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Gulzar’s ‘Triveni’: A Confluence of Poetry and Meaning

Explore the world of poetic creation with Gulzar as he brings forth his latest masterpiece, Triveni. Just like the meeting point of three rivers reveals hidden secrets, his Triveni poems bring a twist to each couplet, making it a captivating journey. But that’s not all – discover Neha R. Krishna‘s unique attempt to transform Triveni into Japanese Tanka poetry.

Get ready to be spellbound!

 

Triveni
Triveni || Gulzar, Neha R. Krishna

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Triveni

I was rowing in words and meters of poetry when I happened to invent the form of Triveni. It’s a short poem of three lines. The first two lines make a complete thought, like a couplet of a ghazal. But the third line adds an extra dimension, which is hidden or out of sight in the first two lines.

Triveni ends revealing the hidden thought, which changes the perspective or extends the thought of the couplet. The name Triveni refers to the confluence of three distinct streams or rivers at Prayag. The deep green water of Jamuna, meet the golden Ganga, and hidden from view is the mythical Sarswati, flowing quietly beneath.

‘Triveni’ is to reveal ‘Saraswati’, poetically.

देर तक आस्माँ पे उड़ते रहे
इक परिन्दे के बाल-व-पर सारे

बाज़ अपना शिकार ले के गया !

 

All the fur and feathers of a bird
Kept flying in the sky for a long time

The falcon swooped away with its prey!

Neha, a young competent poet, was rowing in Triveni. She wished to translate Triveni in a Japanese form of poetry called Tanka. I felt inquisitive. She has explained it in her translator’s note. I hope you too feel as inquisitive while reading it. I found it very interesting.

 -Gulzar

***

 

Translator’s Note

Tanka is a short lyric poem. Various poetic elements like mood, theme, nature, characters, etc., are posed in a particular structure that give Tanka its body and soul. With this concept note, I am addressing the fundamental techniques of writing a Tanka, this will also assist the readers to comprehend and appreciate the structure.

 

What Is Tanka?
Tanka is a lyrical poem, a short verse, a short song. It is one of the oldest forms, originating in Japan, in the seventh century. A traditional Japanese Tanka has thirty-one morae or sounds that follow a 5-7-5-7-7 sound structure.

 

The Difference between Traditional Tanka and Contemporary Tanka
Tanka in contemporary English is more flexible and does not adhere to the traditional 5-7-5-7-7 syllabic structure or the pattern of short/long/short/long/long line format.

 

Why Transcreating Triveni into Tanka?
The aesthetic sense, the grace of cadence and the rich imagery of Tanka appear inclined to Triveni. Even in Triveni, images are juxtaposed with the technique of link and shift. Just like any lyrical Tanka poem, Triveni can also be composed and sung. The length of images of Triveni fits well in Tanka as it gives more space to retain the multi-layered essence. Triveni’s L3 strongly adds to or changes the narration of L1 and L2. In the same way, Tanka has a very strong and unexpected L5.
There is musicality in these short poems even though they never rhyme, which allows them to be enriched with a rustic edge, conjuring up a magical and musical image.

***

उड़ के जाते हुए पंछी ने बस इतना देखा
देर तक हाथ हिलाती रही वह शाख़ फ़िज़ा में

अलविदा कहती थी या पास बुलाती थी उसे?

 

bird leaves
while the branch sways
in the wind—
urging it to come back
or bidding a goodbye?

***

साँवले साहिल पे गुलमोहर का पेड़
जैसे लैला की माँग में सिन्दूर

धरम बदल गया बेचारी का

 

a gulmohar tree
at dusk—
as Laila wears vermilion
her religion
allegedly changes

***

सब पे आती है, सब की बारी है
मौत मुनसिफ़ है, कम-ओ-बेश नहीं

ज़िन्दगी सब पे क्यों नही क्यों आती?

 

to all it comes
everyone has their turn,
death is just
neither less nor more—
why doesn’t life happen to all?

***

काश आये कोई शायर की सुने
शे’र के दर्द से मर जायेगा यह

चाँदनी फाँक रहा था शब भर!

 

wishing . . . someone
to come listen to the poet
he will die
from the pain of a couplet—
all night was grazing moonlight

***

रात, परेशां सड़को पर इक डोलत  साया
खम् से टकर बे ा के गिरा और फ़ौत हुआ

अंधेरे की नाजायज़ औलाद थी कोई!

