Monday, January 20, 2020

The Computer Desk

                                 Image source: Unsplash {@davidx}

When I was leaving, she had asked if she could use my computer in my absence. I just nodded in approval, trying hard not to look at her. Whenever I look at her, my eyes tend to stay there for longer than necessary.

She is a writer. I was surprised to find her story in a magazine that I picked casually. It was a poignant story, her writing style refreshing and engaging.

'I didn't know you write.' I said when she was serving dinner. She looked at me, surprised. 'I read it in the magazine. It's good.'

I've returned after six months. It's early morning and the home greets me with a familiar warmth. She is in the backyard, planting a sapling in a colourful pot. Her wet, long hair resting carelessly at her back. It's rare when she leaves her hair loose. She turns and it feels like a fresh, cool breeze in a summer morning. And I'm suddenly embarrassed by my disheveled look and unshaven face.

Our eyes meet and she immediately gets up. Then she gathers her hair and ties it with a rubber band that she wears around her wrist, not realizing or maybe not caring that her hands are muddy. Maybe my gaze has made her conscious. I told you my eyes tend to linger when I look at her. I avert my glance.

At the tea table, Mita, our house help, shows me her first book that released two months ago. It pleases me to hold her book in my hands. I was actually waiting for it. Right then, she joins me at the table and I congratulate her. She says a meek thanks, with a barely visible smile. Lately, she's always like this, especially when I'm around --- too conscious, too gentle, too quiet. She is older than me and sometimes, she behaves like a caretaker.

Seven year age gap is not a big deal, is it?

She arrived to stay in my house some ten years ago. I was just seventeen and I was so displeased about it. She was an orphan, married off too early. Ma rescued her from a bad rather dangerous marriage. After all, she was Ma's dearest friend's only daughter.

I was relieved when I went abroad for higher studies. But then Ma passed away, suddenly. So many things changed after that. My feelings for her, too. But this intense feeling is new, burgeoned recently. When and how, I don't remember. I keep it to myself. Sometimes my heart feels like a clenched fist, unwilling to reveal any emotion.

I enter my room and the first thing I notice is the neat, organised computer desk in the small study attached to my room. And then my unironed shirts on the bed, neatly folded. I somehow know that she has folded them. Mita doesn't enter my room, and she cannot fold shirts like this. And by the way, who folds unironed shirts like this? I wonder if she missed me or even thought about me when she touched and folded my shirts.

I sense her presence and turn to find her standing right behind me, with a plate of banana almond cake. My favourite! I know she made it for me. But she won't admit and I won't show that I know.

She turns to leave and then stops. 'Want to say something?' I say, as I put the plate on the table.

'Er...yes. Now that you don't use this computer, I was wondering if I could take it to my room.'

A strange sense of anxiety grips me. I say a firm 'no' before I could stop myself.

She's taken aback by my response. 'I work till late at night and I didn't want to disturb you.'

'That's not a problem,' I say. 'Actually I use this computer sometimes, for certain things,' I lie, keeping my face expressionless.

'Oh, okay.' She turns to leave.

'Feel free to work whenever you want. I don't mind really,' I say. She just nods and leaves.

I know she thinks that I've set a limitation for her. But how do I tell her that this computer desk is a precious connection between us? That it makes me feel good that she is working in my study, even though I am not there. Even more when I can have a glimpse from my bed while she's engrossed in writing. That I am afraid of losing this connection.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Best Books I Read in 2019

So, Goodreads says that I've read 43 books in 2019. To be honest, this data is wrong. Because there are several books I didn't finish (I wrote about very popular books that I couldn't finish in 2018} but even unread books fall under read category on Goodreads even though you create a sub-category for 'did not finish', and it's unfair. Also I've read some short stories, quick 20-30 minute reads, but they are books on Goodreads.

Never mind. So, I think I've read some 35-36 books in 2019, which is okay. Here, I'm sharing the most entertaining and gripping books I read in 2019.

Image result for salvation of a saint

'Sometimes it’s as important to prove there is no answer to a question as it is to answer it.’

