This June is all about delving in some unconventional reads.
The Story of the Timepiece: A Collection of Short Stories, written by award-winning writer S.K. Pottekkat, aptly showcases the author’s penchant for melding realism with romanticism. These short stories, Pottekkat’s favourite medium of creative expression, touch upon themes of universal interest. Written in the author’s unique style, both prosaic and poetic, they depict complex characters and human relationships in realistic, everyday situations, often reflecting the social consciousness of the pre-Independence period.
To begin afresh, after her broken marriage, Saoli returns to India and starts living in Prembajar at the house her grandfather had bought from Bitasta’s father. While cleaning the house, Saoli comes across an old diary, perhaps belonging to Bitasta’s mother, Panchali. The diary has a very cryptic poem written in dactylic hexameter, the archaic meter of the ancient Greek epics. Aware of the fact that Sairandhri didn’t let her son, Parush, marry Bitasta, even though Sairandhri and Bitasta’s mother were the best of friends, Saoli gets in touch with the reckless Parush, recently accused in a high-profile IP theft case in the US. As Parush tells Saoli about his heedless and shattered life, his unrequited love affair with Bitasta, his lifelong hatred for his mother, and his topsy-turvy corporate career in the US, Saoli unearths the darkest secrets hidden in the cryptic poem for so long. Why didn’t Sairandhri want Parush to marry Bitasta? Why was Bitasta the only person she wished to see on her death-bed? Why had she been nothing more than a beautiful but lifeless mural at home? The cryptic poem has the answers. Join Saoli and Parush in their journey to decode the past and discover their real identities, where love can never be chained by stereotypes. It’s time to set love free!
The first novel of one of the best writers today, Koveru Kazhuthaigal is located in the early 1970s when ritual status and payment in kind were giving way to cash wages. It is a tapestry of despair, courage and a journey both outward and inward and a story of decline and change in a village seen through the eyes of a washerwoman (vannaatti) Arokkyam, who serves a dalit community of agricultural labourers. The ‘mules’ of the title refers ironically to the vannaan and vannaatti themselves who traditionally carried their washing on donkeys. Although they play an important role in all Hindu rites of passage, it is striking that Arokkyam and Savuri are Catholics. Most importantly, they defer to the authority of the priest at the Church of Saint Antony and seek his blessing on family and community occasions. The novel gives us an extraordinarily detailed picture of a lifestyle that has now passed—reclaimed and told with pride. The worst oppression of the caste system, Imayam suggests, is that people are dependent upon it for their living.
HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED—‘I HAVE A DREAM, BUT WHAT SHOULD I DO ABOUT IT?’ Sanjay Saklani is trapped, his prestigious job offers him a comfortable lifestyle but leaves no time for him to pursue his passion of being a playwright. Captive of his pay package, EMI and social status, he has practically stopped living at 25. Until, one day, the ‘swimming pool theory’ of a salesman shakes him out of his slumber. Soon, when he is up against the roar of a tiger in Naxal-affected Chhattisgarh, he finally decides to take a leap of faith. Heartwarming, witty and honest, Second Wind is the story of the dreamer within each one of us.
M.A. Jinnah entered politics as a Congressman and as a nationalist. While in Congress, Jinnah joined the Muslim League in 1913. It was in that new political avatar that he brought about the Lucknow Pact as a communal settlement between Hindus and Muslims in 1916. Exasperated by the rise of Gandhi in Indian politics, Jinnah left the Congress and dissociated himself from the Non- Cooperation and Khilafat Movements. He continued to be a leader of the Muslim League. Jinnah raised his stakes. From his Delhi proposal to the Fourteen Points, he got almost everything from the British. The Communal Award came as a shot in his arm to re-affirm the separate political existence of the Muslims and their special destiny. The Government of India Act of 1935 along with the Communal Award, and the subsequent provincial elections of 1937 gradually pushed Jinnah to radicalize his stand, related to the separate political existence of Muslims in India, ending in the demand for a separate Pakistan in 1940.
This book from Mysore, stands out, not only because of the splendour of its illustrations but also because it engages with that great and sacred text, the Bhagāvata Purāna, in a manner that is completely different from almost anything else that one sees. There are leaps of imagination here that take one’s breath away, and the episodes picked up by its great but unnamed illustrators are explored in dense, brilliant detail. At each step, the painters seem to have been aware of the importance of the text itself. For the Purāna they were engaging with has a very special place in the heart of devotees, there being the belief that the Bhagāvata ‘is equal in status to the Veda’. The scope of the volume is restricted to the second half of the Tenth Book of the Purāna . Here the city of Dwarka is founded, a fierce contest with the bear king Jambavana is fought; the Khandava forest is burnt down, the great fortress of Narakasura is vanquished, the city of Hastinapura is dragged to the waters, great pilgrimages are undertaken, hordes of enslaved princes are freed, Shishupala is slain, Jarasandha is riven. Wide-eyed, one sees wonders piling upon majestic wonders.
The Churches of India takes the reader on a fascinating journey through India to discover the history and architecture of the country’s Christian churches. With fine illustrations and an informative, easy-to-read text, the book reveals the diverse architectural styles that have evolved in different regions. Taylor’s work gives the reader a deep feeling for the range of churches and their architecture, from the humble to the grand. It is also a fine history of the search by those who design or adapt buildings for a self-identity through the symbolism, explicit or implicit, expressed in built forms. Complemented by over 300 photographs, this absorbing book is the most comprehensive work on India’s churches to date.
The Parrot Green Saree is the story of two women, two generations and two worlds moulded out of memory, expectations, and desires. Set primarily in the United States, this is also the story of displacement and loss, of a remembered homeland, of political and personal battles, of individual freedom. And it is about rebirth (in Bengali, the novel was titled Phoenix). The last novel of Dev Sen’s Naxal trilogy, The Parrot Green Saree explores the ethical and existential dilemmas of the urban, intellectual Indian, much like the two novels that precede it—I, Anupam and In a Foreign Land, By Chance. But it is unique in the way it looks at political issues through a turbulent mother-daughter relationship, bringing to Indian literature in Bengali, perhaps for the first time, a fascinating, highbrow, sexually daring, ‘unmotherly’ mother of a grown-up daughter. Can the brilliant, charming, and sexually adventurous Bipasha, an internationally renowned academic and poet, win back the love and confidence of Rohini, her alienated teenage daughter? And could the two women ever be friends?