50 years of publication of- ‘Sunlight on a Broken Column’–a Classic novel by Attia Hosain

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My Readings in Trinidad
• Attiya Hosain, ‘Sunlight on a Broken Column’, a novel, Penguins India, 1992 ed., pages 319, Price Rupees 125/
• Ist ed.by Chatto and Windus in Great Britain in 1961, Virago edition with Anita Desai new introduction in 1988.

When I was working for M.Phil degree dissertation in JNU on partition of India and Punjabi literature, I had a list of creative writings on partition in various languages, which I wanted to refer in my overall survey of the partition literature. I could get some books from my list, but not all, as one could expect also.But one book which I really missed those days and always kept on looking for, was Attiya Hosain’s English novel-‘Sunlight on a Broken Column’. And after gap of more than three decades, I found it in a library in Trinidad, as I found many other books also like C L R James’s classic ‘The Black Jacobins’.
‘Sunlight on a Broken Column’ was published for first time in 1961 from Chatto and Windus in Great Britain, later in 1988, Virago Press published it with new introduction and Penguin books published it in 1992 with new introduction by another eminent Indian novelist Anita Desai. Attiya Hosain born in 1913 in a feudal Muslim family of Lucknow got liberal education and was first woman to graduate from among the ‘Taluqdari’ families, into which she was born. Her parents had close relations with Nehru clan. She was influenced by nationalist movement and Progressive writers movement in 1930’s and became a journalist, broadcaster and writer of fiction. She went to England in 1947 with his husband and two children and wrote ‘Phoenix Fled’-short story collection in 1953 and her only novel, which became classic later of Muslim life , in 1961.
The title of the novel is taken from T.S.Eliot’s poem-‘The Hollow Men’, reading as There, the eyes are/Sunlight on a Broken Column……Partly this is an autobiographical novel as the events of novel conceived through main character Laila’s life are close to writer’s own life.Laila , the heroine or main character and narrator of the novel is granddaughter of Baba Jan-Syed Mohammed Hasan, who was orphaned with the death of both her parents. She is being taken care of her by her grandfather and later, after his death, by his Uncle Hamid and aunts.This is a typical feudal Muslim family but enlightened and liberal in limited sense. Girls are allowed to have higher education and Laila avails that, but they are not allowed to choose their own husbands and their family standards and status must be followed. All other members of family follow suit, but not Laila, who chooses her own husband Ameer, though from feudal background, but not of their family’s economic standards. She rebels and marries him against the wishes of the older members of family, though younger ones like Kemal and Saleem, his cousins support her. Her husband dies after few years of marriage during 2nd world war, joining the army, leaving his teaching job, partly because of complex created in his personality by Laila’s family, of being low-income feudal; leaving a baby girl for her.
Novel divided into four parts and sixty one chapter does not depict partition directly, but focuses upon its impact on Muslim families, particularly feudal ones. This is the class, from where protagonists of separate nation for Muslims came from, but this class itself was divided into ‘for’ and ‘against’ partition, which resulted in families splitting on the occasion of choosing Pakistan as their destiny or staying back in India-the original place of their roots. Uncle Hamid dies just before this dilemma to arise, but the surviving family meets at the instance of Kemal,a senior officer now in Indian Government, and the elder son of Hamid. His younger brother Saleem with his wife Nadira decide to go to Pakistan. In the last part of the novel there are poignant scenes. Laila has returned to India after few years, her husband is now dead and she has a daughter. Sita Aggarwal, her childhood friend, who loved Kemal in England, but did not marry him by rebelling against social norms has come to share her grief. Abida, her aunt, who loved her a lot and Laila loved her equally, has just died, though Laila was coming to see her at her deathbed. Abida, herself enlightened one-who initiated Laila to Ghalib and other great writers, did not reconcile to Laila’s marriage to Ameer against family wishes. After effects of partition are now there to be felt-Saleem has to report to police everyday for visiting his ‘own’ home and family in Lucknow and Hasanpur, the family ancestor house. Novel ends there on a sad note, as Laila is waiting for his distant nationalist cousin Asad to reach and see her.
There are many more events in the novel-the oppression of Nandi/ Saliman like poor characters, who slog throughout their lives to serve their feudal master and with whom only Laila had any sympathy.
Novel of course is strong in its aesthetic appeal, but it raises many questions and helps to understand the atmosphere of pre-partition days India and the reasons, though completely irrational, for inevitable partition of India. Now after knowing many friends in Pakistan, having nostalgia for pre-partition India and same way in India many having nostalgic attachment to regions and people in Pakistan, this novels and many other writings brings to the core deep prejudices festering in two major communities at that time-Hindus and Muslims. The élite of both communities and common working people, having nothing to do with politics and religion, were having excellent relations with each other. But educated middle classes from upper strata in both communities through their imagined history had created deep-rooted biases for each other. Both had sense of superiority over the other-one thinking other to be ‘Malechh'(the impious) and the other thinking to the opponents as ‘Bania'(the coward and petty dishonest shopkeeper).Worst attitude was on Hindus part, when treating Muslim as community as untouchable as ‘Dalits’ in their own Hindu fold. While poor Dalits could not protest or resist much, the rich/feudal among Muslim community, having the nostalgic arrogance of being ‘rulers’ of India for long, could not digest this insult, despite having best individual relations with many Hindus. These real situations depicted in literature were as effective in politics, despite Congress claiming to be nationalist and ‘representative’ of ‘Muslim’ interest as well as ‘Hindu’ interest. But the hegemony of ‘Hindu’ culture was too obvious in Congress, despite having eminent Muslim activists in its ‘nationalist’ fold. Partition was becoming inevitable under these sociocultural conditions and enlightened socialist leaders of Congress like Jawaharlal Nehru had no real assurance to offer to Muslim community of ‘true secularism’ in ‘nationalist’ agenda of Congress party, which definitely tilted to Muslim League in large numbers in absence of such assurance.
