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richasmukherjee.com

love, laughter, pain, joy, life and its lessons, one word at a time

Move the pots and pans, it’s time to stir up an E-book!

It’s that time of the year again. When the distance between unattainable dreams and humbling realities is bridged by this wonderful thing called Blogchatter E book carnival. I hail from the port of traditional publishing but over the years, breaking bread and words with the wonderful blogging community, being a mentor for the second year for the carnival and taking part in several Blogchatter initiatives has convinced me of the invaluable opportunity a writing platform like this can prove to be.

Writers are self flagellation experts( I am no different!) Before the world can cast stones on our words, we rise to the task and censure and critique ourselves to a point that it would be easiest to abandon the task altogether. Then what better preparatory ground can there be to nurture, prune and prepare you for the big world out there? Not only does this festival help you promote your finished e- book, but it hand holds participants at every stage. Creating excitement, providing mentors to guide you, pushing you to write, helping with the cover reveal and even generating reviews within the community, most of the areas a traditional publisher would help with. How wonderful, right? I’ve had to manufacture the motivation all on my own! So I’m a tad bit jealous:-D

Talking about motivation, the word feels like an desultory, amorphous concept at the moment, given the fact that the world around us is no longer what it was a few months ago. From bhindis to brooms, the suffering on the streets to the suffering at home, zoom calls to marathon school sessions, from trying to keep your chin up to holding back from punching someone else’s, who has the time to write you ask? You do. Because writing won’t be a TASK if you let yourself enjoy the process.

I have published two books with Harper Collins and Black ink books ( I Didn’t Expect to be expecting and Kanpur Khoofiya Pvt Ltd) my third book is out in the second half of the year and my fourth book, part two in the KKPL franchise is under construction. But if you ask me which book process was most fluid and enjoyable, it would have to be my first book. I think the reason was because I just wrote, in not-so-conducive surroundings or frame of mind, but I wrote, for relief and release. It was also unencumbered with the fear and foreboding of finding a publisher. I wanted to write a book and I wrote it. Everything fell into place later. And as simply as that, you should register and write your first e-book. I won’t be presumptuous and tell you to convert your daily trails and frustrations onto paper. Perhaps choose something that takes you away from all of it, pick a topic you are knowledgeable about, take a clue from the tonality of your writing, pick from key USPs of your blog. I’m just throwing ideas here, but you’ll know when the right one comes along.

I hope to see you on the other side of the registration link I shall post below. All the details you seek shall be available on the Blogchatter website. It would be a pleasure to guide and pep you along on this wonderful journey. Now stop making excuses, tune out of Netflix and go write your book! I wish you all the best 🙂

Registration Link:

#BlogchatterEbook Carnival Season 5 is here

 

 

 

 

The classroom

Looking back isn’t easy. It makes you dig deep. This past decade has been instrumental in defining me and my expectations from life. It has taught me lessons I will never forget. From finding the love of my life to losing the will to go on, from living my dream of writing books to realising that change is the only constant, life is a classroom and we are eternal students. Here is my abstract take on the years gone by

Classroom

We are all born into this classroom

Where we learn, we forget, we are punished and we remember

Are 10 years enough?

For the lessons etched on desks and handles and withered doors, into the fading paint on the bathroom walls?

I open the stained pages of my notebook, I straighten its relenting spine and look back
To where I learnt that when grief and loss slice into you with their hungry talons, and it seems that the world must end, that it should end, the world ambles on at its pace. While the malignant pain sears through your emptiness, flowers bloom, the earth spins and the trees sway in the gentle breeze. Nothing stops

I learnt that dreams are amorphous and distant till you make your small but steady strides to them. That you will live in someone else’s make believe world till you paint your own canvas and splash it with the hubris of a mad magician, trusting the hands that only hold doubt

I learnt that there is as much hate in this world as love. That kindness floats like the battered lotus left on the banks of an angry tsunami. It shivers, quakes and rattles the firmament but gentleness and resolve can weather any storm

As the years go by, I am taken by the transience of time. Ephemeral and an unreliable trickster, it will play you and leave you by the wayside. So I have learnt to forget. That anything matters beyond my resolve, that there is a sky beyond my reach, that I can be defined and sketched by another’s pencil. I know now that I am enough and I forget that I was any less

My book brims with chapters of love, hate, lust, doubt, happiness and the index is flecked with fame and foibles. A hallmark of a decade etched into my veins and a life lived whole

I turn the lights out, drag the chairs back into place, pick up my pen and wipe the blackboard clean. For it is that time again. To learn, to fail, to live some more..

