TITLE: Sands Of Time
AUTHOR : Neelam Saxena Chandra
PUBLISHER: Panther House Paper & Digital Publication LLP
GENRE: Short Stories/Women/Fiction
Time is a magician. Sometimes, it acts like a soothing balm for healing the aching hearts of women and at other times, it teaches people living around her to adapt. And at some other times, it teaches people living around her to adapt. And at some other instances, time also brings with it punishments, penances and penalties. The book ‘SANDS OF TIME’ will take you through various such emotions in the twelve stories which it contains: tales that will make you smile, tales that shall raise your hair, tales that will make you hate and tales that will make you fall in love with all the protagonists.
DONNING ON THE REVIEWER HAT
Reviewing this particular book of the author was going to be a challenge for me. The reasons were simple. One, the author was a dear friend. Two, I am the editor of the book! I usually never review the books I have either written or edited because there is always the chance of one getting biased. But, this was the publisher’s special request to me and since I only do unpaid reviews he was sure that I would be writing an honest review. So, that sealed the matter temporarily at least!
Coming back to the book, what stands out is the theme of ‘women through time’- all kinds of women- happy, sad, abused, loving, married, unmarried, victorious, hopeful. The list is just endless. So, that was a plus point as far as the book theme was concerned.
Then, is the author’s genuine attempt at sending across a social message to society via the stories. Each story is a successful endeavour at creating an atmosphere for reform. A book of fictional stories need not be written with a desire to convey anything. After all, all that a writer wants is to pen down her/his thoughts and emotions on paper and weave a string of imagination around it. Why bother to add a message to it? Neelam Saxena Chandra instead, takes this story collection as an opportunity to weave her imagination around society’s latent problems.
Each story is different. While In Pursuit Of A Suitable Guy is the look out of a woman for her soul mate, The Coming Of Laxmi is about the rampant abortion of the female foetus and sex determination in today’s society.
“You are having a baby in your stomach and it is hitting you with its legs and hence you are crying!” Revathi exclaimed in one breath.
Vijaya smiled. How innocent and naive was the world of children. Revathi was only three years old and she formed her own theory of why she was crying!”
Another Chance is a brilliant attempt at exposing the danger and hypocrisy of child marriage.
“The girls of the family should not argue. Too much of argument is not good for women folk,” stated her ammi.
Reflections From The Past is a lovely combination of single parenthood, child labour and horror. One gets to enjoy this story for the myriad emotions that it portrays.
The Return Of The Daughter is about society’s prejudice against abused women. It is about the deception of marriage in some unfortunate women’s lives.
It is not that the author keeps harping on age old issues. Current problems like sexual abuse by a parent is also incorporated in this collection. Wings Of Hope is one such emotional story.
“I have aged now. I really do not know how long I will live. My husband expired a year back. My children often insist that I should go and stay with them. But this home is my world. And when children like Shiya come and ask for my blessings, I feel that I have had life well-lived. When my turn comes to bid adieu to this world, I will not have any regrets.”
For parents who have not been blessed with children, adoption is the only beautiful way out. But, what if the person adopting was not at all married and, was not a woman too? Filling In The Blanks is one such beautiful story.
Loving without strings attached is not easy. For most people, you have to get something to give something in return. The Hangover is one such tale where the woman protagonist sets a man thinking about the real meaning of love.
Bolstering Bonds is about physical abuse caused by loved ones and then, overcoming it. It is a story about bravery and courage.
If a story collection can have so many interesting topics can a thriller be far behind. In The Killer’s Hands is one such story about a serial killer and what it means to love such a person.
Sand Clock is about removal of chauvinistic ideas and reform in a couple’s life by way of adoption.
Finally, The American Dreams proves to be the icing on the cake of this unique story collection. Read it to know more.
STYLE OF AUTHOR
The author’s style of story-telling is simple and reaches the heart of the readers. No hi-funda, intellectual stuff here. Simple tales of love, abuse and valour narrated well. If you are looking for a small book to warm you up during rainy weather or cold sunshine then, this is the book!