It's a crime fiction and it's brilliant! And clever. And unputdownable. And this is what you call intelligent storytelling. I really like Higashino's writing style. It's simple and very engaging and the way his stories progress, it keeps you hooked. This is my third book by this author. I've read The Devotion of Suspect X and Malice, but this one my most favourite so far.

Salvation of a Saint has just two suspects. It keeps you guessing for some time, however you would easily guess who's the killer very soon, but it still keeps you terribly curious because you want to know 'HOW?'. I really liked Utsumi, the female detective. 

Image result for second chance at love

'Every life has a story, some sadder than others. Every story has a hero, some braver than others.'

Romance is my favourite genre and Ruchita Misra is one of those writers whose writing/stories always {Well, almost} works for me.

It's a love story, obviously, and I enjoyed reading this book so much, liked the characters, especially Samar, so much that I finished it in less than 24 hours, in a single sitting. After a long, I mean really long time, any book was able to grip my attention like this.

Image result for the kite runner

'For you, a thousand times over!'

There is something about this quotation. It touches my heart and stirs my emotions every time I read it or even think of it.

Strangely, I wasn't really very keen to read this book. Even though it has got fabulous reviews. Not sure why. Maybe because I have read {and loved} a book called 'The Almond Tree', which is said to be inspired by this book. But then, one fine day, I watched the movie, The Kite Runner. It was so good. Poignant {You can even spot Mr. Hosseini in a scene}. And totally different from The Almond Tree. So, I decided to read the book. I believe we should definitely read the book if we love a movie {except thrillers} because books are always deeper and more beautiful.

Khaled Hosseini is brilliant when it comes to evoking the emotions of the readers, and The Kite Runner is no different {I have read A Thousand Splendid Suns and loved it}. A very emotional and such a fine read! 

Image result for chaurasi

'अफ़वाह की सबसे विनाशकारी बात यह होती है कि यह नसों में लहू की जगह नफ़रत दौड़ाती है और वह नफरत महज़ दिल तक जाती है। अफ़वाह दिमाग़ तक किसी भी संकेत के जाने के सारे रास्ते बंद कर देती है।'

It's my second book by the author. I've read Dilli Darbar and quite enjoyed it. 

Chaurasi is a love story, set against the backdrop of 84 riots. It was poignant, shocking & gripping. I liked the main protagonists {Rishi and Manu} and their chemistry and the innocence in their relationship. 

Satya Vyas is from Bihar and I relate to the 'Bihari touch' in his books.

Have you read any of these books? Share your favourite 2019 books?

Friday, December 20, 2019

कुछ ऐसा हो कि...

Photo by Brendon Thompson on Unsplash

तुम्हें जी भर कर देखना चाहता हूँ
और चाहता हूँ कि तुम भी कभी
नज़रें मिलाओ।
कुछ ऐसा हो कि तुम भी कुछ कहो,
कभी तुम भी प्यार जताओ।
तुम्हारे पास रहना चाहता हूँ,
और चाहता हूँ 
कि तुम मेरे क़रीब रहो,
इतने करीब कि जब कभी मैं तुम्हें
छू लूँ तो
छिटककर दूर ना हो जाओ।
और ये ना कहो कि
 'ये क्या हरकत है?' 


जो प्यार तुम्हारी आंखों में है,
और कहीं नहीं।
जो खुशी तुम्हारी मुस्कुराहट में है,
और कहीं नहीं।
जो सुकून इन बाहों के घेरे में है
और कहीं भी तो नहीं।
अब सोचता हूँ,
कैसे रह पाया मैं
इतने बरस,
तुम्हारे इतने पास होकर भी,
तुमसे इतनी दूर।

___तरंग सिन्हा

मेरी हिन्दी कविताएं आम तौर पर उन कहानियों से प्रेरित होतीं हैं जो मेरे ज़ेहन में घूमती रहतीं हैं पर मैं उन्हें एक मुकम्मल कहानी का रूप देने में असमर्थ होती हूँ। मेरी ये रचना ऐसी ही एक कहानी का एक अंश है।

Friday, December 6, 2019

Watercolor Painting: Paper Size

One of the most important lessons that I've learnt as a watercolourist is that paper is really important, even if you're a beginner. It actually defines your style.

