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

CLRI Print Edition ISSN 2250-3366

April 2013

Editor-in-Chief: Khurshid Alam

Rs.30.00 / $2.0


April 2013

contents 1. EDITORIAL ...................................................................................................................................... 2

Poetry ...................................................................................... 5 2. ASHA CHOUBEY............................................................................................................................. 6 Anagnorisis – I ................................................................................................................................. 6 Anagnorisis – II ................................................................................................................................ 6 3. GARY BECK .................................................................................................................................... 8 Misunderstood .................................................................................................................................. 8 Dependency ..................................................................................................................................... 9 4. JOSHUA BURTON ........................................................................................................................ 10 Stop Free ....................................................................................................................................... 10 5. OINDRI SENGUPTA ...................................................................................................................... 11 Dream............................................................................................................................................. 11 6. PETER FELLOWS ......................................................................................................................... 12 Soho ............................................................................................................................................... 12 7. DR. SUGANDHA AGARWAL ........................................................................................................ 14 My Precious Princess..................................................................................................................... 14 8. TATJANA DEBELJACKI ................................................................................................................ 16 ARE THERE ................................................................................................................................... 16 INCUBUS – INCUBI ....................................................................................................................... 16 LOVES AND DAMNATIONS, MOTHER ........................................................................................ 17 9. WILLIAM DORESKI ....................................................................................................................... 19 Pink Lemonade .............................................................................................................................. 19 Paperback Mysteries ...................................................................................................................... 20

Story ...................................................................................... 22 10. CHANDRA GHOSH JAIN .............................................................................................................. 23 Weddings ....................................................................................................................................... 23 11. LOLA RODRIGUEZ ....................................................................................................................... 25 The Beggar’s Legs ......................................................................................................................... 25 12. MAITREYEE B CHOWDHURY ...................................................................................................... 30 A Mad Husband? ........................................................................................................................... 30 13. MARIA ELSA DA ROCHA.............................................................................................................. 33 Etê Etê Morhà ................................................................................................................................ 33


April 2013 14. MURLI MELWANI .......................................................................................................................... 37 Sunday with Mary ........................................................................................................................... 37

Criticism................................................................................ 41 15. ARGHYA CHAKRABORTY ........................................................................................................... 42 The Birth of Adam and The Death of God-A Study of The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo .... 42 16. IFTIKHAR LONE ............................................................................................................................ 45 Ice-Candy-Man: The Subaltern Speaks ......................................................................................... 45 17. JAYSHREE SINGH ........................................................................................................................ 50 The Female Players in the Selected Plays of Kalidasa ................................................................. 50 18. K. PRUDCHENKO ......................................................................................................................... 63 Oedipa Maas and the Absurd ........................................................................................................ 63 19. TARUN KUMAR YADAV................................................................................................................ 67 Female Portrayal in A Handful of Rice ........................................................................................... 67

Book Reviews....................................................................... 72 20. JOÃO CERUQEIRA’S TRAGEDY OF FIDEL CASTRO ................................................................ 73 Book Review by Maisah B. Robinson ............................................................................................ 73 21. DR. DALIP KHETARPAL’S FATHOMING INFINITY ..................................................................... 78 Book Review by Dr. Pratap Kumar Dash ....................................................................................... 78 22. BOOK RELEASES ......................................................................................................................... 90


April 2013

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

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EDITORIAL

CLRI

April 2013 issue brings to you a fine collection of POEMS by Asha Choubey, Gary Beck, Joshua Burton, Oindri Sengupta, Peter Fellows, Dr. Sugandha Agarwal, Tatjana Debeljacki, William Doreski; STORIES by Chandra Ghosh Jain, Lola Rodriguez, Maitreyee B Chowdhury, Maria Elsa Da Rocha, Murli Melwani; CRITICISM by Arghya Chakraborty, Iftikhar Lone, Jayshree Singh, K. Prudchenko, Tarun Kumar Yadav; Book Reviews of João Ceruqeira’s Tragedy Of Fidel Castro, Dr. Dalip Khetarpal’s Fathoming Infinity; and Book Releases of Aju Mukhopadhya (The World of Sri Aurobindo’s Creative Literature, Mother of All Beings), Bob Hartley (Following Tommy), Sonya Dunkley (Sammie Miller) ***

Korupshun (where corruption shines) We are tired of hearing about corruptions. Every other day a new corruption is exposed in a department of an organization. Each time, we are more surprised than before. But one thing that bothers me if we really understand what corruption is. Who is corrupt? Really understand? Joking!!! No. We regard corruption only those activities that are done by politicians and bureaucrats and that run in millions of rupees. Surprisingly corruption has grown so much into us that we do not regard some of the corrupt means as corrupt. We do not consider thieving of electric power, bunking of due taxes, paying bribe to get ration cards, voter cards, and many other documents done without following legal process as corrupt. It is in all departments and all organizations. If you select a department or organization randomly—education board, municipal corporations, hospitals, leave police and courts—and carry out an investigation, you will come across innumerable irregularities and corruptions. Everywhere, every department. Let me recall one remarkable dialogue of Danny Denzongpa from the film 16 December (directed by Mani Shankar, 2002). Danny is aptly true when he says 99% of us is corrupt, as corruption is umpteen in almost every walk of life, both private and public. Here I will not lecture about what corruption is or will not request anyone to stop corruption, for the sake of our country or so on and so forth. Becoz our skin has grown thick. How??? My focus is different here. I want to show how corruption is inculcated in new minds and how people are prepared to be corrupt. Example one, teachers at many government colleges do not take classes regularly, they simply come to sign the attendance register and draw the salary. The

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students who hope to take the classes loiter around the campus for some time, then gradually they also start bunking classes. Not sure! I invite you to check the attendance register of the teachers and students at colleges and universities. On the register, you will find the teachers’ signatures and a P marking for the presence of the students and the classes empty. The students learn how to bunk the classes, and when they become teachers themselves, they repeat it very skillfully. Don’t forget the cheap politics and lobbying to become a Principal at a college, or Head in a department of a university. Wait, the list is inclusive and not conclusive. Many authorities in various sports departments violate the sports rules in preparing their sportpersons who represent their departments and states. For example, many players of high age are shown as low age, they are issued fake age certificates, (though ossification is also carried out to determine the age) so they can play the games against the players of lower age and win easily. Thereby they teach them how to do corruption. Don’t forget about the case of doping. An effort of winning the games anyways. I remember one incident at RTO (Regional Transport Office) when I myself went to apply for a driving license. One person, seemingly a driver by profession, who was standing in queue with me was complaining that his application was rejected because he applied for a driving license all by himself. So the authority at RTO asked him to apply through some agent than apply directly. And the agents were demanding good money which he was unable to pay. I do not know how he got the license finally. But the question I want to put here: what is the process of applying for a driving license? Can anyone not apply directly? Or everyone must apply through an agent? Hang on the windows of a railway station. Place the receipt of passengers to book tickets. Don’t get surprised when you are told, rooms not available, from inside the window. Ah, don’t lose hope. Be calm. Turn around. You will meet agents calling nearby, outside the window. A few hands distance between the inside-window and the outside-window. Ask one, he will bring tickets for you for as many passengers as you need, and of course to your destination, at too inflated price. No issues. Forget about everything. You get the tickets after all. Enjoy a safe journey on little cared-about-railways. Years back I stopped by a sharbat wala (seller of homemade cold drinks) by one of the central roads in Kolkata. I saw a bus driver rushing pass through NO U TURN. He threw a 5-rupee coin at the traffic police rudely and took the right turn at a high speed. Two other traffic policemen were resting under the shadow of the trees where the sharbat wala was doing his business. I dared to ask the policemen why you people tolerate such a rude bahaviour. One of them made a face and said what do you know how we became policemen. We also paid bribe so we have to earn back that amount. And also we balm the palm to get posted at favorite posts, so the pushand-pull of earning money remains lifetime. You’re young, you won’t understand these things now. Go away from here and mind your own business. Private companies acquire lands, earn special tax reliefs and get the license to run business by paying hefty money to politicians and authorities which in many cases result into huge revenue losses to the government. Their audits are always crook. Many companies keep different records about their business, payment, resources, and income. They destroy those documents that may

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make them liable. The biggest shot is, many companies hire consultants, who are government servants in tax departments, to prepare how to manage the irregularities. The level of corruption is so high that even if some dutiful citizens try to follow to get the thing done in a legal process, they face so many hurdles, doctored by the authorities and their agents that they too give in and come on the tracks: they are forced to get their works done by paying money than following rules. So even those who do not want to follow corrupt means are forced to.

Khurshid Alam Editor-in-Chief Contemporary Literary Review India

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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

Poetry

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2.

ASHA CHOUBEY

Anagnorisis – I Do you know … It’s my song that you sing… My soul that breathes in you. I gave you birth… to live. It’s my eyes that you see with; My sound you hum. I reared you up. and all this I did… so … so you could be my friend … my partner. You fool! How dare you presume… You are my Saviour?… Be what you are… Know yourself. Know that you are my creation… You Frankenstein! Don’t you try to be my boss Anagnorisis – II I know you are proud ‘coz, you know, This little dot on my forehead is you. The vermillion in my parting is you too. I know it makes you feel superior, that… All over my body is your sign… I see the pride in your eyes Hardly matters, for me… After all, it only touches my body… My soul … Free… Free… Free… as a bird. 6


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You bully me … and I, too lazy to react… too happy to let your smile disturb me; but your scorn I will not take. Proud… that I am. A woman proud. After all, you are only signs… and… the choice is mine… Look… now… I wipe you off! Now you are nothing… absolutely nothing; but… Can you delete me from your life? Your very existence, you owe to me. Can you hold your head high? Now… …that you lick the dust, I threw you into. Know, you fool. I am not a woman… too low to be a man; but A woman… too good to be a man!

Dr. Asha Choubey is an Associate Professor of English and Head of the Department of Humanities at MJP Rohilkhand University, Bareilly. Her books Women on Women and The Fictional Milieu of Nayantara Sahgal have been very well received. Her stories and poems have appeared in various international journals such as Literary Paritantra, Apple Valley Review, Quiet Mountain Essays. Also Dr. Choubey is an annotator for the Postcolonial section of Routledge’s Annotated Bibliography. Dr. Choubey was awarded 2010 visiting fellowship to the Dept. of Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies, Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest, Hungary jointly by UGC, India and HSB, Hungary. At present she is editing an anthology on Women’s writing, besides working on a major project on Language Anxiety funded by the UGC, of which she is the Principal Investigator.

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3.

GARY BECK

Misunderstood When we take military action we're called hegemons, accused of building empire. Civil libertarians shriek at infringements of real or imagined rights at the instigation of the A.C.L.U., mindlessly supported by the political left. Granted we have made serious mistakes, like feeble explanations for the invasion of Iraq, or when we mishandled the devastating disaster of hurricane Katrina for all the world to see. Yet if we do nothing, Rwanda, Darfur, other genocides that visit the helpless will continue, while the U.N. convenes, deliberates at length, but is prevented from taking action by Russia or China, intent on their own agenda, unconcerned with peace on earth.

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Dependency For many years our way of life was the tao of oil, that heated our homes, fueled our cars, was used so much we never thought we were addicted. Now that we are hooked, strung out, dependent, the pushers have gone mad, driven by greed beyond all reason, threatening to leave us trapped in darkness.

Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director. He has many chapbooks to his credit including Remembrance (Origami Condom Press), The Conquest of Somalia (Cervena Barva Press), The Dance of Hate (Calliope Nerve Media), Material Questions (Silkworms Ink), Dispossessed (Medulla Press), Mutilated Girls (Heavy Hands Ink), Pavan and other poems (Indigo Mosaic), and Iraq Monologues (Atlantean Press). His anthologies include Days of Destruction (Marie Celeste Press), Expectations (Rogue Scholars Press), Dawn in Cities (Winter Goose Publishing), Assault on Nature (Winter Goose Publishing) and Songs of a Clerk (Winter Goose Publishing), while his novel includes Extreme Change (Cogwheel Press). His Acts of Defiance (Artema Press) is going to be published soon. His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway. His poetry and fiction have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines. He currently lives in New York City.

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4.

JOSHUA BURTON

Stop Free Wake up‌ wake up. I am not asleep anymore counting the innumerable signs of endless grief, gaping hills soaring to the bottom, and green escapes going through infinite lights. I am a moment and a breath taken away only to be held onto as tight as misfortune. This moment I am intrigued by all of the falling stars hitting the earth as debris would. I am not anticipating the next page already knowing it was ripped out of my eternity. The eternity that looks for more of a steady pace. The counting and remembering that only holds time. I am every kamikaze fire bird that bolts head first into the earth but returns ascending reaching that indigo extension like a boomerang. Boundless dreaming turns into something impossible. I am, stop free, my eyes are open.

Joshua Burton, a 22-year old college student from Houston, Texas, has just received his Associates in Arts at Lone Star College and plans to attend University of Houston and major in Creative Writing. He has faced many breakdowns since a very young age and still deals with depression. He began writing at the age of 15 and recently got a poem published in the Fall issue of a small independent magazine called Inclement.

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5.

OINDRI SENGUPTA

Dream It is like a dream. A walking in the dream over the phosphorous lands and silicone rivers when the fingers of the road bleed the tune of a broken song when the nights pour water of marbles and my shoulders grow fins. Everything else seems green. It is only in dream that things are purple, and as pure as solitude. It is only in dream that a rose garden and a lake of yellow rubies grow and die, and some naked kisses look for the flesh of my thighs.

Oindri Sengupta, 27 years of age, from India is a postgraduate in English from Calcutta University, Kolkata. She works as a teacher of English in a higher secondary school in West Bengal. Her poetry has appeared in many national and international journals like, Muse India, Kritya, Decanto, Chiron Review, Hudson View, Istanbul Literary Review, Poetry Quarterly etc. Her collection of poetry has been adapted into a play by Alternative Living Theatre, a theatre group based in Kolkata.

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6.

PETER FELLOWS

Soho Wokingham to Waterloo. Please mind the gap or risk terrible mishap. And the subsequent death of everything you thought you’d do Lost on the endless commute. Soho: Media haven. Gone are the days of sexual liaisons beneath the Maharani. Or at least, we don’t see them anymore. I think about my career. Glance at the other candidates. Are they better than me? Probably. He knows his fashion, she’s well, a she. Positive discrimination hits the BBC! Write the Daily Mail. BBC, big black ___? Look elsewhere for something witty. There’s a reason why they call it White City. Write the Daily Mail. I step outside. Tourists looking to buy. People in thick rimmed glasses speed by. Life is slower than this in Wokingham. I get drunk, but not high. That’s not me. That’s too media. I eat sushi. I vomit. You see? You are now approaching Wokingham.

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Peter Fellows is an English poet and writer. As well as completing a degree in Scriptwriting for Film and TV, he has been involved in a number of film productions over the last five years. In the past, Fellows has worked with MTV, Goldcrest Films and HBO, and has had poetry published by DOGEAR and Brief Magazine, amongst others.

Get Your Book Reviewed by Contemporary Literary Review India — journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.

CLRI prides itself to have a good number of review writers. We have different review writers for books of different genres. Our reviews are gaining recognition among the publishers, journals and academia for fair and high quality reviews.

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7.

DR. SUGANDHA AGARWAL

My Precious Princess O my sweet little princess You are lovely, you are cute Your innocent, twinkling eyes Often makes me mute When you touch my cheeks With your tiny fingers It is the magic touch Which will life-long linger Many things may be prettier But for me you are the prettiest The music you produce in alien dialect For me it is the most melodious The reason of my all joys Is only your sweet presence You have stuffed my life With unforgettable fragrance Your beam makes my day Your presence is my precious treasure I love you deeply in everyway Your every act fills me with pleasure Don’t ever panic from hardships Be dauntless and be bold You don’t know what you are You are my Platinum you are my Gold You are the Ruby, Emerald, Sapphire, Pearl, Diamond of my rings May Almighty give flight to your dreams With high spirit and vigorous wings.

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April 2013 Dr. Sugandha Agarwal, Ph. D, works as an Assistant Professor at Moradabad Institute of Technology, Moradabad, UP, India. She has presented many papers at national and international seminars and conferences on English Literature, English Language Teaching, and Communicative English and the role of humanities in technical education. Her papers have been published in various journals. Her areas of interest include ELT, Indian English Literature, contemporary English, poetry and Communicative English. She writes articles, short stories and poetry.

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8.

TATJANA DEBELJACKI

ARE THERE Someone is breaking the branches?! From midnight to the dawn. The forest is trembling inside me. My trees are innocent, Thirsty of milk, Firm hands and The scent of effervesce. I'm drinking my mint tea. I'm bringing tranquility without the aim And the flowers for the vase. When I look at it is never the same. I'm starting to believe in fertility of miracles. Is there the flame, which could turn the heavens Into the ashes? Are there any hands to pick up my ripe apples?!

INCUBUS – INCUBI Do you feel any aches in particular Part of the body that any medications could relief, Neither massage, nor any other therapy could? Do you dream the dreams that become true? Do you suffer from headaches often Those with no real organic cause? Does the «inner voice » sometimes whisper that you should start an argument, smash, adore the devil, do non-consensual sexual activities, incest and alike? Do you feel repulsion towards Praying and addressing to God? No? Do you have cramps or itches in any part of your body With no real organic cause? Do you have a feeling that someone is constantly following you And influencing your life in a negative way? Yes ? I dream from time to time 16


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I dream on regular basis I do not dream LOVES AND DAMNATIONS, MOTHER They said that it didn’t happen, Though it did They said I didn’t see well, But I did. The fear seizes me from all sides It’s the truth. I groan inside me if that is right, But I groan. I hide what I see, But I have to. I know it hurts my mother, But mamma, Hunger wakes me up in the middle of the night, why? I drink a glass of water, hunger is still present, why? Who can understand almost everything, But no one. The tummy is not hungry of hunger, But why? Someone is guilty, But who? For the hundredth time naked legs and chests, But, The sun is fighting to rise, and it is in the chests, But why, who for? And it is And I am It is true It is true. I groaned, I had to And what now, MAMMA?

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Tatjana Debeljački, born 1967 in Užice, writes poetry, short stories, stories and haiku. She has published four collections of poetry: A House Made Of Glass (ART – Užice, 1996), Yours (Narodna knjiga, Belgrade, 2003), haiku poetry Volcano, (Lotos, Valjevo, 2004). A CD book A House Made Of Glass (ART in 2005), bilingual SR-EN with music, AH-EH-IH-OHUH, published by Poeta, Belgrade, 2008. Her poetry and haiku have been translated into several languages. She is a member with various poetry and writers associations including Association of Writers of Serbia –UKS, and Haiku Society of Serbia - HDS Serbia, HUSCG – Montenegro and HDPR, Croatia. She is also the deputy of the main editor (cooperation with magazines & interviews), DIOGEN, and Editor of the magazine "Poeta", published by Writers’ Association "Poeta" (http://www.poetabg.com)

Get Your Book Reviewed by Contemporary Literary Review India — journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.

CLRI prides itself to have a good number of review writers. We have different review writers for books of different genres. Our reviews are gaining recognition among the publishers, journals and academia for fair and high quality reviews.

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9.

WILLIAM DORESKI

Pink Lemonade Because I’m going to war, you prepare a pink lemonade in honor of blood you expect me to spill. My own blood, of course. The blue-green lawn with its blue-green shadows flatters my old khaki uniform, Red Army surplus. Cloudy light illuminates the single tear you shed in memory of my memory. My future wounds thank you, but I’m not a soldier but a reporter, and expect that the war will peter out in a grunt of reluctant handshakes shortly before I arrive. The dead, laid out in the sand, will mummify without excessive decay. The respective armies will salvage damaged tanks and armored cars and recover brass shell casings to recycle for a future bout. I’ll write boring sketches of men with scratchy beards playing cards and grousing over scanty rations. Maybe I’ll win a Pulitzer for the dullest feature stories of the year. Don’t cry. Your pink lemonade tastes wonderful. Although you haven’t said so,

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I know you colored it by cutting your favorite vein and bleeding slightly so we’d become brother and sister; so when I fall I’ll irrigate the desert with a hint of your DNA.

Paperback Mysteries Under threat of powerful storms, I crouch inside myself and make a fist of my secret organs. The sky tries to look benign, but can’t fool me. A ripple of energy cruises the forest, snapping branches and combing the enormous hides of bears. That’s not storm but the scantlings of my dream of enormous swarms of paperback mysteries fanning their pages in anger. I suppose I expected to open a shop but lacked key-money. Who’d buy such furious old books? Christie, Sayers, Wolfe, Marsh, and others from the golden era of cozies. No one reads whole books unless they fit inside a smart phone. No one cares who killed Roger Ackroyd, and no one ever did. The day peers at me on tiptoe to make sure I’m thoroughly scared. Trees could crush my little house. Will anyone care who killed me?

