Friday, December 19, 2014

Butterfly Season by Natasha Ahmed

natasha ahmed



‘Butterfly Season’ by Natasha Ahmed is the story of Rumi- an unmarried Pakistani girl on a vacation to England, visiting her married younger sister Juveria, after dealing with her mother’s sickness for years and her eventual death. It is also the story of Ahad- handsome, charming, perfect Pakistani bachelor settled in England. When their mutual friend Mahira sets them up, they get along well without complain. But as likes match and getting to know each other the intimacies increase, Rumi’s conservative family, especially her sister closes in on them. Along the journey of over a couple of months, we follow Rumi and Ahad from England to Karachi, as they understand their values, their worth in each other’s lives. We see the love that transcends all differences as they make sense of their own mistakes, handle their present, and choose the happiness that they most rightfully deserve.



I liked the story, and empathized with the characters. Even though I disliked some of them, at the end I was left feeling nothing but pity for them. I’m more of a characters-oriented reader. The story may or may not remain with me, but the characters surely will. And Rumi- I saw her grow emotionally, take the reins of her destiny in her own hands, and be the captain of her own fate. I applauded when she took the steps to live her life in her own terms. This desi Pakistani girl is bound to win every reader’s heart.


This Indirom novella, published by Indireads gave me a second glimpse of the middle class Pakistani lifestyle, their beliefs, and the values that they stand by. The first glimpse was through the serials ‘Zindegi Gulzar Hai’, ‘Daastan’ and a few more. :) I liked the way the author infused the Pakistani feel through ghazals, urdu poetry, urdu quotes, idioms, fashion and pop culture. And time and again it reminded me of our shared roots, how similar we were in our sensibilities and ideologies. I should confess it removed certain assumed misconceptions too. I’ve already made a mental note to read ‘Dunia Gol Hai’ if a translated version is available as I can’t read Urdu, and to listen to the song “Kabhi Hum Khubsoorat Thay” -a ghazal written by Ahmed Shamim and performed by Nayyara Noor. And I realize I’m in the process of falling in love with Urdu.


‘Butterfly Season’ is only about 120 pages, so qualifies for a quick read. It has an indulging, engaging, yet easy going narrative that doesn’t become too descriptive even for an occasional reader. It is available as an ebook only. I received the ebook as a part of the Indireads Review Program.


Natasha Ahmed is a pen name. In real life, Natasha is a graphic designer, a sometimes-artist and occasionally writes art and book reviews for publications within Pakistan. She has dedicated a website to this character that she created.


Indireads was started with the aim to revolutionizing the popular fiction genre in South Asia. It showcases vibrant narratives that describe the lives, constraints, hopes and aspirations of modern South Asian men and women. Indireads’ books are written and customized for delivery in electronic format, and are only published online.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Lost Past

the lost past




Dear You,

I saw you there. Behind the façade that you pulled off, behind the masks that you wore, I recognized you. You tried a million times to hide from me, but I found you. And I’m glad I did. I’m so happy I did. I have missed you.

Why do you choose to hide? Why do you run away? Why can’t you face me? You think I won’t accept? Accept is such a small excuse, my friend. I’ve come all this way just to make myself believe that you exist. You don’t know how happy I am just to be able to meet you once again in this very lifetime. I had assumed, all these years, that I lost you forever.

People change. Beliefs change. Life happens. And I am okey with that. The person you were ten years ago is not the person you are now; I understand that. That accident changed your life. It changed ours too. We lost you. You didn’t contact us while we spent our days grieving. The loss was too great to handle. And I’m not complaining. No. I’m sure you had your reasons. And I won’t ask why you didn’t come back, why you renounced everything that you had- a happy family, social status, and a beautiful fiancé. I’m just saying that none of that matters any more.

I won’t ask you to return, if that’s what you fear. If you can’t come to us, we can come to you. But there’s always a home, for you to come back to when you can.

Hope you shall find this.

Your friend.

* * * * *

Dear Friend,

There are chapters in my life that I’d rather keep unpublished. Some of them are not even worth explaining. It’s just that, I had lost my memories. And when after one year I had them back, I was overwhelmed. I did go back then, but you all had moved on, and were happy in your respective lives. There was no place for me to fit in. The more I missed you all, the more I realized I can’t once again be the reason for another mess in your lives.

Being unaffected by the worldly affairs was difficult, especially at that time when I was emotionally shaken. It all seemed so pretentious at first. But I learned to live like a stoic, a calm and peaceful life, until I saw you last week. It was like the past knocked at my door once more. I don’t want to sound selfish, but you won’t find the person you’re searching, ever, in me once again. That person is lost. Lost to the oblivion.

