Sunday, February 22, 2009

From the slums to Newsweek

I might have spent the rest of my life in the slums or in prison if not for books. By the time I was 6, my parents had taught me to read and write Bengali. Literature gave me a special refuge. With Jack London (in translation) I could be a brave adventurer, and with Jules Verne I could tour the world. I worked my way up to Balzac, Hemingway and Dostoevsky. I finally began teaching myself English with the help of borrowed children's books and a stolen Oxford dictionary. For pronunciation I listened to Voice of America broadcasts and the BBC World Service on a stolen transistor radio. I would get so frustrated I sometimes broke into sobs.

Sudip Mazumdar in Newsweek, recounting a life that began in the slums but by the dint of a measure of providence greater than any other agency, did not continue there for long. The article's tag line reads, "Don't let the movie mislead you: there are no fairy-tale endings for most of India's street kids. I was one of them myself." And promptly goes on give us another fairy-tale ending. I'm not complaining, though.

P.S.: The kids from Slumdog are on the screen right now, on the red carpet, in the minutes before the Oscar show is about to start. They have the autograph books we used to have in high school. (Remember them? Trying to get our classmates and teachers to write something in those rectangular, sometimes spiral note books as we prepared to leave a school and move on.) They just cornered Meryl Streep who's happily chatting and writing away in their book.

7 comments:

Kavi said...

the wonder & the magic that the next minute holds truly sustains the world !!

Awesome isnt it !

Nino's Mum said...

:) am all grins after watching the entire ceremony and clapping and whooping so hard when Slumdog and Sean Penn won that Nino turns to me with a smile and said, 'Mama, you frightened me'.
Jeez. Nothing like the movies to make you feel better, no?

choxbox said...

8 of 'em. whoa!

karrvakarela said...

Thanks for sharing this, Sujatha.

Sandeepa(Bong Mom's CookBook/DesiMomzClub) said...

Thanks for sharing the story and link

Sujatha said...

Kavi, yes it is!

NM, Chox, yeah! Stayed up till 1. Loved Hugh Jackman, hated the set decoration (it appeared tacky, but perhaps they had an eye on the recession), loved the kids, hated the cult induction semi-circle thing for the acting awards, loved Sean Penn winning, sad Viola Davis did not (she was truly awesome in Doubt), what was Anthony Hopkins going on and on about Brad Pitt?

Sujatha said...

KK, Sandeepa, you're welcome!

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