There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in

The ambulance rushed through the empty lanes to keep signaling the emergency its occupants were facing. Sanjay kept comforting his unconscious mother, while his wife, Gauri continued crying incessantly. The old lady had tumbled down the stairs and slipped into unconsciousness. The lady accompanying them was the hotel manager Pema who kept wondering about the ill-fate of this family on vacation.

The Government hospital functioned despite the minimum set-up and restricted facilities. The nearest private hospital involved at least four hours’ journey through the hilly terrain and the family couldn’t afford to lose any more time.

As the ambulance entered the Government hospital, most of the hospital staff looked annoyed at being woken up at such an unearthly hour. The Resident Medical Officer (RMO), realizing the gravity of the situation called his senior who assured him of arriving soon.

Pema tried comforting a visibly emotional Gauri. “It’s been a while that we had taken a vacation together. My father-in-law passed away two years back. The family had been distraught. It was only recently that my mother-in-law, Renu Bakshi had started getting back to normal. If only we knew what fate had in store for us!” Gauri lamented.

The doctors struggled to bring Renu to a stable condition. A cardiac arrest in the wee hours of the morning made their efforts futile. After obtaining the requisite permission, Gauri and Sanjay left with Renu’s corpse for the last rites.

A week later, Pema received a call from Gauri to thank her and request her presence at the condolence meeting at their residence, three days later.

When Pema reached the address mentioned in the message, she saw a gathering. Gauri attended to the guests while Sanjay performed the rituals. After the usual pleasantries and prayer offering, Gauri got Pema seated. As Pema fiddled with her mobile in the second last row, she overheard a conversation between two ladies in the last row.

“Gauri is an amazing daughter-in-law. Renu had subjected her to such inhuman torture. If I was in her place, I would be celebrating Renu’s death today”, one of the voices said.

“Renu and her husband kept pestering Gauri’s father for more dowry while behaving atrociously with her. Her father died out of stress. They didn’t even let Gauri attend his funeral. Two years back when Gauri conceived, I thought things will get better for her. But look at her bad luck, she had a miscarriage”, another voice spoke.

“It was never a miscarriage. Renu had bribed one of the hospital nurses for the prenatal sex determination. The moment Renu knew it was a girl; she forced Gauri to abort it. Sanjay kept hitting her till she agreed. And then the abuse continued in all forms – verbal, emotional and physical. Last year, it stopped for a while when Mr. Bakshi died due to accidental electrocution. That incident should have put an end to their cruel behavior. But Renu continued punishing Gauri for not bearing the family a son.” The first voice said.

Pema looked at Gauri with new-found empathy. She hoped that Gauri and Sanjay discover happiness in the future. Pema smiled as she saw Gauri stealing glances at Sanjay. But she could never hear the words that Gauri whispered while looking at her husband, “Sanjay Bakshi, you are next.”

Welcoming 2020 with awards and accolades

Happy New Year to all the readers of soniasmusings.com. I wish you a great 2020 filled with happiness and peace.

Life has become a roller-coaster ride ever since I published my book ‘Deal of Death’ on Amazon. Barring the short family vacation that took me to Bankura and Bishnupur, I have spent the whole of last week working on promotions and marketing of my book on various social media platforms. The efforts were rewarded when it won me the Best Debut Author (Fiction) at the Literoma Rising Star Awards, held at the New Town Book Fair, Kolkata on January 1st, 2020. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the year.

Literoma Rising Star Award for Best Debut Author 2019 (Fiction)
Literoma Rising Star Award for Best Debut Author 2019 (Fiction)

The writing journey began in September 2017 after I decided to quit Banking and move to Kolkata. I could have never mustered the courage to follow my heart if I didn’t have my son Tuneer occupying a major portion of my heart. life and time. So, when I went on the stage to receive the trophy and certificate, I ensured to take him along. It was a delight to see him accept the award. The Banking awards are slowly but gradually making way for the new awards in my writing profession.

Sharing a few snaps from the event where the husband, who’s usually reluctant to click pictures, happily turned into a photographer. I could also sense a tinge of pride in my father’s eyes who had kindly agreed to accompany us for the event.

Tuneer accepting the award
Tuneer accepting the award
A great start to 2020
A great start to 2020

Also, it gives me immense pleasure to announce that Deal of Death has made it to the Top 100 New releases in the category of Crime, Thriller, and Mystery at No. 50.  If you love reading a fast-paced Detective thriller, please consider buying a copy from this LINK.

