I guess I have never enjoyed reading short stories as much as I enjoyed reading this collection by Premnath. Crowded Rooms is sure going to haunt me for a while and that too quite strongly if I may add. Why you ask? Well for one the 9 stories in this book are not your usual run-of-the-mill tales and second they have what it takes to make the reader ponder long after you have finished reading the book.
“Everyone seemed to be calling everyone and there was no explanation why”. Consider this line. It is simple and yet so stark. It defines the way we are living and yet so effectively. This is from the first story in the book “The Room with the Lamps” and is about Maya and her lamps and one crazy night in the city. About meaningless vandalism and how guilt makes people do senseless things – for no rhyme or reason.
It wasn’t a surprise to see and realize that every story was centred around and was about urban existence. About how we value our possessions and may be are so entwined in them that we fail to see life for what it is.
“Where were all the beautiful, people, the sunny beaches, the chatty hosts, the trees and the mountains?” This line is from the second story in the book, “TV is Good”, and is about an angry television that comes looking for his master who dared to turn him off. And another one of an Office Memo coming to life – dreamlike metaphors and holds such truths for our times. While in, “The Chronicles of a Saturday Evening” something unseemingly occurs that leads to to people coming close. One of the best stories in the entire collection.
The stories as the title suggests are about spaces – the ones that we inhabit and the ones that we forget to look or think about along the way. The stories encapsulate lives we have seemed to forgotten – the small joys and sometimes the small bites of pang that surface unexpectedly.
Crowded Rooms: Stories; Premnath; Penguin India; Rs. 199