How have you all been? How have you been spending the winters? ❄
I have been spending my days clicking pictures for Bookstagram and reading books 🙈
Breaking Free by Mohua Maulik was one of the books that I read recently along with Firekeeper’s Daughter (review coming up soon) and Keeper. Keep reading to find out what I thought about the book!
Breaking Free: A Novella & Other Stories is a collection of forty micro-fiction and short stories, portraying different aspects of life crafted from everyday happenings. Breaking Free dives into the depths of a patriarchal society that turns a blind eye to sexism that is all pervasive. A disillusioned and embittered protagonist meets a determined suitor. Can he accept her reality? Can she break free and come into her own?
Vacations are on everyone’s bucket list but they often don’t turn out quite as one expects. This theme is explored in a few shorts – Holidays! The Perfect Getaway, The Last Fling and The Vacation. Other shorts – The Murderer, Yesterday Once More, Of Men and Monsters, Brothers in Arms – explore the theme of love and betrayal, be it lovers, parents or siblings. My Prickly Pear is the story of a mother’s tussle between her children and her dreams. Now that they are grown up, can she fly the nest? The Scent of Love is an office romance between an unlikely pair, the quintessential office babu, Dayaram, and the soon-to-be married Bela. Unversed in matters of the heart, he watches in helpless despair as her marriage is fixed. Will Bela be able to shake him out of his stupor or will he let her go? These stories, on characters that are drawn from life, will make you gasp, warm your heart or just make you laugh out loud.
Breaking Free: A Novella and Other Stories is quite simple in its approach but the stories are impactful. All forty stories hold certain lessons within them and are though-provoking. Some are fun and quirky. Given that I tend to gravitate towards character-driven books most of the time, short stories are not something that I usually prefer to read. But Breaking Free surprised me (in a good way, of course). Since the stories are short, the focus is not on the plot or character development, the emphasis was rather on the themes, thereby underpinning the everyday struggles and plight of women.
I have read a few novellas here and there but the way Breaking Free is written, the style of writing was quite new to me. Some stories are very short while others are divided into parts and then there are others which can be classified as flash fiction. For instance, Adversaries was only about 100 words where we only get to see a conversation between two characters, talking about how they used to fight all the adversaries to becoming adversaries. Maulik has used several real life circumstances to craft these short stories and I believe that is what makes them so relatable.
The stories being short allows more room to the inclusion of several characters which sort of imitates large Indian families. Breaking Free, the first story in the book is exactly a representation of that. The head of the family being a man, always has the tendency to make the rules and asks for compliance. We have a similar setting in this story, although the tone was quite comical. The characters, especially the twins, Happy and Lucky added a subtle humour to the otherwise serious issues that the author dealt with in the story.
Checkmate, The Murderer and Scent of Love are some of my favourite stories from the book. All the stories in the book ultimately unite together to bring forth the message of struggles of women, their freedom and their urge to “break free” from the societal rules and conditioning that are thrust upon them. The Kind Dictator is another story which portrays the reality of how a woman’s wishes are not taken into account even when a man feels that he is indulging his partner. More often than not, it ends up being according to what the man likes rather than what the woman likes.
All in all, these crisp short tales of Breaking Free are sure to make you think, contemplate your life and forces you to ponder upon your actions.
I personally wasn’t expecting the book to be this insightful. The author has done a brilliant job at utilizing everyday circumstance to weave such a multifaceted collection of stories.
Recommended to everyone who like short stories or are interested in something short but meaningful.
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