I have had the privilege of knowing Prerna Jain for a while now, and it is truly a privilege. Besides her great personal warmth and hospitality, she is a woman of many talents: an ace photographer, a very creative gardener, an artist, and an avid bird watcher. Confined to her daughter's home in England during the first lock down, Prerna explored a new medium, the short story. And hence this beautiful collection, Kahaaniyaan: Kuchch Aam, Kuchch Khaas.
Although Hindi is my mother tongue, I am a lazy Hindi reader. However, this slim collection of seventeen short stories had me hooked. Each story is different, and yet deals with situations and characters that are familiar to the middle-class Indian woman. Domestic violence( Mainey Ussey Koot Diya), male double-speak and chauvinism (Kammkaaji Patni) , the sometimes extremely tenuous basis for a marriage proposal (Parkati), sexual molestation(Thhanda Sparsh and Thhappad), friendship and respect across social divides (Dahi Badey), changing gender roles across generations ( Aur Saancha Toot Gaya), gender discrimination within families (Meri Almaari), female bonding (Apni Apni Baari), communal tension (Imli), emotional blackmail (I Am Sorry) and so much more. Prerna paints scenes with her words, and the conversations between characters are natural and familiar. A wide gamut of relationships is depicted with sensitivity and skill. Her protagonists do not accept injustice, even if they do not fit the usual feisty feminist mould. Many of the male characters are sensitive and supportive, which is a reflection of social change across the past few decades. There are, of course, characters who are cruelly deceitful (Raaz). An eminently readable book depicting our contemporary social realities and the concomitant change in interpersonal relationships. Non-Hindi readers will be glad to know that an English translation will be available soon. Kudos to Books etc. for publishing this gem. (www.booksetcstore.com)
Looking forward to more of your writing, Prerna.