Turning, he called out to the guard outside, “Ask my special guards to meet me”.
Two robed men came in. Omichand commanded, “Follow that ayah who accompanied the English woman. Find out all that the woman knows and who all she has met over the last few days. Do what you need to do but ensure that details of Joba’s movements do not get around”.
The next morning, the Captain Commandant’s household was in a tizzy. His wife’s trusted ayah had vanished in the night. Initial suspicion that she had run away with some valuables was quickly dispelled when nothing was found to be missing. Jim got the fort security to investigate but they came up with no answers. The mystery got solved after a few days in a rather gruesome manner when the ayah’s dead body was found floating in the Lal Dighi with her throat slit.
The above is an excerpt from the award-winning, ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly’.
Have you read it yet?
‘The fire of communal violence was spreading. There existed enough baggage of distrust and enmity between two of the major communities in the country to fan it.
News trickled in about the incendiary speech made by the Bengal Chief Minister Shaheed Suhrawardy and the ensuing cycle of violence which would later come to be known as the Great Calcutta Killings. Since both their larger families were in Bengal, Sujit and Bina were concerned and sent postcards enquiring about the safety and health of everyone. They even offered family members to leave Calcutta for some time and come and stay with them in New Delhi. Mercifully, they got back replies by post that there was nothing to worry about at the moment and all were safe.
But the Calcutta killings and the subsequent incidents of communal violence that followed in several parts of North India were but a trailer of what was to come…………..’
The above is an excerpt from the story Ashtami, part of the Chronicler of the Hooghly.
Book of the Month, Nazm -e- Hayat literary award winner. Available worldwide on Amazon.
Collaboration between two authors can be a virtuous cycle of learning for both.
In her review of ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories, author Manali Desai writes:
- All the stories compare a time in India (especially Kolkata) from pre-independence vs now, making us ponder whether things have really changed and also highlighting the fact that ‘the past repeats itself’ and some actions/decisions have their impacts resonated through ages.
- The writing style doesn’t always paint a pretty or desolate picture, but in fact, manages to preserve the beauty of simple simplicity by interlinking the heritage of Kolkata with commonality. Though the colours are a bit subdued and faded, but they carry lineage and ancestry.
- The most striking feature of the book is how the author has let his creativity rewrite history. It comes out especially well in “The Chronicler of the Hooghly” where the paths have been intertwined with well-known historical figures of Bengal.
- The writing is simple and yet holds the capacity to make a reader fall in love with old Calcutta making them curious about the city’s past.
- The stories are thought-provoking and represent various human nature/emotions like greed, sadness, anger but the most applaud-worthy part about the actions in each story is how they bring home the message of karmic ends.
In my review of Manali’s book, I had said :
“I was coaxed to read the book by a Facebook friend. I had downloaded it in Kindle a while back but could complete the reading only today.
Author Manali Desai took me on a journey. A journey inhabited by three millennials Ayesha Banerjee, Viren Joshi and Abhi Agrawal. A journey which spanned Mumbai, Kolkata and Chandigarh. A journey into the mind and the world of the Millennial. And I have come out enriched!
The prologue containing Ayesha’s poetry recital is at once heart wrenching, as it punches the reader in the guts. Showcase as it does one of the evils of our societal mindset.
Adopting an easy and racy writing style, Manali’s narrative does manage to operate at two levels. At one level, the tale is one of the proverbial romance triangle and what that shows up as in social interactions and conversations – during morning walks, in the college canteen and situations. At another level exists the unsureness and the confusion about making a choice. For me the end was somewhat abrupt. Apart from this a nice read.
I would urge Manali Desai to keep on writing.”
In our author collaborative session, we had an interesting discussion on the above aspects.
‘Came the partition of the country and the independence speech of the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in which he proclaimed, “At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom”.
What followed was something quite the contrary.
Rather than awakening to life, people were awakening to bloodshed, killings, rape and pillage. Rather than awakening to freedom to live where they chose to, people were being forced to leave behind everything they possessed and cross a newly created artificial border, homeless and penniless.‘
The above is an excerpt from Ashtami, one of the stories in ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories’ which recently received the Nazm-e-Sahitya award for 2021.
On this day, as we mark the 75th year of India’s independence, the following excerpt from the section ‘Hebrews’ in the New Testament comes to mind.
“So since we stand surrounded by all those who have gone before, an enormous cloud of witnesses, let us drop every extra weight, every sin that clings to us and slackens our pace, and let us run with endurance the long race set before us.
We may feel alone, but we aren’t. We are surrounded by an army of witnesses. They have run the race of faith and finished well. It is now our turn.“
Let us not forget all those who have gone before. Indeed, now it is our turn.
