A Whole New World
I used to read a lot of books when I was younger and loved reading and listening to stories. As a child, I would sit with my grandmother and listen to her narrate stories for hours. After my grandmother passed away, stories held a special place in my heart. When an Indian Short Stories course was offered in the first year as an elective, I jumped at the chance to rediscover my passion for stories.
When I signed up for the course, I expected that we would read different kinds of stories and discuss them. What I did not expect, however, was for it to change my entire perspective about stories. This course has allowed me to see the social aspects that authors address through their stories. One example of this would be partition literature, in which authors addressed the challenges faced by different kinds of people during the time of the India-Pakistan partition. It made me understand that stories are like vessels that carry experiences. One story that I found particularly interesting was, ‘The Sound of Falling Leaves’ by Qurratulain Hyder. The story, which was about how a young Muslim woman dealt with the hardships she faced during the time of partition.
Throughout the semester, as we read many stories of different genres, I understood how to read closely and look for the details in the stories – the details that help us understand the characters better or explore what the author strives to say through the story. Earlier when I read a story, it was just a storyline and characters. I would almost never think about the author or what exactly the author might be trying to express. After taking up this course, however, I learnt that there are finite details in a story that bring out the essence of the author as well as the message that is being conveyed by the author.
As this course involved quite a lot of interaction, discussing the characters and themes of the stories we read helped me learn so much. Reading the story before class and during class, sitting together and discussing our thoughts about the story as though we were in a book club – these aspects of how the course was conducted made it all the more enjoyable. Indian Short Stories also gave me many different perspectives. I understood that we can either look at an entire story or analyse every single line of a story separately. The fact that one simple line in a piece of literature can be interpreted in completely different ways is another major insight that I took away from this course. So many things in the world were right in front of me but I had been blind to them, but not anymore, thanks to this incredible course called Indian Short Stories.