‘Five of Hearts’ – Stories of Love and Emotion

I hadn’t been on the publishing scene for over a year after my first novel, Of Knights and Lilies came out. But earlier this year, I decided to put out a few stories that had been vacationing in my laptop. I revamped them over and over again, and started the process to publish them on Amazon Kindle. Just like the first eBook that I had put out.

Five of Hearts

There are no particular reasons why I chose the stories that are on the collection. Every story that I write is close to my heart in its own way. Yes, there are a lot of what-ifs, but somewhere within them lies something that I identify with. Fortunately or unfortunately, that story isn’t coming out anytime soon!

Here is a short summary of all the stories in the collection, ‘Five of Hearts’:

Always Home: Leena returns from abroad to meet someone after 8 years. While on her way from the airport, she revels in the memories that the city evokes in her. Some make her laugh, some make her cry. But every memory tightens her chest and makes her rue not coming back earlier. While many memories that she remembers are loosely based off my own life and surroundings, the storyline hasn’t got anything to do with me.

Always Home

 

Inertia: Imaya’s character is loosely based off of myself, but I haven’t got a drop of music in my blood. I sound like a badly tuned tambourine when I talk. Moving on to the story, Imaya is content to be where she is, lounging around in sweatpants over the weekend. But her friends and boyfriend want her to go out more. This leads to an altercation that leading forward, changes Imaya’s life.

Inertia

 

Despondent: This story is entirely inspired from some of the cheesy movies I watched and novels I read when I was younger. Reeti is a woman who has low self-esteem and is a pessimist 24/7. She thinks nothing is going to come out of her life. But there is something that’s trying to escape from the tightly shut doors of her heart. Will that something be able to bring her out of the rut?

Despondent

Reins of Steel: This story is one that will remain close to my heart for years to come, more than any other story on this list. A man, pictured against a stunning landscape, rues over a ruined relationship. A woman is doing the same thing in her room. Both come to realizations that will hopefully bring their lives back to what they were before. But what will they do to repair the wrong?

Reins of Steel

 

Dream Come True: One of those stories inspired from dream-come-true cheese in movies and novels. Naina and Arjun have been best friends for as long as they can remember. Of course, nothing is going to be as straightforward as that. They are also in love with each other, scared to confess for fear of losing each other. But something happens that tests their relationship. What do they do to? Do they work around it? Can they work around it?

Dream Come True

 

Every story that an author writes is inspired from somewhere. So is the case with me. I glean inspiration from my own experiences or from those around me. And when I think of sharing these stories with the world, my heart thumps in excitement, because sharing a piece of oneself – however small it may be – is a big deal. What will people say? Will they like it? Would they want to read it? Will they connect with it?

With all these questions crowding the mind, taking a leap of faith is important. And that is exactly what I always do.

Five of Hearts is available on Kindle India and Kindle International at a discounted price at:

‘Five of Hearts’ on Kindle India

‘Five of Hearts’ on Kindle International

It is also available on Amazon sites of other countries for discounted prices!

Thank you for reading the story of ‘Five of Hearts’. If you are interested, please do buy a copy and leave a review! 🙂

The Strong, Courageous Colors of Today

Burst through red-tinted windows

Into the fiery orange morning sky

Take in the light mist

Take in the springy gait of the early morning risers

Spread your arms wide

Embrace the day as it settles down on you

Embrace it for its newness

Embrace it for its uncertainties

Embrace it for the hope it brings

And the beauty that you could fill it with

A coloring book of unfettered beauty,

Today is a world of possibilities

Fill it as you will, fill it as you must

With colors you deem suited

But remember – there is always a but –

That once the colors sink in

Once the seconds pass, once the minutes pass

They morph into memories

Have-beens that you cannot change

Dreams are reflections of the future

While memories are impressions of the past.

Fill up the colors with wisdom, with intelligence

Let there be hope, let there be pride

In the way you wield your colors

In the way they flow into your memories

In the way you look at what’s to come.

Remember the fiery orange sun that’s rising

Remember its transformation into the prickly yellow of the noon

And its relapse into fire.

