‘Encounters’ Someone’s Always Waiting by Sumana Khan is a series of anecdotes that has some deeper meaning. It is a collection of five fantabulous stories that will give a solitudary peace. Sumana has a quality of showing mysticity and suspense in her work just like the poetry of S.T. Coleridge. I know this is a short story or rather say novellas or maybe novelettes which can’t be compared to a poet but what I feel is, it has an essence of mystery in it.
Cover- The cover is the most appealing element of the book that has a wonderful picture of a man standing alone on a boat in a lake and has shadows of trees when we look at the water. The colour scheme perfect suits the cover.
Title- Sumana has chosen a perfect title ‘ Encounters’ as all the stories are about Encounters only. Also, the subtitle is really deep and thoughtful, ‘Someone’s Always Waiting..’ It creates an aura of imagination in one’s mind.
Stories at a Glance
First LOve– It is the very first story of the book. The second line at the start is bit obscure with repetitive words which makes the start weak. But as the story progresses the interest is build up and you are left imagining yourself in the story where a forensic expert undergoes hallucinations about a man named VRka whom she has met once. This piece brings chills to your spines and has a great effect on your mind. The animal imagery is used preety well. The story takes a turn at social issues, abuse, murder, mystery, science fiction.
The Storyteller– This story has a yet another essence of life. It has a story within a story concept which ends up into a fantasy concept. The elements of mystery can be very well seen in it and at times a feeling of eerie arises in the mind. It is about an agarbatti salesman( unusual character) who encounters a man who is a storyteller and tells about his story. This is not a normal storyteller as it has deeper meaning hidden in it. This piece mainly highlights the Tsunami that hit the area in 2004 which led to huge destruction and loss of lives.
Reminiscence-A normal yet extraordinary story of a man and his wife, Radha who are old and tried to manage their life by performing daily chores of their life. This story makes us learn how to value small things in our lives. The end keeps you stunned so mind it, it is not a simple husband wife story. It has an element of paranormality in it.
Happiness Clinic– It is a story of a retired accountant who is in search of himself and when he finds the biggest purpose of his life, he is shocked to discover a strange fact about himself. He feels what as if, what has happened actually was in his mind. The name Happiness Clinic has a special significance which leaves in an awe.
Best Friends Forever-It is the last story of the collection and my favourite story precisely speaking. It has so many twists and turns that all your predictions are proved wrong. This is an imaginative piece that has elements of gothic fiction, subconsciousness, confusion. It is a roller coaster ride of events that doesn’t scare you but leaves you in a bitter sweet remorse mode.
Characterisation- Sumana has beautifully portrayed her characters in all the five stories. All these characters are different from each other and have their own speciality. The author has played with her characters and a strong sensitivity and attachment could be felt with them. They are the pillars in developing the plots of these stories.
Style- The author has used vivid imagery, impeccable descriptions, jargons in her stories. The use of first and third person narrative could be seen. Some sentences are really deep.The language is simple, lucid and sometimes obscure.
Negatives- I would say the author has done her work perfectly as she has all the traces of binding an audience but the editor seemed lacking in the race. Some of the sentences are unclear and obscure. They have fragments in it which makes it heckneyed. There is a pattern in mistakes. Almost at all the places, tense errors could be noticed. Moreover, The use I’d creates confusion as the reader doesn’t come to know whether it is I would or I had.
For instance: “Thirty two and single- that’s how I’d be described.” ( confusion of I’d)
In Flesh and blood. ( fragmented sentence)
The tears came. ( fragmented sentence)
~ FIRST LOVE
Favourite sentences- There are many sentences that took my heart so that need an honourable mention with claps*
“Such rib racking cries are like a storm,” ( right word at right place) ~First Love
“Swarms of mosquitoes and flies rise in a static buzz and hover my head like a satanic dark halo.” ( What a description!) ~ The Storyteller
“The mind is like a closet…This negativity takes over our personality…it spreads like a dark ink drop blotting on a tissue paper.” ( phantasmagorically magical)
“Let sunshine illuminate every dark corner.” ( Healed the soul)
“So when you are told it is all inconsequential, you are only destined to be a wife and amother- it is heartbreaking.” ( A harsh truth!)
~ Happiness Clinic
About the Author
Sumana Khan was born and raised in Bangalore where she pursued a career as an It consultant. She currently lives in the Uk and is a full time writer and student. She holds a Master of Letters in Creative Writing from University of Glasgow and is pursuing her M.S.c in Psychology. her website is http://www.sumanakhan.com. ENCOUNTERS is her second book.