Let It Go
By Jasmine Asrani
I am a well-established engineer who works for a company in Mumbai. I get a decent salary and I am able to live my life in an independent way. I really love my job. My job starts at 12 noon and gets over at 4pm. I return home and have the rest of the day to myself.
One such day, I was tired. I grabbed a bunch of lays and I started listening to songs on my iPod. It was on shuffle. After a few songs were over the song “Let it go” started to play from the movie “Frozen”. This song made me sink into deep thoughts about my past. When I heard the song I was reminded of my friend Anita Khan. Anita was a very good friend of mine in tenth-grade. We used to love each other’s company. We used to study together, play together, share secrets with one another and what not. Anita and I were great fans of Demi Lovato and Justin Bieber. We used to sing their songs everyday at school. It used to be annoying to people around us but we did not care. One of our favourite tracks was “Let it go”.
Time passed and we cleared our tenth-grade exams. While Anita went to a boarding school in Bangalore I continued in an ISC school in Mumbai. We stayed in contact. We used to meet whenever she used to be back to Mumbai. We stayed in contact through Facebook too. After completing the twelfth-grade I did my degree in Mechanical engineering while Anita went to the US to do her major in mathematic. For the first one year we stayed in contact but after that those emails, Skype and Facebook chats became less. It wasn’t just from her side. I too had become preoccupied with studies and hence those contacts became less frequent. We now occasionally send emails to each other. She is now teaching mathematic in a prestigious university in America. Our relationship however, is not like it was in tenth-grade.
Sometimes in order to become successful in life we tend to give less time to ourselves and the people around us. We are so keen to make our future bright and secure that we are not able to give our dear ones time. This is a part of life and everybody in this world experiences it and we should not sit and mourn about it. Sometimes we have to just “let it go”. Though Anita and I don’t talk a lot now, we share beautiful memories, memories which make us smile. Smile like the way I’m smiling right now while listening to “let it go.”
Copyright 2014 Jasmine Asrani
Coming soon . . . Nirmala: The Mud Blossom by Fiza Pathan
There is a difference between the cry of the cock and the bleating of a young lamb. There also is a difference between the gaze of the wise owl and the stare of the fanged serpent. In this same way, I, too, am different from you.
There is a difference between the blood shed on the battlefield and the blood drawn out by the physician’s needle. There also is a difference between the hot sandy desert of Arabia and the cold bleakness of the Arctic. In this same way, I, too, am different from you.
You were born in a hospital, and your mother took you into her arms gently, as if you were a toy made of china glass. Your father washed his hands thrice before he even touched your cheeks and looked into your eyes, fantasizing about whose eyes you’d received—your father’s jet black eyes or your mother’s honey brown ones.
This is the difference between you, dear reader, and me, for your family took you home after you were born . . . whereas mine dumped me into a dustbin near the clinic where I was born, all because I was a girl.
Unwanted by all, my dreams were snuffed out on the footpath that led to the dark world of gender differentiation. In dirt did I find my solace. In the filth of the slum did I find my home.
My name is Nirmala Acharya, and I was rejected by my society because I was born a female. The pain of being unwanted has scarred my flesh as deeply as the daily beltings I received. My clothes smell of human excreta and my hair is filled with knots and lice. But on the inside, I’m just like you. The sad thing is, it doesn’t really matter what’s inside of me, because I was born all wrong on the outside. I’m just a girl.
I study, too, you know. I’ve got books and pencils and stuff, but do you know where I study? I study under the streetlights in our slum. I’m a topper in my class, but no one comes to watch me receive my awards on Prize Day. Who cares? I’m just a girl. What does it matter?
I rarely cry, for crying is useless; it only gives you a headache and a blocked nose. It won’t change anything or make anyone notice me or care—other than to get me belted to a bloody pulp by my mother—so why bother? After all, I’m just a girl.
I don’t watch movies; I’ve never seen a movie in a theatre in my whole life. However, I love reading books, especially those by the famous British author Charles Dickens. I can empathize with his characters, especially Oliver Twist and David Copperfield. The only problem is, these two characters are boys . . . and I’m a girl. But the world of books provides a perfect escape for me. I can find happiness there and relief from the mental and physical agony and abuse I must face in the real world. But why would I need to escape? I’m just a girl. I should be grateful.
I don’t have many girlfriends, except for the few naked street urchins who run around the Bandra Reclamation slum and urinate near the garbage bins. I love them, for they love me for who I am . . . smelly, dark, and filthy me. However, I’m a bit different from them, as I have a dream. I want to be a doctor and treat patients. I love science and mathematics; they are the two subjects in which I excel. But dreams are just that for me: dreams. After all, I’m just a girl.
You can read all about the exciting lives of Indian women if you just read the Mumbai newspapers. We have so much to look forward to:
- Eve Teasing
- Dowry Crises
- Bride Burnings
- Female Infanticide
- Female Foeticide
The media has sensationalized these issues, and I read all about these cases cover-to-cover under the streetlamp in the dead of night. I wonder why people like reading the gory details about such atrocities. Perhaps they don’t believe it’s true. Perhaps they don’t believe it can happen to them.
