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Book Excerpt of Yudhisthira – The Unfallen Pandava by Mallar Chatterjee

Yudhisthira

Yudhisthira

The Unfallen Pandava

 

By Mallar Chatterjee

 

We, with our large army, reached Kurukshetra quite early in the morning from the west side with our faces to the east. The Kaurava army had not yet arrived. The new sun was just some distance into the sky from the horizon, beaming away serene rays of light. The morning looked too good to make anybody wary of any ominous prospect.

I was feeling sad that such a beautiful day was soon going to be completely marred by a senseless holocaust throwing party to the vultures sailing up in the sky.

 

Suddenly I noticed a thin, continuous black line along the horizon. It had not been there only a little earlier. The line was not static but moving. It was slowly broadening into a black strip or band. I now heard a faint noise, somewhat similar to the roar of a tumultuous sea, coming from a great distance. The black strip had already become broad enough and the noise much louder. Now we understood what it was. It was the enormous, roaring, clamouring Kaurava army marching towards us with the rhythm

of drumbeats. The closer they came, the louder the hubbub became. Soon, the din became deafening. I could now vaguely see the people standing upfront, despite the dust. Then with an ear-splitting command and the final beat of kettle-drums, the

army came to a halt.

 

When the mist caused by the dust faded away a bit, I could first recognise Pitamaha Bheeshma and Acharya Drona, standing in the front of the army on the other side of the ground. Their expressions were complex. Then I saw a visibly sad Uncle Shalya who ended up being on the wrong side. Usually amiable Kripa and Bahlika wore grim, anxious looks. Bhurishrava lowered his head to avoid eyecontact. Ashwatthama smiled faintly. Jayadrath twisted his face in contempt. That scoundrel must be remembering the ordeal he had had to endure at our hands. Duryodhana and Shakuni both looked

unusually serious and sombre, the former without his notorious overbearance and the latter his wry, sinister humour. Duhshasana was with his usual

poker face, though. He was too dumb to put up any other expression. Karna was not there. I saw the bright-looking Vikarna. I saw all other brothers of Duryodhana. I saw Yuyutsu, the sensible stepbrother of Duryodhana. Almost everybody present in the

front rank was known to me. Some of them were venerable preceptors, some my very own kinsmen and some former friends. Those differently aged men were central to my childhood memories. The last time I had seen all of them together was perhaps

at the rice ceremony of Duryodhana’s son Laxman in Hastinapura. How joyfully we had celebrated that day together and all those warriors glowering at us now with murder in their minds had looked so different that day!

 

Exactly what had changed between us since then? Wherefrom had this terrible malice come into being?

 

I felt I was seeing countless images of my own face in the Kaurava line-up, as if I was standing in front of thousands of mirrors. I momentarily felt a debilitating numbness in my limbs. I started to realise what this war was actually going to mean! I would be required to defeat none but myself in  this war and should I win, my own history would

be desecrated. This war, most certainly, would be survived by only some losers.

 

I felt a little ashamed for getting sloshy at the time of action. I quickly tried to see Krishna. Arjuna and Krishna were positioned far away from me. I saw them moving towards the Kauravas slowly. What were they up to? Their chariot stopped in between

the two armies. Arjuna stood up. Now I understood he wanted to have a closer look at our enemies.

 

But what happened to Arjuna? Why did he drop his Gandiva? Why did he sit down in the chariot burying his face in two palms? Was he feeling unwell?

 

Krishna had stood up meanwhile. I saw him put his hand on Arjuna’s shoulder and say something to him. Arjuna was shaking his head violently, evidently revealing his deep reluctance for something. Krishna seemed to be trying to console him. Then Krishna

took his hand off Arjuna’s shoulder and sat on the driver’s seat facing Arjuna. Arjuna was looking at him. Krishna was probably saying something to him. I could not hear them because of the noise all around. From a distance, I could understand that Krishna was delivering a lecture and Arjuna listening to him with all his attention. But was it the right place for a discourse? The two armies were getting restless.

 

‘What the hell are they doing, brother? I am dying to start thrashing the Kauravas and here these two have started a private conference!’— an extremely annoyed Bheema asked impatiently. Even Dhrishtadyumna and Drupada were getting impatient. The restlessness was precipitating into the Kaurava side as well. I noticed Duryodhana rush his chariot towards Bheeshma’s and indignantly discuss something with him pointing at Arjuna and Krishna. The soldiers of both the armies started fidgeting and flustering.

