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A Word Thrice Uttered: Stories on Life's Realities Paperback – 12 Sep 2017
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‘In a growing materialistic world where everything is for gains, emotions take a back seat. Parveen Talha, weaves a story using real people, stings you with an unforgettable emotion. Every time you need that sting pick up A Word Thrice Uttered.’ —Muzaffar Ali ‘Parveen Talha knows Lucknow and its culture like the back of her hand and her seamless narrative is a pleasure to read. Lovers of fiction and Lucknow will cherish this book.’ —Keki N. Daruwalla ‘Here is a collection of stories layered with hidden depths and nuances exploring the many dimensions of human nature: Not just of urban dwellers, but also of villagers, of innocent children and animals too. A Word Thrice Uttered is a Must Read.’ —K. K. Paul, Governor of Uttarakhand
About the Author
Parveen Talha’s earlier book Fida-e-Lucknow (a collection of short stories published by Niyogi Books), steeped in the textures and flavours of Lucknow, brought alive the city and its people for her readers.
In the current volume she has widened her canvas and made it more colorful, with characters from Lucknow and its adjoining towns and villages, playing vibrant roles on a stage shifting through time and space, portraying the rich history of the Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb. In this book her stories open many unknown pages of history and bring back forgotten memories of folklore, of not only Lucknow but the whole of Awadh. With the bygone era, the present times also come alive.
Parveen Talha belongs to an old family of Awadh. After retiring from the Civil Services as Director General of Customs she was Member of the Union Public Service Commission for five years. She lives now in Lucknow and spends time writing about her beloved city. Parveen Talha is involved with social service which includes working for animal rights. In the year 2000 she was given the President Award for Specially Distinguished Record of Service. In 2014, she was honoured with the Padma Shri for her contribution to the Civil Services.
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There are a number of characters in these stories including human and animals and in some cases supernaturals too. Through these stories, we get to see the difficulties they face in life and how they overcome it. I am so glad that the author chose a different kind of story to tell in each one and none of those felt repeated.
I really liked how the author has incorporated different themes in each of the stories. Each story has talked about relevant social issues like women empowerment, literacy, animal harm, to name a few. These stories are full of meanings and you would find yourself attached to the characters even in those few pages. I felt a bit emotional even in a few stories.
These stories were like some old memories. You know the story you parents or grandmother used to tell you in childhood? This collection is certainly close to that, though the stories are not fairy-tales, but rather contains the complex subjects. A few stories take you to the bitter time of partition of India while a few take you to the life after that.
Among these stories, it is very hard to pick a favorite one. All of these are equally important and good one. But if I had to pick one, then I would pick Rustam. That story literally put tears in my eyes. The author’s writing is too simple and I guess it is a perfect read for any age group. But the simple writing even worked better in capturing your attention to the book. Each story is like a fresh breeze and you would automatically flip the pages one after the another.
As I mentioned earlier, the stories are set in different timelines, though the majority are set around the time of independence days. The author herself is from Lucknow so I liked how she incorporated the lifestyle of Lucknow in the stories. It would not be wrong to say that this book consists of Lucknow and its people.
Overall, A Word Thrice Uttered by Parveen Talha is a beautiful collection of emotions packed with hard-hitting real-life tragedies. It takes you to a roller-coaster ride and gives you a feeling of home with each of the stories. This book should definitely be read, especially by the Indian readers. It is a heartwarming read to lighten up your mood and probably to make you think about life realities.
The theme may seem very run-of-the-mill at first glance, but trust me the stories come as a wave of fresh air and leave you invigorated. The best part is that they are short, crisp, fast-paced but not vague or mundane. One can read a couple of stories every day and it will give them enough food for thought. Parveen’s fine writing skills make up for the lack of character appearance details. The setting and the narration are enough to create an image so vivid, it could take hundreds of lines otherwise.
Centred Around Women Characters:
Most of these stories have strong women characters. They may be meek to begin with but they do not give up in the face of unpleasant circumstances. Rather, they pick themselves up and develop into independent personalities who are ready to face any problem for their loved ones, even death. Even in stories with supernatural elements, like ‘A string of Bela Flowers’ and ‘Where Did the Delicacies Come From?’, one can explain the unnatural by claiming them to be a doing of the love and determination of these women.
The story titled ‘Centipede’ compares the life of women from different generations. It is a humorous anecdote of how the changes manifest themselves in form of changing ceremonies and traditions. From when they had no say in their own discomforts, the women today plan each and every detail of their wedding day and participate and enjoy as per their own desires and comforts. Women today are no longer tied down because they had a failed love affair or are not a virgin before marriage.
One other theme I found in many stories was that of being kind to the poor and needy. They portray how providence always treats you in a befitting manner. It can destroy you like the Chaudhary or in ‘Trail and Punishment’ or reward you like it did for ‘Amma’ in ‘Where Did the Delicacies Come From?’
While ‘Real Sacrifice’ uses child innocence to voice concern against Animal Cruelty, ‘Gangaji is Not Far, Bappa’ and ‘Trial and Punishment’ touch upon the subject of child labor. It is not unusual to see young kids working to support their families but these stories insist upon the importance of helping these kids. Once educated and trained, these can carve a better life for themselves and their families than their parents.
Unlike many cultures, the life of individuals in India is well knit with their family. Parveen Talha has brought for us in these stories the nuances of living this way. While Kausar is forsaken by her own husband and other blood relatives in ‘A Word Thrice Uttered’, in ‘Panditayin’, a foster mother gives her best to raise a son and fulfill a promise made to his dying mother. In ‘Amma! Come back’, a young child pines for his mother and his mother’s helplessness which forces her to stay away from him.
In ‘Sona and Tiger’, the love of a family surpasses the border of species. It is not just about the humans who love and keep their pets with utmost care, I fell in love with the affection shared by a cow and a dog as if they were a mother-son duo.
I think all type of readers will love this anthology. True to its title, it will bring you face to face with life’s true realities but I hope will also give you the courage to stand up to them and face them head-on.
Another amazing short story book, and the more I read short stories the move I am driven towTards them. Due to their short length, giving out so much in the book. And I am totally impressed by the Author Parveen Talha, her backdrop of Lucknow for stories are so perfect and are believable. Book is an anthology for 16 heart melting stories.
The cover is totally relatable and is in many ways does justice to the stories
It is so difficult to choose a favorite, when each story covers such different emotions and give an eye on societies issues.