This November, we hosted the BYOB Party along with The Takshashila Institution at Church Street in Bangalore. The ambience of the Institution was perfect for heated book discussions.
Apurba kicked off the BYOB Party with a book by Charles Allen called Plain Tales From The Raj: Images of British India in the 20th Century. Apurba identified with Allen’s book as the book spoke about British cantonments, the kind where she had grown up with clubs where seating arrangements were hierarchical. This oral history of the British Raj threw light on the Anglo-Indian community in India and the prejudices they faced.
Another book, Apurba picked up was Plain Tales from the Hills by Rudyard Kipling. It’s available on gutenberg.org as well. Apurba enjoyed Kipling’s observations on life in colonial times. These musings were of a time gone by with rulers who have shed their crown. One must read it keeping this in mind, says Apurba. She added as an aside that there is a park called the Kanha National Park where everything is named after Kipling. You can read more about this park where Jungle Book comes to life here.
M.N Rajeev continued with the theme of the India that remains unknown to Indians when he spoke about a book called Zorami- A Redemption Song by Malasawmi Jacob. This is the first novel ever written by a Mizo (a tribal community in North East India) writer in English. The book tells the story of Zorami the protagonist in the unfolding context of Mizo history, particularly the Mizo Uprising. So little is known about the roots of the Mizo tribe and its history (including that of the uprising in the famine) and strangely there is very little curiosity about this part of the world. The book opened up a region in Indian geography that most Indian readers confine to a single phrase in a textbook. The book is an interesting piece of what could be called faction, an intricate mixture of facts and fiction, the most ideal way to understand history. M.N. Rajeev read out an intriguing excerpt from the book.
Chapter 29: A burned-out stub
“Dinpui, Dinpui, min lo nghak rawh! Min kalsan suh! Wait for me. Don’t leave me!” Sanga mumbles.
A startled Zorami puts down the book she has been reading and gazes at her sleeping husband.
She sits up and shakes him awake. “U Sang, what is it? Who are you calling?”
He sits up and rubs his eyes. She puts a hand on his shoulder and asks, “What is troubling you?”
“A sad dream.”
“Who is Dinpuii?”
After a long silence he tells her.
Dinpuii is the girl he loved. He can’t forget her, though he has tried.
Zorami feels like she’s hurling down into a black abyss.
And then she feels nothing. No anger, no grief, no emotion at all. Only a heavy deadness. “No wonder there’s no spark of romance in our life together. He’s only a burned out stub, poor guy!” she thinks.
At last, in a flat, lifeless voice she manages to ask, “Where is she now?”
More books in Part 2.