Tag Archives: Ananya S Guha

Coming this July- The 21st Edition of The Fox Chase Review

Trail at Pennypack Nature Sanctuary

Trail at Pennypack Nature Sanctuary

The Summer 2015 Edition of The Fox Chase Review our 21st, is in production and will appear on line this July.

Poetry by: Simon Anton Diego Baena, Kevin Brophy, Michael DeMarco, Gil Fagianella, Ananya S Guha, Michelle Grottola, Maria Keane, Adrian Manning, David P. Miller, Michelle Myers, Carlos Reyes and Laura Madeline Wiseman.

Fiction by: Sterling Brown, Joseph Crossen, Jean Davis, and Nancy Sherman.

http://www.thefoxchasereview.org/

No Ghosts In this City by Uddipana Goswami

cover page (1)Paperback: 128 pages

Publisher: Zubaan Books (October 27, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 9383074078

ISBN-13: 978-9383074075

Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.4 x 7.8 inches

Review by Ananya S Guha

Uddipana Goswami’s  collection of  short stories entitled : ” No Ghosts In This City” are a remarkable collection for their sociological imagination, a dip into Assam’s diverse culture, compassion and pathos. These stories turn fact to fiction: facts about society caught in web of changes, facts about the common man caught in the vicious cycle of militarism and militancy. The stories show the trauma of individuals, the complex currents of ethnicity, inter community hiatus and most of all the need to understand- empathy. What happens when an Assamese girl falls in love with an impoverished tribal boy, who changes, but not before he has actually witnessed his mother killed by armed people? His ‘change ‘ arises out of anger as he accuses the ‘others’ of  treating his community with contempt. Again and again the stories reflect on this- unleashing of a painful divisiveness, which is the brutalization of society. The pain and the brunt is borne by a young mentally debilitated girl, or an educated lady coming back to her village in search of her roots.The girl had seen her father brutally killed by army men. Perhaps this was the cause of her silence and trauma. The story ” The Swing” ends on a tragic note with the girl dead.

These stories take you to a dark world, a world experienced by many. They speak of ghosts and stories. They take one  to an ethos of rural life, where suffering is silenced or hushed. They are beautifully but simply crafted and the last two stories : ” The Hills Of Haflong ” and ” The Rains Come From Behind The Curtain ” take us into the world of poetry and abstraction. ” This Is How We Lived” is an example of living with the times, getting so used to brutalization, and desperately trying to forge peace. Somewhere deep within these stories is an yearning for peace and nostalgia is evoked, as for example in the story ” Andolan ”.

Also, in these stories is the question of the fateful why. Why cannot a Hindu get married to a Muslim? Perhaps there is no answer. The stories also give a glimpse of the wave of immigration in Assam since the British hey days.All these including the migration of tea workers, mainly from Central India are part of historical processes, leaving unfortunately sharp cleavages in society.The stories recur with historical migration and communities once at peace with one another, now divided.Yet this is Assam’s vibrant and colourful culture. The hills and the plains must co-exist, must fraternize. ” Melki Buri” is an exquisite story of an old lady known for her loquacity who suddenly dies. The villagers who avoid her like a plague, feel that veritable and proverbial lump in their throats when she dies. This story is a vivid portrayal with mythic and religious  elements.

The stories are cognizant of historical processes which have shaped Assam. They are a coloration of folk culture, history and social realities. They are marked by pathos and compassion, and  use the language of prose and poetry. In fact the  stories talk of the prose and poetry of life. Goswamí’s fictional world is the town of Barbari. What happens there can happen anywhere in Assam, India and by extension the world.

This is a collection of deeply moving stories etched in shades of darkness, grey and light. They do not portray violence, but characters who are a product of it. At the base of them lie a finely tuned moral question. The protagonist in at least two of the stories, feels that he/ she has been responsible for killings in the wake of ethnic clashes. The individual conscious  or conscience  becomes inseparable from the collective.

.

You can check out the book here:

http://www.amazon.com/No-Ghosts-This-City-Stories/dp/9383074078/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1421519242&sr=1-

1&keywords=No+Ghosts+In+this+City+by+Uddipana+Goswami&pebp=14215192

45775&peasin=9383074078

.

ananya-Ananya S Guha works at Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) as a Senior Academic. His poems in English have been published in International / National Journals and e zines. He also writes for newspapers, does book reviews and writes on matters related to education. His recent works appeared in the Harper Collins Book of English Poetry edited by Sudeep Sen. He also writes book reviews, articles for newspapers and articles on education, distance education and vocational education.

