As the inimitable Khalil Gibran has stated, ‘Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.’ Leela Devi Paniker’s stories have that depth and pathos, the few reluctant albeit genuine smiles, the tears of grief and longing and eventually eternal hope, sprouting from the womb of the earth, whilst inducing the character(s) to move on and rediscover life, says Monica Arora in this review

Bathing-elephantsOnce in a while, there comes along such a deep-rooted and evocative piece of prose that leaves readers spellbound and mesmerized for days after putting the book away.  Leela Devi Panikar’s ‘Bathing Elephants’ has this lilting, haunting, melancholic quality that touches the deepest cockles of the heart and wrings one, inside out!

Following her debut collection of short stories entitled ‘Floating Petals’, all six tales in ‘Bathing Elephants’ are characterized by simplicity of expression and brevity. The author brilliantly conveys so much pathos and emotion in very few words and uses an easy narrative tenor throughout the manuscript.

Mississippi-River-landscape

 

It’s your freshman year in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, when you live with two other Indians in a one-bedroom apartment. A girl from Bombay, Radhika, and you share the bedroom while her boyfriend Rahul sleeps on the futon in the living room. He wakes up early every morning, folds the sheets away in the particleboard chest of drawers in the living room, pushes the futon upright, and smoothes out its cushions before either you or the girl are up. In the first few weeks that you live with them, before you know to stay in bed until after Radhika has taken a shower and breakfasted with him, you learn that Rahul will read quietly while waiting for her to get up. During those initial mornings, he smiles at you as you enter the living room, and hurries back to his book, and you try to be as quiet as possible as you take your cereal bowl out of the cupboard. The uneasy silence always lasts until she wakes up and joins you.

They say little to each other, lacking the coy banter you have heard between your friends and their boyfriends in Delhi. Radhika and Rahul are a solemn couple, but inseparable. Even their names sound inevitably connected—Radhika and Rahul, Rahul and Radhika. They cook together, wash dishes together, go out for study sessions and the nearby IHOP, and take all the same Engineering classes. You often try and imagine their courtship—sometimes you picture them meeting at a party thrown by one of the other Indian students. They would have been the only two to not get up and dance to the techno music. They would have remained seated the entire evening, too polite to share a couch. Later, they might have kept running into one another at different places—the library, the cafeteria, the financial aid office—until they looked for each other so much that they believed themselves in love.

Jaiwanti Dimri reviews A Box of Stolen Moments by Usha Bande. New Delhi: Lifi Publications, 2014. Rs. 160,  pp 164.

a-box-of-stolen-moments-book-84629A Book of Stolen Moments by Usha Bande is a collection of twenty one short stories that capture, or to say, click on some momentous and revealing moments in the lives of people belonging to various regions, nationalities and ethnic identities. Written in the early 1970s and 1980s, these stories were published in journals and magazines. However, the basic thematic concerns and issues addressed in these stories are still very much contemporary and contextual as they touch upon the simple yet penetrative, day-to-day realities of life in terms of the joys and pains and the twists and turns of life. Based on the ‘lived experiences, observations, reaction to and interaction with life” (Preface) by the writer’s own admission who is a fine mix of an academic scholar and creative writer, the collage of these tales unfolds the multi-faceted moods and manners of the people like the flow of the river. 

Jeet Thayil-NarcopolisFollowing on the success of its first three creative writing workshops in India, the University of East Anglia (UEA), where the United Kingdom’s oldest and highest-ranked school of creative writing is located, is organising a fourth workshop to be held in Calcutta from 28th August to 5th September 2014.

The theme of this workshop is Exploring the boundaries between fiction and non-fiction, and it will be led by Amit Chaudhuri, award-winning author and UEA Professor of Contemporary Literature, and Booker-shortlisted novelist and poet Jeet Thayil.

Shekhar Gupta’s book is a handy compendium that illustrates a tumultuous timeline, writes Pradyot Lal

Anticipating IndiaArmed with an unpretentious style and powered by the sheer pull which political anecdote and gossip has for the great Indian middle class, Shekhar Gupta has effectively sustained his column week after week. He writes on subjects as varied as the last relics of the quota raj to the decline in the fortunes of the Indian National Congress, and has sought to position himself as an involved bystander in the world around him.

ShaminiShamini Flint began her career in law in Malaysia and also worked at Linklaters in Singapore in their capital markets and corporate insolvency practice. She traveled extensively around Asia for her work, before resigning to be a stay-at-home mum, writer, part-time lecturer and environmental activist.

Her Inspector Singh Investigates novels are published by Little, Brown and have been translated into many languages. Titles include Inspector Singh Investigates: A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder, Inspector Singh Investigates: A Bali Conspiracy Most Foul, Inspector Singh Investigates: The Singapore School of Villainy, Inspector Singh Investigates: A Deadly Cambodian Crime Spree and Inspector Singh Investigates: A Curious Indian Cadaver. Her most recent is Inspector Singh Investigates: A Calamitous Chinese Killing (Sept 2013).  “It’s impossible not to warm to the portly, sweating, dishevelled, wheezing Inspector Singh …” – The Guardian.

Shamini also writes children’s novels. Her latest books for kids are Diary of a Track and Field Titan and Diary of a Super Swimmer published by Allen&Unwin, Australia and Puffin, India.

Kitaab presents an interview with this talented and prolific writer.