This review by Trisha Ray is a part of Readers Cosmos Book Review Programme. You can follow them on Twitter for interesting book updates and free books.
A book of short stories is often a difficult feat to pull off. The reader usually comes away with lasting impressions (if any) of only a few of the numerous tales in a compilation. However, Gita V Reddy has written some really brilliant and memorable stories. We get glimpses into the lives of vibrant, fleshed-out characters, animated by desires and motives that we all can understand.
The author explores the many facets of life- choices and consequences, heartbreak, longing, chaos, doubt, friendships and family. Some stories will leave you smiling; others may even elicit an “Amen”.
Many of her stories have a strong feminist theme, but for the most part each one is distinct.
Four friends from Art school - Amit, Smriti, Yashwant and Shree, having achieved varying levels of success, meet one weekend to determine whose skill is the most “superior”. They all come away from the experience, irreversibly changed. The story unexpectedly turns into a philosophical musing on the purpose of life and what drives creative endeavours. The premise is brilliant, but fails to leave a lasting impression, being limited by the format of a short story.
The wife of a famous actor finds herself in a precarious position as she struggles with her husband’s deteriorating mental state. Devika dives into an intricate game of chess with her husband, as she tries desperately to keep his sanity intact. The twist ending is a slightly clichéd but still heart-warming testament to selfless love.
Sita calls out desperately to her mother, as she loses her children to the man she had once loved. We get a new perspective on the epic Ramayana, detailing the series of events that took place after the triumphant return from Lanka that culminated in Sita’s death. Sita bemoans the loss of her Ram, a man capable of great love and generosity to Rama Chandra, the dutiful king, who prioritises his subjects over all else. She finds that nothing can ever be the same as it was in the happy early days of the exile. This theme is without doubt very fashionable now, but discussions of strong female characters destroyed by “honour” and bigotry are needed in modern discourse.
Ms Reddy can tell compelling stories. Her words flow pleasingly, and with the rise in hyper-minimalist language that accompanied social media, her well-constructed prose was a much-needed reaffirmation of the power of good, clean language. Not once did I feel bored, and I almost wish there were more. I look forward to a full-length novel from her.