#TellTaleThursday – 21st February 2019

The rules are simple:

  • Write a story, complete in itself.
  • Check spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
  • Copy and paste your Story URL to the inLinkz list.
  • The story should be up to 250 words.
  • Add this line < #TellTaleThursday with Anshu & Priya > at the end of the post.
  • Read, comment and share – spread the love.

Here’s the prompt:

A secret place at your home.. you didn’t know about

Write a story on when you come across it


 

Word count – 233 Words

Old Delhi

Little Rhea loved to visit her granny’s house in Old Delhi. It was huge and majestic and it had a grill for the flooring through which you could see who was entering the house. She loved to explore the various rooms – some big and some small. The kitchen was the same like in her house, but the adjacent room had huge china jars with an assortment of pickles that her granny made.

In the small room at the front was where the accountant sat from morning to evening and locked the door before leaving. In the room next to her parents’ bedroom, the one where they stayed when they visited granny’s house, with the brown door had iron trunks and wooden chests. They held her granny’s clothes, jewellery and other knick-knacks that never failed to fascinate Rhea.

On the terrace was a big room where tailors sat and worked all day, their sewing machines working in tandem. Rhea visited them whenever her granny took tea for them.

There was a door in her parents’ bedroom which stayed closed. It opened to a staircase that went up and down. She knew it opened to the terrace, but she was afraid of finding out what was there at the bottom of the stairwell.

Years later, she dared to go down the staircase and wonder of wonders, she found a mezzanine and two perfectly functional rooms.

(This is a description of my grandparents’ house in Old Delhi. There was a mezzanine floor which could not be perceived from the outside, it was accessible only through this secret passage)

Advertisements
Posted in #TellTaleThursday | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

#TellTaleThursday – 14th February 2019

The rules are simple:

  • Write a story, complete in itself.
  • Check spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
  • Copy and paste your Story URL to the inLinkz list.
  • The story should be up to 250 words.
  • Add this line < #TellTaleThursday with Anshu & Priya > at the end of the post.
  • Read, comment and share – spread the love.

Here’s the prompt:

tree covered in moss in the wood

Pic credit: Pexels


 

Word count – 222 Words

Mango Tree

Roma could not sleep. Giving up all pretense at sleeping, she got up from the bed. Walking up to the window, she opened it wide. Until she felt the cool breeze, she hadn’t realized how stuffy the room was.

She looked at the mango tree at the corner of her back garden standing tall and majestic in the silver light. The branches were heavy with white blossoms and the air carried the pungent smell, signalling the onset of spring and the fruit. She shook her head in despair and sighed. If only the tree could bear fruit!!

As she was deep in my thoughts, she saw a movement in the garden from the corner of her eye. Startled, she stared. It was nothing but a mouse. It was digging a hole in the earth near the trunk of the mango tree. After a few minutes of struggle, it finally disappeared in the burrow. She made a mental note to call up a pest agent and ask them to check the grounds for rodents. She didn’t want them to enter the house and make mayhem. And then she saw something that made her heart skip a beat. The white blooms on the tree had suddenly turned red. The tree looked sinister and unworldly.

Was the local legend true that the tree was cursed?

(This is an excerpt from a story that I am currently writing)

Posted in #TellTaleThursday | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments

#TellTaleThursday – 7th February 2019

The rules are simple:

  • Write a story, complete in itself.
  • Check spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
  • Copy and paste your Story URL to the inLinkz list.
  • The story should be up to 250 words.
  • Add this line < #TellTaleThursday with Anshu & Priya > at the end of the post.
  • Read, comment and share – spread the love.

Here’s the prompt:

A romantic getaway goes wrong

Imagine and write a story.


Word count – 212 Words

Romantic Getaway

After dinner, Jeh proposed, “Let’s go for a walk!”

Lea agreed. Jeh loved trekking and camping, and had booked an adventure stay in the woods. Though Lea was not much convinced, she went along with his plan. The idea of the whole getaway was to be together, the place was immaterial.

Hand in hand, they started walking on the dirt track. After a while, a pack of street dogs followed them.

“Jeh, do something, you know I am scared of dogs,” Lea appealed.

Jeh shooed the dogs, but the dogs unfazed continued walking with them.

After a while, Jeh realised they had missed a turn. They should have reached their hotel long ago. He took out his phone and realised the phone was dead.

“Great and you told me not to carry my phone,” Lea accused her husband.

“Because you keep on looking at the phone all the time,” Jeh defended.

