The Last time I ventured to the Starmarks in Quest Mall, I came across The Serpent’s Revenge by Sudha Murthy. I have recently started reading her books, and am in awe of her writing . Thus, this was a book that I had to pick up. It took me only two days to complete it . And Yes! I loved it. I loved it for more than one reason. Hence, here are 5 reasons why I liked the book and I am sure you would too, upon reading it.
Its MAHABHARAT Time!
If you are a Mahabharata freak like me, then this is the book to add to your collections. with over two dozens of stories, especially curated from the Great Epic, The Serpent’s Revenge brings to you an unseen and hidden version of this tale.
2. The Tales are short and crisp.
Each story is hardly five pages long. The stories cover a wide range of themes like love, betrayal, sacrifice, courage, gratitude, intelligence and others. Beautifully put down, each story summarizes an important part of the biggest epic of India. Not only do the stories catch your attention , but it also leaves you with a food for thought.
3. It Deals with the AFTERMATH of the War too.
For most novels written on the Mahabharata, you do not find references on the aftermath, barring a few. But , The Serpent’s Revenge pays equal attention to both before and after the war. In fact, it is on a closer look at the names of the chapter, that you would find the book named after a chapter which takes place generations after the war.
4. Beautiful Illustrations to Watch out for.
No matter how much you say that a book helps in creating an image of the situation in your mind’s eye; a little illustrations can actually do a lot of good. Hence, Murthy’s illustrator Priyankar Gupta takes care of this aspect. Some incredibly detailed illustrations follow every tale in this book. Not only does it depict the situation but also hints on symbolism. At times, the illustration alone tells you about the scene and the tale. Indeed the saying- ‘A Picture is worth a thousand words ‘ is true!
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5. Your perfect On-The-Go Book Buddy
Comprising of short stories nestled between a hundred and eighty-two pages, The Serpent’s Revenge has surely been designed for those lazy days when you grab a book and a cup of coffee; or for those long unending journeys where it serves as your best companion.
The Serpent’s Revenge is available in all the leading bookstores near you. It can also be purchased online through Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon. If you have read this book , do let me know if you have liked it and why? If you have not , well then you know where to find it , if you want to read it sometime later on.
The Last Song of Dusk by Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi is an exuberant tale of life and love. What might seem as a personification of the word melancholy through the novel; actually teaches us the harshest truth of life- that it is not always like the cherry on the cake. The novel is an amalgamation of the various shades of human personalities- from the grey shades of mankind to those of love, lust, bold, innocence, loss and grief- everything finds a space in this novel.
Each character in The Last Song of Dusk is as important as the other. From Anuradha who is the ideal wife, daughter-in-law and mother ; to Vardhamaan who is the best example of a devoted husband. Nandini on the other hand is the mirror that reflects the horrific side of the society- a reality which many consciously choose to ignore, many include in their daily gossips and some find it to be outright loathsome. Even strange as it may sound, Dariya Mahal, the beautiful House by the Sea too has a character and feelings of its own. This made me wonder if my house too has feelings, understands everything but can do nothing apart from silently gazing at my plight.
As you go deeper in the pages of the novel, you would realize how the superficial faces of the people start peeling away. It reveals their lonely, melancholic, broken -yet-living souls. In fact, for me it draws parallel to a time I spent on foreign lands. True to the world, I was smiling but by the evening twilight I had discovered the silence reigning deep down in the hearts of every person.
The Last Song of Dusk is also a beautiful painting, painted on a lonely canvas. It depicts the loss of a dear one; the estranged relationship between a once loving couple; the beautiful friendship between the living and the withering souls. It defines beyond boundaries, a mother’s love for her child. It brings to us the struggles of a vagabond, rejected by the society and yet claiming to fight back until she is remembered by all. It strongly portrays the societal pressures faced by those who go against the norms of the society. But, above all the novel redefines the word ‘love’ for its readers through the eyes of its characters. Love is not only an emotion which draws people closer. At times, it escalates distances between couples; it touches one’s heart for a brief moment only to part again. Love is eternal, glorious, painful, persistent but it does touch everyone in this lifetime; no matter for how brief a period. The language used by the author creates a vivid artistic imagery in the minds of the readers, one that would be etched on for a long time.
