"The Lovers and the Leavers"...it was one of those rare finds, I stumbled upon this book while searching for something else, and the title got me hook"The Lovers and the Leavers"...it was one of those rare finds, I stumbled upon this book while searching for something else, and the title got me hooked, instantly. It was not like "Whoa!", but like a song going round and round in my head, maybe because of the alliterative aspect of the title, a lilting note, as if carried by the wind. The book is a petite collection of some of the most charming stories I've ever come across. Of course, the best take-away from the book had to be the all-pervasive "three-in-one" indulgence, first the photo, then the poem, finally the prose. It added such a poignant charm to the already poetic world that Abeer Hoque had spun all around, and it was a delight just losing myself in the resultant old-world magic.
The stories are inter-linked, sometimes through characters, sometimes through events or locations, but are standalone gems as well. Since I got to read them all together, in this collection, I savoured the thoughts and feelings even more, as the sense of being overwhelmed never left me as such, the strains carried through from one story to another. The journey was long and winding, through Dhaka, Chennai, Barcelona, USA, etc. and I did not want it to end, as I got more and more glimpses into the lives and times of various characters. So here I am smiling along with Komola at love's doorstep, rushing to Rox's side as she tumbles into watery depths of lust, then running back to shed tears for Alo and poor Kishmish, listening raptly to Shagor's rejection of Modhu, seeing Ila dance with her "makorsha" steps, as spellbound with her as was Oyon and Tahsin, getting high and crashing even lower with Oyon, watching Rox and Arul collide again and again, as if for them, time just keeps turning itself, and then finally sinking my feet in mud and squalor with Gabriel and Pilar...it just goes on and on, all these people, some sure of their ways, some confused and willing to let it be, some wild and reckless, some lost in their sensitivities, all bound together by their own faith.
Hoque's words make her stories extraordinary...the poems, every single one of them touched my heart in so many ways, I read them again and again, some out loud, only to hear how the words would sound as they were spoken, strung together, again like a song with no end. The prose is lyrical, goes without saying, and reading the sentences felt akin to watching a watercolour painting being created, as different colours merged into each other to create the final vision- a true work of art, to savour and applaud. The photos brought in the fun element for me, as each would create a sense of mystery, a prologue in black and white to the story ahead, and when I would grasp fully the photo's significance, it would be my eureka moment, laced with a contented sigh!
A slice of life collection that I would forever hold close to my heart... ...more
I stumbled upon this book while looking for a suitable graphic novel to gift to a friend, and then started the mad rush to finish it on time before "gI stumbled upon this book while looking for a suitable graphic novel to gift to a friend, and then started the mad rush to finish it on time before "gifting" it away! :p The Indian graphic novel scene is growing from strength to strength now, with so many artistes and authors coming together to create such wonderful reads, and Sudershan Chimpanzee too fits the bill perfectly.
The title got me hooked immediately..."Sudershan Chimpanzee", with the "Chimpanzee" in brackets, almost pointing me in the eye to look at the obvious discrepancy in the fact that a chimpanzee cannot really be "sudershan"! But then, I also chose to read it in a way that the subtly unmentioned comma exists, so that "Sudershan, Chimpanzee" becomes something/someone akin to larger-than-life characters like "Bond, James Bond"...and this tussle between whether he is a something/someone is what defines Sudershan aptly. With the protagonist being a chimp, the novel stays away from the premise of "Animal Farm" or "Maus", where the animals' lives mirror the humans', frighteningly so. Here it is a light-hearted take on a chimp's journey to Bollywood stardom and the steep fall from there, the typical rags-to-riches, hero-ban-gaya-zero stuff, except that is what the author uses his chimp-hero to full extent in bringing in the satire and the wit. The sketches with inky touches and pencil strokes casually left to be made out by discerning eyes and chuckling minds are amazing. I loved the fact that the animals had proper, realistic details while the humans looked shady, with edges and features almost melting into each other, signifying the fact that in Sudershan's world, humans are mostly grotesque and as primal as animals, when they really get down and dirty.
The various animal commentators give Sudershan his background as well as tell his story, becoming the grapevine that should accompany a hero of mythic status. But when Sudershan becomes Chimpoo, success goes to his head and it's all a downhill ride from there, the whole absurdity so blatantly displayed in front of the reader in the fact that a chimp gets superstardom! As Sudershan slips in and out of his "Chimpoo the Ape Bomb" garb, he plays poker, builds business connections, gifts his mentor Najubhai, watches Vishkanyas lustfully, builds a tree-mansion, drinks with the great R. Kapoor and finally falls in love with the luscious Padma. All this while he also scratches himself, picks out lice, swings from tree to tree, disturbs other animals and humans, and continues his monkey business, so the confusion stays whether to accept his antics at face-level or elevate him to humanoid status. The reader's frequent suspension of disbelief is again mirrored in Sudershan's eyes who knows that he is mimicking humans, at the end of the day, and dreams of escaping to Africa and living life, Tarzan-style. Yet, because Chimpoo has overshadowed Sudershan so frequently, he is finally left in a condition that is "na ghar ka, na ghat ka"..he does not fit in anywhere, not in the jungle among untamed wildness, nor in the city among the mirrored untamed wildness of humans. He is after all, a monkey in bustling Bombay, the city of failed-dreams for humans themselves (the fates of Najubhai or Padma illustrate that beautifully)...he never stood a chance, poor Sudershan!...more