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One Girl Many Lives by Ajit Yadav, Anshu Bhojnagarwala, Jithin S, Priya Bajpai, Sona Grover — Edited by Abitha

Publisher: Jimpify Publishing
Price: Rs. 250 INR(Kindle edition)
Buy here: https://amzn.to/2OD23K5

My take on the book:

Ever looked at abstract art and wondered about the story behind it? Was the woman in The Mona Lisa indeed smiling? What emotions do random pictures evoke in a viewer – does each picture hide many stories? If you are one of those who search for a story and meaning behind an intriguing picture, then this book is for you.

One Girl Many Lives is a collection of five stories set in different timelines starting from 1947 going into the future till 2135. Each story is inspired by the cover picture, the girl in the picture and is themed around her. That’s not all, the stories are written by five authors, each of them have contributed to each of the five stories. At the start of each story, the order in which the authors have written it is provided. Extra brownie points for the editor who has done a marvelous job editing each of these stories in a way the reader does not realize who has written which part; the narration just follows seamlessly as the reader is drawn into these stories.

The first story is set in the backdrop of the India-Pakistan partition and the ruthless killing of non-Muslims that happened in Lahore. The story is the journey of a young girl Jassi as she tries to fathom the meaning of religion and forgiveness. The second one is set in the 1970s against the Sri Lankan Civil war involving the killing of thousands of Tamilians by the natives. This story questions the morals involved and who is on which side — right or wrong, with the State or sympathizing with the Rebels.

The third story is set against the Y2K problem, the days ahead of the New year 2000 when the world predicated doom when the calendar changed. This story is of a young couple in New York — one of them struck fixing the Y2K problem as well as their romance. The fourth one is set in current times where a young woman from Madrid befriends a guy when they meet in an Ashram in India. While the guy is on a break from his corporate job, the woman travels across the globe on a secret mission.

The final one is futuristic set in 2135 as a family of astronauts and space enthusiasts make their journey to distant planets in search of living conditions. As the spacecraft requires urgent assistant and navigates to a new horizon, the mother and daughter duo hope to be the first people to discover life on an unknown planet.

The premise of five stories with different backdrops and timelines using a common theme of a running girl, while narrating five unique stories is the highlight. Also, the girl’s presence and relation to each of these stories is realistic and not forced just for the sake of making her a part of the story. All the stories hold the interest of the reader till the end, have the right amount of emotions, especially the first two stories which capture human fragility amidst conflicts.

The last two stories are high on action and adrenaline rush, even the one set in future is intriguing and well thought. Only the Y2K problem story felt a bit less intense for me when compared to the other four. The authors have done a commendable job as a team by giving life to these stories. If you love short stories, then pick this one for a set of engaging stories; the authors and the publisher deserve appreciation for envisioning such a unique concept and executing it flawlessly.

My rating: