Book Reviews by a Pioneer: That Pain in the Womb by Asha Iyer Kumar

Genre: Short Stories
Rating: 5/5

Not all pain is caused by physical injury; there is also a pain in the heart, mostly caused by those whom we love, or those that we are close to. It is this unseen pain which can make you lonely, it can make you cry, it can make you take revenge, and sometimes it can even make you smile.

This collection of 12 short stories by Asha explores this pain and angst of her characters. A mother spends a restless night when her married daughter, looking for happiness in her second marriage after her first husband’s death, calls her that she is returning, maybe for a few months – a mother’s heart goes into an overdrive fearing for her daughter’s marital life. An old saint, still living a few centuries after our time, in a land turned desert due to the degradation of environment by earlier generations, where people move around with oxygen cylinders to breathe clean air, motivates people to plant trees. The driver of a mafia don avenges the death of his murdered father. The pain that a 12 year old girl feels when she sees the truth behind the mask that her father wears for those around him. The 17 year old young woman, topper in her board examinations, is tired of her parents’ dreams that they want to fulfil through their genius daughter. The pain that a mother feels when she realises that her juvenile son has turned into a beast. A young woman comes to India looking for her identity and her father, out of many men who had ravished her mother one night. A 60 something mother is berated by her daughter for posting her pictures on the social media wearing distressed jeans – her husband is her support. A middle-aged man runs away from home, but remains a vagabond, till something snaps decades later as he sees his parents making an appeal on television for him to return. A couple of illegal migrant women, working as house helps in another country, find love, and a meaning in life, when one of them has a child with Down’s Syndrome. Old people living in an old-age home, abandoned by their children, become support system to each other. The pain of a father as he sees his daughter going through divorce from a marriage which was forced by him to break her affair with a man from another religion.

Each story leaves you feeling the pain of the protagonist. I also liked the way that the stories were ended by the author – reader could interpret the ending in own way; and each story has the potential to be developed in a novel. If Asha does not write those novels, I may.

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