From my earlier post (read it here) it may be inferred that Alice in Wonderland made me into quite a book worm. As a result by fifteen I had devoured hundreds of books sourced from every place I could find. But there was a problem with bibliomania – I actively avoided reading Indian literature (now, I am offended at how ignorant I was.)
I had only ever known India through the perspective of a foreign author – the land of tigers and Snake-charmers. And so, I believed I was living and breathing in a land that had nothing to offer other than its mystics and unappealing magic. I was aloof to its charisma. At that point of time, in my childish wishful thinking I felt I was simply in the wrong country and dreamt of moving to the Japan (Anime, Am I right?) or other western countries.
But thankfully, in a no electricity sweltering summer afternoon, finding no entertainment, I picked up a rather boring looking book – My little India by Manoj Das. I had ignored it earlier because I had confused it with another book – the discovery of India by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. I had read the translated version of that book for my exams and it was so boring that I started bawling my eyes out when my sister taught it to me since I could make neither head or tail out of it. How she handled so many of my unnecessary breakdowns is an admirable feat.
Coming back to the book in question, when I read the gore in the first chapter of the book, I fell hook, line and sinker (Don’t judge but 15-year old Puralika is not gentle and kind like me. She loved violence and blood to an extent of being easily labeled as a psychopath.) And slowly as I read further on, I could not help but notice (and fall madly in love) with the simple charms of my country.
It was especially the translated pieces that I still keep close to my heart like –
“is there a heart that girls cannot subdue
When they walk like swans, their bangles jingling
Their girdles tinkling, their anklets jangling
And their eyes like those of deer glance frank but timid?”(translated by Basham)
But that was all, the author – Manoj Das belonged to my home State making me take pride in my regional place as well. Above all, I credit this book for making me a true patriot and forever and more, there will be a place in my heart for – my little India.