V came back from India armed with what she called a "surprise" gift. Being both bored and curious at the same time I trudged to Brookline, toddler in tow, to check out the surprise. It turned out to be the best gift I’ve received in a long time - "The Blaft Anthology of Tamil Pulp Fiction". She brought back a copy of volume 1 when she came back from India last year but I was only allowed to read it under her supervision (thanks to R's vathi vekkal that I let books borrowed from her languish in the bathroom) and for 15 minutes at a time ("Did you come all this way only to read a book?"), which for a thriller like this is extremely frustrating. This time around, in an effort to save our friendship, she brought back a copy for me.
I've been reading this anthology of novellas one story at a time, making sure I earn the story before I read it i.e. I only allow myself to read a story if I've been very good that day (by my definition of course) or if I have something to celebrate. In a time when everything is plentiful but nothing has value -as my SIL likes to put it- this sort of discretionary consumption took me back to a different time when chitrahaars had to be paid for with homework and Sunday movies were literally fruits of scholastic penances. I haven’t had to practice delayed gratification in a long, long time.
It's sort of lame to enjoy a book written in your mother tongue in translation of course, but hey, the alternative would be to squint at words that don't jump out immediately and lose the story in the process. The first story I read was written by Indra Soundarajan -the author of Chidambara Ragasiyam, Vidadhu Karupu etc.-and was about a raja samskaram, set in modern times in Kottayapuram, in which the kings mysteriously die by age 30 as a result of an ancient curse. I was charmed by the hot blooded, engineering college educated ilaya raja and his moped-driving girlfriend who ends up solving the mystery and saving her future thaali. The story is a page turner and had me waking up at 4 AM to figure out what the hell was going on in that accursed kingdom. The book is dotted with such dialogs as "She looked like an amman selai" and "I want her to live with flowers and pottu". What fun!
Total timepass and value for money which is what this whole genre, sold predominantly in bus stations and kodi kadais, engenders anyway.