15 June, 2021

It Rains Futility In August

The gallows humour is dulled, but Chatterjee’s habit of framing at unusual angles helps a dark whimsy. From Thomas Roe to Art. 377, his canvas is wide.

It Rains Futility In August

In this book people jostle, styles jostle and times jostle in a melange of history, literature and old tales revisited. Ever since he began writing, Upamanyu Chatterjee made his mark with a certain type of Rabelaisian humour that rushed through Indian homes and lib­raries in the shape of English Aug­ust. Agastya Sen is, of course, part of this collection of a dozen stories, ret­urning in The Killings in Madna, which first appeared in the London Magazine in 1987.

Time has mellowed Chatterjee’s gallows humour somewhat, though his habit of looking at things askew persists. For him, things are always out of joint, no matter whether it was during Tho­mas Roe’s visit to the court of Jehangir or the unfortunate sparrows that proliferate in Ronald Ross’s cages.  Of course, unlike Hamlet, he does not attempt to put it right, but merely observes.

The title story is not really about the assassination of Indira Gandhi but more about Bunny’s state of mind as he takes refuge from the fall-out with his family...

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