The book is available in the format of an e-book. However, it is NOT mandatory to own a kindle to purchase it. Kindle app works on any smartphone and that is enough to buy a copy and read the book.

My family at the event
My family at the event

Lastly, the updated list of Top Indian Blogs (2019-2020) was released today and it is a pleasant surprise to see that my blog has made it to this esteemed list for the second consecutive year. It wouldn’t have been possible without the support and encouragement of my subscribers. Thank you for choosing to be a part of my journey.

Making it to the Top Indian Blogs list for the second consecutive time
Making it to the Top Indian Blogs list for the second consecutive time

I will be back very soon with a few more updates on the book and the upcoming Orange Flower Awards 2020 by Women’s Web. Stay tuned for the details.

But The Ideology Needs To Live On…My winning story for Muse of the Month August @Women’s Web

The Muse of the Month series by Women’s Web focuses on stories that pass the Bechdel test and are written on inspiration from a new prompt every month.

The requirement to pass the Bechdel Test is it should have at least two well crafted, named women characters

  • who talk to each other
  • on topics other than men or boys.

This month, the prompt was “Just Living Is Not Enough…”

and story But the ideology needs to live on..” made it to the list of top five winning stories for the month.

Here’s a snippet of the story –

Mukti confirmed the late running of the train with the coach attendant. Keeping the Miss Marple novel on the tray in front of her seat, she dialed her father in frustration, “Baba, you can reach the station by 10:30 p.m. The train is late by an hour and I am not even halfway through my journey yet.

After hanging up, she felt bad for her father who was staying up late tonight to escort her back home. With the rising incidents of crime in her hometown, she had stopped pretending to act indifferent and chose to exercise precaution instead. She was considering a call to her boyfriend when the train screeched to an abrupt halt.

Suddenly the AC compartment had an inflow of goons carrying lathis, rods, and sickles. They started scanning the faces of the passengers, especially that of the ladies.

Mukti was scared to death. She had started dreading the annual trip to her native Bhirugram of late. The town with more than fifty percent of the tribal population of Adivasis had seen a marked rise in Maoist activities. Despite the fact that her house was far away from the jungle where the Adivasis resided, people in her locality had also started getting affected by the ongoing tussle between the police forces, the State Government and the Adivasis labeled as Maoists.

Her father, a school teacher in Bhirugram had been disappointed at her decision to move to Mumbai for her doctorate but chose to stay supportive. She had been pestering her mother about their relocation to Mumbai since her father was due to retire in less than a year, but her pleas went unheard.

Read the full story on Women’s web here.

Love in the age of technology


Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

Zain glanced through the messages of his old school buddies Whatsapp group. Most of his friends had pictures clicked during the ongoing Durga Puja as their Whatsapp status. Some of them had updated Whatsapp status video related to pandal hopping and celebration.

Despite belonging to a different religion, Durga Puja had always held a special place in his life because of his best friends, the twins Samay and Srestha. But the equations changed on a different night of Puja, twelve years back.

The three of them were soon to leave for different cities for higher studies. Zain had been dating Srestha for six months then. Before he got an opportunity to talk to Samay about their relationship, Samay had walked into Srestha hugging Zain on their terrace on that unfortunate night.

Samay had asked Zain to choose between their friendship and his love for Srestha immediately. Zain had picked their friendship at the cost of breaking Srestha’s heart. Zain left his hometown next month with a vow to never return again.

Srestha had been married to Samay’s senior in Engineering college three years back. This year, she had returned back home with a broken spirit and bruised body after months of physical abuse by her husband. Zain had come to know about it through the Whatsapp group.

Even after so many years, he had kept his heart sealed for Srestha. He waited for the day when Samay could display the requisite faith in their friendship to let him take his relationship with Srestha to the next level. Until then, Zain kept the flame of hope alive in his life through his unrequited love for Srestha.

Responsibilities beyond grief and pain

wowbadge
WOW Post badge


Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

I stood near the door of the ICU gathering my thoughts. I knew that I would be bombarded by questions the moment I walked out. I understood how anxious they had been for the last one week. It was not easy for any family to see their child in a state of coma with little hope for revival immediately after giving birth to a baby.

