Monthly Archives: December 2013

387 Short Stories: Day 22: Story 22: Honey Pie by Haruki Murakami

After the Quake

Title: Honey Pie
Author: Haruki Murakami
Taken from the Collection: After the Quake and Other Stories

The year had to end with his story. There was no other way for the year to end. May be subconsciously I had saved him for the year end. “Honey Pie” by Murakami is a story of a man, his best friend and her daughter and how they try and become a family, in the wake of the Japanese Earthquake. There are layers to this story as well, like every Murakami story, but it is simply told.

It is the charm and evocative nature of Murakami’s stories that keep me going as a reader. There is a story of a bear named Masakichi within this story and then there is the story of Junpei – the man who wants to shelter his friend and her daughter. The beauty of the story is in its fragility of relationships and the way it ends – happy. A story you must, well read to know what I am talking about.

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387 Short Stories: Day 21: Story 21: The Good Taste Contest by Lydia Davis

The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis

Title: The Good Taste Contest
Author: Lydia Davis
Taken from the Collection: The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis

Lydia Davis cannot go wrong with a short story. She is the supreme short story teller, after Munro of course. She knows what she writes and she is the queen of brevity and as a reader, you do not feel any less empowered if you read a story which is very short or long, as long as the writing is in place, which she guarantees.

Davis’s stories are all about the details. Everything has to be mentioned and brought to fore. Nothing is left hanging or unsaid. Her stories are almost like the crisp linen sheet, waiting to be sunk into and then you do not want to ruin it either. “The Good Taste Contest” is one such story, about a husband and a wife, whose names are not necessary and how each has his and her own good taste points and what transpires at the end of it all.

To me, she is beyond brilliant and I had to read one of her stories before the year ended. Thank God, I did.

Hope

Hope. It is so easy to let go of it and sometimes even easier to cling on to it. This year has been maddening. I have cried. I have contemplated suicide. I have spoken to my friends about things – been miserable, did not want to spend any time with anyone and then things have also changed. Time has humbled me. Time has taught me a lot. I was unemployed since the 1st of July 2011. Things were not going in my favour. I was almost close to depression. I would not attend family gatherings. I would not meet too many friends. I would ditch them. I was envious of their success. I did not know how to handle my failure, or so I thought of it then.

I was living day to day. Life happens like this. It teaches you and then perhaps just hits you right in the face. I was clueless. Every day was a struggle and only those who have been there, know what I am talking about. Sure, it was my choice to quit my job, but I did not know that things would be this bad. There were friends who did not remain friends anymore – they just did not keep in touch. They said they would help with my resume, but I knew better. They did not and it is alright. They had their reasons.

The thing is that life changes. For me it changed in May 2013. When I went for my interview with Flipkart and got my dream job. I mean, books matter to me the most and I remember being so overwhelmed when I got to know that I made it. I cried at the airport. What else could I do? The last two years were tough enough. I somehow made it through. It somehow worked. It fell into place. My mother always believed. A couple of friends never let go. May be sometime, you stop believing in yourself.

You need faith. In something or someone. I remember praying. Walking to Siddhi Vinayak. Going to Ajmer while I was there for the Jaipur Literature Festival in January 2013, and today I am one of the speakers for the Jaipur Literature Festival 2014. I cry easily. I get overwhelmed. I am humbled by life. It is all about the ups and downs I guess. All of it. You can mock faith all you want, but it does tide you over. The clichés make sense. This too shall pass. Good times are round the corner. Who do you believe in? What do you do when you are at the end of all belief? How do you move on?

Life has been tough. It has not been easy at all. But lessons have been learnt which will stay forever. And a big thank you (I cannot thank these people enough) and a big hug to these people for staying on and cheering me from the stands of life, even though I fell so many times.

Thank you: Mom, Neha, Anisha – love you always, Payal Saklani – for knowing me for such a long time and being there always, even when I thought you were not. I cannot love you enough. Thank you.

Thank you Arun Das – for being there throughout and giving me the opportunity when I needed it the most. Thanks a lot.

Husain – Thank you for being a part of my life, Rahul – I love you to bits, Ankiet, Visha – I don’t know what I would have done without you, Harsh – my soul-mate in so many ways, Nandini, Deepa, Rupa – my trilogy of life, Iyer – you made me laugh.

Niyati – for understanding and somehow sailing with me in the same boat – I love you, Ameya – again for trying for me and loving me, Gautam – my soul sister and you know it, Payal – for the opportunity, Ankita, Amit, Awadi and Narang – You have always been there, big hugs and wet kisses to the four of you, my pillars of strength.

Divya, Ekta (thank you baby), Menaka, for all the help when I needed it, Pramanik – for in your most subtle ways, you understood my pain and were there. Avantika – for listening to me, Neha (for trying for me), Sukanto and Arunima for talking to me about books and edging me on, Pallav – for listening so patiently as I whined, Pia – I love you, and last but not the least, Sarvesh – my rockstar. Sorry for the long thanks, you only deserve it and more.

Thank you 2013. You have been kind. Thank you.

387 Short Stories: Day 20: Story 20: Foley’s Pond by Peter Orner

9780544105508_p0_v1_s260x420 Title: Foley’s Pond
Author: Peter Orner
Taken from the Collection: The Best American Non Required Reading 2013

The story I read today was, “Foley’s Pond” by Peter Orner. The story first appeared in The Paris Review. I read it through my collection of, “The Best American Non Required Reading 2013”, edited by Dave Eggers. In this story, it is the pond, which is the protagonist. The story revolves around it.

The story starts with a child’s drowning in the pond. Barbara Zamost is two and a half years old and manages to slide under the fence of her house, which surrounds the pond, and drowns in it. Her older brother Nate blames himself for the drowning. The entire community is shattered by the incident and its children stop going to the pond. The pond is hazardous as well with a chemical plant right next to it. Ultimately, what happens to the pond is the crux of the story.

Of course the story was grim and a sad one at that. The description is just right and the reader is left with the sense of leading the story in his or her own direction, which again is a very gratifying experience.

387 Short Stories: Day 19: Story 19: Psalms by Jeanette Winterson

The World and Other Places Title: Psalms
Author: Jeanette Winterson
Taken from the Collection: The World and Other Places

Today’s story was a unique one – this one is written by one of my favourite writers, Jeanette Winterson. She has a fable like quality to her stories. They blend, they merge, they somehow surpass the human realm most of the time, or so it seems to the reader. Perhaps, with winter settling in and with the world taking on a new quality, I chose to read her story, “Psalms”.

“Psalms” is a story about a tortoise with the same name and it is about love and compassion of a tortoise. The story reminded me of her first book, “Oranges are not the Only Fruit” and somehow I could not tell why. The story is sparkling and bursting with energy and sometimes you wish she had written more about the tortoise. Read it and be amazed.