 

 

 

Baby Makers by Gita Aravamudan

baby makersPaperback: 200 pages

Publisher: HarperCollins India (July 15, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 9351362930

ISBN-13: 978-9351362937

 

Review by Ananya S Guha

 

The Book ” Baby Makers ” is a conscience stricken book which talks about surrogacy in entirety, including ethical issues. The book anatomizes surrogacy laws in different countries, in Asia, USA and UK. It speaks of commercial surrogacy and highlights aspects such as ‘ surrogacy tourism ‘ which is a booming and lucrative industry in India. The book unleashes a narrative power to tell stories of individuals who come to India from the USA, Japan and Germany in search of surrogate ‘ mothers ‘, couples who do not have children but are desperately seeking joys of motherhood, or fatherhood. This is the inner pathos of this explosive book.

Elsewhere in India couples go to different locations such as Bangalore in search of ‘‘baby makers”. But who are they. In India they are the down trodden who just need to improve their pecuniary conditions and have a decent living. This is the tragedy, but it is also the reality- a vicious cycle engendered by poverty, and family encumbrances. But who are the ‘ money makers ‘? Are they not the doctors and the posh hospitals? Indian laws allow commercial surrogacy, but are ambivalent regarding laws about the children, which country they belong to, their passport and visas etc, making the whole issue complex and ambiguous. More often than not foreigners who come to India chasing dreams are not aware of all the laws. All they know is that commercial surrogacy in India is relatively cheap as compared to that in the US. However in countries such as the UK commercial surrogacy is not permitted.

The ethical issue that the book raises is: who is the mother- the surrogate or the intending? Cannot the surrogate mother also experience the delight of motherhood? Does she not have a right to it? Examples are cited as to how hollow a surrogate mother can feel, once she hands over the child to the intending mother. Ethical issues are associated with medical questions. The sperm is the man’s, but the eggs or the womb is that of another woman. Who is the ‘ mother ‘?

This further complicates ethical issues. Social and economic conditions in India compel people like Bina to go to Mumbai in search of better jobs and surrogacy! Bina after earning some lakhs is able to buy a tiny flat in Mumbai, irrespective of the fact that her husband simply sits idle.

The book covers all the technicalities of surrogacy, fertility, insemination and subsequent delivery of the child. It covers issues such as the immediate need for breast feeding. For a couple from Chennai who live in London, the disapproval of their parents/ in laws become insufferable. Out of sheer desperation they go to surrogacy and get twins. Finally of course they spill the beans.

In The US in the nineteen eighties a mother who took the help of a surrogate mother, suddenly did a volte- face, questioning the right to motherhood, making it a national issue and ruckus.

The underlying pathos of this very well written book is ‘ why ‘, why do people come to surrogacy, whether the facilitating mother, or the intended mother? The former does it for pecuniary reasons, the latter because she wants to be a mother. It is an issue involving women. As usual women have to bear the brunt of suffering. This is the larger irony or tragedy that the book charts out.

Cathy and her husband come to India from the USA in search of a surrogate mother. In the US it is too expensive, they are middle class. They overcome ‘ culture shock ‘ and live in Hyderabad for a considerable period of time. But Cathy is always admonished by fear- what if?

Gita Aravamudan, the noted journalist, asks many questions- those related to surrogacy laws, those related to medical laws, the ethical issue (who is the mother?) and those related to sheer monetary exploitation by doctors. It is a book full of pathos and if I may call it- ‘ tragedy ‘. The tragedy lies in a poverty stricken India, it lies in the presence of unscrupulous middle men and women.

This is India. This is a must read book.

You can check out the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Baby-Makers-Gita-Aravamudan/dp/9351362930

.

ananya– Ananya S Guha works at Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) as a Senior Academic. His poems in English have been published in International / National Journals and e zines. He also writes for newspapers, does book reviews and writes on matters related to education. His recent works appeared in the Harper Collins Book of English Poetry edited by Sudeep Sen. He also writes book reviews, articles for newspapers and articles on education, distance education and vocational education.

