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Make a library or read a fictionalized biography of Kasturba Gandhi, who was as strong and great as the Mahatma; there’s a love saga between a widower and an estranged woman; a tale of a new woman at the turn of Independence; analyze the relevance of older values in present-day life and the need to change with the times; observe the generational change and conflict in a Tamil community.
There’s this and much more as starting Library Saturday, over the next 20 days, Niyogi Books offers you a digital library from its Thornbird imprint a compelling melange of Indian language literature in translation — one book a day at Re 1 each, in collaboration with the Indian Novels Collective and downloadable on Amazon.
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Here’s what’s on offer to make a library:
April 24: The Heroine and Other Stories by D. Jayakanthan (translated from Tamil). Each story in this collection delves into the depths of the human psyche, revealing the hidden strengths ordinary people find within themselves when faced with extraordinary circumstances.
April 25: Ballad of Kaziranga by Dileep Chandan (translated from Assamese). This is not a love story (although it does seep in), but rather, the story of love three friends share for the beautiful and majestic Kaziranga, in their own unique way.
April 26: Blossoms in the Graveyard by Jnanpith Awardee Birendra Kumar Bhattacharyya (translated from Assamese) is the story of a young girl from a village in what is at that time East Pakistan as she journeys from dependence to self-reliance in the midst of the Bangladesh liberation struggle.
April 27: Elegy for the East by Dhrubajyoti Borah (translated from Assamese) explores the utter helplessness and travails of man in face of the relentless march of history.
April 28: Brink by S.L. Bhyrappa (translated from Kannada) is a love saga between Somashekhar, a widower, and Amrita, an estranged woman and deliberates on the moral, philosophical, and physical aspects of love between a man and a woman.
April 29: Kasturba Gandhi: A Bio-fiction by Giriraj Kishore (translated from Hindi) ? is the fictionalized biography of Kasturba Gandhi, a woman as strong and great as Mahatma Gandhi, who earned a place in history because of her personal sacrifices and strength of conviction in what was right.
April 30: A Plate of White Marble by Bani Basu (translated from Bengali). It is the tale of the new woman’ of an era that has just witnessed the independence of a nation.
May 1: A Day in the Life of Mangal Taram by Anita Agnihotri (translated from Bengali) is a selection of 14 stories out of over 200 short stories written by Anita Agnihotri, whose works traverse a wide range of human emotions, spanning over three decades.
May 2: Island of Lost Shadows by E. Santhosh Kumar (translated from Malayalam). Through the voices of myriad and sharply sketched characters, the author brings to life the troubled times of the Seventies when sadistic excesses were the norm.
May 3: Giligadu: The Lost Days by Sahitya Akademi winner Chitra Mudgal (translated from Hindi) is a multi-layered novelette, short in length yet deep in meaning and messages for urban India.
May 4: Generations by Neela Padmanabhan (translated from Tamil) is an intricate tale, simply told by a master of fiction about a community of Tamil speakers who live on the borders of modern-day Kerala – a novel of generational change and conflict.
May 5: A Fistful of Mustard Seeds by E. Santhosh Kumar (translated from Malayalam) explores moral dilemmas and personal traumas and delves into the dark recesses of the soul.
May 6: Land Lust by Joginder Paul (translated from Urdu) offers poignant glimpses of the unequal multiracial relations in colonial Kenya, evoking insightful moments of compassion from within the harsh xenophobic environs.
May 7: Laila Ke Khutoot: The Letters of Laila by Qazi Abdul Ghaffar (translated from Urdu) has been hailed as the ‘first specimen of a truly psychoanalytical fiction in Urdu’.
May 8: In the Glow of Your Being by Govind Mishra (translated from Hindi) examines the issues faced by the modern Indian woman and probes deep into the question of their freedom and its denial by society.
May 9: The Elixir of Everlasting Youth by Lakshmi Nandan Bora (translated from Assamese) is the story of an internationally renowned scientist who apparently has everything – scientific breakthroughs, awards, fame, wealth, and a fine family; the key to rejuvenation continues to elude him till he finally learns the secret, helped by a yogi’s treatment and modern science.
May 10: The Story of a Timepiece: A Collection of Short Stories by Sankarankutty Pottekkat (translated from Malayalam) deals with complex characters and human relationships in realistic, everyday situations, often reflecting the social consciousness of the pre-Independence period.
