Avinuo Kire’s debut book- a collection of short stories, narrates powerful tales of women overcoming oppression in the background of Nagaland’s struggle for independence culled from folk and tribal traditions.

Book: The Power to Forgive and Other stories

Author: Avinuo Kire

Publisher: Zubaan Books

Genre: Fiction

I must admit, when I started reading the short stories, I wasn’t impressed much. It was just another book with some short stories on and about women. However, as I continued reading, the stories somehow started growing on me. Following are some of my favourite stories from the collection.

In the extremely moving title story The Power To Forgive, the protagonist who is a rape survivor makes difficult decisions of forgiving her father for not punishing the rapist, who is in fact her uncle and reflects on how the incident had shaped her life and those surrounding her. She comes to terms with it when the father-daughter duo share an emotional moment and many unsaid things are said and apologies accepted. She even looks forward to meeting her uncle, look him in the eye and tell him, he did not ruin her.

Reading about death has some adverse affect on me, I think. Reading Remembering Uncle Peter moved me to tears. It reminded me of the time I was reading The Fault in Our Stars and how I cry read half of the novel. Kire walks us through the different stages of Uncle Peter’s cancer making us sadder at every point while caricaturing Uncle Peter as a kind and joyful man. The death almost feels personal, as if your loved one just died, that’s how beautifully it has been penned down.

Nigu’s Red T Shirt is a story that I feel should be read by all college going students. In my three years at Delhi University, North Campus, I have seen much discrimination and harassment against students from the North East. Nigu’s Red T Shirt highlights the challenges faced by young North Easterners when they come to metro cities for education or employment. How from their name to their looks and wardrobe and language is alienated from being ‘Indian’.

Both Bayienuo and Mete and the Mist are stories that fascinated me to a great extent. The stories take us into a world where spirits converse with humans and where unsuspecting people are drawn into forces greater than themselves. They have supernatural elements which are very central to the story and have been culled out from the folk and tribal traditions of Naga life.

Dielienuo’s Choice is a story which makes us reflect on our own class privilege. Dielienuo, a 10-year-old underprivileged Naga girl is brought to Kohima to work in the home of the narrator, who is the same age as her. The two are friends at first, but then the class difference slowly seeps in when the narrator dismisses her off as a servant in front of her friends. However, Dielienuo makes peace with her situation and decides to stay at the narrator’s house which leaves the reader even more uncomfortable.

Avinuo Kire is a fresh young voice from Nagaland and definitely makes you want to read her more.

You can buy The Power To Forgive and Other Stories on Zubaan’s website

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