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CLRI CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.

CLRI Print Edition ISSN 2250-3366

August 2012

Editor-in-Chief: Khurshid Alam Rs. 10.00/US$ 1

CLRI publishes a wide variety of creative materials including poems, stories, essays, criticism, book reviews, film reviews, and arts among others. www.contemporaryliteraryreviewindia.com


August 2012

Contents 1.

KHURSHID ALAM ................................................................................................................................. 2 Pros & Cons of Digital Publishing .................................................................................................... 2

2.

JESSICA TYNER .................................................................................................................................. 5 Two Days Prior to the Burial ............................................................................................................ 5 En Moravia ....................................................................................................................................... 6

3.

GALE ACUFF ........................................................................................................................................ 7 Cursed .............................................................................................................................................. 7

4.

JAMES ROSE ..................................................................................................................................... 11 Haiku (ish) #105 ............................................................................................................................. 11 Montville ......................................................................................................................................... 11

5.

MICHAEL D. BROWN ......................................................................................................................... 13 Wing Tips ....................................................................................................................................... 13 Post-ceding labor pain ................................................................................................................... 13

6.

MANOJ KEWALRAMANI .................................................................................................................... 15 That old place: ................................................................................................................................ 15

7.

RITA BHATTACHARJEE .................................................................................................................... 17 I, Woman ........................................................................................................................................ 17

8.

EL HABIB LOUAI ................................................................................................................................ 20 The Canvas, Whitespace and Other Things .................................................................................. 20 Nothing Remains the Same ........................................................................................................... 22

9.

STORY RETOLD ................................................................................................................................ 24

10. GURBIR SINGH .................................................................................................................................. 28 Foreplay of a Revenge ................................................................................................................... 28 11. BASAVARAJ NAIKAR ......................................................................................................................... 34 Adventures of a Village Thief ......................................................................................................... 34 12. DEEPTANGSHU DAS ........................................................................................................................ 47 Slumdog Millionaire: Body, Nation and Cultural Imperialism ......................................................... 47 13. DR. SHUJAAT HUSSAIN .................................................................................................................... 55 Review on MAKING A POEM ........................................................................................................ 55

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CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

Editorial Digital medium is not simply a medium, it is a space to our life. All its shortcomings stand tiny before its advantages. It is the best alternative to saving paper, thus to saving plants and forests. It is the fastest means of communication, you can fly your documents and files across the globe in no time and at no costs. You can share your heart and mind to the world without coming under any hammer. – Khurshid Alam, Editor-in-Chief, Contemporary Literary Review India

1.

KHURSHID ALAM

Pros & Cons of Digital Publishing As there are pros & cons of everything so are with digital publishing. However, digital publishing enjoys more good than reservations. At its advent the print publishing took it too lightly and has the grudge against it. But digital publishing expanded beyond prediction and the print publishing is now feeling in the line on competition with e-publishing. Advantages Easy to Publish Digital publishing is basically a self-publishing interface where you write a book, get it edited and proofread, convert it into PDF and upload to dozens of digital publishing houses such as Amazon, Smashwords and others. E-publishing is coupled with great easy of publishing and you can go viral in no time all over the world. Wider Marketability The cost on digital publishing is highly affordable which makes the writers to pick it and attracts the customers as well. Its marketing area is without any boundaries. The writers have higher 2

CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

Editorial possibilities of selling their books to the readers from around the world. It is very easy to buy a book online and own a book of your choice on an electronic device. No Snarky Rejection Once you finish a book, your next goal is to get it published. In the run to get your book published you submit to the publishers but you dry out when you get rejections from the publishers. Rejections do not simply mean your story lacks or is not fit to publish but more than that. In many cases publishers look for more than an idea, they look for whether the proposed books have the masala to sell. Digital publishing has come to rescue a large number of those aspiring writers who have the idea but do not meet the substance of print publishing industry. Digital publishing has the power to cherish your creative dream beyond such fetters. If you want to have your story in a certain way, preserve it so. If you are not looking for money, no issues you self-publish and make your books available for free. The writers have no snarky rejection thrown on their face as does the print publishing. Disadvantages There are some disadvantages which though are not of digital publishing but in digital publishing. Traditional publishers generally have their own in-house editorial team. Howsoever your books are well written, edited and proofread, they are edited thoroughly. Traditional publishers do not leave the write-up to the writers but they work very hard on the manuscript. Their goal is many fold. They convert the manuscripts to the high standard of publishing style. They do good research on the subject and themes and suggest the writers to make suitable changes, if any. Traditional publishers do the marketing themselves. They do so to earn money from the writers, rather than elixir in the literary art. On the other hand self-publishing suffers from bad reputation of low quality on all fronts. For self-publishing there is no guide to suggest on theme and subjects, no compliance to writing styles, no research whether the story is original or a mere repeat of other stories etc etc. All these put the writers and their quality in the doc. For this it is very important that the writers must get their books edited and proofread by some good editors, must follow compliance in writing, get the manuscript reviewed by some writers. 3

CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

Editorial Once again I would say digital publishing is coupled with more positive sides.

Forthcoming Topics Book Formats in Digital Publishing India‗s Stand in Digital Publishing

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CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

poems At one

time poetry was a large part of mainstream readership. The public seemed to lose interest with the advent of gaming and the Internet, and now the Internet can be the avenue of restoration of this important genre of entertainment and enlightenment. – Jack Huber, Poet & Author, http://www.jackhuber.com

2.

JESSICA TYNER

Two Days Prior to the Burial twenty-some years and all i have is one memory of you – well, maybe not one but one collection that is the same the same with different places and people but we just kept acting them out over and over remember all those times the waiters thought you were mexican (my skin being so much whiter than yours – white like hospital linens or the deepest center of stargazer lilies) Qué te gusta comer? but more than that i remember the down-cast gaze of your eyes shoulders curved in like damp heavy wings jaw twitching beneath masseter in that way all men have of showing pain hurt fear humiliation no more shattered ashtrays splintered cue sticks urine-soaked closets i don‘t miss you (sometimes quietly i miss what i wish you had been) i miss your strong white teeth before the chemo ate the bones down to nail-thin shaven peels i miss the decade before i found out you didn‘t meet her at a friend‘s party but through her prison 5

CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

poems writings memory forgive me I miss your accent when I hear it in my voice say eugene guitar fuchsia i miss the days when i didn‘t notice the difference in our skin i miss the nights you made me brown cows milky streams licking down the glass

En Moravia You're in tico's eyes, the plumpness of Ricardo‘s lips, the trapped heat of strange men's coiled hair overgrown as mangas. The equator sun doesn't fade memories, instead, the heat pulls your scent out of young boy's underarms. The rain clings tight everything I'm trying to forget. Every day on Ruta 43, I count colones into old men‘s hands as browned and faithless as yours.

Jessica Tyner is a native of Oregon, USA, a member of the Cherokee Nation, and has been a writer and editor for ten years. A graduate of Ooligan Press, the country’s only working book publishing graduate program, she completed her master’s degree in London while interning with The UK-US Fulbright Commission. Ms. Tyner’s background includes editing and marketing for a kitsch coffee table and graphic novel press, writing several guest columns for journals and magazines, and teaching writing courses at universities in the US, UK, South Korea and Costa Rica. She has published in a number of journals and magazines including The Disappearing City, M Review, and NW Women's Journal. Currently, she is a writer for Word Jones, a travel writer with Mucha Costa Rica, and a writer for TripFab. She lives in San José, Costa Rica, and enjoys yoga, classic films and campy horror movies, discovering new literature and re-discovering favorites.

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CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

poems 3.

GALE ACUFF

Cursed When Miss Hooker asks me to lead the class in the Lord's Prayer I say Yes ma'am and stand and bow my head and close my eyes and take it from the top--that's called a figure of speech – with Our Father and don't ease up until I hit Amen, which I never hear myself saying because the class chimes in, Miss Hooker, too, drowning me out, which is also a figure of speech and so is chimes in but that's not important now. I forget what is important now. Then Miss Hooker dismisses us. Sometimes I peek when we're all praying like this to see what she looks like with her eyes closed, as if she's sleeping or maybe even dead, they're kind of connected and I think that's in the Bible somewhere but I forget which page, I'm only 10 to her 25, Miss Hooker that is, and she knows her stuff but then she's been around long enough to know fifteen more years of it, and then some, so that's my excuse for my ignorance and it's a pretty good one but if I'm that age and still as ignorant, I mean like I am now, that won't be good and might get me into trouble with the law or I could die in sin and then I'd land in

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CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

poems the Lake of Everlasting Fire and I can't even swim in water, much less flames. Miss Hooker says the thing to do is not sin at all, ever, at any time or for any reason, but then she says that everyone has come short of the glory of God, which means nobody measures up to Heaven's snuff. That's me in a nutshell, I can't deny it, but I don't know how I'm supposed to be aces yet human. Be ye therefore perfect, Miss Hooker says, or maybe she swiped that from the Bible, at least that ye, nobody talks like that except Gramps but he's from East Tennessee so there you go. After class last week I asked Miss Hooker to explain herself and I think she gave it her best shot so I didn't press her much and besides it was time to go home, I live about a half -mile from church and if I show up late for lunch then the bacon and eggs are cold and toast that isn't toasty's no better than dough and while Miss Hooker says that men don't live by bread alone – and ladies, too, I guess – it helps and there's nothing wrong with eating a decent sandwich. So she said that I'm going to sin because Adam and Eve caused the world to fall – Satan tempted them and they disobeyed God, what that's called is transgression – so because of their goof I'm in a bad way, that's why I have to die and why I feel pain and why I complain that my allowance isn't big enough and why, at least when I'm some older, I'll 8

CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

poems lust after the flesh. Whatever that means – when she spoke it she looked away from me. At first I thought she said The Flash, who can outrun Jesus probably, disrespect not intended, and can race on water, I read it in a comic book. Jesus never did that in the Bible – show me where. He's the fastest man alive, I mean Flash, not Jesus. And he isn't even real, though that's not his fault, not that it's God's. I mean The Flash isn't real, not Jesus. Anyway, Miss Hooker said the trick is to try not to sin at all – even though I will, I can't help it – and when I do ask Jesus straight away to forgive me or God in Jesus's name but scramble fast because I'll never know when I might be struck down when I haven't asked for Grace. For a moment I thought she meant Grace Carp, who sits next to me in class, but she meant forgiveness. And I could go at any time and in any way – fall off a cliff or run over by a Fruehauf, a Mack is more to my liking, though, or hit by lightning and I don't even play golf, or choked on a corn dog and speaking of dogs bitten by a crazy German Shepherd who was sucked on by a vampire bat with rabies, or ass-ass-i-na-ted, which means shot in the brains like they did JFK, or killed in battle and lying there with my guts in my hands, or rolling out of bed from a bad dream onto the floor and there's no rug, or jumping from my attic window if there's a fire. It's better than 9

CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

poems a movie but it could happen to me so I wouldn't enjoy it all too much. She smiled and I said, Thank you, Miss Hooker, and she said, and these are her exact words, You're certainly welcome, Gale, so I left and got home in time but the toast was burnt and cold even though I ran all the way. When I walked into the kitchen my folks said, together, You're late. I was panting but I managed to say God damn it, which is a sin, I forgot about cursing, how it's evil, too, which got me sent up to my room without any bread at all and I can't come down until suppertime but man doesn't live by bread alone, it's true, forget the Lay's that I stashed up here. I've been saying the Lord's Prayer every fifteen minutes or so, just in case I die. I'll be damned if I'm going to Hell.

Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Ohio Journal, Descant, Adirondack Review, Ottawa Arts Review, Worcester Review, Verse Wisconsin, Maryland Poetry Review, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, Carolina Quarterly, Poem, Amarillo Bay, South Dakota Review, Santa Barbara Review, Sequential Art Narrative in Education, and many other journals. I have authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse Press, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse, 2008). He has taught university English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank.

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CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

poems 4.

JAMES ROSE

Haiku (ish) #105 Water discussing With rocks Water and rocks Waterocks Waterocks Waterocks By James Rose

Montville Only pieces of light, Find littered ground. The rest is in flight. Shades of pale Day, revealing and shunning the wonder of detail. Breezes shift the shade; Pin-pricked brook Where once only glade; Chattering complaint, Questioning its busy-ness And why gravity can‘t wait.

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CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

poems Born on Australia's Gold Coast, as a writer and advisor, James Rose has written features, commentary and analysis for various publications including the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, the International Herald Tribune, the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Age, the Washington Post and, the South China Morning Post. His work has also appeared in various periodicals and academic journals. Currently, he is a regular reviewer for the New York Journal of Books and also for such publications as The Australian. He is also a resident destinations blogger for Sunshine Coast Destinations. He was nominated for an award for Editorial Excellence by The Society of Publishers in Asia. James is founder of Random Ax (www.randomaxmedia.blogspot.com), a media company which focuses on generating media and communications strategies for prosustainability and prosocial justice clients. Among his clients are, or have been, the Burmese government in exile, lhe Zimbabwe opposition MDC and, the Western Sahara independence movement (“the last colony in Africa”). He has also been involved in media campaigns and output for various world-renowned figures and leaders including Desmond Tutu, Mary Robinson, Vaclav Havel, Kjell Magne Bondevik and Malcolm Fraser.

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CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

poems 5.

MICHAEL D. BROWN

Wing Tips Limp-noodle shoe string, I retie loops into a bow… – my shoe fit for a package. – thin black ribbon straddling ten dark holes above a flat black tongue: five on the left facing off five on the right. Light gray pinstripe socks stretch. My feet support a formal gentlemen‘s tuxedo for the day in my shoes. Post-ceding labor pain I was born on Snow Mountain. Mother escaped the revolution to birth me safely behind the face birch of trees. War is not the best time for birth but is for hope. For one dying makes room for a new occupant, a novice at first, not able to nod approving or disapproving the method of delivery. Not able to pay even a compliment. Consider the sacrifices every courageous mother undertakes.

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CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

poems Michael D. Brown, PhD currently teaches English at Nanjing Agricultural University in China. Brown is an award winning poet and author of 16 books, including 6 volumes of poetry. Recipient of the New York State Senator's award for poetry. His poems have appeared in numerous journals including Kalkion, Writing Raw, The Recusant, Tower Journal, Ascent, Converge, and Ygdrasil to name a few. Brown also writes articles, short stories and provides reviews for Universities abroad and in the USA. Brown lectures internationally and looks to publish a new volume of poems soon. He can be contacted at MrMichaelDBrown@aol.com.

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CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

poems 6.

MANOJ KEWALRAMANI

That old place: The winter heat dripping down my face Take a taxi downtown Return to our old place Know you come here sometimes But it isn‘t any longer your choice Running into each other Still smile and be nice My fingers make the way To your falling hair You see them brush my sleeve And cover that age-old scar Then you raise your hand Wish goodbye There‘s a new show in town Both promise to try The kiss on my cheek Frozen with apprehensions As we walk our way Through the aisles of pretensions Because now I can‘t read your eyes Can‘t feel the warmth in your sigh And every word I say You choose to deem a lie I guess, what they said is true Don't know if it's me Or is it you But, honey, maybe with life When dreams do collide Perhaps it‘s a given For this love to subside 15

CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

poems

Manoj Kewalramani is an author/columnist based in Mumbai. He has worked as a political journalist with leading Indian news networks and has authored two books: Fairy Tales: Love, Hate and Hubris (2011), a poetry collection exploring the dark in classic fairy tales, and Voterfiles: A Political Travelogue (2010), an analysis of India's general elections through the eyes of a backpacking journalist. He writes regularly for Indiatimes.com and NewsLaundry.com. His poems have also appeared in Muse India and others.

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CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

poems 7.

RITA BHATTACHARJEE

I, Woman I I was born on a stormy night in July. I don‘t know the date — no one does. Poverty has a short memory. My mother gave birth in a cubby hole by the railroad tracks. Rain washed her bloodied thighs baptizing me. A hollow promise of redemption. She cut the umbilical cord herself, with a new blade. She had even sterilized it with cheap alcohol. She wanted me to live. A woman like no other am I — I have dared to dream of my fistful of sky. II Soil, seasons and squalor fed me for seventeen years. My full breasts belied hunger And tested modesty. Predator-eyes leered at every turn. I spread my legs to the first man who declared undying love, I had to leave behind the stench of the railroad tracks. He was to be my saviour. 17

CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

poems Glass bangles in rainbow hues sparkled in my kohl-lined eyes. The jasmines He brought me every night met a happy death on the marital bed. A woman like no other am I — I have dared to dream of my fistful of sky. III I gave birth as a bomb exploded on a local train, killing Him. My daughter would never meet her father. I braved the sun and rain to keep Her alive. Every bone ached at the end of the day. My flesh rejoiced. She walks to school, blue ribbons flashing in pigtails. She‘s Ananya — my phenomenal woman-to-be. A woman like no other am I — I have dared to live my fistful of sky.

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CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

poems

Rita Bhattacharjee is a communications consultant with extensive experience in project management, strategic planning, and integrated marketing communications. She has managed corporate and internal communications for multimillion-dollar companies across diverse industries, as well as for several nonprofit organizations. She is currently channeling her skills towards social entrepreneurship to increase awareness and reduce disparity in public health through effective global epidemiological research and training, development of information technology platform and deployment of mobile healthcare and alternative medical solutions. In the midst of it all, she remains a poet at heart. Her poetry has been published in several international literary magazines and journals.

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CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

poems 8.

EL HABIB LOUAI

The Canvas, Whitespace and Other Things Existence melted in the passion of absence…, As a hermit‘s light swallowed by Poseidon‘s darkness I didn‘t know where was my I…, And I do not know that I here is not me..., I am not from me, nor from you, neither from him. I am the other of me without any form or color I am the whitespace, dust, extinction, lacking construction Orpheus sings on my ashes the song of immortality near the door of Babel Imploring the heart of the deities to let me live with her. Orpheus! Did you forget that the deities of the Orient cannot live without my blood, And some ashes of the Phoenix Orpheus! Where are you heading? Did you forget that the descent to the lowest world from here Is preceded by a celestial angelic ritual wherein hyenas are sacrificed And the Phoenix‘s blood is burned So that its nothingness will not flame and make it rise My father! I saw myself begging near the gates of afterlife in no time, no place Asking for provisions to feed on during the trip to my nothingness Or an appointment for my eternal journey to the end of wandering and emptiness Because I didn‘t know that I will be what I will not know And I will walk in an eternal whitespace without any whiteness To which I do not know how to enter or leave And I saw my mother with no heart, womb or eyes Looking in Ashur‘s temple for her trilateral name That was hanging there two yards from the epic of Gilgamesh K for the killed not the killer, the guided not the guide, sacrifice not power D for the signified not the signifier, the intrigued not the intriguer, life not religion S for protraction and sleep not speed, surrender not serenity And I saw two yards from the gate to afterlife the church of Pope John .., Moutanabi was crying in its alter in the face of Heidegger: I am not an egoist to allow my ego to be carried by nothingness as you did‫ا‬ 20

CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

poems And I saw two yards from the church of Pope John Mahmoud Darwish sitting with Albert Camus and Tarafa Ibn Al Abd Sipping their cups of coffee…, Discussing the otherness of the stranger in nothingness And I saw among other things I saw Imro Al Kayss so exhausted Carried by his words to the palace of Caesar To lament the glory of his father in the jesting of my absurdity Oh, father what do you see? The enraptured father said pointing to a Sufi‘s grave in the hall of wandering A Sufi who died in a time with no time Son, don‘t tell your brothers about your dream They will intrigue your existence and take your nothingness from it Live strange, beg near the gate of afterlife strange Lament your mother‘s name strange Bespeak your father‘s lost glory strange And let yourself die strange This is the fate of the Great Stranger

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CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

poems Nothing Remains the Same Where could you be tonight, Sinatra? Love and Marriage Love and Marriage A chant I heard reverberate As far away as the length of the waves I rode indisposed When I was bound To a remote island Named Buyukada The permanent content of what you mean Transcends me the moment I kiss your lips And I know that meaning is produced Only in an unexpectedly rambunctious union Succinctly, I dissect everything Looking for generic terms I left Back somewhere in Kadikoy At nine o‘clock sharp near the theater Where I heard a beautiful young voice Lamenting Istanbul in operatic tempos Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha Fatih Sultan Mehmet Jalal al-Din Rumi All proceeded towards Istanbul again Alas! Nothing remains the same Everything is only revisited once again Even the empty sunflower fields of Kutahya Detach yourself, postmodern Kerouac, From the vicissitudes of a stuporous life Isolate yourself from mundane places 22

CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

poems Where nothing transcends the ephemeral I know that I will meet a deadline Just because life manifests itself Unintentionally in those experiences I weave I thought my days could end On a ship to Prince‘s Island bound Alas, a Russian girl took me aside To recount her Icelandic memories To a dismembered Moorish heart

El Habib Louai is a junior high school teacher of English from Taroudant, Morocco. He is also a comparative studies MA student at the University of Ibn Zohr in Agadir, Morocco. He is involved in various projects such as poetry translation. His poems were published in various international literary magazine, journals and reviews such as Danse Macabre du Jour, Palestine Chronicle, Troubadour 21, Sagarana, Istanbul Literary Review, Indigo Rising Magazine, and Contemporary Critical Horizons. His translation of a collection of poems by the exiled Iranian poet Ali Abdelrezaei is available in poetrymag.ws. His poem " A Night in Tunisia" was translated into Italian and Romanian. His paper “Retracing the Concept of the Subaltern from Gramsci to Spivak: Historical Development and New Application” was published in the African Journal of History and Culture last January 2012.

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CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

arts 9.

STORY RETOLD

Thus we began!

Adam and Eve

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CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

arts So we grew!

The Four Apostles (I-r John, Peter, Mark, Paul)

Artist: Both portraits are of Albrecht Dürer (21 May 1471 – 6 April 1528)

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CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

arts How we fantasy!

Garden

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CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

arts How we created the other worldly concept!

Reclining girl

Artist: François Boucher (29 September 1703 – 30 May 1770)

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CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

stories It's like

everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story. ― Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

10.