Looking at today’s rise of hegemony of religious fundamentalism in Pakistan, particularly during Zia regime, it seems Congress leaders must be secretly wishing to get rid of Muslim dominated regions of India in 1947, many of these of volatile nature like NWFP and Baluchistan, while putting the blame on Jinnah and British. Thus making eminent Muslim leaders of Congress party itself feel betrayed, like Khan Abdul Ghafar Khan and Maulana Azad. Looking retrospectively perhaps British scheme of keeping India joint, but dividing in three regions, with six Muslim dominated provinces in one region, while Hindu dominated areas in another and keeping only three or four matters with centre would have been better option under those circumstances. Jinnah, he probably was not conceiving Pakistan as reality, but which turned out to be, in absence of Congress party accepting the British scheme, which Jinnah and agreed to.Jinnah withdrew his consent only after Congress party and Nehru rejected it, in favour of worse British scheme of partition.
If Congress party thought that by getting rid of Muslim majority provinces, they will be free of problems in post British India, they were sadly mistaken. By forcing division of Punjab and Bengal on communal lines, resulting in mass migration of minority communities and also in mass massacres and other unthinkable crimes, with Kashmir problem tagged permanently to its destiny, leading to four terrible wars with Pakistan and making both countries militaries as enemy centred with each other, partition became a festering wound. In absence of sizeable minority population, Jinnah’s elitist liberal Pakistan gave way to religious fundamentalist Pakistan, dictated by jehadi Mullas, supported/prompted by South Arabia variety of Islam. Pakistan regional areas were centre of liberal Sufiana Islam mostly, but when Arabic form of right wing Islamic ideas overtook middle classes of Pakistan, with vested interests of its army to be in fighting mode with India all the time for its own vested financial interests, the wound of partition took the shape of cancer of jehadi fundamentalism in Pakistan, which took the life of Salmaan Taseer like surviving liberal. While if Pakistan is not able to fight the cancerous growth of religious fundamentalism, not only Pakistan’s liberal educated elite, which is continuation of Attiya Hosain’s novels’s characters, will be wiped out; India itself would not escape this cancer’s weeds spilling over in India , leading to equally cancerous Hindu fundamentalist rise in reaction, thus the whole pre partition India, though divided into three nations will suffer together, as it fought for its freedom from British colonialism together. Some cultures are so complex that these cannot rip apart even by way of dividing the territories; these remain bound like the child bound with mother’s womb through its umbilical cord.
But what one can or nations can do in such situations? They definitely can, but only by looking at the things in dispassionate, objective and rational manner. Whatever and however the partition of India was irrational, it cannot be redrawn now, neither Bangladesh can go back to the fold of Pakistan again. So the first rational act on the part of India and Pakistan is to accept each other’s existence in their present form, admitting the unresolved issues like Kashmir. Both countries also have to admit that destinies of both countries, despite political-geographical divisions are somehow bound with each other. The interests of large majority of people in both countries lie in peaceful and possibly fraternal existence between two nations; this includes the enlightened ruling classes on both sides, but not those sections of ruling classes, which have vested interests in further spread of cancerous growth of religious fundamentalism everywhere. And for this peaceful existence both countries need to have democratic polity surviving and strengthening in both countries. For Pakistan particularly, India’s support is most urgent in its pursuit of democratic polity’s growth and for India, it is in its own interests to support democratic polity’s survival in Pakistan. India needs to see Pakistan grow as modern Islamic nation like Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Syria, Iraq, Jordan etc. And not like Saudi Arab brand of Islamic nation, breeding international jehadi, anti woman, anti democratic and broadly anti people oppressive and aggressive regime in the name of purity of Islam, as Hitler emphasised at the purity of ‘Aryan’ race to cleanse Germany of Jews through mass killings. Had this foresight dawned upon Indian leadership in 1947 and had they accepted and nurtured Pakistan after 1947 as just broke younger brother, people of India and Pakistan, particularly of Pakistan would not have suffered the terrible sufferings at the hands of military dictators including religious bigots like Zia Ul Haq and continue suffering in worse manner till today. One must admit the hard reality that despite ‘dream country’ of Pakistan for ex Muslim elites of India come true and making a section of that class very rich, almost at the level of grotesque, against even the principles of Islam, for common Muslims of Pakistan, it has been ‘dream shattered’ badly, so leading them towards again another ‘imaginary’ world of ‘purity’ (Pak) through innocent killings, burying Jinnah’s liberal idea of Islamic nation and in the process, the whole liberal intelligentsia of Pakistan is feeling the heat of new ‘Pak’(pure) and if the trend is not reversed, a new ‘pure land’( Pakistan) will emerge, sans Faizs, Farazs, Habib Jalibs, Ustad Damans, Fahmida Riyazs, Sheema Kirmanis, Parvez Huddods, Beena Sarwars and father of this pure land will not be Jinnah, it will be someone unknown or may be Zia Ul Haq!
There is no doubt that had Jinnah survived few more years, he would have seen the competitive growth of democratic polity with India and would have sought to resolve the issues through negotiations, rather through wars. It was Pakistan’s ill luck to loose Jinnah in its fragile existence, so was India’s to loose Gandhi as early, who also would have liked to see that India and Pakistan develop not only friendly, but brotherly relations with each other. Gandhi and Jinnah did not represent progressive models of two nations, but under the historical circumstances, they were the only liberal and more humanist models for the development of two nations in their infancy, progressive forces could develop only in the stable bourgeoisie development in two nations. Communist movement in undivided India also fell for easy path in supporting not only the creation of Pakistan, but much worse for the division of Bengal and Punjab on communal lines, feeling the task of working for Communist ideology more difficult in Muslim majority areas, thus leaving Pakistan progressive forces at the mercy of vultures of army and Mullahs.
Would this great ‘Tragedy Humane’ in Balzac’s words ever end and progressive forces in Pakistan and India would see the dawn of ‘Woh Subah’…..conceived by its poets—Kabhi to Aayegi..and rather than Sunlight, there will be ‘Moonlight’ on the banks of rivers Gomati(Lucknow river) and Ravi(Punjab river), where romantic lovers like Laila and Ameer would be able to meet without feeling the scare of lurking feudal and fundamental forces!

