Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal by Jeanette Winterson: A personal memoir of lost loss, and the search for love.

Winterson says, ‘Adopted children are dislodged. My mother felt that the whole of life was a grand dislodgement. We both wanted to go home.’ A harrowing childhood of being locked in a coal-hole, punishment by means of sleeping on the front porch all night, undergoing exorcism for having an affair with a girl, and spending most of your life feeling like you didn’t belong. With sheer courage and honesty, Winterson in her personal memoir, talks about being adopted in a Pentecostal family bordering on religious fanaticism. Mrs Winterson, as the writer addresses her mother throughout the book, was suffering from depression, fighting demons of her own and waiting for the Apocalypse. She believed she was brought into the world to suffer. 

Mrs Winterson despised happiness, as the word in itself was tainted with sins. Perhaps, she didn’t know how happiness felt like so she stopped her daughter from pursuing it herself. Jeanette’s love for the written word was soon stamped and punched to the ground by her mother who burnt all her textbooks. It didn’t deter the author because she started memorizing the texts. How can her mother snatch the words that were now written in her soul?

The title of the book is taken from Mrs Winterson’s admonition upon finding out Jeanette’s affair with a girl. She retorts, ‘Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?’

But the author also talks of the way words saved her from herself. The more her mother tried to drown her, the more she felt liberated. The power of language, of stories, of escape, wasn’t lost to her. The first half of the book is a tale of a wounded childhood, of the desperate need to belong somewhere. It’s also filled with lessons learnt the hard way. The second half, according to me, was written hurriedly as if the author was trying to see how it ends. Winterson went on to becoming a successful author, falling in and out of love before finding the ‘one’. All her life, Winterson felt, she wasn’t loved. How could she? Her biological mother gave her up for adoption when she was six-weeks old, and she was brought up by a tyrant who couldn’t see her as human. 

The quest to find her biological mother, Ann, turns into a rigorous path as Winterson comes to a painful realization; she maybe be adopted but her identity is shaped by her upbringing. She feels as far away from her own mother as she did with Mrs Winterson.  She says, ‘ I notice that I hate Ann criticizing Mrs Winterson. She was a monster but she was my monster.’

Despite the violent childhood and a series of ‘lost loss’, this memoir ends with acceptance. It directs you to march ahead, to always seek love where ever you go. 

Tides Don’t Cross by Simar Malhotra

The story is as much about lost love as it is about redemption, hope, and the increasing political tensions arising due to Islamophobia and the extremist nature of the society at large

Set in America and India, Tides Don’t Cross is a story about Mrinalini, Rukmani and Ayaan, who cross paths, and have their lives altered by the course of their interaction. The story is as much about lost love as it is about redemption, hope, and the increasing political tensions arising due to Islamophobia and the extremist nature of the society at large. Simar, at the age of just 21, has written with honesty, and experience, since she is studying in America, and has observed the culture over there closely. I was really in awe of her writing style, her narration, and the way she displayed the reality of the changing mindsets, and those that are yet to be changed.

The two sisters, Mrinalini and Rukmani are each other’s opposites. Mrinalini is submissive. She gives in to her mother’s bullying, often complying to her demands, however unnecessary. So when her mother, Nirmala, forces her to marry a guy who she deems is perfect, Mrinalini has no choice. But what looks perfect, never really is. Her marriage is hollow. She feels suffocated, and is constantly trying to please her husband and in-laws. Rukmani is fiesty, confident and speaks her mind. She refuses to give in to her mother’s patriarchal notions, and does not conform. When she meets Ayaan in Paris, they hit it off immediately. Ayaan is the swimmer, the too-good-to-be-true boy who you can’t help but admire. He’s everything you’d a expect a man to be. But as they say, all good things come to end, and so does their romance. Will they be able to wade off the dark clouds looming over their destinies or will they succumb to the darkness?

I’m not really a fan of romance novels, and somehow felt something missing in the story. Mind you, the plot is well developed but it didn’t resonate with me. Also, Rukmani’s character was highly impulsive, and her reckless nature seemed to ruin things for her. Ayaan seemed way too fictional at one point.

