Beauty and The Beast was the first book of fairy tales that came as a gift from an aunt. A cherished book till date, I had taken a fancy for its dream-like pictures that told the story below each page. The big prints and its simple language made it an easy to read book.
I read and re-read the book for I could never understand the relationship, or the concept of the story. My mother tried to explain the theme of the story as “a love story that speaks about selflessness, kindness, loyalty, and above all loving your family.” The fear of the beast was soon erased from my little mind. Since then I have been reading the story from a different perspective.
My approach towards Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, the story of the Three Bears and such other tales, had changed by then. The pictures gave me pleasure, but the stories were read “thoughtfully”. They became inspiring and moral stories. The question “why so” became a task my mother handled carefully.
With passing ages, these books became objects of beauty. Yet, the stories remained strongly ingrained. However, it was amusing to watch the familiar stories when I was introduced to television. The trend continued with movies being made on these stories, upholding the traditional themes but interpreted in a more realistic setting.
The latest movie, Beauty and the Beast, simply reiterates the fact that the classic fairy tales are indispensable. No matter “how they are retold”, they are captivating and enduring. A fantasy of everlasting relationships. “And they lived happily ever after”.
I’ve lost some friends
I truly cherished,
For whom I’m greatly sorrowed
These friends aren’t humans who have perished.
They’re books that humans borrowed.
This little poetry, I could not recollect the name of the poet, was published in Reader’s Digest years ago. I had written it down from my habit of collecting quotes and poetry. With time, my habits changed and the sources of happiness were many in the offing. And the collection of quoted wisdom was lost in the familiar surroundings of my home.
Abandoned to the point of being burnt, recently, the oldest of the diaries was recovered from the amassed fortune of old and out-of-print publications. It has a cover print of Mughal miniature painting, the precise reason for making it a precious book.
The years rolled backwards. I glanced through the pages of quotes/poems. From Bhagavad Gita to Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s words and H.W. Longfellow to W.B Yeats, there were many known, anonymous and translations.
Some philosophical and some practicality, yet they all spoke the same language – Language of Life. I felt, as if, I was having a secret communication: the words that weaved a way of life to humble living and deep thinking. The book appeared to be life personified.
Old and yellowing pages, delicate to touch, made it difficult for me to leaf through the pages. My emotions reined my thoughts. Ironically, the page that turned without much fuss was to the poem “Dearly Beloved”.
The diary was my dearly beloved possession long time ago, not “borrowed” or shared. Yet, I lost her in transition for reasons I cannot recollect. However, the fading handwritten words promised a reunion, and held a lifetime teaching… (A Malayalam translation quoted on the facing page of “Dearly Beloved”)
“As the sand drifts away below our feet when we stand on the seashore, the days roll on, never to come back.”
Seance on a Sunday Afternoon is collection of short stories about emotions, situations and circumstances that reflect the little nuances of life. By Deeya Nayar-Nambiar
Set in the modern society of sex and the city, hard-pressed for time, every character is self-indulgent. Shinie Antony pens her stories mysteriously and mischievously like the contemporary artist who paints with bold brush strokes to bring out the symbolism and meaningfulness.
Giving the reader a slice of urban society with its confluence of the dos and don’ts, Seance on a Sunday Afternoon is a collection of short stories that reflect the little nuances of the lives, of human emotions, people in queer situations and circumstances. The stories are a trail of words and word play, poetic at times and prose otherwise.
Shinie lives through the characters, springing them to life to tell their tales as if in flesh and blood. Her bold writing style is not only her freedom of expression but also an expression of bold and sensuous themes on a lighter note. If one sentence provokes laughter, the other moves you to tears.
Even the harsh realities of life as a breast cancer patient, L finds a new meaning to her lost beauty. Elsewhere, a widow re-marries but still cannot come to terms with her first husband’s death. Everything is handled delicately.
Stories like ‘The Sofa’ and the ‘Seance On A Sunday Afternoon’ bring out the feelings of old people and the young, their memories, loneliness, detachments and attachments. In the process of writing, Shinie brings to life inanimate objects such as the sofa, fan and cancer.
Shinie’s tryst with writing is not new. As a journalist she polished her skills in imaginative and intuitive writing and has not looked back since her ‘Somewhere in Gujarat’ and ‘A Dog’s Death’ bagged the first prize in the Commonwealth Short Story Competition in 2001 and 2002.
Fascinated by the dark side of life, and an interest to keep pace with the Net savvy world, Shinie has also attempted to write like a blogger, uses sms language and similies, to explore the mind of a housewife who wants to connect with others in the cyber space.
Indeed, to understand the hidden facts of relationships and life in a city, the reader as a “common man” should sharpen his intellect to decipher or interpret the wit and the beauty of the language and idiom of Seance on a Sunday Afternoon.
Séance On A Sunday Afternoon
Rupa & Co, Rs 195
Published in June 2008, btw of Chitralekha Group