Review of the book- Baanjh by Susmita Mukherjee

Published by Readomania, dedicated to the goddesses, Susmita Mukherjee’s book ‘Baanjh’ is an anthology of well crafted eleven short stories, depicting incomplete lives of complete women. Beginning with Kitty, recepient of an award for NATI, an organiser of Natak Company and thereon graduating to penning her first novel ‘Me & Juhibaby’ and Baanjh in 2001 exhibits the author’s multifold credentials.

 

The book is based on author’s indepth observation of women belonging to different stratas, situations and shades. The very first story Baanjh has Rukmini as a protagonist, enslaved, hated and mercilessly beaten by her husband who has a concubine. How would Rukmini get her redemption the readers may ponder but the story has a satisfying denouement.

‘Dibba’ is a powerfully penned story of a mother and a daughter in the hutment area living in prostitution seen through the eyes of a nine year old Sudha. The title ‘Dibba’ arouses interest and the end shows its cogency.

‘Sakri-bai’ is a story to be read with tongue in the cheek. Ironically humorous as the maid’s name Sakri meaning sugar in Gujarati is made to starve and her mistress contradictorily polishes off boxes of chocolates.

‘Memories of a Red Nose’ is all about a strange weird psychological disorder of a mother which happens to become a recurrent indelible memory degenerating into an obsession for her daughter.

‘A piece of Paper’ is a whiff of fresh air in the world of divorces. It is judged by a spinster correctly who regards marriage and divorce a sheer piece of paper. A happily married couple after nineteen years of togetherness wishes to separate for the reasons best known to them. Is it finally a happy or sad situation? Readers have to decide.

‘Starbuzz’ depicts the journey of a journalist Durga Rathod from a plebeian to a glorious one. How does the incomplete woman gets completion in the end, the readers have to trace.

‘The Feminist and the Bimbo’ is an ever recurring real life situation of a sister and sister-in-law’s tussle and the sandwiched husband bearing the brunt of it.

‘Some Birds can’t fly’ is about two bosom friends; a happily married woman, unsure about her married life and the career woman who subsequently falls in love with a married man to be left alone. The story makes one speculate whose life is better, the career woman turned into a Diwa or a wife confined to her house and hearth?

‘Friends for Life’ is the story of a student of Canadian Film Academy who visits Tikamgarh, Bundelkhand and becomes friend of a guide Shekhar who takes her around and is a walking library of monuments. This association brings them closer. The story has a beautiful concluding line” Why do we have to give names to emotions? Is it not enough that our hearts have found each other and that we will cherish this feeling life long?”

‘Unwritten Love Letter’ is the story of a wife and a mistress both appraising each other silently while loving the same man, weighing their gains and losses and plus and minus points.

The last story ‘The Affair’ is the story of each of the housewives who sometimes want to bask in her privacies unencroached, who wishes to pursue her hobbies and be liberated from the mundane routine to soar like a bird as the cover of the book exemplifies. The story voices the sentiments of so many. Coming from a prolific writer like Susmita Mukherjee, the book has a racy style. Written in simple language it keeps one on the edge and each story explores the depths and layers of women with remarkable astuteness.

– Jailaxmi R Vinayak

 

किस्से कहानी – लोकेश गुलयानी के जुबानी पर जयलक्ष्मी आर विनायक का लेख।

एक वार्तालाप राजीव मिश्रा का लोकेश गुल्यानी के साथ

 

लोकेश गुल्यानी के साथ क्ल़ब लिटरेटी मे रुबरु होने पर उनकी तीन कहायनियों को सुनने का सुनहरा अवसर प्राप्त हुआ। तीनों कहानियां गहन संवेदनशीलता से ओतप्रोत पद्यमय थी।

पहली कहानी ‘रिजु की दुल्ली’ एक प्रेम कहानी है नदी और पुल की पृष्ठभूमि मे दो प्रेमियों की धडकनों की रवानी कलकलाती नदी मे सुनाई देती है। नदी और पुल को लेखक ने प्रेम का साक्षी बनाया है।

