Unmasked is an anthology of 21 short stories by various writers, all trying to unravel the protagonist called Ruby. This happens to be the 4th Anthology that I am a part of, my story ‘Punished’ is featured here. The book, to begin with has a unique concept. The protagonist of all the stories is the same, a 25 year old girl with mysterious past and 21 writers trying to decipher her through their stories.
I love the black and white cover of the book. It lends to it an air of mystery, much like the mysterious Ruby. And the book had to start with a love story, a love story which transcends boundaries and decades. The First Rains of 1947 by Darshan Pania turned out to be a lovely read.
As I started reading one story after another I was quite fascinated by the many facets of Ruby. She was strong and vulnerable, defeated and triumphant, a victim and a celebration of her choices. While all of the stories were unique, some of the stories which really stood out for me were If Ever You Knew by Sreelatha Chakravarty, a powerful story with a mother of a twist in the end. First Love by Megha Rana, anyone who has experience heartbreak will relate to this, a simple story really but beautifully written. The Second Phase by Elsa Siby Jose sees Ruby turn into the fearless Kali to avenge her sufferings. In Rue of the Night by H Fatima, Ruby is on the other side of the law determined to put an end to the wrongs, but the ending will hit you hard. I loved the entire concept of a story within a story in He Left Me in this Story by Mannem Surendra, though I would have liked to read a little more. My Favourite Dress by Shriya Das raises a very important question. Though I would have loved to know what Shriya’s Ruby did, but it still makes you think. A Cursed Beauty by Madhura Ubale will make you wonder if there is just one role that a woman is expected to play and in case she isn’t capable of doing that does it make everything else irrelevant for her? What I really liked about Crumpled by Umesh Luthria was how Umesh uses a doodle to reveal Ruby’s life and thoughts. The Call by Rishav Gupta is one of the most complicated, shocking and dark stories here and if I may say so, a brave, disturbing perspective to abuse.
But the story which completely blew me away was Untold Story by Manisha Mahalingam. It’s a fresh new take on empowerment. Her Ruby is like you and me, a simple girl, but one who breaks the gender stereotypes with panache, because she is ‘allowed to’. And I must say this is one of the best stories I have ever read.
I did enjoy reading the book, however I do wish the editing was a bit tighter, looks like this was edited/proof read by a number of people. While some of the stories were perfectly edited, some had glaring mistakes.
So who is Ruby you ask? Well, go head and read it to discover Ruby!
You can buy the book here: