WRITING STYLE: 4/5
ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 4/5
Writing short stories is not an easy job as instead of developing a single set of characters or a single plot line you have to work on multiple ones while at the same time making sure that all stories are in line with the overall theme of the book. In this book, Anupa Mehta has worked on the idea of loss in the lives of ordinary people. The characters though all unique in their peculiar ways have all suffered loss in one way or the other and it is that loss which connects them to the lives of ordinary readers.
The book consists of nine stories which make up the entire 139 pages. Though there are many noteworthy stories, the ones I enjoyed the most include Yellow Submarine and Lists. The Yellow Submarine is about a young researcher Nynika who sets out to document the loss in the lives of various Gujarati immigrants who are currently based in London. In the process, she comes across a man Amal Amin whose life she is documenting and who unfortunately takes a liking for her. In the end rejected and forlorn he lands up in the mental asylum; his part of the documentary having been safely removed from the collection of case studies that Nynika has so far compiled. The beauty of the story lies in the melancholy which the reader feels at the end of the story and reflects something which most of us must have either seen or heard of in our lives – rejected love, severe depression and even insanity.
The second story Lists is about an old lady Kamal Fai, who lives in a now dilapidated mansion on the outskirts of Mumbai and who loves and still pampers her niece Ronita like she is a kid; bringing her sweets and home cooked savouries and calling upon her most weekends she is indeed quite fond of her. But Kamal Fai has one peculiar habit – that of making all kinds of lists. Tanu is Ronita’s friends and through her, she discovers the world of Kamal Fai. From the moment they meet, they become quite fond of each other with Tanu visiting her on almost all weekends. Kamal Fai confides in her and dotes on her. But soon old cage and grief catch up with her and one day she dies. Tanu grieves the sudden departure of her beloved friend but is surprised to find out a small package left for her. What she finds is not only beautiful but also heart touching. But what are materialistic belongings in comparison to the charms of the motherly old lady? Both stories and indeed all other stories are heart touching and will leave you in a state of melancholy.
For an author, the biggest challenge is to make the reader feel and live the emotion which she wishes to convey and Anupa Mehta has indeed done a very good job of moving the readers to near tears in not one but almost all stories. The setting of each story is unique and so are the characters with all of them beautifully complementing the central theme of the book. I found the book most indulgent and moving and I, therefore, would love to read more from this author in the coming future. That being said, I rate the book four out of five stars for the excellent writing and would recommend this book to all my readers.