‘कुछ नही’ कहानी कवितामय है। रुपक और प्रतीकों के माध्यम से लोकेश जी ने सनो और सपन का प्रेम दर्शाया है। जहाँ शारीरिक प्रेम का अंत होता है, किस तरह से लिव इन, गिव इन मे परिवर्तित होजाता है। जीवन के इस सत्य को उजागर

किया है। रात, कमरे, दिवारो का सुंदर मानवीयकरण किया है। शब्दों का संयोजन सटीक बन पड़ा है।

तीसरी कहानी ‘हम प्रेम मे हैं’ माधव और रागिनी की चुहलबाजी है। माधव के तीव्र प्रेम की विक्षिप्तता और रागिनी की अरुचिपूर्ण तटस्थता माधव को असमंजसता मे डालती है। यह कहानी अप्रकाशित है। लोकेश गुल्यानी की इन अप्रतिम कहानियों के लिए उन्हे बहुत सी शुभकामनाएं।

जयलक्ष्मी आर विनायक

Nutrition: During Covid and Beyond

Amrita, 27, was browsing through her local grocery store website when an ad popped up: a superfood with a name she couldn’t pronounce; but, after reading about how it boosts the immune system, she bought it anyway. Her husband, a doctor, had tried to tell her time and again that a healthy body needs only what is already in the kitchen, and some everyday movement. But, oh, Covid-19!

Have you noticed that people have suddenly started focussing on their health? Are you one of them, too?

Dr. Amita Singh, a consultant in nutrition and dietetics, was in talk with Club Literati on Tuesday, September 29th, in an open discussion titled “Nutrition: During Covid and Beyond”, when certain oft-pondered-upon questions on health and healthiness were raised. Singh busted myths and misconceptions regarding diet and dieting that bother even the best of us.

Singh is associated with many organizations and institutions that focus on overall health, including the UNICEF, Health Department of Madhya Pradesh, and Sports Academy. Singh is a cancer survivor herself, and chose her profession because of her desire to contribute towards a healthier society.
She explained that, instead of going far off with our food choices, especially now, the best options are always to eat our local produce and swap processed foods for wholesome, healthier picks.
Singh clarified the latest guidelines laid down by the Indian Nutrition Institute that limit the calorific intake of women to 1600 calories, instead of the 1800 set in the past. To spread awareness and curb obesity, the mother of all diseases, the Nutrition Week has now been extended to a full month.

Talking about the root of ill-health among Indians, she explained how most Indians are protein-deficient. When asked about the ways in which this could be resolved, Singh gave solutions as simple as consuming protein-rich foods, milk and dairy on a regular basis. Focus on Vitamin B12, Vitamin C and Vitamin D was also required during the pandemic and otherwise, Singh said.
When it came to the infamous Kaada, she took a stand against excessive indulgence in herbs and spices, because they have the potential to cause gastrointestinal ulcers.

Dr. Singh a consultant medical dietician.

Some of the questions asked by the audience that Singh addressed were:

  1. Is it all right to have fruits along with cereal?
    I don’t see why not! There is no scientific study which says that consuming fruits along with cereal can be problematic.
  2. I am diabetic. Can I eat rice with this condition?
    Definitely! A bowl of rice with pulses is ideal for a day. Dal or pulses should ideally be consumed twice a day for a balanced diet.
  3. Are cornflakes needful?
    Occasional consumption of cornflakes is adviced because they have extremely high levels of sodium. Dalia, or cracked wheat, is a better option.

The session was moderated by Sulabha Dixit, a wellness expert and yoga practitioner. Dixit quoted, “Eighty percent of our health is what we eat”.

Sulabha Dixit is a Yoga teacher and a wellness expert.

When asked about the non-dietary aspects of health, the experts advocated undaunted attention towards lifestyle, hydration and exercise.

