Happy Diwali and update on NaNoWriMo


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On behalf of soniasmusings.com, I wish you and your family a very happy and prosperous Deepavali/Diwali. This is also the time when we, as Bengalis worship the power of Goddess Kali. May this festival lights bring happiness and peace in our life as the Goddess showers you with strength and blessings.

The toddler at a Kali Puja Pandal during Diwali
The toddler at a Kali Puja Pandal during Diwali

In case you have been a regular reader of my blog, you might have been wondering why there hasn’t been much of an activity on my site recently. Well, I realized that I have been writing continuously since the month of April this year and as solopreneurs, it is our own responsibility to take a break for our physical and mental well-being. The festival of Durga Puja was the period when I had some time to introspect and I consciously decided to take a little over a week-long break from writing. My next post for the month that I intend to publish next week will talk about the importance of taking mindful breaks for a solopreneur/entrepreneur/self-employed individual.

Come November which is known for the NaNoWriMo campaign. It is the national novel writing month where authors work round the clock to finish that novel of minimum 50,000 words or more. After the love that my first novel Deal of Death received, I had been planning to write the second book of the Raya Ray series. So the happy news is that I have finally started working on it through announcing the book The Corpse Connection (tentatively named) as the second novel on the NaNoWriMo official site. With the hectic schedule that NaNoWriMo demands and daily writing target for a set word count, I will be in a condition to post just one article per week.

In the meanwhile, you might want to have a look at my previous posts categorically here –

Writing Challenges/Fiction

Fun Challenges/Photography

Personal

Social Issues

E-book

A2Z challenge

My friend Alexa

Travel

Food/ Restaurant reviews

Movie reviews

Parenting

Book reviews

I wish you all a safe and fun-filled Diwali. Also, please remember to pass on the spirit of celebration through sharing and caring.

Love in the age of technology


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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.

Passing on the joy of celebration – Mahalaya special


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It’s that time of the year again when the wait for the biggest celebration for a Bengali household comes to an end with the arrival of Mahalaya. For the next ten days, all that one can hear a Bengali talk about is how Durga pujo is nothing short of an emotion. It doesn’t matter in which city you are going to celebrate pujo this year. It could be Berhampore/Murshidabad, Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, New York or London because the level of excitement always stays the same.

A pandal created out of drums -Pujo 2017
A pandal created out of drums -Pujo 2017

Mahalaya in my childhood meant the beginning of school holidays. Preparation began the night before as Ma pestered me to sleep early while ensuring that Baba kept the radio station sorted out for the wee hours of the morning. Sharp at 4 am, she woke up every year to turn on the radio. I would snuggle up to them with sleepy eyes as Mahishashur Mardini was aired on All India Radio. Birendra Krishna Bhadra chanted the verses of Chandi Kavya/Path while devotional songs played during intervals.

Throwback - Pujo 2017
Throwback – Pujo 2017

And then Doordarshan came up with a Mahalaya special episode of Mahishashur Mardini. My parents would watch till the end as I dozed off intermittently. Baba would next go to the local sweet shop Mitali and get us Kachori, Aloo Dum and misthi. I still feel those were the only motivating factors for me to wake up so early.

Open Air Durga Pujo - Pujo 2017
Open Air Durga Pujo – Pujo 2017

I normally spent the day reading books that I would stack up for the last few months. These were called pujabarshikis because these annual magazines were published only during pujo. For me, Anandamela pujabarshiki meant the world though we also got Shukhtara, Desh, Sananda and Anandalok. This hasn’t changed over the years. Last year I had written a post on how this is a gift from my father that I eagerly wait for every year. This year, I am hoping to get it when I travel to Berhampore this 12th.

Anandamela Pujabarshiki last year
Anandamela Pujabarshiki last year

Continue reading “Passing on the joy of celebration – Mahalaya special”

The skeletons tumbled out as I chose to speak the truth

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I grew up in a household where speaking the truth was not just encouraged but diligently practiced. Baba always believed that when one speaks the truth, one always stays true to their conscience. Besides the stated facts always stay the same. Ma had the same version personalized when she had asked me to always be the first one to let them know the truth, even if it was something that might leave them appalled. Such principles shaped my nature and character in such a way that I grew extremely close and comfortable with my parents. I knew that I was believed in my house and was one of the strongest factors that built my confidence. The only not so likable attribute that I developed because of speaking the truth was my inability to sugar-coat my words or be diplomatic in my approach.

