A window seat often offers the best vantage point for a person to observe the world going by. Yashluv Virwani explores this concept to the fullest in his riveting anthology titled ‘Window Seat’, capturing the imagination right from his ‘Prologue’ which entices the reader with the refrain “I was drunk and the night was red”, and ending on a twist.
‘Cliché’ deals with the young writer who comes in search of Veronika just so that he can keep away from the screams and the howling, the negative presence in his room. Veronika enjoys the lights and colours that flow around her “like the fireflies, from the tales of a childhood raconteur, in the vastness of nothing.” She is an artist who fills her own life with colours; he a writer of logic, two souls who come together to create magic.
‘Window Seat’ is a tender story of a housewife who lives in her world cooking up a storm, and a tenant below who looks out at the world from his window. Their two souls meet when “the spear of loneliness first pricked”, and they each reach out to “a presence they could talk to”, filling a void within themselves. The narration brings to mind Longfellow’s lines about ‘ships that pass in the night... a distant voice in the darkness”.
Two travellers listen to the secrets told by the dawn breeze as they share a journey to a special place to look for freedom, finding it in different ways as they take inspiration from each other in ‘Favourite Quote’.
In ‘Soulmates’, chai plays a vital role as a lady finds her soulmate in her travelling companion in a train. Yashluv Virwani employs the train as a metaphor to describe the mediocrity of life bounded within its tracks. The lady, a writer who writes character-driven stories, sits by the window, conversing with her differently-abled companion.”You’re your true self only when facing a stranger”. This line takes on a whole new meaning by the end of the story. Likewise, the story titled ‘Strangers’ brings together a musician who plays his own tunes and an artiste in whom colours have found their home.
Love can be expressed in a myriad ways, but often guilt and happiness go together. ‘Object of Affection’ and ‘Freckles’ touch upon the perfection of love, beyond the shackles of matrimony, a love which has no binding, in which lovers are happy in their own secret worlds.
The book abounds with writers, storytellers and artists who narrate “stories picked up from people around (us) to weave a tale with the threads of magic”. Be they lovers, co-artistes, fellow travellers, confidants and strangers, “these conversations with people (you) meet out of nowhere and will never encounter (them) again, ever” give the reader glimpses of their loves, their lives and their philosophies, as they look out from their windows at the patch of sky visible beyond.
Maybe, there was a reason why the young writer left the most poignant story ‘Naiyya’ for the last. The old man at the sweet shop who waxes eloquent about his beloved wife, and the young girl whose grandmother had first brought her to this city, enter each other’s lives like two souls, to, perhaps, fulfill an unfinished bond. It is this story that brings all the stories to an end, leaving the reader “consumed by the characters”, as he tried to wrap his mind around the consummate manner in which the narrative has come around, full circle.
All I can say is that this slim volume packs a punch. The fluid lines of Rumi weave in and out of the stories, and in the words of one of the characters, “There’s so much of colour in here.”