Light-hearted, lucid and easy to read – Urban Shots Crossroads is none of that. A book I picked up with the intention of breezing through in a day’s time had me think again just after the first few stories. Edited by Ahmed Faiyaz, this anthology of 30 stories written by 26 authors is a rather deep and dark one. Each of the stories has a sense of curiosity – a distinct character, rising intrigue, personal chaos and a cobweb of relationships – all relatable to the common life.
All of the characters and situations used in the stories are almost extracts out of the everyday. The circumstances are also so real that you tend to live the story rather than just read it. A matter of shame however is how a majority of the tales start out beautifully; build up to a point of thrilling engagement but fall flat towards the end.
The ones that did stand out for being wholesome are these –
Song of the Summer Bird – Anita Satyajit
This is the tale of a delightful little 8-year old whose love for books leads her on to explore new territories. The simple narrative and hidden innocence leave you heaving a sigh when you ultimately turn the page to the next story.
Mindgames – Manisha Dhingra
This story will have you hooked right from line one. Though it isn’t unexplored ground, this boy-meets-girl drama travels on a whole different tangent. The beauty of the thread of events lies in its unpredictability and its culmination into a worthy end.
Look How Far We’ve Come – Shreya Maheshwari
Love is as tough as it is beautiful, explains this little treasure of a story that involves a divorced couple and their young son. The giddy feeling of love, the promise of marriage and grand plans of building a family, only to see it all take unexpected turns is not easy but somewhere along the journey, epiphanies come knock your door. In the end, you wouldn’t know whether to smile or hide that tear.
Crossroads – Ahmed Faiyaz
A classic example of the thoroughly complex and intertwined lives we lead, this story grips you at all the right places. Written with precise detail with justice done to the characters introduced, it meanders through a certain self-created chaos only to end at a complete standstill.
Footsteps in the Dark – Mini Menon
There is no word that describes this story as best as ‘haunting’. An absolute must-read from the book, the story literally sets your heart racing by the way of its transparency. The stream of thought, the attention to detail and its indulgent nature let you feel a complete spectrum of emotions.
Other stories that deserve distinct mentions include The Pink Slip by Malcolm Carvalho for possibly being the one story that makes you laugh and Plummet by Avani Rajesh & Pranav Mukul for being a terrifyingly beautiful mix of innocence, boldness and naivety.
Pick this book up but don’t plan on sitting through it in one go. Allow the stories to settle in your mind for trust me when I say this, each one has something distinct to offer.