Chaotic Alleys #ShortStories by Mahesh Nair

Please welcome my author buddy Mahesh Nair who has recently released his debut book – ‘Chaotic Alleys: Collected Works.’ I was enthralled by this book as Mahesh’s short stories unfold like opening a treasure chest; you have to delve deeper to find the gems hidden in the corners – such is his style of writing.

Chaotic Alleys: Collected Works is a fiction compilation of micro, flash, and short stories published, shortlisted, longlisted, and anthologized in journals and magazines.

“I appreciate expression that provokes my senses, causes my gut to rise or settle. If the words remain with me as images, it’s a winner. Mahesh’s writing has done this,” says Bela Johnson — Editor, Writer, & Former Host of Alternative Currents on WERU-FM

Purchase link

My Review:

True to its name, ‘Chaotic Alleys’ escorts you into turbulent lanes of life that diverge into unimaginable proportions. Some of them open into positive vistas but much depends on your own perspective and interpretation. Fresh and poignant, Mahesh Nair’s flash fiction says volumes in just a few words, each one loaded! His stories are close to reality yet unpredictable. They compel you to ponder, as the depth of his words is mysterious.

This book is divided into three parts: flash fiction, short stories and micro-fiction. You could finish it within an hour or keep returning to fathom some profound and chilling truths. Read how callous compassion is, what a sham some wishes are, what a mockery people make of their existence. These stories would shake you to search the exact meaning of life; the elusive realities would unfold with an alarming authenticity. 

‘The Budding 90s’ is layered in the mystery of words; it doesn’t speak about the relationship shared by Amit and Samir but lets you discern what his “walking partner” means to Amit. The symbols of ‘heat’ and ‘rivulets of rainwater’ may seem paradoxical but they add a brilliant dimension to the story. ‘Water’ that trickles from the window and ceiling complete the societal and religious constraints that threaten to weaken their souls.

A subtle comment on the plight of couriers, ‘Alert, Alert’ unravels the truth about parsimonious people. Do they even know what is gratitude? Could they ever understand what compels the couriers to keep going despite the callous attitude of those who sit in the comfort of their offices and get served with the food of their choice? The flashbacks of Samaira’s life add a touch of poignancy to her struggle.

‘A Distance Away’ stunned me, as it is completely unpredictable. Written in an unusual style, it sounds like a normal cruise date, as Randy seems to love Jane. Like a meandering stream, their thoughts don’t give any inkling where they are going to lead each other. This one is my favorite! No guessing would lead you to the truth that unfolds. 

While I sympathize with Samaira, ‘Breathlessly Yours’ left me spellbound. I smiled at the optimism of Jon; would his dreams of wooing a woman, two decades younger than him come true? You’ll have to read to find out.

Nair’s characters exude dynamism but something hides behind their persona that raises the story above the mundane. Whether it is Randy or Jon – two entirely different men, they are well defined and memorable; they may seem realistic yet they are not! The hallmark of Nair’s stories is variety and tone, so different from the traditional ones. Highly recommended.

Meet the Author:

Mahesh Nair studied creative fiction at New York University. He won Strands International Flash Fiction Award, was shortlisted for Bath Flash Fiction Award and Micro Madness NFFD New Zealand, long listed twice for Reflex Fiction prize, and highly commended twice at London Independent Story Prize. His work has appeared in Barren Magazine, Literary Orphans, The Bookends Review, Smokebox, Paragraph Planet, 101 Words, AdHoc Fiction, BlinkInk Print, and Crack the Spine, and is featured in three anthologies. He was a contributing author for a CNF anthology, Lady by the River.

Connecting links:

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Balroop Singh.

Against All Odds: New Release

Against All Odds
Amazon Global Link

I am delighted to welcome Jacqui Murray, my blogger friend, who has just released her third book in the Crossroads Trilogy:

Xhosa’s extraordinary prehistoric saga concludes, filled with hardship, courage, survival, and family.

I have read and reviewed all three books, which record a fabulous history of tribes of those times, (850,000 years ago) about which there is no conclusive evidence. So the arena is open for writers to explore and Jacqui has made a brilliant effort.

Book Information:

Title and author: Against All Odds by Jacqui Murray

Series: Book 3 in the Crossroad series

Genre: Prehistoric fiction Amazon Global Link


A million years of evolution made Xhosa tough but was it enough? She and her People finally reach their destination—a glorious land of tall grasses, few predators, and an abundance that seems limitless, but an enemy greater than any they have met so far threatens to end their dreams. If Xhosa can’t stop this one, she and her People must again flee.

The Crossroads trilogy is set 850,000 years ago, a time in prehistory when man populated most of Eurasia. He was a violent species, fully capable of addressing the many hardships that threatened his survival except for one: future man, a smarter version of himself, one destined to obliterate all those who came before.

From prehistoric fiction author Jacqui Murray comes the unforgettable saga of a courageous woman who questions assumptions, searches for truth, and does what she must despite daunting opposition. Read the final chapter of her search for freedom, safety, and a new home.

A perfect book for fans of Jean Auel and the Gears!

