2015 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for my blog!

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 30 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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It’s All The Same Anyway


The world will not wait for me,
But you love?
They will move on and keep going,
But you my love?
Will you wait?
Wait for my decisions?
Wait till I overcome my desires
And make the world hear my denials?
Will you wait?

The world will not wait, no, it will not wait.
Wait?
Wait for me, for my visions and my revisions.
Why should it?
Who am I?
But you my love?
You are a part of me for whom I go on.
I shall for you one day become what I am to be,
Or am I that already?

No, no one knows me,
Nor do they care.
This fair world, this beautiful world
Extending to foreverness knows me not.
And I have nothing to do with it.
For I know you, don’t I?
And you, you love me, don’t you?
Or is it just a dream?
Or a truce between you and me?

Is there no hope for me then?
No sanctity in my profane path?
I will have to go alone?
I will go alone.
But without you why should I go?
Where should I go?
Hold! I fall!
Let go now, I have fallen.

Let me break against hard concrete.
But would I break?
Will the plaster not fall off?
Or everything will be as it is,
The cars will go on, flies will hover over sweets
And in the afternoon the sweat will fall in sweets.
Where am I?
Oh yes, nowhere.

What? What sound is that?
You don’t hear it?
Then I must have gone mad.
I’m hearing voices today, and tomorrow?
Tomorrow they will laugh or cry.
It’s all the same anyway.
But I will know the difference,
Yes, yes, I will know the difference.

Where did I leave you my love?
Or did you leave me?
Who knows?
Oh, I do! I do!
But who am I?
I am the one who told you to wait,
So let us go now, together.

Ah yes, yes. You are not here.
I am seeing things.
But you look so frail
As if age has touched you.
That’s strange! Ha! Those creams didn’t work.
Eh, they never do, they never do.

I am old now, they say.
My eyes darken and gas builds up in my guts.
It’s hard to stand and walk
But I must go on.
Where? Where must I go on?
Oh, go on, go on!
I have promised you, I must go on.

Why do you hear my musings?
I am a fool, an old fool.
I don’t know my name
But you do, don’t you?
Come help me pick up these fallen things.
What? Nothing has fallen?
Oh, it must be me then. Pick me up!

But the kids ran away.
See them go!
Didn’t I tell you? Didn’t I?
The world will not wait, the world will not wait.
But you my love?
Will you wait, till I come back?
I shall go on. I will come back.

What? No, no let me go!
This toil is mine, mine it is.
I will dig the earth, find the treasure.
Treasure? There is no treasure. Just corpses.
Bowels and limbs mixed in the mud, rotting.
Soon it will rain, soon it will clog
And soon it will float in my garden.

I have read the classics
Or have I read the gothics?
It’s all the same anyway.

Who is at the door?
A messenger perhaps.
Or some kid, come again to trouble my old bones.
‘Wait, will you wait?’
A letter.
She waited and died waiting.
And the world will not wait.
Why shall it?
Go! Let go! Let me go!

I cry and I laugh,
It’s all the same anyway.

Rahman Abbas: Author Interview


Rahman Abbas doesn’t write to make this a better place. For him writing is to understand this absurd place we all have landed ourselves into and understand the absurdities of ‘being and nothingness’.

In an interview conducted via mail, I and Rahman Abbas, a Mumbai-based author known not only for his characterization and rich descriptions in his novels but also for his outspoken and straight conversational style, discussed about writing, condition of languages of India, the hypocrisy of religious fundamentalists and his upcoming novel Rohzeen.

Rahman was outspoken regarding growing intolerance in India and he returned his Sahitya Academy Award to protest along with many other writers and creative geniuses.

When asked for the interview Rahman answered in a few hours positively and we set the time, on which we were not able to talk but Rahman, like a wonderful person he is, rescheduled it to a few hours later and we began with my initially long questions and his short replies.He opened up soon and then I asked small questions to which he replied in great detail!

Here ya go!

Dharmesh: If my research is any good you have five published works under your name. Your debut novel Nakhalistan Ki Talash (Search of an Oasis) followed by Ek Mamnua Muhabbat Ki Kahani (A Story of Forbidden Love) , Khuda Ke Saaye Mein Ankh Micholi (Hide & Seek in the Shadow of God) , Ekiswin Sadi Men Urdu Novel aur Deegar Mazameen (Urdu Novel in Twenty-first Century and Other Essays) , and Ek Simat Ki Talash (Search of a Haven). And now you are about to release your sixth book, Rohzeen (The Children of Betrayed Parents) in December. Is that correct?

Rahman: Yes.

Dharmesh: And you got in some trouble for nearly all of them with religious or moral fanatics?

