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A Few Stolen Moments
By Stories By Manjushree Thapa
Pages: 196; Rs: 195
rom experimenting with fiction (The Tutor of History
) to reportage (Forget Kathmandu
, shortlisted for the Lettre International Award last year) to this quiet collection, Manjushree Thapa continues to use language with skill and insight with discretion. These stories do not burst upon you with an eclat, for there’s nothing to flaunt there, rather they sort of steal upon you, leaving you with a faint, almost elusive, shock of recognition. There’s the carpenter who loses his way in Kathmandu, the foreigner who finds a man in Nepal, or Shanta Khanal who does better in class because her father can pay for private tuitions, or two young men in Thamel in Kathmandu...
If you’re expecting the ‘traditional’ story, with a beginning, middle, end, and a twist in the tail, you realise soon enough it’s not what you’ll get. If you think that perhaps the little vignettes will add up to something, a story or a thread that connects them into a single narrative, even that expectation is defeated. These are simply short (and sometimes not so short), reflective not-quite-portraits-not-quite-stories about ordinary, small people. The thread, if there’s any, connects the people the reader meets here to those she met in her other books, for it’s the small actors who occupy the most space in Thapa’s mind.