Thursday, 9 October 2014

Celebrate Blogging Contest: When the Diamonds Danced - Chapter 26

Team: Alphabet Soup
You can read the previous part of the story here

Chapter – 26
“Paaa . . . ni”
“Amme Mahamaye!! All in your grace”, head priest sighed in relief and whispered a short prayer in honour of the deity. Devi has come back home and she has safe guarded the child.
Roohi is mumbling again, “paani”. She hasn’t opened her eyes yet, but clearly her consciousness is setting in. They need to hurry, he gestured to the fellow priest who was tagging along, “Shankara, run before me and inform the others. Get some water on the way”.
The little, lean priest didn’t need further encouragement. The thick forest is getting on his nerves and they are yet to reach the clearance. Noise of a stick breaking somewhere, then another . . . Was it a bad idea to leave the two constables behind?
“Roooohi!”
“Oh! Roohi my darling, are you alright?”
“What happened?”
“How did you get her?”
“Where are the others?”
It’s a commotion and by the time Memana Namboodiri got back to his senses, Roohi was lying on the lap of a weeping Tara. Shekhar’s eyes too are filled and he wrapped his hands protectively over his exhausted wife and darling child.
          Jennifer opened the eagle flask, her constant travel companion of years, poured some water and put it to Roohi’s lips. Her face is gaining back its natural hue and the small eye lids flickered for a moment before revealing the brownish light inside.
          “Mumma?”
                                                          *****
          Manu is sitting calmly under the shade; the two constables are standing guard watching his movements. It seems unnecessary though, the little rascal is too clever to do any such foolish things. Under different circumstances, he could have been mistaken for a second Buddha with that calm, meditative look and sharp eyes that seems to pierce through one's heart.
          “So the thief has come back from the dead. Why may I ask?”, Sudheeran’s words were dripping with sarcasm.
Manu appeared nonplussed. He wasn’t expecting anything else from someone born with a silver spoon in mouth. He, on the other hand, had to get through with the scraps they got as a poojari. His father was no Drona to bring the real milk to his son, he needed to step into his place . . .
          “Why? Do we need some special medicine to make your majesty speak?”, Sudheeran’s words broke his reverie. The spoiled brat is demanding answers.
“I never left. Not really. I had my ways to know what happens here in my village. Time demanded me to stay away for some time. Father, that good for nothing coward, was too scared to sell the idol. And without the chosen child, no one can access that location without suspicion of Devi’s wrath. Then there was the chance of the fake idol being found.”
“So you killed Shivan to get away”.
“Don’t be so sure. I am not a murderer. Shivan was already dead when I found him in forest, I just exchanged his talisman with mine and made sure his body is not found easily. By the time they came on it, signs showed that its me.”
“A perfect getaway”
“Told you I was never really gone. I knew I would be back one day”.
“Too bad we spoiled the party on this second coming”, the constables too laughed on hearing Sudheeran’s words. Suddenly they could hear the voices of the other search party. That had the quick effect of calming everyone.
“Quick! It’s not too late. Release me now and we can share this fortune. You will need that to clear your secret debts, Mr. Varma”, colour drained from Sudheeran’s face. No one is supposed to know about that. Manu’s face beamed triumphantly.
But only for a moment.
Varma slapped him hard. "Never ask me to share our Devi's wealth! Never again!"
“Mr. Varma, are you fine?”, Ravi has come to take charge of the scene; “What the . . .”, his body went rigid on seeing Manu’s crest fallen shape.
“Yes, that is Manu. Our culprit”, clarified Sudheeran.
“Manu? Manu who? This is not Manu”.
                                      *****
Read the next chapter here in Reema's Blog
"Me and my team, Alphabet Soup, are participating in Game of Blogs at BlogAdda.com. #Celebrate blogging with us".

