Indian Love Stories edited by Sudhir Kakar

Indian Love Stories edited by Sudhir Kakar

Reviewed by Shwetha H S

Title: Indian Love Stories
Editor: Sudhir Kakar
Imprint: Roli Books
ISBN: 9788174362797
Genre: Fiction, Romance

Sudhir Kakar is a distinguished psychoanalyst and writer. Winner of numerous honours including the Goethe Medal, his books have been translated into several languages. I hadn’t heard of him before reading this book. So, all of that in the first sentence of this paragraph is from the back of this book I am reviewing.

I had read Indian Love Stories about seven years ago and had completely forgotten about it. Probably because this didn’t mean much back then. Now that I have grown older, I can understand what each story is actually talking about between the lines.

The Empty Chest written by Indira Goswami in Assamese/Asamiya and translated to English by Pradipta Borgohain: talks about clinging on to past love until realizing that the other person has moved on. Indira has used cruel metaphors to convey the meaning of her story.

The House Combustible written by Subodh Ghosh in Bengali/Bangla and translated to English by Dipen Mitra: talks about why it is better for everyone to not rake the dried layers of past relationships and move on, even if you cross paths again, by not saying out loud what is going on in your mind to avoid embarrassment and retain self-respect.

Stains written by Manjula Padmanabhan: is not only a suffocating love story but is also about feminism, culture contrast, superiority-inferiority complex, taboo, standing up for self, and patriarchy. I had never come across any piece of writing that addressed all these topics at one go. My favourite quote from the short story is “The bleeding woman is penalized for being in that ‘state’: the correct condition, of course, is to be pregnant or nursing.” To me, this quote not only talks about women facing untouchability during periods in certain cultures, but also about situation of rape victims.

A New Triangle written by Ratanlal Shant in Kashmiri and translated to English by Neerja Mattoo: is a short story about a toxic marital relationship between two individuals. Towards the end of the story, it feels like they didn’t want to get married, but wanted to just live together and hadn’t realized it sooner. There is a mention of Harmukh peak, which apparently, has been attempted by only one non-Indian so far and hasn’t returned from his expedition. I had been on a trek on which I could see Harmukh peak from far and seeing its mention in this story brought back the memories. It also gave an authenticity to the story, a nod to the nativity.

Chastity Belt written by Damodar Mauzo in Konkani and translated by Xavier Cota: is not a love story but is a crap-load of male chauvinism and patriarchy’s whims and fancies made to look like love. This story just made me want to spit on it.

The Game of Chess written by Kamala Das in Malayalam and translated to English by Vasanthi Sankaranarayanan: is about the dilemma of mental infidelity and unrequited love. Each emotion-led action and each action-led emotion is beautifully described in this short story. So much so that reading it begins to give a feeling of you undergoing each of those emotions and actions. Isn’t that the purpose of good narration?

The Bed of Arrows written by Gopinath Mohanty in Oriya and translated to English by Sitakant Mahapatra: is a pain to read. The protagonist of the story is in pain and is on death bed and reading about her emotions and day-to-day ordeal inflicts pain on the readers.

Housewife written by Ismat Chughtai in Urdu and translated to English by Fatima Ahmad: is an erstwhile version of a rom-com; is a total laughter riot. However, it subtly yet heavily hints at patriarchy.

Weekend written by Nirmal Verma in Hindi and translated to English by Kuldip Singh: is either an aimless story or a bad translation. I neither liked it when I read it first nor now. Even if I try to make sense of this short story, at the maximum, I could say it is about insecurities. But, I still cannot make much sense of it.

The Weed written by Amrita Pritam in Punjabi and translated to English by Raj Gill: talks about the cock and bull stories people tell innocent girls about what love is and how it happens or what it looks like. It is also about experienced lives and their inexperienced sides.

Indian Love Stories is a book that offers something for everyone. But it all depends on you how you interpret the emotions evoked by each short story. Read at your own risk.

