Capturing the beauty of hills

"LasTING Bond with the hills” (Spectrum, Sept 2) by Rajnish Wattas made good reading. Bond is perhaps the only writer who can even make a raindrop look interesting and leave the reader spellbound with his inimitable description of rain drizzling down a mountainside. He captures the fragile beauty of hills with an uncanny lyrical precision. A romantic at heart, Bond’s ability to write effortlessly on flowers, rhododendrons, melons and moonbeams, has transformed the face of nature writing in India.

Ruskin Bond’s works are rich in metaphor, intensity and exude maturity of perspective. Suffused with the quiet charm of hills, his stories reveal the small yet fateful moments that transform ordinary lives.

Idolised by adults and children alike, Ruskin Bond’s indifference to wealth and fame comes across as an exception in today’s world of high-powered literary agents and media hype. Bond, the master storyteller will always be remembered as much as Bond, the romantic.

GAURAV JULKA, Ferozepore


A place for Urdu

A place for Urdu” by Aparna Srivastava Reddy (Spectrum, Aug 26) was interesting. Urdu is a powerful medium of expression. Its poetry is sweet and the prose too touches the aesthetic chords of the heart.

Urdu is not a language of separatists. Indians love and savour the language. One may revere Sanskrit and respect Hindi, but one cannot help being romantic about Urdu.

The lovers of Urdu should start schools for its teaching in every mohalla. Urdu should be learnt not only for enjoying its semantics but also to use it in tandem with Hindi and other languages to serve the country.

Iqbal’s Urdu poem, Tarana-e-Hindi, was as popular as Vande Mataram of Bankim Chandra Chatterjee. Urdu lovers should not try to seek any help from the government but make every effort for the renaissance of the language on their own.



The article reminded me of my schooldays in the 1940s. Our Urdu teachers had a commendable command over the language, most of them were poets themselves. Mian Karam Singh, our senior in school started writing poems under the guidance of our talented teacher late Karam Chand “Aish” and later selected his takhalus as “Jalarvi”. During the painful Partition, when the local Muslims decided to migrate to Pakistan, Jalarvi wrote a passionate poem starting with:

Tumhari dosati pe naaz tha, phir bhi hamein chhod chale

Ja-e-janam chhod chale saare rishte tod chale.

This brought tears to every one’s eyes and the poet led them to Nadaun to bid farewell.

Urdu is the only language that has united us in every sphere of life. The police and the revenue department still use Urdu words while writing in Hindi. Even in Parliament, Urdu-speaking people have greater clarity while debating than those speaking in Hindi.Making Urdu a national language, alongside Hindi, should be considered. n


Give relief to farmers

This refers to “Give quick relief to farmers in distress” by Pushpa Girimaji (Spectrum, Sept 2) the writer has dwelt at length on the reasons for the misaery caused to farmers. They are being cheated in the sale of seeds and insecticides which are very costly. The tragedy is that those meant to nab the culprits are in league with them, thus causing losses of hundreds of crores to the poor farmers every year. In the northern states, farmers are normally unaware about their rights to go to the consumer’s courts to get the compensation of such losses. Even if they do go, it takes 10-15 years to get the compensation. When a farmer commits suicide the government gives his family a financial grant of Rs 2-5 lakh. Why cannot such help be given before his death to such farmers? They are under the debt of arhtias and banias who charge them 30-36 per cent rate of interest. The farmers are unable to return the loan even if no interest is charged on it. The failure of crops is another setback. To help the farmers, the government must introduce a crop insurance scheme and issue orders that no farmer will be arrested in the event of non-repayment of loan. These steps might prevent suicides by the farmers.


Partition victims

This refers to Prabhjot Parmar’s write-up “Train of history” (Spectrum, Aug 5). Gandhiji said that Pakistan would come into being on his dead body. However, its creation took the lives of a million of people — Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims — all of who were ruthlessly killed. Two crores were uprooted.

