Crumpled Voices – Shades of Suffering is an anthology based on social issues. A common thread of the prevailing societal evils and injustice binds them together. We have tried to weave stories ranging from rape to acid attack and domestic violence to honor killing in this anthology. All of us have witnessed such incidents in our day to day life, our near and dear ones might have experienced them closely too. We have almost grown up among them, felt them following us. We constantly live in fear of the unknown, fear of being the victim to any of the criminal activities multiplying around us. These days when no place is safe, including the web, our voices need to be heard. Protest must begin from somewhere, and we have used our pen which is mightier than the sword to express our anguish. An echo of many unimaginable atrocities lurks within us, engulfing us in its shadow. Through each of the story in this book, we have tried to highlight one such aspect of horrifying crimes.
First look at the title and the cover and it shouts and shouts out loud about the issues the book might take up during it's entire course of narration. There is a deep pain hidden inside the title and the image is a symbol of it. The blurb talks about what is on offer in the book and the editors conceal the very idea on which the whole project works. The blurb is pinpoint accurate with not much to decipher and leaving it for the readers to uncover themselves.
Poem No. 1:
A beautiful poem indeed describing at length the state of affairs of earth, the joys and the sorrows, the transition of the man from human to beast, the pain and the sufferings and the worst and the best which the living soul had reaped and sowed till now. It's a vivid amalgamation of verses with a lot of depth and intensity.
Story No. 2:
A story about two people and their respective choices which are not respected at all by the society and the fears with which they live in. It's a story with a lot of focus on what happens in real to those who try changing the rules of the society. It's a good story with love and homosexuality being given appropriate space. The story could have been given a lot more edge. It became too straight forward towards the end.
Story No. 3:
A story about misunderstandings and misconceptions and the choices that change the course of the future. The story is a heart felt narrative about two people and the course it traverses leaves the readers amidst mixed emotions. A fruitful and sad story with pent up feelings and curses and cries of few souls.
Story No. 4:
A story highlighting the society's mindset and the misleading faces of man which ultimately wrecks havoc in not one but many lives. The story delves into the devil reincarnate forms of man and his beastly endeavours. The narration is smooth, the sufferings true and the end painful. A soulful story.
Story No. 5:
The mind sometimes reacts violently to a situation and considers nothing. Even the ties and bonds are marked broken with one mistake. The story revolves around honour killing where a girl struggles for life and unexpectedly or expectedly the savagery comes from her very own. It's painful, it's brutal, it's gory but in the end it's all in the name of honour. The story is perfect with brief but hitting verses.
Story No. 6:
The story is a curious case of missing people and how one person changes it all for everyone around him. The story indeed is based on a unique idea and a concept and takes a spiritual as well as a historical journey, even humouring the entire idea at times. The story is fresh from the shelf and has been delivered with ease and confidence.
Story No. 7:
When a woman decides to break the shackles and run amok the entire world around her then it's the bright change which dawns upon. The story is based on this one bright yet cruelly and subdued change and the courage of a woman. The story runs it's course fine and sums up with a good message.
Story No. 8:
For once a cry and howl gets a voice and in turn it leads to the uprising or the sad demise of your opinions or freedom. The story is of the sufferings of a woman in her marital life and the endless beatings and taunts which leave her scarred forever. The story highlights the shortcomings of marriages in our country and it manages to give leverage to the dead relationships which are run in the name of societal pressure and mercy. A nice story.
Story No. 9:
Honesty is the best policy and your little honest gestures sometimes leaves you with content and satisfaction. That is what the story conveys through it's narration. The story's narration is average and it offers nothing new in terms of concept and ideas.
Story No. 10:
The story is of ambitions and riches, the ways of success and the ways to achieve it. The story doesn't pulls up an effective momentum and fades with every paragraph. The end quite predictable and the events very random and vague. It doesn't gives quite the jitters and shivers which should have been associated with it.
Story No. 11:
Strange is love and it's ways. It can make you look completely lost or in control of your senses many a times. The story is of one such couple with an even strange story. The story is quite new contrary to the ideas of love and romance. The story is filled with remorse, strangeness and some invisible hiccups which makes you cringe to read more.
Story No. 12:
What goes around comes back around. What happens when a sin from the past comes back to haunt you and torment you forever. The story with guts,gore and inhumanity. The straightforward and bluntness of the story makes it a cruel yet an eye opening aspect. There's a lot of flair in it to give it the touch it required. The best story of the lot.
Poem No. 13:
A poem on the present conditions of our country and the dilapidated state which sadly makes it all the more unruly to live and survive. The poem could have been woven in a better manner and words like fucking and bullshit could have been given a miss completely.
