Chrysanthemum Chronicles, Winter Issue

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CHRONICLES International Journal of Prose & Poetry

The entire editorial team of Chrysanthemum Chronicles wishes to express heartfelt thankfulness and gratitude to all its contributing poets/writers. The copyright of all the poems and story rests with the author/poet but Chrysanthemum Chronicles asserts the moral and digital rights to publish the content. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electrical, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the publisher. Any person who does any unauthorized act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.



Opening Poem Maidens and the River by Dr. Ritu Kumar


Cover Story: In Conversation with Writer & Poet Nisha Tandon


Melange: Featured Interview of Poet, Writer & Podcaster Sunil Bhandari


Poetry 20. Other Americas in a Haibun by Ellaraine Lockie 23. Winter and a Train Journey by Banani Sikdar 26. Embracing Winters by Shweta Bose 28. The Winter Train by Kokila Gupta 30. A Snowy Evening by Aruna Bose 32. Winter's Ambrosia by Sudipta Chowdhury 34. Winter's Spell by Amrita Lahiri Bhattacharya 36. The Gossamer Winters by Shakuntala Kanakagiri 39. Winter's Impeccable Charm by Bhargavi Ravindra 42. The Enchantress by Nandita De nee Chatterjee




45 53

Story Time 46. Faster than Fairies, Faster than Witches by Preeti Brahmin To Mina, Dracula's Letters of Love (Winning poems from the online literary prompt) 54. Epistle of Eternal Love by Amrita Lahiri Bhattacharya 56. Like Persian Perfume by Banani Sikdar 58. Turn my Blue Heart Red!! by Daisy Bala 60. Let Us Entwine by Vandana Sudheesh 62. Amica Mina by Shristee Singh 64. Dracula's Ardent Love by Gowri Bhargav 66. One Last Kiss by Rohini Jayanti 68. The Maven Beauty by Sudipta Chowdhury 70. Another Thousand Moons by Kaberi Mukherjee 71. Peaceful Eternity by Farheen Kazmi 72. O! Beautiful Maiden by Shakuntala Kanakagiri


Book Review 76. Check-In, Check-Out a collection of horror short stories by Keran Pantth Joshi


Editor's Note



Once upon a time in a faraway land, there lived two princes Chrysanthemum and Chronicles. They were jaded as the frost had set in enveloping everything far and wide. As far the eyes could go, it was all covered with snow. Winters made their life dreary, so one day they summoned some great writers and poets from distant lands, and thus came those brilliant writers and poets who weaved some winter poems and stories and told them to the princes. Chrysanthemum and Chronicles had an idea of preserving them all in a journal and thus came alive the First Print Issue. But; when the whole kingdom was busy making merry with their beloved writers near the warmth of a never dying fire, they heard the sobs of the greatest lovers of all, Dracula’s cold heart’s call to his beloved Mina. The two princes welcomed the rogue to their castle and for many nights he expressed his love in words for Mina. And those words travelled far reaching to the ears of those women poets who began creating that eternal manuscript with their love filled hearts and sent them to the kingdom of Chrysanthemum Chronicles. Now they are all inked in golden letters over the casket of Dracula as he lies in peace at day time. And pays still each night, his umpteen thankfulness to those women writers who read his heart and weaved his emotions into poetry. Once again the homeward train of winters was ready to leave but it brought many stories and poems this year, which will be kept safe forever in the golden journal of the two princes, ‘Chrysanthemum & Chronicles’...


MAIDENS AND THE RIVER BY DR. RITU KUMAR Girls and women with pitchers on head Tread on sandy path to fetch the water for their sheds Smiling subtly sharing secrets they reach the river Fill the pitchers and see their images in the water together It is the daily ritual to walk along the dusty road Come back, heavily laden with water as load Soon the metal road is laid and promises for taps are made Cartload of machines arrive and road for industries is paved There is talk of progress in the sleepy village People cheer and celebrate the advent of modern age Industries flourish, gated societies are set up in haste River gets polluted contaminated by chemical waste Still maidens tread to river with pitchers to get water Walking through metal road, no more they saunter Their lives have not altered; route to river hasn't become shorter Water has changed colour, what they now bring is more than water Their pictures are clicked by visitors and tourists Traditional attires, colourful pitchers all over world are cherished


Oh! What an irony!! Those who see the pictures want to see them 'live' Aww! Beautiful maidens! How bewitching is their shy smile!!

Dr.Ritu Kamra Kumar is working as an Associate Professor in the Post Graduate Department of English, Mukand Lal National College, Yamuna Nagar, Haryana since September 1987. She did her M.A., M. Phil. from Kurukshetra University with distinction securing 2nd position in University Merit List. She got her Ph.D. Degree from Dr. K.N. Modi University in the year 2016. She has to her credit, several articles and research papers published in the leading National and International Research journals and anthologies published in India, has delivered extension lectures in various colleges, guided M. Phil students for their dissertation. She has published several write-ups/critical reviews on articles and poems in leading National daily News Papers ‘The Tribune’, ‘The Daily Post’ 'The Daily World' & ‘The Hindustan Times’, including magazine like ‘Women’s Era’. Her area of interest is Feminism, Gender Studies and Post Colonial Studies. Her Notable Works: · Configurational Coordinates of Woman’s Space in Select Novels of Shashi Deshpande (Sarup Book Publishers Pvt. Ltd. New Delhi) · The Priceless Petals – A collection of Middles and Essays (Authorspress, New Delhi)

In Conversation with Nisha Tandon


Cover Story & Interview BY


9 | JANUARY 2021


Nisha Tandon , currently residing in Dubai is an entrepreneur with an HR, Training Consulting firm. Having versatile experience in hotels, educational institutions and corporate entities, Nisha has had multi-dimensional exposure to the different arenas of work. Her exuberance and passion towards children led to a meaningful contribution to the teaching community and she worked for a significant tenure as an accomplished teacher in an elite school in Delhi. Working in hotels and coming across people with different perspectives towards life, got her a lot of experience which she uses in her poems quite appropriately. As an author, she has successfully released compilation of poetry of her emotional journey of life through her maiden venture, entitled 'FOOTPRINTS'.


In a well-articulated and rhythmic tone her work weaves together human emotions into the little moments of life. Her work will resonate with the life of the readers. She shows her sensitivity and honesty in her poetry with great simplicity. Her second piece of work is a collection of Hindi Poetry “Chand Ehsaas” which reflect her thoughts and experiences in verse. The simplicity with which the human emotions have been expressed is her forte. She has touched lives of the simplest of beings through her poetry. Nisha tries sincerely to express her positive side in this book and wants that she can easily touch the life and heart of all sections of society. Nisha has endeavored to showcase an array of emotions through the compilation of her poems in her next book ‘Myriad of Dreams’ . Through her poems she has dexterously revealed the coexistence between celebrations and heartache. In more recent times she has been featured as a winner in a number of Facebook blogging portals in English like, Asian Literary Society, Momspresso, Chrysanthemum Chronicles and Penmancy. In this exclusive interview with Chrysanthemum Chronicles Nisha revealed many facades of her life, her writing journey and how she still feels that she is nothing but a 'Vagabond'. Cc Let‘s talk about your début poetry collection, ‘Footprints’. Based on my understanding of it, would it be incorrect to call it autobiographical? Nisha. “Footprints”, being my maiden venture, is a collection of my unvoiced emotions accumulated over the years. An anthology of my experiences,thoughtprovoking incidents that shaped my life, people I came across, it reveals a lot about my personality. It is an assemblage of my

journey through the years. So yes, in a way 'Footprints' can be called autobiographical. Cc. As a poet what kind of genre or style of writing inspires you the most? Nisha. Poetry is a form of self expression that uses words to evoke emotions and knows no bounds. I somehow feel an instant connect to story-telling and most of my poetry is tinted with descriptive imagery. I have not formally learnt to write poetry and use a blend of various genres, at times I lay emphasis on lyrical aspect and use sensory language to set the scene and instill emotions in the reader at other times I use the narrative genre. The defining feature being a plot and they feature a story. I also try to balance a rhyme scheme into my poetry. Cc. Apart from being a writer you are a mother to two beautiful daughters. Do you feel that motherhood has nurtured the poet in you more? Nisha. A lot of emotions evolved over the period when I had not embraced motherhood yet, but they eventually manifested at the birth of my daughters. It was a turbulent journey and I often took solace in expressing my thoughts through verses. So, in a way motherhood did nurture the poet in me more. I often expressed the deepest emotion which I was unable to share otherwise, through my writing. Motherhood has been a learning experience and inspires me to share my thoughts in each phase of their growing up. Now, since both my girls are teenagers, often there are many things I am unable to tell them directly, so it reaches them through my poems.


INTERVIEW: NISHA TANDON Cc. Tell me more about your daughter, ‘Anoushka’ as I see many poems in your book are dedicated to her. Does she remain the muse for your debut poetry collection? Nisha. Actually “FOOTPRINTS” is inspired by a poster I read in my childhood and it stayed with me all along. For me, the word Footprints impersonates the closest people who have stood by me in my life, through thick and thin. They ensured I was not alone during the lowest phase of my life and walked beside me in spirit if not in person. But yes, Anoushka, my 17 years old daughter, diagnosed with Down syndrome has played an important role in my life and has been a source of inspiration. She has changed me as a person and her attitude and zest for life inspires me with positivity that reflects in my poems. The trials and tribulations we experienced in her journey so far have also motivated me to write down my thoughts Cc. Your second poetry collection, ‘Chand Ehsaas’ is again a book that portrays emotions, feelings and has much more plated in a profound way. Do you take it as the subject of your poetry or it is just the random thoughts or feelings that you weave as poems?

Nisha. My second book of poetry, “Chand Ehsaas’s” genesis stemmed from my experiences of emotions and feelings in the journey of life. Over time many incidents have affected me, and I incorporated the most soulful ones in my work. My favorite subject for writing would be an array of human emotions and I derive passion from the world around me.I think it is not a conscious effort to write about emotions, there is a natural draw for me towards them. I guess I value my relationships and my feelings towards them and they influence my verses. It happens organically, I guess! My inspiration strikes from reality or a passionate emotion, I as a poet, is exposed to. Cc. Does anyone else writes in your family and did that make an impact on you or it came naturally? Like poets often say that poetry finds them. Nisha. Writing poetry has a therapeutic effect on my mind. We have grown up listening to my father, who can write possibly on any theme. So probably it was genetic, and I took it up with sincerity to compile and publish my work with the encouragement from my family. And yes, as you rightly say Poetry finds you. Anything I ever want to express somehow gets expressed in verses.


