The Hungry Stones

The Hungry Stones and other stories, a collection of various short stories penned by Rabindranath Tagore is a depiction of his own life in snippets. His stories represent rustic Bengal, and presents to the readers a true representation of life. His works have immense power and beauty, as each time someone reads it, they will discover something new about it. It is impossible to not learn about life and how to deal with life, from Tagore’s works. The stories tells the readers about human emotions, its fragile nature, and how to deal with it.

Tagore’s immense sensitivity to the environment around him and his great understanding as well as consciousness has lead to him having the prowess on the literary field.
‘The Hungry Stones’ is a flawless gem, as are the others such as ‘The Cabuliwallah’ and ‘Living or Dead?’.
‘The Cabuliwallah’ reflects human love and affection and how it transcends time and space. Mini a small girl forms a peculiar friendship with Rahmat, a tough Afghani dry fruit seller. But due to the ruthlessness of life and time, this friendship slowly transients into a thing of the past, forgotten. The pathos of this realization forms the core appeal of this story. It’s bound to make the reader cry as the unsaid emotions in Rahmat’s eyes depicted by Tagore’s words strikes a deep bonding with the readers.
‘Living or Dead’ has an uncommon theme as it tells us the story of a widow, Kadambini who returns from the dead, declared alive. Since then, she is unable to adjust to the world of the living, often considering herself a ghost. It isn’t a story of the supernatural, but treats the deep psychological malaise of woman caught in an unusual and weird situation.
Like all other stories of Tagore, this book too shows how great of a man Tagore was in his times, how his thinking and cognitive abilities were way ahead of his time which makes his works very relevant in today’s challenging times as well. The choice of the stories is brilliant and it gave me immense joy to read this book.

My Rating -5/5

Publisher – Niyogi Books


The Gardener by Rabindranath Tagore

The Gardener written by the greatest of all time, Rabindranath Tagore is a real work of art. It contains prose translations of eighty five Bengali poems collected from fifteen books and written over a span of nearly thirty years.
Tagore reportedly admitted to the fact that his translations were not always literal and the originals were ‘sometimes abridged and sometimes paraphrased’.

Such abridgement and paraphrasing is a justifiable translation policy, yet it doesn’t always do justice to the beauty of the originals. However, the Gardener is one of the best translated books I have read in a long long time. The poems in this collection deal with a lot issues, love and empathy being at the core of most of them. These poems are free from religious symbolism and can be distinguished by its spontaneity and irony brought forth by the master of word play, Tagore himself. Some poems are heavily leaning on imagery as it paints a scenic beauty in front of the readers, while other poems at its very core has all the emotions which make one human, with questions that a person asks oneself to this very date. The intricacies and the complexities of the human mind, their feelings, are still very relevant today as the words of Tagore strikes a chord with the reader. The poet often contemplates within himself and is brimming with self doubt and the lack of understanding of self realization as is very evident in some poems. The book gives to us a plethora of poems with different themes. Relationships between people, how nature influences us, the romantic love which flows between two lovers, insecurities, pain which a human experiences, this book touches upon all. My interpretation of the poems is a lot different than how others perceive it, and even though there were some poems which I didn’t like as much as the others, this book should definitely be read.


Zoya 😘

My Rating – 4.5/5

Publisher – Niyogi Books

Kaifi Azmi – Poems and Nazms

Kaifi Azmi, whose real name was Syed Athar Hussain Rizvi was born on 14 January in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh.

A poet, a patriot, a revolutionary, his poetry is a voice to the less privileged, the oppressed, the voiceless.

Koi toh sold chukaye , koi toh zimma le

Uss inquilab ka aaj tak udhaar sa hai

Selected, introduced, edited by Sudeep Sen, the book contains translations by Husain Mir Ali, Baidar Bakht, Sumantra Ghoshal, Pritish Nandy and Sudeep Sen.

Some translations are academic and precise, others translate the story of the original poems.