But who am I to question these things? Who am I to dream and hope for more than I’ve been given? Who am I? I’m just a girl.
Nirmala. The Mud Blossom. Crying out to your heart . . .
Coming Soon on Amazon: NIRMALA: The Mud Blossom
Author: Fiza Pathan
Edited by: Susan Hughes http://myindependenteditor.com/
Cover Art: LLPIx Photography & Design http://www.llpix.com/
Image: Sharvari Rane licensed usage http://500px.com/Sharvari_Night/sets
5.25 x 8.0
Price: $ 5.99
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Copyright 2014 Fiza Pathan
Interview with Author C.R. Barath Narayanan
Barath, here are the questions for the interview. You can answer all of them or only a few of them, as long as you are comfortable doing so. Let’s begin:
Firstly, before starting to answer your questions I got to thank you for your beautiful review. That really encouraged me to continue, improve my work and deliver quality goods to the reading public. Thank you so much.
1. What inspired you to become an Author?
In order to answer this question, I should be navigating through my consciousness to visualize my childhood. I was brought up in a religious family, constantly being exposed to religious discourses, or some elder member of the family would be reading out the “children’s” version of the great Indian epics. I really loved listening to them as a child. Whenever I would go to a temple, sit amongst the crowd of spiritual people to lend my ears for a discourse, the person who delivered it never failed to impress my infant heart. I would ask my elders about that person. They would always say, “He’s a great human being. He tells stories to people, in order to improve their lives, and shape them up.”
“He’s a great human being,” no other word is required to sow the seed which grows as a great respect for that human in a child’s heart. Those words also made me develop an ideology. “In order to become a great human being, you’ve got to tell stories to improve people’s lives.” That ideology I developed as a child was trapped into my heart like a rain drop trapped into an oyster’s shell. And the pearl got out to the public years later. I use to write short stories as a teenager, the appreciative phraseologies by people who read it did the pearl hunting job.
2. Your education qualifications show that you have majored in engineering. What made you switch to writing?
I didn’t actually “switch” to writing. If you’ve to use the word “switch,” then you should’ve asked, “Why did you switch to engineering in order to get a graduation certificate, while you’re having writing skills in you?”
I was trained to be an engineer, but I was born to be a writer. If you look into the history of my family, you’ll be able to spot so many people who were into writing in one way or the other. My grandfather (mom’s father) worked in a court, and prepared reports for the judge, the other grandfather (dad’s father) was a school teacher, my dad still has letters written by him stacked in shelves to admire his writing styles (he writes in my mother language, Tamil). My mother was a school teacher, who wrote a lots of plays having Hindu epics as base for the school she worked in. I believe that writing is something which I have in my DNA.
I peeped into creative writing syllabuses of various world class universities, as soon as I came to know that I had a desire to start writing novels. That introduced me to books written by various good writers, those books were encouraging and helpful. They really added some fuel to my burning desires to become a writer.
3. What inspired you to write the book ‘Guild Hostilities’?
There’re lots and lots of stuff to be worried about in our country. Even some educated people hate each other for stupid reasons (discriminating on the basis of caste, religion etc.) I’m just 21, and I have seen too many people doing this; you’ll be able to find a handful of men and women doing this from every Indian sect! Believe me! Either they’ll hate a particular caste, lingual group, religion or skin tone. The worst thing is, people who do this are usually in the higher ranks, and they cause lots of hindrance to people from the sect they hate to come up in life──I’ve some personal experiences too. And I find it as the peak of human stupidity. Women aren’t safe anywhere. People who’ve great talents in them aren’t able to expose themselves due to unnecessary and illogical hurdles they got to face while travelling towards their success. Also, India is gradually losing her respect in the west. People who were saying things like, “We should visit India at least once in our lifetime, the country has great tradition, architecture and history. Indians are friendly and nice people,” now, after tuning to news channels, their idea about India has changed. Now they feel like, “Don’t go to India, never ever. That ain’t safe, especially for women.”
If there’s some poisonous plant growing somewhere at your backyard, the reason for its birth would’ve been due to someone or something sowing a seed over there in the past. Even if you destroy most of the stuff in that plant, it’ll still start growing due to the support it gets from its roots. To kill that plant, you got to find the roots, and destroy it.
India is my home, Indians are my blood relatives. We have a back yard with a rich soil, where we grow fruits and vegetables, and we use them to cook food. One day, I found my blood relatives growing sick, and they started behaving like mad men. A doctor diagnosed the disease, and he said that the disease was called “idiotism,” and people who’re suffering from it will hate each other, and do stuff to kill each other. He said the reason for it was due to the influence of a poison in food. I did a bit of research in my back yard, and found a poisonous plant growing there. Some old guest who’d visited my home in the past may have planted the seed of it there, either by mistake or by will; I wasn’t interested in knowing what his desire was. At the moment, all I got to do is to kill this poisonous plant which influences the good fruits and vegetables we cook and contains poison to install idiotism to the brains of my people. I dug the ground to find its roots, hell! The roots were deeply buried! Some very strong tools are required to pluck it out and burn, the first tool I used to begin my job was a pen. The first job I did was to write Guild Hostilities.
