Probing deep into ordinary lives
This slim volume of six stories comes with a subtitle, ‘a collection of bizarre tales’. If you are thinking of Roald Dahl or Angela Carter variety of bizarre, it is not. Rather, I would call the stories psychological, and thrilling. Psychological doesn’t mean that the stories are dense and rambling – they are raw and illuminating. Dubey’s characters are everyday people, who could very well be somebody you know. They are rooted in their reality, set in urban Delhi and its surroundings.
However, as the stories progress, Dubey does something extraordinary. She punctures this reality ever so slightly and opens up another world hidden in plain sight. This is the world where the ambitions of a star student lead him to the path of crime; a parent’s desire for a girl child destroys the life of an only son; silly childhood fights between a grandmother and a granddaughter accelerates into lifelong rivalry; a Good Samaritan turns out to be not so good after all; and after 18 years, two childhood friends let go of each other, without judgment.
There is also the title story, Turtle Dove, which is certainly the highlight of the collection, not because of its ‘bold’ theme, but how it is constructed, bit by bit, incident by incident, and how, in the middle of the story, the Dubey turns it upside down to create a delicate mirror image. This is why I call the stories thrilling. The plots are not thrillers (though there are some murders and other petty crimes in the mix), but how Dubey manages the plot threads to turn something mundanely familiar into something twisted is indeed thrilling.
A good short story is a ‘slice of life’; there is no beginning and end, no denouement and happily ever after. If you apply these parameters, Dubey’s stories are good. For the characters, she conjures leap up from the confines of their stories and continue to live on, because they are people we know. They are us.
Name: Turtle Dove
Author: Divya Dubey
Pages: 160 - Price: 199