Sunday, June 7, 2020

And Now His Lordship is Laughing, by Shiv Ramdas

Strange Horizons, September 2019

The time is the Second World War, and the place is Bengal, India.

An old woman is making dolls out of jute, and caring for her young grandson. She's getting regular visits, though, from a British officer. The governor of the region wants one of her dolls for his wife, but Apa has been refusing to make one. The officer tells her she's making the wrong choice, but she won't change her mind, and the officer leaves. For that day, at least.

Then the British start confiscating all the rice, and everything else edible. The village, all of Bengal, and though she doesn't know it, all of India, begins to starve. It's not because of her dolls, but because the British are willing to let the Indians starve in order to feed their troops for the war.

The governor is happy to use her starvation to force her to comply, though. And seemingly, Apa agrees.

But he has made the wrong choice, and he has no idea what Apa's dolls can do.

The story draws the reader into a less familiar culture, and I became fully involved with Apa, her grandson, and her quest for justice. Recommended.

I received this story as part of the Hugo Voters packet, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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