Friday, 31 October 2014

Usne kaha tha

Just read the Hindi short story ' Usne kaha tha ' by Chandradhar Sharma Guleri ( 1883- 1922 ). I had read it earlier half a century ago. It is regarded by some as the first short story in Hindi, and some regard it as one of the best.
 It is remarkably realistic in its description of lives of Sikh soldiers in the French trenches in the First World War. It reminds one of Erich Maria Remarque's 'All Quiet on the Western Front ', though the latter is much longer and much more vivid.
 Perhaps the reason for that is that while Remarque actually fought in the war, Guleri never did. However, he must have heard first hand accounts from some Indian soldiers who fought in the war, because his descriptions of the cold and dampness of the trenches in France, and the brutality of the war, are truly graphic and realistic.
 Also it is an undying story of sacrifice by Jamadar Lehna Singh for his Subedar, whose wife had pleaded to Lehna Singh to protect her husband before they went to France to fight in the war.
 The most touching and heart rending words in the story are Lehna Singh's words to one of his comrades towards the end of the story " Wazeera, paani pilaa "
 Guleri's early death at the age of 39 cut short a promising career as a story writer. Only 3 of his stories are known. In ' Usne kaha tha  ' Guleri has successfully used the technique of flashbacks. His scenes of the jostle in Amritsar's bazaars and his description of the lives of the Sikh soldiers on Europe's Western Front are remarkable. He has used Punjabi and Urdu vocabulary.
 What is more remarkable is the fact that Chakradhar Sharma was a Professor of Sanskrit and Hindi in Jaipur and Mayo College, Ajmer. It is rare for such a person to write such a memorable story
 The Hindi film by the same name is very disappointing. It does not catch the essence of the story, or the lives of soldiers in the trenches

1 comment:

  1. सालों पहले पढ़ी ये कहानी कभी दिमाग से ओझल नहीं हुई। सच में बहुत कम उम्र में गुलेरी का जाना हिंदी शार्ट स्टोरी के लिए नुकसान देह रहा।