Lost Treasure

Nikhil sighed. His son, Akash had forgotten how to smile after his mother passed away.

Gone was the cheerful Akash. In his place was a sad, quiet, pale-faced boy. Nothing made him smile, or talk.

Lost in thoughts, Nikhil tripped and heard a squeal. ‘Dad! You almost hurt him,’ cried Akash, scooping up the little pup that ran into their way.

Nihkil stared, transfixed. For the first time in 2 months, he saw his son’s eye’s sparkle, and a smile lighting up his face as the little pup lay cuddled in his arms.

Seeing Akash smile was like finding lost treasure.

This was written for the prompt – Lost Treasure for 100 words on Saturday on Write Tribe.

100 Words on Saturday - Write Tribe
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The Smallest Things

‘Rich doesn’t seem your style, Ellen. I was surprised when we met. Don’t you normally go in for more flamboyant men?  I mean, Rich is the sort of guy, you would normally steer clear of?’

‘Emma, he’s not the sort of person who I would normally go for, but he will make a wonderful husband.’

‘Yes. For someone else possibly, but for you?’

‘He’s rich’, said Ellen.

‘Yes, I have figured that his name is Rich’

‘No no, silly, he’s loaded!’

‘I cannot believe that we share the same set of parents! How can you be so mercenary? Don’t you realize that happiness is what matters, that money isn’t enough make you happy? You know, sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart!’

‘You know, sis, for a change,I agree with you. I was waiting until we meet Mum and Dad for this,but..’ Ellen fishes in her handbag and pulls put something.

A twinkling diamond engagement ring.

‘Small enough, my darling sis?’

Written as part of the Write Tribe Wednesday Prompts.

Write Tribe Prompt

The Ritual

writetribeprompt6Picture Credit: MorgueFile (http://mrg.bz/LsH3I1)

Dave’s phone pinged. It was Mark, his mate, texting to let him know that they were heading to the local.

Their Friday evenings ritual. Its been over two decades since they started it, and they never let anything spoil their Friday nights. In the last few months though, Dave has been finding it tough to join Mark. Work has been crazy. What with migrations every week, and offshore to handle, a totally new environment for him. He longed for those days of yore when he just did things at his pace. His lovely nine to five job, and early breaks on Friday. Bliss!

‘On my way’, texted Dave back. He deserved a break! ‘One Friday evening out of office wouldn’t hurt’, he thought, starting to shut down the multiple windows open on his laptop.

The phone’s ring jarred into his thoughts. He peered at the caller id. It was his boss, Anil. Could he ignore it? And pretend that he is already out? No, this is Anil, he would personally come and track him down at that pub! He had no option but to pick it the phone

‘Dave, there is some issue that has cropped up. Could you call the offshore team and sort it all out before end of day? We need everything sorted so that the offshore can continue work tomorrow. Everything needs to be fixed before the client comes in on Monday. I’ve just got off the phone from Andrea, and she is livid that last minute issues are still cropping up!’

‘Can’t make it, mate’, texted Dave once more to Mike. Whatever was he thinking when he quit his easy job and joined this consultancy! Money, of course, but was it worth it, if a bloke couldn’t go out on a Friday with his mates?

This was written as this week’s prompt at Write Tribe.

Write Tribe Prompt

7x7x7x7

This week’s Write Tribe Prompt is the 7x7x7x7 prompt. Here is how it goes.

Grab the 7th book from your bookshelf.
Open it up to page 7.
Pinpoint the 7th sentence on the page.
Begin a poem/a piece of prose that begins with that sentence
Limit it in length to 7 lines/7 sentences.

The seventh book on my shelf is Lucy Diamond’s Summer with my Sister. And the seventh sentence on the seventh page is

‘Not taking her eyes from the monitor.’

——————————————————————————————————————

Not taking her eyes from the monitor, Shobha yelled, ‘Maya, could you get the door, please!’

Silence. The door bell rang again, more urgently this time.

‘Maya, Maya!’

She would have to get it herself. Self absorbed teenagers!

