A session with Granta Authors

13 12 2013

A session with Granta Authors

On a winter evening, two young writers with British accents spoke about poetry and romanticism with history. Adam Foulds and Joanna Kavenna who are touring Indian cities as part of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists programme interacted with a roomful of readers, writers-in-the-mind, and Anjum Hasan who moderated the session.

Adam Foulds, novelist and poet, whose works include The Truth About These Strange Times, The Broken World and The Quickening Maze spurted frankness when asked if the culture of reading poetry was diminishing. Poetry appeals to a certain class he said with unfazed rigidity. While Joanna Kavenna, author of Inglorious, The Birth of Love, Come to the Edge and The Ice Museum, on the other hand swore she didn’t bribe the editors of Granta to include her in the Best Young Writers list albeit jokingly.

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(From left: Anjum Hasan, Adam Foulds, Joanna Kavenna)

The session just as young Foulds said about poetry appealed to a certain class, bare minimum of literary enthusiasts. This might very well have been because they were alien writers in a city bombarded with American teen fiction and Indian ‘papad’ fiction. In the ever outcry amongst literary fiction and popular fiction, the latter somehow cuts the cake but the former never loses its shelf pride.

Granta is touring some of the writers in India, a noble façade ably supported by the British Council. There has come an age where every writing finds a reader and every book a hand but do the hands really exchange wisdom or pure numbness through meritless penning; it is going toward a nowhere land, the question not the answer.

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This is Home

8 11 2013

This is Home

It was the last day of curfew imposed by General Din Sukh. He wouldn’t be alive the next day.

The Sun woke up early to announce the General’s demise. But he was pleasant today, the Sun, not harsh like he was the last couple of years, burning people’s tongues and butts; “A comrade of mine”, the General would vociferously declare when ordering his men to ‘take care’ of the questioners who had the guts and education to speak negatively about his dictatorship by making them strip and lie naked on the boiling land, on the back if lucky or on the stomach, with tongues pulled out if found pulling supporters to demand an explanation.

He came here to do what he was supposed to, did it nicely, inviting no publicity and was packing his bags while everybody cheered the one-hearted General’s death. Streets were filled with men, women, children and dogs. Dogs barked for their part. Children danced for theirs, men and women cried out of joy. He spent his last hour in the town which was his home for 29 days, praying to god, his parents for giving him birth, and his President for having faith in him.

He loaded his bags into a camouflage jeep and drove away to a new beginning. He would be welcomed with dollars of money, dollops of gratitude since the mission was secretive, and a smiling country. He was going back to his family. He had had enough in the hot town, plotting and talking to himself, eating lamb and witnessing public stoning. A real smile eclipsed his face, held tears seemed no way of being held anymore, they were let out, in drops, the town didn’t have enough water to make him cry buckets.

He hit the brake one last time to see the town that was beautiful and sad, full of meaning and love, hope and death. He had no courage to go back, for a moment he thought he belonged here than anywhere else. He got down the jeep, stood in silence, looked up to see if there was a Call. There was none. There was none.

He felt his bags, in it were food and weapons; remembrance and forgetfulness.

Yet he was being dragged to the very place he wanted to run away from. His feet pointed north, he slowly walked back into the town, telling himself he would go home an hour or a day later. He didn’t carry his bags, he knew they would stay there, like an unmovable stone, people wouldn’t care about anything now that the General’s dead.

The town was colourful, never had he seen such happiness in those familiar faces, never had he known there were so many children, hidden all these years behind closed doors, never had he been part of a community.

“The bastard is dead. May he rest in peace lest he come back to punish us for celebrating his death” said Ahmad Durrani, grandfather of nine, father of thirteen, husband of three.

As he walked along, he compared himself to Rudra, the Hindu god, who is said to be an evil vanquisher. He laughed at his own thought and admitted he had done a good deed indeed.

