In this personal essay, Kalyani Raghunathan explores her love-hate relationship with the rains.
Last year I told a friend that monsoon was my least favourite time of year. I have held this view for as long as I can remember, and so, like many of my long-held and staunchly defended views, it hadn’t been challenged for a while. In making my case I cited, like any good scientist, what I thought was overwhelming evidence in my favour: the oppressive stickiness, the streams of mud that send brown flecks up the backs of your legs as you pick your way through the streets, the stagnant knee-high pool of water that surrounds my home for days on end because the municipality drains are too small and too clogged to be effective. It has been embarrassing to have friends stay with me, I tell him, for us to spend a day shopping in Delhi’s high-end Khan Market only to stop the car at the gate of my apartment complex, roll our pants up and wade through the muck to get home.
Gracy Samjetsabam reviews The Legend of Himal and Nagrai reflecting how these stories offer a yarn of peace from Kashmir through the tales sorted from the memory lane of the Kashmiris (Speaking Tiger, 2019)
Title: The Legend of Himal and Nagrai
Author: Onaiza Drabu
Publisher and date of publication: Speaking Tiger Books (10 December 2019)
Onaiza Dabru makes her debut with the book The Legend of Himal and Nagrai. Dabru is an anthropologist from Kashmir. Her works focus on the issues of identity, nationalism and Islamophobia. She co-curates a newsletter on South Asian art and literature called Daak. The folktales in The Legend of Himal and Nagrai reflect Dabru’s pride for her identity and offer a yarn of peace from Kashmir through the tales sorted from the memory lane of the Kashmiris. On reading the stories, one can sense the amplitude in the rich age-old stories that are passed on from generation to generation and these stories allow the self an aesthetic indulgence of one’s culture. The stories come in the form of myths, legends, fables and anecdotes filled with the attributes of the complex yet peaceful co-existence of the cultural confluence nestled in the heavenly Jammu and Kashmir since ages. Dabru highlights the manner in which proverbs, idioms and rituals form a chain of a metaphor of the diversity that Kashmir is. The superstitions, the cruel twist of irony, the luck and misfortunes, the prince and the pauper, the beautiful evil women, the underworld and the world of the animals in the folklores speak in volume of the race, the Kashmiris and their love for the enchanted and boundless imagination. Moreover, the peris from the dastaans of Persian folklore and the nagas from the Panchatantra of Sanskrit stories harmoniously amalgamate and co-exist in the folktales from Kashmir. This influence of the confluence is evident in the nature of the multicultural, multilingual and multi-religious flavouring of the folktales.
A glimpse from Brink originally written by S.L. Bhyrappa in Kannada as Anchu and translated by R. Ranganath Prasad. (Published by Niyogi Books, 2020)
She sought no more details. In a mood to relieve himself by spilling out everything if queried, her stillness cut him off from relating any further. By such time, her hands had retreated away from his. He gathered that she was perturbed by his declarations. Beyond the shade of the mango tree beneath which they were sitting, the static touch of the sun seemed to mutually repel all and sundry. He sat silently. With a facial expression that increased the intensity of the stillness around, she looked up to the skies. After a short while, she was on her feet. ‘I am leaving. If you come along, I will drop you.’ He felt dejected. ‘You may leave yourself.’ She now turned towards him. Her eyes were feral. He chose not to face her sight. Reflecting that she merited neither eyeing nor being eyed, he turned to the ravine that was being ravaged by Helios. After half a minute, she said, ‘And that’s all?’ He turned to her. With both her hands, she removed the royal-jasmine string from her plait and flung it with all her might onto the scorching rock. Then she looked at him. He continued to be mute.
Somewhere deep inside inland India, a group of women wearing bright orange, yellow and red coloured sarees gossiped under an early morning summer sun. Dense groves of lush green banana trees stretched for miles around them. Rows and rows of bananas dangled from these trees, like an upside-down crown. Overhead the sky looked like a clean, light-blue canvas with not a single cloud or bird in sight.
These women had skin the colour of charcoal, sharp eyes and loud laughter. With their hair tucked behind their ears and the loose end of their sarees tied around their waist, they sit under the shade of these trees. In their daily lives full of drudgery and routine, this is perhaps the only hour they don’t resent. They share stories about their childhood, spent in their maiden homes, far this village of lush green banana trees, none of which belong to them. Now, they are just women who live in ruins, on the edges of the world, like those extra empty spaces, on the edges of manuscripts, unseen, unheard and unwanted.
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.
In this video, Malaysian writer Yan Ti reads from her short story, The Photo, published in The Best Asian Short Stories (edited by Hisham Bustani and Zafar Anjum, Kitaab Singapore, 2019). More about the anthology can be found here.
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.