The Slaying of Mahitsuri: A story from 10 photos

The Backstory:

Nobody ever challenges me to anything. Abhishek Mukherjee, on the other hand, gets a lot of delicious challenges, the latest of which is from the esteemed Devapriya Roy (whose lovely book I reviewed here)

The challenge was that Ms. Roy supplied Mr. Mukherjee with 14 photographs, of which he had the freedom to choose any 10, in whatever order, and build a story around them. This is the result of that challenge, and I request you to please read it before you read on. The story is perfectly fine, if a bit disjointed, but it’s a rainy Saturday morning, and I’m home alone, and I don’t want to read about a tearful spinster dreading her upcoming wedding.

As I just mentioned, nobody challenges me to anything, so I have to scavenge other peoples’ challenges for inspiration. This is the story I wrote this morning, based on the exact ten photographs that Abhishek used, in the same order.

Hope you enjoy it!

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His men had asked him not to step out onto the balcony, but the Boy King went anyway, drawn by the sound of wailing. The royal courtyard was covered with bodies- bodies of sailors and fishermen, unmarked, unbloody, they could almost be taken for sleeping, had it not been for the ripe smell of carcass that hit him full in the gullet. Even the widows, wailing like alley cats, kept a small distance from the pit that now smelt like nothing apart from death.

It's Sleep, and Worship (600x800)

“They washed ashore. In hundreds, the fisher-folk would have us believe. They’ve dragged these bodies out for His Royal Person to see.”  The information came from his royal guard, Bankejiwan Murali, a giant of a man with an overall air of slickness.

“Wha..what’s killing them?”

“Kaali Kapalini knows. Some sea disease probably. They talk of some stone eyed monster from the deep. But that’s just fisherfolk talk, your highness.  They want the King to protect them.”

The boy turned away from the gilded railings overlooking the sinister view below. “My father. They want my father to protect them. Take me to the Lizard Children”

The Lizard Children were misnamed. It would have been closer to the mark to have called them the Chameleon Children, for they could change their colors to match their environment, and had tongues half a mile long tucked in their throats. His father bought them back, suckling infants, twins from the womb of a Narigodhika, from his last conquest, the Garden City. The King had been grievously injured even in victory, and had lingered for two weeks before his bleeding, rotting innards took him away to a better place, but the twins had thrived. That had been four years ago. Now they no longer looked like identical wrinkled foetuses. Vedaara, at four, had the size and strength of a ten year old. Kataki had not grown after her first year, keeping her resemblance to an angelic toddler in a basket with wheels. They both looked perfectly human, till you peered into their eyes .

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Today, the Lizard Children, grey against a grey sky, turned their head in unison to look at the Boy King approach them. “Your highness,“ Kataki krilled, “we have been expecting you. The days are dark.”

“You have heard, then, of the massacre along the coast?”

“The Godhaks do not need to hear, King.” It was Vedaara who looked at him this time.” We can smell death. We can smell the storm. We know what approaches”

“What approaches, then? What haunts my sea-farers? Tell me if you know!” the King was finding it difficult keeping the desperation out of his voice.

The children looked at him with cold, unmoving eyes. Then they spoke in one voice, the krill-krill of their throats making the hair on the back of his neck stand up.

 

“He sleeps the deep, the depth of dark

No god may ever touch his mark

He dreams the world, he dreams the sea

Awaken not the Mahitsuri”

  Continue reading

My Secret Garden by Nancy Friday: Revisiting My Innocence

How many of you discovered sex on your parents’ bookshelves?

That’s an actual question. If you are reading a book review blog, it’s a pretty thick chance you are a prolific reader and have been so all your life. Since reading is usually an ingrained habit, you possibly have parents, or other close family members, who own/ed a substantial library that you cut your teeth on. You probably learnt about love from those mighty shelves, about hate and murder and genocide and the horrors of childbirth. You found out that grown-ups were scared, nervous, confused people too, and that they did lie. You read enough to be worried about what was waiting for you in the dark abyss of adulthood, and enough to be excited.

