Publisher : Bhashya Prakashan, Mumbai
Pages : 355
Rs. : 350
Rarely ever, if ever, would a writer who wrote one short story a year, have the gumption to publish them as an omnibus, but that is what Prakash Bal Joshi has done. His Prakash Bal Joshi Yhancha Katha is as much a reflection of the man himself. He can be quiet, but also very bold at the same time. He is definitely flush with confidence.
Joshi’s work defies any attempt at compartmentalisation, for he lives for one purpose – to express himself. That, however, is not by speech but in his paintings, and as we suddenly found out, in writings. Like he speaks to the canvas with his paintbrush, in this anthology, the written word does the work. Even the closest of his associates
would vouch that he may have spoken as many words as he uses in one short story.
The quiet contemplative nature of the inside energy of the man suffuses the pages; in most cases it is as if he is introspecting for himself. The nuanced movement of any of his stories indicate that they are not a complicated plot, but conveyance of an idea. The characters may not even have names. However, they are distinct characters one can
conjure up. He leaves that to the reader. His Arsaa (Mirror) for instance is a tiny story of clipped sentences, of even two words sometimes, of how the boy is protected by the father from being dirtied by the world. As long as the mirror is clean, shining, and unwrinkled so to speak, it truly reflected what was before it, self-discovery was possible. In one defiant moment, the boy goes out to get smudged by all the mud and tells the parent: One cannot pass through the mirror.
His earlier Gateway is a clutch of intense observations, mostly of stuff one sees but does not observe of Mumbai. Prakash Bal Joshi Yhancha Katha is of a different meter. They abound in metaphor as in the Bolbagh, where the
king takes a mistress and discards her the moment she conceives. The tradition is that she should leave his kingdom, and return only after being delivered of the offspring. Is he trying to wrench the doors open to expose the messy world of politics?
Quite likely, for he has been a journalist for decades, reporting and analysing politics. The internalisation of several impressions which may not have found space in the newspapers he worked for, seem to flow in several of the short stories. He imbibed; he apparently chewed, digested, and brought out one story a year, on an average. Joshi is not in a hurry to regurgitate just about anything that came to his mind. There is a measured expression. Yet, journalistic brevity does not rob any of the offerings of the detailing which help conjure up images, the contours, of each character, which in some cases, remain nameless.
The crass, gross world of politics and their characters who enliven the pages of newspapers while simultaneously generating disbelief and disgust in the readers – and of late, on television screen, however, and happily do not intrude here. In both his books, the world being impacted by politics – here, in the sense of friendship or even a marriage being political, apart from what we understand politics to be – has been noted and are brought out.
The immense capability of bringing out even in abstraction a notion, which he does more often with a brush, palette of colours and canvas, is evident. Just like a painting speaks to you, though painstakingly conceived and executed by days of labour, each of the short story emerges with life on the pages. He makes his point with an economy of words. It is like reading the Marathi Somerset Maugham.