‘The Red Notebook’ introduces the readers to the kind of stories that nestle within this slim volume. Ganapathy and Sheila, and their children, Arjun and Meera, arrive at Chennai from London to spend time with a recently bereaved Mallika, Ganapathy’s mother. Two worlds are juxtaposed here and the traditional and the modern overlap in the most unexpected ways, with the help of a fascinating red notebook. The final paragraph stays in the mind, poignant yet joyous.
Sibling rivalry is the theme of story number two titled ‘Jaipur, With Love’, in which Pandurangan, the unlikely hero with “an innocent goodness that made people dote on him,” travels from Kanyakumari to Jaipur. His quest is buoyed up with a burning vengeance within his heart. As he meets various people up North, the tale keeps the reader wondering if he will achieve his end, almost resembling a Malayalam movie with its numerous references.
In the third story, ‘Karuppasamy’s Secret’, a quaint little mystery is played out, whetting the readers’ appetites. Right from Karuppasamy, the protagonist, his “veteran employee”, Murugan and the mild-mannered Sarvesh who was “the punching bag between management and the staff” to the “devout traditional” Pankajam and the “charming and mysterious” Lathika, the characters play their roles with flair, right till the piquant end.
‘Arriving in Chennai’ reveals how archaic mindsets get dissolved when love takes over in a city that was never expected to be one’s own, as in the case of Amit who moves from UP to Chennai, and finds his life turning over.
Nithya Rajagopal’s panache in the writing craft is revealed in the seeming simplicity of her stories which handle the most complex of themes with ease. Prepare to receive a ticket to love when you muse over these four delightful stories along with a samosa and a hot cuppa!