The Animal That Became A God

Unfortunately, the Sapiens’ regime on earth has so far produced a little that we can be proud of. We have mastered our surroundings, increased food production, built cities, established empires and created far-flung trade networks. But did we decrease the amount of suffering in this world?

Is there anything more dangerous than dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who don’t know what they want?


What am I talking about?

Book: Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind

Author: Yuval Noah Harari

Country: Israel

Language: Hebrew

No. of pages: 498

Year: 2014

Published by: Vintage Books (London)

Reading history and related stuffs (I am not good at remembering dates though) bestow upon me immense pleasure. This book which is based on the evolution of humans to the present state was something that was revealing, shocking and breath-taking at times. Even though we are far ahead of our forebearers, the genus Homo in Africa, we still have no hint where we are heading towards. It seems to be an aimless and hopeless wandering. More of like a pie, the share may differ but the size of the pie remains unvarying. If at all one day the share becomes equal, then comes the extinction, everything which had a beginning has an end too.

Trust me, this one will be one of the most captivatinginvestments you could possibly make, of your time. It’s always favourable and a congenial occurrence to go after the roots to see how the dirt yield such a fragrance of pride to our present state of affairs.

About the Author

This guy specializes in world history. His research focuses on broad questions such as:

What is the relationship between history and biology?

Is there justice in history?

Did people become happier as history unfolded?

He has a PhD in History from the University of Oxford and now lectures at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Some interesting facts from the book 

You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven. But why is it important? Well, after all, fiction can be dangerously misleading or distracting. People who go to the forest looking for fairies and unicorns would seem to have less chances of survival than people who go looking for mushrooms and deer. And if you spend hours praying to non-existent guardian spirits, aren’t you wasting precious time, time better spent foraging, fighting and fornicating?

Voltaire said about God that ‘There is no god, but don’t tell that to my servant, lest he murders me at night.’

A single priest often does the work of a hundred soldiers, far more cheaply and effectively. 

The Agricultural Revolution was history’s biggest fraud. Who was responsible? Neither Kings, nor priests, nor merchants. The culprits were a handful of plant species, including wheat, rice and potatoes. These plants domesticated Homo sapiens, rather than vice versa.

Haunting and unsettling specifics

The natives of Tasmania, having survived for 10,000 years in splendid isolation were completely wiped out, to the last man, woman and child, within a century of Cook’s (Captain James Cook, an experienced sea-man as well as an accomplished geographer and ethnographer) arrival. European settlers first drove them off the richest parts of the island, and then, coveting even the remaining wilderness, hunted them down and killed them systematically. The few survivors were hounded into an evangelical concentration camp, where well-meaning but not particularly open-minded missionaries tried to indoctrinate them in the ways of the modern world. The Tasmanians were instructed in reading and writing, Christianity and various productive skills such a sewing clothes and farming. But they refused to learn. They became more melancholic, stopped having children, lost all interest in life, and finally chose the only escape route from the modern world of science and progress – death.

Even afterlife, science and progress pursued them. The corpses of the last Tasmanians were seized in the name of science by anthropologists and curators. They were dissected, weighed and measured, and analysed in learned articles. The skulls and skeletons were then put on display in museums and anthropological collections. Only in 1976 did the Tasmanian Museum give up for burial of the skeleton of Truganini, the last native Tasmanian, who had died a hundred years earlier. The English Royal College of Surgeons held on to the samples of her skin and hair until 2002.

My takeaway from the book

No to meat (Chicken, Mutton, Beef, Pork), that’s what my take away from this book. The incident which I read was unsettling and is the very reason to avoid meat. I also remember this was even in practice at my native. During my childhood days I had witnessed it without any emotional baggage.

The dairy/meat industry has its own ways of forcing animals to do its will. Cows, goats and sheep produce milk only after giving birth to calves, kids and lambs, and only as long as the youngsters are suckling. To continue a supply of animal milk, a farmer needs to have calves, kids and lambs for suckling, but must prevent them from monopolizing the milk. One common method throughout history was to simply slaughter the calves and kids shortly after birth, milk the mother for all she was worth, and then get her pregnant again.

Another method is to keep the calves and kids near their mothers but prevent them by various stratagems from suckling too much milk. The simplest way to do that is to allow the kid or calf to start suckling, but drive it away once the milk start flowing. This method usually encounters resistance from both kid and mother. Some sheep tribes used to kill the offspring, eat its flesh, and then stuff the skin. The stuffed offspring was then presented to the mother so that its presence would encourage her milk production.

