Connecting The Dots By Tinky Ningombam
This last week, I was met with a rather unusual request from a friend of mine. He insisted that I read his book and give an honest opinion. I did try to reason with him against it. Being honest has its risks; we have all been there, haven’t we? Having an opinion about everything has become a bane for most. One does walk on tightropes every moment of the way.
I speak of the book “Tales of Human Mischief and Other Stories “by Nameirakpam Bobo Meitei. As one move out of a closed shell into the bright, one normally recreates this hallmark experience by narrating the scheme of events as a protagonist, an observer. What I liked in the book was the attempt in personal observation and the satire on the encounters in life.
I believe that in every work of art, one can see a bit of the creator. It is hence a really overwhelming experience to display one’s work of art in whichever form it manifests. And this is perhaps the hardest part of it all, not the act of creating, but the display. As when one does so, it automatically envisages criticism. It invites judgments.
Most of Bobo’s stories are grim. One can see certain underlying motifs of the prevailing violence and atrocities that the people in the state have been engulfed in. It takes you to a familiar landscaping, the inherent sentiments that one feels as peoples who have felt similar hopelessness and heard of similar tragedies that intrudes normal life.
The irony of writing in a foreign language is the price that one has to pay in diluting the essence of the word. Words sometimes get lost in translation. Local dialects suffer from the shortcomings of being too easily dissociated. Which also explains why most writers prefer to write locally rather take up the harder route of story-telling in another. Though every language has its limitations.
This book is meant for the thinking lot as the stories evoke multiple truths. Every character sketch projects an image that we have been familiar with before in some episode of our lives, enabling a ready connect. And as if by conscious choice, the author hardly paints a picture of the characters and yet one clearly visualizes and creates one’s own images through the conversations that they have. What one also sees in the book is a romantic recreation of escapism, a yearning to undo the wrongs, the urge to start a new journey. And perhaps a sense of longing to escape the harsh vagaries of life. Though most stories end abruptly, rightfully so. If one reads to find answers to the questions, this is not the place to find it. What one does leave with are musings and retrospections.
One cannot escape the seemingly autobiographical narrative. And one gets startled to sense an almost invisible and yet reckless “sutradhaar”, a voice, running amock through the stories, sometimes screaming and sometimes whispering every now and then. The voice hinting to something more than just the stories; perhaps calling for some answers for itself too. The disappointment was in the wanton constructions of words and phrases that lacked structure. Moreover, what one constantly finds is impatience in the narration. Some of the words seemed out of place. Expressions became quite repetitive and descriptions almost incomplete.
Above all that is said however, this first literary attempt by a genuinely creative individual like Bobo Meitei is reassurance for the many young writers that are brave to face the world. And as I wish him the best for his second book, I end with a fabulous quote from the movie “Ratatouille (2007)“ by none other than the critic of critics “Monsieur Anton Ego”.
“Anton Ego: In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the *new*. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends…”
(The columnist would like to extend her wishes for the coming Diwali celebrations. Let us count the number of good deeds and not the number of candles. And with good deeds, as Spock would have it “Live long and prosper”. )