The children in urban India, especially belonging to the affluent families, are mesmerized by the mystery stories written by the British authorJ.K.Rowling under the name Harry Potter series. I bet most of them or even there parents who are wedded to English language and culture have heard about this gentleman who the first Indian writer of mystery novels in Hindi.
And when did he wrote all these books? He lived from 1861 to 1913, about roughly a century ago when India was under British rule and there were kings and princes in India. There were dense jungles which kindled the fires of mysterious creatures and spirits living in the jungles. Khatri wrote many thrillers like Chandrakanta Santati, Kajar ki Kothari, Narendra-Mohini, Kusum Kumari, Virendra Veer, Gupt Godna, Katora Bhar Khoon and Bhootnath, some of which became the rage among the readers. People were so much addicted with the serialized version of Chandrakanta that many began learning Hindi language and eagerly waited for the issues.
He gave Hindi literature new words like Aiyyar and Aiyyara, male and female spies for the king who specialized in the art of becoming invisible and magic. Another word he gave to Hindi was Tilism which means the maze containing secret places, passages and prisons like those in the Prince of Persia game. The book Chanderkanta was televised on Doordarshan and became a rage among the viewers. It depicts the romance between prince and princess of two rival states and the travails they face in this endeavor. Khatri who was a also a forest contractor and thus familiar with forests and jungles based his story on his experiences.
India has a very rich treasure of literature which somehow lies in oblivion. Let our children also explore these treasures and compare these with the Harry Potters which comes at a high price.
The story is set in the Sivasagar district of Assam. I was working there after a transfer from India’s most advanced city of Mumbai. This was transfer after long stay in Mumbai so it took some time to adjust in these surroundings. There is a big colony of our company and has given us quarters to live. My family did not accompany me. The place is abysmal if you are alone as the area lags behind rest of India in progress and it is very difficult to spend the time. The place is full of natural beauty because of lack of progress in industries. In fact the place can boast of being few places free of pollution in India.
It was a holiday and as usual I was sitting in the Verandah. I saw a pair of mynah sitting on the fence of the opposite building boundary. Male warbled continuously; spread his feathers from time to time and moved his neck up and down as if beckoning someone. Was he calling to some another female even as his wife was sitting with him? Was he polygamous or a philanderer?
Female, on the contrary was very reticent and sat peacefully presenting a complete contrast to us humans where all the talking after the marriage is done by females and males only listens. Whenever, female jumped away a few steps, the male kept the distance constant and hopped too. He preened his feathers intermittently to look a toff.
There were squirrels frolicking and jumping from one branch to another branch of the trees; they nibbled at the gnarled surface of the tree to scoop the gums oozed by the tree. These squirrels are blacker and more agile in comparison to their cousins in the North India; they can as long as six to seven feet without any need to taxi before take off. They are a nightmare of betel nut growers as they nibble at fruit; eat some and throw away the rest.