The brilliance of this stimulating book lies in its relatability to modern day scenarios and the deep insight into the dark psyche of the twisted human mind. Every reader will interpret and imbibe each story differently. Seemingly normal people can behave in anomalous or wicked ways.
The scariest monsters are those that lurk within our souls! Kitchen Curse, a collection of short stories from Indonesia by Eka Kurniawan, an award-winning Indonesian writer and published by Speaking Tiger International Fiction expounds the above statement. The stories revolve around morbid and peculiar actions of those going through ordeals or uncalled-for deviant behaviour.
Out of the collection of 16 stories, most shock and disgust but the satire leaves one pondering about twisted human thoughts and their bearing on our lives. Making an Elephant Happy is a simple story of how two young children cut up and stuff the body parts of an elephant into a refrigerator as it was feeling hot. They conclude that the elephant is happy at last once all the parts have been put in the fridge. Though it draws out an involuntary giggle, don’t we many times wish for or knowingly indulge in things not good for us?
The first story, Graffiti in the Toilet, narrates how freshly painted walls of a bathroom of an institution immediately gets filled up graffiti with many just writing ‘me too’ at the end. Doesn’t this remind us of the unnecessary spewing of thoughts and opinions and herd mentality in this digital age?
Another story, The Otter Amulet, shows the relief of a frail and nonconfrontational man. He discovers that in exchange for an amulet which makes him strong and assertive, the person who gave him the amulet will have sex with his fiancée. His relief makes us think of weak and selfish people who disregard ethical and moral grounds for personal gain.
The Stone’s Story is an unusual tale of a stone who vows revenge against a man who killed his wife and drowns her by tying her to the stone. Years later when the stone indirectly gets its revenge, it realizes that it has focused its life on a single evil event. At the end it does not seem so big in light of the other worse nefarious activities.
Rotten Stench is a morbid story of an entire town living with corpses lying about and their stench getting into everything. The people seem immune and unaffected by this and do not do anything to remove the corpses. Sounds like the reality of people not doing anything to stop the corruption or wrong doings around them and accepting them as their destiny? Easing Into A Long Sleep and Auntie are feel good stories focusing on the importance of relationships.
The brilliance of this stimulating book lies in its relatability to modern day scenarios and the deep insight into the dark psyche of the twisted human mind. Every reader will interpret and imbibe each story differently. Seemingly normal people can behave in anomalous or wicked ways. That stooped, white haired old gentleman could be a murderer or that bubbly girl next door might be indulging in forbidden sexual acts. The human mind is fascinating and abhorrent at the same time. With its overemphasis on sexuality, violence and outrageous behaviours, this book is definitely not a light read or for the faint-hearted. Pick up Kitchen Curse only if you are ready for a revealing soul-searching experience!