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Will anyone ask for a motive? Thunder plotted on a bell curve will waste effort deafening me, and hail will break my windows and gnash my garden to salad. But the falling trees will finish what my parents fostered in life, and those paperback mysteries in a shuffle of folding pages will roost on the lips of my grave.

William Doreski teaches at Keene State College in New Hampshire. His most recent books of poetry are City of Palms and June Snow Dance, both 2012. He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals, including Massachusetts Review, Atlanta Review, Notre Dame Review, The Alembic, New England Quarterly, Worcester Review, Harvard Review, Modern Philology, Antioch Review, and Natural Bridge.

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CLRI prides itself to have a good number of review writers. We have different review writers for books of different genres. Our reviews are gaining recognition among the publishers, journals and academia for fair and high quality reviews.

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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

Story

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10.

CHANDRA GHOSH JAIN

Weddings Last night I went to Clark’s Amer for Lokeshnath’s son’s wedding. Yes his wife Anusri was there smiling a warm welcome to all us oldies. She was still slim and fair with her trademark large red bindi on her forehead. She would be in her fifties now. But the red- brown streaked hair suited her. She gave me a warm hug as she led me to be photographed on the stage with the bride and groom. “Come, ma’m a little closer to the bride.” “I remember you as the new bride it was only the other day…” I smiled recollecting the nervous young Lokeshnath. He was the ASP (Assistant Superintendent of Police – what a grand designation for beginning your career as a cop). My dear Arjun was his immediate boss. The SP of the district. So I guess I had every right to be patronizing. But I was uncomfortable with a highly qualified wife of a junior officer’s. She was tall with sparkling large intelligent eyes. She wore a simple chiffon saree with an attractively embroidered blouse. Anusri had smiled and her dimples made her even more attractive. Arjun was clearly bowled over by her. He involved her in a discussion on working wives vs. stay-at-home ones. Anusri was new enough to respond spontaneously although I saw Lokeshnath trying to tone her down…. We are rather conservative in our state. I wondered how Anusri would fit in our staid lives revolving around club gossips and dreary dinners. The leftover customs of‘The Raj’. She was such an antithesis of all the women I had met. I was a prototype memsahib—born to a family of large landholders. My father was employed as an administrative staff with the local Raja. When India became independent all the minor kings were amalgamated into Rajputana. And my father received several promotions and found himself to be the collector of Kundi. Arjun was the young SP who was posted with him. Since his caste and background was similar to mine my parents did not object to his obvious interest in me. I spoke English with the required accent and did my husband proud by getting a handsome dowry.

With marriage and birth of a son my position as the role model for the younger females of my family and society in general. My education was complete with attending the convent school for girls in Ajmer. I spoke English with the required accent and did my husband proud by getting a handsome dowry. Anusri smiled and tried to include me in the discussion. I put on my best patronizing style and smiled frostily. (I had developed this into a fine art.) “We don’t like working women. No matter how well qualified they are. My father wouldn’t think of it, neither my husband.”

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“Ma’m that would lead to a personal loss of income added to a loss to society in general,” Anusri stated spiritedly. Lokeshnath hurried up and said, “Of course, Madam is right. Women should stay at home and look after the children. With our kind of stressful jobs it just would not do if the wife is working as well,” he added vehemently. I noted with pleasure as Anusri opened her mouth then shut it as she caught her husband glaring at her. “Ma’m this way please,” Anusri directed me away from the stage. So we have come a full circle. She was the graceful wife of the potential top cop welcoming guests to her son’s wedding. While I had become the wife of a cop who never reached the top. Arjun spread his arms across Anusri’s slender shoulders, “You still look as you used to thirty years back…” He was slurring. Arjun drinks and creates so much embarrassment for me. Anusri disengaged herself while Lokeshnath’s smile became more fixed as he led Arjun away with, “Come this way sir…” One of life’s ironies if you don’t get the top job, you are of no importance. Discarded and thrown aside. But I can vent my feelings on the internet. This blog is so fascinating. It allows you to share your emotions with so many unknown readers…. Arjun has taken to forgetting his woes by hitting the bottle. What about me? All this loss of power and prestige is rubbed in. So I took the way out by discovering my long forgotten power of the pen. I observed how people, colleagues, politicians, subordinate staff reacted to us. I will tell tales from the sidelines dear blog, bear with me…

Chandra Ghosh Jain was born in Calcutta and spent her formative years in Delhi. She graduated in Economics (Honours) from Miranda House, Delhi University. She received her postgraduation in Economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. For a brief while she taught Economics in Delhi University as a lecturer. She did her research on the ‘Changing Agrarian Relations and Its Impact on Development’ from Rajasthan University. Her husband’s postings offered her an opportunity to travel across the state, which boasts of palaces and forts of a bygone era; which forms a backdrop to many of her tales.

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11.

LOLA RODRIGUEZ

The Beggar’s Legs

Always do what is right. It will gratify half of mankind and astound the other. --Mark Twain They say that dishonesty is a bad thing. That there are ways that people avoid the larger questions of what truth is, all together. When you wake up in the morning, upon rising, you pull on your pants and walk to the mirror above the sink; what you see there is the image of your face. Half of this visage is full of dreams, and the other half, is what you expect yourself to be upon waking. Who can tell what may inhabit the space between, as you prepare yourself for your day?

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***** I am soon dressed. It is the 21st century and I live in New York City. I go downstairs to where the old Bijou Jade Cinema is boarded-up and buy a newspaper and a lottery ticket from Krishna who works as a magician when he’s not at the bodega. I wave to Pandit, handing out flyers which announce Vedic Astrology Readings and step inside the glass doors of The Punjab Café. *****

I see the world as a place where vision should be more important than thirst. The walls glow yellow in a way that reminds me of emerging from my mother at birth into the bright sunlight of a many-windowed room. Light is the most important thing I can remember about being alive and I am quite sure that light is more important to the world in terms of how you observe things, than water is necessary for survival; at least, I see the world as a place where vision should be more important than thirst. ***** I order a snack, pani puri, and sit at a low table drinking my masala chai, a quotidian necessity, milky and strong, somewhere on the addiction range between espresso and heroin. I leave some cash by the register and Namila, the cook, places a bottle of tamarind sauce next to my teacup. I remember thinking, later, that perhaps, I have taxed her patience with my attempts at conversation. ***** Have I mentioned that I am a poet by trade? This is a lie. Poetry is not a vocation, but a calling. There is no money to be gotten from writing poetry. What if I said that a poem is not a fruit, like the mango, although climbing a ladder to pick one can be laborious, particularly, if it is found growing near the top of the tree. Some people can just shake the tree and down come the mangos. ***** I am not sure if the beggar without legs who sits on a crate outside the entrance to the subway and I, are one and the same. I might ask, “Am I the Poet Laureate of the United States?” Moreover, there is not enough time in one’s life, after a certain point, for these extremes of fortune to manifest, although there are those who will tell you that there is still, world enough and time.

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***** Sometimes, destiny relies solely upon paying attention. Carelessness sleeps in some deep pocket of one’s jacket and free will awakens to itself when the notion of fate becomes too much to bear. I like to say that when you put stones in a sack, you will surely have a sack of stones, unless the sack has no bottom. Attainment beyond hard work is not guaranteed. ***** Rajvati, the Pakistani owner of The Punjab Cafe, has shown a poem I’ve written about the snack shop to her husband. Last week, joined by a journalist who works downtown, we all sat drinking chai at the table where I now sit, alone. We discuss politics and oppression, biomimicry, sustainability, and compare aspects of world cultures. The proprietor is a genial hostess, pouring tea, her scarf speckled with gold, like light dotted along a wide, turquoise sky. The ceiling of the Café seems to lift and the light continues to climb until we are illuminated by reflections of small pieces of light falling all around, returning to us from above, like a confetti of delicate stars—we are awash in this glitter of intellect pressed to good conversation. ***** The following Friday, I stopped in early to purchase chai, returning later for food. I made myself comfortable at the table where I usually sat. Being in a rush, I paid for my chaat before it was prepared, leaving the money on the counter behind the tea dispenser, next to the cash register— after receiving my plate, I ate quickly. Namila asked if I’d enjoyed the food and I nodded, telling her that I had, very much. I put on my coat, said goodbye, and left the café. ***** I return two days later, on Sunday, and greet Rajvati. Namila, the cook, is standing beside her and they fix their eyes on me. There is a brief silence, and Rajvati speaks. “Namila says that you had chaat, last time, and that you didn’t pay.” “But, I did pay,” I said. “I left the money on the counter by the register, before I was served.” ***** My heart is a diver, chilled and dripping water and sweat, my toes gripping the edge of the diving board. I know that if I jump that there will be no water, but I want to jump, anyway, into the deep and empty pool below. “Should I jump?” I think.

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***** Being a stranger wherever you go, makes you always suspect. For this reason, I am a friend to all, but few can easily befriend a stranger. ***** My mother told me that she was in labor for ten hours. I have to believe, that I already knew the world and I resisted my re-entry. To dwell in darkness, is not what you expect, but all that you know. Once the light appears, dreams also begin to emerge, slowly—is it possible, that nothing fully realized comes quickly, no matter how innate? ***** I always grow tired of defending myself, of describing the ethical nature of the people I come from, of proving my honesty based on the questionable veracity of the artificial stations our ancestors came to possess through blood and inheritance. ***** Bequeath genius, only, then, say the makers, the masters of their sacrosanct gifts—and, character, finally, be damned. We come to expect what we are accustomed to and then, everyone is a thief and a charlatan; thereby, society falls away. ***** I live with modern questions. I live in the greatest city in the world. I listen to the owner apologize for their accusations and I drink my tea, quickly. ***** The owner apologized. She had wanted to frame my writing and hang it on the walls of The Punjab Café. Does she still? I wonder. Doesn’t the truth of my work prove my goodness? If not, beauty must be evil. As I knew in the womb of my mother, I cannot survive in such a wicked world. ***** The cook wasn’t feeling well, the day she last served me chaat—her eyes, red and her face, the color of pale eggplant. I felt embarrassed to ask for my food at the reduced price, the generous owner had suggested. “The Poet’s Special,” I’d called it, and we laughed, while I tried not to

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think about my circumstances, or how the café struggled to make its rent. I reminded myself of the equivalent generosity of my own dedication to the café, by profiling it in powerful verse. ***** I’ve always suspected that artists are unwittingly forced by an inversion of social values to be mendicants, living on stairways between realities like Herman Hesse’s bourgeois shadow and its hosts. There is an aristocracy of light--a hot brightness with the magnitude of a falling star--that shines upon art’s beggars who come to the doors of truth, but hesitate to knock, although they build the bright castles of man’s future. ***** The walls of The Punjab Café have two framed pictures. One is a photograph of the Dalai Lama-and, how could food be stolen beneath such a picture?--and, the other, is a poem by the man, a fine poet, who lives above the Bijou Jade Cinema. I would say, that it was I, who wrote the poem, but, the beggar, sitting on the mango crate, still has no legs.

Lola Rodriguez is a writer and performing artist from New York, US. Several-time recipient of the Lila Acheson Wallace Reader's Digest Grant and Pushcart Prize nominee, Lola’s essays, poetry, and prose have appeared in more than 60 books, magazines, reviews, and journals worldwide. She is an accomplished spoken-word performer and composer of musical theatre. Her work has been showcased at The Whitney Museum of American Art, Life Cafe, The Literary Life with George Plimpton, Live at the Gershwin, The National Arts Club, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, La Mama Theatre, Meow Mix, Fez, Community Gardens Reading Series, Cafe Nico, Felipe Luciano Show, Cafe No Bar, New World Coffee Princeton, World Cup, The Asian American Writer's Workshop Reading Series, The Knitting Factory, Telephone Bar, Barnes & Noble, Cornelia Street Cafe, The Red Room, The New York Public Library, Teachers and Writers Collective, St. Mark's Poetry Project, London's Institute of Contemporary Art, Cleveland Public Theatre, The Smithsonian Institution & many other venues. She can be reached at: QWERTYletters@aol.com.

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12.

MAITREYEE B CHOWDHURY

A Mad Husband? ‘The doctors came home today. They looked at me sadly, shook their heads and told me my husband was mad.’ I looked at him; my husband, as he sat on the floor with a set of tools that I had bought for him from Vienna. The box contained every little tool both big and small, a man might want. It had been a birthday gift. In our times, we often couldn’t trace the date or month of our birthday, so more often than not, we often picked on what we thought would be an auspicious day and treated it as a birthday. My husband’s birthday accordingly always fell on Guru Purnima. I sometimes now remember vaguely, my mother-in-law telling me that a lot of people had come home on Guru Purnima day to see the scion of the family. We were in Nigeria, in Lagos, the day when while passing through the market I had seen this toolset hanging in the shop wall. I remember excitedly telling the shopkeeper not to sell the kit to anyone else, till I got my husband to see it the next day. He had laughed, but kept his word, because the next day when I pulled my husband to the shop, the kit was not on display. The man smiled and pulled it out from under the desk, saying he knew I would come, apparently he had seen it in my eyes. In those days, we didn’t have separate bank accounts, but I had saved some money in my Lokkhir Bhand, a small owl shaped safe made of Bengal Terracotta that was placed along with the Gods for safe keeping of the little money I could save from the household expenses. In the past few days I had been unable to lift the bhand as it had become heavy and I thought this would be the right time to break it open. I remember his smile even now, he had looked at me and then at the kit, his eyes shining. We had broken the bhand in the shop too. I even had two rupees left over after the due amount was paid. My husband had said that it was one of the best gifts that he could have had, and I beamed in pride. Over the years, he had used the tool set extensively; the lovely leather pouch had taken on a used and warm sheen. He would lie down inside the bonnet of our old Herald and try and open some parts and repair them. My husband had always wanted to be an engineer, but partition had seen to it that he could not. The boy who once rode on his own pony in the erstwhile India within what is now part of Bangladesh, suddenly found that pony rides had to be stopped and he had to study accountancy so that he could get a decent job in finance. Those were not days, when one questioned a parent’s choice, especially when four other innocent eyes looked up to him. Four years later, when his father died and the family had no home, the wish to feed his brothers and their future was greater than becoming an engineer. Charts and numbers took over all other passion. The passionate engineer might have turned into finance but engineering never left him. The kids in the neighborhood, of course always loved him. Whenever they had a broken toy, he would repair it for them. But often even new toys would be inspected with as much relish much

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April 2013

to the chagrin of the children who were apprehensive of giving him a new toy, so it was always an old toy that exited in a new condition from out home to another’s. Today of course he had settled down to make a rail of sorts, on the wall in the living room. As I watched him since morning, an exciting smile on his face, I nodded and told him that the plan was excellent. He showed me a piece of wood, which was just about big enough to place the wooden dolls, carved in odd expressions that we had brought in Lagos. He said that he wanted to make a ledge like that all over the living room walls, for people to sit on. I nodded in agreement, and then he said, “I hope people will find it comfortable sitting there.” I looked at him and smiled again, ‘Yes’, I said, ‘It looks quite comfortable’. He seemed to be happy that I had agreed and even allowed to make him the ledge. He would look at me from time to time and smile, I would smile back. The doctors had come, their faces looked grim. The assistant shuffled a few papers, he looked very important. The doctor had a strange accent, almost as if he could not decide whether he should speak in Bangla and be judged as a regular doctor or use his accent to qualify that he had just returned from the States. They asked pointed questions, even while shifting rather uncomfortably in his suit, in the Kolkata heat. “How much do you remember?”, “Do you remember your past?”; “Do you sometimes want to die?”, “Can we see your pulse?”, “Do you get angry easily?” The questions had gone on for a long time. I looked at my husband, the gentle smile had left him somehow, he had his hand on his forehead as if he had a terrible headache. He looked left and then right and then through me, through the doctors. Suddenly he got up, his tall aristocratic frame wrapped in a small white lungi, the holy thread on his bare chest, nostrils flared. He looked at me then, “Is this my house? he asked, I nodded silently. His eyes blazed, he did not look at them but stuttered and shouted, “Get out of my house, you morons, get out at once.” “Do you think I am mad; yes I am mad, now get out”. I had looked at him then and silently touched his hand from behind. His hard hands suddenly held mine together strongly; this was my marriage, say. It seemed this was his remembrance; this was our 50 years of staying together. I looked at the doctors from the hospital; one of them was an extremely well known Alzheimer’s researcher and doctor, who had set up his hospital in India, after completing his research and practicing in the States. He looked at me, “Your husband needs to be kept in the hospital.” I looked back at him; my husband, he had settled back with the tool box and was humming to himself, he looked up at me briefly, smiled and said, “Tomorrow we can have a party, the seats will be ready.” I smiled back at him, ‘Yes’. I looked back at the doctor, “My husband shall stay with me, thank you for coming”. Many people associate Alzheimer’s disease with that of madness, which is perhaps not true. Alzheimer’s disease is often termed as the progressive degeneration of the brain, in a way that is irreversible. The attitude of the care giver for an Alzheimer’s patient is often the deciding factor between how well the patient lives till his inevitable death. And that is what makes a HUGE difference. In many countries Alzheimer’s patients are not kept within the family, mostly because there might be risk for the care givers, in India it is still not the norm. 31


April 2013

Hint: Lokkhir Bhand: a small piggy bank for saving money. It is usually kept near the idols of gods for good omen.

Maitreyee B Chowdhury is a poet and creative writer and columnist. She writes on Indian traditions, cinema, social issues and environment besides poetry. Maitreyee is the co-author of a bilingual poetry book- 'Ichhe Holo Tai' and the author of 'Reflections on My India- An Indian Insight'. She can be reached at: senoritta73@yahoo.com.

Subscribe to Contemporary Literary Review India — journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.

CLRI is published online per month, in digital versions occasionally, and in print edition (planned to be quarterly), its print edition has ISSN 2250-3366. Subscribe to our CLRI online edition. Our subscribers receive CLRI digital copies directly into their Inbox, get print copies free of cost whenever they come out during the subscription period, and are waived off any reading fee towards our print editions. You can become our subscribers any time you prefer. To become a subscriber, visit: Subscriber to CLRI

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April 2013

13.

MARIA ELSA DA ROCHA

Etê Etê Morhà (Translated from Portuguese) Dona Laura is, or so she thinks, a respectable member of our society; with great fuss and little shame in flaunting it, she artfully arranges the folds in her Khatau Mills1 sari. Twirling back and forth before the three long mirrors of her dresser, which show a figure still youthful in its lines, she watches her daughter sprawl on the divan from the corner of her eye, and asks grumpily: “Aren’t you going to get changed? I’ve told you already, you’re spending the afternoon with your grandmother. Tell her I wasn’t able to come because I have a meeting of the Mahila Mandal2… Did you get that?” “I did, I got that you’ve dumped this visit on me so that you can swan off somewhere else”. Fatiminha shrugged as she spoke and boyishly threw her magazine down on the low table beside her, making it quake as if the earth had moved and knocking down all the objects upon it. She raked her fingers through her mop of hair, cut in the latest fashion for those of fourteen and above, and stationed herself next to her mother… “Young lady!” her mother said, “Where did you get such fine manners? And how dare you think I’m not going to this meeting?” “Saibá!3 I don’t think anything of the sort; all I said was that you’ve dumped this visit on me. I don’t think there’s anything wrong in saying that. Grandmother said that when you were my age you were much worse than I am…” “Well, let me tell you, she didn’t put up from me half of what I have to put up with from you, you little minx.” In response young Fátima gave a huff like a bagpipe, before mouthing a theatrical Saibá that grated upon her mother’s nerves. Despite this provocation Fátima’s mother thought it better to turn the other cheek and return to dispensing advice. “Mind your tongue with grand-mama! You’ve turned into quite the little Portuguese madam. She could get terribly upset about the way you act! You must be more restrained and-“ “Oh mother, it’s just the same old sermon, isn’t it?” “So it’s you who should be giving the sermon, is it? You should think before you speak!” “Fine. Saibá! Don’t get so cross!” “I’m not getting cross.”

