Author – Anthology publication by Penmancy Writers
Publisher – Amazon E book available on Kindle
Price – ₹ 149/- on kindle and ₹ 0/- for kindle unlimited subscribers
Pages – 284
Amazon link – https://www.amazon.in/Shattered-collection-stories-Penmancy-Writers-ebook/dp/B08KGVQC9C/ref=sr_1_9?dchild=1&keywords=shattered&qid=1604386577&sr=8-9
What comes to your mind when you hear the word – ‘shattered’? Do you think of glass shattering? Or, perhaps the word brings to mind the shattering of lives? Well, if its the latter than you are not far out in your assessment of the theme of this book. But, that is where the similarity ends. This is not a book about sadness, despair or emotional angst. No! This is a book about silver linings and vanquishing your demons after picking up the shattered pieces of your life.
Story 1 – Collateral fractures by Sanjukta Ghoshal
A story that seemingly revolves around the lives of unrelated people and yet, one incident affects all the lives; some more drastically than the others. The characters are not memorable. They are laypeople from different walks of life. But, the characterization of these people is brilliant. The language is beautiful. In some places, it is direct and hard-hitting, while in others it is almost philosophical. It makes you take pause and reflect.
Story 2 – Sundarpur chronicles by Nilutpal Gohain
What makes a person mentally ill? Is it the people around him who manage to reduce him to a state of incoherent addle? Or, is it a neuron that gets fried in the brain? Could it perhaps be a combination of both or, maybe, none of the above? Nilutpal is used certain words that nudge the story forward by helping the reader visualize.
What do you get when you combine the following – mystery, murder, suspense, psychology and a protagonist? You get – HIM! The story dives into some deep issues of psychology that become evident from the very beginning. It is a testament to how friable the human brain really is. We think we control our brain but what if it controlled us? What if it made us do things or commit sins?
Story 4 – Splintered souls by Supriya Bansal
When you read a whodunit set in the hills; and then you throw a boarding school, some rambunctious boys and the element of mystery into the mix, tell me, does it not remind you of Agatha Christie, Enid Blyton and Ruskin Bond – all rolled into one? This is one such story. Things that we think will never happen to us, the net of safety that we presume, cloaks us – are these just fanciful things? This story proves that the unexpected comes at the most unexpected times and that too with painful repercussions. The story is backed by beautiful language and vivid imagery.
Story 5 – The road to Hell by Aradhna Shukla
What is oppression? Does it have only a physical form? Or, does it manifest itself to break a persona mentally too? What if, just what if, both the physical and mental forms colluded and conspired to break a single individual? Do you think that individual would break? The story is set in China but highlights the atrocities that they mete out to the Uyghur tribes of Turkish descent. It traces the life of a beautiful woman as she embarks on her journey, or rather she is forced on a road unknown to her; the book takes you along. The characters are beautifully fleshed out. They speak to you and you travel with them. Heartbreaking!
Story 6 – Scarlet skies by Chandra Sundeep
For some people, Scarlet is the colour of passion and love. It represents all that is joyful, calm and beautiful like the setting sun. But, what if your life was filled with this one colour? What if for you it denoted betrayal, use and abuse? Would you still find it calming then? NO…right? This story is the story of an innocent girl thrown into unexpected circumstances. The premise of her story is not new. It is something we have seen all too often. However, Chandra’s pen has crafted a tale so replete with emotions that the premise takes on a new meaning.
Story 7 – The Best Man by Fabienne Meyers
The story is an example of how belief in the wrong things or wrong people can shatter our lives. Sometimes, those shattered never manage to rebuild themselves or their lives. But, there are those who choose to battle their demons and rise above peril. This story is the testament to how a shattered life can be rebuilt…one bit at a time. Fabienne spins a tale that spans continents and is packed full of local flavours. It makes a reader visualize scenarios, for that is how beautifully she has presented the plot.
Story 8 – Beneath the golden seams by Sanjukta Ghoshal
The thing about ancestral houses and family trees is that they harbour secrets. They are like those closets which we bang shut and lock securely because we are scared of what they may spill. No one wants to clean up a messy spill, be it in life, family or even clothing. What I absolutely loved about this story was the brilliant prologue that foreshadows the narrative. That is beautifully written and perfectly complements the theme of the story. The language is beautiful, just the right amount of philosophical text thrown in to make you want to reflect.
