Well-knit short stories | Sunday Observer

Well-knit short stories

The strength of young journalist Sachitra Mahendra’s writing lies in his simple use of language for creative purposes. He has attained sufficient maturity in interpreting ethical and moral values in his collection of readable short stories titled The Lotus Heart-Tales for your soul.

Published by S Godage & Brothers (Pvt)Limited, this book is priced at Rs.450/-.

The writer might have been inspired by Buddhist precepts and Jataka stories to recreate contemporary themes to instill strong values which we need most in our society very much at present times.

I enjoyed reading all the 49 stories in the 208-page book with well-illustrated sketches and an attractive cover design.

A short story is somewhat like a beautiful poem-precise and focused invariably on one single incident, although there are variations in length and episodic structure. As we all know, fables and allegories were the inspiring source for the development of short story writing and the pioneer writers like Anton Chekov, Guy de Maupaant, Katherine Masefield and others polished the form of short story.

Coming back to Sachitra Mahendra, let me make some observations. His art of writing a short story is exemplary, as he judiciously avoids long-windedness and employs dialogue as if most Lankans speak English (this adds the contemporaneity of a Lankan short story and most of all the wisdom he conveys in subtle manners in the flow of writing especially at the end.

It’s impossible to describe or comment on each of the stories. So, I wish to show some portions of his writing I like very much.

Take you have the first story itself. It’s called ‘Garbage Truck Moral.’ I am afraid you have to read all these stories yourselves to appreciate what I am saying here.

On page 13 towards the end, the following appears:

“We have to put up with such people (means Garbage truck driver). We should be the happy people among the distressed. We should be the peaceful among the violent. So, the best way to over-power the garbage smell is to spread scent ourselves” (says Tharanga, the taxi driver)

“That’s what you did, Tharanga” (says Aravinda, the man who hired the taxi).

Tharanga laughed this time. (says the narrator of the story)

“Exactly sir. I made his facial expression change. I made him surprised.” (The dialogue between the two continue.)

” What would he have thought?

“He would have thought I’m dumb idiot, perhaps”

“but you are not”

“He will realize that only overtime.”

(The narrator continues)

“Tharanga drove the rest of the journey, silently. Aravind did not want to disturb the silent world of. thoughts.”

We move on to the 2nd story. Of course, we all know about the Fable of the Rabbit and Tortoise. But Suchitra twists the story in a creative fashion. He has appropriately titled the story as “Winning the Game” Here again, please read the story, and look at the end of the story. Tis is how the conversation goes:

At the end of the race between the two animals, (both reached the winning post together), the Tortoise says “So we should work in cooperation, not on competition”

“Wrong”, the rabbit said sternly.

Aravinda (the character’s name in most of Suchitra’s stories) gave a resigned nod. The rabbit carried on.

“We need competition. But cooperation and competition must walk down hand in hand, you know. We do not need either rabbit or tortoise to win. We need both to win. We need both to shake hands with each other”

After listening that far, Aravinda knew it was time to chill out a little.”

Some of the other stories I liked were: Four Wives (About Karma), Killing the killer, The Beautiful Sound (Music appreciation), In fact I liked almost all the stories in this collection because of the moral values instilled in all the stories and the successful way the writer has crafted his stories.

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