 

But the restive multitude surprisingly calmed down quickly, on its own. All eighteen akshauhini (eleven of Duryohana and seven of us) men stood breathlessly staring at the duo with rapt attention. Perhaps everybody was identifying his own internal struggle with Arjuna’s. Perhaps everybody wanted Arjuna’s weakness to prevail over meaningless bravery and wanted to go back home all smiles with a nice story to tell his beloved. Arjuna’s sudden mawkishness and his momentary abhorrence for fighting seemed to represent, for once, the very conscience of the monstrous assemblage at

Kurukshetra. Arjuna personified the last bastion of human dilemma before succumbing to a dreadful craziness.

 

But Krishna was in complete control of the situation, as usual. From a distance, I wanted to read their body languages. Krishna was apparently preaching something to Arjuna with animated gestures. Arjuna stared unblinkingly at him, evidently spellbound. I could not hear them, but it became clear that Krishna’s rhetorics were taking effect on Arjuna. He was evidently getting back his poise and his confusion was fast receding.

 

Krishna must have been telling Arjuna why he should fight his enemies, even if they were his blood-relatives. This particular war was not in conflict with dharma; rather it would help enforce dharma. This great Armageddon happened to be the much awaited dharmayuddha the world was in dire need for. But how did Krishna drive home his point when Arjuna, his disciple, was so down?

 

Krishna’s preaching seemed to have been over. There was a distinct change in Arjuna’s posture. He looked menacing now, and started stringing the enormous Gandiva. Krishna was spectacularly successful in changing not only Arjuna’s mood, but also the general disposition of numberless soldiers arrayed across the ground in peculiar formations. They did not know what went on between Arjuna and Krishna, nor did they need to. They only witnessed that Arjuna had been apparently convinced. That was enough for those common, simple men to shed their own weaknesses. Krishna

not only removed the confusion of a certain man, but actually did away with the general skepticism regarding the legitimacy of this particular war in a

most evocative manner.

 

Book Blurb

 

Though the Kuru family survived on Vyasadeva’s seeds, he never belonged to the house. Moreover, being an ascetic, he was even exempted from obligations of the complicated dynamics of human relationships. This armed him with a ruthless dispassion and he could go on telling his stories with stoical detachment, free from any bias and uncontaminated by quintessential human dilemmas.

 

But had any of his characters given his own account of the story, would not that have lent a different dimension to the events seducing ordinary mortals like us to identify, if not compare, our private crises with those of our much celebrated heroes?

The Unfallen Pandava is an imaginary autobiography of Yudhisthira, attempting to follow the well-known story of the Mahabharata through his eyes. In the process of narrating the story, he examines his extremely complicated marriage and relationship with brothers turned co-husbands, tries to understand the mysterious personality of his mother in a slightly mother-fixated way, conducts manic and depressive evaluation of his own self and reveals his secret darkness and philosophical confusions with an innate urge to submit to a supreme soul. His own story lacks the material of an epic, rather it becomes like confession of a partisan who, prevailing over other more swashbuckling characters, finally discovers his latent greatness and establishes himself as the symbolic protagonist.

 

About the Author

Born in a suburban town in North 24 Parganas in West Bengal, in a family of academicians, Mallar Chatterjee’s childhood flame was mythology, especially the Mahabharat. The Unfallen Pandava is his debut novel. Mallar is a central government employee, presently posted in Delhi.

 

Yudhisthira – The Unfallen Pandava is available online at Amazon.

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Women and friendship – By Tania Dey

sunset women

It’s a common notion amongst men that two women can’t cohabit the planet in peace, and there’s a counter argument that two women when left alone will start gossiping inevitably, even if they are strangers. Here’s the fun fact: both can happen. The women may tear each other down or may help each other grow. It’s just a matter of clicking- if it’s a friendship, based on love and mutual understanding, chances are that it will blossom a lifetime.

The relationships between a man and a woman can be complex and often men are known to emotionally shut down, leaving the woman to drown in her own nest, that is the time when she seeks the comfort of another woman, who possibly empathizes with her too. Women have a comforting nature, and this is the balm of friendship.

