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By Vishnu Makhijani
Back in the 1960s, the national capital was a "quiet and safe place" where women were not harmed and you could sleep on your terrace "without locking the main house door". Then, "a nouveau riche class prospered" and outwardly, New Delhi today "is a beautiful city" but "beneath lies hunger, filth and diseases".Still, Malayalam author M. Mukundan is nostalgic about a city where he lived for 40 long years before moving back to his hometown of Mahe and this prompted him to write "Delhi - A Soliloquy", translated by Fathima E.V. and Nandakumar K (Westland/Eka) that has been shortlisted for the Rs 25 lakh JCB Prize for Literature, India's richest literary award. "When I was in Delhi, I felt nostalgic about Mahe. Now it is the other way round - I'm nostalgic about Delhi. There's no ideal place to live in, where you are that is your home," Mukundan, four of whose works have been adapted for the big screen, told IANS in an interview.
"In the early 60s when I arrived in Delhi, it was a quiet and safe place. There were villages within the city. After seeing a late night movie at the Race Course theatre, women and children would walk down to Lodhi Colony past midnight. No woman was harmed. "In summer, we used to sleep on the charpoys spread out on the terraces of our houses without locking the main house door down below. It was a city anybody will dream of living. And then Delhi changed all of a sudden - a brutal, grotesque change. "Factories and commercial establishments came up, attracting unemployed poor people from other states. Building mafias destroyed villages and fields and built ugly high-rise buildings. Poor people were pushed away to filthy slums where they led a wretched life of deprivation. Throwing away all values, a nouveau riche class prospered. Outwardly, Delhi is a beautiful city. But beneath lies hunger, filth and diseases," Mukundan elaborated.
A Soliloquy" is the story of the changes and growth of the city with Sahadevan's life as the backdrop. Wikimedia Commons
"The book is a rambling, intimate epic. It captures what it means to be a small person in a big capital. How the relentless wave of history impacts these marginal people who have come to Delhi in search for a better life. Mukundan has brought to life the very real characters in this book with great sincerity? All through the novel you are looking at the small things and through them understanding the big," the JCB Jury said of the book. Narrated by Sahadevan, a Keralite who moves to Delhi in his twenties, "Delhi: A Soliloquy" is the story of the changes and growth of the city with Sahadevan's life as the backdrop. Journeying through life, he comes across immigrants scattered across the capital city, all struggling in their own ways. The book is about forging friendships, and finding his own people in a city he comes to call home.
"I lived in Delhi for nearly 40 years. For 36 years I worked on a Diplomatic Mission while the remaining four years I spent on wandering. My wanderlust always helps me in my creative pursuits. When I have a sense of belonging to a place, I feel like writing about it. "I developed strong bonds with Delhi. That's why I wanted very much to write about what I've experienced, I've seen or I've heard of in this city. Long ago I told myself that I should one day write a novel about this hypnotic city. And I wrote it, though many years later," Mukundan elaborated. Being a witness to the events he's described in the book, "everything I had experienced I wove into the novel. Of course to avoid factual errors and anachronisms I had to check dates and names of places. That was a process that lingered all through the writing of the novel". It's been almost 20 years since he moved back to Mahe. What has the transition been like? After retiring in 2004 from the French Embassy, where he worked in the cultural section and for which he was honored by the French government, he said he didn't want to leave Delhi immediately but the Kerala government nominated him as the president of its Sahitya Akademi. "So I came back home, back on the banks of my beloved Mayyazhi river. Life here is exhilarating. But I miss a lot - Delhi's Press Club, IIC and India Habitat Centre," Mukundan said. Speaking about his work in the French Embassy, he said he thoroughly enjoyed it. "I was part of the French team that brought to India Picasso's original works. I could meet and interact with a large number of French intellectuals such as the legendary Regis Debray and Jacques Derrida. I used to write speeches for the Ambassadors. At a time when there wasn't Internet or Google, it was a tough job. "Want to know what parting gift the Embassy gave me? Twenty-four bottles of wine, neatly packed in two cartons; all sorts of wine some costing a fortune," Mukundum said. There is also the insignia of Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters awarded to him in 1998.
As for his books that have been adapted for the big screen, Mukundan said only one came out very well - "God's Mischief". | Wikimedia Commons
As for his books that have been adapted for the big screen, Mukundan said only one came out very well - "God's Mischief". "This was adapted from the novel by the same name. The director of the film Lenin Rajendran (a die-hard communist as his name suggests) and I wrote the scenario together. 'God's Mischief' won the State Award for the best feature film. The worst was 'Savithri's Girdle'. I didn't write the scenario for this. I only gave the producer the film rights. I could watch the film only for about 15 minutes and then I walked out of the theatre. To date, I haven't seen the remaining part of the film. It was unbearable. Now I give film rights of my stories only if I could write the scenario myself. Such a film is now in the making - 'The Autorickshaw Driver's Wife', based on my story by the same name. Shooting will begin next month," Mukundan concluded. (IANS/MBI)
Keywords: Author, Writer, Mukundan, Delhi, Marathi, Film, Book, Kerela, Home
As we know that the Partition of India is one of the most sensitive subjects in the history of modern South Asia. In fact, lot of research has been done on this subject, and it has also been critically analysed by many historians, too. Therefore, to know, understand, and analyse the various aspects of this subject, many books were written.
