O&S Publishing

Introducing the second author from our upcoming Sincere Forms of Flattery, the dashing wordsmith, Kailash Srinivasan.

1. Describe yourself in three sentences. Each sentence can only contain six words. One of these sentences must contain alliteration.

Bookstore’s my Disneyland, stories, my ride.

Love laughingly lamenting lilting leads.

Drink, travel, live like its Yuletide.

2. What in God’s name made you want to be a writer?

I ask myself this very question every day. My father gave me a queer look when I said I wanted to pursue literature, instead of commerce or science, like he did. But he came around. I have always loved stories and can’t imagine being away from them. Not everyone has the time to listen to you speak your mind; Not everyone has the patience to keep quiet while you’re talking; Not everyone has the depth or maturity to unravel your mind, or the sensitivity to…

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Book Launch of Urban Shots: Love Collection

It’s just a book launch, I told myself. That was a lie. It was a BOOK LAUNCH. But then I thought, Ah, well I have been to a few before, poof! Why should this be any different? Well for starters, I was usually on this side of the panel. This side, meaning, the audience side. And I’d still feel nervous about putting forth a question to them Gods with answers to everything in their books. What if the question came out wrong? What if I spoke so fast, and gibberish, not words, spewed from my mouth? I am not one of those who could simply say, “Oops, what am I saying? This is what I meant.” I would just barge through the conversation, like an Army Tanker through a field of Tulips.

So now they tell me I am going to be on the other side of the panel. Yikesabee!! I calmed myself down by saying, Well, there will be other authors there so I’d be safe in their collective presence. The night before, I exchanged a few texts with another author friend who was going to be there also. She was going bananas and was close to the point of not turning up at all. She was thinking of excuses. “I’d say I am an Agoraphobic and that I can’t be anywhere near public places,” she said. Seeing her in that state, something changed within me. Her fear made me swallow mine. Suddenly, I felt brave and putting on a swaggering display of courage, I said, “Nothing doing. Don’t be stupid. I’ll see you there at six.”

The day of the launch was upon me. I was heading there after work. There had already been three date changes from the publisher’s end before they settled on Feb 22. In my head, there was still a tiny chance that they would postpone things again. Part of the reason was there seemed to be no publicity. I texted my friend again.

“Not happening it seems,” I said. “There’s no dope on the event.”

“Oh. Shoot. Well, let me know in case you hear anything.”

I shot a few emails to the organizers who said it was most certainly happening today.

“It’s on,” I said to my friend.

“Oh shit,” she said.

At work, my boss gauging my mood, said, “Why are you pacing around like a pregnant cat?”

“Sorry, I just have this small thing in the evening.”

“What small thing?”

“Nothing, just a small book launch. Very small, actually. I don’t even know why I am going.”

“Oh, man up, Nancy. You’ve done this before.”

On the way to the bookstore, I kept thinking about all the things that could possibly go wrong: What if I got the date wrong? or maybe they are going to call me right now and say: There’s been a slight mistake. Your story was never part of the book. To make matters worse I followed a colleagues advice and took the shortcut he’d suggested. “It will cut your travel time by 30 mins,” he announced proudly. It did cut my traveling time, but it also made me even more nervous. I didn’t want to be that first guy on stage at an audition. Everyone is aware, everyone is alert. But you don’t want to be the last guy either. People are bored and eager to know when they can leave.

Upon reaching there I realized I was famished. It was better, I thought, to be ten minutes late than reach on time and sit through the entire evening with strange sounds emanating from my stomach. So I grabbed a falafel roll, which distressingly, turned out to be stale. I chomped it down anyway, tossing half of it in the bin. I paid the guy hurriedly and rushed back to the store.

