November numbness – when grief knocks at the door

Eight years ago, life was almost picture prefect. I was heading one of India’s leading Pvt Sector Bank branches in Mysore, Tanmoy and I had been married for 5 months after knowing each other for 12 yrs and he had shifted to Mysore by taking a sabbatical from his medical profession to pursue MD.

That year, I had visited Berhampore to celebrate Durga Pujo after ages. Two days at my parents house and two days at my marital home was how we had workedout the schedule and pujo couldn’t have a better arrangement. Ma looked quite fragile but that was justified since she was recovering from weakness due to a low hemoglobin count. A change of place was the need of the hour. So we decided to surprise my parents by booking their tickets to Mysore for Dec’11.

The day we left Berhampore in October, she had been crying nonstop. But she was prone to getting sentimental every time I went back to college or work after a vacation. Little did I know that  her tear stained face trying to act brave for the sake of her daughter was the last time that I would see her. On the night of 11th Nov 2011, she was admitted to a private hospital in Berhampore with complains of pain in the abdomen. She was kept in the ICU as Baba and my marital family ran around trying to figure out what might have happened.

Ma
Ma

Sitting thousands of kilometers away, Tanmoy, who probably was the only one who understood the gravity of the situation, kept coordinating with the doctors while I was trying to get a car to take us to Bangalore airport the next morning and book the earliest flight to Kolkata. That night, we understood the meaning of ‘fear’ of losing a near one.

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Favorite Indian Detectives – Raya Ray by Sonia Chatterjee

Disclaimer – This bibliophile blogger is also an author and I made my debut with the Detective thriller ‘Deal of Death’ last year. While writing the favorite Indian Detective series, it was quite difficult to choose seven Detectives amidst many that I had read. But the intention was to keep it personal and so I blogged about only those who I had grown to love. This series saw some great responses from authors like Manreet Sodhi Someshwar, Bhaskar Chattopadhyay, and Swati Kaushal. Not to forget, even Anita Nair had liked my tweet about her Detective. But the 8th Detective is a character created from my brain and heart. So how could I not let it be a part of my favorites list! Despite the risk of making this post sound like a bit of self-promotion, I felt that there couldn’t be a better way to make some announcements with respect to the lady sleuth who created quite a furor with her entry.

Who –

Raya Ray

Creator –

Sonia Chatterjee

Novels in the series –

Deal of Death

About the Detective –

Raya Ray by Sonia Chatterjee
Raya Ray by Sonia Chatterjee

Raya Ray, an ex-marketing honcho had been dealing with loss when a chance to help her Banker husband, Krishanu Banerjee, marked her debut as a Private Investigator in Kolkata. Raya had been handling mundane cases until she lands in Munshiganj in response to a call for assistance from the sister of her house-help.

Raya, who is well-aware of her need to get fit to keep up to her professional needs rarely has any second thoughts while ordering pastries and sweets. She is sharp and analytical while cracking mysteries. During the course of the case, she is often found to seek closure of her wounds through the happenings in her clients’ life. In the world of investigation dominated by men around her, Raya is here to smash gender stereotypes chasing chases criminals and solving cases.

Raya’s journey –

I wrote ‘Deal of Death’ as part of the Blogchatter E-book carnival in 2018. It was one of the first books to reach the download limit of 600 on the Blogchatter platform and it continued being in the ‘out of stock’ status until recently. The book opened to rave reviews and the recent review on the blog Vartika’s diary goes to prove how much this novella is popular even today. The Goodreads rating of the book has been at a consistent 4.59 for more than a year now.

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Winning the Shining Bloggers Award – 2019

July has been one of the toughest months for me this year. I was scheduled to start my MFA creative writing program and knew that the blog was going to see lesser posts than usual. As luck would have it, my health issues flared up badly by the end of June leaving me helpless and breathless. The last one was due to the severe nasal complications that I seemed to have developed recently. While it took a lot of determination to stay positive and stop myself from thinking about being productive, I need to mention that I also discovered some amazing authors and their books in the last three weeks. They kept me company as I tried to keep my hope alive about the effectiveness of medicines in helping me get back to a normal life.

Winning the Shining Blogger Award
Winning the Shining Bloggers Award 2019

And then something magical happened. On July 12th, I got a mail from Millennial Worx that my blog had made it to the top 20 shortlist of the Shining Bloggers Award and the final results of the top 10 winning Bloggers were scheduled for Sunday, July 21st. The most endearing aspect of this shortlist was that someone had nominated my blog for this award (anonymously) and I’m still trying to figure out who it was. But I feel immensely grateful that he/she considered me worth this nomination based on my work. On 21st July, the final list was and it gives me immense pleasure to inform you that soniasmusings.com won the award finishing at the third position. While I couldn’t be present in person to receive the trophy and certificate at Lucknow, the founders helped me connect to the audience through an audio visual live session.

Accolades and prestigious awards like this motivate me to write better and work harder. They serve as reminders of the reason I quit my corporate job to become a writer. Hence, I take this opportunity to thank all my readers, family members and friends who have been a constant source of support in my writing journey of 1 year 10 months. I am hoping to get back to creating some more beautiful pieces on this blog very soon.

Featured in the top 40 Indian Lifestyle Blogs list

It gives me immense pleasure to announce that soniasmusings.com has been selected as one of top 40 Indian lifestyle blogs by the esteemed portal Feedspot (specifically at no. 30). Finding my blog amidst renowned names like Verve and Filmfare magazine has only made me realize how special this recognition will always be.