Story No. 14:
The story of two people and their horrifying experiences and later on turning them into forte. The story has a start stop kind of presentation which works fine for sometime but gradually it feels incomplete and rather finishes abruptly with not much to cherish or cheer about. The story is devoid of plausible explanations and the the momentum not in it's favour.
Story No. 15:
A young girl and her instincts to learn and grasp new and definitive things about life lead her to believe in the smallest and possible joys of the world. The story has been written well keeping the innocence factor of a child in mind. The grammar stutters quite a lot of times but the story remains good and ends on a positive note.
Story No. 16:
When life has been cruel to you for a very long time then suddenly the ray of hope appears out of nowhere and gives you a thread to cling on and stay put and face the world. The story has been given a glimmer of hope, a touch of love and new found surprises and the bond which never falters come what may. The story has come of age and given the word relationship a new meaning and direction. A very good story.
Story No. 17:
For their are wolves everywhere in human forms and their prying eyes hunting for preys and waiting for that one moment where they can snatch away your dignity and respect but what if you have chosen something else for yourself. The story runs on the lines of dignity and the trust which is is so sacred yet scarred that even it's difficult to fathom the repercussions. The story starts and end on a high and devours on the cannibalistic attitude of man and it's desires. The surprises making it readable and befitting. A very good clash of love and lust.
Story No. 18:
The story is about day to day nuisances which women generally have to face on roads, next doors, lanes, malls etc. The show never stops for the men but for women it becomes an ordeal. The story lends a good voice to the women power and gives them a direction as how to tackle with the leeches of the society. Giving up is never an option for women and it must be the same in reality too is the message conveyed loud and clear. A good story.
Story No. 19:
The story of a woman who undertook a journey where she is all alone and some restrictions are forced upon her to make her life more miserable. The story is to break the shackles and do what your mind and heart agree to. The story is fresh and gives a lot of leverage to freedom and voicing of thoughts. The end was bit abrupt but overall the story manages to charm the readers.
Story No. 20:
A story about a little girls and her hidden feelings and the doubts on her ability due to lack of appreciation and the touch of her own which is found amiss in the whole set up. The story points out at the very fact that life has become too pacy and people gradually tend to forget to tend to their own kids and loved ones. The story is simple yet touching and helps venting out the inner frustrations of a brilliant yet emotion and care deprived child.
Story No. 21:
It's the story of a grief stricken lady and a young girl and the visible generation gap and the stark differences in thoughts apparent throughout their conversation. The story runs its course smoothly and gives ample leads to a lot of cruel truths about the society and the people. The story touches the topics with ease and shows the right path to a young child with care and tenderness. A nice story.
Story No. 22:
The story is of a woman and a daughter who are out on a mission to fight off the unnecessary evil that has spread in the society and hush up the gossip mongers once and for all. The story is about determination and the inner strength which guides you towards righteousness. For one person standing tall others will come out of the closet and make it a voice to be heard. The story is unique and with grave intensity. A lovely narrative.
Poem No. 23:
A poem on the acid attacks on women and the trauma some of them have to undergo afterwards. The poem simple yet pleading with innocence and tenderness to leave the women folk and give their ideas and freedom and their body a breathing space. The suffocation and constant fear being highlighted. The poem ending the book on a high with expectations and experiences shared through this medium.
The book contains 20 stories and 3 poems, all of them trying to put a point across to the readers. Some touching, few of them gory, some shivering and forgettable experiences and a common factor women. The targeted and a misconception of "weak" being busted through some of the narratives. The stories rendering a voice to the voiceless and giving a platform to the women who have suffered and suffered hard. An eye opener for many and an opinion changing experience. The magic in some of the stories binds you with disgust and anguish yet your soul reaching out to the plight of both the rich and the poor. The stories which leave a shining mark on the mind are story no. 3,5,6,12,16 and 17.
The downside is the editing part at few places with grammatical mistakes hampering the growth of few stories at times. It's not severe but sensitive books like these need more accuracy. The poems are good but could have been given a better space or given equal weightage in the book in terms of quantity. Few stories lacked the flair and the ideal perception to take the social cause forward.
All in all the book manages to pull out all stops and deliver powerful societal messages with ease and simplest of manners. The deft touch giving the book lots of hopes and pride. The stories chugging out reality from the deepest and the darkest of the corners. The filth being cleaned up in the form of words. The editors being selective and nearly accurate with their choices of stories. A neat compilation of shades of suffering. The book could have done a lot more by giving some more hard hitting issues "space" but nonetheless it still churns out quite a lot in contrast to what readers usually read. A book to be sailed along with and pondered upon with it's idealistic approach.
4 OUT OF 5