 

“This post is a part of ‘DECADE Blog Hop’ #DecadeHop organised by #RRxMM Rashi Roy and Manas Mukul. The Event is sponsored by Glo and co-sponsored by Beyond The BoxWedding ClapThe Colaba Store and Sanity Daily in association with authors Piyusha Vir and Richa S Mukherjee”

Decade, BlogHop, Contest

Teasing you back to life

 

1

Ever dared to wonder if you could change the tides of loss and time?

Just by moving a few pieces around the board, right under his nose, as he tends to the world like a distracted games master.

If I changed the dates on that god fearing calendar, will you come back to mark your tidy expenses in the large while margins?

If I rearranged the spice boxes in the wrong order, could I irritate you long enough to conjure your ire?

If I bury my face in your essence, will you return, only to peel it from my fingers and throw it for a well earned wash?

If I leave all the lights on, will I see you in the morning when I need them no more and I need you no less?

Come back won’t you? There are no games without your rules. No salt without your spice. There is no tenable proof of life.

And here is my last offer to you. Take it or leave it.

If I stare at the door long enough, will I live to see you resurrect and walk back in? To never leave again.

In another world, from another time

o-GRIEF-facebook

I’m guilty

Of occlusion, of forced amnesia and feigning the life of another

For in that life, I feel no loss

How can you lose someone you never had

You are then a pretty, cheery neighbour who should have lived longer. Poor thing

Made of clucks, commiserations and tepid empathy

That’s my constant endeavour now

To forget you

But I’ve lost this war before the battle blueprints were laid out

Before the cavalry of tears marched out with belligerence

Like the rain that wiggled into a reluctant rivulet and made a home in a dry never land

A resilient little bud that breached the limits of its world for one gulp of air

A shiver on a warm day

A touch, an embrace, a spice, a smile, a toothbrush, a lipstick, a speedometer and a long drive

And sometimes like an indulgent cloudburst that has no origins and no future

You drench me

Disarm me

And just like the night you blew away, you wrap me in your warmth and whisper in my ear to stop fighting, to stop forgetting

To let you in and to let myself out

The key to your e-book is just a carnival away!

1

When asked about writing ambitions and book journeys, often, with a starry twinkle in their eyes, people reminisce about a fiery childhood passion, or a goal they have been chasing with utmost determination. My inspiration on the other hand, came to me amidst diapers and zombie like fatigue. A time which is associated with people not being in possession of their faculties was the odd time I chose to write my first book. When I had just delivered a baby!  Goes to show how different everyones starting point and respective journeys can be.

Of-course I was always in love with the written word, my most enduring love affair being with the books that lined the walls of various rooms I occupied while growing up (My father was in government service as a result of which we were constant nomads!). I wrote a lot of poetry and even published a book of some 50 odd poems that I particularly loved in 2017. Some short story experimentations saw me participating in writing contests as well, such as the brilliant platform by TOI. It helped me find publishers for my book and started me off on a road I had never imagined myself on. It has now been a year since the launch of my first book I Didn’t Expect to Be Expecting, which you must have guessed by now, is a humorous book on pregnancy and my second book, which is a humorous thriller is due for a September launch. It all seems a bit surreal even today. I still remember pinching myself when I went for my first book signing. I think it was the first time I cried out of happiness!

