Aug 16, 2011

'Musings of a Wanderer'- A review



I remember a friend of mine expressing his doubts about the future of poetry when I suggested he seriously consider getting his collection of poetries published. Someone had crippled his faith by saying that prose would rule the publisher’s choice over poetry, anytime!
I beg to differ.

               My heartfelt congratulations to you Shreya Chatterjee and I applaud your effort in bringing your feelings out into the limelight through such fluent poetic verses. Shreya Chatterjee’s ‘Musings of a Wanderer’ is a collection of short verses that rekindle hope in this day and age that poetry will not die a slow death. As long as emotions and experiences stir one to pull out their quills, one should continue to write in verse. And also believe in it enough to know that there will be some hearts out there that will definitely relate to your words and connect with your book of verses.

This extremely reader friendly slim book of 95 Pgs. is full of sweetly simple poetry that clearly comes straight from the heart. No bombastic words, no over-the-top extravagant subjects, no drama! Just plain, free-flowing MUSINGS one can breeze through. You don’t need to possess an intrepid soul to connect with this wanderer. She talks of journeys that most may have experienced with child-like innocent wonder. And it is amusing to see how she has turned simple daily happenings into pieces of art for all to appreciate. This book is indeed a world within a world!

Shreya Chatterjee’s style of writing will come across as very contemporary for those (like me) who have grown up reading and appreciating poetry of the golden ages written in chaste English.
Please do not expect verses that will rhyme and follow strict meters though at many points it did feel as if she’s woven many Haikus together to make one piece. She is a writer of free will and free verse, a true wanderer! She has explored. She has expressed the way it comes to her.

There are many high points in this collection of poems. However I wish she had taken more pains in carefully titling each piece. There are many poems, in my opinion, which would have been examples of perfection if their titles were well selected. ‘Candle Tete-A-Tete’ made me expect  yet another light-hearted romantic piece whereas it turned out to be a beautifully, creative piece which told me ‘What is a candle’ and brought before me the different significance of the Candle in our lives.

I recommend you read ‘Defiance’- am sure many will be able to relate to the spirit in the poem, the fervour of emotions is at its peak expressed through a rich selection of words.

I must thank BlogAdda for initiating me to this collection of poems. It is nice to read such light-hearted poems too, once in a while!



This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

Aug 8, 2011

55 Fiction #8


His heart began racing on hearing the roar in the distance.
It was a pitch dark night.
He bravely began moving in the direction of the growling which got louder and louder, as he inched closer, stealthily.
With one sweep he deftly pulled the wallet out from beneath the snoring man’s pillow and bounded away. 



Aug 3, 2011

TOMORROW

With a promise that I have picked up my pen with an intention to write and post more regularly, now on, like in the past. My dear readers, I'm sure will rebuild my faith in my writing with ur kind words of appreciation and serious criticism too..:D
Here's a fresh new story as a toast to this rich blogger's world and our friendship!!! Now on I will write like there is no TOMORROW..

TOMORROW

“Rickshaw” she yelled but all zipped past her, laden with passengers. Well past 10pm. M.G. Road was still a busy thoroughfare. The dinner meeting had sealed the deal and Neena was elated that she’d be standing on her own two feet, an independent fashion designer, very soon.  Presently however, she couldn’t stand in her stilettos anymore. Her back hurt so much that she wished she could tear them off her feet right away. Just then a rickshaw stalled a little ahead seeing Neena flailing her arms. She was saved.  “Aundh” she informed the rickshaw driver. As she hastily stepped in, Neena promised herself a car before the end of the year. Then she could drive into the city and back, as and when she pleased. Then she wouldn’t have to suffer backaches and await some rickshaw driver’s mercy.
 “This is quite an achievable short term goal Neena” she convinced herself with a broad grin, remembering the hefty check she was carrying in her purse. She couldn’t believe she’d been hired by the famous director-producer duo, the Kapurs’. Designing for such a big banner in the Hindi film industry only meant that there would be no looking back.
 It felt like an exceptionally cool night’s breeze on her face and Neena was still smiling to herself when her eyes met the cabbie’s, through the rear view mirror. Neena was flabbergasted to see him leering back at her. 
Partly disgusted, little scared, it felt like an eternity before she’d finally reached the gates of her apartment complex. Neena paid him off hurriedly and ran barefoot to the elevator. While she held onto her handbag and footwear with one hand, she punched the button of the elevator with the free hand. Neena was still rummaging the contents of her purse for her house keys when she realized her cell phone was missing.
“Mum, I’ve left my phone on their office desk I suppose.” She informed her mother as she let herself in.  Swerving around with a look of great relief, her mother rose from the sofa, switching off the T.V. immediately.  “Neena, where have you been? I’ve called your cell more than twenty times by now. You almost worried me to death!” She admonished her.
“I have great news for you but we’ll talk in the morning Ma. Go to bed. I’m extremely tired….Sorry! ” Planting a kiss on her mother’s forehead, Neena disappeared into her room.
“I hope it is where I think it is and stays there. I cannot afford to lose my BlackBerry.” Neena superstitiously believed in omens and wondered what this meant. She laid her tired head on the soft pillow trying to visualize what the next day would bring but try as she might she couldn’t have imagined her ‘Tomorrow’.


