Stories of the True: A Collection of Gripping and Inspiring Fictional Tales by Jeyamohan
Stories of the True
Collection of Fictional Stories
Published by Juggernaut Books
MRP: Rs. 799/-
Thank you @juggernaut.in for a media copy of the book.
Jeyamohan's collection of short stories, 'Stories of the True', translated from Tamil by Priyamvada, is a must-read for anyone who loves literature that delves deep into the human psyche. This collection of twelve stories is based on the lives of real people, and each narrative is inspiring and imaginative, showcasing the capacity of humans to hold on to their intrinsic goodness in the face of both everyday and extraordinary challenges.
One of the standout stories in the collection is 'Elephant Doctor', which tells the story of a veterinarian who risks his life to save an elephant injured in a poaching attempt. The story beautifully captures the bond between humans and animals and how acts of kindness can ripple through the world and inspire others to do good.
Another poignant tale is 'A Hundred Armchairs', which revolves around an elderly woman who spends her life collecting armchairs. The story explores the complex relationships between family, memory, and the objects that shape our lives.
The caste system is a dominant theme in the collection, and Jeyamohan aims to expose and dismantle its reality. The stories depict caste discrimination and societal stratification in a matter-of-fact manner, reflecting its ordinary and unremarkable presence in society. Most of the stories take place in the mid-twentieth century, a time when caste-based surnames were prevalent in Tamil Nadu, and people used them to identify their caste. However, with Periyar and Iyothee Thass leading the Self-Respect Movement, many Tamilians and South Indians have since stopped using caste-based surnames and opted to go by their given names or fashion surnames from their father's initial or their native place.
Caste is often present in the stories, with comments about purity, pollution, ancestral jobs, and social mobility, but it plays a central role in two tales. In "He Who Will Not Bow," A. Nesamony, a real-life lawyer and political leader belonging to the 'low-caste' Nadar community, is a character. The story narrates the life of Karuthaan Nadar, who worked on an 'upper-caste' man's plantation with his father but later ran away to the city and worked sundry jobs to survive. Karuthaan's encounter with Nesamony, who refused to bow down to caste oppression, inspires him to follow the same path and defend his dignity and worth.
The second story, "A Hundred Armchairs," focuses on the caste system and is arguably the best story in the collection. The narrator is an IAS officer from the Nayadi community, a Scheduled Tribe under the Indian Constitution. He grew up on the streets with his mother and lost all his siblings before being taken in by an ashram. The story exposes the cruelty of caste in society and its destabilizing effect on people's lives, even when they have overcome the demands of modernity. It is a heart-breaking story that highlights the functioning of caste in our society.
Two stories in the collection also explore religious benevolence. "The Palm-Leaf Cross" narrates the story of a destitute family engaged in the business of palm jaggery. The father dies in an accident, and the sahib at a missionary-run hospital offers them salvation through conversion to Christianity. The story demonstrates the reasons why Christian missionaries were successful in Southern India, as the downtrodden only wanted relief, and salvation was secondary.
The stories in this collection are gripping, raw, and deeply moving, and they renew our faith in humanity. Jeyamohan's writing is eloquent and evocative, and Priyamvada's translation does justice to the beauty of the original Tamil text. The stories in 'Stories of the True' showcase the power of literature to inspire, uplift, and connect us to our shared humanity.
In conclusion, 'Stories of the True' is a remarkable collection of stories that will stay with you long after you've finished reading them. This collection is a testament to Jeyamohan's talent as a writer and to the power of storytelling to illuminate the human experience. Highly recommended.
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