A.R Sara

A breezy & intense eternal teen with a zest for the here and the now

The magic feather – 5

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The Egret shook itself. A long feather dislodged from its wings and floated down to land on the grass.
The crows gathered around for a better look.                                                                         “Just a feather!” remarked the first crow in a dismissive tone.                                                    “An ordinary feather. This is the gift you planned to offer us…egret?!” asked the second crow with a skeptical glance.                                                                                                           “A little long perhaps… But not unusual. You must have cleverly folded it under your wings. Just goes to show you must be good at parlor tricks. But this is a plain old feather nevertheless,” added the third crow with a shrug.

feather

~~~~~~~~~~

The crows looked at the egret intently as they waited for a response.
“Call me Eguru, my new friends,” is all the the egret said, with a slight bow. It did not offer any more explanation as it stood upright again.

S12

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“After all that talk of a magic feather… Is this it? This just looks unremarkable. Silly egret!” clucked the third, shaking its head.
Eguru, the egret stood stoic and silent, its face expressionless.

S14

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Copyright © 2017 RajaRajeshwari N
http://www.arsarafables.com

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The magic feather – 4

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“I got it right here tucked under my wings,” replied the Egret softly.
The wind blew hard, ruffling the egret’s feathers and making them stand on edge.

s9

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“What have you got?” The crows inquired, slowly circling the Egret.
“A magic feather,” whispered the egret.
“A magic what!” exclaimed one of the crows with a guffaw.

S10

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Copyright © 2017 RajaRajeshwari N
http://www.arsarafables.com

 

The magic feather – 3

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“Hey! This is our feeding ground, intruder! How dare you trespass?!” cried the crow, interrupting the egret’s eating ritual.
“But I was hungry…so…I thought I could…maybe,” stammered the egret, with remorse.
“Thought! Thought what?” challenged the crow, haughtily.

S7

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Another crow and then another and…yet another descended swiftly on the grass, joining the growing commotion.  “Yes…thought what?” chorused the crows in a loud cackle.
The egret felt a shudder go through it. It was now surrounded by four noisy and angry crows.

S6

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“Thought this was an unclaimed area. I have been flying long and was hungry and tired. So I stopped when I saw this lovely place, for a quick bite and some rest, before I resumed my flight. Had I known that this area belonged to you, I would have offered you first my gift, before snacking,” offered the Egret gently.
“Gift! What gift?” The four crows demanded, suspicion evident in their voices.

S8

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Copyright © 2017 RajaRajeshwari N
http://www.arsarafables.com

The magic feather – 2

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Without further ado, it picked up one insect with a quick dip of its long beak and tossed it into its mouth. After a quick swirl it gulped it down greedily.

S4

~~~~~~~~~~

It went into an eating trance as it repeated the motions of picking up one insect at a time, rolling it inside its beak before gobbling it down.

S35

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A flapping of wings and a flash of black broke its concentration.
It turned around to find a crow descending to land right next to it on the precious patch of green.

S5

 

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Copyright © 2017 RajaRajeshwari N
http://www.arsarafables.com

The magic feather – 1

The lone egret had been flying long and far, across the vast expanse of the blue skies. It had crossed several cities, villages and forests. Now it flew over the city that was in its migratory path. It gingerly weaved its way across the scattered clouds taking care to avoid the swirling fumes of pollution rising from the city.
Hunger pangs were beginning to crawl inside its tummy.