Cc. Since you are one of the contributing poets for Plethora Blogazine’s (now Chrysanthemum Chronicles) latest poetry anthology, ‘Indian Summer in Verses’? Did it take you down the memory lane somewhere and which is the most cherish able memory of yours from childhood times? Nisha. I must express my gratitude to you for making me a part of this nostalgic journey into our childhood through ‘Indian Summer in Verses’. It evoked so many emotions and childhood memories came flooding. We have grown in the 70s and 80s and I feel those were the best times ever. I guess the innocence and cultural, ethical values of those times reflect in our personalities even today. The experiences

it gave us remain timeless. Though those days remain deeply etched in my mind and heart, the most precious memory would be of travelling to Granny’s house almost every summer to enjoy holidays. Two days journey by train was great fun and it was a learning experience. It exposed me to people from multicultural backgrounds that gave me an extensive insight into the kind of characterization that I can derive from my muses. CC. What kinds of literature do you like, the contemporary, the classic or the millennial style? Which one do you think your writing falls into? Nisha. Being a person who enjoys living in the moment, the most appealing form of


INTERVIEW: NISHA TANDON literature for me is the contemporary. Growing up in India, my exposure to western literature comprising of the classic or millennial style was limited, and so it is only natural that my writing captures the moment I’m in - most of my work is fictional or inspired by my own life, and very people-focused, so it is thus immortal in a sense that anyone can relate to it, and it’s not bound by the constraints of a particular period or style. Frankly, adhering to poetic structures is not something I focus on; I mainly attempt to craft what fits in the moment.

CC. Lastly, how would you define yourself? Nisha. I have dedicated a poem to myself in my first book “Footprints.” It is titled, "I am a Vagabond.” Need I say more? On a serious note, I would call myself a free-spirited person, who finds positivity in everything around her and is happy even in the toughest of situations. Having seen the most difficult period in my life, I have stayed upbeat and like to live for the day. I would like to end with a few lines from “I am a vagabond” that sums me up well. I am a Wanderess, a euphoric wayfarer An enigmatic mystery yet to unfold I shall leave the world with no legacy behind Yet an enthralling story for generations to be told




'A Sneak Peek into the life of author, poet and podcaster Sunil Bhandari '


"Romance changes its nature from being a verb to becoming a noun" Sunil Bhandari is a poet by compulsion. He says he survives in this world because he can get to write poetry and he does all this for his soul; for his body he manages finance of a large conglomerate. He has written the Amazon bestseller book of poetry "of love and other abandonments ". His latest book is "Of Journeys & Other Ways To Get Lost". His poetry has appeared in several poetry compilations, some of them being Cologne of Heritage; Discarded; The DLF Anthology of Poems; Poerty; Chrysanthemum Chronicles; Verse of Silence; Hibiscus; Freedom Raga 2020; Jallianwala Bagh: Poetic Tributes; A Letter, A Poem, A Home: the Airplane Poetry Movement Collection, etc. He is a popular poet in the Calcutta circle of poets, and has been an invited poet in Apeejay Kolkata Lit Fest, Delhi Poetry Festival and Valley of Words Fest in Dehra Dun. His poetry has been recited by several luminaries, the most successful collaboration being with Sharmila Tagore in a wildly successful YouTube video ( His poetry podcast "Uncut Poetry", is already a hit, and heard in almost 40 countries! It can be accessed at In this featured interview with Chrysanthemum Chronicles , Sunil has shared that how much he finds solace from the conundrums of the otherwise routine life through his poetry. Its like entering into an another world for him.


Cc. When did you come up with this idea of Podcasting your poetry? And how did you start? Sunil - I started Uncut Poetry in Feb 2020, but I had been brewing with the idea for quite some time. I had been an avid listener of podcasts for years now, much before they became popular in India. And I have always been intrigued with the simple seductiveness of the medium. Podcasts open up vistas in the mind which are richer than what happens with an audio-visual medium. And I loved the fact that it did not seem to be a complex thing to start. And since I had a good body of work, which I could use as episodes in a poetry podcast, it was easy for me to start Uncut Poetry. Cc. I heard your collaborative poem in the popular YouTube Video being recited by none other than Sharmila Tagore. How did you feel when she was reciting your poem and tell me more about how the collaboration happened? Sunil - Sourendro-Soumyojit, a wonderful duo of musicians, have forever been asking me for some poems which they could tune into a melody. They loved the poem “Coffee, You & Me”, which is a poem in my first book "Of Love & Other Abandonments". They were working on a project with Sharmila Tagore where she was reciting some classical poetry of maestros, interspersed with contemporary songs sung by Sourendro-Soumyojit. When they showed her this poem, she completely loved it and wanted to recite it along with the Shelly's & Byron’s she was anyway reciting! It was first performed in a sell-out event in Calcutta - and because it proved to be

be so popular, there was a video which was made of it. And the song which they created around the poem was so beautiful, that this number instantly became a viral hit! Really, it was both flattering and delightful. Cc. You say that you are surviving because you get to write poetry. If not a poet what would you have chosen to do as an artist? Sunil - The interesting part of my life is that I'm actually a chartered accountant, and I survive because of that! My poetry is what gives me solace, and an entry into an entirely different world. I, of course, started my life as a prose writer, and if not a poet I guess I would have churned out a few novels by now! I still have those stories brewing inside me, and I'm quite sure they will be coming out one of these days. If all else fails, I will become a vagabond and hit the road! Cc. Tell me more about your books ‘Of Love and other Abandonments’ and the recent one ‘Of Journeys and Other Ways to Get Lost’? What was the inspiration behind both the books? Sunil - The first book was like a fulfilment of a dream of many years. It was like the first baby and was as precious as that. It was a compilation, around the theme of love, of many of the poems I had written till then, put together in three sections named ‘Stirring’, ‘Yearning’, ‘Loving’. And the poems were interspersed with my own photographs, so it became a wonderful representation of two of my creative pursuits. Flatteringly, it reached #2 in the Amazon Bestseller List and #1 as the Hot New Releases. The second


INTERVIEW: SUNIL BHANDARI book, of course, arose out of 2020's National Poetry Month of April, where I wrote 30 poems on 30 prompts of The Alipore Post. The poems were liked so much that I thought it would be a great idea to compile them into a digital book. And since the themes of the poems were varied relationship, loss, ageing, friendship - the title ‘Of Journeys and Other Ways to Get Lost’ lent itself well to the book. Cc. What would you call yourself a hopelessly romantic or a hopefully romantic poet? Sunil - Don't both go together?! But jokes aside, I'm too worldly-wise and world-weary to not seek refuge in romance! But the definition of romance itself changes with age, and the more obvious definition of a young age tends to soften and become more benign as one grows older. I think at a certain point of life, the most romantic thing which can happen to you, would probably be described as a simple act of kindness. Romance changes its nature from being a verb to becoming a noun.

Cc. I feel you are a much reticent and introvert poet or am I wrong! Tell me who Sunil Bhandari is as a person, as a poet and as a writer? Sunil - Ha ha! I think all of us are everything at some point or the other of our lives. So I could be garrulous and engaged in one situation and blissfully reticent in another. But I do think I am an extrovert who prefers to be alone. This puts me in a great position to observe people even whilst engaging with them which is so valuable for my art. But I think the fact that I'm a chartered accountant by profession and a poet by choice, has made my left and right brain totally cross-wired. That's why everyone who loves me calls me mad! Cc. What would you like to suggest to those people who would love to take Podcast as seriously as you are doing it? How can one make a start in it and what are some of the important points to look out for to become a social influencer? Sunil - I think the golden period of Podcast is just starting in India. The growth rate for both new podcasts and for listenership is growing at a pace of 40% to 50%, and the sheer variety of content which a podcast lends itself to is stunning. You can have podcasts on


religion, politics, books, sex, drama, spirituality, songs, films and etiquette - virtually anything. And the entry level is both relatively inexpensive and fairly easy. I think the best way to start a podcast is to take a quick course, maybe on Udemy. Or if you are feeling adventurous, just download Anchor, read their simple lessons and start with nothing more than your phone itself! The difficult part, for something as easy as this, is, as always, to build good content and work out how best to reach out to the world. Very quickly we all realize that starting a podcast is simple, but what gives it a great listenership is consistency, a freshness of content and the stickiness of its appeal.

Interview done by Monalisa Joshi






The two hours early that would have been stolen by airport security sway noose-like in the draft over the train depot. Part of the $39 fare. I take on the job with x-ray vision aimed at passengers who wait on wooden benches. A man with potato skin sprouting whiskers pulls up his stained pant leg. Scratches a scab. No baggage big enough to hold a bomb. The woman sitting beside me with missing teeth spreads like warm honey over the bench. Says I ain't givin' up nothin. Unzips her over-stuffed bag as though she senses suspicion. Points at each item to prove its necessity to her Eddie-Murphy-talking teenagers. A kid with enough bottled water to blow up San Jose avoids eye contact through squint eyes. When he gives his seat to an old man in a walker, I ease out of national red alert and into local colors. Grab a cup of coffee percolated the old way. Drift along in the current of community. A whistle crooks its sound waves toward the tracks to seats that could hold 300 pounds of honey. To a glass-domed observation car where I step into the middle of America. A silent film surrounding a low buzz of reverence from the audience. Seats that face both sides of the panorama. Patchwork of grassland vineyards, barns, horses, dirt roads An eagle circles


Hands champ at the glass bit that bars them from running fingers through fertile soil. America the Beautiful plays in the private rhythm of heartbeats. When a loudspeaker spills Meals served in the dining car over the air, no one wants to leave the nourishment of this car. The umbilical pulse of metal pounding metal. Embryos in a rocking chair of stop and go, switch of tracks. Of passengers unaware of a south slant until the birth of sunset over the Pacific. A round of orange pours into blue through the glass frame Froth splashes the sand Whistle, clang and squeal interrupt the reverie to announce Santa Barbara. I walk off and into a postcard picture. Palms, flowers, sunshine and harbor where mountains meet sea Shadows of mission Boutiques flaunt and exotic eateries flavor State Street. In Starbucks a woman wearing a multi-carat diamond orders a Venti Cinnamon Dolce Latte with sugar free syrup no whip. Says to her Clark Gable-like companion, We'll take a bottle of '63 Rothschild to dinner. A preschooler at the next table plays on her iPod while the mother reads Architectural Digest. Out front, a bronzed and buff teenager with a surfboard bleeps an alarm on a new Porsche with a U of Santa Barbara sticker. People who could pay the $365 airfare to San Jose. Armor of x-ray seat belts, clouds, distance, silence A chill in the air


Ellaraine Lockie’s recent poems have won the Poetry Super Highway Contest, the Nebraska Writers Guild’s Women of the Fur Trade Poetry Contest and New Millennium’s Monthly Musepaper Poetry Contest. Her co-authored collection, TRIO, has been released from Poetrylandia, and her fourteenth chapbook from Presa Press. Her chapbook collections have won Poetry Forum’s Chapbook Contest Prize, San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival Chapbook Competition, Encircle Publications Chapbook Contest, Best Individual Poetry Collection Award from Purple Patch magazine in England, and The Aurorean’s Chapbook Choice Award. Ellaraine’s poems have found their ways onto broadsides, buses, rented cars, bicycles, cabins, greeting cards, key chains, bookmarks, mugs, coffee sack labels, church bulletins, radio shows and cable TV. She also serves as Poetry Editor for the lifestyles magazine, LILIPOH.


WINTER AND A TRAIN JOURNEY BY BANANI SIKDAR At the fag end of December, 2017, to be absolutely precise, We flew to Delhi, for a reason and occasion to rejoice. A very suitable young man was to get married, To his fair lady, for whom his love was candid. Pune was the venue of the would be, happy solemnization, We boarded the Rajdhani to Mumbai, the connective destination. A sizable Baraati, looking impressive in swanky winter wears, Occupied a number of cells, with loud, visible fun fair. The number of luggage being more than the passengers, Eight trolleys with hills of unsteady luggage; Hilarious!!


Deputed for the particular duty, were a score of hefty porters, To collect and transport the luggage to the rightful owners.

The relaxed Baraati, engaged in anything and everything, Some allured by the upper berth for a chance napping.

A coffee vendor made a brisk business, Sold out his entire stock in the process.

Antakhshari, being in vogue, a young group started a contest, The groom, laconic but beamy, lost in his ensuing conquest.

After the long pleasantries of byes and happy journey, Finally we started from Delhi, with hearts full of glee.

The pantry served food and drinks intermittently, The outside world getting engulfed in darkness gradually.

After the initial humdrum, everyone seemed settled, The age group, amazingly and spontaneously divided.

The hustle bustle lessened considerably after dinner, The interactions forky, both general and particular.

Outside, it was a mix of fog, dust and sun, Inside, each unit, a group indulging in fun.

The next morning we disembarked on Victoria Terminus, To board the waiting Volvo, to reach Pune, For the occasion auspicious.

Gradually the train passed by, not so relevant, smaller towns, Entering green, meadow sweet, neat peripheral bounds. Farmers, busy collecting or cropping, the masters of agronomy, Children, knee deep in playing, latest sunrays in adorable harmony. Womenfolk, sauntering in rhythm, carrying water pots, Superior framework, fascinating as fabric of polka dots.

A most delightful and memorable journey by train indeed, Winter is the season and train is the reason, best guaranteed.


Reading and writing poetry is her favorite hobbies. She has been fortunate that a number of her poems have been published in different on and offline magazines and anthologies.


EMBRACING WINTERS BY SHWETA BOSE Why should I cloak up? Why the shawls and blankets defend? My skin shall embrace the chills. My bones kissing the wintery thrills. Silence dawns on the Earth as the darkness briskly descends. Each resigns to their shelters with baited breaths. The silence envelopes me like meditation falls. I shall not cover up within my nest. The freezing Earth I shall soak up within my chest. My Mother exhales frozen crispy gusts of wind. Within my Mother's cold lap I shall retire. Caressing languorously in Her cold arms. Whilst traveling on a train; the windows I lifted ajar. The cold wind kissing and biting my cheeks in earnest passion. Upon the frost bitten cheeks the Sun rays embalmed; My heart shone and basked in that wintery tint. As the train fled over fields of blossoming Red and Pink Roses;


My heart skipped and melted amidst the molten hues of Oaks and Beaches! Snow clad mountains had no coldness they smiled glistening amidst golden rays. Winter has a palpitating, warm soul. The spirit of winter snuggles me to freezing fields and flower beds. They have an inner soul glowing with warmth.

Shweta Bose is an ardent lover of literature and a blossoming entrepreneur. She has done her Masters in English literature from Kolkata university. She has also done her Masters in Education from IGNOU. This has helped her to obtain a better understanding of life and literature.


THE WINTER TRAIN BY KOKILA GUPTA Monsoon bids adieu, tucking its cloudy quiver of raindrops Autumn fades away, with gilded hues; arcane refrains Winter sunshine ripens nectar in blossoms; brings cornfields to a swaying gold Echo of chants in vales, in limpid skies Snowflakes dangle; from boughs and latticed eaves, vision of Christmas Over frozen lakes clouds of mist hang, like blessings Welcome - to the season of quiescence Au revoir! Southern coasts, There goes the homeward train With it, my heart full of fuchsia sunsets travels to Frosty mountains, virgin snow-lands waiting to be sun kissed, Draped in white, mirroring crystal skies To that brumal script... to winter morn scintillating over sombre pine forests To swirling wind playing, a tease; cold blooming in its enigmatic glory, the esoteric arrays of snowfall, of footloose loitering winters


Listen! To the sounds of flurry sighing softly, cackling fire in hearth Smell! Fruitcakes and puddings baked to a golden sheen Watch! The junipers dusted with powdered snow gleaming fireflies Woodlands drenched in refulgence of winter moon Frost tipped leaves, rimy twigs lit up under occidental stars... Savour- the sight of cherries peeping red amid holly shrubs Silver foliage rustle in languages abstruse, calling me to be on the homebound train To the burning logs in warm braziers; amber glow spilling on hand-knit rugs Festive little homes like doll houses; Windows with fairy-lights, framed with pendants of icicles blue To waiting daughters; grannies knitting near fire Kettles simmering on samovar Ah, dreams of Home... Reminiscences rekindled Of azure and amber lamps burning at thresholds, wafts of keora Saffron-almond tea on mats with brocaded patterns Of roasted pistachios, walnuts from cinders from the grate Balls of wool rolling, tangled like courage and a benevolent grace Of all homebound trains, which once for us, were towards the wonderful world Innocent laughter and prayers, of love and shared mirth

Born in a literary environment of ‘AatmvatSarvBhuteshu, with poems as lullabies; philosophy as bed time stories, Kokila Gupta was brought up amid mountains and valleys nurturing a deep love for nature and simplicity. She chose Immuno-Parasitology as her studies and later resigned from a Government job to pursue her other interests. Her prose, poetry, musings or Haiku, all express a natural affinity for life in mundane spontaneity. She is a lecturer by profession, traveler by passion and a writer by choice.


A SNOWY EVENING BY ARUNA BOSE On a snowy evening Sitting near my fireplace In a cozy room well furnished with wooden sets. As I looked through my window pane I recalled a snowy day when I was traveling by a train. Oh! How I can forget that Wintery day It was full of wonders scattered every way. Those twist and turns Then passing through a long and dark tunnel. The whistling of the engine The snow breeze passing like whispering something. The snowflakes falling like Feathers soft and covering trees just like blankets. The stream passing along the railway track was frozen Like slippery black ice. I was mesmerized by the View outside.


Far there some children were busy with snowballs and were aiming our train that was passing by. The snow covered mountain Peaks were glittering like gold, I remember that I clicked the best pic through the train window. Children were playing around Busy making Snow dolls on ground. It was a magical flow and it had a Mystical glow. Our train became slow For station arrived and My journey came to a halt I took my baggage and went down For I had reached my destination. The train whistled and moved on But I still crave for that train journey Oh! How I wish it never ended. Now snowflakes are knocking my window pane I am happy to see them again Enjoying coffee and listening to waltzes On my easy chair. That flair is in every layer.

Aruna Bose is a teacher by profession and a writer and poet by passion. Her hobby is photography. She has contributed many poems in different anthologies and recently her poem got published in' Suryodaya Literary Foundation' and in' Amritanjali journal' She won Telegraph Award for Excellence in 2013 at Uttam Munch, Kolkata. She believes in positivity.


WINTER'S AMBROSIA BY SUDIPTA CHOWDHURY Finally the wait is over with the advent of mighty November Till February we will revel in the nipping smooch of winter Now with all her cardinal virtues, tumbling temperature and icy weather She will enthrall the terrains lying in the Northern hemisphere Freezing the blood of all living and non living creature Indiscriminately plays with their emotions with her effervescent character Where no can her weasel out of her frosty, foggy and snowy demeanor Well like all others my optimistic self enthusiastically welcome her For me this is the most salubrious phase of the entire year It alleviates me from within with her cold breeze and gemmy contour Entices me every moment to romance the vibrant outdoor Where sun is in his best form showing his enormous splendor Warm me up with his magnanimous disposition more than ever Night skies dominate my eyes with her limpid feature, Embellished with the celestial bodies, moon, constellations and star


Amping up my contrivance even in my toasty slumber And it let me stay well-conditioned, offering local succulent provender Oranges, sweet lime, French beans and capsicum are my day's exclusive fare It let me to savor the shimmering views of embossed Christmas Star All set to welcome rhapsodically the euphonious December.

Sudipta Chowdhury, holds a Postgraduate degree in Economics. Currently pursuing Bachelor of laws. She is an avid reader and loves writing poems and articles on human behaviour and core issues. Her poems have been published in various web magazines, media portal and literary journal of national and international recognition


WINTER'S SPELL BY AMRITA LAHIRI BHATTACHARYA Christmas is round the corner, It's time to snuggle in the warmth of your worn-out red sweater, The chilly winds whispering in the frozen ears, The cascading snowflakes setting on your tendrils like tiny moonbeams on your silken hair. The chit-chats along the desolate fire, Where passion reached a new level, manifesting inadvertently, The iconic sensuous touch, casting of your harsh, unforgiving look, I was your epicenter, the flights of imagination that we took. I was racked up with your insurgent thoughts, That drifted me afloat, the rippling water of desires, my mind was overwrought, With wrinkled face in the winter of our life, Let's dissolve the barriers, weed out the difference and petty strife. Let's espouse the liberal values of love again, Let's rekindle the simmering emotions again, Let's refract our relationship rays via the prism of love again, Let's elevate our vision and submerge the litany of false aspersions again!


Amrita is an IT professional and a doting mother. She has had a penchant for writing since her teenage days. She squeezes in time between work and her kid to pen down her thoughts in the form of stories, poems and microtales. Her work has been regularly featured in multiple online literary platforms. Her poems and stories have been published in several anthologies – ‘Towers of Inspiration’ and ‘Voices from the Society’ by Inkquills Publishing, ‘Love Thy Mother’ by Poetry Planet, ‘Poems from 30 best poets’ by Literatureslight Publishing and ‘Drenched Thoughts’ – A collection of 10 Kindle e-books from Raindrops Publishers.


