Saturday, January 26, 2013

‘3 Mistakes of My Life’ review: Romance & politics on your platter

Book Title: The 3 Mistakes of my Life
Author: Chetan Bhagat
Publisher: Rupa
Genre: Romance, politics, fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5

Review: Chetan Bhagat, the most read English writer in India, pours a concoction of romance and politics on your platter with his ‘The 3 Mistakes of my Life’. It is not his best book but has all the ingredients of a Chetan Bhagat ‘masala’ with the flashback storytelling style, one of author’s most prominent trademarks.
‘The 3 Mistakes of my Life’ is largely a tale of 3 grown-up friends (Govind, Ishaan and Omi) and about their buddyhood which experiences its dose of ups & downs as their relationship goes through all the usual trajectories of mundane life. The story unfolds vividly as the three friends based in a small Gujarat town open up a cricket merchandise shop to pursue business as well as their common passion. Cricket, in fact, forms a major ingredient of the novel and the author takes full liberty in exploring the insatiable passion which runs in the veins of small town dwellers in regard to this holy game.

Thus, Bhagat inserts a dramatic description of the epic 2001 India-Australia test series and weaves it effortlessly with our trio and their fluctuating fortunes. Politics also plays a key subject in the premise with Omi’s uncle (‘Mama’) portraying a key political character and bringing in the various good & ugly traits of a politician. The political subplot, though subtle initially, takes the driver’s seat towards the end building up for an action-packed climax. Bhagat borrows heavily from the Godhra Riot and the Ayodhya Temple conflicts to fuse 50 shades (and more) of grey into this novel. The Hindu-Muslim agitation, the ubiquitous loathing (and respect) for the Australian cricketers and the political backstabbing are issues which are lifted directly from the real ‘India’. Thus, Bhagat, to quite an extent, blurs the line between fiction and reality.

If politics is not your genre, then you can look forward to oodles of romance which Bhagat serves you in copious amounts. The tale is told through the eyes of Govind who is the lead protagonist and also happens to be our lover-boy. Being the maths topper of the town, his best friend Ishaan requests him to provide tuition to his sister Vidya, who is to sit for her medical entrance exam. What starts off as an innocuous 1-hour mathematics lesson soon meanders into forbidden territories of friendship, affection, love and even promiscuity. The Govind-Vidya romance is the ultimate case of illicit love, the tabooed liaison and the forbidden apple which once Adam, and later Govind, chose to taste.

The narrative is penned in the typical Chetan style with pellucid language and a wisp of humour. Though, the story keeps you hooked right from page one, the climax seems hurried and a tad unpalatable. Yet, despite some pardonable shortcomings, ‘3 Mistakes of my life’ is a good read, especially for the Vidya-Govind romance.
Overall, it is a good book, even if not a great one. Its screen adaptation ‘Kai Po Che’ is slated to hit theatres this year. It promises to be an exhilarating watch!

~Ritesh Agarwal

[This review has been penned in association with MySmartPrice/Books, the best place to find out the lowest prices of books, mobiles and a whole lot of mercantile products.]

Monday, January 21, 2013

A blogger’s night out: Me, my friends and ‘Four Seasons Wines’

So, it started like this. I got an invitation from team ‘Ginger Claps’ to attend ‘Adrenalize 2013’, an annual event of ‘Four Seasons Wines’ at the famed Tollygunge Club (Paddocks) in Kolkata on 19th January, 2013. It was supposed to be a high-profile social event, and even though I’m pretty gregarious & open-minded, I am not a big party animal. Hence, I was in two minds whether to go or not. A little web search about the previous parties by ‘Four Seasons Wines’ gave me assurance and even egged me to go for this one. So, here I was traveling through the Metro to the furthest corner of my city for taking part in a Wine Festival, despite the fact that I had never tasted the holy drink in my life (till now, though things would soon change for the better).

I reached the place well before time and was a tad unsure about my role out there. I didn’t know anyone in person and that was a bit unnerving. Mr. Mitter from ‘Ginger Claps’ greeted me warmly giving me much more respect than a little-known blogger like me deserved. He showed me around to a table where I was supposed to wait for 6 other co-bloggers from Kolkata (eventually, 5 of them turned up).

Left alone, I decided to check out a few things. I surveyed the ambience (which was very pleasing), threw a glance at the food table (which I knew would soon be brimming with the yummiest of things one can put to his mouth), and went over to the wine section for taking a few clicks.   

I was soon joined by two co-bloggers named Soumi and Debiparna. Even though, we had never known each other before, it was heartening to see the two girls open up candidly to me. The three of us discussed a bit about our blogs and about their love (and my naivety) for the wine. Soon enough, two more bloggers (Animesh and Deepa) joined us.

