STORIZEN HOME TO YOUR STORIES MARCH 2023 Master Storyteller Keeping The Myths & Magic Alive! Celebrating 5 Years of Storizen! ANNIVERSARY ISSUE ANUJA CHANDRAMOULI
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Anuja Chandramouli: Master
Storyteller, Keeping the Myths & Magic Alive!
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Editor's Note, p5
Cover Story, p6
MasterStoryteller: Keeping The Myths and Magic AliveAnuja Chandramouli
hot off the press, p12
The Shades of LIFE in Mother Nature - Ankur R. Gupta, p16
The Women That Will Never Be Enough - Nancy Chadha, p20
Life A Festival of Emotions - Sreelekha Chaterjee, p24
Spring's Palette, Life's Canvas... - Madhumathi H, p40
The Many Colors of Flying - Vidya Shankar, p42
Asphyxiation - Sangita Kalarickal Krivosik, p43
Monthly Horoscope: April 2023 - Himani Goyal, p44
book news/book excerpts, p14
HarperCollins India Acquires Ashwin Sanghi's New Crime Thriller Series 'Kutta Kadam', p14
Book Excerpt: Unframed by Rahaab Allana, p30
Book Excerpt: The Hills are Burning by Anirban Bhattacharyya, p32
book reviews (by Swapna Peri & Kiran Adharapuram)
Unfiltered: The CEO and the Coach by Dr Ana Lueneburger and Saurabh Mukherjea, p34
How to Meet Your Self by Dr. Nicole LePera, p34
Black Soil by Poneelan, p35
The Begum and the Dastan by Tarana Husain Khan, p38
Migrants: The Story of Us All by Sam Miller, p38
My Subconsciously Feminist Father by Yashika Singla, p39
Defeating the Dictators by Charles Dunst, p35 Unframed by Rahaab Allana, p39
The Sweet Kitchen by Rajyasree Sen, p36
The Secret of More by Tejaswini ApteRahm, p36
TMissing in Action by Pranay Kotasthane & Raghu S Jaitley, p37
The Sthory of Two Wimmin Named Kalyani and Dakshayani by R. Rajasree & Devika J., p37
C O N T E N T S
from the editor
calling all writers!
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"In a world that's often fragmented and uncertain, myths and legends offer us a sense of continuity and connection to our past "
It gives us immense pleasure to announce that our literary magazine has completed five years of publication postrelaunch. This milestone is a testament to our commitment to showcasing the best of contemporary writing and emerging voices in literature This month, we also celebrated two important events - Holi, the festival of colors that heralds the arrival of spring, and International
Women's Day which recognizes the achievements of women around the world and highlights the ongoing struggle for gender equality. To mark this occasion, we are thrilled to feature the work of a master storyteller who has been keeping the myth and magic alive through her writing, Anuja Chandramouli. Anuja Chandramouli is a critically acclaimed author known for her gripping retellings of ancient myths and epics. Her work has been widely praised for its vivid imagery, intricate plotting, and deep understanding of human nature Check out the exclusive feature on page 6!
We're also excited to share excerpts from two outstanding books. The first is 'Unframed' , published by HarperCollins India and the second is 'The Hills are Burning' by Anirban Bhattacharyya. Both books offer a powerful blend of literary excellence and social commentary, and we're honored to be able to share them with you
We'd also like to express our gratitude to all the talented contributors who have sent us their stories, articles, and poems over the years. Your work inspires us and helps us create a platform for diverse voices and perspectives. We're grateful to all our readers who have supported us over the years.
Thank you for joining us on this journey of discovery and celebration of the art of storytelling.
Hope you will love this issue.
Saurabh Chawla, Editor in Chief
COVERSTORY Master Storyteller: Keeping the Myths & Magic Alive! Anuja Chandramouli A Storizen Exclusive Feature By
Indian mythology is a treasure trove of stories that have been passed down through generations. These stories, filled with heroes and villains, gods and demons, and intricate plotlines, offer a window into the past, while also providing valuable life lessons that are still relevant today
Chandramouli is one such writer who has mastered the art of re-introducing these mythological characters to modern-day readers.
In a recent interview with Storizen, Anuja Chandramouli discussed her passion for Indian mythology and the inspiration behind her latest book, Abhimanyu: A Tale of Reincarnation, Bravery, and Sacrifice
ANUJA’S LOVE OF INDIAN MYTHOLOGY
Anuja revealed that she has always been passionate about Indian mythology. "These characters from the Itihasas and Puranas are part of my earliest memories," she said. "It may sound sappy, but the truth is I love them to the moon and back."
Anuja's latest book, Abhimanyu, is a retelling of the Mahabharata from the perspective of Abhimanyu, one of its most beloved characters. Abhimanyu was the son of Arjuna, one of the Pandava brothers, and Subhadra, Krishna's sister He was blessed with all the strengths of his father, Krishna, and the other Pandavas, yet possessed none of their weaknesses. He was a rare hero who was every bit as good and kind as he was great
THE WRITING PROCESS
To write Abhimanyu, Chandramouli researched extensively and went back to the epic she had loved all her life. She put herself in Abhimanyu's place, unearthing lesser-known nuggets of information about him and sharing the story of the Mahabharata entirely from his perspective. "It was a heartening, often harrowing experience," she said. "But in the end, it was entirely worth it "
Anuja believes that it is important for young readers to understand and read about Indian mythology. "There are so many life lessons to be mined from the material which is timeless for a reason and has practical
STORIZEN MAGAZINE | 7 MARCH 2023
Writing keeps me sane. I am actually happy when the words are doing their mystical dance on the laptop screen.
applications to this very day," she said. "And even more importantly, it is so entertaining!"
Anuja’s books not only entertain but also educate. They are a great way for young readers to learn about Indian mythology and the valuable lessons it has to offer However, she believes that parents should encourage an interest not just in mythology but in storytelling in general and read in particular.
When asked about her favorite book, Chandramouli said she loves all her books, but Arjuna and Abhimanyu might be loved just a shade more because the father is the love of her life and the son is eternally beloved. However, she believes that her books in the historical fiction genre, such as Prithviraj Chauhan, Padmavati, and Tughlaq, could have been written better. "They would have benefitted if I had managed to travel to the places where the actual events unfolded so that the local flavors could have been incorporated better," she said
Chandramouli's favorite mythological character besides the characters she wrote is Krishna. "He was my childhood imaginary friend," she said "I adore Krishna and I feel he has been a constant companion in my writing journey."
morose than usual about my misgivings about my own limitations ” While indulging in sweets may be a temporary solution, Anuja also mentions that she practices yoga and dancing, watches movies, goes out for coffee with friends, and does whatever makes her feel good to get out of the slump
THE DIFFERENT HATS OF ANUJA
Anuja wears different hats in her life - she is a mother, daughter, wife, and author. When asked about how she manages to balance these roles, she responds that each role has its own quirks, but she tries her best to juggle them. She also acknowledges that each role has its own personality, saying, “They all have the same tendency to be idiotic and obsessive to varying levels but each has their redeeming qualities Or so I like to think!”
WHAT INSPIRES ANUJA TO WRITE
When asked about what inspires her to write, Anuja explains, “Writing keeps me sane I am actually happy when the words are doing their mystical dance on the laptop screen. Reading and writing are my conduits to a magical realm ruled by beauty, truth, fantasy, and imagination.” For Anuja, writing is a way to transport herself and her readers to a world of magic and wonder
THE TRANSFORMATIVE POWER OF WRITING
OVERCOMING WRITER’S BLOCK
Anuja admits that she experiences writer’s block like many writers When asked about how she copes with it, she shares, “I don’t have a decent coping technique. Mostly, I overdose on sugar if I am feeling more
Anuja believes that writing has the power to transform and affirm life. Each book she has written and read has helped her navigate different chapters of her life, offering courage and grace. As she says, “Every single book that I have written and read has helped me navigate a particular chapter of
8 | STORIZEN MAGAZINE MARCH 2023
my life, helping me traipse across the good and challenging times with a modicum of courage and grace For that, they will always have my gratitude!”