 

a wiggly shadow
upset on the street at night
hits a pole, falls and dies—
must be an illicit
offspring of the darkness

***

Get your copy of Triveni by Gulzar wherever books are sold

25 Must Reads On the 70th Anniversary of Partition

India’s freedom from the British rule was stained by the horrors of its partition. The reverberations of the event over the last seventy years have been encapsulated in several books, plays, and other forms of media.
Here is a list of 25 books that capture one of the most defining moment of our history.

Midnight’s Children


Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie is an epic novel that opens up with a child being born at midnight on 15th August 1947, just at a time when India is achieving Independence from centuries of foreign British colonial rule. Highlighting the relation between father and son and a nation yet in its nascent stage, it is an enchanting family adventure with lots of human drama and shocking summoning.

Lifting The Veil


Ismat Chughtai in Lifting the Veil explored female sexuality with unparalleled frankness and examined the political and social mores of her time.

Train to India: Memories of Another Bengal

Train to India
As a young boy, Maloy Krishna Dhar, made the perilous journey to India from the East Pakistan. The partion in Bengal had its share of tragedy, of lives unmade and lost, but it is relatively less chronicled than events in Punjab. Maloy Krishna Dhar’s Train to India is a graphic and moving account of that turbulent and unforgotten era of Bengal History.

The Shadow Lines


As a young boy, Amitav Ghosh’s narrator in The Shadow Lines travels across time through the tales of those around him, traversing the unreliable planes of memory, unmindful of physical, political and chronological borders. Bits and pieces of stories, both half-remembered and imagined, come together in his mind until he arrives at an intricate, interconnected picture of the world where borders and boundaries mean nothing, mere shadow lines that we draw dividing people and nations.

Midnight’s Furies


Nisid Hajari’s Midnight’s Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India’s Partition shows how Partition, which has created such a wide gulf between two countries whose people have so much in common, has given birth to global terrorism and dangerous proliferation.

Sunlight On A Broken ColumnSunlight On A Broken Column

On a backdrop India’s struggle for independence, Laila, an orphaned daughter of a distinguished Muslim family, fights for her own independence from the claustrophobia of a traditional life. With its beautiful evocation of India, its political insight and unsentimental understanding of the human heart, Sunlight on a Broken Column, first published in 1961, is a classic of Muslim life.

Partitions

With India’s partition in 1947 as its reference point, the novel presents a limitless canvas against which the most extraordinary trial in the history of mankind runs its course. Kamleshwar’s Kitne Pakistan dared to ask crucial questions about the making and writing of history.

 Amritsar to Lahore by Stephen Alter

A sensitive and thoughtful look at the lasting effects of Partition on everyday people, Amritsar to Lahore describes a journey across the contested border between India and Pakistan in 1997, the fiftieth anniversary of Partition. Offering both the perspective of hindsight and a troubling vision of the future, Amritsar to Lahore presents a compelling argument against the impenetrability of boundaries and the tragic legacy of lands divided.

The Broken Mirror

The Broken Mirror by Krishna Baldev Vaid tells the story of Beero and his group of friends against a backdrop of partition of India. Beero’s passage through adolescence is told through a series of eccentric characters. When partition becomes a reality, in a time of terror and carnage, the insane turn out be the only ones sane.

Unbordered Memories

If Partition affected the lives of Sindhi Hindus, it also changed things for the Sindhi Muslims. In Unbordered Memories, Sindhis from India and Pakistan make imaginative entries into each other’s worlds. Many stories in this volume testify to the Sindhi Muslims’ empathy for the world inhabited by the Hindus, and the Indian Sindhis’ solidarity with the turbulence experienced by Pakistani Sindhis.

Making Peace With Partition

The Partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947 left a legacy of hostility and bitterness that has bedevilled relations between India and Pakistan. Reviewing the turbulent history of their past relationship, Radha Kumar analyses the chief obstacles the two countries face in the light of the new opportunities and challenges that the twenty-first century presents.

Bitter Fruit: The Very Best of Saadat Hasan Mantomanto.jpg

Manto’s stories were mostly written against the backdrop of the Partition. Bitter Fruit presents the best collection of Manto’s writings, from his short stories, plays and sketches, to portraits of cinema artists, a few pieces on himself. Bitter Fruit includes stories like A Wet Afternoon, The Return, A Believer s Version, Toba Tek Singh, Colder than Ice and many others.

