Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Vigil and Other Stories by Gita V. Reddy

Title: The Vigil and Other Stories
Author: Gita.V.Reddy
Publishers: Frog Publication

A collection of stories by a woman writer has to be women oriented. Gita also has written most of them with a woman’s point of view, but it’s a refreshing view and a balanced one. Fifteen stories, each with a different theme, diverse characters and myriad emotions.

‘The Vigil’ is the story of Naina who is so organised and efficient at work that she forgets her own emotional being and is not able to savour the joys of being an expectant mother until its almost too late. ‘Time and Space’ delves on the need for a woman to be able to find her own space in a demanding family and how she has to assert herself at the end. ‘Delusions’ is a story at two levels, one of Rohit the actor and two of the lovers who know each other so well that Devika his wife finds a novel way to get him out of his delusions, but are they really delusions? Sita’s Lives is an exceptional story of how the woman who became the ideal of womanhood had suffered and how she felt. It’s an out and out feminist story of how she really must have felt and how and why she took the last recourse of finding a refuge with mother earth. ‘Reflection’ is another notable story where two women exchange their life stories only to discover that they have been on a similar journey: does this discovery bring a change in even one of them?

‘Alive’, ‘Mr. Krishnan’ ‘The Seeker’ and ‘The Life and Death of Shiva’ are neutral stories not concerned with either men or women but with discovery of meaning of life and its process, of its idiosyncrasies and our greed, selfishness and meanness. ‘The Square’ is a story which makes one realise the folly of being ensconced in one’s own thinking and rating our success accordingly without ever trying to look outside our self-created comfort zones.

More than the first story, the next one, ‘The Gift’ remains with the reader. It’s a story of long unrequited love and resultant pain which causes the protagonists to delve into the depths of their being and evolve creatively. The protagonist Mukul’s character is endearing and ‘Nandu’ haunts one for many days. ‘Open Court’ and ‘A Dangerous Bend’ are stories of the turmoil in a man woman relationship. Along with ‘The Gift’ the two most touching, almost haunting stories are ‘A Lifetime’ and ‘Dreams can Tell’; stories of enduring, long lasting love and affection which transcends worldly life and death.

An extremely readable collection of fifteen stories, it is very well written and edited. Each story has a different milieu and reflects our life situations are some phase or the other. A must read by lovers of the genre and a good book to start with for those who want to explore short stories. The language is simple and lucid. The characters have been very well developed, themes, plots and story lines are interesting, taut and nicely outlined.

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