Weaving a powerful magic

In “Comic genius” (Spectrum, Feb 13), R.C. Rajamani has rightly observed that “Wodehouse (1881-1975) fans abound in the entire English-speaking world.” In a long career of seven decades, starting with a series of the Jeeves stories and Uneasy Money (1917), till his death at 94, P.G. Wodehouse weaved such a powerful magic that even three decades after his death, his books continue to sell like hot cakes, indicative of his literary genius and undiminished popularity.

While Jules Renard in Pil de Carotte described how horrible school days were, Charles Dickens in Nicholas Nickleby (1838-39) made Dotheboys Hall a legendary place of infant woe, where Wackford Squeers starved and maltreated 40 urchins under pretence of education. Wodehouse, on the contrary, realised that like Shakespeare’s palaces and Joseph Conrad’s ships, a school was a little place, a world of its own, with its own cast of characters: a god-like headmaster, other teachers, splendid or comical, the illustrious alumni, the good boys, the bad boys, the exotics and the eccentrics. He, a shrewd observer, believed that what people like reading about is themselves.

Half a century ago, when science fiction and Harry Potter movies did not claim the attention of dignified adults, it was Wodehouse, who with Jeeves stories (from 1911 onwards) set his own school stories in Dulwich, in a rural boarding school. Wodehouse had that valuable gift of story-telling full of humour.



In Adventures of Sally he writes “Chumps always makes the best husbands. When you marry, Sally, grab a chump. Tap his forehead first, and if it rings solid don’t hesitate. All the unhappy marriages come from the husbands having brains.” Here, is another example of humour from the same book: “What good are brains to a man? They only unsettle him.” Evelyn Waugh had aptly remarked: “What can one say about Wodehouse? He exhausts superlatives.”

Deepak Tandon, Panchkula

Ties that bind, and hurt

In “Ties that bind, and hurt”, (Saturday Extra, March 12) Reeta Sharma tried to bring out the agony of the Hindu population that was brutally uprooted from Mirpur, now a part of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.

Why was every successive Government in the country after Independence remained insensitive to the plight of the brutally uprooted 4,600 persons from Mirpur after its invasion by Pakistan on November 5, 1947. It is a matter of commonsense that no criteria of income is imposed by Government while granting compensation or ex gratia to the refugees requiring rehabilitation. If so, then why was a rider of income imposed in case of uprooted persons from Mirpur? Why did the Government, whether Central or for that of J&K, fail to give adequate compensation commensurate with the sufferings undergone by these displaced persons. The Government has prima-facie failed to discharge its obligatory functions enjoined on a sovereign state. Why are our high courts or the Supreme Court not taking cognisance of what is happening with these displaced persons?

As a citizen of this country, I am very clear that it would be quite appropriate if the Punjab and Haryana High Court takes cognisance of this issue of grant of compensation to these helpless persons by treating this write-up as a writ petition.

S.P. BHARDWAJ, Chandigarh

Fusion or flirtation

In “Keepers of traditions”, (Spectrum, March 6) Aditi Tandon’s surmise that inheritors of glorious traditions (progeny/disciples of celebrated musicians of Indian classical music) manage to cast themselves afresh (by) offering to the world another dimension of the art their ancestors mastered is not beyond reproach.

As it happens, this ‘another dimension’ does not necessarily conform to the traditions of Indian music. In a bid to gain instant international recognition, these maestros in the making resort to fusion music which in layman’s language is playing duet with a musician of another country performing his own native music.

Fusion, as defined by the Oxford dictionary, is the process of fusing, melting, blending of two different things into one. In fusion music, the resultant composition no longer retains the essence of Indian music. At best, it can be described as a pleasant hotch potch. That’s why the sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan called fusion music as flirtation music.

I wonder if Shujaat Khan’s late father, the sitar maestro Ustad Vilayat Khan, a staunch puritan, would have given his assent on Shujaat Khan’s album Rain prepared in collaboration with his Iranian counterpart. He might have felt happy on his getting a Grammy nomination for it, but his ancestors Ustad Inayat Khan and Imdad Khan must be turning in their graves.

V.K. Rangra, Delhi

Must for Muslim ladies

In his write-up “One man’s belief is another’s shackle” (Saturday Extra, March 5), Khushwant Singh has remarked that if hijaab (veil) is to be obligatory Muslim women will never equal men.

If Muslims observe religious tenets and rules of conduct in accordance with the teachings of the Koran, verse 32 of Soorah Al-Noor enjoins the believing women to restrain their eyes, guard their private parts and draw their scarfs over their bosoms and display not their beauty except to their husbands or fathers or fathers-in-law, etc. verse 60 of Soorah Al-Ahzaab says, inter alia, “O’ Prophet tell your wives and daughters and the wives of the believers to draw the portions of their outer garments from their heads over their bosoms...”

Some years ago, a maulvi told me that once the Prophet saw that his wife, Aisha, had not observed purdah from a stranger. On being questioned by him, she said that he was blind. “But you are not sightless”, he remarked. This shows that hijaab is a must for Muslim ladies.

I am reminded of Akbar Allahabadi’s quatrain on purdah: Be-parda kal jo aa’een nazar chand beebiyaan/ Akbar zameen mein ghairat-e-qaumi sey gad gaya/Poochha jo un sey aap ka parda voh kya hua/ Kaihney lageen ke aql pe mardon ke pad gaya.


Good shot

The success story of Chandro and Parkashi Tomar (Spectrum, March 6) was an eye opener. It is never too late to learn if one has the determination. These sisters in their seventies have not only defied age but also overcome the hesitation by doing something unusual with stereo-typed roles assigned to women in our society. These traditional women have proved what Ernest Hemingway, through his protagonist Santiago in The Old Man and the Sea (1952) puts forth, “Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky but I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready.”

One is impressed by the Devrani-Jethani duo from Bhagpat village in their ghaghra odhni.



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