“Taste this” Neti passed on manti, delicious as he had been told, while he stopped at a family cooking outside their house. Manti was being served as a symbol of accomplishment. He thanked her for serving a complete stranger and moved on, stopping at the next house who were playing loud music on what looked like a battered stereo. A kid ran towards him, from inside the house, arms stretched out with a playful appearance, unmindful of all the violence that had been present until a couple of hours ago. A lady, he knew, as the kid’s mother, was running behind the running kid. He remembered her from a death before, her husband’s. Shot at the face and chest several times to make sure he is dead, and to further make sure, nobody would have a spine and a hand to draw funny pictures of the General. He caught the running kid and threw him up into thin air; the kid after a long time seeing an elderly man play with him asked for more. The kid’s mother was surprised to see a new man befriending her only blood relative. She smiled with all her thankfulness. He saw her. Her gentle-grace was in his hand in the form of her kid. Their eyes reciprocated willingness in less than an instant. “GHWAA’RI CHI MAA SARA WAADA WUK’REA ?” He asked her with her kid in his arms. “YES, I WILL MARRY YOU”, she said in English. He had already slipped a ring onto her finger, she hadn’t noticed it, she had forgotten the ground she was standing on, the above that shined bright, the sides were – all him. She was brought back by her son’s “Mummy, mummy, my new friend, my new friend.” He was her new friend too. When she bent forward to kiss them both, her hands mildly pressing onto his back, she discovered something on her finger; glistening. A platinum ring she had so far only seen in smuggled magazines was hers. The metal painted a cloud to her sky; attractive and emotional, she kissed him, lifted by the jubilant spirit, she yearned for a long life with him. She cupped his face, studying his features – his long nose, long ears, brownish eyes, and wrinkled forehead.

Where he wanted to see a free town, he saw love evolving, greater than his home, bigger than his anger, larger than he could ever understand.

In a place enshrining faceless god, the moment halted for the lovers to continue their humanly affection.

 

 

 

*Post is for the indiblogger contest – Platinum Day of Love…

*Link to Platinum Day of Love – http://www.preciousplatinum.in/en/about-platinum/platinum-day-of-love

Platinum Day of Love





A Monsoon Feast (Review by Karthik Keramalu)

7 10 2013

A Monsoon Feast

(Review by Karthik Keramalu)

Big Wall Newspaper by Suchen Christine Lim:

The first short story of the anthology is Suchen Christine Lim’s Big wall Newspaper, a mildly sardonic recipe of human life.

A divorced parent thinks of her son as an individual who bows to tyrants without questioning. Suchen Christine Lim’s story is a little piece on moving on in life by holding a mirror that’s cracked and re-framed for a future use. The divorced mother who has none but her son for conversations and complaints cannot accept the silences the child had showed her as a teen. Wai Mun, the little son is okay with the consequences his actions have to suffer; he’s no coward. He tells much later in his life what winning is about to his mother’s delight.

The Death of a Schoolmaster by Shashi Tharoor:

Probably, the longest short story or the best, should I call it, written in 1990 tells that folded hands today mean no same treatment tomorrow. Balan Nair, the villain or the intelligent, as one may decipher who has been asked to look after the lands of Valiamaman registers the lands in his and his wife’s names under the Land Reform Act which states that the lands belong to the tiller. How ridiculous this may sound yet an echoing fact of the times we live in.

Because I Tell by Felix Cheong:

Though Because I Tell is not a children’s story, it is the story of a child, and the narrative too doesn’t dismiss the option. The 16 year old boy in the story seems to have a mental illness. Ben is his name and he is born stupid says everybody, his mother included.

A Life Elsewhere by Jaishree Misra:

Jaishree Misra’s tale is a soberly lit-up-darkened space. The end is open to readers and the central character herself. The oldest and the fondest cousin, Manichettan has found a new life in Singapore with a man, but never tells his family back home about it. the reason is he simply doesn’t want to make his parents unhappy and so by letting his younger cousin a peek into his life offers some sort of reconciliation with self but builds a castle of mystery for the young girl who knows the true story of Manichettan who fears to come out of the closet.

Patchwork by O Thiam Chin:

O Thiam Chin’s story is about moments that make us go back in time and wash our hands off of current matters attached to the past. In Patchwork, May Lee receives a patchwork blanket from her aunt whose death would be of no surprise due to her age and ill health, that has been passed on from so many generations, the woman who receives the blanket has to add a patch to the blanket and keep it for a while until the woman of next generation is ready to do the same. May lee in the end sees no connection with it and dumps or as a refined word has it puts it into the recycling bin.

In Memory of Kaya Toast:

Certainly Anjali Menon’s story does justice to the title – A Monsoon Feast. The only story in the anthology that celebrates the joy of favourite foods and most certainly the shortest story smells of jams and jackfruit and of monsoon, not overtly but mildly.

Taste by Verena Tay:

Taste as the title suggests has a taste, sour or bitter, the reader has to describe. If there’s one pebble in the bowl of rice grains, it is Taste by Verena Tay. An almost drab narrative, devoid of the actual taste other short stores in the anthology offer. Ironically Verena Tay is the editor of this book.

All in all, a good collection of stories barring Taste. Writers from Singapore and Kerala, as Shashi Tharoor puts it in his foreword, writers from Kerala who write in English – have done a good job.