GURBIR SINGH

Foreplay of a Revenge The young man‘s beginning emotion was orgasmic, like the ones in his wet dreams; for he knew how excited he felt at the mere thought of: the foreplay of a long-awaited revenge. Gauging the degree of hurt, which the egofilled superior mind felt at the acts of trifling indifference from a lesser mortal like him; it was like watching soft porn in printed format. He wanted to commit offence, but without being involved directly; hence he had rented a retaliator after waiting for years of fidgety anticipation years after losing his job at the target‘s behest on the charge of an innocuous insubordination. He sat at the same table in a busy South Indian restaurant where was sitting the old ex-bureaucrat at the other end. Along with

his contrived aid, a not-so-close but a helpful friend, hired for a riskless offence. The avenger needed to smoke and make three or four swirls of foggy exhalations directed towards the target. His shirt was to remain unbuttoned, three from the chest down his hairy belly; his bare chest must swell with each puff of cigarette and sink in equal measure as he was to let go of the smoky nicotine with the garlic stink of white coconut chutney emanating from the mouth into another non-smoking but equally busy, chutney savouring mouth. The rogue friend was good at his job. At his receiving end, the spirit of the old, rotund ex-boss- a once feared bureaucrat suddenly felt his snacks less savoury. He did not take as much offence at the unknown 28

CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

stories man‘s smoky swirls doing humiliating rounds on him as he had taken at his silent accomplice‘s conscious pretentions of acting like a stranger to him. He had always been a clever mind with the memory of a computer at work. He had almost instantly recognized the disturbed face in front of him that was ostensibly wafting tetchy air of insubordination towards him. His offender was an estranged subordinate who had lost his job years ago because of his senseless proceedings. Insubordination had always been unacceptable to him in any form. Though technically it could not qualify now as one, but it still was so to his mind which loved to relish the good old memory of his active years of authority before he had finally superannuated. One should have seen him in his service days; how this subordinate used to behave when he was in his staff. A hunched posture, eyes benumbing like an ever-thankful dog before his master, asking for permission before entering his chamber, not leaving until told so, and not before he had repeated the entire mind-body acts of submission which he had shown while seeking permission to enter. A good position in a government job had given him that authority to take care of any insubordination. But when he was a bureaucrat, a magistrate, he was not happy

with his powers which he felt were limited. Authority should be like having the power to send any subordinate packing home at a whim without assigning any reason thereof whatsoever. A subordinate‘s discipline and mannerism should be like a juvenile delinquent before a cavalier police. Or like an extremely repentant sinner undertaking some sort of lifelong stoical penance to condone his sin before a deaf and blind god. But who was listening to his version of authority in those times of guidelines and conduct books, proceedings and meaningless committees. The result – he felt now, when he was facing the consequences of his discipline enforcing mindset, which everyone in his office hated in him, but were helpless. That a once bowed head should afterwards metamorphose into such brazen disrespect towards its ex-boss, and that too at a public place. Shame was on the formulators of the code of conduct for the government servants. They were to be blamed for this dismissed clerk‘s insolence at him now. Had it been once a boss always a boss rule in service, there could not have been this humiliation which he was being forced to feel now: all because of this exsubordinate‘s acting like a stranger to him, while daring to eat, sit in his sacred vicinity and keep company of an uncivilized rogue in front of him. 29

CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

stories The ex-subordinate knew his indifference would jar rivulets of angry sweat on his target‘s flabby cheeks and it exactly did. He felt a trickle down under his rib cage. He knew that insufficient smallness of the retired magistrate‘s eyes when their wide sockets showed familiar displeasure. He knew that he was utterly missing on his not so fluent manners of scolding—the half uttered, half-eaten filthy adjectives which did not leave much meaning for a guess. He felt quivers for having got even with that ugly duckling who he hated most for being ditto to his subordinates during his officiating days. To add insult to injury, he shared a vulgar joke with his accomplice; he talked shamelessly about other people‘s mothers and sisters and wives while giving gawky looks at a head that hung downwards under the weight of extreme-self consciousness. A glass of water got overfilled; the spill of water flew past the crumbs of snacks, collecting ashes from the cigarette stubs on the table, slowly finding its way onto the lap of the old man on the other side. The wetness on his pant just on the fly area, brought him back from his reverie of good old authoritative days. He felt challenged and excited to get even, in his way. He started a conversation with him much against his inhibitions. He asked, ―You are Baral, the junior clerk. Aren‘t you?‖ Baral laughed. ―Good memory.‖ He said. ―Do you

remember how you used to be a complete asshole when you were my boss? I lost my job because of you. Happy now?‖ he asked, feeling content that he had got a chance to dig past old graves. He needed to give vent to his frustrations that had crept into his body and soul and was lately eating him from inside. His hatred against the man needed an outlet and he had been waiting for this day all his life when that fellow was finally off his seat of authority. To give him a feeling of guilt, he lied, ―You know I‘ve been twice saved from my suicidal attempts because I could not live without my wife?‖ ―What happened to her?‖ the ex-boss asked pretending concern, without meaning commiseration for he knew what was going to come in reply. ―She died of cancer. I could not treat her for I had lost my job because of you.‖, he said while beginning to believe in his lies even though his wife was hale and hearty at home, waiting for him with delicious lunch. He justified the intensity of his grievance against his ex-boss. The ex-boss felt the urge to connect him to his own pathetic side. It seemed so urgent, so imminent to share his pain. Baral needed to know about other people‘s tragedies as well for his own catharsis. He must be palliated; after all he had lost his job because 30

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stories of him. Retired officers are not like the incumbent ones, they are god fearing, temple going, mostly. The ex-boss straightened the curve on his midriff and decided to speak softly, something no erstwhile staff of his office days had ever heard of before. ―This smart ass will have to swear on his wife and mother and sister to convince that I could speak this softly to someone my inferior.‖ a smirk came to his lips and vanished unnoticed. Mammography, chemotherapy, MRI scan, he discussed all with him to show him that cancer was universal in choosing his victims. He then spoke of a time when films showed a male or female lead dying of tuberculosis with doctors resigning to God and sending their attractive patients to die in the arms of their beloved while singing a sad, hummable number, vomiting blood all the while to evoke tears from the female viewers in film theatres. Treatment of cancer had not begun by that time. That meant no hummable song, and no time to die in the arms of one‘s beloved. It came instantly the day it was diagnosed. He said it was fifty years ago when the latter was not even born. His voice choked. The smoke swirls stopped when the target‘s tragic past came to life in the present.

The setting was perfect, striking. The tragic narration of distant past must find life in the tense of simple present. It successfully did. ―A mathematics teacher earning handsome salary plays a perfect sister to his doting younger sibling. She is very beautiful, young and full of life; always happy and never once sad. Such people always have some pain to hide,‖ the narrator gave some inkling of things to come. She too has one. She has some lady‘s disease troubling her all the time. She has taken a wise decision never to marry. ―Being self reliant, she can easily afford to remain a spinster,‖ he said reflectively. Whenever the elders in the family insist that she must marry, she always has the patience of the world to explain how she is unable to play the multiple roles which she will be expected to play at her would be in-law‘s house, if she is married off. With all that pain, which she has hidden from everyone else, she believes it would be impossible to do justice to marriage. She is a fighter. She promises that she will surely consider her decision once she has recovered from her undiagnosed illness. On the fateful day when she cannot take it anymore, she is taken to a hospital in New Delhi where the confused doctors operate on her. Her younger brother, who she has 31

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stories always doted upon, is the only one from her large joint family who is by her side. The ex-boss now began to feel real choke in his ogling Adam‘s apple. He almost wept as he narrated his story further. ―Running helter-skelter across the sea of the unknown multitudes of incurable patients is not easy. Now running to a chemist‘s shop for a basketful of urgently prescribed injections, ten minutes later, when the operation is still half way through, running again to the same chemist for another bagful of medicines. A couple of runs and re-runs and the sympathetic chemist is forced to hand him a whole carton of important injections for the doctors to chose themselves what they might need in urgency. He asks the errand brother to come later to clear his dues with the unused lot when the operation is over.‖ Now the ex-boss was really weeping. He continued, ―When the operation was over, the Asia famous doctor came out of the operation theatre profusely apologizing to me. He told me very sadly that though the patient‘s life had been saved for the time being, but she would not last beyond six months.‖ When he stopped quoting the doctor, the setting returned to the present tense again.

―His sister is never sad. She laughs off her maladies. The brave woman hates to be pitied. She returns home to live a full six months bringing cheer to all her family members. One day, on the festive day when people must eat new rice and wear new clothes, she insists that her brother feed her a few morsels of new rice himself. One morsel into her mouth and the smiling sister starts taking big hiccups, and is dead in seconds.‖ The story ended in huge sobs. The ex-boss was weeping inconsolably for a tragedy that had reportedly happened at a time the revenge-takers were not even born. Such a horrible officer this ugly duckling had been all his life, but his poor, aggrieved staff never knew he was so sensitive in his heart. The former appeared so forgiving now. Feeling sad at his conduct, feeling softened in his heart inside. How could a sensitive soul be a bad human being? And how could a good human being be a bad authority? Before confusion got the better of his now less-intent mind, he thought he would better leave with his hired accomplice. He heaved a sigh and rose to leave.

32

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stories Gurbir Singh is a poet and humanist. “Half Asleep” (2000) was his first published poetry title. He lives in Odisha where he works as an officer with the Information and Public Relations Department of the Govt. of Odisha. His writings, which include short stories, poems and reflective essays, have appeared in many national newspapers, including The Statesman, The New Indian Express and the Asian Age, and journals like The Journal of the Poetry Society (India), Sopan Step, The Kurukshetra, The Orissa Review and Scoria. He can be contacted at gurbirdabloo@yahoo.co.in.

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stories 11.