And, I also didn’t wanna be a writer or a movie maker who sees his country burning, and still doesn’t bother to write anything to put off the fire. I’m not a kinda person who says, “I don’t give a f**k about my home being eaten up by flames. I’ve got this beautiful teenage girl with me, and I’ll have nice time running around trees and getting drenched in rain with her.”
4. What are your views about communalism in our country India?
India is a secular country. Anyone can live here, and anyone can practice any religion here. India is built to be secular in order to avoid religious and ethnic conflicts. If some Indian politicians learn the reason for the state’s secular ideology, and work respecting it, then there will be no fights or conflicts in our country. The easiest way to grab your attention is by telling that I’m gonna do something good for you. The easiest way to grab the attention of millions is by saying that I’m gonna do something good for your community. If you’re going to do something good, then you gotta convince people that something’s bad. To prove something’s bad, they make other communities bear the blame of making something in their own community go bad. And boom! Communal violence breaks out! And they gain lots of people supporting them. This’s what is going on in some parts of India.
When people start analysing politicians who work for the welfare of the nation and start supporting them, instead of supporting politicians who attract them by showing welfare ideas for their community to cheat them, that’ll be the sign for a bright future, that’ll be the signalling of the transformation India is going through to live Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s dreams.
5. Do you think that communalism in our country was fostered in the pre-independence period or the post-independence period?
90% of the Indians were fighting with each other before the introduction of the British Raj. With lots of betrayals the British accomplished what the great Chanakya thought of doing. Wise old Chanakya was the first man to have recognised accomplishment in having a united Bharat. He united half of India, that’s from the Persian boundaries to some parts of central India. His dream of having the whole of India under a single throne was accomplished by the British. 70% of the Indians were against the British before independence, weren’t fighting with each other, instead they worked as a team to drive the British out of the nation. But, 50% of the same Indians hate each other now, for no reason.
6. Did you research a lot before you wrote your book ‘Guild Hostilities’?
I did do some research for my book. I gave my readers almost all the main information gathered for writing this book. It’s them who gotta say whether it’s a lot of research or less.
7. Do you think it was correct & moral for the British to drag Indian sepoys into the First & the Second World War?
Mahatma Gandhi believed that it was good to employ Indian soldiers to fight against the Nazis. A 21 year old living in the 21st century isn’t a smarter guy than the great old Gandhi to go against his ideologies.
If someone says that they’re gonna collect a huge army to fight against Adolf Hitler at that time, naturally they’ll gain a huge support. Hitler had a huge strong army worthy enough to annex Britain and its territories. India was British’s territory. If Nazis would take control of Britain, then even India would be under the Nazis. No one will want their brothers to be burnt alive, no one will want their children to be used for brutal medical experiments, and no one will want their women to be used as comfort materials for the Nazi soldiers.
Being under the British was better than being under Hitler. Indians weren’t having any other option. You gotta support the British in the war if you don’t want Hitler in India.
8. What are your views about colonialism?
Imagine you’d missed a key in your friend’s home. What will you do? Call him, and ask him to get it for you. He searches for your key and says that he ain’t able to find it. The thing you should do now is to get to his home and search for your key along with him. It’ll be stupid to say, “Hey man, I don’t believe you. I gotta search your home thoroughly for finding my goddamn key! Let me have your home in my control till I find my key, so that I’ll have all freedom to do anything in your home. Don’t worry I take care of your family, they’ll be mine till I find the f**cking key.”
This the logic governments have now if they wish to take control over any country. Replace key by a terrorist who should be in a country’s jail, replace home by the country in which he’s hiding in.
Idiots become terrorists.
Colonialism is worse than terrorism.
Killing people is stupid and bad. Killing people to find people who kill people in order to kill people who kill people to avoid them killing more people is even more stupid and bad.
9. The Nirbhaya gang rape case of Delhi shocked the whole world. Does your character Elnaz who gets raped in your book during the carnage of the First World War have a parallel with Nirbhaya?
Exactly. I was having Nirbhaya in mind while writing about Elnaz.
10. What are your views about the atrocities committed against women in present day India?
A woman is someone who plays two great roles in her life. A mother, a wife. A wife is someone who’s to be considered as an angel gifted to a man by god, she brings light to every aspect of his life; she’s the one who’ll share everything with him mentally, spiritually and physically. She helps him to have sons and daughters who carry his name for generations. The best gift a man can ever have in his life is his wife. A mother is the true builder of the family’s future. Let the woman be working, or a housewife, or a part time worker or anything… a child will have its most intimate and close relationship with the mother rather than the father, irrespective of the gender of the child. A child’s mind will be linked directly to its mother, child thinks like how the mother thinks, irrespective to the time spent by the mother with her child. If the woman’s intelligent, sure the offspring’s gonna be intelligent.
