Author: Mayuresh Didolkar

Sardar Patel The Man who saved India

Book Review – The Man Who Saved India

An old Hindi song from my childhood had the following memorable lyrics- अमन के दुश्मन जंग के बेटे भूल गये अब चाल ऍटम बॉम्ब से जा टकराया वीर जवाहरलाल enemies of peace, sons of war have all forgotten their moves. The brave Jawaharlal went and took atom bomb head-on More than the historical inaccuracy or the craven personal worship expressed therein, what strikes me today about this song is the sheer level of infantalization of the history in it. Lest you think this was restricted to popular culture alone, sample this line from my high-school history textbook with the picture of Mahatama Gandhi at Dandi Satyagraha- उचललेस तू मीठ मूठभर साम्राज्याचा खचला पाया (you picked up a fistful of salt and shook the foundations of the empire). Without disputing the courage and the resolution of those involved in the above-mentioned protests, this description is simply not true. Ironically, the recent trend, mostly promoted by social media, to take down important figures in India’s freedom struggle, most prominently Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, has in …

Book Review – Warlight By Michael Ondaatje

“We were used to partial stories” Nathaniel, the protagonist of Michael Ondaatje’s seventh novel ‘Warlight’, tells us in the opening pages of this remarkable novel that is part spy novel in the low-key John Le Carre tradition, part coming-of-age story in the post war England. The narrative takes us through the lives Nathaniel, his sister Rachel and their mother, who in many ways is the real protagonist of the novel, just as Andy Dufresne is the protagonist of ‘Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption’ even if the story is told through the eyes of Red. After tracing the path of the family through timelines that cut back and forth, from Rose, the mother’s childhood to Nathaniel’s stint with the secret service, the reader realizes that through this opening line, perhaps the author was also setting expectations. “We were used to partial stories” is an advance warning to the reader to expect an account of deeply felt emotions more than report of events, one where you seek closure instead of resolutions. And yet, nothing in the novel, …