Shackled…

Image from: Pixaby

Precious possessions
Remnants of your love
The only solace now
I know it, yet my heart skips a beat

Unknown shackles fetter me
Pull me into a deep dungeon
The wait seems eternal
Memories mingle in woeful moments.

The night may be dark
But a million stars are shining
The breeze may be stuck in the trees
But it’s reaching me.

You may be miles away
I can feel your soft touch,
Wafting around me
Wrapped in the honeyed hope.

Don’t fret, I’ll be there soon.
© Balroop Singh, August 2021.

Inspired from the loss of a friend.

If the choice is given to the poet, my words flow faster and Colleen’s Weekly Poetry Challenge becomes a cake walk! Thanks Colleen.

For more poetry: click here to hear Magical Whispers

Have you checked my latest release? – Slivers: Chiseled Poetry

#BookReviews: Prose & Poetry

This week I would like to share three different genres – a historical laced with paranormal, a prehistoric fiction and poetry about love. Each book enchanted me with its style and characterization.

A Ghost and His Gold: My Review

A Ghost and His Gold is loaded with historical details of the second Boer War in South Africa and I must confess I had no knowledge about this war. This book lays bare the atrocities and the brutalities that are considered to be a part of such conflicts; it also chronicles the long-term effects that they cause on human psyche. It is the powerful presence of the supernatural that keeps you captivated despite the heavy details of the war.

 Cheadle has meticulously put together the poignant plight of the families of the soldiers who dared to defy the British and fight for their rights. It is interesting to note that both perspectives of the war are represented through Pieter and Robert. The story jumps from one time-line to another various times and is told through several POV’s; also switches tenses whenever convenient – it hampers the spontaneous flow of the book. I like the footnotes that clarify local words and expressions.

What impressed me most is how well the emotions have been handled and how adroitly the characters have been developed that they sound realistic, trapped in the circumstances beyond their control. I hate Marta and my heart goes out to Estelle, I didn’t like Tom right from the beginning and developed a soft corner for Pieter – such connections can only be felt with powerful characters.

There are certain absurd expectations: like Michelle asking Estelle “you need to promise me that you’ll not harm him regardless of whether you can forgive him or not.” Who could trust a ghost? However, this is not just a simple ghost story, it highlights serious themes connected with antagonism, avarice, insensitivity and humanity. Well-done!

Laws of Nature: My Review

Laws of Nature (Dawn of Humanity Book 2) continues the story of Lucy and it is better to read ‘Born in a Treacherous Time’ to understand the challenges in the journey of primeval humans. Most of their time was spent in finding food and safety from other tribes and animals. Prehistoric fiction is intriguing and in the hands of Jacqui, it becomes convincing as well as enlightening. Her meticulous search shines through all her books. She shows the life of people of those times through fictional characters who handled all their problems with immense hope.

 Lucy’s mission is the search for a home base. She has to deal with predators; earth changes, freezing temperatures, harsh weather and difficult terrain. Her tribe has been decimated and she could sense that she is being followed but her determination is admirable. Xhosa from the ‘Crossroads Trilogy’ makes an appearance in her dreams to guide and boost her confidence. She promises change would come soon and makes Lucy promise she wouldn’t quit. Packed with action and a new challenge at each step, this book is uniquely different from usual thrillers.

Crossroads: My Review

Crossroads (Winds of Love) takes you through various corridors, which you may have visited yet missed the intense moments of exhilaration; it explores many more aspects of love, compels you to ponder and cultivate resilience. A resilient love is open to maturity but also vulnerable. 

Written in a simple and straightforward style, Jude’s poetry is seeped in ecstasy of sensual love as well as yearning to find love’s freedom; loneliness and wisdom are the rewards – paradoxical? But that is love!

“Loneliness has wrapped me in its embrace, A broken heart has tamed me with wisdom.” How true!

“Once a joy, now an ache” – that is the price of love!

