In this personal essay, Thriveni C Mysore gives us a glimpse of her life spent close to nature.
I never knew that a day had so many long hours to be spent (at one’s leisure) until I was jobless. I have started to enjoy my seven-Sunday’s week so much that I now secretly fear to pick-up a job and have completely stopped job-hunting.
I start my quick-day cleaning the terrace, filling fresh water to three colorful tumblers, filling a tray with a spoonful each of foxtail millet, finger millet, barnyard millet, little millet and green gram. Then, I hide myself behind a half opened door to see through the slit between the door frame and jamb.
In this personal essay Sekhar Banerjee seeks to explore the emotional history of an individual and a country through Bollywood – the Hindi film industry in India.
Wardrobes are always a secret place, much like the hideout that you used to build with your Ma’s or aunts’ sarees below the largest table in the house. Those were the days of large joint families in India with uncles, aunts, cousins, parents and grandparents, and also of ornate, mostly black, wooden wardrobes in respective families under one roof. It was an ecosystem in itself.
Seeking and building a hideout then, wherever that might be – in the unused attic or beneath the healthy shade of a household tree, was not a pastime for the children but a desideratum for them to be alone for some time somewhere. Much like the adults in the family. Wardrobes, too, smelt of privacy, some mystery back then. And they enclosed a sense of calm and timelessness wrapped up in perfumes and naphthalene balls. But, wardrobes are never large enough to hide for the children or for the adults or a family. They never were. The dark insides of wardrobes can only shelter our small parts.
In this literary essay, Ramlal Agarwal talks about Shashi Tharoor’s The Great Indian Novel and how text of the epic is twisted beyond recognitionturning it into a disappointing experience for the reader.
Shashi Tharoor’s The Great Indian Novel has come in for high praise in India and abroad, and is already in its fifth edition. Khushwant Singh called it one of the most significant books in recent times. Washington Port reviewed it on its front page and the Times London, called it a tour de force
Tharoor humbly explains why he calls his novel The Great Indian Novel. He further states, his primary source of inspiration is the Mahabharata. Since Maha means Great, and Bharat means India, he calls this novel The Great Indian Novel.
In this personal essay, Stacy Pinto struggles untangling the complexities of a three year long relationship, and the decision to call herself a victim from events and circumstances that came around at the end of the relationship.
We were lovers, for 3 years. Maybe more if you count the previous years of best-friendship, and the year after when we struggled to untangle our lives from each other; we didn’t want to, but knew we needed to. We were kids, 18 and naïve, now 22 and still naïve, but hopeful and wiser. One a possible victim, the other sickened by a superiority complex. Wiser, nonetheless.
I was in the 11th grade studying humanities when I met him. I spent those last two years of school trying to fit in, finish first in school, complete college applications, SAT’s and English proficiency tests, travel with friends I spent most of my childhood with. Most of all, I spent a lot of time telling my friends stories about the different events that happened in my life; the weddings I attended, people I met on vacation. I would reel them in, and they would listen intently, elbows on knees, hands cupping faces, eyes wide with amazement, heads nodding in understanding, the ooo’s and aah’s, gasps followed by ‘oh my god Stacy, are you crazy!’ followed by endless laughs. I loved the attention. I continue to portray this tornado-that-is-my-life narrative, and continue to get calls for updates from friends back home. But with quarantine, things have become muy boring (I learn Spanish at snail’s pace too!) and I miss the drama in my life, which is probably why I choose now to finally detangle this beautifully toxic yet lovingly gentle relationship that ended a year ago. Maybe it’s an attempt to keep the narrative alive, or maybe it’s just a cathartic way of letting go.
In this personal essay, Anwesha Basu dwells on the courtyard of her childhood home in which she has fond memories with her brother and how as they grow up those memories become distant.
The first fifteen years of my life were spent at our rented apartment in Amherst Street, Kolkata. The façade of the hundred year old building was almost peeling away, while intertwined telephone and electrical wires crisscrossed across it. It resembled your average Central Calcutta buildings; aging early due to lack of maintenance. Our ground floor apartment in this building was nothing like the 2 bhk flats we see today. Think of an inverted-U shaped apartment, with a corridor running around its borders. The two vertical arms of the inverted-U housed the rooms, whereas the horizontal strip on top was the small ‘uthoon’ (the common Bengali word for courtyard). For both my brother and I, this uthoon was our favourite part of the house. It was the only place from where one could see a bright blue rectangular portion of the sky.