The Last Song of Dusk is available in all major bookstores or you can purchase it from Flipkart, Amazon or Snapdeal. I would highly recommend this book to all my readers. To end this post, I will leave you all with a quote.
Although I know little about art, my instincts suggest that perhaps all art is love in some avatar. It longing and rejection. Its first flower and its finale. – The Last Song of Dusk, Chapter 37, Page 236.
Books, Monsoon and Chai was a unique concept devised by Pradipta Mandal and Aniesha Brahma to get together all book lovers under the same roof. Held at The Chaiwala on the 2nd of July, this event was truly special for me. A small gathering of a few bookworms and a healthy discussion regarding their favourite books was an enchanting way to start the event.
After a brief introduction Aniesha Di, reiterated her love for the young adult genre. In fact, she even pointed out the reference many of them have to fairy tales. For me, fairy tales have been a part of my childhood like any other, however, I had never given much thought to them after reading them once or twice. The idea of stirring a plot with reference to the fairy tales for the youth has already gained my attention.
Having worked in the field of art education , books on child psychology interests Pradipta Di to a great extent. I believe that child psychology books are of immense help to not only children but also to their parents. Books are a reflection of life and they show us how to deal with certain situations better. She spoke about John Holt, an author she enjoys reading.
Subhro Da, gave me many new insights to the world of children’s books and their relevance in contemporary times. He spoke about his interest in the words of Roald Dahl and Sukumar Ray– both evergreen authors of their own time. He quoted from The BFG. – a quote so childishly written and yet so powerful in its versus that it connects with the fate of human beings in contemporary times. With Sukumar Ray, the world of gibberish has been fascinating to the young and the old. It has drawn readers to itself with nonsense-syllables only to emerge them completely into the pages of great classics like Abol Tabol.
Madhubanti Di , escalated the conversation from the different genres and our favourite books; to the emotional and imaginary level. She pointed out how they (the books) have always remained our constant companion in each of our moods. There is always a book to read when we are happy, sad, anxious, angry, disturbed and the like. These books have the strength to calm us down, a strength missing in the real world at that moment. She continued how books are a doorway to understand, relate and form different perspectives and interpretations of the common and uncommon situations. In fact, Madhubanti Di focussed on the fact that while reading a book, we often tend to consciously or unconsciously become a character in it. This is something that I personally believe in. After reading a lot of books throughout the years, I still contemplate at times, how I became the rejected Karna in the Mahabharat ; Mukesh from The Mother I Never Knew (Sudha Murthy) who journeyed to far lands in search of his mother; or Seema from The Teak Almirah (Jael Siliman) who saw the world change around her , a community disintegrate around her and yet held the fort refusing to part with the city she was born and brought up in , waiting only for a lost love.
The conversation then took an interesting turn with two varied but much debated topic. Everyone was more or less agreeing to the fact that the new authors in the horizon must be given a chance for their creative talent. In fact, it is always good to be updated with the current authors, for their writings are fast- paced, thrilling, action- oriented, bordering more on fantasy than real life; but definitely worth a read. Another interesting topic of discussion was how books were made into movies; and whether one prefers to read the book first and watch the movie later or vice –versa.
Paroma Di , discussed how Pride and Prejudice formed an inevitable part of her life . This timeless classic has always been her constant companion when it came to packing her travel bags. Having read and re-read the novel so many times, it has definitely left a profound impact on her. The second novel which had touched her and many other readers was The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Personally, it is one of those books which I can never forget myself.
During my turn, I spoke about the fact that I preferred to enter into the field of world literature and hence have recently taken a liking towards translations. Having read the entire treasure trove of Bengali literature in translations, I had shifted the territory to Indonesia and Kabul for the moment. Though there are many who do not prefer to read translations but in the original language the book was written; it is not realistically achievable as one cannot know all the languages of the world. Hence, reading the translations would at least provide a gist of the story and I firmly believe that reading the gist would also help to understand the crux of a beautiful novel; rather than missing it out completely.
My biggest takeaway from the event was meeting like- minded people. Often there are many who love to read books but cannot write about their impressions of the book or articulate the impact the book left on them. But this discussion was definitely a high for me where everyone came together to share their love for literature. In fact, Subhro Da also informed me about the short stories by Edgar Karat and Peter Bexel from Germany, books that I have already added to my wish list.