Kingdom’s End: Selected Storiesmanto.jpg1.jpg

This collection brings together some of Manto’s finest stories, ranging from his chilling recounting of the horrors of Partition to his portrayal of the underworld. Powerful and deeply moving, these stories remain as relevant today as they were first published.

Mottled Dawn

Mottled Dawn by Saadat Hasan Manto is a collection of stories based on the India-Pakistan partition. The stories written around 1947 put forward the most tragic events in the history of the subcontinent.

Manto: Selected StoriesManto

Saadat Hasan Manto’s stories are vivid, dangerous and troubling and they slice into the everyday world to reveal its sombre, dark heart. These stories were written from the mid-1930s on, many under the shadow of Partition. No Indian writer since has quite managed to capture the underbelly of Indian life with as much sympathy and colour.

India Divided

Written by the first President of India, India Divided traces the origins and growth of the Hindu–Muslim conflict, gives the summary of the several schemes for the partition of India which were put forth, and points out the essential ambiguity of the Lahore Resolution. Finally, it concludes that the solution for the Hindu–Muslim issue should be sought in the formation of a secular state, with cultural autonomy for the different groups that make up the nation.

Mr and Mrs Jinnah: The Marriage That Shook IndiaSheela Reddy in Mr and Mrs Jinnah brings forth the marriage that convulsed the Indian society with a sympathetic, discerning eye. A product of intensive and meticulous research in Delhi, Bombay and Karachi, and based on first-person accounts and sources, Reddy sheds light on how the politics of the time affected the marital life of misunderstood Jinnah and wistful Ruttie.

Tamas

A timeless classic about the Partition of India, Tamas is also a chilling reminder of the consequences of religious intolerance and communal prejudice.

Bengal Divided: The Unmaking of a Nation (1905-1971)

In 1905, all of Bengal rose in uproar because the British had partitioned the state. Yet in 1947, the same people insisted on a partition along communal lines. Exploring the roots of alienation of the two communities, Nitish Sengupta peels off the layers of events in this pivotal period in Bengal’s history, casting new light on the roles of figures such as Chittaranjan Das, Subhas Chandra Bose, Nazrul Islam, Fazlul Huq, H.S. Suhrawardy and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee.

Looking Through Glassmk.jpg

In Mukul Kesavan’s Looking Through Glass, a young photographer on a train to Lucknow suddenly finds himself in the deep end of 1942.  His hindsight tells him that Partition will destroy this world. And in his desperate struggles to avert the inevitable, we discover, often with an almost unbearable poignancy, how the possibilities in India’s past were squandered, some wantonly, others accidentally.

RegretRegret

A collection of two novellas—Regret and Out of Sight, the stories skilfully evoke the long shadow cast by the violence of Partition. While Regret brilliantly recreates a childhood shattered by the Partition of India in 1947, Out of Sight recounts the story of Ismail, who narrowly escaped the carnage of 1947 in his youth. Now, looking back on his life and despairing of the sudden resurgence of sectarian violence in Pakistan.

Memories Of Madness: Stories Of 1947

The tragic legacy of Partition haunts the subcontinent even today. Memories of Madness brings together works by three leading writers who witnessed the insanity of those months—Khushwant Singh, Saadat Hasan Manto, and Bhisham Sahni. As moving as they are disturbing, the stories in this volume are of immense relevance in these times, for they constitute a chilling reminder of the consequences of communal politics.

The Other Side of Silence
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Pieced together from oral narratives and testimonies, in many cases from women, children and dalits— marginal voices never heard before— and supplemented by documents, reports, diaries, memoirs and parliamentary records, this is a moving, personal chronicle of Partition that places people, instead of grand politics, at the centre.

Partition: The Long Shadow

The dark legacies of partition have cast a long shadow on the lives of people of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The borders that were drawn in 1947, and redrawn in 1971, divided not only nations and histories but also families and friends. The essays in this volume explore new ground in Partition research, looking into areas such as art, literature, migration, and notions of ‘foreignness’ and ‘belonging’.

Remembering Partition: Limited Edition

The Remembering Partition Box Set is a collection of five iconic books which look at the different faces of partition, from the larger political and historical view to the very personal tales of hatred, grief, courage and friendship.

 
 
On the 70th anniversary of partition, which book are you picking?
 
