A warm humanism marks this collection of stories by Rajee Seth, some of which are vibrantly feminist. Woman suffers, and man too, and Seth tries to dissect the reasons why. A clinical detachment is tempered by empathy and understanding.
The protagonist in Amma’s Gold, who lost in an earlier war, and wants to sell her ornaments to donate to the National Defence Fund during the Kargil battle, cannot be deterred by her grasping other son. Partition forms the background of Wait, Intezaar Hussein: on Independence Day, a man, while reading a book about the watershed in history, is assailed by the memory of his beloved who perished in the Lahore riots forty years before. In Yatra, an old man getting reconciled to his son after long servitude at his master’s mansion discovers that being fettered is demeaning to the human spirit. The title story is about childlessness, where the man, himself the cause, stigmatises his wife, who gets wind of her mother-in-law’s plans to seek another bride and decides to leave. Morass lends itself to pharaphrasing Ivy Compton-Burnett’s words: pride goes before a fall, but male pride may continue after.
In Raji Narasimhan’s precise and vivid translations from their Hindi originals, the stories truly come alive.
Apart from the general reader, Not without Reason and Other Stories will appeal to students of gender studies and comparative literature.
Rajee Seth is an acclaimed Hindi Writer of fiction, poetry and criticism. Her works have been translated into almost all Indian languages as well as English.
Raji Narasimhan writes fiction and criticism in English, and is also a well-known translator.