Saturday, June 1, 2019

Best of Thakazhi S Pillai - Edited by K.M. George

Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai is the author of Chemmeen, and recipient of the Bharatiya Jnanpita Award (1984) and several other awards including the Sahitya Akademi Award (1957). This book is a collection of 14 short stories out of the 500 stories that he has written.

They are dark and sad. The first one 'In the flood' is about a dog that is abandoned by it's master in a flood and dies of hunger and thirst. I saw some message somewhere that said that it is now a law that one cannot abandon their pets in natural disasters (I hoped they included relatives too). 'The Tahsildar's father' is about the father of a tahsildar who is seen as an embarrassment to the son's high status and ill treated by the daughter-in-law - and the old man vanishes after that. 'Under the mango tree' is the tale of a friendship between a boy and a girl - and how it ends badly for the girl while the boy does well for himself. There is one about an orphan who becomes a soldier and who marries a girl of an old lady he meets and dies after that. There is one of an orphan's burial - he gets more in his death than what he got when he was alive. A story of a woman who has an illegitimate baby and they both die. 'The story of Kalyani' is the story of a woman who tries to make a life and how she is exploited by people. Two urchins, one of whom goes to Pakistan after partition while the other waits for him - and they finally do meet near a garbage dump. 'The Boundary Dispute' is about an unnecessary boundary dispute that claims the life of one neighbour while the attacker gets death by hanging and how the families pay a price for a small piece of land. The farmer is about a traditional farmer who loses everything to modern farming techniques except his loyalty to tradition. The last story is about a grandma and her fascination for her grand daughter's handbag - a sign of all that is modern and progressive.

Stories that will stay. Stories woven out of life.

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