They had been hesitant to consult me until it became evident that the pregnant girls’ condition was worsening. Her blood pressure refused to come down even as the due date drew nearer. Her body had started swelling up because of fluid accumulation leading to edema. I wonder why her gynecologist didn’t realize the criticality of the situation and insist on a premature delivery!

I took control of the situation despite knowing that I was mostly fighting a lost battle. Getting a team together in a Government hospital of a Tier-2 city wasn’t an easy job. No gynecologist was ready to take her case initially because of the risks involved. So I had no option but to encash on my personal equations within the fraternity to ensure that she gets the best facilities despite limited means.

A week back, her c-section had led to a successful delivery. The families danced with joy as the bundle of happiness arrived in the form of a baby girl. I left the hospital around 2am knowing that God had helped me win a race against life. Both the mother and baby had been doing fine.

But my happiness was short-lived. At 6am in the morning, when my phone screen buzzed with a call from the hospital’s land-line number, I knew there was bad news. My fears were justified as I was told how the new mother had concussions followed by a heart attack. She had slipped into the comatose state. I rushed to see her in the hospital ICU. Except for her eyelids, no part of her body responded.

everyone-else-was-grieving.jpg
Responsibilities beyond grief and pain

For the last one week, she had been on life support system. I saw the families crumbling in front of my eyes, trying to fathom the uncertain future that lay ahead. It pained me the most to think of the plight of the newborn. Every time I saw the baby, I was reminded of my own two-year-old.

Continue reading “Responsibilities beyond grief and pain”

A new beginning at the seashore

Continued from the previous part here.

The TV channels had been abuzz with Industrialist Ajay Raj’s life imprisonment term. The CBI investigation had revealed a Bank locker in the name of his deceased second wife Nita containing shocking details of Ajay’s illegal dealings. He was arrested with charges of murder of Nita.

Tia sat on the cane chair sipping wine. The gorgeous view of the sea made her nostalgic.

Death in the lap of the sea
Photo prompt – copyright@soniasmusings

“Lawyer Misra has sent across the papers. You’re now the legal owner of your mother’s empire.”

Tia smiled at the lady with gratitude.

Ajay had killed Anu for her property. However, Anu had outsmarted Ajay by naming the then eight-year-old Tia as the official heir to her property. If anything happened to Tia until she turned eighteen, the property was to be handed over to a trust.

Except Anu and lawyer Misra, only Anu’s best friend Nita had known about this will.  Nita had stepped in to protect Tia by marrying Ajay.

Tia had turned eighteen last month. Knowing that Ajay had been planning to get rid of her next, Nita and Tia had devised a plan of faking Nita’s death. It had not only saved Tia but together they had managed to avenge Anu’s murder.

(199 words)

This is the 11th post written as part of the #MyfriendAlexa campaign as per my theme ‘Shades of Perception’. This is a sequel of the 10th post that can be read here. Link to the remaining nine posts is here.

For this challenge, I am using four photos as prompts to weave two flash fiction stories and one real story behind the picture. This is my second picture prompt. 

I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with Blogchatter

Death in the lap of the sea

The fishermen had informed the local police on spotting a dead body on the beach. Tia identified it as her stepmother Nita’s body. The preliminary investigation had established death by drowning. It was shocking how Tia had lost her mother Anu exactly in the same location and also by accidental drowning a decade back. Considering that Anu and Nita had been best friends since college, the similarity in the pattern of their deaths was beyond explanation.

Death in the lap of the sea
Photo prompt – copyright@soniasmusings

Tia glanced at her father Ajay with questions running through her mind while pouring him a cup of tea. Did he follow the same modus operandi in getting her out of his way as her mom, she wondered! She was confident about his involvement in this unnatural death but lacked evidence to prove her point.

Ajay had been watching Tia very closely while sipping tea on the portico. Did she kill Nita to avenge the death of her mother Anu, he pondered! He knew that Tia had always held Nita responsible for Anu’s death and his ill-tempered daughter spelled danger during her moments of fury.

Mistrust and suspicion lingered in the air between the father-daughter duo as they watched each other’s next move closely.

 (200 words)

This is the 10th post written as part of the #MyfriendAlexa campaign as per my theme ‘Shades of Perception’. You can read the first nine here.

For this challenge, I am using four photos as prompts to weave two flash fiction stories and one real story behind the picture. This is my fourth and last picture prompt. Stay tuned to read the second flash fiction that I will write around the same picture in my next post. You could also consider subscribing to my blog if you like reading my stories.

I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with Blogchatter