Anuja also mentions that writing has taught her to learn and unlearn things continuously, making it a part of growth and change. Her biggest takeaway is to let go of control and learn to trust the process, surrendering to the mysteries of life As she says, “My main takeaway is to not strive so hard for control and to learn to trust and surrender to a higher process, the mysteries of which I can comprehend only in patches.”
STORIZEN MAGAZINE | 9 MARCH 2023
"These characters from the Itihasas and Puranas are part of my earliest memories."
To conclude, Anuja Chandramouli’s writing journey is one that inspires and encourages aspiring writers to pursue their passion for writing. Her ability to create magic through her words is remarkable and has earned her a place in the hearts of her readers. Her writing has not only transformed her life but also offered a window for readers to escape into a magical world. As Anuja says, “Getting into the zone is hard, but staying put in there, is the hardest thing to do of all. Someday, maybe I will pull it off!”
(As told to Pria)
About Pria - Young mesmerizing freelance blogger, social enthusiast, and an economics graduate from Jharkhand University with a Master's in Child Psychology. She is hardworking yet crazy, a passionate reader, an ardent music fanatic, an avid caffeine lover, and a maniacal animal lover too.
She has been a part of numerous anthologies, articles, and write-ups for newspapers and magazines which are multi-linguistic. She has also written screenplays for YouTube series.
STORIZEN MAGAZINE | 11 MARCH 2023
HOT OFFthe press
The stories in this book paint vivid portraits of people’s lives as they encounter the strange and the enigmatic.
The book breaks new and important ground for South Asian historiography and offers historical context to illuminate how claims of hurt religious sentiments have been weaponized by majorities.
MARCH 2023 12 | STORIZEN MAGAZINE
HOT OFFthe press
Get ready to embark on a one-of-a-kind journey through India's science laboratories in pursuit of the true story behind the gender gap
Lined with grandeur, tragedy, and fantasy, Tarana Husain Khan's tale maps the social, political, and religious contours of 1897
Sherpur with the fascinating and strongwilled Feroza Begum at the center of the storm.
MARCH 2023 STORIZEN MAGAZINE | 13
HarperCollins India Acquires Ashwin Sanghi's New Crime Thriller Series 'Kutta Kadam'
HarperCollins India has recently acquired the rights to publish a brand new crime thriller series by Ashwin Sanghi, the renowned author of the bestselling Bharat series. The series centers around the character of Prakash Kadam, a former cop known as 'Kutta' Kadam, and his pursuit of criminals on the streets of Mumbai.
In his statement about the series, Ashwin Sanghi expressed his excitement, "My readers are familiar with my Bharat series, which explores the Indic space. While I will continue to release new books in the Bharat series every two years, I am thrilled to announce an entirely new crime thriller series titled 'Kutta Kadam', set to release every alternate year from 2024. I previously co-wrote two crime thrillers with James Patterson, which became international bestsellers. However, 'Kutta Kadam' is my first solo venture into the genre, and I hope that these books and their future adaptations as web series will keep my fans engaged. I am grateful that HarperCollins India will be the publishing house for this exciting new series."
The 'Kutta Kadam' series promises to be a thrilling addition to the genre, featuring the intriguing character of Prakash Kadam or 'Kutta' Kadam. Fans of Ashwin Sanghi's work can look forward to the release of the first book in the series in 2024.
at HarperCollins India, says, "We are delighted to announce a new series by Ashwin Sanghi, the author of the much-lauded and hugely popular Bharat series of books. When we got news of Ashwin's plans for a set of crime novels featuring a certain 'Kutta Kadam', we knew we had yet another winner on our hands. Baffling crimes, twisted minds, cat-and-mouse games, a flawed but spike-sharp investigator, and Ashwin's deft touch to make each book unputdownable – these thrillers promise it all! Watch this space for more!"
ABOUT THE SERIES
The series begins with a bizarre case of ritually slayed corpses piling up in Mumbai, driving law enforcers to their wits' end, until it falls upon disgraced former cop, Prakash Kadam, aka 'Kutta Kadam', to stop the madness.
Assisting Kadam on these investigations are his daughter, Ketul, and his only friend in the police force, Sharad Rane. Navigating a rocky personal life, and a city rocked by crimes featuring all manner of perversions, 'Kutta Kadam' is the perfectly flawed yet precociously sharp investigator whose dogged pursuit of the twisted cases he encounters promises to keep readers hooked till the last page.
The series will kick off with three books – each one focused on a different case and Kadam's investigation of it. Each book will be accompanied by a new season of a web series.
14 | STORIZEN MAGAZINE MARCH 2023 STORIZENNEWS
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ashwin Sanghi is among India’s highest-selling English fiction authors. He has written several bestsellers in the Bharat Series (The Rozabal Line, Chanakya’s Chant, The Krishna Key, The Sialkot Saga, Keepers of the Kalachakra, The Vault of Vishnu, and The Magicians of Mazda) and two New York Times bestselling crime thrillers with James Patterson, Private India (sold in the US as City on Fire) and Private Delhi (sold in the US as Count to Ten). He has also coauthored several non-fiction titles in the 13 Steps Series on Luck, Wealth, Marks, Health, and Parenting. Ashwin has been included by Forbes India in their Celebrity 100 and by The New Indian Express in their Culture Power List. He is a winner of the Crossword Popular Choice Award 2012, the Atta Galatta Popular Choice Award 2018, the WBR Iconic Achievers Award 2018, the Lit-O-Fest Literature Legend Award 2018, and the Kalinga Popular Choice Award 2021.
He was educated at Cathedral and John Connon School, Mumbai, and St Xavier’s College, Mumbai. He holds a Master’s degree from Yale University.
STORIZENNEWS STORIZEN MAGAZINE | 15 MARCH 2023
THE SHADES OF LIFE IN MOTHER NATURE
BY ANKUR R. GUPTA
y morning ritual for the past fifteen years has been watching from the balcony of my home the lake glimmering in the light of dawn. A blissful sight of aquatic life where the schools of fishes swim gaily on the lakeside, dozens of birds nests on the vibrant pink Tabebuia Rosea trees (a lookalike of cherry blossom), and trails of green water snakes slither through. The soft cooing of the cuckoo bird and the chirpy chatters of the sparrows and cormorants were all my morning- companions. These captivating colorful shades of mother nature often left a soothing impact on me, and I learned lessons for a lifetime.
A few shades of life I found in mother nature -
COMPARISONS ARE ODIOUS
I enjoyed watching these aquatic lives with a cup of coffee while sitting on my intricately woven swing chair. Sometimes, I envied them too for their carefree existence with no work worries, household chores, or hassling kids. Hmm… we alive minds like to live in an illusionary thought process that the Grass is always Greener on the other side of the fence. We always get tempted by and envious of what others have. But reality strikes when we try to fit into another person’s shoes. One such day, while watching the schools of fish playing together. I muttered enviously, how I wish I could be like you, so carefree with no worries. Suddenly, a flock of cormorants flew up from the sky and swept away the fish from the water. They left behind the panic-stricken creatures running for their life.
Chills ran over me as I realized how futile my comparison was of fish having a carefree life. The reality is these aquatics live in perpetual fear of becoming prey to other creatures at any moment This episode dawned on me that I should
embrace me the way I’m and should not get tangled in the web of comparing myself with others.
I don’t deny that comparisons are a normal part of human cognition and can be good for self-awareness. When we compare ourselves to others, we get apprised about what we want and where we want to be and get valuable feedback on how we measure up. However, this can take a downslide on our well-being, if we become aggressively self-critical and demean ourselves.
So be mindful of both sides and be aware that everyone has different life experiences and luck. Lead the path to self-improvement that begins with self-compassion and not self-disapprovals. Every creation of God is unique.
NO, GIVE UP ATTITUDE
Amidst these breathtaking sights, every morning, I use to also see a blue kingfisher hovering around the lake. It was such an enchanting sight watching this bluebird flapping its wings at one spot, a little bit up from the lake waters. It continued flapping for many minutes and, then positioning itself at a ninety-degree angle, zooms in at jet speed inside the water. The little bird kept repeating the same action many times till was successful in catching its food. Sometimes, when unable to get the prey, the kingfisher changed the spot and try again. In another situation after trolling for minutes, the poor birdie’s catch was snatched by the vicious hawks right from its mouth. But never did I observe the Kingfisher deterred from its goal. It stopped when it had its food.
AREN’T OUR LIVES VERY MUCH ALIKE TO THIS BIRD?
Many times, in our professional and personal lives, we work hard toward achieving our goals. But they get snatched
STORIZEN MAGAZINE | 17 MARCH 2023
away right under our noses. In other circumstances, we lose our patience to continue when results don’t pop in easily. Those who give up in frustration are left sulking. But the rest who remain focused and persistent as resilient Kingfishers emerge as winners.
With coming times, my lake was laced with chemicals and started throwing out scoops of listless fishes, the murk of dirt, and a foul smell. Soon the Tabebuia Rosea trees were left with barren nests, and layers of weeds engulfed the water that was once full of life. With a dying lake, everything became dark and depressive for me.
I sadly watched the Kingfisher hover around the lake anxiously which was once its happy abode. Then it was gone too, giving me a life lesson, how life can suddenly take a U-turn. The wheels of life can turn their course anytime. So, live each moment to the fullest and show gratitude for the things which you already have rather than spoiling your moments with a craving for what you don’t have.
It was that time I with my bunch of friends decided to do our bit for a lake that for so many years rejuvenated our energies. It took us three years to bring back life into it. Whenever I felt like giving up in this chase of following the government officials and raising funds, the blue kingfisher popped into my mind pushing me not to give up and keep going persistently.
Today I’m back again on my balcony enjoying the bliss of life in the pristine lake and hey, my blue birdie is back too. Sometimes I feel it is looking at me and saying Thank you. But for me, it was a gesture of small gratitude towards our mother nature, who heals us. I and my friends feel elated that we could be part of healing a minuscule portion of her too.
18 | STORIZEN MAGAZINE MARCH 2023
Always show your gratitude towards everything whether it’s your family, friends, or mother nature who stands with you unconditionally. Get associated with the shades of yellows to apologize, blues to forgive and forget, and pink to be thankful. Being grateful is a virtuous quality that allows you to not only see the best in other people but in your own life too. This will help in creating an aura of calmness and contentment around you.
Rediscover & redefine your life through the colorful eyes of mother nature.
Rediscover & redefine your life through the colorful eyes of mother nature.
Ankur R Gupta - I'm a blogger, an author, and a certified content creator. My writings revolve around the simple motto “Write to bring Smile”. I believe in understanding behavioral aspects of human life linked with their different phases and then ink my words about them in a simplified way to spin out positivity and purpose associated with them.
A hardcore history enthusiast and traveler. I love to read & explore our ancient cultures and civilizations.
My reading page is inkmyword -the reader community.
STORIZEN MAGAZINE | 19 MARCH 2023
THE WOMEN THAT WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH
BY NANCY CHADHA
t’s my birthday. I know William will propose to me today; he is taking me to a special place for dinner. Just the two of us. A clandestine dinner. It was the word 'clandestine' that triggered thoughts of a proposal in my mind. He also said Tonight will be a night to remember. That must mean something, too.
There is another reason that makes the day all the more special. I am moving in with him today. My parents are keeping their promise.
William and I have been together for almost five months now. Just after three months into the relationship William had wanted me to move in with him.
It’s too early to take that call, my mom had said.
Too early? Too early to catch on to the realness of each other, the realness that cannot stay in hiding once you move in with someone? Is that not a good thing?
Dad was totally averse to the idea. He had sneered when he heard his colleague’s daughter had moved in with her boyfriend. But I didn’t want to risk losing William. It’s not every day that a guy wants commitment so early into the relationship. Guys like William don’t come easy.
It’s been one hell of a month. Initially, there were only arguments. Some days went by with no talking at all, and that moved on to days of only grumpy faces and small talk. But Mom and Dad had to give in, eventually. What choice did they have? I could’ve run away. And had they threatened to disown me it would have only made it easier on me. Although, dad did manage to convince me to put it off till my birthday. Begin the new chapter of your life at the start of a new year of your life, he had said. The expression he was wearing on his face when he said that was what made me give in.
When William came to pick me up this evening, Mom had tears in her eyes. Yet, she smiled. Dad, seeing us off at the door, was smiling too. The emotions that hide behind smiles!Smiles. They can make good actors of people.
"It’s a thirty-five-minute drive to the restaurant. We better get a move on it," William says, pulling himself away from my lips. William had wanted to kiss me when I opened the door for him. I could tell he was watching himself, not letting his eyes give away his desire for me in front of my parents. We didn’t even kiss when he held the car door for me; he knew my parents would be watching from their windows. The perfect display of gentility. Chivalry. But now, in the solitary confines of his car, he couldn’t keep himself away.
"Thirty-five minutes? It’s not in town?" I say, catching my breath.
"It’s on the outskirts. It'll build up our appetite. I heard it’s a nice place.”
I smile at him. I find promise in the thought that he will hold my hand all through the thirtyfive minutes of the drive but can’t give a pass to the reality that it would push the time when he would propose, and the time when I will be with him, in ‘our’ bed, further away.
The drive to the restaurant is breathtaking—a deep-blue stretch of water along the side of the road, reflecting a big silver coin that seems to want to come with us. I look at William; he has caught the radiance of the moon in them. I am in my happy place.I breathe it in and close my eyes. I can see wonderful days ahead of us.
“We’re there,” William says, snapping me out of my beautiful world. He jumps out of the car to open my door. “Right on time.”
STORIZEN MAGAZINE | 21 MARCH 2023
The restaurant is spectacular. Dazzling in gold and burnt orange palettes, it is one of the finest I have ever seen. On the way to our table I can’t fail to notice many elderly couples enjoying their drinks; enjoying dinner. Very few diners are more our age. "This part of town seems more for the elderly," I whisper to William.
Our table is at the far end of the restaurant, close to a long wall that has the faces of ladies mounted on it. Exquisite faces. The exquisite taxidermied faces have taken up the entire wall.
“Oh my! Look at this wall.” William is as amazed as me.
“Yes, isn’t it stupendous?” the waitress says, as she seats at our table.
I am seated facing the wall; William has his back to it.
I can’t take my eyes off the wall. What would one need to do to be up there? For everyone to see and admire. I see placards under each face. I want to go over and have a closer look but William is looking at me with an adoring smile. He deserves my attention tonight.
As a test of my endurance, I realize the restaurant serves a seven-course meal. We are only on our third course, and the soup is hot. I can’t have it any faster. There is still some left in my bowl when I excuse myself on the pretext of going to the washroom. On my way back to our table stop at the wall. Another woman is gazing at the faces. "Wow, all these women! So many achievers," I say out loud. "Achievers? That’s a fine joke,” the woman snickers. “And that’s not the entire lot of them. Every year the faces are replaced with new ones. If the space on the wall is completely taken before the year is up, photographs of new additions are put in those huge albums you see there, shelved near the wall.”
"Hmm, wow! Are they all from here? What are they famous for?
"What are they infamous for, you should ask."
"Their ‘achievements’ are stated on the placards below.”The woman’s poise gives me the impression that she probably works with the restaurant, and her primary job is to keep its customers rightly informed about the faces on the wall.
