Thursday, February 18, 2010
Paradise And Other Stories - Khushwant Singh
Somewhat disappointing from the man who wrote “Train To Pakistan” and “Delhi”.
It’s a collection of 5 short stories. ‘Titillation under 5 pretexts’. That’s my evaluation of this book In one line.
Paradise - A foreigner woman who visit’s the banks of the Ganges, seeking solace, is disillusioned by an experience she has in a certain ashram.
Life’s horoscope - Madan Mohan relies on horoscope and Kamasutra for a perfect marriage. But soon after marriage, he discovers that he has the biggest imperfection
Zora Singh - Zora Singh, an object of dislike and mockery for his ways among many, manages to earn a Bharat Ratna by unscrupulous means
Wanted a son - A woman secretly visit’s a peer Baba to beget a son while the family makes vows to God for a grandchild.
The mulberry tree - Vijay, a non-descript 54 year old is occupied with the vain pursuit of a woman in a market place
Basically the first 4 stories are trying to dispel popular beliefs. What is common to all of them is ‘the inside story’. As for the fifth story, I do not know why it was written.
The author takes up religious superstitions.
There is no judgment in his narration. It is very matter-of-factly. He is merely stating what happens in the world around us. But inadvertently he would, with these stories, serve to verify the preconceptions of many a cynic, many a skeptic.
There is the reference to the atrocities done by Muslims to the Hindus – this reference, though impartial in its observation, is common in all his works.
There is the usual dose of titillation… somewhat unsavoury, and distasteful.
The stories do not have a strong theme. One part of the story moves into a second one and ends in a third without tying up really.
This work reminds me of the way I felt when I read Paulo Coelho’s ‘Zahir’ with respect to one aspect - effortless writing, hence the poor quality. When authors become famous, they can sell even what they have not written well.
Lines that I noted as usual…
What cannot be cured must be endured.
No one can go before his time, no one can live a second beyond the span allotted to him.
I would not recommend this book.