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“You could’ve fooled me!” “I just don’t want you to make a bad impression…” Here Dona Laura hesitated, before making her way forward as if venturing to climb Siddhanath Parvat4: “Besides, your grandmother is from another era. She doesn’t like to hear about certain things, and disapproves of them, even if she seems to egg people on to broach such subjects…” “But it wasn’t just common in other eras, lots of people still use that process to remove little bits of turd.” “Off, off you go to your grandmother with such language! Listen to this at least. For one, your grandmother doesn’t like alcoholics, yet when she wants to loosen peoples’ tongues she offers them something from her cellar, which, despite everything, is well stocked. If they seem to like her liqueurs, she insists they drink more and then sits there listening to them, all the while disapproving of what they say inside, do you understand? “Ah, if that’s all it is, you can rest easy, mother!” Here Fatiminha cast aside her crayon and fiddled with her eyebrows, longing for the day when she would apply real eye shadow to her pretty face’s satin skin. “You behave yourself”, her mother continued, immediately more at ease. “Now you know that if grand-mama offers you any liqueur it’s to loosen your tongue and that afterwards she’ll criticize me for having brought you up badly…” “So what?” “So then she’ll come after your father to complain. The best thing is to avoid the problem; if she offers you any liqueur ask her for Coca-Cola!” Fátima laughed out loud at the idea of asking for Coca-Cola. After adjusting her headband for the umpteenth time, she shot off like a rocket to visit someone who had reached a ripe old age, who had a fine collection of liqueurs, who liked a good natter, and who was her grandmother. That night, after dinner, in front of her father and her brothers, Dona Laura asked Fátima: “So, is your grandmother well?” “She is guê5, she is…” “Did you tell her I went to the Mandal?” “I did guê, I did…” Her mother, little taken aback, took a long hard look at her dark-skinned progeny. Now on the back foot, she inquired: “Did something happen? Didn’t you drink your Coca-Colas?” “No guê, no we didn’t! Grandmother didn’t want to. She says history doesn’t sing of weaklings! Fatiminha’s father dropped his Times of India in astonishment. His better half stepped in quickly:

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April 2013

“Stop with the guês and own up – Grandmother didn’t ask you to try the liqueurs from her collection, did she?” “No! We didn’t drink any liqueur.” “Just as well!” Dona Laura gasped in relief. “We took a neat Scotch whisky each.” “Whisky?! Alfredo! Are you listening to your daughter?” “Don’t fret, mother, I was as steady as a rock. It was Grandmother who did the talking. You know, she told me that you, with all the pedantry of your race, told her not to sing me lullabies in Konkani6 when I was a baby. She said that whenever she tried to teach me our lovely “Etê Etê Morhà” song you’d come running, yank me from her lap, and start warbling a European ditty as if you were some little Portuguese woman. I’d burst into tears because I couldn’t understand the words…” “You know, nobody can pull the wool over Grandmother’s eyes!” Fatiminha declared in her floral babydoll dress, bringing the evening to an end as her parents watched on glumly. Hints: 1. A fashionable cloth mill in the 1960s. 2. Village Women’s Institute. 3. Lord! 4. A tall hill in Goa 5. Vocative indicating respect for the woman addressed.

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Maria Elsa da Rocha (1932 – 2005) was a Lusophone Goan author of short stories. More than any other writer from that territory to have worked in Portuguese, her work focuses on the lives of Goan women. She began publishing her prose tales in the daily newspaper A Vida, one of the few organs of communication in Portuguese to survive the end of colonial rule in 1961 and the integration of Goa into India, which led to English becoming dominant in the Goan society. Unfortunately none of her writing has yet been translated into English, meaning her stories are almost totally inaccessible to today’s largely Anglophone Goan reading public, very few of whom have any Portuguese at all. The short story “Etê Etê Morhà” was published on Mother’s Day in 1964. At first perusal its narrative seems entirely light in tone, yet further consideration detects some of the tensions involved in the shift between Portuguese rule and Indian democracy and, crosshatched through that, between cultural traditions, a certain conservatism and the latest worldwide fashions. Yet Rocha establishes no clear dichotomies and posits no teleology. What we are given instead is a glimpse of the messy allegiances and petty revolts of the everyday life in a society just emerging from colonialism into a new and very different dispensation. Given that on 18th December 2011 Goa celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the end of Portuguese colonial rule, today seems a fitting time to revisit Rocha’s stories.

Translator’s Bio: Paul Melo e Castro teaches Lusophone literature and culture at the University of Leeds, where his current project concerns the literature and culture of the former Portuguese possessions in India. He has published translations from Goan Portuguese in Metamorphoses, The AALITRA Review, The Adirondack Review and Sojourn.

Get Your Book Reviewed by Contemporary Literary Review India — journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.

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April 2013

14.

MURLI MELWANI

Sunday with Mary The rapid slapping of clumsily clad slippers on the tiled floor woke me up as usual at 5 a.m. Mary (pronounced Mar-ry by her neighbors) was hurrying to fill the water at one of the two communal taps. We lived in an old apartment complex. Two common toilets and two baths to a floor, rather than attached baths to an apartment, was the norm when the complex was built. That was why Mary filled her buckets before the neighbors started lining up at the taps. Shortly afterwards I heard the heavy drag of the same slippers and through my mind’s window I could see both her arms weighed down by the buckets she balanced on each side. Up and down she went till music from an AM/FM radio woke up everybody. That was the first thing her husband, Alphonso, did every morning. I had seen him, twice or thrice, rising heavily from the futon and turning a knob with a podgy hand, then flopping back on to the futon. I heard Mary rushing between the living room and the kitchen. In between, she attended to her three children. Eight-year-old Mark, her eldest child, whined "Mammy, Mammy” for his books or breakfast, shoes or satchel. The two small girls were already up to mischief, fussing over their toast or fighting over each other's toys. "Make a cup of tea for Miss Bharucha," Mary's mother called out, almost as part of a ritual. Kind, eighty-year-old Miss Bharucha owned the apartment, and she had shared it with Mary's mother, her help over a lifetime. In spite of the spaciousness of old Bombay buildings, a bedroom, two balconies and a kitchen for as many as seven people was insufficient accommodation. As it was, the neighbors - I was one could hear all that was happening in each apartment. Mary could not afford to rent an apartment for her family. Alphonso was unemployed and they had to manage with the eight hundred and fifty rupees Mary brought in as a secretary in a solicitor's office. It was pooled in with the check for two hundred rupees Miss Bharucha received from the Parsi Association’s Fund for the Elderly. "Mary dear," her mother called out after a while, "Please make tea for Miss Bharucha." I heard Mary grunt and I could imagine how that simple task added to her burden. "No nonsense Julie, quick, quick, get on, get on ..” Mary barked at her daughter. Her morning race against time was frantic. "Here - your cup of tea." This contemptuous tone was reserved for Alphonso who lay on the futon through the morning beside the radio, altogether unconcerned about what was happening around him.

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I could not think what help he could have been even if he had tried. The morning was totally Mary's and anyone who tried to help would have been very much in her way. And she was capable of making this clear in no uncertain terms. Mary served breakfast, cooked the lunch, bathed the children, rushed through her shower, packed a sandwich for lunch for herself and her son, and clutching, half-dragging Mark by his hand, dropped him at school, a block away, before hopping on to the bus to work. All before 8.30 a.m. It was only after the swift clattering of her heeled shoes had died down the steps –the building was without an elevator – which the house seemed to breathe freely. Alphonso raised the volume of the radio, went down to buy the newspaper, and began to walk about the house. The two little girls brought their toys into the common area and played with children from the neighboring apartments. I heard snatches of conversation as Mary's mother, thin as a bamboo, calmly cleared the breakfast table at which everyone except Alphonso had sat. As soon as the English program of All India Radio went off the air, Alphonso had a quick wash and changed into a fresh sleeveless vest and shorts. Then he sat before the typewriter. Its slow irregular clack suggested that he was learning to type. This impression was confirmed when once, walking past his open door, I saw him picking the letters laboriously - a huge, dark man with a belly like an earthenware jar captive in his sweat- wet vest. Obviously he hoped that the ability to type would be a passport to a job. In that peculiar way that neighbors have of accumulating facts, I learnt that Alphonso had worked for a good many years in the Middle East and had married Mary on one of his trips to his home in Goa. According to rumor, Alphonso had a shouting match with his supervisor. The job was gone and Mary with two children and one due shortly returned with her husband to her mother in Bombay. Miss Bharucha had opened her arms and purse to them. That was over a year ago; at that time it seemed that the stopover at Miss Bharucha’s apartment was temporary. By 10 am, Mary's mother attended to Miss Bharucha's bath and, later, her lunch. At 3 o clock, she brought Mark from school. Late in the evening she took Miss Bharucha and the children to the park. The love that Miss Bharucha and Mary's mother had for the three children somehow relieved the depressing atmosphere of that crowded apartment. If you stood at our balcony at 6.30 p.m. you would see Mary returning home in a slow, tired trudge, overweighed with bags, having done her grocery shopping on the way back from work. If I happened to be standing at the balcony she would greet me, "Good evening, Mrs. Mehboobani," and for a moment her face would light up. She had a lovely face with soft black hair which fluffed round her head and shoulders. Her black eyes were hard and keen in sharp contrast to the gentle lines of her face. Looking at her, I wondered whether she had always had that hard look. After all, she was just about thirty one years old and in every other way didn't look any older. Her evening moods were erratic. She scolded her daughters or shouted at Mark and Alphonso or kept muttering to no one in particular. After gulping a quick cup of tea – complaining that she had forgotten to add sugar or that the milk was more watery than usual – and after changing into

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a dress with a faded print, she joined the queue at the tap for the evening supply of water. The taps worked for two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening—water conservation, according to the Municipality. A chat with the neighbors, usually a tirade against public transport, was her idea of relaxation. "Can't you bitches put the water on for tea? Alphonso of course can't spare time from his newspaper." Once during a quarrel with Alphonso I heard her say: "Well, you can sit there and talk. It's I who has to slog. Everybody seems to be getting a job but you. "I can't imagine what Alphonso had said to provoke Mary because he seemed to know his place—he had none. But Mary needed no provoking where Alphonso was concerned. I gathered that her Sundays were even more hectic but in a totally different way. She insisted on going to church for the first mass. She rose even earlier than usual. I rarely heard the slapping of her rubber slippers on a Sunday morning because I would be asleep. She completed her normal routine, except perhaps for the cooking of lunch, far less noisily and was ready by 7a.m. She always dressed for church. She had kept aside pretty dresses for these occasions. She chose to wear long dangling earrings and high heeled shoes, which actually showed off her work-a-day muscular carves to disadvantage. Her calves notwithstanding, she looked very pretty on Sundays, particularly with a touch of blush-on. The children looked neat and well dressed and even her husband, with his suit and his old-fashioned narrow blue tie had the air of being washed, barbered and brushed for the occasion. Sunday mornings were the only time we saw them together as a family, holding the children's hands and walking side by side. They returned by 9.30.am Mary's leisurely walk down the road assumed a very business-like clip clop as soon as she entered the apartment. She changed into something old but pretty and ordered the children to change before they started to play, then folded their clothes and put them away. In between cooking lunch she helped Mark with his homework, later sat at the sewing machine stitching cotton dresses out of bright cotton with floral prints. Then it would be time for lunch and clearing up. After a short nap Mary would wash and change the children. This was the day that Mary’s voice was gentle, the children were not scolded or a sarcastic barb thrown at Alphonso. Every Sunday around 3 PM Miss Bharucha and Mary's mother took the children to the park and returned around 7 PM. That was the only time during the week that Alphonso and Mary were alone together. For sometime quiet reigned. Then, into this quiet, around 4 PM, imperceptibly like a rainbow stealing into a rain-washed sky, came the sound of music, soft, gentle, coaxing, always Strauss followed by Tchaikovsky. The curtains were drawn and the door secured with slow deliberation. And by and by the music grew louder.

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April 2013 Murli Melwani’s short stories have been published in magazines in various countries, including the USA. A few have been published in the anthologies, including Stories from Asia: Major Writers from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh (Longman Imprint Books, U.K), Lotus Leaves (Macmillian, India), Call it a Day (Thought Publications) and The First Writers Workshop Anthology. A short story of his was a finalist in the 2012 Enizagam Literary Awards in Poetry and Fiction. Melwani is the author of Stories of a Salesman, (a collection of short stories) and Deep Roots (a 3-Act Play). His book of criticism Themes in the Indian Short Story in English: An Historical and a Critical Survey was published in 2009 to favorable reviews. Murli Melwani is a guest columnist for The Dallas Morning News.

Subscribe to Contemporary Literary Review India — journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.

CLRI is published online per month, in digital versions occasionally, and in print edition (planned to be quarterly), its print edition has ISSN 2250-3366. Subscribe to our CLRI online edition. Our subscribers receive CLRI digital copies directly into their Inbox, get print copies free of cost whenever they come out during the subscription period, and are waived off any reading fee towards our print editions. You can become our subscribers any time you prefer. To become a subscriber, visit: Subscriber to CLRI

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April 2013

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

Criticism

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April 2013

15.

ARGHYA CHAKRABORTY

The Birth of Adam and The Death of God-A Study of The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo The Birth of Adam and The Death of God –A Study of The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo What does the famous painting has to say about Man and God…. GOD IS DEAD (German-"Gott ist tot") --- this utterance might sound heretic or blasphemous but a German philosopher had the courage to say this in the late 19th century and his name was - Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche first proposed this groundbreaking idea in his book THE GAY SCIENCE (Published in 1882). The relevant paragraph reads thus--- God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. — Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Section 125, tr. Walter Kaufmann However the book which helped this concept to become popular was THUS SPOKE ZARATHUSTRA (Composed in four parts between 1883 and 1885). God, the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent entity, was the centre of everything from the very dawn of civilization. Human beings thought themselves as mere pawns in the hands of god! God was the ultimate authority, one who was unquestionable. This started to change with the dawn of RENAISSANCE in the 15th century. The renaissance intellectuals questioned the authority of god triggering the process of “decentring” of god and Nietzsche’s proclamation was perhaps the final nail in the coffin of god. It was during the renaissance that Man started hogging the limelight which had previously been the exclusive property of god. The renaissance art, sculpture, literature everything reflected this “new belief”. In this article I will take one of the most famous Renaissance paintings – THE CREATION OF ADAM by Michelangelo and will try to show the painting in the light of the “new renaissance belief”.

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The painting is a section of Michelangelo's fresco in the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Rome and it was painted in circa 1511. In the painting we can see god in the right stretching his hand towards Adam who is also stretching his hand towards god and the image of the near-touching hands has become an iconic symbol of humanity (The image has inspired NOKIA’s famous “Connecting People” logo).The painting presents god in an eagerness to reach Adam (The symbol of Human beings at large) and no eagerness is shown on the part of Adam to reach god. Now my reading of the painting and its time period says that the eagerness shown by god to reach Adam was due to the dethronement of god during the renaissance. Earlier human beings required god to validate their existence but now the table had turned on its head and god now required human beings to validate His existence. The literary reference to this world-view can be seen in a poem namely “Chad Saudagor” by the Bengali poet Kalidas Ray which had these lines—

(It’s men who create god And then they look to Him For the glory of god) In the renaissance world god needed man to exist. And hence in the painting we find god desperately trying to reach Adam as only the human beings could make the existence of god 43


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possible. Faith had surged back and its place was taken by reason. And reason didn’t accept the existence of god. Almost all the renaissance intellectuals held this view and this could very well explain the indifference of Adam to reach god and the desperation of god to reach Adam. It was as if god was saying Adam to breathe “Life” to god. The traditional “giver” of life here becomes the “seeker” of life. This might be a parodic inversion of the traditional belief. Michelangelo couldn’t kill god as he was painting the ceiling of a church so he might have presented the “new” belief in a more nuanced and subtler way as I’ve argued above. He was a genius and geniuses don’t explain away things but tease the onlookers to find out the subtle tricks hidden in their creations.

Arghya Chakraborty is currently prusuing Ph.D on “Presentation of Women in the Films of Satyajit Ray, Aparna Sen & Rituporno Ghosh”. His special inas wide areas as romanticism, existentialism, literary theory, popular media, films, feminism and arts.

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16.

IFTIKHAR LONE

Ice-Candy-Man: The Subaltern Speaks In the first half of the twentieth-century, the domain of female writers was considered to be projection of domain of womanliness, immediate surroundings and cognition of varied relationships that she creates for herself. In the other half, however, women novelists of quality have enriched literature and Bapsi is counted one of them. She tries her hand in various themes. According to K. Nirapuram, in Sidhwa’s work, themes diverge from traditional to those of contemporary nature. Her concern ranges from a pre-independence social scene to partition and its aftermath, and her time frame is fifty years. Among all her works the most acclaimed one is Ice-Candy-Man that won her many international awards. Being voiceless constitutes subalternity. The term, subaltern comes from Gramsci’s use of the term to imply the marginalised class and their struggle. The main claim made by subaltern theorists is that colonialist, and Marxist interpretations of the history have robbed the common people of their agency. Culture has become fundamental in many subaltern theorists’ analysis and writing. In a patriarchal set up women are normally voiceless but what multiplies their plight is the absence of language to map that silence. In Ice-Candy-Man the issue of voicelessness is put forth by Bapsi Sidhwa while dealing with theoretical debates and subalternity as such. Lenny as a seven-year old is the appropriate person to articulate events that are insane and while justifying the narrator’s position of and bringing through her consciousness the silenced to speak. Through Lenny the author is allowing agency to the lot of marginalised and silent women.

The violence perpetrated on women is the worst that reveals how women are treated as objects of oppression in a man-made tragedy. The violence perpetrated on women is the worst that reveals how women are treated as objects of oppression in a man-made tragedy. Such oppression bears on the status of the narrator who symbolically represents the marginalized women-class. Lenny's world is compressed within her own home and godmother's house with occasional visits outside with Ayah. Lenny's position is that of a sensitive and empathetic woman narrator that is different from a man's position, in that one may find within the child's point of view a mature woman's perception or authorial omniscient point of view permeating and overlapping and as a result, a volitional blend of innocence and experience.