May 11: The Musk and Other Stories by Arupa Patangia Kalita (translated from Assamese) is an eclectic mix of short stories and a novella that sheds light on some of the burning issues that reverberate through the Assam Valley.
May 12: Jallianwala Bagh: Literary Responses in Prose & Poetry Edited by Rakhshanda Jalil (translated from Urdu, Hindi, and Punjabi) attempts to open a window into the world of possibilities that literature offers to reflect, interpret and analyze events of momentous historical import.
May 13: Beasts of Burden by Imayam (translated from Tamil). Set in the early 1970s when ritual status and payment in kind were giving way to cash wages, this is an extraordinarily detailed picture of a lifestyle that has now passed.
Here’s a chance to build up an eclectic library at virtually zero cost. What are you waiting for? (IANS/SP)
Great historic events that have shaped the world and changed the outlines of countries are often not recorded in memory, or so we think. Wars made sure to destroy evidence and heritage, and the ones who survived told the tale of what really happened. Folklore, albeit through oral tradition kept alive many such stories, hidden in verse, limericks, and rhymes.
Ringa-ringa-roses, a common playtime rhyme among children across the world, is an example of folklore that has survived for many centuries. It tells the story of the The Great Plague of London which ravaged the city between 1665-1666.
The Plague broke out from improper disposal of garbage and poor sewage conditions. Fleas from the rats that lived in the sewers spread the disease that killed more than half of London's population. Many people fled from their homes as there was no medicine available for those who were infected.
Beak-shaped masks worn during the Great Plague of London Image source: wikimedia commons
It was around this time that masks began to be invented. The first masks were shaped like beaks, and were worn not to protect the wearer from the disease, but to the prevent them from being able to smell the decay and death around them, which they called 'miasma'. The beaks were filled with floral herbs that allowed doctors and nurses to tend to the sick without being reviled from the smell.
Children are often seen forming circles by holding hands and reciting loudly,
Pockets full of posies
We all fall down"
An illustration of the Great Plague of London, 1665 Image source: wikimedia commons
When the last line is sung, they break the circle and fall down. The roses and posies are believed to be the preferred fragrances inside the masks, and a single sneeze (a-tishoo) was enough to infect the one who was exposed to the disease. Consequently, they fell down, ill, and later died.
An alternative version of this rhyme is sung about the fall of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the aftermath of World War II. The roses and posies are interchanged with geranium and uranium, to symbolise what was used in the atomic bomb. But this version is not as famous the original.
Keywords: Rhymes, Ringa-ringa-roses, Great Plague of London, WWII, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Folklore
In modern times, many social movements aim to bring reform to the society we live in, on the basis of certain existing patterns. Patriarchy is something that many aim to cleanse our cultures of, to usher in the era of social and gender equality. Despite all these so-called movements, in southern India, certain societies that patronise matriarchy have existed since before India's independence. The Nairs and Ezhavas of Kerala, and Bunts and Billavas of Karnataka are matrilineal societies that continue to thrive in a patriarchal country.
Kerala remains separate from the rest of India in many ways. Be it literacy policy, form of government, or cultural practices, this state does not always conform to the ideal that India is known for. Even so with their social structure. Certain tribes have remained matrilineal, where the decision-making power rests with the eldest female of the family.
The Nairs and Ezhavas of Kerala, and Bunts and Billavas of Karnataka are matrilineal societies that continue to thrive in a patriarchal country. Image source: wikimedia commons
A male member, who is the close confidante of the matriarch is chosen. He plays a crucial role in representing the male members of his family, and his opinion is highly valued. He is called karavanan. The men reside in separate rooms or in separate houses, and do not interfere in the upbringing of children. Property is also passed down along the lineage of the eldest female. Among the Nairs, matriarchy is more prominently adhered to than the Ezhavas, who have some patrilocal connections.
In Karnataka, the Bunts and Billavas belong to the Tuluva ethnic group. They are also a predominantly matriarchal society, founded on the belief in a legend. Their matrilineal descent is known as Aliyasantana.
The story is told of a demon who threatened to destroy a kingdom if the king did not sacrifice his sons, but the king's sister comes forward to offer her children in sacrifice for the sake of the kingdom. The demon is touched and does not destroy the city. Since then, the kingdom, or the property is inherited through female lineage.