Did you also first learn about sex in those crevices, is what I’m asking. Or was it just me? Continue reading

Book Review: Online Bingo’s 2013 Ad Shoot Book

A peek into one of most expensive ads in the gaming industry Continue reading

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams: A Review

 

 

“It is difficult to be sat on all day, every day, by some other creature, without forming an opinion on them.

On the other hand, it is perfectly possible to sit all day, every day, on top of another creature and not have the slightest thought about them whatsoever.”

dghdaDirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

Douglas Adams

I rate it: 9.5/10

A very happy Towel Day to all Douglas Adams fans out there! No matter how strange things get, don’t panic, and always know where your towel is.

I stumbled into Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy all by myself a few years ago, but it was the esteemed Abhishek Mukherjee who shoved me headfirst into his other works, namely the two Gently novels, and the delightful Meaning of Liff.

Dirk Gently is a detective unlike any other you have read about. He doesn’t believe in eliminating the impossible and making do with the improbable, he seeks to find out how the impossible happened. He does not focus on the problem, he believes in the fundamental interconnectedness of all things and that one cannot solve a problem without solving the universe first. Unfortunately, the only utilisation he has been able to make of his considerable talents is trying to convince elderly female clients to send him to the beaches of Bermuda to search for their missing cats. Until, that is, he noses out an incredible puzzle, involving a horse in a bathroom, an impossible magic trick, the horrendous murder of a software tycoon, an impossibly stuck sofa, a meaningless note on a chit of paper, a missing question, and the impossibly out-of-character behaviour of his long-ago friend, which may or may not indicate possession (of the ghostly kind, not the narcotic kind). Continue reading

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneger: A Review

TimeTravellersWifeThe Time Traveler’s Wife

Audrey Niffeneger

Source: A gift from my friend Nik Thakur, because he is awesome that way.

I rate it: 5/10

Six word summary: Time traveling mutant does nothing awesome.

I’m reviewing this on a re-read, which is strange, because the first time I read The Time Traveler’s Wife, I never supposed I would want to read it again. But, after finishing Yan Lianke’s disturbing and depressing Lenin’s Kisses, I felt a hankering for an unadulterated love story, and I do not have a substantial stock of those on my shelves.

Henry DeTamble has a genetic disorder that makes him slip physically away from here and now to some other time (and place) in his lifeline and that of his wife, Claire. He cannot help when he goes, or where, or how long he stays there. Also, nothing that is not a part of his actual body goes with him, so he always lads up buck naked, without ID or money, often in crowded place and occasionally in sub-zero temperature. Continue reading

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton: A Review

the_luminaries_a_pThe Luminaries

Eleanor Catton

I rate it: 8/10

Six word summary: murky conundrum in NZ gold mines

 Any reader who takes a book of more than 800 pages in hand knows that there is a 70% chance that she will lose interest midway. This says nothing about attention deficiency in the reader, or lack of skill in the writing, it is merely the nature of the beast. A really long book, whether it is a saga or a murder mystery, will sag at points, will over-elaborate, and will generally not know where to sensibly stop. We know these things through many years of reading experience.

 Eleanor Catton’s Booker winning marble slab of a book defies most of these things we know. It weaves a complex storyline, occasionally baffling even the most perceptive readers, but not once in its 832 pages does it lose pace or become boring.

 Twelve men meet at the Crown Hotel in Hokitika, New Zealand, in January, 1866, to discuss and get to the bottom of some extremely peculiar incidents that have been taking place in the mining town in the past fortnight. A penniless recluse has been found dead with an enormous amount of pure gold in his keeping. A prostitute has attempted suicide or been poisoned. A very wealthy young man has gone missing. And each of the twelve men in the gathering have been implicated in some way or the other. Each has something to share and something to hide, something to explain and something to understand, some prejudices and some bafflement. Walter Moody, fresh off the boat and grappling with recent horrors, stumbles upon this assembly quite by accident, and becomes entangled in the events that are causing such turmoil in the tiny township. Gleaming in the background are trails of blackmail, betrayal, lust, villainy, black magic, and murder most foul. Continue reading

Love and Death in the Middle Kingdom by Nalini Rajan: A Review

18679843Love and Death in the Middle Kingdom

Nalini Rajan

I rate it: 7/10

Admit it, readers who have heard of this book, you thought it was a dark fanfic about hobbits.