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Like the chameleon politician the Ice-Candy-Man keeps changing his role and profession. When the sale of ice-candies drops, he sells birds and feels proud in deceiving his customers. The novel offers a strong critique of the male politics and the male greed for power. The novel is named after Ice-Candy-Man, one of the major characters in the novel who is 'icy' or of unstable quality, representative of the politician whose “business is to suit his tongue to the moment.” (91) This is part of a historical perspective that Shidwa offers as she feels political leaders are 'cold' to the suffering of people due to partition. Sidhwa criticizes the male politicians and the male domain of politics. The absence of any female politician is remarkable which points out women's relative non-participation in the political sphere. Thereby, to an extent the novel also depicts the gendered domain of the public and the private spheres. The name of Sarojini Naidu appears not as a freedom fighter but as a poetess who praises Jinnah. Like the chameleon politician the Ice-Candy-Man keeps changing his role and profession. When the sale of icecandies drops, he sells birds and feels proud in deceiving his customers. He bribes Lenny and her Ayah in order to get closer to Ayah for his sexual gratification. When communal tension brings in bigotry, he becomes "Allah's telephone" and plays the role of a holy Sufi. Sidhwa sensitively portrays how social norms and rituals do not allow women to be their own selves. They are not allowed to be ‘normal' and 'natural' human beings. Their spontaneity is curtailed by social obligation in the name of modesty and good conduct. Khatija and Parveen show their ‘modesty’ by ducking their heads and hiding their mouths under their veils when Jagjit Singh tells about their marriage to Imam Din. Their behavior is forced and underlines the way they have internalized the values of patriarchy just like other women in the community. They have learnt from other women in the village that they should never smile or giggle in front of men because “hasi to phasi”; for 'hasi' implies an invitation to be laid or it leads to disgrace. It is the responsibility of the mother to bring up her daughters under strict vigilance and guidance. Khatija and Parveen become examples of 'social conditioning' through their mother inculcating feminine traits of submission and self-abnegation, as Simone de Beauvoir points out that the girl child: is often concerned in this way with motherly tasks; whether for convenience or because of hostility and sadism, the mothers thus, rids herself of many of her function; the girl in this matter made to fit precociously into the universe of curious affairs; her sense of importance will help her in assuming her femininity."(1960 : 24)

Lenny's mother is a typical example of an obliging wife in a patriarchal household. She is 'feminine' in all senses and "None, except Father, can resist her touch." (64) She is an accomplished hostess, a wife, a mother and a social worker too. In the novel, her motherliness even baffles Lenny: Her motherliness, how can I describe it? While it is there; it is all-encompassing, voluptuous. Hurt, heartache and fear vanish. I swim, rise, tumble, float, and blot

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with bliss... But it switches off, this motherliness. I open my heart to it. I welcome it. Again and again. (42)

As far as man-woman relationship, love and sexuality are concerned, Lenny and her Ayah stand apart. Ayah is fully aware of her sexuality, which she exhibits and exploits for meager profit. In the Queen's garden, Ayah appears as the queen surrounded by her admirers as courtiers - the hotel cook, the gardener, the butcher, the China man, the wrestler, the Pathan, the Masseur, Sher Singh and Ice- Candy-Man — Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs all are united around her as if her femininity is a unifying force. Away from the care of parents and a home, Ayah is the object of every man's desire and through her Lenny becomes aware of sexuality and desire: "The covetous glances Ayah draws educate me up and down, they look at her, stub-handed twisted beggars and dusty old beggars on crutches dropped their poses and stare at her with hard, alert eyes. Holy men marked in piety, shove aside their pretences to ogle heart with lust hawkers, cart-drivers, cooks, coolies and cyclists turn their heads as she passes pushing my pram with the unconcern of the Hindu goddess she worships."(3) Lenny grows to awareness about her own sexuality through Ayah and Cousin. While Ayah tolerates the sexual abuses of her admirers, Lenny resists Cousin. When Ayah is the subject of the male gaze, Lenny makes Cousin a subject of female gaze. She looks at his genitals and touches it. (20 and 161) She gets his kisses. (43) Lenny becomes aware of the physicality of Cousin’s love and despite her intention to marry him. She dislikes the physical side of him (162). Ayah on the other hand, allows herself to be in the arms of her beloved Masseur (119). It is Ayah's sexuality and love for Masseur that makes the Ice-CandyMan kidnap her. Communal menace along with a feeling of love and loss turned Ice-Candy-Man a betrayer. Ayah represents thousands of women who are treated like objects, commodities to be possessed or destroyed during the partition period. Ila Rathod observes: “in the entire, prepartition and the post-partition events, we find a complete objectification of the female. Whether she is something to be possessed, guarded, looted, assaulted, or even rescued, she remains completely an ‘Object’, the ‘Other’.”(2002 : 33) The vicious nature of male sexuality and exploitation of female sexuality is portrayed through Ayah and Hamida. Both of them are kidnapped and raped during partition that uproots them from their 'normal' life. The incidents of abduction, rape and violence on women in the novel show how women are ‘otherised” due to communal frenzy. On the ideological level the nation is considered as a mother: The nation as mother provides an image of the allegorical mother whose offspring are the country's guardians, heroes and martyrs. By an extension of this ideology women are seen as symbols of honour: "The rape and violation of individual women becomes symbolically significant in the nationalist discourse and the politics of national identity; as a violation of the nation and an act against the collective men of the enemy nation." (Ivekovic and Mostov (2004 : 11) In the light of the above, Ayah and Hamida become symbols of honour of their community. Their bodies and honour need to be conquered to put each community to shame. They are doubly ‘otherised’, firstly, as sexual objects, and secondly, as symbolic of the other community's honour. Women like Ayah and Hamida, Ice-Candy-Man's sister, Ranna' sisters and other women

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in Pir Pundo become victims of the communal frenzy. Men who are generally seen and trusted, as the `protectors' of women have turned perpetrators of violence. Hint: ‘hasi to phasi’ – ‘hasi’ in English means ‘smile’ while ‘phasi’ means ‘to give in’. Thus it means that the girl who smiles loosely to a man is regarded as cheap and of low character. Works Cited: 1.

Sidhwa, Bapsi. Ice-Candy-Man. England: Penguin, 1991.

2.

.Beauvoir, Simone de. The Second Sex, 1949. Translated by H.M. Parshley. New Delhi: Penguin, 1972.

3.

Bharucha, Niluten.E. From Behind a Fine Veil: A Feminist Reading of Three Parsi Novels. Indian Literature, 39.5, 1996.

4.

Dhawan, R.K. and Novey Kapadia. The Novels of Bapsi Sidhwa. New Delhi: Prestige, 1996.

5.

Gaur, Rashmi ed. “The Child Narrator in Ice-Candy-Man.” Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice-Candy Man: A Reader’s Companion. New Delhi: Asia Book Club, 2004.

6.

Hai, Ambree. “Border Work, Border Trouble: Postcolonial Feminism and The Ayah in Bapsi Sidhwa’s Cracking India.” Modern Fiction Studies. 46.2, 2000.p 379-426.

7.

Niruparani, K. “Gender and Imagination in Bapsi Sidhwa’s Fiction”. Fiction of Nineties. Noble Dass, Veena & R.K. Dhawan eds. New Delhi: Prestige, 1994. 155-161.

8.

Menon, Ritu. “Do Women Have a Country.” Gender to Nation. Eds. Rada Ivekovic & Julie Mostov. 2008, (404), 3.

9.

Moi, Toril. “Feminist Literary Criticism.” In Modern Literary Theory: A Comparative Introduction. Ann Jafferson and David Robey eds. London: Batsford, 1982.

10.

Paranjape, Makarand. “The Early Novels of Bapsi Sidhwa.” The Novels of Bapsi Sidhwa. New Delhi: Prestige Books, 1996. 24

11.

Pennebaker, Mattie Katherine. “The Will Ok Men.” Victimization of Women During India’s Partition’s. Agora No. 1, Issue I, Summer 2000.

12.

Sharma, Bhawna. “Bapsi Sidhwa: Giving Voice to Silence.” JELL. Vol. II, No.1, June 2008.

13.

Sidhwa, Bapsi. Post-Colonial Studies: The Essential Glossary. London: Arnold, 2003.

14.

Zaman, Niaz. “Images of Purdah in Bapsi Sidhwa’s Novels”. Margins of Erasure: Purdah in Subcontinental Novel in English. Jain, Jasbir & Amina Amin eds. New Delhi: Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd., 48


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Iftikhar Hussain Lone, M.Phil (English), is a Teaching Assistant based in Anantnag Kashmir.

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April 2013

17.

JAYSHREE SINGH

The Female Players in the Selected Plays of Kalidasa Introduction The plays of Kalidasa have poetic truth and sensibility to delineate his creative poetry as a spiritual discipline i.e. tapasaya, which gives not only the most exalted consciousness with which to comprehend the metaphysics of truth, existence and reality, but also the external paradigms of unity, identity and freedom. Kalidasa’s literary sensibility, poetic experience, poetic imagination or poetic aesthetics were the processes of creative unity, which is described appropriately by Rabindranath Tagore, the poet laureate in this way: “poetry and the arts cherish in them the profound faith of man in the unity of his being with all existence, the final truth of which is the truth of personality” (Tagore, 495-515).

Kalidasa found his aesthetic consciousness and universal sensibility in the oneness of world, nature and man. Metaphorically his characters represent “the expression of beauty of life that moves in goodness and love towards the infinite. This is the ultimate object of the existence that is ever known that ‘beauty is truth, truth is beauty’ (312). The eastern civilization considers world and man as equal to universal and individual. Nature and man are the images of oneness and cause well- being for each other. Nature is personified; nature evolves human self and body to reach to the ultimate reality of beauty and truth. Kalidasa’s characters sublimate their conscious soul to determine their individual entity not in duality of illusory liberation from action but in the annihilation of self through enjoyment of the action. This aspect of their life assimilates adversities, delusions, misfortunes, desires, guilt, fear, misery, sadness and anxiety without being into confinement and liberation because of their adherence to the performance of appointed duty (svadharma).

The literary sensibility of Kalidasa is envisioned as classic because his theatrical perception and characterization is not caught in the duality of freedom of action and freedom of will. The literary sensibility of Kalidasa is envisioned as classic because his theatrical perception and characterization is not caught in the duality of freedom of action and freedom of will. The life was not limited to just everyday routine and vicissitudes. The will power does not lose its strength and does not struggle for the being-in-itself and being-for-itself. The characters’ being and becoming do not get trapped in the struggle of existence and survival. Their attitude to life and their actions synchronized with the consciousness for cosmic harmony therefore they 50


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reached to self-transcendence and they comprehended the root cause of the problem and redeemed themselves from the inner conflict. Kalidasa has transcended the real truths of life into the poetic truth by his ability of fusion of emotions into a scene. The emotions enacted on the stage by the characters magnify and mesmerize the audience emotional experience with the character on the stage. Such exchange through moral cleansing feeds the (sahrdaya) spectators’ prime of life with human cognition and with aesthetics response, (sadharanikarna) which is also called poetic syllogism. Subsequently the characters in the plays were connected with the self-realization through variables of imagination, creativity, self-introspection and freedom in action. To illustrate this it is apt to understand the East and the West Humanism: East Humanism embodies truth and Dharma i.e. Oughtness to reach to grand harmony in self and God, while West Humanism determines every individual as a moral being participating for the sake of harmony and humanity (Mukherjee 178-180).

Western civilization believes that “freedom is existence, and in its existence precedes essence” (Sartre, Human Emotions and Existentialism), while Indian civilization does not believe in separation of existence and essence. The truth of life is to bring harmony between the two.

The Structure of Characterization in the Plays of Kalidasa 1. Celestial Queens and Deities Incarnate in Legendary Life The lead characters especially women of Kalidasa’s plays mostly had their destiny controlled by divine interference. There used to be the supernatural factor in the legendary life of the characters, notwithstanding the mystical intervention, they suffered agony and pain in love fantasy like humans. They faced earthly circumstances as if they were blessed with divine insight to endure their wretched state or to enjoy their beautiful earthly life. Their confrontation with real miserable mortal life, based on human laws, was basically a divine design to check and balance the good and evil side of human life and human experience. The female characters belonging to celestial stream indeed represent the prevalent social attributes and accepted norms of religious scriptures/myths crafted by the patriarchy. The characters such as Meneka and Urvasi were angels of heaven who were destined to come on Earth in disguise of human bodies to follow the commands of the patriarch Gods of Heaven. It is the divine abode of Gods so that Gods could control the destiny of the powerful kings of the earth. Another factor that shows Kalidasa’s expertise in dramatics was that he blends the presence of supernatural beings in the legendary affairs of the earth; he involves the simplicity and innocence of nature in the human life by depicting ascetic way of life. His simple characters were somehow not untouched to get affected by the affinity of the royal culture and power. In Abhijnanasakuntalam, Sakuntala was begotten by the Royal Sage Kausika, whose holiness and the most formidable austerities were disturbed by the Devas who “became nervous and sent the 51


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Apsara Menka to disturb his single minded concentration. Shakuntala was born of an Apsara.” (Abhijnanasakuntalam, Act I). Menka’s daughter Shakuntala, a guardian deity of hermitage and nature, was brought up in the care of her foster father Holy Sage Kanva. The King Dushanta, ruling at Hastinapur, was bewildered with the rapturous feminine beauty of Sakuntala in the forest. He in disguise of royal sage extended his alluring advances to Sakuntala which the poet Kalidasa expressed metaphorically: Sakuntala: Friends, friends help me, protect me from this villain who keeps harassing me. Her Friends (Ansuya and Priyamvada): laughing! Who are we to protect you, cry out to Dushanta : the holy groves are under the protection of the king. Dushanta: This is a golden opportunity for me to show myself……..I am the king. Let me think….I shall assume the manner of just a plain visitor. Sakuntala (rather scared): This impudent fellow will not leave me alone. Dushanta (hastily steps forward): Ha! While the Chastiser of the wicked, Great Puru’s scion rules over this rich earth, Who dares behave in this churlish manner To guileless young girls of the hermitage Seeing the king, all three are taken aback. Ansuya: O noble Sir, it is nothing very serious; our dear friend (pointing to Sakuntala was being bothered by a large bee and got frightened (AGS, Act I) 1111111

These advances of attraction turned into love, communion through Gandharva marriage in which the sages blessed the couple and finally happened the departure of Dushanta to his imperial kingdom, who said to Sakuntala after gifting her the royal signet ring as the token of recognition if she would come to meet this royal sage in the imperial palace, she had to show it in order to be recognised.. Meanwhile in absence of Dushanta, Sakuntala became too sad and absent minded that she did not give due hospitality that she was supposed to offer to the Rishi (Saint) Durvasa who visited Saint Kanva’s Hermitage. He blazes into a furious passion for being disregarded and angrily cursed the guileless and simple-hearted girl, that she would not be recognized by her lover without submitting proof of her token of love. When Saint Kanva returned, he as foster father made arrangements to make Sakuntala depart to her husband’s house along with the mother saint Gautami and other sages of hermitage. When Dushanta reached to the palace of the royal sage (rajarsi), Shakuntala could not be recognized because of Dushanta ‘sloss of memory and loss of ring. If we critically analyse the destiny of Sakuntala, it is found that divine intervention was plotted in such manner, that due to repudiation in the court of Sakuntala, she was then sheltered by Somrata, the high Priest of the Kingdom, until the birth of her child, who said “if the sage’s daughter should give birth to a son bearing all the marks of sovereignty on his person, then 52


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offering her your felicitations, receive her into your Royal Apartments; otherwise she is to take herself back to her father” (AGS, Act V). The repudiation filled Sakuntala with so much humiliation and pain, that “The young girl cursing her stars, wept aloud, flinging her hands up;…………….A flash of light in woman’s shape from Apsara Tirtha (the sacred poo lof Apsaras) far away lifted her up…….and vanished (AGS, Act V). Meanwhile Misrakesi, an Apsara, the friend of Menka, cast the spell that the ring was found by a fisherman in the stomach of a fish when he was to cut it to sell, he showed the ring to the majesty Dushanta as it bore the symbol of the royal signet ring. Dushanta utters to Madhava: The seeing of the Ring has restored my memory; Having spurned my beloved, without real cause, I weep for her with remorse, and longing, Now that the fragrant month is here with delights. (AGS, Act VI) Knowing the truth there was awakening and pain in Dushanta’s heart. Watching this, the Apsara Misrakesi expresses:

Should I not free him now from his grief? No, I had better not. For I have heard the Mother of Gods speak of this when consoling Sakunatala---heard from her own lips that the gods themselves in their concern for the continuity of the sacrifices and to secure their own share in them, would see to it that before long, her lord welcomes Sakuntala as his lawful wedded wife (AGS, Act VI). Krishnamoorthy writes that ‘a reunion of the couple through supernatural agencies is ruled out in the nature of things, since what is required is a complete change of heart on the part of both’ (74). Misrakesi sent a messanger to Sakuntala to inform her all about the chain of events that had happened on earth and the King is full of remorse and kindliness, desperate to meet his beloved – wife. Sakuntala’s son Bharata who was in the Hermitage of Maricha in the region of Hemkuta (Gloden Peak) came across Dushanta who was heading on his celestial path to meet to God Indra in order to fight against demons for Devas. ‘Indra covertly arranges as a favour for the meeting of Dushanta with Sakuntala and with their son Bharat, at the hermitage of Kasyapa, on his return journey by air’ (75). Similarly in Vikramorvasiya, Urvasi is a celestial nymph born from the thigh of sage Narayana as a challenge to the beauty of Indra’s nymphs, who were sent to disturb the penance. She is depicted in the first scene performing the role of lakshmi and dancing at God Indira’s Courtly Theater in the play composed by Bharatmuni. During her performance she was asked by her father - whom she wanted to marry, and in answer, she named King Puruvara, the ruler of Pratisthana who used to reign at the confluence of Yamuna with Ganga, who saved her from the clutches of the demon Kesi. She was cursed to remain in human form because as a celestial queen of beauty she fell in love with an earthly King Pallav, one of the pupils of the sage Bharatmuni , who then cursed her, said that: “You may now go to him and live with him on earth as your heart desires until he sees the face of the son you bear to him” (VM, Act III). This proved blessing in disguise to her love-distraught heart. The queen Ausinari did not show any trace of 53


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jealousy in the union of Puruvara and Urvasi and performed a holy ceremony called as “Propiation of the Beloved” (VM, Act III). Urvasi the apsara then begot a son, whom she kept hidden from the king, because revelation would make her return to Heaven. But somehow in the end she was asked by God Indra to remain on earth as the wife of Puruvara in order to have the help of Puruvara fighting against demons. The contemporary society of Vedic age in India had polygamy. Secondly the divine intervention in the life of imperial kings was to draw help and support from them against the demons. The above three illustrations from the plays describing the role of apsaras in human form, was to become a part of the fantasies in love and in life of the kings who could only get them if they had either protected the hermits from demons, or had dared to protect the apsaras from the clutches of devils or they had been popular for their valour in the celestial world. The apsara or nymphs were the part of God’s created illusory world, their illusory beauty rose passions and agony in love, they were the token of fantasy, beauty and love in the lives of gallant kings of the earth, who connected them with earth and the heaven to let the world free of demons and ugliness. But all these illusions of duality created in their destiny so that their actions may be assigned to purushartha that means their earthly life was related with dharma (moral life/duty), artha (wealth and political power), kama (sensual pleasure) and moksha (a lifetime of selfless performance of one’s dharma) and the four asrams (brahmacharya, garhathya, vanaprastha and samnyasa). All these used to be the feature of ideal life for the man/woman of nobility and royalty. These truths of life were to be followed even by the apsaras if they were destined to serve in human form on the earth. Hence the performance of their assigned roles as per their stage of their life, they had to perform the duties as according to the basic values of life in order to achieve the life of righteousness and to redeem themselves from their sins. They could not escape into another delusion because of the duality of illusions. Illusions were designed to test the virtues of humans in the adverse circumstances, and then it used to be considered as the real moksha or salvation from earthly life. Thus Kalidasa not only fascinates the readers with celestial beauty of these nymphs but also presents a creative unity through literary art and ‘human truth which is felt in the blood and felt along the heart’Ac agore, Kalidasa has never looked upon love as its own end because goodness is the ultimate goal of love. Man should never look upon himself and his passion in isolation, because that is the sure way to destruction. Not only in Sakuntala but also in theother great Sanskrit plays, Tagore points out in his essay ‘The Religion of the Forest’, ‘Nature stands on her own right, proving that she has her great function, to impart the peace of the eternal to human emotions’ (Chatterjee, 10). 2. Queen Consorts - Balancing Societal and Individual Positioning The queen consorts maintained ‘the beautiful world of decorum, refinement and hierarchal order in the imperial palaces’ (Rajan, 39). Queen consorts were also finely drawn within limited parameters of presentations on the stage, which were strictly prescribed in a patriarchal society. Dharini, Anusinari, Vaumati, Iravati were placed as an individual living and moving ‘in the somewhat precarious position as each was in, in the harem-situation of the polygamous set-up of ancient India, always under threat on two sides from youngster rivals. ‘The threat used to lie in

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the possible loss of hierarchical status, needless to say, loss of the affections of the ruling monarch the husband’ (10). Indeed the statement of the critic states the dichotomy of human psychology and bahaviour that no human wishes to deprive of the possession so willingly whether it may not only be animate or unanimate thing. For instance in the play Vikramorvasiyam, when the queen consort of Puruvara came to know that king’s heart was chasing after a mirage, and as helpless lady she suffered in anguish. When King Puruvara fell at Queen’s feet to flatter her: Lovely lady with thighs pale and smooth As the platain’s fresh, young stems! Be gracious to me; give up your anger. I am indeed the guilty one. When she to whom all honour is due is enraged, How can the servant not be found guilty? Ausinari (to herself): I am not so soft-hearted as to be moved that easily and accept his contrition at face value. But, alas, I’m afraid that anger will cool to give place to remorse for having acted with discourtesy. (Act III, VM)

This conversation indeed exposes the inner and outer perceptions and deceptions simultaneously. The elite culture was polite to hurt anybody, but patient to suffer with time and space in those days, because that was the secret of decorum and devotion. It also indicates the diplomacy of the elite to keep their politics of power restored and not to be driven away with petty pitfalls. These emotions of the female also suggest their desire to be always an object of male gaze and temptation. When Urvasi found queen so enhancing in her majesty and king appeared to be full of humility towards queen, one of the attendant Citralekha says to Urvasi: O, really! Don’t be so naïve. When these sophisticated and highly refined gentlemen fall in love with another woman they become extremely courteous and gallant to their wives (VM, Act III).

