(Published in Republica, 2011 April 22)
Orchid Books' launch Pahilo Premko Sansmaran is a collection of short stories, written by Dhruba Chandra Gautam. The book enshrines published stories written four decades ago, until the present in different papers and magazines, those that might have been out of print. Roshan Thapa 'Niarav' edited the copy. Readers will be able to compare Gautam's writings from the past decade to his present style.
Fifteen stories consist of multiple issues of youthful vigor of a guy to the inanimate life of a retired character. Different plots revolve around the story of childhood nostalgia, bureaucratic idiosyncrasy, societal pretensions, youthful spirit and the war melancholy. The events, even though seem realistic, due to the narrative style, few might loose focus while reading the story.
The importance of this book lies further. Most of the stories included are experimental in nature dealing with absurdist and existential issues. As most of the stories match the theme of Absurdism, the characters, somewhere, do nothing precious. And thus, their proceedings seem often unsolved and useless as well.
A reader's wish of reading, Gautam's story collection will not be available in the future. "It is my last collection of stories. My focus will now be on writing novels in the coming days." reveals Gautam.
"Antya: mrityunirai" narrated in third person; depicts the loathsome concern of human beings. The settings are pessimistic in nature. The characters loiter below fainting sky. One of the actors, marked on futility feels that the city where he lives is not a place rather a "deferred time". A long nostalgic narration does not make readers dehydrated for probable incidents.
The modern man's pretensions are neatly weaved in Ekanta. Characters posture of being bookish. And the episode philosophizes some matter ineffectively. The characters carry hollow intellectuality and idealism. In addition, their nonsense idiosyncrasy becomes irritable too.
The content of generation gap and property affections within a middle class family is apparent in the story Antar.
Pramaad is the story on bureaucracy. A bureaucrat attempts to prove he is humane and follows an unfortunate street girl. But is compelled to loose his lenient nature in the process. It is Gautam's renowned vigor that makes him experimental in his writings (be that of a novel or a short story) without any profound discoveries. Likewise, Gautam's writings juxtapose the sentiments of time and myth. His post modern experimentalism can be seen in Pramaad as well.. Because of this very trend, his style differs from the traditional stories of some other writers. Moreover, his informal writing style could be a fine ingredient to enjoy the reading in this book. Experimental way of presentation lies in the character, the plot, various points of view and other technicality. Along the way, a writer's self is revealed in the plot.
One of the most remarkable stories of an experimental type in this collection is Shatabdiko mahan upalabdhi. Ten plots of different headings, unfold itself, in just two or three lines regarding ironical issues of politics, familial relation, health, loneliness etc.
Antya sambad is another experimental fiction demonstrated in a dramatic manner. It floats around the severe issues of load shedding, eco-system, disease and politics, faced during contemporary times. A character addresses the issues of load shedding in a humorous way, "My wife became ready to be undressed supposing electricity will be cut off for 3 hours..."
One of Gautam’s favorite concerns is love.. He does not allow his pen to deviate away from this angle. The story, which entitles the book - Pahilo premko sansmaran is about the love in nostalgia. A guy is expected to have an affair with a lady. Later the lady is found to be non-existent. Boy looses his emotions.
Regarding the theme, almost all the stories here are concerned with realistic footprints. Some other things notable in the book are that neither is there a preface nor a writer’s point of view. Rather the editor's critical review at the end page is more fruitful. The appraisal contains the forte of Gautam's writing style.
The story of an innate life of a retired soul is Samriddhi. It mostly consists of flashbacks of his child hood memories.
We have incidents of hollow love and idealism in our surroundings. Gautam understands this reality and depicts it in Purba Premika. In order to get involved in a physical relationship, with a woman the modern man can perform his role in a fake way, as if everything is going fine on his guise. Once his traits are revealed we can console our soul believing, "It's a story of a modern hero." Regarding the human traits a character reveals here, "Human is no more efficacious, to keep an intense relationship."
Preclown-60 is a symbolic story targeting humor. Similarly, Niskarsha too is symbolic, containing ironic qualities. It severely satirizes the horror aspects of war. As the title suggests, the story concludes- war is not fruitful. Characters target to contemplate themselves in a war with a pillar. The pillar symbolizes old, deep rooted superstitious values of our society.
When a person reaches acme, s/he prefer or choose to forget the distasteful past. This theme is revealed in Prem aayo, kina aayo? Asafal reveals how a person needs to possess a hollow identity, to grab the fruits of life. It reveals the wish of the ambitious guys. Kalpanik depicts the worrisome aspects of the writer. A writer, in our society, is a matter of abhorrence. The remuneration s/he gets couldn't kill the hungers of breakfast. The story depicts a pitiable aspect.
In concern of language, Gautam expenses more words just to express a miniature matter. He tends to linger on facts, which are trivial.
The out of reach stories are again reachable, so it is worth a reading.
Title : Pahilo Premko Sansmaran
Author : Dhruba Chandra Gautam
Genre : Fiction
Pages : 113
ISBN : 9789937902663