If you’re just starting out and would like a light easy read, Tides Don’t Cross would be a good choice.

Author: Simar Malhotra

Publisher: Rupa Publication

Rating: 3.2/5

Pages: 250

Format: Paperback


Sparks fly immediately when Rukmani—fierce and assertive in the best and worst possible ways—meets the gentle Ayaan in the magical city Paris. Meanwhile, back in India, her reticent sister, Mrinalini struggles to cope with the void of a loveless marriage and an early pregnancy.

Tides Don’t Cross follows these extremely interesting characters as their lives cross in surprising ways. Mrinalini, Ayaan and Rukmani wade through choppy tides, unaware of their common destiny. Deeply touching, this is an unforgettable story of thwarted desires, of love and its loss, of losing and finding oneself, and of falling and learning to rise.


A Quest for Spring by Monica Mujumdar Dixit:

A story of heartbreak, reconciliation and betrayal.

A Quest for Spring is a novel of friendship, of betrayal, and most importantly, of love. Raehan and Amolika, although polar opposites, find themselves being drawn to each other more and more as time passes. What started as a college friendship soon turns into sincere affection for one another. Despite belonging to different religion and social strata, Raehan and Amolika, are caught in a web of uncertainty regarding their future. Underlying their love is an ulterior motive, which prevents them from being together. Raehan and Amolika, separated by destiny, are reunited once again after sixteen years. One is going to become the Chief Minister, and the other is already a renowned journalist. Their meeting will unearth layers of the past which were buried deep within. Will this chance meeting bring back bitter memories or will they see through the storm?

I really enjoyed the beginning of Raehan and Amolika’s friendship during their college days at St.Pauls. Through the entirety of the novel, I was drawn to the character of  Amolika. She is driven and highly ambitious and is always up for challenges. Raehan, on the other hand, became an interesting character in the later part of the novel. The author has smoothly incorporated the role of other characters which sometimes came across better than our main characters. I really wanted to read more about Dhruv and his life. What really appealed to me were the plot twists. Since I had ventured into reading a romance novel, I was expecting cliche moments and unnecessary display of affection but here, none of that took place.  For someone who isn’t into romantic novels, I was glued to the story for most parts.

Coming to the details, the author has penned down several moments that took place in 1990s, such as the mentions of SRK movies or Titanic or Princess Diana’s death.  The political backdrop of the novel makes it all the more interesting. The novel is divided into 4 parts, each taking us through Raehan and Amolika’s transition. The storytelling has been commendable.

Despite the good story line, there has been lack of attention given to punctuation and grammatical errors. There are way too many exclamation marks, and in most of the places two words have no spacing between them. This made it difficult to go through the book. I really wished more emphasis was given on editing. The climax was also predictable.

For a debut novel, Monica has presented to us a romance that stood all the hardships and emerged victorious. Lovers of the romance genre will really like the book.

Author: Monica Mujumdar Dixit

Publisher: Notion Press

Pages: 402


Source: Review Copy


Raehan and Amolika come from two very different worlds. And for the time that their worlds overlap and stick to one path, life seems beautiful. Between projects at college and hanging out with friends, the two of them come to a startling revelation that involves a bond of love between them.
Unbeknownst to the both of them, there lies a leviathan of espionage that eventually consumes the bond they share, driving them apart by force.
Sixteen years pass, when fate decides to rekindle their bond – only this time, the challenges are exacerbated by the unresolved baggage of the past. Do the two of them find each other? Does the dull, grey, long-standing spell of winter rise to give way to spring?



Review: Chameleon Lights

When hope turns dark, I will bring the sun to light it.

Author: Ayushman Jamwal

Publisher: Authorspress

Pages: 47

Format: Paperback

I aspire for the ideal without knowing what it is,

As life keeps changing lanes, I search for depth and meaning,

But with happiness so fleeting and ability so meager,

I am tired an worn out, yet hungry,

I search for an elusive peace in a crowd of broken souls.