22/01/2011

Reading Paash poetry in Shahmukhi

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‘Paash:Saari Shayri’ ,Jodanhaar-Paash Memorial International Trust, Shahmukhi transliteration-Khalid Ameen, revised by Maqsood Saqib,Published by Suchet Kitab Ghar, Lahore, 1st ed. 2005, Pages 384, Price Rs. 230/, bound edition.

This book is transliteration from Gurumukhi script to Shahmukhi or Persian script of Paash’s complete poetry published in Punjabi by Paash Memorial Trust earlier. Paash published three collections of poetry-‘Loh Katha’(Iron Tale) (1970), ‘Uddade Bazan Magar’(Following the Falcons) (1974) and ‘Sade Samain Vich’(In Our Times) (1978).After his assassination on 23rd March 1988, Gursharn Singh published some of the poems collected hurriedly from the house of Paash immediately after his martyrdom, even without the proper information or permission from the family of Paash. No effort was made to edit the collected material. A poet writes so many pieces as his or her creative process, but gives final shape to these later with patience and contemplation. He or she rejects some, revises some and then keeps some for not publishing for various reasons known to him or her only. In the romance to publish every word written by Paash, all collected pieces were just put to print. Many of these pieces have been used by Paash in different form in his published poems. How could anyone take liberty with poets own decisions after his sad passing away? There were many immature pieces, which Paash did not feel like publishing , so he did not, yet Comrades like that of Paash’s poem-‘Comrade Naal Galbaat’ could decide what to do with afterlife of Paash, even without bothering to take Paash family’s views on these things. In my view, lot many pieces, which Paash himself decided not to publish should not have been published in such hurry. But there were complete poems also, which Paash himself was publishing in his own style, like ‘Sab Ton Khatarnak’ was published probably in January 1988 Sunday issue of ‘Punjabi Tribune’, which I translated in Hindi and was published by ‘Jansatta’, Hindi daily in February 1988 Sunday issue. Paash could see its Hindi version himself. Poems like Bedakhli lai Binaypatar, Dharmdiksha lai Binaypatar, Khuh etc. Should definitely have been published, many poems , which were later found out, such as ‘Yaaran Naal Samvad’ published in ‘Aarsee’ could be located with help from Shamsher Sandhu, when we were editing Vartman De Rubru in Punjabi, published in 1989.Later Amarjit Chandan edited ‘Khilre Hoe Varke’ and finally Paash memorial International trust put everything together in single volume-Paash-Samuchi kavita. Since incomplete poems, pieces of poems, pieces of differently used poems in earlier poems like ‘Yudh Te Shanti’ etc. were all put together. And this book was transliterated in Shahmukhi in Lahore, making popular in West Punjab as well, which is three times bigger than East Punjab, which uses Punjabi in Persian script. So it has been a welcome publication.

Khalid Ameen and Maqbool Saqib, who through his publishing house and journal ‘Pancham’ is doing tremendous service by publishing books from east Punjab- he has already published Nanak Singh, Kulwant Singh Virk, Gurdial Singh, Waryam Singh Sandhu and many more writers in Shahmukhi, published even Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna’s autobiography and some articles of Bhagat Singh, including ‘Why I am an Atheist’ through ‘Pancham’.

I was gifted this book by Maqsood Saqib in 2007, when I visited Pakistan for first time. It was given for record, since I translated and published complete Paash poetry in Hindi. Yet I kept on struggling with learning of Urdu after my return and can now read though slowly Urdu and Punjabi in Shahmukhi script. Reading of Paash’s Saari Shayri may have taken three weeks or so,spending only half an hour per day, but it was a pleasure. There could be minor errors in publication/printing, but on the whole book has been brought out beautifully and at a very reasonable price. In today’s context of Salman Taseer assassination, Paash’s poetry becomes even more relevant in Pakistan, more than India, particularly his poem ‘Dharm Diksha Lai Binay Patar’ is as scathing for Pakistani jehadi Mullas, who instigated the assassination of Salmaan Taseer, as it was for Bhindrawale brand of Khalistanis, who assassinated Paash for writing such poems to expose them.Some poems of Paash against religious fundamentalism like-Dharm Diksha lai Binai Pater(Request for Baptisation),Khuh(The Wells) and ‘Sab Ton Khatarnak(The Most Dangerous), along with Salmaan Taseer’s tweets on Twitter against same thought, should be put together in a booklet in Urdu translation and also In Shahmukhi script in Punjabi and published in large numbers in Pakistan and distributed among common people to make them aware of the great dangers of such fundamentalism for society.Ironically Paash and Salmaan Taseer have again got two parts of Punjab together for a struggle for democratic and liberal humanist society.Paash’s ‘Saari Shayri’ now can play this role of common struggle of Punjabis against religious fundamentalism Wish friends in Pakistan translate this poem in Urdu or transliterate it from Hindi and use it like they use Faiz Ahmad Faiz’ poems to fight religious fundamentalism and state oppression. Meanwhile my heartfelt complements to Maqsood Saqib and Khalid Ameen for getting Paash into Pakistan through this edition.

Chaman Lal

Visiting Professor on Hindi Chair

The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad & Tobago

prof.chaman@gmail.com mob. 1868-3692687

New York New York!

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http://www.facebook.com/album.php?id=1809775413&aid=47382

I had accepted Trinidad&Tobago assignment of Visiting Professor on Hindi Chair by ICCR in The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine campus in Port of Spain rather reluctantly.Its close proximity to Venezuela and hope of visiting Cuba,Suriname and Guyana like Indian descent people dominated countries made me accept the offer,which has been for minimum of two years,but I have initially accepted only for one year.

As my journey route was via New York, so planned to stay there for at least 2-3 days to have the feel of a place, considered most powerful in economic terms and where World Trade Center’s destruction gave altogether new term of 9/11 to the world,though this city is best tradition reflects in its ‘Statue of Liberty’. Though I had traveled abroad,but in countries, which were not very different from India, like Pakistan, Vietnam, Mauritius,Bhutan etc. and New York was going to be an altogether different experience.Flight on 22nd October at 12.15 a.am was taken in great hurry as ICCR gave me ticket at its office in Azad Bhavan near ITO Delhi at 6.0p.m and reporting time at Palam was just three hours away. It took one hour to reach JNU, where I had to complete my packing finalised and the rushing hours created mess in packing, leaving or misplacing important gadgets like USB wires for camera and mobile etc.But anyway took American Airlines fifteen hours at a stretch flight up to Chicago, from where I had to change.During flight I could sleep for few hours and when it reached at 3.0 a.m in Chicago I was fresh,one Indian official did came to receive me and got me to another flight scheduled for Newark.Though these airports were huge,but did not get nervous, as Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad airports have also become now quite huge.At Newark airport in New Jersy, it was 9.30 in the morning, it was sunny day but somewhat cold.Indian officials did not come but Ramandeep reached on his own car from Maryland state, near Washington.He checked hotel prices on internet,whereas Indian officials were booking a hotel for 175 US dollar per day, we could arrange for 70 dollars, near the airport itself, called Econo lodge.Checking the mail found message from Prof. Susham Bedi to visit Columbia University same day ‘if I was not feeling jet lag’.I had heard from people about this jet lag after long hours of flight,but I did not feel any and we came to Columbia University on Ramandeep’s car by 3.0p.m or so.Here Dalpat rajpurohit an ex JNU Hindi student was waiting in his office.Columbia University area is beautiful, though campus is inside the city area itself.i wished to see Dr. Ambedkar statue in the University,but since the building got closed,could not see that.Susham Bedi an established Hindi writer had taught in Columbia for long and now after retirement has bought house in the University vicinity itself.Went to her house for tea, where I presented some of my Hindi books for Columbia University library.I had wished to see Urdu Prof.Tahira Naqvi also,but she was not in town.Went around University area including Library and Bookshop, where a book was being released and Gayatri Chakravrati Spivak ,well know scholar was there, met her for a while.Ex JNU academician Sudipto Kaviraj has joined Columbia University as Professor after spending some time in SOAS London.he was lecturing in JNU, when I went to Columbia, otherwise would have said hello to him as well.Yet did tell Dalpat to show him my publication division book on Bhagat Singh.Dalpat and another CIL alumnus Aftab from Urdu took us to Mexican hotel, kind of Ganga dhabha of JNU, where Raman entertained everyone to dinner.

