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Waiting for Jazz and other stories‘ is a collection of thirteen stories by Amishi Batha.

The first story in the collection, ‘Friendship‘, is about two friends. One of them is in the hospital emergency room in a coma and the second one is watching over him with both their families. This second friend narrates the story and takes us back to the past and describes how these two met and became friends and how their friendship evolved and how they ended up in the hospital in this state. It looked like a straightforward story of friendship, but when the last passage arrived – Wow! What is that? The twist that Amishi Batha throws at us is stunning and we don’t see it coming! It would have made O’Henry and Roald Dahl proud.

When I started reading the second story ‘Waiting for Jazz‘, I kept a close eye on the story. I wanted to catch the surprise in advance, this time. Because as they say, “If you fool me once, shame on you, but if you fool me twice, shame on me.” ‘Waiting for Jazz‘ is about a grandfather who is sitting in the courtyard of a cafe, sipping tea and having pie and chatting with the café owner Betty, and telling us about his granddaughter Jazz, while he is waiting for her. We learn about their relationship which is beautiful, and we also learn about the friendship between the grandpa and the café owners. And the story reaches the last page. I thought – “Okay. Nothing much can happen now. This story is beautiful. That’s it.” But then, Bam! We don’t even know when the revelation hits us! It is so amazing!

The third story ‘Story for Grandma‘ starts in an unassuming way. The narrator is trying to get some sleep. She just had a fight with her grandmother and left the dinner table in a huff. Her grandmother comes to her room to make up. Her grandmother tries to tell her an old story, which our narrator used to enjoy during her childhood. After listening for a little while, our narrator tells her grandma that she will tell a new story today. So our narrator picks a book with pictures and starts telling a story. So far so good. I was, of course, keeping a close watch over the events, expecting Amishi Batha to slip up so that I can catch the clues and catch the revelations before they come. But this story was pretty straightforward about two people who had a fight and who were trying to make up. Or so I thought. But when I told myself, “Okay, this is it. It is a beautiful story“, the surprising revelation arrived, and it was so beautiful that it made me cry. This was probably my most favourite story in the book and I would recommend that you read it with your family, your partner, your parents, your children. It is so beautiful.

I want to write about every one of the rest of the stories – it is so tempting! – but I will stop here. I want you to read the stories for yourself and experience the pleasure they have to offer. As you can guess now, most of the stories have a twist in the end, which we don’t see coming, which surprises us in the end. Many of them look like normal slice-of-life stories and that is why the twist is so brilliant. There are stories on family, love, loss, friendship, marriage, nature, crossword puzzles. There are one or two stories, which depart from the norm and have a straightforward narrative but these are exceptions and make us lower our guard and the story with the surprising revelation arrives soon.

I loved ‘Waiting for Jazz and other stories‘. The stories are beautiful and the revelations are stunning and brilliant. This is Amishi Batha’s first book, which is very hard to believe, because going by the evidence of the stories, she looks like an accomplished writer. The book is slim at 58 pages – before we know, it is over, while our heart is still chiming ‘Dil Mange More‘. It is a beautiful book to read, sitting in your garden during spring or summer, sipping a cup of hot spicy tea, taking a bite of chocolate cake, while following the lives of the beautiful characters that Amishi Batha has created.

Have you read ‘Waiting for Jazz and other stories‘ by Amishi Batha? What do you think about it?

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