#StoryOfTheMonth October 2017 by Anindita Chatterjee

Rising above the Blue, a short story in three parts builds up on a dramatic climax and ends on a tragic note. The anagnorisis which arrives in the form of her father’s letter shatters Zuwaina’s life and hopes forever. The story despite its brief ambit reads like a Greek tragedy in its plot structure. There is an exposition scene at the outset where we are introduced to two characters Zuwaina and Henry and the readers are given a privileged insight into their love lives and dreams of a future together.

Then the story moves on to the next part where there is a rising action, climax which is followed by a denouement. Zuwaina receives her father’s letter and the story moves back and forth in time unveiling chiaroscuro images of life in its bright vivacity and grey dullness. Zuwaina loved her father Larry and the envelope which arrived from him aroused her curiosity and she sat through the entire morning after her date night with Henry reading it with avid attention. Little did she anticipate that the letter from her deceased father which came along with some legal papers would transform her life forever. The letter was a confession to her from her father. He mentioned about his pride for his children both Zuwaina and her brother and thereafter confessed about a girl with whom he was fascinated during his youth. He mentioned how the relationship had ended in a bleak futility when one day she suddenly disappeared from the town altogether. The last section of his written words came as a bolt from the blue for Zuwaina. The letter mentioned how the relationship had given birth to an illegitimate child who was given up to an orphanage for adoption. The father mentioned to his daughter how he had felt an emotional urge to look after the sick child. The child was eventually adopted by his friends and raised up as Henry Allen. The epiphanic revelation came as a shock to Zuwaina. Henry Allen was actually her brother. The man with whom she had imagined a conjugal life together was actually her own blood. The ruthless stroke of fate shattered her life. She decided to sever all ties with Henry. Later she found out that the letter was mailed by Susan Fleming, Zuwaina’s high school friend who also had a fixation for Henry but had given up her claim for Henry was enamoured by Zuwaina’s charm. She told Zuwaina how she had accidentally come upon the letter and had been forced to post the letter when she got to know that Zuwaina and Henry were about to tie the knot very soon. The last line of the short story adds a dramatic touch to the entire story. Henry read the confession letter from his father and was left utterly speechless and dumbstruck by its sheer impact and suddenness. Zuwaina decided to move to USA in an effort to mark and end to the emotionally disturbing chapter in her life.

The story ends on an unfinished note, leaving the readers with a sense of curiosity as to what happens thereafter. The neatness and compactness of the story strikes an interesting note and despite its brevity it almost follows a five act tragic structure resembling classical Greek tragedies. One cannot but stop from feeling pity and fear for the tragic protagonist, who like Oedipus Rex is shattered by the stroke of destiny that comes from an external agency to mould and modify her life for ever.