declared as my synonym
They question me on the path to reach you
But you are still elusive and evading away
Am in pursuit of you, one who is close,
yet far away!
The music of the rain
The warm red of the dusk seeps through me
As I soak in the rays through the dark clouds
The darkness slowly descends
and the first drops of the blue rain fall
They soak me in eternity of hope
they embrace me, and envelope me
with the warmth of existence
without any conditions, any judgments
they make me a part of them
As my salty tears get mixed with them
I loose myself in the music of falling rain
The time loses all meaning
and I stand with my hands outstretched
moving with the unknown rhythm
It doesn’t ask any questions, It doesn’t give answers
It just soothes me, makes me forget
the road ahead is blurry, unknown
and I don’t want to see what’s ahead
I just walk slowly, splashing the muddy puddles
laughing with the tired green leaves
It washes away my footsteps
and walks with me, helping me
make my own small paths in the darkness..
I am a Marketer by profession. I love writing, reading, watching movies and
travelling especially to historic places! Exploring new places and listening
to local stories is something I always look forward to
My world stopped. I had just started
building a new life and I was mentally
disoriented. The first thought protrude
in my mind was to call Nakul. It was the
best moment of my life, of our lives. I
wanted to call him but again those neg-
ative thoughts haunted me.
What if he calls my parturiency a result
of infidelity? We were not planned to
have children, is this the reason I left
home? Am I going back to him because
the other man refused to accept me?
How will I prove my loyalty?
The second sinful thought was abor-
tion. I was in no condition to bear a
child, to bring him up. Eventually after
gathering much courage, I called up
Nakul. My heart skipped with his first
voice and I kept quite to check his en-
vironment. “Blessed is he who expects
nothing, for he shall never be disap-
pointed.” And once again my expecta-
Nakul was surrounded by uncontrol-
lable mirth of women. He was cheerful
and unaffected. I didn’t know he was
with the ladies of his family or someone
else. I disconnected the call and every-
thing blacked out. I had nobody except
a few new friends and the kind lady-
my boss. I couldn’t decide anything that
time; I didn’t share the news with any-
one. I was a widow to all. My husband
died six months before. How come I
was pregnant? I had no answer to this
question. Days were passing. The down-
fall of my physical and mental health
was visible to everyone. My boss used
to ask me sometimes and suggested me
to have a maid at home as I used to live
alone. I liked the idea but my financial
conditions didn’t allow me.
One of my colleagues lived alone and
she offered me her place on share-rent
basis. I agreed. In a few days Rekha
came very close to me and we shared
heart to heart. We trusted each other
and she disclosed her sexuality to me.
She was a lesbian. I was shocked at her
secret but I accepted her because she
was more of a younger sister to me and
I told her my story.
Listening to my story Rekha burst into
tears, she hugged me and started abus-
ing Nakul. Being lesbian by nature, she
hated men. After pondering upon all
aspects and deep digging my mind,
body and soul, I decided to be a
mother. I accepted the fact that I love
Nakul and cannot abort the only link
between us. I still had a hope that one
day Nakul would realize and come to
me. And above all, I could not spend
my life alone. I had no feelings left. I
could never think to be in any other
relationship. Rekha supported me and
promised to take care of me. That girl
did take care of me.
A few more weeks passed. My life be-
came much easier with Rekha. We
laughed and spent some good moments
together. Rekha hired a maid as well.
Mamta was newly married and stayed
next to our colony. Her husband – Bittu
,was an auto rikshaw driver. The couple
used to call us Didi. Bittu was our fixed
autowala. I used to stalk Nakul’s face-
book profile from Rekha’s. I asked her
to become Nakul’s friend and exchange
numbers. She started calling her Dada
(elder brother) and dug his feelings for
me. Nakul was a tough man; he nev-
er liked to share his personal life with
anyone. He had all the traits of a strong
and responsible man and this is the
reason I loved him. Rekha and I were
waiting for my baby bump as I start-
ed gaining weight. One night I had to
work late night in the office. Rekha left
for home because the very next morn-
ing she had to leave for Jaipur Literary
Festival to represent the company. I had
many works to accomplish being the
student counsellor. I was assisting Mr.
Sudip- Owner of the company and Mrs.
Rituparna’s son. It was midnight and
nobody else except two of us were in
the office. Something unexpected hap
pened that night again which shredded
the woman inside me. Sudip nabbed
me into his arms and enslaved me on
the floor. I was aghast by this assault
and battery. I wailed in that empty of-
fice where nobody was there to listen.
He started lacerating the flesh from my
breast and arms. I cried in pain. I was
screaming loud and trying to escape.
I kicked him. I was trying to kick his
balls so that I can runaway but I failed.