This statement of an attendant ironically presents the predicament of Queen consort who knowingly and unwillingly submitted to the wish-fulfillment of their counterparts, because it was the fallen state of women in the society, who could not deprive herself of her given status in the imperial court by going against the wish of the king and she surrendered her superior status as consort for an another young consort/beloved of the king. The Holy Scriptures or holy preceptors mystified these circumstances with the chance and destiny and with the divine intervention to get something achieved which human mind could not predict. Therefore the royal highness like Ausinari performed ritual worship to please king and to avert her inner dilemma, so that king might achieve what he wished most. Ausinari: (goes through the acts of ritual worship of the king. Then folding her hands bows low to him) I here invoke the divine couple, the hare-marked divinity, the moon and the star Rohini now in conjunction. Let them bear wear witness that I am propiating my lord. From this day on I 55


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solemnly declare that a bond of affection will be created between me and her, whom my dear husband yearns for so deeply and who in return longs for union with my husband. (AGS, Act III) Here we find the sensitivity, the spiritual will power, the commitment, the compassion and the patience of the queen to cope up with the anguish, reason being of this condition that she has no son and as the kingdom required heir-apparent, so this compromise and courtesy followed up on the part of queen Ausinari. Similar is the situation of Queen consort Vasumati, the wife of Dushanta, in Abhijnanasakuntalam. She needed to search her space in her husband’s life and mind, yet with dignity she preserved/reserved that space even though she had no son as heir apparent of the king. When Dushanta came to recall the lost love of his with Sakuntala, after recognizing the token of her love, he desired to do penitence by making a portrait of hers. When Vasumati came to know about it, Kalidasa narrates the scene that happened at the backstage through her attendant. Caturika: Your Majesty….just as I was coming here with the box of paints…. Dushanta: What happened/ Caturika: Her Majesty, Queen Vasumati accompanied by her maid Pingalika met me and snatched the box out of my hands, saying, “I shall take this to my revered lord myself.” (Act VI, AGS)

This conversation delineates the reality of a woman’s feeling towards the other woman. Comic about this is the attendant woman who is the medium of revelation of woman’s mind. It shows the difference between the ideal and the real. Ideal world for woman in those days was to submit herself to her lord wishes, real world to discipline herself what direction she was supposed to follow as the person of regality. This contradiction is well directed and narrated by the playwright: Dushanta; Vetravati, did you meet Queen Vasumati on your way here? Vetravati: Yes, my lord; but seeing me carrying documents, Her Majesty turned back. Dushanta; her Majesty is well aware of the proprieties; she would take great care not to interrupt me in my work. (Act VI, AGS)

Here in this little conversation ‘the process of sadharanikarana offers both epistemological/metaphysical and psychological/aesthetic answers to the question.’10 On the metaphysical level the poet portrays the dignity of an individual both in an individual’s eye for herself and in the perception of others. While on the level of psychology we find the poetic technique of the dramatist to divert the situation to maturity and perspicuous judgment both on the Queen consort and King’s level. This ability of the artist to penetrate into the mind of the character in the given situation is his empirical awareness which Rene Daumal puts it, “the moment of conscience and consciousness that a true work of art should evoke in whoever has an interior being and a measure for judging; a moment of waking to oneself arising from a particular emotion provoked by a true work of art” (181).

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In the play Malavikagnimitram, the main plot is located in the Antahpura and Pramadavana, the enclosed world ‘with a polygamous-concubinage setup that is rife with jealousies and intrigue and jockeying for power and status’ (182). This situation is indeed true in the context of the story of Malavikaganimitram, but if we study the position and status of woman it is quid pro quo. That is Malvika the beautiful girl was brought to the court of Agnimitra, the ruler of Vidisa, as slave because the brother of Queen consort Dharni, defeated on the frontiers of the empire the Vidharbha’s troupe and he gifted that beautiful girl to his sister as to serve as slave. Nobody, knew that Malavika‘s brother was on his way from Vidharbha to Vidisa for the proposal of her sister’s matrimonial alliance with the King of Vidisa, Agnimitra. In some confusion because Vidharbha used to be the natural enemy of Vidisa, Dharni’s brother General Virasena defeated Madhavasena and captured the girls and those were brought to Vidisa. Among one of them was a royal princess of Vidharbha i.e. Malavika. In fear Malavika also did not disclose her real identity and remained in the service of Dharni. The power game of patriarchs to extend frontiers since ages has engendered discourse geopolitically about the condition of women in such situations. They are the victims of the world outside that plays the game of power and politics. In midst of these political intrigues, the dance recital show was performed in which that beautiful girl Malavika who was also the pupil of Ganadasa, also took part. Her compositions enchanted the king that he fell in the fantasy of love, just like Dushanta for Sakuntala .and Puruvara for Urvasi. Due to some stratagem on the part of Gautma, the vidusaka and confidante of the king, to restrain Queen Dharni to appear in the ritual worship of Asoka Tree, he had her feet slipped and strained. As a result she deputed Malavika to attend to the rites to relieve the longings of pregnancy of the Golden Asoka by making her to wear Dharni’s anklet. While another queen of Aganimita, Iravati who was always suspicious of philandering of her king sent a note through her messenger: ‘I long to ride the swing in the company of my dear lord? And Your Honour promised her that you would. So let us make our way there to the pleasure groves.’ (MVM, Act III) Agnimitra uttered to Gautama: Ah! My dear friend: listen. Women are by nature pretty shrewd. Even as I am showering the tenderest caresses on her, do you really believe that her ladyship Iravati will not notice that my heart is not in it? That it is somewhere. (MVM, Act III) We find here the gender blindness as regards the sensitivity of women’s emotions and suffering. Rather her sensibility is termed as shrewd, Iravati on the face of Aganimitra remarks: You deceiver, you! Faithless at heart! When Malavika’s real identity and true parentage was discovered and she was accepted as bride and honoured with the title of Queen, that same Iravati at the end of the play sent the message through Nipunika ‘By stepping over the limits of propriety it is true that I gravely offended my lord, behaving with discourtesy and disregarding his wishes. Now that my lord enjoys the complete fulfillment of his cherished desires, I pray that he will honour me by extending his favour towards me.’(MVM, Act V) While Dharni very dignifiedly reconciled to her painful state of having a younger rival. Yet Dharni is drawn by Kalidasa in the words of Kausiki (sister of chief minister of Vidharbha and guardian of Malavika: For a hundred autumns you may be Husband and lord of the two Dharinis;

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Both bounteous, both of equal patience; One the support of the line Having brought forth progeny powerful, The other the support of all living beings, Bearing harvests abundant from copious rainfall.

Dharini fought for her status by staking her son Vasumitra to fight at borders of Northwest frontiers against Indo-Greek forces and he who had been chosen as the guardian of sacred stallion, established the military power of his empire against Bactrian cavalry. She prevented herself very wisely from the world of jealousy. On the occasion of the Golden Asoka rites, she ordered Kausiki to decorate and adorn Malavika in the customary wedding clothes and decorations of the Vidharbha country. Agnaimitra said to himself: She has always gone along with my wishes without a trace of jealousy.’ (MVM, Act V) To see her kindness, even Gautama’s plots and wiles mellowed down in her favour. All these queens were assertive, yet submissive and polite. They knew their secondary status yet they with their silence, spiritual outlook and patience counter the tragic situations of their being alone. They steadfastly accepted the challenges where they were to prove themselves, where they were tested for their nobility, duty and loyalty not only to their husband but to the family and the dynasty which was identical with the empire. Nowhere in the plays have we found that they had resorted to violence, disillusions, self-denial, self-flagellation, self-pity or self-negation. Indeed they were in trouble due to their husband who got involved with other woman, yet they respected the dignity of the other in their life in order to receive the same recognition for themselves. Feminist discourse describes their being very self-effacing and supporting patriarchy but humanist explain it the quality of extraordinary nobility to accept others. 3. Matrons - Reflecting Duality for Gender In Abhijnanasakuntalam The matron of Kanva Hermitage, Gautami looked after Sakuntala as the foster mother. She was following pattern of living in hermitage just like other saints of the Kanva Hermitage, yet Kalidasa has not drawn her in the image of a sage, rather she is more like a mother who guides, loves, rebukes Sakuntala as a mother. She reminded Sakuntala about the values, affection and culture to be offered to one’s parents while Sakuntala was to depart to her husband’s house from the Hermitage. She says: “Look, dear child; your father is standing there watching you as if he were embracing you with eyes that are brimming with happy tears. Greet him with due reverence”. (AGS, Act IV)

Further she poignantly directed her: “Dear child, do you hear the goddesses of the holy Grove bidding you farewell in as loving a manner as your own kinsfolk? Bow to them with proper reverence”. In these moments she had been depicted as loving, kind and considerate. She appeared as the only elderly guiding light to convey sweetness in life to Sakuntala. 58


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Gautami had been along with other pupils to leave Sakuntala at her husband’s house. Generally in those mother did not go to leave their daughter to husband’s place but as she had gone because it was a marriage accomplished in the forest groves with a few saints blessings, she uttered to the king as an elderly person to remind him of his sin: You did not approach the elders in the matter, She did not seek advice from her kinsfolk; When it was al agreed upon between you two, What in the world can one say to either. (Act V, AGS)

Kalidasa as a playwright has delivered the values of eastern culture and civilization that paradoxically mean a lot. Because in the influence of curse inflicted upon Sakuntala by Saint Durvasa when she showed disregard in her trance of fantasy, Dushanta could not recall in the court that he married with Sakuntala and there was any such intimate relationship in the court. Then Gautami’s unpredictable rebuff caused a kind of irony especially for Sakuntala, because her position became weak as she was not recognized by the king on account of not submitting the token of her love with Dushanta. Gautami spoke: ‘Daughter, lay aside your bashfulness for a while; let me remove your veil. Your Lord will not fail to recognize you then’. (AGS, Act V) Even then king did not recognize her, so Gautami said again: Gracious Prince, you should not speak to her like that. Brought up in a sacred grove, this girl is a stranger to guile’. (AGS, Act V) At that moment presence or absence did not matter than the token of recognition for her love, which could remind her husband that she was the wife once. Gautami uttered: ‘Son, Sarngarava, here is Sakuntala following us, walking pitifully. Cruelly repudiated by her husband, what can the poor child do?’ (AGS, Act V) These statements describe the helpless, pathetic state of a woman in the patriarchal society. The rejection, non-recognition of a woman in society deprives her of all privileges and identity which she enjoys before marriage and mars her dignity, identity of her name, herself as an individual. Shakuntala was blamed for transgression, disobedience and assertion for her independence. Kalidasa has highlighted this predicament to show that any aberration on the part of woman is unacceptable, even her mother cannot provide her shelter until her daughter is proved innocent of the guilt. ‘This female subjectivity provides a specific measure that essentially retains repetition and eternity from the view of geopolitical discourse as it globalizes the problems of women of different milieu, ages, civilizations or simply of varying psychic structures, under the label ‘Universal Woman’. This stereotypical maternal cult rejoins the discourse of marginal groups of spiritual or mystical inspiration and strangely enough rejoins recent scientific preoccupations for liberating the ‘second sex’ (Kristeva, 190-195). Yet Kalidasa reaffirms in the universalistic spirit of enlightenment humanism that ‘moral perfection is an essentiality of an individual’s life to maintain culture and sacred traditions of the land’ (Position and Status of Women in Ancient India, 1968). Another important figure in one of the plays of Kalidasa is Kausiki in Malavikaganimitram. She was the guardian of Malavika. She had taken refuge in the court of King Agnimitra, disguised as 59


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an ascetic lady and forms part of the Queen Dharini’s retinue. She was the sister of the Chief Minister of Vidharbha. Kausiki knew strategically her role and responsibility in the court of Aganimitra, so she always upheld the position of Dahrini and the King by her words of appraisal for both. She acted as a secret mediator between the King and Malavika to bring them face to face of each other not only by silent persuasive guidance given to Dharini for organizing a dance recital of the court pupils. When she got her aim achieved, she patiently waited for the time to get the real truth discovered on political front. She even proved to be one of the factual witness of the war between Madhavasena of Vidharbha (brother of Malavika) and Virasena who was the commander in chief of Aganimitra’s forces and Lord of the Narmada Marches guarding the empire’s southern frontiers, because of the caravan being attacked by the bandits and in that confusion the misery befell upon Malavika, Madhavasena and Vahatava. Yet even after disclosing the past, she politely mitigated the wrongdoings of the king and queen by saying: ‘When I saw that this period of servitude at your feet, my lady, had begun for her, I knew that the prophecy was fulfilling itself. I therefore felt that it should take its own course. I kept silent waiting for the right moment to speak. I believe that I have acted properly.’ (MVM, Act V) Here we find that these matrons are responsible for imbibing the virtues, values of patriarchal culture and civilization of Hindu Society in their wards. They tried to alleviate any sort of protest against patriarchal code of discipline and conduct. Even at times of servitude, loneliness and alienation inflicted by the society, they strove to bring in positive attitude and graciousness in the desolated, deprived and destitute women whom they either treat as their daughters or disciples in the hermitage. Even when the women were subjected to calamities these matrons with their words and deeds set up an environment where these women work as good disciples following the strict human laws of patriarchy and divine laws of God’s Providence. These images of lead characters in Kalidasa’s plays draw indeed universally gender eye and empathy to understand the other side of the adversity that strengthens mind and body to know the ultimate truth of life. 4. Ideological Positioning “of Women, for Women and by Women” In the plays of Kalidasa, woman either as love fantasy or as Queen consort is not above the patriarchal principles of purusartha. Mostly women have to bear in mind the code of conduct that were laid for them holy scriptures to continue the name of the hierarchy and patriarchy somehow either by bearing a male child or by following the vows that scriptures had laid for women to follow. One of the pupils of the Sage Kanva appeared to be representing the male psyche against the woman who breaks laws; he said to Sakuntala on being not accepted and recognized as wife by Dushanta: You forward girl, are you asserting your independence? If you are what the king says you are, what will your father have to do with you- a stain on his family? But, as you know your conduct to be pure, even servitude in your husband’s house will be welcome to you. (AGS, Act V) Here in this remark we find the hostile attitude of society that preaches svadharma and purusartha. These strictures executed humanely only on the woman who kept calm and disciplined herself when there was natural calamity but if it was related to her being illicit then she

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was an outlaw, an outcaste and an excommunicated being unless there was any evidence of her purity and innocence.

Similarly when a daughter used to become a married woman, the liberated feeling of a father is well conveyed by Kalidasa through the Sage Kanva speaking to Sakuntala’s friends: “It is your great affection for her that makes you feel this way. Ah, now that, I have seen Sakuntala leave for her husband’s home, I have regained calm of mind. Think of it: A daughter is wealth that belongs to another; Today I have sent her to him who took her hand; At once, my inner being is clear and calm Asif I have restored a pledge left with me in trust” ( AGS, Act IV).

This dialogue dramatically signifies the custom, culture in context of the physical existence of a girl in patriarchal society, whose hegemony dominates even after she is married. Kanva as a father guides her daughter: Be held in high esteem by your lord As Sarmistha was by Yayati; As she bore Puru, may you too bear A son to whom the whole world will bow (Act IV, AGS)

Kalidasa presents the impressions very realistically in words and in imagery. He marvelously refers to the interplay of ethics and metaphysics vis-à-vis gender, sexuality and society. A critic writes about Kalidasa’s description and position of women in his plays: The imagery of the play Abhijnanasakuntalam reveals the subordinate status of woman. The wife was referred to as a creeper and the husband its supporting tree (AGS, Act I). In the conversation between Ansuya and Priyamvada woman (wife) was compared to a creeper, the vishakha star, and river, and man (husband) was a tree, the Moon, and the sea. (AGS, Act III). Further wife was not supposed to go against her husband, although ill-treated by him, said Sage Kashyap in his piece of advice to Sakuntala (Act 4, AGS). Moreover in the court of the king (AGS, Act V) when Dushanta did not accept Sakuntala, Sharadvata left Sakuntala at Dushanta’s mercy: “Here then is your wife. Abandon her or accept. For husbands have-all extending authority over wives”. (AGS, Act V) The pupils of Kanva Sage forsook pregnant Sakuntala showing their inhuman treatment in the garb of patriarchal saints (Kumar Avadhesh, 11-115)

These are some of the examples that Kalidasa conceives and construct to reveal dichotomy of human mind and gender mentality. It is apt to conclude that ‘Kalidasa contemporized his characters and made them behave accordingly and in the process he could not rise above the prejudices of the age against woman’ (115-125), and their subjugation and subordination was illustrated in the veil of purusarthas vis-à-vis to the svadharma convey lifetime self-less service to follow one’s dharma towards other beings of the universe. He delineated his creative poetry as 61


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a spiritual discipline, tapasaya, that gives not only the most exalted consciousness with which to comprehend the metaphysics of truth, existence and reality, but also the external paradigms of unity, identity and freedom. Therefore in the world literature of classics Kalidasa is known for his dramaturgy on the lines of binary opposition of nature and culture, social behavior and social environment, human mind and gender mentality. References: 1.

Tagore, Rabindranath. “Creative Unity”. The English Writings of Rabindranath Tagore Vol.2. Ed. Sisir Km Das. New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi, 2004. Print.

2.

Mukherjee, Radhakamal. “New Horizons of Humanism”. The Way of Humanism-East and West. New Delhi: Academic Books, 1968. Print.

3.

Krishnamoorthy, K. “Plays”. Kalidasa. New Delhi: Sahiteya Akademi, 1997. Print.

4.

Rajan, P.K. Indian Literary Criticism in English. New Delhi: Rawat Publications, 2004. Print.

5.

Chatterjee, Vishwanbath. “Tagore’s Criticism:Creation within a Creation”. Indian Literary Criticism in English. Ed. P.K.Rajan. New Delhi; Rawat Publications, 2004. Print.

6.

Rajan, Chandra. “Introduction”. The Complete Works of Kalidasa Vol. 2. New Delhi: Sahetiya Akademi, 2007.

7.

Sivaramkrishna, M. “Of Rasa/Dhvani among other Criteria’. East West Poetics. Ed. C.D.Narasimhaiah. New Delhi: Sahittya Akademi, 1994. Print.

8.

Kristeva, Julia. “Women’s Time.” The Kristeva Reader. New York: Columbia University Press, 1986. Print.

9.

Position and Status of Women in Ancient India, Vol.1 (Varanasi: B.H.U. 1968. Print.

10.

Singh, Avadhesh K. “De/Re constructing the Abhigyanshakuntalam”, Dramatic Theory and Practice- Indian and Western. Ed. M.S.Kushwaha. New Delhi: Creative Books, 2000. Print.

Dr. Jayshree Singh, is a Senior Faculty, Head, Deptt. of English, Bhupal Nobles Post-Graduate College (MLSU), Udaipur, Rajasthan.

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18.

K. PRUDCHENKO

Oedipa Maas and the Absurd Abstract This is essay, I argue that by bombarding the reader with seemingly disconnected images, metaphors, popular culture references, and inside jokes, Pynchon portrays Oedipa’s quest as a journey in search of meaning that embodies the philosophical concept of the Absurd, the conflict between looking for meaning in life and the inability to find it. Oedipa Maas and the Absurd: What Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 conveys about the meaning of life Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 is narrated in third-person limited and filtered through Oedipa Maas’s perspective. Oedipa is a twenty-eight-year old housewife who attends Tupperware parties and sees a psychologist. After being named the executor of her ex-boyfriend Pierce Inverarity’s estate, Oedipa goes on a strange and sometimes surreal journey to find out the truth about Tristero and emerges as a curious, determined, but lost woman who is trying to make sense of the world around her. Though Pynchon presents her thoughts, feelings, and experiences, he does not actually develop Oedipa as a round character. Instead he defines Oedipa in relation to the places, events, and people that she encounters and makes her a lens through which the reader can access her world. Oedipa’s quest is a journey in search of meaning, and it embodies the philosophical concept of the Absurd, the conflict between looking for meaning in life and the inability to find it. By bombarding the reader with seemingly disconnected images, metaphors, popular culture references, and inside jokes, Pynchon portrays our everyday reality, and this approach makes Oedipa’s journey, the reader’s journey. In other words, Oedipa’s quest for meaning and her inability to find it becomes the reader’s journey, and both Oedipa and the reader are forced to construct their own individual meaning in order to make sense of the world around them. Pynchon constructs Oedipa as a character who exists in relation and reaction to the people, places, and events that occur around her. For example, in the beginning, Pynchon defines Oedipa in relation to her husband. Her husband, Mucho, is a disc jockey who used to work as a car salesman. Pynchon shows his neuroses by pointing out how he winces at “the sight of sawdust, even pencil shavings” and shaves “his upper lip every morning three times with, three times against the grain to remove any remotest breath of a mustache” (4). Pynchon then points out that “though he dieted he could still not as Oedipa did use honey to sweeten his coffee for like all things viscous it distressed him, recalling too poignantly what is often mixed with motor oil to 63


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ooze dishonest into gaps between piston and cylinder wall” (4). This paragraph characterizes Mucho’s neuroses from Oedipa’s perspective and presents the reader with a clear picture of her husband's discontent with his career and himself, and more broadly with the fraudulent, dented, mechanized world that is modern industrialized society. Similarly, Pynchon presents Oedipa in relation to Southern California and shows the town of San Narciso, the external world around her, from Oedipa’s perspective. As a result, Oedipa appears to only exist in relation to the people and places that she encounters. Though Oedipa appears to be something of a literary device, a lens that allows the reader to see into her world, she does remain motivated by one thing: curiosity. She wants to find out the truth about Tristero and meaning of the world around her. Her curiosity is evident even in the way she draws a comparison between radios and Southern Californians. She sees both of them as “outward patterns [of] a hieroglyphic sense of concealed meaning, of an intent to communicate. There’d seemed no limit to what the printed circuit could have told her (if she had tried to find out); so in her first minute of San Narciso, a revelation also trembled just past the threshold of her understanding” (Pynchon14). Oedipa is essentially a character who, like the reader, is trying to understand something and sometimes comes close to it. She is pulled and pushed by external forces throughout the novel and remains conflicted and indecisive even at the end. As a result, Pynchon uses her as a main character in order to play with the notion of understanding and meaning and create a conflict that is essentially irresolvable.

