(Click on the picture to purchase a copy)
Title: The Way I See It – A Gauri Lankesh Reader
Editor: Chandan Gowda
First Published: 2017
Number of Pages: 278
Price: (Paperback) INR 295 (Amazon.in)
My Rating: 5 out of 5
**NOT A POLITICAL REVIEW**
This is an exceptional book that traces the writings of Gauri Lankesh and her evolution as a journalist over almost a quarter of a century, from 1993 to 2017. We witness first hand her change from the ‘elite’ English reporter to the hard hitting Kannada journalist that she eventually became.
Even in her early writings, her strength shines through in an article about a serial murderer who terrorised Bengaluru (then Bangalore). We see the writer exploring the story from different angles, pursuing even the criminal’s point of view to try and give the reader a complete picture.
As the years roll along, her writing becomes more personal and purposeful. Take for instance the article where she outlines her efforts to publish the autobiography of a transgender woman whom she considered her sister. Lankesh makes us sympathise with the woman and forces us to ponder at the ill treatment and lack of opportunity the transgender community has to put up with even today. This theme of exploring the 360-degree view of the marginalised and of the people on the opposite side of the table was to become a hallmark of her writing, as I noticed.
Her writing became more political too in the later years. The second half of the book consists of translated articles where she takes political stands and doesn’t mince words while doing so. What I particularly liked was how well she expressed the multiple complexities that shape the political landscape and debate of a particular region. I realised I had had almost no idea about the dynamics of Karnataka politics before I read this book.
And then there are some beautiful non-political articles that just captured the heart. For instance, this is an excerpt from her article on the English language vs. Mother Tongue debate:
One of the English rhymes sung by children studying in the English medium is ‘Rain, rain, go away, come again another day, little Johnny wants to play.’ Kids studying in the Kannada medium sing ‘Huyyo, huyyo, maleraya, baale totakke neerilla’ (which roughly translated to ‘Rain, please pour and pound the earth, there is no water in our banana plantation’). The first rhyme, which is of British origin, reflects the miserable English weather which is of no consequence to us in India. The second, which is entirely local, tells us that ours is an agrarian society, that we depend on rains and that banana is grown here – all of which enhance the knowledge of our children.
For this, and many more such lovely little nuggets, I would encourage you to buy this book and give it a read. Not to mention, the fact that Gauri Lankesh was brutally gunned down in 2017, and this book is a way of keeping her political legacy alive.
(Disclosure: If you buy the book by clicking on any of the Amazon links above, you will NOT get charged extra. However, I will get a small commission, 100% of which will go to charity.)