He slapped me hard two-three times
and punched on my face. I had no ener-
gy for the deadly combat. I was crying
and begging him to leave me, and that
made him hungrier. Probably a help-
less woman, begging for mercy was his
fetish. I saw a furious hungry wolf, an
animal to eat my flesh. He was no hu-
man, his eyes were wide and red, I was
trembling with fear and pain, scattered
on the floor. I was worried about my
baby, the last love of my life. That man
couldn’t feel my pain, he was in plea-
sure, utmost pleasure. He came over me
and zipped my mouth with his palm.
He bit all over my shoulders and kicked
my abdomen with his knees. I squealed
out loud and begged “..Leave Me.. I am
pregnant..” All of a sudden he stopped.
He freed me. I was crying out of pain.
Skipping breaths and my heart beats.
I was unable to breathe. Horrified and
seeking mercy, I continued to howl..
“leave me please.. I am pregnant..”
Sudip left me and stared for a while. He
reconditioned his clothes, took out his
wallet and threw two notes of thousand
rupees at me. I felt hatred to my body.
Why am I born as a woman? I had no
answers to this. I was secure in within
the walls of my house. I was secure in
the arms of Nakul..... I don’t want to
lose my love dwelling inside my womb.
And he walked out from the office
. I saw him walking... My eyes saw him
disappearing step by step.
I was just somewhat escaped from be-
ing raped. After half an hour I gathered
my broken and mutilated soul, man-
aged to walk and called Bittu. Soon he
reached at office and drove me to home.
I never turned back to the office; I
didn’t share this incident to anyone, not
even to Rekha because she was em-
ployed to the company.
The very next morning Rekha took me
to doctor. Doctor examined me and I
told her that I escaped a sexual assault.
Thankfully my baby was not injured but
I was advised a complete bed rest for a
few weeks. She took care of all financial
formalities. I was now confined to our
small house. I doubled her responsi-
bilities and to share I planned to work
from home. I had a baby bump by now.
I picked one of those “work from home:
typing work” options from which I
could collect a few thousand. Mon-
ey was a must and that’s why I picked
those two thousand rupees Sudip threw
on my body. I never spent those two
thousand bucks, but locked it into my
As days passed away the feeling of going
back to Nakul got stronger. I was more
concerned about my baby. He could get
proper and deserved care there. I badly
missed Nakul and my parents. I missed
all dreams my mother had for my ba-
bies. Sometimes anonymous calls and
sometimes just his voice while talking
to Rekha on speaker phone was my
only fuel to survive.
How these months elapsed was hard to
bind in words. Rekha had to visit her
parents and I was nine months preg-
nant. Mamta used to take care of me.
Backache, body ache, swelling, systole
and diastole , mood swing and deadly
crave to eat momos were a part of my
daily life. Now Rekha had also gone we
used to talk on phone but still the lack
of physical presence mattered.
One night I was feeling alone and cry-
ing. Probably the mood swing and
emotional need of Nakul. I was lost in
the memories of my college days when
Nakul used to pamper me. Depressed
and disheartened I almost fainted out
of severe pain. I had not completed
the period of nine months so I was not
prepared for it. My delivery date was
due after two weeks. I cried out loud.
Nobody was there at my place. I start-
ed panting and sought help. I searched
for my mobile phone to call Mamta but
couldn’t find it anywhere. I laid on the
bed to calm down. It wasn’t a time to
panic. Luckily Rekha called to ask my
health and I found my phone in the
gap of couch. I cried out loud on the
phone. That pain was killing. I wished
to die. Anyhow, anybody stop this pain.
I could not bear it. Rekha was not there,
I needed my family. I needed Nakul. I
was crying and I needed my mother...
Rekha disconnected the call and ar-
ranged Mamta with her husband’s auto
rickshaw. The reached me as soon as
possible but the door was locked from
inside. I was in no position to go and
open the door. Mamta used to have a
key of our flat. She entered and held me.
She was a smart young girl. I was just
crying out of pain and taking her name.
I asked her to save me, to stop the pain,
to relieve me from this suffering. Bittu
and Mamta lifted me up and dragged
me to the auto. Everybody came out of
my building as they heard my wailings.
Some ladies supported me to get down
the stairs but nobody accompanied me
to the hospital. I was dying out of pain.
Holding Mamta tightly I begged Bittu
to reach hospital as soon as possible.
What else could possibly be wrong? We
stuck in traffic jam. From Neb Sarai to
Batra hospital it took more than half
an hour. I wailed loud in the auto and
people kept peeping in the auto. I saw
men and women sneaking out of their
windows, scrolling the panes down but
no one came forward to provide the car.
