Of the Frailties of Life and Living
Malati Mukherjee
COLOURS OF LONELINESS AND OTHER STORIES by Snehaprava Das Oxford University Press, 2019, 238 pp., 750.00
May 2020, volume 44, No 5

‘I write to … express that part of women’s lives which is often buried and endured in silence.’ This line from Paramita Satpathy’s conversation with her translator says it all. Each of the fourteen stories in this collection showcases a different problem—each a common issue, rarely discussed.

These are simple stories from everyday life. Familiar situations, which we may have experienced ourselves, or overheard in the hushed-gossip around us. They evoke an immediate resonance, even as we race through the pages, to discover how it ends for her characters. To discover whether the often foregone conclusion is reached or avoided. Her writing style is calm and relaxed, often belying the context of the stories. Little details are slowly painted in till the complete picture emerges. And unlike in real life—where we can simply switch the TV channel or flip the page of the newspaper—these pictures demand a response.

And we do respond—with varying emotions, ranging from irritation to anger and from curious interest to absolute horror. The protagonists—not all women—struggle with helplessness, regret, guilt, anger, sorrow, and often, loneliness. Some make their peace, some manage to run away, and some hit back, while for a few hapless ones, there is no possible respite.

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