In her piece, ‘The Distance to Lahore’, Surjit Sarna, with a deep sense of nostalgia and sadness, asks the pointed question somewhat helplessly: ‘What wrong had we done that we were being made to suffer the consequences of the wrong decisions of our leaders? Our generation has borne this tragedy of history! I will never forget you Lahore, I’ll never forget you…’ If only the citizens subject to questionable political decisions had the wherewithal to deal with such decisions, many historical tragedies may have been averted! With a sense of helplessness, Maddi, a character in ‘Ointment’ by Sanwal Dhami, laments: ‘…We murdered the centuries old bonding between the people, by listening to some unknown, unseen people. Today, when we are face to face with the consequences, we now realize how cozy and warm our nests were at that time! Now, I have come to understand the pain of birds who lose their nests…’
Firstly, the spartan simplicity of the titlemai, (all in lower case), is an intuitively accurate choice. It has a generic resonance that touches a chord in the reader. Next, the opening line ‘We always knew that mother had a weak spine’ makes us wonder if the pun is intended.
Astalwart champion of the socialist cause, Premchand gained iconic status and world-wide fame by virtue of his socially realistic approach, deep and strong ties with his surroundings, authentic depiction of rural life and its issues, realistic representation of proletarian experiences, existential angst and a host of other subject-matters.
Azra Abbas is a renowned Urdu poet whose writings reflect the feminist uprising in Karachi. In 1981 Ms. Abbas had compiled a prose poem, Neend ki Musafatain, in the stream of consciousness style and since then she has published a compilation of short stories, a novel, her memoirs and a collection of poetry.
Kicking up Dust is based on Abba’s childhood memories. The very title suggests that Azra was a non-conformist and thereby the centre of chaos and confusion.
Abeautifully brought out book by Zubaan, Junoon-e-Intezaar could well be a collector’s item. Right from its black jacket cover and bits of Urdu calligraphy adorning its pages, along with the rare Urdu manuscript appended at the end, Junoon-e-Intezaar is a unique book in more than one sense. Krupa Shandilya, one of its translators, states in the Introduction that it was her fascination with the character of Umrao Jan Ada that set her on the search for the sequel to the novel Umrao Jaan Ada when she read about it in the earliest extant review of it. After a long and despairing hunt, she discovered a scanned copy on the Digital libraries India project, tracing the original document to the Salar Jung Museum in Hyderabad. Later with the help of her co-translator Taimoor Shahid in Pakistan, ‘thanks to the internet’, they were able to translate this rather slim novella in a matter of few months.
In the summer of 1947, the flames of Partition seared the souls of Indians and branded them with the torturous brutality of communal violence, and horrific images that would keep them in shock for generations.
The numbers vary but it is estimated that around fifteen million people were displaced and one to two million people died violent deaths.
Ismat Chughtai (1915-1991) was known, and is remembered for her frankness in writing, be it the topics she chose for her stories or the language her characters used. A distinguished writer in Urdu, Chughtai has a huge body of work to her credit—five collections of short stories, seven novels, three novellas along with various sketches. Surprisingly, not much academic work on Chughtai (in English) has been published as a compilation. Tahira Naqvi and Professor Asaduddin are the two popular translators of her work in English, while the former has translated The Crooked Line (Tehri Lakeer) and A Very Strange Man (Ajeeb Aadmi) and the latter has translated Lifting the Veil and her memoirs, A Life in Words among her other works.
Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib (1797-1869) is one of the great poets of the world and certainly nineteenth-century India’s greatest Urdu poet. Even after one and a half century of his death his reputation is not only intact but grows with every passing day. The reasons are several, the most abiding being that there is a certain metaphysical and existential core to his poetry that will never get dated despite the technological onslaught of modern times. In voicing his personal concern about faith and existence and the angst of his age he also articulated certain fundamental anxieties of our own age and those of every thinking man.
The most lauded and quoted Sanskrit poet after Kalidasa, Bhartrihari’s genius and his continuing popularity lies in the fact that he speaks to the wholeness of human life. In his Three Hundred Verses (Shataka Trayam or Trishati), he identifies and addresses three universal human preoccupations in one hundred verses each—worldly pleasure, love and renunciation or, more accurately, detachment from the vicissitudes of the world.
This book seems to have been published with the primary motive of proving me wrong. You see, for the past fifteen years or more, I have been going around the world proudly proclaiming that there was no translation in India before the British came (—as indeed there was no Calcutta or no English). When I made this brave assertion at a conference at Columbia University in 2004, it even inspired a professor of classics from Princeton who was in the audience to write a whole book speculating on what would have happened had there been no translation from Greek into Latin. (See Denis Feeney, Beyond Greek: The Beginning of Latin Literature,
This is the third volume in an ambitious project to analyse the history of the Indian Freedom Movement in the metropolitan country, Great Britain, from the late twenties to the attainment of Independence. The first two volumes dealt with Krishna Menon’s evolution as a social activist and intellectual through various phases—boy scout leader, voluntary theosophist, and a very young probationary political activist in Britain. These volumes take us upto 1932, a few months after the Second Round Table conference, in which Gandhiji played the major role. That volume was most memorable for Krishna Menon’s personal contribution to supporting Gandhiji in London at a difficult moment.
Among the different incarnations of energy, electrical power occupies a unique position for its ease of use and range of applications. Switch off electricity from modern life and you might as well turn off all industrial development, agricultural prosperity, urban and rural services and indeed lose most of the amenities that help improve our quality of life. It is therefore not surprising that successive Indian governments since Independence have given top priority to the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity.