Rains and romance always make for a perfect combination! This monsoon, bask in the magic of love with the heartwarming tale of Shamsher Singh Rajput and Saaya in Author Zoe M’s debut novel, Call me Saaya.
Zoe M lives and works in Mumbai.
She fell in love with the written word at the age of sixteen. Her affair has only matured over the years as she read stories that captivated her. Now, she uses the magic of words to help her spin her own stories. Her love of reading was born when she read The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.
Call Me Saaya is Zoe M’s debut novel. It is a romantic tour de force that weaves in and out of metros and a forgotten, quaint village in Rajasthan, revealing stories as it goes. The novel reflects the author’s love for the unexpected and is as engaging as she is.
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Excerpt from Chapter One
3:40 p.m. Somewhere in the middle of Rajasthan, India
“Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!” screamed an infant gustily, close by.
This is close, very close, like ON me! What’s this squishy, wet thing in my hands! Ugh!
Shamsher woke with a start, slathered with his own sweat, his mouth hanging open. What the…! He looked around wildly, utterly disoriented. He seemed to be in the middle of an impossible nightmare.
“Waaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!” screamed the baby, peeved at being paid no attention to. For added effect he pulled its saliva laden fist out of its mouth and tried to pull Shamsher’s nose off. A fairly good try it was too. Eyes watering in pain, Shamsher looked down at the source of this assault. It stared up at him, and let out another wail, “WWWWWWaahhbbbbuuuuuuuu!” It was mighty displeased; it would have you know!
There was an infant- no, a sodden, leaky infant- plonked in Shamsher’s lap. Already, he could feel the tot’s wetness seep through his trousers and trickle down between his thighs. He had no idea how he came to be in possession of the soggy, squelchy thing. The infant neither knew nor gave a damn either way. With a horrified jerk, Shamsher held the voluble, sodden little human aloft, away from him. Not that it did him any good.
The deed was already done. The woman next to him in the seat seemed to be rummaging busily in the innards of a bag like contraption. Having pulled out some clothes, she straightened up and found her baby-holder possessed of life. She took it in her stride. Minor details like those don’t affect tough women. With a glare and a jerk, she snatched her darling out of his arms as if he was trying to steal the thing! Cooing to it lovingly, she proceeded to change him with a deftness that might have been fascinating in other circumstances. She casually draped the discarded wet clothes on his knee for all the world as if he were a handy hook.
“Hey!” bellowed Shamsher, outraged. Her stoic defiance left him speechless. How had he come to be sitting here anyway, Shamsher asked himself. His gaze fell on the view outside the window and it all came back to him. He was on his way to Jhalra-Patan! He had boarded this rickety contraption,expansively called Masti Travels from Bhawani Mandi. That’s when his nightmare had begun.
He was a photographer who preferred the mountains. What he saw outside the window, gripped him despite its baked, dusty heat of the kind he had never imagined, let alone endured. Nature in its rawest form had always captivated his senses like nothing else could. The scenery outside his window made him forget all the troubles he had taken to reach here, even the hunger pangs that threatened to get louder with every passing second. His happiness bubble burst the moment he noticed something else. The bus! The ancient, dilapidated bus was moving at a snail’s pace. All the other vehicles on the road overtook it. The bus was horridly over-crowded; people stuffed into it like sardines in a tin-can. Some were even crouched on top of the bus desperately holding on to the luggage rack for dear life, and getting cooked in the dry, hellish heat. If it moved any slower, he was sure, the bus would grind to a halt. As soon as the thought crossed his mind, the bus did grind to a halt. It had stopped because it had overheated, carrying an impossible number of passengers.
A concoction of the most revolting odours- puke, urine, sweat and food- assailed Shamsher making him feel sick to his stomach. He was getting increasingly hot, fidgety and irritable. He had already figured that the last leg of his journey was going to be a complete disaster. Nothing good could come of the kind of circumstances in which he found himself. His situation was unendurable! What was he thinking of when he boarded the Avadh Express from Bombay Central to Bhawani Mandi? Travelling by train was bad enough, but to travel by sleeper class? The muggy heat of Mumbai must have fried his brain, a part of him declared malevolently.
Two days ago, he was at Mumbai to finalize a deal with a company that marketed organically-grown agricultural produce in all the big supermarkets all over India. In his euphoric state after sealing the deal with them, he had let his excitement take over. Brimming with high spirits, he had bought a sleeper train ticket to travel to Bhawani Mandi from where he would take a bus to Jhalra-Patan, his mother’s village in Rajasthan. At thirty, Shamsher had seen, if not all, at least a great deal. A professional photographer, he had spent the last five years of his life globe-trotting. Never had he imagined that travelling could repulse him like it did today. Life is so unexpected. One moment he was living a dream and the next, his life seemed like a nightmare. He was trying hard to keep his emotions under control by taking deep breaths and trying to divert his mind to that one place he called home.
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