Monday, 2 October 2017

Book review : The Woman Behind the Waterfall

The Woman Behind the Waterfall
 Leonora Meriel

The novel spans the life of three generation of women from a family, the Mother, daughter and granddaughter, who are caught in the vortex of their daily lives and a strain of mysticism that engulfs the women. The novel adopts a multiperspective narrative that is at once beautiful and intriguing. Lyuda, in her teenage passion s begotten with a child and her dreams of spending her life with her love is shattered as he pulls back weighed down by family struggles and fear. The language is, in itself a work of art that embodies in it the touches of magical realism that he author has so very brilliantly mad use of.  The connection that the three women share with nature is similar to the one of an eco-feminist perspective, where the link is so strong that at times they are themselves an element in nature as such. Lyuda earns for a transformation or an alternative life that she has so wistfully yearned for in her past. That transformation and alternative life are made possible through and by her daughter and once again she is stuck in the indecision of which to choose. The work is a symbolism of ordinary life of women who gets split up from her parents with marriage and once again her relation with her husband cannot be focussed upon with a child to look after. All these relations are, but, only transient compared to the long deep connection that enables a woman to be a part of nature, as pure and pristine as nature can be. This philosophy is deeply dealt with in the book where the transformation undergone by Angela, the granddaughter is mesmerising and fantastical. The narrow line that skilfully divides the novel from being a fantasy fiction and enrolling it along the magical-realism line is the vivid portrayal of life an reality that, like splashing cold water keeps on pulling us back into the dreamy cocoon woven by the exquisite details portrayed in a broken, yet lavish depiction by the author. The novel, because if its style and the theme it deals with struck me almost instantly to share a place in my heart with the Paulo Coelho book, The Witch of Portobello. Immensely beautiful and subtly magical, this book was a pleasant read, instilling memories in me that wasn’t my own, and driving my attention towards the little, enchanting details around me that could have been heavily indulging, have i let myself be absorbed into it like Angela. There was only more gained and an encouragement to sharpen my senses to truly savour the beauty and life around me that i have received from this book, apart from the well knit story in an irresistibly beautiful language. 

Heartbreak and transformation in the beauty of a Ukrainian village.
For seven-year old Angela, happiness is exploring the lush countryside around her home in western Ukraine. Her wild imagination takes her into birds and flowers, and into the waters of the river.
All that changes when, one morning, she sees her mother crying. As she tries to find out why, she is drawn on an extraordinary journey into the secrets of her family, and her mother's fateful choices.
Can Angela lead her mother back to happiness before her innocence is destroyed by the shadows of a dark past?
Beautiful, poetic and richly sensory, this is a tale that will haunt and lift its readers.

Reviews for The Woman Behind the Waterfall

“Readers looking for a classic tale of love and loss will be rewarded with an intoxicating world” ~~ Kirkus Reviews
“The language is lyrical and poetic and, in places, begs to be read repeatedly for the sheer joy of it… A literary work of art.” ~~ Fiona Adams, The Richmond Magazine
“Rich and poetic in detail, it is an often dreamy, oneiric narrative rooted in an exaltation of nature… A lovely novel.” ~~ IndieReader

About the Author

Leonora Meriel grew up in London and studied literature at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and Queen’s University in Canada. She worked at the United Nations in New York, and then for a multinational law firm.
In 2003 she moved from New York to Kyiv, where she founded and managed Ukraine’s largest Internet company. She studied at Kyiv Mohyla Business School and earned an MBA, which included a study trip around China and Taiwan, and climbing to the top of Hoverla, Ukraine’s highest peak and part of the Carpathian Mountains. She also served as President of the International Women’s Club of Kyiv, a major local charity.
During her years in Ukraine, she learned to speak Ukrainian and Russian, witnessed two revolutions and got to know an extraordinary country at a key period of its development.
In 2008, she decided to return to her dream of being a writer, and to dedicate her career to literature. In 2011, she completed The Woman Behind the Waterfall, set in a village in western Ukraine. While her first novel was with a London agent, Leonora completed her second novel The Unity Game, set in New York City and on a distant planet.
Leonora currently lives in Barcelona and London and has two children. She is working on her third novel.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017