The event then kickstarted with the gorgeous hostess Gunjan taking the mike! A few awards were given out to winners of ‘Wine Trail’, an exciting endeavor by ‘Four Seasons Wines’. The lucky winners took home an expensive bottle of wine (what more could they ask from life??)! Some of the bloggers were already salivating, and soon enough, two farm-fresh wine bottles were served at our table. Animesh poured the wine onto our glasses (there are special glasses for drinking wine) with the air of someone who has been handling it since childhood. However, he soon revealed that he had learnt the correct art of pouring wines from Hollywood films.    

We raised our glasses to ‘Four Seasons Wines’ and I took the first sip of my life (my lips were no longer virgin). Even though I was a novice, I could sense that the quality of wine was numero uno. We started off with the red wine and soon drank our way into the white wine! For someone who is as ignorant as me, it was a learning experience, since I got to know a few secrets about them. Later on, of course, the master chefs regaled the crowd with their special cooking recipes, and let us in on some trivia about wines & vineyard.

The much-awaited grape-stomping session was held next. The leggy models slithered into the huge tub (filled with luscious grapes) and stomped, much to the delight of the photographers. Deepa and Soumi too braved the limelight for a taste of the experience. After making their feet feast on the sugary grapes, they finally giggled their way out. The host Gunjan looked mightily pleased. It was apparent that the grape-stomping thing had gone down well with the crowd. And NO, I didn’t enter that tub! 

Meanwhile, the foodies had now come to the fore. The food table was flooded with some really scrumptious dishes. We bloggers were given free food coupons worth Rs 300. I picked up the yummy-looking ‘paneer tikka’ while my friends chose to brutally attack several non-veg items. While our jaws & tongues were still at work, Gunjan stimulated everyone’s hormones by letting the music flow. Yes, it was time for the DJ to set up the ambience for the dance floor. With some really groovy numbers being belted, the crowd soon invaded the dance floor! Prizes were given out generously every few minutes (yes, the expensive wine bottle again).
We bloggers, with the exception of Animesh, hit the floor as well. Propelled by the wine and the foot-tapping music, we danced like our lives depended on it. 

Finally, at around 10 pm, we bloggers decided to call it a day (though the dance floor was still alive) coz it was really getting late (and I lived at the other end of the city).   

So, in a nutshell, let me tell you how I profited from this venture:
-          I made several new friends
-          I became a party animal (even if it’s for a day)
-          I had my first brush with top-quality wine (and for free)
-          I got to take part in one of the biggest social events of the town
-          I dug into the most delicious paneer-tikka I have ever tasted
-          I got to be a part of the exclusive Tollygunge Club

Megha, Deepa, Debi and Soumi

Me sporting a 'Devdas' look

So, am I game for the next such event? I guess you already know the answer! 

A sincere thanks to 'Four Seasons Wines' and to team 'Ginger Claps' for giving me this opportunity. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

55 word story: Blood across my face

Turning the alarm clock off I dragged myself into the bathroom. Groggily, I checked my reflection in the mirror. There were nail marks dug deeply into my face. Aghast, I stepped out into the verandah. My dog lay there in a pool of blood. This was the third murder I had committed in my sleep-walk.

[This post is a part of 'Write Over the Weekend', an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda] 

Hair Story: The long and short of it

This is a personal rambling which I am not quite used to. In fact, yesterday only I was mocking at a co-blogger Shomi Paul (whom I met at Ginger Claps’ ‘Four Wine Seasons’ event) about how she uses her blog just to rave & rant about her personal life. So, I am adequately ashamed to admit that this blog post, coming just hours after that conversation with Shomi, is nothing more than a frivolous useless rambling.
This is to talk about my hair which is presently very miniscule in length. I look grotesquely ugly when I am sporting short hair. And the transformation (from ugly to sexy) seems almost magical when they grow up in length. So, I would rather die than to sport small itsy-bitsy crops of tresses which hardly do justice to my otherwise-refined & delectable face!
But the big problem of my current life is that I’m suffering from a very nagging form of dermatitis which is compelling me to maintain cropped manes. It burns my heart everytime the barber runs his scissor on my deliciously lustrous manes (O, I love them so much, <3)! But currently I have got no other choice.
I fondly recollect the days when I would get a haircut just once every year. Yes you heard it right! I would be heading to the parlor only once in one year! And that too, when my hair would literally reach below my shoulders and my nagging mother would threaten to disown me, or worse, kick me out of the house. Thus, with just once-a-year visit to the parlor, I have made a fortune out of those savings. This also means that my barber or the hair-stylist (to use a more sophisticated and prestige-saving word) has become virtually a beggar! He would earn his bread & butter through my dense, black and bouncing hairs, till I decided to show him my face (and my head) just once per annum.

