This collection of short stories, linked together by the twin themes of conflict and hope, boasts of an impressive collection from India and the subcontinent in which writers from India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan—Gulzar, Elmo Jayawardena, Manjula Padmanabhan, Poile Sengupta, Suchitra Krishnamoorthi, Subhadra Sen Gupta and others—write about various kinds of conflict in our society and history.
In Asha Nehemiah's, 'A Time to Mend', a little girl and her brother survive an attack on a church during a riot and help restore a precious altar cloth (and some faith, too!)
Read Paro Anand's chilling story, 'The New Game', and you will think twice before you give your child violent games. (I read it to my teenaged students and there was a stunned but thoughtful silence).
Bulbul Sharma writes a touching story on how children's innocence and purity of mind survives the worst sort of violence and hatred.
Aditi De's strict old fashioned protagonist recalls a chilling essay written by her student and shows us how what we call history is being being made right in front of us - for better or for worse.
Sandwiched in between is the inimitable Gulzar's little gem of a poem that poignantly asks - "Is it that necessary to grow up?"
Poile Sengupta's most unsentimentally told "Oranges" is a refreshing little story within a story about two silly communities who learn the fun of living and sharing together once again.
Manjula Padmanabhan's realistic "Stun" touches upon the disturbing ways in which the children learn from the world around them that is 'Dark' is 'Ugly' and how all it takes is a gentle empathetic and wise adult to undo the damage with some humour.
'Making Stones Dance' by Subhadra Sengupta brings alive the stupidity of caste in a beautifully narrated piece of fictionalized history from the times of Krishna Deva Raya.
The last one from which the collection gets its name is Elmo Jayawardene's heart-stopping portrayal of a Sri Lankan boy whose dreams of becoming a bowler are probably shattered. Though real conflicts like the 1984 riots, Partition, or the Sri Lankan civil war are the settings for these stories, none of them are too dark or didactic.
There is a freshness of vision and unsentimentality of tone which will win today's young readers over. Like the clear blue sky that calmly arches over all of our adult world's madness, these stories provide a clarity and purity of vision that only characters like the protagonists in these stories can impart to us - their vision - as yet (hopefully) unsullied by 'Grown up' bigotry and prejudice.
Interspersed with poems that articulate pleas for peace and understanding, this collection is sure to start a conversation on religion, race, caste and mindsets that divide us. A must for all 11 or 12+ preteens and teens and might I add - 'grown-ups' too - including those of us who need to truly grow up from our narrow and destructive visions of the world.
However, there is hope, as Narayana Murthy says in his preface, if we do not let our courage, determination and hope "lie dormant" . Buy the book for your child and read it yourself.
Note to parents: Wouldn't it be a great idea to give these books as take away gifts instead of the usual items at birthday parties?
Two thumbs up!
Review submitted for LRSI
I chose this book as I got attracted to it and because I have read many other Narayan Murthy books which were fantastic n jaw-dropping ,so I thought thus one too would be good.
War ,violence ,death,poverty,hatered and displacement.No matter where we live ,what we do ,as human beings we hope that these dark parts of life don’t touch our lives,but even more the life of us children,young people. This collection of poems and stories from the writers of India,Sri Lanka ,Pakistan and Bangladesh sing stories of their national and personal griefs.the grace of the collection is how the writers manage to remind us of our very own saving grace and how paradoxically ‘CONFLICT AND HOPE co exist as the subtitles indicates.
In A TIME TO MEND by ASHA NEHIMA,after a angry mob breaks into a church in banglore, beating the priest and leaving the church into its ruins , a shaken and a distraught mubina and her brother bring home the damaged altar cloth , where their grandmother ,the only person who had mastered the art and had the skill to repair the damaged altar makes it whole again.
In another story THE ANSWER by ROHINI CHOWDHURY childhood sweethearts meet again, after being torn apart from each other by the India –Pakistan partion in1947.
Perhaps one of the most haunting stories is ADITI RAO’S brilliantly told TURBAN FOR A LITTLE BOY which uses the format of a boy’s essay to convey how the innocence of a child can unintensionally provide the catalyst for evil-and how he innocence is then scarred. Masterful storytelling techniques have been used throughout the book that offer classroom uses far beyond social studies,and the short biography of each writer provide options for futher reading.