Opening the door, she saw Maya. Her clothes were covered with blood.
‘Mum, I had to run out, a car hit him’,explained Maya, cradling her new cotton-lined laundry basket, in which nestled a tiny pup, badly injured and whimpering.

Write Tribe Prompt

Sister by Rosamund Lupton

I think TGND recommended this author, but took me a while to get hold of the book.

Beatrice rushes back from New York when her mother calls her up to report that her sister Tess has gone missing. Far though she was, the sisters had been incredibly close and Beatrice couldn’t imagine where her sister had gone missing. She just believed that her sister, with her different lifestyle would have just forgotten to inform anybody about where she was. Until they find her body. And what was even more shocking is that she seemed to have taken her own life.

That possibility is just unbelievable for Beatrice, for various strong reasons, but nobody else seems to want to listen to her. Beatrice, takes an impulsive decision of moving into her sister’s flat and trying to go where nobody else wants to. As she digs into her sister’s life, possible suspects emerge and before she knows it, she is in trouble herself. And alone.

Beatrice’s search for the truth, leads her to face up to some facts of her own life which she had been hiding away from. Getting justice for Tess becomes a journey in itself for Beatrice, changing her life beyond her wildest dreams.

The book beyond being just a crime fiction. A story that has so many aspects to it. The sisters bond, their past, which makes them who they are. the ways they handled grief, medical ethics… All together made it an unputdownable book. I would definitely, definitely recommend it.

PS: I’m not putting up a picture, its way too much work, while posting on the phone.

Also, I’ve been wondering if its a good idea to make a separate blog for the book reviews? What would you say?

A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam

Having loved Anam’s second book, ‘The Good Muslim’, I was on the lookout for her first book – ‘The Golden Age’. Although The Good Muslim was a sequel, I had no trouble following the story line, and I hoped that The Golden Age wouldn’t be rendered redundant by the fact that I had already read the sequel.

GoldenAge

I needn’t have worried. It is East Pakistan in 1971. Rehana Haque has just about started to breathe easy. Her two children, Sohail and Maya, who she struggled to keep with her and bring up, after she was widowed, have grown up and are in university. She now feels secure and comfortable, she has kept her children safe. The country is in the brink of a civil war. East Pakistan is fighting for independence and her children, she realizes, are right in the middle of it all. Not for them, the everyday worries of safety and security. Her sense of security vanishes overnight.

The life that she carefully tried to preserve, carefully nurtured, is all in pieces. Political upheavals seem to be mirrored in personal upheavals. Things which they took for granted are suddenly questioned.

While the sequel was largely about Maya and Sohail. The Golden Age, I would say, is mainly about Rehana. It is her story. Her struggles, her choices, and her life. Even when her choices seem wrong, it is difficult to judge her because her circumstances seem so tough on her. The ties that bind a mother to her children, and the extents to which people are forced to go because of their circumstances. Rehana finds herself part of a war, an upheaval that she wanted no part of, but is powerless to do anything about it.

I particularly liked the way the author has woven political incidents and upheavals into the story. Rehana’s life in East Pakistan before it became Bangladesh is a window to life in East Pakistan and the way it all changed. Hindus who considered it their homeland, suddenly realized that they had to run for their lives. When suddenly everybody has to choose sides, and hope that they have chosen the right side. While the older generation struggles with the choices, the younger generation is the one with the spirit to fight for what they consider their right. I can’t imagine what it must be to live through a war like this, but can only guess, that despite the tremendous losses, what they gained must be so very precious. A tale of love, heart-break, strife and hope.

A wonderful book. A book which I would recommend to everybody who likes books set in political situations and history. I especially love books of this sort, as it gives me an insight to how everyday life gets changed irrevocably by political decisions and political situations.

Edited to add: Title corrected – all thanks to Saks 🙂

Cut Like Wound by Anita Nair

I’ve always liked Anita Nair’s writings, and this book that has been on my wishlist for a while. I knew I just had to read it when I saw Wanderlustathome rate it highly on Goodreads.

