The Penguin Modern series presents a brilliant collection of stories from authors which you might not encounter in your everyday bestseller list. Plus it is super cheap! What more could you want?
One title from the series that I recently bought was two short stories by Yuko Tshuhima. I have never read this author before. I have heard of Yukio Mishima, but yet to read him as his books are so hard to get here! So I was excited to find this gem on an online website and its price was hard to resist even with the delivery charge!
The book uses the title of the second short story as its main title: Of Dogs and Walls.
The first story is Watery Realm and the second one is the title.
Watery Realm is a poignant story about a mother’s gift of an aquarium castle to her son while also delving into her own relation with water and her own mother. Entwined within this is her own mother’s narrative and how she raised her kids. It is a beautiful paralleled story of two completely different points of view towards the same two things: water and mother or daughter (depending on whose point of view you see from).
“You’ve always viewed me through your own troubles. Can you deny it? People depend on their misfortunes. We curse them, but we’re actually wedded to them, proud of them even. And you’re no exception. You’re afraid of the water that stole your husband, but all you can do is consort with it. It’s always around you. As far as you’re concerned, he didn’t die, he turned to water….Water is your greatest fear, but the world of water is also where your deepest prayers find a hearing. Away from that realm and its deity, you lose sight of the feelings that you still have for your husband; they become lost in your feelings as a mother. And you think I’m like you.”
Of Dogs and Walls is the second, equally well constructed and layered story using elaborate metaphors to talk of memories and childhood dreams.
There are many similarities in the two stories. Both the stories, though short and not over 30 pages, are brilliantly sketched in its depth, its themes and symbolism. Both focus on flashbacks as a technique to narrate the story, both focus mainly on the mother-daughter relationship, both are troubled relations, both the mothers lost their husbands early on, both the mothers are unflinching and resolute, one sibling has developmental problems and death of that sibling among many others.
Within those few words and pages, the author has shown the complexity of our relationships, memories and childhood with such delicacy that one can only marvel at it.
This is a perfect poignant read for a calm rainy weekend.
I hope to get hold of more titles in the series soon!
Till then, comment below if you have read books in this series. What were they? Did you like them?