Atha Kāljnānanprakaranam: The Knowledge of Death Related to Time (Edited by Pandit Shoe Shankar Mishra and C N Burchett)

Atha Kāljnānaprakaranam: The Knowledge of Death Related to Time (Edited by Pandit Shoe Shankar Mishra and C N Burchett)

Review by Shwetha H S

Whatever were the intentions of the editors when they began working on publishing the shlokas compilation and its translation, they have failed in it. Atha Kāljnānanprakaranam is based in the collection of ancient shlokas made by Shri Banwarilal. Maybe the shlokas actually teach us something good, but we never know because they are in Sanskrit and not everybody understands that ancient and mother of all languages. Hey! They have provided translation too in Hindi and English. But the translations are so miserable that they will make you cringe out of frustration because you aren’t learning anything from this book and it doesn’t even justify at least its title. The editors must have given the background of the book, neat translations and explanations about why such shlokas were made in the first place. This book is a complete laughing stock, that too in a pathetic way. Please don’t bother reading this unless you have some money as well as time to waste.

इश्क़ में शहर होना, लेखक: रवीश कुमार

For translation of the review in English, please scroll down.

समीक्षा: आशुतोष सिंह

पहली नज़र में किताब के शीर्षक को समझ पाना थोड़ा मुश्किल है | प्रस्तावना पढ़ने के उपरांत आपको शीर्षक का अर्थ समझ आने लगेगा | रवीश लगभग १८ वर्षों से पत्रकारिता की दुनिया में हैं, और आज-कल के सबसे प्रभावशाली और लोकप्रिय हिन्दी टेलिविसन पत्रकारों में शुमार हैं | उन्होने फ़ेसबुक पर ‘लप्रेक’ अर्थात ‘लघु प्रेम कथा’ लिखना शुरू किया | यह किताब उन्हीं ‘लप्रेकों’ का संकलन है |

सारी परिकल्पनायें दिल्ली और एन. सी. आर. के इर्द-गिर्द बुनी हुई हैं | किताब की सारी कहानियाँ आधे से एक प्रष्ठ लंबी हैं | हर एक प्रष्ठ पर दो नये और विभिन्न किरदार, उनके बीच बीता वो पल और एक शहर उनको जोड़ता और कभी-कभी तोड़ता हुआ | एक बड़े शहर में इश्क फरमाने के लिए क्या-क्या करना पड़ता है, कौन कौन सी दूरियाँ तय करनी पड़ती हैं, ऑटो वालों के ‘बेक मिरर’ पर नज़रे गड़ाए रखना और ऐसी ही परेशानियों को रवीश ने बड़े अनूठे ढंग से प्रस्तुत किया है | सारी कहानियाँ व्यवहारिक और सच्ची हैं और यही इनका सबसे बड़ा आकर्षण है | विक्रम नायक द्वारा बनाए चित्र बड़े ही चतुर हैं और हर कहानी को एक नया नज़रिया देते है |

प्रस्तावना से-

‘प्रेम हम सबकको बेहतर शहरी बनता है | हम शहर के हर अंजान कोने का सम्मान करने लगते हैं | उन कोनों मैं ज़िंदगी भर देते हैं | आप तभी एक शहर को नये सिरे से खोजते हैं जब प्रेम में होते हैं | और प्रेम में होना सिर्फ़ हाथ थामने का बहाना ढूँढना नहीं होता | दो लोगों के उस स्पेस में बहुत कुछ टकराता रहता है | लप्रेक उसी कशिश और टकराहट की पैदाइश है |’


Translation of the above given review to English:

Review by Ashutosh Singh

It’s difficult to make out the meaning of the title in the first go. You can understand a little bit after going through the introduction. Ravish has been a journalist from past 18 years and he is one of the most influential and loved Hindi Television Journalist in the country right now. He started writing short stories on facebook which he named ‘लप्रेक’ which expands to ‘लघु प्रेम कथा’ (short love story) All the stories are based in an around the Delhi and NCR region. Each story is a half to one page long. Every new page has two new and different character, that moment they spent and a town which often binds but sometimes breaks them. Ravish has uniquely put up the problems of falling in love in a metro city be it traveling a long distance to meet or the auto guy continuously peeping at the couple through that back mirror. All the stories are practical and truthful, and that’s the biggest attraction. Vikram Nayak has very cleverly sketched for each story and which also gives it a new perspective. From Introduction- Love makes us a better citizen. We start respecting all the unknown nooks and corner of the city. We fill those corners with life. You search a city with a new perspective only when you are in love. And being in love doesn’t just means looking for a reason to hold hands. There are many things that collide between those two people. ‘लप्रेक ‘ is an outcome of that charm and collision.

