If you are looking for a book with the typical dramatics usually associated with the narration of a gay story, this is not the book for you. The writing while subtle and restrained in emotional expression remains provocative enough to warrant some time just mulling over the situations represented in a very fluid manner. There may not be stark similarities but you will surely find yourself identifying with some characters or situations in the stories. Although this is not an exhaustive look at a gay person’s life but is a very bold attempt at covering a multitude of experiences, emotions and occurrences.
The lying that is an inherent part of a Gay man’s life in the Indian construct is captured quite well and is an essential part of a book.
The stories usually talk about a partial acceptance and the “Big” coming out seems to have already happened or has been deemed redundant – which is a prominent gap. Perhaps these stories come from a land where dramatics remains hidden, the confrontations elusive – Perhaps this can be attributed to the fact that the Gay subject in most stories is a 30 something man and the stories revolve around him, his life and choices. Another reason that this absence could be explained is the heavy South Indian influence that is part of this book, and South Indians in my opinion are the closest to the very talked about American Wasps/ Episcopalians.
What is noteworthy is the fact that the author captures various perspectives, not just the overtly explored Gay Man’s perspective but also the perspectives, thought processes and reactions of the family, friends and cousins.
Overall, the way these very short stories would affect you also remains slightly hidden and the full effect might be felt at different times, might even be days after you read them. It is apparent from this read that the stories are based on experiences of the author and his friends which impart the book a very honest tone, which I believe would appeal to most readers. The pretentious and the ones looking for metaphors and hidden meaning would need to look somewhere else, as this book is wonderful with its simple narration and maturity of thought.
About the author: Mahesh Natarajan has had a radical career journey, from a consultant, to a counsellor and psychotherapist, to a writer. He loves to travel and is fond of reading. He is currently based in Bangalore.
[*Editor’s Note : Published in TQC January 2011]