(We hope you found these tips helpful and we’d love to hear what you think about them! Did we miss something? Do you have any suggestions for our next meeting? Let us know in the comments or send us an email at: ourclubliterati@gmail.com)

From Musings to Creation

Our beloved club turned on 28th August! Eight years of learning, crossing boundaries, exploring literature and culture; eight years of sharing art and all its forms.

For this special day, we invited our members to tell us about their experience at Club Literati, their aha moments; we humbly invite you to share with us the times their laughter erupted, their heart was full and it just clicked.

As we celebrate each other on our anniversary and acknowledged how far we’ve come, we brought about conversations with two Short Story Winners as recognised by the Times of India Group- Tino De Sa and Dr. Neelkamal Kapoor.

Bright from his early years, Tino De Sa took degrees at St. Xavier’s College, Bombay and then, as a Mason Fellow, at the Harvard University.

He joined the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in 1980. His varied assignments included a stint with the United Nations, and culminated in his being the longest serving Chief Secretary of Madhya Pradesh.

His poems have been included in various anthologies of the Poetry Society of India and Delhi Poetree. He has twice been the first prize winner in the Times of India national short story competitions. One for Sorrow, Two for Joy is his second published collection of short stories, the first being The Disrobing of Draupadi and Other Stories.

Dr. Neelkamal Kapoor is a Professor and the Head of the Department of Pathology at AIIMS, Bhopal.

An award-winning Pathologist and cancer educator, Dr. Kapoor has authored various books, stories and articles on pathology, healthcare and parenting. Her short story collection, Chuskiyan-Kahaniyon Ki, has been highly appreciated by readers across age groups.

Where is Radha in Krishna’s Story?

We’ve all been guilty of this.
“Radha-Krishna” finds discourse so often that we forget about Radha as an individual, as a person of her own. But where is Radha in Krishna’s story? Where is Radha, outside?
Club Literati, in its panel discussion titled “Where is Radha in Krishna’s story?”, explored this undervisited subject with recognised panel members.

Dr. Seema Raizada, the President of Club Literati, introduced moderator Tino Se Da who is one of the longest serving Chief Secretaries in Madhya Pradesh.
Twice the winner of national level writing competitions, De Sa marked Radha as elusive in Indian Literature. He explained the bi-faceted role of Krishna-in Mahabharata and with Radha. He welcomed and acquainted the audience with the honourable panellists of the club-Malashri Lal, Reba Som, Averee Chauray and Alpana Vajpayee. The discussion addressed some philosophical questions centred around Radha, the lover of Krishna.
The panel recollected the many appearances of Radha over the centuries and reiterated that it was important to label her place in Indian mythology and literature. The quintuple meeting was enriched by the adroit panel members who shared matters and art forms from their areas of expertise.
Some of the main themes chosen by the panelists were:

A. The Contemporary View of Radha
As society progresses and we evolve towards a more inclusive understanding, the contemporary mind seeks to explore the individual existence of Radha. Often noted as being only with Krishna, for Krishna, the actuality of Radha was contemplated by Malashri Lal, a celebrated author and socialite in the world of literature. Talking about the earliest documentation of Radha’s presence, Lal enlightened the audience by sharing a poem written in the 7th century by Vidya.
“As a feminist scholar, the poet’s imagination of Radha shouldn’t be bound by Krishna alone. There is more to her persona than her role as a lover”, Lal said.
Describing Radha as “both spiritual and erotic”, she narrated Gita Govinda, a poem written by Jayadeva Goswami describing the relationship between the Prince of Dwarka and the Gopis.
Lal talked about the dubiousness surrounding Radha’s presence before Krishna and answered the questions raised by the audience.