Killing a woman is equal to a mass murder. If a woman is killed, an angel in a man’s life’s is killed. The number of great personalities she’s gonna give this country will be killed along with her. A good mother who has ability to build a strong future generation is killed. If the government is okay with hanging a terrorist, then, it should also be okay with hanging a rapist. A rape is nothing lesser than a terrorist attack which kills so many people. No need to bother about human rights. A person who gets a feeling to torture and kill a beautiful creature isn’t a human being; only beasts do that. Rapists aren’t humans, they’re beasts.
11. In your story Mohamed, Ratan & Michael rescue Elnaz while she was being raped but they took a long time to make the decision to do so. Are the people of India today also that slow to make a decision about saving a woman’s dignity over their own lives?
Yes. They’re afraid of hanging rapists. Not the people of India. But the government of India, they are afraid of hanging the rapists, because they’re afraid of violating human rights. If the duty of punishing rapists is given to the hands of the public, then each and every rapist will be stoned to death. I’m sure.
But, what’s wrong in hanging a rapist? Many countries do that, and it’s accepted there. No one’s considering a rapist as a human being. Why bother about human rights violation? If one rapist is hanged, then the other will be afraid and will not commit the crime. Strict punishment for rape works well in countries like Saudi Arabia.
There’s no time to show kindness for rapists in India, before you finish giving counselling to a rapist who’d raped a girl to change him into a normal kind man, ten other girls are raped! This is going on at an alarming rate.
If this situation continues, Indian women will be extinct, India will be extinct! All these rapists will rape and kill women, take counselling, come out of jail, rape again!
Having Indian rapists extinct is better than having the whole of India extinct!
In the story, Mohamed, Ratan and Michael weren’t properly armed to save Elnaz. They didn’t want themselves to be killed during the operation. So they took some time to make a decision. In India, we’ve a court, we’ve 1.237 billion people who welcome capital punishment for rape, and we’ve got enough ropes to hang all rapists. But why do we still take time to make a decision to kill the rapists and save our women?
12. Mohamed inspite of knowing that Elnaz was a rape victim married her. Would you have done the same if you were in Mohamed’s place?
Of course I would’ve married her. That’s why I wrote a story like that!
It’s madness if someone says that they wouldn’t marry a rape victim! Even if she’s raped, she’s gonna have the same name, same features, same individualism which were loved by people before!
Saying that I won’t marry a rape victim is like saying “Hey man! You know? That girl was bitten by a street dog once. Now she’s okay, but still, would anyone marry a girl who was bitten by a street dog?”
That sounds stupid right?
13. Do you feel that Mohamed married Elnaz out of love or out of pity?
Mohamed took care of her out of pity. He started loving her as he came to know things about her. He married her because he loved her. Mohamed never talks about the rape after saving her dignity and life. In fact he completely forgets how and where he met her. All he had in mind was, “Elnaz is my wife. She’s mine, I love her.”
He never said, “She’s raped.” He always said, “She’s wounded” or “She’s attacked.” He never used the word “Raped” while talking about her.
14. What are your views about the partition of India which took place in 1947 & the carnage it brought along with it?
Unnecessary problems which would have been faded out with time was blown up by politicians who liked to have the uppermost authority in their hands! A great speaker (he was good at speaking. but what he spoke wasn’t good) spoke in Calcutta (British India) about how Muslims will become a minority and face difficulties after India’s independence from the British, which poisoned many kind hearted Muslims. He targeted young people, younger you are, quicker you’ll be poisoned! Young innocent brothers of ours were poisoned, they rouse into anger! Started riots! The riots lasted at the peaceful Calcutta city for three days. Causalities: 5000 human beings (Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs everyone! Men, women, children!)
What the speaker was doing during the riots? Sitting comfortably in his home, listening to the All India Radio which was reporting news about the riots. This was the birth of the idea of partition! The point stressed by the speaker to poison young men was,
“Muslims and Hindus use separate water taps to fetch water in Lahore!”
I read few works written by writers (Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs) who lived in Lahore. All works will have a same thing, repeated again and again in one way or the other,
“As children we weren’t even able to identify which tap should be used by us. We happily shared the water from the same water tap with our friends from other religion. My parents didn’t cause any hindrance to me when I said that I’m gonna play with a friend who’s from other religion. I don’t know how quickly things changed. Lahore was the most peaceful city in the world. When the world was fighting against each other, citizens of Lahore loved each other and were peaceful.”
I’m a Hindu Brahmin. My grandfather didn’t have any friends from other religion. My dad’s best friend is a Muslim. I have friends form almost all religions in India! As generations pass, as we live under a same roof, as we live under a same identity (Indian) for a long time, we start loving each other. The partition was really evil and stupid! The way we people hate each other even after so many years is more stupid!
When India is nearing to be the most peaceful country in the world, I find many people who might spoil it. Now they’ve got another reason to hate, caste and linguistic difference! If those people are encouraged, then I’m sure there’ll be another partition! In a step to kill those hatred feelings from people’s hearts at the very beginning of it, I wrote this book, and I will write many books having this as my aim.