Today, I'm talking about the size of the paper {we can talk about the quality and variety of the paper some other time, if you want me to do it}.

When I started painting, I realized that I did better on small sized papers. A5 size worked best for me. Then, gradually, I switched to A4 size. Now I'm trying on A3 size paper and surprisingly, I'm feeling comfortable working on this size.

This is my first painting on A3 size paper and I was pretty pleased. Now because I painted something wonderful. But because I used the A3 size paper for the first time and didn't ruin it. :)

So, what's your preferred paper size?

Sharing with Paint Party Friday

P.S.: I've published a short story, 'The Weirdest First Date' on Kindle for Pen To Publish 2019 contest. In case you enjoy reading short stories. It's free for kindle unlimited users. Thanks.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Interpretation {Salvation Of A Saint}: Bookbytes 2

Welcome to another edition of Bookbytes.

I really enjoy reading thrillers, psychological thrillers. The Girl On The Train made me realize that I could enjoy this genre. All these years, I had kept myself restricted to romance or drama, even though I had been an avid reader.

I've read several psychological thrillers by now but Keigo Higashino is my favourite and Salvation Of A Saint by this author is my absolute favourite! Gripping, cleverly crafted, intelligent storytelling. Storytelling is important and Keigo Higashino is a wonderful storyteller.

There are just two suspects in Salvation Of A Saint. You can guess who has done it. So, it's not really about 'who?' It's about 'how?'

Okay I know it's not a review post. Today I'm sharing a quote from this book.

'Sometimes it’s as important to prove there is no answer to a question as it is to answer it.’

I found it very interesting. I understand it, but I don't know how to explain it. So, I'll leave it to you to interpret. Please share your thoughts in the comment.

If you stumble upon a quote, a line (or two) or even a passage from a book that leaps out at you demanding to be shared join in with BookBytes.

Here’s what you have to do:
Share it on your blog and link back to this latest post.Put in the logo (above) so it’s easy to spot.Leave the link to your blogpost in the comments so I can drop by too.Book Bytes goes live every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month. Do join in.

The next edition is scheduled for December 17th. Do join in.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

There's Something About This Quote: Book Bytes 1

Hello everyone! Today, I'm starting a new section on my blog. It's called 'Book Bytes', which is inspired by a blogger friend Obsessive Mom who owns a book blog called 'Beat About The Book'. So, every first & third Tuesday, she shares a book quote or passage that touches her heart. I found this idea really interesting, as I love book quotes {I feel disappointed if I don't find any beautiful/thoughtful/interesting quotes in a book}, so thought to do it. If you like this concept, you can join in.

Today, I'm going to share two beautiful quotes from a beautiful book 'The Kite Runner'. Interestingly and surprisingly, I never wanted to read 'The Kite Runner'. Then one day, I caught the movie on TV. Absolutely loved it and then finally decided to read it. And I'm so glad I read this book. It's much deeper than the movie, of course. Every book is more deeper than the movie. Totally understandable, as it must be really hard to capture the depth/beauty of 250+ pages in 2 hours.

So, the quote is : 'For You, a thousand times over!'

It's a very simple quote but there's something about this quote. It touches me in a certain way. Every time. It reflects a deep connection between two people. Someone so close, so special to you that you can do anything for them. Any time.

The second quote is : 'There's a way to be good again.'

It's such a thoughtful quote. Making mistakes is inevitable but the main thing is to accept your mistakes {It takes courage and clarity of mind to accept your mistakes and make effort to make things right} and be good. Again.

These two quotes are the gist of this book, actually. And Khaled Hosseini is brilliant when it comes to expressing emotions.