In a crowd of broken souls, stands one soul who has beautifully penned down his journey of self-discovery, heartache, revelation and desire in his book, Chameleon Lights. Ayushman Jamwal , Senior News Editor at  CNN News 18, writer and poet allows us to delve right into the heart of his poems written over a span of ten years.

The title of the book is quite intriguing. Life as we know it is eerily similar to that of a chameleon changing colors. We’re always surrounded by shadows of darkness, happiness, despair and joy. Regardless of how we choose to perceive life as, it will always be an abyss of myriad colors. The author weaved his thoughts in an intricate manner taking the reader along with him on a roller coaster ride of emotions.

Mr.Ayushman Jamwal

Each and every poem in the book talks about various themes and emotions one can go through in a lifetime. The poem, ‘Insanity‘ talks about the mind that keeps spiraling into every direction, where grief hits you right on the face, brightness seems like an illusion and how caught in the web of hatred, jealousy and anger, we lose our sense of self.

‘Pain of a Young Heart‘ is one poem that spoke to me in a million different ways.  We looked at world with optimism, believing it to be a bed full of roses. Little did we know, we’d soon be swallowed into a whirlwind of doubt, existential crisis, dread and anxiety of not knowing where we’re headed and what life’s going to throw at us. Ayushman Jamwal writes,

“I knew of life and its queer ways,

but never saw a sudden turn around,

I never knew that somehow,

This world would take me down.”

The poet touched the very core of human emotion through the poem, ‘The Beautiful Mind’. Maybe the world is cruel, and maybe you’re going to be tested but keep holding on, continue believing in yourself and keep showing courage when times are rough. The poet urges us to identify our minds, to awaken the sleeping passion inside of us and to look at the world with new zeal.

Happiness and fulfillment, a desire to all,

Cannot be claimed in heaven or hell

But where lives the saint and the sinner,

In my world, 

This is where my light shall shimmer or end. 

The poems are individualistic, each having an identity of its own. From ‘Canine Love’ dedicated to the author’s dog, Leo, to ‘Part of the Magi’ where the author has described his childhood days and schooling nostalgia, Chameleon Lights is filled with warmth, pain, desire and love.

Ayushman has dedicated his book to his grandfather Late Group Captain Randhir Singh also known as Kunwar Vyogi, who was an established writer in the Dogri Language.  The launch of the book took place at Oxford Bookstore, Kolkata, which was partnered by Kolkata Bloggers and supported by Kunwar Viyogi Memorial Trust.


The beauty of a poem lies in its subjectivity. It’s heart-warming to see how one poem can be interpreted in a million different ways. Chameleon Lights gives the readers all that they could ask for and much more.

If you haven’t already, you can purchase the book from here: Amazon

Review: UNNS: The Captivation

A secret Mission. A childhood love affair. Death and Revenge.

Author: Sapan Saxena

Publisher: Inspire India Publishers

Pages: 244

Genre: Thriller/Romance

Rating: 3.5/5


“Of course you know about the seven stages of love, but have you ever lived them?”

Atharva Rathod and Meher Qasim.

Lovebirds since adolescence. Bonded by love, separated by circumstances. They part ways only to meet again. But this time, he is on a secret mission…

Are they in control of their own destiny, or its their destiny which is making them dance to its tunes? Only time would answer, as Atharva and Meher unwillingly and unknowingly transcend the seven stages of love.

A quintessential tale of love and romance marked beautifully by its own rustic old school charm.


My Review:

Caught in the midst of childhood love and innocence, Meher and Atharva, fight against all odds to defend what’s right to them. Atharva is a RAW agent, one of the best the indian government has ever seen. Meher, on the other hand, is working against the indian government who were responsible for the death of her father. Their paths cross but are they meant to be?

UNNS: The Captivation is a story about childhood lovers who take separate paths but destiny binds them together under circumstances that changes their life forever. Atharva, is on a mission and meets Meher after 15 years. Little does he know that the love of his life will eventually lead to his doom. The story keeps getting complicated as Atharva tries to decipher what’s happening to him. Suffering from a rare disorder, Atharva, despite his pain, keeps his eye on the mission till Meher arrives and ruins everything for him. Just when he could trust her, Meher, siding with the anti-national forces cons Atharva leading to his arrest on the charges of treason against RAW and India. A failed secret mission that lead to the compromisation of several other RAW agents. All this because Atharva was blinded by his childhood love. His credibility as one of the best RAW agents is on the line and there’s nothing he can do but surrender. His only regret: Why would Meher take advantage of his love for her?

