As we delve into this summer, divert yourself from the heat and allow yourself to be a couch potato with a delightful read, “Lifelines – New writing from Bangladesh.”
I picked up Lifelines, an anthology of short stories written by female writers, with some trepidation. Contemporary writers from South Asia tend to focus on heavy subject matter, often sociopolitical in nature, which is my cup of tea, just not for an idle summer afternoon.
But my initial hesitation was overridden by my interest in two things: the title and the jacket cover. “Lifelines” is a collection of fifteen original short stories, written in English, by a new generation of female Bangladeshi authors. The title was carefully selected to represent the slices of life presented in each story.
The authors talk about different moments of life; of survival, acceptance, choices and following out lifelines and destinies. The artwork by celebrated Bangladeshi female artist Tayeba Begum Lipi, also represents the stories in the collection. It’s interesting that the tattooed lines on the lady’s body are reminiscent of the very same theme running through the book’s various stories. According to Farah Ghuznavi, who served as the book’s editor, “the tattoos on the woman reflected the theme of ‘lifelines’ — in my mind, they represented telling the story of a person’s life, that woman’s own story” And it was my infinite pleasure to discover that I could relate to most of the stories in the anthology. I highly recommend reading the collection and finding out yours:
S. Bari’s “Touch Me Not”: I love the subtlety with which the story is told. I really was nor expecting the twist in the tale.
Farah Ghuznavi’s “Getting There”: The journey taken is so relatable. I connected to Laila’s character in some manner and her quest for identity within herself and her family mirrors all of ours too.
MunizeManzur’s “Bookends”: I found this special love story endearing and profound too because it isn’t just about the carpe-diem moments but ones that live on.
Iffat Nawaz’s “Gandaria”: I felt the ending was a little too abrupt, as if the transition wasn’t made as smoothly as it could have been.
Tisa Muhaddes’s“Over and Over”: My problem lies in my confusion in the ending: was the protagonist the killer, or was it just spilt over guilt?
SrabontiNarmeen Ali’s “Yellow Cab”: The underlying loneliness is dear through its denial and that’s what makes it stand out.
Alizeh Ahmed’s “Be”: I think I’d read this over coffee, relax happily and be.