Stories from a soldier - not only about war

Each of the stories is around 5000 words essaying an easy conversational style, often culminating in an unexpected ending

Col Anil Bhat (retd) Oct 23, 2021
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The Final Draft; Author Ajay Singh

Known so far for writing articles on war and terrorism and a novel on the same, this time he has let his imagination wander to other themes and with profound effect. The Final Draft is the leading story in a collection of twelve short stories exploring a wide range of themes and settings. These are stories of love – both lost and found  - war, terrorism, crime and ghost stories, along with creativity and even a children’s parable.

The stories encompass a range of characters – there is a dying writer, an officer leading his first patrol, a painter whose creativity has died, terrorists and a rape victim, a couple planning a brilliant art heist, and more. The stories have been interspersed with poetry which reflects the themes of the stories - and most have a twist in the tale.

The stories are:
• Final Draft.  A brilliant writer working on his masterpiece is diagnosed with a rare and very virulent cancer. As he refuses all treatment to continue writing his book, his wife works out an ingenious plan to keep him alive. Does she succeed? And at what cost?

• The Ring. A beautiful woman comes every month to a special place by the sea shore, awaiting her lover - a naval pilot who was killed in a crash in the waters around the area. The hero slowly gets obsessed with her - only for the story to take an unexpected, ghostly turn.

• The Well. An Afghan terrorist rapes a young school teacher in the beautiful Kashmir valley. She inflicts dreadful revenge upon him- even though it kills a part of her - in a story that brings out the true nature of militancy in Kashmir.

• Patrol. A young officer, leading his patrol across No-Man’s-Land unexpectedly encounters the enemy. They are just yards away from each other and his finger is on the trigger when …... This is a story of humanity and compassion based on a true incident of the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war.

• The Cloistered City. It is the year 2028. In the aftermath of a world ravaged by THE ILLNESS, a city closes ranks against the spread of the virus. A young boy escapes from the Cloistered City to have a look at the world outside and discovers far more than anything he could have ever imagined. A dark tale of a very plausible post- Covid future.

• The Happiest Day of her Life. A beautiful woman waits eagerly for her lover to come home for the past two years. It was to have been the happiest day of her life. But was it? And what followed?

• Rainbows in the Night.  A father tells his daughter a light-hearted tale of how rainbows are created, drawing her into the search for the illusive pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, symbolizing the essence of dreams in the journey of life.

• The Completed Canvas. An artist goes to a secluded resort deep in the Garhwal Hills in an attempt to paint. There she encounters her first lover after many years. That figure from the past helps unlock her mind and enables her to paint a beautiful painting; and then the truth unfolds in a final shocking discovery.

• “Flight 640 from Mumbai to Delhi is Delayed….” A man and a woman meet in an airport lobby as their flight gets delayed. In a chance encounter, they tell each other their dreams, fears and hopes and by the end of the journey help each other find what they are truly looking for.

• Night Vigil. An army officer flies down from Leh to Delhi to be with a dying old man.And playsa deception in the last moments of his life.

• ‘MOKSHA’A powerful Director of a Art gallery hoodwinks a trusting young couple just before an exhibition. And they take sweet revenge.

• The True Calling – In the follow up to MOKSHA, the couple get hopelessly entangled with the unscrupulous Director seeking to get this own back. With a completely unexpected fall-out.

Each of the stories are around 5000 words essaying an easy conversational style, often culminating in an unexpected ending.

Ajay Singh, an alumnus of St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, graduated with Honors in English Literature, joined Indian Army, serving all over the country and overseas for 28 years till 2011. After leaving the army he has written over 180 published articles and authored four books- ‘The Battles that Shaped Indian History’ (Co-authored by Monisha Singh, October 2011); ‘A Spectrum of Modern Warfare’, ( May 2013), ‘Through Orphaned Eyes” (November 2016, fictionbasedIndia-Pakistan partition as seen through the eyes of two brothers – one a nameless Indian, and the other, who is adopted by a Pakistani couple and grows up to become Head of Pakistan’s ISI) and “India’s Battlefields: from Kurukshetra to Balakot” (November 2019, covers 42 of India’s battles told in the form of a story).  

(The Final Draft; Author Ajay Singh: Publishers Pentagon Press; Pages 218; Price Rs 445)

(The reviewer is a strategic analystl. He can be contacted at wordsword02@gmail.com)