Book Review : They Do It With Mirrors – Agatha Christie

This particular Agatha pick was not really a treat-read for me. It is not bad either. I suggest you pick this if you are looking for a quick read (say when you’re travelling). For once, this is my first Miss Marple mystery (I’ve always favoured Hercule Poirot’s adventures better). Although I’m a huge Agatha fan, I’ll just be straight honest with this review.

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1. The Plot

For the shared concern of a mutual friend, Mrs.Van Rodryck asks her dear friend- clever old Miss Marple for a favour to which she obliges. When Miss Marple reaches Stoneygates- a rehabilitation centre for delinquents, she instantly senses danger in the air. Two bullet shots, perfectly timed, are fired simultaneously under the same roof, killing an unexpected guest. This risks the life of her friend Carrie Louise further more as she is the most anticipated victim (being the heiress of a vast fortune). With confusing, bitter-sweet family ties and multiple suspects-each more or less a part of the family with justifiable motives of their own, the case gets complicated. How Miss Marple helps the police in revealing the actual murderer makes for an interesting read.

2. The Plus Points

  • The pace of the book is steady. Nothing is rushed into or taken too long to unfold.
  • The various characters introduced are realistic in their sketches.
  • The setting in and around which the crime takes place, is well described and easy to imagine.
  • Little relevant details are not left out. Instead, they are mentioned to the point.
  • Multiple suspects and their motives initially confuse you since every suspect seems to be a potential murderer – which is an excellent thing.
  • The victim is kind of unexpected which took me by surprise a little but that hardly matters.

3. The Pits And The Falls

  • I was not very impressed with how the plot unfolded. Basic and predictable.
  • The identity of the criminal did not come as a surprise to me. So many characters and yet your first guess hits bull’s eye?! Mysterious much? Not!
  • Some characters are pretty abrupt.
  • I found it a little boring to be honest. It was not one of those mysteries which tend to linger in your thoughts for a while and leave you wanting for more from the author. 

To infinity and back,

Maliha Taqui

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Short Story #2 – The Memory Will Never Die!

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He woke up to the annoying snooze of the alarm on a chilly winter morning. Isn’t it vile to have been awakened when the most brilliant phase of your dream cycle is about to gain momentum?! Squinting, he reached out for the daisy-faced alarm clock bouncing insanely on the side table aligned to the wall next to his brown poster bed and put it to rest. It beeped a 10:30 AM. The alarm had been snoozing away for a good 2 and a half hours, he made a mental comment. He twisted and turned in his warm sheets trying to get back to the deep slumber he was so cruelly woken up from, but couldn’t.

His thoughts raced quickly in his mind, flipping through his working memory to recall what he had perceived just minutes ago. He was sure it was her. No. Yes it was her he reassured himself. She was standing beneath the blue sky, smiling at him, her arms wide open- beckoning to him and he had begun to move in her direction and was barely an inch away from her face when the vicious buzzing alarmed him. A brief smile spread across his face and disappeared as quickly as it had come. He lay there staring at the ceiling for a long time, reminiscing how her eyes, her beautiful face, her sweet words had cast an unbreakable spell on him and to his own surprise, a tear trickled down his right cheek and he involuntarily wiped it off as though embarrassed. Men are strong, he sighed. He looked at the daisy clock again and this time it struck a 12:05 PM.

Switching his gaze to the enormous window on the left, he noticed the golden beams attempting to tear through the smooth silk of the chocolate curtains. He was horribly late for work. Just as he consistently was for the entire week before and the one preceding it. I will remember to set the alarm for an hour earlier tomorrow, he made a mental note nonchalantly. He rose up unwillingly from his bed, rubbing his palms together softly, walked weakly towards the windows and drew the curtains apart. The bright light blinded him for a millisecond. The sun was high up on the horizon but the wind was still cold and dry.Quietly contemplating his thoughts, he soaked in the warmth of the sun. His handsome face shone like a pearl in the golden beams but if one looked at him with more concern he would point out that it was studded with sorrow.