A new word I learned from this book – IGNORAMUS.

The great discovery that launched the Scientific Revolution was the discovery that humans do not know the answers to their most important questions. Pre-modern tradition of knowledge such as Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Confucianism asserted that everything that is important to know about the world was already known.

I hope you read this book and get to know more about yourselves.

Happy Reading!


Publishing Director

The Journey of A Reader

CHAPTER 1 : A soulful rewind into my childhood days.

This is going to be a soulful rewind into my childhood days. Whenever I think about those early days, it is foggy all around and the device I use, which helps me to evaporate the mist is none other than books. Yes, they are the connecting boats to the shores, the shores of my childhood then to the womanhood, which I had abandoned long ago, and we all do abandon not by choice but by force, the force of nature. It has been three decades, but when I kindle those memories with the books, the visuals are more vivid than any other device could have possibly projected into my mind screen. Join me in this personal expedition, into those days when face mask were used only in operation theatres, and lock-downs were imposed only for 48 hrs, which was then termed as ‘Bharath Bandh’by the trade unions. Am sure this will ignite your memories of your childhood days, as I narrate my encounter with books, why am I so sure? Because one way or another we all are connected if not identified with books, that is the power of words, the magic it could unleash upon each one of its reader and seduce us to be its concubine!

The Indian state of Bihar, the place where one of the master story tellers, the English novelist George Orwell was born in the month of June dated 25th and the year was 1903. Striking two things popped up my memory, the way memories jumps out is unpredictable. One thing I connect to George Orwell is his birth date, 25th June, mine is 25th July. The other thing is the place, Bihar is where I could trace the evidence of my affairs with reading and books were set in motion. At the age of 6, I was introduced to reading and books through Hindi language.

I still have the faint memories of going to school early morning, free times at the school ground swing, tasting the smashed potato (jeera aloo) with chapati shared by my friend -classmate. The only book I could recollect from my kindergarten class would be my Hindi Book. It was a copper sulfate blue book cover approximately with a B6 size with colored illustrations for objects representing each alphabet, tiny sentences and numbers. I am truly thankful to my mom. She believes in preserving things, as a result the book found a safe haven in our house enabling me to visit that book once in a while, which fuels the pure joy of nostalgic moments.

Reading is not only about books alone, it could be anything, for instance a magazine. Yesterday when I saw the famous Malayalam weekly magazine, Manorama, which was a vital part of a typical Kerala household. Discussions happened around the stories that get published in this magazine in serial format; it had a huge fan base. Nowadays it got replaced by television dramas. The magazine triggered some memories as well. During our stay in Bihar, this would be the only magazine I get to see at our home. I remember how the access was restricted to those fictional novels which were published periodically, but then it didn’t affect me much as I haven’t learnt to read the Malayalam language. Seeing Manorama triggered the memory about Dad, who brings backs some of these magazine, like some priced possessions, from his native visits. I wonder we all would have seen this kind of magazine which is now in extinction, as result of the developments in the visual mediums? Reading is still alive, maybe the medium we consume the content got shifted.

When I completed the full circle around the sun, our family got shifted back to our native village in Kerala. I was admitted into a nearby primary school. Then my collection of books where very small, which included the Hindi Text book and an English rhyme with illustrations.

The Manorama weekly made their visits to our home along with my Dad during his vacation trips. When he returned back from his vacation, he left behind some of those finished weeklies. I adopted them, because by this time I have learned to read Malayalam, they were special, because otherwise there were no other books apart from the school text books. These weeklies became my friends, in a household, where the other possible books available were The Bible and Hymn books.

Till my fourth standard, I don’t remember reading any book in particular by myself other than the bible stories from Sunday school (catechism) or the Hindu mythology narrated by my grandfather. Later I gained the freedom of reading, without the mom’s assistance for stories, I got permission to access children’s comic weeklies such as Balarama, Balabhoomi and Poompaatta during the Onam, Christmas and summer vacations. These were the regional Malayalam versions for the famous Twinkle published in English. This is how the reading routine went until fifth standard.