You could mirror it in ways the galaxies cannot fathom

You could wrap your arms around yourself

And turn into the phoenix you know you are,

Choosing your colors as you breathe,

Every breath giving you more reasons to live,

More reasons to love the book you’re coloring in.

In the end, when another opens your book,

And is bombarded with the colors you were bold enough to use,

They’d be wondrous, they’d be jealous, they’d be admiring

That you had enough courage, enough strength

To appreciate today, to praise today, and live in today.

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Picture Courtesy: entrepreneur.com

Goodbye, 2016! You’ve Been Good to Me!

I came into 2016 with a lot of hopes. Since I was ending 2015 on a high (my first novel, Of Knights and Lilies came out!), I figured there was so much more to do in the coming year. Things to do and places to be in! And though it seemed like my life was rollicking dangerously on its hind wheels sometimes, as I look back, I realize that I wouldn’t change a single thing about 2016.

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Through rainbows and epiphanies, I’ve learnt quite a bit about how the world works. There are people who want to bring their tyrannical authority to work while chucking humanity and common sense out the window. Some are a saving grace and a ray of bright opportunity that one can never thank enough. And then there are people who’d love to see you sit back and relax. 2016 has been a television soap opera mix of all these characters.

While this mix has been quite an eclectic one, it has actually taught me more about opportunism and how it can be used both ways. Harsh opportunism comes up while using people for more than bargained, while positive opportunism brings happiness and chance to all parties involved. Maybe 2016 has made me a little more worldly wise, but then I hope I don’t lose touch with humanity while I’m at it.

Outside of my world, the big, bad world was undergoing some serious shock treatment. Cowards attacked an IAF base in Pathankot, Brexit happened, Trump became President of the United States, Modi stood tall amidst Opposition mudslinging, Amma passed away, and Modi’s demonetization move. While 2015 had been a year for bringing women’s rights to the forefront, 2016 became a year during which gender equality was the matter in question. And rightly so.

On a public forum that I follow, there was a person who posted an incident that showed how women were not being allowed to go out and work and their freedom was being curbed, even in this time and age. There were cries of outrage over this. “Women should be allowed to go and work,” one said. Another said, “If a man can be allowed do all that, then a woman should be allowed to do that, too!” The response that stumped me was something on these lines: “In earlier ages, there was no proper care for women when they menstruated or carried children. For that very reason, men went out, worked hard, and earned while the women took care of the house. It is because of this that traditions are built around it all.”

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I had stared at the comment, uncomfortably numb at how the opinion and choice of the woman was conveniently left out of the equation. And what of the oppression? What of the fact that all these man-made “rules” were imposed on the women? I could go on for ages about this, but maybe this isn’t when it should be done. Mentality is a little inherited, a little cultivated, and when the conscious does not know when to rein it in, maybe many are a lost cause.

2017 promises to be a wonderful new year. As I look forward to a wonderful personal and professional life, I also hope and pray that the world doesn’t burn down to ashes as 2016 promised. Let’s hope that all the signs that 2016 gave of bringing the party down are just signs. Let’s hope that we are proven wrong. And let’s hope that there is hope in the world, after all!

Not once can one trust the evil schemes of time

Nor can you be victorious in time’s endless fights

Epiphanies so rare and drudgeries unfair

Opening your eyes in manners sublime

Devoid of conspiracies and hateful crimes

All is but of a mastermind called time.

 

Happy New Year 2017, folks!

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Picture Courtesy: freepik.com

Making Of My First Novel, “Of Knights and Lilies”

Everyone has a story to tell, irrespective of how they choose to tell it. Some talk, some sing, some dance, a few act, and a lot many others, like me, put it in words.

The moment I realized my love for words, a dream to bring a story out for the world to read took shape. I started writing little poems, essays, and small stories when I was 10. It helped that I was handed down the habit of reading from my father. Soon enough, English became one of my favorite subjects. The reason behind this was simple. It gave me a way to explore my imagination, since I had a pretty vivid one. The endless possibilities of what could be, in the stars that appeared as I closed my eyes, fascinated me.