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Business Doctors - Sameer Kamat

Date of Reading: 19/09/2014
Author: Sameer Kamat
Subtitle:Management Consulting Gone Wild
Publisher: Booksoarus
Year: 2014
From: the author in exchange of an honest review

         Crazy! I thought on reading the cover blurb. And the reading proved that even better, with the text moving us deeper and deeper into a wild imagination involving a management consultancy.
         There is an obvious debate on who the hero could be. All eyes may turn to Michael Schneider, but I will prefer to think Angie, the brain power, as the main character. Surely she pulled the strings and others danced; her weapons could be traditional and questionable (seduction and sweet talk) and much of her actions might be behind the curtain scenes, but in a society where the fair sex is put aside as foolish and toys to warm men's beds, her conduct should be excused (well, that is if you believe in the Machiavellian dictum of end justifying the means . . .).
           One last word on the format. Front cover is great, but the choice of font style and arrangement of paragraphs are disastrous. It doesn't produce the usual magic of making us want to pick the book, the moment we open it. Now to a brief summary:
           
When Stephen Woody's mafia empire goes bust, his pretty wife Angie advises him to take the help of a management consultancy, just as one go to doctors to get cured of the disease. Her use of the term 'business doctors' in this particular case gets stuck and according to her plan Woody approaches Michael Schneider whose firm was then facing the problems of recession. 
         Strange though it may sound, Michael accepts the proposition and gets detour of Woody's 'business'. He and his companion Martin analyses the data and put forth a solution: new recruits. Woody convinces Michael to stay with them till the matter is finished and he devices a plan to get the recruits from the prison.
             This make over costs Woody six million and Michael uses the recruits to get the money in various ways (kidnapping, bank robbery etc.) which also tests their reliability. A tiny glitch happens when they discover who the donor is: Stevie McMohan, the very man the recruits kidnapped for ransom. An angry Stevie kills Woody, leaving the business in Angie's hands.
       
Sameer Kamat
She pacifies the opponents and takes over the charge and her secret affair with Michael helps into get his loyalty in the venture. She plans to act as a regent until Michael gets accepted as the true leader. WFB is back in the game.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Celebrate Blogging Contest @ BlogAdda - Chapter 12

Team: Alphabet Soup
Read the previous part of the story here

Chapter 12

“A fake idol!”
Shekhar stood there with his eyes aghast.
“Where is the original idol? Where is our Amma Mahamaaya?”, someone piped in.
“What is the use to ask this dim witted viduan? He can’t even do a proper theft. Even now, look at his face.” It is Sudheeran Varma, his face flushed with these unprecedented events. Clearly this festival too has no plans to go unnoticed from the media eyes.
The wise mad man saved Shekhar from the trouble of replying, “Only the chosen child can take the idol out of the temple. Anyone else attempting that will become the victim of Devi’s wrath”.
“What! What if I have gotten Devi’s wrath? Why did you make me do it?”, Dutta screamed.
“It was my karma, and you are safe. The idol is fake”.
He turned to the police, “He will be fine. But be quick in finding the idol before doom falls on the entire Vajrakshipuram.” Saying so he walked away, brandishing that heavy stick of his against evil spirits.
Shekhar sighed heavily. This is going to be a very long day.
                                      *****
Inside the temple office Sudheeran Varma paces restlessly as the High Priest looks on. Years of experience have taught Memana Namboori of the fury of his patrons and he dared not step in.
“We can’t afford a media exposure now. It will only delay the investigation”, it’s the Inspector. They all know what such news can do with the already restless devotees – riots and blood bath. Bloody hell! He is not in a situation to meet an agitation now. His hands are full enough.
“And you need to address the crowd, Mr. Varma”
"And what do I tell them?", Sudheeran sounded confused.
"If I may suggest, there are no auspicious hours this month. You could tell them that the idol has been found and the procession will have to be postponed", it is Memana Namboori.
“Hmph”, Sudheeran too seems at a loss for words.
“But we can’t let the crew leave the place.”
“That won’t be necessary. We are not leaving anyway, that is without getting an answer”, says Tara bombarding the meeting with her calm, cool demeanor.
“Well! Well! What’ve we got here? A journalist spy in our midst! Mrs. Dutta, do you have any problem reading that ‘no entry’ sign in front of the door?”, clearly the Inspector doesn’t welcome the addition to the audience.
“Only when it concerns my daughter Roohi, and the reputation of my husband”.
“And we are partaking in this investigation”, she added as an afterthought.
                                      *****
          Her media training has equipped Tara well for situations like these. She just needs to play the correct cards and this will produce an exclusive for the channel. As expected the Inspector is suspicious of her intentions, but the temple authority is devoid of alternatives. Alienating the press won’t be a bright idea at this juncture; it required only a slight probing from her part for Mr. Sudheeran to put the seal of approval.
“Mamma”, Roohi’s voice took her back to the present.
“Oh, my darling. I am so glad to see you safe”
“See, see, look at the pictures I took with Jenny Aunty”
“You both seem to be in nice terms already”, she welcomed Jennifer with a warm smile.
“She is a dear. No one can resist loving her”
Tara updated Jennifer with the latest turn outs.
“Sounds interesting. Count me in”
                                                *****
Cyrus has come to a dead end; if he needs to further this case there should be a lead, an invisible link to connect the scattered dots. He has gone through the files again and again. Nothing. Except a mere gut feeling that something is definitely fishy.
He may get some answers from the procession. But it seems the plans are to be changed for one month. That silly writer has spoiled everything with his stupid theft. Yet, something is not exactly right. If the idol is found, then why the heavy guard inside the temple? Only one way to know.
Just before the ring goes to voice mail, Jennifer’s deep voice cuts in.
“Cyrus, can we talk later?”
“This is urgent. Can we meet?”
“I am busy right now. You know of my assignment with N9”
“You won’t regret it”, he sounded desperate even to himself.
“Let’s take a walk. Meet me near the street light. Five minutes.”

