The Unadorned

My literary blog to keep track of my creative mood swings with poems n short stories, book reviews n humorous prose, travelogues n photography, reflections n translations, both in English n Hindi.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Continuum


T H E........



Promise? God doesn't want you to have one

It's His calling to break them fine

Like a child

breaking the code of a silly game.

He becomes so happy, so very enraptured

finding you helpless, your promise unbreakable

shattered into the dust like your dear old crystal.

Ergo, you lament,

Dip, deep into the depth of penitence

Make further promise, and start loathing yourself…

And more you do them, more you invite

The unsolicited entity called god above the earth

To tease you, trouble you, and tether to his stake

and make you cry in silence for donkey's years.

But I’m sure

You'll make promises again and again

For aeons, it’s easy to desiccate the present

into the eternal recipe of hope.

Go, go, promise, and live in future

Daring the spoilsport called god

For all his banal godliness.

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Muzaffarpur // 31-7-2009

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Quick Recapitulation

Just to churn out a quick post for my blog, I think I can give an update on the book I am writing these days. It is going to have an interesting title "The Roadshow" and I think I had indicated that in one of my previous posts, maybe in February 2008. This is going to be a first person narrative, with a character that is weird and affable at the same time. The character will move from situation to situation, get enough of learning experience but would simply refuse to go by them. He would not learn from his experience, for he knows if he learns those doses of worldly wisdom, he would simply die. Believing in oneself is living; and one's instinct should always have the answer to all the problems of life. In this way, I have so far completed twenty-one short stories and, if my plan remains unchanged, I'll add another nine stories to it. That will give the book a respectable size, affording a complete reading experience or rather the value for money to the readers.

In fact I began writing this book as soon as I was done with the publication of my last English book "The Remix of Orchid" and that was way back in December 2005. But then during July 2007 I received another creative vibe: I should have a bilingual writing experience; I should write a book in Hindi too. And then I was drawn into "Virasat", the book I could finally launch in May 2009. So, my next English book "The Roadshow" remains where it was, except that I have been able to add only two or three stories to it in the meantime acting upon the rare iimpulses with abilities to deliver.

Now "Virasat" has been successfully launched. I don't have to gripe about the fact that no big-time publisher came forward to publish it. Compared to whatever "The Remix of Orchid" could do with a warm-hearted foreword of Mr Ruskin Bond and an award behind it, "Virasat" could do even better. There has been an enormous welcome from the readers. Besides, it has not put me to financial loss, like my first book of poems "In Harness" published by Writers Workshop, Kolkatta did. Even a publisher of that repute demanded money by cleverly selling a hundred copies of the book to me even before he actually published it. Now I'm an experienced hand and I know what price he took from me, whether it was the cost price or the cost-plus. Anyway, "Virasat" was left to prove itself alone on its own strength. I'm not worried about its future. Reviews will come in due course and maybe its second edition….

So, it is time I restarted in right earnest to give a final shape to my unfinished book. And actually so I have already come there, just last week while I could key in the words needed for the eponymous story. I am satisfied with the result and if I proceed this way I will be able to have the first draft ready by the end of 2009.

Before concluding this post, let me reason out why I have decided to write a whole book of thirty stories in first person. Isn't it too restricting as a writing objective? Yes, it is so. Writing in third person is lot easier for the simple reason that a third person character leaves the writer with the autonomy of an omniscient creator. But that is not the case with the first person. Here the author is very much into the character, all the time thinking and behaving like him. How can he know about what is happening outside the room he is staying at present? And about what others are thinking of him? Despite this disability, I've chosen this format. I want to get totally involved, for it is the involvement of the author with the character he creates that makes the story lively. The challenge is worth taking.

Oh yes, I have an apprehension too. Reader's appreciation of my Hindi book "Virast" has a distracting effect. Sometimes I think I should have a second book in Hindi…and even I've a couple of plots ready in my mind, rushing into my creative domain every now and then. If really they grab my hand and take me towards them, then what do I do? In that case, "The Roadshow" will again get shifted. Who knows that for sure?
A. N. Nanda


Sunday, July 05, 2009

Adiga's White Tiger--Just a Bundle of Stereotypes

In the meantime, I've been able to read just two books: (1) Jhumpa Lahiri's INTERPRETER OF MALADIES, (2) Aravind Adiga's THE WHITE TIGER. Both the books made interesting readings, but I have quite a few quibbles about the latter book. Let me try to enumerate them before I try to write something about the other book "Interpreter of Maladies"
A driver that hails from Bihar murders his employer and escapes with his money. This in itself can make no big story, for it is quite suggestive, mischevously hinting at nothing but a set of stereotypes. But then when one stereotype is matched by another, a plot is built just like that--the culprit goes on to justify his acts of crime as they constitute a special kind of revenge against the rich; the rebellion and the ambition are born out of the heap of feudal exploitation that has everything to do with Bihar social setup, its political deceit and its corruption, its familial exploitation and its societal anarchy. So, should we call it a repeat description of the "Area of Darkness" of Naipaul or of deep poverty and dehumanization of Dominique Lappierre's "The City of Joy"?

The audience is captivated before the story is told. They already know what to expect!

Really, there is no dearth of people to read and marvel at the plot and at the depth of the narratives that Aravind Adiga has served them on a platter. Day in and day out they hear this in the media about the place called "the Darkness". They are not prepared to accept any other version. The author knows that. But he is not just happy having served them the recipe they relish. He goes a step further: he just invites the international audience and invents a format for his vituperation. 'Look, I'm going to tell you a story which you've listened to times without number, but I'll tell it in a different format. And you'll like it. I bet you'll like it.' So he calls no less a person than Wen Jiabao, Premier of the People's Republic of China. An insider is telling a story and so who would not like to lend an ear? And for a Chinese Premier what would sound more interesting when an insider promising to tell the most pathetic story from the knowledge outsourcing hub, the city of Bangalore? Isn't China for its lack of English speaking workforce still lamenting after missing the outsourcing bus? Or at least trying hard to catch up and leave India behind in that lone area where India has made some marks vis-à-vis China?

So, an Indian murderer committing the crime out of his hatred for rich is promising an international communist bigwig that he is going to expose the emptiness of the Indian phenomenon prevalent in the outsourcing city of Bangalore. And finally he cheats his VVIP audience--he does not say anything about Bangalore except how he manipulates a case of hit and run by bribing the police. Huh!

Now just to make a passing reference to the Booker Prize the book has bagged--well, think of Vikas Swarup's "Q & A". Could it have come into the reckoning had it remained just "Q & A"? Perhaps not. The title "Slumdog Millionaire" made it so. As if only dogs are important in India! The audience out there likes to be reminded of a dog when it has to go through an Indian theme. So while choosing an Indian book for an award, what they needed was "Darkness", Naipaul's "The Area of Darkness".
A. N. Nanda