Just Another Day by Piyusha Vir, is a set of 3 stories to delight sting in the tail enthusiasts. All written from the first person point of view each story progresses in a chronological manner – back and forth. Within the scope of limited words Vir manages to create relatable characters in a breezy style.
In the first story, Writer’s Circle, an author closeted in a room with other murder suspects only wants to get back to her writing, was perhaps the one I related to the most. Come hell or high water when there is a thought brewing in the mind, nothing, nothing takes precedence for a writer. As the story progresses the cold blooded opinions of Anuradha have one engaged right to the denouement, when the murderer and their motive is subtly revealed.
The second story is innocuously titled – Happy birthday, Saisha. Technically in this story Vir displays a deft hand at foreshadowing, which is both mature and surprising from an author with so few stories under her belt. An author to watch out for sure. But back to the story, one would have read somewhere in the news about an incident similar to what Saisha experiences on her birthday. However, one would not have read the thoughts of a girl who goes through such a birthday. Vir’s handling of the story has you gripping the edge of your seat in an innervation that rises slowly from the pit of your stomach leaving you with the metallic zing of disquiet.
The last story in this triad is Elevator Tales, a smile found itself to my lips as nostalgia hit me unawares. Everyone will relate to this story. All women would have memories of crushes on a handsome dude. If he lived next door that certainly would be the icing on the cake, wouldn’t it? For men too, I’m sure the feelings are the same. Vir’s characters rush of hormones have been experienced by all of us. Sighing and building sandcastles of a future together, embarrassing incidents and certainly being at our undignified best in front of the object of our affections might have been suffered by many of us. Yet, the fondness of those memories is what this story evokes ending with a slight twist to romance.
Just Another Day by Piyusha Vir on the face of it looks like a collection of quick shots at a day where life changing events occur for three individuals, but the depth of thoughts are more than what one would bargain for. Published by Readomania, this collection is available only on kindle @Rs 49 for now. Click here to buy.
There was always a distant thought in my mind the thought that I would someday write. A passionate reader since childhood, stories were my best friends who never lied to me, who never betrayed me, who were comfort to me on days that were bleak and days that were joyous. Away from home in hostel from the age of nine surrounded by girls of my age, younger and older ones on most days is great but sometimes home becomes a longing that is difficult to dispel, that is when books became my mother’s comforting touch, my father’s friendly counsel, my brother’s playful antics. Every story I read made me happy and also sad. Sad that it was over, sad that the characters or the settings were lost to me. Sad only till I found another set of characters, another setting that would take me to realms unexplored and thoughts unknown. But then I digress from the thread of thought that I meant to unravel. What did participating in Write India mean to me.
When I first saw the campaign in print for this unique idea, I knew the time had come to begin. To start work on a dream that I had harboured in the far recesses of my heart. With bated breath, I waited for the first prompt which I was thrilled to find compelled me to research for the story was to be set in the past. Amish Tripathi’s prompt made me delve into the annals of history from the Vedic ages to the Maratha rulers. I learnt that feminism isn’t a concept of modern times but was an intrinsic part of the very fabric of the early Vedic age. I read the tenets of Manu Smriti and understood the misogyny that for centuries would diminish the worth of the women in my country.I discovered the legends of the Godavari in addition to which I learnt the two-thousand-year-old legacy of the weavers of Paithan and the beautiful product that is the Paithani. The unveiling of the second prompt by Chetan Bhagat had me even more energised and I began research on the vulnerabilities of the human body and the broad field of forensic investigation. I googled for information which opened an astonishing world of knives for me: knives of flint, bronze, copper and knives as tools for hunting, sport, survival even knives as symbols of culture and tradition. With this also came the many possibilities of their usage in the killing of a human. In my mind, I cooked up various scenarios for the prompt and even had a nightmare about killing off the love of my life, poor fellow. I realised that thinking like a criminal was uncomfortable and admired those who so vividly describe the mind of a criminal. The next story I wrote was for Ashwin Sanghi’s prompt, intrigued by it I began to create a character akin to the various investigators that had been the heroes of the very many thrillers I had read over the years. Since I wanted my story to have a twist I decided to use another theme now I probed into the obscure world of telepathic communication between the living and the dead. What an interesting time I had writing that story!