It seems the police or the assurance of Sudheeran has failed to pacify the devotees. Anxious faces lurk around; there won’t be any peace till the procession and festival happens. The Bhagawati has to be satiated to bring prosperity to the land.
In spite of her visible tiredness, Jennifer has retained the sharpness in her eyes.
“What’s it all about?”, as usual there is no time for pleasantries.
“Heard about the commotion inside. I was worried. About you.”
“Seriously Cyrus, is that all? Then I am fine, as you can very well see.”
“Sure”, Cyrus smiled wryly. This is not going as expected. “So it seems they are postponing the procession”
“Mm”
“I was curious. Why do they want to do that if the idol is found?”
“Let’s cut this crap.” Jennifer narrowed her eyes, “What about you telling me the real intention of your visit?”
He doesn’t know her. Not enough. But the odds are against him. It is either packing the bags for Delhi or having to trust someone.
Cyrus took a deep breath. His moustache glistened with sweat under the afternoon sun.
“This happened fourteen years back during the last procession. The child who carried the deity was found dead. The priest who accompanied her was unconscious and half paralyzed. They carried out one investigation, but the postmortem report sounded convincing enough for them to close the case. The child drowned to death. The priest just remembers slipping and falling, nothing after that. I came upon this case for my project work. This all sounded too unconvincing and I thought this year’s procession may show some light to it. That’s why I’m here. I know there is more to the theft that happened today. But only you can help me in that.”
He can see Jennifer is not convinced. He opened his back pack and showed her the case files, his hunches, notes and related reports.
“I was intending to publish this in my blog but thought better of it. It might cause many controversies and open up Pandora's box. Not that I have many followers!”
‘Alright.’ She tells him what happened inside.
‘Yes! I knew it. Last time when the child died, the priest also collapsed. I felt this was too mysterious. This might have some connection to it.’
‘Wow! Cool down man. Don’t make any conclusions now. And one important thing. You should investigate on your own. If the culprit is around, he’ll soon know that we are working on the case. He’ll keep an eye on us. But when you work aloof, he wouldn’t know. We won’t meet anymore. Our conversations should be discreet. Is that clear?”
Sounds weird to him. Can he trust her? Is she here for photography or is there something hiding behind that foxy, watchful eyes? 
He pushed those thoughts aside. All the same, he needs her.
He will have to trust her. At whatever cost that may be.

You can find the next part here

"Me and  my team, Alphabet Soup, are participating in Game of Blogs at BlogAdda.com. # Celebrate blogging with us."

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Celebrate Blogging Contest @ BlogAdda - Chapter 7

Team: Alphabet Soup
Read the previous part of the story here:
Chapter 6 on Aashish's Blog 

Chapter 7

Cyrus weighed the pros and cons of taking up a hotel near the airport or head straight to Vajrakshipuram. The last flight out of Delhi to Cochin didn’t leave him with many options. After giving it much thought, he decided to start for Vajrakshipuram immediately.

