Coinman by Pawan Mishra – Blog Tour Promotion
Coinman by Pawan Mishra – Blog Tour Promotion
Author – Pawan Mishra
Publisher – Lune Spark LLC
Pages – 236
Release Date – 4th November 2015
An Untold Conspiracy is a humorous account of a man with a quirk–and the extraordinary measures his colleagues take to combat it!
Set in a small town in northern India, this story follows Coinman, his peculiar habit, and the incredible animosity it provokes in everyone around him. He just wants to do his clerk’s job with colleagues who’ll treat him fairly. He just wants a wife who’ll treat him like a husband. He just wants a happy home life. Instead, what does he get?
His colleagues are planning his complete destruction. His wife is an obsessed actress more than a little “off plumb.”And there are enough shadows and secrets in his home for two lifetimes.
Can Coinman ever get what he wants? Or will that cost him his sanity?
On how Coinman came into a being:
I started on Coinman in 2003 as a creative writing pursuit resulting from someone’s request for a story about his colleague who had a quirk that had plagued the office they worked for. As I started writing, I realized that the subject needed a more elaborate treatment — it thus turned into a full length novel.
It was completed in 2007 but I hadn’t planned to publish it until early 2015.
At the center of the novel is a small office in a small city in North India. The office has a mammoth gossiping culture — where most of the gossips are around invented stories about Coinman, a nonconformist whose peculiar quirk irritates them alike. It seems all fine until they plan to get rid of the issue.
Having spent first 20 years of my life in the small town of Aligarh in UP, I had a privilege of seeing life in a small city very closely. Wandering through every possible narrow street in the city and interacting with every possible type of character opened up a beautiful inner world in my mind that found a way to open itself through this book.
Coinman’s ménage consisted of four living souls beside himself—his father, Daulat; mother, Kasturi; wife, Imli; and distant-cousin-cum-maid, Shimla. The house enjoyed two bedrooms that belonged to the two couples, and one hall of which one corner turned into Shimla’s bedroom each night when she arranged her homemade mattress as soon as she was done with the day’s housework. She usually went to sleep after and woke up before everyone else.
Shimla never forwent wearing a veil when she stepped outside the home, or if someone visited the family. People outside the family wondered if the veil was forced upon her by the house or if it manifested her voluntary surrender to social engagements. She spoke very softly, if at all. Such was her speech that it could not have caused any soreness to the most sensitive soul; it would, rather, have soothed it like soft music. When there were family invitations, Shimla rarely came along to the event; she stayed at home to finish the pending work.
Shimla’s advent into Coinman’s family had been a planned move, to serve a mix of humanitarian and personal objectives, and no one could have guessed at that point the far-reaching consequences it was to give rise to as time went on.
The prologue to her entry to the family dated back to the time when Kasturi was in the seventh month of gestating Coinman—a high-attention and high-priority stage of a pregnancy—a time that requires utmost care in bringing one life safely to the world without losing the other.
Daulat and Kasturi had scanned though all the relatives for a woman who could provide the necessary support during those delicate days. They judged each prospect on a number of parameters: availability, forbearance, simplicity, sincerity, devotion, integrity, contentment, respect for elders, pleasant face, cleanliness, plausibility of staying for a longer duration, and—it must be admitted—level of destitution in current life and likelihood of grumbling about the neighbors. Shimla not only surpassed all relatives in her cumulative score; she also outdid all of them on each individual parameter. This, combined with Kasturi’s philanthropic objective, made the decision easier.
Katori, Shimla’s mother, was Kasturi’s distant cousin; the relation was an uncle’s wife’s mother’s nephew’s cousin’s niece sort of thing, which no one was really interested in accurately tracing, as long as it provided them a bedrock for a mutual companionship that prospered for five years when their families happened to be neighbors. Even when Katori’s family moved to another nearby city, Kasturi often visited her, almost once every month—although only during afternoons, when Katori’s husband, Adham, was out at work, because of his screwed-up mind.