 
 

5 Books You Must Read in Remembrance of the Partition

The pain of partition accompanied the joy of freedom for India. Even after seventy years, the horrors of violence still haunt the two countries.
The Remembering Partition Box Set is a collection of five iconic books which look at the different faces of partition, from the larger political and historical view to the very personal tales of hatred, grief, courage and friendship.
Here are the five books that commemorates one of the most defining moments of our history.
 Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh
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 Ice-Candy-Man by Bapsi Sidhwa
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 This Is Not That Dawn by Yashpal
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The Great Partition by Yasmin Khan
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In Freedom’s Shade by Anis Kidwai
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Pick up this collection and re-visit the heart-rending event.
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Subh-e-Azadi, An Anguished Evocation of the Pain of Partition

Faiz Ahmed Faiz is widely regarded as the greatest Urdu poet of the twentieth century and the iconic voice of a generation. He is best remembered for his revolutionary verses that decried tyranny and called for justice. In his poem, Subh-e-Azadi, he expressed the anguish and disappointment of Partition and the cost that the Indian subcontinent paid for freedom from the British rule.
Subh‐e Azadi
Yeh daagh daagh ujaalaa, yeh shab gazidaa seher
Woh intezaar tha jiska, yeh woh seher to nahin
Yeh woh seher to nahin, jis ki aarzoo lekar
Chale the yaar ki mil jaayegi kahin na kahin
Falak ke dasht mein taaron ki aakhri manzil
Kahin to hogaa shab-e-sust mauj ka saahil
Kahin to jaa ke rukegaa safinaa-e-gham-e-dil
 
Jawaan lahu ki pur-asraar shahraahon se
Chale jo yaar to daaman pe kitne haath pade
Dayaar-e-husn ki besabr kwaabgaahon se
Pukaarti rahi baahein, badan bulaate rahe
Bahut aziz thi lekin rukh-e-seher ki lagan
Bahut qareen tha haseenaa-e-noor ka daaman
Subuk subuk thi tamanna, dabi dabi thi thakan
 
Suna hai, ho bhi chukaa hai firaaq-e-zulmat-o-noor
Suna hai, ho bhi chukaa hai wisaal-e-manzil-o-gaam
Badal chukaa hai bahut ehl-e-dard ka dastoor
Nishaat-e-wasl halaal, o azaab-e-hijr haraam
 
Jigar ki aag, nazar ki umang, dil ki jalan
Kisi pe chaaraa-e-hijraan ka kuch asar hi nahin
Kahaan se aayi nigaar-e-sabaa, kidhar ko gayi
Abhi charaag-e-sar-e-raah ko kuch khabar hi nahin
Abhi garaani-e-shab mein kami nahin aayi
Najaat-e-deedaa-o-dil ki ghadi nahin aayi
Chale chalo ki woh manzil abhi nahin aayi
 —Faiz Ahmed Faiz
 
The Dawn of Freedom, August 1947
 This light, smeared and spotted, this night‐bitten dawn
This isn’t surely the dawn we waited for so eagerly
This isn’t surely the dawn with whose desire cradled in our hearts
 
We had set out, friends all, hoping
We should somewhere find the final destination
Of the stars in the forests of heaven
The slow‐rolling night must have a shore somewhere
The boat of the afflicted heart’s grieving will drop anchor somewhere
When, from the mysterious paths of youth’s hot blood
The young fellows moved out
Numerous were the hands that rose to clutch
the hems of their garments,
Open arms called, bodies entreated
From the impatient bedchambers of beauty—
 
But the yearning for the dawn’s face was too dear
The hem of the radiant beauty’s garment was very close
The load of desire wasn’t too heavy
Exhaustion lay somewhere on the margin
 
It’s said the darkness has been cleft from light already
It’s said the journeying feet have found union
with the destination
The protocols of those who held the pain in their
hearts have changed now
Joy of union—yes; agony of separation—forbidden!
 
The burning of the liver, the eyes’ eagerness, the heart’s grief
Remain unaffected by this cure for disunion’s pain;
From where did the beloved, the morning breeze come?
Where did it go?
 