BASAVARAJ NAIKAR

Adventures of a Village Thief There lived a famous thief called Malla in a village called Nagarahalli situated thirty-five miles away from Dharwad. If you go there you can easily see the leonine figure of the hill of Naragund to the north, the Kappata hill of Gadag to the south, the short and circular hill of Navalagund to the west. Nagarahalli is skirted by two brooks: one, Bennihalla (or the brook of butter), the other, Kurubanahalla (or the brook of the shepherd). Whereas the Bennihalla flows from south to north and is situated to the west of the village, the Kurubanahalla, situated to the south of the village, flows from east to west and joins the Bennihalla. A common feature of these two brooks is that none of them has water in it throughout the year. Even in the rainy season, the two brooks create a lot of trouble to the villagers. Whereas the water of Kurubanahalla is sweet but muddy, that of Bennihalla is very salty and, therefore, cannot be used for drinking. It is famous for its torrential flow of water however short may be the time and for the toll of a few human beings and animals every year. Malla stayed at the house of the village leader called Marigowda known for his shrewdness and dynamism. Malla was an

unmarried fellow and had no intention of getting married either. Having lost his parents at the early age of ten, he had been struggling to make a livelihood for himself. He had tried his hand at ploughing, carpentry and masonry and had felt utterly disappointed. That was because those jobs did not thrill him. Far from thrilling him, they deadened his sensibility. Once he even tried his best to become a Swami at Ranebennur, but found that it did not suit his bent of mind. At last he was tempted to take to thieving and found it after his heart. He practised that art for a couple of years and made a name for himself. He was so clever in his art that no policeman could lay hands on him even once in his entire thieving career. It was a sheer accident that Malla had come to Nagarahalli, where he happened to meet the leader called Marigowda who, on listening to his miserable story, condescended to look after him. It was thus that Malla came to be a loyal servant at Marigowda's residence. Since Malla was a bachelor, many myths about him were rumored in the village. Whereas some people guessed he had married but divorced his wife, others imagined that he was unmarried and logically extended the principle to declare 34

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stories that he had even kept countrywomen. Yet some others of romantic temperament secretly visualized Malla's illicit relationship with the Gouda's wife and daughters. The saintly villagers declared him to be a pious man. The men of the world had come to the conclusion that Malla was impotent. The diverse myths built around him speak of his extreme popularity, indeed his notoriety in all the surrounding villages. Malla was known as a great thief in the neighbouring villages. The image of Malla clad in a dhoti up to his knees and a halfshirt, a turban around his head, was well known to everyone in the villages. The only piece of property Malla had in the world was his agile pony, which he loved as intensely as he would have loved his wife. Malla had become a full-time thief supported by his patron called Marigowda. Malla used to go in search of rich men of the neighbouring cities and villages and rob their wealth including gold ornaments and utensils in the cleverest possible manner and was never caught. After the robbery, Malla would give half of the booty to his patron Marigowda. That was how Marigowda went on purchasing lands every year and became a rich man in the village. Though people knew this open secret, nobody dared open his or her mouth about it. Thus Malla and Marigowda had become the synonym of terror in the village.

One day, Malla was brushing his teeth with a neem stick. Hardly had be entered his room than a boy of the priestly caste came from Morab and gave him an interesting piece of news. Among other things, Malla learnt that an old woman had died at Morab and that the dead body of the old woman belonging to the rich family of the village chief had been decorated with a number of gold ornaments. He also learnt about the enormous sadness of the sepulchral atmosphere at the house of the dead. The only detail that gripped the imagination of Malla was the ornaments on the dead body of the old woman. Malla hurriedly stepped into his room. He was secretly planning the way in which he could possess that gold. He therefore, requested Marigowda's wife Parvatamma to feed him with whatever was available at that time. Since Parvatamma had not completed her cooking, she served him a couple of stale rottis, fresh brinjal curry, sesame powder and curds. She also gave him a big red onion. Malla devoured everything with such rapidity that Parvatamma began to wonder what the reason might be. Malla appeared as though he was eating with total absorption. When Malla came out he saw his patron Marigowda smoking his hookah in the verandah. ―What's the matter, Malla, today you appear to be in a great hurry?‖ asked the Gouda. Malla went near and almost whispered, ―Yes, master, today I am going to Morab. I learnt that there is a dead body 35

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stories decorated with countless gold ornaments. My mouth is watering at that news. I am going to rob all that. Bless me, master.‖ Marigowda could not help laughing loudly at Malla's foolhardiness. ―My dear fool,‖ said he, ―how can you rob a dead body which is surrounded by kith and kin? Your attempt seems to be really absurd.‖ Having said these words Marigowda burst into guffaws of laughter. Malla felt secretly irritated and insulted. But without betraying his innermost feelings, he said to his patron, ―Dear sir, you may laugh at my attempt. But you will see them heaped before you by this time next morning.‖ Malla's throat seemed to be relaxed now. He wound his turban around his head hurriedly and saluted his master, who wished him luck. Inspired by a sense of challenge, Malla went to the cattleshed and untied the pony, jumped on it and began to trot his way towards Morab. While he travelled on his pony, the children of the roadside villages used to whistle at him and run away from him. The men-folk working on the fields used to stare and wonder at him and be dumbfounded. The women who were cotton-picking would duck their heads lest he should take a fancy to them. Malla reached Navalagund and then crossed the brook called Bennihalla there. The sky was growing gray when he reached the village of Morab. The crows were cawing; a loud chorus on the big banyan tree at the outskirts of the village. All through the way Malla's sharp imagination was

making ingenious plans for the most intelligent robbery that he was going to accomplish. Malla waited near the Hanuman temple for nearly half an hour. He ate a couple of stale rottis he had brought with him and leant against the wall of the temple. But his mind was all-alert. In order to control his growing excitement, he began to take deep breaths. He remembered his master's taunts and took a firm decision to convince the master of his own efficiency. Malla tethered his pony to the trunk of a neem tree behind the Hanuman temple. Malla slowly walked towards the direction of the house where the dead body was supposed to be. Sometimes he would ask the children about the house. As he crossed the temple of Goddess Dyamavva, he stood still for a couple of minutes. He could distinctly hear the wailing and crying in the corner. He could see the villagers moving to and fro near that house. He could also hear the philosophical songs of Sharifsaheb of Shishunala sung by the chorus of singers to the accompaniment of a harmonium, tabla and cymbals. Hearing these sounds and voices Malla was overwhelmed by the sepulchral sadness without his knowing it. But suddenly something awakened him, as it were. He remembered his own duty. He clarified to himself that he had come there to rob and not to sob. He once again hardened his heart and walked towards the house. There he was really impressed by the huge wooden doors with beautiful carvings. He 36

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stories could see them even in the dim light of oil lamps. He could easily guess the richness of the Gouda by seeing the huge cattle-shed with twenty oxen, the big verandah and the piles of bags of jowar and wheat at every corner of the house. He nestled himself into the crowd and stood staring at the dead body of the old woman. When he saw it, his eyes began to dazzle even in the faint light of lamps kept before the corpse. The corpse arranged in a sitting posture was fixed to the wall. The dead body was almost burdened with diverse gold ornaments like armbands, wristbands, waistbands, necklaces, earrings, toe-rings, and chains. It appeared as if it were a family deity like Lord Hanuman or Lord Virabhadra. Malla stood there amidst the crowd of men and silently studied the structure of the house. He discovered that the wall against which the dead body was propped was adjacent to the open space outside the house. He made his plans to accomplish his task. His attention was drawn towards the chimes of bell hanging from the old wall-clock hung there. Malla waited for the crowd to decrease. He came out of the house and studied the construction of the house from outside. Time passed. Two hours or so! The hustlebustle in the verandah began to subside. The friends and neighbours started returning to their own houses as it was growing late. Only close relatives like daughters, grandchildren, loyal servants and relatives from other villages were seated before the

decorated dead body and were half-crying and half-dozing. Many of them were exhausted by constant crying. The sari ends of the womenfolk were wet with the ceaseless flow of tears gushing out of their lachrymose eyes. Whereas the men-folk were seated with their pale faces bent on their knees or arms. Malla was deliberately resisting the saddening atmosphere. He decided to execute his ingenious plan. He slid out of the crowd secretly and came into the darkness. He managed to steal a small iron rod from the cattle-shed window. The stars in the dark sky were twinkling. The thickness of nocturnal darkness heartened Malla to finally indulge in his venture. He groped his way along the wall and at last came to the spot he had marked mentally. The spot was exactly behind the wall against which the corpse of the old woman was seated. Malla looked this way and that and confirmed that nobody was noticing him. With the help of his masterly knowledge of his task, he set to work. He held the rod and began to scrape the wall, which was built of mud bricks. Instead of striking the wall with the rod, he went on scraping the wall with it. At last he succeeded in unloosening one mud-brick. Then his job was easy. The hole he was going to burrow was exactly behind the dead body of the old woman. He went on unloosening the side bricks until he could easily see the head and the trunk of the corpse against the dim light of the lamps kept before it. Through that hole Malla could see the half-sobbing and half-dozing 37

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stories kith and kin leaning against the walls and pillars. There were no lamps in the hall except the two wick-lamps kept before the dead body. Malla waited and saw that nobody inside the hall had noticed the hole he had made into the wall. All of a sudden, a brilliant idea flashed across his mind. He instantly inserted his hands into the hole in the wall and clapped the forearms of the dead woman and made the dead body clap twice. Hullabaloo in the hall! The young girl who sat nearest to the dead body saw it clap twice and consequently the two wick-lamps were put off. Darkness enveloped everywhere. The people grew terrified and guessed that the corpse's ghost had returned to the body and clapped. Everybody grew nervous and began to grope in the dark. They went on searching for the main door to escape from there. Since their imagination was very fertile, they went on seeing terrifying apparitions before them. While groping in the darkness they kept dashing against one another. They dashed against the walls and pillars; tumbled down the stairs and against the thresholds. Their foreheads, knees and noses were badly bruised. Ultimately everybody escaped from the haunted hall and kept gasping for breath and trembling. A couple of women touched their saris, which were completely wet. They discovered that they had involuntarily urinated in their fit of terror. Soon the hall was completely vacated. Malla was giggling to himself. He felt he was in the seventh heaven as it were. He hurriedly

divested the dead woman of all the gold ornaments. He removed the necklace, then the armband, and the waistband. He went on taking them one after another and tied them in his turban. He began running towards the Hanuman Temple at the outskirts of the village. He whistled for his pony, which was neighing restlessly. Without a second thought, Malla jumped on the back of the pony and galloped away. Every minute he would look back in fear and spur his pony. He was in a triumphant mood then. The growing darkness of the night had provided a very congenial atmosphere for his adventure. He crossed the Bennihalla at night and hurried to Nagarahalli. He reached his patron's house, tied the pony in the backyard, hid the ornaments in the haystack and went to bed. He was so eager to tell his master about his triumph that he could not sleep well until the break of dawn. As the stars disappeared in the sky, Malla woke up and waited for his patron to get up. Hardly had Marigowda woken up and washed his mouth when Malla ran to him and showed him the gold ornaments he had stolen. Marigowda was excited to see them. Both of them went to the inner room and fed their eyes on the valuable items repeatedly. Malla sat at a distance of three feet from his master and narrated the entire thrilling story. Marigowda listened to it with rapt attention. His eyes were becoming rounder and bigger as he heard of the exciting adventure. Malla's eyes were gleaming with a sense of 38

