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When a ghost revisits the world of conflicts
None understands an individual completely, however close he or she is And in case of a woman, it is all the more difficult to gauge her mind Only a ghost or a writer can sense the feelings and thoughts of a person hidden deep within And when a writer herself turns to be a ghost, things become handy for her to sense peoples reflections, musings and ruminations
None understands an individual completely, however close he or she is. And in case of a woman, it is all the more difficult to gauge her mind. Only a ghost or a writer can sense the feelings and thoughts of a person hidden deep within. And when a writer herself turns to be a ghost, things become handy for her to sense people’s reflections, musings and ruminations.
Noted writer Anita Nair does exactly that in her new fiction ‘Eating Wasps’. In what looks like a fresh technique of narration, Anita’s novel offers an unusual read where a writer’s ghost accidentally bumps into several women of various mien with their own dark and agony-filled stories that they keep close to their hearts.
The story set in a small town on the banks of the Nila, a river considered to be the lifeline of Kerala’s cultural map, revolves around the lives of 10 women from different walks of life, who happen to come together at a riverside resort Near the Nila on various purposes.
The ghost of a renowned writer Sreelakshmi, who committed suicide due to unknown reasons way several decades ago gets trapped in a pen case by her lover Markose. However, after 52 years, the ensnared ghost gets freed by some accident and manages to come out only to witness several lives of similar nature in a technologically advanced age.
Anita Nair tries to handle a whole lot of issues in her two-hour one-sitting read including demonetisation, acid attacks, child sexual abuse, extramarital affairs, evils of social media and many more in an uncanny style of storytelling. Middle-aged journalist Urvashi, six-year-old child Megha Naidu, schoolteacher Najma, Mohiniattam student Liliana who comes all the way from Italy, Badminton ace Brinda Patil, two sisters obsessed with their own strange selves Theresa and Thomasina and others come in the life of (or afterlife?) of the ghost and confound her with sad, horrific, harrowing and shocking experiences.
The beginning itself is intriguing. When the ghost begins the narrative, it keeps you glued to your recliner, holding the paperback tight.
“On the day I killed myself, it was clear and bright. It was a Monday. A working day. 25 October 1965. A day just like every other day, except I was dead and the world ground to an abrupt halt as the news spread. People everywhere, in homes and alleys, in tea shops and at the railway station, the court and the college hostel, Swami’s printing press and the King George market, those who knew me and those who didn’t, all looked at each other and then looked away. She is dead, they said. She killed herself. Is that true? There isn’t a suicide note. Was it a murder made to look like a suicide?
They tried to explain my death: She had an incurable disease. She was in love with a married man. She was in love with a man who dumped her. She was pregnant. She was depressed. Something humiliating happened at the college which led to this. The speculation was as dense as the grief.
An ordinary woman had become a legend, a tragic heroine, and it was the nature of my death that had turned me into someone extraordinary in their eyes. I was Kerala’s Virginia Woolf. We even had the same bristling, brooding gaze, a well-known artist claimed. Everyone, even those who didn’t know me, added to the legend of Sreelakshmi. Except for him.
Markose didn’t mention me, ever. Instead, he came in the dead of night to the cremation ground. The dead do not clock time. He came on silent feet and with a ravaged face. He poked through the embers with a twig. Please don’t, I wanted to scream. Please don’t do what I think you are about to do. My love for you devoured most of me. What’s left, let death feast upon.”
Replete with symbolic expressions and profound personal accounts, ‘Eating Wasps’ tells us how people experience life just like Urvashi who eats wasp mistaking it for a honeybee. All protagonists (yes, it is not just one as in the usual kind) have their own plethora of odd and awful situations they live through and bring us a clear picture of sufferings of women of all kinds.
Anita Nair proves her mettle yet again with her lucid style of storytelling that keeps your heartbeats grow faster with each page.
Life caught in the web of umpteen snags of marriage and irresistible urge for carnal gratification, morbid craving for the opposite sex affectionately called love, siblings’ rivalry, jealousy, soreness, sorrow and whatnot, Anita Nair sums up everything in a unique style in her fiction. It is like 10 different stories knitted together into one fine fiction. The award-winning writer has undoubtedly done an amazing work of fiction in her ‘Eating Wasps’.