She is from a village. She is angry at
her conservative mother. She is a flawed activist. She is being judged. She
makes compromises. She cannot die, even if she wills it. She chooses to
command. Her children want to do away with her. She looks for friendships
online. She craves for fame. She musters the courage to pursue her lover. What
binds her through all these is her strength; she is indomitable.
Arya and Other Stories is a collection of twelve short stories by Chandrika Balan,
known in the Malayalam literary world as Chandramati. Balan brings to the
reader a glimpse into the world of the woman in a village where feminism has
reached. Here men know what feminism is; women know they can be independent;
and, children know that their mother is not a caring-bearing machine. Balan’s
exploration is into the kind of questions a woman here goes through.
Employing different writing
styles—realism, magic realism and postmodernism—Balan weaves a sensitive fabric
that is a study of the contemporary woman. Accompanied by K. Satchidanandan’s
scholarly introduction that traces women’s writing tradition in Kerala, this
collection of poignant and incisive short stories is bound to interest every
reader of fiction and translation.
Introduction:The Power of the Paradox: Chandrika Balan’s Short Stories in the Context of Women’s Writing in Kerala by K. Satchidanandan