Saturday, 4 April 2015

The Inscrutable Mulla Nasrudin Episodes by Jyothirllata Girija

Mulla Nasrudin was a philosopher of 13th century, born at Eskishehr in Turkey. He is also called as Nasreddin Hodja of Anatolia in Turkey. He became a popular Persian folk character, well-known for his clever wit and humour. Thousands of stories have been written, depicting Nasrudin's wisdom and subtle humour.
Jyothirllata Girija's The Inscrutable Mulla Nasrudin Episodes is a collection of 233 short episodes of Nasrudin's life and events retold in poetry form, in rhyming verses. 
A Light-hearted read!

Nasrudin's tales are similar to our Tenaliraman tales. Nasrudin's way of tackling adversity is remarkable, in that it's full of humour and sarcasm instead of anger and grief. He knows exactly where to hit the nail. Each episode includes a few pairs of sentences within which a quick, clever tale of Nasrudin is recited. 

What stands out in the book is the poetry form of description. Poetry can come at ease to a poet while describing an emotion. However, narrating a story as a poem is not only a different take but also challenging. But for a prominent author as Jyothirllata Girija, it must be certainly a child's play. Having stated that it's a poetic narration, one could assume that the understanding of the story might be veiled behind lyrical enigma. However, the author has kept the vocabulary simple, solely aiming to offer a pleasurable read to the readers. 
Here's a glimpse into Nasrudin's wit:

Once Nasrudin hands over three pounds of meat to his wife for a meal to be prepared for his friends. However, his wife has the entire meat and lies to him that the cat ate the meat. Nasrudin at once weighs the cat which turns to be three pounds. He then asks, "If it's the cat, where's the meat? If it's the meat, where's the cat?"

- From the Episode, 'Cat and Meat' (Page 11)

Once a man gets a part of Nasrudin's land. When the government asked for his demand, the man said that he wants all that his grown upon Nasrudin's land. Hence Nasrudin chose to raise Radishes as they grow under the field. The man then changed his demand to all that is grown under the field. Nasrudin then raised wheat. 

- From the Episode "Upon" and "Under" (Page 92)

The following excerpt of the episode 'The Fall' shall give a peek into the author's knack of playing with words:

Hearing one day a very heavy thump
Nasrudin's wife left her room with a jump.

Reaching his room anxiously she queried,
"What's the cause of the sound?", greatly worried.

"Nothing for worry, at all." he put forth:
"The object that had fallen was my cloak."

To her question, "But why such a big noise?"
He answered, "I was inside it!" with poise!

Even at death bad, Nasrudin is known to have makes a funny remark to his wife. Thus laughing loudly, he breathes his last. 

The Inscrutable Mulla Nasrudin Episodes is a good read, especially when you are looking for a short, light read, may be during a journey. And for those times when you have only a little time for reading and are not in a mood for a fiction.

Reviewed for the Publisher

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book as a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 

Title: The Inscrutable Mulla Nasrudin Episodes
Author: Jyothirllata Girija
Pages: 267

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About the Book 

Eskishehr in Turkey is Mulla Nasrudin s place of birth
Where every year they conduct Nasrudin Festival with great mirth.

Mulla Nasrudin, some, hold, was a man of wisdom and wit
While some think he was very injudicious and a nitwit.

From the amusing, umpteen episodes, could be clearly seen
That such opposite views could be held of Mulla Nasrudin.

Only such tales as could be understood with ease I have sought
To narrate in poems which, I hope, would serve as food for thought.

More than once, a few of these poems should be carefully read
If the hidden meaning and message are to be understood.

The episodes of Nasrudin will certainly be a feast
To everyone of you, I hope, without a doubt in the least.  

About the Author

Born in 1935, Jyothirllata Girija started writing in Tamil for children first in 1950 and then was introduced as an adults’ writer by ANANDA VIKATAN in 1968.  She has more than 500 short stories, 25 novels, 50 novellas, 3 full-length plays, several articles on social issues, translation of major part in Tamil of Kiran Bedi’s As I see it etc. to her credit.

She has won 20 awards so far for her Tamil creations. Her teen-agers’ novel which already won an award in Tamil Nadu was translated in Ukraine and released during the Festival of India in Moscow in 1987.

As for her creations in English, introduced by Vimla Patil of Femina in 1975, she has written about 36 short stories in the Indian periodicals – THE ILLUSTRATED WEEKLY OF INDIA, FEMINA, EVE’s WEEKLY, PRATIBHA INDIA, YOUR FAMILY, FICTION REVIEW, WOMAN’S ERA, MOVIELAND (MALAYSIA), THE SUNDAY (INDIAN) EXPRESS, THE WEEK END and EVE’S TOUCH. 

Several articles on social and political issues in ALIVE and OPEN PAGE in THE HINDU.

Long rhyming poems in couplets that were serialized in POET, Chennai - edited by late Dr. Krishna Srinivas - viz. Ramayana in Rhymes, The Story of Jesus Christ, Voice of Valluvar (Tirukkural, The Tamil Veda), Pearls from the Prophet (300-odd sayings of Prophet Muhammad in verses), Song on the Sun God (English rendering in verses of Aditya Hrudayam) and The Living God at Puttaparthi, in quatrains. 

Gandhi Episodes, based on Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography, is being serialized now in In METVERSE MUSE, (Visakhapatnam), edited by Dr. H. Tulsi.

Also several single poems in anthologies of various poetry magazines of India.

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