Next day we came to Broadway, the famous area, where Madam Tussuad wax museum is located, also number of theaters etc.,bought 48 hours tourism bus tickets for roaming around New York, though used not even 1/5th part of it.First got down at Lincoln Art center, a nice place.Here wasted 2-3 hours searching for my Nikon camera’s UBS wire, as its charging was finished and neither me nor my students cared to check before boarding the plane that it was packed.Ramandeep finally bought a Samsung camera in a deal for 102 US dollars and asked me to keep till I got the wire for Nikon, knowing my passion for photography.We saw the Central park only from outside, though it is spread in very large area of New York city. later we entered Metropolitan Museum of Arts but not to see any gallery,just to have the feel of the place.After returning to Broadway waited for night service of tourism bus, which takes a two hour round around Time Square, World Trade center site etc.Sitting on upper open floor of the bus, though feeling bit cold, took two hour round.Time Square is full of crowds in night.Raman took me for dinner in a typical American restaurant.Frankly I did not like American food of having Burgers,Sandwiches with lots of fried potatoes and big coca cola bottles all the time.

Last day in New York was devoted to visit ‘Statue of Liberty’ and Ellis Museum adjoining, which it richly deserved.We went on ferry to the place, with large number of Indians, at least 20% in each boat, including many Sikh families.I like Ellis immigrants museum a lot, a center of historical record, well maintained of immigration to USA from various countries till 1954.The pictures on wall included some of communists and anarchists like Emma Goldman, who were treated as ‘Red Threat’ and deported out of US.’Statue of Liberty’ built at the time of one hundredth freedom anniversary and founding of USA, is a grand statue by all means, which any country could feel a sense of pride and US rightly felt so, till the time it itself became aggressor after Second world war.It violated itself the spirit of liberty by attacking and occupying other countries and interfering into their internal affairs at political, economical and cultural levels.

Same evening we moved to another phenomenon of US history-‘World Trade Center’, which was symbol of its economic power and perhaps arrogance in the world,and which became victim of its aggressive policies. We saw the destroyed place and new construction being coming up, already another World Finance center is in place near Battery park, a beautiful sight seeing location.Museum for 9/11 was closed,and perhaps incomplete yet.Did see Wall Street though in the night, the center of world’s most powerful stock exchange market,but also where George Washington took oath as first President of USA.His statue is in place there.This was the last stop of our New York sojourn, at the end of which, we funnily lost the way of the place, where we parked our car.We were to reach Susham Bedi house for dinner and we were sweating by walking and walking to locate the place.Finally located after more than hour’s walk, around the location itself, so finished the day with dinner.

Next morning on 25th October, flight was due at 12 noon, so went from hotel to straight Newark airport, completing three days hectic but pleasant New York visit in light cold pleasant sunny weather.

To understand Indians life in USA,particularly in Newyork, one should read Prof. Susham Bedi’s novel-‘Havan’, which has been translated and published in English from India and in Urdu from Pakistan.It is a story of a Punjabi girl coming to states and then getting her two sisters there.What happens to their next generation in states is the theme of the novel.This is a real story of people running after money,glamour and then getting destroyed in the process.When i see the mad rat race of people throughout the world for running after glamour of consumerism,It always reminds me of Tolstoy’s immortal story-‘How Much land does a man need?’ But present generation has stopped reading great literature,which used to question the hegemony of existing commercialized cultural values.In Susham Bedi’s novel,Guddo’s son Raju occasionally feels the pangs of the question of running after money,but he too has no breaks in his mind.Equally good is eminent Punjabi writer Gurbachan Singh Bhullar’s recent travelogue of USA, where his experiences are almost similar to mine experiences.I liked his description of omniscient knowing GPS(Global Positioning technique on mobile) maharaj.His daughter Bhavna drove him through states with the help of GPS maharaj, so did Raman in my case for driving through Newyork

Gurpurab in Trinidad

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I have not written anything about Trinidad and Tobago since I reached here almost a month ago except for small postings.It takes sometime to get used to a new place, even if the place has large number of Indian descent population.Trinidad&Tobago is a country in Caribbean and the University of the west Indies where I have joined is spread out is sixteen countries of the Caribbean or West Indies.We know West Indies as just one cricket team,but this one cricket team represents so many countries, that is known when you come here.Out of sixteen countries, almost all English speaking, some of have population as little as 10 thousand.Jamaica seems to be most populated with 2.7 million population and second may be Trinidad&Tobago with 1.3 million or just 13 lakh population.40% population comprises people of Indian background, who came here as indentured labour from 1845 onwards and 40% seems to be of African descent or local population.Other 20% include Chinese,British and other communities.Christianity is major religion with 40% plus followers, followed by Hinduism by about 29% population, six% Islamic followers and some other faiths people live here.There are lots of temples, churches, mosques,Hindu Colleges/schools etc. and one Gurdwara also exists here in Tuna Puna locality.Punjabi community also lives here including some Sikhs as well and Gurdwara serves as community meeting of Punjabis as well,when some function is held,generally once or twice a month on Sundays.