INTRODUCTION TO THE AUTHOR
Neelam Saxena Chandra, an Engineer by profession, works for the Indian Railways. She shares a world of word fantasy thanks to her incurable passion of writing poetry and fiction. Around six hundred of her stories/poems have been published in various leading Indian as well as international magazines, anthologies and journals. She has many books to her credit which include novels, poetry anthologies and children’s books. Her stories/poems have been transmitted by Akashwani (Radio) also. Neelam has been nominated by Forbes India Magazine among the 100 most well known authors.
There are times we forget we were teenagers too.
There are times we conveniently disregard the fact that the growing up years are not the best and the most comfortable ones.
I am made to realize this fact every day of the teenage years of my child. The surprising thing is that many times I find that I haven’t grown up at all. I still rebel (when my orders are not followed). I still throw tantrums (will shut up suddenly). Actually, it is all to cool down the temper that threatens to pour out like lava when all my good advice (at least I think so) goes astray.
My son thinks he knows what he is doing. And the problem is I think so too.
Time and again my husband warns me, ‘Dearie, just check up Linda Goodman’s stars and you know where you stand as an Arian mother’ but I persist with my ways because as I mentioned, I know that what I suggest to my son is all in good spirit for his good only.
But, does it help? You bet, it doesn’t.
Maybe, like the healing I sometimes do helps others but not me and my family.
I am able to send positive vibrations to others in pain but that doesn’t seem to apply to me. What did I do wrong? Did I do wrong? Don’t ask me. I don’t know myself.
Only when time has passed and the present becomes the past,do I realize what actually went wrong. Over Enthusiasm, Constant suggestion making and Presuming one knows the best for one’s child are not always positive techniques of sending one’s message across I have discovered.
My boy is helping me grow, making me realize things about myself.
We are growing together!
Teenager and Adult.
I am taking part in the BlogHer’s#NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) this year, which is all about writing a blog post every day for the whole of November. I am hoping to balance it with my NaMoWriMo too but that is another story altogether…
A beautiful soul just took off
Like the missiles he so popularly made.
A newspaper hawker just left behind news
That will be hard to erase!
Tears flow unabated
For a man related to the citizens of the country
With the delicate chords of love
That he wove around their hearts.
His life – an inspiration
For the poor, deprived, non-motivated Indian.
His emotions – a brilliant story
Of patriotism, unconditional love and morality.
The only President who connected with the youth,
Slashing the prejudiced view of ‘generation gap.’
The only man who was so very ordinary
That he made us re-define the term of commonality.
While the lovely soul has now decided to take a break
Let’s not mourn his absence.
Let us offer instead, tributes to this untiring man of vision
Whose life-story is an inspiring missile into the unlimited space of undying encouragement!
Never ever a believer in air fresheners except for the agarbatthis that I used more out of a ritualistic compulsion than anything else, it was indeed a surprise to my family when I offered to review a product for an air freshener. Of course, the fact that it was a well known and reliable brand was a point its favour. Ambi pur is well known everywhere. So, would it work out if I tried it? Well, here was a ripe opportunity. Some relatives were coming home. I thought I would spruce up the air in the house by using the blossom and breeze Ambi Pur Air Effects spray.
(Now, now, don’t you think that my house is a stinking den!! It is normal like any household. Just that if the air around in the house smelt more of flowers or something similar, it would indeed be wonderful! Don’t you agree? The result was fantastic! I closed my eyes for a moment (that’s the best way to feel the effectiveness of the fragrance of Ambi Pur). And, was immediately transported to a world of flowers and mountains, of fragrance and walks through woods. I have to admit, I was smitten. And, when the relatives arrived, they automatically ignored the bundle of newspapers that I had forgotten to shove into the store room nor did they even notice the books scattered on my son’s study desk. “It must be nice living here?” they asked instead. “Why?” I asked back. “The air smells wonderful around here. We must come here often!” That clinched it. I had become an Ambi Pur fan for life!
