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Life in the Times of COVID-19

REAL STORIES. FAKE NAMES.

Nizamabad, India.

20th March, 2020; 8.50 pm

She took a sharp turn on the road toward her hospital, her friend tightening her grip on her shoulder, their duty was about to start in ten minutes. They could see the hospital now, when Shiny’s phone rang, and she answered it, replying on her head phones.

“Yes, we are almost there. How many centimetres is she dilated?”

Hina could hear the sister’s reply, 9 cms.

“We’ll be there in a couple of minutes. Keep the labour room ready, okay?”

They just had to cross a signal and they’d reach.

“Who’s on call today?”, asked Hina

“Rama Ma’am. And this is her patient only. I really hope there are no complications ya” replied Shiny.

“Posiitve thinking, I told you na. You are wearing your ID card?” There are a lot of policemen today..because of Janta Curfew maybe.

“oi! stop!” called out one of the policemen on the side of the road, just after the signal.

Shiny spoke first, “Sir, we are doctors, going for duty. Our hospital is right here.”

“You first get down!”, he yelled. “Show me your license!” he demanded, lookng at Hina.

She obliged. Personally, she wasn’t afraid of policemen, but she could see Shiny’s hands were trembling.

“Where are you going, ha? kiske saath sone wali hai raat me?” (Who are you going to sleep with tonight?)

Hina couldn’t even think, “Sir, humlog doctors hai, night duty hai and patient emergency me hai” (Sir, we are doctors, we have night duty and our patientis in emergency)

“All of you lie saying the same thing! You women have no shame”, he was still yelling.

Shiny said, “sir please check our IDs”

“It’s janta curfew today! You didnt know? You will go against orders, you cunt?” he was yelling at the top of his voice, while coming closer and closer.

Hina looked at his badge, squinting to read in the dark, and did not see it coming, he had slapped her so forcefully, she fell down. Shiny was screaming. two other police officers were behind the first one.

Without a second thought, blood ringing in her ears, Hina got up and slapped him back. Within a few seconds, the male police officers dragged her by the hair, pushed her against their car, and handcuffed her. Shiny was still screaming. Her phone had started ringing, they pushed them into the police car and ordered the driver to take them into custody, saying “saali bataata hu tera ab, thaane me tera maza chuata hu” (I’ll show you when we reach the station)

Shiny was still sobbing. Hina was furious, this was uncalled for, and they had laws against abuse of female prisoners. How dare he slap her, when all she was doing was heading to work?

“Shiny, call Raj and tell him to come here, and message sister and tell her to handle the case with someone else for now”, she was trying to think amidst the rising bile in her throat and the panic of the situation they were in.

She did, and said,”Ma’am, you should not have slapped him back, why did you do that? Look what has happened now!”

“He cannot arrest us, Shiny! Women cannot be taken into cutsody after sunset! He is wrong here! Let Raj come, let him deal with this,” she started pacing the cell in panic.

Raj arrived in fifteen minutes, but it took them an hour to complete the paperwork. Shiny was beside herself in anxiety, the patient had pre-eclampsia, which means she could die of seizures during or after the delivery. Hina was numb, angry, she couldn’t figure out what to do or say. The police officer who slapped her came to let them out and said, “for this man you came out at night? If he didn’t pay your bail, I would show you a better time” and he walked off, smirking.

Shiny had her hands on Hina’s arms the whole time. “Please dont say anything,” she murmured against her back, “please ma’am!”

They walked out, and Raj was there, “What happened guys? He said you slapped him?”

Hina was quiet, she couldn’t say anything. “How much did you have to pay? we’ll pay you back” said Shiny. “I’ll tell you later”, she replied in a quiet voice to Raj.

“Ey, don’t be silly. Pay back later, let’s go to the hospital first. I got your bike keys, I’ll go and get it after I drop you both,okay?

Hina nodded, gratefully.

“Who’s on call for you all?” he asked, when they reached the hospital.

“Rama ma’am”, Hina replied.

“Sheesh. Tell me how it goes, okay?”

They hurried into the ward, knowing full well no explanation would be able to calm down the anger of their consultant when she found out both her PGs were absent while her Pre-eclampsia patient delivered her baby.

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The Return

By Nicholas Sparks.

After reading this book, I’m amazed that I ever liked any of Nicholas Sparks books. In hindsight, I realise that I perhaps liked the movies better, because of the added factors of music and good-looking faces. If this book is like any of his previous books, then suffice to say that these stories are abysmally boring and pathetic, and if you like Nicholas Sparks and hate on twilight, then you are literally worthless and have zero appreciation for good writing.

Nicholas Sparks, In my 31-year old opinion, is the Chetan Bhagat of America.

And I’ve never read a more disappointing read that either of these authors in my 25 years of reading books of every genre possible.

