I have always called myself an avid reader. However, it had been a while since I found myself engrossed in a good book, or touched by words on paper. Determined to discover my lost bookworm again, I read over 20 books in the past 11 months, and just when I had thought I would never reconnect with the written word again, was almost on the verge of losing hope, I was introduced to An Interpretation of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. It was published way back in 1999 but I only got my hands on it recently, and instantly fell in love with it. It is unlike the usual stuff I read. For starters, I have always been more of a novel reader, and this is a collection of only nine short stories.
However, each of these short stories is poignant, moving, and plain beautiful. The writing is very ‘simple’ yet relatable. In only a few pages (per story), the writer makes me feel for the characters, gives me the minutest details about their lives, and brings the emotion out of the page(s).
My favourite from the entire collection is the very first story “A Temporary Matter.” It seems like such an ordinary tale and yet it is a tale of tragic romance. The details of love are described in the most intricate of ways, of loving someone for their little habits and knowing them inside out, and at the same time, it also shows a more painful, real side to a relationship, and how circumstances and time truly affect lives. It spoke to me in a manner very few stories have, and brought tears to my eyes.
Another one that I connected with was “The Third and Final Continent” of the same book. Another story of a relatable, bittersweet, impactful, to-the-point, and humble nature. It speaks about the most basic of things – the human connection, or the social need of a man, and yet it really made me think about life and people and relationships that we develop, which is remarkable considering the bare minimum amount of time it took reading it.
They say that everyone is a reader; those who claim otherwise have just not found the right book. As a child, JK Rowling helped me discover the reader in me, teaching me lessons on life, love and friendship… and as an adult, Jhumpa Lahiri has reinforced those very lessons with such a different type of storytelling, helping me rediscover that reader in me who had gotten buried in the fast-paced, electronically charged, hectic routine of daily life somewhere.