Some stories keep playing in my mind. They never seem to leave. I read them when I was growing up a very long time ago. I must have read of them in in CBSE text books. Those days it seemed like torture because some very difficult questions were asked about these stories . One could never enjoy the story in isolation . But now the whole rigmarole seems like a blessing in disguise. Thanks to the fear of exams I still remember a lot of them.
1) The first on my list is “Kabuliwala” by Rabindra Nath Tagore. Since I read the story everytime I think of someone is from Kabul I think of all the kishmish and badam which Kabuli wala used to give to the little girl in the story. That is Kabul and people of Kabul for me. This is much before Kabul started coming in news because of Russian Invasion and then Taliban and then Kandhar. For me Kabul symbolises loving people from Kabul who love children and have lots of dry fruits to give. And even though they look big and tough they are very emotional . Kabuliwala is a story that touches every heart . You can read the whole story here http://www.bharatdarshan.co.nz/BD-static/stories/kabuliwala.html.
2) “Ranga Siyar” was another such story that I enjoyed a lot . I must be in standard 1 or 2 when I read this story or rather saw the story. The story had less words and more pictures. A jackal falls into a drum full of Indigo dye and everyone in the jungle thinks he is some exotic and powerful creature and they make him the King. He starts enjoying the life of a king until one day the when jackal responds to the howling of other jackals and everyone finds out who he actually is. The moral of the story was crystal clear. Your true self shows up eventually and you cannot fool all the people all the time. You can read the full story here so go ahead and enjoy it .
3) “Bachelor of Arts” by R.K Narayan was the second novel I read . I was about 15 or so and like many boys of my age I was lovestruck and unlucky in love. My conversations with girls stopped at ” I want to be friends with you”. I immediately identified myself with Chandran the protagonist who has fallen in love with a girl and is unable to control his actions or take her out of his mind. The story is set in Malgudi. Its only later in life I realised that Malgudi is a fictional town. ( but Jhumree Talayee is very real and I had a class mate at REC Rourkela from there :). You can read more about Bachelor of Arts here. In love or unlucky its never too late to read this book so grab your copy now.
4) “Idgah” by Premchand is my all time favourite. Even today when I read Premchand’s Idgah I have tears in my eyes. This is a story of a young boy Hamid and his dilemmas on what to buy for Eid given that he has very little money and his concern for his Granmother. He remembers how her grandmother always burns her hand while making Rotis for him. While other kids end up buying toys he buys a Chimta ( tong) for her grandmother. His Grandmother is at first angry and then she realises Hamid’s selflessness and innocence at such a young age and how he was thinking about his old grandmother all the time. At that very moment Hamid becomes a Old man and his grandmother becomes a little girl. There are some beautiful translations available of this story but to be honest Premchand is best enjoyed in Hindi. You can read the story here in hindi. For those who are Hindi challenged you can read a translation in English by Khuswant Singh.
5) The fifth story in my list is a poem story. It is the story of Jhansi Ke Raani Laxmi Bai. Every time I read it I get goose bumps all over my body. No kid from CBSE can ever forget singing this is poem by “Subhadra Kumari Chauhan” in Vir Ras. What is Vir Ras… now that is a different story altogether.
सिंहासन हिल उठे राजवंशों ने भृकुटी तानी थी,
बूढ़े भारत में आई फिर से नयी जवानी थी,
गुमी हुई आज़ादी की कीमत सबने पहचानी थी,
दूर फिरंगी को करने की सबने मन में ठानी थी।
चमक उठी सन सत्तावन में, वह तलवार पुरानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।
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