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stories triumph. Marigowda, overwhelmed with admiration for his loyal servant, stood up, came near Malla, hugged him and patted his back. Ever since Malla had started thieving, he had never experienced failure in his profession. His ego was bloating up along with his confidence without his knowing. He had been leading a life of relaxation for a few months. He had made it a principle of his life not to indulge in petty thievery. His intention was to succeed in the most challenging and risky ventures. He used to spend the intervals between the grand thefts in woodcutting or house building or repairing the bullock-cart for his patron. Once during the month of Aswiz, Malla had begun to feel bored with his woodcutting and repairing business. One Monday, the entire village seemed to be in a mood of relaxation. Monday was a holiday for them because it was the day of rest for oxen. According to the folk mythology the ox is believed to be an incarnation of Lord Vrisabha, the mount of Lord Siva. That is the reason why the villagers wash their oxen, worship them and feed them amply on Mondays. While Malla was washing two oxen, which were recently bought, from beyond the river Tungabhadra, he heard the other farmers chatting about a Desai. Immediately Malla cocked his ears and began to listen to it attentively. A boy called Sivaputra was describing what he had

witnessed in the household of a Desai at Annagiri: ―Yesterday, I saw a wonderful sight at the Desai house. I happened to glance at the god's room. My eyes began to dazzle at the sight of a copper pitcher filled with gold ornaments. I was dumbfounded to see that.‖ Then Sivaputra, brushing the flanks of the calf, narrated all the details of the Navaratri Festival he had seen at the Desai household. The pitcher with gold ornaments seemed to dance before Malla's mental eye. His mouth began to water at the very thought of that pitcher. The other details of the villagers' gossip were irrelevant to Malla so he turned a deaf ear to them. He washed his oxen hurriedly and rushed back to the cattle shed and tied them there. In the evening Malla gave a hint of it to his patron and started riding his pony towards Annagiri in the hot sun. For he could not control himself until the midday sun had declined a little in the west. After he had travelled for an hour in the hot sun, he felt hungry and his mouth was parched. He stopped his pony near a tank and tied it to a mango tree. Hungry as he was, he went to a field where the green gram creepers had spread in clusters. He plucked a few bunches of green-grams and ate them. Then he searched for a cucumber creeper, walked a few steps ahead and found one. He saw two big ripe cucumbers, plucked and devoured them in no time. He went to a nearby tank and drank water with cupping 39

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stories his palms. Now he felt a soothing sensation in his belly. He mounted his pony and began to ride towards Annagiri. The sun had just touched the western horizon. Malla dismounted his pony and tied it to a tree outside the village. Propelled by hunger he went to the sweet-vendors in the vegetable market. The houses and shops were decorated with jowar stalks, hawthorn twigs and mango leaves. Malla bought two seers of laddus, burfis and khardani. Then he went to the corner where there were no people. He sat there and satisfied his hunger. As night descended on the village, Malla slowly started walking towards the residence of Desai. As usual he pretended to be a passer-by and went around the house and studied the position. There was a lot of hustle-bustle going on in the Desai household. Malla planned his strategy. He was thinking of how to enter the house. His imagination grew alert and a new idea flashed across his mind. He overheard the conversation of the servants and came to know that the oxen tethered near the haystacks were to be led to the cattle-shed in the house. He, therefore, hid himself near the haystack. He knew that the oxen were tall and hefty. After half an hour or so, servants came, unloosened the oxen and started driving them towards the house. Malla hid himself behind the dewlap of a big ox so as not to be detected by the servant. The twelve oxen formed a big group and so he could not be seen by anyone. He

succeeded in entering the cattle-shed in the darkness. The servants tied the oxen to their respective pillars and went back. Malla secretly nestled against the wall, hid himself in the leftover jowar paddy and sat there silently. The sparrow-lamp hung near the cattle-shed was exuding a dim light around it. From inside the jowar-paddy Malla could see the kitchen door, the goods-room door and the sleeping-hall door. He waited for two hours or so. The members of the Desai household entered the kitchen and began to dine together. The sound of the pans and basins and tumblers whetted his appetite. The flavour of holiges and the gravy made his nostrils dilate. The sound of their munching the happalas and sendiges made his mouth water. After a patient wait for an hour or so he saw the men, women and children come out of the kitchen. Desai, his mother and his wife chewed betel and pan and chatted for a while. Then they went into the central hall to sleep. Malla heard the occasional yawning of the members. After everybody retired to the hall, an old lady, probably the mother of Desai sat near the god's room for watching. A lamp was hung from the ceiling. Malla thought it the proper time for him to accomplish his task. He rose from the mass of paddy, which made a rustling sound. He walked slowly towards the old lady. Alarmed by the sound of steps at the dead of night, she looked around and saw the shape coming towards her. She wanted to shout, 40

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stories but before she could do that, Malla's knife was staring at her. Showing the knife by his left hand, he signalled to her by his right hand to keep quiet. The old lady grew dumb with fear. She could not open her mouth. Nor could she move an inch because she felt paralyzed. She considered her life to be more valuable than anything else. She decided to allow the thief to take whatever he liked. Malla thought that the old lady was more than silenced. He left her there and entered the kitchen. He examined every bowl and pan on the shelf and ate the holiges, rice, gravy, happalas and sendiges until his belly was full. Malla then came out of the kitchen and saw the old lady blinking at him blankly. Fear was writ large on her face. Malla stepped into the god's room and stared at the copper pitcher filled with gold ornaments and surrounded by necklaces and chains. The jewels and stones studded in them glittered in the light of two oil-lamps placed before them. Malla felt ecstatic. He experienced an exhilaration of joy and a thrill went through his spine. He felt as if he had had a vision of Goddess Lakshmi. Before he knew what he was doing, his hands had involuntarily lifted the pitcher containing all that gold. He lost no time there. He placed it on his shoulder and came out and saw the old lady still blinking at him. Malla felt pity for the frightened look on her pale face. He spread his turban wide, placed the pitcher on it and tied it. Then he carried the pitcher covered with the turban on his shoulder and started walking out. But

he remembered something. He wanted to tease Desai. He went to the door of the sleeping room and called out ―Desai, Desai!‖ Desai, who was snoring deeply felt disturbed and groaned, ―Who's that? What do you want at this odd time?‖ Malla said in a firm voice, ―Dear Desai, I am Malla of Nagarahalli. I have come to tell you that I am taking your pitcher full of gold. You can take it back from me if you have the guts.‖ Having shouted these words, Malla took to his heels and reached the outskirts of the village, where his pony was tethered. He jumped upon its back and started riding towards Nagarahalli. Hardly had he covered half a mile when he heard the clop-clop of horses behind him. He turned back and saw a posse following him. He spurred his pony and began to gallop. There were five or six fellows chasing him. In order to mislead them he deviated into the fields. As they followed him in the fields, he came back to the road. Then he went along the road, along the bank; along the bridge, along the brook. He teased and irritated his followers. At last when the stars slowly disappeared from the sky, Malla came near the brook called Kurubanahalla, which was a furlong away from Nagarahalli. Malla disappeared into the thickets of Kurubanahalla. The servants of Desai lost track of the thief. By that time Malla had quickly devised and executed his plan. He had found a dry pit of three feet depth in the brook. He sat in that pit and 41

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stories drew a couple of hawthorn branches over himself. His enemies were frantically searching for him in the thickets of the brook. They were abusing him in the foulest possible language. They came near the branches under which Malla had hid himself. But the enemies could not imagine that he might be there. They abused him, ―That whoreson disappeared somewhere here.‖ Malla could hear them and even see them through the twigs. He was giggling at his own trick. The enemies encircled the branches and cursed the wretched thief. At last they gave up the hope of finding him and went back. Soon the sound of the hooves of their horses faded into silence. Malla was sure that his enemies had gone far away from him. He removed the hawthorn twigs from above him and walked towards Nagarahalli. As expected, his pony had already reached home instinctively. Having desperately searched for the great thief, the followers went back in shame to their master and narrated the story of their failure to catch the thief. Directed again by their master, they rode to Nagarahalli once again to complaint to the patron of the great thief. They tapped at the door, which was opened by the bonded labourer, Durgya. ―We have come to meet your Gouda. Please take us to him,‖ they said. They dismounted from their horses and sat on the black woolen bedspread on the platform. Durgya went inside and told the wife of the Gouda to wake her husband. After a couple of

minutes Marigowda came out of the room rubbing his eyes. He stared at the visitors and asked, ‗What's the matter, gentlemen?‘ They stood up and said together, ―Our Desai has sent us, sir. Your Malla has stolen our Desai's pitcher filled with gold ornaments. We request you on our Desai's behalf to arrange for that to be given back.‖ Marigowda knit his eyebrows and appeared to be annoyed. But trying to hide his sense of embarrassment, he said to them that he would ask Malla about it, and went to the backyard. To his surprise, he saw Malla sleeping soundly. Nevertheless he touched Malla's shoulders and awakened him. Malla woke up and pretending complete ignorance of everything he had done the previous night, asked Marigowda, ―What's the matter, master?‖ Marigowda said in a low tone, ―The Desai of Annagiri has sent his men to complaint against you. They say you have stolen their pitcher of gold.‖ Malla felt confused at the moment, but having decided to stick to his original plan said to his patron, ―Master, how can they accuse me of this? Don't you see me sleeping here? I haven't stirred out of my bed throughout the night. How can I steal it? I do not know anything about it.‖ Marigowda took Malla's words to be true. He appeared to have gained some moral courage to face the visitors. He came out and said to them, ―Our Malla was sound asleep. I woke him up and asked him about it. He says he knows nothing about it. Go and tell your Desai that he is confused about the thief. Our Malla has 42

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stories not stirred out of his bed. Your pitcher must have been stolen by someone else.‖ The visitors were confounded and did not know what to say. They rode back to Annagiri not knowing how to face their master. Malla of Nagarahalli was known to everyone in the villages of Dharwad taluka. Malla's name was proverbially associated with success. He had thus become the object of public respect and fear. Crying children were silenced by being threatened to be handed over to the Malla of Nagarahalli. He haunted the imagination of the rich Desais, Patils, Deshpandes and Jagirdars, who spent sleepless nights in contemplation of him. He inspired a heroic spirit in the hearts of young men. He kindled amorous sentiments in the minds of young girls. Thus, ―success‖ had become another name for Malla. He had taken an oath that he would stop his thieving profession the day he met with failure in his ventures. Nearly six months had elapsed. Malla's researching mind was always hankering for interesting news. One day he learnt that there was a gold bowl in the god's room of a landlord of lmrapur. Malla journeyed to lmrapur. He took rest in the temple of Lord Kalmeswara to the west of the village and killed time till midnight. He had put on a soiled dhoti and shirt, so that nobody could identify him. As he felt that the entire village had retired, he thought of executing his plan. He, therefore, went towards the

house of the landlord. He climbed onto the roof of the house. He walked gently lest the insiders should hear his steps. As he had not studied the inside structure of the house, he devised a new plan. He opened the lids of the ceiling-windows and peeped inside the house. He could easily identify the kitchen, the sleeping room and the god's room. Malla made haste to accomplish his task. He opened the ceiling-window of the god's room and using his entire energy, clutched the iron bars of the window and bent them apart so that he could easily slip through them. Hardly five minutes had passed when he descended into the god's room. The wicklamp was flickering because of the wind blowing through the window. Malla scanned each and everything kept on the wooden shrine. The first thing that captured his attention was the golden bowl placed at the centre of the shrine. As usual Malla experienced a thrill in his veins. But when he saw the idol of Lord Virabhadra embossed on the silver plate, he felt terrified, because he knew how fiery Lord Virabhadra was. Malla clutched the gold bowl and mounting on the pegs of the wall, came out of the ceiling-window. He did not have the patience to wait even for a moment there. He ran to his pony and galloped towards Nagarahalli via Annagiri. He reached Annagiri before sunrise and spent much of his time in eating burfi and mirchis and drinking coffee in the newly opened stalls there. 43