And if this book can be published, I think I really should get down to it and write my book, because I’m pretty sure I’d make a better manuscript than this.

The book starts well enough, It has all the elements that are time and tested to produce a four star rating – war veteran, PTSD, scarred human being, a half dead young guy, a dead grandfather, a young mysterious teen, a young mysterious woman and a doctor with a LOT of time on his hands.

And bees.

A whole lot about bees and I admit, it was a tiny bit fascinating in the absence of actual reading material. I do agree bees literally hold the world together and if I could, I’d buy freshly harvested home made honey myself.

The rest of the book is so dreary, I read three fourths of it in rapt attention, hoping to find atleast one line or paragraph that I could happily mark as a witty or sarcastic or wonderfully phrased piece of literature, but there were none.

The male protagonist was beyond creepy, his lines were fake and sick, I felt like I was watching one of the guys in my college talking, and I went to an indian medical college, and indian guys have zero cool and one hundred percent cringe, so to me, the first half of the book was like nails scratching on a board. The female protagonist seemed cool but there is no character description in this book, just love at first sight of sexy outfit, and that is just NOT right. The slight mystery that was created in the book regarding the dead grandfather and the second female protagonist was unraveled as fast as picking on a piece of yarn and having the whole scarf fall apart in your hands.

If this is the abysmal level of storytelling we’ve been used to, we seriously need new stories, new material, new authors and new writers and we need to wake up and smell the flowers and stop reading such utter crap and start writing and reading our own journals, cuz pretty sure everyone of our stories are much better than whatever this book was. I need a whole week of lemonades and berries and good reading material to wash this crap down and out of my system. I feel sorry that I fed this rubbish to my brain.

Sorry, Nicholas Sparks. All I can say is I hope the movie turns out better.

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A man called Ove.

A man called Ove.
By Fredrick Backman.

I haven’t read a book this good in the last decade. @backmansk this book made me cry and laugh, and laugh while I cried and cry while I was laughing. How did the author come up with this book? The writing was excellent, snappy, witty, sharp and comforting. Off late, every story has sex and sexuality thrown in as if it’s the trash that litters the streets. This book made me look at love the way love wants to be looked at. Raw, blunt, needy and warm. Love that is a lot of hardwork but that’s why it’s love. Old love, like letters and postcards, that stands the test of time, and stands as testament to the changes time brings with it.
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The generation we grew up watching was a generation of principles, and Ove is nothing but a man of principles. He’s loyal to himself first, and like a lighthouse, he is unchanging and strong. He reminds me of the men in my father’s generation, at the same time, he reminds me that in some ways, men also remain young at heart when it comes to things they love. How did such men dwindle in number? Why does our generation see more people with immortality and less people with principles? Why are we comfortable with everything that is, in reality, as Ove would say,  quite stupid?
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I am in love with this book.
I’m going to purchase every single book this author wrote and re-read it till I figure out what made his writing tick.
Such wonders in words!!! Finally an author that didn’t make cringe!!!

“Because you, Parvaneh, are not a complete idiot”
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Blood & Honey

BLOOD & HONEY

The sequel to Serpent & Dove.

If we had any doubts about who was the serpent and who the dove, @shelbymahurin has cleared those doubts in her second book of the trilogy. That the words are clear, the story neat, all components thrown in for good measure is a part of the charm surely. But as second books usually go, there’s a lot of character development and insight into all the characters involved. Shocking turn of events at the end of the book definitely keep you hooked and wanting the third book.

The first one was obviously a lot more interesting because we met Reid and Lou for the first time. First times are always amazing, cuz people are easier to love on the surface. It’s only when you dive deep into another person that the debris of their previous experiences comes to light … And basically spoils everything LOL.

I found the werewolves quite unnecessary, tbh. I’m guessing they’ll have some part to play in the third book. I’m also thinking, we as a community have forced our authors to include certain elements in their books, which is how the werewolves probably came about in this one, cuz we were all screaming for them! Nevertheless, the transitions of werewolf to human and back was so well written, I was almost taken aback at the clarity of the description. I also love how Lou’s temperament of being a loyal, albiet slightly unpredictable turns a whole forest into ice. It was so “frozen” of her, and for the first time I realised how exhausted Elsa probably was after each episode of freezing things right, left and centre.

I was extremely happy to meet Gaby. I was even more happier to read about consent from an 8 year old. A line that struck me and made me close this book and stare at the wall for five whole seconds? Is when Reid is narrating and he looks at Celie – “Her face crumpled, and she raced toward us. Lou caught her, and I wrapped my arms around them both.”
This just made me feel too many things at once. How tangible love can be and yet how abstract. How one can hold all kinds of love in their hearts together. Is this why polygamy existed? It’s just .. too much to think about. Too many parts of the book felt reminiscent of the writing of Harry Potter to me and well, all writers do take inspiration from somewhere so I guess that can’t be faulted.

