Do You See?
The collection from the “International Conference on Children’s Literature: Truth and Fiction”, Pondicherry University, edited by Dr. Nalini Thampi, is here. I had discussed a new YA poetry book in my paper: “Making Space for the Right Kind of Dog: Adil Jussawalla‘s Poetry for the Young”.
It is really more of a poetry discussion than some footnoted paper. Nalini Thampi is such a good sport to invite me. Who risks it with a poet in an international forum after all? For most part of the reading, I stood out of the lectern and read from Adil Jussawala’s manuscript. Yes it was a manuscript that Adil very graciously allowed me to read and prepare a paper on.
That manuscript is a book now. The Right Kind of Dog is available from Duckbill — one of the very first of its kind, a YA poetry book, to exist in India.
Here’s the PU book cover:
The main conference was organized by PU French Department and hence, most of the proceedings were in French. It is the parallel English session that gained me an entry into the ‘colloque’. A clumsy poet in the expensive French china shop.
Mian-bhai, who did not go home that evening, but kept running endless errands for big uncle’s cremation, saw us sitting in the dark and switched the verandah light bulb on.
“No sitting in the dark. He wouldn’t have liked it.”
I nodded. Rana Mian was right. He wouldn’t have.
“Mian-bhai, do you know the story of the river of your childhood? Where you came from. Please tell that story.” I was sure this ritual was essential.
He wiped his eyes, discreetly he thought. But I saw them in the moth-afflicted bulb’s rays.
“Story? He’d have done it better. He knew all of our past, the master.” Mian-bhai cleared his throat. “Do you know, he was like my father? A kind man he was.”
The caretaker, sitting in the other end of the verandah, started at that; then put her head between her legs like a sleeping clay oven.
“Yes, he told me that. He was like your father,” is all I could say.
This is fiction. Even part memoir. Readers will know better. Forthcoming in my short fiction collection THE HOUSE OF TWINING ROSES; Lifi Publications.
Have been trying to read more poetry while writing more prose. Nothing is sticking with me. It’s all the result of some intense proof reading I guess. And today I looked at some of mine again. It seemed to fall in place:
My grandma loved you; I too
inherited you, common flame!
Only to show how little girls
grow up taming used blue gods.
Don’t wait behind the temple door,
god; go blue your collars instead
I’ll pick you up at my cycle’s end
post-leisure, in haste of flesh.
(“Notes to Her Lover; Undated” excerpted; coming soonish in my second collection)