Women as friends gang up together, go out for parties, hang out at malls, catch up movies, and coexist happily, much unlike the myth: women quarrel. They may even be spirited enough to beat up the villains who trouble their fellow female friends. A gang of women strung together is a blessing- one possibly couldn’t understand the spirit of that friendship until they are a part of it.

It usually is the women against the world- and it might be endless sessions of gossips with pillow fights sprinkled, or it might be hours of ranting with a bottle of rum. It could be endless poetries stashed under the eyelashes of wet eyes, or might be obscenities muttered under stifled breaths. To be blessed with such friends who could die for you, is indeed being on the top of the world. Often it implies a healthy bonding over advice, cups of coffee, art and literature, and sometimes God forbid heavy doses of puns that would make anyone blush. Just broke your heart, or your boyfriend spoiled the day, or the kids are away, or general menstrual blues, your girlfriends always shine. The joy of talking about the world behind the world, is a luxury that only a few have experienced. Breaking all stereotypes and shattering all myths, the secret allegiance of women thrives. Have you pledged “till death do us part” to your girlfriends yet? If you haven’t, you should, as soon as you can. It’s you and them against the world, remember?

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Guest Post by Jayant Kripalani…. The story behind Cantilevered Tales

The name Jayant Kripalani is enough for anyone to say ‘Yes!’ to a guest blog post by him, and it is my utmost honour to host and present to you the story behind his upcoming book which is edited by the ace editor Indrani Ganguly, and is Published by Readomania.

Jayant Kripalani is an artist, writer, director, and a renowned film, television and stage actor, so automatically the question arises what made this brilliant multi-talented man pen this book? What’s the story behind it? So he answers the question himself in the post below.

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Why Jayant Kripalani wrote this book?

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Why did I start writing this set of short stories that became one long story? I don’t really know.

I was on way my back from somewhere by train and at Howrah Station a group of taxi drivers tried to extort a higher fare from me.  This was before the time of pre paid taxi booths.  Rather than shell out five times the fare I thought I’d take a bus. It was peak hour in the morning and though I did get a seat since the bus started from there, I hadn’t calculated the length of time I’d be sitting in the bus on the bridge. Forty five minutes of inching along later I heard a voice behind me say, “Aitaki Haora Bridge na Laora Bridge?”

I knew exactly what he meant.

I knew then that I had the beginning of a story.

“Where are you getting off?” I turned around and asked.

“High Court,” he replied.

By now we had reached the East end of the bridge. It still looked like we’d be on the bus for another 45 minutes.

“Walk?” I asked him.

“Let’s,” he said.

And that as they say was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

His name was Khokon. He lived in Santragachhi. And because of that immortal first line, I called the protagonist of my story Khokon. In the book though, the line belongs to his colleague Ashutosh.

Some time later, I overheard a group of people talking about saving a water body from some unscrupulous builder. Arun Lal the cricket player might have been a part of the group but I’m not sure.  I started keeping tabs on them. Not because I was interested in saving the environment or even that small little lake.

I am not a crusader.

I hate getting involved with issues.

But if you live in Calcutta, even for a short while, trust me, you’ll get involved.

More power to the builder I thought after I first saw the lake if you can call brackish acres of sludge a lake.

What did interest me were the disparate lot of people, and some desperate ones among them, who were determined they were going to save a stagnant water body from becoming an office complex.Frankly in my opinion that lake had outlived its usefulness to be anything at all.

I didn’t give a damn what happened to the lake.

But over a period of time I did start worrying about the people. And of course fell hopelessly in love with them. Their wellbeing and their good health became a matter of great concern to me especially since I saw the array of ‘villains’ lined up against them.

So rather than concentrate on Builder v Helpless Citizen – enough stories had been written about them, I concentrated on their stories and their histories.

This is their story or should I say these are their stories.  Some of the people are real; some of the people who come to their assistance are thinly disguised caricatures of people I admire; some are just people I met on buses and trams in my journeys across the bridge who wormed their way into the book.

And that is how this book got wrote.

Jayant Kripalani

 

Book Blurb

CANTILEVERED TALES IS A STORY ABOUT PEOPLE, THEIR QUIRKS AND WHY THEY BECOME WHO THEY BECOME. AND LOTS OF LAUGHTER!

