Warmth of a crackling fireplace
There are some writers whom you wish to meet or at least watch secretly from a little distance because you feel that they carry a lot of secrets, if not subdued pain, in their mellow hearts. Reema D’Souza comes across as one such writer in her book, Peiskos. In the brief preface to the little book, the author says that the 26 pieces in this book are stories woven round remembered “titbits of life”. The pieces read more like recollections scribbled in a diary than fiction. What drew me to the book is the exotic title given to each story such as Quicquidlibet and Wasuremono. The author acknowledges her love for words which prompted her to weave the stories with the exotic titles. I soon fell in love with the writing more than the titles.
Most of the stories are about love and relationships though much of the love remains unrequited and the relationships remain distant. There is dulcet nostalgia in almost every story most of which are narrated in the first person. There is a lot of longing in the lines which sound poetic occasionally and forbearing quite often.
The stories come from a heart that has experienced much pain and joy, from a depth that is apparently unfathomable. The first person narrator of the varied stories is an introvert who loves books. “I always found my solace in silence,” says the narrator of Quicquidlibet. “Books were the only company that I needed,” she goes on to say, less because books keep you engaged productively than because they are a “good way to avoid taking to people.” Yet there is a deep longing for genuine relationship in most of the stories. There is nostalgia for remembered relationships. There is stoic acceptance of the pain of broken relationships. Helplessness of one who has not been able to sustain relationships also stands out dominantly in quite many of the stories. “Was every relationship meant to be broken someday?” asks the narrator of Feuillemort.
There are occasions when the narrator turns mystical. “This was what I wanted to do – to breathe, to live and to feel whole without having to think about what to do next,” says the narrator of Boketto (which means gazing into distance without thinking). Sitting in a park, staring into the ripples in a lake, the narrator begins to feel a sense of belonging – almost like a mystic.
Poetry bubbles like a soothing balm in many lines. A couple of examples:
“The petrichor brings with it a scent of the past that lingers. And with every drop of rain that falls, memories keep pouring.” [Tacenda]
“The darkness of the night doesn’t let me sleep. The light of the day makes me weep.” [Ughten]
“The early morning sun shines bright giving a lovely sparkle to the raindrops that glisten on the leaves and flowers.” [Xyst]
Peiskos [which means the warmth of a crackling fireplace] offers a delightful read. The little stories in this book seep into you gently like a mild drizzle on a hot day, refreshing your soul with its exotic cadences.