Overall, The Crying of Lot 49 addresses the conflict that America faced in the 1960s. Many young people were feeling disconnected from the Establishment. As a result, society was dealing with turbulent social unrest, characterized by substance abuse and racial tensions. Overall, The Crying of Lot 49 addresses the conflict that America faced in the 1960s. Many young people were feeling disconnected from the Establishment. As a result, society was dealing with turbulent social unrest, characterized by substance abuse and racial tensions. Powerless, unsure, and naïve Oedipa embodies the conflict between the present and the past. She personifies discontent, the impetus for the antiestablishment movement. Though her discontent takes her on a journey to conceptualize the world around her, Oedipa never really finds any answers or resolves any conflicts. Each answer comes with additional questions and, at the end of the novel, both Oedipa and the reader find themselves in a world that is still rather undefined and foreign, if not obscurely threatening. This resolution reinforces the camaraderie that exists throughout the novel between the reader and Oedipa. The reader is confused about what is really going on because Oedipa is confused and both find it difficult to make much sense out of anything. More specifically, Oedipa’s quest is to find out if Tristero exists, and if it does, what is its purpose. Her journey is characterized by the men she meets, some of whom may or may not have answers to her questions. At the end, she astutely points out that she interacts with the world as a “busybody,” someone who watches the world, but does not participate in it (Pynchon 151). Later, she finds herself truly alone for the first time, sitting “towards the back of the room, looking at the napes of necks, trying to guess which one was her target, her enemy, perhaps her 64


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proof” (Pynchon 152). Though she is sitting and looking passive, she is not. Oedipa is thinking, reflecting, not simply reacting. It took Oedipa the entire novel to get to this point, the point where she is alone, calm, and in control. Pynchon's writing style relies heavily on descriptions and images that appear to convey meaning. But these images quickly transition into other images that make whatever meaning is conveyed meaningless. In other words, each answer Oedipa finds or the reader derives brings up additional questions. As a result, finding answers to all questions appears to be impossible. For example, at the point where Oedipa tries to understand the meaning of logic and revelation in connection to Pierce, Pynchon makes it seem like she is about to come up with an answer. “That's what would come to haunt her the most, perhaps: the way it fitted, logically, together. As if (as she’d guessed that first minute in San Narciso) there were revelation in progress all around her” (Pynchon 31). The reader feels like the answer is about to be identified, but then Pynchon states that “much of the revelation was to come through the stamp collection Pierce had left, his substitute often for her--thousands of little colored windows into deep vistas of space and time…” (31). As a result, whatever meaning the reader and Oedipa find transitions into additional questions which are posed in form of imagery: “Hitler heads, sunsets, allegorical faces that never were…” (Pynchon 31). Pynchon’s narrative style of introducing characters and scenarios with seemingly no connections and bombarding the reader with seemingly disconnected images, popular culture references, metaphors and inside jokes is his way of replicating reality. The novel is confusing, chaotic, and full of conspiracies. Parts of it seem to mimic drug-induced hallucinations and other parts seem to mimic the real world of politics. However, in general, the novel portrays the inanity and absurdity of daily life. In everyday life, we are constantly bombarded with images that some of us understand, some of us do not understand, and some of us misinterpret entirely. For example, a couple of years ago I saw an advertisement for an online dating service called Great Expectations. I found it absurd that a dating service would be called that given that Great Expectations, the novel, is about a spinster and unrequited love. I talked on and on about this absurdity to a friend, but he did not understand because he did not know of the novel. Thus I had no choice, but to consider the fact that maybe the owner responsible for the name also did not get its literary significance. Our daily lives are filled with miscommunicated images. Some of them mean something, others mean something else, and still others mean something that the sender did not intend for them to mean. Thus, if we were to go on a quest to find the meaning of every single image that we came in contact with, then we would quickly discover the same thing that Oedipa discovered: “The act of metaphor then was a thrust at truth and a lie, depending where you were: inside, safe or outside, lost” (Pynchon 105). In other words, we would discover that life, like The Crying of Lot 49, can be an absurd, disconnected mess. Though Oedipa appears to be on a journey to find meaning, perhaps the fact that she does not is actually the point. In other words, Oedipa goes on a journey to find something, but in the end she finds nothing but uncertainty. Thus her quest personifies the philosophical concept of the Absurd, the conflict between the tendency to look for value and meaning in life and the inability to find it. Absurdism is a philosophical school of thought that states that the tendency to seek 65


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meaning in life will inevitably result in failure because to find meaning is humanly impossible (Absurdism). Furthermore, absurdism distinguishes between the ideas of the logically and humanly impossible. Though it is not logically impossible for Oedipa, or the reader, to find the meaning of each of the images put forth in the novel, it is humanly impossible. Finding meaning in The Crying of Lot 49 and in life, in general, is humanly impossible because of the sheer amount of unknowns that exist in the world. As a result, Oedipa’s and the reader’s efforts to find meaning ultimately fail and both of their quests end in conflict because certainty is impossible.

…Pynchon conveys the idea that meaning is created, not given, and that it is up to Oedipa, and therefore the reader, to create their own meaning in their own world. Oedipa’s quest takes her on a journey in search of meaning in a world where meaning is humanly impossible to find. She sees patterns and follows them, but answers are not guaranteed and whatever answers she finds come with additional questions. The Crying of Lot 49 plays with Sartre’s philosophical idea that meaning is something that is unique to each individual and his notion that people create their own essence by interacting with their surroundings. As a result, Pynchon conveys the idea that meaning is created, not given, and that it is up to Oedipa, and therefore the reader, to create their own meaning in their own world. Work Cited: 1.

Pynchon, Thomas. The Crying of Lot 49. New York, NY: Harper Perennial,

2.

1990. Print.

3.

“Absurdism.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation,

4.

Inc. n.d. Web. 4 April 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absurdism

K. Prudchenko's short stories have appeared in numerous literary journals and magazines in the US, UK and Canada including New Plains Review (US), The Nevada Review (US), Perhaps (US), Lost in Thought Magazine (CAN), the delinquent (UK), Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine (UK), and Kerouac’s Dog Magazine (UK). More recently, her short story ‘Missing’ has appeared in the Magnolia: A Journal of Women’s Socially Engaged Literature Volume II anthology. She is pursuing an MA degree in English Literature & Writing at Western New Mexico University and a PhD in Education at Old Dominion University. She lives in Los Angeles, California. She can be reached at: kate.prudchenko@gmail.com.

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19.

TARUN KUMAR YADAV

Female Portrayal in A Handful of Rice Abstract Markandaya is a whiz kid novelist in Indo-Anglian fiction. She is fundamentally known for her most illustrious novel Nectar in a Sieve. Born in a well-to-do Brahmin family of Mysore in 1924, she has acquired much knowledge of Western civilization, but most of her characters are typical sons and daughters rooted in the soil of the Indian rustic life. In this novel, Nalini, the superwoman, plays a momentous role of a traditional daughter and wife. She has been described as the representative of Indian woman society. She is the daughter of a poor man and after marriage too, she remains poor. She suffers from poverty and hunger from the beginning to end. In spite of this, she is contented with whatever she has. She never complains to anybody. It shows her well-brought-up conduct and proves that she is the personification of traditional and devoted wife of Indian rural life. Jayamma, Ravi’s mother-in-law, also has a key role. She cares too much to her daughter Nalini. Thangam, Nalini’s sister, has been depicted as a mean, invidious and unabashed girl. So I would try to study critically to these female characters in this research paper. Keywords: Civilization, epitome, Indo-Anglian, invidious, mean, and Western Female Portrayal in A Handful of Rice Kamala Markandaya is unique in the portraiture of her characters. She has introduced brawny and vigorous characters. Mrs Nayantara Sehgal considers her characters to be made of flesh and blood. Kamala was born in Mysore in 1924. She travelled far and wide in India because her father was a transport officer and he was often transferred from one place to another. Kamala Markandaya’s novels seem to be more fully reflective of the awakened feminine sensibility in modern India as she attempts to project the picture of the varying traditional society. She merits a special mention as a representative of a major trend in the history of the Indo-Anglian novel. In her novels, she not only displays a flair for virtuosity that orders and patterns her feelings and ideas, resulting in the production of a truly enjoyable work of art, but also, more importantly, she projects the national image on many levels of aesthetic awareness. Indeed, her novels seem to be uniquely reflective of the national consciousness in its multiple forms with the characteristic sensibility of the modern, educated Indian woman. The vital female characters in this novel are Nalini, the heroine, Jayamma and Thangam. 67


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Nalini has a very responsive role in the novel. She is a devotee of tradition and culture. She is young, pretty and has thick glossy long black hair and small white teeth. Her beauty attracts Ravi and he falls in love with her at first sight. In the days that followed Ravi thought about her a lot - this girl with the bright eyes and the thick, glossy hair, who would transform a man’s life. [25]

Nalini is not an ambitious woman like her husband, Ravi. She feels contentment whatever she has. She pacifies Ravi whenever he attempts to accomplish his dreams which are unfeasible for him. She often makes her feel reality that he has been corrupted. Ravi reacts that they are not made of different clay. She speaks the truth: They are a different class, that’s all. Ordinary folk like us can never be like them. [75]

Ravi wants to lead a lavish life bringing a sumptuous bed for Nalini, but she is pleased to sleep on the mat. She says: Such ideas! Do you think we are grand people? Isn’t this good enough for us? I am happy. [65]

She is very meek and submissive – obeys her elders, father and mother. After marriage, she always obeys her husband. She never complains to anybody about anything. She always wants her husband’s regard and thinks that her husband needs enhancement in manners. One day her husband comes late at night. Jayamma, Ravi’s mother-in-law, becomes very annoyed and called him vagrant. This comment hurts Nalini too much and she begins to weep and implores Ravi: It’s just that sometimes I-I don’t know what’s eating into you, there must be something but I don’t know what and it worries me... and tonight I-I just don’t to hear them calling you vagabond again, that’s all. [76-77]

She is always a source of solace to Ravi. She helps him calm down whenever Ravi is indulged in quarrel with any members in the family. She is an industrious woman and never sits indolent, but Ravi wants her to be unoccupied to frit away time alone with his wife after the day’s labour. Nalini is very lenient. She does her household work without any commotion even after giving birth to twins. She feels overwrought and burdened, but it does not impinge on her faculty for work. She fulfils the demands of the twins and his son, Raju. Sometimes, she is beaten by her husband, but yet she never complains and endures it silently. She was constant, a rock to which he (Ravi) could cling and keep his head level when his views and values began their mad dance. [118]

Nalini also loves her sister, Thangam, too much. Thangam’s husband is unwaged, so she always feels compassion for her. Whenever Thangam comes to her shelter, she offers her to share it, but Ravi’s attitude was different. He does not like her. Nalini points out Thangam’s honesty even after her husband steals Apu’s money and leaves his house. She is not ready to accept the fact that there is any attachment of her sister in this occurrence. Perhaps, it is because of her love for her sister that she cannot look at her faults. 68


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Jayamma, Apu’s wife, is an awfully malicious woman. She is introduced as: ... a very fat, middle-aged woman who sat nearby, half fearful, half ferocious, a rolling pin clutched in her hand. [8]

She treats Ravi in nasty comportment when he forcibly enters Jayamma’s house and demands food and bed. She is about forty, but flabby from too much flesh. She also shows insatiability. She arranges her elder daughter’s marriage with Puttana without any offering. Now she is ready to marry Nalini to Ravi because he will not take gift. She saves a lot of money, yet she is not ready to help her poor daughter Thangam. She was too mean to do so- a meanness which she privately explained away as a prudent care for the future, when she might be widowed and have to count every pie. [94]

She has propensity to dominate and dictate and always thinks of her own goodness. She wants to control all the household duties. She is also fond of movies, processions etc. She has the gusto to enjoy them. She enjoys eating and drinking with Ravi and Nalini. Her husband was a respectable craftsman, they lived respectably, but still there were all the same luxuries that she had gone without, like say Margo or Vinolia soap as a treat instead of forever bar soap, Mysore coffee beans instead of the mixed lot she had to settle for in the bazaar. For a few short months she had tasted nectar when Ravi became a member of the household, and there were cinemas and cold drinks. [179]

Jayamma is so much egocentric that she does not love her husband. When Apu falls ill, she does not want to call the doctor and thinks that the money will be wasted. This is because: She had been young, he past his prime, when they married her to him. She did not love him then, she did not love him afterward. [149]

She is a lusty woman because she is attracted towards Ravi’s masculinity. But going deeper, which she could hardly bring herself to do; she knew that what really troubled her was the lust that had risen in her like a tide, the surging exultation that glutted her as she felt her blows falling on his flesh. [55]

Jayamma likes her handsome son-in-law. The following extract exposes the fact: Jayamma at first was concerned for her daughter, but when she realized there were no real injuries she held her peace. In all the years of their married life Apu had never once raised his hand to her, but then, she thought, with the faint contempt she still bore her husband which even his death had not expunged, in that way Apu had never been much of a man. She shivered a little thinking of Ravi’s masculinity; and there was even the seed of a thought in her mind, though she would not let it grow, that in her daughter’s place she would have welcomed her wounds. [188]

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Ravi also knows this fact and one day he tries to rape her, but Jayamma refuses, then he replies: No, why should I? You’ve wanted it for months, for years. All the time you lay with your husband. Every time you looked at me.... Do you think I don’t know how you have been starved? [221]

She is barefaced. When Ravi reminds her of the last night incident about seduction, she says: What for last night? Do you think I care about that? Who cares what goes on between four walls? [223]

So Jayamma has been depicted as a lustful, unkind, hungry, egotistic and mean woman. She is rubbish - neither a good mother, nor a good wife, nor a good mother-in-law. Thangam who is Apu’s elder daughter is another important character. She looks extremely impolite. She behaves like a blatant woman. She often comments on Ravi. Thangam’s smile grew more and archer. She had acquired a small repertoire of lewd jokes, and as married woman she now felt free to corner Ravi and air them. [56]

Since she does not have good manners, her marriage life is not happy. Her husband is also out of a job. She had suffered a good many years, ever since her ill-starred marriage to that good-for-nothing husband.... Thangam had nagged, cried, bullied, and in the end, put a bold cheerful face on it. What else could she do? [178]

She is covetous by nature – does not show any empathy for Nalini when she suffers from severe pains and passes sleepless nights. She has been described as an awfully mean woman. Her nature is so mean that she even cheats her parents. She is very self-centred. She wants to lead a comfy life but due to deficiency she is unable to do so. Thus all the female characters in the novel have been portrayed exceedingly meticulously. She has shown grand dexterity in the portrayal of the characters. All her characters are well-built and convincing who suffer from a pang of nostalgia in one way or the other.

Works Cited: 1.

Markandaya, Kamala, A Handful of Rice, Orient Paperbacks, New Delhi, 1966. Print.

70


April 2013 Tarun Kumar Yadav is a research scholar at the Department of English with Lalit Narayan Mithila University, Darbhanga (Bihar).

Get Your Book Reviewed by Contemporary Literary Review India — journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.

CLRI prides itself to have a good number of review writers. We have different review writers for books of different genres. Our reviews are gaining recognition among the publishers, journals and academia for fair and high quality reviews.

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April 2013

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

Book Reviews

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20.

JOÃO CERUQEIRA’S TRAGEDY OF FIDEL CASTRO

Book Review by Maisah B. Robinson Tragedy of Fidel Castro originally written in Portuguese has been translated into English by Karen Bennett and Chris Mingay. River Grove Books, 2008. João Cerqueira’s The Tragedy of Fidel Castro is a humorous political satire, which depicts social issues and human behavior in an absurd manner, creating an entertaining work that has wide audience appeal. Like other authors who write in this genre, he is protected from culpability or undue criticism, because the descriptions of the characters being portrayed are implied and not overtly stated. The novel is about a socialist country (Cuba) and capitalist country (America) and their imminent military conflict. The novel highlights the pervasive conflicts and tribulations that plague humans. It is an altered reality that mocks religion, and humanity and provides a caricature of Cuba, America, communism and capitalism. In the book’s preface, João Cerqueira provides a disclaimer stating that the characters are fictional, although the average reader can easily identify the famous political figures he has named, such as Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro and American president John F. Kennedy, “Hence Christ has nothing to do with Jesus Christ…God does not represent God…JFK is someone other than an American president…Fátima has no connection whatsoever with a particular site in Portugal…Fidel Castro perhaps has some similarities with the revolutionary leader and dictator.” All characters, in principle, never existed. The actions and antics that the characters go through in the book are not supposed to be historical. However, the reader may be inclined to recall the real-life actions of the characters’ namesakes while reading about the fictional versions. The novel’s themes are an intertwining of: (1) the 1917 miracle of Fátima when the Virgin Mary was said to have prophesized the end of Communism, (2) Fidel Castro’s dictatorship, and (3) divine existence. Similar to the novels The Infinities by John Banville and The Second Coming by John Niven, The Tragedy of Fidel Castro uses divine intervention. João Cerqueira begins by revealing a poignant event in which Fatima, a loyal disciple of Jesus Christ, calls God to alert him to the impending war between Castro’s socialist country and JFK’s capitalist country.

