Last week, my maternal uncle passed away. He was one of my mother’s four brothers. My maternal grand father died just six months before my mother’s marriage. My uncle had not only been a support to my mother but had also been a good friend to my father. A fighter at heart, having fought innumerous miseries in life, he finally succumbed to heart attack. His most commendable virtue was his open mind towards the changing society. In today’s world of modern globalized consumer India contrasted by issues like khap panchayat, honour killings and dowry system; he ensured all his children (even his sisters) get well educated and capable of being financially independent (all his daughters are post graduate). Of course, it is no big deal but living in a small village which does not have educational facilities beyond high school, it takes extra pain. He never encouraged dowry – neither as a father of son nor as a father of daughter. Although I was never that close to him, he loved me dearly. I still remember his efforts to talk in broken Hindi with his niece which made everyone laugh.
Death is the most inevitable truth of life but also, it is the simplest of all actions taking place on earth. Life brings along complexity, death ends it all. When I was a kid, I was intrigued by questions of life and death. At an age of five, I was once too curious to sleep pondering over where do the dead people go. I was given a plethora of religious and mythological books that my parents thought would help me relax. Having read all of Brian Weiss’s books, I am less anxious about dying now. However, a death in vicinity unravels in me a chain of emotions giving way to one another and trying to spill over everywhere –even on paper. This time, it is not my emotions that seek words but a lovely book that found me in the best of my sensibility.
“Saans bhi leti hain jo kathputliyaan, unki bhi thaame hain koi doriyaan……”
The best lines I could find to describe life. Even if I am alive and do everything to live happily, I am not the sole decision maker. A forwarded message said “Life is a chess. You and your destiny are the two players”. This book conveys to me the same message. This book “Raavi paar and other stories” consists of short stories, written in simple words. Each story portrays a different background with different set of characters but is consistent in displaying various facets of human behavior and emotions. The title story- “Raavi paar” is actually a tragic story which could have been named as tragedy of errors. “Daliya” is a story of an under privileged poor rural woman whose only sin was that she was beautiful and fair- a treasure that should have been guarded but was left on the mercy of his drunker husband who did not even think twice before sending his wife to the service of the king, notorious for his lust for women. “Guddo” is a story of an innocent teenager Guddo who thought she was wiser and more mature than her elder sister but no one believes she’s grown up. She found her true love in the Bollywood actor Dilip Kumar but when she saw him holding hands with Vaijyanti Mala in one of his film’s shoot, she was shattered. The story “Khauf” again proves to be a tragedy of errors. A Muslim man took shelter under a seat of a local train seeing another man in the bogie. Feeling unsafe in the presence of another man who he doubted to be a Hindu, he rushed and threw the other man out of the train only to realize later that the other person was a muslim too. “Sunset Boulevard” is a story of an old actress who is too reluctant to let go. “Dhuan” portrays the rigidity of social divisions and religions. “Haath peele kar do” shows the change of thought process with change of time and relationships. “Zindagi aur maut” gives a picture of role played by fate. This book is like a bag of sweet chocolates and sour candies put together making it an experience just like life itself. Stories in the book have simple plot but strong narrative which makes them interesting and engrossing.
Even if one is not an ardent reader of Hindi Literature, vocabulary or language would not be a problem while reading this book. At some places, English words have been used in Roman script. Altogether, a nice book – a good companion when in solitude but can prove to be a depressive foe when lonely.