A girl embarks on a train journey to obliterate old memories which have destroyed her childhood; a young girl is transformed into a veritable Krishna to destroy a modern day Kansa; an unmarried surrogate mother readies herself to give birth to a child; a young civil servant stops believing in miracles when she is abducted and kept captive in the hills of Manipur; a young woman visits Munnar and discovers her family's best kept secret in the hills. ‘The Future is Mine' by Vandana Kumari Jena is an eclectic collection of stories, some humorous, some serious and yet others suspenseful. The underlying thread running across the stories is women, their resilience, their infinite compassion and indomitable courage. These stories are hard-hitting, yet soul- stirring and will strike an emotional chord with the reader. 'The Future is mine' makes for compelling reading.
Vandana Kumari Jena is an officer of the 1979 batch of the Indian Administrative Service of the Odisha cadre. She writes middles, novels, short stories and poetry. Her short stories have been published in over fifteen anthologies. Her first novel 'The Dance of Death' was published in 2008. Her collection of short stories entitled 'The Incubation Chamber' was published in 2014. She is married with two sons. She lives in New Delhi.
Our childhood was spent with a grandparent or parent narrating a bed time story beginning with, 'Once upon a time....' We have all grown up with the short story, which forms an intrinsic part of our childhood memories. Be it the homespun story, cleverly made up by the doting grandmother, or the classics spun by word smiths, stories always leave an unforgettable imprint on our mind. I have never reached the end of `Idgaah,' the immortal classic by Premchand, without breaking into tears. Guy de Mupassant's stories leave me with a lump in my throat, while PG Wodehouse with his seamless narratives brings a smile to my lips. Over a period of time, while creative writing has evolved, with traditional novels giving way to graphic novels and the genre expanding to chick lit, erotica, science fiction and speculative fiction, to name just a few, the size of the stories has shrunk, with flash fiction and micro fiction competing with the traditional short story. Fiction can now be written in five hundred words, a hundred words or even less. Sadly, I am told, despite this enrichment, short stories have no takers. Nevertheless, despite discouragement by publishers, I have ventured to write, 'The Future is Mine,' my second collection of short stories.
The short stories in this collection are an eclectic mix, because life itself is multi-dimensional, multi-layered, multi-textured and multi-hued. It defies a pattern. It is a symphony of sunshine and shadows, laughter and sorrow, the mundane and the mysterious. The stories in the collection portray the changing times and values, from the time when bearing an illegitimate child raised eyebrows, to the present when India has become the destination of choice for commercial surrogacy as well as sperm donation. Most of the stories dwell on the plight of women. As a woman, I can understand and empathize intuitively with women. My protagonists, therefore, are usually strong women. I honestly believe that women are the stronger sex. Yet they are vulnerable as well, with all human failings, foibles and imperfections, because after all, no human being is perfect.
Of the stories in this collection, 'Deja vu', 'Retribution' and `Storm Warning' have a hint of mystery in them, as well as a twist in the tale. `Deja vu' is the story of a young woman who detests train journeys because of a tragedy in her past. 'Retribution' is what awaits Sabita when she dares to do the unthinkable and embarks on a forbidden relationship, while 'Storm Warning' is the story of a young woman who is convinced that she is being poisoned. 'Long distance Romance' and 'Anti-love' add a dash of humour to the collection. 'Long Distance Romance' is the story of a newly- wed couple, where the hero is in love with his own voice, and even more, with his mobile phone, while 'Anti-love' is the story of a woman who does not have a romantic bone in her body.
The other stories include 'The Tempest', the story of a young girl who made a wrong choice once, and abandoned her love for the sake of her family, but yearns for life to give her a second chance. The 'Tsunami' is the story of a young woman who is plucked by the gigantic killer wave and buffeted around, making her realizes how infinitesimal her problems really are, when her very survival is at stake. 'My Own Prison' is the story of a young girl who has to barter her body, albeit differently, for a few dollars more. 'Once Upon A Time in Munnar' portrays the angst of a girl who finds herself abandoned by her own family to secure the future of her siblings. 'The Future is mine' is the story of a young woman whose abduction by insurgents leaves her traumatized. 'Nemesis' is the tale of a man with a warped mind, who decides to kill his daughters for a longed for son. 'The Unwelcome Guest' deals with the anguish of a father who is unable to bridge the chasm between himself and his bureaucrat son. 'Spider's Web' is the story of a young boy who decides to take law into his own hands and thwart the liaison between his father and his colleague.
Each story, stripped of any pretensions, nevertheless highlights the complexity of human relationships. The stories are meant to entertain and I hope readers will enjoy reading them, and see a slice of their life in the stories.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Item Code: NAR026 Author: Vandana Kumari Jena Cover: PAPERBACK Edition: 2015 Publisher: Ocean Books Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi ISBN: 9788184303100 Language: English Size: 8.50 X 5.50 inch Pages: 208 Other Details: Weight of the Book: 0.22 Kg