The Pause

The Pause

no title has been provided for this book
With the advent of the Corona Pandemic, life has been divided into the 'Before' and the 'After'. But, irrespective of any such 'Pauses', life goes on undeterred. Much like Time, that eternal nemesis of all life forms, it doesn’t stop. This is a universal fact. Because the events of our lives, are connected with each other, and those of others, by a different, more significant thread. That of overcoming the challenges life throws at us,…

The Pause by Monica Singh is an collection of seven beautifully written, heartwarming short stories about everyday life. The stories tackle myriad themes such as illness, abuse, patriarchy, violence, despondence, etc. The situations are realistic and presented with sensitivity and sincerity. The characters are relatable; they could be someone close, a relative, a friend, a neighbor, or even the reader himself. The language is crisp, simple, effective, and touches the reader’s heart.

All the stories in this anthology are about women and what makes or breaks their relationships. They take the reader through an emotional roller coaster ride and end with hope and positivity. The stories celebrate the ‘never say die’ spirit of life and encourage the readers to look for the silver lining on dark clouds. 

The first story – A Day In A Superhero’s Life, introduces the reader to a medical condition – ALS. While the protagonist is aware of his deteriorating health, he gets the strength to cope from his mother, who hasn’t given up hope. She masks her worries and fills her son with the courage to keep going. The mother-son bond is presented beautifully. 

Some favorite lines:

She is worried. She is trying hard to not let it show. But he can see it. And he is trying not to let his worry for her show on his face. Both are failing spectacularly and it makes him laugh.

Will I live another day? Mom will not let me go. Not yet. 

By the time one finishes the story, one feels gratitude for the simple things in life that are usually taken for granted.

The second story – Thursday’s Adventures, is about a young girl from a dysfunctional family who rises above her living conditions by finding inspiration in books. Despite being warned by her father to stay away from books, she pursues reading and finds her magic in the world of Harry Potter. She grows up being able to differentiate right from wrong, and moves away from the path of destruction and self harm laid down by her father. She creates a beautiful and respectable life for herself by inculcating good values. 

Monica has used a dictionary to explain certain words, which is a unique approach to explaining the impact of those words on the little girl.

My favorite lines: 

Books are dangerous only to those who fear possibilities. Those who are terrified of change. Books are not just some words printed on paper. They are ideas. They are thoughts and feelings and hope.

The third story – Phoenix Rising, deals with domestic abuse, a sad reality for many. Monica manages to evoke strong emotions of anger, disgust towards the perpetrator, and sympathy for the protagonist. Finally, the reader cheers for the protagonist as she walks away with her head high. The psyche of the abused is explored, and an attempt is made to understand their fears, anxieties, and reasons for staying in the abusive relationship. The message is loud and clear – ‘It’s never too late to take that one step to freedom.’

My favorite line:

No! My daughter will not grow up scared like me; my daughter will not be weak!

The fourth story – The Other Man, is about two depressed men on the verge of taking their lives. Their chance encounter changes everything, even the way they look at life. Monica has done a brilliant job of showing the ‘other perspective’ through the interaction between the two men. She has conveyed that while there might be one reason to brood, there are ten others to celebrate. This story is one of my favorites in this anthology. 

The fifth story – Tangerine, my other favorite, explores parental relationships by drawing a parallel between love for a pet and love for a child. Through her journey of caring for an abandoned kitten, the protagonist realizes her mistake of judging her mother. The homecoming in the story brought tears to my eyes. Such is the power of narration in this story. 

 My favorite lines:

It didn’t matter how much you loved someone. There were some days you couldn’t change anything.

Whatever life offered, you had to accept and do the best you could. 

Harbouring resentment and unwarranted regret is no way to live. 

The world is dying; if now is not the time to make amends, it would never be.

The sixth story – One And A Half Minutes, is a gruesome reminder of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. The story reminds us of that fateful day when many innocents lost their lives. It also reminds us that many survivors braved their personal loss and helped others. This story is an ode to the ethos of Mumbai and Mumbaikars, their resilience, grit, and how life moves on in this city.

My favorite lines:

They are terrorists. But how could they be? They are just people like me, normal people.

 The night seemed calmer now, quieter, even with the crying of people and the screams of the wounded.

 Tears poured down his cheeks, but his hands never stopped.

 The seventh story – Null and Void, will resonate with many women. The story deals with how a woman becomes a shadow of herself by ignoring the red flags of a manipulative relationship. The protagonist, in the end, comes out strong and ready to take on the world.

 My favorite lines:

 If only relationships were that easy to understand or even untangle. Black or White. No. Love is beyond the accepted definitions of good or bad. It’s all grey.

Monica is a seasoned writer and has chosen to write this book sans flamboyance. The narration is tight and fast-paced, and the book is unputdownable.

A must-read, The Pause, is available on Amazon.


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