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stories At the time of sunrise, the old father of the landlord of lmrapur went to the god's room to perform the morning puja and discovered that the gold bowl was missing from the central spot of the wooden shrine. Surprised, he looked towards the ceilingwindow and saw the iron bars being bent wide apart. The old man forgot to apply vibhuti on his forehead, ran out of the room and told his son what he had seen. The landlord, his wife and children rushed to the god's room and easily concluded that the thief could be none other than Malla of Nagarahalli. They could not prove it though. The landlord went to Annagiri along with his three servants and lodged a complaint at the Police Station there. Malla had become a famous figure for the officers of that Station. The Police Inspector, who knew the extraordinary cleverness of the great thief, not only sent half a dozen constables in search of the fellow, but even took it upon himself to trace him out. The Constables mounted their horses and began their search in likely spots. The Police Inspector, who was riding his horse at the outskirts of Annagiri, felt that he should go to Nagarahalli. Two or three miles later, he could see a human figure riding on an animal in the distance. The Police Inspector whipped his horse to a gallop. When Malla heard the trot of a horse behind him, he could not help identifying the Police Inspector. He thought it unwise to run away from him. The bowl glittered in the sun for a second and fell on the earth with a metallic

ring. The Police Inspector called out to Malla and stood before him. Though inwardly afraid of the extraordinary thief, the Police Inspector put on an authoritative dignity and said to him, ―Malla, you are accused of stealing the golden bowl of the landlord of lmrapur. I have come to recover it from you.‖ Malla's forehead grew wrinkled and his face became contorted. ―Malla, don't you court danger. We have to take you to the dungeon. I say, give it to me without any delay.‖ The Inspector's voice was trembling. Malla flatly denied having stolen it. The Inspector had seen Malla throwing it on the ground, but he could not say it to the thief's face. He cleverly went a few steps ahead and pointing out the golden bowl to Malla, asked him who brought it there. Malla said, ―I don't know anything about it, sir.‖ The smart Inspector wanted to test the thief. So he asked him to pick it up and go home. But the thief, who was smarter than the Inspector said, ―Since it is not mine, why should I take it?‖ This answer disarmed the Inspector, who was at a loss what to do next. Malla, pretending to be indifferent to the golden bowl and the Inspector, rode away until he was no longer visible to the Inspector. The clever thief had not really gone away from there. He had hidden himself behind the bank of a field and was watching the behaviour of the Inspector. The Inspector lingered near the golden bowl lying on the field for nearly ten minutes. He felt tempted to pick it up. But his conscience seemed to warn him against it. He thought 44

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stories of the possible torture that he might have to undergo at the hands of the British authorities in case his crime was detected. His instinct being animadverted by his reason, the Police Inspector thought it wise to leave the golden bowl to the care of the winds. He rode back to his office. Malla was glad when the Police Inspector went away without taking the golden bowl. After he disappeared from there, Malla got up, went up to the spot and picked up the bowl. He was feeling ecstatic about his successful adventure. He went to the west of Nagarahalli and thought of hiding it somewhere. He did not want to take it to his patron's house during the daytime. He tied his pony to the banyan tree at the edge of the country graveyard. He looked around him and confirmed that none was watching him. Unfortunately he had not noticed the village carpenter Manappa, who was easing his bowels behind the shrubs. Malla dug a pit in the graveyard, hid the bowl there and covered it with mud. He heaved a sigh of relief and went towards the village. Hardly had he gone a few steps when he saw the carpenter Manappa relieving himself nearby. Malla was shocked but decided to be prepared for everything. He went home and chatted with his patron for a couple of hours. The drumbeats of the village shepherds were heard in the distance. Malla thought it proper to bring home the golden bowl from the graveyard. He rushed to the cemetery and heard the rustle of eagles fluttering their

wings. He walked to the spot and scratched the earth. He dug up the foot-length of earth but could not feel any utensil. He grew angry and disappointed and instantly guessed the likely thief. He suspected that the carpenter must have stolen it. Malla got up and went home with a pale face. He decided to tackle the thief the next morning. As soon as the sparrows began to twitter in the morning, Malla got up, put on his dhoti and shirt and went to carpenter Manappa's house. Manappa asked him to be seated and wanted to know what the matter was. Malla came directly to the subject and said, ―You have stolen my golden bowl yesterday evening.‖ Manappa knew the popularity of Malla, but did not want to confess his crime. He therefore asked, ―How can you say that I have stolen it?‖ To this Malla reported, ―I know for certain it's you. I saw you relieving yourself when I was returning home.‖ Manappa could not help saying yes through his silence. He asked Malla, ―Have you come to ask it back from me now?‖ ―No‖ said Malla, ―I have not come to do that. I only wanted to tell you that I will steal it from you with your knowledge.‖ These words touched Manappa to the quick. He wanted to meet challenge with challenge and said, ―All right, Malla, I will see how you steal it from me. I have accepted your challenge. Please go ahead with your venture.‖ Malla thought it below his dignity to take the bowl from the rival by force. It would be an insult to his profession, he 45

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stories thought. He accepted the challenge and returned home. The next night, Malla went to Manappa's house about midnight. Before Malla could jump into the compound, Manappa said from his bed, ―I am still awake, Malla.‖ Malla felt insulted and went back. The next night Malla thought Manappa would be asleep after midnight and therefore he went to his house about 2 o'clock and jumped into the compound. Manappa knew that the thief had arrived and said, ―Malla, please know that I am awake.‖ Malla felt insulted once again and went back. Both of them were adamant and wished to win their bets. The third night, Malla went to Manappa's house about 3:30 A.M. Even then Manappa was quite alert and said, ―I am awake, Malla.‖ Malla frequented Manappa's house every night for nearly a month. He went there at different hours of the night. After

continuously trying for thirty nights, Malla felt tired and bored with his venture. At the same time he grew to appreciate Manappa's alertness. Malla had never known defeat in his life. He was intoxicated with perpetual success. This time he had to experience defeat for the first time in his life. He was really humiliated to know that there was a rival who could easily outsmart him. He wanted to leave the golden bowl with Manappa as a reward for the latter's efficiency and alertness. He went to Manappa and said, ―Dear friend, you have won the bet and I accept my defeat.‖ He saluted Manappa with joined palms and took his leave. That was the end of his thieving profession. The next day, Malla was missing from Nagarahalli and nobody knew where he had gone and what had happened to him.

Dr.Basavaraj Naikar, a Ph.D. and D. Litt (California), is a Professor Emeritus, & Former Professor and Chairman, Department of English, Karnatak University, Dharwad, India.

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criticism I criticize by creation - not by finding fault. – Marcus Tullius Cicero

12.

DEEPTANGSHU DAS

Slumdog Millionaire: Body, Nation and Cultural Imperialism This paper is an attempt to examine Slumdog Millionaire, the Oscar winning film in 2008 directed by Danny Boyle, as a narrative of Cultural Imperialism enacted through the body of the protagonist. The movie is centered around the story of Jamal Malik who maps his journey as a destitute slum child to a ‗chaiwala‘ at an Indian call centre and finally becomes a millionaire overnight after winning a popular game show. It is not just about the story of Jamal, it is also a story about Indian poverty, prostitution and the criminal underworld; but a story nevertheless constructed by the First World gaze and the Euro-American exotic mythification and dramatization of Third World backwardness. The very title of the film seems to convey that India can be understood just in terms of these two grand signifiers ―slumdog‖ or the harsh reality of the Third World‘s poverty as opposed to the

―millionaire‖ or the idea of economic power and dominance which becomes the ultimate dream and aspiration of the supposedly impoverished Indians like Jamal. In order to investigate the subtext of Cultural Imperialism, I will focus on one crucial and central trope of the film, which is that of the game show. Jamal‘s participation in an Indian adaptation of the British game show ‗Who Wants to be a Millionaire?‘ becomes the turning point of his life. But what are the larger ideological implications of the game show? How is it connected to the other diverse narratives in the film? This paper will explore some of these concerns while offering a sociological critique of the movie based on the ideas of Euro-American media hegemony and Cultural Imperialism. I would begin by introducing the concept of Cultural Imperialism. John Tomlinson 47

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criticism advocates four ways of talking about Cultural Imperialism which includes mass media, nation-state, capitalism and finally the idea of capital modernity itself. (Tomlinson, 1991: 19-28). As Tomlinson argues, media imperialism becomes a crucial aspect of Cultural Imperialism based on the idea of ―dominance of one culture‘s media (texts, practices) over another‖ or ―the global spread of mass-mediated culture as such.‖ (Tomlinson, 1991: 22). For instance, critics of media imperialism draw our attention towards the market dominance of Western news agencies or the spread of Western television programmes in the Third World. The second aspect of Cultural Imperialism emphasizes on the nation as the site of culture. In other words, as a discourse of nationality Cultural Imperialism becomes a geographical phenomenon where the indigenous culture of a nation or territory is being invaded by a foreign one. (Tomlinson, 1991: 23-24). However, Tomlinson defends a mode of analysis that is historical rather than geographical and thereby sees Cultural Imperialism as a critical discourse of Global Capitalism. In other words, Cultural Imperialism is endowed with a significant role in the spread of capitalism as an economic system. With the rise of global capitalism, there is a spread of a new culture of consumerism or a culture whose central pre-occupation seems to be that of consuming. (Tomlinson, 1991: 24-26). It thereby becomes a process whereby a consumer culture is imposed on developing

countries. But the most important comprehensive category that explains Cultural Imperialism is the critical discourse of Modernity. As a discourse of Modernity, Cultural Imperialism is to be understood in terms of its effects not on the individual cultures, but on the world itself. (Tomlinson, 1991: 26). Tomlinson calls it a comprehensive category precisely because it incorporates the dominance of a set of ―global cultural determinants‖ such as capitalism, urbanism, mass-communication, a technicalrationalist-dominant ideology, a system of secular nation states and so on. (Tomlinson, 1991: 27). In other words, a critique of Cultural Imperialism implies a questioning of the very premises of Modernity itself. This then takes us to the critique of Modernization theory that equates modernity and the goals and methods of development with the colonizing West. In this context Tomlinson puts forward a radical argument that Cultural Imperialism as a process of the spread of capitalist Modernity does not involve ―the invasion of weak cultures by a stronger one but ―the spread of a sort of a sort of cultural decay from the West to the rest of the World.‖ Thereby the impact of capitalist modernity is to be seen in terms of loss rather than that of domination. (Tomlinson, 1991: 164). Having established the connection between Cultural Imperialism and the forces of 48

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criticism global modernity, my paper would now focus on a very crucial trope deployed in Slumdog Millionaire-the trope of the game show. The entire movie is centered around the game show- an Indian adaptation of the British popular show ‗Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?‘- Jamal participates and finally triumphs as the millionaire after undergoing immense emotional turmoil and physical torture. I would argue that this very presence of the game show is a symbolic marker of Cultural Imperialism in the movie. But in order to elaborate on the ideological baggage of the game show, I believe it would be useful to place it within the larger context of ‗Glocalization‘ and the popular practices of ‗TV Programme Cloning‘ and ‗Format Adaptations.‘ According to Mahmoud M. Galander, the term glocalization refers to ―the trend of local production of game and entertainment shows in the local environment and with local actors in Japan and other Asian countries.‖ (Galander, 2008: 12). Through joint ventures with local producers the global media giants widen its scope of localization. As Galander argues that in an age of global communication, glocalization allows the process of hybridization where both the local and global are rejected by the audience thereby constructing a new reality and a separate identity. (Galander, 2008: 9). However, this new media reality does not reflect the actual reality.

