A collection of extraordinary tales from the ordinary paths of life, Two Minutes to an Eclipse and Other Moments by Anshu Choudhry is a book that shook me, leaving me off guard, taken by surprise, and somewhat intimidated at what life can eventually transpire into and what the future may hold and decide to bring our way.
Life and its pursuits are so wondrous, so strangely marvellous. And yet, many a time, I sit back and think, Why is it so difficult, so brutal and callous…
And yet again, I happened to read a work that caused me to reconsider the fundamental aspect and purpose for which God created us and this life in the first place. So much pain, such complexities. And yet, we take pride in obsessing over nothing, knowing that in the end, we will all be reduced to dust. Why stubbornness? Why insensitivity?
You know, every now and then, there will be that single instance, that single moment in one’s life, that defines it all, that lays it all bare. And yet, there are some others that may redefine these altogether. Such moments, instances, which are poised to shock, thrill or change the way we perceive life is what have been brought forth in the form of short stories by Anshu Choudhry through her latest Two Minutes to an Eclipse and Other Moments”
These “capsules of life,” as I want to refer to them, are powerful enough to shake and jolt you out of your comfort zone, getting you out of that reverie you may have settled into. Written surely after having poignantly examined life at extremely close quarters, I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that all of these unique little “windows” to the daily ongoings of life had a plethora of thoughts to convey. All of these stories had a depth so profound that I was actually intimidated by the takeaways quite a few of them seemed to offer.
Take the story Sour Butter, for example. The manner in which little Mini initially is in awe of and avoids and “hates” her great grandmother, eventually developing fondness, respect, and most importantly, “love” for her, was such a heartwarmer and so relatable that the tale almost felt like, “Yes, I know this one, have seen it before my eyes, amongst my own kith and kin somewhere.” That descriptiveness, the pictographic details describing Mini’s household, how each day of her life begins, the way she describes the character sketches and her perception of each, was so resonating, like a smidgeon of “umami” amidst a vat full of earthy sweetness!
The innocence of youth, the harsh realities of the world, society and its stereotyping, and the entire way life proceeds and moves forward, like a giant bull elephant shaking all qualms like drops of water away from its mighty tusks, are the subjects of this collection, an abstract honouring and celebrating what might “shake off” of the elephant called life.
Another tale that I absolutely loved was “A Photograph.” So unsettling, uncanny, and yet so full of the dark realities of life that we know, are aware of, but refuse to accept. When life rolls on with its grim secrets, we rarely consider why that particular secret is being kept, and that it is being kept from us.
There was the story “Two Minutes to an Eclipse,” which depicted the superstitious side of societal mindsets. Toying with the ideologies of religious beliefs and faiths, Anshu has pulled this one off very well.
And boy, did I love the tale of “The Red Stilettos” or what? Nina is such a refreshing character. This is a perfect example of the quagmires that a woman may face in her lifetime. The manner in which Anshu has portrayed Nina’s refusal to accept “moving on,” still trying to beat age by casting it away as a number, and fighting the insecurities surrounding her marriage, was an intense experience to take in. Is beauty really all about the exterior self, as society chooses to acknowledge? Isn’t a relationship much more than simply being physically attractive and satisfying each other? Isn’t it also about maturing and growing old together in a marriage? I was aghast and saddened to see how Nina chooses to drag herself along the path of the social bandwagon like a rag doll rather than following her inner calling. but could also relate to her trying to battle her waning youth and the loneliness that followed.
Yes, every character was the “person next door” kind. Ordinary characters, and yet extraordinary moments, are being created through each and every tale, thrilling, educating, and apprising readers, making them privy to that life-changing moment, the instance we may have never fathomed and yet come face to face with.
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The Red Stilettos is my personal favourite story because it expresses so many emotions in such a short amount of time. Kudos to Anshu for portraying and reflecting so many idiosyncrasies of the world and life and challenging their rationale in a completely neutral tone. Written in lucid language, these tales are a must-read and will surely make you go back and grab the tiny yet highly significant themes and ideologies being conveyed through each one of them. A great read.
Two Minutes to an Eclipse and Other Moments
So, I hope you guys liked my thoughts on Two Minutes to an Eclipse and Other Moments by Anshu Choudhry.
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Tags: Short Stories, book of short stories, short stories by Anshu Choudhary, Life slices