Book Title: Tell Me a Story (An Anthology)
Author (Compiled by): Ravinder Singh
Publisher: PENGUIN metro reads
My Rating: ***1/2
About the Author/s:
Ravinder Singh who compiled this anthology is a software engineer by profession, brought up in a very small town of Orissa called Burla.
Before editing and compiling this anthology, Ravinder Singh had also launched an anthology of Love stories titled 'Love Stories That Touched My Heart'. The author has many other published books to his credit.
The twenty one other authors who have contributed to the anthology come from different professional backgrounds but are storytellers for sure!
'Tell Me A Story'- the name of the book itself is a promising title that will compel lovers of the written word to reach out for the book. The subtitle says that the anthology has inspiring, touching, funny and heartfelt stories from life. And I'm a big sucker for true stories, so one can imagine my excitement to read this collection of short stories.
The cover is undoubtedly cute. The floral background and the flowing font translated 'touching' very aptly. And the cup of coffee by the side is just the perfect ambiance for a book lover, isn't it? It was drizzling beautifully outside when I received this book. What luck!
I think when Penguin put me on their Book Reviewer's list and sent me the paperback for a sneak preview, it had been an extremely opportune hour. This is a beautiful book to start off on my stint as a book reviewer for Penguin India.
The book opens with an Editor's note that says "We all have stories to tell. And we love telling them, don't we?" And the writer in me thoroughly agrees with a vigorous nod. Tell Me a Story is a collection of heart-warming stories about events and incidents that affected or changed the lives of the contributing writers. They have narrated stories of episodes that left an indelible mark on their lives.
Going through the table of contents, 'Pages from a Writer's Life' by Shamita Harsh immediately drew my attention. I knew, I would definitely be able to connect with that particular story and I did but before getting to it, I decided to follow the order and read the stories as they came. That would do justice to the anthology.
'The End of the Tunnel' by Krishnashish Jana is the curtain raiser story of the series. And after having finished reading it, I realised why it had been handpicked to set the ball rolling. The story is absolutely tear-jerking. Told in simple yet well chosen words, it pulls at the strings of the heart and how! Death of a loved one is not easy to face and even more difficult to understand at a tender age. Giving consolation to a grieving loved one requires unimaginable inner strength. This story was just as the title suggested and more.
There are some more stories in the book that are heart-wrenching stories of death and grief,of the sorrow and struggle that a heart goes through to bear with the pain of losing a loved one. The experience of waiting in a hospital lobby, losing a parent and mourning the grave loss is not alien to me and I could relate with the author's anguish. These stories are rife with emotion, alright!
'The Smile That Said It All' by Kamalika Ray is a story with a social message. Its so easy to reach out to another soul and yet we don't! You needn't burn your pockets to 'give'. Giving is highly overrated. It should be as natural as breathing. A simple heartfelt smile of gratitude that you get in return brings so much happiness and yet we look for that elusive 'happiness' in all the wrong places.
'And Then The Planes Came' by Sanghamitra Bose is my favourite story from this collection. It transported me into another era and also into the mind of a child. This story brought a smile to my face and also left me thinking, at the same time. On a much lighter note is the short and sweet story- 'The Untied Shoelaces' by Dalia Jane Saldanha. Children and the stories from a writer's childhood experiences, can both leave you with a smile as well as a lesson to learn.
'Tell Me A Story' is definitely a thoughtfully compiled collection of true stories which not only make for a good read but also leave you with life lessons. I will venture to compare this book with the 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' series. Similar in genre and style, it has full potential to keep surfacing time and again because I'm sure there are many more writers out there with their own touching and riveting real life experiences to share. Only, I would like it even more if the next time around I get to read stories that touch a wider plethora of emotions. In my opinion, too many stories revolving around the death of a loved one in the same collection was the downside here. The nit-picking critic in me sees that as one reason why the book loses a star. Besides, there were a couple of short stories that lacked the flare with which the other stories were written.
"I don't crib, complain, and curse any more. Each time I recall this twenty-minute interaction with a stranger, the soreness of my problems subside automatically. I'm sure you'll experience the same."
- Opening lines of 'We The People' by Anjali Khurana.
Can there be a more profound quote than that? We indeed can learn a lot from the lives of others. Happy or sad, their stories teach us a thing or two, if we are ready to read and evolve as human beings.