Ayush spoke about Foxy Aesop by Suniti Namjoshi published by Zubaan, a feminist publishing house. The story playfully creates a dialogue between Aesop and a feminist narrator who disagrees with him on many counts. Ayush read out a beautiful passage from the book:
“A few weeks ago when I was at the Temple of Hera I heard an old woman beseeching the goddess. Noisy there.Other worshippers were imploring the goddess for whatever they wanted – children, no more children, money, even more money and so forth, There were street sellers selling fast food, flowers, bribes for the goddess—offerings, whatever the supplicants thought would work. Somehow the cries of the old woman got through to Hera. Perhaps the old woman had a penetrating voice? Who knows? She did not look particularly meritorious.
“Well what do you want?”inquired Hera. “Health. Wealth. Beauty? Whatever it is I will give you a little as you have been going on at me for a long time. “
“O glorious goddess Hera,”the old woman said plopping on her knees, “What I would like is a measure of luck.”
“Granted,” said the goddess, “From henceforth, whenever you go outdoors,if it is raining, it will stop raining.”
“I am grateful,” replied the old woman. “But please couldn’t I be a little luckier than that?”
The old woman was pushing her luck but the goddess was patient.
Every time you go out, you’ll find a few coppers lying on the ground,’ the goddess told her.
“Oh thank you,” cried the woman. ‘And might I have a tiny bit more of luck please?
‘Now what is it?” asked the goddess. She sounded exasperated.
Aesop pauses and looks at me. I nearly intervened to warn the stupid woman , but then thought better of it.
I frown at Aesop for calling the woman ‘stupid’.
What I mean is irritating goddessesis not a good idea,” Aesop explains. He continues, “Anywaythe old woman persisted, ‘Could the coppers turn out to be gold please?’
Oh you are a greedy woman!” scolded Hera . ‘Just for that I’m taking away the luck I’ve given you. Instead, when you step out, it will always rain.’
Sorry great goddess, said the old woman humbly and disappeared into the crowd. But I’ve heard since that she has done well for herself. She’s much in demand as a rainmaker.”
Suniti Namjoshi has worked in the capacity of officer in the Indian Administrative Service and has also held several academic posts in India and abroad. You can learn more about her feminist perspective here.
Ayush also spoke about the multi-layered book If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino. The story talks about the search for the complete story. The reader’s search for the story leads to a number of narratives- a detective adventure, a romance, a satire, an erotic story, a diary and a quest.
Another book that was discussed during the BYOB Party was The Art of the Good Life by Rolf Dobelli, a book of 52 shortcuts for better decision-making skills. This book seems to be a non-fiction favorite and has made the rounds several times.
More books in Part 7.