Guest Post: Social Science Fiction By Robert Eggleton

Rarity from the Hollow integrates serious social issues into its narrative. An off-world and an Earth setting are used for scenes. The Earth setting is a microcosm of the universe called a hollow and is located in West Virginia, U.S. A hollow is a relatively flatter crevice on the planet’s surface with hills on both sides, and which is often fed by a river or creek. Typically, hollow residents experience relative isolation from centers of culture and adopt values based upon local tradition. In comparison, the 2014 science fiction film, Appuchi Gramam, used a rustic village as a setting.

The characters in Rarity from the Hollow express strong beliefs about right and wrong from a sub-cultural perspective, as do I by the inclusion of social commentary in the story. Today, whether or not consumers will buy stories that are more than simple escapism is a question being asked by writers, publishers, and filmmakers. Young adult and romance stories dominate fiction. The success of the upcoming film, Paani, a dark science fiction drama, may, in part, answer that question for Hindi speakers.

Historically, speculative fiction has fueled social activism, debate, and the adoption of evolving or devolving social policy depending on one’s values. In 380 B.C., Plato envisioned a utopian society in The Republic and that story represented the beginning of a long string of speculations: ecology, economics, politics, religion, technology, feminism….

The impact of speculative fiction on my personal world view began in the 1960s when Ellison, Aldiss, Herbert and others wrote about the stuff that many American teens at the time were reflecting upon – social and political issues at a tumultuous time. Protests against increasing militarism during the Vietnam War were fueled by the writings of Ellison and Vonnegut. Speculative fiction back then was more than escapism, as evidenced by Ursula Le Guinn, who is commonly attributed with coining the term, “social science fiction,” winning both the Hugo and Nebula awards in 1970.

More recently, again focused on America because that’s the only place that I’ve ever lived, and I’ve only seen a little piece of it, please consider the social / political / economic issues related to same sex marriage. Did the GLBTQ titles increasingly being released, and the popularity of television shows such as Modern Family, influence the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that same-sex marriage was a Constitutional right? Of course, I don’t know the answer to that question, but I do believe that speculations sparked by artists in every venue have at least a subliminal impact on each of us, an impact that transcends our own prejudices, traditions and belief systems.

Rarity from the Hollow is speculative fiction written in colloquial voice that satirically and comically addresses the (1) need to improve systems for the prevention of child abuse, not only in America, but world-wide; (2) duty to internationally recognize that war trauma can cause PTSD for which veterans, out of respect for their service and irrespective of which side of the battle, deserve mental health treatment; (3) moral obligation to research the medicinal use of marijuana for the treatment of mental health problems as an alternative to pharmaceuticals produced by big drug companies; (4) advantages of creating economic options for workers living in impoverished communities to enable self-sufficiency.

Think about peanut butter and Rarity from the Hollow will make more common sense. At the 2013 International Skoll Forum, Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus, born in Bangladesh but he travelled extensively in India, reportedly said something like, “We have science fiction and science follows….” Muhammad Yunus heads a company that loans money to entrepreneurs who live in impoverished areas and who would not otherwise qualify for financial assistance.

Again consider the concept that speculative fiction can fuel social activism and apply it to the big problem of malnutrition in the world. Dr. Mark Manary of America headed a scientific breakthrough in the processing of peanut butter that is having a significant impact on the social problem of child malnutrition. It’s called a ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) and is made in Malawi, Sierra Leone, and Ghana. The lives of thousands of African children have already been saved by RUTF.

Reading Rarity from the Hollow is like eating peanut butter. The story is a little sticky with issues and tissues at times, but it nourishes, and tastes good.


