‘Marquez, EMS, Gulam & Others’ by Benyamin: Tales rooted in life : The Tribune India

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‘Marquez, EMS, Gulam & Others’ by Benyamin: Tales rooted in life

‘Marquez, EMS, Gulam & Others’ by Benyamin: Tales rooted in life

Marquez, EMS, Gulam & Others by Benyamin. Translated into English by Swarup BR. HarperCollins. Pages 214. Rs 399

Book Title: Marquez, EMS, Gulam & Others

Author: Benyamin

Vikrant Parmar

Common man and his aspirations, beliefs, truths, lies, strengths, foibles, longing… In the collection of 15 stories by Malayalam author Benny Daniel, better known by his pen-name Benyamin, there is enough fodder to empathise, reflect and applaud.

Placed in different time zones, from Doha to Dublin to Nainital to the sleepy towns of Kerala, what remains at the core of each story is the human condition. In the tale titled ‘Solapur’, when a man decides to sell graphic pictures of his wife — who has already traded her kidney in a bid to save an ailing son, although without success — in lieu of a pittance, the heart bleeds, more so when he marks the same fate for his beautiful daughter. In ‘The Argentina Jersey’, a debt-ridden father consumes a bottle of poison he had bought for his entire family, but not without a wish that his sons should one day wear the winners’ jersey.

On the funnier side, in ‘Marquez’, a young journalist believes he has become the famous author, but is soon slapped back into the temporal world by his witty wife.

In a two-page, yet amazingly powerful story ‘The Enemy’, the protagonist shares, “Fear — uncontrollable fear — began to swallow me like a python.” Quite true for the many characters in these stories, ones who are caught up in situations that generate fear, something that is central to what they do and why they do it. The author has underlined callousness of the human race, plotting and scheming men, in a matter-of-fact manner, without being preachy or judgmental. The pain of immigrants, angst of tribes, helplessness of the marginalised; class, caste, colour and country, all have been sensitively portrayed, as also the human spirit’s longing for freedom.

The translator, Swarup BR, has retained the author’s voice, perspective, even tenor. “Stories cannot be pulled out of thin air... They are deeply rooted in life,” says Benyamin. One can feel it.