I would like to thank Aniesha Di and Pradipta Di for arranging such an event and inviting me as well. It was a fruitful discussion and gave a platform for book lovers to gather around and interact with each other. I am certain that such events would continue and people would take part in it, in large numbers.
Another event for the bookworms is being planned on the 13th of August. If you love books, and want to be associated with this event or just join in for some fun , do come for the event (details will follow soon) and you know whom to contact as well!
Amba : The Question of Red written by Laksmi Pamuntjak revolves around the modern-day retelling of the stories of the early Mahabharata. This Indonesian novel set against the backdrop of the political turbulence of the 1960’s explores the love and romance shared between the protagonists. Even though a modern-day retelling, Pamuntjak has tried to keep the story line as realistic and close to the original story line, as possible.
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Salwa, who was chosen by Amba’s parents for her as the best suitor depicted an epitome of gentleness, calmness, satisfaction and care; and yet lacked to touch the chords of Amba’s heart. Amba , on the other hand , often considered herself to be lesser than her ever beautiful sisters- Ambika and Ambalika. She often thought to herself that she was not fit for being loved and should follow her parent’s instructions and be the good girl that they wanted her to be. Bhishma, a highly educated doctor who gives up his family inheritance and lavishness to serve the people enters the life of Amba , only to turn it upside down forever.
If you are to draw parallel with the original Mahabharata, then true to his character Salwa plays a restricted part in the story. Amba, whose life’s major intention was revenge is shown as a more toned down woman with the sole aim of finding his lost lover throughout the novel. Bhishma on the other hand resembles his character to quite an extent. Despite being handsome and talented, he was forced to live the life of a celibate almost all his life. Though he did love Amba, he was also destined to not have her forever. It is said that the original Princess Amba had cursed Bhisma that each of the sins that he would commit in his lifetime would turn to sharp arrows that would pierce his body when he would die. It is interesting to note how Bhisma would meet his end in Amba: the Question of Red.
Further, for those of you who are well versed with the Mahabharata would wonder about the existence of Shikhandi/Shikhandini the re-incarnation of Amba as Drupad’s daughter/son ; who was destined to exact revenge from Bhisma. The presence of Shikhandi is a question that arouses curiosity in the minds of the readers till the very last page and I would leave it at that for you to find out.
What is interesting in the novel is the theme of lost love. Every character – Salwa, Amba and Bhisma had loved in their lifetime and lost the person whom they loved dearly. Whether it be a conscious decision to leave a person due to incompatibility ; or a game of fate which makes two lovers separate; the recurring theme of lost love is a highlight in the entire novel. Another interesting theme is in the name of the novel itself- The Question of Red. Red is a symbol of love, danger, fate and happiness. When you progress deep into the novel, you would realise how Red is the colour of Fate- the fate which decided the destiny of two young lovers- Amba and Bhishma.
Amba : The Question of Red is a must read for those who love to read romance or would like to explore another take on this ancient epic; where amidst many other themes love is also a crucial one. Pamuntjak has beautifully sealed the fate of the two lovers across decades in this novel. I would certainly recommend my friends to read it. It is available in all leading bookstores near you or can be purchased through Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal.
What started off with an unlikely event of finding Venkatesh’s lookalike; lead to the revelation of a life time for two brothers distanced from each other by birth and fate under a harsh society. “My mother says that everyone in this world has six lookalikes. I believe that mine are in other countries, because I haven’t met anybody here who looks like me. Maybe your lookalike is right here in this district.- Page 37” .Similarly, after losing his father, Mukesh stumbles upon a photograph which opened a whole new world for him; and he embarks on a quest to find his true identity. The Mother I Never Knew by Sudha Murthy encompasses two novellas spread across different states, class, caste, situations and yet bound together by an invisible thread of social taboos, social evils and social consciousness inflicted upon the characters.
Murthy beautifully captures the essence of motherhood – the love of a mother for her son amidst the limitations of the social conflicts. Motherhood is an experience that needs to be felt and understood. The chord between a mother and a son is a very special one which cannot be seen and understood by anyone save them. Often, a mother might be misunderstood for her actions, but the steps taken are always for the betterment of the child. The Mother I Never Knew portrays an important lesson- to never judge the actions of the mother. Onlookers never really know the situation that the mother had to go through and hence take harsh steps.
