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.

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Book Review Treat: ANOTHER TALE OF TWO CITIES BY EZHUTH AANI

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The book is basically a historical treatise set up in the 15th century pertaining to twin cities of Combodia: Angor Wat and Ankor Thom.  The concern of preserving the culture and sovereignty of these kingdoms was predominant in the minds of the two dedicated princes Mahendra and Adithya who set up on an arduous journey from China, Srilanka, India and Middle East to seek Military support in the form of Arms  ammunition, army, modern technological method of warfare and also technology for management of drought and water resources.
The foreword by the author sets the tempo of the novel.  A great civilization of Khmer empire which lasted for more than 600 years faces annihilation due to ravages of war, religious intrusion and natural disorders due to disastrous climatic changes.  How much of these are pre-emptive? How much could have been avoided? And how much can be retrieved .  What is the impact of these happenings upon the life of the citizens?  HOw do they cope up?
The story starts with an interesting narrative of the travels of young Adithya the king’s envoy to meet Vajragnani, a mystic in order to save Angkor’s empire On the way he meets his daughter Mandagini. She arrests him and then takes him to Vajragnani, her father. He gives him knowledge and a statue of Buddha. Then he sends him on his way alongwith Mandagini. They both fall in love and part ways with heavy hearts. Adithya embarks on a journey to  Srilanka and India and meet the King and The Emperor and could also manage to get their promise of being helped at the time of need/requirement.
In another part of the story, Mahendra goes to China  and learns the technical knowhow of  technogical aspects of modern warfare,  He returns to Cambodia in the absence of Adithya and inadvertently wins the hands of Maddagini.  This development though upsets Adithya to the core, yet he does not fail to fulfil his duty towards his country.
The story is excellently woven with philosophical inputs by the author which are very apt in the given situations.  However, some historical facts have been repeated often which could have been avoided.
The author has also done  extensive research into the history of the these counties and kingdom, the rise and fall of empires, the rise and influence of Buddhism  on the political situation of these countries.
The cover  designed by Ajitabha Bose depicting a temple against the backdrop of red setting sun sets the tempo of the novel

Book Review Treat: UNNS- The Captivation by Sapan Saxena

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A very good attempt of an emotional saga which was thrilling to the end.
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The journey of the protagonist, Atharva Rathod through the stages of love is akin to the journey of Philips in Somerset Maughan’s ‘ Of Human Bondage’.
Like Philips, Atharva’s conviction in his love towards Meher transcends the repeated betrayals by her.  However, the perseverance of Atharva brings out the reciprocative action on her part.
The early  romance  at the school level between Atharva and Rathod is quite commonplace and yet, that it could have been a sustainable factor in shaping up the plot in an espionage saga was wonderful,
Another interesting factor of the story was that even though the protagonists were of different religious background i.e., Atharva was Hindu and Meher was Muslim, yet the religious barrier was not the cause of their separation. In fact, there has been no role-play of Artharva’s parent in this matter.  The objection of Meher’s parents to the continuance of this relationship was more on ground of practical incompatibility as they wanted her to pursue her career rather than getting stuck up in an unproductive relationship. On these grounds even Meher’s short-lived romantic feelings got evaporated as she chose to write-off Atharva so completely.
The quick turn of events  sustained the interest in the story
AN OVERALL GOOD READ.
RATING 4/5

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!

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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