The University of the West Indies established in 1962 has main campus in Mona in Jamaica, other two campuses are in St. Augustine, Trinidad&Tobago, which has largest number of students and in Cave at Barbados, known for its cricket matches.University has established Open Schools at many places and also some centres in affiliated sixteen countries.Derek Walcot, Noble award winner poet was born in St. Lucia, a small country in West Indies and has stayed in Trimnidad also.V S Naipaul was born and brought up in Trinidad&Tobago only and I am told he lived in a house called Hanuman, which I am yet to go and see.I have brought some books of Naipaul with me ,particularly of his books on India, which I hope to read here, also wish to read Walcot here, acquiring his selected poetry from UWI(University of West Indies) bookshop.

In this one month saw Diwali functions at 2-3 places and went to Gurdwara twice , lastly on Gurpurab-21st November. I have met President of the Republic George Maxwyn Richards at one function and Dr. Winston Dookern influential finance minister of Kamla Bassesar cabinet,woman Prime Minister of Indian origin after Basdev Pandey, in whose term World Hindi Conference was held here in Trinidad&Tobago.

I have got a reasonably good house furnished by the University and walk to University,though most of the people buy car and drive.It is hot in the day and crime situation is rather bad.There have been many burglaries in the building Ajanta Courts, where I have got house.Though people are from Indian background,lingua franca here is English only, not even Creole as in Mauritius.Even the representatives of Hindu or Hindi organizations also know little Hindi or other Indian languages.Even in Gurdwara proceedings are conducted in English only though Kirtan is in Punjabi, which very people understand,so on Computer screen English translation is displayed.

Country is influenced by American values and most of Banks, Gas companies,sugar factories are in financial control of US or other western countries-Britain,Canada etc. It is considered rich country in the region with many people having houses as big as public parks,ironically you can’t find public parks for morning or evening walks easily.Consumerism is the way of life and I am told 80% resources of the country are owned by 20% families of the country.There are slums in this apparently rich looking country ,many poor people live is small huts built on riverside or so.Well I can admit that I don’t feel as comfortable in this country as I felt in Mauritius,Vietnam or Pakistan.

Readings in Trinidad

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When did I start reading books in life, apart from course books? In my childhood, I used to go to Public Library and another open kind of newspaper reading place in Rampura Phul, in Bathinda district of Punjab in the evening time or in any school holiday in morning time. I used to read Hindi and Punjabi children magazines like ‘Chandamama’, ‘Bal Sandesh’ or Hindi/Punjabi newspapers children sections.After Matriculating I was not able to join any college, went to my elder sister’s place in Abohar in Ferozepur district. There my brother in law(Behnoi) put me to work as a trainee worker in Bhiwani cotton mills. I tried for a month or so, but could not adjust with the work. But during my stay in Abohar during 1962 or so, I got the habit of reading spy novels, Jassosi novels in Hindi. There was a shop in street no. 9 or so in Abohar, which stored hundreds of such novels and charged one anna(Six paise of today) per day for it. Sometimes I used to read more than one novel a day.Many of these were monthly publications like ‘Jassosi duniya’ etc. After I returned to Rampura Phul, I started helping my father in his shop.Those days I again started going to library and sometimes will look at the English paper mostly ‘The Tribune’, particularly at film advertisements or sports page, since I became used to listening to cricket commentary on radio. Names of Salim Durrani, Chandu Borde, Vijay Manjrekar, Polly Umrigar, Nadkarni from India and Gary Sobers, Gibbs, Clive Lloyd,Rohan Kanhai etc from West Indies,had got registered on my mind.When Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru died in May 1964, there was shop closure on two days, one on his ashes being put into rivers.I think at that time I became member of Public library and the first book I got issued out of the two issued at a time was Prem Chand’s novel Godan, about which I must have heard or read during my school days or from some magazines.Perhaps his autobiographical story ‘Mera Jivan’ in school curricula has made deep impact on my adolescent age mind. I read the novel perhaps in a single day or maximum in two days, but that set my standards for literary reading. I tried to read Punjabi novels of Nanak Singh and Jaswant Kanwal, but could not continue as novels in Hindi of Prem Chand and other major writers gave me more aesthetic pleasure than Punjabi novels.Public Library Rampura Phul was established during freedom struggle and it has rich collection of good books in Hindi,Urdu,English and Punjabi.I tried with Urdu copy of ‘Gaudan’ with my father too, who was middle pass of those days and who was not allowed by my grandfather to accept school teacher job in 1933 at eighteen rupees per month.My father could not be attached to literature,but he continued reading his favorite Urdu daily ,perhaps ‘Hind Samachar’.Since that day, my reading has never stopped and that helped me become what I am today.

I started buying books other than course books in late sixties, perhaps when I became school teacher in 1967. I became member of Hind Pocket Books, who used to send nine rupees books for paying eight rupees per month.Those days in one rupee you got good paperbacks.One of these books I translated in Punjabi from Hindi in my early phase of writing-Manmathnath Gupt’s ‘Bharat Ke Krantikari’, sketches of 16 or 18 revolutionaries.This was serialized by Ghadarite Baba Gurmukh Singh edited ‘Desh Bhagat Yaadan’ from Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall Jalandhar. Some pieces were published in ‘Preetlari’, Aarsee’ like journals also. While doing M.A. in Hindi and Punjabi, bought lots of books, but the bulk buying started when I became a research scholar in JNU and started getting fellowship.Every hostel room in JNU has bookshelf and not having books on the shelf means to be lesser being in that culture.I used to spend always more than I received as contingency grant for purchasing books and rather happily.It gave immense pleasure to own a book which was considered as very important book, whether of literature or of any other discipline.Faculty members and students of JNU will be standing at Geeta Book Shop in the KC market every evening to look for new titles and be in race to buy first, so that title may not get exhausted.But those were the days, when I could read every book I bought , apart from those which I read sitting in the library whole day in old campus and later in new campus.I had so many books in my collection that when I left for Bombay in 1982 for joining as Hindi officer, I left big collection in my room with my friend Shashi Bhushan Upadhayaya and one of the painful chapters of life is that many of these books were lost, when JNU was closed in 1984 and Shashi was one among arrested and later rusticated, that students were not able to preserve their precious books, because hostels were got vacated in very rough manner.