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A frequently asked question under the circumstances outlined in the book is that of loyalty. Does it lie with the mother who gives birth; or the mother who raises the child; often drawing parallels towards the eternal relationship savoured between Devki, Krishna and Yashoda in the Mahabharat. There is no fixed answer to this question as both mothers are part of the same scale to balance the life of the child. Neither is greater than the other. Nevertheless, the scale maybe slightly bent towards the mother who raises the child. Murthy too hints towards this in the following lines, “Giving birth is simply a biological event but parents must move mountains to raise a child to be a good human being. I salute the mother who made you what you are. – Page 202”
Thus, The Mother I Never Knew is an extremely emotional novella which portrays how the search of two men for their identity uncovers the truth from the clutches of the stereotypical patriarchal society. I would highly recommend this book to everyone. It is available in your nearest bookstores or can be ordered online through Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal.
“Empty and waiting The Teak Almirah stood witness to lonliness, longing, and pain. Secrets, fears and hopes for the future were stuffed inside its locked doors. We all make space for those we love and too often keep our dreams locked away until we find whatever it is we have been seeking.“
What does Calcutta / Kolkata mean to you- friends, family, community, lifestyle, nostalgia, happiness and many more. Kolkata is not a place regarding which feelings can be described. It is an emotion in itself which needs to be experienced. The Teak Almirah beautifully paints a picture of the various feelings regarding this place through the eyes of four Jews.
The Jews of Calcutta had come down from Baghdad. They were a prosperous community having built mane estates, bakeries, restaurants and synagogues throughout their stay in the city. In fact, Nahoums still remains as one of the best bakeries in the city. The story line narrates the life and personalities of four modern day Jews who have a strong bond with the city, their lost community and nostalgia of a time when the community flourished in Calcutta.
While most Jews decided to migrate to different countries especially to Australia, Seema decided to stay back in the city. She had emptied her Teak Almirah for the special person in her life. “He’s the only man I’ve ever loved.” Seema said, “Shall I betray him now? “. Seema , through her years of happiness and sorrows had seen the city change drastically. Tamara, on the other hand is a dancer from London. Her father was one of the very few who migrated to the United Kingdom. Having lost him at a very young age, she had always wanted to discover her father’s hometown- Calcutta. Her joy knew no bounds when she finally got the opportunity. But in time she would also discover that her identity might not be very welcome in the conservative Indian society, and thus decide to hide it. Mordy returns to Calcutta from Australia after a good sixty years to pay respects to his late parents. Unfortunately, he is greeted by shock when he sees a place and a society changed from its core. He feels like a stranger and loner in the city that he grew up in and loved much once. In fact, he starts despising the new Calcutta till he meets friends from his own community who gives him a new perspective to the city and the changes that it has harbored. Firozah, who lives in Bombay faces a new storm in her life when she discovers her long hidden past with the Jewish community of Calcutta.
The Teak Almirah is an amalgamation of nostalgia and changing times; it is a reflection of cherishing your individual identity and yet moving ahead with the progressing time. It depicts the beauty of a vanishing community and the struggles to keep it alive so that it is not wiped out completely from the memories of the people. The once flourishing Jewish community is today etched in the memories of the old. The author, Jael Silliman being one of the last members of the community in the city, is trying to archive the community memories in her website www.jewishcalcutta.in .
The Teak Almirah is available in major bookstores and can also be purchased online via Amazon.
The extra-ordinary story of a reluctant sex-worker is beautifully portrayed through the writings of Mini Gautam . The narrator is a young girl from the lower middle-class background . She traces her life which she embraced unwillingly due to her impoverished childhood. The Gutter Princess highlights the brutal truth of those living on the other side of the poverty line. It depicts how they un-enthusiastically sacrifice themselves to make ends meet. The dearth of work and lack of proper education forces the lower class to take up work which they may not often approve of but becomes a quick way to find solutions to all their miseries.
Throughout the narration I could relate to the social evils inflicted upon women in contemporary world. From a drunkard husband beating and abusing his wife and children , to a paedophilic father who could stoop down no more than lusting after his own daughter; all these and many more find mention in The Gutter Princess.
Further, the book also explores human psychology through its pages. A person is most vulnerable during childhood and his/her surroundings shapes up his/her personality for the years to come. In that delicate phase if a child stands witness to domestic violence, sexual assaults, rape and discrimination based on gender; there is a stark difference in the personality of the child as compared to those children who have a normal upbringing. Their personality often emerges to be stoic , bold, unloved yet determined to meet their goals- much like that of the protagonist of The Gutter Princess.
