Becoming Woman
India Today|May 24, 2021
The women at the centre of Gracy’s stories all upset the status quo with their desire, fear and lust
Latha Anantharaman

BABY DOLL Short Stories

Written by Gracy; translated by Fathima E.V. HARPER PERENNIA

Gracy’s stories play out in a landscape of superstitions, haunted houses and yakshis. A thin, permeable film waves between the real and the imagined, and the writer shifts as easily as mist from one side of it to the other. Sometimes she builds a world and events around her characters and sometimes her characters simply rage with envy, paranoia, fear and lust over a page or two, leaving emotional debris as jagged as the pieces of a shattered window. Whether the turmoil is internal or external, plenty of actual violence takes place.

The title story, ‘Baby Doll’, is perhaps among the calmest of these narratives, barring the melodramatic laments of a mother who wants to lock her daughter away from reality. The girl has crossed the physical threshold of childhood but her infant mind is not yet armed for the risks of womanhood on the other side. There is an allegory featuring two lizards on the wall of a hospital room, talking of life, death and enlightenment. The nugget of wisdom the male imparts, discovered at such a high cost, is a truth the female lizard has always known and she hitches a ride to the world outside to find out something new. Gracy brings life into even inanimate things, creating a tragedy out of two rabbits made of seashells. She plays with blasphemy in ‘The Parable of the Sower’ and in ‘Panchali’.

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