Friday, March 31, 2017

Something Happened On The Way to Heaven - Sudha Murthy

The book contains 20 real life stories from across India and is edited by Sudha Murthy. In 'Acceptance' by Bhaswar Mukherjee we have a family dealing with the dilemma of hiring a eunuch as house help, their biases against them and how wrong they were proved. 'The Red Rose' is about love that goes beyond ages, faculties, health of a grandfather suffering from Alzheimers.
Penguin, 201 p. Rs. 250
The 'Dhaka Girl' by Shrishti Dasgupta is about  a young girl who gives all she has with her to an old Muslim man before Eid and how the same man saves her family from riots. In 'Agni Pareeksha' by Supriya Unni Nair we meet Maneesha Ramakrishnan who survived the Bangalore Carlton fire (I remember the incident when many people in the building died because there was no fire evacuation mechanism, some jumping to their death) and how Maneesha recovered slowly, lost her voice, but not her zest for life, and after three years, performed a flash mob at the same building and put the story to rest.

A wonderful change in context that changes the narrative. Beautiful.

In 'Elixir' by Satyarth Nayak a young person finds out what true love is when she meets her old incontinent grandfather and grandmother. In 'The Right to Refuse' by Jimmy Mathew we meet love in different forms - the man who wanted his wife to have a surgical correction to experience her virginity and another who wanted surgical correction to hide an identity - and how both stories end up well for those who have the capacity to love. In 'Father's Reading Glasses' by Vibha Lohani we find a daughter and a father bonding over his perpetually missing reading glasses, a reassuring theme. In 'Aagneya' by Rajesh Pooppotte, a young girl fights back for her dignity and its heartwarming to see her spirit. In 'A New Beginning' by Swaha Bhattacharya, we meet her Didi who is just out of college and adopts a young child Diya against family opposition and meets a tragic end (I remember that incident also, at Hyderabad airport where she lost her life in a tragic aerobridge accident). But she (Amrita Roy) gives Diya a new beginning.

In 'The Mysterious Couple' by Rishi Vohra we find a young man making a new relationship with the mysterious old neighbours in their apartment, who he finds out have undergone a great tragedy and attempts to make peace for them in their loneliness. In 'How Jhannu Mankdia Made It Possible' we visit the girl who is the first post graduate from her community, how she escaped a child trafficking racket and turned her life around by educating herself. In 'Savita's Story' by Subhobrata we meet the maid who worked doubly hard to educate her only daughter only to lose her and how she finds new meaning by educating another young child from her locality. In 'Acid' by Pushkar Pande we meet a young girl who meets a boy friend online, someone who thinks nothing of splashing acid on her face when rejected, and whom many seem to support, something she rises way above. In 'Grandfather's Day' we meet a young widow who teaches a journalist who tries to take advantage a lesson for life and in a fitting end, meets him again through his grandson, her student, who introduces her as his favorite teacher.

In 'The Udayan Effect' Praveen P. Gopinath shows us how our mind gets clouded over by our biases and insecurities and how his friend Udayan taught him a valuable lesson on trust. In 'Time to Pack Up Or Not' Neha Garg gets a second life after she is pulled out of the local train compartment and left to die but finds that the world is helpful after all. In 'Train to Goonda vile' by Ila Gautam we once again encounter our friends - bias, insecurity and labels, and find that the ones who they thought were the goondas were actually protecting their daughter. In 'What Goes Around Comes Around' by Tulika Dubey we find a perfect example of how a good deed done years ago by the grandfather comes back to reward the grandson. In 'It Fell In a Storm' by Santanu Bhowmick we find a young girl and her two brothers picking mangoes to buy a gift for their mother, a creative act, an act of love. In 'An Encounter of a Special Kind' by Tapan Mukherjee, a young boy experiences the love of a mother langur and how gratitude and love transcend the human form.

Nice stories. The themes have a pattern - of our eagerness to label, to form biases, lack of trust, unconditional love, courage, about getting back what we give - so much so that we wonder when we will ever learn to be secure people at all. There are possibilities you know.   

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