13 stories from all 5 corners of India comprise this India – A Traveller’s Literary Companion, a well-edited anthology of stories that you give the various flavors of India. Some stories have been written in English. While the others have been translated from regional languages. There are well-known well-read authors stories. And there are relatively new writers. Each story introduces you to a small slice of India.
My favorite story was Panchlight. Which is probably the smallest. But the most powerful story of a small village and it’s overcoming of a caste bias through a young boy’s ability to be able to light a lamp. Then there is Bibhutibhushan Bandhopadhyay’s Canvasser’s story. That tells you the tale of a talent that cannot be stopped and his love for the city of Calcutta. Salman Rushdie’s story showcases the craft of writing and weaving a story with a bit of reality mixed with myths and loads of imagination. Similar qualities peep from Kunal Basu’s story of Taj Mahal’s architect.
Jayant Kaikini’s story looks at temporal relationship making a long-term impact on us. And gives a glimpse into the mind of a young boy going to a big city for the first time. Qurratulain Hyder’s story looks at a woman’s relationship with her own past which she chose for herself. Anjum Hasan’s story takes you through the mind of a woman who wants to run away and stay in her marriage at the same time. Lalithambika Antherajanam’s story is about a young couple’s journey marred by the family rituals. Mamang Dai’s story is about how the past always remains somewhere with us. And sometimes raises its head and takes us back to those days which now seem to belong to someone else.
Fakir Mohan Senapati’s story is a biography of a village pond. While Gita Hariharan takes you through the animals in a Zoo. Nazir Mansuri’s story takes Whale as a metaphor for telling the relationship between a man and a woman in a coastal village in Gujarat.
India – A Traveller’s Literary Companion is a good potpourri of Indian tales with a distinct region as a backdrop for each story. While the stories are mostly about human relationships, the backdrop makes them come alive and give them a local aroma. There is no common thread in the stories. Though but put together they form a kaleidoscope. There is no mention of any other country (barring Lahore). So you never step out of India as you read these stories. More such stories need to be told especially to a generation that knows more about the western world than their own backyards.
Read these stories that have sprouted from local soil.
Buy this book – India – A Traveller’s Literary Companion Edited by Chandrahas Choudhury at Amazon India.