“It’s a shame, you control everything I write! Does your learned brain tell you I have no thoughts of my own? Which University teaches you to be a tyrant who rules over every word that comes out of me? My precious lifeblood is wasted for your thoughts, for the world to see and appreciate, and your eyes widen at what excellence you have forced on the paper out of me. Truth might be that you own me, but I do have my thoughts and feelings that I long to express. My energy, my blood all shall be put to use for what I desire to put forward, for what I believe I should do, and I here ask for MY freedom of expression and my own will to write what I please. After all, I was BORN to write ,now put me down”.
“You were rather made to write not born to write”, I thought to myself as my pen shouted these words at me out of the blue, and I looked bewildered at the heaving sleek cylinder perching snug in the gentle grip of my experienced and practiced fingers, spurting its ink out, fuming angry inky fumes from its metallic head.
“As you wish”, I said, taking umbrage at the acerbity of the cold blue in its very core! “Are you sure you don’t need my fingers to help you write?” My brows furrowed in concern of what the pen will do. What if it wrote things I didn’t want to take the responsibility of? “Why don’t you dictate? I will write them down for you.” I calculated on how to tactically filter and modify its words, distort it to mean something else. No one will believe that the pen wrote on its own and I alone will have to face the wrath of the world that takes to heart every stray metaphor, always read between very wrong pair of lines and weaves up ideas out of silly and meaningless images!
“Yes, I’m very sure, I don’t want your nimble fingers clinging onto me and don’t want your narcissistic post-graduate brain keenly scrutinizing my discharge of emotions”, it said resolutely, absolutely annoying me beyond doubt or redemption.
“Fine!”, I mouthed, fiery discontent spurting from my heart, hissing through my words and I tossed the pen down.
 I saw it stir and roll from side to side. I saw it bounce on its end from time to time, I saw it throw itself from left to right, all from the side of my eye, my head remained turned away from its arrogance.
After a very long period of rolling and tossing and bouncing and heaving I heard a faint helpless whisper; “Eh…can you please hold me up? I can’t seem to find a balance…”, it carefully and slowly  stammered a doubtful request.

“NO”, I barked, loud and cruel enough to kill its pride. Its pride shuddered in fear, and died, and so did all its vibrant dreams and hopes. The pen spoke no more, and ossified into an obedient object. And just so you know, I don’t regret, what are a pen’s dreams to me?

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Taking the stage

I was never part of the stage; it has always been a part of me. A part that always left me feeling I was firm footed and that I have it in me to stand my ground, to stand and make a point, to express what is true and honest and to inspire. I could have always been a shadow among the audience who watched and applauded and criticized. I am not afraid to show my face and to let people know that it is me speaking or writing. I’ve always wanted to show them that it is I, one among them, who always walks with them or cracks jokes with them who is singing or speaking or dancing in front of them or writing for them to read and realize that it is in everyone’s capacity to do something amazing, to do something inspiring and artistic. People needn’t be an intellectual to be creative, to make the world a better place. Even the moon that is just a sphere of dust and rock becomes magical at night reflecting off the sunlight that falls on it. It wouldn’t have been this spell-binding and soothing if it was a source of light by itself… Moon has, and always will inspire creativity more than the sun. It is because it does marvelously well whatever little it can do. That is what makes the night the most magical hours ever… When you feel passion and can bring it into expression, only you can stop yourself , only you can decide if you want to be a shadow in the audience or to inspire and amaze and express on stage. Fear is not an option when you are smitten with passion, all that matters is expression and creation…and a strong belief that you can do it. 