“So, now what? How do we reach the hotel?”

Jeh shrugged.

“My feet are killing me,” Lea complained.

“Who wears heels on a holiday in the country?” Jeh barked.

“Who chose to be on a holiday in the country in the first place?” Lea couldn’t have missed an opportunity to tell him that.

“So much for a romantic getaway!” Jeh muttered.

 

Posted in #TellTaleThursday | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments

Bonfire

Image by Yours Truly!

Written for Friday Fictioneers

Bonfire

The country had never seen such bitter cold before. The cold had penetrated into his old weary bones.

He saw the golden flames of a fire in the distance and started walking towards it in hope. He might be able to request the people to share their bonfire with him. They wouldn’t refuse an old man.

As he walked further, the flames of the fire kept rising up. What he thought was a bonfire was actually a row of huts on fire. As people howled and ran around with buckets of water, he crouched, drawing warmth.

Posted in Short Stories | Tagged , , , , | 77 Comments

Book Review – Birdsong

Birdsong, written by Sebastien Faulks is a World War I novel. This is my second war novel of the month and makes me wonder, for a person who has shied away from reading tragic war dramas all her life, why this sudden interest in war books. The only answer I could find, after hours of searching myself, is that the human depravity that I witness in my day to day life has made me curious to know to what level man could have sunk during the war. And it never fails to shock me as I unearth new layers of decadence in the human soul.

Recently, I read a few war books, The English Patient, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and What the Day owes the Night, but they were World War II books. Hence, when I read the excerpt and came to know Birdsong was based on WWI, I picked it up without giving it a second thought. I think I had read somewhere that WWII has monopolized the war of 14-18 because we find movies, literature and documentaries in abundance on the last world war, but little is known to the general public about the first one which had the direct consequence on the second.

Plot

So, let me now tell you more about the book.

The book is divided into 3 different time periods – before, during and post war. In the first (1910), Stephen Wraysford is a young and passionate Englishman who visits Amiens, France on business. He stays with a wealthy man – Rene Azaire and his family. Stephen comes to know that Rene beats his young wife, Isabelle as they are not able to produce a child together. Stephen falls in love with Isabelle and begins an affair with her. They quit Amiens and stay in Plombieres where Isabelle discovers she is pregnant. She leaves Stephen and goes back to Azaire without telling him that she was carrying his baby.

In the second time period (1916-1918), Stephen enlists himself into the war against Germany. He is a lieutenant of a platoon of infantrymen in the war. He is cold and unemotional and doesn’t fear death.

In the third time frame (1978-79), Elisabeth, Stephen’s granddaughter seeks information about her grandfather’s life during the war.

Review:

The first part is a clandestine love story and 100 pages into it, I almost felt like giving it up. The description was long and couldn’t hold my interest much. However, when the war started, that’s when the drama began too.

Stephen the protagonist, a 20-something love-torn man, proves to be cold, strong and resilient in the war. Over time, Stephen comes to care about the men he fights with and develops a form of friendship with two men; Captain Weir and Jack Firebrace, a middle aged tunneller. Stephen finds solace in their innocence and in their quest for survival.

Trench life

I cannot write a review of this book without mentioning about the description of the trench. Trenches in this book have a character of their own.

The only things I knew about trenches before I read this book were Burberry trench coats and trench foot. However, reading this book gave me a clearer idea what it was like to live in the trenches thirty feet under the earth. Sebastien Faulks has spared no detail and narrated the warfare at its most honest, cruel and gruesome.

The tunnel rats who dig claustrophobic trenches and soldiers who live in them and carry out warfare against the enemy. The underground explosions that make the soil give away and bury the soldiers alive making the trenches living coffins.

The description is honest, clinical and unemotional making it more vivid and impactful. As I read through the pages where tunnel rats dig tunnels underground and lay mines under enemy lines, I could feel the fine hair on my arms standing up, when the loose earth falls on the soldiers and they find earth in their nose, eyes and mouth, I felt suffocated and had trouble breathing, when soldiers feel lice crawling on their clothes and hair, I scratched myself and when the enemy shelling bursts open someone’s brains, legs or guts, I sensed warm blood all over me. I have never read a narration more powerful and gut-wrenchingly real.

These words from the book got my heart racing and gave me some sleepless nights –

“He had to crawl over Evan’s body, then haul Jack off the cross and flatten himself on the tunnel floor so Jack could get over him and go back down the tunnel. Even twenty yards back they could not stand up, but they could crouch and stretch each limb in turn.”

