Made of monsoon

Made of monsoon

Made of monsoon

Going Home in the Rain and Other Stories 
Monideepa Sahu
Kitaab 2016, pp 101, Rs 295

The 14 tales in Monideepa Sahu’s collection of short stories, Going Home in the Rain and Other Stories, observe the vagaries of the human mind through the whimsical and the tragic, and through the myriad experiences of the characters’ lives. Loss and joy, longing and nostalgia, even flights of fancy — all of them find a place in the stories.

The first story, A Royal Tour, has at its centre a mother and a son. The son, Siddhartha, is preparing to leave home for medical school. The wistfulness of a mother reminiscing about her younger days  when she was barely older than her son, who’s now suddenly grown up, is captured well in the story. The sights and sounds of Mysuru are described in detail.

Road Kill, about speeding on the roads, is quite effective in what it tries to convey, even if it does end rather abruptly. Hoshi’s Bombay is about a man and his unusual newspaper collection, and the events of the past that has led him to the hobby. This story has a lot of events thrown in, including a depiction of communal tension. It does seem like some of these were included for the sake of social commentary. The interplay of incidents and how they affect the protagonist could have been smoother.

There are rains and the protagonist’s daydreams, and a thin man in Monsoon. Unfortunately, this very short story seems to just end without much clarity. Going Home in the Rain appears to have the same protagonist as Monsoon. There are rains here too, and a cheery auto driver who may or may not be a shady character. Then there’s Bus Stop, and the characters — the protagonist, the landlady and the thin man — reappear. And again, there are rains.

The above three stories share the recurring theme of a protagonist trying to get somewhere during the monsoon. The thin man appears in two of the three stories; landlady Mrs Britto appears in all the three stories. Some expressions are repetitive, such as “ bulldog-faced office manager will mark me late again...” on page 31, and “...that busybody of a head clerk will mark me late again...” on page 46. Perhaps these characters and threads are meant to link the stories together; however, as they are, they seem to lack continuity and lucidity.

Mother looks at the twisted psyche of its character, a mother-to-be. Breakfast has a girl struggling with an overbearing mother. Dhatura has Surpanakha from the Ramayana as its protagonist. This story, while interesting in premise, is full of peculiar anachronisms that include references to clockwork toys and plastic, and a nuclear winter. Many of the protagonist’s declarations throughout Dhatura could have been handled with greater subtlety and maturity.

Flowers and Paper Boats takes on the theme of a young man and his dreams, both of career and romance, quite well. Nikhil and Renuka, and even Lori, are well characterised. On the Spot and Hot Chillies have memories as the theme, but they are both different. One the Spot has a dash of humour, and Hot Chillies has tragedy. Pishi’s Room is an intriguing tale of an old woman and a girl, and a generational gap that might not be as wide as the girl first thought it was. Gopal, of The Tainted Canvas, discovers that not all the world is as devoted to art as he is, or as honest.

Overall, Going Home in the Rain and Other Stories is a short and interesting read that could have used crisper writing.

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