The street‐lamp at the edge of the road has no notion yet
The weight of the night hasn’t lifted yet
The moment for the emancipation of the eyes
and the heart hasn’t come yet
Let’s go on, we haven’t reached the destination yet
—Translated by Baran Farooqui
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In Conversation with Faiqa Mansab

We recently spoke to the author of This House of Clay and Water, Faiqa Mansab. Her debut novel is set in Lahore and explores the themes of love, friendship and orthodoxy.
Below is our conversation with Faiqa, who is currently in Lahore:
Share your writing process behind The House of Clay & Water, how did you think of writing about the insidious power of orthodoxy in Pakistan?
I’ve come to believe that we write the stories that we are meant to; stories which only we can write. I come from a pluralistic and hybrid literary family tree. Punjabi Sufi poetry was always playing in the background at home. I grew up reading English literature, then graduated to American and European literatures, and all the while I was also reading Ghalib, Faiz, Mir, short story writers, novelists, women who wrote about the devastating Pakistan I lived in, yet I was so far removed away from it. Despite such a diverse education, I was never confused about my identity or my languages.  I loved all three that were at my disposal and yearned for Persian and French.
I read whatever I could, except for comics. I’m afraid I’ve never appreciated comics. I read literary novels and also cross-genre novels like Du Maurier, Mary Stewart, Pat Conroy, Colleen McCollough and others who wrote beautifully but were still not considered ‘highbrow’. I wanted to write like all of them. I don’t think a writer makes a conscious decision to write about a topic or social issue.
This House of Clay and Water grew out of the first draft of another book that I had been writing prior to the MFA. It employed Magical Realism, sported a jinn, and a great deal of philosophy. After 60k words the story was still emerging and wasn’t very clear. It was called lyrical, beautiful and all that by my first readers, my class fellows, but I knew I had to let it go. I started the novel again, rooted in what is called ‘realism’ in literary terms. The female protagonist of the previous novel had stayed with me and moved premises into the new novel. She became stronger, her voice was so clear.
I’m very proud of my legacy, very rooted in this land, and my heritage. My writing stems from a place of deep love for this land, its customs and privileges, its tragedy and its sorrows. My memory goes back a long way; long before I was born, or my parents were born and this novel isn’t about orthodoxy waging wars on Pakistani turf, but orthodoxy waging war on spiritualism, on Sufism, on tolerance. It is hurtful. It is wrong. It isn’t us.
How did you come up with the different characters in your book, have you met such people in real life?
I never really know how to answer that question. If you mean, are they based on real people? Then no, they are not. If you mean that you will never see them in real life, then I’ve failed as a writer. They aren’t real but they had better be realistic. They are I think, or the biggest publishing house in the world wouldn’t have backed this book. (I love reminding everyone that Penguin has published my book).
Difference fascinates me. Peripheries and centers fascinate me. Power dynamics between genders and how social constructs mold people and their behaviors is frighteningly like living in a prison, like being conditioned and brain washed. When you really come down to it, we are all conditioned to behave in certain ways under given circumstances…like Pavlov’s dogs. There is very little agency in an average human life until and unless we actively go against the grain, at the risk of being ostracized, called mad or just hated.
I wanted to write about such people. Women who go against the grain are worse off than men even. They are intolerable. They are monsters that have to be killed to re-establish social order like in Sophoclean tragedy or Shakespearean tragedy, where the social sickness had to be rooted out, killed to purge the city state and bring peace. These aberrations are not tolerated.
Which brought me to those human beings the world considers aberrations, and ridicules, and humiliates: eunuchs, hermaphrodites, castrati’s. They were not treated this badly in the sub-continent until the British came along. The attitude of hate and humiliation towards hermaphrodites is a legacy of the British. In the traditional and historical culture of the sub-continent, hermaphrodites were treated with courtesy, even if they were not considered equal. But now we must do better for women and for transgenders.
Do you have any writing rituals?
Coffee. Nothing fancy, but hot, and at least two large mugs to start me off. I have a lovely little study, with a lilac ceiling, and a thick carpet of the same color and a small white mantle with my books on it. A writing table facing the wall which has my vision board from end to end, full of Van Gogh and Monet postcards, inspirational quotes and rules of writing from famous authors. I sit and I stare, drink my coffee and feel small and miserable. Then I drink another cup, and I feel better, less small, less insignificant, more ambitious. A few more sips, and I open my laptop. Its sleek and new, and has only my manuscripts. I begin by reading what I had written yesterday or day before. Sometimes I don’t see any mistakes and I’ll start typing happily. If I find mistakes, well, I start fixing them until I am tired. Then I get a new cup of coffee and start writing something new.
This happens only on good days. Sometimes coffee doesn’t work on feelings of smallness and insignificance. Those days I sit on my lilac armchair and read Proust. You know, one might as well go down in style.
How does the place affect your writing, in terms of setting as well as inspiration?
Place is important. Location is political. Location is the heart of the story. Sometimes it is the only story. For me that place is often Lahore. I will never understand this city. I’ve accepted that and that’s’ why I can write about it. It so complex and so Protean. I love writing about this city.
Any advice for aspiring writers?
Learn to edit your own work. Read it again and again till you’re sick of it and can see beyond your love for it and into the mechanics of sentences and paragraphs. Then get rid of everything extraneous.
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5 Lesser-Known Books by Ruskin Bond that You Must Read

