Witness to life

Sudhirendar Sharma, Feb 10 2018, 18:40 IST

There are multiple encounters, stories on the nature of human thoughts and emotions unfolding under the clouds of uncertainty and change. Drawn from different segments of society, with drifting perceptions on life and belonging, the seven characters in Clouds weave a grand story of (a) city and village in the dream world of Bombay.

The divorced Parsi psychotherapist Farhad finds love in Zahra and discovers by accident (before taking a flight to San Francisco) that Hemlata had experienced love (and marriage) as a kind of moisturiser whose effect didnt last long. Elsewhere in the city, the ailing Odia couple of Eeja and Ooi relive their golden past in the company of Rabi, who is a proxy to their son Bhagban, whose electoral battle is aimed at securing political power to lead the democratic struggle of the Cloud people from the stranglehold of a mining company. Each of these half-a-dozen characters creates stories that cast distinct reflections on life, lifestyle and survival.

Brilliantly evocative, Clouds is an encounter with mortals, their transient loneliness, entrenched traditions, and changing cultures that cast a mesmerising spell on what one may think about life. There is nothing more beautiful than an unfinished tale called life. Life democracy is a fight that ought to be played by each one of us with all the weapons that one can find. "If you dont fight for your share, somebody else will take that they can use." As much as love and private life of human beings, religion and politics have been transformed into products that can be bartered.

Within the moralistic, fatalistic and somewhat monotonic frame that defines most Indians, the author draws imaginative contours of regional identity amidst growing cosmopolitanism. The characters dont preach what they perceive, but they leave it for the reader to take away meanings from their stories. Built upon the scaffolding of Arzee the Dwarf, Chandrahass first work of fiction, in which a desolate young man sees the image of his own condition in the clouds that hover above, Clouds is a novelistic structure of multiple narratives trapped within the limitations of its perceptions.

After all, mans best and even his worst is neither bright nor dark, but always in self-doubt. Life is made of a cloudy nature, of dreams and shattered realities. Within the plenitude of life, each of the half-a-dozen characters generates surprising patterns of isolation and (dis)continuity of human existence. Taking pleasure in the variety of human encounters, Chandrahas creates a fascinating mosaic of conversations that are as much real as they are reflective of human nature. His style is fresh, revealing and entertaining, intense and mild, unfolding the otherness through stories of love, sex, faith, and belief.

Clouds offers continuity to the uncertainty of lived experiences. No wonder, under clouds the look and colour of the world is only a trick of the light. The truth of human condition lies within the horizon of its perception, whatever it be. Truth is anything but a subjective reality, caught in a time warp. Nobody can be as happy as they think they can be.

Farhads fleeting sexual encounter with Zahra fulfils a bodily desire, and the search for happiness remains a work in progress. Hemlatas self-doubting single status deserves to be heard, engaged with, and respected; Baghban s quest for political identity comes at the cost of his ailing parents and their unstinted faith in Lord Jagannath; and, Rabis self-sacrifice in favour of the Cloud people promises a cosmopolitan future.

Each character is a victim of his/her decisions in a world of unattainable future. It is a work of fiction that has politics and development at its core, and transformation and change viewed through the inevitability of human existence and death. In the figment of his imagination, Chandrahas draws contours of reality, and his characters tread on to understand the moods of the city, its people, and their politics.

"Amazing how ruled, regulated, routine our lives become without us knowing it, even inside what we take to be our spaces of pleasure and freedom." In Clouds, there are footprints of an emerging new talent. If there was another kind of storytelling waiting to be discovered, Chandrahas has brought it up with his deft touch of perception and imagination. He is an author whose work will be keenly awaited.

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