Lakshmi Kannan has translated fifteen of her own stories. In ‘Genesis’, two scholars in a US campus are kindred souls but the Indian woman is held back by generations of denial. Ancient temples with their hallowed ambience can bestow some life-affirming experiences, as in ‘Cryptic Chords’ and ‘Rhythms’. ‘Kasturi, the Musk Deer’, set in Delhi, depicts the Tamil reality of the fifties as sixteen-year-old Shankari is subjected to strict control by her orthodox family, her parents rejecting her idea of buying kasturi because its fragrance might act as an aphrodisiac. 'Mangal's Requiem’ is about the last hours in the life of a dacoit who writes poems perhaps to seek release from his anguish, revealing what the world and his mother and wife cannot grasp; the young wife experiences relief when her abusive husband hangs. ‘India Gate’ showcases the regressive, unchanging elements in the author’s community, even educated, professional women being subjected to the patriarchy of their marital homes; the female protagonist bravely decides to go it alone. ‘Sable Shadows’, based on true incidents, focuses on a form of apartheid marring even international literary events while narrating a tale of friendship and understanding between a Nigerian man and an Indian woman.
Lakshmi Kannan has translated her own stories from Tamil. She has four collections of poems, a novel and several collections of short fiction to her name. She was Charles Wallace Trust Writer in Residence, University of Canterbury, UK, and Fellow of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla.
Introduction by Jasbir Jain