Rahman: As far as novels are concerned, yes. Religious-minded people have had found it unbearable and they had directly and indirectly reacted over the subject and my style.

Dharmesh: Which brings us to your new novel, Rohzeen. Do you think this will also offend some groups?

Rahman: I write stories because I feel I can narrate them honestly. [The stories] about people and conditions in which [they] live. I never think that it can offend anybody. If people feel they are offended by [written] words and situations in which other people exist or live, then I feel sorry for such naive people. As a society they need to grow up and show some maturity towards creative expressions and Fine Arts. Moreover, they shall stop living in denial mode about realities or truth of our ways of living as human.

Dharmesh: There always have been attacks on freedom of expression. From the banning of great classics like Lolita to allowing total trash, which is in a way harmful, like Fifty Shades because of its portrayal of women, to be published freely. Who do you think sets standards for what people can read or write?

Rahman: In my view, reading and writing are personal choices people must be free to make. No one can set standards, history illustrates that standards of a country, community, or language are contradictory to each [other] and evolutionary within. Hence banning books or curbing freedom of creative expression had never worked through out the history. The tyrant, religious and/or inhuman forces had tried to subvert freedom of choice to read or write but they too had been overthrown. However, every culture and language has got its own set of standards which is in fact a result of its civilization and excellence in human understanding. Within the arena of culture and language people themselves should be free to sets standards for reading and writing. The jurisprudence or laws have never worked appropriately or served amicably to guide creative writers. In fact struggle of James Joyce and Manto have only proved laws need to be revoked.

Dharmesh: Now taking a break from laws, censor and freedom of expression, because that debate can go for hours, let’s talk about Rohzeen. If you will, what are its major themes?

Rahman: Throughout the history.

Dharmesh: That’s very little information! I guess your readers must wait for December.

Rahman: (laughs) Rohzeen is all about life and culture of Mumbai. It’s also a political and psychological novel. The major theme of novel is existence of those children who witness or come across betrayal of their parents with each other or of one of them to other. For more details you will have to wait a few more months. (chuckles)

Dharmesh: You sure know how to hook your readers! Was it always this easy? Not counting the fanatics, what were your biggest problems when you started writing?

Rahman: I had no problems at all except [that] of dealing with the language. I always wanted to write finest prose, prose unbelievably creative and vibrant. I am just trying to learn that magic, that ‘spell’ of words. At one hand my novels have not been liked by fanatics but on the other hand major literary critics and senior writers had come up and they spoke on my novels. I have meet many common readers in different parts of country who like the way I write and love my style.

Dharmesh: Speaking of style,Wikipedia writes “Later, reading Latin American, Western, and African novels, especially the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, George Orwell, Victor Hugo, Milan Kundera, and Ben Okri, played a significant role in his formation as a novelist.” Is there some less known author which you think people must read and/or had a major influence on you?

Rahman: Oh, sure, Nadeem Aslam is such a good novelist, Hindi writer Uday Prakash and Urdu writer Nayyar Masood are lesser known writers that I like. I am impressed by Ismat Chagtai, Sadat Hasan Manto & Rajandra Singh Bedi too but they have no influence on me. I think new comers must read all these writers along with Umberto Eco, Orhan Pamuk, Rushdie and V. S. Naipual. This list would be incomplete. Always.

Dharmesh: Of course, given the fact there are so many great authors!
New comers. What is the most common mistake new writers, especially Indian writers do? And what is your advice to them?
Rahman: I will not say ‘common mistake’, but I do find that many new comers don’t read good writers or a great deal of fiction across the languages. It is the responsibility of Indian writers to read regional fiction and assess how masters in regional languages are dealing with the contemporary Indian realities. Indian languages are rich and literature excellent. I advise all my friends to read from regional Indian languages as much as they can read along with European, African, Middle Eastern, Latin American or South Asian writers. One more thing, one should have passion and madness for literature. If you lack it, do what best you can do.

Dharmesh:…passion and madness for literature…” That and as it has been often said, the art of applying seat of the body to the seat of the chair. But there are times when that may seem quite hard. Writer’s block for example. Did you ever face it? What are your tested methods to overcome it?

Rahman: Yes, There are times, hard, and harder, but for me, in every vertigo, literature was therapeutic. I live and live through pages, words and illusion of being in it or inside it.

At this point we finished the interview for the day as it was midnight and then we mailed again a day later.

Dharmesh: What are the three must know facts about Rahman Abbas?

Rahman: Oh, sure.
1. I am not a literary critic, though I write critical essays.
2. I am a patriot, thought I openly criticize nationalism and political parties that claim to be nationalist and
3. I am not anti-Muslim, though I openly criticize Islamic religious & organization because I believe organizations are not Islam, it is just an interpretation of Islam.

Dharmesh: That’s great! I like the word play in the first one. Third one is profound and true.
Now, favorite book?

Rahman: Selected Short Stories of Manto.

Dharmesh: Favorite movie?

Rahman: The Perfume.

Dharmesh: The Perfume is… quite disturbing.
Coffee or tea?

Rahman: Both, coffee and tea.

Dharmesh: Both! (chuckles)… so you don’t want to disappoint your fans on either side?
And finally, how is this world a better place with your writing?

Rahman: I don’t write to make this place any better. I write only to understand this absurd place and the absurdities about ‘being and nothingness’. This place and our ‘being here’ is more mysterious than we can imagine.

Dharmesh: Ah, a classic!
Is there anything else you want to add?

Rahman: Nothing, all said. (smiles)

Dharmesh: Thank you for your time and words. Now we finish this amazing interview which was more like a chat session.
Thanks a lot!
And we are hooked for Rohzeen!

Rahman: Thank you! Stay blessed.
Bye.

Dharmesh: Bye. (smiles)

 

Follow the links to know more about Rahman or just Google him!

WebsiteWikipediaTwitter, Facebook

Daughter of the Drackan by Kathrin Hutson: A Review


ISBN: 0692549757
ISBN-13: 978-0692549759 (Exquisite Darkness Press)

Product Description on Amazon: Book One of Gyenona’s Children, born of humans, but raised by beasts, who despises the legacy of men, Keelin is the only one who can redeem, or destroy the future of both races. Keelin is the only human fledgling, weaned by the Drackans, of the High Hills and given their instincts, ferocious strength, and fierce hatred for humankind. But even the Drackans closest to her cannot explain why she has violent blackouts from which she wakes covered in blood. A desperate, reckless search for the source of this secret brings her face to face with the human world and memories from a locked away past, long forgotten. Keelin becomes a terrifying legend among human assassins, while she hunts for answers, and the human realm’s high king is murdered. While a sickly steward hides within crumbling walls, commanding her every move with a magic he should not possess, Keelin’s journey to track him down threatens her loyalty to the Drackans who raised her. The rogue who crosses her own terrifying bloodlust and forcing her to consider that there may be something human about her after all. Mother of the Drackan, Book Two of Gyenona’s Children is set to release in early 2016.

About the Author from Amazon: Kathrin Hutson has been writing Fantasy and Sci-Fi for the last fifteen years. She started the two book Fantasy series, Gyenona’s children, in 2007 and has finally brought it to the world of Indie Authors! In addition to writing dark and enchanting fiction , Kathrin spends the other half of her time as an Independent Editor through her company KLH CreateWorks as Chief Editor for Collaborative Writing Challenge, and as Editing Director for Rambunctious Ramblings Press, Inc. She finds just as much joy and enthusiasm in working closely with other fiction authors on their incredible novels as she does in writing her own. Kathrin lives in California with her husband and two dogs, Sadie and Bucewillis, and is constantly on the lookout for other upcoming authors, great new books, and more people with whom to share her love of words.

Sidenote: Kat is a wonderful person, charming in conversation and witty. The kind of author you would like to have morning tea with, on a balcony overlooking the winding road, on both sides of which stand tall and leafy trees.
Meet Kathrin on Facebook, LinkedIn and her Website or visit her blog here.
I am sort of at a loss as to what to say about this enchanting book. Keeping up with the policy to not reveal anything of the story from my side and yet give you a satisfactory review seems to be hard for this book. It has so much passion, thrill, adventure, emotions, that it’s impossible to say anything without revealing some part of the story. But, I’ll try my best.

Daughter of the Drackan, Book One of The Gyenona’s Children is not only a dark fantasy but a saga of love and friendship, journey of not only our heroine Keelin in search of her roots but also of a woman in finding her dreams and her desires. It is a story of a woman above anything else and though she finds this world strange and unfit for her, she struggles with ease. It would be no exaggeration to say that for her one look, civilizations will fall, because they will.

But let me not give away too much!

There are some books which start with a prologue and then there are some which do not. My own book Droṇyāksha and The Rise of Asuras has a prologue. Some people like to read them and some don’t. Also there are some good written prologues which excite the readers and some which bore them. Kathrin’s prologue is one of its kind. Crisp and to the point. It throws off all our whims of earlier non-concentration of a book reading and makes us want to plunge deeper into the book. So let’s plunge in!