The book contains insightful headnotes by four of the five translators. His biography, bibliography, archival photo album have also been made a part of this book, revealing moments from the poet’s life.

His poetry and their Hindi and English translation on the other hand, reveal the great poet himself.

Gods keep coming one after another;

Frustrated wisdom said in the end: there is no God.

Azmi’s poems have moved generations and inspired them. The book is a brave attempt to bring the magic of poetry to the younger generations. And for that, I am thankful.

His poetry is enrichment of the soul and nourishment for the mind. It inspires and questions, shows darkness and hope. His legacy, even after a hundred years of his birth, lives on.

However, his pen –

which bears a hundred names

and has a hundred tasks –

continues fighting as before;

continues moving as before –

sometimes in one hand,

sometimes in another.

Doosra Toofaan by Kaifi Azmi


Zoya 😘

My Rating – 5/5


Pages – 224

Link to buy the book – http://Kaifi Azmi: Poems | Nazms New & Selected Translations

Review : Designing Destiny – The Heartfulness Way by Kamlesh Patel

The first principle of destiny is that we can only change it in the present.

As humans we often wonder what purpose do we have in this world. Mostly we do not have an answer and in order to fill this void we are constantly trying to avoid thinking about it.

We are running away from our problems, never taking a moment to question ourselves. We are embroiled in our everyday lives, small issues always craving that inner peace bit never actively doing anything to try to achieve it.

The second principle is that we create destiny for ourselves with our everyday thoughts – our wishes , what attracts us and repels us , our likes and dislikes.

Designing destiny is a book that tries to guide us toward mental peace and bring us closer to ourselves.

It tries to guide us to a set of processes that will help us design our destiny, change it and give it a direction we want it to take.

The third principle is that we need to work upon the mind to design our destiny. And for this we need a meditative practice.

The book is lucid and the procedures are simple. All they require is practice.

I have myself tried the first step of Relaxation and I have to say that it has helped me. It has not been many days but I am sure this book can help a lot many others.

The final principle is that we are not alone – we are all connected. To design the destiny of humanity we start with ourselves first and then expand our radius to include others. A day will surely come when, together , we are capable of changing the direction humanity is taking.


Zoya 😘

My Rating – 3/5

Author – Kamlesh Patel

Publisher – Westland Books

Pages – 256

Link to buy the book – http://Designing Destiny

Other reviews –

Two Sisters by Rabindranath Tagore

Two Sisters written by one of the literary greats of our country, Rabindranath Tagore is an enthralling tale of two sisters with personalities on a totally different spectrum and how they are caught in a web due to the central character.
Shashanka, is torn between two women, undecided between his homemaker wife Sharmila and her younger sister, the vivacious and playful Urmimala, who abhors domestication. The two women revolve around their common love interest and they are constantly overwhelmed by their own emotions of desire, guilt and pain, in a vicious cycle of happy conjugality leading to toxic feelings of passion, leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of all protagonists.

The entire narrative is the fictionalization of the idea of feminine nature. The eternal conflict in the age-old ‘husband-wife’ relationship, which often arises when any of two partners seek both passion and love in their spouse and when unable to do so they find it someone else is the central theme of this short novella.
Tagore has boldly tried to face the psychological triangle caused by a conflict of loyalties in the protagonists of the story.
The interesting part in this short novella is that it has been divided into four parts, and each part is a perspective of one of the leads in the book. At the end of each chapter, the course of the story line is changed and its refreshing to know things from another person’s perspective. This humor is deeply lined by irony and humor and the translation is indeed marvelous.
Contemporary society is not devoid of the trait of man longing for a ‘mother’ to take care of his needs while he lusts after another woman and thus, this book is universal and timeless in its approach.
Love,Zoya 😘

My Rating: 5/5
Author : Rabindranath TagoreTranslated by : Nirmal Kanti BhattacharjeePublisher : Niyogi Books