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Goura Prasad from Odisha, a student of literature, has sent me this beautiful piece and I am copying it below:
“I’m an admirer of literature. I used to write short poems, few lines about my teachers and felt happy to write about that. I ‘m enjoying The Chronicler of the Hooghly on a fine Sunday morning.
The Chronicler of the Hooghly is a good book with a unique writing style. It can be best enjoyed at the dining table, a father with a copy of the book in his hand and his children as active listeners.
Goura Prasad further provides this so very interesting discussion in the metaphysical world!
(Topic- Author Shakti Ghosal)
If Shakespeare, George Benard Shaw, William Wordsworth, Robert Frost and some other contemporary writers of their level were to talk to each other in the metaphysical world regarding Author Shakti Ghosal they may be very much thankful towards him firstly.
How Shakti is deeply rooted in the field of literature with some advanced literary ideas; claps may come voluntarily from them while talking to each other in the metaphysical world.
Shakespeare might say this to Shakti, “I’ve written so many dramas and sonnets, but the way you present the incidents with appropriate scenes Hail Thee to it.”
George Benard Shaw might suggest, ” No foreigner can speak English with hundred percent accuracy but your writing style is worth observing.”
Robert Frost may confide, ” I could not stop in the forest to enjoy the growing darkness of an advancing evening as I was assigned with so many responsibilities and I ‘ve mentioned this also in “Stopping by Woods on Snowy Evening.” But from our discussion, I can assure you I’ll take leave to enjoy your The Chronicler of the Hooghly.”
And the discussion goes on……..
Thank you Goura for the above wonderful thought. You have indeed made my day!!
A thrilling saga of a mystical pearl necklace which spins history and myth addictively across different dimensions.
Across time as it takes the reader on a two and a half centuries journey.
Across human failings and virtues of political intrigue, greed, betrayal, love and magnanimity.
The Chronicler of the Hooghly continues to make emotional waves worldwide.
In the words of The Telegraph, “…. it is the sensitive treatment of the characters battling these tragedies that enriches these tales.”
Nazmehayat was conceived as a platform for worthy writers. Curated by its two founders Swapnil Singh and Anushree Goswami, Nazmehayat offers book recommendations, contests as also a blogging platform for writers. It has a significant presence on social media platforms.
Nazmehayat has the vision to become a leading Literature platform in the world.
Today morning, I woke up to the pleasurable news that Nazmehayat has awarded me the Nazme Sahitya award 2021 for the Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories.
Thank you Nazmehayat for the recognition.
‘ Deb returned to Calcutta, but to greater worldly burdens. One day, as he sat with his friend, he confided, “Having lost my father, I sought solitude. What I have got instead are never-ending duties and worldly commitments. There is a struggle going on inside me and I do not know who would win- the World or the Spirit.”
That night, Deb saw his departed mother in his dream, “Hast thou really become the One who knows Brahma? If so, sanctified is thine family, fulfilled is thine mother’s desire.”
Deb woke up to find all his worries gone and his mind feeling like a feather.
When Carr, Tagore and Company finally declared bankruptcy and with it the closure of all the businesses, Deb said to Sarada, “All our businesses and property have gone out of my hands. What I had prayed for has been granted and realised. As the moon gets freed from Rahu, so has my soul become free from the worries of the world and now feels the heaven of Brahman.”
Thus it was that the son of Prince Dwarkanath became Rishi Debendranath. The pearl necklace and the curse that accompanied it had come a full circle. It had journeyed from adorning Lord Krishna in Chandernagore to driving the scion of a business empire based in Kolkata to renounce everything and embrace spirituality.’
The above is an excerpt from the story ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly’ from the book of the same name. The book continues to make emotional waves worldwide with more than one hundred and seventy excellent ratings and reviews on Amazon and Good Reads.
The book is dedicated to my father Late Debabrata Ghosal who gave wings to my imagination in my formative years.
I am conscious of the blessing that my eighty seven year old mother bestows on me daily which has enabled me to focus, ideate and pen what I have written.
I remain indebted to my wife Sanchita, without whose partnership and deep involvement, this book would not have come out in the present form. Not only has she been a sounding board for my creative thoughts, her suggestions relating to mid-course corrections in the plots have led to significant improvement of the final output that is in your hands today.
I am also beholden to my daughters Riya, Raka and my son-in-law Vibhu who provided the needed ‘readers point of view’ criticism of my writing at every stage. My daily interaction with my nearly two year old granddaughter Anaysha on WhatsApp video, has been a source of joy as I went about the onerous task of authorship.
The Chronicler of the Hooghly continues to make emotional waves around the world with more than a hundred and sixty excellent ratings on Amazon and Goodreads.
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