If you want to read stories that are akin to a cup of tea, comforting and familiar, tales that will fill your heart with nuances of romance and joy, ‘Knitted Tales – A Collection of Emotions’ by the talented Rubina Ramesh is not for you. These stories sear and sizzle; they portray harsh realities and forbidden themes that are normally swept under the carpet. They leave out the trappings and tell only the truth. Rubina Ramesh does not believe in candy floss and tinsel, at least not in her debut collection of short stories, which, in my opinion, need to be explored, if only to show the dazzling variety of topics that Rubina has touched upon.
1. A Secret in Their Closet:
“Cruel hands were holding her down, smothering her... maybe she could pretend to be dead and then these monsters would leave her alone.” What is the mystery behind ten-year old Payal’s nightmares? How do Satya and Anjali deal with the trauma their daughter is going through? This is a tale that touches the heart and horrifies, in turns.
An assortment of events is seen through the eyes of Sudesh, who feels betrayed by his wife, Shweta. As the story progresses, the reader goes though myriad emotions, till the horrifying denouement, which he does not see coming.
This story is reminiscent of a popular story by Leo Tolstoy in which children are portrayed as more mature than their elders. How does Sunaina tackle the bullying of her classmates in school? How real is the menace of racism in the US? The subject is treated with the grace and sympathy that it deserves.
4. Forgive Me, For I Have Sinned:
A letter from his past stops Abhijeet from letting the dilemma of his past ruin his future. Who is his harbinger of trust, the one person who makes him believe in himself again? Speaking of past loss that ends on a note of hope in the future, this is one of the stories that stands apart theme-wise, from the others.
The beautiful Lolita is the unattainable dream of many, the heartthrob of a nation, the one who wields power gleaned from the weaknesses of men. What is her weakness, her vulnerability, and the memories that are like “the unwanted dandelions in a garden”? The author dwells within the mind of a unapologetic protagonist, who has been crafted in a cruel world!
6. No Regrets:
Raima and Arvind live a mundane life in the US, but does the latter know what his wife really wants? How does the presence of a third person bring back the spark, ensuring that there are no regrets left? An intriguing account with a trace of mischief, almost!
Poignant and hard-hitting, this story tells of the trials and tribulations faced by lovers of the Kharia tribe, a seer tribe who is believed to be able to “play with spirits”. Does true love finally win over the orthodoxy of the tribal heads? In a world that’s fast-changing, there are, sadly, still pockets within our country that remain tethered to the past. As a result, this story comes as a contrast in its treatment.
8. The Little Godmother:
Arunee‘s whole life changes when a new person comes into her life, and turns it upside down. Is it possible to see the two sides of a coin, and decide which one you want to see? The little Godmother is a story of the spiralling emotions of a young girl, told perceptively and with feeling.
9. The Missing Staircase:
This is one of the best-crafted stories in the whole collection, as Christie comes back home to her grandfather, to a home of which she had such fond memories. The descriptions of childhood, vibrant memories, ambitions that took her away from home and confessions, sitting on that very staircase, make it heart-warming and joyful. The ending is a shocker, but takes away nothing from the beauty of the narration.
10. The Other Woman:
Aru, a young girl secure in the love of her parents, finds out a bitter truth about her parents’ marriage when her grandmother lands up and makes accusations against her mother. This story paints a picture of modern marriages, but softens the harshness and the heartbreak through its sympathetic narration.
11. Daddy, Hear Me Out
Jaspreet tackles the bugbear of examinations, breaking away from her timidity and lack of confidence, as she receives a message from a higher being. A saga that is replayed in the lives of our students, and will do so as long as marks and examinations remain paramount as a testimony of success.
12. Cliff Notes:
This moving tale talks of how human beings, who should be brothers under the skin, cheat and harm one another, while Mother Nature plays the role of benefactor. It works beautifully as the closing story in a collection of tales that leave the reader with “thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.”
Rubina Ramesh reveals that she is not easily influenced by other literary minds, as she pens down her thoughts in a style that is unquestionably her own. There is no doubt that a sequel would be a good idea.