Like her poetry, Anjum Hasan’s new book ‘A Day in the Life’ gives us an insight into the world through a new prism. Her characters are diverse and the stories are about their daily lives. The 14 stories give us a sense of the world that resides inside us, within the confines of the skull. A glimpse into the psyche of these characters takes us through their insecurities, complexes and whims.
Even the setting of the stories gives us a sense of an era gone by. Take the first story for example. In ‘The Stranger’ the retired protagonist leaves his fast-paced metro life and shifts base to a quaint, small town to experience the life in a hilly place. Throughout the story one expects something to happen. But the drudgery of the small town existence sails through till the end of the story. Life goes on.
Anjum Hasan explores the complexities of relationships in her second story ‘Sisters’. Female bonding is the underlying theme of the story, which also stands out for the enigmatic and aesthetic portrayal of friendship between Janaki and Jaan.
My favourite story in the lot is ‘A Short History of Eating’. Hasan beautifully describes how liberalisation has fuelled consumerism, thus creating desire and the urge to eat more. Liberalisation has affected each one of us – from what we eat to what we read. This is also reflected in ‘The Question of Style’ which deals with the desire of the two young protagonists to “become stylish”.
In fact, each of the stories has an undercurrent of intimacy in the treatment of the characters, and the dynamics between them. The protagonists are introverts, with volumes of vulnerability in them. The innate desire of these men and woman to carve a leave a mark in the mundaneness of existence, is the driving force for you to read on.
Anjum Hasan’s wizardry of words is exemplified in the prose. Not only do the written words make an impact, the things left unsaid make the reading experience even more pleasurable. One can only wait in anticipation for her next work, to be transported into a world of fantasy that exists well within the humdrum of daily life.