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Weekly Pullouts » Himachal Tribune

Posted at: May 12, 2018, 12:03 AM; last updated: May 12, 2018, 12:03 AM (IST)VIGNETTES

‘We communicate only too well in our silence’

‘We communicate only too well in our silence’
The two story books.

Shriniwas Joshi

Remember your childhood. You used to pester your father: “Tell me a story.” Where has that pestering gone? It will come back if you read these stories by Dr Rama Gupta and Ajay Parashar. Prabhat Prakashan of New Delhi has published a hardbound book “Mirror Image” by Dr Rama Gupta containing 17 stories and the book costing Rs 500 while Ajay Parashar’s book “Main Jeena Sikhaata Hoon” costing Rs 200 published by Bodhi Prakashan, Jaipur, is in paperback and has 16 stories of real persons who faced or are facing HIV/AIDS (See Photo). 

Dr Rama Gupta is an academician, retired as Principal of a college in Himachal Pradesh, and says that she grew up listening to folktales in her village Sunni near Shimla and started penning stories after her retirement. BD Kalia Hamdam, writing the preface for her book, says: “You will feel the fragrance of rose and the taste of strawberries in her narration of stories. She is a good story teller.” In the story “Underworld” she questions a reader whether he knows, while driving a car on a flyover, that there was ‘life under the flyovers’. “Only a little while back these flyovers were (a) symbol of progress for me. They, like the Internet, denote connectivity, speed, reach and ambition.” But on the other hand, groups of homeless people living under the flyovers disturb her: “This new brand of homelessness that had come into existence only recently with the rapid construction of flyovers depressed me.”  “The Love of a Good Daughter” explains the meaning of silence. It is more than what we think of it. When Rekha, daughter of Usha, stopped talking to her, Usha understood that it was “the silence of protestors who seek to speak their cause by not speaking at all. Silence like darkness is unkind and after all, it too is a language. I never thought that it could be so painful.” Is Dr Gupta not in line with that great playwright Harold Pinter who says: “I think that we communicate only too well, in our silence, in what is unsaid, and that what takes place is a continual evasion, desperate rearguard attempts to keep ourselves to ourselves”?

Dr Rama has founded stories on minor happenings in life and then raising a strong edifice on it. The feelings of a raped girl make “Two Sisters” or “They Brought him Home” is about young Rohan dying of heart attack. I, however, felt that she was more old style pedantic in her expressions, like ‘any topic under the sun’ or ‘untimely wakefulness’ or ‘under the mother’s wings’ or ‘frequenting the clubs’ and many more but that had to happen if you were an academician and taught English throughout your career. “Mirror Image” is an appreciable first shot, however.

Ajay Parashar is, at present, Regional Director in the Department of Information and Public Relations. His stories about those who suffered or are suffering the pains of HIV/AIDS are based on actual happenings. Dr Sushil Kumar Phull, an ace story-writer of India, says in the Preface, “Using a flowing language and style, the author has been able to deliver the right message to the readers in an easy and comfortable manner of writing.” The author himself says that he came in association with ‘Gunjan’, a non-governmental organisation, where the Director of the NGO, Sandip, told Ajay that there were a few workers in the organisation who were suffering from HIV/AIDS. Hereupon started the journey of Ajay talking to the sufferers and giving a description of how they fought bravely against the odds of life. He has rightly dedicated the book “to those who have not accepted defeat”.  

I would not call these as stories but biographical word-sketches of patients bearing the trauma of HIV/AIDS. The writer has hope that ‘The HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Act, 2017’ with its penalty provisions in Sections 37-39 will improve the treatment meted out to such patients by the society. Rama and her husband in “Ghalati to Hui” have felt this change. In the general population, however, the HIV epidemic is misunderstood. People living with HIV face stigma, discrimination, violent attacks and harassment. Ajay Parashar, through his stories, has tried to open the eyes of the people to see the truth in its real colours. In “rista hai ghaav nasoor ban kar”, Shanno, adopted-like child of Neera and her husband, develops HIV through her husband who ultimately died of AIDS, once vomited blood in Neera’s house. Neera, who had loved Shanno as her child, instructs her to go to her parents’ home and rest there and that she was saying it because she could not see her suffering. The author steps in here and says that Shanno was innocent but not unwise. She understood the hint and departed with a smile -– never to return. There are quite a few Urdu words, aptly used, in the narrative. This shows the writer’s hold on Urdu language, as claimed.

Tailpiece

“Some people just have a way with words and other people…oh…not have way.” –Steve Martin

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