Have you read this book? Or any book quote that touched you? Want to join. If yes, publish a post and share the link in the comment section. Would love to read.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Book Review: Nobody's Child by Kanchana Banerjee

Name of The Book
Nobody’ Child
Name of the Author
Crime Fiction
Name Of The Publisher
Harper Collins India
No. Of Pages
Price {Paperback}

'She's lost everything ...and when one has nothing more to lose, that's when they become fearless and unstoppable.'

___From the book

Nobody's Child is Kanchana Banerjee's second book, totally different from her first book {A Forgotten Affair}. It's a crime fiction with lots of secrets, drama, lies, deceit and action ___a complete package, you can say. And I really appreciate the author for creating such a dramatic crime story and such vile and wicked characters and situations. There were certain moments when I was like 'Ewww...', which is a good thing, I guess.

A young woman is found, on the streets, in a sad, wounded condition. She claims to be Asavri Bhattacharya ___an immensely talented singer with a sad past who had won Indian Koel, a singing reality show two years ago.

But how is that possible?

Asavri died in an accident just after winning the show. Is she really Asavri? Where was she? What happened to her? You need to read the book to know the answers.

I like Kanchana Banerjee's writing style ___it's engaging. The writing is neat and the story seems well researched, as she has portrayed the drama of reality show {and media, sadly} well. The characters seem like you've seen them on the television. That's why I feel that this book could be a good screen adaptation.

The cover of Nobody's Child is very striking and apt. The story has been told from the four significant points of view. Avneil ___a small time film journalist turned best-selling author. Kamini Pratap Singh ___a nobody turned powerful politician and mother of Tanya, the first runner up of Indian Koel. And Monty ___Asavri's love interest. He's an important character but I didn't get why his PoV was needed. Also, I didn't feel anything for this character.

Now, the story is told in first person narrative, and for me, that was the biggest problem. No, I really like stories told in first person, but telling this story in first person, from multiple points of view affects the element of suspense/mystery{and eventually the joy of reading a crime suspense fiction} in a negative way. The characters are telling everything about themselves ___what they did, what they didn't. What they know, what they don't. No revelation shocked/surprised me because the first person narration gives a fair idea of everything.

Also, there are certain things {that I would not like to mention} I found implausible. Maybe they are small things and you might not give them too much attention, however I couldn't help noticing.

I liked the way the story ends. Just like A Forgotten Affair, Kanchana's debut book, the ending of this book is satisfying.

'Don't fight the bad memories. Allow them to come and go. The more you resist, the more they will persist.'

If you're looking for a masala entertainer, if you enjoy reading crime fiction {with wicked characters}, go for it.

I received this book from Writersmelon for an unbiased review.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Forty Days

Photo by Paul Dufour {From}

Thankfully, I remember the name of the society he mentioned once. Just he didn’t mention that it’s very near to my house. It's a posh society. Suddenly, the image of my tiny flat flashes in my mind. I shake off the image, as the security guard asks for the details. 

I feel jittery, as the lift ascends. It's the first time I am visiting him. We are going to meet after forty days. I couldn't stop thinking about him in the last forty days. Strange and annoyingly sweet how sometimes you don't get tired of thinking of a single person.

Maybe, it’s my fault. He was just being kind to me. Too kind, actually. I was unwell and he came to check on me, as if he got a message. The way he cared, oh it still moves me. Everything seemed too good to be true. And then I said something odd that hurt him, perhaps. I was just being practical, you see.

I thought our relationship, if I can call it a relationship, was unique. We understand. We don't judge. We have another level of connection, but he disconnected himself, just like that. He responds to my messages though, sometimes. Like when I said I was sorry, he responded with a 'never mind.' and when I congratulated him on his new project, he messaged a thank you. This is not the way we communicate even though he is not talkative or expressive. 

The lift door opens at the 14th floor and my heart starts running. I press the doorbell and wait with bated breath. How would he react?

He opens the door, looking disheveled and sick. He stares at me blankly.

'Don't recognize me? Should I leave?' I say.

He runs his finger through his longish curly hair and steps aside.

'Are you unwell?' I ask, closing the door.

'Fever,' he says, his voice hoarse. 

‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ My palm, involuntarily, reach for his forehead. He closes his eyes, making me conscious of our closeness. I remove my hand.

'I’m okay,’ he says, as we walk towards the large living room.

'Have you taken the medicines or seen the doctor?' 

'Yes,’ he says without looking at me and flops down on a couch. ‘You didn’t need to bother.’ He looks at me finally, his expression unfathomable. ‘I can manage myself. And I have so many people in my life to take care of me.'

It hits hard. I force a smile. 'I'm sure you have.'

An uncomfortable silence is hanging between us, as I stand like an unwanted guest.


'Ah no, I should be going now,' I say, expecting him to say, 'Stay.' but he says, 'As you wish.' And it feels like a slap.

'Please take care.'

He mumbles something I can’t comprehend.

'Sorry to bother you,' I say and rush out of his flat. A hard lump has wedged itself into my throat. No, I'm not going to cry.

I close the door of my flat and weep. There was something between us, I have always felt. Something unsaid. Our camaraderie and conversations flash in my mind like a film. I'm still standing near the door when the doorbell buzzes.

Who's that? I run towards the bathroom and splash some water on my face. The doorbell buzzes again as I approach the door. I open it and freeze. It's him!

Just the way I left him a few minutes ago. I open the door. ‘You could’ve called me. You’re not well.’

He simply enters the room and reposes on the bed, breathing hard.

'I'm sorry for my idiotic behaviour,' he says after a moment, his eyes closed.

'No, that's okay.'

His eyes fly open, and he straightens himself. 'It's okay?' His gaze is so intense, almost smoldering, that it makes me uncomfortable. 'We are not talking to each other. We are not meeting. I'm not responding to your messages. I behave like a shit and it's okay for you?' 

I open my mouth to say something but don’t know what. 'It's been forty days, for God's sake!' He raises his voice a little, for the first time. 

'Look __' I sit beside him. 'I understand. There must be something bothering you ___'

'Yes, something is troubling me and I don't know what to do.' The way he looks at me, I feel like wrapping him in my arms. 'I tried to busy myself in work. I thought I could deal with it. I went to my home town so that I could find some solace but no. That's insane. Nothing bothers me when I'm home. But this time I couldn't stay there for more than 3 days.'

Now, I am worried. What's wrong with him.

Then he smiles. 'But, Maa understood.'

'Understood what?'

'That I'm in Love.' His glance is looming over me. His enchanting eyes look misty. 'I didn't know whom to talk.'

It seems that I've forgotten to breathe. I exhale a deep, quivering breath. I don't know if I should feel happy for him or feel bad for myself. 'Wow, you love someone so much that you fell sick?' I am astonished. Can anyone love someone like this? 

He is fidgeting. 'But why are you doing this to yourself?' I ask.

He ponders for a moment, running his fingers through his curly hair. 'Exactly, why am I doing this to myself?' He whispers, his eyes fixed on the floor. 'I think I was testing my own feelings.'

'So, the test is positive?' 

'Yes. 100%'

'Then why don't you go and tell her?' I say, even though it hurts.

He raises his head and fixes his glance at me. 'That's what I'm doing,' he says. 

What did he say? 

'That's why I have come here. To tell her that I love this silly girl madly. That she is driving me crazy. So much that it hurts to stay away from her.'

Wondering if this story can be a sequel to 'What If I Tell You...'

Friday, September 13, 2019

Watercolor Painting: Minimalism

'Simplicity, clarity, singleness: These are the attributes that give our lives power and vividness and joy as they are also the marks of great art.'

—Richard Holloway

Recently, I participated in an art challenge where we needed to paint using single colour {Monochromatic art}. And I really enjoyed that. Actually, I have realized that our painting sessions are much better if we use limited colours. That we {especially beginners like me} get a little confused when we use several colours for a painting.

What do you think? Do you like using limited colour palette or enjoy/like experimenting using different colours?

Sharing one more artwork I painted recently. I am not good at painting mountains but I like this one. And it's not minimalistic. :)

Sharing with Paint Party Friday