All in all, a book well done!❤️

I won’t rate it because the story is still incomplete!

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Girls of Riyadh

Girls of Riyadh.

This book was a re-read.
The first time I read it was almost a decade ago, and I developed a healthy fear of men in the Asian continent,thanks to this book.
Re-reading it now drove the point home even stronger, that I was right to stay away from men of all kind, especially the ones we come across in our lives, the cowards and the self proclaimed kings.

This book is about the stories of four young arab girls, who start out with stars in their eyes and hopes in their heart, falling in love right, left and centre, only to be thwarted in every which way, by the very men they sang praises of. Eventually, they realise that most men think they deserve an untouched and pure girl, and the fact that these men have already spoken to a girl, means she’s now tainted and therefore…… undeserving of him.

Wow.
What wonderful logic this is.
If you think this is a strange thing that only happens to arab girls, think again. Majority women in my city suffer from similar problems. The fact that a guy already spoke to you, or flirted with you, or in his mind has been in love with you, with no participation from your side, is ENOUGH for other men to stay away from you. You are no longer “pure”. This sick mentality takes root in childhood, and men never grow out of it, unless God and common sense intervene.

Girls of Riyadh was a painful read for me. I could see the stories of my friends splayed across the pages. Imagining the horrors that may have occurred behind closed doors made me feel even more uneasy. May God bless women with respectable lives and respectable deaths.

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Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer

Midnight sun

By Stephenie Meyer.

A short review.

If you are not a fan of the twilight series, don’t read any further because I am not gonna try to win you over.

If you did pick this book up, thinking you want to know more about Edward, then kudos. This book is a testament to Edward’s one hundred years of mastered patience. Why was Bella so divine in Edward’s eyes? Because love usually is. We don’t pick and choose what we want to love. Sometimes, love happens. This ofcourse is very hard for Indians to understand as we are always subtly guided toward “who” or “what” we should love, from notebooks to friends to spouses, someone or the other keeps whispering to us which is the better choice. It’s the truth. Don’t hate the messenger.

Tbh, I despised Bella a decade ago. But four years back I befriended a girl who was just. Like. Bella. She annoys me to no end!! She won’t share her thoughts. She is slow. She is clumsy. Some days I wanted to sit and gossip with others about how irritating I found her. Except she was my friend. And I am loyal, despite my faults. I defended her every chance I got. I tried to subtly change her (to no avail). Eventually I gave up, thinking she is her own person and we are different, but we are friends. When I read midnight sun, I realised people like Bella actually do exist. My friend existed. She was a damsel in distress always and sometimes I got tired of helping her or saving her, and I did leave her on her own once or twice to see if she’d cope. Not only did she cope, she shone when left to her own devices.

Bella still irritated me in this book, but with a realisation of reality. I’m glad to read about a heroine who shines “despite herself”. Bella is reminiscent of Melanie, from GWTW, and drives the point home that silent women can be strong too.

Edward, his self loathing and self criticism is so natural to me. It feels good to see someone else suffering like I do. To keep denying ourselves the pleasure of pleasure, and yet slowly indulging, a tiny bit at a time….it’s like being on a perpetual Diet, but stealing a bite of fried food here and there. Ah Edward, you poor devil, you. I totally feel your pain.

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Yes, No, maybe so

Yes, No, Maybe So.

I was looking forward to reading this book since it was released, more because of the authors than any premise of the book. In fact, I had no idea going in what the book was about or the genre even, so I was pleasantly surprised and not at all judgemental when it came to this book.

The characters – both were such well rounded humans! Maya was an average girl, a bit saddened by the problems in her parents marriage; Jamie was an average boy, albiet shy to the point of puking in an interview. Both start campaigning for their local representative, and yes, they fall in love, but it’s the challenge of overcoming their fears that stood out more in this book, than anything else.

If you are looking for a real story, sweet in it’s youthful positivity yet real in it’s realtime events, this is definitely the book for you.

As far as contemporary goes – this would be a 3.5 ✨

#yesnomaybeso #ayeshasaeed #beckyabertalli #beckyabertallibooks #contemporary #contemporarybooks #romcom #romance #teen #youngliving #youngadultbooks #youngadult #bookreview #goodbooks #goodreads #indianbookstagrammer #bookstagramindia

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Restless

I feel restless, like I’m stuck in mid-air, waiting to fall but also waiting to climb.

Like right before an orgasm.. about to reach a high but not sure if I’m there yet

Almost as if I have something planned for tomorrow, which shall bring me great joy, but I don’t what it is

I feel restless

Like the time before the question paper hits my desk and I find out what questions are on it

Like being onboard a flight and I’ve forgotten how much time has passed by and suddenly it’s time to land

Almost as if I have to do something but I’m forgetting what.. but it’s there somewhere.

