Book Review Treat: “Demons in My Mind: When Mind Becomes Your Biggest Enemy” by Ashish Gupta

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Demons in My Mind: When Mind Becomes Your Biggest Enemy” by Ashish Gupta is a novel which can easily cut through the clutter of contemporary authors flooding the market with light-fluffy stuff. It’s a good, intellectual as well as an interesting read which challenges the reader and brings forth some very pertinent questions in a quite entertaining way. The book deals with heavy questions of criminal psychology and how a criminal should be viewed and treated in a society.

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This book is very well written. It is divided into various sub plots, all woven very intricately and flowing in a sequence so it can provide enough suspense and build up to the reader.

The main protagonist, Dakshesh is shown to be at the last stage of cancer nearing a painful death. To be relieved of this malady, this pain, he asks his comrades to take him to three powerful mystics who seem to be the only ray of hope for an escape from this dreary end. The story seems to be going on a spiritual turn just when the twists are brought in, rather very cleverly, and these three are shown to be in real hardened criminals. They narrate their stories to Dakshesh and how they came to a fork in the road in their lives  on meeting Alia, a homeless girl, when they made the decision to leave their dark pasts behind and move to a better path.

These three monks bring with them a lot of variety as all three belong to three different religions- Rizwaan, a Muslim; Murli, a Hindu and Joseph, a Christian. The issues they dealt with are also different and each equally dark in their own ways. One was a murderer, the other a rapist and the third, a lover turned torturer. The differences brought out with so much dexterity point to the fact that crime in fact has no religion, and religion rarely does determine the path a person takes. It is more often the circumstances, the struggles and state of mind of the person embarking on the dark and dangerous path of crime.

The author manages to highlight very important factors that bring a person to such a path: the control of mind over a person or a person over their mind? Once you enter the dark path is there ever really an escape? Hallucinations and misjudgements or clarity and cutting through illusions: which does a person choose and where does the choice lead him to?

Though no one could relieve Dakshesh of his physical pain, yet, listening to their stories relieves him of hid mental and emotional agony as the nature of their minds makes him come face to face with nature of his own mind and the issues plaguing a society at large.

Overall, this is a very well written, fast paced novel. Though the plot seems simple, in reality it is not as there are so many sub plots interwoven beautifully, adding a very unique touch to the story. The plot is very unique and interesting to read, and the author must be commended for developing it so well.

Book Review Treat: The Color of love by Jagdish Joghee

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The Color of love by Jagdish Joghee questions the rejection of love between two people in the society on the basis of non-consequential factors like caste, creed, racist views. The equation of how these limited views affect innocent emotions between two loving people and how separation changes them forever, only for the worse.

How people divide on the name of religion and more similar imaginary barriers, while hopeful and innocent youth break out of those false barriers to unite in love is questioned.

The story is about Sarfaraz and Meghna, and how hard he tries to break all the barriers to reach up to the one person he truly loves. The title is kept Colors of Love because we see Sarfaraz’s character growing and changing with his love, and when he is separated from that one true thing that made him complete, his personality and vivacity change a lot too.

Also, the book explores the discrimination Muslims face in the city of Combatore and how Sarfaraz suffered at the hands of this racist mindset both in society and also his personal relationships.

The author has done a good job in bringing out these emotions, and also in questioning the mindset that plagues the society. What was very encouraging to see was, that Sarfaraz could rise up from his difficulties and make a good living. Despite his father thinking of him otherwise, he managed to make his parents proud and give them the life they deserved.

A very strong, smart and encouraging character is brought out in Sarfaraz’s mother, who probably is the reason behind his fighting spirit. Nadia Begum, like any other woman in that society was looked down upon by her husband and her views never mattered. However when it came to practical matters and matters of survival, she had a very sharp brain, even more so than her husband. She was a cheerful lady who was very open minded in the matters of relationship as well, and Sarfaraz could easily share his relationship voes with her. She was a woman neither bound by religion, gender or society- and it is this spark which inspired Sarfaraz to find his holding in a chaotic world.

