What’s Demon’s all about?:
Demon’s tells the story of how a woman’s Thanksgiving preparations put her husband to eternal rest.
What did I think?:
Quite a few of the stories in this collection that I have read so far have packed an emotional punch and Demon’s is no exception starting with the first incredible few lines:
“When the phone rang the night before Thanksgiving, Savitri Veeraghavan was doing her best to forget that her husband, Ravi, lay dead on the living room floor.”
How could anyone not read on after a sentence like that? One of the strangest things about this event for the reader to find out is that Savitri has left her husband on the floor where he died and starts to cook, which it is obvious that she relishes and does the trick of calming her down somewhat. She begins ruminating about the past, in particular her marriage to Ravi, which even although the pair felt completely comfortable with each other in the way of so many long partnerships, was not without its share of problems.
Savitri has a job assembling and testing circuit boards under an English boss, Philip who is the epitome of everything she wants in a man. Indeed Savitri tells us that if only he was Indian, she would have introduced him to her daughter Radhu who is away at university. It seems that the independence Savitri craves is only given to her when she works as her husband insists on accompanying and picking her up to each outing and will not take no for an answer. This particular weekend, he is waiting for her to finish work and although Philip tells her that her husband is waiting for her in the car, she dreads leaving work to enter the reality of her married life.
As Savitri gets into the car, Ravi is complaining (as usual) of being unwell and having to pick her up, even though he wouldn’t have it any other way. Savitri seems to have a shorter fuse than normal today and snaps at her husband, considering how much better her life would be if he wasn’t around:
“What if you weren’t here? Would it be as bad? No arguments on the ride home. No more of your fussy demands, unrealistic expectations, strange insecurities. I could live without you to monitor everything, I could live as I alone wanted.”
And then Savitri hears a small voice, not heard or spoke by her husband:
“Asthu, asthu. Make it so.”
By the time they get back home, Ravi is dreadfully ill, too sick even to park the car so they leave it in the drive and go inside where Ravi instantaneously keels over, dead. Savitri is racked with guilt and this may explain some of her odd behaviour. She is instantly transported back to her childhood where she wished that her brother would be hurt. Coincidentally, her brother does graze his forehead after an accident that day and Savitri’s mother is furious, explaining that the asura ganas had answered her wish, making her bow for forgiveness by the family altar. These entities are described as “bastard cousins of the gods,” and are tiny demons that can cause anything that their victim may be thinking to become a reality.
The rest of the story deals tells of Savitri’s struggles with her husband’s death and her inner turmoil of guilt, feeling that she caused Savitri’s death by wishing it. Desperate to turn to someone for advice she tries to call her daughter, Radhu at university but she cannot come to the phone. We also learn that Savitri is a bit stifling and over-protective of her daughter and calls her multiple times a day. She even attends a Thanksgiving lunch at her friends, leaving her dead husband behind on the floor. Her behaviour at the party raises a few eyebrows whilst her inner emotions rage deep within. Does she manage to admit what has happened? I won’t spoil anything, that’s for you to find out!
Once again, Rajesh Parameswaran has written an absolutely captivating story that held me spellbound throughout. All of the stories in this collection focus on love of some shape or form and I was fascinated by the way he crept into the “behind close doors” secrets of a long marriage. The other characters such as Savitri’s best friend, Poornima who holds the lunch and the daughter Radha don’t get quite as much attention but I thought it was a really effective technique in focusing on Savitri, her regrets and beliefs, and the way in which she chooses to accept her husband’s death. It’s one of my favourite stories in the collection so far and one that is definitely worth a read. Let me know your thoughts if you’ve read it too!
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):
NEXT SHORT STORY: The Ceiling by Kevin Brockmeier from the collection Things That Fall From The Sky