Death to Womb: Portrait Tales – Book Review

Anirudh Shreenath has penned a book of Portrait Tales titled, ‘Death to Womb’. The Author draws inspiration from paintings, sketches, photographs and works of aesthetic nature that have unravelled passionate perspectives in his mind. Every story starts with work of an art. Even before you imbibe the image, soak yourself into it, the portrait tales boggle you. What makes this maiden attempt a fascinating read? The unpredictable flow of the wave of narration combined with the deep musings told with rawness through voices of the characters. The choice of names of characters like Maali, Kaali, Nidhra makes us wonder what awaits us. The collection starts with graveyard and ends in womb. There is deep dive on identity, divides, multitudes of imagination, questions of honour, ethics, sexuality are expressed through calming as well as raging motion of emotions. 

The splash of red with devouring flames of kerosene ignites one tale.From Mountain to Forest to Plains, the journey is a whirlwind tour and you ask for more. There is a shivering urgency to tell the tales with intense words and burning questions. The dreams remind us of ancestral tales dotted with visions of future or looming darkness. The last paragraph of the story,  ‘Meera’ is sheer display of magic of ecstasy, emotional turbulence and unrelenting bhakthi. There are stories of symbolisms which wonder whether universal brotherhood is a mirage and mocks the complicated borders that have been created. Aadupaambe, is an intimate portrayal of identity crisis and simmering pursuit of acceptance of the longing for being herself through imagery of snakes. There are not only portrait tales, but, poems of fine taste that invite you into unexplored caves of unseen humans. The unimaginable range of characters whose tales are told is delightful and enthralling. 

The characters of the stories come from different landscapes, they are suddenly introduced and bombard us with unexpected thoughts and emotions. The fleshing out of characters in the narration in a deeper manner could have added to the connect to the stories which is missing in most of the tales. But, ‘The Speech’ – easily the best of the tales  fills the above lacuna. It in many ways, announces the arrival of the master story-teller. Some tales sound like the author is interviewing the the lead and they are speaking out their mind. Events, complex interplay of relations, incremental conversations could have explained them better. The story ‘Arrival of Birds’ is the perfect blend all the above and it just illustrates how an excellent story can evoke finest emotions and make us brimming with tears or joy. This shining debut that will leave you wanting for more. Cheers Anirudh. You have arrived and what an unforgettable debut this is! 

For buying the book contact author in instagram at : anirudh_shreenath