Drackans are, as you may have guessed from the book cover (which I do not like AT ALL, I love the title though and the text on cover is mind-blowing) a variant of Dragons (and a quick Google search shows that they have been known to the world for quite some time). They have some interesting features which would be revealed throughout the book, their galak is fascinating and Keelin’s acquiring of one is a story worth rooting for. The Drackans are much more than Dragons. They communicate through telepathy and have an organized living. What was not so attractive for me was, their use of colour to talk. Yes, they send green, red, blue, yellow, orange to show their emotions.

The action sequences of the book are carved as tactfully as can be. The jumps, the attacks, the movements, the turns, the kills were all breath-taking and fast-paced, thrilling and enchanting. It was, and I know I’m going a little overboard, but it was a 3-D experience. Not only the characters, but everything, the wind, the city, the animals, all were developed with much care and had unique arcs.

There is something else which you must know before you get the book (and Thou shalt get the book), which is, you’ll love how Keelin and Kaht-Avmir are one and the same person and yet when you see deeply in their characters, they are somehow different, opposites. One is rejected another almost revered. One is feared another belittled. One is the weakest, another strongest. Who? Find out!
But before you do, I just wanted to share some of the lines which pulled a string in my heart:

I don’t think I have read any better descriptions of humans than this!
They were arrogant and selfish, bent on guarding their possessions and struggling for power in both offensiveness and volume.

And all of us know this to be true!
Dogs were easily much smarter than humans.

Beautiful description:
The sun sank as a heavy heart behind the mountains,…

True that!
Most of the world was simple, ignorant, and could not see the importance of finer things.

But don’t get the idea that humans are shown as lowly creatures only, there are many characters, strong and resolute, complex and brave, and they will take you along on a fun-filled ride that this book is.
When I read that Kathrin queried for over two years and traditional publishers rejected her, all I could say was, ‘What the hell were they thinking?’ It is one of those books which I’ll have on my TBR shelf at least twice. And if you know anything about me, that’s way TOO much. To give you an idea, Harry Potter had been there thrice and Pride and Prejudice five.

So yes, I can’t literally wait for Book Two and though I love Winter more than anything else, I am wishing for it to come and go as soon as it can because in Spring comes the Mother of The Drackan!

Care to read other reviews? Here you go!

The Blue Scarf


I had written this story for Times of India’s Write India Campaign using Chetan Bhagat‘s prompt. Well it didn’t make it but I’m not the one to feel sad. (Well maybe a little.) So I hope at least you guys like it.

 

She sat in the Starbucks cafe, sipping her coffee and staring out of the window. The blood stained knife lay next to her handbag, covered with her blue silk scarf. No, it was no use going to the police. They would not believe her.  After all she had killed her ex-husband. What difference did it make that he had come to kill her? She had already killed their marriage. When she had divorced him, he had called her a murderer. She had no problem with that. It was easy to forget the things he said, though she had not, she could not. She had smiled at him and said he had murdered a lot of things when he slept with her sister.

She looked at the cursed scarf again. It had been his first gift. How glad she was that day! She would have done anything for him, almost had. But then things changed. Their marriage became tainted with grunge of everyday life and a ghost of love, fueled with sheer will and weighed down by responsibility. Then came the fights, the accusations, the taunts. Days would pass when they would not talk to each other.
Then, he began paying attention to her again. He started bringing flowers and taking her out to dinner. They began going to the movies and spent more time together. When she saw him at her sister’s when he should have been on the office trip, she didn’t cry, she couldn’t cry, she laughed. How many times had she repeated the words and still never known its meaning. Husbands are chiefly good as lovers when they are betraying their wives. Yes, Marilyn Monroe was right. She thought it would hurt, it did not. She bit her lips to bring tears but tears didn’t want to come, only blood. She realized in the court why she could not cry. She had not loved him in a long time. She could not tell but she knew love had fallen out of their marriage long ago. Maybe the day he slapped her or the day he used her as a thing to please himself without loving her. No, she did not know when but she knew she had stopped loving him long before he betrayed her.

***

He came to her house unexpected, drunk and in a rage. Her sister had dumped him too. She felt stupid for opening the door without checking. Flower delivery. Men never learn better tricks and women never care to check. He said it would be like he had never left and had forgiven her for treating him like a dog. She felt her spine go weak and her nerves chilling.  For the first time in her life she feared this man. Before, she had felt all the emotions; love, anger, hate, but not fear. She had not known this man. Even when he had slapped her when they were fighting on the balcony she had not seen him. Or perhaps he was not the same man, someone else in his body had taken control, haunted him. Lust and anger possessed him, desire and rage; an intent to murder.

