Long back in 1997, I was given a blue covered dairy by my father, to keep an account of what books I am reading. I was in school those days, knew nothing about internet and computers. I knew nothing beyond my school’s library and dad’s personal library. So, there began my book-keeping work about books. In these days of blogs, I am not updating it much, though I keep maintaining a log about what book I read, just mentioning the name and the author. I was browsing through this book on Monday morning. It was then that it stuck me – how many authors remained my one-book favourites! “One book favourites” is the tag I attach to the authors whom I liked and still admire, despite the fact that I read only one book of theirs. Today, and perhaps in the next post too, I will write about those authors and the books. It serves as a journey down the memory lane post too 🙂 Pre-2001 books are all childhood kind of books and hence, I am beginning from 2001.
On the eve of Independence day or Republic Day, I don’t remember specifically…. I made my mom buy this book at the Department of Communications something exhibition at the Gruhakalpa Complex, near Nampally, Hyderabad. It is named – Snobbery Street. It is a English version of the Sahitya Academy Award winning Tamil novel – “Samudhaya Veethi” by Naa Parthasaradhy. Here was a totally new author whom I never knew/heard of. I don’t know why I felt like buying this book. Nevertheless, it was a fine reading experience. Muthukumaran, I remember was the name of Hero character of the novel. It was about his struggles to make a mark as a writer-actor of plays, I think. I don’t remember the story completely now. But, I remember the characters, their relations and the events, randomly. It was the first book from which I noted down some quotes, which I liked a lot, at that time. It was like, I read a few sentences and thought – “How true and I never noticed the same before!”.
There was this book – “Gold for the Gay master”, which was one of those first books I and my brother bought in Abids market in May 2001, on the day I wrote my EAMCET exam. The author of this book is not known to us, for that page is already torn. For the only reason that it came for some 10Rs, we took it. It was a very gripping novel. Its like, a slave woman’s fate is changed for good and she is on the way to take revenge on whoever ill-treated as a child. We both liked it a lot at that time, though I don’t remember now, why it is named so. Looking back, I still feel it was very interesting, though compared to then, I am reading more of the well-known authors.
“Of Human Bondage” by Somerset Maugham left me becoming a favourite of Maugham’s style, despite the fact that I never read anything of this in later life. Given the iconic status of Maugham, anybody might expect that I read more of Maugham. But, surprisingly, I did not. Somehow, I did not find his writings anywhere.
July 2002 – July 2003:
I had British Library,Hyderabad membership in this year. So, I had regular dosages of some interesting books. It was in this very time that a section on Indian Fiction opened there. I utilised and exploited it as much as possible until my membership expired. One of the first books I got hold of was – Nayantara Sehgal‘s “A Time to be Happy”. She is one of the Daughters of Nehru’s sister – Vijayalaxmi Pandit. “A Time to be happy” was set in late 40s. It goes in first person narrative about the changing times and lifestyle at that time. It was indeed interesting to know so many things about Freedom struggle days. Perhaps, this is one book which made me read the next book – Chaman Nahal’s “Azadi” in 2003. It was set in partition time. It was about a Hindu family, which lives in Pakistan till partition and their experiences with Partition. I think the Hero’s name was Arun. It was so touching and gripping that, I read it at one go. I still remembering my brother wondering saying – “I don’t think I saw you read any book so continuously!”. It was unbiased in the sense that when it talked about Muslims atrocities in Pakistan towards Hindus, it showed the other side of the coin in India. It potrayed the harsh reality that is named Partition. Next was Meher Pestonji’s “Pervez”. It was set during the times of 1992. It was here that I read about life in DHARAVI slum in Mumbai. This was not a thoroughly gripping novel. But, in parts, it was superb at some places. I came to know lot of incidents of political and social significance that took place at that time. “Untouchable” by MulkRaj Anand is the last of the four books from British Library India section, which made me long for the authors works. However, though, I never read other books by them after these. Since there is a lot of life ahead, I think my longing will end 🙂 There were other authors, whom I first read in the India section. But, I found other books by them too.
“To Kill a Mocking Bird” by Harper Lee is one book which left a great impression on my mind. Not because of the racism issues and all. Because of the brother-sister story in it. Me and my brother read it at around the same time too. So, it was somewhat very engrossing for me, was I was constantly seeing both of us in them. No clues as to why Harper Lee did not write a single novel after this. “To sir with Love” by E.R.Braithwaite is another book which influenced me greatly. We had an excerpt from the book, in one of our English textbooks. That was the only reason for me to read this book. But, this is one of the best books that I have ever read. Thanks for that friend who brought this book to college once, and showed it to me and lent it to me too. 🙂 “Why me?” by Donald E.Westlake is one novel, which I enjoyed reading a lot, at around the same time. It was about the funny situations a thief is put in, after stealing something. It was written grippingly enough, though I never found the author anywhere, anytime…after this.
Today, I will stop here. More on my 2004-2007 one-book favourites’ experiences in the next post in a day or two. 🙂