Kasturi loved Katori’s three daughters, but her favorite one was Shimla, who was silent, meticulous, and good at household work. Whenever Kasturi visited them, she brought gifts for all three girls, with a special one for Shimla. Shimla’s childlike heart was so touched by this that she carried a noble image of Kasturi even later as an adult.
Kasturi showered immense affection on the family to offset the maltreatment the four females of the family received from Adham. During the time they were neighbors, Kasturi often discussed the issue intensely with Daulat, opinionating that Adham should be sent to the darkest of the prisons, no arguments entertained, and without a possibility of release.
Despite Adham’s unfaltering savagery, Katori declined Kasturi’s secret offers to summon police protection, reasoning that she didn’t wish to raise her kids without a father.
Adham was addicted to executing punishments—he knew nothing more satisfying—so he made sure someone was always up for punishment of some kind. He was a chicken in the outside world that turned into a lion on entering the house.
Shimla was twelve years old, and her younger sisters were eight and six, respectively, when Kasturi became aware of Adham’s animosity for the first time.
Adham looked for an opportunity of any kind to enforce punishment; and if there was none, he converted absolutely normal things into such opportunities. When he ran out of reasons, he typically resorted to punishing his daughters for things like not receiving their last punishment in the right spirit; for being found not studying when he entered the house from work; for burying their heads entirely in books, disregarding his entry into the house; for wearing dirty clothes; or for wearing clean clothes that were supposed to be worn only for parties.
The reasons for Katori’s punishment included the ones for the daughters, plus many more. She could also be punished for not starting the cooking before he entered the house from work; for meeting a neighbor’s wife; for inviting someone to her house; for keeping no control over the children; or for keeping too much control over the children.
The punishment often started off with one person, and then traversed through the rest—completing multiple such cycles. Adham very proudly demonstrated that the human was an animal once and rediscovered his origins regularly in everyday life.
While his favorite punishment for his wife was caning with a long dry twig from a neem tree, his little girls had to stand below the spout of their rusty hand pump, entirely naked, summers or winters, while he pumped the water. “It teaches the little girls at an early age how bad are the two extremes of anything,” Adham had said to write off Katori’s protest against his bestiality when he was, a rare occurrence, in a happy mood. The only traces of relative kindness in his devilish behavior emerged when he used only half the force he used on his wife in swinging the twig on his eldest daughter, Shimla.
Sometimes he returned home fully drunk, and grabbed Katori by her long thick braid to drag her from the couch to the floor. She would grab the other end of her hair to save her scalp. But still, at times she blacked out with pain—fortunately, as it turned out, because then he left her to herself for the lack of resistance.
As a result, the mother always bore swollen ankles, wounded hands, and a perforated soul. The children were afraid, quiet, and depressed. Adham left the house for a few hours after he completed a punishment, as a boastful criminal proudly leaves the scene of the crime. Often, as soon as he left, Katori called Kasturi. Kasturi was thus a constant eyewitness of the aftermath of this man’s brutal conduct. On each occasion she wept heartily and embraced the mother and the daughters.
Thus, when Kasturi needed to ask for Shimla to aid her during her pregnancy, she asked Adham directly, during one of those rare occasions when he was happy by his standards. She knew that asking Adham presented a better chance than asking Katori; if she had asked Katori, Katori would in turn have asked Adham, who would simply have turned down the request as a pointed demonstration of the insignificance of Katori’s existence. When Kasturi asked him directly, it worked for two reasons—firstly, he did not get much time to formulate a response to the request; secondly, being a chicken to outsiders, he could never easily say no to them. He did not say yes, but couldn’t say no. Kasturi did the rest by skillfully converting this lack of denial into his agreement. The only condition that she had to agree to was that Shimla would never come back to Adham’s house. She was dead to him.
You can read a sample chapter at Lune Spark
Pawan Mishra is a leader in the technology and finance industries. He completed his education, including postgraduate work, at Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT Kanpur), India, in 1999.
He discovered his passion for storytelling, reading, and creative writing during his early childhood. Originally from Aligarh, India, Pawan now lives in Morrisville, North Carolina, with his wife Ritu and two daughters, Mitali and Myra.
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