THE GOSSAMER WINTERS BY SHAKUNTALA KANAKAGIRI "Winter is not a season, but a celebration" A time for warmth and cozy living Good food, comfort and enjoying Or taking off to a dream destination calling... Misty morning's magical surroundings Chilly winds and sensations stinging Serene and sublime natural thrills and extensions Giving a gossamer feel to nature's sublime impressions... The yonder Heavens' have descended to please This beautiful 'Orb', a la 'Elysian fields' Winter has set in and the excitement so palpable Of winter vacation, Christmas and New year, incredible... Travelling to the 'Valley Of Gods' Or 'Dev Bhumi', the abode of Heavenly Lords A pilgrimage site to one and all With Nature's intoxicating paradisiacal flavours tall...


Skiing, trekking and paragliding Rafting , mountaineering and relaxing In the divine realms of bliss and benevolence In the lap of Nature's magnetic munificence The exciting train journey tickling emotions Of joy and awe at the scenic manifestations Broad valleys, meandering to unknown destinations Rivers flowing through with fascination... Pine and deodar forests racing along with determination competing with the flora and fauna's aspirations carrying our enthusiasm beyond the horizons... Scattered sunlight's spiky beams of enchantment Like shadow and light dancing with a penchant Displaying a classic grandiosement For the elated mortals of this continent... Munching on the ground nuts and tasty crackers the crunch giving a heavenly feeling to chatter Adding warmth to the cozy compartment's temperament Struggling and snuggling to keep up the amusement... With piping hot soups and coffee and spicy knickknacks to pep up the spree getting down at stations to grab corncobs and hot, 'Gulab jamuns' to tease the taste blobs... .

Looking out at the turns and twists of the terrain Deep gorges and beautiful plains Wrapped in a diaphanous blanket of gleaming pearls And adorning the neck of the Himalayan splendors... The snow peaked mountains and dew kissed leaves the gauzy and spiky filaments crease the hilly ranges reaching for the clouds the meadows greeting the rushing wind's howls... The gentle gurgles, the pleasant murmurs the buzz and the babbles the cheer, fear and the rush of adrenaline the train journey, a lifetime's glossary to redeem... Sunsets' and Sunrises' hazy awakenings A mystical spectacle of cosmic musings An out of the world, surreal experience Of a train journey's scintillating extravagance.


Shakuntala Kanakagiri is a post graduate in sociology (MA), a graduate in Home Science (BSc) and Education (B.Ed.). She has served as a teacher and a part time lecturer. She has published two volumes of devotional songs named ‘KuntalaManasaRamam’ and ‘KuntalaManasaVaani’ in Telugu. In more recent times she has been featured in a number of Facebook blogging portals in English for Let’s Make Stories, Asian Literary Society, Momspresso, Women’s Web, Poetry Planet, Chrysanthemum Chronicles, Penmancy, Poetry Parlour, Story Mirror and many others and now, My Words: A Renaissance. She has also won several contests on various blogging platforms.


WINTER'S IMPECCABLE CHARM BY BHARGAVI RAVINDRA Night serene, calm, a lull before the storm, no mud, no sand I dreamt ... myself in a train visiting a magical winter land Draped in virgin white, dark clouds like a damsel’s tresses The Earth looked like an enchanting seductress! The train chugged along the winding roads through hills and valleys Cold wind gushing in, to plant kisses on my cheeks, so coyly Along the way the view, a visual treat, just breathtaking Brilliance of Sun through the peaks, dazzlingly intoxicating. Bright Sun in its glittering garb held the stage for far too long Winter is here - writing new verses, humming a new song Withdrawal symptoms all around started to surface The early morning cool breeze had a hint of chill and grace! Trees bereft of their leaves, look several inches taller A silver staircase in space to reach out to spiritual altar


The world readying to brace itself to yet another white winter Snuggled cozily, Sun plays hide and seek from His chamber. I watched amidst thick cover ...days trimming its wings Dragging its feet hesitantly, reluctantly, to bid adieu to spring Days damp and disheveled but not the spirit A prelude to X-Mas, people in furs, out in true spirit. An artist’s eye captures varying shades of blue The vivid colours of fall and its myriad hues Crisp dense snowflakes dancing as a ballet dancer Turning, swirling, waltzing sensuously and dripping pleasure. All across the mountain, the valley....the spread of white No hustle of wind, just a shadow nestled, a viewer’s delight The nascent moon waiting to dazzle the world The due drops on dark green carpet like glittering diamonds. Village folks gather around the campfire, joyfully dance In their high spirited grins, sticky strands and sloppy prance Steaming hot brew, kick starts the winter mood Night comes alive as rhythmic drum beats reverberate in wood. The sound of wood cracking is so soothing ...sheer magic The red amber glow casting a spell so pristine, so majestic Display of colorful scarves red, yellow, green, blue An enchanting plethora of colours of celestial hues.

My train of thought came to a halt with a jerk My once in life time journey had all the thrill and perk The cool breeze, wet grass, an artist’s perfect capture The long snowy winter sent me in rapture. There is more to winter than just a white cover on things Charity, sharing, music, champagne, travel, thanks giving Christmas gifts, lavishly laid out lunch, boxed joyous moments galore It is only winter with its scent of chilled night knocking at the door. Eternally grateful as it brings close to heart the loved ones The season of bliss, love and family reunions Amidst chilled bones and grunting teeth, hearts are warm What is life without winter’s impeccable charm?


Bhargavi Ravindra, presently residing in Bengaluru, Karnataka is a post Graduate in Physics and a teacher by profession. She is a bilingual poetess/writer. She is passionate about Hindi poetry and Urdu Gazals. Her poetic journey started from her school days and she was on the editorial board for the school magazine. Her book, a compilation of Poems and Gazals ‘बचपन....काश! कह ठहरजाता’ was launched under the banner of Rashtra Bhasha Prachar Samithi, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh by Smt. Mridula Sinha, Hon'ble Governor of Goa on 19th March 2018. Some of her poems have been published in a leading overseas magazine SAT - South Asia Times. In recent times she has taken to social media and regularly writes for number of Facebook literary forums such as Asian Literary society, United by Ink, Bhavon ke Moti, Sukhan, Kalamanthan, etc. Her poems have found place in Amar ujala and Hello poetry. She has won awards and certificates for her poems both in Hindi and English. Some of her poems are part of Anthologies 1. Indian Summer in Verses [PLETHORA BLOGAZINE] now Chrysanthemum Chronicles published by Writersgram 2. Lost and Found in the Digital Era [UNITED BY INK] published by Notion Press. Some are part of Anthologies that will come out in the near future.


THE ENCHANTRESS BY NANDITA DE NEE CHATTERJEE Chilly night winds blow from the Kanchenjunga Dawn a spectacular show at Tiger Hills Thin rays of gold breaking ever so gently Dispersing the black blanket of cold. A glimmer on the Everest in the distance Smell of hot tea from the kettles The hills waking up gloriously Ah! Steaming momos laid out Rosy cheeks peeping from under mufflers and woolen caps. Little babies bundled in coats. The fog lingers thick in Ghoom The tiny station white in the mist 7407 feet altitude Highest Indian railway station Set in the hills. Amidst the deep fog sits the tiny black locomotive Huffing and puffing away No Thomas this! But the Toy Train The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.


Clambering onto the engine of the Himalayan Princess, Posing desperately in the mist Touching the aging body Lavishing on it the love it needs.

Mountain air drifting us to orange orchards around Sauntering in the serenity Losing ourselves in the verdant pine forests.

The Darjeeling Toy Train A magical 2 feet narrow gauge railway Steam and diesel locomotives A heritage train built around 1879. Cynosure of eyes round the world.

A journey a poem Mighty Himalayas A sprightly little Toy Train 140 odd years old Youthful its spirit Joyful its mood An adventure all the way Pushing off sardonically with empty coaches Batasia stopover done. A gentle run down the loops And we're back on the cheeky train.

Tiny the train Ambitious its journey 88 km long route 6 zigzags, 5 loops And on it trudges From New Jalpaiguri uphill. Taking the 2-hour joyride Clambering on for a window seat view Snowy peaks slowly peeping out in the distance Past the glorious monastery Waving at little monks in play. High above on the hill tracks Through steep roads and sharp bends Wooden homes covered with colourful flowers At touching distance. At a snail's pace it lugs us Stopping every now and then Miraculously taking the turns Laughing away at the squeals of joy. Breathtaking views of Himalayan splendor Mountains waking up to a languorous day Right up to Batasia Loop Stopping to take a well deserved rest. Telescopic views of Kanchenjunga and the snowy peaks

Through Darjeeling town Merrily it goes Whistling at the horses and jeeps Racing away right past it. Tourists or locals All greet it with a grin. Much loved it is And it's rightly smug about it. The journey down to the plains A ride we sadly missed Through manicured tea gardens Flush with aromas of fresh Darjeeling teas. Through vales of rhodendrons And mystical forests Mahanadi river playing hide and seek Gentle winds urging it along Midsummer or midwinter The magic never wanes. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railways A lyrical ode to trains Through terrains transcendental Wearing its UNESCO Heritage Site badge with glory Bewitching in its beauty.


Nandita De is a writer/freelance journalist/housewife. Formerly with Economic Times. Cover stories and Feature Writer with Statesman, Illustrated Weekly, Economic Times, Telegraph, Times of India, Femina, Filmfare, Germany Today, Voix Meets Mode, UK, FrontierWeekly, Namaste Ink, Setu magazine, US, Innsaei International Journal, Co Author: Big Bang of Non-Fiction, Life in Reverse; 30 Best Poets; Sea; Coffee & Echos; Wrapped Up Feelings; Poetry Planet's Christmas in my Heart , Moonlight; ALS's Kaleidoscope of Asia & Bilingual Anthology of Poems; Poetry Planet's Writers' Haven; Rewrite the Stars; Love Thy Mother; The Real Hero; Heart of a Poet by innerchildpressanthologies; Ashes; Arise from the Stars; Striving for Survival & An Indian Summer by Plethora Blogazine (now Chrysanthemum Chronicles), Gems II by World Pictorial Poetry & Art Forum.


Story Time




“Bad news for elephants too. Our area is no less than an elephant corridor” Shibu Oraon took a ten minute respite off the busy Monday morning sale and walked over to the tea shop opposite their plant store and nursery. He couldn’t contain his curiosity about the latest news being discussed amongst hovering tea addicts - their voices burgeoning into a loud, merry and tempting ‘adda’. Conversation seemed especially animated that morning. Someone showed him why. The third page of the local daily, dedicated to North Bengal news, carried a coloured image of their very own railway station. Their town name showed boldly on the yellow board. That – and the fact that a broad gauge train service was going to be inaugurated soon, had set the conversation toward a torrent of opinions.