I turn to look at the face that is at eye level—an oval-shaped one, with big brown eyes, and a smile like that of Scarlet Johansson’s. The placard below it reads A loving soul. Cared for and respected her elders. She didn’t want a child. Was more passionate about her career. I squint; I didn’t read that right. I read it again. I turn to look at the woman.
The woman is watching me. Her nod seems to say: Yes, you read that right!
I read the placard under the next face: A home-body. Always there for her family. She
22 | STORIZEN MAGAZINE MARCH 2023
laughed too loud after having a drink too many. I take my eyes to the one above it: Charmingly gentle. Docile even when falsely accused of lying. One time, she fought back.
I look all the way to the top; read the very first one of the top row. It says: Brilliant.
Scholarly. She dared to throw it all away to be a biker.
I can’t look further. I need a drink.
“This place is creepy. Can we leave, please?” I stand by William’s side, urging him to get up.
“But we still have four more courses to go.
What’s wrong? You seem pale.”
I move to my chair, sitting only at the edge.
“Why did we come here? Where did you hear about this place from? Is there something you want to tell me?” A million questions are ricocheting in my head. Does he even want to marry me? Why hasn’t he proposed till now? Should I give him time to propose? Does he want to only bed me?
“I’d never heard about this place. Your dad did the booking; it’s all paid for by him. His colleague recommended it … said it’s a novel place to start our journey.”
I look at the wall. My dad’s smile flashes before my eyes. The ‘good actor’ smile.
Nancy K. Chadha is an aspiring writer, 55 years of age, born and educated in Kuwait. She is currently living in New Delhi with her family.
She is a horrendously ardent reader of fiction, always found with a book glued to her hand. She has no mentionable credentials on her writing path except for her passion to write. Writing has been a lifelong dream for her, which became a reality when she held the final draft of her first book. She is currently working on her second book which is a compilation of short fictional stories.
STORIZEN MAGAZINE | 23 MARCH 2023
Life—A Festival of Emotions
by Sreelekha Chatterjee
Life is a myriad of emotions—sorrow, fear, anger, love, ecstasy, and delight—resembling the colors of Holi, and get applied to us just like the seasons—summer, monsoon, autumn, winter, spring—bringing in innumerous, diverse panorama of experiences, some for a prolonged period while others for a brief amount of time, dazzling us with their brilliance as several colors stand out, or leaving us helpless, awe-struck with overwhelming sensations as they blend with other colors giving various shades, some illusory, some render an ineffaceable impression.
The advent of spring is a kind of paradise on Earth—magical experience of natural splendor, with blue sky, rejuvenated greenery, fragrant flowers, and enchanting colors. Captivated by the grandeur of the richly-colored surrounding— so gracious and lovely—I wander around freely until I reach this colony where people are preparing themselves for the festival of color— Holi.
I remain on the window sill for a long time, observing the elderly lady, Seema, sitting on her balcony. Her eyes closed most of the time, either in contemplation of the happy–sad days of the bygone
STORIZEN MAGAZINE | 25 MARCH 2023
years, in response to an immediate discomfort, or for momentary relaxation.
Suddenly, amidst the orangish-grey hue of the twilight, a glistening crowd of young and middleaged women is seen passing by the lane, draped mostly in bright red saris, holding prayer thalis, and singing songs loudly. Seema rises from her seat to get a better glimpse of them. The ladies stop at the end of the lane, where arrangements have been made for a bonfire.
They lit the bonfire that represents the burning of the demoness Holika—who, according to Hindu mythology, perished while trying to kill Prahlad, a devotee of Lord Vishnu—symbolizing the conquest of good over evil, immortalizing the triumph of everlasting devotion of Prahlad over the wickedness of Holika. They continue humming folk songs as they move around the bonfire. Once they finish their prayers, they crouch down, and bow with folded hands; their foreheads touch the pious ground.
“I want to go there and pray along with them,” Seema says.
“Next year, ma. It’s already so late in the evening.” Her middle-aged daughter retorts with a note of firmness or maybe an unrelenting concern in her voice.
Seems to keep quiet, still watching the ceremony go on outside. Disheartened, filled with bitter resignation, she plops down in her seat. Always frail and ill, she is torn with sorrow, feeling a twinge of pain for not being able to participate in the merrymaking.
“I need to repay the moneylender. But what I have now isn’t enough.” He says to his wife, who keeps on staring at him silently, with seamless worries, clasping her forehead with one hand. “If I don’t repay his money within the next two days, he will beat me up.” He resumes after a momentary pause, as his hands and arm begin to tremble under the strain, and all life and vigor seem to be draining away from him.
I hear voices from the adjacent house. Ravi, a middle-aged man, is shouting at the top of his voice.
“Why didn’t you study hard?” He asks Nikhil, a small boy, crying his heart out.
The man takes a scale and is about to beat the poor child, who turns pale, terrified on seeing his father’s upraised hand, when an elderly man, probably the grandfather, intervenes.
“Don’t hurt the child. It’s not the end of the world. He will try again.” The elderly man says. “Won’t you?” He continues, placing his hand affectionately on Nikhil’s head.
I move onto another house, where I find Sikha, a young woman probably in her twenties, lying down on the bed, tossing and turning restlessly with a fever. Her husband, Veer, sitting beside her puts a wet cloth on her forehead.
“You’ll feel better very soon.” He says while dipping the cloth in a bowl of water and placing it again on her brow.
She smiles, while tears roll down her cheeks.
I go on to the house next door where I find Vivek, a young man in his thirties, counting currency notes, oblivious to the celebrations going on outside.
A golden retriever comes inside the room, leaps, and lands beside Veer. He waits near the bed—eyes revealing deep distress—longing for the usual warm caress from Sikha.
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“Don’t worry, Ran, she will be all right,” Veer says lovingly to the dog.
ECSTASY AND DELIGHT
The following day I sit on a big palaash (flame of the forest) tree, blooming with orangish-red flowers, in the locality garden, exhibiting a serene beauty with colorful flowers—red Gulmohar, violet jacaranda (blue Gulmohar), yellow amaltas, red semal —soothing the eyes of the people of all ages, who have assembled, with their flamboyance.
Young children, boys, and girls join in the festivities as they start smearing colors—red, green, blue, yellow—over one another. The elders join them. The distant blue of the horizon and adjacent green of the flora intermingle with the riot of bright colors of the festival that burst out intermittently in the air, vitalizing the environment in an unearthly glow. These liberating colors of enthusiasm —bright red, bright yellow, neon green, royal blue, turquoise, magenta, emerald green— flourish and spread, along with the fragrance of the flowers and twittering of birds in the vicinity, stimulating everyone, as they feel energized and refreshed.
After some time those playing Holi are unrecognizable, as everyone gets covered in bright colors—different forms jostling around —and only their white teeth are visible as they cannot stop smiling. The ceremonial appeal and happiness imbue them. Deeply moved, they experience joy in socializing with people of their locality, and the bias of caste, creed, and religion goes away. After a while, they indulge in delicious mouthwatering sweets—gujiya, puran poli, malpua, ras malai, and badam phirni.
A group of children take some gulal or abir (colored powders) in pouches and proceed toward Seema’s house.
The door is opened by her daughter.
“Where is grandma?” They ask jovially.
“Come in. She is right there.” The daughter points out towards the balcony.
They rush there and while touching her feet they pour a little bit of color on her, enlivening her mood, bathing her in the vibrant colors of happiness, optimism, and energy—red, orange, and yellow—and a broad smile appears on her face as she gives her heart wings, compelling it to bring joy in her monotonous life.
“Give them the sweets,” Seema tells her daughter, her eyes sparkling with radiance.
Next, they visit Vivek’s house.
As they move inside, they notice a middleaged man with a dark mustache enters.
“Happy Holi!” He says, revealing a line of darkbrown, tobacco-stained teeth.
