हिमाचल के रंग (Himachal Ke Rang) is a fragrant bouquet of twenty five stories. I am proud that I was present at the release ceremony of this book, which was organized on 13th November, 2022 at Gaiety Theatre Shimla under the aegis of Keekli Charitable Trust. Famous Bollywood lyricist Irshad Kamil was the chief guest and along with him eminent scholars of the world of literature, well-known writers and poets were present. This programme was also very important for young writers, as stories that were penned by senior writers above forty years were reviewed by them.
Such efforts will certainly be able to lay the best foundation for literary creation for young generation. Another compilation of short stories by young writers under the age of 18, “Fiction Treasure Trove” was also released which gave me immense pleasure and to be with such amazing budding writers. Launching both the compilations is great endeavour by Editor Vandana Bhagra, who is also the President of Keekli Charitable Trust, for which she deserves a big applause.
In the second session of the programme, Irshad Kamil’s direct interaction with the children and the present authors and audience was very interesting and enriching. In the question-answer session, there was an exchange of views regarding the nuances of creation, which would be of great benefit to the budding writers. Kamil added, “The best of the best has already been written but like paths, creation is also an infinite process which will never end, nor can one say that its limit has been reached. Creation must go on.” This statement gives reassurances to the writers as well as motivates them to keep writing.
As soon as I came home, the first story I read was “Limited Edition”, written by Sitaram Sharma Siddharth. Although the author is my maternal uncle and I was very enthusiastic about this book including his story but still I can feel this story from the point of view of a common reader and say that the story is a great portrayal of today’s times and conflicts. The main characters of the story are engineers and are professionally settled in their lives. Maintaining the values of life amidst the pressure of work and getting rid of it is a laborious task. To maintain this balance, it is necessary to understand the engineering inside, in which the author has entered the engineer’s soul. Through this story the author has successfully elaborated the role of saving the basic concepts of life. There is an expansion of life in time and space, which describes the story’s time, existence and its concerns very well. Mention of the prevailing beliefs in the society, a wonderful aesthetic sense of the writing has been reflected. कौवा भविष्यवाणी करता है (the crow prophesies), this idea connects the story with the beliefs of the common people. The story looks very romantic superficially but if we read between the lines, the author has very neatly threaded the basic objectives and ideals of life along with sustainable and overall development, environmental concerns, co-existence with nature’s trees, plants, animals and birds. Amidst the various pressures of profession and time, the protagonist stands firm at the end of the story, acknowledging all human sensibilities and feelings.
The physical space of the story is the hill town of Shimla in which the author does not forget to touch upon its unique natural beauty and rich history. The female protagonist of the story, Anjali, is a well-established modern woman who manages to maintain love and friendship while respecting the family boundaries. Accepting physical and momentary upheavals, she does not run away from them, but by using her understanding, she succeeds in making the relationship more beautiful.
Being an ordinary reader, I would call this story a heart-touching piece of writing and would like to thank Vandana Bhagra along with all the members of the Jury who selected this story for presenting this to many readers through this compilation, “Himachal Ke Rang”. Many many congratulations again to Team Keekli and my writer mamu Sitaram Sharma Siddharth!
(The views expressed are by the writer is her personal take.)