I overheard a group of people talking about saving a water body from some unscrupulous builder and started keeping tabs on them. Not because I was interested in saving the environment or even that small little lake. What did interest me were the disparate lot of people, and some desperate ones among them, who were determined that they were going to save a stagnant water body, which in my opinion had outlived its usefulness as anything at all, from becoming an office complex.

This is NOT a Builder v Helpless citizen epic. In fact that is the least important part of the book. This is about a group of inept people who you want to reach out and protect but you discover are more than capable of taking care of not just themselves, but of you too.

Author Bio

Jayant KripalaniJayant Kripalani is an Indian film, television and stage actor, writer and director. Known for his work in TV series like Khandaan, Mr Ya Mrs and Ji Mantriji, he graduated from Jadavpur University with a degree in English Literature.

He has played character roles in movies like Heat and Dust, RockfordJaane Tu. . .Ya Jaane Na, 3 Idiots and, most recently, Hawaizaade and The Hunger. He has directed and produced a number of films and is actively involved with theatre. He wrote the screenplay for Shyam Benegal’s film Well Done Abba. He is the author of the heartwarming and nostalgic New Market Tales, set in the historic New Market area of

Kolkata in the 1960s and 1970s. His recent foray into writing performance poetry has brought him acclaim in poetic circles around the country. When he is not in Calcutta, he is either fishing in Himachal, pfaffing in Bombay or being a beach bum in Goa.

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Please note: This is a guest blog post and the views expressed are author’s own. 

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Paulami DuttaGupta…. A Conversation…

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Paulami, When you first started writing, what was the reason behind it? Why writing?

I started writing because I had a day job, eight hours at a desk and actually nothing much to do. I wonder why the company was even paying me all the money. And then on one bored weekday I switched on the TV, saw Gurmeet Choudhary, fell in love, started writing and wrote about fifty plus fan fictions in a year. There were a group of friends, the supportive sisterhood nudged me to write my first book.

You are the scriptwriter of two national award winning films, has that in any way affected your writing? Do you think people expect more from you now? Does that scare you?

I think people need to know me to expect more from me. They don’t and therefore I live in my world of laziness and follow my pace in creating things. What scares me is the inner voice that criticizes each story I write.

How has your upbringing in the North East affected your way of looking at the world?

My stories do have little takes from the North East. I am emotional about NE, however I wouldn’t say my formative years there have made my views what they are today.

We know you are one of the very few writers who openly express their political views, have you ever faced any problems due to that?

Not directly, but I realize I am not very popular because of the kind of views I share or the ideology I support. But if I were put a gag on my views, I would have to give up writing and expression completely. There are ‘well meaning’ friends that inbox, reminding me to not make political posts, say I might lose out on opportunities , not get invited to events. But that’s what my battle is against. So I send emoticons in reply and move on to the next political post.

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At the Kolkata launch of Onaatah

Tell me something about your new book, Onaatah. How did the journey begin.

The decision to adapt the film into a book was taken after the film had released in the theatre and had run housefull for a few weeks. I wanted more people to know Onaatah’s tale.  Onaatah a rape survivor takes a journey that ends unexpectedly. The tale questions class polarization, and is about the new relationships that Onaatah develops as she begins to heal and leave the sordid past behind her.

How difficult was it to turn a script into a book?

There are lot of supporting characters in this story that could not be given screen space. So this was my chance to write their story. After thirty plus drafts of the screenplay and forty plus views of the film, I would be lying if I say it was difficult to write the book. I was only worried about doing justice to the plot, since the film was lauded for the performances of the actors. I am still worried.

Now let me ask you some light hearted one liners…

 Paulami as a girlfriend is…. cranky, opinionated, emotional

Favourite writer… currently Suchitra Bhattacharjee

What makes you angry… ah this will be long. Hypocrisy mostly of our anointed liberals and intellectuals, pretending terrorism doesn’t exist or will go away with a placard, selective feminism, aping the west blindly, people who judge others by the quality of English they speak, waste of public money etc etc etc.

Something that is very dear to you… self respect.

Latest celebrity crush… Rajyavardhan Rathore.

A book that you hated… The God of Small Things.

Best way of taking revenge… Uff now don’t inspire me to take revenge on people. I don’t forgive and particularly never forget.