S1

~~~~~~~~~~

That is when an inviting patch of green caught its keen eyes.
It was like an oasis in a desert filled with concrete, steel and smoke.

S2

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Without another thought, it swooped down and landed gently on the lush green grass. The soil under, was damp and rich and brimming with little insects. “Delicacies!” The word echoed in its mind. It clicked its beak. Its stomach rumbled anticipating the delicious morsels.
It licked its beak congratulating itself on following its sharp instincts.

S33

 

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Copyright © 2017 RajaRajeshwari N
http://www.arsarafables.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A magical morning!

An amazing and fulfilling morning spent in the company of a friend and another author…an exemplary one with a staggering list of achievements, who I draw tremendous inspiration from. It is none other than award winning prolific and accomplished Children’s Author, Roopa Pai.
She is the author of the Taranauts series of novels, Sister Sister series and more recently the national bestseller “The Gita for Children”.
Her books “What if the earth stopped spinning? and 24 Other Mysteries of Science” and the recent one on Economics titled “So you want to know about Economics”, a highly acclaimed book recommended by ex-RBI governor Raghuram Rajan, further attest to her analytic bent of mind and scientific inclination which makes her one of those rare and gifted eclectic authors.
She also happens to be the first children’s author to make it to the Femina’s shortlist of Women achievers apart from being the first fantasy adventure novelist for kids, who started her career with Target magazine. Yes…The Target Magazine with a cult following.
We lost track of time as we bonded over books, chocolate, watermelon and an animated conversation about the interesting twists and turns in our writing journeys.
Sharing some selfies that helped seal the magical moment, along with some pictures of our books sitting together companionably on a shelf at a Crosswords bookstore… And ofcourse she graciously autographed a copy of “The Gita for Children” for my kids. 🙂
Links to her books and mine –
Roopa Pai – www.amazon.in/Roopa-Pai/e/B004DWUUPG
A.R. Sara – www.amazon.in/A.R.Sara/e/B009T38JUC

#RoopaPai
#Taranauts
#SisterSister
#TheGitaforchildren
#TargetMagazine
#Whatiftheearthstoppedspinningand24otherMysteriesofScience
#Economics
#ScienceforKids
#ARSara
#RajaRajeshwari
#Pachaihara
#Nutcat
#CrookedCrow
#LorkumsQuest

Skimming through

Once I begin reading, at some point in the book I get so absorbed that reading becomes synonymous with breathing. It occurs naturally without a conscious effort. Unless a string of words pack in a meaningful punch of such intensity that I come up gasping for air and temporarily the words from the book tangle with the physical world.

I’m currently half way through a novel and a thought struck.
I am reading it with multiple interruptions in between, as can be expected in this current phase of life. Reason I am even able to take a step back and let my thoughts wander in this direction.
I begin to wonder if I am just skimming through or reading every line. I realize that while some lines I wrap my mind around, other parts I just skim through. But the same can’t be said for all books, isn’t it? Some books just compel you to dwell on every line for a slow ride and some may suck you in and toss you out in a jiffy, while the rest may alternate between the two states.

With this on my mind, I strike a conversation with my son.
“Do you skim through or read every line?”
He reluctantly lowers the Alex Rider novel, he has been reading.
“Depends on the book and the mood, mom,” he answers patiently.
I wait.
After a pause he adds “I skimmed through Percy Jackson novels,” he admits.
“Wimpy kid, I can’t miss a word,” he smiles. “A book like Wonder is in the same category. Every line I read. A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, falls somewhere in between. But depends…”

After a pause he adds, “Some books I skim through and then go back and read line by line.”

I wait for a beat as I process what he has said.

“Which category do my books fall in?” I ask slowly, unable to hold back the question that rages on my mind now.

“Mom…” he stalls.

I realize I am holding my breath.
Is that a grimace on my son’s face, I wonder.
“Your books don’t fall into the genre I generally read.” He shrugs lightly.
Is that supposed to be a trick answer?
“Mom, would you stop doing that with your eyebrows! You look funny,” he says with a grin, shaking his head. Before I could respond he returns his attention to the book and raises it to cover most of his face.
As I’m contemplating on how to win my son over with my next book, I hear hurried footsteps.
“Every word, every line I read, mom!” Pipes up my younger one as she storms in with a book of mine in her hands.

“Every word, every line I have heard, mom! When do you publish a book without first reading it out aloud to us?!” quips my son from behind his novel.
I sigh with bittersweet relief.

So what are you currently reading and are you skimming through, reading every line or a bit of both?

Book Review – Second Glance by Jodi Picoult

I am mostly a selfish reader and prefer to keep my thoughts about a book that I read, to myself, unless of course something about it compels me to share. Books that urge me to express, are seldom and hard to come by, though this urge is not a measure of my fondness for any book.
This is one such reading experience, that just demands to be shared.
This books lifts the veil off a little known dark phase in American history, around 1930s. The country has dabbled in Eugenics. This book presents a startling and sordid revelation about Native Americans being subjected to forced sterilization during this unsettling period.
Going by brief googling, the country has more than dabbled…there was a full-fledged American Eugenics Movement that has peaked in the 1920s and 30s. Something Hitler drew inspiration from, the book claims. As per further google lookup, the movement just crumbled and was discarded in the face of WW2 Nazi horrors and this part of American history was either carefully swept under the carpet or just slid into obscurity.
