A book consisting of paranormal or bordering on horror is more exciting than a film or television series for one basic reason – using your imagination to recreate the scenes in your mind scares you more. Try reading even the basic book on this topic and chances are you will be trying to check the curtain which just moved or that shady shadow. Amidst all this, you read The Other Side. Co-written by Faraaz Kazi and Vivek Banerjee, this book is on a subject which very few Indian writers have dried their ink on. Ruskin Bond is one in English and Ratnakar Matkari rewrote Marathi literature with his tales from beyond. This book is a compilation of 13 stories filled with everything from macabre to spine-chilling to pure horror.
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By the time you finish all these tales, chances are you might be petrified, somewhat. The book begins with a quote by Stephen King – We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones. Then begins the real journey in the prelude where the writers are seen going on trek in the Himalayas and then impress each other with tales of paranormal and horror. While That Fateful Night is a typical tale of that one night in a doctor’s life to treat a mysterious patient in a haunted house, The Long Weekend leaves you shocked thanks to a weekend trip for a couple. The Man Who did not Fear scares you literally by talking about a young man taking a bet of spending a night in that haunted house in a hill station. Strangers in the Night might leave you vary of taking lift on that late night.
By the time you finish reading the fourth story, you might have started sweating. Mind you, it is a book to be read whilst alone in a darkened room or at night. All the writers might like the fifth story called The Muse comes calling where a writer struck with the block meets his creations in a gruesome manner. The fifth story – The Lady in the Pub – speaks of Salim who meets the mysterious Aarusha at a pub but leaves him stunned. A Mother’s Love is a soft tale which takes place at pre-independence Munnar coffee estate. But it does not quite frighten you. Red Bangles leaves a rather wicked taste in your mouth by telling a tale of an obsessed murderer. It is The Mark of the Beast which is one of the book’s best stories. It speaks of a couple meeting a strange beast and its curse. The Mystery Lake has us visit the very mysterious Roopkund Lake with Ravi, thanks to his strange dreams. At best, it amuses your interest.
But it is Possession which scares you out of your wit. You can guess it correct – the story speaks of a young girl making a new ‘friend’ and getting possessed. More than being a paranormal story, Unfulfilled Desires is about a young girl’s desire to be freed from her earthly abode and get justice via a doctor. The last is not the least, but is a horrifying tale of revenge from a man laughed for his looks called The Dream Girl.
There is sex, violence and horror but nothing overshadows the aspect of paranormal or horror. What makes it a book to read is the use of effective language which has mass appeal. Those looking for a change will find enough fodder for a late night in the house, alone. But if brought up on a heavy diet of the best in paranormal or horror, this book might seem tame. But overall, The Other Side is a light-hearted winner on this side.