Friday, 23 August 2019

Book Review of Remnants of a Separation by Aanchal Malhotra

Reading Remnants of a separation was intensive for it encloses in itself the stories on partition which give a jolting but lingering aftertaste, similar to one which is observed after savouring a hot cup of tea.

We time travel into the lives of people before, during and after partition through material memory- a concept of memorabilia through objects.We walk hand in hand through this emotional journey of revisiting a past which one deliberately doesn’t want to recall for all it brings back is loss. Loss of an era where humanity was held prime, of a culture which depicted oneness and of their home and loved one’s.

In here are 19 handpicked stories emotive, evocative and colloquial, you almost feel you are a part of that conversation hearing them in the same living room they sit to talk about it. The recollections of past made is stimulated by the objects they have with them in possession now from across the border, which they once called home. Be it a regionalist who often slips “farak toh hai”, there is a difference between Hindus and Muslims in their dialogues or a nationalist who keeps India and its people as a whole in his heart, we hear a unanimous voice saying- Partition will always be a horror, a massacre to never be remembered. And so when questioned - do you remember those times and what it was like, were answers only justifying the reason of time. “Eventually and Inevitably, one does forget”. Reading about kinship among people before partition with zero grounds of religion felt like a tender keepsake.

Calling It a beautifully written and compiled book would be an understatement with respect to the work that has gone in creation of something so substantial and harrowing. It makes your heart skip a beat, there is a lump in your throat and you don’t realise how long you were holding that sigh inside of you when you finally let it out, in awe. No matter how much I try to express it, reading this book will always remain an aesthetic experience, one that won’t blossom with magnanimity in my words but will stay wrapped up in my heart, only to be re-opened at certain instances.

If you are looking for that one perfect book on Partition, your search ends here. This is "A must must read".

My Rating:
Nothing less than ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 glorious stars.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Book review of Don't Run, My Love by Easterine Kire

The anxiousness of trying out a new author is like exploring a new city. You don’t know what you might end up loving. With no clue of how an author writes and what her literary strength is, a book is worth the time when you close it feeling happy and satiated.

My first encounter with Easterine Kire and I couldn’t have been more pleased. Her prowess of weaving a world and filling it with a simplistic beauty of words is what I admired the most. Don’t run, My love by Kire took me back to my childhood when hearing and reading Indian folklore and folktales were a special part of growing up. I was in a phase of sheer nostalgia while reading this little black book.

It is a simple story of Visenuo and Atuonuo, a mother and a daughter who are going about their day with their routine work when they meet Kevi, a young Hunter. With his loving demeanour and persona he easily slips into their life until they come to know there’s more to him. Kevi’s vicious angry nature with turn of events reveals a side of him which is animalistic. The rest that follows is their will to escape him. The story is inspired from the folk tales of “were-tiger” (tekhumevi) which was believed to be prevalent in earlier times. A legend we must have heard stories of in our childhood too.

I specifically love a book which does not boast of its literary power. Adorned with meaningful writing, however simpleton it might be Kire swooped me in with the first page and made her case with a strong story dusted with thrill, a little message of reflection over human behaviour and modest characters.

There is no bad time to read this one. It is one which can be picked up at any moment and relished, especially if short books are your jam.

My Rating:
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 ( I loved it more than a 4 star but since I do not have any comparison scale of her other works it would be a 4 for now)

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

“The world was hers for the reading.” – Betty Smith

I get asked this a lot of times- How do you manage to read? And with a kid? My first reaction to this question most of the times is a very casual shrug implying- I don’t know. Doesn’t it happen on its own? I used to take this question for granted thinking, it is embedded in me that my free time is an automatic action of me going and picking a book and spending that half hour without any distractions until I realised that it might not be the case for all. When I spoke to my peers and they said they don’t find time to read is when I gave this question a closer and grave look. It took me nearly a year to get back to a full-fledged reading schedule after my son was born. What I never left doing was, trying.

The prime importance to do a task is our intention of doing it. We might put our heart into it if it appeals to us and if we intend to see it as a success or we might just let it pass giving ourselves excuses which we know are make-believe things when we don’t want the burden of guilt on us. It goes the same way for inducing a reading schedule in your day. If you have always been a reader it will not be hard for you to come face to face with your choice of reading genre and immersing yourself in a good book. For starters, it can get a little tricky. The phase of exploration will be much longer for you, where you get to know yourself as a reader. Does mystery thrill you? Are you a classic lover? Or more of a YA (Young Adult) reader? These are some questions you might want to answer in your mind.
Moving on to the “how” part of reading- How to fit reading in my schedule? How can we read more? Etecetra. I am listing down easy tips and tricks to get started with reading after a gap or sneaking in a good reading time in your busy day.

·    If you have always been a reader, pick a book or a genre you know will not disappoint you. It could be your most favourite book which you read years back.
·   Always travel with a book. I cannot stress enough on this point. Travelling with a book brings in some handy reading time. Your commute to the office would never have felt better nor waiting for a friend in a café who is in a habit of getting late.
·   Indulging in a solitary tea break at work is no sin! Scoop up some 10-15 pages with your tea or coffee and return to your desk feeling refreshed. This also applies if you are a freelancer or usually work from home.
·   Bedtime isn’t just for kids, it’s for you too! Cosy up with a book before your bedtime and give yourself this half hour of mindful therapy. The benefits are numerous, primarily offering you a de-stressing sleep.
·   Last but the most important of all- We are so much habituated to our phones that even one notification makes us jump and look at the screen. Take a break! At least, during your bed time reading try keeping your phone away for this half hour.
·   A special tip for the mums out there- Never shy away from reading because your kid is around or may spoil your books. The more he/she sees you with your book, the more interested he will be towards reading as well. It’s okay, give him his own picture book to read and if he doesn’t want it, let him have his own sweet time while you devour some pages before getting back to regular mommy chores.