Link to buy the book – http://Two Sisters reviews :

Preeto and other stories : The Male Gaze in Urdu by Rakhshanda Jalil

Preeto and other stories, is a collection of various short stories as it tries to examine how male writers in Urdu see and represent the women of their world. This collection includes themes which are timeless as well as topics that are an outcome of the times we currently live in.
As more women are stepping out of the confines of their household and taking the reins of their lives in their own hands, this collection introduces to us a realistic portrayal of women in fiction, as the stories in this volume offer multiple ways of ‘seeing’ women.
The role of a woman has always been crucial in all fields of life including fiction. Women have been presented as either black or white, while men are presented to be an amalgamation of all contraries which has led to people viewing women being objects and to be seen as ‘things’ rather than ‘people’.

Krishan Chandar’s ‘Preeto’, has two tracks running parallel to each other which meets at a point of sorrowful acknowledgment that a woman never forgets. She may endure the pain for all those years with a smile on her face but she never forgets. She may reciprocate the love which she gets or she may never reveal what lies beneath those pursed lips.
Ratan Singh’s ‘Wedding Night’ is a classic example of the male gaze where it is directed to a girl who tends to a garden. In this tale, which shows a preoccupation with beauty as well as youth and it borders on moral values, the flowers are symbolic of ‘pure’ love which a bride gives to her groom on her wedding night which proves her innocence and purity.
The stories in this collection have been very carefully chosen from a wide array of authors each having a style different from the others and a variety in the perspective of men yet staying true to the theme at its core that is how women are viewed. The work done on translation is commendable as it is very accurate and it hasn’t lost its essence. This book surely paves the path for a greater understanding of women.


Zoya 😘

My Rating – 3.5/5

Author – Rakhshanda Jalil

Publisher – Niyogi Books

Review : Jallianwala Bagh – literary responses in prose and poetry

Introduced and edited by Rakhshanda Jalil , a writer, translator and literary historian has very beautifully captured the wave of tumultuous emotions that Indians were going through after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Through the proses and poetry in the book she has revealed the storm of emotions that the bloodiest chapter of indian history produced. One of the gravest mistakes the British made in colonial India was the doomed day of April the 13th, 1919.

The massacre which General Dyer orchestrated upon a peaceful gathering of unarmed peasants will be remembered forever.

Ranging from prose by Manto , where An Incident in 1919 is a recasting of the terrible slaughter visited upon the city of Amritsar as the result of an aftermath of the Jallianwala incident. To If You Wish to Learn Mercy which reflects the anguish and horror evoked by the incident even in those outside Punjab. The book shows us the incident through the eyes of various protagonists. The brother of prostitutes, generally a person considered by society as scum is made a hero in Manto’s An Incident in 1919 while there are some lines from Ahmaq Phaphoondvi’s poem which are dripping with sarcasm and satire as they are emblematic of a rising nationalistic consciousness that is a direct outcome of the barbaric action in Punjab.

The poets were not far behind. Leaving topics of love longing and desire they marched straight into the freedom struggle with pieces like A Complaint to The Hunter, The Tyrannies in The Punjab, and Bloody Baisakhi.

Jallianwala Bagh instead of subduing Indians brought about a tornado of literature which in turn captured the imagination of people. There was no one unaffected by it. The bloodbath ensured a struggle to obtain complete independence from the crown and Swaraj.

On the 100th anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, this book is worth reading and gifting. The new age Indians need to be aware of their history , especially in the current political scenario when we need to make wise decisions and choose our leaders wisely.

It was a harmless, couple of British who were allowed to practice their trade in the country and who ultimately enslaved us for two hundred years. Often seemingly harmless things can turn out to be the reason of our doom.