Ruskin Bond has written a string of unforgettable tales – stories about nature and animals, and the bond formed between humans and the wild. As we celebrate Ruskin Bond’s 83rd birthday, here are some of his lesser-known great writings.
Vagrants in the Valley
This book catches up with our favourite Rusty as he plunges not just into the cold pools of Dehra but into an exciting new life, dipping his toes into adulthood.  At once, thrilling and nostalgic, this heart-warming sequel is Rusty at his best as he navigates the tightrope between dreams and reality, all the time maintaining a glorious sense of hope.
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The Day Grandfather Tickled a Tiger
Grandfather had brought home Timothy, the little tiger cub, from the forests of the Shivaliks. Timothy grew up to be a friendly tiger, with a monkey and a mongrel for company. But some strange circumstances lead grandfather to take Timothy away to a zoo. Will they ever meet again? This a heart-warming story of love and friendship!

Rusty Runs Away
Rusty’s world is turned topsy-turvy when his father and grandmother pass away in quick succession. The twelve-year-old is sent away to boarding school by his guardian, Mr Harrison. Restlessness, coupled with an ambition to travel the world, compels him to run away from his rather humdrum life at school. But the plan fails, and he is soon back in Dehra, with his strict guardian. Rusty is now seventeen. He rebels and leaves home again, this time for good.

The Tree Lover
His mesmerizing descriptions of nature and his wonderful way with words—this is Ruskin Bond at his finest. Read on as Rusty tells the story of his grandfather’s relationship with the trees around him, who’s convinced that they love him back with as much tenderness as he loves them.

Dust on the Mountain
When twelve-year-old Bisnu decides to go to Mussoorie to earn for his family, he has no idea how dangerous and lonely life in a town can be for a boy on his own. As he sets out to work on the limestone quarries, with the choking dust enveloping the beautiful mountain air, he finds that he longs for his little village in the Himalayas.

Which is your favourite Ruskin Bond story? Tell us as we celebrate the bond of stories with Mr Bond!

5 Rabindranath Tagore Poems that Make Him the Master of Our Hearts

Rabindranath Tagore was a poet-philosopher who inspired a whole generation through his writings. Rabindranath Tagore became a literary sensation and went on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913.
To celebrate Tagore’s birthday, we bring here sections of five of his most beloved poems!

On the Hypocrisy of Faith
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On the Vulnerability at the Time of Death

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On the Soul of Countries and People
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On Missing a Dear One

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On Longing
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Do you, too, have a Rabindranath Tagore poem to share? What are your favourite lines of his? Tell us, we would love to know!

5 Reasons why Rabindranath Tagore was Ahead of His Time

More lovingly called Gurudev, Rabindranath Tagore is one of India’s most cherished renaissance figures. He is credited with putting India on the literary map when he received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913.
While best known as a poet, Rabindranath Tagore was also a gifted painter, a novelist, dramatist, essayist, an educator, and a philosopher. His works continue to help people dream of a better world, even in the darkest of times.
As we countdown to his birthday, here are 5 reasons that prove that this great man was way ahead of his time.
The time he returned his knighthood
1
How many artists would’ve had the courage to do this?
His views on women
2
Here’s someone born more than a hundred years ago whose views on women are, arguably, still ahead of the times.
His take on the dangers of nationalism
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A message that will never cease to be apt.
Gurudev and the society
4
His works for social reform has been largely overshadowed by his literary achievements, but there are fewer voices bigger who tried to remove the evils from Indian society.
A deserving and Nobel man
5
He was the first Asian to win the Nobel Prize.
Rabindranath Tagore’s life and his works are examples where excellence is enshrined, and yet, at their core are inspiringly human.
For more amazing facts of the remarkable Rabindranath Tagore, you’d want to pick Sabyasachi Bhattacharya’s Rabindranath Tagore: An Interpretation.

