‘The Mad Tibetan: Stories from Then and Now’ by Deepti Naval
Over the years, Deepti Naval has remained one of my favorite actors – simple, subtle, down to earth and totally classy. Her short stories are also more or less like her. Drawn from real life, characters that we might have seen somewhere along the way and set in scenarios that many of us are familiar with, the stories are told in a straight from the heart, no frills style.
‘The Piano Tuner’ leaves us with a sense of melancholy while ‘Sisters’ transfers the pain of their helplessness to us. ‘Premonition’ left me a little confused as to what it meant , while ‘Birds’ again ends in a sad note. ‘Bombay Central’ shows us the strange turns that life can take and ‘The Morning After’ is a tale of hope.
The next four stories are more of memoirs and I loved these the best. ‘D’ is about how she meets a childhood friend and a situation that many of us would be familiar with, the difference is in the fact that the author here is a celebrity. The title story ‘The Mad Tibetan’ is about someone whom we would have met in the bustling streets of any city as well as the calm bylanes of a village. She meets this mad man in a far off , almost deserted place in Ladakh. The scenery is captured beautifully in her words.
‘Thulli,’ in my opinion is the best of the lot. Deepti drags her friends one night to the infamous streets of Kamathipura and she sees that intriguing face of the protagonist Thulli at a window. Her story , in Thulli’s own words, told in a very matter of fact way, catches you by the throat. She and her girls are so resigned to their fates and they accept it stoically. The place and the people would remain with the author for a long time. Their life is so well summed up in Thulli’s own words,
“they make sound all the time, but we don’t hear anything anymore. “
‘Balraj Sahni is about how she meets the great actor for the first time and ‘Ruth Mayberry’ about a screen writer who has been writing that one screen play for seventeen long years and how the wait ends.
The overall feeling of the stories is a little melancholic. I thought it reflected the t shades of emotions that we see in the author’s eyes – a tinge of sadness and that feeling that she is somewhere far away.
Verdict : Not a ‘must read’, for sure. You can pick it up as a light read and finish it in less than a day.