On the streets of Bolena

by Chandra Sundeep

On the streets of Bolena is an anthology of 8 stories set in a fictional town, Bolena. It is a collection of simple stories of everyday people leading regular lives. Few of the stories also have deeper, meaningful messages. With the cover picture, and the introduction, the author has tried to recreate a Malgudi, but unfortunately has failed in the execution.

Goddess of Bolena is a seemingly honest tale of how the town’s name came into being.

Guest in the antique room–A mysterious incident occurring at nights sends the owner of Lal’s antiques in a tizzy. The story though is about a simple occurrence, it carries a deeper message. It reflects human nature, especially the need to search for answers in the paranormal when confounded by problems.

A spy in summer–Riddhi, a seventh grader, is excited about the onset of summer vacations, as she is travelling to her grandparent’s’ home in Bolena. She is a curious child, smitten by detective books. The train journey turns exciting when one of her co-passengers loses her ring. In a subtle manner, the author is conveying important aspects of human nature – firstly, the tendency to judge others based on their outer appearance, and secondly to arrive at conclusions based on surmises. Though I liked the messages being conveyed, I felt the author failed in execution. The story lacked pace, didn’t convey the anguish of the passenger who had lost a precious piece of jewelry.

The first bell–the townsfolk believe it is auspicious to get a glimpse of the devi at the first bell. Bhaiji the local sweetshop owner lives along with his wife, sons, and their families. His wife has utmost devotion to Manga Devi, and decides to visit the temple in the early morning. Her little granddaughter tags along. What follows is the traumatic experience of the aggrieved granny when she realizes her granddaughter is missing. Though again, as in the previous stories, the emotional connection is lacking.

The unruly street–a VIP’s impending visit to the temple worries Manu, the town’s traffic policeman. Anxiety fills his days and nights, as he remembers an older high-profile visit which had left his senior officer disgruntled. Worrying about the day to come, he cannot be his usual self. Finally, when the day arrives, it leaves a sea of disappointment and gloom to many; and not surprisingly, Manu is relieved.

The night walk–Raghu, a septuagenarian, has difficulty in accepting his falling eyesight. He is also troubled by dogs chasing him every day. In an attempt to solve the problem, he accepts Manu’s nonsensical advice to feed a black dog. His daily escapade of feeding the dogs solves a bigger problem for him.

The head in the hole–is about a boy Krish who ends up confusing someone’s bald head for his ball. A disappointing story.

There’s a lot of scope for improvement. The stories lack punch and innovation.

Grammar and tenses are the foundation of any story. The way a building cannot stand on a weak foundation, similarly a story fails if the base isn’t strong. There are way too many punctuation errors. A liberal (over the top) use of adjectives is unnecessary and off-putting. All the stories could do with a tighter editing to make them crisp and cut the unnecessary fluff.

Overall, this book is a one time read.

Thank you, Srividhya Lakshmanan and BookSirens, for the preview copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review.

Wordsopedia rating 3/5

Title: On the streets of Bolena Author: Srividhya Lakshmanan
Publisher: Publication date: January, 2021
Genre: Fiction Format: eBook, Paperback
ASIN B08RW6H1PP No. of Pages: 50

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About the Author

Srividhya is an entrepreneur and writer. She always had a passion for storytelling and started to write when she was eleven.​Her early success came when one of her dramas got selected by the ‘All India Radio’. She spent years reading and writing stories, giving her characters a bright sparkle! ​She is a chartered accountant and spent 15 years in corporate jobs. Later, she founded and managed a fashion e-commerce company, Pink Hippo. She lives in Bengaluru with her family.

Get in touch with the author on her website.

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