Pathways to varied romances

The Atlas of Love is a compilation of 16 romance stories that takes a look at many different relationships — from the average to the cute to the unusual to the unconventional. There’s tragedy and hope, as well as strange incidents and the inexplicable dynamics of romance.

The verbose opening story, “Phoenix Mills”, by Aurodeep Nandi, is the story of a young man and a mall. His relationships begin and end with the mall, and each of them leaves him questing for more. “Just One Glance” by Rhiti Bose is the story of 15-year-old Ayesha’s hopes.
Cecile Rischmann’s “Jilted” follows Stefani, who’s attending an ex-boyfriend’s wedding — a ceremony, she realises may just be her ticket to freedom. “The Unseen Boundaries of Love” by Debosmita Nandy appears tragic. “The Library” by Tarunima Mago reveals surprising circumstances for a rendezvous. The concept of finding mysterious notes in a book is interesting. It could have, however, used better editing.

Each story in the anthology is different, and not all stories emphasise a happy ending, or a walk into the sunset. And, without a doubt, not all stories are of the same calibre. Some, like “Rock My Ass!” by Shoma Chakraborty, while strong in the beginning, peter out into passiveness. “The Impasse” by Aabhishek Patwari effectively captures a man’s indifference to his near-perfect wife, until her death. “Mixed Exotica Goes to the Party” by Sheila Kumar focuses on many things, including the experiences of the half-Indian, half-Welsh Anjolie Sabharwal.

Abhishek Mukherjee’s “There’s Something About Karen”, while abrupt and unconvincing towards the end, takes an eerie look at a lonely man’s mind, and his tendency to hallucinate. Anita Sarkar’s “The Affair” reveals its strong-willed heroine Namita, a character well drawn out in a short tale, and Meera Rajagopalan’s “When You Least Expect It” is an intriguing story of an unusual marriage, with a twist in the tale.

“Urmila” by Sudha Subramanian is distinct in its take on mythology, although the story itself could have used tighter writing and a little less frivolous dialogue. The story also suffers from a few anachronistic references  that do not blend in well. Roshan Radhakrishnan’s “Blossoms” is the story of a school crush, a pretty girl and a surprise bouquet, a light story of a schoolboy’s dream.

In “Death of a Widower”, Monidipa Mondal attempts to weave a terrorist attack and a man’s attempt to move on from the implications. Vivan Joshi’s characterisation is certainly well done, as is his response to nosy neighbours and their nosier questions.

Aarti Venkatraman tries to explore the dangers of a man’s obsession with his wife in “Post Coital Cigarette”, which, unfortunately suffers from a contrived and laboured writing style.

In “Siddharth”, by Pooja Pillai, the young protagonist is fascinated by the mysterious and rebellious Siddharth, the boy who sang badly and didn’t care, who spoke of studies abroad and great dreams. “Siddharth” is a well written tale.

As a whole, An Atlas of Love is a compilation of diverse themes and differing storylines, each with the author’s take on the concept of romance. The themes presented in the book aren’t necessarily exceptional, nor are they all examples of exemplary romance. And yet, most of them have an idea or revelation that sets them apart from each other whilst providing for a quick read.

An Atlas of Love
Edited by Anuja Chauhan
Rupa
2013
pp 188
Rs 195

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