Release and Other Stories

3 05 2012

“Release and Other Stories” by Rakhshanda Jalil is a collection of ten stories featuring Indian Muslims. Each story  is sensible in its own way and lingers in one’s mind long after it’s read. Above all, I loved the look and feel of sleek hardbound and its crisp pages with beautiful font and generously spaced text. Loved the book cover too. I found it irresistibly giftable. 🙂

“A Mighty Heart” is about a woman who accepts the sons of her husband with his, so far secret, other wife. It is incredulous that that person maintain two wives simultaneously keeping the first wife in dark, calls both his wives with the same name, produces similar set of offspring in the same order with the two women and even names the two sets of children the same to avoid confusion and possible trouble. Lol!

“The Failure” is about a man, in the opinion of the narrator, who has failure written on his face. He turns his majestic house in the middle of nowhere  into a luxury hotel and keeps it in tip-top condition for two years until his first guests arrive.  In “The Perfect Couple”, the husband gets all distressed and shaky upon the sudden and possibly terminal illness of his beloved wife. When an equally distressed colleague of her visits her in the hospital room, the husband receives the jolt of his life when he witnesses the love between his wife and her colleague, as is evident by the way they look at each other holding hands.

“The Strange Man” is about a wealthy man who wanders the streets of a popular hill station in a strange manner, clasping a tape recorder to his breast and cooing to it, oblivious of his surroundings. The story ends with the narrator’s reflection upon learning who the man actually is : “Compulsions that drive people, compulsions that make them do the oddest of things.”

In “The Stalker”, a middle-aged, plain-looking woman is stalked by an unknown person, whom she confronts in the end only to find the face of a teenage boy under the mysterious baseball cap. She couldn’t let out her anger and frustration seeing the innocent expression of pure love etched on his face. She could only wonder –” Who can ever fathom the depths of another heart?”

When Zulfi meets Dia after about 25 years, he discovers that the demure young girl of 19 got transformed into “A Real Woman” of mid-forties and he feels intimidated by her. “The Incident of the Frozen Snake” is a gossip story about a rising star who turns mad after seeing a frozen snake trying to get up from the birthday cake,  which was sent to her as a revenge from the Fading Star, whose long-time beau had been smitten by the rising star. Is it funny or tragic?? Not sure!

“Release”, the title story is about lost love, similar to Devdas. Hasan, who couldn’t stand up against his mother, loses Arza, his childhood love and puts his past behind him until he visits Arza on her death bed fifty years later.

Loved this quote from Release:

“A flower, no matter how sturdy the branch it grows on or how deep the roots of the tree that bears it, can have only one of the two fates: it can either bear fruit, or fall off the branch. No flower can expect to linger forever. So it is with young love; it must find union or wither away.”

A couple of verses from famous Urdu poets appeared in this story, which simply captivated me:

Your thought kept coming and going

Like my breath, all night long

——- Makhdum Mohiuddin

Come, let us weave our dreams of tomorrow

Or else, this night from these hard times

Shall sting us, and for the rest of our lives

We shall never gain be able to weave another beautiful dream

——-Sahir Ludhainvi

“The Break Up” is about a woman who finally finds the courage to break up her marriage. In “A Holiday Gone Awry” three girls get raped by a few men in the hills in front of the brother of one of the girls. As ghastly a tale as it turns out to be, the narrator wonders about what could have been the impact on the 12 year old boy who had to witness such a gruesome event.

Interestingly, all the stories are told in third person, who is often a person inside the story narrating a story. 🙂

Acchhaa hai dil ke saath rahe paasbaan-e aql

Lekin kabhi kabhi isey tanhah bhii chhor de




One response

6 01 2013
2012 reading « Peek Inside My Mind

[…] based in Bangalore. Her in-depth style is a pleasure to read. The collection is very fulfilling. Release and Other Stories have a  lighter style in comparison but nevertheless deal with interesting and subtle […]

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