Thousands of women and girls were abducted and raped. Barbarity supplanted humanity. What occurred in the wake of the Partition was perhaps among the goriest of gory happenings that has ever occurred in the world. Sahir Ludhianvi said: Zameen ney khoon ugla aasmaan ney aag barsaai / Jab insaanon key dil badley to insaanon pe kya guzri.

The very thought of the trauma we had to undergo while leaving our village in Pakistan when a mammoth mob of marauders raided it around midnight and the hardships we had to face in reaching India even now sends shivers down my spine.

More than a decade ago, I talked to some very old persons in Pakistan about the agonies of the Partition victims. Tears streamed from their eyes and they looked back nostalgically to the days they spent in their native villages in India. An extremely angry man, who had lost 12 members of his family en route Ambala used very unpleasant language against the founder of Pakistan. I endorse Kuldip Nayar’s suggestion that the Parliaments of India and Pakistan should pass a resolution to express regret over what happened so as to bury that part of the past.


Paul Coelho

In ‘This Above All’ (Saturday Extra, August 25) Khushwant Singh, while speaking of his disinclination “to read bestsellers or books touted to have earned their authors advance royalties of millions of dollars or pounds”, has found the plot of Paulo Coelho’s latest novel, The Witch of Portobello “convoluted”. Paulo Coelho (born 1947), a Brazilian novelist, is one of the most widely read novelists in the world today. He is, by common consent, a storyteller with the power to inspire nations, and to change people’s lives. Coelho’s The Alchemist (1988) has already achieved the status of a modern classic, and has been translated into 56 languages and has sold more than 43 million copies worldwide, for it has a “life-enhancing impact on millions of people”. The hero of the story, Santiago, is a shepherd boy, who, apart from tending to his herd, spends his time reading books, and when he feels sleepy or tired, he uses the book as “a pillow”. He now wants to read thicker books, for “they lasted longer and made more comfortable pillows”.

Coelho’s writing is poetic and natural. The Alchemist teaches us about listening to our hearts and learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path and, above all, following our dreams.


Akbar Illahabadi

IN his article, ‘Akbar Ilahabadi’(Saturday Extra, Aug 25), Khushwant Singh has highlighted a couple of interesting aspects of the poet Syed Akbar Hussain Ilahabadi. He was born at Barah, Allahabad, on November 16, 1846. He received his education in a madrasa and learned English on his own. He was employed as a clerk in a court and later passed the law exam. He retired as a sessions judge from Allahabad High Court and was honoured with the title ‘Khan Bahadur’ by the British.

Akbar was disturbed by the youth rushing to copy western culture. Therefore, he used his poetic potential to critically examine western culture and convince people not to forget their own culture. He was perhaps the first poet to employ humour, satire and sarcasm to awaken the masses.

Akbar had full mastery over Urdu and used simple language effectively. He also used English words in poetry with interesting results. He had no critics to appease and no friends to please. He had no fear in declaring the truth. See this couplet: Raqueebon ne rapat likhwaai hai ja ja ke thaane mein, ke Akbar naam leta hai khuda ka is zamaane mein. At another place he says:

Yeh bara aib mujh mein hai Akbar,

Dil me jo aaye, keh guzarta hun.

His satire is unmatched in the annals of Urdu poetry. No other poet comes near him in this aspect.

Khair khwah aaj zamaane mein kahan milte hain,

Hai yahi laakh ghaneemat koi bad khwah na ho.

(It is impossible to find well-wishers these days. Rather it is a great blessing if there are no evil-wishers for us). He was also a great humorist. He wrote a letter to Munshi Nissar Hussain of Lucknow requesting him to send some mangoes. See his verse, couched in chaste humour:

Naama koi na yaar ka paigham bhejiye, Is fasl mein jo bhejiye bas aam bhejiye, Aaise zaroor hon ke unhein rakh ke kha sakoon, Pukhta agar hon bees, to das khaam bhejiye, Ma’loom hi hai aap ko bandey ka address, Seedhey ala’bad mere naam bhejiye, Aaisa na ho ke aap kahen jawaab mein, Ta’meel hogi pehle magar daam bhejiye.




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