Soon, my little short stories became a little longer. I was enraptured by the power over the fictional characters I had. I could spin their story into anything I wanted. And though it sounds a little psychotic, I always mean that in a positive way. That’s because I am a hardcore romantic and sad stories break my heart.

It was just as I was finishing my engineering degree more than 6 years ago that I came upon this mushy idea for a full-fledged story. I started writing it chapter by chapter and called it My Knight. It wasn’t too long. 16 chapters and it came to around 85 pages in Microsoft Word, that, too, in a large font. I was mighty proud of this story that I had written. So I saved my work and even got it printed with the intent of sending it to publishers.

Then, Infosys happened.

I joined Infosys in September that year to fulfil my “dream” of becoming a software engineer. My Knight went into the archives – the soft copy in an obscure corner of my computer and the hard copy in an obscure corner of one of my bookshelves. I would chance upon it time and again and reminisce the pride that came with the book’s completion. But I didn’t do anything about it.

4 years later, I crossed paths with the book once again. I felt the same pride – yet again. But this time, I lingered for a longer time, because I somehow knew that I could spin it better. I began rework on the manuscript in late 2014, with a number of changes popping up. The first thing I changed was the title.

My Knight became Of Knights and Lilies.

Of Knights and Lilies_COVER 1_rev2.indd

Sometime in August, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on writing while working at Infy. I was getting quite irritated with my job there anyway. So I decided to quit Infosys and take up full-time writing. In late October, I finished the manuscript – now a 185+ page novel – and began the process of publishing Of Knights and Lilies.

Two months later, my book was live and available for everyone to read.

2015 was a year when two of my biggest dreams came true.

  1. I travelled solo. Even if it was just the journey to the United States where I met friends and made new friends. I did explore two cities on my own.
  2. I published a book.

Holding the first copy of my book in my hand will remain one of the highlights of my life. One of the few proud moments that I hold close. Since then, my book has not gone on to become a bestseller like I had hoped, nowhere close. But it will always be special to me. Because I know the dream that’s behind it. I know the effort that goes in. I know that I might not be in the league of A-list authors, but I’m good enough to be published!

If indeed you are curious about the book that’s my dream, here’s where you can order Of Knights and Lilies:

On Notion Press

On Amazon India

On Flipkart

On Shopclues

You can also find Of Knights and Lilies on amazon.com and its other international sites.

 

Let Me Have This Moment…

When I’m distraught

When I’m trying to pour my heart out

Into your waiting ears

Listen

Give me a few words of comfort

Hug me

Give me a smile

A smile of reassurance

That everything will be alright

Even if I believe otherwise

Override my senses

Override my belief in the brimming negativity

Tell me snippets

Of hope

Of courage

Of things that turned out alright

Of people who love me

Of why they love me

Tell me something to drive away the darkness

Tell me something to make me feel alive

To make me feel worthy

To help me navigate my way

Out of this swamp.

 

But never ever.

Never ever take this time

To compare your troubles with mine

Your troubles are important, too

But let me have this time

To complain

To get it out of my system

To rant and to rave

Until I’m exhausted

Your troubles are important, too

But don’t tell me mine are nothing

That mine are nothing compared to what you are going through

For it is all relativity

You’d understand if you’d walk in my shoes

And I’d understand if I walked in yours

But I’d never say that your troubles

Are nothing when compared to mine

One day, I’ll listen to you rave and rant, too

About your woes

About everything that is wrong

And everything that is won

In your life that is far thrown

From my own troubled one

 

Until then

Let me have this moment

Of letting out steam

Of complaining

Of venting

Of telling you my woes.

 

All I ask for in return

Is a little love

A little patience

And a little more compassion.

 

To read about my wondering views on a similar emotion – courtesy – please click here!

We Are With You, Nepal!

Immense tragedies have rocked the world

Serving disasters, that so noisily unfurled

How can man know what destiny doles out?

How can he save himself and the whole crowd?

Can he escape from the littlest of dooms?

Where can he go, to which of the world’s rooms?

How can make out how with anger He shakes?

How can he pacify the Earth’s rumbling quakes?