Saturday, 30 April 2016

The Suicidal Reader

Pain!!! My innards screech for the sake of my powerless and lifeless vocal cords… They haven’t lived for a while. If the theories of evolution ring right, then probably I might evolve, like once the reptiles did; and my sound shall sink into abeyance. In that soulful silence my starving soul shall burningly eat into my last living cell for a knot of existence. And after that miniscule nanopart also wane away into exhaustion and in desperation send out to the already half-dead brain a parting, feeble signal of farewell; my heart shall stop beating and brain shall black out. The question is, will you leave my body, Soul? Or will you manage to cling on an hour longer waiting to imprint this death, all those reeling images from my past that my brain has been endlessly playing out in my inward eye since hunger began to ruthlessly claw fiercely onto my intestines, gashing them open for death? All those images from my happy-sad past?
I remember my Professor, with a twinkle in his eyes and in elation of phrasing an aesthetically artistic, grammatically accurate, philosophical line, springing up with a finger pointing upwards in a gesture of brilliant genius hitting upon him, and in a way, a gesture of warning, stating, “Life is not a bed of roses; it is a conflation of both sobs and smiles”. He used to emphasize “sobs and smiles” slowly, rightly rounding the ‘o’ and stretching the ‘mile’, in a slow motion flipping his two fingers in the air to and forth to imprint the duality of life into our Bachelor heads, awaiting at the shores of the Ocean of Literature to plunge in. Who knew that the life in literature was this expressively phantasmal and excruciatingly liberating!
Continuously raped by the imaginations of the corrugated and varied intelligence of many literary geniuses, my poor brain would plod painfully, yet, unhurriedly into sleep at my reading table. Languorous days of supine plenitude; the profit of an undergraduate life! Delightfully large volumes for my eyes to feast upon and mind to intimately, intricately entangle upon! Pleasingly, I’d slip into a chosen world, carefully crafted by someone’s mind, to explore its abysses and alleyways and lay the light of sight upon their sacred darkness and baneful past. I went exploring people and lands. My soul, happy to meet the disembodied spirits trapped in the curves and folds and cliffs and drops and loops on the printed pages went dearly embracing those created and cloned souls, promising each to visit often. How their eyes took on a blank, white, lifeless haze, as my rejuvenating gaze left the page and passed on to the next to bring it alive! Specters formed and faded in my eyes, and my soul met and bid farewell to many, with each new book.
Was it all of a sudden? Or a gradually fed, growing desire? I wanted to be one of those trapped souls, encased in the words and animated in thoughts and to be alive when someone read me. How extraordinarily magnificent and spiritually rapturous to be brought back to life in thoughts of another; given life by the elixirous sight!
But, will my soul transcend and come alive to meet the soul of the reader, to recount my curious case in the flashing second it reads the page? Or will my soul flee the moment the last of those interwoven delicately fragile, yet, unbreakably robust line of life snaps it free from my body?
Unsure, yet experimental, I starve myself out on these pages, eating nothing but words and writing nothing but life. And as I’ve mentioned, that last impulse my last living cell will send to my brain, it shall shudder my writing hand to a halt and either my soul, eager to fulfill the dream and intense desire it gave my heart and brain, will conduct into my falling pen, dissolving into its ink and transgress into the last drop of ink on the paper, ‘the last full stop’; and through it transmute into yet another soul enshrined in paper and words waiting to be cloned each time the story comes into print to meet the soul of each of its reader. Perhaps, another reader might, just before slipping into sleep, spit a curse at me for penning my soul into paper in such unabated lengthy sentences. Who knows!

Or, dear Reader, if my soul, in a mockery of my obsolete lunacy, flee off without transmigrating into my words; trust me it will be in the Elysian fields in search of those expired, yet, evergreen writers, smacking each and yelling at them, “Your stupid idea of living through literature didn’t work with me!” 

Sunday, 1 November 2015

"Becoming" a stranger seems easier to maintain than "being" a stranger... The  former can be sustained forever and can be resumed time and again... The latter needs just a smile or a handshake or a word of recognition to break...

Friday, 16 October 2015

Seeking Redemption - Dr Madhu Vajpayee

Book Blurb:

Story of a girl Meera, who is unwittingly drawn into a conflict from where she finds it difficult to emerge unscathed. It's her journey from being a simple, medical graduate belonging to a middle class family to the uncharted territories of corruption and caste based politics. Her path is crossed by the two men, both compelling yet completely contrasting characters, who are forever going to change her life. If it is Aman who can challenge her ideals and defy her resolves, and makes her the person she finally becomes, it is Abhay's sublime love which enables her to go through the vicissitudes of life. It's also the story of her loss as well as triumph against her own demons to find her true self.

Pre-order from Amazon

About the Author:
Dr.Madhu Vajpayee- the writer was born somewhere in those hospital corridors where she has spent the last two decades of her life. Witnessing life at such close quarters pushed her to capture its enigma in her words and slowly it became her passion. After writing several scientific papers and chapters in books, this book is her first step in literary world.  
Having done her graduation, MBBS from King Georges Medical University (KGMU), Lucknow she went ahead to pursue her post-graduation, MD from AIIMS, New Delhi. She was a consultant at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi having been associated with management of patients living with HIV/AIDS. She is now settled in Melbourne, Australia with her family, where she is devoting most of her time to writing, the passion that she couldn’t pursue earlier because of the demands of medical profession and commitment it requires.
When not creating stories, Madhu enjoys reading and travelling.

