About the Book
Escape from Athabasca, A Collection of Short Stories and Poems deals with a wide range of themes taken from everyday life. The book describes life as a complex mix of the mundane and the extraordinary. Would it be a big surprise to hear about how someone who has never flown a plane before manages to fly one with great success? While some of the stories and poems in the book deal with domestic issues others highlight the importance of friendship, risks and dangers in space travel, or even the impact of virtual game shows on young people. Just because we live secure lives far away from conflict zones, it doesn’t mean we are shielded from the possibility of a nuclear war.
The poems in this book provide a poetical rendition of a world that is sometimes offset by bereavement and at other times the comicality of a roadside barber trimming and shaving the hair of his clients unperturbed by a disturbed world that rushes by.
A preview of the book – excerpts from the short stories and poems
Richter scale Tremors
They were woken all of a sudden when the building began to shake rather violently – there was a rumbling sound coming from nearby which reminded them of the aircraft taking off from the Sahar International Airport. Thomas, his wife, Pearl and their two kids, John, ten and Martha twelve, rushed to the balcony of the apartment on the first floor of the Sky Lark building. They had rented the entire floor of the building close to a beach in Mumbai for a whole month of as part of our summer vacation. This had been their summer break as they had wanted to spend the few days of their summer vacation away from the mad rush, dust and pollution of the Capital, Delhi. Horrified they looked at the whole building undulate and even as they watched, they saw the beach approach closer and closer. They all rushed out of the building and reached the beach just in time to see the building collapse like a pack of cards. Perplexed the Thomas family watched as the water suddenly receded from them, leaving all sorts of Marine life stranded, crabs, small fish and starfish wriggled on the exposed sand.
The suburban train came to a stop abruptly in the middle of nowhere, the sudden stillness and silence engulfed them like a blanket jolting all the passengers out of their slumber into a moment of shock. Paul Gartner had been brooding about Daniela before the shockwave hit the train – a girl he had loved so dearly and believed she would stick to him through thick and thin – it came as a blow to him when she calmly announced the previous morning that she was ending their live-in relationship!
I wake up in the middle of the day, surprised to notice the darkness all around, the stillness overwhelms me, and then I remember the bright flash that turned the day into an inferno of blazing fires, burning everything to cinders, the heat oppressive even in the middle of the winter season! It had been as if someone had turned on a giant flash, I remember ducking back into the building, the heat searing my back, and then nothing!
‘I must have lost consciousness!’ I tell my other self, the one that lurks in my mind. ‘That,’ I tell him, ‘must have been a nuclear explosion.’ The news channels had been airing news about how our neighbouring country had been promising ‘a special gift that would come our way.’ I step out of the huge building only to be hit by the stench of burnt flesh; the heat hits me in the face. What I see shocks me a great deal, cars burnt to cinders, cars piled up on each other as if deliberately piled upon each other by a particularly angry child.
He was slow and clumsy, but he had a smile all the time.
He’d come to the front and touch me by the hand to gain attention, but I
Brushed him away, irritated at the proximity. He’d hover around all the time asking, perhaps,
To be loved and cared for, but no one gave him a chance!
Spoils of War
As the sun sinks down into the horizon, a silence descends on the field,
Broken only by the groans and cries of pain of the injured, and the last
Gasps of those preparing to go away. The sky flashes in hues of bright
Orange, pink, copper, red, and crimson – one last time before the end!
A Roadside Barber
A barber’s chair sits by the roadside, a mirror hung on the trunk of a tree,
Scissors, razors, brush and towel arranged on a table greet the curious
Eye. An intimate relationship it would be as the man on the chair points out
At a pimple on his chin.
How to purchase the book
Escape from Athabasca, A Collection of Short Stories and Poems is available on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, and Flipkart. It is available as an E-Book and a paperback.