Thousands of people eaten up by Earth’s core

Leaving their families, heartbroken and sore

There is nowhere you can go to escape the death penalty

Other than having the hope of fleeing the monstrous calamity

Tears and hiccoughs that accentuate the thousands of faces

Sympathies and empathies that run through the world’s races

They can now be found aplenty, on thousands of faces and hearts

But you can never know how the tragedy actually starts

Rocking the nation that houses the mighty mountains

The Earth takes no pity, be it common men or chieftains

But as the world watches with shocked faces, the mountains’ thunderous fall

They echo in unison, “We are with you Nepal!”

28-04-2015 - We Are With You Nepal!

Picture Courtesy: http://www.ndtv.com

How Different Will 2015 Be?

Yes, 2015 has begun, bringing with it truckloads of expectations, resolutions, happiness and a hope to diminish the sorrows. Left, right and center, there are people wishing each other a Happy New Year. I have done so myself. But how can we make sure that the wished Happy New Year indeed turns out to be a Happy New Year? Will we be able to put aside the hypocrisy and treat everyone the way we would love to be treated? Will we be able to practise what we preach?

AND….

Will women be able to walk safely on dark, deserted streets alone?

At ten in the night, without the catcalling, without the fear of the unknown?

Will people understand that not all men that are rough-looking and hairy

Are axe-murderers, are out to get you, not all of them are scary?

Will we help the poor like we advocate on social networking sites?

Or just throw them a fleeting glance and zoom away from the traffic lights?

Will we do something to help ourselves breathe easier?

Or just shake our heads as our surroundings get greasier?

Will we understand that our children have numerous ways to grow?

Or will we just make them take the same old classes, with dreams of cars and bungalows?

Will we silently nod in agreement when a boy’s family demands something?

Or will we realize that marrying off a daughter in meek agreement is not triumphing?

Will we treat a social worker better than we treat movie stars?

Or will we forget all about his good work and remember just his scars?

Will we just remember the helmets, the bats, the balls and the wicket?

Or will we long-lastingly start honoring so many games other than cricket?

Will we honor the many soldiers who lay down their lives for the country?

Or will the processions be for people who spent their lives not-so-humbly?

Will we treat our daughters-in-law the way we treat our daughters?

Or will we just get our sons married so that they can test the waters?

Will we finally abolish the hypocrisy that is so embedded in our systems?

Or will we still languish in the beliefs that will make us question our existence?

Will we send terrorists to the gallows on time before they can relish their jail time?

Or will we just keep throwing case dates forward and let them treat us like slime?

Will we realize that a person’s behavior and their acts actually build their reputation?

Or will we just hang on to the fact the caste, creed and color are enough to judge a person?

Will we realize that all we need for our sons and daughters are soulful life partners?

Or will we just continue to squabble like monkeys over food in a larder?

Will we treat women the way we treat our countrymen?

Or will we put them behind unseen bars, like soundless, cooped up hen?

Will we respect ourselves more than we respect the views of society?

Or will we be scared of what the world thinks of us in our shackled sobriety?

Will we realize that what we need is to break some filthy stereotypes?

Or will we just lie back and watch as people build more boring archetypes?

Will we finally realize that friendships and relations are important for us to last?

Or will we let the remains of those threads silently let us drift apart?

Will we let new avenues make us forget the roots that built the present “us”?

Or will we go back at times, in time, and dig up those happy treasures?

Will we finally realize that what we first need is for ourselves to be happy?

Let the world go to hell, let it rot, let it be grumpy and catty!

Will we start in a positive direction that will build us a new, beautiful way?

Despite us holding on to the knowledge that Rome was not built in a day?

So on such thoughts let’s work to get answers and change what has been,

Let’s ponder about all the above and strive to make a better 2015!

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Picture Courtesy: http://www.dreamstime.com

Will The Heart Fulfil Its Dreams?

Forgetting the heartbreaks of the year gone past,

The heart hopes that the newest strengths will forever last.

The eyes open slightly to the fresh light of the New Year,

But the air is the same, only mixing with an unknown fear.

A fear of what is to come, of what is yet to happen,

Of those negatives to lessen and the positives to sharpen.

