17 Oct 2013: "The Tanjore Painting" released

Chandrashekhar Sastry is an engineer-scientist with a penchant for writing. His first book, The Non-Resident Indian, published in 1991, was an unorthodox treatment of a modern social issue. He is a member of Muse India and his short fiction ‘An Eyeful of Luck’ which won the Third Prize in the Muse India Fiction Contest 2008 appeared in the May-Jun 2008 issue.

The Tanjore Painting deals with the dilemma of Indian migrants overseas and the cultural images they construct to overcome their alienation. Some turn inwards with a closer connection to home and reinforce their bonds whereas some drift away and assume the transition signified in the novella metaphorically by an altered sexual orientation.

The sisters Lalita and Maya come from a highly nationalistic family. Maya, the reluctant migrant to the US, holidays every year in India spending a few days at the temple town of Guruvayur in Kerala.  Maya renews the annual pledge to return to India. Many migrants have this longing but some earnestly try to become truly American, absorbing the cultural milieu they are embedded in and even taking to strange ways.   Maya, however, is staunchly resistant to such changes.  Her friend, Shamala, succumbs while Shamala’s husband goes into cultural regression and changes from unemployed scientist into a Swami who conducts religious rituals for the migrants ship-wrecked on a foreign shore. 

Lalita creates a Tanjore style painting of the Lord of Guruvayur. This icon means much for both Lalita and Maya for it was in the temple at Guruvayur that a granduncle had undertaken a fast in order to compel an opening of its doors to Harijans.  Creating the iconic painting was a high point in Lalita’s devotion and she carries it to America.  The Tanjore Painting exudes a powerful aura and arouses a renewed devotion among those who view it. 

In a grand finale Maya experiences an epiphany when worshipping the iconic painting. It reveals to her the universal equality in all things, Occidental or Oriental, American or Indian, and she is cured of her obsession to return.

The author can be contacted at: csastry@vsnl.com

Copies of the book can be ordered at http://loginbooks.hpage.com/.

(Report by:  U Atreya Sarma.  Oct 17, 2013)



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