But now the tables have turned. I can feel his sneer and his fetish desire to have a go at me, every time I step into his saloon (which is becoming quite frequent). One look at my growing manes and he would start to sharpen his scalpel looking longingly and mouth-wateringly at my luscious little assets.
I am waiting for my old days to come back again. I am waiting for my vintage long hair to play havoc in my house again. I am waiting to fall in love with me all over again as I stand before the hourglass admiring at my most admirable self. May God bring back those good, old days back. Amen!

PS- I had forewarned you that it is merely a rambling. So, if you still read this whole thing and are deeply regretting now, then you yourself are to be blamed. But here is a big hug for listening to what I had to blah blah about! Yes, I can say stupid things for incessant hours, if I’m not stopped. But it helps my confidence if my audience is someone as patient as ‘you’! So, a big ‘thank you’. And now, you can comment below if you wish to counter-ramble!

~ a peeved short-haired 'Ritesh'

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Book Review of Agatha Christie’s ‘Death in the Clouds’

Book: Death in the Clouds
Author: Agatha Christie
Publisher: Harper Collins
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Review: ‘Death in the Clouds’ is another masterly work by the queen of mysteries Agatha Christie. It is a Hercule Poirot novel and those who have read him before don’t need any further reason as to why they should pick up this one. The eccentricities, the endearing quirkiness and the intriguing brain of this short, egg-headed man are qualities which have made him one of the most well-known literary characters of all times.

‘Death in the Clouds’ is another murder mystery which Poirot solves using his ingenuity. This one concerns the death of a woman passenger on a flight in which Poirot was also traveling. What initially seemed like a case of an insect bite turned out to be a deliberately planned diabolical murder! As the police force tries to solve the puzzle, Poirot works silently in the corridors of his own mind. The question is ‘will the murderer get away with the crime’? Eh bien, we all know that no matter how shrewd & sinister the criminal is, it is impossible to escape the ‘grey cells’ of Poirot. That’s elementary, dear Watson!

‘Death in the Clouds’ has all the ingredients that keep a reader hooked. You won’t be able to rest in peace until you reach the final chapter and hear Poirot’s much-awaited final speech, when he makes his revelation. The climax is pretty good and quite unpredictable. Thus, you will turn the final page with a sense of shock and contentment.
The characters are well sketched out. However, there is a slight dearth of emotional context. That is one reason why the reader may not feel any sympathy for the murderer towards the end. Poirot is there from the beginning (since he is one of the passengers on the plane) and so there is no dull moment in the book. The good, old Inspector Japp is also around though his role is a miniscule one in this novel. The language is simple and with that quintessential Agatha charm.

On the down side, ‘Death in the Clouds’ is not as thrilling or as readable as ‘Death on the Nile’ (where murder was committed on a cruise) or ‘Murder in the Orient Express’ (where Christie chose a train as her stage). It has a puzzling mystery which will definitely stupefy you, unless your name is Hercule Poirot. But the sub-stories are not as interesting or complete as an Agatha die-hard would like them to be. Eh bien, but it is still a good book and a must-read for any lover of detective fiction.  
The bottomline is that ‘Death in the Clouds’ is not the best Agatha-Hercule book! But even a less-than-best Agatha is much much much better than most other authors. I hope you got the point, mon ami.

~Ritesh Agarwal 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

55 word story: The smell

I was woken by a strong nauseating smell. I went to investigate. It was the garden area. The grass beneath my feet was stinking. I started digging passionately. A polythene rug sack surfaced. I untied it. A rotten head fell onto my lap. I shrieked as I saw my hollow eyes staring back at me. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

55 word story: The white pearl

Mayuri’s dead mother stood before her. She ruffled her daughter’s hair, placed a white pearl in her palm and whispered, “This will bring you luck, dear. Take care.” And then she disappeared, and Mayuri woke up from her dream. Her mind was numb. She threw off her blanket. A white pearl rolled onto the floor. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

100 word story: The failed perfectionist

It was already 5:55 pm and the train had still not shown up. Meera looked at her watch petulantly. Usually, the metro comes bang on time. But, why not today when Meera was determined to prove to herself that she could be as perfect as her haughty brother! She had zeroed down on 5:55 as the perfect time. And then the ground beneath rumbled….a flash of yellow light….and the train came breezing in. Meera jumped, but she knew she had lost. It was 5:56. She was late by a minute. She had failed to perfect the timing of her death.