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Subsequent to this warning, God confers with Jesus to come up with solutions to the conflict. Jesus first observes what the people are doing about the impending conflict and then returns to Earth. With regard to the impending conflict, JFK was not afraid of Castro’s army, “What he feared most was the subversive message: emancipation of the masses, their awakening from lethargy, growing awareness of their own power” (p. 7). João Ceruqeira JFK, with the aid of his counselor, eagerly searches for a solution to the problem and does not want to destroy any lives, and thus, is desperate to avoid any conflict with Castro, “Nonetheless, the unending conflict with Fidel was exhausting him, leaving him lost in a labyrinth of strategies doomed to failure. As soon as a new idea occurred to him, he would ruthlessly reject it, unmasking some blocked reasoning. Wherever his mind led him, he would come to a dead end and have to start over” (pp. 7-8). In an effort to diffuse the conflict, JFK interrogates Varadero who is one of Castro’s spies that his country’s government has captured. After meeting with JFK and hearing his persuasive, heartfelt comments, Varadero’s views and beliefs about capitalism have changed, as well as his views about Castro. JFK sends Varadero back to his home. Meanwhile, Castro is diligently working to improve his country’s struggling economy and diffuse irate citizens’ revolts. He uses his charisma and political prowess to control his followers. Castro imprisons Vardero who he thinks betrayed him. To get revenge, Castro’s army invaded JFK’s country, “On deck of a ship in the Invincible Armada, Fidel Castro looked through an eyeglass at the azure swath of ocean, his gaze locked on the horizon at the moment in which his imagination provided him a triumphal preview of the battle against JFK. After a seven-hour-long oration, he thus began the voyage of invasion” (p. 90). However, Castro’s army was unable to persuade the people to accept Marxism. After this, Castro seeks advice from Varadero who accuses him of betraying the revolution and causing the turmoil and despair in Cuba. Forlorn and depressed, Castro redraws from society and finds refuge in an unknown land. He suffers a fall and is left amnesiac. Monks find him in this state and take him to a convent were insane people are enslaved by the friars who “considered the madmen pure souls, beings God had freed from sin who were worthy of compassion. As such, they charitably incorporated them into their religious community, making them take part in prayers and religious services, while also charging them with the hardest farm work and most difficult tasks” (p. 98). Seeing, this, Castro ignites a revolt against the friars, which restores his memory. He reunites with his army and is visited by the Devil and enters a pact with him. He sells his soul to the Devil so that he can be remembered as a hero who tried to make the 74


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world a better place. Castro requested that, “In the future I want to be remembered as the man who confronted the tyranny of Capitalism and rescued the people from exploitation. I want schoolbooks to describe the new society I built and for it to be compared to the previous one. I want my life to be studied, and without hiding my mistakes, conclude that I did everything possible to give the men and women of this world a more worthy existence” (151). With these words Castro made the pact, and thus, he would never be called a dictator in the future. When JFK and Castro meet in battle, JFK suggests a duel to save other human lives. The duel is watched by Christ, Varadero and Fatima. JFK gets the better of Castro by striking him with a stone and grabbing his knife. This battle reflects the biblical account of David and Goliath. Without spoiling the suspense, suffice it to say the book ends with a glorious miracle. This is ultimately the story of Castro, although JFK is the primary player. João Cerqueira provides an extensive description of Castro’s life experiences, revealing his vulnerability that is an aspect of human frailty. Castro is a monomaniacal character, obsessed with one interest at the exclusion of all others. His passion is for power. He is a shrewd, unscrupulous dictator who will stop at nothing to maintain his position as El Commandante. In contrast, JFK is portrayed as being strong, courageous and honorable. He is an idealized figure who combines courage with passion and simple kindness. However, after selfreflection and introspection, Castro discovers his own human frailties and insecurities about his leadership abilities and mission. This self-discovery reveals that Castro and JFK are more alike than different. Cerqueira’s novel highlights the characteristics of humans in that there is both good and bad in each one, and that all have frailties. He offers bizarre shenanigans to illustrate the dark side of human nature, such as Castro dressing in drag during an espionage mission, “ a welldressed, middle aged woman (who was, in fact, Fidel Castro in disguise) was shaking herself frenetically, spreading the aroma of expensive perfume” (47). Although some of the events in the novel are absurd, Cerqueira has written an instructive story of the perils which befall a frail humanity preserved by divine intervention. His political insight is made up of concrete perception and accurate psychology. He presents a meeting of odd characters and gives each of them an innocent whimsicality that lends to them an air of sympathetic truth. Cerqueira’s racy flavor, use of lively dialogue, the expressive power of his style and his humor are titillating. An example of his humor occurs when Fatima asks a question about Castro: “He was always a crook, a hypocrite. Why does he have a beard in that tropical climate?” (p. 162). Cerqueira’s language is cadenced, obeying a desire for proportion, dignity and harmony, represented by sharp-edged sentences. He uses figurative language to evoke emotion and imagery as illustrated in the following passage: Suffocating in the stifling atmosphere, the room seemed to pant with the effort and dripped beads of sweat from its ceiling. Insects on the verge of incineration fled from the bowels of the earth into the performance, ending up crushed by bare feet. The theater then seemed like an obsolete boiler about to burst, having been forced to work beyond its capacities. The passion was reaching boiling point. (p. 13) 75


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Indeed, The Tragedy of Fidel Castro has market appeal. Cerqueira has effectively combined compelling drama and quirky humor, which evokes readers’ emotions. In his work, he portrays the whole spectrum of life in all of its colorful diversity—rich and poor, city and country, male and female, good and evil. He uses effusive details to highlight the myriad aspects of human nature, which enables his writing to appeal to varied audiences. In 2009, Os Meus Livros magazine awarded The Tragedy of Fidel Castro "Book of the Year" in Portugal. Excerpts are published in The Liberator Magazine, Literary Lunes, Contemporary Literary Review India, All Right Magazine, and Danse Macabre and Anastomo. The novel’s continued exposure will ensure its popularity. Cerqueira shows potential to be a big name in the future. He has already published seven books, including Blame It on Too Much Freedom and Devil's Observations. While his style is primarily compact in its precision, direct and compelling, it is also vehement and ironical. His images are always striking. He is capable of the shrewdest and deepest views and has a strong knowledge of humankind and the complex reactions through which various social interests clash, adapt themselves, and are reconciled. Thus, he has an instinctive sense of the devices by which the attention of the reader can be sustained. Title: The Tragedy of Fidel Castro Author: João Cerqueira Publisher: River Grove Books Year: 2013 ISBN: 978-1-938416-16-3 Price: Author’s Bio: João Cerqueira, a Ph D in History of Art from the University of Oporto, has published a number of books in his home country of Portugal. These include scholarly works on history and art – Art and Literature in the Spanish Civil War (published in Portugal and Brazil), a biography of the Portuguese queen, Maria Pia of Savoy, and three satirical novels: A Culpa é Destes Liberdades (Blame it on to much Freedom, 2007); A Tragédia de Fidel Castro (Saída de Emergência Edições, 2008) and Reflexões do Diabo (Devil's Observations, 2010). The second of these, translated here as The Tragedy of Fidel Castro, was voted book of the month and book of the year in 2009 by the literary magazine Os Meus Livros and an excerpt was published in the Toad Suck Review #2.

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Book Reviewer: Maisah B. Robinson, Ph.D. (Georgia State University), has wide experience as a professional writer and editor with many journals and magazines. He an editor with Braun-Brumfield Book Publishers, Ann Arbor, MI, and frequently contribites to the publications such as Atlanta Business Journal, Diversity Monthly: Career Opportunities and Insights, Equal Opportunity Magazine, The Network Journal and various newspapers like Atlanta Daily World Newspaper, Barutiwa Newspaper, Champion Newspaper among others. Maisah also writes book reviews for Contemporary Literary Review India.

Get Your Book Reviewed by Contemporary Literary Review India — journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.

CLRI prides itself to have a good number of review writers. We have different review writers for books of different genres. Our reviews are gaining recognition among the publishers, journals and academia for fair and high quality reviews.

Subscribe to Contemporary Literary Review India — journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.

CLRI is published online per month, in digital versions occasionally, and in print edition (planned to be quarterly), its print edition has ISSN 2250-3366. Subscribe to our CLRI online edition. Our subscribers receive CLRI digital copies directly into their Inbox, get print copies free of cost whenever they come out during the subscription period, and are waived off any reading fee towards our print editions. You can become our subscribers any time you prefer. To become a subscriber, visit: Subscriber to CLRI

77


April 2013

21.

DR. DALIP KHETARPAL’S FATHOMING INFINITY

Book Review by Dr. Pratap Kumar Dash Fathoming Infinity is a bouquet of poems with experimental undertone for the reader response factors and very much symptomatic in reflecting the chosen areas of indexed physical and mental sciences governing both the microcosmic and macrocosmic world. What’s more, in its texture, it is in fact a blend of the modern psychiatry and critical Vedantic concept of ‘know then thyself’ aiming at providing a new configuration to human perception and personality. Both in approach and style, barring a few with traditional themes, most of the poems basically deal with psychological concepts comprehending and directly governing various major traits of human being which mark deviation from the poetic varieties that we have so far found along the length and breadth of Indian English poetry. The anthology is unique in the sense that it befittingly reflects the countenance of Everyman instead of sticking to any of the poetic trends adopted by the Indian English poets of different times ranging from myth to mysticism or titillating exoticism or even nostalgia with temporal and spatial boundaries perceived exclusively by themselves. Dr. Khetarpal’s approach is unadorned, unambiguous, unprejudiced, dynamic, realistic, and themes are interwoven everybody but immanently manifested out of the creative faculty through his pen inadvertently in the Shakespearean lines to seek approval: The poet’s eye in a fine frenzy rolling Doth glance heaven to earth, from earth To heaven and as imagination bodies forth The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing A local habitation and a name. (Shakespeare’s A Mid Summer Night’s Dream) The anthology rolls from individual to universal; from the earth to the heaven; and the themes and thoughts vested in the all the forty-five poems encircle the human faculty of consciousness, conscience and commonsense which are virtually out of the boundary of the so called principles and parameters of restricted religions or cultures. He has tried to portray the organic realization of self and soul primarily unleashing him from the shells and veils that maim human beings variously. Thematically, the poems can be categorized under the nine sub-headings viz. Existential philosophy; Search for identity; Semantic and psychic 78


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deconstruction of the rationalist; Measuring order and chaos through psychic outlines; Vision: re-visioned; Netizens, citizens, and God in the postmodern world; Contradictions and confusions; The thoughts of life and death; and Knowledge and imagination. However, the central focus all these lays upon the upbringing a conscious mind. Existential Philosophy The two poems in this are based on free individual thoughts. To start with Beliefs and Faiths in which he advocates that our beliefs and faiths must be firm and confirmed whether they are acquired passively, uncritically, subconsciously and unconsciously or imbibed by psychological, familial and religious sources. These must be tested ‘commonsensically, analyzed and scrutinized’. Otherwise the off-springs while inheriting them will be misguided and devoid of morality. For them, these happen to be ‘some diet of convention and culture.’ Sometimes, ‘psychological upheaval’ and science Dr. Dalip Khetarpal overtake them leading to ‘belief and disbelief’ ultimately leading ‘to psychic trauma’. These happen to be ‘A basis for existence for peace and harmony in life.’ Then, Individuality expresses that ‘strong individuality invites crises and dents from society.’ Even then, to ‘Deindividuate’ by perishing id, ego, and superego that are the self-actualizing traits will make the human being lose existence. He/she will become a ‘scarecrow and become scared of himself viewing subjectively, objectively, psychologically and philosophically.’ So, adaptability is the best means of existence. Search for Identity The right dimensions in individuals and society for identity is a healthy process. The five poems under this carry five different approaches of human identity. Loss of Identity is symbolic as it gives an ironical image of ‘Two sticks burn together, beget smoke to form a cloud which meanders aimlessly’ in the sky but the next moment the smoke is driven by strong gush of winds and make them lose their identity. The poet is of the opinion that ‘Only the cloud could protect and withstand its true identity and retain its power to resist’ which subsumes that individual identification is to be relatively retained by universal elements according to the law of nature. Similarly, Identification Syndrome is yet another ironical poem reflecting the process of nomenclature that undertakes ‘The journey of identification’ by giving names in terms of religion and culture, community, race, prejudices and biases. It is paradoxical that both with and without such ‘troublesome names’, the whole world of human affairs turn chaotic. Under and Over Identification refers to the abnormal nature of human being as discussed in Capgras syndrome that is a delusional misidentification of familiar people, a kind of underidentification and in contrast Fregoli syndrome, a kind of delusional misidentification of 79


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strangers as familiar people in disguise named as over-identification. Also, he refers to ‘caliban complex’ that makes people perceive with discrimination. But, the question remains mysteriously unsolved as to what the parameter of ‘normality’ is if at all we are supposed to be normal human beings for all our socio-cultural and personal matters. The poet in Psycho-social Crises basing on Erik Erikson’s Psycho-social theory says, ‘All things must pass through their life cycle fluid by going through fused levels of identity crises needing resolution for smooth evolution of man.’ He presents the stages of such evolution categorically as: early infancy that consists in trust and distrust; later infancy with autonomy and doubt; middle childhood having diligence and inferiority; puberty and adolescence bearing identity crisis and role confusion; young adulthood with intimacy and solitude; mature adulthood tends to have generativity and infertility; and late adulthood with ego integrity and self effacement. As he believes that this system of development will generate ‘hope, purpose, will, fidelity, love, care, wisdom, objectivity and understanding.’ But any of the psychic turmoil and psychosomatic disorders disrupt psyche pristine and result in etiology, diagnosis and prognosis reducing life to a virtual hell leading to ‘demonic disposition’. Presuppositions speaks of natural and infest fancy, subconscious or unconscious mind which can strengthen human identity. We presuppose ideas and consciously or unconsciously and reflect them in works culturally, socially, and morally. This is the sole value of human mental potency. Everyday, billions of thoughts and ideas are generated in human minds but hardly do they get realized in practice. Sometimes, we imagine that ‘a great wasteland of great presuppositions if unleashed could illuminate the starkness of this modern darkness.’ But eliciting presuppositions from ‘stringent norms’ and ‘insular traditions’ stands as challenges. Semantic and Psychic Deconstruction of the Rationalist The three poems here establish logic among concepts, ideas, thoughts and the dynamism meaning making through expression. The Dynamism of Skepticism is poem of revolution of reason normally found among visionaries. It says that ‘All born skeptic but de-skepticized by religion, culture and tradition that tend to end the growth of psyche and brings about complete mental block. Skepticism gives idea that nothing is absolute, unquestionable, and certain and nothing is complete and perfect even ‘mythical Gods’ created by human faith. It leads to the idea that nothing is conclusive; and no one can ever know the final truth even the inscrutable. All are relative to time, place, circumstances and infinite; judgment based on fixed criteria is limited. The concepts of optimism, pessimism, cynicism are flexible but skepticism is chaste and should not be distorted. The following poem Speech Cuffs as wittiest compounding like hand cuffs gives ideas that thoughts travel from the unconscious or subconscious to the conscious forming various codes and modes. Sometimes, barrier comes between thoughts and their corresponding expressions. It echoes Hamlet’s ‘Put thy words into a frame’. While thoughts, ideas and feelings are infinite, words are finite. So, in producing the words and expressions can only have partial success to be comprehended and decoded between the sender and receiver. At times, it leads to diversion too. The faculty of 80


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cognition and imagination of human mind remains unutilized because of a series of factors which hinders its refined progress. Psychization Failure , speaks of ‘a transformation of instinct into conscious experience’. But, he expresses regret that he is unable to make a ‘Full transmutation of instincts Into verbal robes’ because it ‘Often leads to social-moral persecution.’ So, he would rather be happy ‘To break open the psyche and flee…..’ from this sort of morbidity. Measuring Order and Chaos through Psychic Moral Outlines The universe in governed by the natural law of order and chaos. The poems in this light reflect the coherence of body, mind and the world in this section. Implosion and Explosion gives an explanation with a cause-effect relationship between the two mental forces of centripetal and centrifugal in nature determining human action. ‘Explosion is tangible and perceptible’ whereas ‘implosion is more common but intangible and imperceptible.’ In this context, the problem of speaking out ‘unvoiced speech’ or ‘sub-vocal articulation’ results into aphasia ultimately represses sorrow and agonies and builds up pressure in psyche. Implosion is unseen, begets losses, often psycho-somatic. Explosion begets losses often only somatic. Human being acts with ‘low level of consciousnesses without the knowledge of such a mechanism of mind which needs to be cared and save the humanity from ‘cataclysmic end.’ Typically, Autistic Mankind is based on the schizophrenic nature that makes one selfabsorbed leading to difficulties in social interaction, brings about social isolation and language deficits that ‘allow the mind to grow at least and transcend barriers like sociocultural, traditional and psychological to save the world from becoming fully autistic.’ This seems to affect the poet grossly as one of the key criticalities with modern mechanized and metropolitan human beings who find more life only in their circle or in machines with artificial pleasure than in nature and human society. The poet happens to recognize the psychological disorder among human beings and apprehends lack of order in human thought and action what he says in Pathological Fallacy to be ‘abnormal, unconventional, wayward and unpredictable.’ His moral observation on this psychological factor coincide Shakespeare’s statement in King Lear that ‘It’s the time of plague when madmen lead the blind.’ It is realized that life is to be enjoyed with all its colours and varieties. But some of the unexpected and incoherent human made factors obstruct them outright. Pollyanna highlights that life is to be lived with ‘the supporting Pollyanna mechanism i.e. thinking, dreaming, and hoping bright’ which can ‘save life from all blight.’ But, he doubts that ‘proclivity if sordid makes life’s complexion pallid.’ The poem thus reflects the conflict between the effects of rational and irrational forces in human mind where true knowledge can bring about the solution. Stygiophobia literally means fear of hell. He argues that this concept in religions ‘moralizes us’ and makes us rooted in socio-morality. So, this is an attribute and cannot be a psychological disorder. ‘Without this phobia, we are rootless’ as he presents the logic because the modern scientific human deeds ‘continually dilute religion with his modern 81


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vision’ experimentally annihilating ‘mature vision’ and without refining ‘our illusions and delusions entrenched in religious faith’. So, he expresses doubt that this sort of positive notions should not be allowed to perish in the pretext of scientific hypothesis. Such a concept seems to carry further the threads of doubt and faith between science and religion as one of the key controversies existing in our time. The Pangs of Three Mental Conflicts presents conflicts on the bases of the approachavoidance and avoidance-avoidance outlined by Kurt Lewin and establishes it as a dominant feature of life ‘emanating from two universal opposing forces of internal conflict which is hard to bear and external conflict which can be withstood.’ These two factors ‘Commonplace mental conflicts are innate and are ingrained in our consciousnesses’ dealing with goals and choices. It happens so that if the aim is far then the approach is overwhelming, when near, we ‘veer away from it.’ This is like putting ‘betwixt the devil and the deep sea’, as in Hamlet ‘to be or not to be’. So, the poem constitutes a strong undercurrent of morality that problem of choice and decisions have to be carried out with deeper thought with profound consciousness and long lasting values for the benefit of all. Thinking is a unique and enlightened poem sparkling with reason and vision ‘infesting the conscious, subconscious and unconscious.’ The poet says, ‘It is myriad, joyous, creative, enthralling, problem solving’ and never confusing or hopeless. A mind without right thinking is a wasteland. Thinking becomes best ‘when meaningless thoughts are set at rest’; when it is ‘too fine and subtle; objective and analytical.’ It reflects the best of tradition and conventions and ‘assumes a stunning form when it bogs down hallucination, illusion and delusion’ leading to clear and analytical vision. Thinking must be flavored with renewed creativity daring to ‘tread some untrodden path giving new light to the humanity. We know that The Gita, emphasises on the control of mind. It is the most fluctuating. In Swings of Mood, the poet makes a scientific approach on Sullivan’s theory and says that this mind is normal and abnormal; predicts and unpredicts; ‘erratic and parapraxic’; and at times lead to ‘depression, anxiety, elation, anger, and what not….madness, defining sanity and insanity. He talks of ‘psycho-moral right’ for expression of one’s opinion. Mind is infinite and we have to single out the noble attributes out of it with long lasting vision. Dr. Khetarpal’s inspiration to focus on mind is similar to the Miltonian concept that ‘Mind is its own place, and itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of neaven’ (Paradise Lost). Sibling Rivalry contains an anthropological idea related to the disorder of ‘sibling rivalry that ‘Disintegrates with its dysphoria’. The poet becomes expressive enough to say: What else could impinge upon Human spirit with a greater mess Than solitude does For it is the only canker That spares neither young nor old. (Fathoming Infinity, Dr Khetarpal, 86) 82


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One has to be conditioned by bringing balance between socio-cultural and psychological factors. Vision: Re-visioned Vision without proper reason and long lasting values are worthless. The four poems here display the different components of vision distinctly. Vision- A Hallucinogen attempts to define vision with as well as without reason. It is noticed that vision without reason makes ‘…life seems to be a hallucinogen.’ This speaks of how to devise vision with ‘objective consciousness’ or in Freudian terms ‘psychodynamics’ and not with myopic fancy which will ultimately turn one to become abnormal. In another dimension, Tangible Vision puts a question mark on ‘groping for a pure vision in the wilderness of life’ when ‘one often stumbles upon a surrogate vision that perceives life only.’ Visions are mutilated in the accident points of the turning points of life. But, this happens to be the sole determiner of success and failure in life. The Vision Conundrum is like a sequel in social practice to Tangible Vision focusing on ‘confusion of outlook and vision’ of parents nurturing their children in our time with much care in every materialistic respect but ironically neglecting the fundamental values to enable them to think freely, creatively and act with autonomy in adaptation with the natural and socio-cultural needs. Increasing imposition of so called values make them animals in the zoo. Kaleidoscopic Nature reveals that all creatures are kaleidoscopic, vastly, deeply and weirdly having infinite new visions though the real final vision/ comes to a naught. But he regrets that at times, humans limit themselves within short sighted views. Netizens, Citizens and God in the Postmodern World There is typical selection of themes in this section on a socio-realistic basis. Sociosis-Disease Wooed from Abroad is a poem of different taste making similar attack on braindrain. It criticizes people having ‘pseudo-ego’ and find an alternative mode of identity and survival those who ‘rush abroad’ with rupturing ‘the whole psychosomatic system’ and become devoid of ‘self-assertion’ loosing the ambience of home land which ultimately ‘leads to self effacing in an alien land.’ Their craze for wealth goes ‘transience’ and they suffer from ‘sociosis’ and makes their superego sick. Alexithymia is based on five elements of psychological disorder. First is alexithymia that is the psychological disturbance of affect and cognition indicated by difficulty in explaining or recognizing one’s own emotions and a reduced affective part of life and fantasy of life; second is cherophobia that is loss of gaiety; and third is aphasia that is loss ability to use language; fourth is depersonalization; and fifth is derealization. The poet makes a formulaic study that these psychological disorders are noticed among him being a modern materialistic and artificial human being and he has become a ‘cybrog’ and look like ‘android’ and away from natural human traits. This amounts to the loss of natural instinct and makes him possess a disguised personality. He is praised by the people of the society on his success in dealing with life. But contradictorily, at a conscious state, he realizes that his state of life is being dubiously ontological. He would rather live a primitive life than this because this sort of life 83