Struggling and sinking we reached to
the gates of hospital and I didn’t know
anything after that. Apparently, I was
unconscious by then.
Later I knew that it was a case of baby
breech and I was mother of a small,
beautiful and pink baby girl.
After so long time I felt real happiness
and this time I had tears in my eyes,
tears of joy as I found Rekha standing
by my side, smiling. I was born again
as a mother. For next six months I was
completely dependent on Rekha and
Mamta, without them I was nothing.
But now I had to take charge of my life.
Meanwhile I got a job in an internation-
al call canter. Rekha’s parents forced her
to get married, she had to, Homosexu-
ality was neither legal nor accepted. She
left Delhi and now It was Nikita, whom
I named after Nakul, Mamta and I.
Mamta took care of Nikita like her own
child. Mamta and Bittu had become
more of a family. Nikku was growing
healthy and my life got busy in her.
After joining the call centre I was in-
troduced to an entirely new culture. No
restrains, Limitless lifestyle, money in
abundance and no time schedule.
My salary still wasn’t sufficient. I had
a family now. I couldn’t just dwell into
one room. Nikita was growing and so
as the necessities. I had no savings. The
free lifestyle and dominating culture
of call centre made me think of sinful
activities to fulfil the basic necessities
of life. I decided to indulge into sexual
affairs for the sake of money.
The day I thought of committing the
sin, I cursed myself. How could I even
think of it being a mother of a girl child,
what would be her future? The very
next moment I relinquished the deci-
sion and decided to pursue my higher
studies for better opportunities. I knew
, I had more struggles ahead and I was
ready for them.
As the time passes, you forget all bad
memories. I have no grudges against
anyone now. I forgave everyone. I for-
gave Nakul for his behaviour and now
I had just beautiful memories of him. I
forgave Sudip for attempting Rape on
storizen.com | July 2013 | 61
me. I was thankful to Rekha, who was
married and happy. Mamta and Bittu
were blessed with a baby boy, who was
like a brother to Nikita.
My indulged myself into Nikita and
completed my B.Ed and Masters in His-
tory from IGNOU. I have crossed the
age limit so not eligible for civil services
but I will pursue my M.Phil and PhD.
I left the call centre and joined a re-
nowned publishing house as an assis-
tant editor. I have no regrets for the
impulsive decision I made. I have no
whereabouts of Nakul. Once I talked
to my mother and took a promise not
to disclose it to anyone. She is happy
I have survived my life and I have a
daughter. She also told me that Tapas
was engaged and soon would be in
I strongly believe that whatever hap-
pens; happens for good. I couldn’t be
so confident and independent if that
day I did not take the step. I was never
a weak soul. I submitted in love and for
the sake of my family. I stood firm for
the self respect. I am an independent
woman, a mother and a lover.
... While rushing to the office I
squawked at to finish her breakfast
quickly as she was getting late to her
kindergarten and I, for my office.
Naughty and adorable kid she is. She
loves her morning breakfast and I am
blessed that she drinks milk unlike
other kids.. After dropping and kissing
Nikita and reached my office.
I saw Nakul sitting in lobby. I skipped
my beat, my senses blacked out and I
He has tummy now, and some greys,
slightly wet eyes behind those specta-
cles and I can still notice his struggle to
control his emotions, still a man he is.
He walked to me and said “Tappi” and
the first thing in my mind was Rekha,
She proved herself to be a younger
“Born and nurtured in at a scholastic family in Delhi,
Himadri studied English Literature from Lady Shri Ram College, University of
Delhi. Under her penname “Himmilicious” she has published several EBooks
on Contemporary Erotic Romance and currently working on her debut erotic
romance in print version”
I felt a whiff of breath on my neck.
Goosebumps had erupted over my neck
as blisters would sprout after contact
with a hot iron bar. The only differ-
ence being that the breath which made
contact with my skin was cold. It was
frozen air, frightful, as if someone just
dipped my bare skin into a smoky lake
on a frosty winter night.
As her breath caressed my nape, I felt
aroused. I hadn’t experienced anything
like it before. My heart seemed to have
found its own pace and my mind had
transitorily dumped my body. I let her
kiss me. She pressed her lips deep into
my ears and explored my mouth. I
wanted it to go on and on. But I knew I
had to do something to make this stop.
This was against the law of the nature. A
ghost and a human aren’t supposed to
get physical. Yet, oblivious to this seem-
ingly frivolous law, we clung on to each
other, our body wrapped onto each oth-
er, we sucked pleasure as life embraced
death, the living embraced the dead.
The night witnessed our foreplay and
the cloud covered the moon’s eye. After
an eternity, we let go. Exhausted, we
just lay over the tomb living the bygone
hours again and again and savoring the
It was through a chance encounter that
I met her. I am conscious of the fact
that I am unlikely to meet her again.