Story 9 – 1947, an imprecation? by Sonal Singh
This is a story that traces the pain of the India-Pakistan 1947 partition. Was the division a boon or a curse? Did it being relief or pain to those who migrated? This exodus was the biggest migration that the Indian subcontinent witnessed. It singed many lives and innumerable burned at the altar of freedom.
Story 10 – My journey beyond life by Dr Shweta Mathur Lall
I found the juxtaposition of mythology with reality an absolute masterstroke. The names of the protagonists and the locations carry special significance. I felt Devi Sita’s helplessness, her sorrow and her angst. Shweta’s story made me reflect. It made me think back to all that we learned about Sita’s story. And, it left me pondering the question – could Sita have stopped what is written in the Ramayan? Was it in her hands to change the course of what is our supposed history? Was she unwittingly responsible?
Story 11 – Dialogues across the realm by Sreemati Sen
On the face of it, this is a simple story of a father and daughter. And yet, underneath the placid waves, turbulence lurks in the form of unanswered questions which roil and gather momentum to breach the serene surface. Hers is a story of lies and secrets and their devastating impact when they refuse to remain hidden.
Story 12 – The shattered souls by Kokila Gupta
This is a lovely story of an unlikely friendship that opens to beautiful descriptions of the kachnar tree. The language, sprinkled with generous metaphors, is beautiful. This is a story that we have borne witness to innumerable times – the friendship part. Have we not, at some point or the other in our youth, entered into a wager with buddies? Now, if you think that dreams and yearnings die just because souls do, then think again! Or, better still, read Kokila’s story which rings with the warmth and repressed desires of departed souls just wanted to spill out…but to what end?
Story 13 – The unheard by Rasya Krishnan
God only knows how many Madhavis are tucked away in the ancestral houses of small towns in India. Their dreams are controlled just like their lives are and to appoint when they simply abandon any dreams that they have. The manner in which Sundari and Madhavi’s friendship has been used to move the story forward is heart touching. They convey more about the hidden message that the author wishes to give. This is a simple, realistic, true to life story that is a reality – Great piece of work.
Story 14 – The street without cherries by Trixiah Ann Gumba
Ah, this one is a sweet story about children who are home educated due to medical issues. What do they wish for? Is their home schooling not an incarceration of sorts? Do they ever want to break free or want to explore the world that they are kept hidden from?
Well, this is one such heart touching story that explores the above questions and much more albeit in a descriptive manner.
Story 15 – Wings by Archie Iyer
To what extent will a mother go to support her child? If that child happens to be a girl raised in a society entrenched in patriarchy, then will that mother be able to protect the child? Will the mother be able to give her daughter the wings that she needs to fly? Well, that is what Archie forced me to think with her story ‘wings’. I loved the taut, fast-paced narration of the story and the use of verbs. Archie was able to convey more through that than the storyline and that is surely the hallmark of a brilliant writer.
Story 16 – Hrishekesha by Ravi Valluri
Narrated in flashback Hrishekesha is the story of two women of grit. But, their lives are not similar. They may be mother and daughter but the travails that they encounter throw them into different situations and circumstances. Do they endure? Or, do they break and succumb to the pressure? This is a story which reads like a real-life situation that any middle-class household in India may face. It is replete with real-life instances and real-life, life-altering choices.
Story 17 – Her place on Earth by Preethi Warrier
Sigh! What a story this was. It was a history lesson and a lesson in morality, all rolled into one. The language is impeccable and as the story moves forward, you cannot help but feel for the plight of the opportunistic protagonist. It was not really her fault was it that she wanted to better her station in life? Is that not what any of us would have done? Preethi’s language transported me to the site of the Kalinga battle. The story is so visual that the scenes play out in the mind like a reel. Brilliant piece of work!
Story 18 – Anastasis Alpna Das Sharma
What grabbed my attention in this story was the fact that it is set in Shillong, a city that I grew up in and love to the core of my heart. And, Alpna has done justice to the city in the story. She has treated it like the nugget of heaven that it is. The characters she has created are random strangers, well-etched for sure, who come together for a shared love – pottery making. But, why do they come together? Is it just their love for art that propels them to take this class or do they have some other motive? What happens in the week-long class? Is the result what they expect?
Story 19 – Petra Angolare Dell’Universo by Olinda Braganza
A beautiful amalgamation of technology and emotions, it has vividly etched characters and descriptive writing. The language is absolutely fantastic. It sucks you in and takes you along on the job that the protagonist receives a letter for. This is a story that will connect with every working professional.