Shubha Sarma’s “Fly On The Wall” impresses with its diverse shades

Civil servant Shubha Sarma, serving with the Ministry of Culture, has donned the writer’s hat with her collection of short stories “Fly On The Wall”.

“Monochrome,” says Sarma, “is monotonous.” Her maiden stint, therefore, is an enchanting collection of 13 short stories, inspired by multifarious walks of life, a well laid-out fare. A fitness enthusiast and a doting mother of two little boys, Sarma, is an avid traveller. And when she isn’t engaged in these, she is tending to her bonsai collection.

A realistic amalgamation of everyday characters, each with an engaging story, the canvas of “Fly on the Wall” is painted with not just the black and the white but veritable shades of gray too. The budding writer describes herself as the proverbial fly on the wall, perched up there and observing her environs with an ineluctable keenness, which was then spun into words and crafted into captivating stories. Her experiences in Delhi, Lucknow, Assam and Odisha form the backdrop of most of the anecdotal pieces.

There is the young and career-oriented Suniti, who is juggling an ambitious job with a husband who is unable to come to terms with the fact that his wife is at a professional pinnacle he can never make it to. Dipankar, on the other hand, answers a calling of his roots, weighed down heavily by an excruciating guilt pang of not having done so in the past. In yet another narrative, Shambhavi, an IPS officer, finds herself in circumstances similar to Durga Shakti Nagpal. There is also the reminiscence of her years spent in the hostel of Lady Shri Ram College and the sense of camaraderie infused there.

The poignant descriptions of human nature stem from ingenuity of observation. The narratives are characterised by an unostentatious word-play and their subtlety and candour are gripping. Also notable is the element of surprise which is sprinkled tastefully on the palette.

The collection was launched by the MoS for Human Resource Development, Shashi Tharoor and the Minister for Culture, Chandresh Kumari Katoch, recently, in the Capital. Tharoor described it as “a compelling read, overflowing with acutely-observed and cleverly-plotted stories, remarkable for a debutante.” Namita Gokhale and Professor K. Satchidanandan were other names from the literary world who were present at the launch.