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Seven Stories of Love in Dream


Manoj Pandey

SAPNE MEIN PREM KI SAAT KAHANIYAN
By Teji Grover. . Translated from Hindi by Sukhmani
Vani Prakashan, Delhi, 2009, pp. 80, Rs. 100.00

VOLUME XXXV NUMBER 1 January 2011

While telling a story the awakening of love and desire is an illusion, a chimera. The desire is the desire only for the story, the love only love for the story. (From Bhikshuni aur Nai).   In Teji Grover's recent collection of stories, seven stories have been strung together in a sequence. In English translation, roughly the titles would be 'The Nun and the Barber', 'My Poets', 'Grey Flowers etc'., 'Sindbad', 'Just a Story', 'Suparna', and 'Su'. These stories remind you of attempts at writing down dreams that will take on any shape whatsoever. 'Whatever changes when we recreate memory and dream, fate changes in exactly the same way', this is how the first story sets the codes for the reading experience of this book. Intricate states of mind, deeply resonant sounds and characters make an appearance as if from behind some screen, enact their roles and slink into the shadows once again. However, they leave behind a trail of questions while disarranging your inner space, which slowly suffuses with the space without like the glance of a downcast eye. It is in this way that the book establishes a rapport with the reader. In 'Grey Floweres etc.', for instance, the protagonists childhood memories flow into the present with their specific location in a certain small town geography and social background. The children are sceptical about these things (certain fruits, kitecatching adventures) constantly surfacing in their fathers gestures as they seem totally unfamiliar to them in the new city. Even in the dreamscape of this story, patriarchy casts a long shadow over the woman whose body begins to remind her husband of the mean smell of green gourd.   Both in 'Bhikshuni aur Nai' and 'Suparna' there are some circles of sleep and wakefulness encircling the women in their narratorial and possibly erotic communion with each other. (The former is constructed both like a dream and a Pauranic tale cocooned in other tales. In it, the language is suitably elevated in a subtle rewriting of myths.) If we take all the seven stories as a sequence, they all require the forgetfulness of dream while you read them. The nightmarish story Just a Story has also been written down in the same dreamlike layers. As a bad dream, it seems to be even more real than reality itself. The difference between the fragrance of flowers and the gas leaking from a factory ...


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