There were hair-splitting details on the related politics and commerce, corruption, pledges, squatters and hawkers. “So what if a hundred trees were chopped down for the track, at least we are now connected to major cities,” came a sagacious opinion. “Yes and as many poor uprooted squatters and hawkers can now travel to other states easily to beg,” was the rebuttal. “Bad news for elephants too. Our area is no less than an elephant corridor” “Mark my words , it’s good news for business. You can take your jute bales to the mandi at a fraction of the usual cost.” “Hmm… that remains to be seen.” “At least they have promised a direct train to Vaishnodevi.” “Their election ticket for the next ten years!” “Think positive! The national cricket captain is coming for the inauguration. Our MLA has promised to ask him to set up a cricket academy ere in the village. Isn’t that enough cause for rejoicing?” “Barking dogs seldom bite my friend.” A mere ten minutes into the adda gave Shibu a fair education on current affairs. He felt grown

and informed. He prized this more than the irregular and uninteresting lectures at school. That day in school passed quickly. Though he tried keeping up with lessons, he couldn’t help but day dream about spectacular things that were set to happen in his lazy little town. He had never taken a train ride in all his fourteen years of life. But that was about to change. During the break, his classmates spun tall tales of running away to the cities, snubbing nitpicking fathers or mothers and becoming their own masters. It was as if ife had been a stuck clock, then, all at once jolted into a ticking motion. Even the girls were excited. Kurmi, who was always kind to him, had happily confided that her mother would run a snack counter at the station. Nandu grinned and declared that her brother would also have a kiosk selling a hundred things that people needed while travelling.


Everywhere he turned he was greeted with images of trains - from his mother watching films with trains rushing through blooming mustard fields, to his ten year old brother taking a long broom between his legs and flying around like a witch, shouting his R.L Stevenson school poem: ‘Faster than fairies, faster than witches, Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches; And charging along like troops in a battle,All through the meadows the horses and cattle: All of the sights of the hill and the plain Fly as thick as driving rain; And ever again, in the wink of an eye, Painted stations whistle by.’ His deliberately flattened ‘f’ of faeries into the ‘eph’ of the stubbornly proud vernacular colour in phonetics and his antics, sent his mother and brother to fits of laughter. Still, the poem helped Shibu picture the view from the train window. And he longed to charge into unknown lands in the roaring train.




The next morning, as Shibu watered their sprouting and blooming pots of hollyhocks, daisies, poppies and marigold, two customers approached. They had come to receive their order of transplanted root cuttings, placed during the monsoons. It was time to establish them in their field. He had just weeded and mulched the damask rose plants in the nursery. The two brothers who had come to settle in the area only recently were quite friendly. They had taken a plot on lease and were trying to plant damask roses as cash crop. It had never occurred to Shibu that damask roses like Himroz or Noorjehan went into making high value products like rose oil, rose water, sweet gulkand and fetched good demand as an ingredient in paan masalas. The idea that his flowers could have such numerous uses other than their ornamental value brought a sense of shy wonder. He was proud to be part of something different and hopeful. The paan masala sachets that hung over the counter at the tea shop immediately reminded him of the roses that flavoured them. An easy friendship with the brothers struck up. They were amiable and even invited him to their farm to oversee the planting, as though he was their equal. He often visited them after school. A week later, the railway station, freshly madeup, awaited the arrival of the train to New Delhilike a pretty bride expecting her groom. Marigold and colourful buntings enlivened the atmosphere. The cricket skipper couldn’t make it to the inauguration but no one cared. They playfully allowed the local representative to make excuses. It was an intoxicating day for the village. About a fortnight into their new life with the live station, when the novelty of the grinding vibrations on their walls were yet to wear off, giving way to annoyance and then resignation, Shibu was invited on a journey.


At first his parents wouldn’t hear of it, especially his mother. Her first born wanted to wander too far from her eyes, in the company of some new acquaintances. Travelling all the way to Dilli to get some equipment for the rose farm was nothing short of preposterous. And all for a mere ride on a train! So what if they couldn’t drop everything and go gallivanting with their sons immediately? They could plan a visit to Chotanagpur next year. Their relatives would love to have them at the Sarhul festival there. Why shouldn’t he keep his impatience under check and concentrate on chores and studies for the present? His mother had heard of children getting lost in the crowded cities. The most awful things happened to them. What if God forbid -there was an accident?! She would have to go to the sacred saal tree the next day and offer special prayers. The almighty Singbonga alone could put some sense in her boy. Shibu was inconsolable. His parents felt their son’s low spirits acutely. It soon became unbearable for them all and he ultimately had his way. After all it was to be just a week long trip. His school was closed for the winter break and their son had been quite responsible for his age. It was a two minute stop at their station. Shibu and his companions scrambled onto their bogey. He got the window seat in the cozy second class compartment and was thrilled to pieces to be on the train. The window could be opened, unlike in the air conditioned coach, he was informed. Presently, as the train slid out of the platform, he waved goodbye to his brother and father standing there. Shibu saw his village roofs receding into the distance till he could see them no more. The sky was a happy blue despite the winter. The flying landscape changed by the minute. As the train began speeding, the patchy green and tawny of the

forests and fields blended like viscous honey. Batches of fall-stricken trees sprawled over straggling bushes and ochre earth, stretching out dry bare branches bravely to take another day's heart and dust or perhaps, killing winter frost. The skyline changed by the second with alarming novelty and velocity. The only familiar elements seemed to be the electricity poles and cables. The unrelenting chugging of the wheels carried him through the unknown and he was spellbound. The daunting Teesta and Ganga flowed with somber majesty as the train crunched over vast bridges, flying through states. Colourful flotsam of the Chhat Puja could be seen sporadically. His companions were interesting too. The boy on the upper berth at the aisle had his nose in a magazine. At the larger stations, where hawkers entered, balancing wicker baskets full of samosas, kachoris, litties, oranges or guavas on their heads, he coolly propped up on one elbow and with an agile sleight of hand helped himself to the goodies as the hawkers walked through. Shibu was aghast but the imp merely gave him a grin and winked mischievously. He looked away and watched his two friends play several rubbers of cards with other passengers. There was a lady who kept fishing out boxes of sweets and savories from a great multicolored nylon bag food hamper. Her grandchildren were travelling with her and she wouldn’t allow ten minutes to pass before enquiring if they were hungry. There was a lady who kept fishing out boxes of sweets and savories from a great multicolored nylon bag food hamper. Her grandchildren were travelling with her

and she wouldn’t allow ten minutes to pass before enquiring if they were hungry.Left to himself, he thought about his mother and Kurmi, suddenly missing them. The chugging of the wheels lulled him to sleep. Lying supine, as his eyelids grew heavy, his last thoughts rested on the rocking of the train and he felt that it was somewhat like an elephant ride. He slept light and awoke in the wee hours when the train stopped at Lucknow Railway Station. Then onwards, from what he could pick up from the stray comments in the bogey, Dilli seemed almost at arm’s reach. The train sped into and out of Moradabaad and Ghaziabad stations, speeding towards its destination with a reassuring single minded confidence. After being on board for almost twenty eight hours, Shibu was eager to step out and merge with the swelling crowd pushing through the New Delhi platform at twelve noon. His companions seemed as eager. As they stood outside, waiting to be picked up by a friend’s car, the elder of the brothers got them cups of tea. The car, a white sedan | 49



arrived. Shibu was ushered into the back and he shifted to the right window. As the engine whirred, a dense black shadow engulfed his brain and within seconds he was sucked into a deep, death-like slumber. When he opened his eyes again, he couldn’t recall where he was. There was a tin roof over the charpoy on which he lay. The odour of cattle and cattle feed seemed all consuming. Wait… he was supposed to be in a city. That place looked like a farm cowshed. Fear clutched his beating heart. He felt weak but tried to get off the bed. To his surprise, he found that his leg was tethered to a post! He could walk within the radius of a few meters but no further. His stupefaction left him numb. He tried calling out to his companions. “Vijay bhaiya! Kumar bhaiya!” His broken voice croaked out the names of the two brothers through his desperate tears. “Let me out of here. Help! Help!” Bhaiya!” “Take me home. I want to go home!” “So you’ve woken up, you Kumbkarna. It was high time!” A tall, dark man wearing a turban came strolling in. “Hahaha!” Another man found that funny. “You won’t have time to be Kumbkarna around here anymore. Maalik won’t like a slacker.” “Bhaiya , who are you all? Where am I? Please call Vijay Bhaiya and Kumar bhaiya!” Shibu sobbed. “You’ll get to know soon enough. There is no one here by the name of Vijay or Kumar. No use crying.” “I am Bhajan Singh and he is Kalua. You will always find us around. I have years yet to pay off my debt. I was your age when I joined work and see how old I am now.” “Maalik is fair. He is a fair slave driver. Hahahaha…”Came Kalua’s rejoinder. The two men told Shibu that they were siris, bonded labour, on that farm in rural Punjab .There were scores like them there.


