WRITING STYLE: 4/5
ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 4.5/5
Spinner of the Twisted Tale begins with the note, “stories if told well, open up the cosmos”. Nalini, the protagonist, keeps saying this umpteen times, but also adds that the badly told stories would shrink the universe.
The art of weaving stories comes naturally to Nalini right since she was born in this world. It is as if it comes in an unstoppable flow gushing out of her.
Filled with a promise of faraway land, the plots are intricately interwoven and if not heard carefully a casual listener might miss out on chances of understanding the inner meaning.
The story resonates between the present and the past. At present Nalini is over 90 years with a frail, weakened body but the enthusiasm and the sparkle in her eyes never faded away.
Spinner of the Twisted Tale has a wide array of characters; too many I would say, which kind of makes it a little hard to remember who is who. But thanks to the family tree, the author has presented in the beginning, makes it easier for us to make the reference.
Nalini is the fourth generation granddaughter of the priest family headed by Ramalingam. He was the head priest. Slowly, due to old age and senility, people in the village and the family noticed strange behaviour. He started blabbering inane things and was not confronted by anyone in the family due to fear. He started repeating that he was the new initiate in the storytelling chain. He was eventually confined to the vavvaal kaamra in his ancestral house that he himself had built.
He started narrating innumerable stories and on his deathbed, he calls his grandson (“Crow feet” Mahadevan) and whispers that he wishes to tell him some tales and after a long pause he continues that one day he will. That was when he breathed his last.
It is then that the grandson awaits his daughter-in-law to deliver the storyteller (Nalini). He has a wide grin every time he sees her. She reciprocates the same. She started picking up too many words to build up her vocabulary as she has the habit of going through her brother’s books which is not something normal to be developed by a toddler.
She gave out her first word as kadhai meaning story which the elders misunderstood for kazhudhai meaning a donkey. As she aged two, her grandfather breathed her last mentioning “Why didn’t you tell me? I will come to you one day to listen to you”. None knew what he meant.
Nalini was brought up in the vavaal kaamra of Ramalingam. She had strange audiences constantly keeping an eye on her. The spark in Nalini, when she started telling stories, was triggered when she couldn’t accept the one told by her mom. She immediately corrected and started narrating one herself. Thus began the journey of a storyteller.
Nalini’s storytelling sessions became a daily ritual. With people gathering around her, she would begin narrating a story every night.
As she grew up, the ritual continued and her audiences too. She even cured ailments with her storytelling.
Then came a time when she was married off and settled in Raipur. Her husband was a monosyllabic person who hardly took notice of her at home. But her storytelling continued with her neighbourhood friends and also her in-laws who were glad listening to her. She frequently visited her ancestral home in her village where she would continue with the storytelling sessions.
Nalini’s cousin Vaidehi was not happy with her storytelling capabilities right from the beginning and when Nalini recited a story just before Vaidehi got married there were numerous coincidences that happened in Vaidehi’s life thereafter which led to her blaming Nalini for her misfortunes.
Frequently Nalini had blocks where she could not come up with any stories.
Resonating between the past and the present, there are a number of stories, short and long and of different genres, narrated by Nalini. There were so many that they could be published as a separate book.
Nalini’s frequent companion from childhood is breathlessness. Sometimes she could manage and sometimes the attacks were severe. But the urge in her to tell stories never died.
Once, after her husband passes away, she decides to move back to her ancestral home and live in the vavvaal kaamra. That is when she decides the end has come and she has a final story to tell which also holds a confession that she longs to make.
What is the long pending confession that she’s carried with her? Who is it about? The answers to these questions form the climax.
Spinner of the Twisted Tale has so many intricately woven tales in between that give you a glimpse into the meaning of life. Each story has an inner meaning which, if read carefully, will bring a positive difference to your life.
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