Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Two Tales On Reincarnation

Reincarnation is a theme rich with possibilities for mystery writers, and there have been several well known novels and hauntingly eerie films on this subject.  Murder mysteries wherein the victim returns (often in human form, sometimes not!) to identify the killer are particularly common.

However, the gentler kind of stories are rare- those that deal more with the confusion that can arise when people are confronted with the possibility of reincarnation, rather than actual details or gory incidents.

I don't personally have any views on reincarnation as the world contains many things beyond my sphere of knowledge.  It is not a subject I find important enough to dwell on; my present life is demanding enough of my time and thoughts!  Having said that, I found two nice stories that use this theme.  I recently finished reading one of them and the other has been a favourite for many years.

Alexander McCall Smith has written a novel, 'The Novel Habits of Happiness', set in Scotland, which  (in his usual style) is about many things, including a little boy who feels he lived elsewhere, in another life, and all the events that follow.  The tale is interesting because though clearly fiction, something like this could easily (or unexpectedly) happen to anyone, I feel.  Coincidence?   Fate?  Churning of our incredibly complex (and often undecipherable) mental mechanisms?  The line between fantasy and reality can get blurred depending on people's interpretation of facts or their perception of their environment and themselves.

The older book I referred to is 'The Golden Fortress' (Sonar Kella) by Satyajit Ray (which he subsequently made into a wonderful film, now available on DVD).  This is a part of the Feluda detective series (written for children or more specifically, 'young adults' as people now like to say).  It begins with a child's recreation of a world very different from what he has ever been in.  The trail leads the characters all the way up to north India and provides an interesting glimpse of life and travel in a pre-cell phone, pre- fast car, pre- fast plane age (the sweet seventies).

For those who like gentle, meandering stories that deal with people's thoughts and emotions, a little travel and a hint of humour, both these books are recommended.

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