The fields were hundreds of acres vast. There was sowing, planting, hoeing, ploughing all year round. The sheds and cattle needed care. They had to serve at the Kothi too, at all hours. Shibu was a new recruit. His friends had borrowed a certain sum from the Maalik and left him there as mortgage. Until that sum was repaid with labour, there was no escape. Repayment was impossible. The interest kept mounting. There was in fact no chance or hope of escape. Law enforcers never interfered with the business of the Maalik. He was better off accepting his lot. Shibu was inconsolable. If only he had listened to his mother! The thugs Vijay and Kumar would have to pay for this betrayal. He wondered what they would tell his parents. The rogues no doubt had a plan. To think that such devils were afoot at home! They wouldn’t stop with selling him alone, for sure. He grew worried for his school mates and his brother. Two days of bondage passed. He resisted it with his whole might. He refused food though hunger gnawed his vitals. He was dragged to the open fields and tethered there from four in the morning till eight in the evening. He yet refused to cooperate. The shackle around his ankle blistered his skin as he struggled to pull himself free. If only he could meet the Maalik. Maybe he would take pity and let him go. Glimpses of the large house with its high terrace, beyond the poplar and eucalyptus plantation, were visible from the sheds. Towards evening he saw turbaned men and a woman, partially veiled in green, on the terrace. He shouted, “Maalik! Help! Help!” His voice was carried by the evening breeze towards the fields beyond the sheds and sank without a trace in the soil. On the third evening, a huge man with a fair shining face appeared at the shed. He held a slick cane. The siris working in the shed cowered



and bent their heads low in obeisance. “Maalik,” they saluted. Sobs wracked Shibu and he begged to be freed. The first lash of the cane across his trembling back caught him unawares. The lashings came swift and strong. The Maalik paused only to holler orders for Shibu’s clothes to be yanked from his body. The second volley of whipping sent Shibu reeling to the floor. The cold bit into his torn skin and the fresh lesions burned fiercely. “Enough of your insolence!” Roared the Maalik at his face. A string of expletives followed, which were no less than lashings on his spirit. “You are my slave . Do you understand ? My property. I’m letting you live for now. I can kill you too and no one will know. But you’ll see hell before you die. I promise. I paid a good sum for you, so you’d better fall in line.” He heard footsteps stomping away and wished for death. Someone came with a bowl of salve after all was quiet for the night. In the dim glow of the lantern with the winter fog clouding his vision he thought it was his mother. The woman with a green veil partially concealing her face, cleaned his wounds and tenderly applied poultice and bandage. He was delirious with pain and shaking with the chill. His shirt was blotched in blood. She placed some clothes on the charpoy for him. He felt her touch his sore and bleeding ankle. Then she left, as quietly as she had come. Shibu managed to put on the given shirt, and pullover. There was some cash in the shirt pocket. He felt an unexpected lightness. The weight of the shackle was gone. Just to be sure, he kicked the air. His ankle was unshackled. He was free! Looking around, he saw the faint mounds of sleeping bodies covered in coarse blankets on their charpoys. He quickly rose and stepped out into the fog.


He walked towards the mustard fields for that was the only familiar direction. The night air cleared his head. He determined to get to the nearest railway station anyhow. He waded barefoot through the sea of cold dewy plants. The fog was a grey blanket over the field and he couldn’t see beyond a yard. Yet he persisted. He parted the crops making way; sometimes tumbling with exhaustion, but always picking himself up. He was going home, so scratches and cuts didn’t disable his feet or his resolve. His clothes were dew drenched, his mouth parched. Hours later, he fortunately came upon a railway crossing. Bending low to avoid detection, he quickly followed the tracks. There was no sound other than his own panting breath. The tracks led him on for miles. Finally he detected the distant lights of a railway station. He quickened his pace. Gradually the fog turned faintly pink. Day was approaching.


Preeti Brahmin is a teacher by profession and a mother of two. She was born and raised in the Darjeeling hills and presently lives in Siliguri . The time she finds for herself is mostly spent in the joy of reading and writing poetry and short stories. She has contributed two poems to a recently published anthology, ‘A Rendezvous of Words’. One of her short stories was lately published in an audiobook entitled ‘Unearthly Lores’ by Chrysanthemum Chronicles



Dracula's Letters of Love



Epistle of Eternal Love

Amrita Lahiri Bhattacharya

Dear Mina, I surrender my life to thee, my love, Please look at my lovelorn eyes, you will find thee. Hath thou not found my love genuine? The night is long with its ravenous curls dancing to the Devil's tune, I want you to feel my breath, thou reside in those crevices of my heart, Listen to the language of my love, be mine forever, but for that you need to die, Die in my arms as I dig my teeth under thy neck, My red glowing eyes are besotted by thy looks, My otherwise pale skin begins to glow with thy fond touch, My gleaming fangs yearn for the taste of thy sweet blood, Let me bite thy scarred neck not once or twice but thrice, Blood entices me and thy blood is the purest, my love, Fret not for our love is eternal, beyond the horizon. If you try to nibble my veins, you will find thy name in bold letters, Who will believe that vampires have heart unless thou burst the fallacy? Dost thou still believe I just suck blood? In thy fragile heart, I want to dwell for eternity, Let me tend thy eyes with my passionate lips, Don't be afraid, our love will be history, I won't deny that my craving eyes spell thy name, The heavy sighs echo the shadows that thou left in the meadows, Melt in my arms, I will take thou to the zenith of my heart, Our story will be admired in epic proportions, love inked in blood, What thou art afraid of Mina? I will caress thy pain, fondle thy sufferings, My love is pure, the woebegone night be written off by the graveyard poet, Mina, thou art still afraid? Surrender thy silence to me, It's s true that I am hungry of thy blood because we need to make our destiny, What art thy fears, Mina? Let me suck and free thou of the obnoxious burden, I am thirsty of thy love; ask the sombre night as I cast a spell, I am crazy for thy love; ask the tomb from where I slumbered into thy home, With blood and love, I will smear the universe with thy name, When thou walk on the lonely streets, my silhouette will advance towards thee, In frigid night the wolf will scream my love for thee, Still, you think I’m just a blood sucking monster; I am much more than that, Don't be afraid Mina, thou shalt live in me forever, let me suck some more, Let me drink till I am full, the macabre tale be spelt with blood and gore, For centuries they will bestow us the epithet, ‘Dracula in love with Mina for eternity’, So, you see, I will live in thy breath, Till morning appears after the night, Till the moon appears with its chariot of stars,


Till the Earth rotates around the Sun, Till the clouds collide giving birth to the orchestra of rains, Till gurgling streams sing the songs of nature, Till the mountains stand tall against the gales, Till the waves clash against the shore, I live in thee and thou live in my breath, My love for thee is pure, I will yell to the universe, And it will reverberate till eternity, Mina, Mina, Minaaaaaaa... Yours truly, Bloody lover

Amrita is an IT professional and a doting mother. She has had a penchant for writing since her teenage days. She squeezes in time between work and her kid to pen down her thoughts in the form of stories, poems and microtales. Her work has been regularly featured in multiple online literary platforms. Her poems and stories have been published in several anthologies – ‘Towers of Inspiration’ and ‘Voices from the Society’ by Inkquills Publishing, ‘Love Thy Mother’ by Poetry Planet, ‘Poems from 30 best poets’ by Literatureslight Publishing and ‘Drenched Thoughts’ – A collection of 10 Kindle e-books from Raindrops Publishers.



Like Persian Perfume Banani Sikdar

I script this epistle to you Mina, my charmer, I feel my very existence depends on your answer. Each word is a testimony of my honest, frank confession, Be kind and gracious, I am so keen on our consideration!! I invaded your villa to avenge a deed much dreadful, Your men killed my wife, leaving me ever so mournful, I swear by the name of Devil, I loved her like a lover, The single woman Martha, was my love's solicitor. Looking at you, a spellbound, stunned I was beguiled, How could I believe my good fortune close to be yielded?? Martha, mother of my child Maven, instantly resurrected. In your countenance, I beheld Martha, clearly reflected. I compelled you to drink my blood to turn you to a bloodthirsty, While you drank my blood, I drank your sweetness swarthy. As the perfume of Persia, all pervading, all consuming, A sweet smell that's impossibly enthralling, exhilarating.

Nothing has ever been so idyllic, so compelling, A revelation!! My sworn adversary is much alluring. Cupidity has struck hard, I have no escape, But to lose myself in your willing embrace It's a known fact that I am an antihero, underworld Don, And to seek out a signora, utterly virtuous, is of condone. The blood I shed, is not for saving life, It's a carnival to kill and thrive, It's been a proud, hostile living, Until I glanced at your beauty, so engaging!! My heart is on a reverse mode, It abhors anymore culling of throats, It seeks warmth instead, the warmth of belonging, To be united with a conjuror, of covering silky, shimmering My daydream, no different from my nocturnal fantasy, Every second, I feel obsessed to experience the ecstasy. The fantasy progresses further, to visualize a union, Of a demon turned admirer, with his woman of fascination.


The Fairytale of ‘The Beauty and the Beast’, A chance encounter has become a feast. Be my savior, be my ultimate glory, No longer do I dread the Sun, let the Moon light up my story. The rekindling thoughts of happy, loved bygone times, Transforming an evil me into a worthy Hero of all times The want is deep and strong, a certain ague, I feel obsessed, When would you be my surrendered love dearly possessed?? A rather long note, for I need to impress upon my paramour, Yours truly, Dracula, please, my ague needs a proper cure.

Reading and writing poetry is her favorite hobbies. She has been fortunate that a number of her poems have been published in different on and offline magazines and anthologies.



Turn My Blue Heart Red !! Daisy Bala

Who are you? My preying eyes have known this beguiling face since eternity But you’re not my charming wife, for she died in fire, by a bloody mob You’re someone else, born with the same scent at the nape of your neck The same serenading demeanor, with the same enigmatic sexuality My eternal love for my bride, has brought you as reincarnated Martha Ever since I’ve felt your voluptuous presence, your pulse reverberating in me I’m breathless, soaking in innate desires of consolidation Since eternity, I have been the perfect vessel for the fears and desires of an era gone by An evil intruder who personified everything threatening and powerful I’ve gained immortality by getting a deal with the devil But I’m now shrinking, weak and gentle, diluted in evilness and spirits I’m lost in despairing nights of aloofness and fretful agonizing desires Your presence around me has awakened a lustful affliction That keeps throbbing my heart with the cutting edge I’m lovelorn seeking the reincarnated soul of my lost love in your entranced body I want to make you my flesh and my blood And throb with your bleed in unison My predatory sexuality has been aroused by your sensuous aura I’m forced to be attracted, captivated by your Sanctity Your luscious locks, your scarlet buds swoon me like subtle alchemy Like necromancy I’m getting pulled into the invisible abyss of desperation My Dracula blood is palpitating, thirsty for the belonging I’m Dracula, the rapacious, the destructive blood sucking creep Without a single speck of color in life But now your love, your ivory presence has ignited a flame in my dreary drab nights Making me seek light, seek love Please Grant me redemption by being my Martha Can’t you see, it’s not passing flirtation or infatuation, nor eroticism It’s infringing upon my survival, my lone stark identity My evil allure is palpitating and now my heart rips in anticipation Sharp like my canines, my gory spirits up rise in your want My deathly hallows are calling Hold me captivated, consecrate my soul, hold my becoming


You’re born to be mine, I’ve been craving for your possession You might be Mina for the world, but you’re my transmigrated Martha Shower your Pious intimacy on my lonesome, dark, arid quintessence and let my blue heart bleed red with life !! Longing for you badly! Yours Dracula!

Daisy is passionate about writing poetry and stories, serenading words with embellishments of thoughts and emotions! She pours her incandescent heart on paper scribbling about anything and everything under the sun! She’s a homemaker living in Chicago with her husband and 2 kids and has published her nature poetry eBook 'Blossoms and foliage's' on kindle, this year. She’s been published in a few anthologies and loves participating in writing competitions. Off late she’s been writing continuously in English and Hindi both.