The sheer impulsiveness of his decision had rendered him with stranded. Taxis were pre-booked and the ones which weren’t refused to ply. Cyrus followed the advice which a helpful cabbie offered.
‘No taxi going tonight. TomorrowTomorrow! All sleeping. All drunk. Highway, ask lift. Give lift’

Cyrus heard the rumble in his tummy. Chancing upon a roadside eatery on the periphery of the road leading to the airport, he stopped to answer the grumbling in his empty stomach.

Having been directed by cabbies to try his luck on the main road he flagged down a truck. The truck driver was on his way to Trichur & offered to drop Cyrus off at a point where he could get to Vajrakshipuram on his own. 


Jennifer had a late start to her journey. However, stubbornness was one of the many traits she had acquired from her parents, and so, once she had decided to do something, she wanted it done immediately. And so, she started for Vajrakshipuram in her car.


After an hour long drive, she decided to take a break at the highway petrol station. It was all by chance that Jenny and Cyrus were in the same shop and were queued before each other for payment. The truck driver had dropped off Cyrus near the petrol station. Realisation dawned upon her as she scouted her bag to pay for the food she had purchased. In her rush to leave for Vajrakshipuram, she had forgotten to withdraw money.With no cash in her bag, she looked embarrassed, and was about to return the goods she had bought when Cyrus offered to help her by paying for them.


His eyes fell upon her noticably innumerable tattoos & weird piercings. She saw him noticing them and smiled. He started forming a character assessment of her in his mind.She seemed innocent at the same time, there was a fire in her eyes. As their eyes met, he was breathless for a moment before snapping out of his law school mindset.

Over a small thank you conversation, she told him she was on her way to the temple. Cyrus asked, "Oh great! I am headed towards the temple too. A truck driver dropped me off here. Can I join you? ".

Jennifer nodded her head in confirmation and extended her hands, 
'Jennifer Joseph'. She introduced herself to the good Samaritan.

'Cyrus Daruwala.' 

'So, what is a pretty lady with don't-know-how-many tattoos and piercings doing in a temple, may I ask?'

'I am a professional photographer. I work on a few freelance projects. Currently working on a project on temple architecture as well as a bit of prying and prodding of my own.' She winked.
You don’t seem to be from this part of the country, what has brought you here?'


' Umm... I am a law student at The National Law University, Delhi. I have heard a lot about this festival. This festival intrigued me and I wanted to visit and take a look for myself.'

‘So it is true, lawyers are liars! Try another excuse, and this time be creative.'


Cyrus was impressed at Jennifer's sharpness. But he didn't want to let anyone know of his reason for being in Vajrakshipuram.

'Suprising as it may be Madam,that is the truth. My dad was a history researcher and I have read his papers regarding this temple, its myths and traditions. Got me curious and here I am.'

After carrying on with some small talk, Jennifer dropped Cyrus outside a hotel. She had however done her own research and had pre-booked a room at Hotel Devikrupa. All she needed now was a quick nap, change of clothes and get prepped with her camera for the festivities.

Cyrus managed to coax the manager of the hotel to get him a room at last minute notice. Jenny, however, still played on his mind and he repented for not having taken her mobile number. But soon, he began to think about the purpose of his visit. He had to focus on that now. Being a law student, he couldn't afford to have any sort of distractions in his work. 

                                      ***
It was mid-afternoon. Jennifer decided to wear her only traditional dress to ensure an unrestricted entry to the temple, without any problems. The outfit managed to cover most of her visible tattoos.
Since the deity is visible only on the day of the procession, not many people visit the temple interiors. She began clicking the pictures of the domes, the pillars and the tiny chambers. Without her knowledge, she was moving into the restricted area of the temple. 
'What are you doing Kutty? Don't you know this is a restricted area?' An angry male voice boomed.

She had forgotten to switch off her camera flash and the light had caught the attention of one of the priests passing by.  
'Sorry! I - I didn't know that.' Jennifer hadn't noticed the sign as she was immersed in her work.


‘Devi maa, why are all these bad omens occurring now?’ the priest muttered.
  
‘Child! A sign is put up right there. Don't tell me you did not see that!?' Before she could offer him an explanation, he called out to the other priests. 

                                        
                                          ***
Escorted by a milieu of priests and temple authorities, she saw a motley group of few men, and a woman carrying a child already laying await outside the temple office. 


