Many of my friends and fellow bloggers stay away from short stories. But I enjoy reading them. Writing a short story is an art in itself. It is difficult to create a world, pull in the reader and make him care for the protagonist in so few words. But a good story writer does exactly that. And when you read a good story, you want to linger a little longer, to stay in the same brief world and savour the beauty of it. It should leave you with more questions as you begin to care and feel for the characters.
Tejaswini Apte-Rahm’s book is a delight. The writing is top-notch. It reminded me of Jerry Pinto’s writing. The book has 10 short stories. Each story is unique. All the stories are excellent. But I will highlight the stories I loved.
The Mall : A rich female shopper gets lost in a shopping mall. She goes to the mall to buy things she doesn’t want which is a pea colored dress. She gets it and then decides to get pea colored shoes to go with it. She gets lost in the mall trying to find a way out. She is directed by people to go to the 5th floor or the 3rd floor or to find a door at the end of another shop as there are no other exit doors. Unable to go home, she lives in the mall for months. Since she has money, her daily wants are taken care of. She calls her friend who is in the mall to rescue her, but she too leaves after some time. The shopper then follows someone who is on the way out only to be roughed up for stalking. She even feigns a medical emergency assuming the ambulance people will take her out, but fails again. The narrator’s antics are funny, desperate and sad at times. You are reminded of the “poor little rich girl”. She has all the money in the world to buy whatever she wants, yet no one loves her or misses her enough to come and look for her. Does it remind you of Facebook and Twitter followers?
The Girl who loved Dean Martin : A girl discovers her dead father’s stack of records of Dean Martin and falls in love with his songs. Or is it him? She is happiest when listening to his songs. Even when someone loves her and wants to marry her, she backs out. The girl is in love with Dean Martin. She says she cannot betray Dean Martin, even though he was dead long before she was born. This is a beautiful triangular love story. The ending is different from what I hoped.
Drinks at Seven : This was one of my favourites. The story has many layers. It is about two couples. The husbands want to be successful and in the process, they are completely ignorant about their wives’ lives. With a little twist in it which makes you wonder, “are they” or “are they not” cheating each other and also one another. I enjoyed reading this delicate story.
Sandalwood : After 17 years and 2 teenaged children, the narrator’s husband discovers he is gay. He wants his boyfriend, Chandan, to move into the house and the wife to move out. The wife had slogged all her life for the betterment of the family giving up her own wishes. And the husband now finds her boring as she has no personality, or social circle. Thrown out of the house with no job prospects, she feels lost. Excellent story and very realistic.
Mili : The narrator’s ex-girlfriend suddenly drops in on him when his fiancée is away. The narrator is hopeful of a reunion but also guilty about betraying his wife-to-be Raima. They go around for two days to all the places they hung around, eating food they loved and even getting close as if they never parted. But then, why did Mili come to meet him? He knew she was a divorcee. Did she want to rekindle their romance? Did he love Mili enough to leave Raima? Or did they just want a fling for old times’ sake? Then why? Intriguing story and again very real.
These circuses that sweep through the landscape : The namesake of the book is the best story. The story is from the perspective of both the characters in the story. One of them is a brilliant architect and the other is his mediocre mentee. The mentee feels let down by his mentor. But the mentor feels that the mentee is not as brilliant as he had once thought. They have different thoughts, but speak politely to keep up pretenses. The story was thoroughly enjoyable.
If you want to read a good book of short stories this year, get this one.
I received a copy of this book from Writers Melon in exchange for an honest review.