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No twist in these tales

The bulk of the book Women & Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard explores cultural underpin

We know already. Women like to talk about their feelings. We do it in confessional mode with their friends and family. A lot of it is inconsequential chatter, simple venting and gossip. Very important for mental health, especially if they can’t find their voices within patriarchal systems. But when we write it all down and put it in print, the underlying presumption must be that there will be at least 1,000 readers we can educate, inform or entertain.

Such is not the case with Escape Velocity, a collection of short stories so named because its characters want “to break out of the conventional”.

It is not really possible that everyone who attends a creative writing workshop in Gurugram can produce a short story that it is worth publishing. Can every participant come up to the mark? Obviously not. So it is inevitable that the collection of stories ‘curated’ by Kiranjeet Chaturvedi is of uneven quality. In fact, some tales are of the ‘slice of life’ kind, some read like blogs and only three out of 13 have proper structures with a twist at the end.

Some of the escapes are mildly interesting but will give readers a sense of déjà vu, for all of us know someone who has been there, done that. Like:
• A 30-year-old girl who avoids an arranged marriage by going abroad to study. Career women caught in the biological trap.

• A boy who moves out of his home to escape an abusive father but continues to be haunted by childhood memories.

• A socialite whose sense of power and privilege is reduced to naught when caught out in the street in a rainstorm.

• Coming to terms with the empty nest syndrome.

• An unwanted girl child growing up without love, and finding it difficult to love her own little girl.

No element of surprise there. The story that does have a twist at the end is about a woman who murdered her mother-in-law in the past being brought to justice by her daughter-in-law. But this too has a familiar ring — not from real life but from the kind of TV serials Ekta Kapoor makes.