Finished reading book no. 30 for the year – A collection of 14 short stories by Damodar Mauzo. It starts with a quirky tale of a Goan couple that has never ‘swapped spit’ in their 5 years of marriage; the book then moves on to some sobering stories of poverty, philosophy & misplaced pride.
While ‘Teresa’s Man & Other Stories From Goa’ is a translated work, Mauzo’s story-telling prowess is not lost in translation at all. The writer sets up an intricate world for the readers with every new setting and makes one wonder with excitement about what’s going to happen next. Except for two stories that couldn’t hold my attention, the others were engaging and capture different moods of the Indian life. Some stories end rather abruptly and you wish for more.
One of the least likable stories was titled “For Death Does Not Come”, which is told through the perspective of a snake. While all the other stories had human protagonists, this one struck a little odd in the collection. Even the theme of the story felt insincere – it’s about a water-snake trying to protect her child through an unforgiving summer terrain. The thing is – most snakes are not maternal, some of them will even eat their kids if hungry; so out of curiosity I looked up water-snakes and true enough – the mothers do not take care of their offspring. Maybe the writer wanted to show us the non-existent maternal side of a creature that is often demonized, but it doesn’t really work. If one had to pick a favorite, it would perhaps be the last one that’s about a bunch of writers attending a literary conference in Delhi. It was intriguing and fun to read.
The title tale “Teresa’s Man” was disappointing, because it almost glorifies toxic masculinity & domestic violence. It’s important to note that the stories were written between 1960s & 2009, so modern readers might not relate to the outdated social mores reflected in a few of them. That said, it’s an enjoyable read & I loved a few tales. The book is available on Kindle Unlimited.
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