She belongs to a world entirely different
from mine, and no matter how much it
pains me, I will have to let her go.
As she robed and looked set to go, I
planted a goodbye peck on her fore-
The moment of painful parting was
upon us. Early morning rays had begun
to stream in. I couldn’t stifle a sob but
she was an embodiment of stoicism,
completely impassive and restrained.
She walked over the threshold of my
home and disappeared. I looked back
fondly and trudged over to my coffin.
This was the first time I had made love
to a human.
Ritesh Agarwal is a freelance writer, a zealous blogger, a book reviewer and
a voracious reader. He literally reveres Edgar Allan Poe, the master of gothic
horror, who also happens to be his 2nd favorite author of all time. His short
horror & love stories can be read on his blog.
“Oh shit, I’m late”, I thought to
myself while driving as fast as possible
in the maddening traffic and pothole
ridden roads of Mumbai. Sidharth was
waiting for me.
As I reached Costa Coffee, I saw him
sitting inside. A look at him and any-
body could have guessed he really
worked hard on his looks and body. My
friends were jealous of me, but some-
how he reminded me of Ken (Barbie’s
boyfriend) and I was no Barbie. There
was a part of me that wanted to mess
his hair up and force a burger down his
throat. I may not be head over heels for
him but he was good-looking and very
successful. “2 out of 3 ain’t that bad”, I
smiled and said to myself.
On looking closely, I saw him talking
to someone. “He never told me he was
bringing along a friend”, I thought to
myself. I looked at myself in the mirror.
I was a complete mess. I combed my
hair, retouched my make-up and got
out of the car. I straightened my dress
and walked towards the coffee shop.
When I tried to get a glimpse to know
who he was sitting with, I could only
see that man’s back.
The men were engrossed in a conversa-
tion but when I reached the table, the
stranger got up, but Sidharth continued
sitting. The stranger was 6 ft tall, di-
shevelled hair, light stubble, very prom-
inent jaw and he was dressed very casu-
ally in worn-out jeans and a dark grey
shirt hanging loosely.
In short, he was exactly opposite of
Sidharth and was drop dead gorgeous
Sidharth caught hold of my hand and
pulled me beside him. “Naman, meet
Anvi, my beautiful fiance’. She’s an inte-
The guy looked at me and smiled.
Sidharth continued “Anvi, this is
Naman, he has done his masters from
London Art Academy. He is here to
paint a charity mural in Kokilaben Am-
bani Hospital’s paediatric ward.”
Naman held out his hand and said in
a husky sexy voice, “It’s a real pleasure
meeting you, I have heard a lot about
I blushed and somehow managed to
smile. I wondered,“How come I meet
Mr. Oh-So-Right only after I am en-
gaged?” Sidharth continued, “I was just
telling him that Art has no takers in
“I am not here for money; I already
have enough of it. I just want to do
things for my own satisfaction.” Naman
said. I couldn’t help thinking,“Rich,
good looking and brooding. He’s per-
fect mills and boon material.”
The boys went back to their conversa-
tion, I couldn’t help noticing Sidharth
and Naman were so alike yet so differ-
ent. Both good looking, well-placed
but Sidharth was pompous and loud.
Naman was silent and kept a low
profile, smiling only occasionally.
“I have an idea,” Sidharth said excited-
ly, “How about Naman helping us with
our flat’s decoration? Murals would
look lovely in the study and also in one
of the walls of our drawing room?” He
looked at me expectantly.
I had to agree, even though Murals did
seem like a really good idea working
with Indian version of Hugh Jackson
would be difficult.
Sidharth’s phone rang. He immediately
disconnected the call and looked at us
guiltily. “It’s my cue to go. I have a very
important meeting in an hour.”
“Naman, how about Anvi dropping
you at the hospital. She too, would be
leaving for Andheri.” Sidharth said, not
even once asking me if I was okay with
it. Frankly I hate being bossed around.
Naman looked at me and tried to po-
litely decline the offer but Sidharth
wouldn’t listen. He apologized for
inconveniencing me. I smiled and
muttered “it’s perfectly fine.” Sidharth
would have never apologized. For him
everybody was present to make his life
We were driving by Juhu beach when
he said “Would you please stop the car.
I want to spend some time here. Will
you join me?”
I knew, the last thing I want to do, is to
be in this man’s company. He was bad
“Are you coming along?’’
“Yeah” I was shocked at myself.
I got out of the car and started to walk
towards the beach. It wasn’t crowded,
the grey clouds and high tide made the
beach look beautiful and dangerous just
like the man walking beside me.