Harry Potter and the final Horcrux (an alternate ending)


‘Watch out for any sound,’ breathed Harry Potter, as he, alongside Hermione Granger and Neville Longbottom, stealthily walked towards Tom Riddle’s tomb making way through creepy darkness and long, thick grasses.
‘Why haven’t they arrived yet,’ muttered Harry with a sense of dread and urgency. ‘It has to be done before sunrise. I will be needing the sword….’ Suddenly Harry froze and Neville bumped into him.
‘Sssh! Did you two hear that,’ there was panic in Harry’s voice.
‘No’, said Hermione. ‘What did you hear?’
‘Didn’t you two hear anything? But then…then, it must be a sna…..’ But before Harry could finish his sentence, a searing pain had run across his scar and two fangs had sunk themselves deep into Neville and Hermione’s legs.
Blinded by the burning pain on his scar, Harry could only faintly see them falling down in the very place where Cedric Diggory had fallen, three years ago.
Ron Weasley’s face was whirling inside Harry’s head, as his best friend lay somberly in St. Mungo’s- his mind permanently damaged. Harry’s eyes were brimming with tears. How Ron had retrieved the locket from R.A.B! How Ron had single-handedly braved their curses! R.A.B. was not just one person, but three disloyal persons- Three Death Eaters- Three power-hungry persons- Rookwood, Avery and Bellatrix.
As the pain in his scar subsided, Harry’s mind flew back from the harsh memories to the harsher present and his watery eyes met the dead, unmoving figures of Hermione and Neville.
‘NAGINI……, YOU WON’T…….. BREATHE……. AGAIN’ spat out Harry, his inners trembling with anguish and rage. Harry held out his wand to aim for Nagini but found himself staring into a pair of cold, red eyes.
Lord Voldemort was standing exactly where the snake had been.

Where did that snake disappear? Harry’s mind was racing…. That snake wasn’t Nagini… It wasn’t just any other snake. It was Voldemort! LORD VOLDEMORT WAS AN ANIMAGUS.
A ghostly pale image of an old woman was taking shape in Harry’s mind. She was wearing thick, square glasses and had toad-like magnified eyes.
But this was no time to dwell on misty dreams. Shaking his thoughts off, Harry yelled with all his might, ‘AVADA KEDAVRA’
A beam of green light jetted out of his wand and hit Voldemort on his chest. But the curse bounded off into oblivion as the Dark Lord stood his ground, unperturbed and undead. The next moment, he broke out into a high-pitched, bone-chilling laughter that reverberated over the trembling valleys. Somehow, the killing curse had had no effect on Voldemort!!
 A bewildered Harry gathered all his might, pointing his wand and crying yet again ‘Avada Kedavra’. Green rays spiraled out again, hit the Dark Lord, spread over his body and vanished. A bamboozled Harry had little to do as Voldemort’s mirthful laughter curdled his blood.
It was the Dark Lord’s turn now. Making a mockery of Harry’s signature spell, Voldemort lifted his wand and shouted ‘Expelliarmus’. Harry was thrown back on the ground, his wand flying ten feet away.
Amidst the all-encompassing cold laughter, a blurred, smoky figure had started to form again in Harry’s mind. It lingered for a moment but then……vanished again.   
After the terrifying ringing laughter, a deadly eeriness was sweeping over the darkness. Voldemort had turned silent and Harry knew what was coming.
Recent images raced through his mind like a flickering film- how Dumbledore and Lupin had been tortured to an agonizing death! How Hagrid and Mad-eye-Moody had got their souls sucked by the heinous dementors…….
Rage and realization made Harry clench his fists as he found himself disarmed. He needed to get to his wand but before he could move an inch, Voldemort’s wand rose again and this time he used his own signature spell, ‘AVADA KEDAVRA’.
And then it happened. Out of nowhere, a short, plump man ran in, blocking the path of the Killing curse with his own body. The spell hit the man with all its force and he fell down never to wake up again. Stunned and shaken with the unexpected happening, Voldemort stared down at the carcass of his own servant. Wormtail had always owed his life to Harry Potter. The debt had been repaid today!
Out of the corner of his eye, Harry saw a golden bird hovering over the bodies of Hermione and Neville.
Spitting at Wormtail’s dead body, Voldemort looked up. A long silence followed as Voldemort fixed his cold eyes on Harry’s green ones. A triumphant smile caressed his lips and he spoke in his icy voice- ‘My mistake, Harry. I didn’t realize that the mighty Harry Potter always finds help in the stupidest of wizards. Dumbledore….now… Wormtail….HA!
Harry stole a sideward glance and could see the golden bird perching on top of Hermione. Fawkes rested on her knees and began crying over her wounds where the snake had bitten her. Harry felt he saw Neville stir….
But his thoughts were disturbed as Voldemort’s voice rose again- ‘Finally! Finally, the legend of Harry Potter will meet his end. For seventeen years, Harry, you have eluded me. Not….any more.
‘It’s my great honour to hereby dedicate your death, Harry…’, Voldemort bowed in mock respect ‘to all those filthy rags who have challenged my wizarding powers for all these years.’
Voldemort stopped. There was a pregnant pause and then Voldemort slowly raised his wand.


