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Lyrical yet haunting

This is no collection for the weak-hearted. Aruna Chakravarti’s short stories, spanning characters from different strata of society, tell the bleakest stories, in the most compelling narrative.

books Updated: Jun 26, 2010 01:18 IST
Damini Purkayastha

Title:

Secret Spaces


Author:

Aruna Chakravarti


Publisher:

Zubaan


Price:

Rs 250



This is no collection for the weak-hearted. Aruna Chakravarti’s short stories, spanning characters from different strata of society, tell the bleakest stories, in the most compelling narrative. Set in West Bengal, the first story,

Mobile Mata

, is about self-proclaimed priestess who claims to have

Kali

on her speed dial and the ability to help any woman have a child.



As 29-year-old Tillottama comes to

Mata

for “help” a gory story of rape and abuse in the name of God begins to emerge. Houses are primary characters in the book too. In Suralakshmi Villa — a lovingly built home watches as incest tears it apart, while in

Crooked House

we see a brothel through the eyes of a young girl.



The stories are powerful, even as they bare sexuality, love and happiness of social trappings. Thankfully, the author’s words have a lyrical quality that lend pace to gut wrenching tales.