Fortunately, I wasn’t the first one. Phew! I met my friend by the Gondola, where our books were stacked in the shape of a spiraling staircase, glistening like a snake under white lights. She thumbed through the book and held open for my benefit, the page that announced my story and my name. Writers should be like misers, I think. Just like every single penny makes them happy, every single, published story should make us swoon with pride. She squealed. I squealed. She leafed through to her story and started reading it like she was some third person, as if she had only just come across it.

Soon it was time to take our seats. Breathe.Breathe. My friend sat next to me and kept mumbling, “God, this is so embarrassing. Look at all these people looking at us. I don’t know why I even came,” while I just tried to keep a low profile by sinking lower than needed in my chair. After the initial introduction, and reading of passages, the book’s editor questioned every author on the panel, seven in all, about the story behind writing their respective stories. Later, the audiences were allowed to ask a few questions of their own, and there in the back row, I saw my parents proudly sitting through the proceedings.

As the evening progressed I realized I was fretting over nothing. This wasn’t so bad after all. I could get used to this. I was high on happiness. One, I was on the other side of the panel and two, there were people in the audience who had come to listen to us speak and get their books signed. It was a proud moment. Cameras were flashing, people were applauding, and then they came up to talk to us, shake our hands.

Another friend joined us for the evening as we wrapped up a great night with a delicious platter of succulent kebabs and humongous mugs of chilled goodness — Beer.

I wrote the story, High Time, as part of a short story writing competition organized by GreyOak publishers and Landmark bookstores. i was chuffed when the results were announced. High Time was also a Bookchums pick.

About the Publishers

GreyOak are relatively new in the field of publishing and have published a dozen titles. One of the distinct things about them is that they have a strong focus on writing and stories about India and/ or by Indian writers. Below is an excerpt from my story for the aforementioned anthology.

High Time is a story about a young Iyer bloke who is pestered by his parents to get hitched. Since he won’t agree otherwise, they trick him into meeting this girl. However, things don’t go as planned.


Muralikrishnan Iyer– or Krish to his friends – had turned thirty this morning. He had only just opened his eyes when his mother waltzed into his room with the biggest smile on her face.

‘Kanna,’ she cooed – an endearment she reserved for moments when there was a favour to be asked, or a touchy subject to be trod upon. ‘The good lord should save you from all evil eyes. Happy birthday, Kanna,’ she said and cupped his face in her hands, while Krish squirmed uncomfortably. ‘What, huh? What? So now that you’re thirty, your mother isn’t allowed to show any affection?’

‘Amma, please, can you just…’

‘What? Leave you alone? Okay, fine. Get ready. We’re going to Sushila Maami’s house.’

‘I am not going anywhere. I have plans.’

‘Nothing doing. You’re coming with us. I have already given my word to Sushila Maami. And Aunty has been phoning me day in, day out asking whether I’ll bring you along. Also, she wants you to sing for her some of your Sai bhajans when we’re there.’

‘What nonsense? But how can you promise someone on my behalf? I get one day from work, one day, and I have to do all this socialising with people I don’t even care about?’ Krish flung the sheets aside and stormed out of the room.

She followed him to the washbasin and spoke as he brushed. ‘Well, you might not care about her, but she loves you like her own son.’

‘Dad. Dad!’ Krish called and went to where his father was reading the newspaper. ‘Did you listen to what she just said? Tell her this is not done.’

‘What do you do for this house? Do you do dusting? Wash clothes? Buy vegetables? I mean, what do you actually do for this house?’ his father said, his tone unusually dramatic, like that of the characters from those Tamil serials he watched on Sun TV.

‘What? Wait, where’s this coming from? I’m saying something else and you are talking about something entirely different.’

‘We ask you to do one thing and you are creating such a scene. I don’t understand why.’

‘I… I…What? Never mind.’

‘Wear your kurta pyjama, that blue one. Dress decently for once.’

Krish threw up his arms. ‘Are you both even listening to what I’m saying? I don’t want to go. Period.’ He went into his room and slammed the door shut, wondering whether he’d ever have his own place and the much needed privacy.


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Title Wars: The Battle Between Publisher and Author Over a Title

How do authors settle on a title? Surely, it is not as difficult as facing the dreaded blank page. You have already made past the desert and have found the oasis. The manuscript, like a pimple, is ready for a home. Rather it already knows where it wants to go. If only one can decide upon a title.

I am no genius, unlike some authors, whose advice is to have a title first and then write the story. To me that sounds more like opening the parachute even before jumping off the plane. Why should I vote without knowing the candidates contesting in the elections? I need my story first.

So I have the story. Now what? Then my job is to identify the core theme of the story. Let’s say the story is about a spinster. The recurring theme could be her marriage. Now I try and figure out what is it that is holding it all together? Is it one special moment? Something that the protagonist says or feels or experiences? Or should I use a metaphoric title that represents the story in the best manner? And so on.

It certainly is not nuclear research, this title settling business. Mostly, it will be apparent, like indigestion. But with some pieces you will have to work a bit more to get there and occasionally, a short story or a novel will make you work the hardest that you ever have. Presently, I’m going through one of those “occasions”.

My second book is almost ready for release. It has already gone through several acid tests and from an original eighty-five thousand epic masterpiece, has sat on the gas long enough to boil down to a much muscular sixty-thousand words.But  the hardest part for me hasn’t been writing the book, for two reasons – one, I wrote this much quicker than I wrote my first. For the obvious reason that the former was a short story collection, while this is a novel. And secondly, the story almost wrote itself. The hardest part, in fact, has been deciding on a bloody title.

Why has it been so hard to decide on a title for this book? I have no clue. I know the story. I understand the characters. I bloody well wrote it. Just when I’d think, Ah, this is an appropriate title, my publisher gets back saying, I’m sorry. I don’t think this works. Look at this, instead. She and I have been going back and forth over this. She has been rejecting the ones I have been sending her and I have been discarding hers.

The other day she emailed me another suggestion for a title and seemed excited about it. She said the title was suitable because it highlighted the love interest of the protagonist and showed her importance in his life. Also, she said, the title was different and new. Though initially I was drawn to it, I didn’t act on that impulse straight away. I slept on it for two days. I asked around, checked with my friends and got a mixed response. One said it was interesting, the other said it was a run-of-the-mill title. I said the publisher thinks it was the most unconventional title ever, to which the friend said, As a reader I won’t be much intrigued. Someone said, Eeeks. And though they had no idea about what the book was about (partly because I haven’t revealed much), they vehemently commented on the choice of title.

The title is vital. It is the first thing that a reader lays his eyes on. Gives him a glimpse, if you will, a gist of the novel in one to four words. He will then look over the cover design. Then he will flip to the back page of the book, read the synopsis and if he likes that, he will arrive at the first page, but will carry on further only if you hold his interest in those first few lines. And so, the title attains a great importance.

The more I thought about her suggestion, the more I felt it was not for me, not for my book.  Two days later I told her I wasn’t comfortable with her title choice, and with that, I sent her another list of probable titles. In reply, she sent me a long e-mail explaining in great detail why she thought her title was better than all the ones I sent her. She even took the trouble to break the title in parts and explain the relevance of each part. She said, Trust me. People will pick up your book. She said, I only have your best interests at heart.

In a way, it is quite heartening that she is taking such an interest in the project and not treating it like an oh-no-not-another-one. So much so that it almost feels like we are competing with each other and trying to vilify the other’s choice of titles. Why should she get to decide? As a publisher she has a say but shooting down all my ideas! Not cool.

I never expected so much discussion with her over this. I was gearing up for a grand battle when her edits had come in. But they were fine in a very anti-climax sort of way. They were aimed at enhancing the story. I didn’t have much to protest about. In fact it was her edits that transformed a Betty into a Beckett (From Castle, for the uninitiated).

So now I am gawking at this title and don’t know what to do. It seems okay but doesn’t seem okay. It looks like it is going down the chick-lit road, and that’s my biggest apprehension. I’m thinking of agreeing and also trying to come up with a few more titles of my own at the same time. But I am blank and freaking out. She said I had to reply ASAP as she was going to print a catalogue soon with all the forthcoming titles.

“Priya and Other Do-Withoutables” (Publisher’s idea). Go or No Go?

FYI, Priya is the love interest of the protagonist and though he feels she can be done without, it really isn’t so. So sort of an underhanded humour in the title.

Going with the title, Just Another Do-Withoutable

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Stop bullshitting us

Hollywood should stop bullshitting people. Stop feeding us with a false sense of confidence and hope and romance. Because brownies don’t always have a gooey center. Romance novels are no better either. Last Kiss, Love and Other Drugs, Valentine’s Day, Love Actually, It’s Complicated, and a whole list of films that make you believe for that hour or so, that, yes, if you’re obtuse enough, if you’re expressive, persevering enough, yank your heart out and hold it in the open long enough, things can happen, love can happen, happiness is within reach. Especially now, when there are Hollywood couples that are breaking world records in courting the most number of people or staying married for the shortest while possible.

Most of these movies have spatting lovers realizing their foolishness, wishing to get back together, or ex-lovers (now single or with others, or separated for whatever reasons, infidelity being the top one), after an epiphany, rediscovering their love for each other. So we’re taken through this entire bogus journey, knowing very well where it is all going to culminate. Also, if they are seeing someone else, all of a sudden, that relationship seems loveless, as though they are sleeping with the most despicable person on this frigging planet. Oh, but he doesn’t respect me like the last fellow did. Doesn’t “value” me like he did.

There is this final scene where the audience knows that the characters are in love except the characters themselves. This scene where the hero or the heroine leaves the other’s home or office or wherever, without giving vent to their feelings. Without saying the unsaid things. Sparring and squabbling instead because they can’t believe how thick-hided the person in front of them is. How could you not see this? The weight they carry in their hearts as they walk away, or get into a taxi.

They sit in a hotel overseeing the metropolis, or at the airport thinking of all the things that could have happened or should have happened. In Bollywood, it’s running after trains in slow motion, mostly actresses (it makes for good viewing). The hero valiantly hangs on to the bar with one hand, while the other is stretched out for the girl to latch on to. He could simply pull the chain, but no, or she could get into any damn bogey in front of her, but no.

They look over at canoodling couples, the love-suffused eyes, a sweet child sandwiched between man mouth and woman mouth, old couples with wet lips, quivering hands tipping their heads together, the teary farewells. Then an old photograph of a happier time, or a note with a sappy message of love, or a highlighted paragraph in a book or a memory will wrench their heart and in that moment they will pine for their partner intensely. Mostly, both parties realize pretty much at the same time that what they are doing is stupid, that they should get their enormous egos out of their way and shadow this prospect with honesty. They will get up, grab that phone and dial their number. But no one will pick up and it will go to voice mail, or they will head back to their lover’s house and find a lock outside their door instead.

But it’s only apparent what is about to happen. The lover is standing right behind, or is at the airport, too. Or the leaver never leaves but is sitting in the waiting area, or the plane halts for some insane reason and the lovers unite with a euphoric embrace or a passionate meeting of lips. Tears, apologies, smiles, silly goose, how could you let me go?

For once, why not shove the brutal truth in the audience’s face? Why not tell them that it is f****d up? Why not show an ex-couple meeting after a long time. The long-drawn embrace, whiff of a forgotten spark. That they have come a long way. That they are not the same people any longer, veiling a broken confidence and oscillating self-worth. Getting lost on the way to finding a Thai restaurant for dinner on a 4.6 degree Celsius night, on a motorcycle. Ending up at a totally different place, eating, bantering, touching upon gray territories. Frowns, scratching past wounds, recalling good times. Driving back, gently holding on to the shoulder of the rider.