To conclude I would say that the novel is just not a poignant tale of the life of a sex-worker, but also a ray of hope to many who have traversed similar paths. Society may demean a person but a winner is one who fights against all odds and gives it back on the face of the so- called modern, contemporary and liberal society.
The Gutter Princess can be purchased in your nearby bookstore or it can be ordered online via Flipkart, Amazon or Snapdeal.
Rains off a Smoky Sky is the perfect metaphor for destroying the shackles of the society and carving a name for yourself, despite all odds. It is the debut novel by Dr Pritam Mandal, who pens down the life portrait of the protagonist- Anurita- through the pages of her diary. Just as rains are a bout of relief when it falls on the parched ground, similarly, Anurita’s experiences are a ray of hope and relief for the many young girls out there, who are hounded by a plethora of social stigma and taboos all the time.
What is interesting about the book is that it specifies the milestones of Anurita’s life through its pages. Thus, even though chronologically arranged you would find sufficient time gaps. Dr Mandal has carefully traced the life of a young girl, who grows up in a small village and chases her dreams beyond the boundaries of her rural settings to distant lands. He has also highlighted the various social stigmas associated with women- from studying science to marriage proposals after education; from the lecherous intents of men around to political harassment- the book has it all.
What struck me most in Rains off a Smoky Sky, was the idea of narrating the story through a diary. Today, in the digital age, people are forgetting the look of their own handwriting; let alone maintain a diary. The recollections of Anurita’s life through her diary touched a chord in my heart making me realize the importance of penning down memories; lest they be forgotten and lost forever in the sands of time.
Furthermore, the recurring statement of being a good human being made me stop and contemplate that it is easier to be scientific Homo sapiens but equally difficult to be ‘human beings’ in the true sense of the term. Being human does not mean being educated, ambitious, powerful and knowledgeable; rather it means to use your knowledge judiciously for the betterment of yourself, others and thereby the society. It means to use the power in your hands for the welfare of the people around you. It means to succeed in life but not at a compromising cost. Above all, being human means to retain your ground values and principles no matter how high you fly in the world. Thus, being human means to be humble and sensitive apart from being the rest.
I would, thus, suggest that you must read Rains off a Smoky Sky till the very end to follow Anurita on her fantastic journey. In fact, at the end of it all, many of you, like me, might wonder, if there is a sequel coming up. The story ends on a very high note leaving you anticipating for more.
You can purchase Rains off a Smoky Sky from your nearest bookstore or even online via Flipkart and Amazon .
“ If a strong man were to throw four stones, one each to the cardinal points, North, South, East and West, and a fifth stone vertically and if the space between were to be filled with Gold and precious stones, they would not equal in value the Kohinoor.“
Dalrymple and Anand in their latest, traces the history of the much respected yet feared Diamond of the world- The ‘Kohinoor’ – which means The Mountain of Light. Interestingly, the story of this infamous diamond usually begins and ends in two lines – the diamond once adorned the Peacock Throne during the Mughal Sultanate and now is a part of the exhibit of The Tower of London. But the story of this diamond is way more than just these two stages.
Kohinoor traces the history of this diamond which exchanged hands several times, saw the rise and fall of empires, travelled across boundaries, and was a symbol of sovereignty and power for not only the men who owned it, but also the women of the vast empires.
No one for sure can state the origin of the diamond. But it is speculated to have originated in the Deccan; though no evidences have been found to support the theory. From the Deccan it moved on to the Mughal Sultanate – appearing and disappearing throughout history till it finally adorned the Peacock Throne. Thereafter, it crossed borders to Iran, Afghanistan and Lahore before finally reaching London, where it still rests today.
Interestingly, throughout its journey, it has been rather carelessly handled. Shah Zaman had, slipped the Kohinoor into a crack in the wall of his cell. Further, the Kohinoor was found with a mullah who in his ignorance was using it as a paper weight for his official purpose. Another interesting observation has been revealed about this treasure. “Somehow a belief had taken root that women could wear it with impunity but that it would destroy any man who dared.” Every man who had ever come in close contact or possessed the diamond either lost it, died under tragic circumstances, was assassinated or went raving mad ; in fact, even the ship transporting it to England fell victim to the deadly cholera. However, women, time and again have adorned it on their crown and have been subjected to great luck.