 

Meena Kumari the Poet : A Life Beyond Cinema- Translated by Noorul Hasan

meena-kumari-the-poet-book-reviewPublisher: Roli Books, New Delhi, India
Publication Date: 2014
Binding: Paperback
First Edition
ISBN 10: 8174369678 / ISBN 13: 9788174369673
 
Reviewed by: Ananya S Guha
 
 
I begin on a very personal note. Today I am in Jorhat in a posting for the university I work in. In the 1970s when I was a college student I first watched the movie ” Pakeezah ” in Sibsagar which is around 50-60 kilometres away from Jorhat. When I saw ” Pakeezah ” what struck me was the anguish of the heroine, and to my mind the real impinged upon the imaginary- what I mean to state is: in being absorbed in Meena Kumari‘s acting I felt that in reality she might have experienced the anguish of the protagonist, empathy or call it what you will. I remember snatches of the movie, but what I can recall is breathtakingly brilliant acting. Somewhere at the back of my mind was the Kamal Amrohi ‘ story ‘ and I was also aware of the fact that this intensely poetic movie was directed by him. Perhaps this was one of the most ‘ poetic ‘ movies I have seen in addition to say Satyajit Ray’s ” Charulata ”. 
 
In reading these translations one is not only transported into the world of ineffable poetry, but one is made aware of deeply felt sensitivities and questions such as life, death, love and relationships. This kind of poetry is ‘ opposed ‘ to the kind of clever, cerebral poetry we are witness to today. It is poetry of the heart and felt experience. 
 
Yet the motifs are many and varied: light, darkness, night to name a few. The obsession with night is a haunting reality and leitmotif in the poems. Bharati Mukherjee once said that a creative writer writes out of obsession. Meena Kumari’s obsessions with night, darkness and an intuitive feeling of death give to her poems a starkness. Yet hope in some way or the other does figure, but there is again and again, questioning and self questioning. Darkness and night are not synonymous here, while darkness is metaphorical, night signifies an end, or an open ended question which the poet is forever grappling with. These are sensuous poems, they echo perhaps Omar Khayam , but there is no hedonism. Yes there is celebration, that of life and poetry, life’s dualism, painful living, unrequited love which are some of the themes present here, themes in the context of the poems which are cataclysmic. Some poems have turn of phrases which are aphoristic. 
 
Yet if there is darkness, the antimony light is also present. See for example the poem ” The City Of Lights ”:
 
… The light of the ages 
    Have slunk away 
    To be part of some jubilation 
    Leaving all around
    A shivering, savage darkness.”
 
There is constant and recurring interplay of light, darkness and scalding nights! This gives to her poetry many dimensional aspects, at the same time making them lyrical and evocative. But it is always the pain that rings through clearly, The pain of irretrievable love, the pain of being a woman, the pain of the inner conflict having to ‘ live up ‘ to the celluloid image. In their excellent introduction Daisy Hasan and Philip Bounds assert that the poems can be viewed as a ‘ barbed critique ‘ of popular culture, the culture which Meena Kumari represented through her films, but which ironically and trenchantly took away her life. The poem ” The Empty Shop ” is perhaps a commentary on crass consumerism. The ” Shop Of Time ” she says is vacuous, gives nothing. In the poem ” Words ” there is juxtaposition of words, light and darkness. 
 
That a public figure is desperate to get away from this image and live more ‘ privately ‘ is something that can happen to ‘ celebrities ‘. The example of the Bengali actress Suchitra Sen is a case in pint. She shunned any public gathering for almost four decades! 
 
All that I have said above would not have been possible if one cold not read these cogent translations of Noorul Hasan. They are very well crafted and attempt to be as sincere as possible to the originals. Yet translators do take some liberty. This is the poetic license here. The translator has done painstaking work which is researched, and I am sure over quite a period of time. This shows the hard work and tenacity that have gone into these brilliant translations. 
 
Through these translations Noorul Hasan has made a contribution to the world of poetry, revealing Meena Kumari’s  true penchant for the pen.
.
You can check out the book here:
.
ananya-Ananya S Guha works at Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) as a Senior Academic. His poems in English have been published in International / National Journals and e zines. He also writes for newspapers, does book reviews and writes on matters related to education.His recent works appeared in the Harper Collins Book of English Poetry edited by Sudeep Sen. He also writes book reviews, articles for newspapers and articles on education, distance education and vocational education.