Tuesday, 10 May 2016


Someone's Always Waiting
Sumana Khan

ENCOUNTERS is a potpourri of five sumptuous stories involving a motley crew of protagonists. Skating along the borders of fantasy and paranormal themes, the stories track incredible and poignant journeys of self-discovery, tracing the cathartic aftermath of fleeting encounters.

Sumana’s books are a sensory treat. Having read The Revenge of Kaivalya, my expectations were high with Encounters and I was not disappointed. In fact my daughter and me were fighting to read this book first.

FIRST LOVE is about a 32-year-old India’s youngest award winning forensic analyst, Dr. Ratnaveni. This story emphasizes the fact that your education, professional qualification and social standing does not mean a thing if you are not married ‘at the right age,’ the typical mindset of the middle class parents in India.

Ratna, unknowingly falls in love with Vrka – a myth, an animal or the creation of her hallucinating mind!

Ratna, after her graduation is engaged to be married to Surya, who stays abroad and is well to do only in terms of money but as a person he is a typical male who has a pervert satisfaction to have found a virgin bride for himself which actually arouses him.

This story is a fast paced thriller and even in the end we are groping for answers whether it is a fantasy or the projection of Ratna’s hallucination.

Some words that touched me the most –

My truth? My parents perceive me as an extra piece of luggage that must be given away. On account of my gender.”  

Not once had anyone tried to understand how important this was to me. But I was not surprised. I had learnt to accept this passive sidelining from a very young age. I had also learnt to be resourceful-to make the best movements possible with my shackles on.”

Isn’t this the truth of almost all the females in our country?

THE STORYTELLER had me spellbound. If not for the introduction of the granite bench at the beginning of the story, I would not have guessed the outcome. It is so engrossing that I too was carried along with the tsunami of emotions. It is like one of those ghost stories that we all heard from some elder in the family as kids. Only that you will not believe as to who the storyteller is!

I’m an agarbatti salesman. I know it does not sound very…what do you say...prestigious. Boss, let me tell you one thing – your software – geeftware, finance – ginance, everything can do a Titanic.” This made me laugh…the simplicity and authenticity of the language.

REMINISCENCE is such a sweet love story between an elderly couple. It is a story about the little pleasures of life, of important milestones and of memories attached to things and how we cling to them. The story reminds us of a time when even neighbours were family and everyone celebrated and rejoiced with each other and also mourned and helped each other as their own.

You can afford many curtains. But this saree was gifted by Deepu. He bought it with his first pay, remember? How can I throw it away? You had bought that bangle set to match the saree? So many good memories no?”

This was how we attached value to things long after they had served their purpose.  Coming from a background like this, I can easily identify with the characters and story. So what is about this story? Don’t let the narrator surprise you.

HAPPINESS CLINIC is about an elderly gentleman Sheshadri who has retired from work and is trying to figure out the life and people around him and hopelessly failing to do so.  He did have his own plans as to how he would spend his time after retirement but he did not have any idea about what his wife or the immediate family wanted to follow his plan. Now after two years of retirement he was reduced to an irritating snob. And then he is introduced to his true self when he comes across the Happiness Clinic and meets his namesake or you can say his alter ego.

What follows is the realization that his wife Sharada is well-educated person who has an immense potential in teaching and changing the course of lives of the students whom she taught.

BEST FRIENDS FOREVER is a para-normal experience with a dash of history thrown in. Prerna is a bubbly young girl whose childhood had been greatly scared by the abuse from her grandmother. And it was Alice who becomes Prerna’s best friend and solace at that time. Is Alice real or is she just an imaginary friend of Prerna? To find out, read this story that is an emotional roller coaster ride.

What makes Sumana’s stories endearing is the usage of colloquial language. It blends in seamlessly into the dialogues that you can only smile at their usage.
Here are some examples -

Pammi and withdrawn? Never. Once she starts talking , uff! You will bow before her and beg for one minute’s silence. She has so many friends…always they want Pammi. Movie means Pammi…wedding means Pammi…”

“Lot of people worked in the Karaikal port from all these areas. So heavy traffic. The distance is just tonty…tonty-five kilometres. But the buses would stop for every waving hand, stretching the forty-minute journey to one and half hours.”

Just pick up the book and read it…totally worth it!

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You can get this book directly from the Publisher


Sumana was born and raised in Bengaluru, Karnataka, where she went on to graduate with a BSc in Electronics, much to the surprise of her teachers, and relief of her parents. In what can only be described as a quirk of fate, she ended up as an IT consultant - a role she essayed for more than a decade. She then moved to the UK where she quit her job and pursued academic and literary interests. The result of this pursuit has been two Masters, one published book, quite a few manuscript drafts, and above all, being stone-broke perpetually.

She currently lives in the UK with her husband and several books.  

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the lovely review Janu. I'm glad you liked the local-ness of the narratives :)


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