Friday, August 30, 2013

My Indian Literature Connection

As a school student, I had read my fair share of books authored by Indian writers. Back then, it was Narayan's Malgudi Days, Tagore's works, and the minor works of Vikram Seth and Anita Desai which we got to read as part of the CBSE English syllabus. Indian Writing in English, I was was introduced to this term in my first year of college. As the name suggests, the subject is Indian literature, written in the English language. So we read RK Narayan's The Guide, Raja Rao's Kanthapura, Mahasweta Devi's Arjun, Arundhati Roy's essay on the impending nuclear war and Naipaul's idea of India.' But there was more to Indian literature, as i was to discover later in the years to come. 

College had expanded my horizon, I discovered a complete new avenue of books and authors, I savored the names of books as I pronounced them to the nearby American Bookstore uncle. What began as just a subject to study for a semester, turned into a personal interest.

My handicap of not being able to read the Bengali language, forced me to explore the books kept in the Indian translation in English section. It was the best thing that happened to me. I realized that I had just uncovered a cache of regional literature. I had the good fortune to read the translated works of some celebrated authors from different languages like Tamil, Hindi, Punjabi, and of course Bengali. My reading list now had Sadat Hasan Manto, Satyajit Ray, Amrita Pritam. What drew me to this genre is the ease with which I was able to place myself in the situation, the place where the events occur. Familiarity helps in understanding, accepting and reasoning the plot, the outcome is a pleasurable read and this feeling stays with the reader forever.

There are a few books which left me with same sentiment.

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's The Palace of Illusions
This one was recommended by one of my colleagues. HIgh on the feminist ideology, this book is Mahabharata retold from Draupadi's viewpoint.

Ashapurna Devi's trilogy The First PromiseSubarnalata, Bakul Kotha
She is one first female writers in pre-independence era in Bengali literature. Her novels set in the same period give a unbiased view of the Bengali society of those time, her protagonists were most often the women folk, thus helped in getting their perspective of the matters.

Kalki's Ponniyan Selvan
This is a historical novel written by Kalki during the reign of the Chola kings. As the novel was based on the lives of real people, its a real account of the society back in the Chola era. It is a record in the form of a story, told in five-parts.

Every one of these books is a wonderful read. Each protagonist lives a different life, tells a different tale. Yesterday, I added a few new authors to my reading list, and have decided to explore a new line in the same subject, poetry. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Soul searching through the lens

Its wonderful how thought provoking a movie can be. This Independence Day, I watched an old Hindi flickThe plot goes very simple; boy dreams of making big in the world, challenged by the old players and their rules, he defies all and makes it big on his own terms, but not before being ridiculed for his spirit to be remain true to himself.

Took a step back to the real life, and I found that things are not so different at all. When we start anything new, we are faced with doubts and questions from the rest, who exhibit a complete lack of confidence in our efforts, chances of succeeding in the chosen path.

To not give in these doubts, and answer the questions without compromising the values that one believes in, is the real test. Its tough. But then when was it ever easy. 

I realized that the ability to face the situation will aid in achieving the task. To seek, to strive, not to yield; this is what defines us. Hang on there for a moment, and face the situation, answer the questions, and you will be a wiser, strong man.