Sunday, September 18, 2011

a book

For the series 'things that crossed over'. 


I don't think of my father as a literature person but somehow, along with other things that crossed over, a torn away end-part of a book also reached Jammu. I have no clue how the packing decision was made at the time and how this piece of a book was picked. But I am glad it was part of the samaan. Almost a decade after the migration, after my parents managed to build a new house and the samaan was unpacked, I took this piece of a book for myself and put it safe with my school curriculum books. It was in a way the first book in my library. First in the many to come, I promised myself. The ink blots were not originally there. These are remains of an ink-pot accident. Mercifully, the book were still remained legible. I read and re-read the tragic stories it told, stories set in a far away cold land with a river oddly named Don and a land sometimes even more oddly called steppe, stories about old men with bent but strong bones, kids who were perhaps born sad, young men with no legs, women who scratched the chest of their dying men, men who sang folk songs about war, men who went to war and horses that could only be salvaged with death but finds life.

I read these stories often, too often I guess. For a long time this was all I had. Often, I wondered who wrote them. The pages offered no clue. that was originally a collection of English translations of Russian short stories

Now I know that the part that I had was originally an old English translation of 'Tales from the Don' by  Mikhail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov.

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