Bhaswar Mukherjee’s book ‘It happens-Stories of Human Relationships’ is a rollercoaster ride and as the title suggests, an intriguing interpretation of relationships. This anthology is a collection of fifteen stories. These stories are set in different genres and transport you to different locations- be it Afghanistan, Kashmir, or Amherst Street in North Calcutta.
Relationships can be complex, sometimes messy. The author explores the themes of love, deception, retribution, and heartbreak through his stellar narration.
Each of the stories stands out for its ingenious plot, and a spectacular twist in the end, to the point where the reader gets anxious as to what that twist could be. The characters are very well-etched and varied- be it the protagonist with the two hearts, an innocent victim of riots, or the woman who is afflicted with a personality disorder. The reader empathizes with each of these characters, wishing their lives had followed different trajectories.
In this anthology, the stories that I liked the best are:
A New Dawn
This tale starts with the sun rising over the Hindu Kush mountains and sets a sombre tone. The reader is introduced to terror-ridden Afghanistan, where people encounter daily horrors. What happens when militants abduct a blind girl? The climax was mind-blowing; I had to go back and read the story all over again in the light of the reveal. This story was in a league of its own.
The War Within
This story read like a thriller or a Bollywood potboiler with nail-biting action and suspense. While the premise was not new, the message of peace that it advocated made it enjoyable and heart-wrenching. Because sometimes, the biggest wars that need to be won are fought within.
A very witty take and a satisfying one too where the protagonist emerges the winner. There were many twists along the way that left me chuckling and cheering for her. This story told in a lighter vein makes this anthology eclectic, with something for everyone.
A Welcome Shade of Grey
My heart went out to the protagonist of this story, someone trapped in a body they didn’t identify with. I loved the bond between the son and his mother, who decided to put up a fight for him. It was good to read how the protagonist discovered himself in the process, even identifying a friend on the way. The caustic quip by an onlooker at the end, was the icing on the cake. Heart-warming and thought-provoking.
The author weaves magic through his writing, exploring the myriad hues of relationships, and touching their different nuances and facets. The narration is unputdownable and prompts the reader to contemplate. The vocabulary is top-notch, as are the vivid descriptions. I felt that stories based on true incidents, like war or terrorism, were the more compelling stories.
A treat for lovers of short stories looking for something different.
I received Bhaswar’s book as part of a Penmancy Writing Giveaway for 2021.