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Growing up body shamed

Five years earlier, a friend’s nasty comment made Ananya start hating her body. She decided to change into a new person; one who effortlessly fits into all kinds of clothes, who shuns food unless it’s salad, and who can never be called ‘Miss Piggy’ – and to cut everything from her ‘old’ life, including her best friend, Raghu, for being witness to her humiliation.

Ananya was on her way to becoming who she wished to be, but she’s continued to see herself as a work in progress.

One day, her parents announced that they were expecting a baby, which worried her. To make matters worse, Raghu reappeared in her life …

Andaleeb Wajid’s latest novel for young adults is a touching and funny story about a young girl’s journey to acceptance and self-love. Here’s a glimpse into her struggle as she finds her way.

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Mirror mirror front cover
Mirror, Mirror||Andaleeb Wajid

I felt a little guilty about the way I had been treating Ma so I went looking for her. When I didn’t find her at home, I called her phone.

‘I’m back home. Where are you?’ I asked.

‘I left you messages. You didn’t see?’ Her voice was a little muffled. Where was she?

‘No. Why? Where are you?’

‘At the gynaecologist,’ she said. What? Already?

‘But you just found out yesterday!’

‘At my age, sweetie, you can’t be too careful,’ she said. ‘Okay, I have to go now.’ She hung up and I continued staring at my phone.

At her age?

Mom was just forty-three. But . . . having a baby at her age . . . I suddenly felt a spasm of fear. What if something went wrong and she died? All because of this stupid baby.

My throat closed with panic. I needed to talk to someone but didn’t want to call up Nisha. Obviously, I didn’t want to talk to Anirudh about it either. I called up Papa instead.

‘What is it?’ he asked, his voice coming muffled too.

‘Are you also at the gynaecologist’s?’ I asked, surprised.

‘Yes, of course,’ he said gruffly. ‘What is it, Ananya?’

‘I . . .’ I didn’t know how to tell him what I’d been thinking.

‘Nothing. I’ll see you at home,’ I said.

‘Okay,’ he said and he hung up too.

I sat on my bed, feeling out of sorts. I needed to do something. I needed to take my mind off this panic.

I rolled out my yoga mat and did a few stretches, and then sat down, trying to calm my mind. It wasn’t working. My mind was fixated on something else. Something with chocolate in it.

No, we’re not going there, I told my mind firmly.

Please?

One square of dark chocolate wouldn’t hurt anyone. I knew Ma kept a stash in the fridge but I had never ventured near it, as though afraid it would bite me.

 

Saliva pooled under my tongue and I felt an unbearable urge to just taste one little piece.

No. I knew exactly how to change that. I got up from the yoga mat and, bracing myself, walked over to the mirror.

That one piece of chocolate is going to show on your tummy, I told myself, making myself study my reflection. On your thighs. Do you want that?

I pinched my stomach and winced at the pain. Despite all the crunches, this was never going to go away, was it?

Fat bitch. Ugly cow. You’ll always be like this.

The thought of chocolate was no longer appealing. I sat in the hall, waiting for my parents to return home and when I heard the sound of the car, I got up to meet them at the door. I looked for an indication on Ma’s face that everything was all right. But she looked fatigued and anxious.

‘What is it? Are you going to die?’ the words tripped out of my mouth before I realized how silly I sounded.

Ma sidestepped me and walked towards the living room slowly. Papa followed her, looking grim, holding on to a file.

I held his thick wrist and he stopped. ‘What is it? You guys are scaring me,’ I whispered to him.

He looked confused. ‘Why are you scared? Everything is fine,’ he said. I didn’t believe him because his face looked drawn and worried.

The more (books), the May-rrier!

We know that our current times are not the most optimistic. But now more than ever, we believe that books can act as a source of hope and joy, howsoever small, and keep us going.

We have an assorted selection of books for you this May! These will keep your young ones occupied as they spend the summers indoors, inside the safety of their cozy homes.

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All-Time Favourites for Children

Ruskin Bond

Front cover of All-Time Favourites
All-Time Favourites for Children || Ruskin Bond, Kashmira Sarode (Illustrator)

Ages:  9+  years

All Time Favourites for Children celebrates Ruskin Bond’s writing with stories that are perennially loved and can now be enjoyed in a single collectible volume. Curated and selected by India’s most loved writer, this collection brings some of the evocative episodes from Ruskin’s life, iconic Rusty, eccentric Uncle Ken, ubiquitous grandmother, and many other charming, endearing characters in a single volume while also introducing us to a smattering of new ones that are sure to be firm favourites with young readers.

 

Ninja Nani and the Freaky Food Festival

Lavanya Karthik

Front cover of Ninja Nani and the Freaky Food Festival
Ninja Nani and the Freaky Food Festival || Lavanya Karthik

Ages: 10 to 14 years

It’s time for the annual festival and a special guest is expected to arrive in Gadbadnagar, but has a certain President gone too far? Has Nani finally met her match in the meanest, scariest and awfullest demon ever to crawl out of the Dark Forest? Will the Mayor’s mustache ever run for office?

