Author: Manish Nandy
"The Stranger in My Home: Facets of a Life" | Snippets of life
Through a snapshot of vivid accounts based on his encounters and engagements, Manish Nandy evokes a bittersweet sentiment outlining life as we know it; writes Rohan Chandra
Life has uncountable memories suspended in the vast corners of our mind and reminiscing those brings out a flurry of sentiments. As we grow up, life becomes fast-paced and though we may not realise it slipping by so unabashedly, each day is eventful, filled with minute happenings that might miss the eye. Hindsight, however, outlines it perfectly, and it may delve in as a surprise that the mind picked up more than the eye ever could. Not all memories are sweet but that does not mean they are not memories. Sweet or bitter, they leave an impression so ever-lasting that even after years, the memory, if recalled, comes back in a flash. More like dents on metal that may corrode, it is never ordinary again because ordinary is something we may forget but not the unusual.
The Stranger in My Home unveils a collection of memoirs drawn from the author’s preciously preserved memories. It depicts his personal experiences with people and surroundings carved in a travelogue-style description with life instances going as farback as his childhood and covering a haul of themes such as love, friendship, work, happiness, loss, lesson, experience, truth, mystery, empathy, kindness, honesty, anxiety, fear, loathe, trust, hope, guilt, remorse, belief, faith, et al. The book follows a short-story strong-impact style of narration with memoirs depicting crisp incidents with abrupt endings. Broadly divided into six threads viz., Events, Enigmas, Encounters, Experiences, Epiphanies and Engagements, the book covers a variety of life sequences encapsulating peculiar people, curious proceedings, uncanny events and queer endings. Building a bitter-sweet impression of the experiences recalled, the collective of short tales lends insight into the author’s childhood, adulthood, professionalism, travels, environs, etc., through a comprehensive description of the human aspect of his encounters along the years.
Throughout the book, the author faces different facets of life (as the book’s tagline suggests), all of which have left their insignia on his memory and how, even after years, recollecting those bring out the entire picture evoking a plethora of emotions in the process. The author narrates his experiences as a former diplomat when he met diverse personalities who he just could not forget as they added detail to his understanding of people, encountered experiences that still lay fresh in his mind, crossed paths with enigmas that enticed him while he tried to figure them out, and episodes that defined his life in certain unexpected ways. Each thread offers varied accounts that enrich the author’s understanding of distinct human lives as well as his own. Down the memory lane, vivid details paint memories contributing to a lucid account of the same as the author tries to knit sparse tales into a life thread emanating a flurry of emotions.
Manish Nandy has precisely outlined his encounters of people, places and events in the short tales he has stitched with a careful observation on instances pieced together. The feeling he envisages to evoke in readers comes from his precision of presenting the crux of his tales without peripheral description clouding it. His endings match the idiosyncratic view he presents to readers through snippets of human connections, emotions, expressions and intentions. The book subtly inspires readers to recollect their lives and pay close attention to the uncanniness it brings forward in the form of encounters, events and engagements.