Jukebox is here

Sometimes, it’s the journey which becomes more important than the destination. You begin at a point, pause for breath, lose your directions and embark on a different path altogether. Modified directions and better co-travellers make the new roadmap more interesting than your original itinerary.

I hadn’t imagined that a phone call in leisure with Priyanka Purkayastha, founder of Writersmelon, would result in me hopping on to the bandwagon and push more steam into the already running engine. 

That’s an excerpt from my Editor’s Note in Jukebox, presented by Writersmelon – a stellar collection of short stories by budding writers in India. Now available on Amazon.

Working as a pre-jury for our annual writing marathon Melonade for the past few years has been one of the best experiences I’ve gathered so far. There’s seldom a greater pleasure for me than to be lauded by young, creative minds for editing and polishing their already stellar stories. With hundreds of entries, Melonade has often drowned me with so much work that I’d forget I exist!

‘A short story creates an entire world in a few pages’ – Tejaswini Apte-Rahm

How often do we come across stories that have the ability to change our lives? Each story in Jukebox presents a choice – a choice from chaos to order, one that has life altering properties. Every track in this medley strikes a different chord at your heart with characters that speak up and stand alone for themselves and their choices. We, at Writersmelon, have handpicked, cut and polished each story till it emanates a beautiful message and stays forever with the reader.

As Preeti Shenoy said rightly in her foreword – ‘The stories had me enthralled, mesmerised and spellbound,’ – Jukebox is here to make an impact and linger in your mind for long. Published by Readomania, Jukebox is a venture by Writersmelon.com – a collection of selected short stories from the 5th edition of Melonade (a nationwide writing competition by Writersmelon).

The long wait is finally over, our path to publishing has been bumpy and came with lot of pleasant & difficult surprises. And now we are gearing up for the launch of this book in Bangalore. Yes, you heard it right. All those wonderful people decided to participate in Melonade – A nationwide writing competition, gave us their best short stories, highly acclaimed authors picked the ones they loved the most & we sprinkled some more magic along with our publisher Readomania.

If you are a book lover & live in Bangalore, don’t miss our first book launch celebration. Meet and chat with the best selling author Preeti Shenoy, the super talented authors of Jukebox and our some of our fabulous bloggers.

We’d love to see you in Bangalore on 8th July, 5-7 pm at Atta Galatta, Koramangala.

Why Read Manto?

Image Courtesy: Google

Image Courtesy: Google

That’s a fairly easy rhetoric with complicated reasons as answers. There’s been a lot written in recent years about Manto and his writings, which would make you feel pseudo-erudite and jump into the bandwagon of discussions. Manto’s writing is a revelation, yes. He’s been working on such gems of stories while my father was still a kid, and I was just initiated into the realm of his existence about a decade ago! Now I will confess that most of my puny knowledge bank is stuffed with inputs from Bangla Literature, including Manto. I read about him in some Bangla short story, as being referred to what a great writer he was, and was interested in finding out about his writings. It is this lack of awareness I’m not happy about. If an average Indian like me takes two decades to find out about Manto, when will we read and discern his work?

Manto is not just a writer, he’s a phenomenon. The way he did unclad our ‘modern’ subcontinent society of its taboos and prejudices is not only rare, but revolutionary. If we could, even after 5-6 decades, accept a chunk of what he wanted to convey, life wouldn’t have been so difficult. Most importantly, he lived in our favourite Bollywood and thrived there for some time in its initial prime. His views on the then stars of Hindi film industry expose a lot and yet again the hypocrisies that they couldn’t conceal beneath snow, Pometom and kohl. It’s astonishing that he is described as Pakistani in the Wiki page – you can’t contain Manto within the thin air boundaries of greater India. He has been able to shred and imbibe pieces of him through Toba Tek Singh into the hearts of all. He is indeed, the Toba Tek Singh that neither countries can digest even after decades. Banned, discerned, condescended, abused – he went on writing to his heart’s content. I think that’s what any writer dreams of, not in these bloody days of slaughter though.

41oEIR9oh3L._SX317_BO1,204,203,200_I’ve read more about him than actually his stories as they’re in Urdu. The English translation by Aatish Taseer was brilliant and yet lacked the little something that makes Urdu resplendent. Since I believe in reading as many books in their original languages as I can to grasp their flavours, especially the lyrical Urdu, I will read Manto’s books in Hindi now. And may be someday in Urdu too. I’ve learned Hindi (actually Hindustani as a language) in school and college for 14 years and the beautiful Urdu words mixed in Premchand or Nirala’s stories made me fall in love with the discourse.

I’m not an expert coaching you about why read Manto. Just read, get a sneak a peek of our society some odd sixty years ago, which still hasn’t changed much.