Sometimes, short stories have the power to create strong and long lasting impacts on the minds of any category of readers. Tridib Ghosh’s short story collection, “S.O.U.L: Stories of Ur Life” is one such powerful work. The author gives it the subtitle, “Nothing is as simple as it looks” and it is one hundred percent applicable when the stories are read. The stories are simple and short to be read but the wide variety of subjects they explore together is noteworthy. Even in short and simple style, the author successfully manages to make the readers focus on the issues he wants to focus on.
One important factor that can sum up the central idea of perhaps all the stories together can be stated in one word: emotion. Emotion is what is strongly apparent in all the stories written by the author. Sometimes, the author exhibits strong influences of Nicolas Sparks who, through his pathos shows the dark realities of life and also has the ability to make the reader accept, agree and feel guilty of the mistakes everyone does or perhaps he/she may himself/herself have done too.
Since the author is a resident of Mumbai, the influence of the fast life of the city is visible in his work too. This makes his style of writing unique and different from the rest of the contemporary writers. The story “Little did she know” has a clear reflection of this. The content of the story is such that it could be written like a full fledged novel on the lines of Thomas Hardy’s, “Tess of the D’Urbervilles”. But because of his newfound different modern style, Ghosh narrates the story of the whole life of a woman in very few words. Through the story he also raises the issue of marriage, position of women, the assigning of roles and responsibilities among men and women by the society and at the same time the pitiable lives of women due to family and social pressure which makes them a victim of circumstances.
The stories by Ghosh have the element of modern and improved science which is changing people’s lives everyday. In the light of this, he writes two stories based on the thought of artificial intelligence becoming a vital part of human life in the future and also being a reason behind the changing of it. The stories written in this light are, “BFF732”, “Married to love” and “Punishment”. The subject content is quite different and they all have the elements of a science fiction work. The stories seem a bit abstract for the present readers to understand but the author through his imagination shares his vision of the future.
One more theme that appears time and again in Ghosh’s stories is the importance of family and the need to stay close to family with changing times. This theme is strongly reflected in “Ma” and “Duties”. In “Ma” the desire of a child for his mother is expressed while in “Duties”, the basic message is about how needs and circumstances separate grown up children from their families and they are not able to give their time. The plotlines are opposite to each other but the central theme remains the same. All the stories are fictional in genre, hence they remain open to the interpretation of the reader as everyone will tend to view and understand the stories in the light of their individual experiences.
There are a few humor based stories also that may tickle the reader and bring a smile to his/her face. These stories include, “The business of Pain” and “Present Please!”. Although “Present Please” begins on a comical note and the protagonist appears to be adorable in his actions but again the idea of family ties and staying close to parents becomes the theme of focus.
The contemporary theme of the pressure of scoring well , getting good grades, anxiety and stress among young generation is also an important issue that is raised in “Punishment”. The effects the pressure of a parent can have on a child and his/her psyche is brought into light in the story.
There is another set of stories which are more based only on imagination and only seem to be born from the author’s mind. These stories include “Madhuri”, “The Gift” and “Strange, Stranger, Strangest”.
Often, the reader gets to hear Bangla words and sentences here and there. The author ensures to provide translations at the same time. The book is simple yet all stories are bound to become favorites of the readers. They can be read at bedtime due to their shortness or even during the day. As far as appeal is concerned, the language and vocabulary used by Ghosh is simple and easy to understand so all age groups can read the stories. For children they would appear to be mere stories while adults can understand the underlying issues and meanings that the author has attempted to raise. The book is his maiden attempt but he shows thorough potential of writing more of such powerful work in the progress and growth of his career as a writer.