- In the novel ‘Guild hostilities’ some of the main characters lose their lives because of the communal riots during the Partition of India. What message did you wish to bring out to your readers with the death of your protagonists?
Communal violence is worthy enough only to kill people who’re your dear ones. It doesn’t do any good, and you ain’t gonna be benefitted in any way due to communal violence.
16. Your writing style apparently changes in the middle of your book, especially with concern to the dialogues, why is that so?
That’s a great observation! Thanks for making me feel good!
The main character’s life is transformed at one stage. It’s no more gonna be the same! A wrester who fights for fame and money, representing his Guru and patrons doesn’t live a same kind of a life like a warrior who represents the British Indian Army. Mohamed’s gets transformed, he turns into a warrior from being a wrestler!
To indicate that changeover, I used different writing styles!
17. You are an Indian living in a land of a number of beliefs. What philosophy do you profess?
Live, and let live!
People start getting angry with you once you start comparing your life with the lives of the other. Everyone lives a great life according to me. I have no right to peep into the life of my fellow mate, saying that I believe in something better than what he believes in. What I believe is great according to me, what he believes is great according to him. Let me live my own life in the way I want, let him live his own life in the way he wants.
18. Many young authors find it difficult to get a publisher. How was your experience as a young author in getting your work published?
As this is a self-published book I didn’t have any problem in getting a publisher. I did get an offer to publish my book traditionally, but the publisher was from a different country, and the price of the book would consequently so up. My targeted public is Indian. So I decided to self-publish this book. Notion Press is located just 15 minutes’ drive from my home. I walked into their office and got my work done. That was the most comfortable thing I’ve ever did. My next book won’t be a self-published one.
19. Who are the people you are thankful for in making your book what it is today?
Parents. I would’ve not been able to publish my work without their support.
I would like to thank all my friends and relatives who encouraged me to become a writer.
20. Which was the toughest part of your novel which you have still managed to write?
Description of Elnaz’s agony. I tried to put myself in her position first. Read what I wrote after that, wasn’t satisfied. Then, I put myself in Elnaz’s brothers position, imagining like she’s being ragged by brainless beasts in human form, and I ain’t able to do anything to save her. I did it to bring out the emotions in words, but that did affect me a lot. I wrote, I was satisfied with the work, but I wasn’t able to sleep or eat properly after doing it. I felt so bad for her. It took almost a week for me to escape from that feeling.
21. Which was the easiest part of your novel to pen down in words?
Ramaswamy Iyer’s life. His environment is almost the same as the one in which I live. He has a sister, and I don’t have one. That’s the only difference. And I like to have a sister in my life, and I penned down those feelings by creating that character. Janani R Iyer, Ramaswamy’s wife, is the dream girl I have in mind. The way I described her appearance is the definition of female beauty in my mind, the way her character is described is the way I wish my future wife to be. A kind lady with a great creativity and intelligence, she’s bold enough to say things openly, and doesn’t hide any of her wishes from her hubby. She does whatever she desires to do, and at the same time she doesn’t disappoint anyone with her act. I admire those kinda females.
Schieba Mohamed Ali Adnan. I really love that little girl, my favourite character in the novel is Schieba. I enjoyed writing about her. I imagined like having a daughter like her, sister like her, friend like her. And I enjoyed everything! All I had in my face was smiles whenever I wrote about her.
22. The concluding chapters in your book seemed to be very hurried & brief. Were you in a hurry to finish your book?
No. I’ve another story at the same stage. That’s a sequel to Guild Hostilities. I told a lot of stuff at the ending of this novel, but I felt that if I tell those things from a different perspective, then it’ll be more appealing. So I decided to write a sequel. I’ve not decided the title yet, for now, I’ve named the book as “At tent in India.” That’ll be my third book.
23. You have used a lot of modern day SMS terminology in your book. Do you think that will be accepted by many intellectual readers who may consider your work to be historical literature?
Yes they will. William Shakespeare wrote “Romeo and Juliet,” most of the words he used there, most of the grammar he used there were new to the language. He used them to make the language simple, so that his words would be easy for the reader to read as well as remember! People said that he did some service to language. He introduced new words to describe things simple.
I took him as an inspiration. I found writing “You’re” easier than “You are.” “You’re” looks more majestic than “You are.” An apostrophe and omitting an alphabet and a space adds more character to it when I write it down, it looks awesome. Sounds great in mind too if you read, “Youa.” Splendid!
Same goes with gonna, wanna, gotta and all!
24. Are you working on another book?
Yes, I’m working on my second book now. I’ve just prepared a rough draft. Now I’m on a break, at this time, I’m writing the screenplay version of Guild Hostilities.
25. Who will be the publishers of your next work?
I ain’t sure about this right now. I shouldn’t reveal anything about this right now, I guess.
26. You are a young writer new to the field. Will you take writing up as your profession or as a hobby?
You call something which you do to kill time as hobby. If god gives you some talent, then you shouldn’t waste it, it’s a sin to waste it. I don’t write to kill time, and that makes writing not my hobby.