Harry knew the hopeless situation he was in, standing there wandless before an armed Voldemort. He direly wished that Voldemort would keep procrastinating….keep on making his long speeches as he always did. Yet his sense of loss and helplessness made him realize that the final moment had arrived. His racing heart seemed to squeeze out of his chest.
No! This can’t be it (his mind and heart were battling inside him). The final moment couldn’t belong to Voldemort. Dumbledore, Sirius, Ron, Hagrid- all had sacrificed their lives…not for this moment. The end cannot go Voldemort’s way.
Turmoil was brewing inside Harry as his emotions fought with reasoning. Seconds seemed like hours as a sea of thoughts raised a tempest within him. Invisible hands folded themselves in wishful prayers. Something would happen for sure. Probably Hermione would wake up and cast some of those fantastic jinxes of hers. Or…or…or perhaps…Voldemort’s spell would hit Harry and then backfire, just as it had done seventeen years ago.
As the turbulent heart battled on, a voice from the crevices of mind seemed to choke him- stop it Harry…stop clinging on to false hopes. Nothing of the sort would happen again! Voldemort had seen to it three years ago, when he took your blood and removed your mother’s protection.
Harry’s fists clenched as his mother’s face swam into his mind. A second voice seemed to shout at him. Your mom died…. to save you. All have died to save you, Harry. A horrifying possibility was choking his mind- Voldemort can’t live while ….Harry dies. No, he shouldn’t!
Voldemort’s wand flickered.
NO! You can’t….Harry’s mind seemed to revolt…
I WON’T…… DIE… Harry’s heart was demanding, not pleading. 
Voldemort’s lipless mouth curled in mock smile as he read Harry’s mind. Taking one last look at his enemy, Voldemort raised his wand. ‘AVADA KEDAVRA’.
Harry held his breath and for those few seconds, his eyes were brimming with tears as he remembered all those who lost their lives to protect him these seventeen years. Realizing that no one shall come to protect him this time, he closed his eyes and waited!
And then something strange happened. Something that had never happened before! There was no blinding flash of green light as he slowly opened his eyes which were, instead, met by the stunned-looking bloodshot eyes of the Dark Lord.
Voldemort’s wand, for once, had refused to obey its master. It had, rather, obeyed Harry’s command. It had let Harry live.
While Voldemort looked down at his wand in utter disbelief, Harry felt he knew exactly what had happened there. Now, he realized why he saw a gleam in Dumbledore’s eyes three years ago when Harry had told him that Voldemort had used his blood to rise again. Voldemort owed Harry a life and he may not have realized that but his wand certainly knew.
Voldemort stood there in absolute silence; his red eyes glowing in rage, fixed upon Harry’s green ones. Harry stared back at them, overwhelmed at his wand’s strange behavior, and for a moment, Harry saw his own face reflected in each of those bloodshot eyes.
And then the truth hit him! They were no ordinary eyes. They were the EYES OF A SNAKE.


Before Voldemort could move again, there was a crackling sound, just a few feet away from Harry….and Harry knew.
Two girls had apparated out of thin air, but this time…Voldemort was quick to react. His wand wavered again, and surely this time, out flew a beam of green rays, heading for Ginny. Then it all happened in a flash. Fawkes charged in, opened its beak, swallowed the beam and burst into flames.
Voldemort roared in fury and his gaze fell directly on the other girl- the second girl. Their eyes met and Voldemort froze. He appeared to have fallen in a state of trance, as he watched her apparently dazed. The part-Veela in Fleur Delacour was exuding her charms to its strongest effect.
Grabbing the opportunity, Harry ran after his wand. He knew he had hardly a few seconds! He knew Voldemort was beyond all human emotions!
And surely so, the very next moment, Voldemort had returned to his normal senses, poised ready to strike.
But before Voldemort could even twitch a muscle, Harry had jerked his own wand. He heard Ginny doing the same and shouted out, his voice loud and clear, ‘His eye….Ginny…hit him on his eye….’
‘AVADA KEDAVRA’- their voices resonated.
A red beam shot out of Ginny’s wand, meeting Harry’s green one. Parallelly, they traveled……and each one hit the Dark Lord on his eye.
There was a suppressed groan before the Lord-of-the-Snakes fell on the ground with a sharp thud, his now empty sockets staring fixedly at the heaven.
A misty, smoky figure was swirling inside Harry’s head. It rotated for a minute before coming to a halt. Then, in a distinct mystical voice, Sybil Trelawney spoke-
“The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches…born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies…and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not……and either must die at the hand of the other…for neither can live while the other survives…”
With these words, she began to whirl again and her smoky figure thinned away.
“Quick ‘arry!” cried Fleur Delacour bringing him back from his dreamy surroundings. “It ‘as to be got over wefore sunrize”. The baby Fawkes chirped in agreement.
Fleur conjured up a huge fire beside Tom Riddle’s grave. Harry was reminded of a huge bonfire Dudley and his gang had once created, while preparing tea.
Hermione and Neville had come round by now, thanks to Fawkes. They sat up and watched wearily, as Fleur ran towards Harry. She produced an old, crumpled hat from her cloak. Harry took the Sorting Hat, closed his eyes and thought strongly about his first journey to Hogwarts; he recalled the moment when he had stepped inside the Hogwarts castle for the first time; the moment when he was put into the Gryffindor house, the moment when Dumbledore’s eyes were gleaming in pride.
Harry dug his wrists inside the long hat and pulled out a long, silver-edged sword with a ruby-studded handle and the words ‘Godric Gryffindor’ marked on it.
Harry went over to where Voldemort was lying, bent down and with all his strength, pieced the sword into the dead Voldemort’s heart….
Thick, black blood began to ooze out of Voldemort’s chest. Harry drew out the bloody sword and held it straight over his throat…
Fleur Delacour looked at the heaven and cried out aloud,
A black, dense substance trickled down the blade of the long sword to Harry’s lips, and he gulped it down his throat.


