These anklets lack lustre

These anklets lack lustre

Well, lots of interesting material for your story, if your characters are blessed with some good memory and have lived rich, eventful lives. Add to it an element of suspense that adds new dimension to the main theme of the book and you have got a great recipe for interesting fiction. Ministhy Dileep’s debut novel Anklets at Sunset has all the ingredients for an exciting story, but alas, like in the art of cooking, good fiction is not just about having the right ingredients, but mixing them well to produce an enticing read!
   
Sivan Nair, through whose eyes unfolds the story of Anklets at Sunset, Ali and Sharma are three friends in their twilight years, each experiencing the loneliness and melancholy of old age in varying degrees in their lives. Thanks to Nair’s preference for silence over words, Ali’s lifeless eyes and Sharma’s lack of hearing, they are affectionately called ‘three monkeys’ by all, a title which they deserve with little effort on their part as their age naturally keeps them away from participating in anything evil.

Having made peace with the realisation that they have become obsolete in a world that has no time or sensitivity to spare for older people like them, their only luxurious indulgence is watching the world go by sitting on the park bench every evening. Leela, the local prostitute whose appearance at the park everyday is something that they eagerly wait for, is one of the very few persons who bring a little colour and imagination to the otherwise bland lives of the trio. But they are jolted out of their monotonous pace of life when Leela’s association with a mysterious young man leads to some shocking events to take place.

The author makes a half-hearted attempt to give a new dimension to the story with this twist in the tale, but fails to produce the desired effect. Neither does this suspense element add any depth to the story nor does it blend well with the original theme, and it is also handled in a juvenile way.

The delightful moments in Anklets at Sunset are provided in the form of Sivan Nair’s musings about his past, his childhood in Kerala replete with anecdotes on the traditional ways of life, the food and culture of God’s own country. His quiet sufferings at the hands of his insensitive family thanks to his old age are also depicted touchingly in the book.
But just when the reader is beginning to hope that the following pages will do justice to these promising parts in the book, the author goes ahead and ruins her prospects with some shabbily portrayed events. And all the reader is left with is a sense of disbelief at how a sensible narration in the first part of the book that could have culminated in a meaningful completion is marred by the author’s slipshod indulgence in some out-of-place twist to the story.

Though Anklets at Sunset shines in parts thanks to the sensitivity and humour that occasionally lace the narrative, the lack of consistency in storytelling lets down the book.


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