Hey everyone! Welcome to the third stop in the Left From Dhakeshwari Read Along! If you didn't catch the kick off and the first two stops in the read along, you can always catch up here:
But it's not necessary that you should've read the others in order to be able to follow this post, since Left From Dhakshwari is a collection of short stories, so there's really no need :)
Today we're going to be looking at the 6th and 7th stories in the book - Alexandra's Stalker and Eucalyptus.
Alexandra's Stalker is about a writer who has a fascination hangover over an actress, Alexandra who acted in a television series he co wrote. Ever since he was forced to write her out of the script, she has preyed over his mind, influenced his decisions in some way or another, until he finally decides to do something concrete about it and face his mixed up emotions of guilt, fascination, and admiration for her.
In Eucalyptus, Aniruddha who was also the protagonist of Bomb Church, makes a reappearance. In Bomb Church he searches for his mother, trying to figure out her identity after her mysterious and abrupt departure from his life. In Eucalyptus, mother and son are united again, and take a journey down memory lane.
Kunal Sen has a pretty different style of writing. It leaves a lot to the reader's imagination, forcing him/her to actively involve himself in the telling of the story, which was actually pretty interesting. You certainly cant find him writing lines and lines about a room's furniture or anything!
His endings as well are open ended (which I found reminiscent of my mother's writings, since she her stories tend to end the same way). Though I'm sure a lot of people love this kind of closing, as it gives them the freedom to (almost) write the characters' story to their will, for someone like me, who likes every thread tied tight and strong, sometimes, I ended up turning the page, looking to see if there was a continuation or thinking, 'And then? What happened?'
Alexandra's Stalker was intense, with the author managing to pack a gamut of emotions into a short story. The story is set in Hollywood, involving Agnimitra (it was funny, but certainly new seeing such an utterly Indian name in a Western setting!), the co writer of 'Delphinium Days', a TV series, and Alexandra, the young actress who plays a character close to his heart. Some readers have said that that Agnimitra was in love with Alexandra, but I somehow didn't see their relationship that way. It seemed more like he had a deep seated fascination for her (not in a creepy way) and a yearning to discover the core of her as an actor and share it with the world. I am, however uncomfortable with the use of the word 'stalker' as it holds a negative connotation for me, but I cant deny that it adds to the intensity of the story. Agnimitra spends many years regretting his decisions and being haunted by this young girl that he let down, but the story ends on a positive hope, with some hope of redemption for Agnimitra.
Eucalyptus is something of a continuation of Bomb Church. In it, Aniruddha finally meets his mother and talks and spends time with her to his heart's content. They travel down memory lane, going to some places that hold memories for each of them. The entire story takes place in the span of a single day, and as we observe the two in each new location, we're also given the current time. It's this that leads me to think that the story doesn't necessarily take place in real life, since it's kind of impossible to cover the distance between the mentioned places in so short a time. It's a story of reminiscing the past - good and bad times, of acceptance and understanding, and of forgiveness and a meeting of equals. I cant say that it's one of my favourites, but it's certainly a different story that has a different take on things.
Discussion questions! Apparently, this is a norm, but I'm kind of new at this thing, so if they're lame, please be nice :)
The questions are not centered around the stories, though they're certainly a few questions that arise while reading them, so needn't have read the book in order to be able to answer these questions.
1. What was/is your favourite TV series, and did it ever change you in any way?
2. Do you think it's better to 'forgive and forget' or 'forgive but not necessarily forget'? (or if you have your own twist to the saying, share it!)
3. We all have regrets. But if you were given a do-over, would you go back and change the way you did things, or would you do it the same way, trusting that it has made you grow as a person in ways you wouldn't have otherwise?