In Karnataka, the Bunts and Billavas belong to the Tuluva ethnic group. They are also a predominantly matriarchal society, founded on the belief in a legend. Image source: wikimedia commons
In the recent past, many of these matriarchal societies have been reduced to matrilineal societies by certain governmental laws. They fall under the patriarchal scheme of the rest of the state but have reserved the right to pass on property and heritage through the female line. In the North east of India, matriarchal dominance is far more resilient than the south.
Keywords: Bunts, Billava, Nair, Ezhava, Aliyasantana, Matrilineal, South India, Karnataka, Kerala
Apple inc. Is an American multinational tech firm specialized in consumer electronics, computer programs, and internet services founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne in 1976 to manufacture Wozniak's Apple iComputer. It is the world's top tech company in turnover (totaling $274.5 billion in 2020) and its most valuable corporation. Apple is the fourth-largest PC seller by unit sales and the fourth-largest smartphone manufacturer in the world.
Apple has revealed a slew of new products at a special launch event that has been long-awaited. On the day of the live event, Apple announced the iPad mini, Apple Watch Series 7, iPhone 13 mini, and iPhone 13, as well as the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max.
Apple has revealed a slew of new products at a special launch event that has been long-awaited. | Photo by Daniel Romero on Unsplash
In the first major product announcement during the event, Apple introduced the newest edition of the iPad and a 5G-capable iPad Mini.
iPad: The 10.2-inch iPad is equipped with a solid A13 processor that delivers 20 percent quicker performance than the preceding version. According to Apple, it is now three times faster than a Chromebook. A new 12MP ultra-wide camera with Center Stage, which utilizes machine learning to optimize the front-facing camera during FaceTime video chats, as well as more incredible accessory support, including compatibility with the first-generation Apple Pencil, are among the new features. For 64GB of storage, the iPad costs $329.
iPad Mini: In addition to reduced borders and more rounded edges, the 8.3-inch iPad mini also has improved front and back cameras. A liquid retina display, USB-C compatibility, magnetic support for the Apple Pencil, an enhanced speaker system, and new hues such as pink and purple are all features of the new Apple iPad Mini. The starting price is $499.
In the first major product announcement during the event, Apple introduced the newest edition of the iPad and a 5G-capable iPad Mini. | Photo by Leone Venter on Unsplash
The other major unveiled products include:
iPhone 13 and other variants: The iPhone 13 range is almost identical to the iPhone 12 lineup, with a 5.4-inch iPhone 13 Mini, a 6.1-inch iPhone 13, a 6.1-inch iPhone 13 Pro, and a 6.7-inch iPhone 13 Pro Max. It was also revealed that the Watch Series 7 has a smaller "S7" processor, which may allow for a bigger battery or other components to be housed in a smaller footprint. The gadgets have a revolutionary design that includes a dual-camera system, placed diagonally. Apple's iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini have longer-lasting batteries than the previous generation of devices. In addition, Apple claims that the iPhone 13 will have a battery life that is 2.5 hours longer than the iPhone 12, and the iPhone 13 mini will have a battery life that is 1.5 hours longer. A more energy-efficient display, an upgraded 5G chip, and functionality called "Cinematic Mode," similar to the famous Portrait mode function but is only available for movies, are among the other enhancements. The A15 Bionic chip present in the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini is also used in the 6.1-inch iPhone 13 Pro and 6.7-inch iPhone 13 Pro Max, also 6.1-inch devices. However, it also has a five-core CPU, which promises graphics that are 50% quicker than previous models. Other notable features of the Pro devices include a brilliant Super Retna XDR display with a higher refresh rate and long-lasting battery life. Now, for the price, it will start at $699 for the iPhone 13 mini with 128 GB of storage, $799 for the iPhone 13 with 128 GB of storage, and the Pro and Pro Max have starting prices of $999 $1,099, respectively.
Apple Watch Series 7: The new Apple Watch Series 7, which is smaller and has a larger screen than its previous model, was introduced by Apple on Wednesday. There is a 20% increase in screen size over Series 6 on the new watch. A complete keyboard that you can touch or slide to write out text messages can show 50% more text. It starts at $399.
Keywords: Apple, iPad, iPad Mini, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone Mini, Apple event 2021