Friday, May 2, 2014

Love and its ills (Barun Bajracharya's "Sins of Love"

This appeared in Republica daily on May 2, 2014.

Barun Bajracharya’s short story collection, ‘Sins of Love,’ is enjoyable for what it is, short and sweet with a little bite. 18 short stories compiled in this slim book spanning just 64 pages appeal the sensibilities of the teenagers. Young hearts palpitating with love for their beaus and belles savor these stories like chocolates. The stories also provide insights to life from different perspectives. In each story, the readers witness vivid images woven wonderfully with crisp narratives and feel-good themes.

Simple and straightforward language and witty dialogues are the highlights of Barun’s stories. Characters are taken from normal life and that is why they are realistic. 

Barun’s expanse of love is so wide that this world is not enough for its fruition. So his characters seek love even after death. Death looms large in most of the stories. Besides the impulsive love of teenagers, love of parents and children and misdeeds of hypocritical people are the subject matters of the stories.

The first story ‘Father and Son’ attempts to inspect child and adult psychologies. Here, Barun has inserted vivid images of how a child and an adult view their environs. In this mere two-and-a-half-page story, the writer has striven to deal with the sensitive issue of a motherless child and his single father.

‘Sins of Love,’ after which the book title has been derived, is a romantic story and it’s an apt title. Influenced by mainstream Bollywood and Korean movies, the protagonists in this story seem to live like in a fairytale where handsome Johnny tries to woo sultry Karishma through unfair means.

This story adheres to the beauty and the beast type in romantic fiction but has a twist in the tail. The motif of an unruly male who is finally tamed by his beautiful, self-sacrificing victim is presented in a heartrending manner. Towards the denouement, Karishma discovers that Johnny’s misbehavior had only masked his sensitivity and love for her; in fact, his maneuverings were the proof of his love. Johnny changes from beast to beau and is successful in melting Karishma’s heart. But there is no coda of “they lived happily ever after.”

One of the best stories in the collection is ‘Time to say Goodbye.’ In this story, the writer has displayed his writing potential, paying meticulous attention to detailing and character building. This tale illustrates aggravation and anguish of a lonely old man.

Some other noteworthy stories are ‘Shristi,’ ‘Two Sides,’ ‘Story of a Girl,’ and ‘Radha and Krishna.’ The suffering of an elderly person is realistically portrayed in ‘Shristi’ but there is a twist in the end that is quite shrewd. ‘Two Sides’ is about an unusual love triangle between three teenagers and this story portrays male chauvinism.

‘Story of a Girl’ is a unique attempt in story writing. With this story, the writer has tried to blur the boundary between short fiction and poetry. Set in 3-4-lined paragraphs and confined within a single page, this story is actually the suicide letter of a girl. If we read it out loud and mentally break the story into stanzas, we can find beautiful rhyme scheme and poetic flow in it. Most probably the writer has tried this method due to his inclination towards poetry which can be observed in some of his earlier published works in certain journals.

Another story, “Radha and Krishna,” is about the plight of a poor couple and the hypocrisy of a priest. The names of the characters in this story are tied up with Hindu mythical characters. This allusion shows the maturity of the writer.

However, commercial filminess in the sense of glorious coincidences to propel the plot of some stories seems to be Barun’s weakness, and he has to work on it. Barun has certain flair in his language and style (complete with realistic dialogues and expletives) and seems to be seeking to develop his own style, which he should.

A few stories towards the last section of the book are less gripping than the first half of the book. Perhaps some stories in this collection are too simple, bordering on being simplistic. For the sake of brevity, Barun seems to have neglected character development in some of the stories.

Due to the likeability of the characters and the corny plots, this collection will be received well by adolescents rather than older readers. Those who read books for the sole purpose of refreshment and entertainment may highly enjoy the book. Those who read serious literature and like to minutely dissect every word and character, this collection may lack appeal.

Considering it a debut attempt of a young writer, we can surely cut him some slack and expect much more from him in the near future. We hope Barun takes up themes other than love for fiction in the future and presents them with dexterity.

Title    :     Sins of Love
Author    :     Barun Bajracharya
Genre    :     Fiction, in English
Publisher    :     Indrachaitya Publications
Published    :     Feb 1, 2013

Pages    :     64, Paperback

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