Down the Road Anthology - A Book Review


When we are in school, or in college, as much as we enjoy each moment that passes by, we are looking forward to the day it finishes, so we can go to that next step in our journey. But once past that stage, we look back on those days with much nostalgia and I am sure that for most of us, the yearning to go back to those days and live it once again is something that returns very often.

“Down the Road” is a collection of short stories. Edited by Ahmed Faiyaz and Rohini Kejriwal, the book features the work of 15 other authors as well, like Ira Trivedi, Sneh Thakur and Paritosh Uttam to name a few. Each story in this collection unfolds in a campus, be it college or school, and 28 stories are categorized into five parts, viz: Attendance is Compulsary, Festivals Elections and Placements, Lights Out, Looking Back and Essays.

I choose to give you a glimpse into the stories, looking back at some of them.

Down The Road: The first story in the book, Ahmed Faiyaz takes us to the campus of Good Shepard’s in Bangalore through his words. The story, woven with care, brings back to the reader, the memory of their first crush in those days; and also brings to life, a feeling of true, lasting love as well. Boman, the main character, falls in love for the first time, with Kanika who is new to the town, and to the girls’ school nearby. He, the fun-loving, teacher-mimicking student who loved to enjoy with friends, now finds himself doodling in class her picture, running off to see her from afar near the cafĂ©, and feeling those pangs only the first crush can experience. Encouraged by his friend, he finally takes the next step and goes to just talk to her, even getting her number that day. When other friend’s hear that Boman is in love, and has the best girl to step into that school as his girlfriend, they feel jealous, going to talk to Kanika the next day… The story twists into expected, yet unexpected directions after that. Read more to find out how Boman’s love story continues…

Reason: this is another Ahmed Faiyaz concoction, bringing back the innocent memories of school, when we tried and more often than not, pulled the wool over our teacher’s eyes. The way he develops the story, in the four pages is quite intriguing to see. And it brings a smile in the short time it takes to read it. This is one to remember after you’ve completed reading the book.

Just a moment: Nikhil Rajagopalan brings to life a story of the final days of college life; starting with the bliss and anxiety of finishing the last exam early, and temptation to leave hearing the elation of the others who have done already, and filled with memories of the good times the person feels as he walks through the campus he knows he will leave soon. It goes to that ending which we know we can relate to; understand… the moment when we feel, if only these moments could extend for a little while longer.

Learning & unlearning: Through her wordplay, Rohini Kejriwal brings memories of hostel days to swim in front of our eyes, those moments of exciting risks, fun with friends who become our family away from family; how such a friend can be found in but a single night, yet unfound the next day.

These are but four of the stories I found to be beautiful. Another one I remember is Ira Trivedi’s “Rishi & me” which speaks in a present-past-present dialogue, a story of love, bad choices and heartbreak; and Ahmed Faiyaz’s “Knockout” which puts the teacher in the central role, as he tries and adapts to a group of trouble making youngsters.

A couple of stories that didn’t quite hit it off with me were “Sororicide” by Prakash Uttam & “The Music Room” by Ira Trivedi. I felt it not as in tune with the theme of the book, perhaps a “there-yet-not-quite-there” kind of story. However, I do want to mention that the writing in itself was very beautiful.

Another critique I would have is regards the design of the cover. I wish it had reflected more of the campus life than just the moment of graduation.

Overall, I like it a lot… a book that would be perfect company on a long journey.

Rated 3.5 Stars

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