With disturbing yet humane portrayals, Prakash Bal Joshi’s short stories are left open to interpretation.
Noted author and painter Prakash Bal Joshi’s Mirror In The Hall and Other Short Stories is a set of 15 short stories woven around strained relationships, changing values and women empowerment among middle-class people in both rural and urban settings.
Chronicling his four-decade-long observance of shifting dynamics in the society, Joshi’s stories mirror everyday existence. “It gave me in-depth ideas. Though they are not dated but when you read them, the gap of decades is evident. They represent changes taking place in society, attitude, priorities, moral values, and even technology without us being aware of them,” he shares.
Originally written in Marathi and translated by Smita Karandikar, most of the characters hail from a middle-class background, “I am trying to explore the minds of my characters. These are not structured, nor do they have end, per se, to the stories. The characters as well as the stories have layers,” stresses the veteran school author.
A reflection of his layered portrayal is seen in Short-term Memory Loss and Raatraani. While the narrations are sensitive, disturbing yet humane, there are unexpected revelations that shock the readers.
“The suspense you find in the plot is the play of mind. In Raatraani, I am explore the mind of a lady who is isolated and who is trying to find an escape from her mundane life through painting. I use words to get into the layer of the story and characters. To create the ambience or visuals of that character or just to let people get the feel of the place,” explains the artist.
Mirror In The Hall by Prakash Bal Joshi, Ratna Books, Pp. 214, Rs 399.
As for giving each of his characters or plot a closure, the author believes that it is up to the readers to decide the fate of the character as per their understanding of life.
“I keep the conclusion open-ended. I have been an artist and visualiser and that also comes into my writing. In Raatraani for instance, towards the end, she is attracted to the light from the window. Whether she jumps from there or comes inside is up to the reader to decide,” he declares.
Having said that, the stories are accompanied by graphics done by him. “These are not sketches and I am not depicting the character. I am trying to visualise the story again with just black whites lines and creating a lot of layers within that. I am just depicting what must be going within the boy’s mind,” he concludes.