Life sometimes interferes with one’s desires and I was unable to write on Preeti Shennoy, Ravi Subramanian and Durjoy Dutta’s prompts due to certain commitments. And then I again picked up with gusto for Tuhin A. Sinha, I did not do any research here and had fun as I wrote a short fluffy piece keeping conversations between my teenage daughter and her friends in mind. Ravinder Singh’s prompt made me think about a young man’s dilemma in a modern marriage that was turning bitter what would he do, I thought, when he was faced with his past, with the woman who was his first love. I wrote an emotional story that earned me the third winners position. Madhuri Banerjee’s prompt made me look up the term ‘Love Jihad’ to my horror I discovered how innocent love was being subverted in such an exploitive manner. Reading Jaishree Misra’s prompt I instantly knew that I would now have to undertake that treacherous emotional journey into my own psyche, the loss that more than two decades later still haunts me of my cousin brother’s death. Writing the story was an experience that was hugely cathartic; I felt later that even though I did not lay all my demons to rest, some had found closure. This was one prompt I am glad I did not win.
The last prompt detailed by Anita Nair had us all in a tizzy. Twitter erupted with debates on literary fiction in contrast to commercial fiction. Participants posted query after query to Anita to understand the rules that she had set. Writing this story was a gauntlet that she threw and I almost did not write intimidated with the challenge that it posed. Till one morning I woke up with a far distant memory of an old woman who came to my childhood home every day. A story began to form and I let it write itself. When I finished, I sent it out with no hopes of a win. I did not even know if the rules permitted me to be eligible for participation after the third place win earlier. The most pleasant surprise awaited me when the results were announced Anita chose it with another incredible story as the winning entry. The feeling of a dream coming true is so difficult to describe, it felt surreal, as if the grace of the almighty has touched you in the form of ‘the daemon’ that the ancient Greeks attribute to creative success. I will be forever thankful to Anita Nair for making this a tough prompt to write on, if she hadn’t I would not have caught the inspiration and let it bleed onto paper.
Over the period of 11 months that the Write India contest ran for and with every story that I wrote I have evolved both as a writer as well as a person. I’ve found reservoirs of empathy within myself and have been managed to express myriad feelings to others. I’ve gone from a woman with no idea what she was doing with her life to one with relevance.
The unveiling of the book at the Write India Grand Finale was as an event as close to perfection as could be. Write India Director Vinita Dawra Nangia’s dream project has given wings to the dreams of so many of us. Her warm embrace fledgling writers such as me is not something that is to be taken lightly, her faith is something that I aspire to fulfil. Gilbert K Chesterton says “When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” I take this win with the humblest of gratitude. I also owe my deepest appreciation to Team Write India comprising of these three amazing young women: the untiring Gunjan Verma, the diligent Surbhi and the unstintingly supportive Kalpana Sharma. I need to in addition thank those very many people behind the scenes who made Write India possible.
I cannot end without mentioning the new friends I have made on this journey, my fellow participants and winners Sutapa Basu, Shailesh Tripathy, Nainesh A. Jadwani, Tishampati Sen, Nikhil D. Samant, Ameeta Anand, Kena Shree, Bhaswar Mukherjee, Samah Visaria, Aarati Shah, Kuheli Bhattacharya, Shachee Desai, Roshan Radhakrishnan, Ramya Vivek and Rohit Tandekar. A warm group of people who immediately struck up a camaraderie that I would be openly envious of if I were not part of this group lauded as ‘Gen-Next’ of Indian writers. As the connections over social media strengthen this newfound group and witticisms fly unabated, I enjoy getting inspired by each one of them and their soulful stories. I am sure all my new friends will join me in thanking the celebrity authors for a lot many reasons but most of all for their enthusiastic cheering for the winners of Write India Season 1.
The Write India contest culminated in the release of a book of amazing stories. 36 chosen tales from over 25000 entries, a novel concept of crowd sourcing by The Times of India. You can order your copy on the following link.