Can only imagine the amount of painstaking research that must have gone into gathering the historical details and I applaud the author’s courage and talent for presenting this controversial topic in a complex, layered and engaging story line with a powerful and moving narrative.
The disturbing facets of this slice of history (including the then prevalent racism) set in the backdrop of the present day advancements in genetics, have been tightly interwoven into an elaborate drama spanning four generations, with a supernatural angle. Sufficient doses of mystery, ghostly phenomenon, romance that transcends the barrier of time, familial love, loss, desolation, perseverance and redemption made it a gripping read. It packs in an emotional punch, with its intricate portrayal of relationships. It probes into and raises some uncomfortable questions around destiny, science and controversial topic of eugenics, genetic engineering and where does one draw the line when it comes to genetic screening and who has the right to decide on the worth of a life.
A multitude of characters, beautifully sketched out, carry the plot line to exquisite completion without loose ends, giving it a compelling and believable edge, in spite of the paranormal occurrences.
The friendship between a girl who is afraid of ghosts and dark places and a boy with a medical condition that makes any sun exposure lethal, is particularly an endearing one.
This is my first book of Jodi Picoult and I found it riveting. I deliberately stayed away from her books in the past, believing that they revolve around themes of depression, loss and grief involving kids, which can leave one with a lasting sense of unease and sadness. I happened to pick up this book on a whim after reading the blurb. Glad I did. This one did touch upon those themes, I tend to generally shy away from, but brought it all to a heartwarming upbeat conclusion filled with love and hope. But not without leaving some lingering hard hitting questions to ponder over.
Reading a good book leaves a delicate flavour in my thoughts, not unlike retaining a flavour of chocolate after it has been consumed. A feeling that can’t be expressed and has to be experienced to be truly understood. So have just attempted to offer a glimpse of the same here, considering I am not much of a reviewer. Including a picture of the front cover, like I would a chocolate wrapper.

Book Review – Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

This was an opportunity to discover, read and reflect on a fascinating book.
I read through the entire book over a period of four weeks. I managed to cover more than one chapter on certain days, while my reading speed ranged between few lines to a few pages on others. Entirely possible I might have missed reading or remembering certain key areas in the book as I compiled my thoughts on it below.
*******

The author must be gifted and talented to pull off such an ambitious and epic feat and that too with such finesse, logical continuity and adroitness.
To summarize 200,000 years of human history in a compact, concise and meaningful manner, all in about 466 pages, stringing together four key stages that transformed humans, the environment and led to the current state we sapiens find ourselves in today…is an amazing and incredible effort. A current state characterized by technological advancements, sophisticated socio-economic order and rise of collective consciousness, yet sapiens remain a discontent species partitioned by more criteria than ever…race, religion, sex, caste, language, region,”culturism”… and edging towards ecological disaster or technological paradise.

He has picked certain key events and ideologies that shaped and changed the course of history quite dramatically and unexpectedly and not always in favour of the well being of the sapiens and other earth dwellers.
Found some of the analogies cited, a little far fetched and over enthusiastic.
I felt it emphasized primarily the oppressive aspects of sapiens and that it could have striven for a more balanced view. But that didn’t diminish the overall essence of the book.
The author’s attempt to inspire empathy by drawing parallels between slavery and the modern animal industry is sure to strike a chord with many, in my view.

Overall it presents a provocative birds eye view of history not characterized just by wars, conquests and biological drivers but by the underlying socio-economic, agricultural, political, industrial and technological transformations.

The author has skillfully and coherently highlighted various key drivers of rapid human progression from an ape-like simple creature of the homo genus to an intellectual, opportunistic and complex being of the homo-sapien species with capacity to think, communicate, grow its own food, manipulate, cooperate, store/merge knowledge and apply it to further it’s own interests, multiply and ensure its own existence with a marked indifference, apathy towards the other earth dwellers and the environment. A species that believes it has achieved dominance over all other species to rise to the top of the food chain and seeks to gain control over the processes that determine its mortality to achieve an immortal status. But then continues to be restless, ruthless and discontent thanks to a deep-rooted unease and vulnerability. A sub-consciously insecure species that is driven and propelled by its insecurity, individual vulnerability, awareness of its ignorance among other factors rather than a pursuit of happiness.

Can’t think of any other book in this genre that attempts to cover human evolution history in a well rounded empathetic manner from multiple angles and render it with such logical clarity and with a heart and soul.

Book Review – Kafka on the shore by Haruki Murakami

Alert!! Long winding post written in one sitting, squinting and typing with one finger on the tiny smartphone keys, while travelling, with minimal editing. Kindly excuse. Some spoilers in store too.
Read on if you dare…
Finally finished reading Kafka on the shore. I took my time with it. Reread several lines which considerably slowed my progress. But it was worth it. It enveloped me in its other-worldliness. A welcome diversion too, from the overwhelming grief of losing a dear aunt and friend recently. The book absolutely commands one’s attention with its mesmerizing tone, silky smooth flow of language and mind bending riddles that overlap and intertwine.
