‘Dangling Gandhi’, a twelve-story compilation from Jayanthi Sankar, touches upon many facets and aspects of human life across various timelines and countries. Ranging from India – current as well as colonial to Singapore, the stories weave a pattern that in itself is intriguing and heart-wrenching.
The ride starts with ‘Did Churchill Know’ moving on to the ‘Punkah wallah’ and others. The stories don’t have any specific theme except humanity and the cross we bear in different forms. Each one is different, set in a different context.
Jayanthi Sankar must have delved deep within herself to come up with stories that evoke different emotions in the readers, sometimes sorrow and occasionally anger.
The language used in the 150-page-book is rich, and sentences incline toward the complex. This book is definitely for the seasoned reader, not that ones flirting with reading cannot digest it, but it needs a good command over the language to grasp the nuances that Jayanti aims to tell. Even for the veterans, the book must be chewed slowly (32 times!) to fully digest the content.
In the story, ‘Dangling Gandhi, a Singaporean/Chinese taxi driver uses the bust as a good-luck charm, and this is a metaphor for the dichotomy between the current generation and the ones preceding it. What do we really think of Mahatama Gandhi? How much of his principles do we imbibe? Politically speaking, too, parties have (and continue to) exploited his legacy, and using it as a launching pad for their nefarious intentions. In that manner, Jayanthi has brought out the emotion beautifully.
Pick this book when you have the time to ruminate, the time to spend time with it- as this is a leisure read with hidden subtexts and thoughts.