Vivek looks blankly at him for a while. The man hands him a box of sweets and says,
“It’s OK if you are unable to pay me within the next couple of days. I have decided to give you more time.”
“What!” Vivek can’t believe his ears, while the man nods his head in affirmation.
Vivek takes the man’s hand in his and thanks him profusely, while his wife looks on smilingly at them, with tears welling up in her eyes. Vivek splashes the colors—blue, green, beige —inviting a calming and relaxing effect on the environment.
The children then move on to Nikhil’s house.
“Why aren’t you playing Holi with us?” They
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ask the silent, gloomy child, his face harried by the previous day’s misery. Nikhil turns his head toward his father who is busy reading a newspaper.
“You may join them,” Ravi says without looking up. “Remember to learn your lessons well once you are back.” He resumes softly, flooding warmth; glances at his son, placing the newspaper on his knees. Excited, Nikhil takes a pinch of color from his friends and touches Ravi’s feet. He gets up and embraces his child, exuberating youthfulness, happiness, and optimism with the colors—peach, pink, lilac, and yellow.
Their next destination is Veer and Sikha’s house. The children get a warm welcome over there. Sikha is up and active as usual, wonderfully in harmony with herself, gripped by profound joy, and Ran is fawning at his master. The children apply color on Ran as he moves around them excitedly, exuding love in unspeakable propagations, as the colors, displaying health, beauty, and security—green, blue, purple—brighten up the mood.
“Look over there! Such a lovely rainbow-colored butterfly!” One of the kids points toward me. I look around and find that all of them have soaked themselves in the spirit of the vibrant festival, feeling deeply relaxed being a part of the colorful, cheerful vibe of Holi, ameliorating from the varied, hurtful emotions of life, gaining energy, and transforming from within. I flutter my wings as I fly away gradually, leaving the magnificent abode of peace, happiness, and tranquility behind.
Sreelekha Chatterjee’s short stories have been published in various national, and international magazines and journals like Indian Periodical, Femina, Indian Short Fiction, eFiction India, The Criterion, The Literary Voyage, World of Words, Writer’s Ezine, and Estuary, and have been included in numerous print and online anthologies such as Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul series (Westland Ltd, India), Wisdom of Our Mothers (Familia Books, USA), and several others. She lives in New Delhi, India.
You can connect with her on Facebook at facebook.com/sreelekha.chatterjee.1/, Twitter -@sreelekha001, and Instagram @sreelekha2023.
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Auther Awards 2023 Winners
Best Authior - Fiction
Best Author - Nonfiction
Best Author - Debut
Best Author - Children
Best Author - Children
Book Excerpt from the Introduction of the Book
Unframed: Speculating Image Practices in South Asia
The conceptualization of Unframed rests on my role as archivist-curator-custodian of an image archive (The Alkazi Collection of Photography). Almost two decades of this multifaceted work has mandated continual reflection on the processes of selection, aggregation, re-classification, and preservation of images, and continually enables me to marvel at the reemergence of obscured or subjugated historical traces and trajectories. Regular immersion in a large historical visual archive has undoubtedly influenced the way I have structured this volume on South Asian lens-based practices and image spectra. Hence they traverse multiple chronologies (past, present, future, and the erasure of time schemes in the virtual domain); multiple mappings (inhabited/uninhabited spaces, landscapes, built forms, and the spectral edifices of photons and pixels); multiple rhetorics (political, cultural, aesthetic, methodological, existential, symbolic); and multiple subjectivities (social, singular, hybrid). The navigation of these mingled modes has become reflexive within my thinking and has proved immensely useful in the intimidating task of selecting the material of appropriate breadth, depth, and complexity for this volume, which I have envisioned as the first of a two- or three-part series.
Photography was first deployed in the subcontinent in the mid-nineteenth century as part of the colonial knowledge
project that included systematic ethnographic documentation and study of the “natives” and their diverse cultures. From then into the present, the medium has enjoyed significant agency and purpose within the subcontinent as a whole. Unframed scrutinizes the complex, intersectional dimensions of lens-based practices in “South Asia”– today a divided entity with major new borders violently gouged into the decolonized landmass, and with hardened political genealogies and mutually hostile nationalist agendas. This volume presents photography as both an original media that can assume a hybrid form, and as a political, historical, and social resource that has radically expanded our understanding of artistic and activist engagement in colonial and postcolonial “South Asia”. Different modes of vintage and modern photography, in fixed and itinerant formats, have long enabled deep visual interpenetration, assimilation, and diffraction of “South Asian” realities, and have continued to challenge existent image discourses. And “South Asian” image-making has effortlessly transitioned into the contemporary “post-digital”cyber-moment that has drastically altered our concepts of territoriality itself, through all manner of subdued and strident methodologies of seemingly infinite replication that allow for the seemingly infinite deferral of any final“meaning”, and for the seemingly infinite expansion of viewership. However, one must also consider how digital media still has limited access in the subcontinent and does need to still be considered within the bounds of economic viability. Its deployment in news,
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information portals and other political expressions is often mediated by corporate power. Unframed then turn a critical eye upon how lens-based practices in the subcontinent are today merging lyrical and evidentiary frameworks so as to challenge the obduracy of our narrative positions, and to dismantle our conditioned habits of viewing that reinforce our intractable claims to know “who” and “where” we are, “what” is real in our seemingly substantial inner and outer worlds, and “why” we remain entwined with our roots, or seek alternate horizons, or juggle both imperatives. Texts by theorists, authors, researchers, curators, and practitioners from different generations explore the subtle entanglements of memory and spatiality; the bricolage of selfhood; the blurring of taxonomies; the malleable dimensions of certitude; the edicts of the gaze; the rupture of identity; the interlaced fibrils of silence and speech; the psychic shock of erasure/re-inscription; the coded seductions of mirroring/‘Othering’; and the unstable politics
of curating moments in time through occlusion, through manipulation, through saturation, through recursion, and through the metaphysics of visual perception itself. The perspectives in this polyphonic volume continually speak to and through one another, and together confront our ever-elusive relationship to the multiplicity of “facts” and the singularity of “truth”.
STORIZEN EXCERPT STORIZEN MAGAZINE | 31 MARCH 2023
Rahaab Allana's Portrait (Photo by Philippe Calia)
An Excerpt taken from the book Unframed : Discovering Image Practices in South Asia
Tukai (An Excerpt Taken From the Book 'The Hills Are Burning' by Anirban Bhattacharyya)
7 July 1986
“Lapchey, Bhotey, Nepali . . . Hami Sabai Gorkhali!” (Lepchas, Bhutias, Nepali . . .We are all Gorkhas.) A neverending sea of people flowed down Rishi Road in Kalimpong, past the Dambar Chowk. Hundreds, maybe thousands, Tukai estimated. Tukai stood at the entrance of Gompu’s Restaurant, hypnotized, watching this sea advance, wave after wave, holding placards, and banners, chanting with their proud, loud voices. Bang! Bang!! Bang-Bang!! The sounds of gunfire rent the air above the din of the chants. Tukai gasped as he suddenly saw people being lifted off the ground with wide gaping holes in their chests. There were screams, pandemonium, rushing feet… With a blood-curdling scream of ‘Jai Gorkha’, a man swung his kukri at a CRPF jawan who was charging at him. The head still wearing the American GI-style helmet, was sliced clean and it rolled down the street and came to a standstill. The eyelids of the jawan fluttered for a moment, like a malfunctioning robot before it shut itself down. The decapitated body though, ran for a short distance with its arms swinging wildly and blood gushing like a fountain from the neck before its knees buckled and the body collapsed. 16-year-old Tukai felt bile rise at the back of his throat. He felt his bowels let go as he excreted into his trouser. He sensed his own warm shit trickle down the inside of his leg. He vomited and with his shaking legs, ran.
