Review: Circus Folks and Village Freaks- a game of changing common perspectives, and Aparna has scored a century


For, though he always looked sternly in control,

He too was the secret owner of a broken soul.

In her debut book, the author who is famous for slam poetry has weaved magic. One of its kind, the 18 short stories told in rhythmic style are a delight for the readers. It was hard to guess what to expect, but the emotions hidden behind the couplets come pouring out without permission. Before you’ll be able to fathom, the world around you will change.

You’ll find yourself in a boat with Subramaniam, ride to Hollywood (cattle class) with Pablo the clown, cry for love with Vishu, leave half of your heart with the Siamese twins. You’ll be able to taste the delicacies made by Urvashi with a pinch of her hearty laughter. You will drown in the shyness and gentleness of Siva only to awaken in a cauldron of passion with Lingam. You will whimper with the two dogs of Raju, love and adapt to village life with Jonas. You will love yourself when you see yourself through Jeeva’s eyes. You will pray for Miss Rita and cheer for Miss Luxmi.  What a hell of a ride it will be!

The story doesn’t end here. You will get to meet and know all the wonders of the circus and the freaks of the village who made them join the circus. Through the stories of a circus, Aparna addresses homophobia, casteism, feminism, and mental illness. If this is a game of changing common perspectives, then Aparna has scored a century. Since childhood we are taught that different is bad. A long nose, dark skin colour, too much hair, too less hair, peppy walk—all signs of difference, all bad. Signs of a freak. And no matter what we do, this information is so deep-rooted in our heads that we judge and discriminate even without realizing we are doing it. And wrong we are.

This book is a reminder that behind every exterior we ordinary people consider freaky, there’s a soul similar to ours. Read it slow, and you will find a part of you in every poem. Once you turn the last page, you will be reformed. You will find yourself with a new set of eyes.  A perfect, short and crisp delight, Circus Folks and Village Freaks is a must read.