There have been lots and lots of things written and said about India and Indians. But then I never came across anything more poignant.
There is no village in India, however mean, that has not a rich sthala-purana or legendary history, of its own. Some god or godlike hero has passed by the village - Rama might have rested under this pipal tree, Sita might have dried her clothes after a bath on this yellow stone, or the Mahatma himself on one of his many pilgrimages through the country, might have slept in this hut,the low one, by the village gate. In this way,the past mingles with the present,and the gods mingle with men too make the repertory of your grand mother always bright (Simply loved this line!) One such story from the contemporary annals of my village I have tried to tell.
The telling has not been easy. Onehas to convey in a language that is not one's own the spirit that is one's own. One has to convey the various shades and omissions of acertainthought-movement that looks maltreated in an alien language. I use the word 'alien', yet English is not really an alien language o us. It is the language of our intellectual make-up - like Sanskrit or Persian was before - but not of our emotional make-up (Soooooooooooo true. The 'feelings' a Hindi/Tamil/Oriya sentence can convey, can never be done in the most poetic English - I personally feel as an Indian). We are all instinctively bilingual, many of us writing in our own language and in English. We cannot write like the English. We should not. We cannot write only as Indians. We have grown to look at the large world as a part of us. Our method of expression therefore has to be dialect which will some day prove to be as distinctive and colorful as the Irish or the American. Time alone will justify it.
After language the next problem is that of style. The tempo of Indian life must be fused into our English expression, even as the tempo of American or Irish life has gone into the making of theirs. We, in India, think quickly, we talk quickly, and when we move, we more quickly (I doooo :) )There must be something in the sun of India that makes us rush and tumble and run on. And our paths are paths interminable. The Mahabharata has 214,778 verses and the Ramayana has 48,000. Puranas there are endless and Innumerable.We have neither punctuation nor the treacherous 'ats' and 'ons' to bother us - wetell one interminable tale. Episode follows episode, and when our thoughts stop our breath stops. amd we move on to another thought. this was and still is the ordinary style of our story-telling. I have tried to follow it myself in this story.
It may have been told of an evening , when as the dusk falls, and through the sudden quiet, lights leap up in house after house, stretching her bedding on the veranda, a grandmother might have told you, newcomer, the sad tale of her village.
Menton, November 1937
This is the foreword to the book Kanthapura by Raja Rao. The book honestly is not breathtaking but the foreword definitely was for me.....