The Caretaker by A. X. Ahmad (A Review)

27 09 2013

The Caretaker

by

A. X. Ahmad

 (Review by Karthik Keramalu)

What drives away a person from his home country need not necessarily be disgust or money, it may well be a question of honour (or a packaged lie) reads The Caretaker. The novel, moving between a lesser known war and suppressed anti-sentimental relationship with the borrowed land deals with an arcing deviation in the protagonist’s life throughout the distance – from the first page to the last.

Ranjit Singh, once a hero figure in the Indian army finds himself in an island taking care of summer houses. A Jo Nesbo-like thriller; running, shaving, hiding, retrieving and the family angle; the novel’s cake lies in its end where the readers might find that the work of fiction needed more sentences – but it ends like a blind man’s road, dark and wide – directions matter less, destination is what he’s looking for.

A. X. Ahmad quotes passages from the Guru Granth Sahib, bolting authenticity to the Sikh family in the novel. The clichéd argument over a nice affair and family, wife and daughter included is not touched upon bringing in a rather neat atmosphere for the mankind who don’t lock themselves up on charges of guilt.

 

The Caretaker may not be a fast paced thriller, it just moves on like the pages would on a winter evening. “Who is good? Who is bad and ugly on the inside, only a weapon can tell?”





Godmen and the Gravely Injured Men

2 09 2013

Major battles have broken out in the history for two things – women and religion. We give importance to both, neatly and deftly yet press the former under stubby thumbs. The pleasure some barbed wire bearers derive from associating a victim to a deficiency of the mind need to understand that women are not objects at an auction sale. The recent case of Asaram Bapu, title of godman snatched henceforth, brings us to the immediate case of assault but the case goes further, the relation between human being and the supreme being.

 

Godmen who have been accused of rape too are somewhere deep down men. The difference is their power to ‘heal’ unbalanced psyches. Galileo’s case is not new, published in text books and referred to as an icon for believing in self, was jailed for his support of the Copernican theory that the Earth revolved around the Sun and not the other way around. Our beliefs still echo the same sentiment. We support old beliefs, whether true or made-to-be, we gather our senses at the end of the day just before the climax.

 

 

Yoga can treat cancer / AIDS! Rape a 16 year old and call her daughter / granddaughter. Then land grabbing cases are pretty common.  We really do not deserve to be treated like cutting boards by these nonsensical lowlifes. The option of changing the television channel lies with us, here we can exercise the right to not fall into such traps. Of course, a vehicle is required to transport a troubled man to a relaxed destination but what purpose will it serve when the vehicle enjoys maximum attention, money and borrowed perversion.

 

 

No medicine can heal the wound of the soul, only his faith in himself can.

 





We Chat – We Explore – We Salute

15 06 2013

We Chat – We Explore – We Salute

16:30PM

You invited Woody Allen, Kamal Hassan, Haruki Murakami, George Bailey, James Stewart, Sekhar Kammula to the group chat

Hello Boys – You

Woody – I don’t understand young men today, what with their long hair
and pierced noses, feels like I’m in a circus, only the animals are
replaced with accessories.

Haruki – Don’t you underestimate the power of circus Woody. Thanks to the
mental ability of these people we are living in a more peaceful
world. We have successfully bypassed the third world war.

Woody – How do you describe a human without the blood to fight? Nauseous.
Well, you can as well call him Nazi-less. I certainly hope our dear
friend Kamal has an opinion to share with us.

Kamal – Gentlemen, abetting violence can take us back to History Channel.
No, that is not what we want. We need to guard our little resources
which I in disgust say is mankind today.

Woody – And who do we have to guard them from?

Kamal – My guess is humans themselves.

Woody – I usually disagree but I nod my head for this statement.

Haruki – You know this is a hard time for us all. We love ourselves and our
family yet we slide down to the tunnel of motionless death.

Kamal – George just showed us how each man’s life touches so many other
lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole. What bad can a
rose spread but its good fragrance… What harm can a man think of
but a smile that can leave an impression.

George – Thank you Kamal for bringing me into the picture. Yes, Clarence
taught me a lesson, didn’t he? He in fact taught us all a beautiful
lesson. If we can’t help each other, it’s best to stay away from
the situation than aggravate it.

Sekhar – No, George. Help is not a fruit that you can give a person when he
is hungry, it has to be a tree whose shade can provide him shelter
anytime he wants.

James – But as George said you can’t always help a person. I mean if there
is a way, I’d like to know.

Kamal – Yes, Sekhar, would you kindly enlighten us.

Woody – Have you read the holy texts with the glossary in the back?

Haruki – To stop a man’s progress, he has to belong to the oddball category.

Sekhar – Haha Woody… I wish I did… My theory is simple and plain. It also
comes with illustrations.