According to A.O Thomas, the practice of ‗format adaptation‘ or ‗programme cloning‘ refers to the process ―when the cluster of production ideas and techniques that comprise a programme in one television market is used to make a similar programme, usually in another domestic market.‖ (Owen). Thomas argues that the industry rationales for adapting television programmes are economic pragmatism and cultural hybridity. Des Fredman in his essay ‗Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? The Politics of Television Exports‘ points out that in the era of globalization media flows are increasingly shaped by transnational corporations working in transnational markets. He draws attention as to how the UK and the USA have hegemonized television exports and Britain being the largest European exporter of television programmes. For instance, the Millionaire format has already been sold to 50 countries and interestingly, the international success of this programme has been described by Paul Smith (the MD of the production company that originally devised Millionaire) in a colonial language. As quoted in Fredman‘s essay ―It‘s a bit like the old days of the British Empire.‖ (Feedman). Fredman connects the television programme export culture with the commercialization of English language and the principle of creativity that lies at the heart of the new British economy. Amir Hetsroni offers a similar critical insight by looking at the game show culture as ―most unsophisticated 49

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criticism expression of the capitalistic myth that rewards achievements with cash or moneyworth goods.‖ (Hetsroni). This also reminds us the Indian context, where ‗Kaun Banega Crorepati‘ has been criticized as a representative of the great middle class dream of upward social mobility. There is a strong sense of bonding between a particular participant and the larger body of audiences and viewers. (Vishwanathan). As I have mentioned earlier, it would be useful to contextualize Slumdog Millionaire within the complex scenario of global media practices. As a British director Danny Boyle and his team belong to a cultural zone that has a dominating presence in the global trading of television programmes. And this might be the reason why his film about the typical rags to riches story of a young Indian man managed to win the Oscars. I now move on to offer an analysis of the game show in Slumdog Millionaire. In the film, the game show is highly psychologized as it becomes the space where Jamal‘s past and the childhood memories of his slum life interact with his present moment. The questions posed to him by the sarcastic and sinister show host, Prem Kumar (as played by Anil Kapoor) trigger a set of flashbacks where we are shown glimpses of Jamal‘s life in a thrilling and melodramatic fashion. There is a strong connection between those questions and Jamal‘s life experiences.

I will cite some interesting instances from the movie itself. The game starts with the question- ―Who was the star in the 1973-hit film Zanjeer?‖ and Jamal knows the answer because it is deeply engraved in his childhood nostalgia of jumping into a pool of excreta for the sake of obtaining the iconic Amitabh Bachchan‘s autograph. (quoted from the movie). The question itself is quite interesting. It conveys a sense of Indianness associated with legendary Bollywood heroes. At that moment, Jamal is projected as the quintessential Indian whose identity gets tied to the Bollywood culture. For the Western viewer this would serve as a good entry point to explore the notion of being ‗Indian‘ through Jamal Malik. The second question pertains to the National Emblem of India.[xvi] The third one is rather interesting- ―In depictions of Lord Rama, he is famously holding what in his right hand?‖: thereby reminding Jamal of the traumatic memory of a communal riot where his mother gets killed. As we know from our knowledge of current Indian politics that Lord Rama is indeed the symbol of Hindutva ideology as propounded by the BJP and RSS. Yet again the question gets loaded with strong ideological subtext where a personal trauma of communal riot is juxtaposed with the idea of Indian mythology and Hindu tradition. And the viewer never fails to detect the irony. The fourth question is ―The song Darshan Do Ghanshyam was written by which 50

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criticism famous Indian poet?‖ and it combines Jamal‘s horrifying recollection of child labour and trafficking with the tradition of Indian Bhakti literature. It seems that the questions themselves are constructing a dual picture of India. At the objective level, they offer glimpses of various set-pieces of Indian culture, mythology and tradition. At the same time, Jamal‘s responses to them operate at an intensely subjective level and thereby become a device to represent the darker realities of Indian society. There is a shift in the nature of the multiple-choice questions by the time we reach Jamal‘s adolescence and youth. The fifth question pertains to Benjamin Franklin‘s portrait on the American One Hundred Dollar Bill. Thereby we see a transition from the local to the global, the American Dollar symbolizing the dominance of the US in global economy. The sixth question is regarding the inventor of the ―revolver‖ thereby building up the subtext of criminality and violence. The seventh question relates to Jamal‘s present adult life- ―Cambridge Circus is in which UK city?‖ Jamal intelligently argues that it has to be London, and this time the experience of working at a call centre comes handy. The presence of the call centre in the film is again a reminder of the new global culture of information technology marked by the hegemonic presence of the United States. So from these observations I would argue that within the narrative of the film itself, the game show becomes the meeting point of the local and the global, the past and

the present. It becomes a signifier of the process of ‗glocalization‘ and a carrier of cultural imperialism. It plays an important role in Danny Boyle‘s construction of India and Indianness through the lens of the allpervading West. Now I would elaborate more on the idea of Oriental stereotyping as evident from the cinematic narrative of Slumdog Millionaire. As mentioned before, the very title seems to have constructed India within the two polarities- poverty and the dream of economic power. In fact the term ―Slumdog‖ itself is quite insolent and reportedly a group of slum dwellers in Mumbai had held a silent protest against this (Jamkhandikar). K. Hariharan calls the movie as ―one of the gratuitous fantasies to be created about India in the 21st century.‖ (Hariharan). I agree with Hariharan‘s critique that the movie relies heavily on caricatures rather than serious characterization. For instance, the figures of the brutal policeman, the school teacher, the insulting game show host are all caricatures thereby questioning the authenticity of representation in the movie. The entire movie is full of stereotypes that sustain the Westerner‘s notion of what it means to be in India and to be an Indian. The movie begins with the torture scene at the police station where Jamal is interrogated and treated in the most dehumanizing way. This scene offers a monstrous portrayal of Indian police thereby arousing the first repulsive image of 51

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criticism India. A few moments later there is a scene where a group of slum children are playing cricket on the airport runway thereby juxtaposing the image of poverty with the image of economic development and prosperity. Then comes the most obnoxious scene in the movie where the child Jamal jumps into a pool of excreta in order to get Amitabh Bachchan‘s autograph. It is a dehumanized and insensitive portrayal of a slum child while also conveying that poverty is inextricably linked with dirt, filth and lack of hygiene. In other words, the movie ends up constructing Jamal‘s body as the symbolic landscape of India controlled by the forces of violence and poverty. It is interesting to see how the movie engages with the idea of violence itself. Through Jamal Malik, Boyle offers his viewers a glimpse of how violence is an integral part of Indian society, be it personal or communal. The communal riot scene focuses on the vulnerability of the Muslim community in India and there is a subtle emphasis on Jamal‘s Muslim identity. As I have discussed before, most of the questions in the game show deal with Hindu mythology and culture thereby focusing on how Jamal as a Muslim has to negotiate with the dominant Hindu narratives of Indian society. The film also draws a strong connection between violence and the female body through the portrayal of Latika whose body gets literally commodified through forced prostitution, and also a body that is

sexually assaulted and physically attacked. The representation of criminality and villainy in the movie also demands some critical attention. It is worked out in such a way that poverty gets equalized with trickery and criminality. For instance, we are shown how the adolescent Jamal and Salim undergo an adventurous life by stealing food from train passengers and by fooling foreign tourists at the Taj Mahal. As the story moves further, the viewer is transported to the dark spaces of Mumbai‘s urban sub-culture marked by prostitution and gang criminality. In fact through the characters of Jamal and his villain turned martyr brother Salim, Boyle seems to suggest that in India there are only two ways available to come out of poverty- one way is through crime itself (as Salim does) and the other through the magical forces of luck and destiny as seen in Jamal‘s case. In other words, Slumdog Millionaire does take up the serious issue of Indian poverty but gradually it ends up dramatizing it and offers a convenient fairy tale ending thereby making Jamal as the embodiment of dreams and aspiration of the Indian masses. Slumdog Millionaire is undoubtedly a construction of Indian reality through the lens of the developed West. This idea is visible in another interesting scene in the middle of the film. Jamal is being bashed up terribly by an Indian cab-driver and an American couple comes to his rescue. Jamal sarcastically tells them that this is the ―better 52

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criticism view‖ of India and the lady in response to that offers him money thereby projecting herself as the ―Real American‖. In a larger sense it can be seen as an expression of the condescending attitude of the First World. The use of language in the film is also a marker of Cultural Imperialism. There are often abrupt transitions from English to Hindi and even ‗Hinglish‘ including verbal abuses and slangs. Boyle cleverly manipulates language in order to satisfy the demands of a global audience. On the whole the film ends up celebrating the Western stereotypes regarding India. Through the use of high suspense and melodrama Boyle

succeeds in conveying that Jamal‘s journey from an anonymous ―slumdog‖ to a popular millionaire can be read as the archetypal dream of every impoverished Indian. Though one should keep in mind that in the recent past accomplished film directors like Deepa Mehta, Madhur Bhandarkar and Meera Nair have engaged critically with multiple social realities and contradictions of Indian society right from the oppression of women, the marginalization of homosexuals, the victims of corporate politics while also celebrating new social possibilities and identities.

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criticism References 1. Tomlinson, John. Cultural Imperialism: A Critical Introduction. London & New York: Continuum, 1991. 2. Galander, Mahmoud M. ―Global Communication and Cultural Desensitization: Repackaging Western Values for Non-Western Markets.‖ Intellectual Discourse. 16.1. (2008): 1-19. 3. Amos Owen Thomas, ―Cultural Economics of TV programme cloning: or why India has produced multi- ―millionaires‖ <http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?articleid=1538034> 4. Fredman, Des. ―Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? The Politics of Television Exports.‖ Paper presented to the International Communication section of the International Studies Association Convention, Chicago, 20-24. February 2001. <http://isanet.ccit.arizona.edu/archive/freedman.html> 5. Hetsroni, Amir. ―The Quiz Show as a Cultural Mirror: Who Wants to be a Millionaire in the English-Speaking World.‖ Atlantic Journal of Communication, 13:2, 97-112. < http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s15456889ajc1302_3> 6. Shiv Vishwanathan‘s ―The Crorepati Narratives‖ JSTOR. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/4409671> 7. Shilpa Jamkhandikar ―Slumdog Premieres in India amid Oscar fanfare.‖ Reuters. US ed. <http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/01/22/us-slumdog-premiere-sbidUSTRE50L4WW20090122> 8. K. Hariharan, ―Orientalism for a global market.‖ The Hindu. Sunday, February 15, 2009. a. <http://www.hindu.com/mag/2009/02/15/stories/2009021550180500.ht>

Deeptangshu Das is currently pursuing his Masters in English literature from St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi. He has published a paper on Virginia Woolf in Quiet Mountain Essays- A Journal of Women’s Writing. (Summer 2011; Vol. IX, No.II) His poetry has appeared with Muse India and Poetfreak etc.