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

The glass door flung open and another customer walked in. A gust of wind that followed him fluttered the pages of the calendar hanging on the wall.  Mihir’s assistant attended to the customer while Mihir stood staring at the calendar. Is it time already? He wondered.
An extremely ambitious entrepreneur, Mihir Sabnis had picked up a heavy personal loan from a local Marwari money lender to start his own Cybercafé. It was a swank set-up of 15 computer stations, a franchise enterprise with a leading Internet Service provider. He’d opened shop at a prime location in Aundh and business was good but the Easy Monthly Installment wasn’t as easy as he’d imagined. And time seemed to really fly. He’d skipped his E.M.I for the last couple of months requesting the Marwari to pardon him for the delay under one pretext and another. Now a third check was already due. Mihir was sure he’d have to pay up all the E.M. I.s’ this time without fail. “How can I ever hit a break-even at this rate?”  Mihir thought aloud, pulling at his hair in frustration. He seemed to be making money to fill the Marwari’s pockets and not his own.  Was it a wise decision? Mihir again asked himself. “I should have simply waited for a bank to sanction a personal loan.” Muttering under his breath he left the Café with a frown. 
24 year old Mihir was a bike enthusiast and his Bajaj Pulsar was the best stress buster for him. He was pulling a Sit-down Wheelie when Mrs. Agrawal stepped out of the beauty parlor neighboring Mihir’s Cybercafé. Mihir brought the bike down and the front wheel landed just a few inches away from her feet. She glowered at him so sternly that Mihir revved up the machine and sped away. Down the road he went, took a ‘U’ turn and was driving back in at the complex gates when he unfortunately came across Mrs. Agrawal once again. She was about to step out of the gates. This time Mihir had recklessly failed to slow down. He jammed on the breaks and came to a screeching halt, just in time to avoid hitting Mrs. Agrawal.
Scared out of her wits she scolded him at the top of her lungs, “You fool! Don’t you know how to drive safely? Someday, at this rate, you will kill someone or get yourself killed!”
Sometimes people speak without thinking.
 Mihir arrogantly shot back, “How about Tomorrow?”


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


‘Welcome to Agrawal Construction Company Pvt. Ltd.,’ read the board hanging on the first floor. Mr. Suresh Agrawal owned the entire first level. One half being utilized as their office and the other was his residence. He stood in his office window smoking a cigarette. The board outside was very cordial but Mr. Agrawal was really a shrewd man. He could only think of money and never let go off a single opportunity to make some additional moolah.  Baner road was being widened to 80’ but he had lost the contract to a competitor firm. He was still grieving the loss. Thus the tarring of the portion right outside his building became a complete eye-sore for him. The machines at work, the fumes from the burning tar acted as constant reminders causing him to be in a perpetually foul mood.
Traditionally a money lender by profession, Mr. Agrawal continued to pursue it as a side- business. Discreetly, he lent large amounts of cash against property to young entrepreneurs for new business ventures but at very high interest rates. He was also capable of making his recovery single-handedly. He promptly went back to his ledgers to study the list of defaulters. And there he found someone to vent his frustration upon. 
Soon he was threatening Mihir Sabnis over the phone. “No excuses this time young man. 3 E.M.I.s’ are due now. If you can’t pay up I will confiscate your computers & every bit of furniture to auction them off or I will have to take over your Internet Café until I recover my money. You understand?”
Without allowing Mihir to utter a single word, he’d cut the call after a strict, “Pay up in cash or check, not later than Tomorrow.”


