Review of Sweet and Sour-1 authored by Lakshmi Menon
by Nuggehalli Pankaja
(Bangalore, Karnataka, India)
As the title itself suggests, the ten short stories presented here are an amalgamation of the various emotions weaving itself into interesting as well as introspective episodes of human nature. So naturally they are brought out that the readers get involved automatically-unconsciously, delineating the complexities of the characters as each story unfolds.
As mentioned before, each story is different, some poignant stamping its own mark on the reader’s mind. The fourth story ‘SWEET REVENGE’ is one such. It is the story of a young couple though not rich, finding happiness in the arms of love. With an unexpected kick of fate, their blissful world is almost shattered!
A sudden twist at the end by the master hand, lo, a well-formed story emerges, widening our eyes!
Title of the 6th story ‘THE REBORN DAUGHTER’ at first giving the impression of a ‘reincarnation theme,’ unravels the menace of the social issue-‘DOWRY,’ prevalent in spite of the government ordinances and efforts of social reformers. The agony of the poor bride in question, and the helpful attitude of her boss is presented in a very pleasant as well as unexpected way, leaving a message to the bad elements of society. The plot is well contrived.
Major plot of the ninth short story ‘PATIENCE’ is good in that it opens the eyes of the readers to many possibilities in married life and acts as a warning bell. But the end baffles. Wives should be helpful and forgiving true, but carrying it too far, doesn’t it deprive virtue of its sheen if carried too far?
‘ ACHU’S MUMBAI AUNT’ and ‘A FORGOTTEN BIRTHDAY’-are excellent out of the way stories depicting the innate unsullied warmth of children (Each in its way), especially ACHU- the boy loath to part with the warmth given by that particular aunt. His mental state is so well sketched that it brings tears to any mother’s heart. One can learn much from those two children in those stories.
Next to stand out is the ‘THE LAST PROMISE’ wherein the mother suffers pangs of loneliness as the expected visit of her daughter and grandchildren is cancelled at the last moment, but visualizing her daughter and grandchildren in her maidservant and her children, the mother’s heart expands, adding more vibrancy to the feast ‘Onam’ being celebrated with that thrilled joyous group.
The third story ‘HERCULEAN TASK’ has an everyday plot in the sense – a usual happening in the lives of all eligible bridegrooms with mothers holding the reins. The plot is built up in a somewhat humorous vein with the diffidence and eager anticipation of the boy surfacing , sometimes leaving him bewildered. Making his mother understand his desire seems a Herculean task indeed, and the way he goes about it is the crux of the story.
“MADE FOR EACH OTHER’ –the very first story projects well the aspirations of the modern girl regarding marriage. She has to be on equal terms with her husband, with no ‘mama’s boy’ stuff. In short, she does not want the mother-in-law around, and is bold enough to voice her thoughts to the boy chosen by her parents as the suitable bridegroom. Will the would be mother-in-law agree to the condition?
One remark before ending-The title ‘Made for each other’ gives away the gist of the story, thus depriving the readers joy of the awaited –suspense. As such, would it not have been better for the creative writer to adopt a less suggestive title?
The last story (10)- ‘THE RIVER FLOWS FORWARD,’ is a very moving beautiful story; Plot well conceived, thoughts well expressed with the appropriate kind of emotion melting the reader’s heart. The generation gap problem, and the perceptible difference between the warm feelings of the parents and the practical attitude of the well-settled children especially sons, is penned realistically. The title ‘RIVER FLOWS FORWARD’ is symbolic!
To sum up, this book of short stories is an enjoyable book with facile style. The author has a wonderful way of building up the climax.
The book is available with