The narration style is very interesting, however the dialogues between Sarfaraz and Rameez (his best friend) are written in a very novice manner, which takes away from the reading experience.

Lastly, I would say the author manages to raise very important cultural and religious issues plaguing the society. Also, the different shades of love, emotions, relationships, friendships and choices are explored very well, which makes this novel a valuable reading experience.

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Book Review Treat: In Love and Free by Jagdish Joghee

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In Love and Free by Jagdish Joghee is a novel which looks at the nature of relationships very closely in modern society and questions the precepts on which we base the expectations of a relationship.
Shruthi is a modern South Indian girl, she has been blessed with everything in life. She has had a perfect life- a rich supportive family, a good education and a loving boyfriend who later becomes her husband. Even her in-laws were loving and supportive and she was later blessed with two kids.
However, the thing that hold Shruthi back is that she’s always been overprotective and she has never had to take a fall in her life. Thus, despite being a very happy person she finds herself in an extra-marital relationship with her neighbor Rahul.
What I find very funny, whether it be the attitude of the writer or the character only, that the same person who gives up her career after her marriage with Madhan (apparently because he was already earning very well and she had no drive to have a standing of her own) under the guise of ‘motherhood’ later tries to moralize extramarital affairs (done without the knowledge and consent of her partner who trusted her so much and was loyal to the core with her) throughout the novel. Not to mention, her extra-marital affairs affected her parenting as well, she ended up neglecting her kids when they needed her the most.
While the question raised about society enforcing on monogamous relationships as a rule is valid and worth thinking about, however, given Shruthi’s situation, it’s very alarming that the author has tried to justify ‘adultery’ as a form of polygamy till the end of the novel whereas there have been humongous questioning of why women should work after marriage. (The protagonist seemed to lack a drive for self-development and responsibility throughout the novel).
The hypocritical nature in the development of this character brings out the question as to what kind of female protagonists do contemporary male writers seem to portray. While a woman’s desire to balance self-reliance and motherhood is questioned; infidelity as a form of polygamy (even at the cost of upkeep of children and family) has been justified till the end. I wonder if this form of polygamy is justified for men?
Shruthi has been in love with two men. While she says she loves her husband who toils so hard for her and does his best to provide her and their kids a safe and secured childhood; she also loves her best friend’s husband secretly.
However, when she realizes the hidden motive behind Rahul’s love and more importantly the fact that he was having another affair through his wife, her views on polygamy magically changes and she starts hating Rahul for having cheated on her all the while.
Despite having information over how Rahul was secretly planning to harm both his wife and Shruthi, she makes very less effort to actually act upon it and take responsibility. Neither she tries to apologize to her husband nor her best friend. The only luck she had saving her from a life-debiliating situation was her luck, her father’s money and her husband’s blind love.
Though the initial premise of the novel is very promising, like:
* how the protagonist compares her life and challenges with the sea, sometimes powerful other times crashing and some other times silent and weak. She beautifully relates her life situations and choices with the Sea as a witness and a silent strength.
* in her monologues about how society views relationships and polygamy. The expectations, rules versus the matters of heart

However, the threads which looked very promising were left loose by the author. There was a very weak character building, and questioning of morality was a very dubious and hypocritical in nature. As a protagonist, I would say Shruthi did not contain much strength nor content. She did very less, rather she took further self-sabotaging choices when she was given a chance to act upon her ‘ideas’. It is shown that Shruthi as a character never truly grows. True to her upbringing, she relied on fate and ‘adults’ taking care of her dirty business.

She does questions morality in society, but only when it suits her personal interest and caters to her own convenience and her personal gains. In places where morality tested her own discretion and required her to make tough choices, standing up for herself and others, she falled short because her contemplation only came from a place of self appeasement.