'What happened?' A fat guy in the office asked.
'Caught this one, clicking pictures in the restricted area.'
'Who are you?' the fat guy questioned Jennifer.
Jennifer thought for a while. She knew all hell would break loose if they knew that she was a Christian, 'I am Jaya Lakhshmi.'

'You are a Hindu. Don't you know there are restricted areas in temples and that there might be a reason for us to make it restricted?'
'Yes, can someone give me a chance to speak?' Jennifer was getting restless with all the accusation.
'Tell me.'


'I came to learn about the temple architecture. I am a professional photographer. I was awed by the sculptures and wandered a bit too much. I didn't notice the sign. Please forgive me.'

'Alright. We will let you go this time. But listen carefully. Photography is restricted in the temple premises. You need the authorities' permission even if you have to cover the processions. Keep this in mind. You may leave now.'

The priest who caught her enquired, 'Are you letting her go? For all we know, she might be someone indulging in black magic. Look at all the paintings on her. Shiva! Shiva!'

'Namboothirippadey!. She is speaking the truth. Let her go.'

Jennifer left hurriedly from the room, before they decided to change their mind. On her way out, she winked at the little girl who smiled back at her.
                                     ***
Read the next part here.

"Me and my team, The Alphabet Soup are participating in Game of Blogs at BlogAdda.com. #Celebrate blogging with us."

Friday, 29 August 2014

Private India: Ashwin Sanghi & James Patterson

Date of Reading: 27/08/2014
Authors: Ashwin Sanghi & James Patterson
Publisher: Arrow Books
Place: London
Year: 2014
From: BlogAdda in exchange of an honest review

        It's been a while since I had the taste of this unique adrenaline rush (attributed solely to mystery stories), so when BlogAdda offered a Sanghi & Patterson book there was no need to think twice. Ashwin Sanghi, the author of best selling books 'The Rozabal Line', 'Chanakya's Chant' and 'Krishna Key' needs no introduction, but sadly (thanks to the negative remarks of my friends who never got it to finish these) they never crossed my paths.
         Patterson, on the other hand, is a different story. At least I know the romance section ('Sundays at Tiffany's' for sure); just don't forget to google him, you will be amazed at the list. Definitely a professional.
Ashwin Sanghi
         As for this particular book . . . The cover page, with its charming blue tinge, is amazing. And if you have any doubts on your reading speed, this is a confidence booster. Thanks to the reader friendly fonts, we will never know how we covered the 447 pages in one or two sittings.
         Unfortunately the list of niceties ends there. A page turner I agree, but the habituated pleasure is derived from the predictable story line (oh, it's not easy to identify our culprit) which lacks the heart racing events that makes us rush back from the unavoidable breaks. A group of characters with psychologically traumatic lives is not something I would like to identify with and the part with Indian Mujahideen fails to stick with the current, though it gives some lime light to Jack Morgan. In this Nisha's role was a welcome relief, the pages I enjoyed with anxiety and pride.
To the story now:
         
Mumbai witnesses a sequence of murders where seemingly unconnected people are strangled to death and strange objects are tied to their corpses in ritualistic fashion. Santosh Wagh, the head of Private India, the Indian branch of world's finest detective agency takes charge of the case, but murders continue. The only connecting thing associated with them is victims are all women and Santosh needs to figure out the story the killer is painting.
[To those who haven't bothered to read the warning at the beginning of the blog, I must give a big SPOILER ALERT. If you are planning to read the book, better stop right here]
         Santosh still suffers from the traumatic events of the accident which killed his wife and son and left him with a limp. His police career ended there and Morgan recruited him to Private India. His assistant Nisha, who was an orphan and Dr. Mubeen, and Hari, the tech geek makes the team.
 
        The victims are a Thaiwan doctor, a journalist, a famous singer, a school principal, a politician, a judge, a director and a yoga instructor. Santosh identifies a connection between the symbols and the nine avatars of Durga. And an enquiry into victims double lives lead to a common thread, Aditi Chopra who is now known as Aakash after her gender reassignment. Murders are her reply to the past tormentors.
         
The last victim turns out to be Nisha who once arrested Aditi from the brothel; an action packed sequence follows ending in the timely arrival of Santosh and Jach for rescue. In between is the bomb threat of the Indian Mujahideen which is aimed at Private with the help of the local mafia king, Munna. In here Jack plays the savior and the bomb is aborted; Santosh quits from Private, but Jack advises him against that and curtain falls with the readers predicting Santosh back in the field.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program by BlogAdda for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!
        

