Bookish Witch

Once is Not Enough by Geeta Lal Sahai

Blurb (as on Amazon)

The characters in this romantic short story collection brush aside the niceties of life and unravel the feminine ambition, desire, passion, love and longing.

Eight months had passed, and I was now in a love triangle—my husband and Surr included. I would disappear every Thursday to be with Surr in his beautiful nest. I would give numerous excuses about my whereabouts at home, and I always suspected that Rishabh knew I was lying. But, I still did it because I couldn’t imagine going for more than a week without seeing Surr. I had feelings for him, and the thrill of us having a gateway to drive ourselves crazy was irresistible. I also loved Rishabh, my husband, dearly, because I couldn’t imagine life without him. He was not perfect, but I loved how he came out of his prison unscathed. I wondered why Rishabh groomed up suddenly. Then I realized how tamed he had been. From the moment I shouted back at him and refused to make him dinner last evening, my husband was never the same again. I was too angry to acknowledge it, but I struck a nerve.
“I want to apologize for how I have treated you lately,” said Rishabh. He was now standing beside where I was. I was shocked by what he said, and I noticed his hands were behind him. I knew he had flowers in his hands – possibly my favourite; yellow roses. I did not know what was wrong with everyone. I just wanted to die in peace.
“Please, leave me alone.” I was rude. “Just go inside and do whatever you want to do. And…and leave the flowers!” I said as I turned my face away and closed my eyes, and continued to feel the warmth of the sunset.
Rishabh stood there, glued for a moment, and said three words. “I love you.”
He left the flowers with me and went inside the house.
On the day I had decided to leave this world, all the men in my life thought it best to notice that I existed!

The protagonist—Rakhee in the story – Once is Not Enough somewhere nudges the understanding about love—that it’s complicated and isn’t always about being in love. She loves both the men in her life. Will she make a choice? Is she ready to make this life-changing decision?

In The Singer–young Bhavna, blinded by her ambition, agreed to marry wealthy Ajit because she knew that her music career would burgeon with him as her partner. And it did, but she was not happy. And as she grows older, she longs for someone to give her attention; to love her. She misses being a woman. After all—we are what we are because of the choices that we make!
In the story The Birthday Cake, a little boy shares his heart-wrenching experience during the present-day global crises. While Lonely Footsteps is about love, family secrets and tragedy, My Father is about the complex issue of caste, politics, love and acceptance of the breakdown of the gentle mental fabric—the ghost prints left by grief and loss.
The stories in the collection are all about love, unrequited love, madness, delusion, loss, loneliness, dilemma, and of course, family.
At every step, the characters are tested and tempted by love and fire-like passions that they find so difficult to deny.

Genre: Fiction/Short Stories

Format: Kindle eBook/Paperback


  • Kindle eBook: 149 INR/$3.99
  • Paperback: 159 INR/$5.55

My rating: 3.7/5

A collection of 5 short stories titled ‘Once is Not Enough’, ‘The Singer’, ‘The Birthday Cake’, ‘Lonely Footsteps’ and ‘My Father’, this book deals with complex subjects in a way that compels us to think of our actions as individuals and our thinking/functioning as a society.

What I liked about the book:

-> All five stories shed light on various important issues prevailing in our society. These are issues that need our voices and attention and the author uses fiction to send across some hard facts about reality.
-> Various themes have been explored in all the stories, right from love and family, to loss, catastrophe, loneliness, mental health, and casteism; making it an interesting read that manages to hold the reader’s attention.
-> The dark realities of the world have been beautifully brought to life through impactful writing within the stories of this book.
->The author has used real-life incidents in the stories ‘Lonely Footsteps’ and ‘My Father’ which make the stories more compelling.

What I did not like about the book:

-> The stories ‘Once is Not Enough’ and ‘The Singer’ felt like they were sending out mixed messages; maybe encouraging or supporting infidelity.
-> Some stories felt like they ended abruptly.

Quotable quotes:

-> Nature is always beautiful, even in the coldest period.
->We are alive because we should live.
-> People who love each other always talk things out.

-> Sometimes in life once is not enough. It gives us opportunities to make choices. Nothing ends until it ends.
->Families can be challenging. We might disagree on things and often find ourselves on each others’ throats. This phenomenon is distasteful. But no reason can justify a family being at war with each other. The world is already an unfair playing field that requires solid familial bonds to help a person cruise through life.
->Understand others if you want to be understood.
-> The future is always uncertain.
-> By the time we realize that life is not all about money and fame, it might be too late.
->People who speak loudly and shout in a discussion are often those people who are living a lie.
-> It is destabilizing to realize the duplicity of the people we trust.
-> Is truth what we believe and want to be, or is it the reality that we fail to see?

->Love can make people do foolish things.
-> Love does not exist in still waters. It’s a deep flowing river, and people have to swim along together, willingly.
-> One cannot force love, but then neither can it be withheld.
-> Society makes it very difficult for women to have a voice and choice. It’s a toxic, patriarchal world.
-> Sometimes living in ignorance is bliss.
-> The aroma of new beginnings is intoxicating.

Check out the book here:

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