So, I beg you to return. And keep mum about having seen me, if you can. I am a nomad right now, and I wish to be so for the rest of my existence. The home you speak of, seems too far, separated by a decade.


Your Lost Past.

the lost past

Saturday, December 6, 2014

In Silence

words unspoken



Sitting in silence, watching the crowd pass

Sensitive and intuitive in my own space

Thought to be a wallflower in the corner

I’m just an over thinking observer.



I witness the run, the sprints, the overtakes

And the stampedes in the rat race

I see the joy of success, the pain of failure

I see moments lost in the loud murmur.

I feel the yearning for a revive and a rewind

Against the fear of being left behind.

Empathizing the weak and the strong

I understand-The past glory doesn’t last long.



In the sidelines, the footpaths of life

 I have crossed travelers aplenty-

Inspiring entities, lifelong friends,

I’ve met pathfinders and lost wanderers.

But alone once again, life feels stranded

So, standing in silence, I wait for the inevitable end.




P.S: This poem is based on a prompt. :) 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Whisper of the Worms

marcadian


A crow eyed peep in to the backyard of a banking organization.

An unusual portrayal of the life and times of an ordinary mortal and his subdued fight for survival.

A moving story of the commercialized people in an imaginary country called Marcardia, portrayed through their psyche and polity, makes one think, laugh, and get emotionally choked...

Listen to the Whisper of the worms to hear the muffed wail of the humans on the run, lured by the carrot, forced by the stick..... 


This is a story of Thobias Mathai, his trials and tribulations with the banking system of an imaginary country, Marcadia, and how he is trapped in the politics and corruption of the ‘Smile Bank’ in the final days of his life. The story begins with Thobias being diagnosed with lung cancer, in USA, where he’s settled with his family. He doesn’t reveal this to his wife and his children, and decides to return to his native land, Marcadia to revisit his past before he dies. He meets his mother after two decades, and reminisces the time gone by with his childhood friend. But before he can spend his last days in peace, he has to deal with a fraud case investigation which he’s wrongly put into.


The first part of the book deals with memories, emotional and nostalgic flashbacks, and relationships of the characters near and dear to Thobias. It is interesting to read about the rustic life, the simple living and strong bonding shared by the characters. Thobias had received education, worked in the ‘Smile Bank’ and left Marcadia getting fed up with all the nepotism involved in the system.


Marcadia, though an imaginary country, seems very much like India. The author has drawn all these facts about banking system from reality, and has employed it in the fictional tale. The actual plot begins after about fifty pages. It is a satire through and through. The sarcasm is evident in the dialogues and the very narration. The Marcadians in the banks are synonymous with Indians. It seems that the only difference is in the name.



Though the story is a decent read, it can be a bit uninteresting for certain metro readers. With patience, one can enjoy the story. Some of the things that put me off were the cover page, the title, the monotonous font, the out of the world names of characters and places that I can’t even pronounce. The weirdest ones are Chathukutty, Thresiakutty and Thodupuzha. The cover page is downright boring, and the title seems out of place, as if it is given by accident. Had I been in a bookstore, I perhaps wouldn’t have picked this book. 


The book was received as part of Reviewers Programme on The Tales Pensieve.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Playing with Colors, and thoughts..

recent

In life you cannot impress everyone, nor can you expect everyone to consider you the center of their lives. Just know that they love you, and be satisfied and happy for that one precious blessing. Wondering that whether not being near a loved one would be considered not caring, you should forgive yourself and spare yourself from that guilt, because the universe will surely send them your love and care by hook or crook. Sometimes, you can’t just stand at the back wondering whether the person amidst the crowd in front needs you or not, you have to go there and find out, fearing all the while perhaps the person doesn’t need you. Insecurities as these, need to be faced. You need to face them. You need to understand and put it in your conscious and subconscious mind that those who love you always acknowledge your presence, even if they don’t show it, they are happy that you are present. Many people may touch their lives, many people may mean a lot to them, but the place you have in their hearts won’t be replaced by another- the hearts may grow, the rooms may multiply but your corner will always be yours. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Verses: A New Flame...

rediscovering self


I traversed the land
I crossed the oceans,

Flew above the clouds
Moved underground,

To burn away the me
That I used to be,

I buried my old self
Put it to the grave,

Kindled a new flame
Tired of being the same.

