Saturday, March 10, 2012

ചുംബനശബ്‌ദതാരാവലി ( Chumbana Shabda Tharavali) - Indu Menon

Another disappointing read in Malayalam. I did not have any great expectations in the first place, but was hoping to hear a different voice and see some class which stands out in the new generation story tellers. However, this too moved through the usual cliched style of narrative and subject. Barring one, rest of the stories were bland and lacked any character. She had a theme and title brilliantly chosen, and invariably woman were the central characters in all these stories. There was this strong voice of rebel, the voice of angry reporter on crime and atrocities against woman.The self made liberator who goes after the so called attackers with a vengeance. But it stays just thee. To me, this failed to create any literary ripples in me as a reader despite having some great control on her language.

The book starts with a petty dedication ( to her husband and daughter) and the descriptive "dictionary of Kisses". The 'dictionary of kisses' itself was a bit odd. Might be intended to create a tickle in the adolescent mind, but for serious readers, this had no real meat. I remember reading a similar attempt by A L Kennedy in her short story collection "Now that You are back", where she experimented with the form of story telling in " 'Mouseboks Family Dictionary", which was pretty interesting.

The next two stories made me think differently . " Chaklian" was a good story, attempting to rebuild a fathers woes in bringing up a girl child. Unable to suffer the humiliation , all he did was what is expected of a father. The next, 'raktakalee, raktakalee' is the best of the compilation. Innovative mixing of myths, fantasy and the contemporary theme, she created a good story of revenge. Suffered from what is called as a dual personality disorder after the death of her sister, Kamala has been having dreams of the mighty goddess kali. She metamorphosed herself into the reincarnation of kali, sowing and spreading the 'small-pox' ( as the myth goes) and 'chicken pox' seeds. Her vengeance is complete only after the death of her sisters murderer and rapist, years later. The rest of the stories are mediocre. "Pithavum Kanyakayum talks about a father seducing his daughters friend to his bed, while on the other hand, she being the only virgin in her class was eager to join the rest of the class , which include his daughter. 'Oru Extra Nadiyude Aathmakatha' ( and you can guess the story), athmarahasyam, chumbana shabda tharavali ( yes, another story with the same name) and the rest are all in the same league.

Now that, I am citing references to A L Kennedy, I cant resist in comparing the observations of the writing. It says, AL Kennedy in her writing "exposing and exploring the sinuous undercurrents of violence, anguish and love". Indu Menon on the other hand, focusses her energy on the women and the general atrocities of the society against women in general. Her attempt to portray her characters as a victim of various forms of aggression and in most of this stories, they seems to be taking decisive action by themselves. Dr.Mini Prasad , in her afterword( a short study) claims that Indu Menon's characters are build on the 'male centric social set up where the woman are are treated as mere consumable. The writer here, fights against this perceived world order through her characters, says the review. however, to me, that is a generalisation. A story has to be appealing to the reader, irrespective of the ideology or the thought process it attempt to convey. Sadly, these stories does not go beyond the often chewed cliches and thus fails to create any favourable impression in general, barring a couple of good stories.
ചുംബനശബ്‌ദതാരാവലി ( Chumbana Shabda Tharavali- 2011)
Indu Menon

D C Books

120 Pages

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