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


Neena showered and dressed, taking care to look as exquisitely turned out as possible. She couldn’t show that the loss of a phone could harrow her so much. And she also had to appear being absolutely stylish herself. So she wore her best sundress, glossed her lips and preened before the mirror.  Putting the hat on and taking it off, “OTT?” she asked her mother.
“And pray what is that?” her mother inquired, laughing.
“Oh Ma, come on! You must know OTT is Over The Top. Your daughter is a fashion designer. You can’t sound so clueless.” protested Neena.
“They aren’t interviewing ME!” said her mother teasingly. How proud she was of her daughter! Confident that Neena, would soon be a brand name in the fashion world. 
“Ok. I’m off Ma! Don’t want to get late.” Neena had wisely chosen a pair of Ballerinas this morning and how kind they were to her feet!
Like every other morning Mihir was in the stilt parking lot cleaning his beloved bike when Neena stepped out of the elevator. Tousled hair, groggy eyed from late nights before the computers, he stood wringing a wet rag. Neena, fresh as a flower made a sharply contrasting picture. However, her heart began beating faster at the sight of this neighbor.
“In a hurry? Need I drop you somewhere?” Mihir Sabnis had offered.
She breezed past him with a polite “No, Thankyou!” disappearing around the corner after throwing him a big broad smile. She would have loved to pillion ride on his flashy bike but she couldn’t possibly be seen with him when he was looking like that.


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


Neena was peering at the meter reading when the stinky rickshaw driver announced “30 Rupees” holding a palm out for Neena. “How I abhor this rigmarole!” she thought to herself, gritting her teeth. Neena was back outside the Kapur’s office, at 10 a.m. exactly 14 hours later.  ‘Bharat Residency’ was a small, four florid, old structure and the four flats on the ground floor had been converted into offices. The Kapur’s operated out of one of them.  A thin brick wall and an old creaky gate, laced by an almost negligible strip of land that passed off as a footpath, separated the building property from the main Baner Road. The builder had however provided a spacious yard and there seemed to be ample parking space available. The garishly colored ‘Welcome to Agrawal Construction Company Pvt. Ltd.,’ board on the level above the Kapur’s office caught Neena’s eyes as she passed through the gates. She must have missed it in the dark of the previous evening for the gaudy color combination was just impossible to ignore in broad daylight.
Neena rang the doorbell to the Kapur’s office and waited. She dint hear any movement from within. She rang it once again but there was still no response. Neena walked to the open window besides the entrance and noticed the ceiling fan slowly rotating. “That means they are inside.” She guessed and decided to wait.
A good 1 hour later the door had still not opened. She wondered why? All sorts of ideas began racing through her head. Neena went around to the back of the building but the rear exit was locked from within too. Just then Neena happened to look up and found Mrs. Agrawal watching her.
“Sorry to disturb Ma’m, any idea about the Kapur’s? I’ve been ringing their doorbell since an hour but nobody is opening the door.” Neena tried to hide the anxiety in her voice. She was longing to lay her hands on her expensive, new phone as soon as possible.
Mrs. Agrawal held a thoughtful silence and finally spoke, which already seemed like eons later, to Neena. “I don’t think there’s anyone in the flat downstairs. I heard the couple’s car come and go, very late in the night. The horrible noise that SUV makes, I tell you! I guess they never came back.”
This bit of news was very disturbing for Neena. How was she to reach them now? All the contact Nos. were stored in the BlackBerry and were as good as lost until she got the phone back. The Kapur’s in turn only had her cell No. to reach her. “Oh! What a bother!” Neena fretted.
She was standing there under Mrs. Agrawal’s balcony in a stupefied haze when they heard a roaring engine at the front of the building. Neena rushed in the direction of the noise in hope of seeing the couple. Instead she saw a huge truck had pulled in. The doors to the Kapur’s flat had finally been thrown open but she saw two men were carrying the office furniture out. “What is happening here?” Neena questioned the driver who seemed to be concentrating on chewing the betel nut in his mouth. Neena’s voice had succeeded in rising over the noise of the truck’s engine. The look in her eyes must have melted the driver for he actually stopped the meditated munching to reply “Maydum they are shifting out, can’t you see?”
A volley of questions popped in Neena’s head. Does the sudden shifting mean that they are in some kind of a problem? Is that why there was no contract between us? Will my signing amount check realize at all? Are they jilting my dreams? Neena couldn’t believe her luck. She dint know what she must do next so she simply waited in hope that Mr. Kapur would turn up at the site. “He may want to organize the packers or pay them off and then I may get a chance to speak to him.” Neena consoled herself.  
Mr. Kapur never turned up. It was noon and Neena’s tummy was rumbling in protest for she had skipped her breakfast. Neena saw the packers and movers truck reverse out. Dejected, she was about to leave when Mrs. Agrawal reached her side. The chatty lady had struck conversation. In hope of being able to reach the Kapurs’ through Mrs. Agrawal, Neena tried to be her most friendly self.