My Review:

Against All Odds concludes the Crossroads Trilogy – an enthralling story of Xhosa and her People, the prehistoric inhabitants who possessed astonishing abilities to create tools out of stones and twigs, developed a communicative bird language and could face unknown hazards fearlessly. They were smarter than other tribes, as they could share their ideas and thoughts through hand gestures, facial expressions and sounds. They learnt from other communities, were adaptable and their intuition was stronger than others.

It is interesting to note some innate emotions amongst early dwellers. Despite the challenges they had to face and develop confidence, strength and ferocity, Pan-do considered himself more than just a father, a protector and food provider. He knew what is love, which he described as “caring for another beyond logic and reason.” He could even see a similar emotion between his daughter Lyta and Seeker. Hope too finds a mention many times. Each time somebody went missing or was captured by an enemy, they hoped that they would be reunited. Mbasa knew she would surely meet Xhosa again. Ngili hoped that he would be reunited with Hecate.

Jacqui’s research shines through out this book too and her foreword answers many questions about tribes and their ways of expression. Her characters have grown with the passage of time and remember their leader Xhosa’s advice to be “strong like Mammoth, patient as Eagle, leery like Gazelle, cunning as Wolf or lacking that, wise enough to mimic someone who is.” Murray has created awe-inspiring female characters who never give up in adversity, never look back and forge ahead with renewed vigor after each battle. If you like prehistoric fiction, you must read the Crossroads Trilogy. Though this is a stand-alone book, with references to earlier ones but they should be read in order.

jacqui-murray-2Meet the Author:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also an adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for  NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature, Book 2 in the Dawn of Humanity trilogy, Winter 2021.

Social Media links:

Amazon Author Page   

                               Blog: Worddreams 








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The Dance

Sue Vincent’s #Writephoto

Ah! The invitation! The exhilaration!
A dream come true!

She looked forward to the dance party – an annual ritual that she had seen from the seams. Today she would be the center of attraction – the lady with the veil, an enigma for everyone.

Eager to see the lady, we started the long trek to the magical land, hoping to reach before getting dehydrated. A mirage that seemed so near yet kept receding.

A greenway led us to the circular dance stage. Mist melted as we neared the venue.

One beat converted the stones into drums. We watched, mesmerized by the music. The sun suddenly grew dim, as if commanded by some unknown force.

The crescendo could be heard beyond eternity.

And there she was! A perfect figure, as if chiseled by an artist, making her first appearance. Twirling round and round, creating a divine circle around her…no beginning…no ending, just like the circle of life – palpable, perpetual.

Many yearned to touch her but a weird circle of light whirled around her. Slowly she drifted into dusk. Just like life.
©Balroop Singh.

Thanks to Sue Vincent for a lovely Thursday #writephoto Dance.

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When Darkness Overwhelms…

When darkness overwhelms

My blogger friend Joe Perrone recently asked me whether I have written any fiction. This is my answer to his question:

An excerpt from the book I hope to finish one day:

This was my haven, my little island of solace where I could talk to myself. It was not always so soothing as in this dark room I have spent many hours, all alone, weeping, wishing and praying. I have spent many days thinking…what was my fault, why was I blamed, why was I slapped. I have often cursed myself for offending others.

I looked out of the little window to see some light. I craved for company, a friend, a loving person who could answer my questions. It was at such times that I tried to analyze people with my little and limited thinking. The world appeared to be a cruel place, emotions seemed quite useless and ‘love’ was just a hollow word. How could those girls, my so called friends, say they loved their mom!

I couldn’t understand what is love, as I had never seen it. What I had seen was yelling and intimidation. Fear was a very familiar emotion and I got so close to it that it steeled me. This strength was building up with the kind of atmosphere I lived in. I didn’t share my hurts with anybody. I became an introvert. I could never be comfortable in the company of friends.

A day came when I lost all sense of time I spent in this room. It ceased to be dreadful as I made friends with those bare walls that terrified me. I liked being there, away from those insensitive people around me, pretending to be my well wishers, my so called parents, one of whom was always absent and the other always in rage.Darkness quote

I started enjoying those punishments in the dark room. I would hide my color pencils in some corner to enjoy my time in a fruitful manner. I stopped weeping and cursing myself. I invented new games of using my color pencils as candles to decorate my imaginative house. I learnt to smile and refused to be sad just because certain people took pride in disciplining me in their own manner.

If I emerged smiling out of this room, two of my bullish brothers would frown, wondering what gave that vitality to my cheeks! They mocked at me for having missed the regular play hour and I had a lot of homework to finish. Learning the tables took most of my time and I hated them.

Even this dark room could not stay with me for long. We moved out of that house into a brand new big house. Now we had our own rooms and there was no dark room. I knew all my friends abandoned me, probably I was what I had been branded to be – ill-fated!

I loved this new home, the fragrance of new paint and wood. I could experience the friendship of all the nooks and crannies that I explored the very first day I stepped into this house. It cherished my dreams, cushioned my lonely moments, provided solace to my disappointments, gave shape to my adventures and inspired me to aspire high.

Every wall was a supporting shelter, how much I could share my thoughts with them, silently! But I could never forget that dark room, which taught me how to dream.

Thank you for reading this story. Please share your reflections, they are much appreciated.

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©Balroop Singh.

Image adapted from