Outside her home, words come out of shivering lips, like ice cubes being dropped into a glass. She invites him up and he refuses. But accepts later. Room, warm, conversation, warmer.

‘There’s something on your cheek. Let me get it for you. There. Oh, it’s just a hair,’ he says.

‘Your sense of humor has improved. It’s relevant, much tighter, crisper,’ he says.

Then the girl yawns. ‘OK, time for me to get out. See you then.’ They embrace quickly, with the hero eager to leave.

And say, as the hero walks down the stairs, something clogs up his chest. He bumps into a skimpily-clad woman, apologizes and continues down the steps. Any other night he would have ogled. One step after the other. Every step taking him further and further. No, this can’t be it. This can’t be it. He runs back up, gasping, panting. Knocks. The girl opens the door, surprised, lets him back in.

‘I…just…can I have another hug?’

The girl looks at him strangely, and says an unsure, ‘Okkaayy.’ They hug again. He holds on tightly this time.

‘I came up because, I don’t know, I suddenly felt sick, like there’s something in here and I can’t come out with it. Look how my heart beats, like it’s on steroids.’

‘No, I believe you,’ she says.

‘No feel it,’ he says.

There’s reluctance in her eyes, her hands are on her hips. She feels his heartbeat. ‘You do realize it could be because you just ran up six floors.’

‘Yes, maybe, no. Can I have some water? I feel so nervous for some reason.’ He gulps some water from a former Cola bottle, the rim still smelling of coke.

Then in an inspired moment he reaches to kiss her. She backs away. ‘No, please, no. Let’s not complicate this.’

‘You’re right. I don’t know why I did that. I’m sorry.’

‘No need to say sorry, it is fine.’

He starts to leave. She stops him. ‘No, don’t leave like this. Sit. Please sit down.’

‘It is not fine. Just feeling a little emotional I guess.’

‘So, is it my new, improved sense of humor?’ she smiles, standing at the door.

‘Just you, but I am sorry.’ He looks here and there, his eyes darting everywhere but her face. Embarrassed he feels, humiliated, he sits on the bed, at the edge.

‘I didn’t say anything. It’s a beautiful emotion and you expressed it. In fact I’m sorry for not being able to reciprocate.’

‘I should leave,’ he says and he leaves, but not before she touches the back of his head in a you’re such a child manner.

Hollywood, learn something, be truthful, that’s the least you can do.


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When I Read a Story

When I heard about the Storytelling Champions initiative by  Pratham Books, I knew I had to be a part of it. I’ve always believed stories are a great way of enriching children’s lives and Pratham books was giving me that opportunity. It was also a great chance for the volunteers to introduce children to the joy of reading. Though I agreed to do this, I started getting jitters a few days before the reading session as this was the first time I was doing such a thing. Maya from Pratham was very helpful and quelled most of my apprehensions.

The morning of the event, which is when I usually write, was instead spent thinking about ways to conduct the session. My mind was constantly coming up with ideas to make the experience more interesting for the children.

The hour arrived and armed with my poster and books I drove to Saraswati Ashram for Children in Dapodi that is nestled in a narrow lane with houses on either side. I pushed open the blue door and was led to a tiny office. The staff then led me to an adjacent room, where I met the kids for the first time. He briefed them in Marathi as to what was going to happen and why I was there, and I noticed the sparks in their wide, attentive eyes.

I asked them to introduce themselves and some of them proudly showed off their English speaking skills, replacing at times, “My” with “I” and “I” with “Me”, saying things like, “I school is Saraswati Vidya Mandir School” or “Me in 5th class.” They stood with their arms folded, their eyes flitting left and right, feeling shy and uneasy about having to speak.

I picked out the book and showed them the cover. “I’m going to read you the story of King Cobra today,” I said, and immediately the eldest of them said, “He’s the king of snakes he is.” They even told me of their trip to the Katraj Snake Park and the names of the snakes they saw and how big they were.

