Critiquing Entrenched Social Institutions
Meera Rajagopalan
THE SOLITARY SPROUT: SELECTED STORIES OF R. CHUDAMANI by C. T. Indra and T. Sriraman Orient BlackSwan, 2019, 216 pp., Rs.445.00
April 2020, volume 44, No 4

The Solitary Sprout is a treat to read. This will come as no surprise to those familiar with Chudamani’s books. Like the others, this book contains no violence or sex, preaches no doctrine, upholds no morals……just twenty simple tales of the everyday life of mostly Tamilian families.

That being so, readers would be justified in expecting a certain amount of repetition in the stories; but it is not so. Each and every one of the twenty tales is different, dealing with various but familiar aspects of life as it is lived—a microcosm; a cross-section of life as it exists. There is the absolutely selfless cook who cheerfully supports her ungrateful sons fully aware there will be no return; the selfish artist who, after deserting his family, discovers that he is no Gauguin; the adolescent, in love with his teacher; the stepmother who forces herself to overcome her dislike of her husband’s son; the philandering husband who mourns his wife’s death in his mistress’s arms even as he anguishes over his loss; two tales of patriarchy, of unmitigated male chauvinism, repulsed in very different ways by seemingly docile, subservient wives; and more. All are well crafted, psychologically true and believable.

Continue reading this review