Featured in Top 40 Indian Lifestyle Blogs list
Featured in Top 40 Indian Lifestyle Blogs list

The blog is a little less active than usual this month because I’m gearing up for my MFA study program starting next week. But I promise to work out the schedule as soon as I figure out the requirements of the course and my other writing commitments. Thank you for your support.

You can click here for more information related to this list.

Looking back at A2Z challenge 2019

For the last five days, I have had conflicting emotions. On one hand, I was relieved that the crazy month of April was over and I didn’t have to work at odd hours to schedule my posts. On the other hand, I missed reading and interacting with fellow bloggers who have now become a part of my extended virtual family. To spare myself the state of confusion, all that I have sincerely done since 2nd May is to catch up on my sleep. Today morning, when I saw the link for a reflection post, I jumped in to share my experience of an eventful A2Z challenge this year.

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary Reflections badge#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary Reflections badge

After my first successful Blogchatter A2Z challenge last year, I had written about my experience through a post filled with learnings, gratitude, and nostalgia. Last year, I had no plans in place. I was undecided on the theme until it was time to reveal it. Not a single post was based on predecided topics or written in advance (I didn’t even know that there was an option called schedule). This year I had decided to be a bit more organized in my approach since I had been waiting for the A2Z challenge for months together. I wanted to have a theme ready, wished to sort out the topics of the posts and even considered writing a few of them in advance. But old habits die hard. The plan to plan my posts stayed only in a state of planning as I dashed towards my usual last-minute execution mode.

When I started thinking about a theme two nights before the day of the theme-reveal post, I considered all the possible categories that I write about. Unfortunately, nothing seemed interesting. It was Sr. T’s idea that I write about the most relevant situation in my life at that moment which was all about Tuneer’s school admissions. I didn’t want to make the articles sound boring or coated with advice. In fact, I am the kind of flawed mother who would perfectly fit into that category of clueless parents seeing advice from the experts. So I thought of turning my harrowing experiences into humorous ones. All that I was worried about was how to stretch a topic so narrow into creating twenty-six posts. Yet whenever I sat down to write my post of the day, the fun element in reminiscing those memories helped the words flow effortlessly into a draft.

Survivor badge
Survivor badge

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Z for Zooming Out

I feel a mixed bag of emotions as I write the last post in the A2Z challenge 2019.  I had finished my first A2Z challenge last year by balancing my writing with the needs of a toddler who started preschool in the first week of April 2018. This year, it became a little more difficult as the toddler moved on to a new school and I was left juggling between multiple tasks. Between getting the kid ready for school, preparing his breakfast and dropping and picking him up from school, I was left with limited time to write my posts daily and read some great pieces from my fellow bloggers. Probably that is why I feel an extra dose of happiness on reaching the finishing line for the second consecutive year. 

Taking some time off from the roller coaster ride of school admissions
Taking some time off from the roller coaster ride of school admissions

When I chose the theme of school admissions, I had no idea if I had experienced enough number of situations to convert them into posts for twenty-six days. I must mention that none of these real-life stories seemed funny when we were going through the experiences. My father often says that when we look back at life in retrospect, we often find a lot of instances that could have been handled in a very different way if we could have added a pinch of humor to them. I realized the depth of this statement only after I started writing this series. There are so many times when I published a post and then thought to myself, ‘What made me react so much to rejection?’ or ‘Why was I affected the most by this new phase in Tuneer’s life?’

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Y for Yin and Yang

The dictionary meaning of Yin and Yang stands as two complementary forces that come into play to balance and create something bigger and better. When I began writing this school admission series, I had mentioned the protagonist as my 3.6 yr old son Tuneer along with Sr. T and me as the supporting cast. Through the last twenty-four posts, I have written about our experiences and emotions related to this phase. Today’s post is dedicated to those who bring equilibrium to Tuneer’s life filling it with joy, love, affection and protect him from those who might be the reasons for stress and undue pressure (yeah me!).  Introducing his lifelines –

Tuneer with his family - paternal grandma, paternal grandpa, father, maternal grandpa and mother (l to r)
Tuneer with his family on his 2nd birthday – paternal grandma, paternal grandpa, father, maternal grandpa, and mother (L to R)

1. Babai aka his father

I have an exclusive post dedicated to this man and his adorable equation with the kid. Yet I need to reiterate the fact that the boy had the maximum escapade from my scoldings because of his father. According to him, there’s nothing that the boy could do wrong. It didn’t matter if the boy refused to answer any question, showed no interest in picking up English or denied his knowledge about my name. His standard reply to any exasperated statement of mine went as “But he’s such a sweet boy”. The apple of his eye is getting so sweet every day (read naughty) that I’ve started fearing for our enhanced blood sugar level (read stress).

2. Dadai aka his paternal grandfather

Until Tuneer was born, I had always been a favorite of my father-in-law. He was more supportive of my decisions than those that were taken by his son. Equations changed between us the day he became a grandfather. His unconditional support towards his only grandson exceeds all limits. He refuses to listen to anything against the ‘innocent’ child. He was the toughest to convince about the interview preparation. As per him, any school that considered English speaking skills to be a selection criterion for nursery admissions deserves to be trashed by every single parent. According to him the fact that Tuneer could answer his name and recite a rhyme should have convinced every interviewer about his intelligence level. No amount of argument could convince him otherwise.

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