Purchasing of books continued after I joined the job, that became a habit, a continuation of Geeta Book shop culture and their reading also was almost simultaneous.But the condition changed after 1985, when I joined as lecturer in Hindi at Punjabi University Patiala. The purchase of books increased, adding Punjabi books to my collection apart from Hindi and English, but after few years, there developed a gap in purchase and reading of books.I never depended on library for my personal or professional need of books, I preferred to buy those.Yet with the setting up of family life and professional engagements and socializing with colleagues, sometimes rather most of the times of meaningless nature and with the entry of Television in life, reading of books got affected.Gap between purchase and reading of books kept widening and with lot of magazines coming up in Hindi, Punjabi and English and demand/urge for writing further affected reading. So much so that even after joining back at JNU, my Alma mater , situation did not improve rather it worsened further with the entry of computer with internet facility. Now the situation is that while the purchase of books never stopped or slowed, since it became a habit to buy any such book, which got into prominence, reading further diminished.

I have by now more than five thousand books in my personal collection of Hindi, Punjabi, English and lately of Urdu as well, yet I may not have read more than two thousand of these, perhaps less only.That does not mean that average reading completely stopped, the reading would perhaps never be less than sixty books a year, but since internet/magazines consumed too much time, the average got reduced substantially. I guess that had these factors not entered, my average reading would not have been less than two hundred books a year.

While coming to Trinidad&Tobago for year, my one temptation was to read many of those books, which I felt I must read and also see those films,which I kept on missing in all these years.So I brought more than five hundred books and about one hundred or so film dvd’s here, knowing it would not be easy to fulfill the desire, when I had a task at hand to complete at least one major manuscript and travel a lot to countries nearby.

So in these conditions my reading of books started after reaching Port of Spain on 25th October night.It started with pile of Hindi, Punjabi and English magazines, which mostly I just scanned, including important two issues of Journal of Literature&Aesthetics focussed on Indian Dalit literature in Marathi,Oriya, Punjabi,Tamil,Telugu,Bengali,Gujrati,Hindi, Kannada and Malyalam.Edited by Dr. D.Sreenivasan from Kollam in Kerala, this is a good literary journal.Scanned issues of Summer Hill Review,Law Animated World,Mainstream,Frontline,and Frontier in English;Filhal,Virsa,Sirjana and Chirag in Punjabi and Tadbhav,Shesh, Parikatha,Naya Gyanoudey,Vasudha, Samkallen Janmat,Aalochna and Apeksha in Hindi.Refreshed Tolstoy’s classic novel ‘Anna Kerenina’ my favorite too, by reading its summary in Hindi translation in ‘Naya Gyanoudey’.Since my books were to arrive by courier a few days later, got some books from Indian High commission library here,but even before that since Susham Bedi gifted her poetry and short story books-Chidiya Aur Cheel'(Stories) and ‘Shabdon ki Khidkiyan'(Poems) in New York, so read these books, got her novel ‘Havan’ from High Commission library to complete reading her writings in poetry,and fiction.Few more books borrowed from library were-Asha Rani Vohra’s-Swatantarta Senani Lekhikayen'(Freedom fighter women writers), this included Bhagat Singh groups’ activist Susheela Mohan’s sketch as well.Also Dr. Bharat Mishra’s ‘1857 ki Kranti aur uske pramukh krantikari’,Dr. Kailash Kumari Sahay’s ‘Pravasi Bhartiyon ki Hindi seva’ and Vimlesh Kanti and Dheera Verma’s ‘Fiji mein Hindi.Last two books I read to refresh my exposure to Hindi language situation in Mauritius,Fiji,Trinidad&Tobago,Suriname and Guyana-five countries of Indian descent people domination, where political power also remains with or shared by Indian descent people.Also read Bahadurshah Zafar’s poetry transliterated in Hindi and published by Vaani publishers.

More important books I read in Hindi are-Rahul Sankartyayan’s-‘Ghummakad Swami'(The Travellor Hermitage) and ‘Aaj Ki Samasyayen’-not available these days and its photocopy gifted kindly by Dr. P.N.Vidyarthi, when I visited his house in Ranchi in 2007 or 08.Ghummakad Swami is semi autobiographical account or Rahul’s travellogues, which included Punjab travellogue in 1919 days, when Jallianwalabagh massacre took place.Few people know that Rahul Sankartyayan knew so much about pre partition Punjab too.

‘Aaj ki Samasyayen’ is 1945 book,having four important articles in it-1. Pakistan ya jatiyon ki samasaya( Pakistan or problem of nationalities)2.Matar Bhashayon ki samasya(Problem of Mother tongues)3.Pragatisheelta ka Prashan(Question of Progressivism) and 4. Aaj ka sahityakar(Writer of Today).This book is really enlightening, it explains in a very rational and objective manner how creation of Pakistan became inevitable.He rightly blames Hindu majortarian fundamentalist attitude of treating Muslim community like untouchables and also Hindu capitalists not allowing Muslim capitalists to have share in national wealth.Partition was made inevitable by both communities ruling feudal and bourgeoise classes, because Hindu ruling classes were not ready to share the appropration of wealth for Muslim ruling classes in fair manner.And not allowing Muslim community into Hindu kitchens or serving them food/water in separate utencils even among friends houses,Rahul rightly ask the question-which self respecting person will tolerate this treatment, but Rahul predicted the fall out of Bangladesh that very time. In his opinion language is the core of nationality issue, though religion also is a strong factor and geography too, this became true in case of creation of Bangladesh in 1971.Rahul counted 73 nationalities in India of 1945 and eleven in proposed Pakistan at that time.

Matar Bhashayon ki samasayen also deals with sensitive issue of mother tongues,Rahul is against Hindi’s domination over mother tongues like Bhojpuri, Maithili,Santhali etc.People and my friend like Prof. Amarnath Sharma should read Rahul to understand language sensitivity of people which can explode by any big brotherly or sisterly oppression of their languages.This also made me realise that Mahatma Gandhi and Prem Chand conceived Hindustani is no more possible or feasible except in verbal communication.Existence of Hindi and Urdu as two closely linked but separate languges should be accepted,yet young children can easily learn both the languges easily if made part of school curricula.