Today I’m going to turn another universal truth on its head and hope that by the end of this even if you do not agree with me, you’ll still recognize that there is some truth to the virtues of procrastination. Virtues!! Hell that’s the worst thing to be, our mindsets have been tuned to being anything but. From time immemorial our elders and betters pontificate that the early bird gets the worm. We are inspired and begin to put the thought to practice, others have benefited and so shall we. Someone who is a procrastinator (and who I have observed carefully over some years) shared with me that this is was what his experience was of it
A let down, grumpy feeling that best describes his mood when he tries to complete a task ahead of time. A sense of dissatisfaction that permeates, niggling away at him letting him know that he hadn’t given it his best.
Meeting deadlines for him means skidding into the room at the very last moment with the task clutched in his hands. Now, he said, “I have no bones to pick with the pre-crastinators, who wear the look of condescension as I fall into the room all frazzled and rattled. Who am I kidding of course I enjoy the look of smugness wiped off their faces as the assignment delivered is always perfect and up to my exacting expectations. I do a mental high five and walk out with kickass confidence, my faith in me validated.” The need to be the first never motivates him, the need to be perfect, however does.
The reason procrastination works so well for some is not because they are geniuses (I’m just kidding, of course they are.) They are geniuses because they recognize what works for them. Do not mistake procrastination for evasion. A procrastinator is certainly not an evader, they are not trying to get away with not doing the task, in fact it is just the opposite and they are working constantly. Their life has been taken over by the task, they are constantly thinking, they are considering the possibilities, they are contemplating on how to approach it, they are pondering over the problem, they are deliberating the issues, they are meditating over the solution, they are reflecting over the difficulties and they are waiting for that eureka moment that will bring with it the light that will clear the fog and bring with it the clarity that will surprise you, shake you and make you reckon that there is something to be said for the habitual procrastinator. I have taken a leaf from the book of the procrastinator and hence the blog is coming in at the last possible moment (it is still 29th at the antipode to India.) Is it my best work? I don’t know. Yet, I’m satisfied.
Born in the 70s and educated in the 20th century, I have some serious bones to pick with the systems that governed my education. In the memories of childhood academics, the one that I have no fondness for is the X in my answer sheets. I do not mean the ‘x’ of algebra (surprisingly I had bigger problems with Math than the elusive x.) What I am writing about is the red X or cross that the teachers would mark an incorrect answer with. Some teachers used small ones at the end of the answer as gentle reminders and some boldly crossed out entire answers to let you know how deeply you offended. Whatever the shape or size of the red X, it only ever shouted out WRONG or INCORRECT or MISTAKE!!
As I approached the learning process, discovering new lands and delving into the past, Math was fraught with anxiety yet the sciences took up my imagination. Literature and language become my greatest loves, the arts though neglected during early academic years became my sustenance in later times. Someone who considers herself a lifelong learner, I did not enjoy writing exams so much and getting back the answer sheets even less. There were some sheets that would not have a single X marring them, and then there were some that the Xs crossed, causing a lot of despair. Over the years the number of red Xs became fewer though they followed me everywhere, hoping to goad me into doing better. Did they succeed? No, they only caused resentment and did not hit their intended mark.
As an aspiring educator in the 21st Century, I was pleasantly surprised to discover during my training that we were expected not to mark a child’s answer with an X and especially not with red. There were studies, we were told, red used to denote danger, stop signs and warnings. It was a color that signified negativity to a child’s mind.
Finally someone had said what as a kid I had wondered about. Why the love for the red does a teacher prize, their vocation is to enlighten, and not to dishearten. There are so many colors in the spectrum why not a pleasant blue that calmly reminds? A sassy pink that with verve refines? A pale green that coolly propagates? A bright orange that hopefully energizes? A vibrant violet that disguises reproofs as prizes?
As for the X, does it not exclude creativity? Penicillin, the pacemaker and x-rays are discoveries that would not exist had it not been for someone making a mistake. So before you correct with a large X, stop and consider, let it not be a factor to curb innovation. Let it not continue to be a prophecy of inadequacy for a child who stops trying, due to the X’s intimidation. Reclaim it as a tool to fuel adventure, only on maps, for X marks the spot where treasure is to be found.
A dream, a breath, a froth of fleeting joy. -Shakespeare