Book Review: A Hundred Little Flames by Preeti Shenoy

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I have read all the books written by Preethi Shenoy. This is the best book among all which stays close to heart. Beautiful Book cover. Wonderful storyline. Her narration style made me hook to the book and complete it. She speaks about life’s reality that each one can relate to.

A Hundred Little Flames is a charming account of a relationship across generations as well as meditative look at the issues of old people.

The author has segregated the book into four parts :

  1. Thekke Madom
  2. Gopal Shankar
  3. Rohini and
  4. A hundred little flames.

She has thoroughly researched about the places, the medical terms, banking trends and cricket news in the book.

Awesome collection of quotable quotes relevant to the story has been well placed that will put insight to the readers as to what life is.

Life’s emotions like Happiness, Sadness, Loneliness, Anger, Unconditional Love, Trust, Friendship and about relationships are dealt.

The author creates interesting characters that you invest in emotionally. Her creativity at its best. The Book is a sure shot winner in all aspects and takes you on a roller coaster about relationships of the old generation and new generation.

Story:

Story being set up in the rural Kerala. Malayalam words have been used in the book with the footnotes below with the meanings which will make the reader get into the character and making it lively. The book is about discovering oneself in life.

There were two completely unrelated incidents which happen in Pune and Kerala which would change Ayan’s life forever.

Characters:

Ayan’s father Jairaj’s constant taunts about him being useless at everything and he was given no choice in life. The confrontation between father and son. Jairaj has been portrayed in a negative character. Sometimes parents do things thinking they know what is best for the children, but they do more harm than good.

Grandpa Gopal Shanker did not like being dependent on anybody. He had to be cajoled, like a difficult child. He is loyal and caring towards his wife. He is a man of his word. Even Minute details where grandpa says ‘Pah!’ which is usually said by old people in Kerala and Grandpa’s loss of memory has been captured by the author.

His trustworthy help Velu,  who bore the brunt of his anger all the time.

Memories of native land were making Ayan feel like a small child and he doesn’t want to leave Kerala. He starts indulging in his long-lost passions like reading, painting, and football. One of the main things that the elderly suffer from is the feeling of being useless and uncared for. Ayan spends his quality time with grandpa and is protective of him.

Rohini – The best quality about her is that she always focuses on the good in people. She is such a delightfully nice person and full of Life.

There is a deep soul connection between Gopal Shankar and Rohini.  Some Relationships that just cannot be explained. The deep sense of joy, the camaraderie and the feeling of oneness.

Movie quote games played by Ayan and his friends and also his friends calling places in Kerala a tongue twister adds fun and humor to the story.

Comparisons between Old Generation and New Generation:

  1. Living in apartments and ancestral home is beautifully explained by the author as below:

‘People like to live in matchboxes, where there is not even a piece of land. You should always live in a structure where you can step out and feel Mother Earth, not be half-suspended like Trishanku in the sky,’

 2. The architecture of the ancestral home which adds life value to people are captured in the below lines:

‘Why did they make the doors so low?’

‘Humility is the first virtue that we must all imbibe. Our elders ensured that when we bend our heads to enter a room, we are forced to remember to be humble.’

‘By bowing our heads?’ 

‘Yes, it is a sign of respect. It makes us pause for a second,’

3.  The close-knit bond among people who lived in villages compared to people living in Metros.

4.  About Love and Friendship:

In Younger Generation, folks are never happy with anything. They are not willing to give time to a relationship. They should allow it to breathe, to grow and nurture it. Above all, they should be patient.

In Older Generation, they were slow to act.

The author discusses family values, family traditions, and respect for elderly people. She also touches upon the issue of Abandonment of old people by their own family members.

All great people keep diaries. It gives a sense of direction, documents where your days went, and it serves as a tool for self-improvement. It is also important to reflect and learn lessons from mistakes by writing the good things and bad things that have happened at the end of each year.

The Hero of the book is indeed Grandpa Gopal Shanker who will make the readers feel lively, positive and emotionally attached to the story.

My Favorite lines from the book:

‘There’s no ‘Can I’. There is only ‘I will’.

‘ Many a time, things have a way of sorting themselves out. We just need to be patient,’

‘He is the kingfisher. He hunts fish. He waits, sitting very still for his prey. Once he spots it, he swoops down and takes off with it. So fast, so sharp. No distractions. He knows what he wants and goes after it. Then he gets it. You should be like that in life,’

‘Friendship in my times meant, you knew everything about each other. And you would support each other, no matter what.’

“We all try too hard to do the right thing and stay in control. Once in a way, we should just let go and see where it takes us. “

‘Once a flame is lit, it can burn brightly and divide into a hundred little flames—or it can die down. Just like the connections we form.’

‘Everything happens in good time’

‘It is the smallest things that take up the largest space in our hearts.”

‘What lies behind us and what lies before are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.’

‘Sometimes, when you run a race and you are nearing the finish, you feel you have used up the very last reserve of strength within you, and you cannot go on anymore. Then suddenly the finish line looms large. You decide to complete the race. You give it all you have got. You dig deep into yourself, and an extra burst of energy which you never knew was within you, opens up from depths which you didn’t know you had. You run with all your might, complete the race successfully and collapse—to rest and recover.’

“The obstacles life throws in our paths, makes us grow.”

‘The ocean reminds us of how fragile life is, how small and insignificant our problems are.’

‘The beautiful thing about friendship is understanding the other person’s needs and to find happiness in whatever makes them happy.’

 ‘The mind is like a monkey and we have to control it. The heart is a wild stallion. It gallops where it wants to go.’

‘It is important to not chase somebody. If they want to be in touch with you, they will find a way. Just because you keep calling someone, it does not mean they will respond to you.’

‘The secret of staying young forever is to drown yourself in work that recharges you.’

‘Finer things in life take time.’

‘True Love or True Friendship – People go through their entire lives searching for this, and never finding it.’

‘Life is full of surprises. We do things which we never thought we would.’

‘Life doesn’t let you choose.’

We live in a culture where parents sacrifice their all for their children. But what about the parents’ needs? Do children ever pause to think about it?’

Cherished memories of author’s ancestral home hold like a treasure within her heart and it will become a treasure too to all the readers after reading this book.

 

 

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