Leave a comment

Book Review: Karno’s Daughter by Rimli Sengupta

Reviewed by Suneetha Balakrishnan

Karno's Daughter

Title: Karno’s Daughter
Author: Rimli Sengupta
Pages: (Hardcover) 172
Publisher: Context (2018)
Buy

Remember Baby Haldar’s gritty dark memoir of a domestic servant in Delhi, A Life Less Ordinary? If Baby narrated her dark journey from Kashmir to Murshidabad to Durgapur to Delhi, here is ‘Buttermilk’ in Kolkata making a daily commute on the 5.40 a.m. local from Subhashgram to ‘the city’. She goes round on foot then to Tollygunge and to Ballygunge to do kitchen, laundry and cleaning services at half a dozen homes. Why is she called Buttermilk? You get to know when it’s just six more pages to wrap up the book.

Buttermilk hails from a village in Sunderbans, from a farming family. She has a non-maid life back home where Karno Haldar, (yes, another Haldar by pure coincidence) her father, Bashona, her mother, and Buttermilk’s six siblings and her paternal grandparents lived. The village of her marital home, a joint family where agrarian duties are divided, comes later. Karno migrated to the city to pay off a loss of 150 kilos of rice; that’s how the family came to live at Ponchanontola, a Kolkata slum – all because of a crab, a huge crab, that Buttermilk had caught and brought home. This is the story that opens Rimli Sengupta’s debut book, Karno’s Daughter.

The opening chapter, suitably titled “Crab”, gives an impression of an opening in fiction. However, Karno’s Daughter is anything but fiction. It’s one of the best in narrative non-fiction that has been published in recent days in India. The story deals with the rough life of a people who have always lived in correlation to the earth, cultivating their own food.  In a world where hardly one percent of the urban population has an idea of what constitutes our agrarian crisis, Rimli Sengupta chooses an interesting vehicle to impart information on how small-holding rice farmers in rural Bengal subsist.

Continue reading

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Zafar Anjum chronicles the life of poet Iqbal

The Singapore-based journalist’s book narrates the poet-philosopher’s life as a novel so that the common man could better understand him: Gulfnews.com

iqbal frontAnjum’s narrative in lucid prose is engaging without becoming a boring history book. It gets interesting after Iqbal’s return from Europe to Lahore. Iqbal while practicing law also gets vociferous with his two-nation theory.

One of his famous poems, “Shikwa”, on the plight of Muslims world over was penned in 1912. The ulemas disapproved of this poem for being disrespectful. While Iqbal spoke of Muslim brotherhood and solidarity, he did not talk about world domination by Muslims.

At the Allahabad address of 1930, one of the statements he made was: “I entertain the highest respect for the customs, laws and religious institutions of other communities. Nay, it is my duty, according to the Quran, even to defend their places of worship if need be.”

Continue reading


Leave a comment

India: Dilip Kumar’s biography out early 2014: Saira Banu

dilip-kumarBollywood thespian Dilip Kumar’s biography, which was earlier scheduled to be released on his 91st birthday, will now come out early next year, said his wife and yesteryear’s actor Saira Banu.

The biography, written by author Uday Tara Nayar, a close family friend of Kumar, is ready and is likely to be released in January or the beginning of February in the new year. Dilip Kumar turned 91 Wednesday.

Read More