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Celebrating Ordinary Lives


Paromita Uniyal

RAASTA CHODO DARLING
By Kshama Sharma
Rajkamal Prakashan, New Delhi, 2008, pp. 275, Rs. 450.00

VOLUME XXXV NUMBER 2 Febuary 2011

The world depicted is not real; at least not in the eyes of people who perceive mundane things with little sensitivity. In Sharmas world youll find towns, trees, and objects conversing, raising a point, debating it and sorting it out. Everything has life; life that people have forgotten to live. And even if they live it, they rarely celebrate it. Thats precisely what Sharmas stories want to say. This collection has extraordinary portrayal of some ordinary stories. They are ordinary because they deal with people like us. The characters are not woven; they are handpicked from the road, office, neighbourhood, and most importantly our own family. The first story Baya (Weaving bird) takes the protagonist (Ripu) to her longforgotten maternal home, which is now occupied by her aged father, brother and his wife. She is elated on getting her brothers letter but upon reaching finds herself a medium to fulfill the selfish desires of her brother. The book constantly does a reality check on otherwise strong relations which wither when tested by the fire of time. In Raasta Chodo Darling the protagonist, who feels she shares a strong bond with docile Kesha from her college days, finds herself disillusioned when she meets her after a considerable gap. Kesha is not the same quiet and confused girl, she was in her college days; in fact she now has a devilmaycare attitude and does not even extend basic hospitality when the protagonist pays a visit to her. However, the book is not just about mourning broken relationships and a rush of nostalgia. It has an innocent rebellious streak and also raises some clich├ęd issues. While stories like Card and Aur Ab (What next) suggest how even strong women have to bow down to adverse circumstances, Kaisi Ho Sushmita (How are you Sushmita), Bindaas (Cool) and Tasveer (The Portrait) have strong women protagonists who know their mind and make their own rules to operate in society. Ek Hai Suman emerges as the strongest story in this collection. Suman, a young girl decides to spend her life with an aged man and is perturbed by the way society looks at the relationship, but does not let it affect her married life. Selfless love transcends lust. One of the best stories of the collection is Kaun Hai Jo Rota Hai (Wholl cry for you). Its a touching, almost theatrical rendition of a war tale, ...


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