These short stories are really short if your counts words. Well crafted stories do not have a useless display of words. Mani Padma seems to have relatively good vocabulary among contemporary young fiction writers. In a solo collection of short stories, not more than half of these stories satisfy your literary bud. In this collection, I simply satisfied with all stories. Stories are not unusual but written very well.
When writers these focus no marketable stuff and drop literal value, Mani Padma is successful to save literal values. He crafted stories with a simple formula. These are our neighbourhood stories, routine life, but with a good reflection of events and human nature. Stories are being narrated across the table. Their tone and flows are smooth, slow and simple.
Against my earlier presumption, there is no short story in this collection with title “unlikely tails”. After careful reading these stories, I find a smooth twist in the chain of events which usually unpredictable before the last paragraph. These stories do not force you to sit and read in one sitting, do not increase your heart beats after each paragraph, do not increase your curiosity top of your mind, and do not force you to have hot coffee turned cold. No, nothing, stories simply take a smooth turn which you feel unlikely at first sight of reading. These unlikely turns are so smooth, you think twice each time if this is most logical tails of the story. I believe, yes these are.
These stories touch human relationship mostly from the angle of a common girl. Unlikely tails have women protagonist but without pushing fashionable feminism forward. You never feel any hardcore urge for and against any character. Naturally, messages if any there, delivered smoothly in our conscience.
These stories exhibit sharp focus of vision towards day to day events. Take the first story “Prince Charming”, until protagonist point of the observation, you do not note the point and once your note, you agree simply. As a rare instance, writing of the second story may be closed before last few words – explanatory statement by the protagonist. The story may have more impact, though most readers may not notice.
“Pummi’s Escort Service” reveals upon the biased and dirty mind of the middle-class male. “Date with future” is a cute comment upon relationships in the era of reality shows. “Breakfast” looks into the personal relationship of a ‘family’ woman. When one read “Dead – end”, you have silence suddenly after the inner violence of your own thought. “Dull-iance” is a story which comments upon female minds and deviates slightly from the pattern. I do not find in this collection a story which may be called average.
Manipadma is from Assam, now based in Delhi. No story is from Assam in this collection. It may be a conscious attempt to save her from a regional writer tag. These stories are based in and around Northern India – the Hindi belt. Same time, no story is really from the medical background.
Mani Padma has good potential to be a good fiction writer. Her style of writing is suitable for short stories not for novels. “Unlikely Tails” is her solo debut.
Unlikely Tails (PostScript) – If you think, there are 17 stories as it seems, you are not the good reader. Though back cover, as well as index, read 17 stories, these are actually 18 stories. I presume it is the delebrate attempt. You need to find out how these are actually 18. [Hint is hidden in index itself]
Title: Unlikely Tails
Authors: Mani Padma
Publisher: Creative Crow Publishers LLP
Publishing year: 2017
Genre: Fiction – Short Stories
Number of Pages: 125
Price: Rs. 650/-
This book is available here.