‘You are happy?’ starts off with a violent reaction to what seems like an out of control situation. Break her arms, break her legs,” Lakshman’s grandmother would say about her daughter-in-law, “then see how she crawls to her bottle.”
While this may not be something unfamiliar to the natives of India, Laxman’s father immediately scuffs the idea saying he WILL go to jail for it. It is NOT India. As a native Indian it did shock and surprise me. But I immediately went on to read the situation the story is set in and it is damn unpleasant. An alcoholic and that too a woman! Akhil here narrates the story from the point of view of Laxman who resides in a home full of deranged parents. An alcoholic mother and a immensely normal seeming, male dominance which reeks from his dad’s mannerisms eventually if not immediately.
Laxman’s parents are extremely unhappy with each other. Theirs’s was an arranged marriage- more of a business deal. They never fell in love with each other as opposed to the traditional belief that comes with arranged marriage. They moved to America to expand their business but Laxman kept returning to India in summers to stay connected to his routes. There he relishes his bath in stepped well. He finds out about the numerous village girls that go out to defecate in the fields and get raped. He learns about the girls who come to deliver morning tea to his uncles and go straight to their uncle’s room after that, stay there for half an hour. Each man has his whore.
This story is of alcoholism and deeply male centric society. Eventually, a stench of honour killing catches up without being explicitly described. Laxman, the narrator does not immediately come across as a lovable character but the dynamic changes in the due course and where hate and helplessness creeps in. He is a boy of fourteen after all.
Akhil Sharma has captures the grief extremely well. There is a constant melancholy clouding in the story that is heart piercing. I would love to read more stories by the author.
Read the story here.
Also, read Akhil Sharma talk about alcoholism and honour killing.
This short story forms a great start to 365stories. I am positive about this year. Join in for fun. Share stories that you would want us to read! Actually, read along with us!