27. Will you be continuing with your education or do wish to keep on writing?
Both. I would like to learn a lot. But, I won’t be going to a college, sitting over there and learn for a degree certificate. Whatever I learn in future, I will be learning by myself, so that I will be able to utilise them in my life. I will learn what I like to and what I want to learn. I won’t be restricting myself within the boundaries of an university’s syllabus, learning things useless to me along with little things I wished to learn within it, and not able to learn things which attract me. I did that mistake once, I won’t do it again.
28. In what genre would you place your novel in?
Drama. A war drama.
29. How do you feel being an Indian of the 21st century?
Irritated. I look back at my dad’s life, and I talk to myself, “Good old days.”
21st century India is a hell, which has got heaven buried deep inside it. We gotta unleash the heaven within it by dusting off stuff like corruption and caste based discrimination.
30. Do you think India was better off with the British ruling them or as an independent democracy?
In many cases the British did injustice (for example, The First World War. The British drained all India’s wealth, and Indians were all dying of famine.)
But, in some cases you gotta appreciate the British rule. (Today, we stay united. The British rule was the main reason. They merged various small kingdoms and called us “Indians”)
31. What are the first things that come to your mind when I say:
- Racism: An idiot’s religion.
- The Indian Middle class: Poor fellas who always get ignored.
- Rape: A person who does it should be hanged to death
- World War 3: The last thing for the humans to do in this world. I’m sure, if there’s gonna be a third world war, no one will be alive after that. Nobody will win, nobody will lose, everybody will die.
Copyright 2014 Fiza Pathan
Review Of ‘Guild Hostilities’ a novel penned by C.R.Barath Narayan
The author of this work has tried a different approach to the conventional literature about World War 1 and World War 2. Narayan though being a young author has shown remarkable writing abilities which we must respect. Narayan has shown us the two great wars of the early 20th century through the eyes of Indian sepoys which is unique and very novel idea in historical Indian literature.
The characters hold an important place in the story and one cannot function without the other. The author has managed to interconnect his characters in such a way that even though they all belong to diverse religions, they all share one common belief…the belief in humanity. Whether it is the Muslim Mohamed or the Sikh Ratan, the Christian Michael or the Hindu Ramaswamy, all these characters have one role to play and that is to teach us the glory of religious tolerance during the pre-Independence period of India. The characters are feisty and lively. They speak with no pretensions and the author at the beginning of his book has used a lot of slang which creates a different feel to the whole story especially during the life of the protagonists in the Akhara (sacred wrestling ring in India); I would like to mention here that I loved the way the author mentioned about the ‘slapping of thighs and shoulders’ which really made one feel the devotion of the wrestlers in the Akhara.
The main plot of this unique story is centred on the life and military adventures of Mohamed who is a dominating figure in the story. I was impressed that the author being a Hindu chose to create a Muslim main protagonist as his main character in the story. The story line is good, it has depth and the descriptions are few and interesting to read. There are fifty six chapters in all excluding the prologue and epilogue. The prologue is so gripping that it tempts the reader to want to know what is coming next. The chapters are short and very easy to read especially when one wants to read some light literature with a bit of intellectual work in it.
The book however is not meant for readers below the age of 13 as there is a rape scene depicted in the story. Readers above age 13 are welcome to read this historical book which portrays the stark realities of war including the hooliganism, thefts and rape. The rape of Elnaz the protagonist’s love is described with dignity and without a lot of gore to it.
The historical background has been taken into consideration by the author and he has done his research very well especially in certain chapters where he highlights that even though India had nothing to do with the First and the Second World Wars yet being a colony of the British Empire we were forced to take part in both these wars. The main characters in the story battle against the allies of the German’s and these encounters are described very well by the author.
The latter few chapters are very brief which ends the story very abruptly which maybe shows that the author wishes to write a sequel to this work of his? The dialogues become less coarse as the story proceeds and therefore after that it becomes easier to read.
Morals and virtues are the building blocks of this book penned by Narayan along with a sense of duty to one’s soul rather than to one’s self. This we clearly see when Elnaz is being raped after the carnage of the First World War and Mohamed without a loaded rifle, with his comrades tries to save her despite all the dangers. Some of the values one can gain from reading this novel are:
- Respect for ones elders
- Respect for ones Guru (teacher)
- Respect for the dignity of a woman
- Upholding the virtue of integrity
- Upholding the virtue of compassion
- Upholding the virtue of kindness
- Upholding the value of true friendship which sees no caste, religion, race, gender, region etc.
Lastly, I would like to say that I hope Narayan continues to improve upon his work and writes more books in the future. I will end with a quote from his book:
“You’re now fighting a war against your enemy. You’re conquering his fort by fighting hard. Look at the sweat rolling down your body; it’s the blood of your enemy. Celebrate victory for each drop of sweat you let of your body.”
Copyright 2014 Fiza Pathan
Why Me by Shantanu Seth
The momentary silence was broken. The air was filled with shrieks and cry of a young boy in the desert. There was nobody to listen to what he wanted to say. All alone the boy looked up at the sky screaming towards the heaven, in a choked voice asking ‘why’?? Besides him lay his dead father, who died protecting him from the war which they didn’t want to be a part of, having already lost his mother in a bomb blast. All that the boy could do was shout as loud as possible taking out all his frustration on losing his precious father saying “why me”??
