It's been long since I read a good collection of short stories in Malayalam. Here is a good surprise.The voice is fresh, the theme is contemporary yet cleverly chosen, the plots are measured , the language is lucid yet attractive. There is no effort to work around the same cliched approach of the baroque and vivid description. Hence the freshness in words. Not that all the eight stories are brilliant, or better to one another. Three of them were fabulous and the rest were good to mediocre. That is besides the point. What Unni has tried to attempt is to look at the current issues of the generation in his own perspective and put them in a voice that is different.
The opening story (thodinappuram parambinappuram) about a blind lady with her grand daughter, seeking unknown lands through her inner vision, The world outside to her was the description of the places by travellers, or the books of legendary travel writers. Their experiences and what they witness become her view and experience. For Sulfath and her grandmother, it is important to imbibe these short sojourn into the world of unknown an escape from their harsh realities.
Anandamargam, follow a group of middle age ladies in their 'picnic' to Munnar. Away from the shackles of life, the office, the family restrictions , the group decides to make the most of it. At the age of mid forties, the social taboo restricts them from expressing themselves and this opportunity let them vent out all that were hidden for a long long time. There is no fellow office staff who despise them, no society to watch them. Their cry of freedom , though, limit to alcohol or few steamy conversations or few shouts to the wild without any inhibition and they are happy about it and content.
The symbolic 'Leela', which I understand is now being made into a movie by Renjith, revolve around the fantasy of a middle age person to have sex to a young girl in the presence of an elephant. In fact, the girl leaning on the trunk of the elephant and he entering her holding on to the tusk. What is needed is the elephant to begin with and then the girl who is willing. He and the narrator begins their trip cross crossing the state following one lead to other.
Rest of the stories, thread the similar track in terms of theme and treatment to a lesser effect. Kottayam 17, another symbolic tale of a childless family, who 'lift' the Infant Christ's idol from the church, 'Enteyanenteyanikkombananakal' on a book lover, trying to come to terms with the selling of his treasured possession are fairly good. Couple of the others are mediocre.
Good collection of stories, and importantly a different voice , in general.-----------------------------------------
കോട്ടയം 17 (Kottayam 17 - 2010 )