e-Books / Review

Undelivered Letters by J. Alchem

Just finished reading Undelivered Letters, a novella by J. Alchem.

The story begins with Sara and Aron, shifting their house. They have lived in the same place for a long time and as they pack up, feel nostalgic on discovering things they haven’t used in years but are closely associated with their past. Both of them cherish those moments and relive their old romantic days.

I liked the sweet beginning. I could relate to the way Sara and Aron felt as things from past do make us nostalgic and while emptying my cupboards, I also get overwhelmed by memories.

However, the novella got a facelift when Sara finds an old dusted bag lying in the store room. The bag belongs to Aron’s good old days as a postman. And hasn’t been touched since he was promoted 20 years ago.

In a flush of excitement, Sara empties out the bag’s contents and both of them are shocked to find a bundle of envelopes, wrapped together. In a jiffy, Aron remembers that these were his last assignment, he was supposed to deliver these letters 20 years ago, but had forgotten to do so!

Aron is dumbfounded as he is torn between his conscience and common sense and can’t decide whether it would be sensible to disturb the past and deliver those letters now as a lot of things must have changed. Perhaps the senders or receivers were by now dead, or at least not in the need of such an old communication or they may hold him responsible for failing his duty and blame him for any bad news/misfortune contained in the letters.

But, then something pricks his heart, what if someone is still waiting to hear the news contained in these letters. What if his/her life could be changed by this very letter!

And in a spur of moment, Aron decides that he would deliver the letters and bear the brunt of his blunder. He goes out on his mission and the novella ends with three letters out of 9 undelivered ones being received by their rightful owners/successors. Carl, Samuel and Cathy are the recipients and the letters unfold a chain of events, they had undergone, as two out of the three are not alive!

The book, I must say has a very interesting storyline. The subject holds lot of potential. In any case, communication is a tricky matter for us humans. We interact so much and yet conceal so much in our hearts that often we feel unheard of or being misunderstood. In today’s age of whatsapp, skype, sms and emails, though it is highly unlikely that a message will be left undelivered, yet I do understand how it feels when one is left waiting without a clear response. Waiting without hope acts as a poison, slowly killing you from inside and here in the book, some people were kept waiting for 20 years! I could understand how painful it must have been for them. So, I did feel very connected to the story.

But, the three stories, yes the three letters delivered to their rightful owners, can be segregated as three short stories, where J. Alchem builds up their world painstakingly, describing their past and linking it to their present.They are nice little attempts, leaving me hungry for more.

I liked Carl’s story the most. Artists and writers need appreciation. It acts as a soothing balm for their frayed nerves and hard work. And, I do agree that like Lenit’s father, many artists die unknown. Though I believe that easy availability of internet, Facebook and YouTube has come as a life savior for many performers. I have found my very own Shakespeare’s Cafe on Mere Shabd Mere Saath.

But coming back to the book, stories are interesting but too short. As soon as I would form a connection with a story, it would get over. I would have liked Alchem to give more details and expand them further, if possible even post delivery.

Another thing I noticed was the way Alchem describes his characters. It appears forced or at least too plain. He names them and then go on to tell about their physical appearance in a straight forward mechanical manner, not at all engrossing. I like to know a character through his actions rather than just two three lines about his features.

Other than these small nicks, I liked the novella. In the epilogue, it is promised that more letters would be delivered and more stories revealed soon. Hope, the novel Undelivered Letters would get even better in its full avatar as a paperback. All in all, a good teaser!

P.S. I received this ebook courtesy a Gift card on Amazon from Priyanka for review purpose.

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