Some of the illuminating books which were written on the Partition of India and Pakistan are:
The Great Partition by Yasmin Khan
This book by Yasmin Khan is one of the most famous partition literature work. In this book, she has described everything; from the execution of partition to its aftermath. In fact, Khan also explains how the partition was a carefully devised plan, and layer on she explains the recklessness with which it was implemented. Interestingly, the book also contains some local stories as narrated by the common people which definitely holds the reader throughout.
Midnight's Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India's Partition by Nisid Hajari
This book offers something different and something great. Hajari, in this book, explains how the course of partition took place, and he also showcases how decisions by many leaders were responsible for the Partition. It must be noted that this book offers fresh historical resources which could be unknown to many. So, if you are looking for a book wherein you could get in the details behind the "Great Indian Partition", then you should go for this book.
Borders and Boundaries: How Women Experienced the Partition of India by Kamla Bhasin and Ritu Menon
It is quite evident how a lot of books have been written on Partition, but there are a very few accounts by women, and, this book changes that. This book written by two strong women serves as first-hand accounts and memoirs alongside official government accounts on how the partition of India affected women. The authors make women not only visible but central, too. This book is undoubtedly one of the best books written about partition through a feminist perspective.
Remnants of a Separation: A History of the Partition through Material Memory by Aanchal Malhotra
This book is based on a unique concept, the concept of material objects. In this book, the author writers about various families and how they carried certain objects with them across the border. It must be noted that these belongings absorbed the memory of that particular time and place. Therefore, if you are looking to read stories of multiple families and the history behind the objects they carried with them after the partition then you should give this book a read.
Keyword: Partition, India, Partition, History, Book Recommendations.
By Siddhi Jain
The author who named the book after her twin sons -- Puhor and Niyor -- is a parent who has seen and heard the tales of ridicule and discrimination suffered by many in India and beyond. She says the book is an artistic illustration for kids that details how different families can live and coexist. Whether it's children with two dads or two moms, children with a single dad or single mom, and even multiracial family units, Borthakur's book teaches love, understanding, and compassion towards unconventional families.
Beyond race, gender, color, and ethnicity which have formed the bases for discrimination since the beginning of time, this book aims to bring to light a largely ignored issue. For so long, single parents have been treated like a taboo without any attempt to understand their situations; no one really cares how or why one's marriage ended but just wants to treat single parents as villains simply for choosing happiness and loving their children.
Homosexual parents, a relatively new family system, is another form that has suffered hate and discrimination for many years. Pritisha emphasizes the need to understand that diversity in people and family is what makes the world beautiful and colourful. 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race, and even differences in background
'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race and even differences in background. | Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash
Written for a global audience, the book is targeted at kids between the ages of five and 10, the reason it is embellished with colourful images of families of different types is to appeal to children's sense of sight and drive home the message at the same time. Borthakur believes children are the best place to start because the ages between five and 10 are the most formative, where little ones pick up habits, beliefs and perceptions.
The Guwahati-born author says, "With this book, I'm not trying to take away the job of parents in forming habits, I simply want to do my part as a parent. It is important that we impart the right values in our kids in a bid to build a better, more inclusive and tolerant global society that is fair to everyone." The author's first attempt at a book was an Assamese poetry 'Anubhav', published in 2010.
Set to be published under the label of Author's Channel, the book is like an adventure; a journey into uncharted territories, untouched subjects and matters long ignored. In her words. "The book takes a critical stand in defense of people in society who have had to undergo severe emotional torture for no cause of theirs. It is a terrible conception to think such people any less of a human just for being different," says publisher Aruna Naidu. By September 30, this title, priced at Rs 299, will be available online and in offline bookstores. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Book, children, Guwahati, Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories, moral, story, kids, discrimination, equality
Children's publishing house Karadi Tales has brought out an illustrated book to raise awareness about the oldest group of reptiles, turtles through a story happening on the ecologically fragile Andaman & Nicobar Islands (A&NI). Authored by Pankaj Sekhsaria, a long time researcher of the A&NI, the book also enlightens readers about the Islands and the various environmental issues surrounding turtles through its informative back matter, a release from Karadi Tales said.
The story is illustrated exquisitely by Vipin Sketchplore, it said.
'Waiting for Turtles' is Sekhsaria's first book for children. An environmental researcher, he has earlier written 'The Last Wave' and 'Islands in the Flux' among others. The story unfolds on the small island of Tarmugli in the Mahatma Gandhi National Park in the Andamans. Protagonist Samrat is accompanying Seema, his turtle researcher mother, in the hope of seeing his first nesting Green sea turtle that nests on the beaches here. There is disappointment for Samrat but there is also a surprise...," the release said.
Through the story, the book sets out to raise awareness about the oldest group of reptiles, turtles. It also enlightens readers about the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the various environmental issues surrounding turtles through the informative back matter, the release said.
Through the story, the book sets out to raise awareness about the oldest group of reptiles, turtles. Photo by David Troeger on Unsplash
"The book beautifully captures Samrat's excitement about the magic of turtle nesting and will inspire children to think of studying and working in this field of science. The illustrations on every page take you to the shores of Tarmugli Island, where you can almost see the stars and feel the breeze. This is experiencing nature vicariously. A must-read for every child!" said Director, Environment Education, WWF-India, Radhika Suri. It has also been published in translation in Hindi by Karadi Tales with support of the Dakshin Foundation and in Telugu by Manchi Pustakam. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Turtles, kids, book, science, reptiles, Tarmugli Island, Andaman Islands