From early childhood to adolescence, the uthoon was the centre of most activities in our family. As babies our red, plastic bathtub with colourful beads on its sides, was carefully placed in that part of the uthoon where sunlight streamed in abundance, Ma acutely aware of the importance of vitamin D in the otherwise damp rooms. From the photographs carefully preserved by my parents, I can gather that the one year old me did have a gala bath time playing with those sun kissed bubbles. The first vivid memory I have of my baby brother was the day I was allowed to push his pram around the uthoon. I have always been able to recall that moment so clearly: his gurgling laughter, Ma’s anxious face and even the strong smell of ‘panch foron’ (Bengali five spices) being fried in mustard oil wafting in through the kitchen. I wonder if it had actually taken place or was it a dream constructed conveniently by my brain from a concoction of myriad related memories.
In this personal essay, Priya M transverses through a plethora of human emotions and captures life, in its most fragile form.
The dust had hardly settled on the ground, before another car sped across the road. The siren was now clearly audible. I braced myself for the inevitable wave of nausea. Even with the ambulance so near, the vehicles on the road jostled for space, struggling to get away before it became absolutely necessary to wait for the emergency van to cross. I tightened my grip on the handle of my Scooty and made a sharp swivel to the right side of the road.
Ignoring the volley of honks and insults, I abandoned my vehicle and crouched next to the footpath. As the ambulance turned the corner onto this road, that telltale flash of red at the corner of my eye was too much for my fluttering heart. I heaved and my guts spilled along the side of the footpath.
Inspired by a visit to her ancestral home in the late nineties, Zeenat Khan shares this personal essay dipped in nostalgia.
I had seen photos of the new house in Ghorashal* sent to me by my nephew Rupak. The ancestral home on the outskirts of Dhaka was built in the early nineties. It is a Victorian-looking, modern house. It has an open car porch and the veranda is covered with mosaic tiles, on which wicker chairs are set up for sitting in the evenings. The old abandoned pond has apparently been renovated and was complete with wide steps and a pathway, with flower bushes on both sides. From looking at the photos, the house seemed to be caught between two worlds; a mix of old and new. But it appeared to be a happy and inviting place.
One summer, in the late nineties, I was preparing for my visit home after fifteen years. I still can distinctly remember that I started to have mixed feelings about the visit for a multitude of reasons. My sentiments could be best described as similar to feeling very anxious. Looking back now, I know that the anxiety had a lot to do with my long absence, and my fear of facing all that was new in Bangladesh. By that I mean how everyone in the extended family will look, new births, new additions, and more importantly how will I feel seeing my aging parents. Moreover, I was not sure how I would deal with the loss of my eldest sister to cancer. I had always associated Dhaka with my sister, where she had stayed most of her married life. It had been only three months since her passing. My worries significantly increased thinking that after a short stay in Dhaka; I will have to go to my parents’ home in the village of my ancestors. That thought was both delightful and terrifying as I will be going to a brand new house. My nostalgic feelings are tied up with memories of the old house. I had no memories that are connected with the new house, and I was not really sure how a visit to the childhood home will actually feel.
After about two months of non-fiction, self-help reads, I decided to go for fiction, a novel, a story that I can drown myself in. I decided to do a little readathon a few days ago and let the book completely hypnotize me and let it have my complete attention. After all, it deserves every bit of it because it had been a long time since I’d lost myself in a fictional world.
And yet, only a few books and few writers have this power, something that seems to come almost naturally to them, this inexplicable talent to drown the reader in the book. You are lucky enough to have found a book that does that to you. I consider myself to be extremely fortunate to have got to read a few books that give me the same feeling. One of those and the most prominent of those have to be Khaled Hosseini’s books.
“But it’s better to be hurt by the truth than to be comforted with a lie.”
In this personal essay, Sudha Subramanian takes a walk down the memory lane, triggered by the death of a loved one.
I never knew I had so many memories tucked in the deep recesses of my brain, because I didn’t know some of them existed. The news that glowed on my screen probably triggered the whole volcano. My over the top life that galloped in breakneck speed took a short pause – a moment that should have lasted a few seconds. But that moment stretched out with unbelievable elasticity and forced many snippets of my life to the forefront. They appeared in hazy frames at first. I narrowed my brows in an attempt to focus. When the fog around those frames cleared, I felt like an old record player churning out scratchy music dusted with static. Who knew, there were so many hidden under those layers!