He recalled his last winter with her- it was one of the best winters of his life and her presence had added a beautiful meaning to it. He had fallen in love with her perks- he adored how she rose into fits of rage when he didn’t make it to dinner on time citing work issues, her uncontrollable laughter when he humored her through his silly faces and bad jokes, her endless faith in him, her innocent dreams of riding the rainbow on a unicorn, her too-much-for-her-age wisdom and advise he could never do without, the way she ridiculed him when he sang like a wounded moose, the way she passionately read to him and the way she dozed off when he read for her on frozen days like these, how she snuggled upto him when she felt blue and instantly lightened up with chocolate ice cream in her stomach, or how she comforted him with her smile when he was sad and the way she lit up his day just by being a part of it. He could write a book with umpteen sequels on her-  that was how much he knew her, that is how much he loved her.

It was 1:30 PM now. He hadn’t showered for days he realized. He entered the king sized bathroom and the hot tub. As he showered he loosened his reigns over his tears and they came gushing through his eyes- hot and endless. For the first time in many days, he found his emotions running him down. He made no effort to fight the running stream- he just couldn’t. It was all too much to come to terms to- his loss. The past weeks had gone by struggling to cope with it but today there was no struggle. His throat felt dry and his stomach was in knots- he couldn’t bear it no more and he let out a piercing cry. And wept till he could cry no more.

At half past two, he came out of his room wearing the gray tee shirt she had gifted him on the Christmas of last winter and a pair of blue denim jeans. He refused to part from it on days that he stayed indoors, avoiding all possible social contact. He headed straight to the room on the right as he climbed down the spiral staircase. He stood near the door gaping at the unkempt room that belonged to his daughter. He picked up the mess as he walked in, frowning and murmuring to himself, “She wouldn’t have liked this mess at all. At all. At all,” as he went about this chore. He then came to the desk laden with piles of untouched homework and books against the yellow wall and could not help but take a look at the pictures hanging on the wall.

Yellow was his wife’s favourite colour. “Yellow was her favourite colour,” he remembered. Staring intently, he took the picture with the thickest frame off the wall and studied it. The faces in the photograph were smiling- he, his cute little daughter clutching onto his arm and his pretty wife. How he longed to see her lovely face again. He knew that he could not. For she was far out of his reach, beyond anybody’s reach, up above in the Heavens watching over him- she was his guardian angel now. Her last words had been “He is the best man in the whole wide world and you were so wrong about him,” to her estranged mother and “I always had a lovely time with you Daddy. I love you,” to him, as she lost her battle to a terminal illness. His fingers moved over his daughter’s face in the picture and he sighed in muffled pain, “I love you Sarah. Daddy misses you. Your memory will never die!”

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The End.

To infinity and back,

Maliha Taqui

Later is Now!

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“I will do it today”, said none of us- ever! If you still haven’t figured out the subject of today’s post, i’m going to give you a little hint- it is a state of yours where you’d rather spend hours in bed after opening your eyes updating your Facebook / Instagram / Twitter, check out that sale upto 50% off at the nearest mall, molest the joysticks of your PlayStation, binge watch Game of Thrones or sip on that sizzling mocha at the new Starbucks in town (the list is endless), than finish your pending task(s) at hand. Yes, you are right. I’m talking about the chronic procrastination we all invariably suffer from.

Procrastination is the reason why that room you thought of cleaning after your cousin’s wedding is still a mess, the preparation for that examination ten days away (as is my case) still hasn’t commenced, that presentation you were to submit to your boss still isn’t ready, that fitness regime you were going to start off with is still on the papers, that cross-trainer you bought for the same purpose is covered in dust, and those six pack abs under construction are well, still under construction- and also why I am unforgivably late in updating the blog from the past few days.

I’m quite amazed at how this fits everyone of us and wonder what makes us procrastinate so much?! It’s ironic how the jobs consuming most of our time and concentration and requiring top-notch priority are put off to a later time and then we panic as though we are at World’s end as the deadline draws near. If it’s the simple pleasure of indulging in our desires that gives us instant happiness, the monotony of the job, tendency to get bored easily, lack of interest/excitement, plain laziness or the undying faith in the fact that man works better under pressure- I’m not sure.

