She Writes

400 participants, 12 winners and 1 extraordinary book

  • It is hard to describe how deeply a well written short story affects you. It invokes in you those emotions which you cannot really describe, only feel. You go with the protagonist, like a silent ghost, experiencing vicariously all that they do, wringing your hands in despair sometimes, calling out to them to stop at other times, but deeply involved nevertheless in all that they do. For those brief moments, you are a part of their lives -- feeling the emotions they feel through your mind. It is a surreal feeling, truly like entering another body and coming back to your own when the story is over.

  • In May 2012, Random House India, in association with MSN, had conducted a short story contest to hunt for twelve of India's finest women writers. The participants could choose from one of the following themes:

  • a. Woman in the City
    'Frankly my dear

    , I don't give a damn' -- Gone With the Wind

  • b. Growing up in India
    'Experience is the name every one gives to their mistakes' -- Oscar Wilde

  • c. The Man in my Life
    'Being with him made her feel as though her soul had escaped from the narrow confines of her island country into the vast, extravagant spaces of his' -- The God of Small Things

  • One of the conditions laid down was that the quotes given with each topic had to be incorporated somewhere into the story. Hundreds of entries poured in and the judges had a difficult time picking the final ones that appear in this book.

  • Each of these twelve stories here are remarkable in their own way. They are stories from women like you and me, based in different places like Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Bangalore and Gangtok, who have drawn on their experiences from the places they have visited perhaps (or lived in) and woven them deftly into the stories they tell. They take us on a journey all around the world, really. They make us familiar with a place where we have not been to before, making it come alive with all the sight and sounds and a myriad other things that it almost feels like one has visited it many a time. Whether it is the newly-wed Bengali bride feeling out of place on her honeymoon in the story 'Other people's lives' by Anisha Bhaduri or an unusual obsession a working woman has, in the story 'Revelation' by Aprameya Manthena, one finds that the writing is so powerful that we get under the skin of the protagonist deeply. I visited Boston and walked by the Charles River with Belinder Dhanoa, without leaving my room, through her story 'A Boston Brahmin,' and I travelled to Madgaon and Canacona with Sheela Jayawant, much the same way in her story 'Yokemates.'

  • Some of the stories are deeply moving, some disturbing, and some make you want to just dive into the book and be a part of it. All of them are superbly written and they make you think.

  • Unlike a novel which takes you on a long journey and demands a certain effort on your part to complete it -- reading a short story is almost effortless. It is like floating idly in a coracle on a warm sunny day, with the gentle breeze blowing through your hair, as the world goes around, although I must admit, in reality I read it curled up in my blankets with the rains tap-tapping on my window panes, and it was just as enjoyable. That is what good stories do. They make you forget everything momentarily.

  • It made me think that a collection of short stories is a treat, like a box of assorted chocolates for if you do not like one, there is always another one you can help yourself to.

  • As for me, I loved them all and hopefully you will too. So relax, sit back, let go, allow your heart to beat that much faster, lose yourself for a little while, and indulge in these tales.

  • Happy reading!

  • -Preeti Shenoy
    July 2012

Preeti Shenoy

Preeti Shenoy is an author and an artist, with three national bestsellers - Life Is What You Make It, 34 Bubblegums and Candies and Tea for Two and a Piece of Cake. Her interests are as multifarious and diverse as her several academic degrees, which include an internationally recognised qualification from the UK in portraiture. She loves yoga, travelling, nature, creating stuff, photography, blogging and basketball. She lives in Bangalore, India, with her husband, her two children and a hyperactive Doberman. To know more go to www.preetishenoy.com