No? Just me then?

Ok.

Anyhow, the Middle Kingdom is not another name for Middle Earth. The Middle Kingdom is Vijayanagara in the 16th century, in full bloom of prosperity. In this city lives Devdatta (incidentally, the lady who sent me the book is also called Devdatta. That is too interesting to be a coincidence). Devdatta is a courtier, the blue-eyed boy of the king and the ministers. He is married, expecting a child, has a mistress, and is more or less in the process of making it in the world. Then one day, he befriends a Persian traveler and is drawn into an intoxicating love affair that threatens to destroy his world. For this traveler, Farjad, is not only of a different faith, he is also a man. Continue reading

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri: A Review

the-lowland-jhumpa lahiriThe Lowland

Jhumpa Lahiri

Six Word Summary: Bengali first world problems. Again. Headdesk.

I rate it: 5/10

Brothers Udayan and Subhash are inseparable while growing up in a working class family in Kolkata, but adulthood takes them down different roads. The outgoing and bold Udayan joins the militant Naxalite movement spreading like wildfire in East India in the 70s. The quiet, measured Subhash chooses to move to the US to do his PhD and ends up staying there. Then Udayan gets killed by the paramilitary, and seeing that there is nobody to take care of his heartbroken pregnant young widow Gauri, Subhash offers to marry her and take her back with him to Boston. Gauri accepts in order to get away from the trauma and to give her unborn child a secure environment to grow up in, but can marriage and parenthood that comes from so much compulsion ever be a success?

Jhumpa Lahiri is an exquisite writer, the words flow from her pen like honey dripping from a comb. Her English is smooth and fresh, she can surprise you with the way she chooses to describe something mundane. She has an eye for details, and amazing observation skills.

But. Continue reading

Eye Spy by Tahir Shah: A Review

eyespy

Eye Spy

Tahir Shah

Six Word Summary: Epicurean ophthalmologist combines interests, eats eyeballs

I rate it: 6/10

Dr. Amadeus Kaine is one of the world’s leading eye surgeons. He is also a member of an elite epicurean club that delights in cooking and eating obscure, often disgusting dishes, such as sea slugs in brandy. Then, during a visit to a (fictional) Asian country to treat its despot ruler, Dr. Kaine is treated to an exotic pastry that is simply the best thing he has ever put into his mouth. You’ve probably already guessed where this is going. Continue reading

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami: A Review

kafka on the shoreKafka on the Shore

Haruki Murakami

Six Word Summary: Talking cats. Falling fish. Frigging crazy.

I rate it: 8.5/10

Goodreads describes Kafka on The Shore as “a tour de force of metaphysical reality”. I’m going to confess I have no idea what the word metaphysical means, or tour de force, for that matter, so I’m just going to say that Kafka on the Shore is a pretty crazy book. It’s like Alice in Wonderland, except with more incest, disembowelment, and talking cats… oh wait, no, we had talking cats in Alice. Continue reading

The Sandman #2- The Doll’s House: A Graphic Novel Review

sandman-Dolls-House-new-edition-Neil-GaimanThe Sandman

The Doll’s House

Neil Gaiman

Six Word Summary: Serial Killer Conventions for the win!

I Rate It: 9/10

I started the Sandman Journey on Rivers I Have Known last month with Preludes and Nocturnes, and left off with a promise that things are about to get even more awesome. The Doll’s House lives up to that promise delightfully, with a complex storyline, amazing artwork, and an unforgettable narration. Continue reading

The Guardian Angels by Rohit Gore: A Review

the_guardian_angels_rohit_goreThe Guardian Angels

Rohit Gore

I rate it 7/10

The Guardian Angels is a love story. Between a rich boy and a middle class girl. Many of you are going to switch to a different tab right here because there are enough bollywood flicks to take care of your hankering for rich-boy-poor-girl romance, but if you haven’t done it already, please wait. Guardian Angels is also significantly more than your average run of the printer love story.

For one thing, it’s well written. Gore knows how to write good English, which is sadly much more than what most recent Indian writers writing in the language can claim. You will not be haunted by heinous grammar crimes or clumsily drafted sentences. So far, so good. Continue reading