Sidharth Vardhan

Musings on Suicide

(Review of ’13 Reasons Why’ A novel by Jay Asher First published in 2007 Review written by Sidharth Vardhan in Novermber 12, 2016) “You don’t need to watch out for me, Clay.” But I did, Hannah. And I wanted to. I could have helped you. But when I tried, you pushed me away. I can almost hear Hannah’s voice speaking my next thought for me. “Then why didn’t you try harder?” And that’s why you can never understand women!

Of Fever Dreams

(Fever Dreams by Samanta Schweblin English translation by Megan McDowell  was long listed for International Booker in 2017First written on August 13, 2017) The harmful effects of pesticides – a theme that might not be obvious to an urban reader of the book (the characters themselves seemed to not know about them) is the unnamed curse of the town. However, as with the treatment of psychopath theme in ‘Room’, the much louder theme just serves as a background for theme of how strong a mother’s love is. You know how homo-sapiens, especially females, keep on sentimentalizing over their parental investment and all that. Now comes the best part though – and it is the fact that the things occur, or rather are being remembered as if they occur in dream – Nah, a nightmare. For the most part, it makes most logical sense – Amanda, the protagonist, is dreaming while lying on her deathbed (hence the title) – there are some things towards the end that Amanda couldn’t have known but then she might still be dreaming – the whole unreliable narrator thing. It is how brilliantly this dream reality has been created which gets the book 5 stars. Nabokov

Animal Nature

(A Short Fiction by Sidharth Vardhan February 2, 2018 Part two of two – the first of this story can be read here.) Back in their home Daya had kept returning to the subject of the corpse for a while and mother had kept asking her to not think about it until finally mamma was irritated and told her to never mention the subject again. Of fear of her mother’s scolding the child didn’t mention it though she kept thinking about the corpse. Then finally she was distracted by her favorite cartoon serial. Though the memory of the corpse kept on seeking the attention of her consciousness but, with time the later find it easier to not give too much attention to the memory as the physical evidence was no longer there. It was while she stepped out of the car upon their return from shopping trip (her mother had avoided the corner where the corpse was when leaving for the mall and while coming back) that the central event of this second part of this story took place. She saw Toffee running towards her to greet her. And in its mouth was what she thought to be a polythene. (He

First brushing with death

(A Short Fiction by Sidharth Vardhan February 4, 2018 Part 1 of 2) “Come here Daya, he will bite you” “it won’t mamma, it is so cute” but the mamma still watched with concerned eyes, she disliked Daya’s love for animals. The eight-year-old girl can’t see an animal without also going “ooo”, wanting to touch it and hold it – whether it be a bird, stray cat, dog or cattle. Once mamma had been just in time to ask her to step down from window frame of their third-floor apartment which she had climbed in order to reach out to sparrow sitting on the branch of a tree in the park of their building. Ever since Mamma won’t let her out of eyes (except for school) and she was right in that attitude. It was as if Daya could get high on mere sight of animals. Daya’s love for the puppy she was holding at the moment only increased over time. She named it ‘Toffie’ and even trained him to some extent for such simple things like ‘sit’, ‘stand’, ‘be quit’ – the English words that is, for she was one of those city children whose English-medium educated parents always

The Bell

(A short story first written on June 26, 2016) For generations, we have lived in this jail, in this hole – so long that we might as well have imagined that this is the only world, had it not been for the stars, visible in the oval blanket over our head, which show us the glimpse of the unknown worlds. And stars are the hope, every child in this hole is taught to look up towards them and somehow they fill us with this hopeless hope that keeps the life going. But why are they there? Forever there, filling us with temptations to make fruitless efforts to grab them. Are they just another addition to the suffering of this hole? Why were we given hope? Are there better worlds which hope teaches us to look forward to? Or is hope just another part of the punishment? Perhaps it is neither, rather it is the jailer who makes sure we don’t try run away from this hole. And it is successful, isn’t it? After all, how many of us ever try to escape? This hope keeps us from trying to escape.

The Dream of a Ridiculous Man – Dostoyevsky’s Christmas Carol

(A review by Sidharth VardhanOf ‘The Dream of a Ridiculous Man’First written on November 30, 2015) “Only perhaps in our children, in their earliest years, one might find, some remote faint reflection of this beauty.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Dream of a Ridiculous Man) Do you remember losing that treasured innocence that we were born with? that old childish ‘innocence’ (there might be a better word to describe it, but my vocabulary is poor) – the nausea of which we live with for rest of our lives? We know, or at least we think we know, that it can’t be helped, and we would consider someone a weakling, a divine fool or ridiculous if he or she retained that innocence beyond a certain age. We even laugh at our own foolishness of old days: “They hardly remembered what they had lost, in fact, refused to believe that they had ever been happy and innocent. They even laughed at the possibility of this happiness in the past, and called it a dream.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Dream of a Ridiculous Man) Yet, we look at children, ever cheerful, and feel sorry for the loss they are bound to suffer one time or another in their

Funny Noise

(Review of ‘Dead Noise’, a novel by Don DeLilloFirst written on November 23, 2015) Let us start with an analytical question – How many question-marks per page do you think an average novel has? The book made me curious. Anna Kareina has 1800 odd question marks in about 1300 pages; i.e., about one and half ‘?’ per page- same rate as that of ‘If on a Winter Night’s soldier’ while in Arabian Nights it is approximately 1.3 question marks per page. Proust’s Swann Song had a little less than one question mark per page. In case of White Noise, it was over 1200 question marks in about 300 pages. That is 4 question marks per page, more than doubled the rate in Anna Kareina, the highest contender here. And it shows, and shows enough for me to put in my mind the silly curiosity. I kept on wandering why there are so many questions. Is this a novel that asks unanswerable questions? Or is it some new literary technique to bring out existential issues? Or some kind of joke or satire? Or some kind of annoying habit that author thinks is cool? Has anyone else felt like throwing nuclear bomb

The Left-overs

(Review by Sidharth Vardhan of Death and the King’s Horseman: A Play by Wole Soyinka ) “Not I became the answering-nameOf the restless bird, that little oneWhom Death found nesting in the leavesWhen whisper of his coming ranBefore him on the wind.Not I has long abandoned home.This same dawn I heard him twitter in the gods’ abode.Ah, companions of this living worldWhat a thing this is, that even thoseWe call immortal Should fear to die. ” Wole Soyinka (Death and King’s Horeseman) It is based on a true incident and has in its roots, a Yoruba tradition that death of a chief must be followed by ritual suicide of the chief’s horseman because horseman’s spirit is essential for helping the chief’s spirit to ascend to other world (or it shall wander the Earth and harm people.) I think this explains the title. The king is dead and, Elsin, his horse-man is more than willing to kill himself. He feels duty bound to it – and would rather die than have his honor questioned: “Life has an end. A life that will outliveFame and friendship begs another name.What elder takes his tongue to his plate,Licks it clean of every crumb? He will encounterSilence

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