Friday, 22 August 2014

The Colour of Dawn - Janaki Murali

Date of Reading: 19/08/2014
Author: Janaki Murali
Publisher: Harper Collins India
Place: New Delhi
Year: 2002
From: Goodreads Giveaway

        There is something in the title that takes you to the classical past and that had me hooked here. In spite of the less developed plot, the story clearly echoes the ghostly paradise of 'Wuthering Heights'. And Kunjan, the modern day Heathcliff, is far more clear headed in his possessive love; "I will destroy everything that is yours, Sita . . . You will rue the day you said no to me." A threat that even engulfs the next generation.
         Sita, like any other girl of our generation, faces the same fate: the aftereffects of an unreciprocated love which sends many through acid attacks or much worse, a life sentenced to spend in fear. The message is clear; 'If you can't be mine, then you should not be anyone else's'.
         The story goes through two narrative patterns, one unfolds Sita's past from her birth onward, while the other is set in the present where she lives with her doctor husband and waits for her daughter to return from America.
        Her mother Ammini hails from a Brahmin family in Kerala where she undergoes the barbaric untouchability meted out to a new mother and waits for her husband to come from Bombay. Appa has lost his job meantime and he puts off his journey to take back his wife and new born daughter. This reluctance is interpreted at Ammini's home as a result of an affair or his dissatisfaction at the birth of a girl child. 
        Eventually her brother dump Ammini at her husband's doorstep and the chivalrous Appa could never come to confess the real reason. There ensues a broken marriage which ends up in Ammini's death. He refuses to hand over Sita to her maternal family and brings her up with the help of his sister, Saras Athai. She shifts her home to Bombay with her husband and two sons, Kunjan and Ambi.
        When Sita is about to join for a major in history, Appa dies and later only Kunjan succeeds in filling that void. Saras Athai watches fearfully the growing affection of his son to Sita, who is clearly oblivious to the fact. When she starts preparing for Sita's marriage, Kunjan intervenes. Taking Sita's permission for granted, he attepts an elopement.  On recovering from the initial panic attack she rejects his proposal and goes for her much awaited tour covering historical cities. She meets her life partner Sami in Delhi.
        Their routine life is broken when her daughter Sanjna announces her marriage with a Pakistani. Kunjan's son Rajan too was married to an American girl, Janet who was Sanjna's friend. When Janet dies in an accident Kunjan takes that anger on Sanjna whom he considers responsible for bringing Janet into their lives. 
Janaki Murali
        His hatred for Sita burns his heart and on his order an acid thrower tries to attack Sanjna and her husband. They are saved with minor injuries and hastily return to US. Kunjan is left alone by his mother and brother, and he fails to get the comfort he sought by hurting Sita. Sita and Sami get along with their lives, supporting each other to cope with the new situation.

Something to ponder:

"Appa was an ordinary man who lost his wife because he was too foolish to say he was sorry. Too self-absorbed to find out what was going on in his wife's life. Too conservative to tell his wife that he loved her." - 44

Monday, 9 June 2014

Believe - Varun Gwalani

Date of Reading: 01/06/2014
Author: Varun Gwalani
Publisher: Frog Books
Place: Mumbai
Year: 2013
From: Goodreads Giveaways

          I remember a story that I heard in my childhood: "a kind hearted man was taking his usual morning walk. Out on the streets he finds a boy starving to death, neglected by the passers by. The man takes the boy home, feeds and clothes him and when the sign of a faint smile appears on his face, the man turns to God and asks, 'why can't you do anything to alleviate the suffering of men?'. God replied,'I have done what I can. I created you'.
          The story mirrors the answer which I got from my father when I asked, 'If God is all powerful, why didn't he prevent World War II (or more personally I wanted to ask how can he let my money purse being stolen)?' Papa has his usual reply ready, 'no need to blame God for what man has done'. Hmmph, a lot to digest.

