By its very nature, a short story is instantly gratifying. A great short story, however, lingers on. It reaches into the inner recesses of your mind, tickles you and comes back to haunt you over and over again. And Tejaswini Apte-Rahm’s debut collection of stories, These Circuses That Sweep Through The Landscape, does just that.
Her characters are unassuming — a wife, who despite being dumped by her husband and children, looks for ways to win them back, lovers turned friends who meet again after years, a little girl who longs for her mother’s attention, two couples whose friendship is laced with strange undercurrents — ordinary beings that we probably cross paths with every day.
There’s nothing unassuming about the lives they lead, though. Their stories will evoke nostalgia, make you squirm, shock you and tickle your funny bone — in whichever way, they will strike a chord.
Her story, The Mall, deserves a special mention, simply because it’s the most discomfiting story I’ve ever read. I won’t say a word about it, though, because I’ll end up spoiling the fun.
Despite the complexities of these relationships — which Apte-Rahm paints with ease — she manages to pull a delightful ribbon of dark humour pretty much throughout the book.
What I liked
- I loved, loved, loved the language. It’s rich without being overbearing. Those who like to use “big words”, as I call them, must read how she strings her sentences.
- It’s no surprise that I love dark humour and I think it takes talent to be able to weave it into a story. Sample this para: “The back of a person’s head looks so vulnerable. Everyone looks like a bufoon from the back, slightly pathetic and clueless … all exposed and witless…I raise my arms, hands clenched on my weapon.”
- It’s brilliantly edited.
What I didn’t like
- It got over too soon.
So pick a sunny winter afternoon, make yourself a cup of tea, sit back in a comfortable chair and don’t read this book— devour it.
Title: The Circuses That Sweep Through The Landscapes
Author: Tejaswini Apte-Rahm
Publisher: Aleph Book Company
Price: INR 259.00
Get it here.