CutLikeWound

A young male prostitute is found murdered and burnt in one of the many alleys in Shivajinagar in Bangalore. The case lands on the desk of Inspector Gowda and his new subordinate, SI Santhosh. Gowda is distracted, with personal issues crowding him. Not the most social person even normally, Santhosh finds him even more grouchy and grumpy than he expected. As they start investigating, they realize the case is more complex than they thought initially, it has all the indications of being a serial murder. The only clue they have is the modus operandi and a solitary pearl earring that they found on one of the victims. They have to use all their investigative skills and intuition to solve the case, while fighting bureaucratic bosses along with clever criminals.

A page turner, it is a wonderful book. I especially like the flavour of Bangalore that comes through so strongly in the book. It was like Bangalore was another character in the book, genteel and sophisticated at times, seedy and shady at others. Anita Nair’s writing reminds me of Elizabeth George’s crime books. Complex crimes, beautifully interwoven snippets of local life, and complex characters, interesting, and different practices, it was a very interesting book to read. I had an inkling of who the murderer might be, and yet the ending was very impressive. A book that I enjoyed till the last page.

Since this book ‘introduced’ Inspector Gowda, I, for one, am looking forward to more of Inspector Gowda thrillers from the author.

I would definitely recommend this book.

The Mango Season by Amulya Malladi

The name caught my attention. Having loved Malladi’s A Breadth of Fresh Air, I was tempted to give this a try.

MangoSeason

Priya Rao had left India 7 years ago as a twenty year old student. For seven years she avoided coming back, and managed to flout most of the strict rules that her mother had handed out, most important of them all – not to marry a foreigner. Well, she’s not married him yet, but she’s engaged to him. And the biggest challenge she faces this holiday is to tell her parents all about Nick, the man in her life.

Returning back to India, Priya realizes that while she has changed a lot over the last few years,things seem to have remained same back home in India. Things she grew up with, suddenly felt alien and strange, although her family, her really extended family seemed to be just the same. The same values, the same power struggles and conflicts, the same beliefs, some of which included very narrow view of Westerners. All of which, of course seems even worse now, now that Priya wants to marry one. How on earth is she supposed to tell them that, when the whole family seems more interested in getting her married to a nice Indian boy? They seem to be ready to do anything to get her married off to a nice Indian Boy.

While her family arranges bride-seeing ceremonies, Priya is at a loss. She feels torn and a traitor to both her family and Nick. She knows she will have to choose between her love and her family, and it’s no easy choice, even though her family gets so annoying at times, even though Nick is just perfect for her. Both are equally part of her. To have to choose is so brutal.

I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the mango season, the way life in India in the hot, sultry summer was depicted. I could almost feel the sweat, taste the tangy mango pickle that was made, hear the bargains that Priya’s mother stuck up.. and Priya’s embarrassment. It was just great! I love these sort of books, which totally take you to the place they are set. Priya’s dilemma felt real as well. Especially given the family that she came from. Although the story could have been predictable, the manner in which it unfolds is quite nice. And there is a nice little twist at the very end.

A quick, fun read, one that will keep you entertained and asking for more. The ending was a wee bit abrupt, but never mind, I still liked the book, over all.

When the Lotus Blooms by Kanchana Krishnan Iyer

My aunt recommended this book. Given that we have so many books that we like in common, I was waiting to get hold of it.

LotusBlooms
Two Tamilian Brahmin families, in two different parts of India, in 1930s British Colonial India, bound by a common destiny.

Rajam and Dharmu were both child brides, unaware of the life awaiting them. Rajam’s husband, Partha, fell in love with her at first sight, and engineered their marriage. For all the love that he bestowed on her, she had to bear the brunt of a mother-in-law from hell. Nothing she did could please her mother-in-law, and her childless state was the worst testimony of her failure as a daughter-in-law and wife, in her mother-in-law’s eyes, even if her husband was not bothered by it. The harder she tried, the more difficult her life became.