The story does not end there. Infact, it keeps getting complicated. They meet again. Under different circumstances. But will Atharva’s love fool him once again? Or will he see right through Meher? That’s for you to read and discover.

The writing style is pretty simple. Sapan Saxena didn’t lose grip of the plot and was able to create suspense without making the reader pull their hair out. Although, there were a few errors as far as writing was concerned but since the story is indeed captivating one can skim through easily. I think novels that are a blend of romance and thrill go a long way in receiving readers’ attention and bringing parsie to the author. I really enjoyed the climax because it wasn’t cliche at all and did justice to all the characters.

If you’re into novels that have a bit of romance but at the same time are filled with suspense and thrill, then UNNS: The Captivation would be a good choice.



Just something I wrote a few months back for a competition I didn’t get selected for 😀 Give it a read, anyway.

The hospital room looked like most hospital rooms do, terribly sad. The kind of sad that doesn’t believe in sunshine, colours or even rainbows. It’s surprising how one place can bring to you happiness wrapped in glitter paper yet leave you dry and lifeless. It was sultry and the harshness of the summer was here to make the insides of the human body melt. The fan kept moving in circular motions making the room humid, the air smelled of sweat and medicines and of emotions leaving one’s soul. Somewhere near I could hear the ambulance blaring, a few doctors and nurses rushed to the main entrance to attend the patient who had a heart attack. There was a flurry of activities with silence resuming as quickly as the storm arriving. My visits to the hospital are not very routinely but sometimes my headaches get the worst of me. On waking up this morning, my head started to explode like a thousand loudspeakers set off at once. The painkillers failed to give any relief and I almost collapsed. I saw a few newspapers and magazines lying around and to occupy myself I kept flipping through them. The doctor was stuck in traffic which meant I had a lot of time in my hands. After about an hour, when the waiting became monotonous, I decided to stroll and stretch my muscles a little.

While walking down the aisle, I passed a room which was slightly open. I heard someone singing. It sounded like the voice of a man. Deciding to not let curiosity get the best of me, I kept walking.  The voice kept getting louder and before I could open the door to understand what was happening, an old man came out of the room looking tired.  He looked a little taken aback by my infringement on his privacy but I apologized for the misconduct and admitted it was just out of sheer curiosity. He listened and then laughed. Unfamiliar as it may sound, his eyes bore a tint of belongingness and comfort. He turned around and closed the door slowly, making no noise while gesturing for a cup of coffee. Hesitatingly, I obliged.

The next few moments changed my life and how.

The old man was a retired police officer. After having served the country for about 30 years, he decided to live the last few years of his life with his wife in peace and togetherness. On inquiry I found out he had no children and no regrets. In the middle of our conversation, he stood up, went inside the room and returned. He kept doing this after every ten minutes. Before I could say anything, he sensed the uneasiness starting to develop, the air getting denser and that’s when he spoke. “It started when we went on a trip post retirement to the hills. She loves adventures and I don’t. But her enthusiasm always wins over my resistance and we end up visiting different parts of the world. While we were returning, she forgot the names of the places we visited. It was strange but not unusual. On another occasion, she couldn’t remember her favourite TV shows or where the locker keys were or where the laundry clothes were kept. Blaming it on old age, we didn’t pay much heed to her forgetfulness which we believed happened to everyone.”

