Sunday, 25 December 2016

Lovers and Leavers

-Brian Mendonça

Every year around this time, when the weather is perfect, holidays are around the corner, and the year-end is nigh, I come home with a stack of books. This serves almost as a kind of reproach for all the reading I could/should have done during the year and didn’t do.

Leading the pack this year was The Lost Generation: Chronicling India’s Dying Professions by Nidhi Kundalia. With India hurtling through change, what becomes of the water bearers of Calcutta or the street dentists of Baroda? In this age of a conspiracy of silence comes Words Matter: Writings Against Silence.  Featured are writings of Kalburgi, Pansari and Dabholkar – all killed for their views. Edited and introduced by the poet K. Satchidanandan, these essays seek to awaken the atrophy of the nation.

From the soil of Goa, the cover with its timbres of ochre, the book The Salt of the Earth: Stories form Rustic Goa beckons you. Engendered in Konkani by Jayanti Naik and translated by Augusto Pinto the eleven stories have the tribals, the toddy tappers and the fisher-folk of Goa as their canvas.  

Morpakham: Bhurgeam Kannio is a slim book in Romi Konkani by Vincy Quadros.  These stories for children entice with their large print and pictures. This is a brave venture by Snows Akademi, Raia to publish local content for a local readership – something which we don’t see as much as we would like to.  Given the wider market base of English, Vincy has nevertheless preferred to bring out the book in amchi bhas.

Helping to discover Goa is Bookworm’s Cholta Cholta: Walking Tours of Panjim. The ten walks give the seeker much to do while basking in the melange of history and sight-seeing. The charming sketches by Pritha Sardessai in mauvish-brown provide the perfect companian for this endeavour.

And then there is The Lovers and the Leavers by Abeer Hoque. This is a medley of photography, poetry and prose. All the twelve stories are linked, the events transiting through India, Bangladesh, America and Europe.

A picture book for my son Dwayne! Our Incredible Cow was lying there waiting to be lapped up. Originally in Bengali by Mahasweta Devi, this story of Nyadosh the cow with an insatiable appetite is part of a Tulika project ‘to build a rich and varied collection of literary writing for young readers.’ Ruchir Shah illustrates this book replete with vivid photo collages and doodles.

All the books were picked up from the book exhibition at the Goa Arts and Literature Festival held at International Centre, Donapaula, Goa from 9-11 December 2016. For the three days the place is transformed into a literary hub where the who’s who of the literary firmament descend to showcase where work. On view is the latest writing across the country and its neighbours, and often overseas.

The beautiful drapes of Delhi, by Mayank Austen Soofi  swayed into your consciousness as you strode purposefooly to the Abolim, Zuari or Mandovi halls.  In a few days it would all be over – and the lovers would be leavers.
Published in Gomantak Times Weekender , St. Inez, Goa on Sunday, 18 December 2016.  Pix courtesy

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