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So what’s the actual problem you ask?! In simple words it is that the early bird catches the worm and you’d rather be the one that rises late, generously letting the bird catch it, being satisfied with the little left overs if in case, there are any worms left, or worse – if YOU remain to see the light of day.

A man without passion and a drive to achieve something is as good as an aimless animal! I strongly believe that in order to get something done a.k.a be successful, you have to pull those socks up and shrug off the laziness parasitising your creative emotion and purpose so that you deliver nothing less than your potential. Like all things fine, the price of success only inflates with each climb of the ladder. That price my friends is constant hard work and a hungry desperation to emerge a winner in your own eyes.

This is not a subject of World Peace which I’m going to blow out of proportion. In fact, it’s just a ‘thought fuel’ to get your engines of will power and determination charged to run in steady speed towards your destination. I have fallen prey to this monstrous laziness often and with time and increasing responsibilities towards my goals, I have realized that intelligent planning and time management could actually lessen the unwanted delays. All I’m implying is that you learn to prioritize your goals each day- starting with the ones requiring immediate attention so that you are left with an ample amount of time to spend in recreation without your deadlines haunting you.

Scientists have deemed the youth of 21st Century, ‘lazier than their ancestors’ and let us face it, we are generally- pathetically lazy(especially we Indians). No, it is not as cool as we think it makes us. To all those swearing by laziness, trust me there is nothing more to it than low productivity, wastage of precious time, a goal-lag and an increasing risk to a variety of complex diseases- obesity, congestive heart disease, et al. The fruits of your labor can be enjoyed to no end but remember that it is the labor that yields the fruits.

Someone once said,

“Hard work never killed anyone but why take a chance!”

I bet there’s nothing in history that has been taken so literally.
The next time you wish to delay things, make sure the first thing you check off your list is procrastination itself! Because, Later is NOW!

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To infinity and back,

Maliha Taqui.

Stand up! Live Again!

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Very often in our happy lives, occur bouts of sorrow, failure, loss and misery which render us off guard (whatever the reason there might be) leaving us with no specific direction to traverse this long journey called Life. It seems as though the Fates are against us and no matter how much you lament about the cruelty of Time, your helplessness in such moments doesn’t cease to exist. In fact, broken-ness as this condition of man is infamously called, slowly spreads like poison, mutilating your mental capacity, gradually destroying your hope which is not healthy for your well being.

Even the strongest of us have yielded to this toxic poison called Sorrow in some way or the other. Now, not everyone is perfectly capable of combating it successfully and not everybody deals with it in the same way. Some camouflage it while some wear their emotions on their sleeve while others laugh it off. But sometimes, all a person mostly requires is motivation to get through such testing waters no matter what, where, how or who it comes from. A little motivation goes a long way in dealing with the ups and downs of life, especially the lows.

Owing to my tendency of writing what I feel, here’s a little something which comes straight from the heart and hopefully serves my purpose for today – Motivation.

Stand up and live again

For you may not have another day

‘Cause even if you are in pain

Life goes on and that’s the way.

Let it rain some other day

Don’t say ‘I tried but in vain’

To heal the wounds find a way

For time is a speeding train.

Bury deep regret and sorrow

Crawl out of those gloomy lanes

Wake up to a new tomorrow

And take hold of your life’s reigns.

Pledge to be happy today

Kind and cheerful- be your best

Let smile be the price you pay

And to the Almighty, leave the rest.

Pick up the pieces and stand again

Let the tears get washed away

And everything that made them drain

Never again, let ’em find your way.

Life has its lows and highs

And without pausing,we ought to go

Not many would hear our muffled cries

So build up hope, rather than woe.

Don’t hold onto your weary past

Believe that someday you’ll find

A part of you, you thought was lost

A healed you, in the course of time.

‘Cause there is someone watching you over

Reading your heart and mind

There is something He demands however

In Him your faith and trust blind.

So pick up your broken self

In His love lies your gain

Just know that He wants you to

Stand Up And Live Again!

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. the most certain way to succeed is to just try one more time.” – Thomas Alva Edison

Until next time,

To infinity and back,

Maliha Taqui