“That’s what marriage is all about, my dear. This is my advice to you, too.  Men have the seeds of madness and waywardness inside their heads. These come from being men. They will just let these grow, if left to themselves. You have to have one end of the rope in your hands.”

–        The Greatest Enemy of Rain Stories, Manu Bhattathiri

My musings

I first came to know about Manu Bhattathiri when I chanced upon his book The Oracle of Karuthupuzha while browsing an online bookish platform, the name of which, I can’t seem to recall now. Intrigued by the cover and the concept, I mentally added it to my TBR list, but somehow never ended up buying or reading it.

Fast forward to August 2022, I was happy to receive a copy of the book from the publisher, and having got it, sat down to read it.

Continue reading to know more about the book The Greatest Enemy of Rain Stories and my review of it.

What to expect?

Expect a book that delves into the ordinary, the mundane, and the most regular of humans. Expect a book that revolves around the most peculiar of traits that these unassuming monotonous humans exhibit. Expect a collection of 14 short stories that come in a wide variety of flavors and themes.

Who can read?

The language is rich and flowy with a dose of understated humour. The writing is such that it would appeal to the most refined and voracious of readers, and as such, the book isn’t recommended for beginners.

The writing

What I love about the writing is that it doesn’t restrict itself to a single theme. While there is skepticism and sarcasm and a bit of despondence in the characters of these stories, the variety that they exhibit in terms of the setting, period, and social background is striking.

While ‘These New-Fangled Ways’ looks back at the pre-historic times, ‘The Answer’ attempts to sneak a peek into a future that is not just scary but ludicrously so.

While ‘Days Without Teacher’, ‘Mr and Mrs Pariera’, and ‘The Woman Who Loved to be Right’ deal with the humdrum monotony of a decades-old married life, a few others attempt to delve into bolder themes of magical realism, illusion, nightmares, and dreamscapes. These are seen in stories like ‘Mani and the Ghost’, ‘The Sound’, and ‘The Singing Butterflies of Duabaag’.

My favourite ones

When it comes to the best amongst the lot, my favourite has to be the one that lends its name to the book, ‘The Greatest Enemy of Rain’. As someone who loves the rain and everything that it brings in its wake, it was amusing to read about the eccentric Gopi and his lifelong hate relationship with rain. The small-town coastal setting, with its characteristic tropical vibe and laidback charm, Gopi’s many misadventures with the rain, his unconventional marital relationship, and his devil-may-care attitude towards the rain – all of this served with a generous dose of humour – is what makes this story a definite hit.

Uncle’ is yet another story full of nostalgia and remorse. The old man ‘Uncle’ meticulously maintains his bike, tending to her like she’s a new bride, painstakingly trying to please the angels that be, all of it, just to relive a single memory of past glory, he forgets to live his present. This story is eccentric yet tragic, amusing yet deeply melancholic. For the past was never ours, and the future is far away, what we have is the present. As the American poet, Walt Whitman famously said, “These are the days that must happen to you.”

Another favourite has to be ‘The Shit of the Seraph’ for it reflects the banality and conundrum of everyday existence. It is a story that shines the spotlight on a much-neglected creature of our everyday life, who has an unassuming existence and yet without whose benign presence, all chaos unfurl. If you haven’t guessed it yet, I am talking about our maids, and how they become an indispensable part of our existence.

Wrapping it up

To sum it up, The Greatest Enemy of Rain Stories is a unique collection that sheds light on uneventful things and the most ordinary of people and brings to light their most extraordinary and bizarre characteristics.

Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of The Greatest Enemy of Rain Stories using the link below.