I’ve been reading this book slowly over the past few weeks. The author was kind enough to send me a copy. I loved the title and was happy to pick it up for reading based on the blurb. The book is a collection of seven short stories.
“When the Girl Died” throws up the Mathurs’ discomfiture when confronted with the news of a rape. In “The Messenger”, rational and cynical Aarti suddenly starts hallucinating about her late father. Young “Anuja Grows Up” as her family grapples with the skeletons tumbling out of their tightly guarded closet. In “Amma”, a celebrated classical singer is resurrected after her passing by her devoted biographer. “Finding Shobha” describes a tuition teacher’s coming to terms with her erratically fluctuating mood and her rapidly emptying nest. In “Of Swans and Songs”, an extramarital affair breaks an acclaimed surgeon’s family that then tries to mend ties and move on towards a semblance of peace. And a fortuitous coming together of generations and cultures ensures that the Limayes enjoy “A Happy Diwali”.
One of the things that appeals to me with short stories is that they tend to be quick reads while being complete by themselves. What stood out for me in the collection were the emotions of the characters, be it that of Mrs Mathur or Geeta in “When the Girl Died”, or the poignancy that is laced through the story “Amma”. These two were my favourite of the seven. The stories have this effect of making me contemplate after. The author’s love for music also finds its place in a couple of the stories. I think one of the stories stands out for that reason. At no point did I feel like the narration jarred. They kept me engaged from first page to last.
I’d have finished it sooner had I read them at a stretch instead of taking breaks between tales. I might read the collection in that way soon because it’s definitely worth another read. I hope this debut finds success and more stories come soon from her pen.
Title: Of Swans and Songs
Author: Rohini Paranjpe Sathe
Genre: Short Stories
No. of Pages: 356
Publisher: Notion Press
Rating: 8 out of 10