Today stars like George Clooney, Selena Gomez, Lindsay Lohan, etc., are quite famous and the world is always aware about their doings───what they do, all gossip. If Selena Gomez breaks up with Justin Bieber, the news goes viral and within minutes the entire world is aware of their breakup via Facebook or television or any other medium. What do these celebrities have that their lives are so important and so much talked about? Have you ever wondered about the soldiers guarding your country? Who are they or where they come from?
The plain answer would be no why──because they are not good looking, famous or rich? What is that they lack? What is it about them that their lives are never discussed? The hardship they go through to make sure we all have a peaceful sleep, while they are exposed to dangers from all the corners of the world. Don’t they have a family to live for? So should not importance be given to them?
Let us talk about the affairs in our own world. When we have problems in our lives we often wonder why we have problems or what we can do to face them. Ever wondered the same for those people stuck in Ghaza or Palestine? The story above about a boy losing his father is devastating. Think how you would feel if you lost the person who raised you? After all what had the boy done, to lose his father? If I were to ask our general public about how many people are aware of current affairs in Israel, the number would be very few!!! But if I were to ask the same public about football or any sports for that matter or games or anything else I would get many answers. Now why does this happen? Why are the people of our country not more aware of current affairs? An argument can be put forward saying we need not be aware about all happenings. I would agree, but the percentage of people knowing the entire fight between Israel and Palestine would be very small.
Okay let’s forget about our people not being aware of this entire situation.What about our government? Four Indians captured by ISIS and an entire family in Libya abducted! Why have those Indians not been brought back home? Our country cannot provide employment to our own people, so they go out in search of work, so who is to be blamed?
Getting back to the topic “why me”, we often use this phrase when we are in some sort of trouble, problem and often condemn ourselves that we are the ones to always face problems. Now have you ever wondered what the people stuck in Israel and Palestine are going through? They face death every day; it’s like death is roaming around them picking an individual. The motive for these people stuck would be to survive each day rather each second of their lives. It’s a fact──one child in Ghaza, one of the hotspots of the current war, dies every hour. Such an astonishing fact and the total death till now are more than 2500 and still counting. So like the boy who lost his father as narrated initially by me, would you want to say ” why me ” when you face a problem which is nothing when compared to the crisis faced by the people stuck in Israel or held hostage by ISIS.
The other shameful thing is what contribution has my country made to initiate peace between the two hostile groups? Nothing! Shocking, because since our country believes in peaceful settlement should we not try to broker peace? Our politicians are only talkers; all they want is to win elections and then loot the people of their money. Why has not our government initiated some sort of help to the people out there or to calm things down between the two hostile groups? There are militant groups like ISIS which have captured woman and have ordered genital mutation which means the removal of their genitals. It is said up to 4 million women could be affected by this kind of atrocities subjected on them.
You might ask what can we do for these people stuck in the war? Simple thing is to ask the government to take action and rescue these people or to contribute so that the money can be used to buy food for them. Just compare your life with theirs. They have to live in constant fear of losing their lives; that amount of fear is enough to drive anybody mad. Secondly they have fear of losing their family members. Many families have been shattered, innocent blood spilt. When we sit down at night to have our meal with our family, we are lucky enough because for those people it’s not sure whether they will either get to eat food or if they do, will they lose their family members. In a way life is hellish for them in comparison with our lives which seem heavenly to them. So whose problem is greater, their or ours? It’s not the phrase “why me” I am against. It’s the attitude towards the problem. It’s that feeling of helplessness and being able to do nothing despite living in the modern advanced era.
A fraction of you will argue why should we care when our country is not going through turmoil? We humans have this negative attitude that we don’t care about a problem until we face it ourselves. Imagine for a moment that you are living in Israel, where bombs are being dropped every day, bullets being fired. Its noise is enough to give you chills if you were to face it. Think days passing without you eating food, not being able to sleep on proper beds, not being able to wear fancy clothes or enjoying time with family but rather leading a very cold life, full of fear and wondering what have you done to deserve such kind of punishment or cursing yourself ” why me.” It might be difficult for you to imagine it now, god forbid but someday if you were to face the same situation then only will you realise what luxury you really live in.
What I am trying to imply is that we should face our problem without cribbing and pray for those people, because it does not hurt to pray, a minute each day for the well being of those people stuck in war or the soldiers fighting the war. It won’t cost you to pray for someone. People spend much of their time wasting it away on frivolous things, but a minute’s prayer will help you save some lives. If possible try to gather funds to help those people stuck in the war, and hope that this current war will be over and that different government bodies all over the world will unite to put an end to this war. In the end let’s pray for the people of this world, in hopes that this world will become a better place tomorrow.
Copyright 2014 Shantanu Seth
Image courtesy: http://truthfrequencyradio.com/genocide-in-gaza-chris-everard-max-igan-john-waterman/gaza_war-child/
The Red Sunrise
It is a red sunrise that speaks of its faults to me,
All day my thoughts seep into its blood like eyes──
the vision of the sun drawn to a close.