          Varun's fictional narrative validates the theory; we need to do what we can to save our pathetic lives, help will come for those who seek. Conner White and Victoria proves so.
          Though I was feeling some similarities with some other stories, reading proved quite fruitful in spite of the predictable narrative pattern. Fast paced, it will glue you to the spot for one day (or till you finishes it off). One thought troubles me though, concerning the characterisation of Victoria. Why is she a rape attempt victim, rather than a rape victim? Are our authors (or readers) still reluctant to accept a non-virgin as a heroine even though speeches abound stressing the fact that purity lies in the mind, not in the body???
        Conner White is a popular pessimistic writer; when his wife dies suddenly out of heart attack, he goes to recluse and is horrified to find his readers opinion of him -- he is even termed as a murderer as one university student commits suicide on reading those evil books. Even he is not accepted to his only daughter who hides her last name in shame.
          Determined to redeem himself, he goes to the nearby town of Levion, where an age old religion reigns supreme and isolates the place from others. They are under the curse of a disease called Levitis which attacks suddenly irrespective of age and offers no possible cure.
       
Conner befriends Victoria who becomes his guide in the strange place. Two seduction attempts which she has undergone in puberty has made her an alien among her own people; with the help of Connor she regains her normality. A scrambled study on the history of the town reveals to him that Levitis is caused by the designs of of the high priest (Father Godfrey) and the town physician, Dr. Clark.
Varun Gwalani
         Thwarting their attempt to kill him via poison, Connor along with Victoria, Mrs. Stewart the inn keeper and Rosaline the mayor's wife hatches a plan to open the eyes of the town. The priest and the physician ends up dead, their place of worship, Sinome, burns down and a new age begins for Levion. Roger, the University student, is also proved to be killed due the influence of the priest and the doctor. Connor disappears among the ashes, but Victoria gets a copy of his new book containing a metaphorical story of his life in Levion, informing her that he is still alive.
         

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

Date of Reading: 30/06/2008
Author: Thomas Hardy
Publisher: Macmillan
Place: London
Year: 1963

         I have been waiting to get hold on this one book which made Hardy to abandon his writing career. Curiously I can't still figure out what was all this commotion about; there is his usual pessimism stuff with fate (sometimes taking the embodiment of humans) thwarting expectations, critical remarks on religion (which eventually became too critical for his career as a novelist), and the portrayal of inner dilemmas. But if we take the lives of Henchard and Tess for comparison, Jude seems to occupy the better slot. Well, each of us have our own individual crosses enough to drag us down from the smooth climb.

          Other day I was waiting in que in front of the xerox shop for some printouts; its the day of 12th standard results and not surprisingly there is one small crowd waiting for the verdict. Thanks to the new examination pattern, there are no disappointments or heartbreaks and I can see the family residing in the nearby chawl starting the cries of jubilation; their girl has secured a first class. The new system is open to Judes (at least partially) who are ready to rise from their working class background to the magnificent halls of Oxford. In other words, the illusion of the American dream still permeates hope, even though the odds are stacked against us each.
         Little Jude lives with his aunt Drussille Fawley. He cherishes a dream to have his higher studies at Christminster (symbolises Oxford) and has begun to learn Latin and Greek by himself. As a stonemason he sets out towards his goal but eventually gets trapped into a marriage with Arabella Down who feigns pregnancy to have him take the vows. Soon the infatuation gives way to mutual contempt and Jude proceeds to Christminster when the couple decides to separate. 
        But Christminster is reluctant to accept a common figure from the working class background. Devastated, Jude finds his consolation in his cousin Sue Bridehead with whom he falls in love. Jude's former marriage stops her in taking the decisive step and she accepts the proposal of Mr. Phillotson, Jude's old school master, resulting in an unhappy marriage. She flees back to Jude and after a divorce from their respective spouses, they start life anew. Arabella meanwhile had undergone her second marriage in Australia.

        As Sue felt that the marriage has a destructive effect on love, they choose not to take the vows legally. Seen as social outcasts, they lead a miserable life with two children and Father Time, Jude's son in Arabella. Disaster stuck when Sue is expecting her third baby and Father Time grieved in hearing the news kills the other two and himself "because we are too manny". The shock Sue undergoes results in the premature death of the third child.
          Terrified, Sue marries Phillotson again thinking that before heaven they are still man and wife. Arabella, now a widow, persuades Jude to another marriage with her but things were too much for his weak health. He dies at the Remembrance Day, alone at his room.