He paused a little, wiping the tears that came running down. Once again he stood up and went to the room. He returned and continued,” Sometimes I wish, I had known. But there are certain things in life that are beyond your capacity and control. When we were having dinner at a dear friend’s house one day, she forgot the names of the people she was surrounded with. And that’s when it hit us. The reality came crashing down and before we could realise what was happening, it was too late. The months that followed kept getting worse. In between everything that was happening I kept telling myself we’d sail through this, we always did. That no matter how extreme the disease was it won’t tear us apart and for a few weeks it felt like there was hope. But as fate would have it, she didn’t remember me. She woke up one morning with terror in her eyes and a scream so deafening it shattered my whole world. I tried to calm her down but nothing would make her feel better. Maybe I knew this would happen. I wasn’t ready to accept it. Nobody can handle such a blow. My wife and I have been married for 60 years and I have never needed anyone else in my life. Seeing her in a state of such helplessness broke my faith in ways more than one. It is difficult trying to be a new person everyday for her because she doesn’t remember me; it’s like living a life wondering whether I will ever get the old her back. Most days, she refuses to look at me. She is scared of my face, this stranger that I am becoming to her.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” I mumbled.

He went on, “But you know what kept me going?” I nodded.
He smiled and whispered, “Her love. I could not for the life of me be who I am had it not been for her. That’s when I decided my story wasn’t over. It could not end like this. There were parts of her still left that loved me and appreciated me and I wasn’t going to give up so soon.”

It was time for my appointment with the doctor but I refused to go. The old man was staring at the walls of the cafeteria, looking at nothing but I knew his mind was with his wife. A gentle smile spread across his face. He looked at me and I knew. He was reminiscing all those precious times he spent with his wife when they went on adventures along with their nights spent lying under the star lit sky and when the world was cruel but their love wasn’t.
After sharing a few minutes of silence, he stood up for the last time.
“But why were you singing?” I asked.
“When I sing, her eyes lit up like a million fireflies and even if it’s for a few seconds, it’s worth a lifetime of happiness for me. And if you have a wife who smiles like that, you know you’ve found the one.” And he went inside. I don’t remember how long I sat at the cafeteria. His words echoing through my mind, his unwavering faith and the courage to keep believing opened my heart to a new dimension.
I walked down the aisle once again to go back home but this time things became clearer and calmer.

How do you define love then? I thought. Is it when you build a foundation of faith so strong that even fate trembles? Or when you see the one you love slowly disappear yet you keep holding on to the damaged parts till there’s nothing left?
Maybe we will never find out. Or maybe we might just get lucky.

Of loving and giving

She came running towards me and held my hand tightly as if she had been waiting for this day all her life. Her eyes searching for affection, staring right through me, urging to take an action or to say anything that would break the eerie silence. Her weak fingers still holding my hands, not letting go. Like the girl who just found her favourite ragged doll after having lost it. Not knowing what to do, I kept walking behind her, going around in circles till we reached where we had left. I was baffled. That’s how I can describe my first day at The Missionaries of Charity.

Our college requires us to do a 12-hour social service at any NGO. As part of this compulsion, my friends and I opted to volunteer at an orphanage which takes care of both normal and mentally retarded children. Since I love kids , it was only legit that I enrol myself into a venture I’m good at. Little did I know, it would change my perspective and how.

The thing with kids is that they are blessed with the power to love beyond any barriers, beyond their ego, beyond artificial benefits. You don’t have to be related by blood to be loved. All you have to do is smile at them and get lost in their world., Really,it is that simple. I had studied about differently abled kids as a chapter in psychology but to be able to get to know them and spend time with them was an experience I couldn’t trade for anything else.

What seemed like Social Service to me turned out to be a huge learning experience. I vividly remember the day I entered the room where the children with disabilities were occupied in their respective affairs. The room was filled with sounds and noises of all sorts with multiple activities happening all at once. The atmosphere was overwhelming and I had to take some time out to compose myself. Tears started rolling down my eyes and I didn’t know why. It was then that the girl with two ponytails came running towards me, smiling a smile I had never seen before. We went roaming around the entire room till she got busy with other things.

Most of the kids were physically handicapped, had cerebral palsy and autism while others had speech, hearing and vision impairments. They were different. They carried out their daily activities differently. Sure they were not as fast or competent in their chores but they were as good as other kids of their age. There were nuns who were assigned different duties and who were very capable of handling the kids. Since the little ones were special, they required special care and attention. (I’m going to refer to these kids as special because there is no other word that would do justice to them) . At first, I didn’t know what to do or how to interact even though I desperately wanted to mingle with the children. As time passed, I got accustomed to the functioning of the charity. The following days were then spent playing with the children, feeding them, helping them exercise timely and watching them enjoy everything that life offered. I can proudly say that some of the kids had a very good IQ level and excellent retention power.