This may be Jude’s debut book but his poetry is so powerful that it draws on your emotions, stirring bittersweet memories and awakens you to “love’s deceptive light.” If you like free verse and want to understand love, this is a perfect book for you.

Thank you. Happy reading!

For more poetry: click here to hear Magical Whispers

Have you checked my latest release? – Slivers: Chiseled Poetry

Ghosts of the Past

Image from Pixaby

Who doesn’t meet them?
Who doesn’t get pulled in by them
Into those alleys we would like to forget?

I exorcised them, pushed them away
Away into the valleys of obscurity
Closed my doors despite their persistence.

I know they visit uninvited,
They linger in the shadows
To fan your wrath, to create ruckus.

The more you feed them,
The bolder they get
To add angst to your heart.

Only when you stop listening to them
Only when you accept the past
And forgive those you hold responsible

Only when you fight
The self-created demons
Only then, will they recede.

Serenity lies within your heart
But you have to stoke it
To let it permeate around you.
© Balroop Singh

Inspired from somebody who clings to the past and keeps wallowing in self-pity.

Thank you.

Many thanks to Colleen for a lovely review of my latest release – Slivers: Chiseled Poetry

For more poetry: click here to hear Magical Whispers

 

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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Thank you for your lovely support. Please share this post at your favorite networks.

Balroop Singh.

Silence Is Powerful

Recently I stumbled upon an enlightening book and would like to share some nuggets of wisdom that I gathered while reading it. I quote volubly from the book and also add my own observations.

Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise by Thich Nhat Hanh exhorts us to find silence within ourselves. If we try, we would hear five sounds:

“1. The sound of the wonders of life that are calling you. (Sound of the birds, rain etc.)

Everything begins with a sound.

2. The sound of the One who observes the world. This is the sound of listening, the sound of silence.

3. The third sound is the Brahma sound – the transcendental sound, connected with spiritualism in Indian thought.

4. The sound of the rising tide.

5. The fifth sound is the sound that transcends all the sounds – the sound of impermanence, a reminder not to get attached to particular words or sounds.”

In the journey of life, how many of us have heard these sounds? Do we even know about them?

Do we introspect? Do we ponder about our activities, our purpose of the way we are living our life?

I am sure every one of us has heard the first kind of sounds but do we hear the call? Do we pay attention to them?

We also know the fifth sound so well yet never recognize its impermanence. 

There is a “small voice” – the inner voice that is often hushed by us. If we listen to that voice, it could unravel many desires that have not been paid any attention to.

Joy comes from listening to the inner desires that get drowned in the humdrum of life.

“We are what we feel and perceive. If we are angry, we are the anger. If we are in love, we are the love.”

Individual consciousness is required to eliminate toxic elements (anger, fear, despair) from our consciousness. It can be cultivated.

Conscious breathing is a good way to nourish body and mind with mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the practice that quiets the noise inside us. Noise of memories, of experiences, of past regrets, of uncertainty about the future… the list is endless.

Mindfulness too can be cultivated. It is not an easy task but also not unattainable.

“There is a radio playing in our head: Radio Station NST: Non Stop Thinking.” Mindfulness helps in silencing this non-stop station.

“Silence comes from the heart; it doesn’t mean we have to sit quietly.” No. It means learning to control the internal chatter, to calm the mind by “changing the way of your thinking and way of your looking.”

It is this chatter that prevents us from listening to ourselves or any one else. Only when we

“listen deeply to ourselves, can we listen to others. Take some time each day to listen with compassion to your inner child, to listen to the things clamoring to be heard. Then you will know how to listen to others.”

Four mantras to cultivate deep listening and presence in your relationships:

“1. I am here for you.

2. I know you are there, and I am very happy.

3. I know you suffer; that’s why I am here for you.

4. I suffer, please help.”

I have tried to condense a 225-page book into a short post to convey the most significant points that highlight the power of silence.

Thank you for reading.

Balroop Singh.

If you like poetry,  check my latest book: Magical Whispers