Something else that gives me great pleasure is helping writers who are sitting on the brink of their own writing journeys. It is an exciting but scary place and I’ve been there. And bing a fellow blogger, I’m especially delighted to be a part of EbookCarnival (Season 4) by Blogchatter. I don’t blog nearly as often as I’d like to, but I think blogging is one of the most organic ways of making your way to a book. And if a blogging platform is giving you the tools, know how and support to get you started, then don’t put that idea away to another day. Dive in to this experience and emerge with a book and a dream coming true all at once.

 

The nurturers need some nurturing as well

Tear

A friend recently put up a blurred picture of a mother walking around in a restaurant, trying to entertain her baby. Apparently she was away from the table for the entire duration of the meal while the remaining family was at the table laughing away, enjoying theirs. Does this dynamic represent those within every family? No. Does this mean that every mother single handedly bears the burden of child care?No. But the reality is that there are enough cases even within urban and semi urban families, not just rural ones, where all eyes and expectations are turned on the mother.

More than the physical burden, my friend was trying to highlight the mental implication of this solitary process. There are millions of women worldwide who suffer from post part depression. I too went through it. And this, despite still having a job to go back to, stellar support from my parents who I had moved to stay with at the time, very helpful in-laws who used to visit often, and my poor husband who drove 400 kms back and forth every weekend just to be with us. I don’t think feeling lonely is singularly subject to the number of people around you. You can have 15 people milling around you in a joint family and still feel like you are on your own island. The most disconcerting thing I remember about that terrible phase was one particular afternoon, in the middle of a reunion of sorts where my entire family, with their families, possible 25 of us had come together to celebrate the arrival of my little daughter. And all I felt, sitting amongst the very people who make me whole and complete, was an utter sense of despair and loneliness. I couldn’t connect to the conversations and visited the washroom very often to shed tears for reasons I couldn’t even fathom!
I often think about how privileged we are that in this country, we can still assume it is our right to depend on the army of nana nanis and dada dadis to help us raise our children. Something I’ve heard is acutely lacking as an assumed support system in the west and even within Indian families settled in the west. But there needs to be more awareness towards the needs of the caregiver and not just the tiny ward. ‘Handling the baby’ helps. But talking to the mother, encouraging her to take some alone time, a walk, a shower, some time off with friends, having interesting discussions about the world beyond the crib, talking about reintegration post maternity breaks, helping her figure out how to manage life and emotions incase she is returning to work helps her deal with the tide of hormones and the faceless and nameless monsters that form in the head when there is so much change and uncertainty. The solutions might sound simplistic but they will go a long way towards ensuring that the nurturer feels nurtured as well.
I feel women have some innate qualities that make them empathetic and natural caregivers. Towards children, husbands, parents, people working with them, the world in general. But when that sincerity and indulgence gets taken for granted, neither does it feel good, nor can it be sustained without puncturing the mind and soul of the one who is making it all happen. Roles of women and resulting expectations won’t change over night. But a little bit of sensitivity and understanding is the least we all deserve, irrespective of gender.

The genie never came..

 

PicHad I known it was the last smile, I would have bottled it away. Filling it with sand and pebbles, sending it off on a finite voyage, till it found me again on a deserted shore, sometime, some place

Had I known it was the last caress, I would have held on, for a million minutes.
Feeling every bit of your warmth that embraced every bit of hopelessness and despair in me
Had I known you would never return to this threshold, I would etch your feet into the floor. To have a path to follow and find you by my side forever

Had I known this was the last walk, I would never stop walking into nothingness and everything, for a destination is meaningless if I don’t arrive with you
Had I known this was the last whisper, I would make a museum of your voice
So it could ricochet into the walls and back into my heart, as fluid as that symbol of infinity
Had I known this was your last breath, I would lay beside you, breathing till the end
And fill my lungs with you, never to exhale…
How I wish I had known…

When the tigress lost her stripes..

