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Posted at: Jan 17, 2016, 12:22 AM; last updated: Jan 15, 2016, 7:48 PM (IST)

Where different worlds meet

Where different worlds meet
Allahabad Aria by Neelum Saran Gour. Rupa. Pages 180. Rs 195

Aditi Garg

When you set out to describe a place, what would you say describes it best? Is it the geography or the culture? Is it the architecture, is it the people, is it the food or is it the history? Neelum Saran Gour puts forth a compilation of short stories that is undoubtedly the best way to travel Allahabad. A celebrated author of eight works of fiction, editor of a pictorial volume on history and culture of Allahabad, author of Three Rivers and a Tree — The Story of Allahabad University, she is presently working as an English language professor at Allahabad University. 

The author has created a symphony that best represents the soul of the city. There is a touching story of a boy who loses his mother only to lose his childhood. He then lives with his father who is inept in every way. Their tumultuous relationship reaches a crescendo from where it becomes irreconcilable, even after the death of his father. 

There is another interesting story about an author who finds the perfect reader of her books. In another story, a young man finds himself involved in a conspiracy that he does not want to be a part of. One of the stories that impresses  is The Last Telegram of Allahabad. The way a mute man communicates with his wife while celebrating a previously revered mode of communication, the telegram, will make you think twice about how love can be expressed despite all barriers.  

The one story that makes all the chords of your heart reverberate is about the dynamics between a princess and a paan-woman who she initially perceives as a threat and gradually comes to trust more than anyone else. The two women come together to save prince Khusrau from the wrath of Nurjahan in this poignant tale. 

The book is also about hope as a shopkeeper finds out that familial bonds can be found in the most unlikely of places and revels in it. A good read for its varied stories, each of these is uniquely stimulating. 

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