“He was close to choking on Douglas’s blood. By the time the stretcher-bearers reached them Douglas had lost consciousness. They levered the inert body up, trying not to make the wound worse.”

“He was aware of earth in his eyes and nose, and of weight.”

“He tried to swallow, but could not gather enough saliva in his dry, earth-filled mouth.”

The last chapter about the war is truly remarkable as Faulks portrays man’s fear and hopelessness, endurance and struggle for survival, and then humanity springing in the most unimaginable way.

What didn’t work for me

The style of narration changes in all three time periods. The powerful narration of the war, unfortunately doesn’t stretch itself to pre-war and post-war stories, which is a sore point of the book. However, on the other hand, it helps provide respite from the overwhelming war description. Also, the female characters lack dimension. Why Isabelle leaves Stephen and then finds love in Max is not very clear? Even Elisabeth’s character could have been more developed. Only Jeanne comes out as the sane one and a breath of fresh air in the story.

Verdict:

The war is prominent throughout the book, it rules over the characters, emotions and drama.

The beauty of the book is not in its plot or story, but in reading the narrative of the war, in knowing how tunnellers and infantrymen lived in the trenches, engaged in trench warfare and formed a brotherhood with fellow survivors as only they know what it is to survive in cold and inhuman conditions, and in understanding how innocence and humanity are snuffed out little by little in the face of gruesome horrors.

If you like reading about war stories, I’d say pick up this one.

A few lines that will stay with me –

“I am driven by a greater force than I can resist. I believe that force has its own reason and it’s own morality even if they may never be clear to me while I am alive.”

“He’s frightened that it doesn’t make sense, that there is no purpose. He’s afraid that he has somehow strayed into the wrong life.”

“I saw the great void in your soul, and you saw mine.”

I am taking part in the Write Tribe Reading Challenge and I have opted to read 24 books this year (though I am hoping to read more). There are 24 prompts given, and this book adheres to three of them:

1) A book set in a country that you visited/want to visit

 

Posted in Book Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

#TellTaleThursday – 31st January 2019

The rules are simple:

  • Write a story, complete in itself.
  • Check spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
  • Copy and paste your Story URL to the inLinkz list.
  • The story should be up to 250 words.
  • Add this line < #TellTaleThursday with Anshu & Priya > at the end of the post.
  • Read, comment and share – spread the love.

Here’s the prompt:

Weekly fiction writing challenge - #TellTaleThursday

Image – Pexels


Word count – 243 Words

Missing Mom

“You are 18 today, I think you are old enough to take care of what is rightfully yours?” Said grandmother placing a shoe-size cardboard box on Joe’s bed.

“What is this, mammy?” Joe asked all curious.

“Some old pictures,” she replied with a flick of her hand as if it was unimportant.

“Does it have mom in it?” There was excitement in his voice.

“Sure. That gold digger who left your father and abandoned her 4-year old when the going became tough,” she gave a snort of disgust.

Joe opened the box. He had never seen his mother before, didn’t remember what she looked like.

He picked up some sepia tinted photos of a couple much in love. He recognized his father immediately, though he was lean and had a fuller head of hair. The woman was in her early twenties, love and happiness shining from her face. He looked closely at his mother. Thick shapely brows, doe eyes, full lips and a pert little nose, she was a timeless beauty. Then he looked at the crescent shaped scar on the side of her cheek.

“That was impossible. How could it be?” Joe shook his head in denial.

This was the same woman he had seen every day outside his school. He thought she waited for her child. Now, he knew why she always stood under the sycamore tree at the other side of the road.

It was time he confronted his mammy.

Posted in #TellTaleThursday | Tagged , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Funny little turn

Image by Renee Heath

Written for Friday Fictioneers

FUNNY LITTLE TURN

“Where do we go for our annual trip?” Sakina asked excitedly.

“Casablanca,” chimed Afiya as usual.

“Fes,” argued Sakina as usual.

Zahra kept quite as usual. She went wherever her friends decided.

The girls were talking nineteen to dozen while Zahra drove quietly.

Afiya shouted, “We missed the turn to Casablanca, Z.”

Zahra smiled.

“Good, now we can go to Fes instead,” teased Sakina.

After a few hours, “Zahra, we missed Fes too. Where are we going?”

In the evening, the girls, sprawled on the desert sand, were marvelling at the sky full of stars.

Posted in Short Stories | Tagged , , , , , , | 59 Comments