and other stories
By Durlabh Singh
Key Themes: fiction, short stories, psychosis, mental health services, humour
Collection of 32 thought provoking, poignant & beautiful tales. ‘Mental Ward’ deals with the descent of a woman into mental distress and ahallucinatory world while the ‘Paper Boat’ depicts the first confrontation of an innocent child with harsh realities of living.
In ‘Lice Cure’ and Designer Monkey’ there is undercurrent of humour to lighten burden of existence, while other pieces explore the unexplored world of literature and life. Readers with wider taste will find plenty of material to wet their appetites.
About the Author
Durlabh Singh is a writer and an artist based in
He has been published widely in over 300 publications
His other book publications include:
Chrome Red- Collected Poems.
Spaces of Heart- Illustrated Verse.
Kama Sutra of Love- Collections of Short Stories
Keeper of Reflections & Other Stories.
In The Days of Love- Novel.
Throughout his life, he had to struggle against the odds. Having lost his father at very early age, he had to take up the role of head of family, being the only male member in the household. Facing all the injustices of Indian social class system where he had to provide big dowries for marrying his sisters and getting into debts.
The things took turn for worse when he came to England, as extreme racism was rampant there when he was constantly ridiculed and set upon by gangs of youths. Landlords refused to rent him even a room and shopkeepers refused to serve. He was subject to racial taunts in streets and at work. He suffered number of physical attacks and partially lost sight of an eye as he was beaten in a busy London street. That constant harassment eventually resulted in acute depression and a mental breakdown and as a result he was admitted to a mental hospital.
He took up painting and writing as a therapy and developed these arts where he could find it easier to breath from constant atmosphere of suffocation. It helped him to survive and to keep his mental balance, in finding transcendence and wider fields of human creativity. People suffering from mental distress may find solace in his works.
Original name of the village was Sunder Gaon or the beautiful village on account of its situation where it was set in a countryside surrounded by a pretty panorama of land and hills .Its population consists of about six thousands souls and their mainstay is farming and when the monsoon season arrives the wetness takes over every nook and corner of the landscape. It is a time for planting rice, which is the staple food of the inhabitants.
The greenery then takes over with miles and miles of paddy fields covering the long stretches of countryside with men and women in muddy fields planting the stalks of the crop. Some transplant the seedlings with a definite plan when the insert is pushed up to three centimeters into the soil and the rows at definite distance. The others do the transplants at random distances. Most plant it during rainy season as it increases the surrounding vegetation for mutual shading of the growing plants.
While wading through the deep mud, some people come across other small creatures usually the crawling ones like worms or other creatures like snakes that are usually trying to find a higher ground for dry spots of uplands of the village from the flooded lowlands. The planters are bound to step on these creatures unknowingly and during the years there has been fatalities from snakebites but not many as majority of theses creatures are of non-poisonous type but when bitten a person is jolted into a shock and panic whatever type the snake may be. There is a hospital few miles away which keep the antidote serum and one is lucky to reach it, when the fatality can be cured.
Some years back the crops began to fail either due to lack of seasonal rains or decrease of yield from the paddy fields and most people could not account for that sudden change. There has been droughts before but were offset with adequate monsoon the following years but it was difficult to pinpoint the reduction in yields from the harvests so regularly. The priest performed some rituals for enhanced yields but without much success. They consulted other specialist in the farming industry but no one could explain the reason for it. Villagers put extra labours and hard work into their fields and then left the whole thing in the wills of gods as they have done whatever they could do.
Then the rains came with a vengeance and it rained perpetually for four days without any stop. All the land around the village was flooded and so were the low-lying surroundings villages. It did not do much damage to Sunder Gaon due to its elevated position in the district. The villagers observed that besides people coming from the adjacent districts to take shelter on the higher grounds of their village, there were other creatures too, doing the same thing. There were snakes too seeking shelter in the village by swimming through the floodwaters.