Manuscript help, book reviews and author interviews
A collection of short stories ‘Being Boys’ by Tulika Publishers is a unique effort to include a variety of narratives handling issues that young boys may experience. The stories are by Amandeep Sandhu, Jerry Pinto, Vikram Seth, Manjula Padmanabhan, Suniti Namjoshi, Raj Shekhar and others.
In ‘Big Brother’, an intelligent, loner day scholar finally gets his own special nickname, and a place in a group. In ‘Rinku’s Hair’ , a bullied young boy wears a patka and understands his responsibility as a Sikh. How a young puny boy becomes a bully and then understands that there is more to the world than a frown,Kerrrrah-Tuck has much to ponder about. The hilarious “Rave On’ story of Ravan and his ten heads, each of which has its own mind, is a delightful read .
“I ask you — what would people say to an alpha male, king-to-be, warrior type like me going around with a head of pink hair and a nose ring to boot?”
The ‘Being Boys’ stories are from different parts of India, and each with their own unique regional concerns. Kalmu and Kalma reflects the helplessness of the Odisha farmers who are caught between a brutal police force and an equally brutal anti-establishment force while in ‘The Haunted Sampige Tree’ dalits and their humiliation find a voice.
The collection covers a wide range of human experiences – of a girl trapped in a boy’s body and of a boy hugely concerned with a pimple on his face and the girl he likes. Of following one’s heart and not listening to what people will say. Of the pain of a young boy who goes to office with his father and has his illusions shattered on his Dad’s importance and status. Of a boy who loves cooking and makes sure he gets his classmates to grovel before he feeds them! And how one can be victorious even in defeat!
There are well meaning adults in these stories as well – grandparents and mothers who make children see another perspective and help them come to terms with teenage angst.
In ‘Being Boys’ , children find answers to their problems in seemingly simple conversations and acts. I thought it replicated life – we all have moments of epiphany when things sort themselves out – and these are driven by people or events.
A definite read – for young boys, and parents – because sometimes parents need more handholding so they can understand different perspectives better.