Editor's Note
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Family is a significant motif that runs through the stories in this thirtieth release Out of Print. The issue contains seven stories, in each of which the family unit is viewed through different layers of intimacy and complexity.

 

Gangadhar Gadgil’s ‘Bitter Sweet’, translated with sensitivity by Keerti Ramachandra is a wonderful story about the intricate politics – factored by jealousy, hate, compassion, powerlessness, power, love and desire – within a joint family. The story explores, with humour and insight, the structures of control within the inscribed world of a traditional, patriarchal, domestic household and the strategies that the narrator, a young daughter-in-law in the family, employs to enjoy her life within this world.

 

Chika Unigwe’s beautiful work ‘An Itinerary of Grief’ follows a young woman as she comes to terms with loss. She makes a trip to Delhi on a whim in attempt to get away from her empty home. The humanity, the chaos and the many conversations she engages in remove her from her profound loneliness to a place where she is able to speak and laugh again about her husband, a place where his death seems ‘somewhat less final’.

 

‘Release’ by Rakhshanda Jalil is also about loss, but in this case, loss made more poignant by the fact that it deals with a love not realised. Delving, like Gadgils’ piece, into the layered complications of extended families, the story is seen through the eyes of a narrator whose negotiation with the power structure of family and the jealousies of territorial anxiety is to escape rather than confront. Textured by evocative description, the story is ultimately, as its title divulges, about release.

 

Invoking the Brechtian parable, Sashikanta Mishra’s ‘The DNA Test’ questions the parentage of a foundling adopted by the newly elected Sarpanch just prior to taking office. The incumbent who is corrupt and crude and loath to give up his position of power is suing the winner. The point of contention is the number of children the Sarpanch is allowed to have while campaigning close to the day of elections. Love, familial love, paternal love is challenged.

 

Zuha Siddiqui’s 22 Mayfair – that bears traces of a fable in its telling – is set in an apartment building in Karachi. A woman who lives alone with her child perturbs the equanimity of the rather respectable residents. Sensitive and highly observant to the point of seeming to have a sixth sense, she wakes up one morning with a feeling of foreboding. She knows the pastor’s wife will go into labour that day.

 

The narrator in the funny, sharply paced ‘Unjointed’ by Saudha Kasim has injured her knee. The story weaves through family relationships, inherent prejudices, marriages, ways of life, regional alignments and love as knees, from the strong perfect joints of Roger Federer to her own slowly healing, vulnerable wounded joint occupy the young woman’s mind.

 

A young woman who works in the household kitchen goes missing in Kavitha Yaga Buggana’s ‘A Sweet Life’. In the course of looking for her, a book of beautiful drawings is discovered. Trying to reconcile that a simple village girl who has never impressed anyone with any particular skills may have drawn them, the mistress of the house is led to embark on a journey of self-discovery.

 

We welcome Vandana Devi who has begun an internship with us to the editorial team. Links to her writing, and a brief biographical note may be found on the About Us page.

 

 

Out of Print continues to post updates on the Out of Print Blog, and on Facebook, and Twitter.

 

 

The artwork is by Sudhir Patwardhan and is titled ‘Street Corner’, oil on canvas, 1985, 152x183 cm. The cover design by Yamuna Mukherjee contains images from a piece of Kalamkari or crafted-by-pen fabric depicting stories from Indian mythology.

Sudhir Patwardhan is an artist, and an occasional writer and lecturer on art. He has also been a curator focusing on introducing new audiences to contemporary art. His work has been exhibited regularly in India and abroad over the past thirty years. He lives and works in Thane, near Mumbai.

 

 

Selected stories may contain language or details that could be viewed as offensive. Readers below 18 are cautioned to use discretion. Views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily supported by Out of Print.