During my sixth standard to the Tenth form, the school where I studied didn’t have a library hall of its own. The only relief was the weekly library period. Here too things were tricky, during the library period a bundle of books were brought in by the teacher assigned for the task, the issue was, we were given the books of their choice, not ours!

The reading is supposed to be inculcated and enriched from a very early ages, may be from upper primary level, sadly, during that timeline I was slogging with the ‘Library period’ and was forced to read books not by my preferences. The faintest memory of what I read from the school library was just a book. What was that book? Hang in there; you will get to know that in the next chapter of this series called ‘The Journey Of A Reader’. Until then I wish, you all discover new writings and authors, remember no one reads a book in a same way, and keep exploring. Happy Reading!

The Day

Short Story

She looked beautiful yet tense and silent; she resembled a doll wrapped in grandeur. The Indian bridal outfit she wore had shimmers of gold and delicate red fabric. A red stole covered her braided head showing glimpses of white jasmine flowers decorating her hair. Her jewels reflected simplicity with a red bindi, maang tikka, tiny nose stud, black kohled eyes and subtle stained lips. A small round black kohl mark beneath her ear aligned with the tradition to ward off the ‘evil eyes’.

These seemed to fit her shapely body, accentuating its obvious charm perfectly. But she didn’t seem to be aware of the hustle and bustle around her. She was lost in her own world.

She was conscious that she should fill her eyes with a sparkle for her big day. But where was her mind?Was she happy with the wedding?

Her phone beeped and a text message appeared. As soon as she read “Yahin hoon mein”, a smile blossomed on her lips.She looked ahead and saw a briskness building up around her. With a deep breath, she tried bringing her mind back to the present –  “It’s my wedding day- the day!” she told herself.

No matter how much she pretended to be normal, she could not hold back the creeping feeling of being on the verge of transitioning to an entirely different ambience. “Was this called the cusp of a change, a life changing moment?” she wondered.

A nervousness, with a tinge of pleasant hues, enveloped her. A chain of memories and thoughts rushed in, reminding her about the uniqueness of the experience unfolding, the changeover to someone different, like a larva counting down to emerge from hibernation. How would she manage her new life in a strange place amidst a new family, possibly with entirely different cultural dimensions? The only thread of tenuous continuity would be provided by him! The thought created an effervescence to be with him instantly, though she knew that not possible.

True, they belonged to two different States with almost everything different – language, religion, culture, cuisine, tradition etc. These differences never crossed their minds when they fell in love. How much did such a short period of closeness change their hopes, dreams and expectations? In the proximity of each other, far away from the home and familiar faces, they had come to see each other’s company as a very secure, comforting and private shell to crawl in, sooner than later.

Just moments away from the much looked for occasion, thoughts of adjustments and alignment sprouted in her mind. It brought in an uneasiness quite out of place with the emotional build-up over the past few days.  

The family never stood against her happiness. A smile returned to her lips even as she remembered how smooth and supportive her parents were when she broke the news, quite nervously, about her choice of life partner. The refreshing thought of the ease with which she managed to convince her parents of her choice soothed her nerves, when she was eager to push away the nagging uneasiness.

“Thank you, mom; I know you are always there for me when I need”, suddenly out of nowhere, she thought of the cuddling arms of her mother which used to comfort her in her teenage mood swings.

Her thoughts crept back to him, and the time they had together. Whenever she slipped into her pensive mood, somehow, he sensed it. And he brought her up either with a call or message.How can someone get your vibes, silent and distant, when he is not around?

Even now, he seemed to have read her creeping restlessness. His message brought her back to the present. She looked through the text message and moved her hand over the lines, as if she was caressing his cheeks.

She did not see him for the last two days after the preliminary wedding rituals like mehndi and haldi. They could see each other only briefly at the time of the ceremonies. Whenever she complained about it over the phone, he just laughed aloud. He could sense her impatience to melt into an intense hug. She knew he felt the same, but he wouldn’t express it.

She conveyed her anxiety about his absence.Was she becoming too possessive, even before the ceremonies were over?

She brooded over the days that brought them closer. He had uprooted her from her routine shyness and aloofness. She didn’t realise the change until it became apparent with his presence. The realisation that he was the one who could afford her mood tantrums dawned on her even as they cozied up in the campus life.She never liked anyone imposing likes, dislikes and strong views. Even now she wonders, how they jelled together so seamlessly. He had the right spell on her, and she felt the intensity of reciprocation deep in her heart. Slowly yet within no time, he adapted to her nomadic spirit. She was madly in love with him.