The stories questions the very idea of the reality of these tales itself.some tales are clearly fictional, but others put a strong impression and raise many questions.these stories will leave a teenager reader wondering ‘was that real? Did that really happen to the author? Or was it historical fiction?.such doubts create unique reading moments about the perception and the reality about story telling itself as well as the way people thrive, strive ,survive and find hope in shards of despair.
The story I liked the most was A TIME TO MEND by ASHA NEHEMIAH as it was very touching and written beautifully, I could put myself in that places and situations and learned a beautiful lesson too.i had a great reading experience and I improved my vocablury too. I would surely recommend the book to my friends and the language used throught the book is superb.
Arya Vidya Mandir (E)
Review submitted for LRSI
How frequently do you see someone looking down upon a person for his position in life? I see it happen everyday. Why? Is it wrong
Have a dark complexion? Is it wrong to be unable to speak in English? Is there a problem with being Muslim, or any other religion as a matter of fact? Is it wrong to be a woman? Is it wrong to be selling tea in a stall? If, the answer to all these questions is a no, then WHY do people consider these people, who try their hardest to make our lives easier, “untouchables” or downward people? Why is discrimination occurring when all of us constantly preach about being “equal”? Why do children at school get ignored just because they aren’t good at English? Why do children choose not to be friends with these kids who have a dark complexion or who don’t have the best physical features? Peculiar, isn’t it ?
A clear blue sky is book composed of many short stories and poems written by various authors and poets highlighting one key feature, discrimination on the basis of religion, caste, creed, occupation, gender, place of birth and the colour of your skin. Here are a few beliefs; If your skin colour is dark then you automatically become a bad person and someone to look down upon. If you are from a lower caste, you cannot worship God and you cannot get a job irrespective of your skills for it. If you are of a particular religion, you are a terrorist, you are to be blamed for every thing bad that happens.
Now, as far as I recall, God never said that if you are the son of weaver you cannot come and worship me.
This book gives us a very informative insight of what is going on currently. The crimes people are committing every singe day unknowingly. It tells us about how wars are created on such shallow, selfish matters and opinions. Gandhiji framed a future for this country, a bright, merry future. The Preamble of our constitution itself starts with “ We, the people of India”. How can all of us call ourselves “we” when none of us are ready to accept the fact that all of us are equal.
I’m sure you’re probably thinking that you have never mistreated a person on any of these points and that you consider yourself an idol personality. Well, you have got it all wrong. All of us are to blame for this. This happens everyday in front of us and we see it happen, only with closed eyes. Its like robbery, if you see a robber making a run and not do anything about it, you are equally to blame.
Its high time India took action on this matter. Its high time people stopped thinking so shallowly and stopped stooping so low just for a higher position. If we don’t take an initiative, no one will, and this will continue forever. We often think of changing the world, but we miss out on the part that we need to change our country before we can change the world. I am not asking you to be partial towards these people who are considered a backdrop to the society. I am just requesting you to ask yourself two questions: What IF it was YOU? How would YOU feel?
I think every school must encourage students to read this book and many other books of this type, because this will make our eyes open towards the malpractices happening in the society and will enable us to stand up for a cause, for we, my friends and foes, are the future of India. Be the change you want to see. I am going to end this review with a quote:
“The only difference between man and man all the world over is one of degree, and not of kind, even as there is between trees of the same species.
Where in is the cause for anger, envy or discrimination?” – Mahatma Gandhi.
Arya Vidya Mandir (E)
Review submitted for LRSI - '14
‘A Clear Blue Sky’ is an exciting book containing many stories and poems of conflict and hope. The stories revolve around the times of conflict, violence and controversy which have haunted India’s past. Several writers from India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan such as Subharda Sen Gupta, Elmo Jayawardena, Manjula Padmanabhan and others have written heart-rending stories on the conflict and strife in our society and history. The beautifully written foreword by N.R Narayan Murthy teaches us that in life, not everything happens the way we want it to be and occasionally it does not happen for the good. But we must be optimistic and continue to brave the storms that are the problems in our life and we shall achieve our goal.
Some stories portray dark, deep feelings of fear and insecurity and live horrors that no living person would want to witness. Horrors of the dark days from recent days like 9/11 dating back to the very day the division of India took place. Even so, the stories combine the elements of tragedy, violence, and even good natured humor to some extent to ensure a satisfying read. The stories are quick paced, with twists in the plot to keep it exciting. And each of them has a lesson to learn, it may not be given at the end but if you look closely enough you’ll find it. The conflict in the background is an evident result of differences in opinion of castes, religions and traditions. From attacks and riots at churches and Englishmen’s bungalows to the merciless killing of the Sikhs after the India- Pakistan division. The tragic story of how the partition of these nations led to a rift and break in the friendship of two close friends-one who lost his daughter as well.
The story of how a gang of boys broke up couples at the Delhi Ridge to rid India of the strange new ‘culture’ and how the gang leader himself fell in love. The desires of a young boy who narrates his wish to get a new game which is based on merciless killing and the attacks of 9/11.The sadness of an idol sculptor at the thought that he will never be able to worship his idol again, being of a low caste. The pangs felt by a nine-year old boy at the thought of growing up after he sees his homeland destroyed by riots and attacks.
Each of these and many more stories reflect real –life scenarios. The plots may bear a slight resemblance to each other in the beginning, but the stories ahead are completely different from one another. Another important noticeable detail is that the stories may be based on olden times but they follow a path of using rather modern English. It is up to the reader whether that’s a positive or a negative.
For me, the best story I’ve read in this book is ‘a Clear Blue Sky’. However, the fun of this story is best left untouched and lest that I spoil it for you, I am not going to reveal any details about it….but all I can say is that it is a really touching story.
This book is not just for those who want to experience thrill s ,fast-paced and adventurous stories but also for those who want a mix of emotions portrayed in the stories they read. These stories can be read by adults and children alike, and the best part is, you can go through the stories quickly so even if you have a very busy life- you will still have time left to enjoy this book.
The stories have different lessons to learn which I will let you as the reader find out for yourself, all the stories give one clear message- India’s hardships have never deterred it from continuing on its path towards its goal- and we too must never give up no matter what life throws at us- no matter what bad surprises we get we must never accept defeat. For Every Dark Cloud has a silver lining.
Arya Vidya Mandir
Review submitted for LRSI - '14
War, Violence, Death, Poverty, Hatred and Displacement. No matter where we live as human beings, we hope that these dark parts of our life don’t change our lives. Not only us, but also the lives of our children and other younger generations. However, for many of them, darkness affects their childhood deeply. This has been particularly true for millions living in Southeastern Asia over the last few decades as religious and national conflicts have marked and scared the children growing up in them.
This collection of stories and poems written by various authors from India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan tells us stories about their national and personal griefs.
26/11, 9/11, 7/7, 7/11
“These dates were meant to destroy the lives of some people”
Arya Vidya Mandir
Review by Ekantika Bajaj of "A Clear Blue Sky"
A CLEAR BLUE SKY – STORIES AND POEMS ON CONFLICT AND HOPE
FOREWARD BY N.R.NARAYAN MURTHY
A Clear Blue Sky is a collection of beautiful stories and poems by multiple authors and poets. They are beautiful pearls of love, compassion, friendship, peace, harmony, apathy and pain woven together to form a lovely string of pearls forming a necklace that makes you go through a roller coaster ride of happiness, true love, empathy, sadness, conflict and compassion. This book leaves you teary eyed filled with multiple emotions. You realise the futility of all the angst amongst different religions, underneath all our differences we are all the same .
This book takes us through the journey of the pain of Chinnappa and the friendship of Kamala, Edward, Amir and Amma even through the turmoil of partition. This book also tells us about a heart touching essay on ‘An important lesson ‘ that changed the teacher’s life and Mubina and Jawad’s adventure with the mob at the church which ended up mending a lot of our thoughts on taking people at face value apart from the beautiful church cloth. The story of the magical amulet leaves you wondering… The Skin – the story tells us to break our barriers of colour and take us above these discriminations. Gulzar and Suchitra Krishnamoorthi’s poems are heart tugging .The story of A Clear Blue Sky - a story of a boy who loses his childhood in the frenzy of the war. The answer is a touching story of love separated by these man made partitions.
All these amazing stories are like shining twinkling stars in a clear sky which stay with you for a long long time even after keeping the book down . You are filled with sadness for the futility and turmoil a partion or religious riots create in people’s lives.
REVIEWED BY EKANTIKA BAJAJ