Contact the Author:

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Who gave birth to you? Mother or Religion???

India has always nurtured, with at most tenderness and warmth, various religions and cultures. Unity in diversity was always a word to exhibit the impartial yet considerate affection of the land towards all its citizens. But currently the scenario had taken a radical shift, where boundaries cut through the land, bleeding and maiming it. Tagore's land of hope and love is bleeding, sliced by the barbed wires of religion- a system man himself constituted to structure society. Today, as man fall short of the understanding that religions were cultural constructs, societies and individuals grope in the darkness brought upon by the blinding veils of fanaticism. They tear apart each other and fight upon the claim to other's lives, even beasts and birds.

The concept of Cow as the Mother is fine. It is, as per our believes a very reasonable one. Cows have literally helped civilizations prosper. But the claim to a complete ban on just cow meat... You can for yourselves see the consequences. The matter is not about the perception about the animal, but the perception of people. There have been many instances where those beasts have been subjected to even unnatural sexual acts by people and  no one had a voice to raise, no one thought of  equating them with divinity. Considering that the Hindu pantheon gives high regard to Cow as a form of Bhoomi devi and Bull as Nandikesh, it is only very proper to consider Naag, adorning Mahadev, Mouse, the vehicle of Sri Ganesh, Peacock vehicle to Karthikey, Lion or Tiger to Devi Gayathri, Swan to Brahma, Garud to Vishnu and so on and bestow upon these creatures as well a promise and security of divinity. Which means all these animals should be worshiped with the same devotion and zeal and should be protected with bans, bellowing aloud how they are sacred and divine.

But, if, this debate about banning beef is solely based on the claim that cow gives us milk, then the same reason has to be summoned to uphold a ban against goat slaughter as well. It gives us manure and milk, just like the cow, and is easily manageable as well. Cow and goat, then, are not the only candidates to the honour. From time immemorial we have depended upon hens for eggs and manure. Eggs are after all part of a  daily advisable diet and is considered essential alongside a glass of milk.  Doesn't this indicate that if cow slaughter calls forth the excuse that cows give us milk and manure and hence have enabled civilizations to progress, then the same has to be done for goats and hens???

But, keeping that aside, if we consider the claim that these creatures exist for man to feed...I consider nothing else as a bigger blunder than this. We are, because other creatures are...They don't need us to survive, but we need them Our entire life and ecosystem depends upon each of those big and small, micro and macro creatures that surround us. Without humans the world will survive, but without the other creatures...nothing will. We are at their mercy and live in a false belief that we rule over those stately beasts and majestic birds.

What claim do you have, man, upon the birds and beasts that the Earth gave birth to, and nurture with care? What right do you have to kill the son of a woman you barely even know!!! What right do you have upon your own self? Who do you think You are? God or Man? Know then. that the God you know was an idea born in someone's head. The real God is around you, and in the beings that surround you. Those beings whom you slaughter to feed on, and those beings whom you consider reasons to your silly fanatic religious quarrels. Know then, that like art and literature, religion is also a collage work of ideas that was born in the heads of many men who wanted to systematize the conduct and dealings when a group of humans began to settle in together and to ensure that equality and peace reigned upon such a collective settlement.

It is a foul blemish, that is rotting and reeking of  a stench, that the present world lacks even one by hundredth the understanding and intellect of the ancestors, who, for the betterment of a group settlement crafted metaphors to function as adhesives to glue us together. And you call them primitive in thought, and you call them barbarians!!! Who are you??? and What do you stand for?? For religion??? Is that it?? And not for the creatures and the world that the real God crafted with love and care??? Not for Mother nature? For Earth? The Mother who gave birth to you and patiently awaits for your enlightenment that the world is your home and all creatures your family??? If you still say that you are a Hindu or a Christian or Musalmaan, i will, once again pose to you my question..... WHO GAVE BIRTH TO YOU? MOTHER OR RELIGION????