LOVE comes in all forms and shapes in this collection of short stories. In the title story, the protagonist shows his love for a dead camel he sees stretched across the road with “its long neck slung almost gracefully over the divider.” He loves a girl and when it comes to getting married, he gets cold feet and is reminded of the dead camel he had seen days earlier.
The other two stories in this part are also about couples who just carry on without severing their ties.
In the second section, there are stories where the protagonist has difficulty in relating to the immediate environment. In the story about Mrs Ghosh going to Goa, the character sketches of Mrs Ghosh, a strict non-vegetarian and her neighbour Mrs Satyamurthy, a strict vegetarian are very vividly drawn. “When Mrs Ghosh choked upon odorous storm of shidol, her neighbour vented her frustrations on the pots and pans, setting up such a clamour in the kitchen that even the complacent Mrs Ghosh was compelled to order her children to “lower the volume. Arre baba! What a noise you can make.”
What was more that if the two ladies ever met in the lift by chance, Mrs Satyamurthy “was sure to sniff in a manner so marked that even Mrs Ghosh was forced to concede, after the usual polite enquiries about colds and allergies, that this indicated a derogatory appraisal of her character.”
(Zubaan, 128 b Shahpur Jat, First Floor, New Delhi-110 049; www.zubaanbooks.com)