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Silver Lining by Anu Shivaram: A review

Sometimes when things are falling apart, they might actually be falling in place.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

A young Indian man in Sydney brings home an Indigenous-Australian girlfriend.

A fresh-off-the-boat 7-year-old is bullied at school.

An Indian-Australian couple who have travelled to India for their wedding, find themselves in COVID lockdown, but go on to have the most unusual celebration.

An elderly Indian woman visiting her son in Australia, finds a kindred spirit in the man next door.

A troubled Aussie girl finds peace at Vivekananda Rock.

These and other stories make up Sydney writer Anu Shivaram’s Silver Lining (Teju Publications), a collection of short stories.

All of them stories of the human condition, they are bound by the same underlying theme – that of the transformational, even transcendental in some cases.

In each instance, the twist in the tale at the very end is a redeeming spark of revelation that not only sees the character find peace, but brings a smile to the reader’s lips.

As such, the book is perfectly timed, eliciting a comforting sense of ‘all-will-be-well-in-the-world’ in these uncertain, pandemic-ridden, inequality-laden times.

“I am a ‘silver linings‘ kind of person myself,” Anu Shivaram told Indian Link, reflecting. “I’m realistic but hopeful. I believe in the innate goodness of human beings and in possibilities. That’s the message of the book.“

Set in Australia’s Indian community, the stories are perfectly relatable. There are characters whose lives are limited to their jobs, their children’s upbringing and their investments; those who show no curiosity about the country they have adopted as their new home; those who are obsessed with migrating to Australia; those who are obsessed with Sydney property. And yet, as they find themselves caught in the webs of their own making, they learn to see the new perspective, ultimately experiencing undeniable growth.

Challenging tradition and daring to tread outside of comfort zones, seems to come naturally to Anu.

“I’ve experienced such growth myself, after I moved to Australia in the early 1990s,“ Anu revealed. “I come from a generation where we were told what to do. We conceded, and did what was expected. But my own life experiences have opened my eyes to the world: I’ve now come to accept other world views, and other people for who they are‘.

No doubt literature has helped Anu in her own development. While she began writing in her native Kannada language, she moved on to Hindi and English works, creating translations, prose as well as poetry.

Her first poem, written for a baby granddaughter, was put to music by a nephew, a well-known Kannada musician. The video went viral.

Her next project is in children’s literature, a special bequest to her grandson.

Indeed, the beauty of Anu Shivaram’s work lies in its very simplicity.

The gaps in editing, in this maiden venture, could be pardoned given the project was completed in a record three months (to make it as a present for the Diamond Wedding Anniversary of the author’s parents).

The essence of the work lies squarely in the strength of the stories themselves.

READ ALSO: Star of Anise: A picture book about Australia’s early Indian hawkers


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Rajni Anand Luthra
Rajni is the Editor of Indian Link.

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