B. Tagore’s Radha
Originally written in Brajabuli, an artificial literary language mixing elements of Maithili and Bengali, Bhanusimha Thakurer Padabali was composed by Rabindranath Tagore. It is this collection of poems that struck Reba Som’s interest, inspiring her research on Tagore’s Radha.
Gurudev’s muse was his sister-in-law, Kadambari, Barely nine years old, she found a confidant in him and grew up to be his literary companion. Even after Tagore’s marriage (eventually leading to Kadambari’s suicide), she lingered in his writings.
Som, a trained singer of Rabindra Sangeet, recited a poem from Bhanusimha Thakurer Padabali which was inspired by the poet Jayadev Goswami’s Gita Govinda.

  1. Radha: Beloved of the Blue God
    The short story, Radha: Beloved of the Blue God, emphasizes on the union of the lovers, noting that Krishna’s name has always been linked with Radha. The unification becomes evident when the names Radha-Krishna are chanted as one, thus merging their individualities to form a single entity. The Radha-Krishna or Radhe-Shyam relationship is transcendental, representing both the masculine and feminine energies in the cosmos.
    The narrative found a dramatic rendering through Averee Chauray, a noted theatre actress who has appeared on the silver screen multiple times. Bulbul Sharma, the author of the story, was also present on the occasion.
  2. Vipralambha Kathak
    Alpana Vajpayee, a Kathak Guru and choreographer who has performed all over the world accentuated the importance of Radha through the art form of dance. Vajpayee shared her Vipralambha Kathak performance. Educating the audience on dance forms, she stated that Vipralambha, also called Viyog Ras, entails Virah Bhav. All performances pertaining to Radha are embodied in it.
    The national award winner also exhibited her talents by singing three enchanting poems from Kaal Paksha. She started off by vocalising a poem where Radha waits for Krishna, followed by a beautifully sung description of Krishna’s mukut. The third poem shifted perspective to a Gopi’s take on the couple.
    Sharing valuable information from Bharat’s Natyashastra, Vajpayee concluded,
    “Kathak Krishna maye hai, Radha maye hai-Kathak Radha aur Krishna hai.”

The panel discussion drew to a close with a 15 minute Question and Answer session. Questioners put forth their doubts about Krishna and Radha. Some of the questions and answers were:

  1. Why are sculptures or figurines of Radha-Krishna considered inauspicious as wedding or anniversary presents? (Rajeev Mishra)

• Radha and Krishna weren’t married. Radha is seen as the primary beloved of Krishna.
One more reason for this would be that Krishna is abstract. Together, Radha and Krishna are Anaadi and Anant.
Artefacts such as sculptures or idols are physical in form, so should be used to represent material love such as the one between Shiva-Parvati. (Malashri Lal)

  1. What are your views on the concept of Radha as Anand in Krishna’s story? Why does she not find reference earlier? (Prerna Sharma)

• Radha appears later in literature. The principle of Anand had to be given a physical manifestation which, as you may read in the literature surrounding Krishna, found place in Gopis. Radha was the true love of Krishna, the object of his adoration and so was introduced later in his life.

  1. Did Radha appear in Krishna’s story after the battle of Mahabharata, or did her part in his story end when he left for Mathura? (Anushka Basu)

• Radha doesn’t find much mention apart from folklores. There is a very interesting story you might like to read. Here’s the gist:

Krishna sent Udhava, his messenger, to Vrindavan. Udhava carried a message for the Gopis but, due to the innocence of their hearts and the purity of their souls, they could not understand his message.

Since there isn’t much evidence of her existence before her relationship with Krishna comes to light, it is assumed that Radha was, infact, one of the Gopis who won the ardent love of Krishna.

  1. I have noticed that Rukhmini, Lord Krishna’s wife, is prayed to and considered important only in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Could you throw some light on why this is? (Devshree Umbarkar)

• Rukhmini was Krishna’s wife, whereas Radha was his lover. Radha-Krishna are considered the epitome of true love. It is not that Rukhmini doesn’t find importance in other states of India, but the celebrated story of Radha and Krishna outshadows it.
In truth, Rukhmini and Radha cannot be compared. They are different segments of Krishna’s life-both equally important.
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