A tryst with death



He lay on his bed. The silhouette of a man on a buffalo, a lasso in his hand could be seen outside the window.

My time has not yet come, my Lord. You had promised me five full years of life. I still have four months left. I have so much more left to do here”, he yelled frantically, mustering together the last bit of his life.

Lord Yama had a calm, serene smile on his face as he materialized in front of the dying man.  “Do you remember my exact boon to you?"

 “Yes, my lord, every word of it. Finish all your unfinished business, son, you had said”, “Twenty seven are the stars that adorn the blue sky. And twenty seven times a hundred thousand minutes of life have your noble deeds earned you. Not a second more not a second less do I give you. Use every one of it wisely”.

Naresh gasped for breath and continued, “I did find it a bit strange that you gave me my boon in minutes.  But that did not matter. All I needed was 5 years and what you had given me amounted to a little more than that. Now you are cutting me short by 4 months.” His expression had changed from fear to righteous rage.

However his outburst did not seem to have had any effect whatsoever on the Lord of Death. In the same calm voice he continued to speak. “Did you notice anything new in your room when I gave you back your life?

Naresh was a bit perplexed by the question. Was the Lord of Death trying to change the topic? But no God, least of all the God of death come to claim your life, was to be messed with. So he answered, “Yes there was a small box in a corner of a room. It had some white shiny powder in it. I threw the stuff into the dustbin and to my surprise it filled itself again. I did not know what to do with it. So I just let it remain in a corner. What has that got to do with my four months?

 “Well my son, your remaining four months were in that box and you let it go waste.”. Seeing the confused expression on Naresh’s face he continued, “Well. That was an unlimited supply of Surf Excel Matic. If you had used it, that would have saved two hours of your time every single day of the last four years and a half, which would have amounted to four months. After all there is no such thing as a complete free lunch, eh? I expected you to have shown some initiative and reached out for at least those few months. You missed the opportunity” 

Naresh just hung his head in an air of resignation. Whoever named death a ‘grim’ reaper had not possibly been properly acquainted with death’s sense of humor. But then you can’t blame them either. Not too many people who acquainted closely with death lived to tell the tale.

This post has been posted for the Surf Excel Matic contest contest conducted jointly by Indiblogger and HUL. Click here to read the other entries or participate in the contest.

The picture has been taken from google images. No clue who owns it. If the owner requests with proper proof of ownership, I can take it down or give proper credits. I am earning nothing from my blog. So can't give any financial compensation.

Not Totally Unbeleivable - Book Review



'Not Totally Unbelievable'. Having followed Vibuthi's blog for more than a year I find it 'Not Totally Unbelievable' that she has managed to get published. For I am well acquainted with the caliber of her writing through her blogs and knew it would only be a matter of time. And here it is - her first book - a collection of short stories titled 'Not Totally Unbelievable'.

One of the key challenges in compiling a set of short stories is to find a common theme connecting the stories. It becomes even more challenging when all stories are of a single author because the number of stories is limited. And if the author happens to be versatile, the challenge is further compounded. At a first glance if one were to look at the stories in this book, they will look totally unconnected. The stories are scattered across the space time continuum, with one story in China, one in Germany, one in Mumbai and some of them set in recent times while others set close to a 100 years back. Given that, I find the way the title links the stories together a real master stroke. Each story covers a different facet of what one may find unbelievable. On one side we go into the twilight zone with stories on ghosts, rebirth and clairvoyance. Then a few somber themes such as suicide and death. And touching tales on how ordinary people transcend their limitations and achieve the impossible through persistence, hard work and love. And last but not the least a comical take on the workings of fate.

Every one of us will have a thousand stories to tell. But not all stories have the same charm. What makes a story fascinating is the minor details that make the stories come alive and give the reader a vicarious experience of living through the story. Vibuthi has excelled in this element. The loving attention she has given to every little details make the stories feel real and filled with life. The other aspect I really liked about the stories is the strong human element. She has etched out each of her characters beautifully. Even established authors fall into trap of casting the protagonists of all their stories in the same mold. But Vibuthi has managed to give a unique personality to the lead character of each of her stories.

The biggest positive element in all her stories is the strong positive element. All the stories are brimming with optimism and celebrate life. In fact she has even managed to give a positive twist to inherently negative themes such as suicide and death. The positivity in the stories are actually a reflection of the positivity she effuses in her own life as she mentions in the acknowledgement section of the book.

As they say, even the moon has dark spots. So definitely one can definitely find flaws if one were to look for them. If one were to read some of my other reviews, one can see I tend to take a balanced view pointing out failings even in works of great masters in the art of storytelling. By choosing not to harp on the areas that need improvement in Vibuthi's writing, I am by no means implying that she has transcended these literary giants. It is just that I feel nitpicking is not the need of the hour for a young author taking her baby steps in the world of literature. What she needs right now is encouragement to keep up the good work and strive to reach greater heights. I promise you Vibuthi, I shall come down real hard on you the day you write a best seller selling a million copies.

The book is a bit small for 95 Rs compared to some of the other books available in the market at the same price point. But it is a nice book to have around when one waats to take a small break amidst the busy schedule at work or in the kitchen or while waiting in a queue at a government office. I wonder how many people have the time for lengthy novels or even the longer short stories. After all nobody has time for test matches these days. 20-20 is the flavor of the season. And so is micro fiction. I can assure the reader that each of these little stories will bring a smile on her face. So do buy and read this book and encourage this budding writer. The book can be bought here.

For whom the bell tolls

A book of faces