Someone's Always Waiting...
Someone's Always Waiting...
ENCOUNTERS is a potpourri of five sumptuous stories involving a motley crew of protagonists. Skating along the borders of fantasy and paranormal themes, the stories track incredible and poignant journeys of self-discovery, tracing the cathartic aftermath of fleeting encounters.
After at least a decade, I managed to finish reading a book at one sitting. Need I say more!
Disclaimer: I was lucky enough to receive a paperback version of this book from the publishers, via The Book Club, in return for my honest review.
I have read Sumana Khan’s first book The Revenge of Kaivalya and loved it. I am not a fan of the horror genre, but so enjoyed this book despite that. So, when her second book came up for blog tour with #TBC, I immediately signed up for the review. And am I glad!
We face desperate moments in our lives. We, as people, or sometimes even the spirits that have not found their way back home. Is it possible for this desperation to boomerang into the universe that brings back messages in different forms, solving our issues for us? It seems so when your read these five short stories or should I say “novellas” by Sumana Khan. When the mind seeks a solution, it sometimes comes in a supernatural form. And why not? Just because logic does not accept it, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.
Yes, I am completely fascinated by this premise, especially when it brings forth positive solutions.
Dr. Ratnaveni is thirty-two. She’s highly educated, has a successful career and is regarded with great respect as the youngest head of Forensics in the whole country. On her birthday, instead of exulting in this, her parents are terribly upset that she’s still single. They are ashamed that their only daughter is not married and given them grandchildren. Does it matter that she’s happy? Not at all! The bottom line is that they are ashamed of her.
“I was Dr. Ratnaveni Madhehalli Kamat, university gold medallist, India’s youngest award-winning forensic analyst, the only woman to have access to the country’s most secure crime databases-and all my parents saw in me was failure”.
My heart wept for Ratna. But then, there are so many like her living amidst us.
“They see me as a dishonourable, incomplete entity, who must be lassoed viciously, brought back into the pen, made complete by a man and a life-role that is deemed honourable for a woman.”
“Was I just a pair of breasts and a womb to everyone?”
Powerful words, hard hitting. And Vrka comes into Ratna’s life. Who’s he? Is he for real or is he a figment of her imagination? Is he a human being or a wolf or an alien? Whatever he was, I fell in love with him, as did Ratna.
This is the best story of this lot and gave me such goose-bump moments that it took me a while to begin reading the next one.
This one is about Murugan Sundaresan’s story narrated in first person. Murugan is an agarbatti salesman who’s doing very well career wise. On this Christmas day, after the heavy sales at Velankanni church, he rides his two-wheeler back home to Mayiladuthurai. Every detour he makes, he lands up in heavy traffic. In a fit of desperation, Murugan decides to take a rarely travelled route via Karaikkal. The road is quite dilapidated and is the reason for lack of traffic.
But it looks like fate has ordained him to take that particular route on that Christmas day. It’s late in the night when he meets Raman Durai (the storyteller) sitting all by himself outside a shanty. Raman stops Murugan and asks him to stay a while to listen to his story – the story of Thirukadal – while they have dinner.
Murugan stays back to listen, fascinated by the story Raman weaves...
The tsunami scene has been described so perfectly. I heard a friend of mine talk about the sea going way back not far from her house. The fate of the locals and the way Raman works at bringing peace with Murugan’s help touched my heart. Beautiful!
This is Raghavan’s story and is a simple and sweet one. He’s retired and is living in a small house along with his wife Radha. He’s lying on his bed ruminating about his married life over thirty-five years and what a wonderful and thrifty wife he has...
Well written and good story.
Sheshadri has retired from his 45-year-old job as an accountant and is at home. He’s sick and tired of the suggestions given by his family and friends on how he could improve his life. Slowly, but steadily, his temper blows out of control until one day, he shames himself and his near & dear by shouting at everyone in a marriage hall.
Shaken, he leaves the hall all by himself, to walk back home. Because of the sudden torrential rain, Sheshadri is forced to take shelter under an awning of an old, dilapidated building. It’s the call of fate, of course. That’s where he meets his namesake, Dr. Sheshadri, a psychiatrist who runs Happiness Clinic. It’s the first time Sheshadri is able to connect with another human being (?). Read the story to find out how his life is transformed.
I loved this one and could absolutely relate to it.
Best Friends Forever
This is the story of Prerna and her best friend Alice. Something is wrong with Prerna AKA Pammi and her parents are upset. She used to be ill as a kid because of the trauma she suffered at her grandmother’s hands. But later, she had healed. But it looked like the problem has come back after seventeen years when Prerna faints at her place of work.
Who is Alice? Is she a hallucination or is she for real? Will Dr. Srinidhi be able to help Prerna?
I don’t want to say more to avoid giving out spoilers. But this is another one that brought out the goose-bumps in me.
A lovely set of stories by Sumana Khan. If you like to read about the supernatural, then DON’T MISS this one.
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Sumana was born and raised in Bengaluru, Karnataka, where she went on to graduate with a BSc in Electronics, much to the surprise of her teachers, and relief of her parents. In what can only be described as a quirk of fate, she ended up as an IT consultant - a role she essayed for more than a decade. She then moved to the UK where she quit her job and pursued academic and literary interests. The result of this pursuit has been two Masters, one published book, quite a few manuscript drafts, and above all, being stone-broke perpetually.
She currently lives in the UK with her husband and several books.
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