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book review The artist doesn’t have time to listen to the critics. The ones who want to be writers read the reviews, the ones who want to write don’t have the time to read reviews. – William Faulkner

13.

DR. SHUJAAT HUSSAIN

Review on MAKING A POEM The most attractive feature of the book, Making a Poem is its simple language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree. We may call it a sign of great ‗literature‘. Vihang Naik is widely acclaimed and admired, and honoured with many national and international accolades. He is also one of the twinkling stars on the horizon of Indian English poetry. Making a Poem is a record of the poet‘s ideals, hopes, motives, observations and experiences. Through this book he has propounded his theory of poetry which he wants the poets of today to follow and practice. Making a Poem contains 25 poems broadly divided into five parts. Each poem is an exercise in itself. We can see the smallest poem of this book entitled ―A Poem Comes Alive‖ is the thinnest in shape despite the fact that the title suggests ‗Alive‘. There are altogether nine lines, five lines of a single word only, three lines of two words, and the last and the longest line possesses five words. The poet gives an idea of the function of the ink that creates images in the poem and injects life in the words. According to his view, image and life are the essential components of a poem. We should consider it the lifeline of a poem. Naik‘s expertly demonstrates ‗effective economy‘ of words as the essence of poetry through his poem ―A Poem Comes Alive‖. The very first poem of his book, ―Woman and Man‖ states that the function of the poet is to play upon the rhymes and frame the words in such a way as to describe beauty or ugliness, virtues or 55

CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

book review evils, ignorance or enlightenment of a man or a woman. Whatever the poet creates through his art is not temporal; it would not vanish in one night. Naik asserts that the making of the poet is something eternal. So the poets invariably keep in mind that the longevity of a poem serves the purpose, and the word finds sweetness, depth and sincerity of devotional feeling, a selfforgetfulness and humble adherence to truth. At the same breath he realizes the necessity of image because it appeals directly to the eye, the ear, or the senses of touch, taste and smell. Great poets like Keats, Tennyson, Herrick, Wordsworth and Coleridge also practiced in this in their respective poetry. ―A Reader‘s Response‖ is a poem that has definite grasp on the vein of the readers: the poet must know their demand. The demand may be a vulgarity in taste, which has to be quenched but the poet must also realize their accountability along with the interest of the readers. Readers are limited; one has to understand the importance of their time as to how they spare time to read poetry. ―Handle Theme with Great Care‖ asserts the voice of Naik in the poem. Words and phrases are employed not only for their musical effect but also for the spirit to infuse, to present something remarkable for the welfare of human beings. The function of a poet is not to create a nude body out of words for the readers; it is not only for sensuous pleasure and enjoyment. He has to exercise sense and sensibility at the time of making a poem as well. The kind of poem that may be called great in the view of Naik should have unending meanings, be seductive and reveal itself gradually. Vihang Naik puts up a very wise question with the intention to make the people understand the purpose of their creation- destruction, mokti and moksha. It‘s nature. A process of cycle is a symbol of life and activities. Words employed like ‗creation, destruction, mokti and moksha‘ in ―A Poem and Question‖ sends messages to the poets that what they write or make is a creation, so it should be alive. If it does not attain life then it must categorically be uttered as ‗destruction‘. It may misguide and may cause to commit some evils. A sensible creation guarantees mokti and moksha. The modern poetry is marked with the amalgam of words which are taken from other languages. T. S. Eliot has used words such as Ganga, Kimavant, Da, Datta and Shantih to suit his ideas that he wants to communicate in the poem The Waste Land likewise Naik has used words Mokti and Moksha to attain his desired object with the buttress of mystic approach. 56

CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

book review Naik says in his poem ―A Disturbed Sleep‖ that those poets are ‗dead‘ who haunt dream. Such kinds of poets do not exercise their mind and have no eyes upon the surroundings at the time of writing poems. An absence of inspirational instinct in the poems may be a collection of words but sans the soul. What‘s the use of making a castle in the air? To soar high with a wixen wings is just like a sweet dream which lacks human perception of lives and cannot attain universality and eternity which is the essence of poetry. We must have a look at the last stanza of this poem: List night,/You remember/The mosquito fight/You could not win. It is a symbolic fight. Mosquito is considered to be a tiny and feeble insect which could not be defeated in the fight. So we cannot think of the strong animals like lion or tiger which is ferocious. Naik is of the view that edge and capability to become victorious serve the purpose of poetry. ―Are You Looking For That Poet?‖ is itself a question. Naik visualizes the past before the readers when the poets of his caliber tell the ‗secrets of a mermaid‘ but now we do not find such ‗Oracles of Signs and Judgments‘. Of course, there is a message regarding ‗roses and poses‘ which will be dying tomorrow. Distinction between man and poet is hardly traceable. True knowledge and perception of life, object of permanent and enduring significance, perception of truth, utility and beauty, ideas, philosophy, symbols, imagination, rhyme, rhythm, melody, music, metaphor, simile, precious mind with the quality of thought are the ingredients that enables the poet to view life through them. Poems should be a full display of the united force of study and genius, and is a great collection of materials. Naik seems bold and brave because he satirizes people of his own field as it may be harbinger of criticism from all directions and could be a daunting task to shield himself from sharp shoots. Piercing words for the poets are as follows: A voice hooting in the traffic/ With stale words and…. The grim realities of life have shattered the romantic dreams. There is in the poet a reaction against ‗roses‘ and ‗poses‘. He can no longer remain content with weaving around him a cobweb 57

CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

book review of beautiful illusions. He has to plunge deep into the embarrassments, disillusions and distresses that characterize sophisticated society in which he lives. According to Naik, writing a poem at the age of seventeen appears early, and the poet is likely to lose ‗Swarg‘ which is an eternal abode where one is supposed to enjoy all desired pleasure. Life begins for ‗Nark‘ since immaturity, and unbaked knowledge leads towards hell where there is no peace. Tranquility at the age of 30 is the perfect stage when the poet would already have attained maturity to be well aware of the utility of his art, and sublime thoughts would be available to the poet‘s mind to write highly ignited poems. ―A Play‖ is a poem wherein Naik finds not much difference between the poet, philosopher and a fool. But I would like to express my view that those poets who are able to create a difference from that of a fool or a philosopher get their place in the history of English poetry; otherwise just like a pale leaf they fall to the ground and become a part of the dust, disappearing forever. The readers welcome the poet as a teacher and moralist, because they know that in his hands the truths of life will acquire a higher value. Naik knows enigmatic nature of poetry. ―A Story‖ describes the poet‘s problems. When the poet desires to delineate what he possesses in his mind it slips out of his hand. The poem lands in the opaque zone where darkness prevails and the entire efforts call amiss. Words lose their flavour and significance. The shape does not appear according to the conceived thoughts. However, the poet goes further, altogether courting fruitlessness. To err is human. No man is perfect. These two words ‗Love‘ and ‗reality‘ are hailing from two different worlds. One belongs to the sphere of emotion, wherein the mind ceases to control, and turns even a brilliant man blind. His art gets swayed by passion. On the other hand a ‗sense‘ of reality imparts an extra insight to view and experience the beauty of the world. If a poet deals with the subject of ‗reality‘, Naik calls him a mechanic as he is simply skilled in his subject but cannot feel the passion complementary to it. How can a man be called a poet? A woman stands before him. He has material and subject too. He hopes that it will inspire him to venture a verse for her. If a poem is written, it can be interesting too. But he could not muster the confidence. His feet begin to tremble and he anticipates failure. Such a man cannot be called a poet. That is the message of the poem, frankly referred to as ―I am not a Poet‖. 58

CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

book review ‗Clarity‘ is a must in a poem. Farfetched references, bombastic words, parades of erudition, redundancy, and various complexities creates a poem that is without texture. They are unable to attract attention of the readers. It‘s all fanfare with nothing substantial. ―A Poem Profiles‖ is a dose to the poets; a precious advice to abstain from ‗vagueness‘. Naik compares a young poet with an animal that is all instinct. Hence in view of Naik, young poets lack sense and sensibility. Possessions of certificates and knowledge at an early age do not guarantee a poet. Yes, age with experiences and maturity make people capable of understanding the current scene and situation and enable them to give shape to the ideas with meaningful words in correct form. This is the theme of his poem ―The Poet as a Young Man‖. In ―A Maker of Life‖ the poet is talking of life in a book instead of life of human beings on Earth. The poet will have to highlight the wounds in and around the lives of human beings. ―Making a Poem‖ is a beautiful poem with all its variety and resources, fullness of structure and material and its range in mood. The solid foundation and characters has blessed this poem with an eternity and universality. With the rolling of age, one acquires knowledge, an awareness of the surroundings, and with these experiences and skill the poet can utilize every material in his kitty and stamina to burn the midnight oil; to toil and afford the computation of energy without monetary gain which is essentially required for survival. The poet is complete as earlier said in different poems: … the pen runs/Out of ink. Refill. The sound/Of music resonates. Sheets Flap,/The dance of the black ink and/Little light. A poem is made. ‗The dance of the black ink and little light‘ suggest that the echo of poem will be heard, the name of the poet will be found on the tongues of the people. Criticism of life, nature as a teacher, longing of man for God, love, despair, disillusionment, men, women, optimism, realism, romanticism, protest against the destruction of sub-human kingdom, passion for humanity, painful struggle, cry of bread and poor toiling labourers are the themes that are taken by the poets in the present time to express their moods. What sort of poetry will enable an aspirant to become a poet? Should he write of the urge to fly with birds against the sun or wish to walk down the street of a city as a stranger or a desire to be alone amid the crowd, be lost in the flow or listen to rains or jungle drum beats, howl with wolves or talk to walls? 59

CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


August 2012

book review Critics will decide who is a poet, poets are going to decide who is a poet, readers are to decide who is to be called a poet or what content and technique of a poet shall be considered as a decisive yardstick for a poet to follow. The attention of the readers has been directed chiefly to the contents of poetry and also its general importance as an interpretation of life. A few poems have also been devoted to the technical aspects. There is a vital connection between poetic feeling and rhythmical expression. ―Making a Poem‖ is not the mocking voice, on the contrary it strives to be the guiding light which shows the way to be followed by the poets in accordance with the pattern elaborated: thus a monument to the peers. I am of the view that this book will stand the test of time and become a part of the imperishable Indian literary heritage.

Book Title: Making a Poem Author: Vihang A. Naik Publisher: Allied Publishers Limited, Mumbai, India. ISBN: 81 - 7764 - 584 – 6 First Published: 2004 Edition: Hardbound

Dr. Shujaat Hussain, with distinction in Ph. D in American Literature, is a prolific and celebrated international book reviewer, eminent literary critic, sensitive poet and creative author of eminence. He is credited to be widely anthologized in Indian history of English poetry and credited books to his. He has been honoured with several national and international accolades for unique qualities in his writing that reflects individuality and leads a new trend that fully dedicated to the welfare of humanity through his criticism and poetry. He can be contacted at drshujaat@rediffmail.com.

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CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.


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editor’s talk

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CLRI August2012  

Contemporary Literary Review India August 2012 brings out a collection of writings by Khurshid Alam, Jessica Tyner, Gale Acuff, James Rose,...

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