#MeToo was a movement started last year by Tarana Burke that exposed monsters like Harvey Weinstein. Since then, there have been skeletons tumbling out of closets everywhere. However, it is only recently that this movement gained mass momentum in India after Tanushree Dutta called out Nana Patekar in a decade-old case of harassment. And for the past few days, there have been stories about media personalities, journalists, writers and stand up comics. People like Utsav Chakraborty, Gautam Adhikari, Kiran Nagarkar, Kailash Kher and many others have been called out by women who have faced harassment in their hands. India has finally woken up to #MeTooIndia and #TimeUp movement.

Amidst all this, I realize how pathetic the state of affairs is in our country. Is there any girl who has not faced harassment at any level ever? Right from being groped in crowded buses, receiving unsolicited pictures of private parts, getting masturbated at and being felt up, the list seems to be endless. Beyond a point, every girl has learned to keep her sixth sense in the maximum alert mode and be armed with a device for protection like a pepper spray. Even I have had the most horrible experiences. Most of these abusers were random people whose perverted minds derived pleasure from such sickening acts. But what does one do when this kind of sexual predator lurks in their closest circle!

S has been a family friend for ages. His father had been my Baba’s friend and mentor. Despite the huge age difference, I grew up calling S as Dada (elder brother in Bengali). I had met him many times as a child and always found him to be affectionate and caring towards me. So, I was taken aback when I felt his hands brush my chest area on the pretext of picking up a paper from the table. I was barely thirteen then. But I was so sure that it had happened by mistake that I forgot about it soon. Unfortunately, this started becoming a pattern very soon. I met him during family functions and festivals and each time he made me so uncomfortable that I started avoiding him. The mere sight of him would make me run indoors. Sadly, my parents loved him like their own son and they could never understand my sudden disappearances. The hide and seek game went on for another two years till it was my board exams and I was excused from attending all events until I completed my exams.

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Continue reading “The skeletons tumbled out as I chose to speak the truth”

The gigantic, majestic and mesmerizing waterfall


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October 2012 – it was the first year of Durga Puja without Ma being around and cajoling T and me to try coming back to Bengal at least for a week during the pujas. We had decided to go for a small trip to Kerala instead. Our three days trip had three places on our itinerary – the backwaters of Alleppey, the Chinese fishing nets of Kochi and the majestic waterfall of Athirapally.

Athirapally falls
Athirapally falls

Athirapally was our last destination before returning back to Mysore. When we drove down from Kochi through Challakudy to reach this place, we had only heard about this place because the movie ‘Ravana’ by Mani Ratnam starring Aishwarya Rai, Abhishek Bachchan, and Vikram was shot here. However, when we witnessed the 80 ft fall in front of our eyes and heard the sound that the water generated, we stood mesmerized.

Athirapally
Athirapally

This post is part of the Tuesday Photo Challenge on the theme ‘Go Big’ this week.

Linking up with Wordless Wednesday created by Esha and Natasha.

A perfect world by an imperfect individual


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2008 – I was in my first year of B-school. Four of us took an all-girls trip to Chennai followed by Pondicherry. The trip was my first sojourn with my girlfriends and the city mesmerized me with its beauty, cleanliness, and calmness. The sea was both rough and serene here. And the environment of the Aurobindo ashram had a deep impact on my thoughts.

2011 – After the sudden demise of my mother, grief had engulfed my life in a way that rendered me static at Mysore.

2012 – this was the first city that my husband had coaxed me to visit. He insisted that a change of location was needed for my mental health.

Photo prompt – copyright@soniasmusings

This picture was clicked from the room of the hotel in Pondicherry where we had been put up. The balcony had the most gorgeous view of the sea. I sat out for hours gazing at the sea. Probably it was the enormity of the sea here that absorbed some of my pain during that phase.

Today when I look at this picture, I see a perfect frame of a beautiful world captured by a person in the most imperfect state of mind, fighting her inner demons.

(195 words)

This is the twelfth and last post (nonfiction) written as part of the #MyfriendAlexa campaign on the theme ‘Shades of Perception’. You can read the previous eleven posts here.

This post is part of the Tuesday Photo Challenge on the theme ‘Our World’ this week.

Linking up with Wordless Wednesday created by Esha and Natasha.

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

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