The fear of the unknown sharpens its revengeful claws,

To raise to the fore, the heart’s fatal flaws.

What is to come, what’s the world yet to show?

How many more feelings are yet to silently grow?

How many more feelings are yet to silently grow?

Only to be laundered off and silently mowed?

What has destiny, for the heart, kept ready to offer?

But what has it in mind to take back against what it proffers?

How many smiles will it willingly put on the face?

How many tears will it send gushing down to race?

With questions buzzing in the innermost recesses,

The feet finally touch the floor, reeling against the unsure guesses.

How many mysteries will life, for the heart, unravel?

Will the heart fulfil its dreams, will it finally travel?

Mangalyaan!

The man gazed at the skies in wide-eyed amazement,

And wondered what lay beyond the vastness,

Beyond the blue, beyond the clouded encasements,

Was it colorful beauty or was there unending blackness?

 

His lively contemplations brought him no rest,

He tossed and turned in the dreary night,

He was completely overwhelmed and powerfully impressed,

His aspirations blossomed with all their might.

 

So he passed down his knowledge to his future generations,

Who strived to fulfil their progenitor’s dream,

Diversity in their cultures did not lessen their veneration,

But the Red Planet was now in focus, now it suddenly seemed.

 

They spent billions of dollars for a chance to circle Mars,

Exploring the neighbor was now an important mission,

They spent days and nights, working into late hours,

And successfully gained international recognition.

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Picture Courtesy:  ISRO’s Mars Orbiter’s Twitter Page (@MarsOrbiter)

 

Then from India came the rich, cultured tribe,

They made Mars possible in a tenth of those billions of dollars,

They went about their work quietly, no diatribes,

Only in success did they positively holler.

They brought pride to a nation of a billion and a quarter people,

They were now on par with the rest, they were now equal,

They made the Mars Mission immensely important to the Indian Human,

They named it after the planet itself, they named it Mangalyaan.

The Fault in Our Stars – A Poem

Okay.

This might look like I am obsessed with The Fault In Our Stars. In reality, I am. That book has influenced me like no other in recent times. The last time I was raving this fanatically about a book was when I read Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less.

So, coming back to The Fault in Our Stars, I was so touched and influenced, that I rustled up a poem on this absolutely wonderful story. Thought I would share it with everyone. I hope you like it. 🙂

02-09-2014 - The Fault in Our Stars - A Poem

As a child with a million impossible dreams, I looked up to the skies,

As my eyes found the brilliant stars, I let out a series of wondrous cries.

I called out to my Dad and asked him to pluck out one or two fistfuls,

He said those stars are too far, and this life too small, and I wondered why he looked so wistful.

I talked to my Mom and clung to her tight, as she held me to her bosom,

As my mind found the reasons why I grew up, my mind really started to blossom.

I called out softly and asked her how she felt as I gradually started to grow up,

She answered that she was proud and that she couldn’t contain the happiness that threatened to blow up.

But I hardly saw the pain that dwelled deep within her, such loving gazes she held,

As Dad held her hand and strove to explain, it was then that the angst I beheld.

I embraced her with as much force of love and support that I could consciously muster,

It was then that I knew why my Dad seemed so wistful, for God was out to test her.

I had met him that day when they’d said I needed help, that I needed people like me around me,

And I could constantly feel those feelings of love that were beginning to surely surround me.

There was peace, there was love and then there was more, as I couldn’t live longer without him,

But life was never fair, nor was it happy, and the light in his life grew dim.

The tears won’t stop rolling, my heart won’t stop aching, yet I stop slaying myself,

For I did me a favor by falling in love, how can I ever be repaying myself?

And this night I lay, clutching him to my chest, I lay on the dewy grass,

It is then that I realize that the fault is not in me, but it is just in those bright blue stars.

“Okay, Hazel Grace?”

“Okay.”

Disclaimer: I do not own ‘The Fault in Our Stars’. All references here are made to the book, ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ and to the author, John Green. Thank you, John Green, for giving us such a wonderful book. 🙂

Picture Courtesy: Tumblr