My childhood was spent working my way through many riddles with my grandfather. Many of these riddles were skillfully crafted by my grandpa’s favourite shair ~ Amir Khusrau in a way that the answer lay in the question itself. Well-versed in reading and writing Urdu and Persian among a dozen other languages, my grandfather had a tremendous influence on my love for poetry and wordplay.
This was why when I read about Amir Khusrau- The Man In Riddles, I knew, I had to pick this book.
If I had to describe this book in one word, I would say, it’s beautiful.
Its beauty is not limited to its beautiful cover that gives a sneak peek into the world of Khusrau’s riddles. It also reflects the balance of the physical and the metaphysical, the real and the unreal as depicted in Urmimala’s exquisite illustrations throughout the book.
The magical spell cast by the vibrant cover only grows with the turn of each page as Ankit Chadha shares snippets of the life of Amir Khusrau while sharing the master’s skillfully crafted riddles. Each riddle presents a different hue of Khusrau’s observation, talent, life and proficiency in arts and is thoughtfully presented in coloured pages, different shade at every turn.
I wish to congratulate the author on the very thoughtful selection of the twenty riddles because they expose the reader to Khusrau’s many talents and personality traits. From being a firm believer of God, a poet, a statesman, a scholar, a historian, a musician, an astrologer and also a mystic.
The book presents the riddles in Urdu/Persian (in their original form) and also in English on adjacent pages and the answers are on the following page with an elaboration on what had inspired Khusrau to create this riddle. The answers to the riddles are accompanied by brilliant illustrations that capture the essence of the riddle while creatively highlighting the thought process that inspired Amir Khusrau to capture the element in the way he did.
The beauty of these riddles lies in their lingering charm for children and the elderly alike. Their uniqueness lies in their duality where the intent of the poet in capturing the observation from the everyday world is coupled with inspiration from the other-worldly philosophies.
The book also briefly shares the timeline highlighting the key years of Khusrau’s life, hinting at the author’s intention of connecting the reader with poet’s literary work with an opportunity to know Amir Khusaru’s life in a rather clever fashion.
As my love for Amir Khusrau spans my life, this book evoked fond memories of my childhood, leaving me longing to read more of his works. The book would have benefited with more than just 20 riddles and perhaps snippets of Khusrau’s poetry.
This book is a gem to be cherished by all age groups. It is a gift for all fans of Amir Khusrau’s works. The beauty of this seemingly (because solving a few riddles can take quite long) breezy read is it allows the reader to look at his mundane life with fresh eyes while seeking answers to the riddles.
About the Book:
Title – Amir Khusrau – The Man In Riddles
Author – Ankit Chadha
Illustrator – Urmimala Nag
Publisher – Penguin Random House India
Genre – Poetry
Pages – 96
Price – INR 299
ISBN – 978-0-143-42648-6
About the Author:
Ankit Chadha is a writer and a storyteller. He specializes in weaving research-based narratives that are performed in the oral art of Urdu storytelling, Dastangoi.
*The illustrations are a publisher copyright and have been photographed only to cite an example.
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