Sunday, August 30, 2009
Tales of Ind - Panchapakesha Ayyar
Mr. Murthy of Select bookshop was very possessive of this book. Clutching it with both hands he said he was not planning to sell this one and naturally I pleaded him to sell it to me. After reading the book however, I had to call him up and ask him why he had been so reluctant to sell it!
This book happens to be a work of an ICS officer by name A S Panchapakesha Ayyar, published in 1944, He was supposedly one of the best in ICS, those days. Someone in Kerala happens to be collecting all his works and would have liked to possess this one. Therefore Mr. Murthy was reluctant to part with it.
This work is a collection of short stories, varying in length between half a page and 2-3 pages. I would not call it interesting or delightful but perhaps it would be of interest to someone outside India trying to study/understand the Indian psyche, social customs of this land and of course, the ‘Tales of Ind’.
They are the simplest possible stories, mostly with a simple learning.
Tales of Ind is a book you will be able to appreciate as long as you are not looking for tales.
The book gives you an idea about the product of thinking of yesterday's men that have become the instruments of our thinking of today and therefore appear very obvious, needing no explicit theorization or expounding.
I have marked a few of the stories as is my habit while reading. The two stories below are here because they are really short and therefore easy for me …
An Indian girl who had married a husband three times her age, met an English girl who had also married like that. The English girl asked the Indian, "why did you marry your old man?"
"Because my father had no cheque book to write out a fat cheque for a young man" said she. "Now why did you marry your old man?"
"Because when you get a cheque for a million pounds, you don’t care to look at the date" was the reply.
"All good things are alike and deserve the same treatment", said a philosopher. "Not at all", said another, "a good man requires a word and a good drum requires beating to produce the desired effect."
George Bernard Shaw's statement - many men are only machines for converting good food into bad manure.
The Gita wants renunciation in action, not renunciation of action.