Roshan 23 April 1987 Roshan was out of breath. He could barely see through his swollen left eye. As he blinked, he felt a warm trickle flow down his cheek. He knew he was bleeding. He knew every minute he stood there staring back at the three boys, he was living his life in overtime. Gagan, the leader of the trio, swished the butterfly knife expertly in his hand. The shiny blade played a quick game of hideand-seek. Roshan caught the glint of the blade as it went clackity-clickity-clackity-clack between the sheaths, in and out, and out and in. Roshan stood knee-deep in the grave that he had just dug himself—two feet deep and three feet long. He estimated it was just the right size if he lay down in a fetal position. Gagan held his right forearm tightly in his grasp. “By the time they find you in the morning, either you will be dead or cold.” There was a quick swish and Roshan screamed. His forearm sprung into a crimson fountain as the blade ate into his arm like a hot knife through butter—smooth and effortless—carving a new lifeline that separated him from life and death. Roshan collapsed into the pit. There was a dull ringing in his ears that began growing in intensity. He realized that at the age of sixteen, he was going to bid adieu to the world. All he could do was cry in fear and call out for his mother as life slowly started ebbing out of him.
Norong 1 February 1988 The Kalimpong Arts & Crafts Centre was up in flames; the heritage building that had been built in 1897 had been set fire to by the agitators. Norong’s house which overlooked the Centre was quickly filling up with thick plumes of smoke as the burning
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embers flew in the air like tiny glowing golden fireflies, momentarily dancing in the wind before being extinguished. Norong’s father turned to his family. His tiny body seemed to have shrunk further. He looked at his mother, his wife, and his children. “I think we need to leave the house. Carry whatever you can. Take important things. We will go up to the Girls’ High School. The fire will not reach there.” Just as they made their way out of the house, they heard footsteps running towards them. Was it the CRPF? The family now stood on their tiny front lawn. They were relieved to see it was Debashish daju from the neighbouring Deepali Sweets. “I came to warn you about the fire,” he screamed. “I am glad that you are—” And before he could finish the sentence, they all heard some angry screams. The CRPF jawans were rushing towards them. Faces covered with black cloth, their ears pierced with earrings, they stood in a line and pointed their .303 rifles towards Debashish. Debashish realised that he had been mistaken to be a
Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) cadre. He screamed and pleaded in a mix of Bangla and Hindi, “Ami noi. Hum nahi hai!” (I’m not who you think I am!). But one of the CRPF jawans squeezed the trigger and blew a gaping hole into his chest. Debashish’s face froze in an expression of utter shock as his lifeless body was flung back onto the ground. Norong’s family screamed and ran back into the house. When they turned around they realised that Norong was still outside, hypnotised and shocked as he watched blood pour out from Debashish daju’s chest.
An Excerpt Taken From the Book 'The Hills Are Burning' by Anirban Bhattacharyya
STORIZEN EXCERPT STORIZEN MAGAZINE | 33 MARCH 2023
Anirban Bhattacharyya with Actor Aamir Khan
Unfiltered: The CEO and the Coach
by Dr Ana Lueneburger & Saurabh Mukherjea
This book is apt in justifying the title "UNFILTERED", all the aspects that are spoken are from the heart and utterly transpicuous. The entire book goes as a healthy colloquy between Ana & Saurabh. The author duo sets up a tailormade context for the book
readers in the beginning.
This is not just the Unfiltered Q & A between a masterful experienced coach Ana Lueneburger and a high potential leader Saurabh who tries effectively to gather information and to gain clarity, rather this is a hand-out for every professional on the path of finding success and becoming a future leader besides seeking inspiration through the answers in the entire conversation.
Being in the role of "Consultant", Guiding and galvanizing my team members, and achieving better results was always my key priority and I believe this comes with finer coaching capabilities. However, my thirst for swotting the concepts and making my team grow both emotionally and ardor quenched through this book.
Go grab the book to understand and assimilate your abilities and to improve your ability to inspire people around you via training and coaching, indubitably through the shoes of Ana & Saurabh and their respective experiences.
How to Meet Your Self
by Dr. Nicole LePera
This is the second book in the “How To” series by Dr. Nicole LePera, the leading voice in psychological self-healing, helping millions of people around the world. I am lucky to pick this book, I am quite impressed with everything that is dealt with in the book and it
is a “LIFE CHANGER”.
The book is sliced into four chunks and every chunk focuses on a centric term “SELF”. I am sure everyone in this universe somehow looking to take themselves to the next empowering shift be it emotional sustainability, self-transformation, or inculcating healthy habits and positive intentions, this book talks about those essentials in a detailed way and much more.
This book is presented to the readers in the “SelfDiscovery Workbook” mode and allows readers to jot down individual responses end of every chapter. Though the concepts and topics specified in the book aren’t new to an adult reader, I will endorse this tome to readers who are novices and amateurs as I felt these are for entry-level postulations.
Thumbs up to the illustrations and pictorial detailing and colorful portrayal which will hook readers and enhance the reading experience. Leah Carlson-Stanisic did a commendable job through his designing skills, and he is quite exemplary in bringing the author’s perception into reality with his artist's impression. Spesh mentioned “Hachette India” to bring this bestselling author's work to “India”.
(Reviewed by Kiran Adharapuram)
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Black Soil by Poneelan
Black Soil is a novel by Ponneelan, a renowned Tamil writer and the Sahitya Akademi award winner. The book has been translated into English by Dr.J Priyadarshini and published as Karisal, originally in Tamil. It bears the atrocities farmers face and the human
cost of their struggles. The story revolves around Kannapan, a school teacher posted in Karisal village school, which lies in the black soil region of Tamil Nadu.
This is the story of Kannapan, a schoolteacher assigned to the Karisal Village School. The village is in Tamil Nadu's black soil area, near the Tamirabarani River. At first, he was stunned by the mundane village life, but steadily he became a part of them. He made them realize how the boss, the strong, sadist landlord, was exploiting them. Kannappan becomes a friend to the farmers. Kannappan, once established in his position, witnesses the farmers' daily cruelty at the hands of the Master, the sadistic, all-powerful landowner.
The book painted a vivid and moving portrait of life in a Tamil Nadu rural village when caste prejudice was widespread. The book is wellknown for its graphic depiction of the characters and location and its examination of societal injustice, caste prejudice, and rural life.
The story is presented with passion and tenderness by the author. The language and conversations in the novel are honest, pleasant, and nonchalant.
Defeating the Dictators
by Charles Dunst
is a compelling and thoughtprovoking book that provides a comprehensive analysis of the factors that contribute to the rise and fall of
authoritarian regimes, as well as successful democratization strategies and tactics. The book is divided into eight chapters, each examining a distinct element of the anti-dictatorship fight in depth. Dunst relies on various examples from around the globe throughout the book, including historical case studies, current political events, and personal interviews with influential people in democratic movements.
Dunst analyses the strategies and tactics that have effectively removed tyrants and the challenges and mistakes that have hampered progress in other instances based on extensive study and conversations with key figures. He contends that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for deposing dictators and those practical efforts necessitate a mix of domestic and foreign pressure, strategic nonviolence, and a dedication to developing strong democratic institutions.
Overall, Defeating the Dictators is an extraordinary, compelling, and pragmatic analysis of the authoritarianism versus democracy debate that builds its case by drawing on the vulnerabilities and strengths of our opponents. It is essential reading for anyone concerned about the triumph of global democracy.
(Reviewed by Swapna Peri)
STORIZENREVIEW STORIZEN MAGAZINE | 35 MARCH 2023
"Defeating the Dictators: How Democracy Can Prevail in the Age of Strongman," by Charles Dunst,
The Sweet Kitchen
by Rajyasree Sen
India is a multicultural nation with many distinct languages and customs. The most diverse element in each region is food. Nevertheless, this book goes into great detail about desserts, or what Indians generally refer to as a sweet. And the book's contents are entirely about
them! Along with stories of the sweets' beginnings and recipes, the author offers fascinating tidbits about them.