Zoya 😘

My Rating -4.5/5

Introduced and Edited by – Rakhshanda Jalil

Published by – Niyogi Books

Pages – 229

Review : The Peshwa – War of the Deceivers by Ram Sivasankaran

The second book of the Peshwa series , it can also be read solitary. A tribute to Bajirao Bhat , the novel is set in the eighteenth century over the vast expanses controlled by the Marathas.

Threatened by the expanding powers of the Peshwa , his prowess in battle and generosity as a ruler , the Mughals and the Nizam connive to overtake the empire.

The Peshwa, aided by his right hand man and spymaster, the mysterious and fearsome Anaamik Dabhade; has his own plans to annihilate the Mughals.

A Bundela princess , a Rajput King and a Sikh warlord are unknowingly embroiled in this giant war that is brewing between the two mighty powers in erstwhile Hindustan.

Written with flair, this fast paced, well researched book is gripping till the very end. Sivasankaran , with his fine imagery brings gory wars and opulent courtrooms alive. Deceit, lies, politics agalore is accompanied with the right amount of honour, love and patriotism.


Zoya 😘

My Rating – 4.5/5

Pages – 496

Author – Ram Sivasankaran

Publisher – Westland Books

Link to buy the book –

Review : Ocean of Melancholy by Mir Mosharraf Hossain

Ocean of Melancholy : The Tragedy that was Karbala translated by Alo Shome is one of the best known works of Mir Mosharraf Hossain. Bishad Sindhu(Ocean Of Melancholy) is an epic historical novel centred around events that led to the battle of Karbala and its aftermath. The book revolves around the tragic story of Hassan and Hussain, grandsons of the great Prophet Muhammad, who were exterminated by their enemy Yazid, the son of the king of Damascus, for his desire for Zainab- Hussain’s beautiful wife, and his greed for the throne of Medina.

The dramatical plot with a mythical undertone and deeds of heroism, and supernatural occurrences render an epic flavor to its narrative. This is the kind of book which makes the readers contemplate about life and broadens their mindset. This book explores the sufferings, agonies, of humans and their fatal flaws, along with the covetousness and hatred of men, and how greed leads to one’s downfall. At the same time, it imparts a historical background to the bloodbath and killings that took place in Karbala, Iraq on the tenth of October, 680 AD. This book is a narrative full of pathos and the reason behind this massacre which brings tears to many in this world even now has been explained greatly. The remarkable storytelling of Mir and the profound sadness he harbors for the two brothers along with empathizing with the villain is very impressive. Yazid is known as a wicked man to everyone, but Mir has endowed upon him human qualities as well as to Hassan and Hussain.
The second and third parts of the book are rushed and and are not as well defined and detailed as the previous part is. But for this book, the sum of the whole is greater than its parts and I recommend this book as a onetime read to all.


Zoya 😘

My Rating- 4.5/5

Author –

Publisher – Niyogi Books

Pages –

Link to buy the book –

Review : Claudia by Sophia Lorena Benjamin

In a vibrant Goa post Independence, still a colony of the Portuguese , young Claudia from the village of Oroshim is learning to dream. A maid for the esteemed Palkin Bai, she finds work and freedom in the Portuguese household.

Premarital affairs having spoiled the reputation of her two elder sisters , thereby leaving them unmarried, Claudia is her family’s only hope. Her arranged marriage can restore her family’s name in their conservative community but the young, beautiful girl is enchanted by her employer’s son.

In her novel Sophia has drawn out the unmatched beauty of Goa. Goa is a tourist hub, but to see the gorgeous state from the eyes of a resident is a different experience altogether.

Every word she has written for the territory, the cuisine, the way of life, comes from her first hand experience. It is genuine, real and heartfelt.

Claudia is the story of the trials of a simple village girl and her dreams in a society strictly bound by its own rules. She is fierce and ambitious in her own way and kind and thoughtful. She is heroine you laugh with, cry with and root for.


Zoya 😘

My Rating – 4/5

Author – Sophia Lorena Benjamin

Publisher – Niyogi Books

Pages – 252

Link to buy the book –