01 December, 2019

#SpecialFeature :: #GuestPost - Stories that numbers could tell by @DebleenaR

Under "Special Feature" every month I feature a Special Author. 
During this month I put up 5 posts about the Author/Book, including Interview / Review / Excerpt / Guest Post / Author Bio / Fun Facts or whatever else we can come up with. Also on the first day of the month we will  launch the Giveaway contest along with the first post and will announce the winner on the last day of the month.
So be sure to check out my blog every 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th of every month for something new :)

*** Special Feature - December 2019 ***

Sometime in Class 11, I remember starting off an essay with this line, “Two hours and three cups of coffee later…..”  My English teacher, while distributing the exercise books back, called me to her desk. I was sure that I was caught out.

You see, in those days, my head was filled with numbers. I compulsively read books. But Math consumed my dreams. And I spent most English classes, pored over my notebook, solving some Math problem. Did I forget to erase some Math work where I was supposed to write my essay?
I was in for a surprise. Rather than scolding me, she praised the opening line and added, with her usual flair for sarcasm, “It would be nice if you tried to write, once a while. After all, Math is not running away anywhere.”

Years later, when I started writing seriously, I often thought of my teacher and what she said that day. Today, as I explore life through many lens, as an entrepreneur, and as a journalist, those worlds have collided. After years of working in Finance in roles involving Investment Management, Investment Banking and Venture Capital, I co-founded Kahaniyah, where we practice data-driven storytelling. A second company I co-founded is called StoryEd where we work with youth who are not in formal education or employment pathways and help them get school leaving certification and income through a storified curriculum. Meanwhile, my work as an investigative journalist for Economic Times Primes keeps me probing, with both stories and numbers.

Words and Numbers. Stories and Data. In a strange quirk that’s life, I made peace with both today. And writing, in a way, has stopped me from running away.

Here’s my introduction, through a poem.

Settling an old score

I am not here to give advice
You wouldn’t take it. 
My daughter’s 13.
And she doesn’t. Already. Ya.
Adolescence strikes early these days.
With it comes rebellion. The questions.
And sometimes, them too.
The know-it-all. The cynical. 
All I can tell you is that I have
Been there. In the blank spaces
That simmer in your mind.
Questioning education
To the beat of my poem song.
Debating mechanical jobs
Over steaming cups of tea.
And dreaming of changing the world
With one strum of my guitar. But,
Somewhere between the dirt track of 
Rebellion and the highways of glitter,
I ditched my guitar and my dreams
And donned the Suit of obedience.
It never fit me well.
So I kept changing suits. Jobs. Dreams.
Nothing stuck to me. Nothing was mine.
The college guitar got rusted.
I no longer sang those tunes.
And if it stared at me accusingly sometimes,
I found a big cupboard to stack my lost dreams
With the big money I got from my big jobs.
It took me 15 years to dust off that rust and
To learn the pathways to the lost dirt-tracks.
No google maps to find my way.
And when I found them, I realized, 
The broken guitar could be repaired
And the ill-fitting suit could be ditched.
I still had a dream.
What changed me?
I thought of my story.
The story I would like my daughter to learn.
If I had 10 ten lines to craft the headline of my life
What would I say? Lived the dreams of others
Sampled tasteless gossip at office water coolers
Used big words to hide my small outcomes?
Or would I say - I still dream. And I tell stories.
For stories can change lives. It did. Mine.

About the Book:

Is murder of human body the only kind of murder? What about murder of a dream? Or, murder of identity? This who and whydunit crime thriller explores the three questions through the unravelling of a web of lies, murder and deceit that threaten to bring crime very close home for Leena, a business journalist. The alternating first person voice of the unknown killer and third person narrative takes the story across a modern-day Bangalore and a strange discovery at an archaeological expedition with characters you would have seen around you. One of them, of course, is not who they seem to be.

Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon

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