About Robert Eggleton:

Robert Eggleton has served as a children’s advocate in an impoverished state of the U.S. for over forty years. He is best known for his investigative reports about children’s programs, most of which were published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from 1982 through 1997, and which also included publication of models of serving disadvantaged and homeless children in the community instead of in large institutions, research into foster care drift involving children bouncing from one home to the next — never finding a permanent loving family, and statistical reports on the occurrence and correlates of child abuse and delinquency. Today, he is a recently retired psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia,U.S., where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome physical and sexual abuse, and other mental health concerns. Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel and its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines: Wingspan Quarterly, Beyond Centauri, and Atomjack Science Fiction. Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. http://www.childhswv.org/ Robert continues to write fiction with new adventures based on a protagonist that is a composite character of children he met when delivering group therapy services. The overall theme of his stories remains victimization to empowerment.

मुझे चांद चाहिए, लेखक सुरेंद्र वर्मा (Meaning: I Want Moon, by Surendra Verma)

For English translation of the review of this book, please scroll down.

समीक्षा: श्वेता एच एस द्वारा

कहानी की पृष्टभूमि एक छोटे शहर की लड़की वर्षा पर आधारित है| वर्षा स्वाभाव से अंतर्मुखी, विनम्र और शर्मीली किंतु महत्वकाँशाओं से परिपूण है; जिसके जीवन का लक्ष्य एक सफल एवं चहेती फिल्म अभिनेत्री बनने का है|

कहानी एवं उसका हर एक अध्याय कुछ इस तरह व्यक्त किया गया है कि, उसके अंत का अनुमान लगाना असंभव है| हर एक पात्र को प्रस्तुत करने से पूर्ण उसकी पृष्टभूमि का सन्छिप्त वर्णन किया गया है| लेखक ने कहानी को कहीं भी दिशाहीन नही होने दिया, किसी घटना की भूमिका बांधनें के लिए लेखक आपको समय में थोड़ा पीछे भी ले जाता है| कहानी में बहुत सारे किरदार हैं और सबकी उपस्तिथि यशोदा शर्मा/सिलबिल/वर्षा वशिष्ठ के जीवन की कहानी व्यक्त करने में बहुत महत्वपूर्ण है|

जैसा कि किताब का शीर्षक व्यक्त करता है, ये कहानी कुछ असंभव हासिल करने की कोशिश कि कहानी है| तो, क्या वर्षा वशिष्ठ सभी इच्छाओं को प्राप्त करती है? इस प्रक्रिया में क्या उसे कुछ खोना भी पड़ता है? इस उपन्यास अत्यधिक दिलचस्प है जिसे पूरा पढ़े बिना नीचे रखना बहुत मुश्किल है| हिन्दी भाषा के पाठकों के लिए यह उपन्यास एक अनमोल खजाना है|

“कोई इच्छा अधूरी रह जाए, तो ज़िंदगी में आस्था बानी रहती है।” – वर्षा वशिष्ठ


English translation of the review given above in Hindi:

Review by Shwetha H S

This is a story of how a small town girl, who is an introvert and shy, grows up ambitiously yet humbly, to become a successful, much sought-after, superstar in Indian film industry is narrated captivating manner. You cannot even once guess the ending of any chapter, leave alone the whole story. It is a must read for any voracious reader who can read Hindi.

Narration is in such a way that every character introduced gets his/her background explained briefly. The same goes with the situations too; if the events leading to the current situations are not explained in the flow of the story, then the author takes you slightly back in time to let you know the sequence. There are too many characters and their presence is justified by the life story of Yashoda Sharma/Silbil/Varsha Vashisht. The title of the book suggests it is a story of an attempt to gain something impossible. So, does Varsha Vashisht attain all that she desires? Does she lose anything in the process? This novel will make it hard for you to put it down.

Koi ichcha adhoori reh jaaye, toh zindagi mein aastha bani rehti hai (If any desire is unfulfilled, then it lets you retain faith in life.)” – Varsha Vashisht