The Eye Opener by Indrajit Garai

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The Eye Opener is the second installment of a collection of short stories by Indrajit Garai. The three vignettes are themed around the everyday struggles of life: joblessness, debt, greed, and social injustice. These stories are sobering tales of the social issues seen in all walks of lives. And Garai gives voice to a struggling expectant couple, to an immigrant, and to a wrongly convicted person.

The Alignment
Franck and Armelle are an expectant family. But an accounting scandal has cause Armelle to lose her job at the firm and Franck is feeling the pressure to provide for his family. Heavily in debt from their extravagant apartment, Franck is bearing an emotional and physical toll for a grander lifestyle while leaving a trail of neglect in his wake. But there is a “luxury” in being able to make the right decision in life. Will he?

“When you can’t add real values, you keep yourself afloat by creating illusive ones.”

The Changing Turf
Nathan has left his home of Mumbai to immerse himself in education in New York City. Settling into his new dorm, sleep evades him as the jet lag settles in. The unfamiliar city peaks his curiosity. As he walks the streets of New York, he navigates through poverty, sadness, and kindness. As he experiences the people of the city, Nathan gets a harsh personal glimpse into the highlights and lowlights of the American people and culture.

“He realized how little he had known from outside the life of America. He imagined how working five jobs at once could change an American couple’s dream into <a> nightmare.”

The Eye Opener
Cedric has been wrongly convicted of heroin possession and has just returned home from his prison sentence only to find his brother has been killed. As he navigates his way through a world that is unforgiving of convicts, he learns what it is like living on a thin line without opportunity. But there are a few open-minded individuals that are changing the landscape for the marginalized. The Eye Opener is written in the first person and Cedric gives a vivid view of what is wrong with the justice system today. Although the setting is in Paris, this setting can easily translate to any other city in the world.

“Those records will remain branded behind me for the rest of my life. Records for a crime I never committed. Records for a crime I wasn’t even aware of.”

Garai has written three compelling short stories. The Alignment and The Eye Opener are the most poignant. The Alignment resonated with me on several levels. I sympathized with Franck cognitive dissonance between making money and trying to navigate his moral compass in his current job. The relationship between Frank and Armelle was touching and I found myself rallying for them, behind them. The Changing Turf’s concept was on point but it fell short on execution. It seemed to jump around until it came full circle. But the Eye Opener was perhaps the most well-rounded story with great character development while embracing relevant and complex social issues.

This is my first read from Indrajit Garai and I will be intrigued to see what this author will present to us next.

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