India loves stereotypes, especially the ones that colour a society’s lenses that stare at its women. Women are ordinary, real, weird and unique. Lakshmi Raj Sharma’s new collection of short stories titled Intriguing Women depict the contemporary woman in the lap of her own life’s curiosities. For instance, in one of the stories, a daughter of a woman who was murdered by her husband discovers the identity of her real father. Her emotional turmoil is nerve-chillingly real. Then, a change of mood happens with a story on a Polish photographer and his fiancée who like to have sex in public. The story of a clerk who wants her daughter to become a musician has a very soft emotional undertone to it.
The tone and temper of the book changes from humorous to erotic to grave as the location changes from cities in India to America to Europe, Middle East and even Afghanistan. From domestic quarrels to same-sex relationships and infedility, murder and war, relationships are looked at from a woman’s perspective; the men in the stories enable the reader to understand how that’s a subject of inquiry. in its own right. “Perhaps love was something that was increasingly becoming the property of women alone. Men were always trying to prove something in this world.
Where did they have the time to handle the complexities of love?” is how Sharma tries to instill in his reader’s mind that under the burden of expectations from her, the Indian woman too can lose the capacity to love. The language is simple, the thoughts are clear but that doesn’t stop the stories from making bold and discoveries about reality.