The Ambi Pur Air Freshener that I got to use and review is a 275g handheld bottle air freshener which has the fragrance of blossom and breeze. A trademark of the Procter & Gamble Company, it is priced at Rs. 250 and is available in stores and online. According to the information available printed on the bottle,
Air Freshener Eliminates Odours and Freshens the Air. It is like a breath of fresh air any time because it actually sweeps away those stale and stifling odours and leaves a fresh scent, just like you’ve washed malodour from the air.
“I am blogging for #SmellyToSmiley at BlogAdda in association with Ambi Pur.”
(Part of MID-WEEK BLOGGING #1 by WRIMO INDIA )
He flew in gliding over our desk as we held our meeting. Startled at first, we ducked. ‘Who would want to come in touch with this creature, we all mumbled together, the expressions on our faces revealing our dislike for an entity which was a stranger to us.’
Just imagine! We had never met him. He had never harmed us. Yet, we hated him from the core of our hearts. But then, he did not seem to have any intention to come in contact with us either. All he wanted was to practice his flying lessons or so it seemed. Now, why should that be in a room filled with administrators attempting to hike the salaries of hard working teachers of a socially backward school?
Before my dislike transformed into hatred I realized that the creature was only trying to connect with its past. A student from a socially and financially backward background, all that his parents had wanted that he study well, something that they had been unable to do. But, life and situation, circumstance and distraction was too much to inspire the 10th Std boy to study, to take his life seriously. There were other things that worried him. Like his first smoke, his first theft, his first drive in an officer’s car and his first attempt at getting even with the boy who tried to get fresh with his girl. Not his girl exactly, but the girl who he liked. Where was the time to study then?
Board Exams descended upon the horizon. He wrote it like any other exam and was confident enough to get through like he had always done. Maybe, not get hi-funda marks but still pass.
And did he? No! He failed, letting down poor parents who had only wanted to give him a future that they had been unable to have. When his father came to know about the results, he slapped him and burst out of the house shouting, “The bloody son of *%$*&. How will I show my face to everybody?”
Everyone at home knew where he was going. The local Tasmac shop cum bar was his respite whenever frustration and helplessness made life miserable for him.
What about the poor mother? She simply sat down near the gas stove and kept turning the chappathis over the fire again and again until they burned and turned to a dismal black. Maybe, she saw her future in it.
Unable to bear it any more, the boy headed towards the nearest well and jumped into it until his body lost all hope to swim against the current.
Did that make him pass? You bet it didn’t. Instead, he found his astral form transforming into a creature far beyond his imagination. He flew over his old school, at night because the glare of the sunlight hurt him. It was the shrillness of the dark night that made him wander around the places that were once upon a time familiar to him. And, that is how he landed in the room where we were seated blissfully unaware that a human was trying to come to terms with his lost opportunities in another form.
I am told that the bat visits this room every night, frequenting the library especially. It harms no one. But, there are times, it descends upon people like us who presume that we are making a difference.
Do we? Really? …………………………………
The spirit, suffering
Is finally free.
By an insensitive act of a cruel carnal desire,
Losing luscious longing
To a human desire gone wild,
The soul slowly let go.
The body brutally hurt, badly bruised
Tearing through the senses
We all take for granted.
Four long decades of living a dead life.
While the culprit escapes claustrophobic existence
That ravaged the mind, heart, soul and body of a young woman.
Rejecting death, her soul fought hard to breathe.
A vegetative existence, they said.
Let us fight for euthanasia, they clamoured.
But to no avail. She neither lived nor died.
Years pass by, a forgotten case she had become
Why did she stay alive so long?
Was she working out a heinous karma?
Was it some message she was conveying to humanity?
