Two books that took me back to my land.
The Introduction. (Part 1/3)
It feels strange to be drawn by things who have been long neglected. This time it’s Gujarati literature. Way back in school, I used to read a lot of Gujarati books. I used to choose them on the bases of the works written by any particular author that had appeared in my text books. For example, I loved this short story ‘Khari Maa’ by R V Desai. So, I went to the library and read each and every available book by this author. I would also read them on people’s suggestions. Later on, I came across English literature and its various genres. For some time I divided my quality reading time between Gujarati and English books. But as the time passed it seemed that Gujarati literature lacked versatility. I could no longer feel connected to the plots or ideas it was depicting. And that is when I almost stopped reading Gujarati books. That was sometime around 2007.
Forward to 2015, I bump into this wonderful book titled Akupar by Dhruv Bhatt. Man… I actually am lost for words to say how delightful the reading of this book was! It was about the relation of humans and ecosystem based in the Gir region of Saurastra, Gujarat.
Few months back, someone handed me another book titled Ra’ Gangajaliyo (not Ra’ One ;-)) by Zaverchand Meghani. Now had I given a chance, I would really not pick out any book by Meghani because he is known for his folk and historical stories woven in native language (તળપદી ભાષા). It becomes tough for me to understand native Gujarati. But since a year I feel more and more drawn towards everything native. I enjoy folk music. (Check out Maati Baani songs). I also searched and downloaded Gujarati songs. I love (seeing not doing) folk dances. I love native costumes and well, of course native food! And now it’s literature’s turn.
I believe the root of this journey of going back to basics lies in Sanskrit. First I chose Sanskrit, which opened many doors through which I could explore different aspects of Indian culture. It takes me to different people, their way of living, their tradition, their thoughts and their ideologies. It also introduces me to art, music and architecture of these people. Sanskrit was a medium of representation. This flow of culture later turned into different Prakrit languages, the vernacular tongue of the common people (Aam Aadami you see!). And Prakrit finally metamorphosed in native languages. So there!
In the upcoming two posts (which will be in Gujarati) I will write about both these books, Ra’Gangajaliyo and Akupar. Both written about and around the very same place. But the first one is about the erstwhile state of Junagarh and the rise and fall of a king loved by his subjects, whereas the other one takes you to the natural habitants of Gir and its rural areas. The first one is a historical novel, whereas the other one is a skillfully placed collage of real people still residing in Gir. One is written by an eminent writer of the pre independence era, who was honoured as ‘Rashtriya Shayar’ and the other by a modern day award winning writer, who is alive.