Dharmu, brought up in a village in Tamilnadu, is suddenly transported into a totally different world after she gets married. Her husband, Mahadevan, a sophisticated, London returned civil servant, lived a very different, Western life in East Bengal. In the middle of the political unrest and uncertainty, Dharmu tries hard to fit in. Sadly, no matter what she did, she could feel herself lacking. Right from her manners, her English, to the food that her husband insisted on. Everything was alien, and nothing seemed to elevate her loneliness and unhappiness. Things which were strictly forbidden growing up, now becomes things that she has to do, in order to fit into the society that her husband moves in. Her only joy in life was her little son, born after two daughters. Her casual neglect of her daughter, never even occurred to her, because, after all, they were just daughters, meant to be brought up and sent away to their marital home.

Unknown to both these families, the blooming lotus, would have a significance to both these families.

I really enjoyed the style of the author. She transports you to that era, effortlessly. Sights, smells, experiences, everything. You could be Rajam or Dharmu’s neighbour, witnessing them, going about with their lives. Their day to day lives, along with those around them. The story is woven with the traditions, practices and rules that bound the men and women of that time. Things that they accepted as part of life. The characters are really well-fleshed out. You feel Rajam’s frustration, and her determination to do her best, Dharmu’s loneliness and empathize with their situation. Even smaller characters like Dharmu’s maid, or the village untouchables are so well integrated into the story, that the book is a wonderful read, a sliver of life in a different time.

There is a fair sprinkling of Tamil words through the book, which just brings out the flavour of the book. I think it is books like these that capture an older time(good or bad), for when most of us would have forgotten it. And that, I think is what I really loved about the book.

If you like fiction of this sort, an olden era brought to life, you are sure to like this one. I would definitely recommend this book.

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This was a gift from Bindu, and one that I have to say, I absolutely LOVED.

Edited to add the cover image
purplehibiscus

Set in Nigeria, fifteen year old Kambili lives in fear of her dad. Her father is a pillar of the society, a generous, much respected and revered Catholic patriarch. While the community looks up to him, his family is petrified of him. His fanatically religious mindset ensures that his son daughter and wife have no real freedom. Their lives are bound by the schedules he draws up for them. Failure to follow rules come with a heavy price as Jaja, Kambili’s brother has learnt.

Kambili’s father, being so close minded about religion, has also disowned his own father for still being a ‘pagan’ and refusing to accept Christianity. The children are allowed to visit their grandfather but have strict rules on what they are allowed to do there, and the amount of time they are allowed to spend there.

Having lived such a life, they are suddenly taken by surprise when they go to their aunt’s house.
Their aunty, Ifeoma, is as different as possible from her fanatic brother. She somehow managed to convince her brother to let the children come with her for a few days. Her house was full of laughter and happiness. They did not have too much money but they made up for it in spirit. She is Christian as well, but not in the fanatical way her brother is. She accepts her father’s right to believe in what makes sense to him, and as a daughter does what she can for him, despite her own cash-strapped life. Her three children are happy, content and forever questioning their mother, while contributing to their household in whatever way they could. Jaja, fit into the household beautifully, enjoying his time there, soaking in the atmosphere. Kambili, on the other hand, is terrified that her father’s rules are being flouted. She lives in fear that they would have to pay for not obeying their father.

When they return back to their home, Kambili misses the simple easy life there, despite all the material comforts her parents’ house had. Jaja shows a few signs of rebellion that irks his father.
Some sudden changes and incidents ensure that the children end up in Aunty Ifeoma’s home again.

Nigeria, is in the middle of political unrest and their father is affected by it, because he was such an important figure of the community.

As Nigeria goes through the upheaval, Kambili and Jaja’s life changes drastically.

A poignant, and hopeful story that keeps you rivetted. A story of childhoods coming to an end, of control, of religious fanaticism that we see so much around us, emotions, and primarily, hope. Of better things to come.

Some books transport you to another world. You are right there, with the protagonists, feeling their fears, worries and joys, this is one of those books. The characters come alive, you feel Kambili’s fear, confusion, Jaja’s need to rebel, her aunt’s struggles, her mother’s pain… A beautiful book. It also makes me want to look up about Nigeria, a country, I realize,I know very little about. An absolutely recommended read.