Wait, there’s more!

Fake Mystery Heroes! Haunted falooda! Giant dogs–

And what’s that again about goats? You’re going to have to read it for yourself. 

 

Mirror, Mirror

Andaleeb Wajid

Front cover of Mirror, Mirror
Mirror, Mirror || Andaleeb Wajid

Ages: 10 to 14 years

Five years earlier, a friend’s nasty comment makes Ananya start hating her body. She decides to change into a new person-one who effortlessly fits into all kinds of clothes, who shuns food unless it’s salad, and who can never be called ‘Miss Piggy’-and to cut everything from her ‘old’ life, including her best friend, Raghu, for being the witness to her humiliation.

Ananya is on her way to becoming the Ananya of her dreams, but she’s still a work in progress.

One day, her parents announce that they’re expecting a baby (at their age!). To make matters worse, Raghu reappears in her life …

Andaleeb Wajid’s latest novel for young adults is a touching and funny story about a young girl’s journey to acceptance and self-love.

 

What’s the Big Secret?

Sonali Shenoy

Front cover of What's the Big Secret?
What’s the Big Secret? || Sonali Shenoy, Annushka Hardikar (Illustrator)

Ages: 9+ years

Eleven-year-old Aditya really wants to know about periods.

Ever since Rhea Didi began getting brown paper packages, there’s been something that no one is telling him. Mama turns red, Pa chokes on his coffee and Dadi has steam coming out of her ears! Thank goodness for his friends Naveen and Vinay-whom he can talk to.

But when Vinay brings an odd-looking napkin to school that soaks ink, Aditya is even more confused. Doesn’t his sister use a microtip pen?

All of this is only making little Aditya more determined to find out What is going on!

 

Dark Tales

Venita Coehlo

Front cover of Dark Tales
Dark Tales || Venita Coehlo

Ages: 9+ years

In this collection of eleven very dark and twisted tales, Venita Coelho lays bare the underbelly of contemporary India. Get ready to gasp and cringe in horror as you have the rug pulled out from under you! This is a book you won’t want to read after dark.

 

And That is Why

L. Somi Roy

And That is Why || L. Somi Roy, Sapha Yumnam (Illustrator)

Ages: 8+ years

Dear Reader, do you know
· why the deer does not eat rice?
· why man gets wrinkles and a stoop?
· why the cat buries its poop?
· why a doll is worshipped in a village called Kakching?

Discover twelve magical tales from Manipur, the mountain land in the north-east of India on the border with Myanmar. Passed down by learned scholars, balladeers and grandmothers over hundreds of years, these unknown myths and fables are enriched with beautifully rich paintings that will transport you to Manipur!

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7 Moments from House of Screams that will Give you the Chills

In Andaleeb Wajid’s new book House of Screams, Muneera finds out she’s inherited her uncle’s old house on Myrtle Lane, she decides to move in with her husband, Zain, and their three-year-old son, Adnan. The promise of saving money and living in one of Bangalore’s nicest areas has them packing up their old lives at their tiny apartment and shifting to this sprawling bungalow. But they soon realize there’s more to the house than its old-world charm….
Read along to know some deeply scary excerpts from the book:

“Muneera felt slightly uneasy as she walked towards the room. A feeling of being inside a house with trick mirrors engulfed her. She felt as though they were being sucked in.”
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“He rested his head on her shoulder and shuddered slightly because he had seen what his mother hadn’t. The dark forms melted back into the wall.”

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“Right then another hard blow landed on his head, and he knew nothing could save him.The last thing he saw was Ghafoor turning to her, his blood stained hands cupping her gently. She closed her eyes, as though in supplication.”
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“Muneera realised that the dark patches on his body were blood. The boy looked at her without blinking. Her phone dropped from her hand, and there was complete darkness for a moment that terrified her even more. But just as she opened her mouth to scream, the screams stopped and the zero watt bulb flickered to life.”
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“Evil spirits. Was that what he had seen beyond the wall? He would never forget how the wall had suddenly become a creen beyond which ghastly shapes moved. Hands had emerged from within and grabbed Adnan.”
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“Muneera screamed and ran towards Adnan. Half of his body had disappeared into the wall. ‘Adnan’ she screamed. She caught hold of his arm and pulled. Adnan’s eyes rolled up in his head and that galvanized Zain into action. He jumped down from the stool and grabbed him by the waist. One armand one leg had disappeared completely into that hellish realm.”
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“Four rabid dogs were mauling Iqbal, who lay on the ground like a limp doll. The men picked up  stones and threw them at the dogs but the animals didn’t relent. One of the creatures turned and bared its fangs at them, making them retreat in fear. She couldn’t believe the sight. It felt like her heart had exploded.”

Get your copy of House of Screams today!