‘A Small Town Sea’ by Anees Salim


People outlive their death through their kids. And for writers, they continue through their words. Here in Anees Salim’s ‘Small Town Sea’ is a dead man, both a writer and a father, who outlived death through his son’s words. This son is the only future ‘Vappa’ now has. He is to become the writer his father never accomplished to be. The child, who is never addressed with a proper name in the story, is writing a letter Mr. James Unwin, an English book publisher who never responded to his father’s letters. Surprisingly this passive character is one among those whose name appears in the story very frequently. Names, or their absence are important in this one, you see, because we are talking about people; unimportant people. A stereotypical family of two kids, one boy and a girl. A small town, like million others in this country. The sea and its shore, which is the same for almost every coastal region.

The story, published in 2017, begins with a glossary. It explains few words from a Malayali-Muslim register, maybe because he feels that the words he will be using at some important junctures of his life/story are not so familiar to Mr. Unwin (and possibly to the Malayali and Non-Malayali reading circles of Indian English Novels). Vappa and Umma, his parents, are two people who were born and brought up in the same town, though didn’t know each other till they got married. They are the kind of people you find in crowds waiting to wave to celebrities visiting their small town and never forget that incident. The dying father decides to move back to his home town, so as to listen to the sea there on his last day. The story further unwinds from there, the boy trying to cope with his ‘replanting’. And when at last Vappa dies, and his mother and little sister hesitantly leaves to start a new family with a new man, he truly understands what Vappa meant when he said “You should learn to walk alone”. He j was being trained for that till then but there will always be more unexpected things waiting to break your heart.


One thought on “‘A Small Town Sea’ by Anees Salim

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