Harry strengthened his grip on the sword, held it high and struck again. He heard a slight shriek coming from Hermione’s direction, as Voldemort’s head rolled off.
Neville and Ginny watched in silence, as Harry struck again and chopped off Voldemort’s right arm.
Fleur walked over to where Wormtail was lying. She whipped her wand and muttered under her breath…
Next moment, Wormtail’s silver hand got ripped off from his body, flew up in the air, soared towards the fire and dropped itself, setting off blazing sparks.
Fleur waved her arm again….looked at the stars…..and cried-
Voldemort’s severed arm rose in the air, traveled towards Wormtail and attached itself with his dangling, right shoulder.
Then….Ginny, Hermione and Neville rushed forwards and dragged Voldemort’s body (along with his severed head) towards the fire. Harry brandished his sword again and chopped Voldemort’s headless body into ‘seven’ smaller pieces….
He felt gloomy and wearied as he began to toss them into the glowing, blazing flame.
Sparks roared out as the crackling fire engulfed the ‘Dark Lord’.
For what seemed to be hours, all five of them gazed into the dying fire. Nobody spoke, as if broken and exhausted after a long-drawn battle……
The fire eventually died down, giving rise to a thick puff of smoke that seemed to fill the vacuum in Harry’s mind.
Fleur’s wand flickered again… her face turned skywards-
Voldemort’s ashes rose from amongst the dense smoke, hovered in the air for a moment like a swarm of bees….and then dropped on Tom Riddle’s grave, spreading itself all over it.
Harry sank to the floor, feeling extremely tired & thirsty. His steady gaze fell on the sky above. A pink glow had spread over the entire sky, which appeared like a vast canvas strewn with colors.
A new day was dawning, symbolizing the end of a much-feared era and bringing with itself a fresh lease of life for the entire wizarding community.
The moment has come- Harry thought gloomily. The sun may come out any moment. He must……act fast.
After all,……….Harry was the last, remaining one, final…Horcrux.
His thirst was getting the better of him. He searched his pocket and found some…..Chocolate Frogs.
Harry handed each to Hermione, Neville, Ginny & Fleur. Fleur was eyeing it skeptically, as it wriggled between her fingers, trying to break free.
“Haven’t you eaten it before,” grinned Neville looking sheepishly at a nervous Fleur. “Eat it. It’ll give you strength.”
Hermione, however, looked at Harry, her eyes tearful as the dreadful realization sank into her.
“Harry….”, she embraced him into a tight hug. Harry released himself and gulped down his last Chocolate Frog. When he spoke, it was a bare whisper- “Hermione……, please….do me a……….a favor…..” he paused, but Hermione knew. “Kill me….kill me, Hermione. You….have to,” he broke off, his eyes brimming with tears.
He looked down to avoid her gaze and saw the Chocolate Frog card he was holding in his right hand. Albus Dumbledore was beaming at him…. from the card.
A smile split Harry’s lips as he recalled how he had got Dumbledore in his very first Chocolate Frog, way back during his first ride in the Hogwarts Express. Now, the last one had also been him- how wonderfully strange!


