Books on life

Two books and both with a Coimbatore connection! Now how often does that happen? A couple of months ago, a book by Disha called Because Life is a Gift reached office and, more recently, another book by Upendra called The Turnouts also found its way here

Published - February 16, 2015 07:22 pm IST

The Turnouts

The Turnouts

Because Life is a Gift


Srishti Publisher

In Because Life is a Gift Disha talks about 15 remarkable people. Some of them we may have heard of, some others, never. She has painstakingly tracked down these men, women and children and recorded their lives, thoughts and achievements. In a country where documentation is still nascent, this is indeed remarkable.

Because… is about people with disabilities. Wheelchair-bound, hearing impaired, visually challenged, polio-affected, with cerebral palsy, amputated…the heroes and heroines of her book are people leading extraordinary lives. For many of them, everyday tasks such as reaching for a drink of water, going to the bathroom, crossing the road, feeding oneself, talking or even just making oneself understood is a mammoth struggle. Yet, as Disha finds out, they have incredible will. Each one of the people she writes about has not just conquered his or her own demons, but has reached out to help others. Like Prakash Nadar who has polio, but who thought it worthwhile to swim 18 hours non-stop from Gateway of India in Mumbai to Rewas in Raigad and back. He did it as a tribute to his mother and other women in society. Or Rajinder Johar who was attacked by intruders and was paralysed below his waist. He founded an NGO, Family of Disabled, that helps people with disabilities find employment. Then, there is the Coimbatore connection. K. Murali is hearing impaired, so is his wife, but that has not stopped them from forging ahead empowering others like them through their organisation Deaf Leaders.

Each story is an acknowledgement of indomitable spirit, great attitude and amazing grace. A nice touch is that the contact details of the people who figure in the book is furnished.

The stories convey so much by themselves. So, one general introduction to the book should have sufficed. Disha’s commentary every now and then gets jarring. Still, on the whole, it does not take away from her commendable attempt to document the extraordinary lives.

The Turnouts – Tributes to a distant Star


Frog Books, Imprint of Leadstart Publishing Private Limited

Upendra is a Naval Officer posted in Coimbatore, and the book is a tribute to his father. It takes the form of a train journey where a sleepless traveller (the author?) looks out and sees a star. The moving train, the chill of the night, and the twinkling constant star unleash a rush of memories and a torrent of emotions in him.

Train journeys are often like that. There is nothing to distract one from one’s thoughts and the mind begins to travel too. Upendra obviously feels the loss of his father deeply, and in the book he strings together incidents and memories of time spent with his dad which moulded him to what he is today. The star is his dad and as the train journey progresses, the traveller realises that every seemingly insignificant incident involving his Dad was in fact a metaphor, a life lesson.

Unfortunately, Upendra’s editors have let him down terribly. The book needs a ruthless edit. The sentences in the narrative are painfully tedious, long, convoluted and confusing. The same words and phrases are repeated in the space of a single page and, sometimes, the same paragraph. Punctuation and grammar are all over the place.

Memories, while they may be crystal-clear to him, seem random and disjointed when translated into words. The thread running through the narrative is frayed and often hopelessly tangled. Upendra should have sat with his editors and gone through each line and paragraph with a toothcomb to ensure there was no repetition, unnecessary use of grandiose words when a simple phrase would suffice, and do away with the distracting and frequent use of single quotes. Had he done that, he would have rid the book of much of its flab.

However, Mr. Ravichandran who was present at the launch declared that, “I found the book original and I was moved by the writer’s journey from a disciplinarian with a stiff upper lip to that of an emotional son who misses his father terribly and regrets not being there when he passed on.”

Dr. D. Krishnaraj, retired professor of English, disagreed. In his opinion, the writer was “too verbose language wise, adopted all kinds of devices to tell a story, but there was no story.” However, the professor did say the writer should be given some marks for the effort.

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