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A Deep, Empathetic Look Into The Hidden Lives of Everyday People

Posted: June 23, 2020

Via her anthology, Rimli Bhattacharya explores all our secret anxieties, and reminds us that there is always more to a person than what we can see.

From what Rimli had shared about her book on Facebook, I expected a book full of life’s ‘little mysteries,’ and now, on reading it, I can confirm that my expectations were fully satisfied.

The Crosshairs of Life, by Rimli Bhattacharya, is an anthology of 15 short stories, each of them a slice of life. Some of these stories, or versions of them, have been published earlier in Cafe Dissensus, Women’s Web, Bonobology, Modern Literature and Your Story Club.

Simple stories of complicated people

The ‘little mysteries’ are the sort of questions we grapple with everyday. Our personal conundrums that are too tricky even for a Great Detective, because these are the unsolvable problems that keep us awake at night. It is as if Rimli has captured all those anxieties with her pen, and laid them out in ink.

Many of these stories have open endings, often leaving us at a point of crisis or change, so that the reader experiences, even if just for a moment, the same sense of despair, agony, or sometimes even hope, which the characters themselves experience. We are left wondering what they will do next.

Complex characters

The people in these pages are far from perfect. They are deeply flawed and they make terrible decisions. They are however, very real. They commit adultery, they mourn their losses, they experience loneliness, they fall in love with the wrong people. They LIVE. Rimli renders all these complexities of ‘being human’ with a light touch.

The women especially, feel like women I know. Friends, sisters, neighbours. We see them everywhere. Some of them are extremely unlikeable, but Rimli makes sure that even as we dislike them, we understand them.

Simple but beautiful prose

She doesn’t make the reader reach for the dictionary at all, and yet there is a simple beauty to the prose, that elevates it and builds empathy for the characters. Take this passage from the story, She Was His Lolita:

“She also wrote poems, essays and songs. But mostly, she kept to herself and her writings – which she never shared. It was for her to keep locked in the closet. She could not recollect where she kept the keys; maybe she had lost them in the tide of life. ‘Let it be,’ she thought. Keys are worldly and don’t have any emotional value but what she missed were the words which she had written decades ago.’

Simple sentences, which don’t really describe in detail the emotions of the protagonist, but somehow, we still feel that pang of regret and loss.

Some of my favourite stories from this collection are, That Best Friend, Rani, Those Voices, and Nocturnal Adventure.

Do take a chance on Rimli’s book. You may just find someone you know, in one of the stories. It could even be you.

Want a copy of this book?

If you would like to pick up a copy of The Crosshairs of Life by Rimli Bhattacharya, use our affiliate links at Amazon India, and at Amazon US.

Women’s Web gets a small share of every purchase you make through these links, and every little helps us continue bringing you the reads you love!

Image source: Rimli Bhattacharya

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