Apparently, there seems to have been a surge of interest in retelling / reimagining mythology in Indian writing in English over the last few years. Everywhere I turn, I’m seeing a take on gods and mythical deities, or a re-telling of an old story from different characters’ point of view (like this, or this), or contemporary re-imaginings of old myths (as in here or here).
I’m curious about all of these. And I’m working my way through some (a more detailed post to follow soon). This post, though, is a brief review of S.S. Kuruganti’s short: “Together Forever” – on the shortlist for the Indireads 1st Short Story Competition.
The story is a dark / paranormal “romance”, in a manner of speaking. It is, at any rate, paranormal and reasonably horror-inducing. And this story too, draws from myth – specifically that of the Ardhanarishwar (or, as the author says, Ardhanareshwar – the half-male, half-female / composite androgynous form of Shiva. The story mutates (ha!) the myth, weaving it into the life of an all-too-typical Indian couple.
I find that the story’s narrative voice and point of view work especially well. The almost-second person pov, the disdainful, creepy voice of the narrator go a long way towards building tension in the story. (There are parts that might make for slightly jagged reading, but on the whole, the pov and voice work nicely!)
The author uses the mutated myth to draw attention to patriarchy, and it’s relationship to marriage and its role in abusive relationships. Even while the usage of the myth is not as nuanced as it could be (the myth itself, for instance, remains largely unquestioned), the way in which the author invokes the Ardhanareshwar works incredibly well.
It won’t take you more than a few minutes to read the story, really. So go read it, y’all! And the story is up for a contest, so take a minute and vote, if it so pleases you.