In this slim volume, Bakilinna Warjri shares her thought-provoking and memorable life experiences by transforming them into a collection of 16 short stories entitled The Fanfare of Life. These charming narratives begin with the earliest recollections of a four-year-old and move through childhood, adolescence, and adulthood to reveal lasting personal life impressions exploring universal sentiments.
From the opening story, “Snooch Was Her Name,” relating a young child’s solemn first-person perspective of losing a pet; to the third-person narration of “Oh That Christmas Tree!,” recalling a squabble about moving the traditional holiday centerpiece that results in confrontation, injury, and the most memorable Christmas ever; to “Not Resolved,” an adult recollection of a childhood friend suddenly ostracized by societal standards without any chance to reconnect or say goodbye, Warjri’s writing is heartfelt and genuine.
In these stories, simple events turn into relatable tales that highlight a variety of emotions and values, from loss and perseverance to truth and fear, wisdom and joy. For example, “Rock Watch” evolves as a basic lesson demonstrating the value of honesty in the return of a sentimental possession. Lighter offerings prompt chuckles, such as when a pankha-walla (the fan seller) in “Fanfare” wears his long overcoat on a hot train station platform and explains the hilarious logic of buying his more expensive wares.
Born in India, the author lightly weaves details of her homeland culture throughout these tales. Whether mentioning a pink lotus, the national flower, or the endless rains in Cherrapunjee, each story maintains a far-reaching commonality that will resonate with a broader audience.
A few stories fall somewhat flat, such as when children make corny or mundane misinterpretations (i.e. when a grandfather’s need for a more modern, “polished” suitcase results in his old valise getting a thick coat of Vaseline), but as a whole, this collection delivers memorable, poignant and engaging storytelling.
Also available in hardcover.