|Mequitta Ahuja: Seated Scribe (oil on canvas, 84”x80”, 2015)|
We released Out of Print 22 in March with nine diverse works.
K P Purnachandra Tejasvi’s An Indentured Spirit, translated by Chandan Gowda is set in the estates around Chikmagalur. It examines the not always comfortable intersection between the estate owner’s rational thinking, and the ‘thoughts, logic and intelligence, and the beliefs that suffused … [the] blood’ of Maara, an elderly watchman.
Two stories address crime, both set coincidentally in Tamilnadu. Karivardan by V Sanjay Kumar, is set in the slum underworld in Chennai and is an excerpt from his forthcoming novel Accustomed Earth. The story, about the rise of a new don is woven with multiple narrative threads that range from brutal to affectionate. Thalaivar versus the Killer Toddlers is a graphic work. When the story by Pravin Vemuri was being reviewed in late 2015, editor Ram Sadasiv was inspired to illustrate it. The resulting piece, a mad super hero story with pictures of Thalaivar is simultaneously a critique and a comic.
Bikram Sharma’s Family Tapestry is about a young man and his grandfather and the bond of affection between the two. It is also about the young man coming to terms with his father’s loss. Interspersing boyhood memory with the narrative, the story is finely told and deeply evocative.
Beautiful by Kamalakshi Mehta bears a similarity to the story of Miss Tapna in Out of Print 19. It too tells the tale of a young woman who finds a way out of an untenable situation through the possibilities offered by working in a beauty parlour.
Uma Parameswaran’s Sridevi is from her project, Maru’s Memoirs. Set in the late 1960s, the uncompromising social prejudices that dominate a middle class neighbourhood emerge through the story of a young family.
In the next story, Enrolment by Ajay Patri, a timid young man from Bidar and a young man from Bangalore with a sense of entitlement are at a government office awaiting enrolment in the bar council. The different ways they respond to discovering the enrolment has been postponed are a view into character and social differences.
Aravind Jayan’s narrator in Trickle, recounts to his wife a somewhat suffocating encounter with a high school friend in a late-night coffee bar. Through it he examines who he was when he was young, and the anxieties that coloured his youth. Rihan Najib’s An Age of Prudence is also about the discords and difficulties of growing up. Sister and brother are penitent and try and find a conscience to guide them through the obstacle-ridden course to prudence and find that even though their mother ‘lends us her God to help’ them, they ‘need more’.
The artwork is by Mequitta Ahuja, a contemporary American painter of African American and Indian descent who resides in Baltimore. Her biography may be accessed in the Editor’s Note.