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Monday, March 4, 2013

A Review "My Lawfully Wedded Husband"

He was just deadly that Sunday morning; she had never imagined that he had it in him. She had screamed in pain and agony. Although he had got her sprawled awkwardly on the floor, although she was in a state of severe shock, yet she was looking up in great admiration at her “lawfully wedded husband” standing above her. He deservedly sported a triumphant smile. Madhulika Liddle spins a powerful story of an illicit dalliance of a woman stuck in a boring marriage, which ends in a horrific surprise.
Madhulika has a smooth flow in the narration of the 12 stories in the, “My Lawfully Wedded Husband and Other Stories.” What I particularly enjoyed, additionally, in her tales were the picture perfect descriptions of the everyday scenes that one takes for granted. Sample these two:

“Sudha, curled the fallen hair around the tip of her forefinger,” from Hourie.

“Her mouth was full of clothespins – ugh – and her shoulder was heaped high with pillow covers, a bed sheet, petticoats, shirts and an apron printed with bright crimson poppies. She had close-set eyes, bright and prying………,” from “My Lawfully Wedded Husband.”

Her tale about Hourie, the whore, could pride itself of a superior research and, thus, sounds more authentic than that of other Indian authors who have attempted stories involving prostitutes. Her storyline also has a mild touch of erotica. However, the ending is not very dramatic.  

In contrast, the opening story Sum Total has you guessing until the end when the author lets loose a double whammy of twists to the tale. A Sheldonesque take, if one may say so. In A Brief Lesson In Trust the author allows the protagonist to cynically take advantage of the gullibility of a naive friend.

Again, in The Crusader, the story is interspersed with enjoyable, intimate whispered conversation between a couple whilst watching a movie – eavesdrop on it:

“Hummpf. In that nightdress he’s wearing? Looks stupid.”

“Who cares about the nightdress? It’s what’s under it that matters.” Deeksha giggled.     

A Tale of a Summer Vacation is about two sisters loving the same man and lays bare the machination of one of them to achieve her goal of getting him. St. George and the Dragon is a story set in a government office that goes on to prove that there is lot of merit in the Biblical Beatitude that says that “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth!” Of course, with a little help from Shivani Sinha.

Feet of Clay falls a little short because it is along expected lines; perhaps, because the newspapers cover the subject of child molestation extensively. Hence, the twist is not knotty enough. On the other hand, On the Night Train is quite naughty and delightful. Silent Fear is creepy enough to give cutis anserina. 

The last story, The Howling Waves of Tranque Bar, is of an artist of a different kind. It is the story of grève d'orage.

This compendium of crime stories makes a good read.

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