In an interview with The Daily Guardian, Sri M said ‘Fiction is not meant to preach lessons but since there is no fiction without a factual core, readers are sure to be influenced.’
He wasn’t wrong. The stories from his book The Homecoming gave us several valuable lessons to take away, even if that might not have been the intention.
- Death of a builder
While the story resounds with deep irony, it is also a call to awareness of how intricately human lives and nature are entangled. Now more than ever we have started to live our lives as though nothing outside of our immediate need and greed exists, but in 2020 should have taught us anything, it is that we cannot continue to live in isolation if we want the planet to survive. The story is a beautiful take on a silkworm on its way to metamorphose into a moth before its untimely destruction by harvesters to make silk for the clothes of deities and people who have no time for the actual producer of this silk, or any care for its life.
- The Porter
Krishna is a porter who doesn’t covet other people’s wealth, but circumstances drive him to make an exception. But the story is brutal. He asks for God’s forgiveness in case he doesn’t something wrong, but that forgiveness is not granted, and any wealth Krishna was hoping to gain comes at an enormous price. Perhaps the lesson is that there should be no exceptions to one’s integrity. After all, we can never know the true nature of the exception we are making.
- The Thief
Sambu, the thief, has the strangest encounter with an old woman, and his life is changed forever. Driven to thieving by dire circumstances and the urgent compulsion to feed his family, Sambu is given a new chance at life. We have the transformative capacity of changing other people’s lives for the better; those who need help can in fact be given a new chance at life if we’re willing to share our privileges with them.
- The Dimwitted Genius
While Kitcchu does not do well in school, and does not seem to have the aptitude the rest of his classmates do, there is something special about him. He soars in Mathematics and music, and none of his teachers can explain why. In a narrative about a higher secret mission, Sri M once again raises a more direct and urgent flag about the environmental impact humans have on the planet. In some ways, his story has a bleaker underline – the human footprint on the planet is so irreparably destructive, that perhaps only a long-winded miracle can save us now.
- The Homecoming
When Shivanna mysteriously disappears, his parents’ lives are thrown in a tailspin. But it is soon discovered that Shivanna has left of his own accord, searching for the spiritual Truth that he has read about in the scriptures. He travels from Madikeri to Haridwar, but ends up finding his truth much closer to home than expected. Introspection helps us stay rooted in our pursuits. While journeys across lands may seem necessary, we most often end up chasing after empty illusions. More often than not, what we seek lies closer to home, waiting to be found.