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

Mr. Agrawal was getting restless. There was no special meeting scheduled for this morning but Mihir Sabnis had called to say that he would be coming with his check. It was already hours since his phone call and still there were no signs of the boy. Mr. Agrawal’s spirits were still not up and the cacophony of the packers and movers’ truck was irritating him. His temper was slowly rising, very much like the previous day. “Why are these turning out to be such lousy days, back to back?” Mr. Agrawal mumbled to himself.
He went to the window to give the truck driver a piece of his mind but to his relief, the truck was already at the gates. His attention was now drawn to the conversation between his shrill voiced wife and a young, beautiful girl. He could only see the top of her wide hat. He imagined such a well-dressed girl would definitely have a pretty face. As he was craning his neck to get a glimpse, the sound of screeching breaks suddenly pierced the air, immediately followed by a terrible crashing sound from the main road. He could see people running from across the road to their side. It appeared to be a major accident from the continuous honking of numerous cars and the loud sound of the collision itself.   
Mr. Agrawal didn’t understand why his heart had suddenly started racing faster. A weird thought crossed his mind but he was not ready to acknowledge it. It evoked a strange emotion within and he began to run downstairs, as fast as his aging knees could carry his bulky body. He rushed past his wife who had also begun to move towards the gate, out of curiosity. Neena had never felt the urge to visit any accident site ever before but this time she surprisingly felt drawn straight towards it.
Mr. Agrawal didn’t stop to look at Neena but kept going with his dutiful wife in tow.  Neena stopped at the edge of the footpath, shell-shocked. A metallic blue Bajaj Pulsar lay mangled in the middle of the broadened road, only a few meters away from the ‘Bharat Residency’ gate. It looked far too familiar to her. Her stomach churned and she felt faint. She wasn't sure if she was ready for another dose of disturbing news in the same day. Neena however slowly mustered all her courage and went ahead to get a closer look at the accident victims. She hoped her hunch was wrong and to confirm that she would have to step ahead and find out herself.

Neena walked past the truck driver who was sitting at the roadside, tending to his own wounds. He was bleeding and looked shaken. The two other men must have gone for help.  Neena thought, seeing the front of the truck had been completely rammed in, right in the centre. “The impact must have been great.” she observed sadly.
She heard a couple of boys discussing the freak accident. Cutting diagonally across from the opposite side, the biker had driven right into the flowing traffic. The Packers & Movers’ truck had just left from Bharat Residency in its respective lane but the bike was at top speed and the head-on collision was inevitable. “The boy just got flung off onto the roadside, man!” exclaimed the onlooker. “Utterly suicidal driving!” concluded the other.
As Neena got closer to where the biker lay she saw Mr. and Mrs. Agrawal had successfully made their way through the curtain of spectators. For a moment she wanted to turn back in the fear of a gruesome sight but she pushed ahead through the crowd and managed to clutch at Mrs. Agrawal’s elbow. Like spectators around a road show, the crowd was thick but nobody seemed to want to help. Not an iota of concern on their faces for the accident victim. They were merely discussing a mishap. Soon there’d be reporters at the site, Neena imagined.
Just as the trio thrust into the clearance, Mr. Agrawal who had led them through gave a loud gasp and reeled backwards. Neena and Mrs. Agrawal lunged ahead to support him. It was Mrs. Agrawal’s turn to take a look at the biker and she screamed. Turning her face away, she told Neena, tears rolling down her cheeks in an instantaneous stream, “I knew this would happen! I was trying to warn him. Oh my Lord, he spoke without thinking!” She was inconsolable. And Mr. Agrawal was kneeling on the ground, muttering “This can’t have happened. This is not true.” At that minute Neena saw hope that her fears could be rested. Assuming that the victim must have been a Marwari relative, she went forth to take a look herself. One look and she’d frozen over.
Mihir Sabnis had hit his bare head on the Road Roller parked at the side of the road. His lifeless eyes stared into space. Mihir lay there, dead.
Neena heard someone say “What a day this is!” before she’d fainted.  

This story was written for the CARRY ON TUESDAY #116 prompt
and the 3WW CCLII prompt words: Appear, Dose, Pierce