Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “luck.” Use it any way you’d like. Enjoy!
“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.” – Francis Bacon
I remember the above quotation while reading some books. Last month I read The Book of Indian Essays edited by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra. It is a collection of essays written by Indians in the past two hundred years. The first essay is by Henry Derozio (1824). Reading the book was a fascinating experience. I did not know about most of the writers. In between the essays, I read more about them. Google makes newspaper and magazine articles accessible 😊.
‘The Street-Music of Calcutta’ by Shoshee Chunder Dutt made me smile because we hear it in my place too. I remembered our train journeys and the cries of hawkers in railway stations. It has been a long time since we have travelled by train. They were an integral part of my childhood. We had to be on the train for at least three days when we travelled every summer vacation to our maternal grandparents’ home. We were never bored. I got ‘Selections from Bengaliana’ by this Dutt free online. My father was working in Indian Railways and got free railway passes for his family to travel anywhere in India.
‘The Indian House-Crow’ by Salim Ali reminded me of the one-legged crow that came to eat chapati pieces. We are lucky to see and hear birds around us from morning to evening. The fall of a Sparrow is his autobiography. Hope to read it some day.
R K Narayan and Ruskin Bond are my favourite authors. It a pleasure to read anything written by them. It was fascinating to read about the Urdu writer, Qurratulain Hyder. She has translated to English her book, The River of fire. It sounds fascinating. Chitrita Banerji is a historian of Indian Cuisine. Her essay is about Patoler Ma, the lady who came to grind spices in her childhood home.
She reminded me of some of the conversations we had with my father-in-law’s elder sister. She was telling us about life in her younger days as part of a joint family. She said women of the younger generation were lucky because they could decide how many children they wanted. No one asked women of her generation their opinion. They bore children every other year. Some babies did not survive beyond a few days or years. Along with this, women who lived in villages had to work from dawn to midnight. They did not have time to give individual attention to their children. During periods women sat in another room. It was supposed to be a rest from their daily chores but there was a lot of outside work, like collecting fire wood, etc. Actually, there was no rest. My husband’s aunt also appreciated present-day conveniences, especially those related to cooking. She said that was the only life they knew. A cousin remarked that the interests and talents of women were lost in the daily grind. Listening to them I was convinced that I was lucky to be born in my time. Of course, life has not really changed for many. It is an unfortunate truth.