Art, Blogging, Book, Book Review, Bruises, Bullying, Chapter, Damini Kane, Debut Nove, Fan, Fiction, Friend, Mumbai, Notes, Novel, Partners in Crime, Review, Soundcloud, storytelling, Summers, The Sunlight Plane, writing
The want to start with an observation
Damini’s book feels like a super hero story, in that usually, the world of two 9 years old children — what they think, how they feel — is often not known to adults upfront. It’s like Matrix’s code, one has to develop an intuition to see what might be happening in their minds and hearts. The super power Damini gives the readers through her story, is that everybody has a direct access to the lives of these children.
I scribbled about in the book like a mad man. I’ll only be able to jot down a subset of everything in this blogpost. Reminder to self — while writing the final review, consult the scribblings as well.
Oh, where do I even begin. Let’s start with an example of the observation I made above. Tharush’s father says “I think it’s worse for a child to live with two people who are always fighting each other. It doesn’t create a good home environment, you know?“
to which follows the following text —
“Home environment”, Tharush repeated, because he had never heard those two words together, and they combined to form a concept he had even considered. Homes had environments?
He thought back to all he’d learnt in school about the environment. That it was polluted, that there was acid rain, that a healthy environment was important for life. The implications for that inside a home… For him, home was where it was safe and cool, where there was food and love and his toy fighter jets.
“Do we have a healthy home environment?” Tharush asked suddenly.
See what I mean? This automagically allows humour to jump right in. Honesty precedes humour (I think?)
and I don’t think I’ve seen it anywhere else. It could be because I have not read many books altogether, but whatever the reason, I’ll explain the writing pattern with the help of an example of an excerpt from her book itself —
(Tharush asks this in the middle of a conversation he has initiated with his father, to know what a divorce is) —
“So what happens to the children?” Tharush asked, and his father gave him this look, as though saying, NOW you’re thinking.
The this in the above sentence is a solid placeholder and escape hatch from the temptation of using an adverb. This pattern, of placing placeholders and actually showing the reader exactly how a person might be thinking or what they might be doing, instead of redirecting that work to adverbs which would, in most cases, only be able to give a hint of that action or feeling is amazing. Adverbs are indirect, one step farther in trying to give an adjoining and explanatory hint about the verb they are trying to embellish, if that makes sense. I’m going to try this writing style in my writing, everywhere that I can. Another example of an adverb saved (without the placeholder) —
“No!” he cried, his voice high and panicked. “I didn’t do anything! I found it like this!”
Another one(without the placeholder) —
“Don’t be silly”, his father replied, prompt and warm.
Another one, and this one is the most genius of all —
Tharush let out a noise he didn’t even know he could produce. Some combination of an explanation and a wail. His fingers dug through his sweaty hair to somehow contain his excitement…
Another one?(without the placeholder) 😁 —
He lowered his eyes in some mixture of shyness and guilt as he awkwardly kicked the floor.
Hence less is not always more, especially in writing long form fiction.
“Okay.” Tharush let out a breath of air he didn’t know he’d been holding. “Good”
I can practically see the breath gushing out while he said Good.
“Freak!”, Vikram suddenly shouted, and all at once, Tharush felt the wind expel from his body as the football collided brutally with his ribs.
A bad sentence (that in all likelihood I would have written) would have been a descriptive sentence that Vikram threw a ball towards Tharush immediately before where the bold part of the sentence above starts. But deferring it til the consequence of that action makes the reader excited and gets on reader’s nerve to rush to the end of the sentence. Talk about sentence turners (analogy to “page turners”). Another one —
“You can’t just cower before him because of what he might do, you know,” his mother replied, but her tone was appeasing.
The bold part keeps the reader up on his seat, still, looking for the behaviour of her tone, because she had shown, in the sentences previous to the above (not written here), irritation and annoyance towards the bully who had bullied her son, and her mother. So it was likely at the start of the sentence above, that she might have said this in an irritated, or angry tone, but the tone of the sentence was left hanging in surprise well up until the end.
“It’s…” Tharush began, his voice sounding raw and scratchy. His throat hurt. He wanted to curl up and cry, but he wasn’t going to give Vikram that power over him. Taking a brave little breath, he finished, “They’re idiots”
This complemented one thing so nicely — Tharush’s will to become strong and willed, because he wanted to fly fighter planes, and how could he fly them if he was expelled because he was weak. Another one —
…”Now why would you lie about that”?
He blinked, blinked, blinked, but that was useless against the burn in his throat and the sting in his eyes. “Vikram did it,” he muttered, wiping away before they got any worse.
The bold sentence could have been poorly written as a description, premeditating the fact that his eyes were becoming watery and stingy and his throat was burning. But instead Damini showed what was happening as the consequence of that. We all try to hide our tears from anybody present in the room directly looking at us, by trying to constantly and repeatedly blink in a futile attempt to not let tears fall down. He blinked, blinked, blinked. Again, PURE GENUIS! Another one (a person who has unexpectedly been caught doing something he was not supposed to be doing) —
Aakash jumped violently and turned, shoving (I’d have used a weak ‘hiding‘) one of his hands behind his back as his wide, terror-stricken eyes locked onto Tharush and his lips parted to form barely intelligible stutters.
