–Read India Initiative—
This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.
In the short story The Talkative Man narrates:
‘Some years ago there was a forestry officer in this town who always scoffed at things. He was sent for this posting by his department for some special work in Mempi Forest and he had his headquarters here. He had spent a couple of years abroad, and after returning home he was full of contempt for all our practices and institutions He was a hard core ‘rational’ by which he meant that he believed only in things he could touch, see, hear and smell. God didn’t pass any of these tests, at any rate the God we believed in. Accordingly to most of us, God resides in the Anjaneya (hanuman) temple we see on the way.
‘It is a very small temple, no doubt, but it is very ancient. It is right in the centre of the town, at the cutting of the two most important roads—Lawley Road running east and west and the Trunk Road running north and south; and any person going out anywhere, whether to the court or the college, the market or the Extension, has to pass the temple. And no one is so foolish as to ignore God and carry on as He is very real and He can make His power felt. I do not say that He showers good fortune only on those who bow at Him … I do not mean that at all. But I also do not mean that it is very simple to please a god. It costs about a quarter-of-an-anna a week and five minutes of prayer on a Saturday evening. Ninety-nine out of a hundred do it. On any Saturday evening you will find a thousand people at the temple, going round the image and burning camphor.
‘I have said that the temple is at an important crossing and every time our friend passed up and down either to his office or club, he had to pass it, and you may be sure, particularly Saturday evenings, the crowd around the temple caused dislocation of traffic. Where, lesser beings faced it cheerfully. But our friend was always annoyed. He would remark to his driver. “Run over the blasted crowd. Superstitious mugs. If this town had a sane municipality this temple would have been pulled down years ago ….”
‘On a Sunday morning the driver asked: “May I have the afternoon off, sir?”
‘When my child fell ill some days ago I vowed I would visit the crossroad shrine with my family …’
‘Yes, sir. On other days it is crowded.’
‘You can’t go today.’
‘I have to, sir. It is a duty ….’
‘You can’t go. You can’t have leave for all your superstitious humbugging.’ The driver was so insistent that the officer told him a few minutes later: ‘All right, go. Come on the first of next month and take your pay. You are dismissed.’
‘At five o’clock when he started for his club he felt irritated. He had no driver. ‘I will do without these fellows,’ he said to himself. ‘Why should I depend upon anyone?’
‘The chief reason why he depended upon others was that he was too nervous to handle a car. His head was a whirl of confusion when he sat at the wheel. He had not driven more than fifty miles in all his life though he had a driving licence and renewed it punctually every year. Now as he thought of the race of chauffeurs he felt bitter. ‘I will teach these beggars a lesson. Drivers aren’t heaven-born. Just ordinary fellows. It is all a question of practice; one has to make a beginning somewhere. I will teach these superstitious beggars a lesson. India will never become a first-rate nation as long as it worships traffic-obstructing gods, which any sensible municipality ought to remove.’
‘It was years since he had driven a car. With trepidation he opened the garage door and climbed in. At a speed of about twenty-five miles an hour his car shot out of the gate after it had finally emerged from the throes of gear-changing. It flew past the temple when our friend realised that somehow he could not turn to his left, which he must, if he wanted to reach his club. He could only steer to his right. Nor could he stop the car when he wanted. He felt that applying the brakes was an extraordinary queer business. When he tried to stop he committed so many blunders that the car rocked, danced and threatened to burst. He felt it safest to go up the road till a favourable opportunity presented itself for him to turn right, and then again right, and about-turn. He whizzed past the temple back to his bungalow, where he could not stop, and so had to proceed again, turn right, go up to Trunk Road, turn right again, and come down the road past the temple.
‘Half-an-hour later the dismissed driver arrived at the shrine with his family and was nearly run over. He stepped aside and had hardly recovered from the shock when the car reappeared. The driver put away his basket of offerings, took his family to a place of safety, and came out.
When the car appeared again he asked, “What is the matter sir?” His master looked at him pathetically and before he could answer the car came around again: “Can’t stop.”
“Use the hand-brake, sir, the foot-brake’s rather loose.”
“I can’t,” panted our friend.
The driver realised that the only thing his master could do with a car was to turn its wheel right and blow the horn. He asked, “Have you put in any petrol, sir?”
“It had only one-and-a-half gallons; let it run it out.” The driver went in, performed puja, sent away his family and attempted to jump on the footboard. He couldn’t. He stood aside on a temple step with folded hands, patiently waiting for the car to exhaust its petrol.
The car soon came to a stop. The gentleman gave a gasp and fainted on the steering-wheel. He was revived. When he regained consciousness, the priest of the temple held before him a plate and said, “Sir, you have circled the temple over five hundred times today. Ordinarily people go around only nine times, and on special occasions one hundred-and-eight times. I haven’t closed the doors thinking you might like to offer coconut and camphor at the end of your rounds.”
The officer flung a coin on the tray.
The driver asked, “Can I be of any service, sir?”
“Yes drive the car home.”
He reinstated the driver, who demanded a raise a fortnight later. And thereafter whenever our friend passed the temple, he exercised great self-control and never let an impatient word cross his lips. I won’t say that he became very devout all of a sudden, but he certainly checked his temper and tongue when he was in the vicinity of the temple. And wasn’t it enough achievement for a god?
Such are the ways of God friends.
By Kamlesh Tripathi
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GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE
(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)
ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY
(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)
AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES
(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)
REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD
(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)
TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN
(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)
RHYTHM … in poems
(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)
(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)