The Heroine and other stories
Author: D. Jayakanthan
Translated by: Deepalakshmi J.
Publisher: Niyogi Books
Price: Rs 295
By Jatin Desai
Writing short stories is not easy. It is an art. One of the greatest short story writer of India-Pakistan was Saadat Hasan Manto. He wrote short stories on the partition of India-Pakistan, communalism among others. He was a powerful writer and conveyed message of peace and peaceful co-existence in a couple of paragraphs or pages. He wrote on subjects which people even scared to talk. He migrated to Pakistan after partition. India has seen many short story writers, who conveyed their message effectively through their stories. Such writers made Indian literature rich.
- Jayakanthan was great short story writer in Tamil language. Celebrated Tamil writer’s short stories depict the life of common people in Tamil Nadu in the middle of the 20thcentury and reflects his positive thinking. His daughter, Deepalakshmi J. selected his eleven short stories and translated in English. The Heroine and other stories narrates life of underclass including women. These stories sensitively explore the situations in the lives of both the marginalised and the middle class and comprise some of the best of his writing.
When one read these stories, one must think of socio-political reality of that period. Each story in this collection delves into the depths of the human psyche, revealing the hidden strengths ordinary people find within themselves when faced with extraordinary circumstances.
Most of the stories talks about women and how they are exploited or how their mind set works because of influence of system and customs. But, at one point of time they realise their exploitation and revolt. It is a revolt against patriarchal system and values it represents.
The first story The Heroine is amazing and encouraging. It is a story of Madhuram and her husband Sitaraman. She is a homemaker and does some little other work. She loves her husband. Sitaraman gets involved in his office colleague Kamla. She went to meet Madhuram and tells her,” I beg you to share your life with me, Akka.” Suddenly, Madhuram became conscious of her rights. She tells Kamla,” Please go tell him there’s no room for him in this house anymore… Betrayal is not as painful as having to face the smile of the traitor. That is hell. My kids and I are not dependent on anybody.” Madhuram shows her husband door. Encouraged by an “illiterate” Madhuram’s courage, Kamla also decides to break up with her lover Sitaraman.
The Crucifixion is a story of a young nun Catherine. It is a powerful. It is about her and her travel in a bus. The last line says, she screamed to the utter bewilderment of the Reverend,’ Oh kind father, my sin…my greatest sin ever…was that I grew up as a nun!’ What a powerful word.
New Horizon is a story of Indu, her mother Kunjammal and their family. Indu was kept in a single room for four years for ‘trying to elope’ with her boyfriend Venu. He was implicated in a false case. One day he returns from prison and comes to Indu’s house. Kunjammal hear conversation between the two and gets impressed with the sincerity of Venu. Initially, she shouted at Venu. But, she realises that ‘She was not honest with herself in yelling at Venu, and stopping them from getting together.’ And that realisation was of immense magnitude. Kunjammal says,” Very well, leave! Be gone this very moment! There is no need for you to take leave openly. If only you do, it will all surely come out in the open. No one is stopping you. Pray leave before anyone comes and does that.” She takes a bold stand and allows them to go. It was not easy. She had to answer her husband and other relatives, but she was firm. She was ready to answer them.
Such kind of short stories in various Indian languages played a significant role in strengthening women and others. It gave strength and encouraged people to revolt against the inhuman system.