Red is the sun’s rays as it clothes me in its scorching embrace,
The blackness of the dying star kills my very soul──the aura of the fading glow so crimson.
I was wrong at that time when I paused to drink the red wine of this ecstasy,
I was demented, but now I’m fine & just one thing I remember──
in the red speckles of this red robed fire flare.
King of my blood red heart & serpent of my kingdom beneath a setting moon,
The holler is the sound of pain & the hour is dawn──the air is turning the dust of Adam’s dark force to a taint of simple red.
This is the last sunrise of the geoid that twirls itself around my flaming eyes so bloody,
The red is hope & yet so untimely──join in the fiasco of these lines imprinted in our last day break.
The sun of Ra is dying & the oceans have sunk our stone edifices back to the core,
Yet I live on one forgotten sea shore with a bleeding eye──counting days in the darkness of the cosmic night.
Copyright 2014 Fiza Pathan
His very sight irritated me. How I despised his presence in the classroom! I still remember the day we were introduced to each other by a common friend. We greeted each other, shook hands and inquired of each other’s educational background. As we spoke, I could feel his eyes grow cold. I did not comprehend that. I could see some kind of an aversion in his eyes for me which troubled me. I felt there was something terribly wrong with my appearance, which forced me to check my clothes in case if there was something wrong with it. I do not remember us talking ever after that. Over the few months that we spent in college, I perceived him as being a typical male chauvinist. Calling him so was maybe an act of ego protection.
In spite of my hatred for him, it may be a terrible mistake on my part to hide some facts about him. Though he was a woman hater, there was something in him that made every girl in the campus fall for him. I never found anything so different and attractive in him, average looks, average personality. There was nothing special in him except for that he had clean shoes. Yes, he did have clean shoes, something that almost no boy in the college had and so I couldn’t help notice those clean pair of shoes that protected his feet. His clothes were simple yet trendy and clean. OK, I maintain that I wasn’t interested in him. I evaluated men on the basis of their shoes and fingernails. Dirty nails meant dirty habits. His overall appearance did tell me that he was from a well to do background. His language was highly refined and he kept away from the popular slang.
Over the year, many such incidents took place which increased the intensity of my hatred towards him. He too despised me as much as I. There was never a day when he did not try putting me down and that means even if it was scoring a point more than me. He just could not agree with a single view of mine. I found him petulant. His ideologies never matched with mine, his reasons asinine. He was heartless and was partly responsible for making me a feminist. He was egoistic and forced me to think of him of having some kind of insecurity about some unknown fact.
It was obvious that our fellow classmates did notice this mutual and honest hatred that we shared. Both of us were academically good; great at debates. We were a dream team which was never going to turn into a reality, thanks to our ‘love’ for each other. Pitted against each other, we could convert a stage into a battlefield. All my girlfriends forced me to make peace with him as they felt that I was a hindrance for them being his friends. They found it difficult to choose their attraction to him over their loyalty towards me. They talk of it till this day.
I kept nurturing the fire in me and worked hard to score better than him at the final examination which I did. I got to know from other class fellows of how furious he was at me having scored more than him. This gave me a sense of victory. His irritation made me happy. On the last day of college, at our farewell party, I vowed never to meet him again. I still remember the message we sent to each other through some kind of invisible connect, “I hope I will not see you again.”
Today after nine years, on the anniversary of our first meeting, I am his wife. Yes, I am his wife. In front of the Lord, at the altar, in front of about five hundred guests, we got married. It is over a year since we got married. How? I do not know. Why? I am still searching for that answer. It wasn’t a love marriage nor was it an arranged one. I do not know if our marriage has the qualification to be able to suit any conventional marriage category. Our parents were happy. Our class fellows visibly confused. I still remember the message that we exchanged on the day of our farewell party, “I hope I will not see you again.”
We live in Mumbai in our little flat. We work for the same company but in different departments. We spent the initial few months of our marriage juggling between Delhi where I was posted initially and Mumbai before I arranged for a transfer to Mumbai. Over the past one year, I must say, he has broken the image that I had of him. He had changed over the years and had turned out to be a great husband. He never made a face at me for working into the late hours of the night. Instead he cooked meals when I got late. He helped me complete all the household chores that were postponed until the weekend and has proved to be a rather unconventional husband.
He was now able to prove my male chauvinist accusation wrong. I still do not know why he was the way he was with me in college. There are some things that I still do not know of him and some things that he does not know about me. It is a wait to know some more about each other, a wait to be able to be termed life partners in the true sense. As of now every passing day explains a newer dimension of us. It is more like exploring us while maintaining him in him and me in me. Neither of us compromising on any matter but understanding each other’s perspective and respecting it too. I just want the answers to my questions. I hope every new chapter in our lives leave a clue for me to reach my answers.
Copyright 2014 Elsa Thomas
Image courtesy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burrowing_owl#mediaviewer/File:Burrowing_Owl_4354.jpg