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Posted at: Apr 22, 2018, 1:26 AM; last updated: Apr 22, 2018, 1:26 AM (IST)BOOK REVIEW: YEARS LATER ... ON FACEBOOK STORIES AND MUSINGS BY JUPINDERJIT SINGH.

The story of simple moments in life

Sandeep Sinha

Where ever there are people, there are stories, so goes the old maxim. Journalist and author Jupinderjit Singh has lived up to this old principle of his trade by penning vignettes of life that he came across, both as an individual and a professional. The book is an anthology of short stories and Middles — an art that very few newspapers now preserve in its pure form — which the author says is about the sheer joy of writing and life with its funny and complicated happenings.

The stories have freshness about them for these have been picked up from life around us and are about characters we often come across, written in a simple and lucid style.  

The book derives its title from the first story in the anthology. At a time when Facebook is in the news for rather wrong reasons — data leakage — it is heartening to read the story and know that the social media site is also about contact and connect. 

A schoolboy and girl have a crush on each other, go their way in life, only to reconnect later in life, with the boy discovering that the girl had eye only for him and had not noticed her other suitors, unlike what he had thought. It is a reality bite in a virtual world and reminds of poet PB Shelley’s words, “We look before and after, and pine for what is not; our sincerest laughter, with some pain is fraught; our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.” The sense of wistfulness is palpable as the characters log back into their family life.

The writer hails from a border village and some of his stories like Peepal Tree No. 918 and No man’s land…, Chess on LoC and Kings and Pawns depict the pain that Partition has entailed. The stories, especially the one about Kesar and Sultana, are beautiful portrayal of life for they are metaphor for the trials and tribulations that accompany those living in the area, including the members of the armed forces. 

Mother is about the way mothers are, indulgent and forgiving, and about the love of a son who dreads the thought of her not being around. Love in times of Jihad is about communal harmony, not surprising for a society that has borne the brunt of it. There is also a touch of humour as in The Girl in the Gym where the membership increases after a beautiful girl joins the gym and Taste me not that puts across the message, “Daaru di yaari, sab to waddi te nyari.”

There are stories like Safety Pin and Zenia which describe in detail the intimate encounters between a couple. 

When it comes to sex, people in the land of Kamasutra and Khajuraho are known to be prudes. But social mores have changed, manifest in the TV serials, which have come a long way since the days of Hum Log and Buniyad — from portraying family values to extra-marital relations. Safety Pin is also about straying from the marital path and returning from the brink. The author steers clear of the Jackie Collins or Harold Robins path in subsequent stories and retains the core essence of the anthology.   

Zenia, the last and longest of the stories, is a gripping tale about a man living in a bubble and the tragedy that befalls him. 

In all, it’s a good effort and the stories do get better as you read along, noticing what goes on around us with perspicacity and with an air of gentle innocence.

The cover design and illustrations by Rajbir Singh are beautiful, complementing the text suitably.

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