'Randa Shahada O' is a collection of two long stories. The common thread running through them both is mother's milk. In "Biji Mausi", a young child is breastfed by an ageing, childless woman who had scarcely hoped to savour this tactile sensation of motherhood. Told from the shifting perspectives of the boy, the woman and the landlord, the narrative navigates through the still waters of memory, imagination, love and longing. In "Randa Shahada", a shahada tree doubles up as a lactating mother, albeit for the short duration of a single night, to a young adolescent. The story is layered, moving as it does between folklore, ancient social practice of tree-marriage, mystery and magic. Both the stories are narrated with the elan, intensity and linguistic brilliance — and enlivened by generous dollops of humour — that K K (Kamalakanta) Mohapatra has come to stand for.
Kamalakanta Mohapatra is an acclaimed author and translator.