Going back to writing, we all know it’s a lonely job and without the support of you family it can be extremely difficult, tell us how important your family has been in your writing career.

A writer or any creative person, anybody who wants to build a start up etc need space and peace to work. That is where the family comes in. It is not that I do not have heated debates at times with my parents due to my cranky lifestyle. But at the end of the day they support me, and have been doing that for five years now.

Before I let you go, share some of your favorite writing tips for aspiring authors.

I am somebody who has never been to a writing school, never attended a writing workshop. For me writing is about looking around, picking up real characters, research on geography, socio-political scenario, and of course eavesdropping, watching a lot of films, reading books and articles.  In short anything that supplies fresh plots to me.  I may be the wrong person to share writing tips with aspiring authors, but I would just say this- each author has a unique style of writing and never be ashamed of the way you write. And of course the initial days are all about rejection slips and judgmental people, scathing criticism etc. Just keep writing.

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12694743_770122263119715_5437675306764414861_oAuthor Bio: Paulami DuttaGupta is a novelist and screenwriter. She has worked as a radio artist, copywriter, journalist and a television analyst at various stages of life, having been associated with AIR Shillong, The Tmes Of India- Guwahati-Shillong Plus, ETV Bangla, The Shillong Times, Akash Bangla and Sony Aath. Her short stories have appeared in various anthologies and literary magazines.

Paulami also writes on Politics, social issues and cinema. Her articles have appeared in Swarajya, The Forthright, NElive, The Frustrated Indian and Mumbai Mom. Paulami’s first film as a screenwriter, Ri-Homeland of Uncertainty, was awarded the National Award for the Best Khasi Film at the 61st National Film Awards.  A Thousand Unspoken Words, her fourth book, was published by Readomania. Onaatah -Of the earth is an adaptation of the National Award winning film by the same name. Onaatah was awarded the Best Khasi Film at the 63rd National Film Awards.

She is currently writing the screenplay of Iewduh, a khasi film, and working on a couple of short films.

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Thwarted Escape – A Review

Thwarted Escape : An immigrant’s Wayward Journey – A Review

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How do you review a book that is so close to your heart that you feel a maternal pride just looking at it?

How do you review a book that you have seen grow from a manuscript to a print edition?

How do you review a book that is written by an author, who is like a sister?

I guess there is no other way, but to be completely, utterly, honest about how I feel. I have been deferring writing a review for a long time now even though I finished the book about two months ago, the reason being every time I sat down to write words failed me. The book is so powerful in content, language, imagery, emotions that I felt that I will never be able to do justice to a piece of work like this.

The manuscript had been a Journey Awards recipient (2014), hosted by Chanticleer Reviews and Media, and also very recently been placed as Honorable Mention at the Los Angeles Book Festival 2017 (Category: memoir/autobiography)

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There is a beautiful foreword written by Dr. Santosh Bakaya, which impeccably describes the spirit of the book, which I would like to quote here, “We are there with her in her inner sojourns, and also there listening to the rumblings of her pent-up thunder.”

Lopamudra Banerjee’s Thwarted Escape is a memoir of her journey from a girl into a woman, from her own country to an unknown land, from being a mother to a motherless daughter, from a lover to a wife, all blending into one another. Her dreams and realities merge into this enchanting narrative to tell us about how she made through it all.

Her language is lucid, poetic, interspersed with a vocabulary that is both poignant and mesmerizing. Every line she writes feels like has been dipped in the ink of her soul and put into paper. This book is not for someone who is looking for a light and easy read. This is for the serious reader who is willing to invest time into the voyage of a woman’s life. It is for the readers who like  to search their own soul for the answers missing from their lives.

Banerjee in her preface says, “Eight years later, when I look back at the day I started to shape this journey, I am overwhelmed by how reminiscence, self-interrogation, anger, hopelessness, despair and a childlike surrender to hope and empathy has given birth to this wayward journey.” and you can feel as you turn the pages the amount of hard work, pain and faith has gone into this book. this book is literally made from the blood and sweat of the author. Each chapter can be read as an individual essay from the author’s life or you could read the book in it’s entirety and be spellbound at the magnificent job the author has done with it.