“It’s so beautiful” I said looking at the
beach trying very hard not to get dis-
“Yes it is, you know when I am very
down I head to the beach. It has a calm-
Well Naman, did look a little sad. I real-
ly wanted to know what was eating him
up but I decided to avoid that topic. He
hardly knew me and I him.
“So how did you two meet?” Naman
“Well… umm.. I was designing his
bank’s head office. It was then we met
for the first time. We went out for a
couple of years and last December he
proposed me.” I think I said it a little
too fast, I hope he doesn’t suspect that I
am not in love with his friend. I looked
at him, but he was facing the beach.
“I am not surprised why he loves you so
much. You are a very beautiful.” Naman
said in his signature flat tone. We both
looked at each other. His eyes were
brown, the most beautiful I have seen
and it seemed to be speaking a lot and it
was really difficult for me to decipher.
“I think I should go now, I am expect-
ing furniture guys to come and take
the measurement. I hope we can catch
up later.” Not waiting for an answer, I
walked off as fast as my feet would take
The man did something weird to my
senses which I couldn’t really define.
It was Friday; I was brainstorming with
the painters, when my phone rang.
storizen.com | July 2013 | 67
As I heard Naman’s voice, I almost
dropped my phone. Thoughts of him
had been haunting me day and night
and I couldn’t get him out of my mind.
“Sidharth wanted me to see the place
and the work you have done so far.
When can I come?”, Naman said in his
signature flat note. Trying to sound like
him I too said in a matter of fact tone,
desperately trying to hide the excite-
ment “I am cool with any time you
chose. I am at the apartment now and
the furniture guys are getting things in
“How about 4 pm? I would be done by
then. How far is it from the hospital?”
“How about I come to pick you up? I
could see the mural too.” Let see if he’s
as good as what Sidharth boasts. I knew
I was lying to myself. I really wanted to
“That will be absolutely fine. So catch
you then.” And the line went dead.
No matter how much I denied this I
was dying to meet him again. I dressed
with particular care, put on makeup
and reached the hospital before the
stipulated time. Exactly at 4 I went to
the paediatric ward. He was packing his
The mural was beautiful. It was made
with very happy and bright colours.
It had rainbows, fairy tale characters,
Peter Pan, unicorns and fairies all over
the wall. Every kid in the ward knew
him and he knew everybody. I saw him
smiling genuinely for the first time. All
of a sudden the realization hit me. “Oh
sh*t, I am in love, that too with my fian-
ce’s best friend.”
Naman walked to me, looked closely
and said “Is everything alright, it seems
as if you’ve just seen a ghost because if
you did, you are not the only one?” and
“No, I am all right. So should we go
now?” I asked desperately wanting to
change the subject and trying to take
my mind off him.
On the way back it started raining, pret-
ty heavily. I somehow managed to reach
the building. I parked my car and we
ran to the building’s lobby. While wait-
ing for the lift, I saw Naman from the
corner of my eye. He was drenched. His
shirt was sticking to his body accentuat-
ing his chest and broad shoulders.
Naman caught me ogling at him. I
looked away guiltily and turned my
back towards him. As we got into the
lift, I could feel his warm gaze on me,
but I did not dare to look at him again.
I showed him all the rooms, our study,
kitchen even balconies and kept talking
so that there were no awkward silences.
Time flew by but the heavy rainfall con-
tinued. By 6 pm it was absolutely dark,
windy and rain lashed through the
windows. We were about to leave when
my phone buzzed. It was a message
from Sidharth. The message said “Hon-
ey, won’t be able to make it. My advice,
you too don’t go out. Entire Mumbai is
I repeated the message aloud to Naman.
He looked at me and that cute smile
flashed again. I picked up the intercom,
dialled the security to know if it was
flooded even near our apartment build-
ing. The security guard confirmed my
biggest fear that Naman and I would be
spending the night in the same flat.
“I hope you are not very hungry. I just
have a packet of chips, mineral water
and a bottle of wine.”
“It’s okay I’ll just have wine. If that’s
okay with you” he said. I couldn’t help
thinking, “Is he always this good or is it
just an act?”
Before I could get up from the sofa, he
was already up. He came back with two
glasses of wine and a party pack of Lays.
He was so different than all the men.
Had it been Sidharth, he would have
expected me to lay the table while he sat
He gave me my glass of wine and picked
up the other glass for himself and sat
on the sofa beside me. Our shoulders
brushed, I was acutely aware of his
Naman looked at me, his expressions
very guarded. “So, how are things with
I took a big gulp of my wine and I want-
ed to give a politically correct answer
maybe that we were a very happy cou-
ple. But instead I said, “He hardly has
time for me. He is always so busy. The
only thing we talk about this apartment
and its decorations.” Suddenly I realized
what I was saying. Damn wine.
