This piece walks the line between a personal essay and a book review (Zadie Smith’s On Beauty)

If we are in the habit of being honest with ourselves, we can admit we all have that seven-year itch in our marriages. 

Now whether the seven-year itch happens in year four or year ten differs from person to person or couple to couple. 

I had mine not-so-long-ago. In year nine, if we are also being precise. On first impulse, I toyed with the idea of venturing out to look for new pastures. But I was hesitant, fact being that I’m three children in, and my body’s been their playground for almost a decade. 

The Brass Notebook: A Memoir by Devaki Jain

  • Publisher: Speaking Tiger
  • Year of publication: 2020 / September
  • Pages: 232
  • Price: INR 599

Book Blurb

In this no-holds-barred memoir, Devaki Jain begins with her childhood in south India, a life of comfort and ease with a father who served as dewan in the Princely States of Mysore and Gwalior. But there were restrictions too, that come with growing up in an orthodox Tamil Brahmin family, as well as the rarely spoken about dangers of predatory male relatives. Ruskin College, Oxford, gave her her first taste of freedom in 1955, at the age of 22. Oxford brought her a degree in philosophy and economics—as well as hardship, as she washed dishes in a cafe to pay her fees. It was here, too, that she had her early encounters with the sensual life. With rare candour, she writes of her romantic liaisons in Oxford and Harvard, and falling in love with her ‘unsuitable boy’—her husband,  Lakshmi Jain, whom she married against her beloved father’s wishes.

In this literary essay, Ramlal Agarwal explores the classic novel A passage to India highlighting how readers were drawn to the novel because it was about India, a subject close to the heart of the British and the Indians.

In the 1940s and the 1950s there was one novel the students and scholars of English literature in India were taken up with and that was E.M.Forster’s A Passage to India. It was essentially prescribed in all courses in English literature, it was discussed in all highbrow magazines and there could be no seminar without it. It was one book no teacher or student of English literature could afford to neglect. But with the passage of time, like all classics, it receded from the center-stage to the back-stage.

‘Who can free a captive bird mourning in his cage?

You must bring your own Freedom, O, Gardner.’

  Ghulam Ahmad Mehjoor

“I’ll be back early tomorrow, you don’t need to worry about me,” Syeda tried to sound reassuring. “He will protect us”, she said to Tariq, as she packed the oily turmeric rice in a large steel lunch carrier. She placed the container in an empty plastic cement bag, hoisted it on her head and took Mishaal’s hand in hers. The faithful were reciting their durood in the mosque after Fajr prayers. The golden thread of dawn had just emerged in the skies, and she embarked on this perilous journey to Srinagar. 

Recently, Nepali-Indian origin author Prajwal Parajuly has been in the news for all the right reasons. His works have been nominated for some of the most prestigious literary awards in the globe.

Prajwal Parajuly (né Sharma) (born 24 October 1984) is an Indian author whose works focus on Nepali-speaking people and their culture. Parajuly grew up in the Gangtok, Sikkim region of northeastern India. His father is Indian and his mother Nepalese. He was educated at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri, and the University of Oxford. Before committing to a writing career, he worked as an advertising executive at The Village Voice. (Source)

Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

The world’s most global literary prize – the 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize is now open for entries and they are seeking unheard and unusual stories.

The prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2,000–5,000 words). Apart from  English, stories are also accepted in the Bengali, Chinese, French, Greek, Kiswahili, Malay, Portuguese, Samoan, Tamil and Turkish languages. Translated entries from any language into English are also eligible.

“Pack” from And the Walls Come Crumbling Down by Tania De Rozario (Gaudy Boy, 2020)

It’s rainy season by the time I’ve booked my flight and the weather is seeping into every aspect of my life. Above and around the house, it pours. Plastic groundsheets line the floor and plastic buckets catch drips from my leaky ceiling. Nothing seems to hold water these days and I feel as though I, too, am leaking. This is the fourth house since leaving my mother’s flat. Occupied for less than a month and already it is purging me out.

We thought this had been the one. But then again, for eight hundred dollars, any house would have been the one. You and I shared two rooms—one to sleep in and one to work in. We sublet the rest of the house to other artists who used the third room and the kitchen as workspaces. It was the ideal home. A place everybody could afford, in which beautiful things were created every day. 

[ Pous – The ninth month of the Bengali calendar, from mid December to mid January]

It is three o’clock. Keeping aside the work in hand, I leant back in my chair. My handwritten long row of small words on the white sheet of paper  – just like dead flies on a white wall; each line resembling a slithery black snake. I had finished one page after an hour of hard work. I have transformed an atomic part of the vast and unclear world of the thought processes in my brain, into decipherable human language – watered through eons of years, the developed feelings in symbols, in conversations. The process involves extreme anguish and pain. Despite that being so, I just have to go through it… I have to bear the pain through the whirling days and sleepless nights, through weeks, months, years upon years, until the day death will bring the last and ultimate respite. When I look at the sheets of paper filled with my handwriting, I shudder to the bottom of my soul. Words, words. Endless, unending words. Maybe these words are meaningless to everyone except myself.

Are there six people in this land who’d understand what I wanted to say upon reading my writings? The way I want my works to be read, will there be three men to read them? I know what happens. On a summer afternoon, closing the doors and windows of the room, turning the overhead fan on, the deputy homemaker lies down on the mammoth cot holding my book in her hands, (if she doesn’t have any boy or girl nearing the ‘about to be fallen’ age) then after reading two pages, the printed words become hazy, she turns aside and dozes off to sleep. The weight of her fat hands would squeeze the open pages of the book with three hours’ of sweat. And the guys from the public library vie with each other in order to get hold of my books; only the fortunate returns home clutching his prize within his armpits, jumping with joy, gobbles up the book from the first to the last pages – turning the pages like a madman, to get whatever he wants, whatever he understands, for which he has saved his pennies with extreme diligence. Instead of offering these at the pious feet of the screen’s gods and goddesses, he turns the pages of my books ravenously, in search of the same pleasure. Then after his disillusion, he creates various juicy stories and anecdotes about me and in this way, takes his revenge. I know, I know.