A collection of 12 short stories
By Tej N Dhar
The Kabab Maker and the Consultant, Arun Sikka, Rupa & Co, Pp188 (PB), Rs 150.00
Named after one of the stories in it, the book consists of Sikka’s twelve stories that deal with concerns of the people of our times. But most of the stories only graze the surface of the known and the familiar. In the very first one, “Derailed,” a nervous employee, who fears that he might be sacked, is actually rewarded for having completed five successful years in his job. In the title story, the consultant, who has not been doing well, loses his customer while watching the kabab maker use his skill to help a customer’s driver to retrieve his keys from inside his locked car.
In another story, a clerk, who extorts money from his clients, is made to pay it back to one of them, through a woman who succeeds in blackmailing him. In another one, the widow of an army officer, under threat from her landlord, succeeds in staying on in his house because she counterattacks him. Other stories deal with the unholy collusion between godmen and businessmen, a long debate on destiny versus chance, which involves several lives, and about journey being the actual destination.
Two stories about women are truly heartwarming. In the first one, a woman, running away from her disrupted marriage, comes to stay in a guest house where she helps the caretaker to take his sick daughter to his doctor, and learns how to admire the new moon. In another one, a woman is about to explode with anger because her servant does not show up in time to take care of her child. But when she is told by the servant that her daughter had been burnt, she takes her back to her home and offers her money. This helps her to see the beauty of the water drops.
Sikka writes well, but needs to do a little more to transform ordinary experiences into memorable ones.
(Rupa & Co, 7/16, Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi 110 002)