Dr. Nair's Review
The first review of “The Remix…” has come from Dr K. C. V. Nair, MA (English), MA (Socio), MA (American Literature). I thought I could reproduce this in my blog.
THE REMIX OF ORCHID. A. N. Nanda, Published by A. N. Nanda, 238 / A, Sahidnagar, Bhubaneswar – 751007, Price: INR 250.00
In this collection of twenty-one short stories, the author has created a panorama of Andamanese life, selecting characters and situations from different walks of life. The characters mostly have a middleclass or lower middleclass background, and lead a life of mundane, humdrum existence. The situations are those that any one of us would find ourselves in. But, using these ordinary people and situations, the author plumbs the depth of human existence with élan and aplomb.
Bhandarkar is not able to fulfil his promise of returning to Port Blair to reclaim his pet dog Snow, and the Naga servant Aloto disposes of the dog selecting the easy course in The Apt Disposal. Manglu, the tribal from Jharkhand in The Emancipated, after many years of toil and moil in the Andamans, get the shock of his life when he learns from his friend that his wife, whom he had left behind on the mainland, has betrayed him, but at the same time has a great feeling of emancipation at the thought of not having to care for anyone and anything in the world. The world is too much with us; this is what the author tells us in The Confluence. It tells the story of two brothers and their sister who have no time or desire to care for the last wishes of their father that his ashes be immersed in the Ganges. In everyday life, we all get shortchanged by hustlers and dishonest persons, and Sushila’s experience in The Golden Trip is no different. Her mother is seriously ill on the mainland, and she is at the mercy of unscrupulous pawnbroker for the money and the travel agent for the ticket. In Once Lucky the author has explored a common human situation, namely, that of the love triangle, and the denouement in the form of a dream happening to Nitish, the protagonist of the story, exposes his folly of having swapped the letters meant for his wife and the lover. Deprivation can have dehumanizing effect on individuals; this is what At The Crossroads tells us through the story of Damodar Pathak. How the land mafia swindles hapless people who are vulnerable when faced with the problem of their daughter’s marriage is the theme of Homecoming. Dannaya has to dispose of his ancestral house and land for a pittance to marry off his daughter, and becomes rootless in his hometown. In Still in India, an old woman who is in a predicament whether to stay with her younger son in the USA or the elder one in the Andamans, finally decides in favour of the latter, though he is less sound financially.
In The Millennium Blog the writer explores the theme of adventure. Instead of enjoying the New Year eve at the dawn of the Millennium at a holiday resort, a man and a woman spend the midnight under the deep ocean and encounter dangerous barracudas. In The Salvation and The Remix of Orchid, the author seamlessly blends the real with the unreal. In the former, a ghost that was trapped in a cave is released, and gets a chance to act in a play on a patriotic theme and thus gets salvation. In the latter, an orchid plant grows tentacles and goes after its owner to suck him to death. That a cataclysmic storm can rise to the level of an apocalypse is vividly brought out in A Clip in Slow Motion, while Out of Her Block tells the story of a woman writer whose creative powers are temporarily eclipsed. The Gung-ho Team celebrates the victory of the Andaman hockey team in a national tournament in Bombay. The Green Baggage burlesques the members of a Committee from the mainland, who have come to the Andamans to make a study of the environmental damage caused by building contractors. Not only that the building mafia looks after the comforts of the Committee members, but, as demanded by the members, they also arrange for them wild-life delicacies like venison. The author handles an uncommon theme in The Two Visitors, where some trickster tries to thrust a boy on a couple who had lost their first son many years ago.
There are two stories in this collection in which the author handles the theme of love with effortlessness of a mature artist. In Over the Seas, Dr. Sridhar, who is a doctor in Kuwait, falls in love with Rehna, a Muslim maidservant undergoing excruciating experiences in a Kuwaiti household, and decides to marry her and settle down in the Andamans, away from the watchful eyes of an unsympathetic society. In Flying Colours, it is the innocent love of a Nicobari girl for a person of her own tribe that the author handles. In both the stories, the author has shunned the routine path and idealistic vision of love in favour of one that is pragmatic and realistic.
The stories differ in themes, but what gives them an underlying unity is the locale that is almost always the Andamans. Mr. Nanda writes a kind of prose that has all the distinctive tang of the language we are all familiar with. In his maiden attempt as a short story writer, he has come out with flying colours.
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