Friday, July 27, 2018

Premise: 'Supplication' and 'Dual Awakenings' by Neera Kashyap reviewed by Vandana Devi

Dual Awakenings and Supplication by Neera Kashyap
Reviewed by Vandana Devi

Neera Kashyap tugs at our heartstrings when she encompasses her whole stories with the theme of faith. Her belief in a higher power and her appeals to female goddesses and female saints are quite melancholic in nature. So are her stories ‘Dual Awakenings’ and ‘Supplication’.

Both her stories contain historical sites and myths that makes it seem like there is a story within a story. When her characters search for these goddesses and saints, she leaves a trail of description of these religious sites that are quite extensive, leaving us with the feeling that we too have taken a trip alongside these characters to these beautiful places of worship.

In ‘Supplication’, the narrator goes in search of the dargah of a woman saint. She takes the readers along, as she smells the fragrance, feels the silence and sees the dimly lit place. In the prayer room of Mai Sahiba, the reason for her exhaustion is finally revealed and the desperation can be understood deeply when she says ‘I don’t want the courage to cope’. The story is not just about acceptance of fate. It is also about the realisation that faith can give us the strength to accept our fate.

In ‘Dual Awakenings’, the narrator goes on a similar trip to find the idol of a goddess of fertility. Neera Kashyap too evolves as a writer and her prose seems similar, but better. This slightly longer story has beautiful descriptions of caves and seas. The goddess Hariti’s power seems to pour through the writing into the reader as well. She spells out the pain of motherhood and loss with hauntingly beautiful prose.

Neera Kashyap writes strong female characters who are independent in their search for meaning. They have support mechanisms as friends and partners, but they also have a sense of inherent loneliness in them which makes the contexts of the stories more believable.

As a reader, I enjoyed both of Neera Kashyap’s stories because in this day and age, most people especially in urban settings, tend to forget the comfort of faith and this is what these stories remind us.

Reviewer Vandana Devi is an intern at Out of Print.

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