Naman moved closer. He held my chin
and lifted my face and earnestly looked
at me. Then he said “Then he is a stupid
man, you are beautiful and very hard to
I chose not to reply anything. I knew
people thought that we were a happy,
high flying couple. But it wasn’t so.
Siddharth hardly had time for me. He
just liked to talk about himself and his
accomplishment. He treated everybody
as they were born to serve him. Honest-
ly, I never felt any crackling chemistry
between us, nothing even near to what I
felt for his friend Naman.
Naman smiled and said “You have very
I don’t know who made the first move
but we were kissing. He was everything
I thought he would be. He smelled of
soap and wine. His kisses were slow but
demanding. One thing led to another
before I realized we were on the bed
making love. The bed that was sup-
posed to be Siddharth’s and mine. I was
making love to a man I hardly knew
and to my fiance’s best friend. I pushed
all negative thoughts out of my head
and I started to enjoy the exquisite art
After a night of extensive lovemak-
ing, I got up tired but at the same time
happy. I looked around the house but
Naman had already left. “Most proba-
bly he must have left for the hospital”, I
thought to myself.
First things first I had to break-up with
Siddharth so I went to his place. He
was there reading newspaper. I sat be-
side him and I told him the truth about
what happened last night. His face went
through a lot of expression changes
from shock to anger and finally sadness.
He did everything that I expected him
storizen.com | July 2013 | 69
to do - from throwing things to calling
me and Naman names to sobbing. I
felt sorry for him but there was no use
pretending to be happy and moreover I
have finally found love. The man I truly
loved. I gave his engagement ring back
and as well as keys to the flat.
As I walked out of his apartment, I felt
an exhilarating sense of freedom wash
over me. I proceeded towards my next
destination; the hospital. I reached
and ran up to the paediatric ward but
Naman was not there. One of the nurses
informed me that Naman had finished
his work yesterday, itself.
“How come he never told me that?” I
wondered. I saw a picture of the beach
hanging in one of the walls. I immedi-
ately remembered what hehad told me
about Juhu beach. He must be tensed
because he had slept with me, his
I rushed to Juhu beach and I saw him
sitting there. I ran to him and hugged
him. He smiled.
“I love you and I have broken up with
Siddharth. I am all yours now.” I said
looking at him expectantly. But he con-
tinued smiling. Something had changed
overnight. His smile no longer had that
warmth, which was their last night.
“What happened?” I asked.
He laughed and shook his head. “What
makes you think I love you?”
Initially I thought I must have heard it
wrong. But he got up and started dust-
ing his pants. “You are joking, right?” I
so wanted the answer to be “yes”.
“No, I am not.”
It seemed somebody had punched me
in my gut. I somehow managed to ask
“Why me, why did you do this to me? I
never did anything wrong to you ?”
“Stop the “holier than thou” act, you
are no better. You were already engaged
how could you possibly sleep with me?
You should have said “NO!” I didn’t
force you. It’s like the pot calling the
kettle black” he said with hatred drip-
ping with every word he uttered.
My brain stopped working, I just stared
at him blankly unable to say or do any-
thing. The only thing kept echoing in
my head was, “Why me?”
“Anyways, I slept with you so that
I could get back at Siddharth.” He
laughed. “Stupid girl, your fiancé, Sid-
dharth slept with my girlfriend so I
slept with ‘The love of his life’ and now
we’re even.” With that he walked away.
I kept staring at him, not blinking, with
tears running down my face.
She is an avid reader and an amateur writer and poet. She pens what she
observes, weird yet intriguing lives of real people with real problems. Renu
lives in Mumbai and loves writing about love and relationships.
Jacob Hills, the second book by
Ishmitha Tandon Dhankher, is not only
a novel with a murder mystery at its
core but also a fine account of interplay
of multiple colorful characters, set in
an army station named Jacob Hills, in a
small picturesque hill station!
Set in 1980s, the story unfolds as a nar-
ration by different prime characters
of the book, with each chapter of the
book being told by one of them! The
characters come alive in each chapter
as the writer tries to get in to the skin
of the characters, delving in the nooks
and corners of their minds and often
the dark corners at that! Characters
like Eva, the young and beautiful wife
of an army officer, her “poet at heart”
husband George, the fighter in a village
belle- Saaryu, the dashing captain Rana
who is caught at the cross roads of life
choosing between youthful freedom
and maturity, his demure yet strong
wife Heena; these characters stay with
you for long after you have finished
reading the book! In fact all the char-
acters, the good, the bad and the evil;
are sketched in detail with so much
thoughtful observation that they get a
life of their own! And that is one of the
best things about the book! The book
offers wonderful insight of the life in-
side an army campus. The system of
‘batmans’, the underlying patriotism of
every army officer, the repression be-
neath the smooth veneer of crisp uni-
forms and perfect etiquette of graceful
wives comes alive in her candid writing!
Though the poignant tale of the murder
of a battered woman, who is seen by
none when she was alive and missed by
none when she is dead forms one of the
main plots of the book, but it is surely
not all the author wants to talk about!
The plot wonderfully runs parallel with
the other subplots of an abused young
girl who does not realize that she is
being violated or the subtle love story
of Eva and George! And all of it comes
together in the end beautifully! It’s a
feat in itself to weave such an intricate
design with so many characters effort-
lessly without becoming incoherent in
It’s worth mentioning that though the
book is set in the background of life
Arunima is by Profession a doctor, working with phar-
macovigilance with a research organization. She is an
avid reader of all genre of literature. She has started
penning down thoughts of her mind.
in an army campus, it isn’t about any
specific organization but rather about
people and their choices! And human
mind, the challenges they perceive, the
pleasures they seek, the goodness and
the evil in them goes much beyond the
confines any organization can impose!
And neither do they evolve too much
over time! Thus, anyone can identify
with the characters of the book, even
though the background may be set in a
time 20 years back!
Fast paced, yet slow enough for detailed
and sensitive portrayal of the charac-
ters; this book is a great read for anyone
who finds delight in the greatest mys-
tery of all times- the human mind! In
some places, some of the male protag-
onists like Col George or Col Sampat,
seem to bear a heavy reflection of the
author’s sensitive feminine mind, which
perhaps can be debated whether men,
esp. those in uniform and in touch with
brutality more than the common men,
are really capable of so much of soft
and sensitive thought process! Howev-
er even if a shade unreal, it’s a treat to
read and believe in! The illustrations in
the title of each chapter, though adds an
interesting touch, might be considered
a little juvenile by some!
In a nutshell, as a reader, this book was
quite unputdownable and an enjoyable
read! The writing is crisp and the tale
gritty. I would surely recommend it to
anyone interested in a pacey, off beat
storizen.com | July 2013 | 73
When I got copy of this book, I was
not really thrilled. I unfurled its pag-
es- lo and behold- it was entirely in the
form of letters! So, I kept it aside with
the intention of coming to it later. And
on weekend, I opened it once again, as-
suming it would be worth a read. In one
go, I was through it.
What is it all about?
The book comprises of letters written
by Abhimanyu, a neurosurgeon prac-
ticing in England and Uma, a medical
student, addressing to each other. They
share over 125 letters over a time span
of 10 years, between 1990 and 1999.
And in them, they share every aspect of
their lives: be it professional or person-
al. How the two know each other is not
clearly stated in the book.
Uma, aged 18 or 19, is a smart girl who
aspires to be a doctor. She is a smart
lady determined to achieve her goals,
as is clear from her choice of surgery as
the specialization, a field that is consid-
ered unfit for women. But at times, she
also succumbs to pressure: she goes for
an arranged marriage, knowing that the
boy is not suitable for her. She resigns
from her post as doctor when she is
blamed for the death of an old patient.
Abhimanyu, the skilled neurosurgeon,
is a strong character. He is always there
to guide Uma whenever she is confused
or when her life hits rough weather.
He is fun-loving and enjoys good time
bonding with his male friends. Person-
ally, he has been through many failed
relationships. As he falls prey to some
dreaded disease, he loses meaning of
life and is forced to lead a secluded life.
How the Characters Bond with Each
The two characters are big loners in
their own way. Though they live within
the humdrum of two busy cities, they
can’t share their feelings with anyone
else; so they confide only in each other.
Sitting miles apart, they discuss almost
everything that their life is connect-
ed to. She tells him about her family,
Bengali traditions, her experiences as a
student of medicine, and her hardships
as a married woman. At times, when
she finds it too difficult to carry on with
his life, she finds solace in
Anuradha reviews classics, romantic comedies, mys-
tery and thriller, in short books of all genres. She
latches on to books which has tinge of romance.
Abhimanyu’s letters. He tells her about
his life as neurosurgeon in London.
Both of them discuss their love lives
and sexual relations too.
How does the Story Progress?
The initial letters have the usual chit-
chat about what’s going around in
their lives. Every letter from Abhi is
answered by Uma, but not necessar-
ily. Every letter carries a date on top,
so the readers can know about the gap
between consecutive ones. Uma gets
married one day and Abhi is not sur-
prised. In the latter letters, she shares
her marital problems and he, his new
job and his travel experiences. The story
culminates in 1999 when the two are
facing grave problems in their lives. The
author, Madhumita Mukherjee, being
born & brought up in a Bengali family
and having practiced medicine in Lon-
don, has based her story largely upon
these two places. And from her writing,
it is clear that she knows nuances of
these two contrasting cultures.
