Mango Chutney, the book, tagged as an anthology of tasteful short fiction, was launched on the eve of Indian Independence Day of 2014 at Cha Bar, Oxford Bookstore, Connaught Place.
The book contains twenty six stories written by twenty six exceptional writers, bloggers, authors and social media celebrities on various topics. Incidentally, there happens to be a twenty seventh story in the book as well, just by chance, written by me.
First things first, this is not a review of the book. I have never written a review and I am really bad at self-marketing. I have written this post because the idea to write it has been floating in my mind for more than a week now and I feel the need to set my thoughts free in the form of words, as I always do.
I usually don’t write stories like the one that got selected to be published in Mango Chutney. The reason why I wrote this particular story is because I had to imagine a scenario wherein things would happen differently if I had said what I was supposed to say a long time ago, almost eighteen years ago. I wrote it just out of the blue, without planning. I wrote it as long as it flowed out of me and I stopped the moment I was unable to imagine further. But, I have written it nevertheless, and therefore, it is very dear to me, like my own child.
My journey to get this story published in Mango Chutney started way back in 2012. I was working in Hyderabad, selling rice and feasting on Biryanis almost every day. One morning, I came across a shared Facebook post of a young boy who was traveling across India and finding hosts as he travelled. The post was about raising funds to install a television in an orphanage of blind children. The boy was shy of a couple thousand rupees to buy the television. The best thing about the post was that he wasn’t requesting anybody to donate, he was informing that he needed this much money. I was impressed with the boy’s attitude and decided to fund the remaining amount.
That boy was Harsh Snehanshu.
I hosted him in Hyderabad few days later and during the two nights he slept with me, we discussed ideas, shared our thoughts and stories, learned from each other’s experiences and moved on.
After those three days in Hyderabad, we haven’t met for more than five times, haven’t talked on phone for more than ten times, but there is a sort of understanding. Either I am very compromising or he is very generous that we end up agreeing on almost everything we discuss. The time that followed after his visit in Hyderabad was defining for both of us. He was going through the best time of his life, he was popular, published his fourth book and kept on traveling whereas I was busy in dealing with the thunderstorms in my life. We didn’t stay in touch, just stayed in each other’s friendlists. The conversations never happened but we were aware of what each one of us was doing or was planning to do.
Almost three months ago, on a rainy morning, I was having a cup of tea at Cha Bar, Oxford Store, Connaught Place when I received a Facebook message from Harsh, asking me whether I would like to contribute a story in an upcoming anthology or not. Had it been anyone else, I would have said a straightforward no. I don’t see or regard myself as a mere contributor to anthologies. But, as it was Harsh, I took the chance believing that even if he had decided to compile an anthology, he would never compile a bad one.
Today, the book is doing well. The first edition is on the verge of being sold out and a large number of readers are still craving to read the book.
As I write this post as one of the contributor, sharing pages with many noted names, I’d mention that there is no power like the power of taking chances without bothering about the consequences. Because as the saying goes, even if you fail or get a bad experience, you will end up having a good story to tell, which might be accepted in a unique anthology like Mango Chutney.