Woody – Spill the beans Mr. Kammula.

Sekhar – I think we should stop petty crimes first. From then on, we need to
curb larger crimes. You build a hut, then see if you can build a palace.
That’s my theory.

Woody – Will the crime scene disappear in the near future? I suggest we do
not approve this plan. You wait a trillion years, your problem will
still have no solution. What do you say Kamal, tell him it’s not
going to work… We… we… we… I say we invert the theory.

Kamal – Sekhar, hut or palace, we need to see what we are building it with.

James – Woody, nobody has a clear idea of what’s happening here.

Haruki – Death is a form of selfish sacrifice. It invites lust, lust to give in.
Have you ever seen a thing that goes round in circles, the circle
is splendid, you don’t find a sharp object outside the circle. Life
in a similar fashion has to run in a circle, not divulging or discussing
the sharp objects that distract the path.

Woody – Won’t you ever say something in short sentences? Wouldn’t
love life, women and sex substitute what you said.

Kamal – I believe we are fighting for a piece of bread. It’s time we fight for
Peace. I would have loved to say derecognise religions but that’s far
from what everybody wants. I sincerely support the cause of peace
hence we all need to breathe free air, free from any vicious substance
like Clarence said it’s a wonderful life, it’d be a mistake to throw it
away.
We’ll map out a borderless world for our wonderful lives.

Haruki – Life is full of worries. To evade them, we need to evade life altogether.

Sekhar –   🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Woody – God, save us, if you can.

George – Thank you Clarence. Thank you Kamal. It’s nice to hear that.

James – At the moment I’m smoking my favourite with the angels, oh don’t you
Gentlemen worry… The angel has wings. Thank you WeChat, you
brought me back. 🙂

This post is for the Indiblogger Contest.

Link to WeChat’s Youtube Channel – WeChat’s Youtube channel.





Surrealistic Austerity No More

22 04 2013

Surrealistic Austerity No More

A soundless feast for the furious mind at night delivers a pitch-dark bloom. The tender stillness explores several visions, in it flies a blue bird with a sunrise tail. Across mountains, below the oceans, atop the skies with vigour and earrings she flies then finally perches on her gentle arm.

She wakes up a bit earlier not gauging the entire dream sequence. She hardly manages to get past the watery sense of the bird. A sight passes her memory, “Future is a bastard with a smile” her brother had once remarked when he had ‘lost and found’ a pen with the golden nib. She could relate to it now, unable to mentally reconstruct the hazy side of paradise she bitingly pens her chickpea remembrance. A grassy patch overshadows her activities. She’d rather digest the maze model of her dream than piece it all together incoherently.

The next night arrives long after the white balloon shines bright. She’s sliding again in the frothy landscape. There’s a knock at her door, she walks to the door with her earphones on, and a song on her lips. Through the peephole, stands a man with neatly unshaven beard. He apes a monkey, starts dancing in his brown shoes and yellow shirt; she opens the door to see him adjust his pants. He apologises and hands her a small package with her name written on it.

Anew enthusiasm shoulders her, feels she has solved the Rubik’s Cube. The dream she couldn’t quite grasp the first night was not a failure but a test, she has mastered the art of connecting the dots of her dreams. This shows up in calling back her second dream. Shortly, there’s a knock at her door, she walks to the door in her pyjamas like it has happened in her dream without her earphones. The peephole brings her a man, opens the door to receive a package with her name on it. Her horrific jubilance surprises the delivery man. He asks her to sign and says ta-ta, strangely with his four fingers, his thumb hidden under the palm or totally missing doesn’t discomfort her ‘cause she had seen it behind her closed eyes already.

Dreams gather a total conception often spilling the small and the mighty recurrence. Technology, the cow that keeps giving milk incessantly turns on her mind bulb. Office 365, her god mother has all the answers. She directly connects her dreams to the Office 365 applications with no further ado. And the young woman does it on a large scale in a matter of weeks. Her clients are from all rungs of the society. Lync Online helps record the visuals of a person’s dream. Other features assist the client in emailing the dream story to the people he/she would want to. He / she can make voice calls, send and receive pictures of the subconscious mind. Web Conferencing, sharing ideas, problems and silliness are possible like telepathy with Office 365. The bonanza of Office 365 is that it’s available for all – sane, retards, infants and those that breathe and eat at a price even a petty shop owner would jump and do a traditional dance. Privacy is ranked first, nobody can run into another’s mind without the person’s consent. All these and more during the sleep hours, a perfect emotion at your disposal.

Magic lies in the trick, Office 365 is the magician for your mysteries, feuds and cupcake parties.

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Link – http://www.office365.in/