Friday, April 24, 2009

In the Convent of Little Flowers

Author: Indu Sundaresan
Published: December 2008
Previous Books: The Splendor of Silence, The Twentieth Wife, The Feast of Roses

Short Stories:

Shelter of Rain
Three and a Half Seconds
The Faithful Wife
The Most Unwanted
The Key Club
Bedside Dreams
The Chosen One

The book evokes a myriad of emotions. The stories jump up and enact, so powerful as well as delicate are the descriptions of the characters and the incidents.

"In the Convent of Little Flowers" took my breath away ! Not just because it dealt with issues and happenings that are shocking as well as familiar, modern as well as ancient, but also because it forced me to stare at different faces of our culture that I would outright deny, that I would immediately disclaim. Then there were some, that were new and refreshing and comforted me of goodness somewhere.

There are 9 short stories and each story has its own unique essence. They touch many different aspects of human life ranging from Adoption to Family Physical Abuse, from Teen Pregnancy to Swingers to Lesbianism. Needless to say, it is a very modern book which has delicately blended these issues and its effects have been combined with the age-old traditions and beliefs of India. In the "Afterword", Indu Sundaresan has mentioned that most of her stories are based on real-life incidents, a grain of truth around which she has weaved her magic. That makes this book all the more compelling.

It is difficult to say which one I like best, since they are so different from each other making each one unique and incomparable. But if I was compelled to choose, my favorite would be "The Most Unwanted". In one stroke the author has shown us the emotions of a young girl coming of age, the stoic and dependable love of a mother, the tenderness of a baby and most important the triumph of a father's love for his daughter in the face of public and social ostracism. It is a beautiful story, so well written I can see the characters enact before me.

The other short stories are no less heartrending. The only thing that I must mention that perplexed me was the fact that there is no "Index" in the book. Is there a specific reason why this has been omitted ? I like to browse through the names and select what I want to read. I definitely miss that in a book. It is a very minor thing, but it makes it difficult for me to go to a story right away as I have to browse through the book to find my way there.

At the end, I highly recommend this book. It is a book worth owning (which is quite rare in these times), an asset to the book readers collection, one will savor it again and again. It is different, it is intriguing, it is guaranteed to make you ponder...... a must read.