Harry threw a hard, long look at his Headmaster. He thought he saw a slight quiver on Dumbledore’s lips.
Harry tried to relive all the moments he had shared with Dumbledore. Images of the past began to flash in Harry’s mind………..Suddenly Dumbledore’s portrait in the card spoke….and Harry was thrown back into reality.
“Neville…! It’s time you live your moment,” Dumbledore was speaking. “Bravery never goes unrewarded. Your parents will die with their heads held high.” And with these parting words, Dumbledore disappeared.
Before Harry or anyone else could understand anything, Neville’s voice rose, “Harry, it’s me.” He sounded firm and resolute. “I am the seventh Horcrux, Harry. Dumbledore had told me a long time back. I was born the same day, you did Harry. Voldemort came for me and…he…he killed my grandpa. Then he poured his soul on me. For seventeen long years, Harry, I have been carrying his evil soul within me. I shall be very proud if I could destroy this evil. Indeed……very proud. So, kill me, Harry. The sun is about to rise.”
“NO. YOU ARE LYING,” barked Harry. “You can’t be….” But Harry knew. Neither Neville nor Dumbledore had ever lied to him before.
“Ever wondered,” Neville went on, not a tinge of sorrow or fright in his voice, “why I had always been so forgetful, so stupid; yet from time to time, I had showed signs of brilliance. I was always possessed by his evil soul…..and it had shrunken my mental abilities, my physical prowess. I always had to fight and win over this evil being within me, to bring forth my real self…..”
“Now…Harry…” Neville’s voice was suddenly filled with an overwhelming pride. “Kill me…KILL ME. Get it over! Quick! Rid the world from the darkest wizard, Harry. I beg you,” he pleaded. He looked at the sky apprehensively.
“Please…the sun is rising. He will wake again,” said Neville. He looked at Hermione and Ginny who were looking horror-struck apparently unable to speak.
Neville Longbottom cast a final look at the sky. “Harry…for the sake of our friendship, wipe out every trace of Voldemort. I will…….I will……..always stay alive in your memories.”
Harry rushed forwards sobbing bitterly and embraced him. “I… I will never forget you….Neville….never!”
With these words, Harry released him, staggered a step backwards, felt his wand and heard himself saying, ‘AVADA KEDAVRA.’
Bright, green lights hit Neville Longbottom, rebounded and darted upwards. It reached the sky before it vanished. Neville stood his ground uninjured, but appalled; fear & excitement showing on his face- “What happened, Harry? The sun is almost out. Why couldn’t you kill....”
But Harry’s mind was swimming again, the prophecy rising in his ears.
“The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches….born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies……and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not…..and either must die at the hand of the other, for neither can live while the other survives……”
And then Harry Potter saw something- something that neither Voldemort, nor Dumbledore had seen before.


What if it were two prophecies, culminated into one? What if the prophecies belonged to two different people?
Surely, Harry was the one whom the Dark Lord had marked, when he had given him that lightning shaped scar. Besides, Voldemort had turned Neville into his Horcrux, in case the prophecy was meant for Neville. Apparently and quite obviously, Voldemort had satisfied himself of his invincibility & immortality by accounting for Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom. But…..but (Harry was concentrating hard), yes, indeed- Harry realized….Harry had a power which even the Dark Lord lacked- a power Harry possessed owing to his Muggle schooling! It was the power of reasoning, the power of logic, for (Harry felt his head would burst open)….Neville and Harry were not the only ones born on the fall of July!
(Harry’s mind was darting)- There was one more person who was born on the fall of July….one more person whose parents had defied Voldemort three times before dying….and this person was the one to whom the major part of the prophecy referred. (Only one line of the prophecy had been meant for Harry Potter)- The word ‘him’ in the prophecy was addressed to Harry Potter, while ‘the one’ was meant for another person. And that person was the one who alone could……VANQUISH the DARK LORD.
A golden ray penetrated through Harry’s glasses, bringing him back to his senses. He tilted his neck and saw the sun sneaking out of the hills. There were barely ten seconds to go! If the sun rises, Voldemort too would rise again. (Neville and Harry were the only people born on that day. But it was pure logic that told Harry that the Prophecy may also hold true for someone not born on that day, but on that date- The FALL of JULY.)
Harry ran towards her, shook her vigorously and shouted at the top of his voice, clear distinct and desperate- “Kill him now…..Kill Neville…quick, only you can kill him. Kill….NOW!”
‘AVADA KEDAVRA’- Ginny’s hollow voice filled the graveyard as dazzling red rays jetted out of her wand and hit Neville Longbottom, just as the sun came out.
A searing pain rose in Harry’s scar, a pain so excruciating he had never felt before. He saw a glimpse of Neville’s falling figure, as….everything began to swim away.

Chapter- 8

His eyes were rolling. Images of his own life began to flash before him. He felt he was traveling backwards, as if through a time turner.
He saw Ginny Weasley killing Neville…..Harry was now tossing Voldemort’s head over the fire….Harry was forcing Dumbledore into drinking a deadly potion….he was now walking through long, silent corridors…..Lord Voldemort was getting his body back…….now, Harry was entering a maze…..Tom Riddle was holding his diary….Basilisk……And now, Harry could see himself,…….. a much younger himself looking into a mirror with Quirrel by his side,……..his dad….his mom….struggling to save her baby…..a cold laughter….then, a blinding flash of green light…….
And then there was a long, dark hollow into which Harry was falling……
“Harry……Harry……’arry…wake up,”- some anxious voices woke him. Hermione, Ginny and Fleur were kneeling over beside him, trembling in shock and horror.
Harry stood up, as the bright rays of the sun shone on him. Far from feeling exhausted or feeble, he was, now, feeling surprisingly agile and fit. He felt like….he had never felt before. He felt like……awakening after a deep….deep….slumber.
He was feeling strong and good, and there was not a hint of pain in his scar, considering that only moments ago, it was on fire. He groped his forehead, feeling for some pain. His mind was void and empty. But THEN….Then, it dawned on him.
Dark Lord was dead! Voldemort had died,………but so had Harry Potter.
The famous Harry Potter had met his end. The BOY-WHO-LIVED was no more. For, Harry knew….he was, now, ….nothing more….than any other ordinary wizard.
He felt for it again, as his fingers traveled.
Yes, it was gone! He no longer had the……SCAR.

