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Book Review: Our Particular Shadows


It is a pity that I had kept this book unread for such a long time. But then, this is the second book by Radhika Mukherjee that I was reading. The earlier book (Broken Shadows Review here) was such a sweet pleasure that I wanted to read this one with due respect that her writing truly deserves. Writings of some writers are like ripe fruit, which if handled carelessly would fall and explode. Her writing is like that. Her earlier book to me was a sweet surprise, this one was an eager expectation.

Radhika writes prose but it is so near to poetry. In fact, when you read it, let yourself emerge in it. It has the magic, the vigor and the flow much nearer to spoken-word poetry. The magic of experimental prose is in the honesty it carries. It is as if the writer decided not to let his own consciousness stand between the page and his soul, as if the medium merged into the creator and they are no longer two distinct entities.

The magic rises from the mundane, a night, in its silence, weaves a song, softer than the silence. Words are caressing, mystical and nurturing. They rise like a wisp and wrap themselves around your soul. The collection has seven stories in its thin form, thin yet succulent - Longing, Promise, Magician, Poison, So?, Shot! And Quiet.

There is a silent night of longing, the night, which is not any other night. This is where philosophy melts into romance- The first story, Longing. Although it seemed, the longing became too for the writer’s soul for the longing end in the minute light as she stares into the firefly. Not a greedy soul, she says, We spoke of wondrous worlds! And sealed pacts that only spirit will ever know.
My soul returned- a deep peace…
With one last glimmer, my friend flew away and twinkled from a distance. Melted into the stars-
And it was enough.
For all my eternities.

A moment of love, an eternity of memories. How much love is too much love? A moment, a lifetime. An eternity in a moment, like a sea-shell holding a pearl in its breast. Her writing is not sad for a moment. Not even in longing. It is evident, as Longing, is immediately followed by Promise. She is deep, she is not an easy customer, not one to be fooled. We know it as she writes, Maya was spreading her sore-missed mantle over me again. She knows it is Maya, an illusion, but still she smiles, and the world smiles with her. The wisdom to know and an ever greater wisdom to allow not knowing. The acceptance of the world as it is, an illusion, a fantasy and still welcome it with open arms, emancipation.

 She is always optimistic, always hopeful. Even when she is waiting for the Poison. Even poison is a victory. She is a Sufi here in her prose, a dancing dervish. A soul stretching from eternity unto eternity, and when she ends the next story So? With,  
"at least you smiled, now perhaps we may cry, 

and what hits us is the oneness between grief and happiness. Two sides on one coin, the other side of the moon. The light melts into darkness and the dark fades into light, the twilight which we call life.


I am totally in awe of Radhika Mukherjee’s talent. She is a mystic poet who camouflages herself as a story-teller. Her writings are not for you if you are looking for trendy stories. If you want to read something timeless, something which will survive both the reader and the writer, do read this. I am greedy. I do not know if Radhika plans to someday write a full-length novel. If she does and if these stories are any indications, we might have a writer penning something like The Waves (my review) of Virginia Woolf someday. Her writing is experimental prose which is so rare to find these days. Dive in to discover the divinity in the magical world of words. This is the book you will keep coming back to, whenever your soul is bruised by the brutal world we live in, and I am sure, it will always soothe your senses.

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