A drabble I learned, is a story told in exactly 100 words. It is very exciting, as it challenges the writer to compress the idea or story into 100 words and tell it comprehensively. I remember being fascinated with how Manto wrote a story which was a mere two or three lines and ever since then, could not get my head around it. So when I heard that authors spanning three generations - grandfather, mother and daughter have compiled a set of 86 stories (to coincide with their beloved author Ruskin Bond's age), I was looking forward to reading it. Bishan Sahai, the grandfather is a retired business manager, Ruchi Ranjan, holds a doctorate in child psychology and is a trained counsellor and Ishika Ranjan is studying grade XI and is interested in English literature, Maths, photography, new recipes, sketching and music.
The stories soon showed a pattern - Ishika's stories take you around the world, even the universe, and are full of imagination and sharp twists in the end, as any young mind should be. Dr Ruchi's stories are reflective, ponderous and depict a moment, a thought, an insight sensitively. Bishan Sahai's stories are grounded, rounded and full of humour at the human condition. A drabble takes a minute or two to read, but they draw you deep into the thought, what was before and what remains after that thought, what has been said and what remained unsaid. It's like a thought snatched out of nowhere, but complete in itself. You wonder how they thought the story out, what must have inspired them, and as you read, you get a sense of their world.
A drabble about the patronising attitude of westerners to Orientals, the colours that an orphan sees, a modern Egyptian mummy with a smartphone, a journey to the land of Lilliputs, a cricketer's source of inspiration, the story of an ex-PM's statue cleaned once a year, the trepidation of a mom who does not find her daughter on the bus, the story of a window, the attitude of employees to not displease their boss and thereby leaving him searching for glasses which are on his head, the story of Mah Laqa Bai Chanda. a young man finding his passion, a reincarnated bride in search of her husband from the last birth, Mark Twain and his views on the Ganga, how responsibility changes an errant boy, a macabre tale of a sinister driver, and so many more.
The stories are easy and fun as promised. The authors have a distinct voice and I am sure we will be seeing more of their writing in print. It's a very interesting format and I am tempted to try it. The production quality of the book is excellent. The photographs and the illustrations add a lovely mood to the book. There's something warm, innocent and homely about the book. Overall, a fine book to read, to carry along and to dip into every now and then.