Monday, July 06, 2009

In Other Rooms, Other Wonders - Daniyal Mueenuddin

Daniyal Mueenuddin's collection of short stories , are woven around the feudal hierarchal Pakistani society. This book of eight stories are all around the same theme. Loosely around the Land Owner, Political bigwig , rich and famous K.K.Harouni and his family, each of these are distinct stories. The name K.K Harouni is only a representation of the feudal land lord , it could be any name.

Most of the stories are not directly about the rich and their ways. It is about those who make a living out of serving the rich. The only thing that is common is their dependancy of the big family. The financial and social shelter they enjoy. For most, association to the rich is a status by itself within his/her own community or of those lesser privileged.

The valet, the cook, the driver, the sweepress and the estate / property manager are common in most of the stories. Barring a couple of the stories, every thing else is around this theme. Young maidens falls in love ( out of necessity for survival) to the next-powerful of the house ( mostly the manager/ the right hand man of the lord) , or in some cases to the land lord himself. Their needs are not large. It is their need of daily living. Even in this practised love, there are moments of truths and longing. Sadly, we see each of them failing and they are shown the doors ending up in prostitution and in beggary.

In Nawabdin Electrician, local electrician, Nawab working for K.K Harouni, is sort of local hero. Apart from his job of mending and running the pumpsets , he also helps the locals by manipulating the electric meter , thus running the meter at lower speed saving them few rupees. He still struggles to keep the family of his wife and 13 children with his meagre income. Saleema, falls in love with an older servant, only to be dumped for his family , to be left with his baby. Provide,Provide is also in the similar lines. The young maiden was abandoned after the death of the old land lord whom she was serving as a mistress. 'The lady in Paris' and 'Lily' (to a certain extent) are two stories different from the others.

The language is beautiful and unpretentious. The characters are raw and living as they are. There is no forceful twist and the narration is clear and fresh. These stories are already published in Newyorker, Granta or other periodicals. One of the draw back is that many a stories are of the same pattern and the characters in each stories are behaving in the same predictable ways.

In Other Rooms, Other Wonders
Daniyal Mueenuddin
Random House India
247 Pages
Rs 395
Further Read: The bookslut, Washington Post

No comments: