By Ashutosh Kumar Thakur
We know that a memoir is an account, written from the author’s point of view, of an important part of his or her life. It is often confused with autobiography, but there are some important differences. An autobiography is also written from the author’s point of view, but the narrative covers his entire life. The author’s own feelings remain in the memory.
The practice of writing memoirs in literary form was due to Western influence in modern times, but in Hindi literature there has been substantial development of the prose genre of memoirs. The best works in the field of memoir writing are available in Hindi literature.
The great writer Nirmal Verma wrote remembering his other outstanding contemporary literary figure Phanishwar Nath “Renu”. “Renu Nahi Hain, Mere Liye Yah Ab Bhi Akhbari Afwah Hai”. It was included in Renu’s famous book “Rinjal Dhanjal”.
Two other well-known memoirs are “Dhundh Se Uthti Dhun” and “Chidon by Chandani” by Nirmal Verma.
Kashinath Singh, the respected author of our time, wrote his memoirs with great Hindi authors like Acharya Hazari Prasad Dwivedi, Dhumil, Trilochan, Namvar Singh, Assi, Benares, and all in his book “Tumhe Yaad Ho Ki Na Yaad Ho ” in a very particular way. These are without a doubt the best memory books in literature. Along with Nirmal Verma and Kashinath Singh, we keep Akhilesh “Aks” work in the same order. Indeed, the dimension of diversity in Akhilesh’s writing gives it readability.
It is said that non-fiction prose is the measure of excellence for a storyteller. Why would it be called that? What does something different need for a writer to write non-fiction?
Usually in this genre the direct presence of the author is more than in fiction.
After a long time, we now have the new book by famous screenwriter, editor and memoirist Akhilesh, “Aks”, which basically means reflection.
The obvious curiosities are: Whose Aks or Reflection? in the author’s time? of the society? Or the characters whose lives are shaped by the words of this book? Isn’t Akhilesh himself part of his life? In fact, all of them have mixed together here in such a way that it is impossible to separate them. When you touch one, the other indicates springs. Akhilesh created everything wonderfully as a narrative. Therefore, one can also read “Aks” as a novel, if desired.
It is essentially a book of memoirs, which refers to people close to the author or whom the author observed closely. There are memoirs in “Aks”, keeping many important writers at the center. These writers encountered Akhilesh from time to time during the Rachnayatra of nearly four decades; From this point of view, “Aks” is also an interesting living history, unpublished, of the literary world of the last forty years.
Akhilesh is versed in creating innovative ideas by “jugalbandi” of opposing elements. It features the anagram of life and death in “Aks”. The reader is confronted with the pain of death, but at the same time the celebration of life is full. Akhilesh brings out the memory of life over death. Memory or Smriti is the basic melody of this book, which continues to play throughout the work.
“Aks” is a collage of memoirs divided into eleven chapters. These are: ‘Smritiyan Kal Ke Ghamand Ko Todti Hain’, ‘Pita’, ‘Maa aur Mrityu’, ‘Jalandhar Se Dilli Via Allahabad’, ‘Sukhe Taal Morani Nache’, ‘Ab Tak Geet Jon Angawal’ Bhugol Ki Kala ‘, ‘Chhathe Ghar Me Shani’, ‘Ek Satat Angryman’, ‘Jay Bhim’, ‘Lal Salam’, ‘Ek Taraf Raag Tha, Samne Virag Tha’ and ‘Samay Hi Dusre Samay Ko Mrityu Deta Hai’.
Akhilesh wrote memoirs of famous writers of our time in an accurate manner. By reading these memoirs, we learn that his writings touch on different literary genres. The same magic is also in his language, which has been freely borrowed from the life around him.
Akhilesh is such a wonderful writer of Hindi literature that anyone who reads him drowns in the details. His stories, especially his novels, resemble poetry in their verse.
Reading “Aks”, the shadows of this city “Kadipur” on the sentimental texture of the author can be recognized from afar. This experience of the solitary moments of childhood, while creating a continuous lull in Akhilesh’s writings, at the same time leads him to a process of attachment to himself.
Akhilesh is versed in creating innovative ideas by “jugalbandi” of opposing elements. It features the anagram of life and death in “Aks”. As the reader is faced with the agony of death, there is also a full celebration of life. Akhilesh brings out the contrast between life and death in remembrance. The fundamental melody of this book is Memory, or Smriti, and it plays continuously.
While reciting “Aks”, a light smoke continues to rise like a fog in the thoughts, which indicates that the mind is full of sensations, but these sensations do not come out of consciousness. Instead of the outside, they open inward and give their own information. At the same time, it opens up the layers of the mind, takes the reader to the unknown planet of “the idea” and lets them travel through their own thoughts. Akhilesh brought atmosphere in the form of emotions, relationships and love artistically reflecting their original form in this book. He takes literature and writing to new heights.
Even before that, Akhilesh had written a non-fiction prose book. His work, “Wah Jo Yatharth Tha”, is also considered a seminal work of non-fiction prose in Hindi literature. Regarding the difference between these two books, Akhilesh says that “Wah Jo Yatharth Tha’ is a book of oblivion while “Aks” is a book of remembrance. Many meanings are hidden in the author’s statement, which gives a reason to read “Aks”. Good writers don’t just burn or record. They have to keep erasing things, memories, and even themselves under that pretext. Because an image is a creation that never stays never eternal, if the authors have the courage to redo it and again in their own way, then each time another aspect can emerge in their writing.
Reading Akhilesh’s works is like reaching out to him, grasping the one he is taking you into the deep and distant world of connection and sensations that emanate from him. It’s also not easy to get rid of the finger, nor can it be thrown back while running away. But who would want to get out of the beautiful imagination of happiness in Akhilesh’s writing! It is to be expected that Akhilesh’s long-awaited work of non-fiction will be enjoyed by a wide readership due to its liveliness, readability, and multi-layered flow.
(Ashutosh Kumar Thakur is a Bengaluru-based management professional, literary critic and co-director of the Kalinga Literary Festival. Opinions expressed are personal.)