In the first glance, one might think that a fragmented dialogue showing Aakash stuttering would have added upto this. But the fact that it is so detailed testifies that, that could have been an overkill.
His red shirt looked almost orange in the yellow light of the building’s lobby.
This is not a critical review of the book by chapter. This is an attempt to write a good review on good reads about the book at the end of my reading. It happens almost every time, with me at least, that when the book gets finished, I get this automatic feeling to write something about the book, but I’m almost never able to (unless I take notes along the way). These are the notes for the final review.
The book is so pretty! I love the cover art. It was designed by Nivedita Sekhar, Damini Kane’s best friend —
And the font is pretty too! (one of the things that terribly puts me off from reading a book is a bad font. Good that it has a good one!).
I think the price is little high, but I don’t mind spending to read something so fresh and good.
The book has 21 chapters. I intend to read one everyday and write about each one of them.
I have only followed Damini from the time she came into the radar of spoken word poetry scene in India. She performed a couple of poems which got uploaded on youtube after which I started following her on Instagram (where she is as active as a radioactive element). All I know about her is that she loves building and poring over characters, and she hates writing academic essays. She aims at acing winged eye line some day. And she has been reading and writing from as long as she can remember. She loves her notebooks in which she takes notes for stories, books, novels.
I talked to her after reading some of the chapters of the (now defunct) project called Cor Corand. She wrote a mammoth length series about a nation in conflict. And very exciting and unusual one at that. Unfortunately that didn’t get too much attention and she had to stop writing it. Good thing, she got her first book published!
She has also given me wonderful feedback for the only two short stories I’ve ever written, and patiently answered all my questions about writing good stories and fiction and more. I’m immensely grateful for that, more than she might know.
Damini is like a dreamy person for me. And I consider myself a big fan of her writing, opinions and honesty. I’ve never met her.
I like to write down the first lines of novels in my blogposts and reviews because I like to come back to read the first line again after I finish the book, just to be able to check if the initial instinct, that comes automagically after advancing a few sentences of the book, was correct. The first sentences of The Sunlight Plane goes —
The summertime sky in Mumbai was usually white, because the sun glared at it until it went pale with fear, and the blue it was supposed to be dripped off the surface of the atmosphere and fell into the Arabian Sea.
I don’t know about you, but I was immediately hooked at because the sun glared at it until it went pale with fear.
The book is about two 9 years olds Tharush and Aakash (both names’ meaning translates to sky). As soon as I realised this in the first paragraph, I was like woah! How could she go back to imagining things from the perspective of 9 years olds ? I could not do it, at least right now. Who knows I get ideas after reading this book. Anyways.
I absolutely ❤️ed the development of Tharush’s mom’s character, particularly her teasing Tharush as casually as walking.
After mom had told him to stop daydreaming and to hurry up, and after he looked off, she asked
“Are you still angry with me?” she asked, lilting laughter coating her firmness.
“Numbers don’t win wars”, his mother replied, her tone mockingly cheerful.
She gasped. “Really?” Tell me more, Oh Wise One.”. The metallic lift doors opened and she stepped inside with all the grace of someone used to winning verbal battles.
“I am in the middle of an extremely important battle,” Tharush replied, using the same formal flair his father had when Tharush interruped him when he was on the phone.
“Oh, my”, his mother teased. “Well, if you can take a break from your destruction and carnage, dinner’s on the table”.
Not to even mention because Tharush is nine years old, he battles with things he doesn’t know by guessing about them, or simply asking about them forthright.
“What does ‘carnage’ mean?” he called after his mother, turning off the lights and fan as he darted out of the room.
Tharush had never understood what stock of what his father wanted from the market, and why he didn’t just go get it. He could, alternatively, put it on the grocery list. But he didn’t. Why?
As amusing and real these blockquote scenes and dialogues look, trust me, they are hard to make right. I couldn’t have possibly imagined from a 9 years old point of view as I said before as well.
Some of the phrases / sentences / words were so fresh, I had to highlight them with a pretty light highlighter (because I don’t like bright colour highlighters, I use a fax paper highlighter, which is… much lighter) and read them over and over again, because once is never enough.
This is LOL 🤣, Weekly List of Lit issue #13! You can know about what this curation is and why I started it, here.
you can follow LOL: Weekly List of Lit Medium Publication. Also! The exciting part is that you can help me curate using LOL Link Sharer Google Extension I made. You can read about how to use it here and install it here.
Stay tuned for this week’s curation on Saturday IST! On both of the above sources. To get updates, follow theorijinal on wordpress (they have some stunning curation of music every week, you’ll be blown away) or follow the medium publication to get the curation in your email every week!
Hello! I run a weekly curation of good lity/arty links and things I visit online in a week. The latest issue is out!
On the above link, you’ll find the following. If you like what I curate, please make sure you follow the medium publication, so that I could notify you new issues in your emails every week!
Harnidh is the author of her wonderful poetry collection The Inability of Words
Musings on poetry, language, perception, numbers, food, and anything else that slips through the cracks.
Musings on poetry, language, perception, numbers, food, and anything else that slips through the cracks.