They say you learn compassion and empathy when you put yourself in others’ shoes. In this case, I didn’t need to. In spite of the drawbacks and hindrances, the kids taught me the meaning of unconditional love. You don’t need to be a billionaire, or have the best clothes or the latest gadgets. All you require is gratitude and a heart that has the endurance to love despite all the odds.

The untainted and clinging faces of the children are still imprinted on my mind, their eyes spoke more than words could have, their laughter still echoing in my ears and their touch that radiated warmth and a sense of belonging can never be forgotten.

Some children are born to go out of the way, to color out of the lines, to create their own box.. You cannot possibly mould them into trying to be someone they can never become. They are happy the way they are. They don’t have unrealistic expectations of the perfect world. They’re not interested in some rat race where everyone is trying to outdo someone, where winning a competition is much more important than emotions or even self-respect, where having expensive things makes you loved and wanted. They want to be accepted as one of us. They just want to be considered normal, for once.

The art of being true to myself without being affected or influenced by the unending demands of the world was learnt in the best possible way.Learn to appreciate yourself, your loved ones, your house , almost everything in your life because trust me, you’ve got way more than you can ever ask for. Describing the whole endeavour through mere words is challenging; it is only when you see and feel the affection, compassion and love you realize the importance of the sense of obligation towards the less fortunate, the ability to make someone feel like tomorrow is more than just a day and to be able to love unconditionally and willing to be the silver lining in someone else’s life. All you have to do is let down your guard, go out of your way to help the ones in need and learn to be happy in their happiness. It is as easy as it gets. Truly, one small act of kindness has the strength to move mountains.

” Part of the problem with the word ‘disabilities’ is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can’t feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren’t able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfilment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities.”– Fred Rogers


Author: Sandra Brown

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

256 pages

Sometimes you read a book that completely changes the way you think, the way you would normally think. You come a cross a book which effortlessly describes every emotion, every situation in a way you had never imagined. Sandra Brown in her rather unusual novel has given her readers a taste of what it is like to survive in a time where economic depression, prejudice and racial discrimination have had people kill themselves. Rainwater is a book that teaches life lessons learnt the hard way. I have not read any of Sandra Brown’s novels and since it was my first, I was quite intrigued.

The year is 1934 and Ella who is a single mother works day in and out to take care of her ten year old son, Solly. Ella runs a boarding house, earning as much as she can to ensure her son, an autistic child, lives a hassle free life. The behavior and abnormality of Solly is misunderstood since the story is dated back to 1930s where handicaps and oddity were not known of. Solly’s demeanor becomes uncontrollable and there comes a point where you would want to reach out to Ella and help her in any way you can.

Mr.Rainwater is a boarder who comes to stay at Ella’s house. Much to the readers bewilderment, he is diagnosed with terminal cancer and does not have enough time in his hands. It is amazing how Sandra Brown has pictured Mr.Rainwater’s impeccable character in her readers minds. His arrival also marks the beginning of an untold mystery. Even with an illness, he shows great courage and grandeur. In no time, he manages to develop an unnatural bond with Solly. A bond that only the two of them can understand. Ella, surprised by Solly’s show of affection towards Mr.Rainwater comes to realize that there is something about him that is very powerful. They start sharing an intimacy that is unknown to them. Solly, if I may say, unites the two. The other characters have an important part to play and add a sense of closure to the story.

Time does not favor them, situations backfire and you will see the characters struggling through circumstances. Although the ending is extremely shocking and uncalled for, I would definitely recommend reading this piece of fiction. It is not always that you pick up a book which keeps you glued till the very end. I, for once, enjoyed reading every page. It is a perfect blend of  a love story with captivating drama, life events illustrating hazards and cruel dispositions of the earlier time. Highly enthralling and equally devastating, Rainwater is a must read.Image