Chef and food writer Rajyasree Sen looks into the histories of some of these famous sweet recipes and speculates about the ancestry of others in her book The Sweet Kitchen: Tales and Recipes of India's Favourite Desserts. The book is a fascinating peek at the desserts we have consumed for numerous Diwali, Christmas, Eid, and Navroz celebrations by bringing together tales, historical documents, and recipes.
The book highlights previously unnoticed details of Indian food, particularly desserts. An area's past, geography, and politics have geography, and politics of a place have all influenced its cuisine. The Sweet Kitchen does that very well. You can anticipate learning what links the Portuguese and chenna, Sandesh and the Bengal Renaissance, etc.
Overall, this book is an engaging work that will intrigue readers interested in learning the accurate histories behind some of India's most well-known delectable foods.
The Secret of More
by Tejaswini Apte-Rahm
This is a beautifully written tale set in early to midtwentieth-century Bombay, full of fascinating details about the textile industry, the rise of "bioscopes" - silent movies - and talkies, and the journey of one family living
through it all. Three parts make up the narrative. The first part begins in 1899 and gives readers their first glimpse of the classic Bombay of the past, complete with people wearing dhotis, madras, and dark caps. The main character is Tatya, and the First World War's impact on India's cloth sector is explored in the narrative. Tatya's astute business acumen is soon noticed by his kind teacher Zaveri, who suggests he go alone as a sales representative.
Tatya, on the other hand, is a cautious and righteous guy who respects Zaveri's advice despite having enough business acumen to take some risks. But, alongside Tatya's story and his life enriched by the world outside the family, there are the stories of women who have been cribbed, cabined, and restricted in different ways, their stories moving in the shadow of men's stories.
Overall, the book is a historical fiction spanning pre-independence and just-independent India, depicting business scenes, royal households, the silent movie-to-voice transition in theaters, the lives of women at various social levels, and other aspects!
(Reviewed by Swapna Peri)
36 | STORIZEN MAGAZINE MARCH 2023 STORIZEN REVIEW
Missing in Action
by Pranay Kotasthane & Raghu S Jaitley
Public policy in India refers to the collection of guidelines, laws, regulations, and actions that the government takes to address different social, economic, and political problems in the nation. These policies are intended to support citizens' well-being, guarantee
social justice, and foster an atmosphere conducive to economic progress and development.
Over the years, the Indian government has implemented several policies to handle problems such as poverty, education, health, agriculture, infrastructure, and the environment. Some important Indian public initiatives include National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), National Health Policy, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Digital India, Make in India, National Education Policy, Ayushman Bharat Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana.
Authors Pranay Kotasthane and Raghu S Jaitley use simple frameworks to understand why and how India - its government, society, and historyenables its citizens across the spectrum: from a layperson with no prior background in the subject to professionals who make a living from policy design and implementation.
The book also doesn't shy away from analyzing current plans and policies. The writers express their doubts about the much-touted performancebased incentives. Missing in Action provides the readers with basic but effective frameworks for assessing any strategy.
The story of two women named Kalyani and Dakshayani is told in the novel by R. Rajasree. In the rural settings of north Malabar, it recounts the tale of two rural women named Kalyani and Dakshayani and their relationship. The book
follows the illuminating pathways of two female companions who, at an early age, rebel against patriarchy by facing life and love head-on.
What makes the history of women's writing so intriguing is that it is, in many ways, a novel field of study. Because of women's inferior status in male-dominated cultures, the practice of women's writing has been largely ignored. The plot revolves around their rebellion against their school teacher after he initiates an obscene act. It also tells the story of two friends who navigate life and love together.
The book also describes the lives of rural women in Malabar, their struggles, married life, and the absence of a place "to belong" in society. The characters Kalyani and Dakshayani portray the reality of a woman's life in a patriarchal and misogynist setup.
Written in easily understandable language, the novel is about women, about being raised to name an alien place home, relationships that become lifelines, and everything in between.
(Reviewed by Swapna Peri)
STORIZENREVIEW STORIZEN MAGAZINE | 37 MARCH 2023
The Sthory of Two Wimmin Named Kalyani and Dakshayani by R. Rajasree & Devika J.
The Begum and the Dastan
by Tarana Husain Khan
Tarana Husain Khan's novel tells the story of a nineteenthcentury Dastan through the lens of a twenty-first-century family lore, in which a quintessential tale-telling, full-of-stories 'Dadi' narrates the story of her aristocratic grandmother to her granddaughter, Ameera. Ameera's life weaves a
gossamer-thin frame-story interlaced with textures of the commonplace and mundane, propelling us into the extraordinary, suspensethrill-filled life of Feroza Begum, one of Nawab Shams Khan of Sherpur's many spouses circa 1897.
It makes no difference if you are a begum or reside in a patriarchal society. A woman in the nineteenth century was always referred to as ''JUST A WOMAN,'' regardless of whether she was a Begum or had official royal rank. The author carefully researched and detailed the Nawabi culture of the nineteenth century.
The story reminds the readers of some movies like Sardari Begum, Umrao Jaan, Zubeida, and the recent web series Mukhbir for the beautiful houses, glassware, chandeliers, and the climate in a Muslim parda home.
Overall, author Tarana Husain Khan has interwoven fiction and facts to tell a disturbing story about the lives of women and ordinary people under tyrannical dictators in the early twentieth century. A story that is recommended but with a disclaimer: A harrowing story to digest!
Migrants: The Story of Us All
by Sam Miller
"Migrants: The Story of Us
All," by Sam Miller, offers a different perspective of the world in which migration is restored to the core of the human story. According to the book, people migrate for various reasons, including curiosity and a feeling of
adventure, civil conflict, destitution, and climate change. The author contends that humans are the most mobile animal, having colonized every continent except Antarctica not once but many times. The book calls into question the common belief that having a fixed residence and a lifelong nationality are natural as if they are part of the human situation. Instead, it implies that people have always been mobile.
The book is written in the first person. This makes the book more interesting. Miller also discusses how migration plays an essential part in the struggle for contemporary India's identity and the disagreements about that identity in India, where he lived for over a decade. The book additionally points out how history texts are written by sedentary people for sedentary people, thus naturally representing the nationalism of an established people.
One of the standing highlights of the book is the language, narration, and factful examples. This book is informative and intriguing at the same time. "Migrants: The Story of Us All" offers a thorough and perceptive summary of human movement history.
(Reviewed by Swapna Peri)
38 | STORIZEN MAGAZINE MARCH 2023 STORIZEN REVIEW
My Subconsciously Feminist Father
by Yashika Singla
Feminism is a social and political movement that promotes gender equity and women's empowerment. It has played an essential part in shaping the contemporary world and remains a vital force today. One of feminism's main objectives is to challenge and
demolish the patriarchy, which gives males more power and privileges than women. Feminists strive to establish a world where women have the same rights, chances, and liberties as men and where gender does not restrict or define a person's potential. Men gain from feminism as well. Feminism produces a more equitable community for all genders by challenging conventional gender norms and expectations. It urges men to refuse toxic masculinity in favor of healthier masculinities that value regard, sensitivity, and kindness.
Unframed by Rahaab Allana
South Asian photography goes back to the midnineteenth century when the British created colonial rule. British colonial officials and merchants brought photography to the subcontinent to record the region's people, landscapes,
and buildings. Photos began as a science and ethnographic study tool, but they soon became a popular medium for portraits and business photos. In 1840, a British photographer called William Johnson opened the first photography workshop in India in Calcutta. (now Kolkata). Photography gradually became important to South Asia's cultural and creative landscape.
My Subconsciously Feminist Father by Yashika Singla is an autobiographical narrative that walks readers through events that molded the author's viewpoint on feminism and being a feminist. What is fascinating in the story is how progressive one's family has been. The book has ten chapters, and each chapter beckons the usual mindsets that appear before every individual, precisely female individuals, regarding their skin color, physical attributes, and many such things that become easy prey for a vulture named patriarchy!