I found beauty
And changes aplenty,

I listened to the tale
I dreamt of the lore,

I answered every whisper
That the wind bore,

I'll master the pen
I'll conquer the quill,

I'll built my empire
With my unfaltering will.

rediscovering self

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Dear You



Dear You,

It has been several weeks since I last wrote to you. 

I didn’t know what to write about. About your songs that I keep listening to, day in and day out, in a loop; about the forums that I regularly visit and write in anonymously; about the fan fictions that I read about you; or about the doodles that I make of your name in the corners of notebooks while making futile attempts at studying, or about the multiple times I gather courage to call you, but cut the call just before it connects. I don’t know what stops me. Perhaps I fear you have forgotten me in these three long years. I don’t want to know it for real. I want to hear your voice, but I can’t bear it if you don’t recognize mine.
to love


People here adore you, as they do in the rest of the country. Every café, every shopping mall makes it a point to include your song in their daily playlist. Every cab tunes in to listen to your interview. And the neighbors include the latest updates about you in every chitchat. My friends gossip about your fashion statements, latest hairstyle, your country tours and your upcoming stage shows. It’s you and you everywhere- in the entertainment page of every daily, in the catchy pictures of the brands you endorse, and in the cover page of more than half of the local magazines.


All this seems so surreal. It takes me a while to believe that my childhood spent with you was real. To remind myself that the face in the photographs I possess is yours and the person I held hands with while walking barefoot along the sea shore was you. Do you remember when the old tree house came crashing down on me? You fussed over me as if I were a hurt child unsure of myself. And remember the crowded bus we took to the next town to visit mother. You kept me calm with your roughly composed songs when my phobia took over. You weird intonations always made me laugh. I still remember those songs. My favorite ones are ‘Echo’, ‘From the Terrace’ and ‘Will you marry me?’ I wonder why you don’t include these in any of your albums.

I cherish these memories with all my heart. I wonder if you do too. I wonder when I can see you again in person.

Or if I can, at all.

Yours
With Love.


XXX


Dear You,

My pillows are all wet. My eyes are swollen. And I can’t seem to control myself. I don’t know if it’s grief or happiness. I’m confused. I’m not in my right mind perhaps.

I can’t seem to think anything other than your words. You said you already had a special someone in your heart, in the chat show this evening, when asked about the rumors and linkups. And the honesty and intensity with which you said it… I don’t know what I feel is hope or despair. Hope is a dangerous thing. I’m already on the edges; I don’t want to crumble down. And I don’t even have a choice. I can’t shut you out. It’s impossible for me. Everything in this town reminds me of you.

I received one of the few invitations to your concert that you had given away for free for the townsfolk. I don’t know if I was meant to get one, or it was by chance. Dear me, let’s try and believe the latter. I’ve decided to go, though. I have decided to gather all my courage and meet you this time. It shall take every ounce of my will power to be in the crowd that’d be cheering you. But I will go, or else, perhaps I won’t get a chance in future.

Waiting for the days to pass.

Yours
With Love.


a band, a song


Dear You,

I am here, at your concert right now. I am eagerly waiting for the album launch and your performance. I can’t tell you how excited I am. Words fail me. And this place is huge; I had never been to one. Thankfully the seats around me are empty till now, so I’m fine here.

They have announced your name and the music has started, but where are you.

Awaiting,

With Love.


XXX


Journal Entry:

If I could live one of my past days once again, I would choose yesterday.

I watched him with sweet remembrance as he entered the stage and made it his own. I watched him smile at the crowd, his eyes searching as the focus shifted from one end of the gallery to the other. The faces in the crowd were magnified in the larger screen. He waved his hand delightfully. And then his eyes found me. With a smile so big, he waved both his hands and began, “In my old memories, you’re there, expecting me- beckoning as though whispering…”.  I stood and cheered for him along with the crowd. I realized it was ‘Echo’- one of those songs that I loved, with revised lyrics and tunes. I was overwhelmed. I fell in love with the song once more.

I was shouting and clapping with the people around me, when the focus rested on me. I was surprised for a second. He was about to sing another song, but he was moving though the crowd as the music began. He came up the steps and stopped right in front of me. I was so happy to see him that I could have hugged him right then, but something stopped me. I knew that music. “Will you marry me? Will you live forever with me?” he then began, in front of those thousands of people, and perhaps the entire country that was witnessing this live. The entire six minutes that the song took, I was too shocked to react. I just looked at him as he circled around me, looking back and smiling at me every second.

I fell in love with him once more, all over again.

marriage


P.S: Want to listen to this song- here.

Read another story, written by me: here