When I began the story, they went absolutely quiet giving me their complete attention. I was still nervous, which incidentally came to fore when I reached the point in story where Kaala is lost and scared and his throat is parched. A kid with no front teeth said with concern at that precise moment: “Your throat seems dry. Are you scared, too?”

As I read to them, I noticed they were smart and bright children, who knew a lot about the world around them. They knew about kindness and giving and sharing. They knew they were not supposed to harm animals and that if they don’t tease or prod them, they won’t bother them either.

They were sitting in front of me when I started reading, but within a few minutes they were standing next to me, some had their hands on my shoulders, some sat close, their chins resting on my knees, while some held my arms as though they wanted to be as close to the story as possible, living and breathing every page.

As an activity, I asked them to enact the way snakes eat their prey, fight and swim across rivers; to imitate the sounds elephants and monkeys make, the way they move, their mannerisms and they did all of that with surprising accuracy and enthusiasm. I also prepared a small quiz based on the story, which almost led to a fight as all of them had answers to the questions. They all clapped at the end of the story, saying, “Too good, too good.”

I wrapped up the afternoon after taking some group photos, and a game of cricket. They all rushed to me as I was leaving and made me promise I will come again and said to me: “Bhaiya, when you come next week bring many, many, many books, okay?”

I want to thank  Pratham Books for giving me this opportunity as part of their ‘Awareness Today for a Greener Tomorrow’ campaign (in anticipation of International Year of the Forest). This experience has touched and humbled me, and made me feel so loved. I’m now considering reading to these kids on a regular basis.

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Image courtesy: Dubailime.com

Image courtesy: Dubailime.com

I hear it every morning, these sounds, like someone’s mourning: Haaaa, haaa, haaaa. But it’s only a group of old men and women congregating in the park next to my building for their laughter therapy classes. All dressed mostly in white kurta pyjama barring a few rebellious ones dressed in shorts and t-shirt exposing flabby arms and wrinkly thighs, they gather every morning for an hour to laugh. Morbid? Whoever said forcing yourself to laugh releases endorphins in your body? Our body is such a dunce? Can’t it tell that we are trying to trick it into believing that we are happy when perhaps we aren’t? It’s understandable though that they have to gather at one place, all these forced-laughers to practise their fake happiness. If they break into impromptu laughs at home, say while going to the bathroom for their regular ablutions, or the first thing in the morning, their offspring might jump at the opportunity to admit them at a mental institution.

It’s more amusing for the outsiders to watch the party of these elderly gents bending down to touch their feet and coming up laughing like they just remembered what that joke from ten years back meant. It’s not that for actual practitioners there’s no scope for proper amusement. There is.  There’s always an oddball character that’d make the funniest of faces while laughing, or they can also find humour at times in their own situation. That they are here, a part of this group, and now laughing for no apparent reason.

Is there really a scientific reason behind this? Or do these people just need an excuse to get away from their mundane routines and unhappy lives? Am I over analysing? Perhaps. But here’s what I feel. Wouldn’t it be more apt to gather to cry? In the process of actual crying, one might feel lighter, less woeful. You are replicating your true emotions. There’s no cheating of mind and body involved. You can roll on the floor, whine, beat your chest, or wail without caring if your nose is dripping or the mascara is all over your face. This till you reach a point where you have no more tears left. Won’t you actually feel good? You have cried out and now there’s no pity in your heart for yourself. You can move on. Think of saving what is left, resurrecting your life and be on the path of being truly happy. You will not be morose any longer.  You will not snap at people and probably develop a higher threshold for frustration and stupidity and injustice.

