Short Stories All the Time

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... a few of my thoughts about 900, mostly contemporary, short stories.
Showing posts with label Cloutier. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cloutier. Show all posts

08 September, 2015

Martin Cloutier, "Auntie Grandma"

"Auntie Grandma" begins and ends with something being thrown into the garbage. Moshul gave his dead Auntie Vani's turquoise sari to co-worker, Maggie, who threw it away as casually as food was thrown out each night at the restaurant.

Moshul, from Chittagong, Bangladesh, lives in Queens and works as a busboy in Manhattan. We see the hierarchy of busboys and waiters and cooks in the restaurant business. Moshul is a considerate and hard-working young man living with his aunt who works as a seamstress for Macy's. She has been shunned by family in Bangladesh so no one wants any of her beautiful garments. "They considered Vani bad luck--a husbandless, childless woman who died alone in a foreign country--who wants to wear these garments of misfortune?"

The themes, for me, are that people, not just Aunt Vani, are thrown away, not respected or valued. Also, food waste while simultaneously many in the world starve. Also, peoples' mistaken views that someone is worthless or "depraved" just because he/she doesn't succumb to other's expectations. Oh, aren't we as a people so willing to denigrate someone who isn't fulfilling our very own peculiar expectations.
"...cham-cham, one of his
favorite sweets..."

Moshul saw great value in his aunt's beautiful sari and wanted someone he considered a friend to have it. Maggie could not or did not try to see the beauty or value in it. She also hadn't slowed down enough to see that Moshul cared about her and saw her as a friend. She's always worried about something else and missed the value right in front of her. Moshul was deeply hurt by Maggie's actions. "Now he understood why people married and had kids, did favors for family and paid visits to relatives. Why they kept believing the things their parents believed. Why they fasted for a month and prayed five times a day. It was all to avoid this feeling."

"Auntie Grandma" is a wonderful story with a great circular structure. It's written in a very close and limited third person point of view. A little over seventeen pages long and published this month in issue number 47 of the Harvard Review.

Harvard Review
Martin Cloutier