It is a memoir, you have to read it yourselves to find how well you connect with it. I would recommend it to all readers who love beautiful language, poetic verses, the themes of alienation, immigration, feminism, adaptation, motherhood, womanhood, defiance against patriarchy to name a few.

I will leave you with a few lines from a favourite portion of mine, from the chapter Thwarted Escape

“I return to the chaos and bickering inside the quite confines of my parents’ home in Barrackpore, to see a broken fragment of my own being, still lurking behind the dark corners of the rooms I had left behind. I return as the dutiful daughter-in-law to a broken and scattered home of in-laws emerging in my life time and again, as a river with secret tides I am obliged to navigate. I return, time and again, to the absurdities of a Bengali household I had so despised and escaped years back. I come back to them, not as as the restless, rebel woman, simmering with existential questions, not as a demure bride who didn’t understand shameless traditions of adaptation in a strange family of people who spoke less, felt less. I come back, as a traveler in time, to feel my frazzled self, and to pick up my own scattered pieces and recognize the weightless limbo of a world that inhabits me now.” 

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I dare say this is not a book, it is a piece of art, own it.

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Please Note: This is not a commissioned review

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Mock, Stalk and Quarrel – A Review

download (48)

29 stories

29 Authors

29 issues that have been dealt with excellent dose of satire, sarcasm and wit!

This book literally takes you on a roller-coaster ride, one story after another keeps you on the edge. Every time you finish a story it leaves you amazed at the craftsmanship of the people involved. The sharp editing makes it a pleasant read, not once does it feel forced. Every story has been given a flavour that carries the author’s signature style on it. Ganguly is present in all stories through her classic touch of perfection, yet never does she lets her presence overshadow the author, which is the mark of an excellent editor.

Of course when there are 29 authors involved in a book, you are spoilt for choices. Each narrative is different from the other; each writer brings in their own style of language. Satire is the spine of the most stories, with a dose of humour and wit. The stories force the reader to pause after each tale finishes to think about the truth that has been served to them wrapped in satire and humour. Not all stories are light, some are slightly dark and some have elements which will make you slightly uncomfortable. But that’s the purpose of the book, to make you think about the things that are wrong all around us. A portion of the blurb reads as, “From domestic violence to red-tapism, from reservation to religious fundamentalism, from scams to godmen, our authors have captured it all, creating stories that prick the conscience and challenge the powerful, gently ridicule absurdities and follies of follow humans, not to enrage the reader but to bring on a wry smile.” and true to the blurb, the books serves exactly that.

Reading this book has been an experience, and since it’s an anthology of short stories, it would be quite natural that I have some stories which I liked more than the others.  Without divulging their plots, I would like to mention few stories here which I loved, in no particular order Girl Talk by Kirthi Jayakumar, The Almost God by Ramaa Sonti, The Revenge of the Darbaris by Paulami DuttaGupta, Darkness Reigns at the Foot of the Lighthouse by Radhika Maira Tabrez, The Little Princess by Deepti Menon, The Hero by Esha Chakraborty, and The Whistleblower by Dr. Santosh Bakaya. 

I would like to applaud the publisher for taking up the challenge of publishing a collection of satire, which is quite rare these days. While most publishers play safe, Readomania comes up time and over with themes which are not only unique but socially relevant. Overall an excellent reading experience, I would completely recommend the book to readers who love short stories and enjoy a dose of sarcasm and wit while reading about issues which are plaguing our society.

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Please note: This is NOT a commissioned review. 

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The Moon Tattoo

The moon tattoo.jpg

Dressed in moonbeams and inadequate hopes of life

She steps out

Her smudged kohl, stolen from the darkest clouds, lines her eyes

With the agony of the unfulfilled promises

They had named her desire, as a child

Of which she had none left, all she had in her were

An inferno of broken glorious pieces of her beliefs

Her madness was her sworn in loyalty to the magnificent moon

Who she had given her heart to

As a fifteen year old, underneath the big banyan tree

On a clear cloudless night

Before they had stripped her of her childhood and turned her into a woman

But no, tonight, she is not going to think of that

Tonight she will sink in to the pleasures of

The night turning into dawn

The moon turning into an illusion

The moonbeams turning into her skin

Tonight she will sip every drop of falling dreams

From the sky above

Tonight she pays the moon back for her lunacy

With her magic, taken from her blood

And tattooed into her soul

 

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