What does language mean to you, or to us collectively? What is its importance? I guess I know the answer to these questions – just that the title story of this collection shook me up, made me think about dying languages in the world and what is going on to save them.
The short story “Swimmer among the Stars” (do read the story to know how the title comes about) is about a woman and how a language will die with her. It is about two ethnographers who are interviewing her, trying to record snippets of the language, for posterity. At the same time, the story is about identity of course – of memories – known and scattered (at one point I also thought the woman might be suffering from Alzheimer’s) and above all it is about what you carry and what you leave behind.
Kanishk Tharoor’s story will stay with you longer than you think it will. I could not stop thinking about the protagonist and what will happen to her next and to the language (which in itself is another character). Do read this story though – it is magical and subtle to say the least.