Let Us Entwine 3rd

Vandana Sudheesh

Oh Mina, My beloved enchanting beauty I contemplate her charm in you You entwined me with thy bewitching eyes Like a phoenix you danced upon my strength The smell of thy scarlet ink persuaded my inner desire My bones my nerves in a reincarnation game waiting for the reload You gave me wings to rise from this solitude amplifier At your behest like a stooge to play the music of togetherness My dislocated heart witnessed a strike back My words panted slithered searching for your love Inundated in the symphony of your blushing flower Its time to make you mine forever Let me have that part of mine to suck them fervid Let me stroke with my fingernails to adorn your beautiful soul Unfurling thy hair makes me surrendered to the seductive ballerina Thirsty for my unquenched desire to meet her in you Drives my epitome to emblazon the midnight memories Your blood boiling like in a cauldron it smelled a magic potion A bite of thy luscious flesh roosted my wishes those of a serpent I could feel your throat stuck with the pain of being in this shell I could make an unforgettable trip to the vast island with gardens Smell of thy red cologne a replica of her Resisting is hammered let me flow through your gifts I can see you waiting with no patience to end my starvation The curves and crevices I can fill with rocks of multiple layers To make you reach the tip of the mountains each time Those smile a visible invitation to thy heart wrenching tides Let this be the time I entangle with you in your desire of hammocks Bring me those days of eternal love back with your solace No one to witness the dark hymnal tryst of ours Come lets exchange the gift of our love so alluring. Yours Love Dracula


Vandana Sudheesh a poet with a diverse voice was born in Kozhikode district in the southern Indian state of Kerala.She was conferred with the WORLD AWARD “CESAR VALLEJO 2020” for EXCELLENCE IN LITERARY FIELD by UHE(Union Hispanomundial De Escritores)in Spanish.Also she was awarded the WORLD PRIZE POETRY AWARD(1st place from ASIAN CONTINENT)for a posthumous tribute to the great poet Kairat Duessinov Parman, founding President of WNWU(World Nations Writers Union).She is a moderator of Motivational Strips and directs Asian writers through a parliamentary committee of forum members. Considering her passion, enthusiasm and contribution to world literature, she was awarded the membership of the World Nation Writers Union (WNWU).She is the anchor of MIGHTY QUILLS OF MS” a venture of World’s Active Writers Forum, Motivational Strips. She published her first solo book "The Humble Wrath" in August 2020.She started writing under the influence of world famous writers from an early age. After completing MBA she worked for Axis Bank Limited in India and later went to Early Retirement. She then devoted herself in composing poetry. To date, her poems have been written in four collections of poetry named Poets Unify World, A Gift-III. She is also a regular contributor to Indian newspapers and magazines. She is also a regular contributor to Web Magazine and Social Media. Notable among these are Dhoni and Irreplaceable Legend, Aroma of Notion by Oxigle Press, Bharat Vision by Motivational Strips. Apart from writing, she is also a dancer, an artist and singer.


Amica Mina Editor's Choice

Shristee Singh

When rising through the air I inhale a smell so sweet Amica Mina, I wish you were here with me! The breeze caressing my hair, Like the whiff of your breath Reminiscing of your tender touch, When we danced under the stars And Heavens celebrated the love of ours The shimmering night became still But my heart thumped like a beast Tangoing on quagmire of desire, Breaths twirled in symphony of fire. Seizing the moment I wanted nothing more Amica Mina, Only and only our love to soar. The pain in my heart now, is oh so sweet, ‌ the tears in my eyes are now, but a treat. My beloved in paradise smiles at me Whenever your beaming face I see. I see her in you... As my adoration for her in you accrue. Amica Mina,

I sense the same agony for me in you! How much I love you, You have no clue! Every word my quill conveys, From my heart, it makes its way. The smitten Dracula awaits your reply! Pour your heart out Mina, don’t be shy.


Shristee Singh is a believer of one world family VasudhaivaKutumbakam.� She is a postgraduate in Economics. While in school she had won copper medal for an All India Creative Writing competition. She was also recognized for her contribution for English poetry in Youth festival of Lucknow Mahotsav. She had been a nominee for the Author of the Year-2019 at StoryMirror for her contribution towards English literature. Her poems have been published in several anthologies. Writing for her is not a race but a journey, a song which comes from the soul. Playing with words is her passion, Shristee Singh can write on any fashion! Songs of the soul she sings, writing with beatific wings


Dracula's Ardent Love Gowri Bhargav

Dear Mina, I pen this epistle inked with my blood, With impassioned words that emerge from my melting heart, A heart that once beat for my beloved wife, Thou art akin to her, And now it beats for thee - day after day, night after night‌ Mina, Thou art a beauty, And beauty is synonymous to thee, My verses may fall short of words, As my brain is fogged with thy thoughts, And I dwell in a land of fantasy with thee and only thee. When thou standeth by the tower’d windows, Overlooking the moonlit sky, Thy radiant face outshines the moon, And the moon hides its face, Betwixt a shroud of dark clouds in failure. Thine eyes mesmerizing and smoky, Emit infinite rays that glitters And brighten my most tempestuous paths, Showering unfathomable love, For which I, a creature of dark, crave longingly. Thy luscious lips stained with the deepest red, Are tender like a petaled rose, The words uttered with them, Flowing like a river of elixir, Are an emollient to my wounded heart. Thy tumbling tresses that resemble a cascading waterfall, Glistens with the sunlight and moonbeam. I envy the gentle zephyr that flirtishly sways thy hair; My love! Allow me to make it my bed, My fervent soul doth seeks solace.


The crystalled ravishing gowns adorned by thee, Sparkle like the starlit sky, As they meander thy curves, Will they sweep the gothic tiles of my lone castle, Making them reverberate with the forgotten mirth? The list goes endlessly, if I choose to continue, Hark! Breaketh thy shackles of fear about the unison, The ephemeral pain to transform shall reward thee well, Thou shalt blissfully succumb to my immortal love, Let thy blood meld with mine like a torrential stream, My vapid form will enliven with blood of thine, Under the twilight sky I seek thy hands, Together we shalt conquer the galaxy, Our ardent love shall outlive even eternity, Our love shalt be etched in the pages of history. Waiting for thy reply... Dracula

Gowri Bhargav is a storyteller from Chennai who has an absolute passion to tell stories to young children. She enjoys reading and travelling. She also enjoys weaving words into short stories and poems.


One Last Kiss Rohini Jayanti

Dear Mina, A drop of blood was all I wanted when your coal black eyes fired love within me like a dawn of desire with a passion of first bloom you are a dagger’s thrust, so courageous to enter the ivory gates, where victims are cruelly slayed, to quench the thirst of my soul an assassin I am, cursed with immortality an angel you are to me, bounded in blood and sacrifice do you ever know that you tore my heart apart? my wild emotions soar high as your raspy voice possesses my cords my lips curl and moisten and the devil in me forces me to strike your beauty drags me into a realm of darkness the misery of waiting haunts and the pain of losing kills I am lying in the pool of blood and stuck in the claws of your memories but deep within, I question myself can a creature of the dark, a nocturnal being, whose eyes look for his prey every night and whose canines penetrate one’s chastity, find a beautiful and adorable soul? I know I am a demon whose desire for blood would never be sated but beneath this facade of this vicious beast lies a human no different from you the crimson warmth of the days vanished loneliness perforated my empyrean blood I could sense a fire welling deep within and Timorously, I call your name that would reach you from the rift of the bleeding sky my whole-body hungers as the cool breeze pierces my skin my heart twists and hands grope for your touch an eternal parasite I am, living in solitude and damnation fueling my passion to drain out your life’s fluids


before darkness lures me with mystical spells and temptation laces down my lips let us travel together amidst the pink petaled beds where our eyes would meet gleaming red with a tiger’s strength I would hold you and gently lift few locks of hair off your neck and offer a kiss on your crimson strained lips our souls would nourish in the consecrated blood of our mortal bodies and in that moment of bliss I would infuse your life into mine and together we would blend into an eternal devotion waiting for that magical night Yours, Knight of the Dark

Rohini Jayanti: A lady who loves experimenting anything she finds new and works hard towards achieving it. A Story teller and a budding writer who finds true happiness in writing short stories, articles and poems.


The Maven Beauty Sudipta Chowdhury

Dear Mina I am sending you my heart, dear love Engraved on a piece of paper Screaming loud with all energy 'My love for you' I should not have fallen for you That I must confess But you made my heart sick again, The day I saw you, your mesmeric mien After a long enduring century I have found my love in you The love that I lost in the spiteful teeth Of time I hope you too yearn for me, Like you find me pining for you And you have to As I will never let you To dissipate my name with the fumes Of your cigar, you hold with your silky fingers My beckoning fangs longing for your blood, Crimson red shining in privilege Tastes sweeter than the heavenly nectar To quench my deserted recess Darling, look at that heart, closely, silently You find the veins, wild and voracious Entangling with your fingers Creeping and crawling underneath your lustrous skin

Slowly, possessing your well-turned body In the hollow of utter darkness No Dear, there is no fear, You are now going to be mine Even the moon wants us to be together Hiding itself behind the clouds Now you have become my passion, my compulsion Your ravishing silhouette coaxing my latent desire To be the maven of your beauty Your footfalls reverberate in my lonesome chateau Whispering in my ear, the resplendency of your presence Sweetheart, let the nocturnal beasts hail on our journey Let the stormy night prevail throughout the vicinage Where we will celebrate our togetherness Traversing the fog-choked terrain, Gliding above the green horizon Through this letter, I just want to make you know I want to live the rest of my life with you Forgetting my past, because you are my present Disenthralling me from what I am Where you would be my pathfinder And I will be your ardent follower... Yours truly Dracula


Sudipta Chowdhury, holds a Postgraduate degree in Economics. Currently pursuing Bachelor of laws. She is an avid reader and loves writing poems and articles on human behaviour and core issues. Her poems have been published in various web magazines, media portal and literary journal of national and international recognition

Disclaimer: Smoking is injurious to health. Avoid cigars and all forms of tobacco products.


Another Thousand Moons Kaberi Mukherjee

Oh! My love, In the murklin chamber Of my putrescent castle Your thoughts bash me day and night For eons I have roamed, Sucked a zillion veins, blood was my life. Bootless was my search for Martha my wife Until I met you, My quest was that soul of yours that changed frame.

O'Mina! My ladylove! I don't wish to chicane you You'll be turned to a lamia And thereupon never be get lost Together we shall live another thousand moons Sucking blood for blood is our life.