What if, similarly, people met to overcome their addiction to argue, criticize, or hate or be jealous of each other. Just gathering to voice their opinions about the mess that is life; how unfair it is.  By the end of each session you would have out-poured your capacity for argument, criticism, hatred or jealousy. You might even become a better person. If you have decided to meet once or twice a week, you will hold off all your bitterness till that particular meeting.

a) Argumentative Assholes – Next meeting on 20.02.2012 at the botanical gardens at 6:00 pm. You will be given two-minutes each to present your argument.

b) Criticizing Critters – Next meeting on 15.02.2012 at Shivaji Park at 7:00 pm. Please have your criticism jotted down neatly in a diary or have them printed.

c) Hateful Haters – Next meeting…

d) Jealous Jokers –

You get the idea.


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What Happened to That Love: Book Review

What Happened to That Love

Not for us the regular stands, we will only watch a cricket match in the VIP enclosure. Cattle class is for the herds, we travel business or first. Average is not an option when extraordinary is available as well.

When will this stop? When will this fascination with the remarkable take a turn towards the reality of our situations? When will we realize that we DO lead mundane lives? In fact, almost the same life as the person next to us.

Consider this. Playtime is supreme during childhood and late nights are a mysterious, out-of-reach goal. Then comes puberty and experimentations with our sexuality. And parents begin to turn dictators around this time. Closing the door of your bedroom can raise eyebrows quicker than a naked man on the road. College and university start knocking on that door very soon, setting the tone for future careers. Love happens in the middle of all this or after, and then marriage, kids and family life follow. Death, money troubles, divorce or disease – all make an appearance at some point. Peppering our mundane lives with a little flavor. In some lives, lessons are learnt. In others, they’re bypassed for the road more travelled.

One adjective remains constant, lurking in the shadows, ready to step into the light. Mundane never leaves.

Which is why, Kailash Srinivasan’s debut novel, What Happened to That Love, hits a chord somewhere. His collection of short stories is so commonplace that any of them could be your stories. Or mine. And he tells them too, in the most ordinary narrative.

In Anytime Now, an old couple on the brink of death clutches on to frail existence, each wanting to die before the other so that loneliness does not engulf them. Sounds familiar? How about the next story, Brownies? A man of Indian origin in Australia lives with racial prejudice and the threat of violence, wanting all the time to come back to his motherland. His turmoil and his helplessness at his situation play havoc in his own mind. Or the next – What Happened to That Love? Two people fall out of love and move on to other people. And are then struck with how fast they have been able to move on. Did they really love each other? What was their relationship about?

These are just three of the twelve tales that Srinivasan spins. With the delicate thread of life. His patterns are simple because their content is complicated enough. He doesn’t delve too far or get too creative, choosing instead a prosaic approach. He says things like they are. For instance, the protagonist of What Should I Do is a man whose ex-wife barges into his home and refuses to leave, terrorizing him and his second wife and children. He gets blamed and doesn’t know how to resolve the situation, because he loves both women. If we start counting how many real and reel life situations that have been based on that premise, we’d need several reams of paper!

Srinivasan’s other stories are similar – a village woman sells her body to feed her children when her husband is away working in the city; a couple sacrifice everything they have to educate their son and send him abroad to study and make a fine living, only to have him forget them soon after; a little girl faces physical abuse at the hands of her father; a young girl is so traumatized by her father abandoning her mother that she develops a psychological block against men, remaining a spinster all her life; a cruel and miserly village landlord organizes a feast for the villagers in order to overcome an illness, and then charges them heavy fines once he recovers; the stories go on.

There are no frills anywhere, the stories are heart-wrenching enough on their own. Srinivasan’s simplistic and lucid writing becomes his biggest weapon. He stabs you with each word. Quick incisions that aren’t deep but draw blood. The saltiness of the warm liquid fills your senses, as you realize that these stories are nothing new, but their portrayal leaves you dizzy with reaction. Hurting not just for the characters in them, but for yourself. Their mundane-ness is familiar, and you suddenly realize why you run towards the different, the exotic, the special.

It is the mundane that wrenches your gut, churns your soul. Maybe that’s why, you and I want no part of it. Absolutely none.

SOURCE: http://blog.uprack.com/

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