Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Friday, June 14, 2013

"Indian Dreams" by M. J. Akbar (1977)

I have on my IPAD five anthologies of Indian short stories, all in all about 140 stories.   I hope to read and post on some of these works in 2013.  One reason for doing this is to give me a non-European assembly of short stories as a cultural reference to help me see differences in short stories of different cultures. The main reason is to read works by a lot of mostly new to me writers.  I will begin my reading with Best Indian Short Stories, Vol. 1 and 2, edited and selected by Khushwant Singh.   All of the stories in these collections were originally published in The Illustrated Weekly of India from 1969 to 1979 when Singh was editor.   

M. J. Akbar (Calcutta, 1951) has had a long very distinguished career as a journalist and author.  "Indian Dreams" centers on a young Muslim man we meet just as he graduates from college.  He and his two best friends spent as much time in a local coffee shop discussing the preoccupations of the men, sex being one of the biggest, as they do in school.  The man has gone to a second class school and does not speak the socially desirable version of British English.   He knows he has to find a good job if he is to be considered as a husband of a young upper class woman he is infatuated with.  The problem is that for every job there are 100s, even 1000s of applicants.   His bitterness grows with every rejection.  Meanwhile his friends tease him about being a virgin, urging him to go see a prostitute they frequent, Lilly.   Finally he does go visit her, she is lovely and a decent acting woman who knows it is his first time.   He feels somehow guilty over having sex with her.  It is a violation of the teachings of his religion and he feels he has been unfaithful to the woman he loves even though he never meets her.  The story ends with his suicide and his friends confusion over it.  

"Indian Dreams" is a very well done story that lets us inside a troubled mind.  

Mel u

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