Nothing much has changed in the Indian society in the past 50 years, and Upendra Nath Ashk’s Sorrow of the Snows reiterates this fact.
Published in 1957, originally in Hindi, the author tells a story of the prevailing period, evoking the pathos of a poor Kashmiri Muslim peasant-labourer Hasanuddin.
We still spot many such Hasanuddins who crowd the lanes of every city in India.
The simple syces, the corrupt lathi-yielding politician and the showy tourist from Delhi are all a part of the world today as they were about 50 years back. The only thing that has changed is the value of the currency.
The simplicity of the valley peasant in the story is in stark contrast with the cunning Khanna Sahib, whose antics to avoid spending money will draw many a smile. Ashk draws a brilliant caricature of him.
When you waddle through the slippery snow with Hassanuddin, as he hopes against hope that he will earn enough for the day, you can only feel helpless for him.
The book draws great sighs towards the end, it may take a while to get there though.
Name of book: Sorrow of the Snows
Author: Upendra Nath Ashk
Publishers: Harper Perennial
Price: Rs 250