Pic

This is the story of a fierce tigress who used to live in a jungle called ‘The City’

Fearless and bold. Her decisions, the future. Nothing fazed her. She believed in writing her own story

She would soar on the wings of her zest for life, knowing that only the sky was the limit

Blessed with the protective sheath of family and friends, no vagaries of life would come her way, she thought, as long as these angels were in it

One day she started drifting towards a certain someone who would become the love of her life

Things could only get better from the perch of her reign, there would be no sorrow, no pain, no strife

But somewhere down the road, a distant rumble of thunder, was bringing an impending storm

An ominous trickle of cold, sharp rain started to take form

That someone took her pulsing life and throttled it out of her

With wounding words and raining blows, her enchanted life seemed like a blur

He wounded her each day each night till there was nothing left to break

He left her with her wounded pride, but she held on with all her might, his crumbs now she would take

One fine day she looked in the mirror and couldn’t seem to recognise

The face in the mirror was someone else, all the stripes gone, her heart felt splintered with ice

She ran from friend to family then foe, trying to understand

Why she felt so empty, so vacuous inside, this was certainly not part of her grand plan

She knew deep inside she had all it took to make herself happy again

But all she could feel was the dark outside, the gloom within and a debilitating pain 

As the world got louder, she went quieter still, till she barely even spoke

Many tried in vain to break her free, but she seemed to be locked far away behind an invisible cloak

Fear took her heart and her strength was next till hopelessness consumed her all

She was so resigned to staying on the ground, that she never even contemplated the pain of a fall 

Then one fine day, lying on her back when she felt she couldn’t even breathe 

She saw a tiny sparrow struggling to build a nest where she could set her little ones free

Trying and failing she rose again, this tiny life was such a symbol of hope

That she felt ashamed of wasting and withering away when deep down, she knew, nothing was really broke

She dusted herself and shook her mane, letting her shackles fall away

It wasn’t the world, she had to fight her mind, for right here is where she wanted to stay

She fell over and over, just as the sparrow did, but she found the strength to stand

There was hushing and laughter and curious whispers all around, but also many a helping hand

She nursed her spirit, her soul to life, knowing with grit she could do it all

She would bruise and ache and there would be bad days, but she would try and stand tall

She tried and tried till one fine day, the fog began to clear

The small inner voice that was silent for so long, she started to finally hear

Then rose a sun that shone so bright, it cleared the mirror where she had lost her sight

She stood again to face the world, her eyes unwavering in the brilliant light

The muscles were flexed, the paws were firm, her heart had returned to a long lost shore

The tigress had her stripes back on and once again, she was ready to roar!

When Vada Pav saved Valentine’s day

HeartSameeksha woke up with a smile on her face. While slaving away on her laptop the previous night, her only solace had been that she had a big bright spot to look forward to
The following day. The last few months had taken a toll on her. Between Sujit and her hectic travel, Anaaya’s school , the home madness, somewhere along the way, the phonecalls had reduced in frequency, the intimacy was at an all time low and it seemed as if they were familiar friends passing each other every day instead of the head over heels in love struck couple they had traded places with. Nothing was wrong as such, she often chided herself, but deep inside it didn’t feel right either. But today, everything would change. Valentines day would fix everything. She would take a half day, go to the salon, finish everything in time for her romantic date with Sujit and they would sip champagne into the night, just like old times and all would be right with the world again.

But what they say about the best laid plans often hitting dirt rang true for Sameeksha on the worst day possible.
‘What the hell is wrong with you!? How can you not run this by me before going to the client?’ A few hours into work and she had already lost her cool a few times. Nevously glancing at her watch didn’t make the day go any faster. Sujit called just before lunch to check on her and she ended up being testy with the person she was trying to desperately get through the day for.
‘I’m sorry Sujit’ she apologised. ‘Its just been a harrowing day. One crisis after another, I’m surrounded by fools who can’t fix anything. The maid keeps calling because theres no water at home, Anaaya’s
School teacher called because she got into a fight with some boy and.. and.. look at the time! I need to get to the parlour. We have a reservation at 8:30 pm.’
‘Darling, its okay if we don’t go for dinner. Really..its..’
‘What do you mean! It took me forever to get a table at the best restaurant in town. And I’ve told all our friends about it. We are going for dinner. I don’t care how!’ she almost shouted with frustration.
‘Ok Ok. Don’t get stressed. We will go’ Sujit tried to soothe her frazzled nerves. ‘See you soon love.’

