Sunday, January 3, 2021



“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”

Charles Dickens could have been speaking of 2020 when he began ‘The Tale of Two Cities’, a book that remains one of his masterpieces.

It was, no doubt, the worst of times! The world watched, helpless and horrified, as a tiny virus sneaked into its timeline, and wreaked havoc globally. No country was spared, as the whole of humanity went through a series of emotions – bewilderment, disbelief, understanding and finally, the realization that this was the mother of all challenges. Lockdowns creaked into place, masks came into being, sanitizers sold like hot cakes and social distancing became the new mot juste of the times.

Countries closed their doors, flights were stopped, travel became a rarity. The moment a glimmer of hope was seen, it was quickly scotched by the eager beavers who believed that nothing could go wrong, behaving disgracefully till things actually went wrong under their very noses. Often, it was innocent bystanders, who were standing nowhere in the vicinity, who were dragged in, unwittingly. All in all, it was a glum scenario with no light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. For the virus, which mutated and rose in potency, could have been hiding in the very same tunnel.

Yet, in many ways, it could also be termed the best of times, or at least the best in these trying times. Education turned completely online, and students, teachers and parents scrambled on to the band wagon, trying to tune their systems to keep up with the times. While teething problems were galore, slowly new skills were learnt and across the globe, people started coping. The resilience of the human spirit came to the fore, as it adapted to a brand-new world of computers, online meetings, and a tech savvy scenario.

Life had turned turtle for us personally as well. We were all set to go abroad to meet our precious grandchildren when suddenly, all flights were cancelled, and a lockdown imprisoned us within the country. That was heartbreaking, and yet, there was nothing we could do about it. Millions were in the same position.

As a writer, however, this was a particularly fruitful period for me, and for several of my writer friends. Our creative juices bubbled in a cauldron of literary activity, and our publisher, Dipankar Mukherjee, and his talented editor, Indrani Ganguly, made sure that they added on their own potent elements to spur us on. Hence, Readomania brought out seven anthologies on myriad themes, and all of us, literary comrades-on-arms made sure that we burnt the midnight oil and wrote for most of them. I was thrilled to find my stories nestling within five.

2020 will always be the COVID year for all of us. However, it will also remain the landmark year for me personally when I was able to bring out two solo books as well. The first whetted my appetite for thrillers stories and was an anthology titled ‘Where Shadows Follow – Tales that Twist and Turn’. (Readomania)

The next series, again from Readomania, was an absolute turnabout and a book for children – 'Classic Tales from the Panchatantra’. These initially came out as four volumes of five stories each, and then as a compilation of twenty stories in one volume. I loved working on them and what was especially heartwarming was that my publisher gave me a chance to draw the illustrations for each of the stories, along with my daughter, Priyanka. There we were, going back in time, when we used to doodle on bits of paper and both of us enjoyed the experience thoroughly. My granddaughter, Zoya, inspired by her mother’s sketches, sat down and drew the cutest little lion ever, which went into the dedication of the books.

It was then that a dear friend, Sangeetha Shinde, called me up and asked me if I would be part of an anthology of gritty women’s stories, many of whom were survivors of abuse in one form or the other. God having been kind to me, I have never faced such a scenario, and instead, I wrote about my life as an Army wife, along with its joys and tribulations, all in verse form, for that was the format of the whole book. It was a powerfully moving book and celebrities like Kabir Bedi, Shreekumar Varma, Suhasini Maniratnam and many others were part of its nationwide launch.

A fitting finale for the year was working on ten stories adapted from Shakespeare’s plays for children. The stories were done by November and were sent out to various young beta-readers, who perused them and let me know what appealed to them, and what didn’t. A few more readings and hopefully, that will be another piece of my heart out there for public viewing.

As December, my birthday month came around, and Christmas after, it was time to make a gesture of gratitude. As a giveaway, I decided that I would gift copies of my earlier book, 'Shadow in the Mirror' to reader friends and acquaintances. 

As the New Year begins in earnest, it is only fit that I offer gratitude to all those who made the year that has gone by bearable.

So, thank you, to my incredible husband, my amazing daughter and son-in love, and my adorable grandchildren for fostering joy within me,

My two wonderful mothers, sisters, brothers-in-love and numerous nephews and nieces for having made me smile through the difficult times,

My intrepid publisher and his team who encouraged me and my never-tiring literary companions and writer friends who wrote and read along with me,

My colleagues at school and my students who constantly wrought magic by doing impossible things,

And, of course, all my friends, online and offline, who have always held my hand, encouraged me whenever I have posted anything, and helped me climb mountains…

Finally, to the Universe for having conspired to make things happen!

You know who you are, and you are all wonderful… thank you!

1 comment:

  1. Simply Superb and so thoughtful!! Gratitude is love, satisfaction and appreciation rolled into one. The beautiful person that you are is mirrored in your writing!!



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