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The Verdict

Yojana Sharma found this anthology full of serious stories that look at trials of everyday life.

india Updated: Jun 13, 2006 18:52 IST

By Yojana Sharma

Katha is known to champion the cause of vernacular literature. The Verdict is the latest installment from the publisher in their recently released Pocket Plus series.

The book is a compilation of ten short stories that have been translated from regional languages. The book includes stories by literature biggies as Mahasweta Devi and Mrinal Pandey. Translation, however, hasn't killed the spirit of the stories. The stories, obviously written in Hindi or regional language, have local references which have been skillfully retained in the translation.

The book makes a wonderful read for adolescents and elders. The stories explore the socio-economic fiber of the society. For example, Mahasweta Devi's story, The Son, relates the tale of a man who leaves his aged parents in a filthy place to embrace life in a posh colony with his beautiful wife. This successful son forgets the sacrifices made by his parents to get him the best in life. His educated wife too hates staying with her in-laws. She is more bothered about her high-society friends who find her humble apartment stinky, dingy and suffocating. Mahasweta Devi has carefully etched the suffering of semi-urban parents.

 

Other stories narrate incidents from everyday life and describe the possible impact of these incidents in later life. Girls, written by Mrinal's Pandey, revolves around an orthodox family wanting a son after three daughters. Pandey describes how her mother (in the story, who is pregnant for the fourth time) is waiting for a baby boy.

Sample this: As I was leaving the room, I managed to pick up a piece of the broken surahi which I liked sucking, and I overheard Ma addressing either Saru's mother or the cobweb hanging from the ceiling. "I hope it's a boy this time. It will relieve me from going through another pregnancy."

Pandey describes how her relatives, too, endorse the view. She and her sisters (in the story) are always rebuked and stopped from doing things abut the trio are worshipped as kanya-kumaris. At the end, a young Pandey asks her granny, "When you people don't love girls, why do you pretend to worship them?" Pandey slams a biased society and points at the prejudices prevailing in any middle-class Indian family.

Other tales have been written by Padma Hejmadi, Cho Dharman, Manju Kak and Chandrakant Keni.

Overall, a good read. However, those who read fluffy literature will find it too serious.