Just when she was leaving office, 2 hours after her salon appointment, the car decided to break down. Leaving instructions with the security guard, she ran to get a taxi. With every passing second, looking at the hands ticking away, she felt like the day was slipping out of her hands. The final nail in the coffin was a traffic jam. At 7:30, she was still about half an hour away from the salon and realised then that her carefully laid plans would crumble to dust. Thankfully her mother was also at home to keep an eye on Anaaya but she knew going directly to the restaurant was not an option either.
She would never make it. She called Sujit with tears streaming down her face, broken and exhausted and told him she wouldn’t be able to make it.
‘Just go home Sujit. I’ll see you there.’
‘Baby, its alright.’
‘Just go home Sujit. I don’t want to talk.’ She hung up, wanting to sulk alone in her smelly cab.

About half an hour later, still stuck at the same spot due to a truck overturning on the bridge ahead, she looked straight ahead while taking a sip of water and almost spat it out in surprise. Through the
haze of cars and fumes, she saw Sujit walking towards her with a smile on his face. She couldn’t help but respond with a reluctant smile of her own. When he reached the cab, she bombarded him with questions.
‘Holy cow it took me forever to find you!’ Sujit panted, getting in beside her.’
‘But.. how on earth did you find me! Here, in the middle of traffic?’
‘I tracked your cab’ he shrugged. ‘You sent me the link yourself while getting in as always but I think you forgot’ he laughed.
Sameeksha whacked her head. ‘Ofcourse!’ But why are you here? I was coming home anyway.’
‘Why? Because I wanted to celebrate the evening with my Valentine.’
‘In this smelly cab, eating fumes?!’ She laughed.
‘No, eating Vada Pav.’ He said, pulling out two parcels from the bag he was carrying.’
Her face lit up. It had been one of her favourite foods at one point but she hadn’t had one in years. ‘And where is my beverage for the evening? Do you have a bottle of wine stashed in there as well?’
‘Nope’ he smiled impishly like a little boy. ‘Chaas! That’s all I could find on the way.’
They both laughed. ‘I don’t think that fancy restaurant will approve of our degustation menu tonight but who cares!?
She reached for his hand. ‘I’m sorry things have been so hectic the last few months. I thought I’d fix everything today. Its a beautiful place you know…’
‘You’re sorry?’ He asked incredulously. ‘For what? For being an amazing professional while being the best mother on earth? For juggling priorities and a million tasks on your list casually like you were chomping peanuts? For finding the time to massage Amma’s aching feet before turning in for the night. For always leaving extra potatoes for me in every dish , just as I like it, even when we can’t eat together?
For always finding time to tuck Anaaya in with a wonderful story that she can dream about? And for always remembering to throw away my underwear when the holes get too large and I embarrass myself infront of the maid?’
Sameeksha was laughing but she had tears rolling down her cheeks again. This time around, warm ones, washing away her anxieties, expectations and plans for the night that had thickened like a noose
around her neck. He wiped her tears gently and looked into her eyes. ‘ I know its a lot of pressure darling, but don’t do this to yourself. You’re doing enough, and more. Everything doesn’t have to be prefect.
All that matters is that we are together and we make time for each other, something I am going to work on myself. I’m going to cut down on my travel so I can do more on the home front and spend more time with you and Anaaya.’
Her heart lifted with joy. ‘I am going to do the same.’ She decided and said out loud. ‘But what about our fancy Valentines day?’ She pouted, looking around at the still stubborn traffic.
‘We saved ourselves a hefty bill at that restaurant, some salon money and money I would have spent on a large bouquet. This is the cheapest and best Valentines day ever!’
‘Stingy guy!’ she laughed.
As they sat around laughing, bitting into the delicious Vada Pav and providing free entertainment to the cab driver, she realised that even though big gestures and grand plans were great, sometimes the small moments are the big ones and the worst plans can bring on the brightest smiles.

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