We will never know…
(For the young pretty nurse who passed away today after battling a 42 year old war with life after being brutally sodomized and dog chained into a vegetative existence in 1973. So many of us were not even born then.
Aruna, may your soul rest in peace now.)
My article was recently published in the special Railway issue of the unique magazine called One India One People.
MARRIED TO THE RAILWAYS…ER, RAILWAY MAN!
By Shail Raghuvanshi
When I religiously and playfully took my rides in the toy train of Cubbon Park ages ago in Bangalore week after week and, enjoyed it thoroughly, I did not really understand the significance of railways as a medium of travel and transportation. Again, when my family headed north for our annual winter vacations and I loved every moment of our train journeys in the non-AC compartments, I knew not how the Indian Railways was becoming ingrained in my mindset so to say.
Everything fell into place (as far as the railway part of my life was concerned) when I got married to a railway man! It was as if the last jigsaw puzzle had finally fallen into place in my life. Though the importance of it did not strike me then, over the years, being part of the huge railway fraternity has made my life complete! And, when the realization dawned only then, did I realize that I wasn’t just married to a railway man, but like a newly married woman who doesn’t just marry her husband but his entire family, I was being absorbed into the entire railway family!
For a civilian who’s only connection with railways had been toy train rides and the yearly train journeys to Calcutta, Varanasi and Delhi where my relatives resided, this sudden surge of railway ambiance gushing into my life was albeit initially unwelcome! Honestly, I hadn’t taken into account the vast legacy left behind by the British to chug into my life without my permission. To top it all, my husband turned out to be one who lived, and loved the Railways. He practically breathed railways! If the smell of perfume aroused me, it was the smell of heavy metal (pun intended) that energized him. Watching a steam engine chugging into a station gave him a kind of joy that I just could not fathom. Train, tracks, passing scenery – all made my husband become philosophical about life. My childhood train rides came nowhere near the ecstasy that my husband felt while going ‘on duty’ (‘on line’ in railway parlance) every other week.
Train accidents which had been viewed as unfortunate accidents by me in the past now began being seen by me in a completely different perspective only because I now belonged to the railway family. Added to this was the fact that my husband’s role in the railways involved procuring a first-hand account of such incidents. So, compared to the time when my view was more objective and less personal, I was now slowly and steadily forming subjective and personal opinions about the railways.
I remember the time when I almost lost my husband in a railway accident in the year 2001. The train in which my husband was travelling on duty had plunged into a river bed crashing through the Kadalundi Bridge somewhere near Calicut. The seriousness of the incident dawned on me only when I saw the images on television while I sat huddled with my 3 year old son. Fortunately, my husband survived the accident and except for the call that he made to me sitting below the broken bridge asking me to not worry, I did not hear from him for an entire week. The fact that he was also a railway officer seemed to overrule the reality that he was a victim of an accident too. So, because he was miraculously alive he had to assist the rescue operations too! When he returned home (clad in the same dress for an entire week) he was in a real mess. After having heard wails of families, of seeing bodies of children, women and men he was like, “Good Lord! Why should such a tragedy take place? How had I survived this disaster while the next compartment passenger had plunged to his death caught between metal and water?” It took my husband a long time to overcome the inner conflicts and the nightmares of the accident.
So, did this unnerve my railway husband? If I had been in his place it certainly would have brought me down to my knees. And, I would have switched jobs. But, railway men are made of sterner stuff I discovered just like the innumerable ones working in the railways all over the country. For somebody who vaguely believed in the law of karma and hardly knew anything about mass karma, this accident was indeed an eye-opener.
There have been times when I have wondered as to how life would have possibly been had I not been connected to the railways. Well! Lots of images popped up in my mind but nothing equalled the joy of being part of such a unique system, an institution in itself. It is not as if all is hunky dory in the railways. There are times when professional dissatisfaction does seep into family life leaving the inmates of a railway household as unhappy as the railway man himself. But then, that is part of any job!