These are some general hacks to read more or get back to reading for anyone willing to. To the new moms and moms of fairly younger children, I just want to say to you- Let this new role of parenting not deprive you of the person that you were before. Take out time for the things you always loved doing. These form a part of our self-care routine and is important for us to function better. Don’t you think only then can we enjoy the giggles of our little one’s more.

I have some more posts planned with respect to reading better. So, let me know in comments if you like the post and what more would you like to read about here on Flip-a-leaf.
The unlikely adventures of Shergill Sisters-Balli Kaur Jaswal

Reading the author’s new was like taking a route travelled before. It had similar traits and along I drove on to meandering paths keeping my keen eyes open for any new discovery. It was a good journey nevertheless.

It is the story of Shergills.Mother Shergill leaves a letter for her daughters upon her death asking them to take a pilgrimage trip to India and dust her ashes.The three Shergill Sisters are not very happy about this plan as they do not get along.They still do it for the sake of their mother. What sheds on this journey is their baggage which each one has been carrying since a long time, their self doubts and fake assurances to themselves. We see the wall between them and their emotions melting giving way to a newly formed sibling relationship and respect. The book also talks about how as immigrants they view India, a lot of keenness towards the locales and little struggles to establish connect to their mother’s roots.I liked how Balli Kaur Jaswal maintained the plainness of their immigrant status.No over enthusiastic patriot-ness. The story touches emotional grounds where the daughters are seen reminiscing their mother together and sometimes in solitude. The author is immensely talented to eloquently articulate humour squeezed out from very real, relatable and everyday situations binding you in splits of laughter.

While I loved how warm, funny and smooth this book was I also felt that the predictability factor was quite high. It was easy to navigate through the book for the same reason. Nevertheless, it keeps the reader hooked and you want to know if what you guessed was right or wrong. Had it been any longer it would have felt dragged.I think this could make a great screen adaptation. I really enjoyed reading it.

It doesn’t beat Erotic stories for Punjabi widows hands down but makes an ideal pick for days when you feel gloomy and sick. This one will just perk your mood up.

My rating:

Thank you Harper Collins India for the review copy.(#gifted)

Thursday, 1 August 2019

10 minutes and 38 seconds in this strange world by Elif Shafak

Every time I enter her territory, it is with a clean slate.Knowing her writing flair and her presentation capabilities I take pride in knowing her work before I delve into her book only to be proven wrong.Each time! And it is the only time I don’t feel berated of having been done so.This blue beauty just left me with a gaping sigh of relief, which came from the awe of reading it.

It begins with The End,the story of “Tequila”Leila-a prostitute.Reels and snippets of life run in her active brain for the last 10 minutes and 38 seconds before she would be found dead and eventually buried.Her memories traverse from her childhood to the day she left home to arrive in Istanbul.Reading about Leila’s strenuous childhood was accompanied by excruciating bouts of anger and distress. She continues to think about the brothel street,her friends and love, found and lost.Each phase of her life is associated with a flavour or an aroma.The author presents the book seamlessly recording the thought going on in Leila’s mind at every minute introducing us to characters which are broken, flawed and yet adept of piercing us with their persona.

The book is divided into three parts:The Mind- which has Leila’s closest thoughts,some which she says out loud and some which she keeps for her own musings. A very strong character and one that you will remember for a long time.

The Body-which decides she should be buried in the cemetery of companion-less. It was upsetting to know this exists in real. People who have no family to perform a funeral are buried here, as the name says- "companion-less". What is really debatable is why should Leila be buried here. She has friends like family and she isn't alone or abandoned. Her friends take it in their stride to move Leila's body from this cemetery and burying her with the respect she deserves. What follows is the hassle accompanied by some light moments her friends have together. I loved how the human relationships have been explored in the book. Not tied by blood but similar situations in a city which has silenced them speaks volumes about Shafak's dexterity in giving them a voice and a reason to be heard. Leila being the prime character was present through out the book; before and after her death in their thoughts, actions, prayers and the slightest thing which would begin by -"If Leila heard that.." and trail off with a sigh which showed how much her presence was missed. I highlight this to say that though we see Leila's five friends in action after the first half, her aura remains.

Lastly, The Soul-which sees her free in her spirits, just like she always wanted to be.

With its poignant and beautiful writing it talks of eternal friendships and identity crisis in a multi-faced city like Istanbul,one which is caught in political rift.For once I saw how moroseness can be encapsulated in words of solace and solidity.Not only is the author a brilliant storyteller with a writing finesse, she drafts her characters with a weight which isn’t easy to shake off.It is their verve, fervour and will which catches immediate attention.

It was everything I wanted Shafak’s next to be and everything which I couldn’t fathom.

My rating:

Goa- A new revelation. All credits to this dainty place- Literati Bookshop Café   The ceiling-high bookshelves I was in Goa last m...