While I can claim to have read it fully…it still continues to linger in my mind enticing me to unravel the riddles so finely intervowen.
Ceaseless questions about the book continue to churn. It is like an abstract painting or a sculpture that realigns and changes shape and form depending on the time of the day you observe it and which direction you view it from.
It is a multi-layered reading experience which stimulates you with mystery, adventure, magic realism and a generous dose of shock value, all wrapped in a dreamlike surreal landscape.
If you peel away the layers, at the bottom lies a seemingly coming of age story of a 15 year old boy who runs away after facing parental abuse. Unspeakable mental abuse by his father by way of imposing a shocking prophecy with incestuous implications on an impressionable young child’s psyche and abandonment and rejection trauma brought on by his absconding mother who left with his sister, leaving him behind. Something that continues to haunt Kafka, triggering and directing his decisions and actions, rendering him mature, way beyond his years, trapped by inner demons and his destiny shaped and bound by a seemingly self-fulfilling prophecy.
Parallelly run two other stories.
Story of an endearing old man with a pure heart and a clean slate of mind. Nakata. Someone who is open to magical possibilities and receptive to ideas, however outrageous, with a strong moral compass and sense of justice. Courageous and compassionate inspite of his perceived shortcomings. A man with the heart and mind of a child, shaped by a life changing childhood incident shrouded in unearthly mystery. A piece of him locked away in an alternate reality. Later in the story he is joined by another man, Hoshino, who is almost on a similar wavelength. One who admires and follows Nakata and has the potential of carrying on Nakata’s legacy so to speak.
Nakata’s character of living in the present moment and being alert and conscientous about his actions is juxtaposed against that of a woman’s: Miss.Saeki who lives in the past, her current existence characterized by frozen feelings and her actions in auto-pilot mode and her present experiences swiftly captured in a journal, then promptly purged from her memory. The girl-woman who triggered the mayhem and uncanny happenings by discovering and tinkering with the “stone” in the first place enabling her to lock away a piece of “love-struck version” herself in an alternate reality. Timelines probably don’t matter once the portal is open and time can flow in any direction and events occur in parallel.
As the plots diverge and collide, we run into several characters from talking cats, to international brand icons for liquor and food personified as evil and neutral beings that create turning points in the stories.
There was an underlying theme of feminity and feminism under fire. I could be wrong ofcourse. I draw this interpretation from his portrayal of the women characters, and the scope, depth and intent of their roles, apart from the below.
– Kafka’s mother who abandons him and walks away with his sister, unless ofcourse she and Kafka’s sister were murdered by Kafka’s father.
– The sadistic and gruesome killing of cats by Johnny Walker, cats symbolizing the feminine.
– A teacher who flies into a rage driven by shame about her feminine waste being discovered by a student. Then hits the student, causing him to faint and conceals this bit of information.
– An erudite and suave Oshima who is implied as being a woman physically, yet with a masculine psyche, who dresses as a man and prefers relationship with men. Creation of a situation by the author to delve into the shallow nature of two women with a misplaced sense of women’s rights and feminism, who are cleverly upstaged by brilliant Oshima who leaves no stone unturned in belittling the two. What is the relevance of this incident?
– Miss.Saeki who languishes for her lost love. Opens the portal causing some kind of time shift, alternate realities leading to havoc. It takes Nakata to step in and save the day with Hoshino’s help.
– the young girl version of Miss.Saeki drops in every day in the cottage in the woods to cook for the boy she loves…in an eternal cycle.
Some more questions to add to the questionaire that might be already whirling in your mind.
– Maybe the Oedipus prophecy and theme is a red herring, as in it is a false or misinterpreted prophecy intended to divert and confuse.
Take this away and try interpreting the story, can we?
– Was Hoshino’s meeting with philosophy spouting 19year old girl arranged by Col.Sanders, signify a meet between different versions of Nakata and Saeki respectively?
– The two soldiers mention to Kafka that most kids don’t make it beyond a certain point on their journey to the “Neverland” in the woods. Rather than Kafka, Nakata and Oshino’s elder brother, by ‘most kids’ are they referring to the other school kids who returned before reaching the destination?
– Is Sakura a figment of Kafka’s imagination? His description of her face is rather unusual. Also refer his first meet with her. She sits on a seat next to him. (Continue to the next page.) She looks at him or converses with him from across the table. Noticed a discrepancy here. (Maybe he made her up.) The police could not trace his call to her. Her phone is conveniently prepaid, which cannot be tracked.
– The two women questioning the absence of separate restrooms for women in the library…could they be Kafka’s long lost estranged mother and sister? Little far-fetched maybe but unable to discard this compelling question.
– Does Oshima’s fetish for sharpened pencils directly correspond to his keeping his intellect sharp, clear-cut and incisive while his identity might be ambiguous, something he keeps bringing up?
– Does the crow (rather than being Kafka’s subconscious) signify his mother’s spirit and Johnny Walker his father’s?
– Saeki’s prophetic “one hit wonder” song versus Kafka’s dad’s prophecy, both potent and connect, twist, turn and drive the plotlines or is it just Kafka’s over enthusiastic interpretations of them?
– The silvery slimy eel-like being that emerges out of Nakata on two occasions. What is it?

Need to stop typing now. Abruptly. Time to pick up the next book to read.

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