“When I awoke finally the history that slept with me had become a cadaver…
MK Ajay’s introspective expedition in his latest collection of short stories Drizzle of Yesteryears
is divided into two sections – ‘At Home’ and ‘In Exile’. All the seventeen stories in the collection tap the Indian collective unconscious in a superb way. Each story highlights the idiosyncrasies, eccentricities of human beings. A Question of Morality
, for instance, is a sensitive elucidation of the relationship between two friends, one more intelligent and more insightful than the other. It is towards the end that the reader realizes, almost in horror, that the more sensitive partner is actually a convict and his cohort the hangman.
The first section – ‘At Home’ – is about belongingness. Thus in Temple of Snakes
the chief protagonist Divakaran comes to a decision regarding selling his ancestral property after watching a cobra in action and later being haunted by its memory.
The stories, while being introspective, also bear dashes of humour. In Country Practice
, for instance, there is almost a Saki-like touch to the account of a newly-graduated doctor from the city who goes to diagnose (and treat) an ailing neighbour and is collared instead by the patient’s traditionalist husband. How the doctor uses his wit to wriggle out of the infuriating purist’s endless questioning is bound to bring a smile to the reader’s face.
Equally heartwarming are stories in the other – ‘The Exile’ – section. Stories like Alpine Miracles
where the writer bumps into a Nobel Laureate unawares close to the Alps in Austria. Or Pencil Sketch
which is about a budding artist alienated from her family who develops an inexpressible bond with a slum-dweller.
Among the most touching in the collection is Departures
which is a ghost story about parental love. The subtlety inherent in certain passages and the deft imagery is nothing short of sensual. The following passage where the dead wife is conveying her son’s and daughter-in-law’s new-found happiness being a case in point:
“How does it matter, dear, in this world of silences and half-sentences? They are happy. Didn’t you feel the fragrance around them as if love bloomed like a rose garden? And did you see, he sounded just like you did before we got married.”
An acclaimed poet, it is obvious that M K Ajay is able to wield his pen in the short story genre with equal ease. For that reason alone, Drizzle of Yesteryears
is a must read.