What Does the Book Convey?
The story reaffirms the fact that rela-
tionships are fragile; unless they are
nurtured with love, they are bound to
fall apart. The decisions taken in haste
can ruin everything. It tells that world
does not take easy on women who
chose unconventional path for them.
And it also shows that relations can
flourish in spite of the long distances
How it Ends:
The book ends on a positive note. You
need to read it to know how it ends.
storizen.com | July 2013 | 75
Iam a complete Cover Page person. I
have to like the cover page to give book
a chance, otherwise no matter how
good the content, I don’t venture in. It is
just the way I am.
I saw this book around, and decided to
check out a few reviews before reading
it. It looked interesting and now I am
glad I read it.
At 216 pages, it is quite a fast read. I
finished it in a couple of hours in my
limited reading time.
The story is about Ira Bhat, a no-non-
sense, passionate copywriter in one
of the best advertising agencies in the
country, J. McCarthy. The book re-
volves around her busy work-life and
therefore, almost the lack of a social
or personal life. Her friends at work,
Aditi and Sameer, keep the environ-
ment lively with their leg-pulling and
easy banter. The book essentially deals
with how Ira negotiates her life through
tight deadlines, demanding boss, office
politics, rumour mills, idiosyncrasies
of clients and an insecure ex while also
finding romance amid the craziness.
The book provides a lot of insights into
the workings of an advertising agen-
cy. My first job was at FCB Ulka, so I
instantly connected with whatever the
author had to say. In fact, it was quite
nostalgic. I was in Client Servicing*, by
There were quite a lot of footnotes. It
aimed at providing clarity to someone
who isn’t familiar with the advertis-
ing jargons, and does so with wit and
humor. I really enjoyed the footnotes.
They are in fact the funniest aspect of
The thing is it is not a masterpiece. You
would not miss a thing if you do not
read it, but if you do, you will have fun,
and you would know much about the
workings of an ad agency in the pro-
Sample few lines from the book:
*Postmen, peacemakers, punching bags
– client servicing executives are seen as
all this and more. Part of their job
“Reema Sahay is a Stay-At-Home-Mom, Freelance Writ-
er, Voracious Reader, Passionate Blogger, Social Media
Enthusiast, Internet Junkie and Ex-Marketing Com-
munication Professional. She buys way too many books
than she can possibly ever read.
is to brief the creative team about what
the client wants and present to the
client what the creative team will de-
sign to deliver. In their dedication to
this cause, they often face loss of face,
limb and self-respect, at the hands of
demanding clients and uncooperative
creative teams. It is a thankless job
that requires a special skill set – a high
threshold of pain, a high tolerance for
personal humiliation, but contrary to
industry perception, not necessarily,
not necessarily a low IQ score.
storizen.com | July 2013 | 77
Social consultant, Ajmer
Vikram Seth is one of my favorite In-
dian authors. And no, I haven’t read “A
Suitable Boy” yet. With those two cru-
cial things off the plate, I would like to
speak about one of Seth’s lesser known
books “From Heaven’s Lake”. When I
say lesser known what I really mean
is ‘lesser known’ to people like me.
Connoisseurs of popular fiction and
thrillers, not particularly into ‘serious
reading’ (read biographies/ political
comments/ historical essays etc.). From
Heaven’s lake, is an account of a journey
Seth undertook from China to India in
1982, much before China became ‘pop-
ular’ in rest of the worlds imagination.
What’s remarkable about the account is
that Seth took the unbeaten and ardu-
ous land route to reach India. En route
he crosses over the high West China
mountain terrain and the
Software Engineer, Puna
By Shivaji Sawant
One of the most enigmatic characters
of Mahabharat, after Krishna & Bheesh-
ma is Karna - child of the life giver Sun.
But his entire life was eclipsed by events
which were not of his doing. Through
his epic novel ‘Mrityunjaya’, Mr.Shiva-
ji Sawant has with a sense of purpose
dyed the life events of Karan in various
spectrums of human emotions. The
events have been highlighted in a ge-
nius manner through the eyes of Karna
, his mother Kunti, friend Duryodhan,
wife Vrishali, brother Shon and Krishna
himself. Mrityunjaya makes you rethink
on the happenings of Mahabharat in an
altogether fresh and different
perspective. The conceptualization is
matchless and execution of this novel
is absolutely brilliant. Mrityunjaya is a
very special and unique novel written
by a scholar for a hero.