In Conversation with Krishna Baldev Vaid

We recently spoke to the author of None Other, the august 89-year old Krishna Baldev Vaid. He is well known for his books The Broken Mirror, Steps in Darkness and many more.
Below are a few questions we asked Vaid to know more about his writing process.
When you get an idea for a book, how does it form into a story? Please share your writing process with us.
It differs in details from piece to piece, from novel to novel, from play to play but essentially, it assumes the urgency and intensity of an obsession that elevates me to a level of receptivity, that is extraordinary if not abnormal, to intuitions, perceptions, choices of words and phrases and puns and euphonious effects, in short a style suitable to the occasion. The emphasis is never on story as such. My stories, both short and long, are never mere stories; my novels and plays do not aim at telling intricate and interesting and eventful stories. They do not require a well-designed plot. They create an atmosphere, an alternative reality, if you will, a universe of words and sounds and suggestions and characters that are both familiar and strange, normal as well as abnormal, mundane and magical, real and unreal, just as in dreams and nightmares.
Do you have any writing rituals that you follow?
I am afraid I do not have any writing rituals except perhaps a room of my own, a closed door, a wall in front of me, a space to pace up and down, silence, sometimes low and slow classical instrumental, preferably sarod, music. I tend to make fun of writing rituals in my novels and stories such as ”Bimal Urf Jayein To Jayein Kahan” (”Bimal in Bog” in English) and ”Doosra Na Koi” (”None Other” in English).
When I was young, I had a somewhat romantic association with writing and artistic rituals. In old age, every elderly movement and gesture and activity automatically and inevitably becomes ritualistic. You don’t need any other rituals.
How do you pick books that you want to translate? Is there a reason behind that choice, such as for Alice in Wonderland?
I am not a professional and a prolific translator into English or Hindi. I think I have translated more of my own stuff in Hindi into English than other writers’—alive or dead. I tend to believe I would have been less of a self-translator into English if there had been an active band of good professional translators into English from Hindi. Perhaps, in that case, I would still have used my bilingualism for doing some selective translations of some modernistic Hindi fiction and poetry as love’s labour or out of a sense of duty; I don’t know.
Two of my dear friends, Nirmal Verma and Srikant Varma, asked me to translate two of their novels, ”Ve Din” (Nirmal) and ”Doosri Baar” (Srikant), and I complied because I liked their work, but I did not ‘pick’ them. In the case of ”Alice in Wonderland”, I chose it for translation into Hindi because of its status as a classic, not only as a children’s book but for ‘children’ of all ages and, I believe, nationalities. I used to read it to my three little girls as they were growing up. Besides, the only great version available in Hindi was a great adaptation by a great Hindi poet, Shamsher Bahadur Singh—”Alice Ascharya Lok Mein.” I wanted to do a translation of the complete original text. The third major translation of an important book-long Hindi poem that I did was ”Andhere Mein” (”In The Dark”) by Muktibodh. I selected it because of my admiration for it as a modern classic by a great Hindi poet who died in splendid neglect except as a cult poet for the discerning younger Hindi poets, without a published collection of his own poetry.
I chose two plays of Samuel Beckett—”Waiting for Godot” and ”Endgame”—in 1968, before he became a noble laureate, because Beckett was my favourite modern writer. I wrote to him for permission while I was a visiting professor in English at Brandeis university. He wrote back a brief but gracious post-card from Paris after a couple of months, granting me permission even though he assumed I’d do my translation from his own English version of those plays written originally by him in French. I wrote back thanking him and mentioning that his assumption was correct even though I assured him that even though my French was inadequate, I’d also take into account his French original of the plays.
In addition to these three Hindi books, I also translated some Hindi poems and stories of some important Hindi writers, only one of whom—Ashok Vajpeyi—is alive: Shamsher Bahadur Singh, Srikant Varma, Muktibodh, Upendranath Ashk, Hari Shankar Parsai, Ashok Vajpeyi. All these have been published in English magazines but not collected in a book.
The only other notable translation into Hindi that I have done was commissioned by the French embassy in Delhi—it was Racine’s ”Phaedra”. I told them my Hindi translation would be from a standard English version of the original French and that I’d consult the original French with the help of my inadequate French. My Hindi version was published by Rajkamal Prakashan and was staged in Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal, and Delhi under the direction of an important and renowned French director, M. Lavadaunt.
How do you decide which language to write in and which one to translate into? And why?