I feel restless

And it’s not any of the above

So what is it?

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The Kinder Poison

Obviously a short review on bookstagram and Goodreads was not enough.

So here is the actual Spoiler Review for this book.

I’m sorry, why are we only reading silly stories under Young Adult?? And HOW In the world do you justify a damsel in distress story YET AGAIN. Tell me she’s surrounded by vampires and werewolves and I can atleast believe she has zero powers to match them. But magic, a silly magical prowess, being tossed around like salad on a plate, or the hard piece of chicken which no one wants to eat, IS REALLY NOT WHAT anyone should be reading in 2020.

I mean, come on.

A girl who is soft, kind and good. Yes I agree they exist. But three people recognising that and two people getting attracted to it ONLY HAPPENS In lame books. The whole premise of this book is that the girl is a kind person, albiet quite unfortunate, and happens to be stuck in life threatening situations and almost dies…in every chapter.

Okay.

Right.

I’m sorry, but definitely not my kind of book.

This was one too many YA that just blew me up with their nonsensical magic, made up Gods, Arabic names to sound exclusive and kissing scenes that make no sense.

I appreciate the book is well worded. But that Is all. Nothing drew me in. And if you are a woman TIRED of being painted as stupid because of your gender, this book is NOT for you.

Basically the story follows this girl who gets caught in a Hunger games* like situation, by accident, and she has a history of inferiority complex and man-issues of not being considered worthy, and from there on, it’s one incident after another highlighting her naiviety or stupidity, I can’t tell which, and being caught between two brothers (duh) who are competing for the throne. Their fighting is a whole other story, and one of the brothers, the hero who shall save her in the last chapter, obviously now has turned a new leaf. The other brother has issues of his own and marks our Zahru to become a sacrifice to their Gods. She’s thrown over to the third heir who obviously is a woman, where we see our author trying to gain some semblance of righteousness by highlighting the problems women face of being taken seriously, (female heir, taken lightly) but at the same time showcase her as a flighty, airheaded princess, ready to spill both blood and wine, and therefore unfit for the throne.

Obviously Zahru is stolen by our Hero, they develop a bond, everything is cosy and she’s stolen again by the other brother, a villian hiding in sheep’s clothing. Or is it a sheep hiding in a Wolf’s skin?? Because then they have a passionate kiss after which she obviously poisons him and escapes. Although just a day ago, she saved him from being murdered on the street.

Well, well.

And back to the arms of our Hero. Story ends with the good side winning and the bad side losing. But this is a series. So when our heroine is being dropped off home, a whole village has been burned down and yikes,.that was a difficult scene to read, but pretty sure the next book is about saving people she knows and winning the heart of the future king.

And probably some more hurdles on the way, Selection*-style.

Footnote – hunger games and selection are trilogies. Please google them.

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I’ve given up

I’m giving up on trying to please my mother.

This is it.

No matter what I do, it’s never right, enough or even done.

She told me yesterday I don’t do anything at home.

When I’ve been cooking breakfast and dinner since last September when she cancelled the cook.

And Its been only me in the kitchen since lockdown started

And some days when I make something different that has me working since 10 am

She starts making an elaborate dish of her own

Just so that she doesn’t have to acknowledge that I did something great

Because she did something great ofcourse

And she’s the mother so everyone has to praise her

And she obviously has more experience so it’s easier for her

And Everything I do is disregarded in a second

And that’s what she means when she says I haven’t done anything at all

Because whatever I have done, she has negated it

One day, I didn’t cook at all

And she did everything by herself and now has started telling me every chance she gets

That I didn’t do a single thing all this time

That she has been slogging everyday

Are you as confused as I am?

Whether this is my mother or my mother in law?

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Life as an Indian woman

Intent

I woke up today determined to forgive everyone and especially myself

To start a day mending fences between my heart and my mind

Knowing that not everyone can think like me or that I do not have to get everyone on the bandwagon of equality, especially not to love them

I do not need them to be how I want them to be for me to love them

Because I love them nevertheless

And to have a tiff at something that is never going to change and spoil everyone’s mood and have everyone hate me back as opposed to the irritation I feel for them

Is not my idea of a good day

So I’m determined to let my opinions stay locked in a box

So that I can be called nice and sweet by the world

Non-confrontational. Kind. Simple. Easy.

These are the words the world will use.

Not knowing that underneath lies a volcano.

I concede.

I’ll be a woman you want me to be. Pink. Sweet. Nice. Blonde. Unassuming. Silly. Dumb.

As opposed to opiniated. Irrational. Arguer. Fighter. Brash. Complicated. Insane.

I concede.