‘THE FINAL DRAFT’ – Stories with a Twist

The Final Draft Book
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Title – The Final Draft

Author – Ajay Singh

Publisher – Pentagon Press

ISBN No- 978-93-90095-39-1

Pages – 246

Price – Rs 499/


(The book can be procured at special concessional rates at   https://www.amazon.in/dp/9390095395)

Mubarak Ansari

Pune, 2nd December 2021: Ajay Singh is a man of varied talents. A poet, a photographer, a military historian and novelist, he now explores a new genre of writing in his latest offering ‘The Final Draft’ – a collection of twelve short stories, each interspersed with short, but appropriate verses of poetry.

The title story “The Final Draft” 

explores a brilliant writer dying of cancer who is obsessed with completing his magnum opus before his death. His wife helps him in what would be the last work of his life and amazingly, they help keep cancer at bay. The story traces the individual thoughts and journey of the two key characters till the shock ending, which hits like a punch in the solar plexus. Does he complete his work, and what happens when he does? 

Each of the twelve stories has its own distinct themes. “The Well’ tells the story of a young school teacher who is brutally raped by a terrorist and is now carrying his child. It brings out the stark reality of terrorism in the beautiful valley of Kashmir.  

There are stories of love lost and found – as we see in ‘The Ring’ in which a beautiful young woman waits for her dead lover near the seashore where he died. Does he finally arrive? The subject of creativity forms the underlying core of four of the stories, perhaps reflecting the author’s mind. There are stories of war and humanity, of artists and writers, and even a children’s parable, in which a father tells a bedtime story to his daughter to explain how rainbows are formed. He also dwells on the subject of the pandemic in a darkly prophetic vision of a world of the future, which is hit by a mysterious illness, and through the story unravels the complexities of individual freedom and society. 

The supernatural too surfaces in ‘The Completed Canvas’ in which a young artist meets an old lover in a remote resort – only to find he is not quite what he appeared to be. And the last two stories of this exquisite collection tells of a wronged couple who seek their revenge by carrying out a brilliant art-heist, (which is planned and depicted with a meticulousness that makes it very plausible) and then find themselves thrust into a dangerous game of crime and theft. The very range and scope of the stories are amazing. And the manner in which they are told is simple and powerful.  

The stories encompass a range of characters – there is a dying writer and his doting wife. There is a scared, uncertain officer leading his first patrol through No-Man’s Land, and there is another officer who spends the night carrying out deception with a dying man. There is a painter whose creativity has died, a fiery tempestuous couple whose special day could end in triumph or disaster, a rape victim pregnant with a terrorist’s child, a couple planning a brilliant art heist, and another who find themselves and each other as they spend the night in an airport lounge when their flight is delayed. Each of the characters come alive and we feel their passions, their fears and their dark desires. 

There is a touch of Roald Dahl, Somerset Mugham and O Henry in these stories – not merely in the shock endings, but in the simplicity of the style and the depth of emotion they convey. And like all good writing, these stories lead us to draw our own interpretations and often make us pause and reflect on the words and underlying emotion.  

A unique aspect of this collection is the interspersing of poetry between each storyline which reflects the theme of the story to follow. Like the stories themselves, the poetry is both simple and profound and has the same lyrical beauty and intensity.  

‘The Final Draft’ is a masterpiece by a very talented writer. The simplicity of the writing makes it a very easy and enjoyable read. And like all good writing, it fills you with a sense of regret when the last page has been turned and sends you back to re-read them all over again.  

 Ajay Singh is a poet, photographer and writer-at-large who has donned the uniform for 28 years, before falling to the lure of words. Since then, he has written four books – including the bestselling novel, ‘Through Orphaned Eyes’ and over 200 published articles.

A renowned public speaker, he lectures extensively in schools, colleges and other institutes. He has co-hosted TV shows and writes screenplay for film and television. 

Happily married, he stays in Pune and can be contacted at [email protected]