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Contemporary Indian short stories v.II

Bhabani Bhattacharya (ed.)

Bhattacharya, Bhabani (ed.); Sahitya Akademi (publ);

Contemporary Indian short stories v.II

Sahitya Akademi, 2006, 232 pages  [gbook]

ISBN 8126015888, 9788126015887

topics: |  fiction-short | india | translation | | anthology

Twenty-two short stories from fourteen languages.  The idea that these
stories attempt to promote is that 

	Indian literature is one though written in many languages -- its
	oneness consisting not of a stale uniformity but of a rich variety.

I am not very sure that such a premise can hold where one person cannot read the literature of another, but still, such anthologies do generate some awareness at least of the works of the other.

Like the languages in the Indian currency note, they are sorted by the English alphabet:

	Assamese :  1
	Bengali  :  2
	English  :  2
	Gujarati :  2
	Hindi    :  3
	Kashmiri :  1
	Kannada  :  1
	Malayalam:  2
	Marathi :   1
	Oriya   :   1
	Punjabi :   2
	Sindhi  :   1
	Tamil   :   1
	Telugu  :   1
	Urdu    :   1

Boatman Tarini : Tarashankar Banerjee

Tarini the boatman is competent at his work, but the river Mayurakshi is 

	The Mayurakshi is famous for its strong current. For seven or eight
	months in the year the river is a desert -- sands stretching from
	shore to shore.  But when the rains come, she is terrible, demoniac.
	She races along, four to five miles wide, her deep grey water
	swamping everything within reach. Once in a while there is a big
	flood, when the water, six to seven cubits deep, rushes into the
	villages nearby and washes away homes and granaries and all else in
	its way. This does not happen very often though. The last time was
	about twenty years ago.

Nowadays it is dry.  There hasn't been rain for months.  

	Famine had lain concealed under the earth, and now that the ground
	was cracking under the fierce sun, it showed its gruesome face.

One by one the villagers leave to beg or try to find jobs elsewhere. 
the drought.  In fact, the land is on the verge of famine.

Tarini and his dear wife Sukhi, also leave the village.  But Tarini senses a
change in the wind.  "Look," he says - "the ants are going up the tree with
their eggs in their mouths. It's going to rain."

Sukhi ridicules him - it's fiercely sunny.  By next morning it was raining

In the end the river comes up and their house is waist-deep and rising.  They
leave home but are wading through water.  Soon they are swimming, Sukhi
holding onto Tarini.  And then they get caught in a whirlpool, and Sukhi is
clasping him tightly, taking them both down.  In desperation, trying to get
Sukhi off, his hands go to Sukhi's throat...

Gulamdin the tongawallah: Gulabdar Broker

      "Tongawallah, are you a Hindu or a Muslim?" I asked as soon as the
	tonga got into its stride.

	"What do you think?" He countered smilingly.

	"How do I know? Most people here in Rawalpindi must be Muslims. No?"

	"Not quite. We have only two communities here - the rich
	and the poor. There is no Hindu, no Muslim."

	"But what community do you belong to?"

	"I? To that of the poor." He laughed and smartly whipped
	his horse's sinewy back.

[so Gumaldin the tongawallah is an unusual man - apart from his brethren.

[during the long tonga ride, Gulamdin gets off for a moment to talk to a
beautiful woman, and then he tells the story of his love marriage to the
daughter of a rich businessman, and how they could not stay together.]


    Many of these authors are relatively unknown outside their own
    linguistic spheres; kudos to Sahitya Akademi for bringing together this
    set of diverse voices.
    I include some links to literary biographies (external pages).

A defective coin :         Roma Das (1909-1981, Assamese)           1
Boatman Tarini :           Tarashankar Banerjee (1898-1971 Bengali)   17
The great big city :       Premendra Mitra (Bengali)                  31
The golden watch :         Mulk Raj Anand (English)                   45
Another community :        RK Narayan  (English)                      55
Gulamdin the tongawallah:  Gulabdar Broker (1999-2006, Gujarati)    61
The earning son :          Chunilal K. Madia (1922-1968 Gujarati)   75
Jaya dol :                 Agyeya (Hindi)                             83
Jahnavi :                  Jainendra Kumar (Hindi)                    95
The cock-fight :           Amin Kamil (b. 1924 Kashmiri)           114
The flood :                Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai (Malayalam)   137
Birthday :                 Vaikom Muhammad Basheer (Malayalam)       142
Wet and shine :            Kusumvati Seshpande (Marathi)             156
The bridal crown :         Rajakishore Roy (b.1914, Oriya)           165
The whirlwind :            Sant Singh Sekhon (1908-1997, Punjabi)    172
Manjri :                   Lekhraj Tulsiani (Sindhi)                 186
Redemption :               Pudumai Pitthan (Tamil)                   190
Attar of roses :           Sripada Subrahmanyam Sastri (Telugu)      197
Lajwanti :                 Rajinder Singh Bedi (Urdu)                211
Glossary                                                             226

Biography: Sant Singh Sekhon

Sant Singh Sekhon (1908-1997) was a Punjabi playwright and fiction writer.
He held Masters' degrees in Economics and also in English, and initially
started writing in English, but then shifted to Punjabi.

He is best known for his short stories and drama.  His drama corpus runs
into ten full-length plays and four one-act play collections.  He also
wrote five short story collections. In addition, he also wrote two novels
and five books of literary criticism, as well as several histories and

One-act plays:
* Chhe Ghar (Six Homes, 1941):  one-act plays - popular in Punjabi theatre.
* Tapia Kyon Khapia (Why the Ascetic Got Confused, 1950),
* Natsunehe (Dramatic Messages, 1954)
* Sundrepad (Beautiful Feet, 1956)
* Wiaholi (Bride) : verse play
* Baba bohar (Old Oak) : verse play

Full-length plays:
* Kalakar (Artist, 1945)
* Nal-Damayanti (Nala and Damayanti myth, 1960)
* Narki (Denizens of Hell, 1953) [originally written as Eve at Bay in English]
	full-length plays explore more of the man-woman relationships

Historical plays (theme of Sikh history):
* Moian Sar Na Kai (The Dead Knew It Not, 1954)
* Bera Bandh Na Sakio (Fleet They Could Not Harness, 1954)
* Waris (1955)
* Banda Bahadur (1985)
* Vada Ghalughara (Holocaust 1986)
* Mittarpiara (Beloved Friend, 1971)

* Lahu Mitti (Blood and Earth).

He was a Professor of Eminence at the Punjabi University in Patiala; after
his death, a chair was set up at the university in his name.


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This review by Amit Mukerjee was last updated on : 2015 Jun 17