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Monica Singh’s ‘The Pause’ is an anthology of seven stories; stories that start from a place of darkness but move towards the light, leaving both protagonist and reader transformed. These stories were born out of the learnings the author had during the pandemic, which brought about a gentle but introspective pause to her life. In her words, this book is an ode to life and celebrates courage, determination, perseverance, and the indomitable human spirit. 

The author’s writing is bold- she doesn’t shy away from sensitive issues like abuse, terminal disease, domestic violence, self-harm, and violence. Each character is forged by the fires of their circumstance, but instead of choosing to play the victim, they emerge out stronger. The central theme of healing is brought out very clearly. In some cases, help comes from unexpected quarters with a stranger acting as catalyst to kickstart the recovery process.

My top stories in this anthology include Thursday’s adventures, Tangerine, and One and a Half Minutes. Each story stands out for the different emotions it invokes; some of the lines brought tears to my eyes.

Thursday’s adventures is a heart wrenching story of children living with an alcoholic abusive father. The little ones seek solace in books. Harry Potter works their magic on them, and they strive to achieve a better life rather than wallow in self-pity. Words and their dictionary meanings interspersed make this a unique read.

If Papa could read these books, he would know how to chase his monsters away, like Harry Potter.

The innocence of childhood, the magic of reading, and the immense transportive power of books- all have been brilliantly encompassed in this tale that has a heart-warming climax.

In Tangerine, a furball helps mend a broken heart and a home. The protagonist realizes that she has to overcome her fears and isolation to care for that tiny creature that has sought refuge with her. In this process, she views life with a different lens and accepts the past for what it is and attempts to reconcile with her estranged family. 

It is time to confront my fears. Harbouring resentment and unwanted regret is no way to live. The world is dying; if now is not the time to make amends, it would never be.

The journey from grief to acceptance is beautifully captured.

One and a half minutes is a poignant story based on true events. The author lends her voice to the voiceless by writing the story of a pair of street urchins who are left to fend for themselves as Mumbai reels under a terrorist attack. They do not have the safety of a home, and no one to claim them. Despite the hand that life dealt them, they rise above the situation to become heroes.

One and a half minutes. Eleven lives. Tears poured down his cheeks, but his hands never stopped. 

Grab your tissues for this one.

While the book is a quick read at 102 pages, it is in no way a light read. While the tales are meant for a mature audience, the message of hope and the desire to change for the better, comes alive through the author’s writing.

You will read ‘The Pause’ and pause to think, absorb, and transform. An outstanding debut!


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