Thinking of him and their relationship made her breathe brisker. Yes, now she was not hesitant or muted to express her love. Is maturity a step ladder that one crucial step makes you emboldened to proclaim your independence and attachment in one breath?

His little sister came and informed that it was time for the ceremony. The families were present in full strength. Smiling faces and inquisitive glances greeted her when she stepped into the hall.

Her sisters and cousins stood beside her. There were a few her classmates, their common friends.  They, too, have been longing for this day. Her parents joined hurriedly, though dad seemed a little tenser than mom. Her brother was standing near the stage. It was his moment to appear serious and obviously proud of his responsibilities in the show.

Shenoticed many smiling faces but felt too nervous to respond with the usual demeanour. Her eyes were searching for the face that she so desperately longed to see. She could see his smiling little sister and parents near the mandap waiting for the moment. After fleeting moments, her eyes caught up with what shewas desperately searching.

There he was, wearing a golden outfit with a red tilak on his forehead. He had his amazing naughty smile. She wanted to show her disappointment for his staying away the last two days. He could read it too. He just smiled mischievously. In another second, he got back his intense gaze over me. His face had so many unsaid expressions which she could read. He wanted to hug her; she could get it. She could not stop smiling, and obviously, he looked irritated by the taunting expressions she so succinctly wore. There were those rare moments, that generation after generation, young men and women lived through, cherished and kept enduringly safe, deep down their memory lane.

Their eye-to-eye talk was subdued and silent. Both could read the meanings of their unspoken expressions. Her brother came forward, held her hands, and led her to climb the steps of the stage. His one hand was over her shoulder. He was still the cute little sibling whom she loved so much. Now he was grown up and big enough to protect her, she thought playfully. Her eyes were on his face, smiling, yet her eyes became wet.

As soon as she reached, the smiling face at the mandap caught herglance.She could see his face glowing with happiness.The priest began reciting the hymns and rituals. She didn’t understand much;she had only seen these mainly on the Bollywood screens.

When the time came to tie the knot, he came forward, smiling and reading her face. He opened an embellished slender box that held a beautiful thin chain with tiny black beads and a pendant. He kept his word! “The chain was fragile and cute. He did not want the remembrance of our matrimony to be heavy on me!”, she thought.

The flower shower distracted them, and they looked around. Rituals continued for a few more minutes. He came forward and whispered in her ears,“And now I am legally your loving husband.”

She just poked his nose and said, “Oh, is that so? Then I am your lovely wife for life”. Her voice was a little louder.  The gathering broke into a spontaneous laughter.

May be years later, she would narrate the experience to her daughter, possibly even as she gets ready to ascend the steps to her own wedding ceremony. Life is like that, enriched with fun, love and sweet recollections.

Becoming A Kindle Addict

From Paperbacks To Kindle – A Journey.

I know many won’t digest the idea of kindle and ebooks, their excuses would be the feel of touching a real book, the smell of it, etc etc. I am sorry mate you are pathetic if you are still stuck to those illusions. Well hold the bricks before you throw them at me, listen to my reasoning or rather the journey and decide. As of now keep that brick down, it won’t be a comforting experience to hold weight and grudge while I takes you through my journey, the journey that made me a Kindle Addict. 

 When I started off I was also like many of the so called readers. I adored the used books, their color, and their time travel. It was my dad who introduced me to reading English books and about the device called Kindle Ebook reader. When I was uprooted from my native ( Malayalam Media School ) to the city I call Las Vegas of South Asia, Chennai, I was thrown into a whirlwind where I had no clue, because I had Malayalam as my second language while rest of the subjects were in English, and the language was truly foreign to me. It was my Dad who insisted that it could be drubbed by hard work; he was a man of positivity and hopes. He gave me 50 rupees, to buy the used books so that I could read and become acquainted with the language, at that point I was little aware that he was handing over a key to endless possibilities and probabilities. That’s how I embark upon the journey into the English literature.   

After considerable amount of reading and with time, I became close to a book vendor. He had a small set up of used books that included mostly dog eared academic books, at the roadside. His knowledge about the authors was spellbinding; I looked at him with a child like excitement. The bond was so good that I used to assist him by selling books when he had his lunch. That bonding helped me to take a book from his collections and I replaced it for the previous purchase I made.  Like barter, after that point books were exchanged for books, no money involved. And it was my favourite outing on my bicycle which was scheduled once a week.  

