Real and surreal

Print edition : February 03, 2017

A prolific writer who is deeply interested in writings from every part of the globe, S. Ramakrishnan is a practitioner of almost all the genres of literature.

Taking two very dull characters he breathes life into this story about marital discord. The idiosyncratic and totally insensitive proofreader drives his wife to insanity. A mechanical robot who thinks of nothing other than his job, he forever keeps her on tenterhooks. The passive cruelty is palpable in their banal lives, inexorably unbearable though not very visible. The wife develops such a hatred for printed paper that she dunks pages in water and watches them turn into pulp. Engrossed in the abstract world of letters, the proofreader is oblivious to the real world around him.

A very contemporary story, even in terms of tone and narration, it reveals what marital disharmony can do to a person. The events may seem highly exaggerated but are related in such a matter-of-fact, credible tone that they seem humdrum, even ordinary. The woman’s distress, real and surreal, is evident throughout the text and had to be captured without ever calling attention to it. The challenge was not only the simplicity of the text but the unemphatic style that the author has employed to narrate outrageous events.

Dilip Kumar and Subashree Krishnaswamy