To conclude it can be said that clouds of speculation and controversy would surround the Kohinoor but it has come a long way standing the test of time. If you are a history student or take keen interest in history, then this is one book you cannot miss. Its simple yet powerful language would leave a deep impact on the readers. Dalrymple has done extensive research on the Kohinoor and brought out such details of its past which would otherwise remained lost in piles of Urdu, Persian and English records.
I, personally took an interest because last October I got the opportunity to see the Kohinoor at The Tower of London. Of course, photography is not allowed inside the Crown Jewel Chambers which now houses this infamous diamond.
The Crux of the second book by Deepta Roy Charaverti, Cursed at Kedarnath, is not only personal experiences but also factual evidences based on immense research. The Diary entry at the end of each narration exemplifies the enormous amount of research done on the intricate parts of the experiences. Personally, I have been waiting for this book ever since I finished her previous title- Bhangarh to Bedlams. Cursed at Kedarnath is an anthology of six narrations, each dealing with a separate theme. Some of the explored themes are re-incarnation, possession, portals, apparitions and spirit communication. Moving on, the narratives stretch across various places like Kedarnath, Orissa, Rajasthan, and Kolkata. I especially liked the accounts in ‘Darkness at Nahargarh’, ‘Weeping Child’ and ‘Voices’. Having personally been to these places, these accounts have increased an urge in me to revisit them with a new perspective.
A recurring theme which I have noticed was the life-like metaphor attached to the inanimate objects. For instance,
“All around were dark forms of the Yoginis. Set into niches all along the circular wall, they seemed to be aware and very alive. Watchful. Knowing. “– The Call of the Yoginis.
“Coiling roots trickling down gnarled tree branches, caught in sudden white pools of light from my torch, seemed to reach out like skeletal fingers. “ – Darkness at Nahargarh.
“The old building lining the street on either side seemed like dead caverns, the empty windows dark holes and the old white pillar like shrouded silhouettes waiting to come alive.”- Weeping Child
“The lamp flickered once, and then it was still. The radio-box now lay quiet. Only the monotone of a hiss came from it. As if the life had seeped out of that mechanical box and stepped into the room”- Voices.
The two things which caught my attention the most was the use of everyday objects like mirrors and radio as portals or as objects of possessions; and the ease with which people forget tragedies and move on in life without paying a thought to the horrors of the tragedy which might still linger in the place. Often we, including me, think to have seen something ‘out of the corner of our eyes’. But just as quickly we dismiss it. The narrations made me think whether we are actually sensitive enough to perceive something but due to lack of understanding and knowledge of the esoteric dismiss it as common illusion. When I asked the same to the author, she replied, “I think that in our country, from the very beginning, we are conditioned in such a way that we cannot think outside of what is considered ‘correct’. For example, while we may be willing to study about (Thomas) Edison and his light bulb, we prefer to ignore his Spirit machine experiment. Perhaps we are afraid! So yes, I think someone who is sensitive will perceive or feel the signs. How clearly they will see and pick up messages from another dimension, is a matter of individual ability.” Further, according to a common statement ‘life goes on’, the cycle of tragedies and normalcy continues in the world. But the narration of the author’s experience in the ‘Weeping Child’ makes me wonder whether some unknown pages of these tragic incidents want to communicate with people in the present, trying to tell them their stories.
To conclude I would uphold an important point that was discussed even during the launch of the book. The narrations are not only esoteric but have immense human interest values to them. In fact, if you read the book carefully, you would notice that in most of the accounts the victims of injustice is a woman. When I asked the author this very point, she explained, “In our country, the injustice meted out to the woman is more. Be it the office goer, or the bahu, or the woman in the village branded as a daayan, the atrocities she faces are still really horrific. Perhaps that is also why, she feels more intensely. Be it anger, sorrow, pain or betrayal, it is an imprint that lingers even after death. Perhaps that is why the essence of a woman can oftentimes manifest more powerfully.” My last question, which I am sure most of the readers are inquisitive to know as well, was when we should expect her next book, to which she replied, “Next book? I just finished this one! But yes, I am thinking of it. Perhaps I have even started work on it.”