Beyond the Fog: An anthology of short stories by Pratibha Johri
IBNS | 12 Sep 2017
Beyond the Fog: An anthology of short stories by Pratibha Johri
“Beyond The Fog” is an anthology of fourteen short stories written by Pratibha Johri. Each story so heart-wrenching that it becomes very difficult to extricate oneself from one story and plunge into the next.

The author has done a brilliant job of weaving tales that strike a cord in the hearts of readers.


The story that has impressed me the most among all the fourteen stories is titled, “Singed Petals”. This story is built on the horrifying premise of child labour.


Mustaq is an innocent boy of eleven who is taken out of school and forced to work in a factory that makes glass bangles just to ensure two square meals daily for his mother and himself. He works under inhuman conditions and his hands are burned and bruised from the labour. Yet his mother would not let Mustaq back out of this daily grind because that would mean starvation for them.


Mustaq’s story, his emotions, the early demise of his childhood—this is a reality that innumerable children face in this country.


And yet we are so fond of wearing glass bangles. True, bangles look so pretty on our wrists but we never stop to think that little hands get tortured daily while making them for us. This story is not just an eye-opener but it is bound to stun you for a while as you go along with Mustaq and see him leave his childhood behind him.


There is another story called, “Wrong Number”.


In today’s competitive and selfish world, this story is really relevant. We all are getting so engrossed in ourselves, in our daily work that we forget to pay attention to our near and dear ones. We are progressing in our careers but our relationships are getting left behind.


This sad situation is aptly reflected by the journey of over-ambitious Payal and her equally talented and supportive husband, Akash. This story just points out how harmful our increasing self-absorption can be. This is a beautiful story well told.


Coming to the story titled, “Masks”—it has a wonderful portion towards the end where a journalist is having an internal dialogue with his pen. Pen is mightier than the sword and yet power play and politics is stealing the sharpness of the pen and turning it blunt in today’s world. Maintaining honesty in journalism is becoming a daring act. And in this story we see a pen giving mental support and courage to a journalist when he is being thwarted in his duty. And why not? A journalist and a pen are indeed best friends. A beautiful thought in a nice story.


This entire anthology is filled with stories that are really different and unique in their own ways.


The author has a quirky outlook towards life and that is amply evident in her plots.


I am quite confident that this new author would be someone to look out for.


She has the ability to make it big if she sticks to her passion and her book speaks volumes about her abilities.

(Reviewed by Priya Das)