“The experience of love that I’m going to describe is the strangest you’ll have ever encountered.”
Countless stories about numerous women from different phases of life and yet, K R Meera succeeds in creating a disparate world with her audacious portrayal of fierce women tormented by love and longing.
‘The Angel’s Beauty Spots’ is a collection of three novellas that are metaphorical and lyrical. Just like any other of her stories, Meera brings to the table captivating and determined women, struck with the pain that love come bearing and trying to protect everything they hold dear.
‘The Angel’s Beauty Spots’ is about Angela, a doting mother running away from a violent marriage, trying to escape from the clutches of a man determined to kill her for defying him. She tries to find love in Narendran, asking him to give her a child with an identical beauty spot as him. But the past catches up with her in what ends into a bloody and devastating battle.
‘And Forgetting the Tree, I…’ is Radhika’s story. As a child, she was left on the roadside by her father, who sought out to seek the company of a well-known prostitute. Radhika was then raped by a woodcutter, a moment forever etched in her memory in the form of the sound of the ax and the rotten wood smell that surrounded the evil man who violated her. Years later, she meets a striking man Christy, who ‘feigned arrogance’ and promised her the world, eventually deserting her and killing her unborn child with mindless violence.
Radhika meets him again and now she is a married woman, childless and unhappy. But Christy isn’t the same either. He receives shock therapy in Painkullam, cooks up stories and shows up on Radhika’s doorsteps every now and then, seeking legal advice. Radhika’s pain is immense, and her demons have always been her constant companion. But this reunion, atypical and astounding, is about to open some old wounds and leave behind a deeper injury that will not heal (or will it?)
Radhika considers herself to be a tree, sprouting right after her assault, building a memory tree only to be recounted later to Christy. But as the years pass by, she is subtly abused by her husband just like ‘paring off branch after branch and, finally, cutting off the trunk’. Christy reentry, however, dug up the rotten trunk, ‘reopening wounds’ that had healed.
‘The Deepest Blue’ takes us into the mind of a woman, looking for a ‘naalukettu’ house identical to her childhood home and stumbling upon a man she has been seeking for since the beginning of time. This ascetic she meets in a decaying house surrounded by weeds and a sacred serpent groove fills her with a sense of fulfillment and longing. She struggles to find her way back to him, lying repeatedly to her husband and ignoring her children and their needs. She considers herself to be a snake, molting, and shedding, leaving a string of lovers behind in search of ‘the one’. The only man who can survive her venomous fangs is the one who is of the color of the deepest blue.
Each of these stories highlights the life of married women, caught in the webs of life. Unhappy marriages, cruel spouses and bitter experiences shape these women, giving them a fierce outlook towards love. Meera’s writing is deeply engrossing, and even with the heavy metaphorical content, it strangely makes sense.
‘The Angel’s Beauty Spots’, with its powerful narration, needs to be read with caution because these women aren’t ordinary. They are vicious, defying social law and order. Unapologetic and determined, their lives are governed by love, no matter how relentless or unfair.
Blurb (as on Goodreads):
In these three stunningly original, lush and provocative novellas, award-winning writer K. R. Meera explores the tragedy, betrayal and violence that rise out of the dark heart of love. ‘The Angel’s Beauty Spots’ is a disquieting story about Angela’s repeated infidelities and the trauma of failed love; in ‘And Forgetting the Tree, I…’ Radhika tries to come to terms with a former love that refuses to leave her; and ‘The Deepest Blue’ uses magic and metaphor to tell the story of a wife who yearns for a love that transcends lifetimes. Esteemed as one of the country’s finest storytellers, K. R. Meera’s The Angel’s Beauty Spots: Three Novellas will serve to embellish her already considerable reputation as a writer of strikingly original fiction. These novellas have been translated from the Malayalam by J. Devika.