[I finished writing ‘Harry Potter and the Final Horcrux’ on 10th July, 2007, 11:40 am beside the window of my study.]

PS- JK Rowling had initially declared that the last word of the final book is 'scar'. So, I chose to end my story with 'scar'. However, after the 7th book 'Deathly Hallows' got released a few days later, I discovered that JKR had altered the ending. It now ended as 'All was well...'.

PPS- If you are a Harry Potter fan, you may also be interested in my HP page "Harry Potter Flows In My Blood". 


Monday, January 7, 2013

Book Review: How I Braved Anu Aunty & Co-founded A Million Dollar Company

Book: How I Braved Anu Aunty & Co-Founded A Million Dollar Company
Author: Varun Agarwal
Publisher: Rupa Publications
Pages: 249
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Review: ‘How I Braved Anu Aunty & Co-Founded A Million Dollar Company’ penned by the young Varun Agarwal is a true story based on the author’s life. As the title aptly suggests, the book is the saga of the author’s journey from a nobody to a highly successful entrepreneur. However, it would be absolutely wrong to assume that it is a didactic story that preaches about business ideologies or tries to philosophize corporate houses. No, on the contrary, it is very light & easy-to-read book written in simple, pellucid language and presented in a witty and engaging way.
Set in contemporary times, the book has every ingredient which would make a reader hooked. If you have gorged over books by Chetan Bhagat and Ravinder Singh, then this book is tailored for you. Laced with humor and exhibited with an unputdownable quality, the book does take you along through its pages into the life of our protagonist Varun.
Varun happens to be a 22-year old guy with basically no ‘Lakshya’ in his life as he spends most of his day sleeping and most of his night hanging out with his friends. It is not that he is irresponsible. It’s just that he doesn’t feel drawn towards the 9-5 job of a corporate slave. He wishes to live life on his own terms and comes up with a seemingly brilliant idea which, if nurtured properly, may bloom into a lucrative company. 
However, there is one thorn which blocks his path. It is ‘Anu Aunty’, his mother’s best friend and the queen of the kitty party gang. She is the perfect epitome of countless middle-aged Indian women who make their children (and their best friends’ children) lead an idealistic life burdening them with books and responsibilities and without giving them any window to vent their inner desires or to try doing something different.
While on one hand, Varun’s mother tries to fix a job for her son (of course, with the help of the nosey Anu Aunty), Varun goes ahead with his ambitious plan alongwith his best friend Rohn Mal. The two lads have to face a lot of hurdles initially but they eventually surmount them all out of their passion and zeal to set up a million-dollar company.
The way the author has recounted his journey is not just hilarious but also quite informative. There are some practical points which the readers will find immensely handy if and when they wish to start some venture of their own. The book is also inspiring to some extent and bears testimony to the fact that ‘where there is a will, there is a way’.
There are a few other characters sprinkled throughout the pages. Be it the tear-shedding mother or the ‘dangerous Sid (Varun’s friend) or our protagonist’s long-time crush Devika or the ‘autowallahs of Bangalore- every character has been sketched out brilliantly and fits into the story effortlessly.
At 249 pages, the book is short and can be finished in just a couple of days. There are lots of f-words as well (exactly what the Young India reads) and so the readers will associate with all characters very easily.
Overall, the book makes for a pleasant read and has a potential to be made into a ‘masala’ Bollywood film.

Tip-Off: You may not like this book if Chetan Bhagat-type books are not your preferred genre.

[This review has been penned in association with MySmartPrice/Books, the best place to find out the lowest prices of books, mobiles and a whole lot of mercantile products.]

Thursday, January 3, 2013

99 word story: Never Been Kissed

“Have you ever been kissed,” I asked.

Her silence spoke thousand words. Her lips were still raw and virgin.

I always felt she had a thing for me, though she never expressed her love vocally.  Seeing me kissing her sister must have burned her heart. Her heart must have ached really bad. But she never said a word either to her sis or to me. She was very sensitive and wouldn’t hurt a fly.

I leaned over and planted a kiss on her lips. They were no longer virgin. The bottle of poison fell over from her lifeless hands. 

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