Books and Related Stuff, My Published Works, Short Essays

A World Introduced By Kabuliwala

(The below article is an English translation of my writing which got published in The Hindu (Tamil) on 06/06/2016. To read the original article, go here: காபுலிவாலா தந்த உலகம் )

I was never strapped to a bed for a long time of twenty days before, not in that way. My parents had feared that I was down with malaria and I was stay put to a bed with a warning that I should not exert myself more physically. Although my arms were numb with tiredness and body with ache, my mind remained as free as always. The oppressive boredom of the loneliness caused by my fever made me to notice the sprawling presence of books on the shelves of my room. I had always looked at them before, even cleaned and dusted them off regularly. But, for the first time, I had time to notice them. I pulled open a book with a majestic spine which had a calm peaceful face of a man with a beard, and when I finished reading it, I had tears rolling down my eyes. The book is ‘Selected Short Stories of Rabindranath Tagore’, and the story I read that day was ‘Kabuliwala’.  I don’t know what caused me the long fever but I remember that the bug of reading had infected me from then on. I was fourteen only, then.

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History, Short Essays

The Importance Of Being Ramachandra Guha

images (8)I still remember that day. I first saw it in the brick and mortar bookstore, a chain of the Odyssey book stores, in the first storey of a tiny mall in my small town – my hometown.  I took upon in my hands the mighty beast of this book which ran for more than seven hundred pages, and I began reading a few pages of it (Read as the first eight pages). I still remember the amusing look which my dad gave me, for he was both puzzled and delighted that his daughter is holding a history book, and that book is making her smile. That book I held then was Ramachandra Guha’s “India After Gandhi“. I was only sixteen then – a good age to fall in love – and we bought the book home.  When I was in my teens, we had no internet connection in our home and I would wait for Guha’s columns published often in The Hindu. The name would always bring me certain happiness as if I saw a friend who has come home for a play. When we got Internet, I began following and reading him regularly and extensively.

I grew up reading Ramachandra Guha and in a great way my outlook on India, its politics and culture is greatly affected and molded by his writings. Looking back now, after nearly nine years since I began reading him, I wonder what really made me to fall in love with this man’s writings, then. Also, it still astonishes me that his words brings the same cheerfulness I had felt when I read him for the first time. Years have run by; I have grown from my teens to mid-twenties, boyfriend and crushes have come and gone, there are authors whom I have once swooned only to find them repelling as I grew and finally abandoned, Sachin no longer plays, Modi has become India’s PM, Salem has got its own Dominoes outlets, and  I have grown good enough to read and understand Samuel Beckett. Still, his writings give me the same infectious smile I had when I read him for the first time in that brick and mortar store of that small town.

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