All I can say is that my knowledge of railways that had been limited to treating it as merely a medium of travel and transportation has today, been transformed into a more humane perspective to the extent that I have become biased. Unlike before I got married, now I can judge or sympathise both, railway travellers and railway employees in the same manner. Suddenly, the T.T.E. looking smart in his railway coat, the tea vendor on the platform, the porter – all speak of stories waiting to be told. Train drivers, guards, clerks, peons, officers – all breathe, live and love their railway journeys as I become an unseen spectator in their everyday lives.For good or for bad, the railway is part of their lives and they carry this emotion into their graves. Each one’s experience is a saga in itself.Yesterday, I would not have even given it a thought but today, because I am married to a railway man, it makes one hell of a difference!
The intricacies of railway life, work and culture can push you or bend you and sometimes can even break you. But there is no running away from it as I realise that I am not just married to a railwayman – I am married to the railway in him as well!
PLUCK OUT THE HEART An anthology of a different kind
Have regular tales of love, valour and adventure begun to get on to your nerves?
Then, get ready for this unconventional anthology of horror stories that don’t just make your hair rise on the nape of your neck but, almost PLUCK OUT your heart!
So, who are these HORROR writers?
There are five of them actually, transcending different professions, crisscrossing varied ages, having got together to bring for you a powerful collection of dark horror tales.
Each tale is a genre in itself. Each story is written to unnerve you.
Some writers are seasoned ones while many others are foraying into the field of story telling for the first time thus, providing an innate charm to the anthology.
Sagher Manchanda, Nalini Srivastava, Nikhil Katkar, Shail Raghuvanshi and Neelam Saxena Chandra are out there to haunt you with their tales of horror!
If I write any more I shall be giving away the plot. So, enough said for now.
The book, published by Airavat Publishing is going to be launched on 15th April at 6pm at Kitab Khana, Fort, Mumbai.
For those it is possible, please do make it. I shall be there and will be delighted to meet you in person!
For those it is difficult, do purchase the book once it is available online and in stores in your city.
It is Valentine’s Day and what a lovely day to announce on my blog that a love story of mine is part of a beautiful collection of 14 (yes, Feb 14) authors, talented all of them, including that of dear friend, superb writer and successful marketing man Faraaz Kazi who is responsible for the creation, compilation, publication and marketing of the book, LOVE which when expanded reads, LOTS OF VOLATILE EMOTIONS!
Wishing all friends a very happy Valentine’s Day and a fantastic time reading the stories of beautiful writers.
God bless you all with love. Always.
The most vivid choice that I made in life was when I thwarted a fiftyish man from trying to grope me from behind. I yelled out at him in the bus I was travelling. I was a school going kid, a teenager and felt utterly violated when I found a man old enough to be my father getting too close for comfort. I could not muster up enough guts to slap him but I gave him a lecture of my life right there in the bus that I am sure he never forgot.
I walked into my house from the bus stop, rushed to my room and burst out crying.
I learnt two valuable lessons that day.
One, to never keep quiet when exploited.
And two, I discovered that I had suddenly become a fantastic elocutionist. It was after this incident that I began taking part in elocutions and debates and I always won!
I had made a choice then. And, I was to make many more choices later on in life. Mom wanted me to become a teacher. Dad wanted me to become an I.A.S. Officer. I wanted to become none of them. So, off I ran to a Career Guidance Centre and got a test done and presented the report to my parents. The report stated Journalism.
Nothing doing, I was told. The Career Guidance folks called up my father and asked him to meet them. He did and discovered the scientific methods used in tracking my field of interest and abilities.
And today, they both are proud of my literary acumen.
I could have kept silent and suffered a probable molestation.
I could have opted for I.A.S. or B.Ed and stayed unhappy my entire life.
But, I chose to make a difference, and one hell of a difference it has been!
Journey from ‘OR’ to ‘AND’
Your story of how you took charge of life and made a choice, not a compromise. When you refused to choose one thing OR the other, and instead followed your heart.