The book had the potential to be a clear but revolutionary warning, a manifesto for all households. A thought-provoking, sweet, yet much-needed book!
"Unframed: Discovering Image Practices in South Asia" is a collection/reader that examines emerging themes, testimonies, and sociocultural changes in South Asian visual cultures through essential texts. The book traces the development of photography in the subcontinent from the eighteenth century to the present, presenting some of the complicated aspects of South Asia-oriented lens-based media. It includes a diverse range of foreign writers, artists, critics, historians, and academics.
The book is divided into five sections, each with essays by notable individuals who have added to photography, particularly in South Asia. The book contains beautiful illustrations and photos that will make perusing more enjoyable.
Conversations with eminent national and foreign figures from India's perspective are also intriguing.
(Reviewed by Swapna Peri)
STORIZENREVIEW STORIZEN MAGAZINE | 39 MARCH 2023
Spring's Palette, Life's Canvas...
by Madhumathi H.
Tunnels thousands crossed
Holding the tiny fingers of light within Every time fear engulfs, darkness overwhelms
Glow-worms within whisper
"We are with you...", and life reminds I named all the tiny seeds of light as, "Hope"
Seeds I sowed when darkness was the room, destiny trapped me in...
Every day, there was a longing for Colors to splash on canvases
Kaleidoscope, shimmering stars, golden sunshine to fill my eyes with...
"Everything you can imagine is real", winked Picasso with a thumbs up
For every pain, there was a blushing periwinkle, or petrichor
Rain followed, to drench my soul
For every brittle teardrop
Dewdrops shimmered upon lush green lawn
Nature is a healer
Colors, fragrances, textures, patterns, sounds, music
From its pharmacy of elixirs
Meditative silences too...
Birds as messengers, letters arrived from Garden of roses, sunflowers, and lavender fields
From the mist-clad mountains, mystery-scented
The universe sent invitations every day
To experience magic in moments...
All the chaos of life appeared minuscule
As I stood in awe, surrendering to the power of therapeutic Nature...
Tunnels turned into cozy tents...
Heaped up "what ifs", "If only" crumbled...
I dipped my heart in the rainbow of hope Painted "Carpe diem" on the canvas of life
Different colors of life, different phases painted
Flamboyant, sober, fiery, tranquil, merry, melancholic
Oh, the Kaleidoscope of emotions!
The day learned to see each color as a mentor
Fairy lights as climbers lit my heart
As I write this poem, smirking at myself
For weeping my eyes out, just a while ago
Complaining how unkind, overwhelming life is
I remind myself again, of all the tunnels crossed That helped me discover a million lamps, candles, and fireflies within A million colors are yet to be discovered
With eyes that glow in hope, a heart that grows gratitude...
A bilingual poet-writer(Tamil, English), Madhumathi. H is an ardent lover of Nature, Poetry, Photography, and Music.
Her poems are published in Anthologies of The Poetry Society(India), CPC- Chennai Poetry Circle's EFFLORESCENCE, IPC's(India Poetry Circle) Madras Hues Myriad Views, Amaravati Poetic Prism 2015, and in e-zines UGC approved Muse India, Storizen, OPA – Our Poetry Archives, IWJInternational Writers Journal, Positive Vibes, Science Shore. e-Anthologies Monsoon moods - Muse India, Green Awakenings - On Environment, by Kavya-Adisakrit.
Ignite Poetry, Breathe Poetry, Dream Poetry, and Soul shores have 10 of her poems published, Soul Serenade, Shades of LoveAIFEST, Arising from the dust, Painting Dreams, Shards of unsung Poesies, are some of the Anthologies her poems, and write-ups are part of. (2020 to 2022)
Besides Poetry, Madhumathi writes on Mental health, to create awareness, break the stigma, believing in the therapeutic, transformational power of words.
Contact: email@example.com Blogs:
STORIZEN MAGAZINE | 41 MARCH 2023
The Many Colours of Flying
by Vidya Shankar
First nestlings, now fledglings
You have waited in your roost
Your wings grow in strength
Almost bare in the beginning
But fanning out by and by
The feathers are fluffy and radiantly colored
Green, blue, red, yellow
You got wings now
And need space to stretch
The time’s come
Hues of your plumes
To the world
You got wings now
Wings that will take you
To meadows new
To sprinkle all you can
Your fairy dust
Making a mark wherever you tread
We will look up to you
As you once did to us
There fly our students
They live our dreams too.
Vidya Shankar, a widely published poet and writer, an English Language teacher, a 'book' in the Human Library, author of two poetry books, and editor of four anthologies, loves experimenting with free verse writing techniques and exploring Japanese poetry forms. She finds meaning in her life through yoga and mandalas.
MARCH 2023 42 | STORIZEN MAGAZINE
by Sangita Kalarickal Krivosik
The winter lays a white blanket and the skies hurl curtains and curtains of white fluff. The turf is white, as the driveway, and the worn out branches on worn out trees. Asphalt shines white with salt and I can't see where the snow ends and road begins A white expanse equalizing land and lake.
I smell calm and silence.
Yet feel the weight upon my lungs of another land where the snow is probably no longer white but the color of bombs and blood.
Sangita Kalarickal has been wordsmithing since childhood and honing her craft in the forms of poetry and fiction. She is a published fantasy author with a soft corner for literary fiction. Her poems have appeared in anthologies and e-zines and she is currently working on her poetry collection. She lives in Minnesota, the USA where the winter cold stretches almost half the year. She is a physicist at her day job, and currently she spends much of her time studying and honing her skills in haiku.
MARCH 2023 STORIZEN MAGAZINE | 43
TO READ SIMILAR STORIES, VISIT WWW.STORIZEN.COM
ARIES MOON SIGN: THE LOVERS
This Month, is good for Aries who are single as they will meet their potential partner and spend a romantic time together.
TAURUS MOON SIGN: WHEEL OF FORTUNE
This Month, Taurus, It’s a month for good luck and good fortune. Wheel of life is always turning.
LEO MOON SIGN: 3 OF WANDS
This Month, Leo, you might be exploring new ways to expand your business. It indicates travelling to different places.
GEMINI MOON SIGN: ACE OF WANDS
This month, Gemini you might receive opportunities that you were passionate about or were dreaming since long.
VIRGO MOON SIGN: 6 OF PENTACLES
This month, Virgo, you are advisable to give charity or donate something to people who are in need.
LIBRA MOON SIGN: THE CHARIOT
This Month, Libra you are determined and courageous to fulfil your goals. You have a strong will power to achieve your dream.
10 OF WANDS
This month, Cancer you will be taking all the responsibilities on your shoulder alone which might create burden or stress in your life.
SCORPIO MOON SIGN: THE FOOL
This month, Scorpio it’s time to take risk based on your faith in the Universe.
STORIZEN MAGAZINE | 45 MARCH 2023
SIGN: 6 OF WANDS
This month, Sagittarians, your hard work will be appreciated by your boss and you will be rewarded for your success.
This Month, Capricorns you will see unexpected changes in your life which is necessary for your growth.
I am Himani Goyal, By profession, I am an HR Manager working in Banglore. Reading is my hobby which led me to write reviews for my readers. I have read and reviewed numerous books so far. I am also a practicing Tarot consultant and would be sharing daily, weekly, monthly horoscopes for you all here.
AQUARIUS MOON SIGN: 9 OF SWORDS
This Month.Aquarians, you are over thinking about your failure too much and your mind is working 10 times more which is causing anxiety or sleepless nights.
PISCES MOON SIGN: KNIGHT OF SWORDS
This month, Pisces you are very logical and focused on your work.
46 | STORIZEN MAGAZINE MARCH 2023
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