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Temsula Ao's Laburnum For My Head deals with eight utterly delightful, yet thought-provoking tales from Nagaland. I highly recommend this!
My blood boils when I hear about racial slurs hurled at our friends from the North East community. In the same breath, I ask myself – how much do I know about them? Yeah, I can rattle off the names of the states and the capital cities. However, that isn’t enough. So, when I came across a recommendation for books in Facebook, I was intrigued by the title of this book and I went ahead and ordered Temsula Ao’s Laburnum For My Head. I was not disappointed at all!
Laburnum For My Head by Temsula Ao deals with eight utterly delightful, yet thought-provoking tales from Nagaland. The writer’s disdain for vanity in humans is evident in the first story, the titular one, which while dealing with a topic as morbid as death, surprisingly elicits chuckles from us.
The emphasis on living in tandem with nature continues in the second story, which however is gut-wrenching and describes subtly the agonizing end of a marauding elephant. ‘The Death of a Hunter’ is symbolic, because the protagonist is haunted by ghosts from the past.
Stories set in the NE are incomplete without the insurgents. Ms. Ao brings out wryly the dilemma of the so-called rebels, and how the innocent villagers are torn between them, the Indian government and the army. She doesn’t take sides, but just writes about the different stakeholders.
‘The Letter’ shows the humane side of the ‘underground man’, while ‘A Simple Question’ gives off ‘Roja’ vibes. ‘Sonny’ is melancholic because it spells out the disillusionment of the youth in a poignant manner.
As I finished the book, I realised that there were very few dialogues. They usually enliven a story, but the tales still managed to keep me engaged for the duration. The writer has a dry humour, and that is evident in her tales. Cemetery is defined as a place of the ‘assorted dead’. Indeed! Death is, after all, a great leveller.
What I loved about these tales was the sensitivity with which they were dealt. Even ‘The boy who sold an Airfield’ doesn’t shock us, it rather makes us applaud Porkey for his wits and survival instincts. I am a sucker for strong female characters, and every story has one, who stand beside their male counterparts and never behind.
Don’t miss the saga of ‘Three Women’, as each one outdoes the other in terms of courage and tenacity. The bond between the three remains as strong as ever, while men flit in and out of their lives. Only a woman writer can do so with such panache.
In a nutshell, Temsula Ao’s Laburnum For My Head is a must-read for anyone who wants to know more about the Northeast and her oft-misunderstood people, sadly by their own people.
Image Source: Amazon/poetassigloveintiuno
I am an IT professional, lost in the monotonous world of Excel. So, I seek refuge in Word, pun intended.
I write for various literary platforms and have quite a few anthologies to my credit.
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