I think this is a major turn off for this book because if the characters don’t manage to teach you something valuable in this already complex moral society, what is the point of raising questions in the first place? Liberal views are good when the precepts of it are same for both the genders. Here we see a topsy side of the patriarchal society- while the woman questions her right to freedom, she’s enraged and hurt when a man is put in the same position.
If she so believed in an extra-marital affair as polygamy, why did she judge Rahul when she found he had another woman in his life? Wasn’t she doing the same with Madhan, her husband, as he was doing with her?
If she believed in polygamy, shouldn’t she have conveyed this to the person she called her soulmate and the one who fought till the end for her?
Also, if she accuses a working woman to be neglecting her role as a mother, why did she neglect her own children (and her in-laws’) because of her affair?
Is there a clear message being sent by these contradictory views? Is Shruthi a quintessential ideal character for a modern patriarchal mindset, catering to male fantasies? While she’s allowed to be sex-starved, she’s not allowed to be a strong, independent and a self-reliant person.
There’s also this question of how a woman in modern times receiving trust and support from her in-laws abuses the freedom right behind their back. And she’s never questioned for it!

Throughout, we find Shruthi’s character to be very childish and insensitive to other’s concerns. Even at the climax when she was acquainted with the choice to act upon her mistakes, she does very little to apologize genuinely and set things right. She infact, as usual, relies on her fate and her Dad to take hold of the situation.

The writing style used in the book is casual and easy for a reader, and in the end the story suddenly takes up pace. There have been instances where the tension has been built well. The characters are very realistic, even Shruthi’s character in my opinion because she questioned the moral standards of the society only when she saw the thrill and adventure in it. However, when the initial honeymoon phase was over and it was time for tough choices and taking up a stand, she began to question her own liberal views!

Swan Song

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Beauty in simplicity, pompousness defeated quietly.

– ©® Madhulika Mitra

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This is a 6 word short story written for the challenge #PFsixwordchallenge hosted by @pageflutter on IG.

Skywalkers (a poem)

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Skywalkers (a poem) by ©® Madhulika Mitra
The pungent grey clouds hid
The hologram of possibilities behind it’s lost facade.
Perhaps it was so the sky walker wanderers
Would loose themselves in darkness
And never find the way
To the land above the clouds.
But, the  wolf hearts weren’t so lost of passion
The light they seeked, was within
And the darkness only amplified the hidden glaze.
It must be crazy, they thought!
We feared we didn’t have wings, so we’ll never reach the clouds
But we’re waters inside and out
We have got, the evaporating skills!
We don’t need, to seek the clouds
For the clouds know, it needs us more.
Our tenacity was tested, by our own anxiousness.
We were already, where we were meant to be.
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Clubbing Day 12 prompts of

#Zopoinmarch by @zoebfm

#marchechoesatabyss by @_indelible_inked.phoenix
#cmmarchchallenge by @cerynnmccain
#marcbfchallenge #colorbodyfeels by @cc_writes
#marchfalls by @aseawords & @breath_words_
#marpoetry by @tempus247 #tenacity
#madmarchchallenge by @ravenofthewritingdesk

Moans Under The Moon (a poem)

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Moans Under The Moon by ©® Madhulika Mitra

The moon looked through
The veils that hid our secret dance
On the beds of sands and dried roses
Our moans under her silent howls
Bellowed a symphony of the risen beasts
The drooping shy eyes that hide
The revulsions of desires underneath
Turns even the mellow scents
Into wildflowers.
This poem is for #eroticpoetrychallenge on Instagram.
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Dame of Flames (a poem) by Madhulika Mitra

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Dame of Flames by ©® Madhulika Mitra

She was a keeper of flames

Burning with the same
vigorous intensity as her dream.
It is said vile beasts of fervor
Can’t be tamed within electric barriers
But only be contained,
Till the lightening merges
into their burnt essence,
And molten ashes birth
Where subsided flames existed.

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