Monday, June 19, 2017

The Inimitable Chaos of Life

“You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star”.

                                                                                Friedrich Nietzsche

Maliny Mohan has chosen to make chaos the hero of her maiden anthology titled ‘The Inimitable Chaos of Life’. Her fourteen stories bring to life most of the emotions known to mankind, each one exploring the depths of the very fountainhead of life. 

The love that a brother and sister share in the tender ‘Sara’ sets the tone for the tales that follow, as the reader settles down, all set to be shaken and stirred.

‘Metamorphosis’ talks about how even a hardened criminal can experience a change of heart in a world that is responsible for having made him what he is.

Anita and Abhay come alive in ‘Through the Kaleidoscope’, both caught in a web of misunderstanding. Anita felt that people influenced her in different ways. “Some made her smile, some made her cry” and some others reduced “her soul to grey powdered ash”. How does the past creep into her present through the “cluttered maze called love?”

A beautiful story that tugged at my heartstrings was ‘The Man at the Copy Shop’, the saga of Kavita, who aspires to be a writer, Kartik, the photostat man, and her manuscript that brings them together. They marry, have a baby, even as she remains engrossed in her writing, but the twist in the tale makes this one of the most meaningful stories in the collection.

‘Apartment No. 20’ has a similar feel, as the protagonist marries a man whom she does not love, but gradually gets to know him and love him. She is “an enclosed person, who liked her personal zone and who valued the moments of her life like little pieces of gems”. When life takes a chaotic turn, she takes comfort in the words of her husband. “There may be a degree of safety in predictability, but unpredictability sure leaves your senses enamoured of its magic.” Isn’t that exactly what happens in real life as well?

When one wrong step has dangerous repercussions in the future, all one can do is wait and watch in utter helplessness. This is the theme of ‘Second Chance’, where Kartik keeps “one awful secret” from his wife, one that veils an “ugly chapter in his life”. Sometimes, there is just no going back!

Two stories which have stayed in my mind are ‘Unsung Melody’ and ‘Wind Chimes in the Desert’. The former deals with the sorrow that comes when lovers do not “cut through the icing that cocoon(ed) their relationship” and instead “doubt(ed) the whispers” of their hearts.

‘Wind Chimes in the Desert’ (such a poetic title), is an intriguing tale couched in evocative language, which deals with the problem of dissociative amnesia. Rita strives to be there for her friend, Neena, who, having forgotten the nuances of her past, failed to “unveil the blanket of dilemma that cloaked her mind”. The narrative leaves you shaky, even as you wonder if a wrong and a right can cancel each other out.

Maliny Mohan is a talented writer with a feel for words. In the last story in the book, ‘For a Reason’, she could be talking about herself. “To fiddle with words, to blend them in the right amount, to sprinkle splendid surprises that would spew magic and ultimately win over the hearts of the readers had been her passion since she could remember.” For that is exactly what she does in each of her moving stories, almost seeming to echo the words of Tara Isis Gerris – “Within the Chaos Magic is found.”


  1. I will come back to read this review after I read my review copy....


    1. Waiting for you to come back, Shalet...


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