Rahul Sankartyayan was a versatile writer activist.Born in 1893,lived up to 1963,completing 70 years of life.Starting from traditional Hindu family,becoming monk,then Arya Samajist,then Buddhist and finally Marxist.He authored/edited/translated nearly 150 books in Hindi,Pali,English and Tibetan.He traveled a lot and his book ‘Ghummakad Shashtra’ is traveler’s guide book.He traveled on foot/ponies/buses/trains/ships/by air and visited many countries, was a Professor in Sri Lanka and perhaps in Soviet Union as well,where he married as well and his progeny lives there.In India also his son and daughter Jaya and Jeta live,wife Kamla Sankartyayan died few years ago.He bore the lathis with Nagarajun in peasant movement in Bihar and served many months in jails.When I get bogged down in my multifarious activists and get upset over it ,then Rahul’s life shows me the way,he could start writing four books at a time.

A very significant book I completed today,frankly it shook me. It is an old classic-Dinabandhu Mitra’s Bengali play ‘Neel Darpan’ written in 1860,just three years after great first Indian war for independence took place.This exposes the British colonial cruelties on Indian people,who destroys Indian peasants for growing indigo farming.Kind of cruelities are committed and expressed in this 90 pages play reminded me of Abhimanyu Anat’s ‘Lal Pasina’ set in Mauritius and exposing brutal cruelties on Indian indentured labour taken to that country by British.Same had been the story of cruelities on Indian indentured labour in Trinidad&Tobago, where I am currently based and also in Suriname,Guyana and Fiji.So has been in South Africa and other African countries colonized by British in those days.This novel was translated in English by a British Christian priest and for this he was jailed. This play was performed in theatres in Calcutta in 1872 for the first time and despite ticketed entry large crowds turned up to watch the play.This play has become again relevant when under neo liberal/colonial policies peasants lands are again tried to be snatched in favour of mufti national companies to establish industries.I wish some one translate this play in Punjabi.Another significant,though controversial novel of 1961 again has been translation from Bengali,called ‘Plassey ka Yudh’ by Tapan Mohan Chattopadhyaya.It is history based novel,but underlines historic dates and incidents perhaps accurately.It is written from anti Sirajudaulah angle and in a way supports the rise of British occupation of India led by Robert Clive, but it attacks British myths like Calcutta’s blackhole story,where in writer’s view not more than thirty Britishers died,but Sirajudaulah had no hand in it.Though Britishers propagated it as brutality by Sirajudaulah and gave the figure of dead as around 150.During 1857 war of independence there is another Blackhole in Ajnala -Punjab,where British Deputy commissioner of the time made 257 Indian freedom fighters die by suffocation.Britishers created monument to false blackhole,but Indian free govt. has nothing to show Ajnala blackhole as reminder of colonial brutalities.An interesting feature of 1757 Plassey war actors have been their personal tragedies.Starting Sirajaudaulah,who lived for just 25 years, which included 14 months of being Bengal Nawab,murdered in most brutal and cruel manner.Mir Jafar ,the traitor,who was also close relation of Siraj died in 1765 with leprosy,hated by everyone ,even his sone Meeran who killed all the close relations of Siraj in fear of Nawab throne being passed on to them himself died of lightening,Maharaja Nand Kumar was hanged,British Admiral Watson did not survive even two months of Plassey warand was buried in St.John graveyard, the ‘hero’ Clive who looted 21 lakhs rupees from Plassey war,stabbed himself 22nd November 1774.Almost same was the fate of Jallianwalabagh mass murderer gen.Dyer later.

Some long pending Punjabi books also I read in this period including Gurdial Singh’s novel ‘Aahan’,Gurbachan Bhullar’s travelogue “Ek Amreeka Eh Vi’, Swarajbir’s play ‘Kallar’, Atamjit’s play ‘mangu comrade’,Nand Singh Mehta’s autobiographical novel ‘Suhe Rahan da safar’.four hundred page first part of ‘Aahan’ has been published after 17 years of Gurdial singh’s l;ast novel ‘Parsa’ was published, its second part should have come by now,but it seems it has got delayed.This novel also narrates the story of British colonial power’s destruction of peasantry and a village Karamgarh near Jaitu.Set after the Praja Mandal movement in 1936-40 period, this novel also shows cruelties of colonial police at its worst,when peasants have nothing even to eat due to attack of locust attack,which destroyed the crop of whole village,but British masters are bent upon charging annual land tax from peasants.Gurbachan Bhullar’s travelogue of America is an example of objective observation of a country about which there are lot of prejudices.Written in very interesting style,this one book I liked a lot,but I was surprised that Bhullar’s depiction of how Khalistanis had overtaken Ghadar party’s founding Gurdwara Stockton Gurdwara and dumped all the Ghadarite fighters photographs did not create any ripples in Punjab,even among so called leftists.Further the Govt. occupation of Yugantar Asharam -Ghadar party HQ in San Francisco not being opened daily is another shocking fact,which nobody seems to be bothered about.It should be protested strongly in my view in India and abroad by all right thinking Punjabis andIndians.Swarajbir’s play focuses upon pauperisaation of Punjab peasantry in recent times and their fate in foreign countries,where they try to escape.Though realist,this play is not as impactful as his earlier plays were like-Dharamguru and Krishna.Atamjit’s play opens our eyes to the great Indian freedom fighter in Kenya-Makhan Singh,whose sacrifices were recognized even by Jomo Kenyatta,first President of independent Kenya,but whosre role was soon to be forgotten by Kenya as well as India.This play has good look at history,but Atamjit has unnecessarily tried to undermine the character of a revolutionary in the play ,making his caricature to overplay Gandhian philosophy.Nand singh Mehta’s Suhe Rahan da safar-Trails of Red path is neither autobiography nor novel,it was better if he has written plain memoirs of Naxalite movement in Bathinda area,where he was an activist,incidentally i was observer of some of his narrations.Scanned Sohan Singh Sandhu’s edited book on Paash-‘Sahit Da Sagar’ published by Pash Memorial International Trust in 2009,got its complimentary copy last year, as it has included two of my pieces on Pash.It is 464 pages hard bound beautifully brought out book,distributed by Tarakbharti publishers Barnala.It includes 55 writings and few rare photographs, apart from Pash’s father Sohan Singh Sandhu’s own editorial and two co-editors-Amolak Singh/Surinder Dhanjal’s editorials. First collection of the book is Pash’s own written October 1986 issue of ‘Anti-47’ leaflet written in California,which exposes Khalistani jehadis real face.I am happy that Sandhu Sahib himself edited this book,because he has worked so hard to collect the material and so is Bhushan working now in UK.I wish Pash’s complete prose writings also get published soon with Sandhu Sahib and Bhushan’s efforts.I shall be practising my Persian script reading with Paash complete poetry published from Lahore in Punjabi(Shahmukhi),the copy of which was gifted by Pancham editor Saqib to me in 2007 at my Lahore visit.