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jams the necessary mental elements like joy, emotion and even fantasy. The tone of withdrawing life to a primitive stage in the poem seems to bear the Wordsworthian testimony. Pyromaniacs’ Diwali is a typical poem referring to the unreasonable way of enjoyment of festivals by some people at the cost of suffering of others. He refers to the specific way of celebration of Diwali with enough of lights and crackers which is quite harmful; pleasant for pyromaniacs whereas unpleasant for many; and culturally unwarranted. This is evident of his reaction against unhealthy socio-cultural systems. Man and Milieu is the battle between the established ‘Socio-geographical, historical, cultural, conventional and religious system in one side and nature of man as a biological, psychological being with beliefs and faiths on the other. They try to bend each other. Some loose their identity by being the victim to this churning system. But, in order to have peace of mind, ‘….mankind must accord with milieu.’ Coping with and Destressing Stress states the realities of daily life that we live in this earth which is so stressful, so full of unrest and turmoil that one both consciously and unconsciously tries to escape. He realizes that the wonders of such stresses and strains cannot be reconciled even by the Seven Wonders of the World. Even he realizes the ironical and foolish condition of human being and says that ‘Mischievous Gods toying with the destiny of men.’ They devise ‘defense mechanism and endless adaptive devices unwittingly’ as a result, they fail to cope up for a peaceful life. Fatally Maniacal Riches is about ‘The music of jingling coins’ and how we lead a materialistic life in the way that ‘We’ve lost the life real.’ The ‘mad money grubbers’ this way bring about ‘terribly violent massacre of conscience, of principles, of morals, of all that brings humanity laurels.’ Ironically he says: …the big tough world Has cracked under the strain Of a small coin And enshrouded by overwhelming notes. (ibid, 133) Astrology and Sweet Future expresses shock at the foolish beliefs and prejudices associated with miracles as predicted in astrology and that virtually reduces life into ‘mere mathematics wherein two plus two is four while in life two plus two could be three or even five.’ The poet is rather a naturalist as he quotes Shelley, ‘If winter comes can spring be far behind’ and refers to ‘hopeful of rosy future’ is possible only by facing reality and living a natural human life. Antics deals with a small but sensitive matter related to our tradition and culture. Here, he drags attention to the gestures and postures of paying regards as one of the important act both for the giver and the receiver. It should not be a valueless act as it reflects our genuine self in different socio-temporal positions. It should be realized that sarva namaskaaram keshavam pratigachhtanti. The act of paying and receiving reverence is an honourable act 84


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related to the soul.At the same time, he criticizes the so called people those who accept antics ostensibly. A Dialogue with Pitiable God raises a self-conceited question while in discourse with God that if he himself is the destiny maker for human being and omnipotent, then what is the use of saying human character is destiny. He narrates the human actions, rites and rituals, beliefs and practices, virtues and vices associated with the spiritual side of human being related to God. Then rhetorically he says if: Everything happens in your name As if accountability applies not To human actions … … … … ………………………… But then the great You Will ironically appear an entity Less divine with lesser sanctity Making justice a mockery. (ibid, 144-145) The poem draws parallel approach with that of some of the traditional Indian spiritual poets and the American poet Robert Frost too. Dark shades of Man and Woman redefines the intertwining natural as well as customary ways by giving a reasonable and dynamic shape. The poet takes us from the so called social convention to the most ideal and rational practices yet to be adopted. He says, ‘Manward gaze of woman for security and strength’ results very often the lustfulness of man in the name of providing security. He proceeds with the argument that: A mysterious dichotomy That the convolutions Of man-woman relationship Are infinitely weird As both have a mind smeared. (ibid, 163) Thus, genuine relationship needs, ‘ …..spontaneous outpouring of consciousness. Contradictions and Confusions Contradictions and confusions are prelude to critical thinking. The poems here are thought provoking and express his anguish like Matthew Arnold in Dover Beach: ‘And we are here as on a darkling plain Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight Where ignorant armies clash by night.’ Unified Antithesis is an ironical judgment of contradictory human plans in daily life as well as in the entire life as his ‘Frantic desire for all wellness creates a dysphoria’ because he 85


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ironically adopts wrong means leading to reverse ends, ‘All contradictions, dichotomies and heteroginities.’ As a result, the thoughts of harmony go disharmonious and ‘things fall apart and the centre cannot be hold.’ Time and Tense is an intellectual and metaphysical outpouring as it says, past is dead, future is uncertain and present is flitting fast. Whereas time is the philosophical concept, tense happens to be the linguistic concept and both are ‘beyond human grasp’ and elusive as the poet mentions: Faster than flitting thought Invisible like fancy Indecipher ably deceptive Like a spirit. It has no existence Even like them. (ibid, 118) In a higher and more abstract realization, all these concepts of time are ‘merged in soul.’ It echoes the famous lines of T. S. Eliot in Four Quartets: Time present and time past Are both perhaps present in time future And time future contained in time past If all time is eternally present All time is unredeemable. Time has no existence unless we conceive it in different imaginary forms and thereby enslaves us to ‘All human affairs’. This kind of interpretation puts us into a strange intention of freedom in the self-made entangled slavery. Utopia-Dystopia speaks of a state of crux of mania for Utopia and phobia of dystopia keep on vexing the poet’s ‘semi-consciousness’. He finds that reality is bitter whereas fantasy is sweet. However, there is no way out to escape the reality and at the same time unable to ‘glance away’ from fantasy. This results in turning him to be a psychotic. Human being is very much associated with this dilemma from the time immemorial. Let alone the true knowledge to solve this. Paradoxically, Wholesome Confusion tries to ‘define life’ amidst ‘inner contradictions’, ‘dichotomies’ and ‘mystification’ but strangely his best perspective and ‘mellowest vision’ leads him to ‘dyspepsia’ and then creates confusion. He fails to measure the depth of life and mind and his conclusion remains inconclusive. Who Will Kill the Monster? represents symbolically the evil forces in multiple forms posed in the human society nurtured by ‘our selfishly kind hands’ with ‘honestly dishonest resource’ and become so strong and formidable ‘that even powerful Gods dread it.’ And finally, when it poses a gigantic crisis, we dither and turn to indecision and question, ‘Who will kill the monster to save the world from its impending holocaust?’ Masked/ Unmasked is about the confusing and at times disguised social identity that we provide possess. Like many, a simple child also ‘stumbles into a tangled social web’ 86


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unknowingly and dons masks his entire posterity and then comes to the society ‘By his mask’. Those who are unmasked also face the same difficulties. Thus, the poet’s argument is we have to meet the social parameters with mask in the one hand but on the other, ‘dissolution of mask leads to individuation wherefrom emanates individuality. This puts him into confusion as he says, ‘While sharper pain in the loss of real self’, What one should do: mask or unmask ‘for psycho-social sustainability?’ Flesh and Spirit directly reflects on the inherent question of how to establish balance between the two gross passions of body and spirit. He feels as if the humanity is still confused, person is caught and split amidst the desire for fulfillment of both sensual and spiritual appetites and at times recourse to many farcical ways. This is still to be compromised eternally. The Thoughts of Life and Death The thoughts of life and death as expressed in the poems here are the most wonderful for human beings. Consciousness Silhouetted against Life and Death adopts a method of truthtelling by reflecting on the two well-known yet strangest events always ‘dominate human consciousness’ and overwhelming and happens to be the twin sides of life: Death is a great mystery … … … As God is He is clear Only on issues of birth But unclear on those of death. (ibid, 172) Last Visions Ere I Die expresses the curiosity of the poet that there are visions in life stored like pictures in the reels in a camera, but he wonders which vision will appear just before the last breathe? That vision seems to bear the sum and substance of his life. He counts on the memories that he has incurred by now both with physical and spiritual passion. But, he is hopeful that when he loses his consciousness by the time the most memorable and genuine memory of noble note will come to him. In Fatal Anxiety and Fear, boat is a metaphor of life and he says pessimistically that he can see the destination but unable to reach as there is leakage in his boat and he is unable to control it ‘with small palm, smaller than the big hole’. So, he is sure that certainly the boat would drown him and he would die even though he has a strong love for life. This helplessness is the reality of human existence. Knowledge and Imagination T. S. Eliot writes, ‘Where is wisdom, we’re lost in knowledge; where is knowledge, we’re lost in information….’. The poet turns in this light seems to be introspective here as he in Magical World of Research reacts as a reasonable and scholarly person that the most researches are just ‘recycling of old’, ‘worn out ideas’, ‘plagiarized research world of 87


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wizardry’, ‘of triviality’, ‘of parody’, and ‘buffoonery’. In this way, he calls for innovative, creative and constructive concepts for research. The next poem Churning Out….What? credits the power of imagination of a creative artist. At first, the poet draws the Hindu mythological activity of churning out the oceans by which nectar was produced. Then he turns the subject matter to human psyche that is deeper and larger than all oceans and says: Churn it out Depression and sorrow Of all nuances Will flow Drink it And give life’s span a naught. (ibid, 188) Further he says churning nature produces menthol; churning cream produces butter; churning the cosmos finds beautiful reality. But churning the grim reality with the essence of wisdom and obtains the power of imagination. Finally, Entropy is a blend of scientific and philosophical realization. It says everything is entropic. Both the abstract and concrete elements associated with human being have enough of potency like the nuclear energy. This vast energy however is wasted because of the lack of delicate knowledge of how to utilize it. The poems are by and large the outcome of a blend of metaphysics and psychobiography especially dealing with the comprehensive axiological and causality factors tending towards development of consciousness. The poet consistently takes into account the mental and modern social events/crises as texts or signs to make meaningful interpretations of life of human being with its instincts, follies and foibles in common contexts. So, there is nothing hidden inside. The apparent surface structure or configuration of the texts in define-discussdissolve formula in pyramidal form bears the implicature of the poems. The language is mostly referential and the approaches constitute structuralist point of view undertaking metaphysical contradictions and rhetorical issues including texts constituting binary oppositions to yield the formal properties in a higher moral tone. So, reason and reaction in experimental-referential language function are found very often supersede emotion. The poet adopts demotic and hypotactic style with non-periodic sentences like many of the modern poets giving importance on substance over form. The poet still needs to be meditative and choose subtle language and innovative themes to beget the potential of a unique poet in the literary firmament. Thus fathoming infinity stands as a challenge in all respects. Title: Fathoming Infinity Author: Dr. Dalip Khetarpal Publisher: NA Year: NA ISBN: NA Price: NA

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Author’s Bio: Dr Dalip Khetarpal launched into teaching career way back in 1983 by working as Lecturer in English at Manchanda Delhi Public College, Delhi. Then he joined Technical Education Department of Haryana, and worked in various capacities, as Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and H .O. D ( English ) in different Institutes of Haryana. He also worked at the Directorate of Technical Education, Haryana, Chandigarh, where he worked as Dy. Registrar and then as Joint Director. Thereafter, he was posted as Training & Placement Officer. Presently, he is working as Director Principal with Jat Group of Colleges, Kaithal. Dr Dalip has also started a new genre in the field of poetry which he would like to call ‘psychopsychic flints’. His poems are flints because they emit spark when they hit the readers’ mind. All these flints can be vividly seen in this book. He has won laurels for pioneering this new genre in poetry writing. His criticism and poems are often reflected both in national and international magazines and journals. Reviewers Bio: Dr. Pratap Kumar Dash, Ph D, (English, Utkal University, India), has been teaching as a lecturer in various capacities such as in Govt. College, Ranpur, (Utkal Univ. Bhubaneswar), KIST (Biju Pattanaik Univ., Rourkela), Regional Institute of Education (Bhubaneswar), and is now Assistant Professor with Faculty of Education, Brack (Sabha University of Libya). Dr P K Dash has attended many seminars and presented his papers at national and international levels, has got published research papers in journals such as Orissa Review, Creative Writing and Criticism, Language in India, ELTV series, has four books published to his credits. Dr. P K Dash also writes book reviews for Contemporary Literary Review India.

Get Your Book Reviewed by Contemporary Literary Review India — journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.

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22.

BOOK RELEASES

Sri Aurobindo could be a remarkable dramatist and fiction writer too apart from being a poet but he was either engaged as a secret revolutionary leader or a political leader in the open field; either professor, journalist, social thinker or a philosopher, doing yoga and meditating for hours. Busy with many other things, his original works of imagination largely remained incomplete and inconclusive. In a stormy life, shifting from place to place, he often lost track of his own works. Some of them were in police or government custody, recovered by chance after he passed away. It is little known that Sri Aurobindo was a fiction writer. Scholars only know him as a dramatist. Even as a poet he has not been accorded the altitude that he deserves in the minds of the The World of Sri critics and common people though he was one of the greatest mystic Aurobindo’s Creative Literature poets. His Savitri is unique in its own place, unparalleled in world by Aju literature. Even before the birth of the Indian English as a potential Mukhopadhyay genre of literature he was one of the pioneers of Indian English Literature without his knowing it. A revolutionary, a poet and a writer, Sri Aurobindo, beginning with his journalistic days to the last of his poetic era, wrote large number of essays; political, socialistic, analytical and interpretative of scriptures besides translations of classics from different languages. Compared to his non-fiction and other works the volume of his original creative literature is quite lesser. But he remained a poet from his student days to the last, writing 50,000 (approx) lines of poetry. Savitri, the spiritual epic, his lifetime work, is one of the largest in world literature and the largest in English language. He wrote good number of dramas (five complete and five incomplete plus some fragments and translation) and four short stories. In this volume an attempt has been made by Aju Mukhopadhyay, a well known writer on Sri Aurobindo and the Mother besides other works, to present the whole of Sri Aurobindo’s creative literature within the covers of a single book, reproducing portions of his work written in English, as nearer to the original as it is available in his birth centenary library edition volumes, with appropriate discussions on them. Title: The World of Sri Aurobindo’s Creative Literature Author: Aju Mukhopadhyay Publisher: Authorspress, New Delhi. ISBN: 978-0-9831041-8-6 Pages: 161 Price: Rs 600 (Hard Cover) Publication Year: Nov, 2012

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Aju Mukhopadhyay, the poet and author, has written Mother’s biography in English and Bangla, translated her stories and some other works, written on her thoughts on education besides writing on different aspects of her life and literature in large numbers of magazines, newspapers and ezines. This book is an attempt to present the Mother, the founder of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, in all aspects of her life and activities; her thoughts and ideas, her teachings and literature. Above all, what is extraordinary is her lifelong effort and success to a great extent, in transforming matter with spiritual light and consciousness; transmuting the cells of her body, building a Gnostic body apart from her own material body, as shelter after withdrawing her earthly body as a strategic need, reaching towards the goal of Mother of All Beings supramental transformation of her being as she promised to Sri by Aju Aurobindo; to live to continue his lifelong work after his departure, as Mukhopadhyay his spiritual collaborator, as the Divine Mother. Title: Mother of All Beings Author: Aju Mukhopadhyay Publisher: Srishti Publishers & Distributors ISBN: 8187075864 ISBN-13: 9788187075868 Pages: 180 Price Rs.195 (Hard Bound) Publishing Date: July, 2002 Based in Pondicherry, Aju Mukhopadhyay, an award winning bilingual poet author and critic, writes fiction too. He has authored 30 books and has received several honours from India and abroad. Critiques on his poetry have been published in many periodicals and books. Many of his works have been translated in other languages and anthologised. About 25 scholarly books contain his works on Indian English Literature; quite more are in the press. He is in the editorial boards of some distinguished literary magazines and a member of the Research Board of Advisors of the American Biographical Institute. Writer on animals and wildlife; conservation of Nature and Environment is the watch word of his life.

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Červená Barva Press is pleased to announce the publication of Following Tommy a novel by Bob Hartley. Following Tommy tells the story of the O’Days, two young brothers living in an Irish American, working class neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side in the 1960’s. Following Tommy by Bob Hartley

As thieves they are the bane of the neighborhood until the arrival of the first African American family. Hopefully this novel will evolve into a movie. I'll be on a front row seat eating popcorn without any anticipation of the end. This is a must read. – Irene Koronas, Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene In Hartley’s novel, set in the heartland of America, we dive deeply into disturbing pathos of intriguing and relatable characters... I urge you to read this remarkable debut, “Following Tommy.” – Robert Vaughan, editor of Flash Fiction Fridays “Following Tommy,” is a powerful, mesmerizing debut novel... These characters pack-apunch to the gut: tough, perceptive and shrewd. An unforgettable read. – Meg Tuite, author of Domestic Apparition Bob Hartley was raised on the West Side of Chicago. He holds an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Pittsburgh. He has been, among other things, a writer, actor, singer, teacher, bartender, mail room clerk, and soap mold washer. He currently makes his living as a respiratory therapist and lives in Pittsburgh with his wife and two children. Following Tommy is his first novel. Title: Following Tommy Author: Bob Hartley Publisher: Gloria Mindock, Editor & Publisher ISBN: 978-0-9831041-8-6 Pages: 104 Price: $17.00 Publication Year: July, 2012

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Sammie Miller is a young naïve teenage girl from a broken home. She gets screwed over by men and all she ever wanted was to be loved. Life takes a turn when she discovers she has magical powers to change people’s lives. Does Sammie change people’s lives for the better or the worse? Unlock the magical, social dysfunctional world of Sammie Miller. The author was born in Jamaica and moved to London in 2001 and was educated at Westwood Language College for girls in Upper Norwood where she obtained 13 GCSE’s. Whilst at Westwood, at the age of 13 she entered the Young Writers competition and had her first poem published. Four years later she attended St Francis Xavier where she Sammie Miller studied Performing Arts, Media Studies, Maths and English Literature by Sonya Dunkley ‘A’ levels. Further education was at London South Bank University where she studied Writing For Media Arts (BA Hons). In addition to writing scripts and novels, Sonya also writes song, poetry and verses for greeting cards. Title: Sammie Miller Author: Sonya Dunkley Publisher: Melrose Books ISBN: 978-1-908645-23-4 Price: £9.99 Publication Year: January 2013

Get Your Book Reviewed by Contemporary Literary Review India — journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers.

CLRI prides itself to have a good number of review writers. We have different review writers for books of different genres. Our reviews are gaining recognition among the publishers, journals and academia for fair and high quality reviews.

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April 2013

Contemporary Literary Review India (CLRI) is a rapidly growing literary journal and has become reckoning in a very short span of time. CLRI receives huge submission each month from writers belonging to a wide range of professions from around the world. Review Writing: The best way to promote your books is to get them reviewed by a publication. When you write a book it is very important that the concept of your subject and book is brought to the people with all its values. But to tell you the truth the scope of getting a book reviewed is too bleak. CLRI provides book review writing service so that all writers have their turn and their valuable works are evaluated in all respects. Manuscript Editing: Publishers and printers do not read your entire manuscript. They read just a few first chapters and decide whether your manuscript is print-ready. If you go for selfpublishing, readers will value you little which in turn, down rates your market value as a potential writer if your manuscript is not well edited. CLRI provides professional editing services to enhance the chances of your manuscript getting selected with the publishers. We have professional editors with vast experience in editing who prepare your manuscripts to suit the publishers’ requirements. Digital Formatting: Given the fact that technology has permeated to all walks of life, traditional publishers are fast moving to digital publication. Many publishers have created their separate department for converting their already published books to digital formats to make them compatible with different kinds of technology-based devices. So that the techno-savvy people can also buy the books and read them on the devices such as ebook readers, tablets, slides, laptops, computers, smartphones, and other gadgets. CLRI helps you prepare your manuscripts for digital publishing. We convert manuscripts before the writers go for digital version either because they opt for self-publishing or get a publisher for digital version. Writers’ Promotion: Getting your books published is just the first step. As an author you need to promote your writing and concept. CLRI runs a column on Featured Author where we post a flyer along with a slug line about the book and a link to the book store. This helps you enhance the possibility of gaining popularity as well as sell your books. For details, please visit: CLRI Services.

To enquire for placing ads, contact us at: contemporaryliteraryreview@yahoo.com

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CLRI April 2013  

CLRI April 2013 issue brings to you a fine collection of POEMS by Asha Choubey, Gary Beck, Joshua Burton, Oindri Sengupta, Peter Fellows, Dr...