"Interpreter of Maladies" by Jhumpa Lahiri – A Beautiful Collection of Short Stories

Beautiful narration, romantic stories and at times unimaginable circumstances! Short story spun out of day-to-day chores and occurrences. The stories are very well written yet are vague at most of the times they don’t have a set starting or a definite ending, they kind of just end abruptly, leaving the reader in a bit of suspense and to derive lot of conclusions about the future. This is another reason why these stories stay in reader’s mind for long.

The novel begins with “Temporary Matter”, a story of a young Indian couple who drifts apart and hates to be in each other’s presence after they lose their first child. Due to some maintenance job in their residential area, the electricity is cut for an hour in the evenings. First evening the wife begins the game of telling the partner something that they feel, or have done which they have never shared before. This goes on for a couple of days and both of them are able to tell each other things that they had never shared before only to share the most painful and cruel of all secrets on the last day of this temporary arrangement of power cuts.

This short story follows by “interpreter of Maladies” where an Indian guide takes an NRI family to see the Konark (Sun) Temple near Puri and how he starts fantasizing an all-together new life, when the wife shows some interest in his everyday job of interpreter/ translator at a doctor’s clinic. Does his fantasy come true or does it crash right in front of his eyes?

Another interesting tale of this collection is “When Mr.Pirzada came to dine”, a story set during the days when Bangladesh was formed after partition from Pakistan. A story set far away from Indian about an Indian Hindu family, who invite Mr.Pirzada home to dine with them and the elders get so close that they all not just share meals but pray for the welfare of Mr.Pirzada’s family and young daughters in the war trodden Bangladesh until one day, the war comes to an end and Mr.Pirzada manages to go back home. Very beautifully narrated story this is!

Then there was an interesting story “This Blessed House”, in which a newly married couple move into a house only to find out that the house is special and a blessed one. How do they come to realize this? You need to read the book to find out…

All an all an amazing collection, wonderful narration and very simplistic language which puts a reader at ease. Definitely worth a read!