Mina! I deciphered you love me too For I'm your darkest desire, Your seek of passionate love I'm You're enticed by my seductive charm Your heart thrives to meet mine You aren't a feared of my deadly buss That'll rip you asunder. O'Dear! Hearken these words of mine When the darkest of the mist descends When the eutherian visits from the greenwoods It’s time for our union When you'll surrender to me My fangs'll devour your tender flesh And with your blood I'll quench my thirst.

A teacher by profession, mom of a teen, Kaberi Mukherjee studied English literature. Poetry is the expression of her heart, a catharsis too. She has written many poems, won accolades from various online platforms, her poems are published in anthologies too.


Peaceful Eternity Farheen Kazmi

I do not know how to address you so, My dear Miss Mina, I cannot fathom, For I cannot decipher, How I find her in you, my beloved, The love that I had lost long ago, I know you are not her nor I see, The reason to peruse her in you, But my cold withered heart, Is drawn towards your soul, Your blood a crimson hue, Is a pure white snow dyeing, Turning beautiful red, Warming the cold and seeping in, Reaching into the crevices, Of my dead soul and turning, My insides out into a convoluted hash, Don’t you see in my eyes? The compel that pulls me, To convert you as into my own, I have women swoon, and turn for me, But do I want you in my power, In my possession as not human, A blood sucking nothingness, A body without warmth, A carcass without a beating heart, Stab that wooden dagger into my chest, And put me out of my misery, My longing, My love, My blind adoration,

Turn me into ashes and rid me of this curse, Maybe you and I will be born again, In another realm, As true as soulmates, With a future not so bleak, And a love nor marred or forbidden, I bid adieu my love, May my mark in these desperate lines, Move your spirit and not get compelled, By the chameleon nature of mine, May you not look into my eyes and turn, May you choose a dagger than craving my blood, I bid a final goodbye, my dear redemption, I await your arrival, To take my soul away, And set me free into peaceful eternity. Yours Forever Dracula. Farheen Kazmi is a newbie contemporary romance writer. She has her work published on Amazon as well. She is a voracious reader first, before being an author. She also writes poetry as it's closer to her heart. She is a great fan of the novels written by Agatha Christie and Charlotte BrontĂŤ. She is an MBA graduate and has worked in the field for a bit before quitting it to pursue what she loved the most. Writing gave her the needed liberty to play with words and characters. It is what inspired her to be herself.


O! Beautiful Maiden Shakuntala Kanakagiri

Like a true Gothic of a period by gone Dressed in raven black attire he crouched down Penning his emotions with passion and praise A tall, handsome, rugged man struck by love malaise...

I want to hold you tight, close to my heart In a steely embrace that would never let us apart Under the canopy of dark looming clouds The mountains roaring my feelings loud and loud...

To the love of my life, MINA Sweetest and most dearest...

The wilderness adding to our twosome A quiet retreat for us, lovebirds winsome Lost in the sounds of tweets and twitters magical Just the two of us, in an alien world mystical...

I bare my heart and soul, brimming with adoration To the most ravishing angel, my admiration Eversince I set my eyes on you, walking out of the castle Slender and delicate, with an electrifying dazzle Dusk's glow turning your face a radiant crimson Luminous and attractive, your crowning glory golden... I watched you from behind the bushes around Bringing forth memories of my dead wife's images that hound Your dark, deep eyes and your bewitching smile Swept me off my feet, for miles and miles

Like a knight in armor, dashing and daring I'll go down on my knees appealing To you, Oh! Beautiful maiden! Mina, singing a song Hand in hand, lost in a world of love and romance to bond... Your charming persona, so magnetic The queen of my heart, you're so majestic My heartthrob, Meine Liebe ,Mi Amor, Ti Amo Without you, there are no more tomorrows,'... Your soothing voice, your mesmerizing eyes Your long aureate tresses swirling by


Teasing and haunting me day and night Tormenting and testing my sanity's might... Life is wilderness without you by my side As rough as a sea on a stormy night Yearning to hold you in my arms tight For you are the reason to my existence right... Lovelorn and languishing, frustrated and pining The devil in me slowly crawling and creeping Patience slipping, making me miserable and mooning I await your arrival into my strong arms crooning and craving Oh Mina! My Mina...Dear Mina... I long for your love I live for your love I breathe love, I see love, I drink love Mad in love For you and you and you alone..... Don't let the Satan in me tout The devilish aches and suffering bouts The horror, the terror I feel without you Like the vampires spitting fire and venom spruce... Ever yours, Your devil of a lover, Dracula.

Shakuntala Kanakagiri is a post graduate in sociology (MA), a graduate in Home Science (BSc) and Education (B.Ed.). She has served as a teacher and a part time lecturer. She has published two volumes of devotional songs named ‘KuntalaManasaRamam’ and ‘KuntalaManasaVaani’ in Telugu. In more recent times she has been featured in a number of Facebook blogging portals in English for Let’s Make Stories, Asian Literary Society, Momspresso, Women’s Web, Poetry Planet, Chrysanthemum Chronicles, Penmancy, Poetry Parlour, Story Mirror and many others and now, My Words: A Renaissance. She has also won several contests on various blogging platform

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Book Review



CHECK-IN, CHECK-OUT BY KERAN PANTTH JOSHI ‘This is the most delectable collection of horror short stories served on your platter that will keep you haunting for a long time’ …Check-In, Check Out is Keran’s second book of fiction and it’s a collection of 10 short horrifying tales that have been divided into two parts within the book. The first part takes you to the jitteriest and thrilling ride of tales of ordinary people getting most brutally affected by the apparitions in the stories. The most interesting thing to be noticed in the collection is that all the stories are taking place in a Hotel called Villagio in Tasmania. The happenstance is that the author herself is an hotelier in Tasmania and she has based the stories taking the extreme inspiration from the place itself. In my last interview with her which we did in ‘The One Hour Talk Show’ I did have an opportunity to ask her that why did she choose a hotel for placing her stories, and she had most candidly confirmed that the whole lockdown period was keeping her sane when she was able to put all the puzzle pieces of scattered stories in her mind into their places by weaving them together. It was a phase when myriad stories have started coming out from the walls of the hotel that she runs and it worked for her as an inspiration, basically she

understood and heard the silence that place had turned into and that further helped her to pen down those stories in the wee hours of night. Now as well all know that nights are the most preferred time by all the writers, I wonder how did Keran manage to write down and bring out those ghastly figures of her stories into the world of her words, I wonder didn’t it give her the jitters and chills too. Well looking at her stories it seems they didn’t. The level of confidence in her writing and the lucid imagery of them speak it all. She has the most wildest and if I have to say it most bluntly the most courageous heart to write down the stories in which all the main characters of her stories are either getting


hurt or killed easily. The most intriguing thing I would admit here is that the protagonists of her stories are all ghosts. They are the ones around whom the whole plot of the stories are revolving and if you are an emotional person then brace yourself, these ghosts are real nefarious and they would stop only by killing their victims. She has taken to her liberty placing in her book, all kind of ghosts whom many of you must be acquainted with, from haunting and following spirits, to devils in disguise, and even depiction of the Jins and satanic things which I am sure you would find real disturbing to a point after having read the stories. The language is lucid, simple, flowing and crisp, which allows you to actually visualize the things happening in the story and you would feel the jump scares at certain places. The next most absorbing thing about the book is that you will see that the Villagio Hotel working as an instrument in all the stories, as it has this certain strange vibe of attracting those people who are either getting followed or haunted by a spirit and ends up being there, and even the hotel itself has a reprehensible spirit that can certainly lead to death of its guests. Most of the characters have been linked with the hotel so wisely that they are checking in but never mostly checking out, and it seems as if it’s a game plan that is working in a certain way that all the incidents are happening in and around of the Villagio Hotel. And in the end we get to read the history of the Hotel itself that explains it all that why all kinds of spirits were getting attracted towards it, its acting like a vessel to summon and contain those spirits.

Nonetheless, all the stories are evocatively interesting and even if you are not much of a horror genre reader, this book is unique and a must read I would say. It has freshness of portraying the genre; the stories are all different from each other, no one character is linked with any other of the previous story so you read a new tale with each story and feel the fear of the most bizarre kinds of ghostly presence and haunting. Though all the stories are extremely well written but two of the stories that stayed with me for a very long time are ‘Virgin Mother’ and ‘The Foot in the Ceiling’. These two stories have the most bizarre, unexpected, unpredictable and unbelievable ending along with the start. And these two along with the rest of the stories surely confirmed me that Keran has the perfect hands and mind for crafting tales into this genre. One more thing that needs to be added here is that the book has the most unique and creative content’s section, it doesn’t simply names the story along with the page number, rather the stories are neatly put as names of guests who are checking in and they are being maintained into a crisp page of an hotel register. This is the most charming factor for sure, the most unique Content’s Page I have ever seen. Chrysanthemum Chronicles’ Verdict: ‘Check-In, Check- Out’ is a collection of ten odd stories and its something that I would not suggest as a light read, you need a strong heart and emotions to grab hold of the haunting effect the stories can create in your mind. But as millennial readers are all about fast paced reading and stories that would keep them over their heels, this book is undoubtedly going to become the next best seller in this genre all across the globe I feel! The treatment of each story has to be dealt with utmost awe and if you have a vivid imagination you may feel like all the stories are playing like a movie in your head.

EDITOR'S NOTE Chrysanthemum Chronicles is the sanctuary where tales from across cultures, barriers and regions breathe as one mottled tapestry. This is the utopian land of contemporary fables, folklores, whimsical tales, stories and verses. It is the candid expression of a literary journey in abundance. It is an endeavor to fracture the shells of coyness and bring out in upfront the true feelings of human emotions through verses, prose and stories that shall touch the deeper core of yours making you want to read more from our issue. Chrysanthemum Chronicles will give shape to myriad unspoken, unheard magical tales, from Asian subcontinents and across the globe through its literary voyage. And it shall evermore homage those untouched themes, genres and sub genres with eclectic voices that are still waiting to be heard with narrative styles that will grab the attention of our readers. Modern nymph tales, fables, literary fiction and magic begin here...


Founder, Director & Chief Editor Monalisa Joshi

Imprintline First Impression: January 2021 Published by Chrysanthemum Chronicles C/105, Flat 7, Paryavaran Complex, New Delhi-110030 Printed @ Friends Print Art Plot No. 38, F Block, Ch. Khem Chand Complex, Khanpur Extension, New Delhi-110062

Masthead! Chief Editor Monalisa Joshi

In-House Editor Deepak K Choudhary

In-House Editor Nandita De

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Articles from Chrysanthemum Chronicles, Winter Issue