Tag Archives: Legacy

The lasting legacy of Central Asia’s writers: The founding fathers (Part 1)

The disintegration of the Soviet Union in late 1991 left all the former republics scrambling. Self-rule was a surprise for many, certainly for the leadership in Central Asia.

Among the many pressing matters in those days was establishing signs of sovereignty — a flag, a national anthem, and so on.

They also needed a history; roots for building a new nation and national identity. No heroes had emerged from independence — the U.S.S.R. simply fell apart and suddenly there were five countries in Central Asia.

Lacking contemporary heroes, the five governments searched the rich history of Central Asia, looking for known figures who could assume the role of founders of these new nations.

The respected writers of Central Asia’s past were obvious choices.

The “founding father” for Tajikistan became Ismail Somoni, the late 9th-century conqueror whose Samanid Empire included what is now northern Iran, northern Afghanistan, and Central Asia south of the Syr-Darya River. His tomb is in Bukhara, in what is currently Uzbekistan.

Tajik authorities also claimed as native sons two of the best-known writers from the late, and post-Samanid, period — Abu Abd Allah Jaar ibn Muhammad al-Rudaki, or Rudaki (858-941); and Abu Ali Ibn Sina, or Avicenna (980-1037).

The Father Of Persian Poetry

Rudaki is called the father of Persian poetry and is credited with making enormous contributions to modern Persian language. But he was also a prototype for Central Asian writers. Rudaki composed verse and he also played music.

In a time and place where illiteracy was high, music helped carry poetry throughout the region and would continue to be a main transmitter of Central Asian poetry for the better part of the next millennium.

Rudaki was also from Panjikent in what is now western Tajikistan. His tomb is there today, reinforcing Tajikistan’s attachment to the poet.

Curiously, the mausoleum was originally built in 1958, by Soviet authorities (they dug up the body first to make sure he was really there). Such was the respect Rudaki commanded, and still commands.

Read More

Sudha Menon: I wish we wrote more letters to each other

Sudha_MenonSudha Menon is an Indian journalist with over two decades of experience ín news and feature writing. She has worked in some of India’s prominent newspapers, including The Independent (The Times Group), The Hindu Business Line (The Hindu Group), and Mint (HT Media in exclusive agreement with Wall Street Journal).

In this interview with Kitaab’s editor Zafar Anjum, Sudha Menon says being mother to a 21-year-old daughter was one of main reasons she was inspired to write Legacy. While she herself grew up in an age where parents raised children on their own and brought them up with a set of values, she worries that today’s generation does not have that privilege.

You have been a full-time journalist. How did you venture into writing?

I think becoming a writer was a natural progression of almost a quarter of a century of being a journalist. I grew up in a family where we treasured books more than any material thing. The four of us siblings waited to be able to collect enough money to be able to buy books rather than go and buy toys. Ours was a family of extremely modest means but my parents always made sure we had enough to read. Books surrounded us and so did newspapers. Everything else was not priority. I believe that if we read a lot, that in itself will propel us towards writing and expressing ourselves through words. Read more

Excerpts from Legacy by Sudha Menon

Legacy

About the book

Journalist and author Sudha Menon says being mother to a 21-year-old daughter was one of main reasons she was inspired to write Legacy. While she herself grew up in an age where parents raised children on their own and brought them up with a set of values, she worries that today’s generation does not have that privilege.

Children learnt values and life lessons from watching their parents and other elders but nuclear families, working parents and a generation of people hooked to various gadgets and social networking devices has meant that there is no time for the gentle handle-holding that helped my generation to chart our own course in life, muses the author.

“My little girl has grown up into a lovely 21-year old whose world is thickly populated with friends on Facebook, Whatsapp and every other social networking avenue possible. She has no time to look up from the various screens on which her eyes are riveted and I ache to tell her to treasure the moments with me because we never know when life steps in to disrupt our well-laid plans. Read more