Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Seven fine stories grace Issue 31 of Out of Print.

In Mridula Garg’s ‘Seven Little Rooms’, flawlessly translated by the author herself, a tourist road through the hills takes a twist into an ancient tale. Crossing boundaries between many different worlds, the clean tonal quality of the writing only enhances the disconcerting sense of anxiety that pervades the story.

Neera Kashyap’s ‘Dual Awakenings’ returns to a theme that occupies her – a woman struggling with repeated miscarriages finds comprehension after a visit to a place of profound spiritual significance. The complexities she faces that begin to find understanding through a chance dialogue are finely explored.

As in the above two stories, we are thrown once again into old, wild landscapes in LC Sumithra’s ‘kanivemane.com’ translated with careful attention to the author’s particular style and cultural sensibilities by Sushumna Kannan. As an old man’s beloved home in the Malnad is converted into a homestay, the responses of the people who are variously touched by the place are captured with extraordinary insight.

We are taken from the ancient to a burnt dystopian future by Salvatore Difalco’s ‘Time of the Djinns’. In desperate search of food, Dr Ram, a chiropractor, wanders his corner of the city. While his senses aggressively assaulted by different odours and by the argumentative voice in his head, he encounters a djinn, who seems to be his nemesis.

A layered tale of family and mystery, Barnali Ray Shukla’s ‘Pickpocket’ is driven by the strong personality of the narrator’s voice. A woman deals with the mysterious death of a distant uncle and the guilt of having not kept up with his wife, even as she prepares a party for her soldier husband who is returning after four months beyond the grid.

The final two stories enter the inner thoughts of two young women at different points in the spectrum of seeking love. In ‘The Monk’ by Prashila Naik, a college student deals with her all-encompassing infatuation with a one of her classmates. Is she noticed, has he seen her? Compelled by these questions, she follows him home! Komal Singh in ‘Dear Future Self’, on the other hand, must decide how to respond to an eager beaux, a good man but one for whom she feels no attraction. Will she choose safety, stability and a prosperous life in ‘clean and quiet’ suburbia or return, once again, to loneliness?

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