Brevity at its best: Bishan Sahai, Ruchi Ranjan and Ishika Ranjan on their book in drabble format


Varying emotions and experiences across three generations of writers encompass Our World — A Symphony of Drabbles — By Three Generations, written in drabble format

A short story is not short enough when there is a drabble competing to win at brevity.

For the uninitiated, a drabble is a fictional work written exactly in a hundred words. Attempting this format of writing, hitherto unfamiliar to most readers, are three Hyderabad-based authors belonging to three generations of a family — Bishan Sahai, Ruchi Ranjan and Ishika Ranjan. Our World — A Symphony of Drabbles — By Three Generations is a 108-page book with 86 drabbles; it was released in August to mark the three authors’ favourite writer Ruskin Bond’s 86th birthday this year.

‘Our World A Symphony of Drabbles – by Three Generations’
 

The blurb by the legendary writer on the cover reads: This is an entertaining collection of tiny tales for tired COVID-19 survivors. A drabble a day should keep the doctors away.

The trio kept their writing simple yet delightful. While wry wit and wisdom come through the nonagenarian Bishan’s writing, 15-year-old Ishika indulges in fantasy, thriller and sci-fi adventures. Ishika’s mother Ruchi’s writings largely stem from her observation of ‘people and their idiosyncrasies’ and are treated with humour and sensitivity.

The back page has appreciative messages from Sachin Tendulkar and Shashi Tharoor.

A life in writing

The idea was seeded when Ruchi’s husband (Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary, Telangana Government) who is part of a book club put forth drabble as part of a discussion. Ruchi who holds a doctorate in Psychology and has published several research papers, attempted drabble writing in 2016 for the first time.

“I did not take it seriously then. Only now, during the lockdown, we thought of reviving our interest and involved my daughter who’s into reading and creative writing,” says Ruchi, who persuaded her uncle Bishan Sahai to pen down a few drabbles too.

Sample this, count the words

  • ‘Baithak of the Mynas’
  • The mynas called for an emergency meeting in the Delhi University Campus.
  • Muthu was in tears. ‘I am ugly. Whenever college girls see me alone, they shoo me away… but are elated when Diku and I are together.’
  • Puzzled, the sarpanch of the myna clan ordered an enquiry and a reward for the one who could crack this mystery. Chunni, the youngest myna was tech-savvy. Surreptitiously, she pecked and opened the laptop of a student and hit search. A nursery rhyme dedicated to their clan – ‘one for sorrow, two for joy’- had been taken too seriously…
  • The reward was hers!

The retired business manager who had been writing on management-related subjects used some of his favourite anecdotes for his share of drabbles. “When we showed our drabbles to Ruskin Bond, he responded positively and suggested we approach Rupa to publish them; author Harinder Sikka too encouraged us and wrote the foreword,” says Ruchi.

Ishika Ranjan, Bishan Sahai and Ruchi Ranjan at the release of their book ‘Our World A Symphony of Drabbles - by Three Generations’

Ishika Ranjan, Bishan Sahai and Ruchi Ranjan at the release of their book ‘Our World A Symphony of Drabbles – by Three Generations’  

For Ishika, a XI grader, being part of the project was “a fun, family activity”. She says, “Unlike regular writing you cannot ramble, so it’s a challenge to express your thoughts in 100 words and I enjoyed doing it.” How long does it take to complete a drabble? “It’s normally an idea that takes time. Once the idea is finalised, I just take ten to 15 minutes to complete a drabble,” says Ishika, who has opted for Commerce as the main subject in school, but pursues writing, music and photography with a passion.

Allaying the concern that a drabble calls for compromising of storytelling, Ruchi says, “Drabble is not a substitute for long form writing. The beauty is in its short length. This format can attract more readers. When there is a growing concern about the decline in reading habits among children, this format can draw them back to reading as it takes less than a minute to read one drabble. Everyone who has lost the habit of reading can get back with this format.”

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