(My Rating: 3/5)
These 3 short stories by Indrajit Garai, set in France, have the theme of sacrifice running through them all. In each story the protagonists are so passionate about the responsibilities they have assumed that they are willing to sacrifice it all to achieve their goal, whether that be saving a forest or caring for a child.
Garai’s style of writing takes us to the very heart of the emotion of his characters.
Gulliame is a good man, trying to do the right thing for his son and for the legacy that has been left to him, and so it is difficult for him to sometimes see things from a different perspective.
The story is a reflection of what often happens in life – things have to sometimes reach the stage of a crisis before change can take place.
Something has to move us so deeply before we can decide to do things differently, even though the signs may have been there for a long time.
I found the scene towards the end between Hugo and his dog particularly moving and an accurate portrayal of the feelings of a true animal lover for his pet.
This story, in which Garai employs interior monologue, centres around a young boy who is passionate about trees, (with one tree in particular) and who has a damaged relationship with his mother. It seems almost as though the boy’s love for the tree gives him hope and something to cling on to; something to fight for and something to experience love for.
Again, as with the first story, things have to reach a crisis before a change for the better is made – in this case with the mother realising her responsibilities to her child.
Some of the dialogues were poignant I thought, such as:
“What does he need that gun for?”
“To kill animals.”
“In the forest?”
“Yes, when there are too many of them.”
“There are never too many animals in this forest.”
And then later in the story when his mother starts spending ‘quality’ time with him, and he ponders…
“I’m too young to know, but maybe this is how it happens: when two people know that their relation is going to end, they come closer.”
How perceptive and also how very sad for a 10 year old to be worried about this in relation to his mother!
Francois, a man in his sixties is left to look after his young grandson Arthur, after the latter’s mother is no longer able to.
He finds new meaning in life, changes his entire way of living and goes about doing whatever he can to be able to support his new responsibility and do right by him.
I think Garai captures beautifully the way (most) people ALWAYS have their children in their thoughts once they become parents.
In many instances in these stories, the characters don’t necessarily lack good intention; rather the problems arise because they just don’t seem to realise the fallout of their actions on those closest to them, while they are in singular pursuit of a particular goal.
And isn’t that often the case in our lives? We want to do good, but sometimes we just aren’t aware of the implications of our actions (thought our intentions may be noble), until it is too late.
The stories have many layers and can be analysed from various perspectives, leaving the reader with a lot to reflect on long after they have finished reading. I’m quite sure that every reader will find something that personally resonates with them in at least one of the stories.
I feel that the book lacked good editing, especially in terms of grammar and syntax.
But the stories and the emotions they depicted, coupled with Garai’s style of story telling appealed to me enough for me to want to keep reading, in spite of numerous grammatical errors – something that is usually a deal breaker for me.
I also felt that an adequate description of the setting wasn’t conveyed – I would have enjoyed it more for example, if I was transported to a farm in rural France or if I could feel some of the vibe of the city of Paris. But perhaps those things are insignificant to the important message Garai is trying to deliver to his audience.
All in all, a good first compilation of short stories that could have been elevated by sound editing.