Book Review : Another Man’s Wife by Manjul Bajaj

Writing short stories is tricky. The story needs to be short enough to hold one’s attention and long enough to have substance. The characters need to shine and connect. The end needs to justify the plot. And these are just a few things to keep in mind while writing, or even reading, a short story.

Manjul Bajaj shows you just how it’s done, and how!

Desire, intimacy and love are the themes that run through the stories. 9 short stories, each a gem shining on its own, and all of them strung together to form a necklace of emotions.

Ripe Mangoes – A young kathak dancer trapped in a marriage of convenience to an old man chooses infidelity to make herself forget resentment and feel alive.

Crossed Borders – A Nepali servant boy steps into an occupied bathroom and the imagined aftermath sends him spiralling down a path of destruction.

The Birthmark – The desire for a male child and buried guilt surfacing at the right time makes for a deadly concoction that could save a life.

Me and Sammy Fernandez – Music, memories and abuse are the crux of this beautifully written story set in Goa.

Marrying Nusrat – Innocence which is wiped away by reality, resulting in heart break.

A Deepavali Gift – Lighting up someone else’s life is sometimes the best way to celebrate this festival of lights.

Under a Moonlit Sky –  A honeymoon on a houseboat in Kashmir, after which life happens to two young couples. Will they be able to rekindle lost love again?

Lottery Ticket – The constant hammer of monetary desire leads to fractured relationships. Who will win, money or relationships?

Another Man’s Wife – The title story and my most favourite one of the lot. A contractor at a dam site finds himself obsessively attracted to a tribal tea seller’s wife and wishes to possess her at any cost.  What price will this liaison demand, and by whom?

Manjul Bajaj is a prolific writer. Her detailed research and empathy come through in the stories set in varied locations, backgrounds and situations. Her words bring alive her characters in your imagination and you connect with them, and their situations instantly. I read this book in one go, and turning the last page left me bereft.

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