Life started to blossom into springs even during the autumns, why not? when your best friends are books, casting tons of magic with words.

As days went on after graduations I got placed into the banking sector. To my surprise reading was still pushing me harder to fight back and knock off the challenges life threw at me consistently. If it were not for books, I don’t know I would have lost the battle long ago and probably wouldn’t be writing about these in this article. 

I remember it vividly, the day, when Dad came back from one of his official trips; he was trying to explain about a device for reading. He discovered this device during his train journey. I had no clue, I suggested that it must be an iPad, which has multiple uses, and obviously I’m not going to sacrifice my kidney to get that unaffordable device from apple. Dad being my Dad was not convinced, we carried forward that topic to discuss it over the chai and pakodas made by mom, and it was raining. 

Following Sunday dad was shouting Eureka Eureka almost I doubted that he got possessed by Archimedes, the ancient Greek Mathematician, but the difference was, it was in Malayalam, which went like, Eda! Eda! Ithanu Njan Paranja Sadanam!! Which loosely translates into, this is the device that I indicated on that day! He was surely excited. I looked into the Sunday times; into the newspaper he was holding towards me as a proof that solved a murder mystery. 

That was the advertisement for Amazon Kindle Devices, the very basic variant cost about 5999/-

It was love at first sight; I was completely drawn into its magic. The next strategic move was Window shopping! The sales executive was so excited, he explained everything about the device, which made me feel like owning this is everything. 

 Now I know the target, the next move was crucial, saving ‘the money’ to own one. I informed dad that I am planning to buy one of the devices he introduced. He said nothing but smiled. Mom was furious, she thought I am getting an unwanted member that doesn’t fit into our lower middle class households, and she insisted investment in gold is the wisest, the usual malayalayee’s mentality. We weren’t surprised; me and Dad exchanged the looks and said nothing, never squabble with a woman, especially Mom!  

After two months of waiting, I owned the basic variant, it really meant the world to me, and my reading experience was enhanced to a new horizon. The reading pace increased drastically, I carried it to wherever I went. The best part is you find it surprisingly captivating that you can almost have an ebook of any time period of which the paperbacks aren’t available for. You can shop at the comfort of your living room, sipping a cup of tea, Tada! The book is delivered to your device in less than 60 seconds. There are so many advantages, one will discover only after owning and experiencing it. Am not against paperbacks, but Ebooks are economical and the diversified searching takes you to surrender yourself to books and authors you have never heard about. 

Two years back I upgraded my Kindle to PaperWhite and still it has not lost its charm. I do buy used books but the ratio is like 2:8 to kindle. It is going to be seven years, I lost my Dad, and sometimes I find him, if not then keep trying, to find him in each bit of words I devour, I dedicate this article to the Man, the Super Human, who introduced me to many good habits, one of them to the world of English literature and Kindle. 

The Lockdown Stories

Greetings to all!

While the whole world has been going through a crisis that probably strikes every 100 years, we all felt helpless, sad, dejected and emotional. Cities, countries and continents came to a standstill with lockdowns and curfews. Yet, some of us found solace in cooking, others found comfort in reading and writing. Some went back to painting and gardening. 

We can say that most of us went back to our old habits and hobbies which we had left behind in the race of living.

Keeping in mind, the creativity and feelings in everyone’s hearts, Paperbacks Publishing House came up with the idea of a book based on the stories and expressions which people would like to share keeping the lockdown in mind. And that led to ‘The Lockdown Stories’.

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We are extremely happy to announce that the first book by our Publishing House, will be a collection of articles from touching stories to eulogies. These write ups have come from different corners of the country and include authors of different age groups. 

The collection has turned out to be quite a fascinating assortment of thoughts, feelings and ideas. We are hopeful that this one will cater to the needs of every reader and will leave a lasting impression by the time you turn over the last page. 

We are extremely grateful to the writers for sending in such amazing entries that we had a tough time selecting the best of them. We are excited to bring it out for you and hope you’ll be equally excited to lay your hands on it!

Very soon, we will be announcing the release date. Till then, stay home.Stay Safe.

Editor – In – Chief

Syeda Faiza Rasheed