A Compelling Mirror
Namita Sethi
THROUGH A LOOKING GLASS: STORIES by Aruna Chakravarti Om Books International, Delhi, Noida, 2022, 215 pp., ₹295.00
May 2023, volume 47, No 5

Aruna Chakravarti is well known for her translations and evocative novels about Bengal. This striking collection of stories displays her taut control over the genre of short fiction. Each of the stories reads like a novella, vividly creating varied locations, houses, communities while revealing interior landscapes. They open a window to new worlds by playing with ‘perceptions’, which is also the title of one of the stories.

The backdrop in most of the stories shifts seamlessly between Delhi, Kolkata, parts of Bengal, and also the UK in three of the stories, but the transitions between the past and the present of characters is quite striking in each narrative. In the title story, a nearly hundred years old lady, born on the day of the declaration of the Partition of Bengal in 1905, regresses to her childhood in bouts of sleep and reverie. The mirror in her room in England serves as a portal into her past, as she looks into it again and again, ‘as though through it she could catch a glimpse of the real world’.

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