Review – “Nair: Told and Untold” by Mohan Nair

Nair: Told and Untold by Mohan Nair is a collection of 15 short stories based in Kerala. Giving an insight into the lives of Malayalis, these satirical stories are told from the point of view of a single character named Nair embodying different roles in different stories.

1. Product Differentiation – What does bank manager Nair witness at his usual breakfast spot to have remembered his school Maths teacher?

2. Jhansi Ki Rani – Driving instructor Nair’s life becomes a living hell when he has to teach a strong-willed woman driving along with making her pass the test who does everything but for what is asked. Will he succeed?

3. Blue Blemishes – The oh so gentleman Nair’s reputation is at stake when his assistant witnesses something that would do more harm than good. Is Nair really what he seems to be?

4. Eyeball to Eyeball – What dilemma! God save Nair and his wife from the horrendous train journey they have to undertake in order to reach the test venue. Will Nair be able to save his beautiful wife from the prying eyes of rogues or is he in for a shock?

5. Slaughtering Eyes – What happens when commando Nair comes across his adolescent love years later in a dilapidated bungalow in the heart of a tribal forest?

6. Chinese Juggi – Will Professors Nair’s obsession with China and aiding his research via the internet land him into trouble just before his presentation is broadcasted live?

7. Smart Nair and Dull Nair –  How does one define a person to be smart or dull?

8. Canine Conspiracy – How will Nair survive with his new partner, Tommy, the disgraced police dog when the canine constantly acts like his superiors, moody and arrogant.

9. The Food Cycle – Nair has to save his surname from being forfeited by his wife if he doesn’t manage to get rid of the strays in his locality. Does he succeed?

10. The Feel Good Factor – Although Nair always takes pride in being from the most educated state, what he doesn’t know is that education alone is not enough of survival. How does he learn this life lesson on a Sunday afternoon at a quaint Dhaba where he goes to satiate his ravenous stomach?

11. The Hairy Tale – Nair self-appoints himself as the spokesperson for Hanna, the smartest and most important employee of their bank. Then what happens which makes the man bunk his office one day?

12. Spiderman – Will old Nair’s infatuation for his young and married colleague land him into a spot? Or will he be able to grab her attention before his retirement?

13. What Really Mattered – Marrying against the wishes of his family was never planned by Raju Nair, but when he and Kate fell in love, nothing mattered anymore. So when he visits his hometown for the first time after the marriage, Kate is in for a cultural shock. Yet in the end, it is Kate who shocks everybody else. What really happened?

14. The Surgical Strike – Nair the cook is being blamed for the subtly vanishing items from the kitchen. Being the Gandhian that he is, will he be able to prove his innocence without even raising his voice?

15. Women Empowerment – How will Nair save the donated poultry of the temple from being auctioned by that wretched woman Vilasini?

It has been long that I read short stories. So when this collection of stories came in for review, I was reluctant to give it up despite being loaded, and here I am writing its review. Narrated in the third person, the language is lucid and the writing style is simple. All the stories have Mr. Nair as the protagonist along with a couple of other characters. Despite the fact that very little is given away about the lead, it feels apt in consideration of the story. In other words, the characterization though minimal is just suitable as per requirement. Each story is accompanied by a single cartoon illustrated in the style of the common man cartoon by R.K.Laxman, which I felt was a welcome change and worth. The plotlines mostly border on the seriousness with an undercurrent of irony and hilarity and are open-ended. They depict everyday situations from the life of a common man and his view/solution making towards it. Such stories are most likely to be found in the editorial pages of a newspaper, which I’ve always looked forward to since the time I began reading newspapers, though the majority of them rant about the political scene. Despite not understanding the hardcore nature of satires initially, I got used to them over time but never came across something that really got through my understanding and interest and made me have a good laugh at the expense of others (read politicos/celebrities) After reading these stories reflecting the thought process of a man going about his daily life felt like rains on a hot and humid afternoon, giving relief from all the pent up frustration I had accumulated over the years reading satires on the dismal situation of the country’s politics, and also the load of fictional novels that I’ve been reading lately.
I liked the last story the best, though it got confusing towards the end, the twist that came, made me giggle. Go for it if you want to enjoy some time off from whatever heavy-duty reading you are doing, or just for a fun light read and smiling at the fact that life too can be seen in a humorous way and it’s not just meant for the rat race.


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