This decision was made by me rather early in my life during my final year of M.A. in English at Govt. College, Lahore when I was only nineteen years old and living under the menacing shadow of the partitioned independence of India into two countries, India and Pakistan. My heart was set on being a creative writer, a fictionist. I already knew that I would have to do something else for earning a living if I wanted to write on my own terms without making any compromise with anybody. I did not want to write in English, even though I was fairly good in it and knew that I’d get better, because I didn’t consider it as an Indian language and did not dream in it. I didn’t want to choose Punjabi as my medium of creative expression, even though it was my mother tongue, because I didn’t consider it rich enough. The choice was between Urdu, which I was also good at thanks to my proficiency in Persian, and Hindi which I had almost entirely taught myself thanks to the similarity of its and Urdu’s grammar and syntax. With more of Hindi reading and the help of a good dictionary and with an openness to Urdu and Persian for the enrichment of my vocabulary, I could forge a style of my own that might even be better than standard stultified Hindi, or Urdu for that matter. I soon was able to achieve a style of my own free from the stiffness of both standard Hindi and Urdu and also the simplistic hotch-potch of the so-called Hindustani.
English is the only language I can translate my own Hindi books into; my own kind of Hindi is the only language that I can translate any English book into. Since I translate only what I like and want to and since I do not do it for my living, I do not do much translation. And now I am approaching the end and the final goodbye to all this.
Does the translation process differ when you are translating a book by an author other than yourself?
Yes, it does. If the other author is alive, you can refer your questions and problems and enigmas to him/her if he/she is easily accessible. If the author is dead or distant, metaphorically or really, you may either use your own discretion or consult an expert in that language or on that author.
If it is your own stuff that you are rendering into another language that you know well, you have only to refer to yourself for all questions and problems and enigmas and uncertainties. So in one sense you are free and self-sufficient but in another sense you are as lonely as you were when you were writing your original book. Of course, if in the course of self-translating if a new flash comes to you, you may as well take advantage of it without any compunction. You may end up adding to and subtracting from your original book. This addition and subtraction may help or harm the book but you are greater liberty in this case. Some writer friends of mine feel absolutely free to change their original books while translating them. Qurratullain Haider, an Urdu writer-friend who is no more was one such novelist of great merit. I did not read her own free self-translations into English but I did read several of her Urdu novels and was aleays charmed and impressed.
In my own case, when I was doing my own novel, ”Bimal Urf Jaayein To Jaayein Kahan”, into ”Bimal in Bog” for my friend P. Lal’s publishing outfit, Writers Workshop, I gave myself the freedom to welcome new ideas and flashes and linguistic arrangements and puns, etc., so that I had no objection when he changed ‘Translated by the author’ to ‘Transcreated by the author’. Even otherwise it seems to me now that all good translations are, to varying degrees, transcreations.
Are the themes of your writings related to your life experiences?
Perhaps, what you really meant to ask was: Are your novels and stories and plays autobiographical? But let me first answer your question as you phrased or framed it. The themes of one’s writings are always related to one’s life experiences. Even one’s entirely imagined themes are related in some way or other to one’s life experiences because one’s imagination is also shaped and determined by one’s own life experiences. Besides, all human experiences have an element of underlying universality that is a unifying factor which overrides apparent diversity. At the same time, every autobiographical detail undergoes an alchemical transformation in art. The tree or the flower you see with your eyes in real life is never the same as the one you describe or paint or sculpt or sing in your novel or paint in your picture or sculpt in your sculpture or sing in your music. The same is true of any feeling or emotion or action or happening, come to think of it. Even the most autobiographical detail undergoes a change through the alchemy of imaginative and creative writing.
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7 William Wordsworth Quotes that will Brighten Your Weekend

Born on 7 April 1770 in Cockermouth, Cumberland, William Wordsworth debuted as an author in 1787 when he published a sonnet in The European Magazine.
As a youngster, he was encouraged by his father to learn large portions of verse, by authors such as Shakespeare and Milton.
In 1793, Wordsworth published his first set of poems in a collections titled An Evening Walk and Descriptive Sketches. In 1795 after receiving an endowment of £900 from Raisley Calvert, he decided to pursue a career as a poet. With Samuel Taylor Coleridge, he published Lyrical Ballads in 1798 and launched the Romantic Age in English literature. Wordsworth was regarded as Britain’s Poet Laureate from 1843 until his death in 1850.
Today, as we celebrate his 247th birthday, here are some of his profound words.
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Do you have a favourite quote by William Wordsworth?

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