The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Hidden histories
Rumina Sethi

The Partitions of Memory: The Afterlife of the Division of India.
Edited by Suvir Kaul. Permanent Black,
New Delhi. Pages 301.

ITH the winning of Independence in 1947 came the devastating experience of Partition. The many difficulties bound up with the problematic history and politics of the Hindu and the Muslim communities were finally ‘resolved’ in the vivisection of Punjab and Bengal, where the Muslims were in a majority, to fashion West and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).

“I cannot pay you back except in words”
Suresh Kohli

Typed With One Finger: New and Selected Poems:
by Dom Moraes: Yeti Books, Calicut. Pages 211. Rs 250.

HESE lines from the title poem of Dom Moraes' seventh collection, which comes after Collected Poems 1957-1987 and the almost unheard of sixth collection In Cinnamon Shade, in a strange way reveal the tone and temper of his new exposition. He has perfected the art, no doubt, of carving out words and images, metaphors and similes, the implicit and the explicit, motifs and expressions—pounding the keyboard of a portable Hermes typewriter with just one finger—that have now stood out for over five decades for their distinctive style.

Serving up contemporary flavour
Harish Dhillon

Best Indian Short Stories (Volume II)
edited by Khushwant Singh. HarperCollins, New Delhi.
Pages 272, Rs 295.

HUSHWANT SINGH has done it again—given us an eminently readable book, this one in the role of an editor. As I read each story I did so with a growing sense of wonder and joy, wonder at the richness that lay between the covers of this book and joy that I had been provided with the opportunity to share this.

A larger-than-life filmmaker
Devinder Bir Kaur

Raj Kapoor — The Great Showman
by Lata Khubchandani. Rupa, New Delhi. Pages 87, Rs 95.
Madhubala — Masti & Magic
by Alpana Chowdhury. Rupa, New Delhi. Pages 72, Rs 195.

ULL of fascinating stories and facts and written in an easy, story-telling style, these biographies of Raj Kapoor and Madhubala make personalities and their times come alive for the reader. Raj Kapoor, the Indian Showman, was well known even abroad.


Portraying Mumbai’s gay underbelly
Aradhika Sekhon

The Boyfriend
by R. Raja Rao, Penguin Books, New Delhi. Pages 232, Rs 250.

ROBABLY novels have been written about the 'gay underbelly' of Mumbai and certainly many magazines are devoting reams to the "gay issue". However, seldom has one come across an author who deals with these concerns with such "gay abandon", air of casualness, dry humour and such ironical irreverence. For R. Raja Rao, it appears, homosexuality is not an "issue" or a "concern" but merely a fact of life that he is living through.

Dr Spock to the rescue of anxious parents
Deepika Gurdev

Dr Spock’s Baby & Child Care
by Benjamin Spock & Steven J. Parker. Pocket Books, New York. 1999. 7th Edition Fully Revised and Expanded for the New Century. Pages 939. US $18.

HE way one reacts to this book that is widely considered a classic on childcare, depend entirely on one’s perspective on life. For instance, while in some cultures, letting a child sleep in the same room as his or her parents is frowned upon, in other cultures this practice is considered normal and acceptable. Dr Spock advocates, among a host of other things, nursing schedules based on a child’s demands as opposed to a regimen that goes strictly by the clock.

Dynamics of dealing with global terror
Rakesh Datta

Dealing with Global Terrorism: The Way Forward
by Maj Gen Vinod Saighal, Sterling, New Delhi, 2003. Pages 398

HATEVER be its other manifestations, global terror after 9/11 has become synonymous with Islamic jehad. Had the ISI-Al-Qaida network not targeted the USA and had they decided instead to restrict their activities to Europe, Russia, the subcontinent or elsewhere, it is likely that they would have done considerable damage worldwide with the USA remaining a mere spectator.

Shackled by lack of choices
Manisha Gangahar

Collected stories, Volume I
by Shashi Deshpande Penguin Books, New Delhi. Pages 217, Rs 250.

TORIES carry the ideologies of the writer along with them. It is impossible for a writer to remain unaffected by the politics of life. Although Shashi Deshpande refuses to be categorised into any of the ‘isms’ of literary and cultural theories, one cannot overlook the fact that she "makes gender central to her writings" and "stories in this collection give a perception on women in their complex and real relationships".

Buddhist stories that link many eras
Arun Gaur

Jatakamala: Stories from the Buddha’s Previous Births Translated from the Sanskrit
by A.N.D. Haksar. HarperCollins, India. Pages 301, Rs 295.

OING through the stories of Jatakamala in different translations is a fascinating experience. Not necessarily because they would appear to be perfect art to a modern reader. Far from it, a modern reader of Gorky, Chekhov, or Maupassant might have severe reservations about the way stories are told in the present collection.

Short Takes
Rich material on human rights
Jaswant Singh

Journal of the National Human Rights Commission (Vol I)
edited by P.C. Sen, Secretary General, NHRC. Pages 275.
 Price not mentioned.

HIS inaugural issue of the annual journal of the National Human Rights Commission contains writings of eminent persons in the field of human rights on issues that strain people’s minds today. Justice J.S. Verma, a former Chief Justice of India and chairperson of the NHRC, in a brief preface hopes that the journal will promote the cause of human dignity and will receive the support and cooperation of legal scholars in India and abroad.