Every once in a while we are caught with instances where the lines between right and wrong are blurred and life presents a picture that is, well, in different shades of grey! Sometimes, Us…mostly, by Laila Bhaidani, dives into that realm. Eleven short stories deal with the theme of romantic love.
The protagonists are regular people who hide deep anguishes or surprising thoughts about a topic as mundane and yet as varied as love.
Indeed, Laila Bhaidani’s characters are faced with several choices that impact the sequence of events that happen to them. The choices may not always be right or wrong. In fact, most of the times the author chooses to be morally ambiguous. This is what adds a different flavour to the stories.
There is an interesting mix of characters through the tales. We meet a transgender who is in a quest to pursue elusive love. A lesbian couple, sacrosanct their relationship thanks to a man who sacrifices much for their sake. A dark skinned woman battles societal demons of the virtues of fairness. An adoptive daughter yearns for love from her mother all her life. Different shades of love paint a picture of the concept of love in modern society.
I found Mutton Biryani to be the most touching story. It is about an old couple and it clearly illustrates the pervasive mundaneness and insensitivity that can creep into relationships that have lasted for decades. Another story with a surprise element is 1,2 and 3, which describes a trio of friends and stretches the limits of unconditional love.
The stories are quite fast paced and the book is a quick read. The language may be simple but the themes and emotions described within are quite complex.
In conversation with Laila Bhaidani
You have not taken any moral stance in the stories. This somehow makes the stories more real and one is able to connect with them. Was this the effect you intended to have?
Precisely. I believe that life is between the black and white, and somewhere deep within we all agree with this. My book is an attempt to make my readers see real emotions as they exist in our lives – without any judgements. I believe, as human beings, we are all different shades of grey. We are all between black and white…right and wrong. I wanted my readers to gracefully embrace the “grey” in their lives, through these characters.
What are your sources of inspiration for the stories and characters?
Well, real emotions and real people. I prefer looking at people beyond what they say and appear. I always try to see what lurks beneath the exterior of a person. We human beings try to fit in our emotions, our lives, our choices to the stereotypes we have been told to abide by. It’s safe and acceptable. But just below the surface of every person exists the real response and emotion…raw and vivid. This intrigues me. I like to explore this in my writing.
Can you share any interesting feedback from readers who have read the book?
A lot of readers have shared that the book gave them an insight into the life of different kinds of people and their struggles. Through my stories and narrative, they were able to view each character with compassion and a non-judgmental attitude. And because there is no stance on morality in my book. I have been told, that it has helped them relate to other kinds of people in real life too.
What kind of reader did you have in mind for this book?
Us… mostly is a collection of stories of people like us. That’s why the name- Us.. mostly. Since it contains stories of ‘us’, the book will appeal to every kind of reader.
Author: Laila Bhaidani
Publisher: Frog Books, Leadstart Publishing Pvt Ltd.
Category: Short stories
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