A fresh sensibility

Some interesting reads in Kannada

Hakuna MatataBy Nagaraja Vastarey Chanda Pustaka, Rs. 60 The imprint says it is a collection of short stories, but one also finds in the book 11poems too. "Charamageethe" was rather compelling. Of the 15 stories, not all of them engage the reader and affect. "Boralu" has a simple narration and an interesting end. "Echarakkondu echchara" examines diverse characters using reunion meeting as a tool/guise. "Kelavu Bevaarsi Tippani" digs up the past through diary notes and the news of announcement of two prizes. "Hakuna Matata", meaning `no problems at all', is set in Africa and goes beyond giving a glimpse of the life there. Majority of the stories here have a similar theme: husband-wife relationship, incompatibility, extra-marital affair, of course with variations. They also try to explore the business life of Bangalore-based architects. "Munnooru Ghaligegala Achegondu Langhana" has a different subject, but the treatment is deficient. A short story is not a documentary, not a computer animation either. A collection should not suffer from monotony, limited observation and in the pursuit of obsessions.That the author has no pretensions about his writing is a healthy sign. "Read it, just like that" is his request. K. Satyanarayana in his Foreword says: "Nagaraj has brought in new experiences and sensibilities of his profession. The names and dialogues maybe different. But the issue remains the same. He constantly reflects upon relationships. Failed relationships of the past haunts the urban busy man seems to be his focal point." However, his writings do not explore the manner in which individuals relate to the society. Isn't it true that the nouveaux riche doesn't even find the need to interact with the world around it? Chanda Pustaka has been constantly bringing out books by new writers. This book which has a striking appearance is priced reasonably. However, it needed a better editor. H.S. MANJUNATHA Idyllic Life Kantanna By B.A. Prabhakar Rai Sagar Prakashana, Rs. 70 Kanthanna is a village school teacher who also happens to own a farm land. He gives up teaching and concentrates on growing crops. He also helps others come up in life by providing jobs. He is a sort of a "do-gooder". He presides over the village panchayat to settle disputes, leads from the front in eradicating superstitions and hunts down tigers and wild animals that threaten villagers. He loves his pet dog Jimmy who serves him loyally. The two have thrilling encounters with the stray tiger and fox and other animals that enter their village in search of a prey.He loves travelling to the nearest town to watch films and then tuck into his favourite mutton biriyani. His son Kinni joins in the feast at times and then lets out the secret of not getting hungry to his mother. This book is a must read for those who have always dwelled in a city and do not know anything about village life. Every aspect of living in the villages of yore is described in detail in simple language by the author: the compulsory oil bath for children once a week, the pleasures of an elaborate meal, the occasional de-worming for the children... The sudden declaration of the "tiller owns land" policy catches Kantanna unawares. He loses most of his holdings and faces the first "defeat" of his life. All those who served him loyally till now suddenly don an air of superiority and snub him.Meanwhile his sons grow up. Kinni goes to college, suffers from separation pangs and then gets a job. Another son dies of diphtheria. A third son studies well and gets a good job. Kantanna travels to Bangalore and other places and gets a feel of the life there. He finally returns to his native village and dies in sleep. There is no great plot or storyline in this book. The simplicity is its attraction. It makes for easy reading for a lazy Sunday afternoon.VENKATESH BHAT