Fact and Fiction: A Review of Kenizé Mourad’s ‘In the City of Gold and Silver, The Story of Begum Hazrat Mahal’

The ways of history are strange. It gifts some people bouquets, hands others brickbats, and yet others are left out, entirely. When the chronicles of the First Independence War of India were documented for the layman, names like Mangal Pandey, Lakshmi Bai, Tantia Tope, Nana Sahib and Bahadur Shah Zafar, and places like Lucknow, Jhansi, Delhi and Kanpur entered history books. But the brave woman ruler of Awadh, the last free leader of the rebellion who held out for two whole years, does not appear in the compelling narratives of the 1857 rising, except in isolated pictures of a hookah-smoking rebel queen, with less than a line in description. In the records of the British, she is referred to as the ‘soul of the 1857 War of Independence’. Continue reading “Fact and Fiction: A Review of Kenizé Mourad’s ‘In the City of Gold and Silver, The Story of Begum Hazrat Mahal’”

Translation: ‘In Hope They Trust’ by Chandramathi

This is my Translation of the short story ‘Varum Varaathirikkilla’ by my favourite and the very noted Malayalam author Chandramathi. This was published in 1999, in Malayalam, and translated for Papercuts for their Volume 12, for Fall 2013, themed ‘Dog eat Dog’, translated with the author’s permission.

In Hope They Trust’ 

The woman sat on a chair, near her beloved who was stretched out on the cot in eternal sleep. Several inmates shuffled in and out of the room. She saw everyone, yet did not see anyone. Another woman sat on another chair and murmured the lines from the all-religion-prayer that they usually recited at dusk. She was a friend of the first woman. She maintained her distance from the corpse and watched her friend whose eyes were perpetually wet.


‘Rachel’, she called out, ‘Don’t cry. The Lord calls everyone to him one day. Avarachan just happened to leave a day ahead. You haven’t even taken a sip of water since yesterday. Gather yourself up. And those who want to come will come in their own time. Shall I tell that girl Mary to get tea for you?’


‘No’, mumbled Rachel, ‘Let them come first.’ Continue reading “Translation: ‘In Hope They Trust’ by Chandramathi”

Five Diaries

The Bangalore Review put up this piece of mine on their book recommendations page, on New Year Day 2014, one of my first articles for the year. 

I love yesteryear documentations, as also biographies and memoirs. Here are five of my personal favourites.

1. The Diaries of Sofia Tolstoy

Sofia Tolstoy? Tolstoy’s wife? Wasn’t she a nag?  The book, The Diaries of Sofia Tolstoy told me otherwise.

These diaries written meticulously for over more than half a century, right from when Sofia Tolstoy was 18, and combined with her late-in-life hobby of photography, documents her life with the great writer. It also shows us the changes in the pre-Czarist Russian country over this period, and Tolstoy’s relationships with the various people around him. This book is different from Sofia’s memoirs, which is titled My Life Continue reading “Five Diaries”