Apart from Hindi, Punjabi and English readings, kept omn practising Urdu reading by way of Ibne Kanwal edited ‘Muntakhib Ghazaliyat’.This is collection of Urdu Ghazals from the beginning to contemporary period.Still missing few words and reading still slowly,I do enjoy reading these ghazals in original Urdu and getting pleasantly surprised that most of the ghazals sung by our great singers like Mehdi hasan and many others.

A philosophical and real problem in matter of reading books.If one is reading for just the pleasure of reading,even then the question remains.World of books is like ocean,which no one can ever think of swimming all the waters in it,yet one is always tempted to read more and more,more you are exposed to the books,more books you want to read and with the passing of age,even if one lives upto hundred years,this quest can never fulfil.For academic/professional/creative writers it becomes even more difficult to indulge in the luxary of just reading for pleasure.So the hard choices are to be made,the selection in reading has to be made.For my own self,I can read my own purchased books,even if I get thirty more years healthy life,even I don’t add any new book to my colllection.And this also I know that I have to donate most of the books to some good library/ies,if I don’t want these to get into waste.Yet as I am not able to disciplne my eating time habits,so am I not able to disciplne my reading selections.Particularly if I have to complete my own planned writings, for which I have collected so much material and the subjects I want to write few academics have interest in writing on those subjects,especially on history of revolutionary stream of freedom movement.It is not my academic area or study,yet I find it more attractive than my own professional area,that is literature and I enjoy it too.I have lost interest in fashionable and abstract theories of academic world,whether in literature or social sciences and just wish to bring to record the hard facts/events of some aspects of freedom struggle, long neglected or put in distorted manner by vested interests.Let us see where the life leads, as I have great faith in life’s own inner mechanism of functioning despite its oddities and irrationalities.

On Assasination of Salman Taseer

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It is a most sad and disturbing day for democratic forces of Pakistan and of the world.The assassination of Salman Taseer,Governor of Punjab, for publicly supporting the poor Christian woman victim of fascist blasphemy law, a vestige of Zia ul Haq black days in Pakistan, by his security guard indicates the kind of Bhindrawala style fundamentalist forces are dictating the life of people in Pakistan…. No less scaring than Hitler or Mussolini of 30’s.It will be a prolonged arduous struggle to protect, preserve and promote democratic values in Pakistan subscribed by Iqbal and Jinnah, under such circumstances, but Pakistani people must accept this challenge and Indian, Bangladeshi and other democratic people of the world must support them in this life and death struggle.If religious fundamentalism succeeds in Pakistan, rest assured India and Bangladesh will not escape of its shadows.

Best tribute to Salman Taseer would be to scrap fascist blasphemy law in Pakistan and elsewhere in the world.

On Some recently read Books

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*Pashawar ton Sindh Tak*( From Peshawar to Sindh) Dr. Jagtar,Lokgeet Prakashan Chandiigarh,2010,ist ed.,pages 200,Price Rs. 200/

*Uth Gaye Gwandhon Yaar*( Friends have gone out from neighborhood) Harnek Singh Ghruan,Chetna Prakashan Ludhiana,Ist ed. 2010,Price Rs. 300/ pages 270

These two travelogues are of Pakistan travels by Punjabi poet Jagtar and by political activist Ghruan.Jagtar has traveled many times from 1981 to 2003 and this travelogue got published little before his death.Ghruan has also made many trips to Pakistan and he wrote many memoirs in Punjabi papers,which have been collected in book form.Jagtar did not ask anyone to write preface to his travelogue,but Ghruan has two introductions by Waryam Sandhu, who had his own travelogue also published and also by Gurbhajan Gill.Jagtar has traveled far and wide in Punjab, Sindh and Pakhtunwa and discovered many such places/temples/Gurdwaras etc. which even pakistan residents may not be that much aware of.He has detached attitude as he has lot of descriptions of places.Ghruan has written mor in emotional style. Both travelogues are interesting and useful to know that how common people want peace and friendly relations with India and have deep bonds of culture with each other.In recent times number of travelogues of Pakistan have been published by many Punjabi writers,but I read the earlier Som Anand’s memoirs translated in Punjabi and am keen to read Pran Nevilles’ ‘My sentimental journey to Lahore’

All travelogues to Pakistan prove this fact convincingly that people of two countries feel deep bonds with each other and it is political and military class which out of its vested interests in both countries which is not allowing the people of two countries to live with each other in friendship and peace.

*Muntakhib Ghazliyat*(Selected Ghazals)From Amir Khusro to Nasir kazmi, ed. Dr. Ibne Kanwal,Kitabi Duniya Delhi,ist ed.2005,pages 206, price Rs.100/

Urdu books are still cheaper.This book contains collection of 59 representative Urdu poets important ghazals, which we use to listen on radio or television or on audio/videos by famous singers.I have read these ghazals in order to practise my reading of Urdu language, but it was worth it.Though not always being sure of meanings of certain Persian or persian based words, yet I enjoyed reading the ghazals in original Urdu.

*Voices* Autobiographical novel-Afiya Rao, ist ed.2010,pages 126,published by author from Trinidad priced 90 Trinidad dollars, nearly 600 rupees.

This autobiography reminds the dalit autobiographies and women autobiographical writing in India, except that it is based on domestic violence on women in Trinidad society , particularly among African community.The depiction of this most cruel violence shocks one to the bones and it is much worse than social violence committed on blacks and dalits in society or indentured labour in these countries. A must read book!

*Parichit katha ki Ankahi kahani*(Untold story of a known fiction) a novel by madhu Bhaduri, ist ed. 2003, Rajkamal Prakashan Delhi,pagesw180, price Rs 200/

Madhu Bhaduri has already published ‘Kaalchakra’,jwar and Anadi Anant, before this fourth novel in Hindi. Kaalchakra was based upon Naxal movement in Bengal, this is based on Delhi lower middle class life taking shape in transitional phase from 70’s to 21st century, covering 1984, 1992 -3 communal situation in country and massacres and killings by stae and Khalistanis etc. and a new middle class emerging out of it. This is a sensitively written tale of one Hindu, Sikh and Muslim girl each ,making their own lives, some by the compulsions of circumstances,but Uma trying to chart her own path.This novel is more spontaneous and creative than her earlier novels.