When she asked him to leave, he yelled and abused. She looked around. There was a vase on the table by her left side. She moved closer to it as he shouted how he had done everything a husband should do and still she was never satisfied with him. He said how he had done everything a lover should do and still her sister was not satisfied with him. He abused both of them, linking them to their father and brother. She picked up the vase and hid it behind her. If he came close she would know what to do. There was a time, she could not remember when, she couldn’t wait for him to come closer so she could kiss him. Now, she was clutching the vase to save herself.

He raised his head, looked at her and smiled. There was something in his eyes she had never seen. Something she had read in stories of Lovecraft and Poe and King. Utter malice. Desire; a desire to kill. The vase dropped with a shattering noise. It became a thousand vases at once never again to be the one it was before. Its fragments lay between them, reminiscent of what their life had been. She tried to speak to him, maybe she could talk him into leaving. But her words left her like tears had years ago. She cursed herself for being so weak and stupid. She was alone with her trembling self and a man she had once loved like he was the only person that mattered to her but was now about to kill her.

***

‘Do you want something else, ma’am?’ the waiter asked.
Yes, she wanted to escape the mess she had created by murdering her husband. She wanted to go back to her normal life and live like nothing had happened. Was that possible?  No she didn’t think so. So no, thank you.

‘Another cup of coffee,’ she said.

The waiter smiled and turned to go. ‘What’s that ma’am?’ he looked back and pointed at the scarf.

‘The knife I killed my husband with,’ she smiled.  She had no idea what made her say that. She was never good at lying anyway.  The waiter laughed and left.  Truth can be funny sometimes.

***

Karan reached into his back pocket and drew out the knife. The knife Manisha would hide in her scarf hours later.
‘I don’t trust any of you. I will now trust this. This is my baby,’ he kissed the cold steel. There was some blood on it.

‘Oh, don’t worry. It’s your sister’s. Both of you will now truly be one blood,’  he laughed at his brilliance pointing the blade at her.

She looked at him in horror, unable to move, unable to even crouch down and beg for mercy. No, she will not beg. No matter how this ends, she will not beg. She still could not grasp the news he had given her. Her sister? Was she dead?  The child had not even seen anything of the world.  Why had he killed her? For what? What did she do to enrage him? Perhaps she would never know no one ever would.

He came at her slow and lunged. She ducked, there was enough time. His drunkenness had made him sluggish. He could not focus. How had he killed her sister then? In the bed? In the shower? She pushed him with all her strength and his head collided against the wall. He cursed her and dropped the knife to hold his head. Blood gushed out and dripped down his face. She bent, not careful to keep an eye on him, to pick the knife. He kicked her in the guts and she fell, unable to shriek, her breath knocked out. The knife was a prize, whoever got it, won.

He picked it up and brought it down. She moved, not completely avoiding the strike, the knife tore at her jeans and cut her leg, spilling her blood like water from a fountain of youth which was now old. She held his hand tight. Though the knife’s edge cut into her wrist, she did not let go.  He raised his hand and she felt her grip loosening. She kicked him in the shin and brought the knife down, going into left side of his abdomen. She wanted to hurt him enough for her to escape but not so much that he would die. He struggled then fell down. After he stopped moving she leaned closer. He grabbed her hair and shrieked, thrashing his limbs wildly. She stabbed him again and again and again.

He lay motionless, his eyes open and accusing. Blood gushed out of his wounds and stained the mattress below, forever. Please God! She prayed again, let him be dead now. Let him be dead! He was. She broke down, the tears and words that had left her came rushing back and she cried until all the weight from her heart lifted.

***

She put the cup down and picked up her bag and the scarf. It had all the memories she had shared with him. Their first meeting, their marriage, their love, their fights and finally their death. She too had died in some way with him.  A part of her that she had believed was good. That did not exist anymore. She was a criminal, a sinner. She stepped out and walked to the police station as rain began to pour washing everything but not her guilt.

***

Manisha was running to meet Karan outside the college. She should have left early but the class wouldn’t end. She should have fixed her hair but there was no time. Ugh! Probably he wouldn’t notice that. He was not like rest of the boys. He was sweet and caring. She smiled as she crossed the canteen. Yes, he waited there looking at his watch, thinking how late she would be. He was the only man she had ever loved, she would ever love. She knew she would marry him and they would live happily, loving each other because nothing else in the world mattered. As if they were meant to be together. She came closer and calmed her breathing as she ran her hand through her hair.
‘No use saying you are late again, is there?’ he asked.

‘No,’ she smiled.

‘I have something for you,’ he gave her a wrapped box and smiled, touching her arm. She tore the wrapping and opened the box.

There was a blue silk scarf in the box. The best gift she ever had.

***

Image courtesy: dxpepper.wordpress.com