CHENNAI: Adding to the glory of the Tamil diaspora, the on-going Chennai book fair features six books authored by Singapore-based Tamilians. They narrate the story of the state-city before its rise as a metropolis. Through them, one gets a peek into the daily lives of Singaporeans, the pub culture and the tales of Indian igrants who landed there as cooks.
“My stories speak about the life of Singapore before it became a metropolis with tall buildings as it’s known today. We lived in huts in a sort of village, and life was really good then,” says Noor Jahan Suleiman, who was born in Singapore before its independence. “I long for those times, when we would wake up to the call of the rooster. My stories revolve around life in these times - stories of love, loss and sorrow,” says this writer who has been writing since her childhood. “We had no formal education, Muslim girls were usually withdrawn from school at the age of 10. Whatever I learnt is through reading,” she says. One of her books is called Theyyal Machine, which narrates the story of a girl who takes to tailoring for solace after a marital discord.
Another book, Paramapadam, by Surya Rathnna speaks of pubs and the stories of those who work there. “There are different sides to people and not all are good. Some like to read about it and some don’t. But that is the truth I write about. I have always liked Mahabharata more than Ramayana because it speaks of the flaws in people,” says Surya Rathhna.
Other writers whose books have found a place at the fair are Ramya Nageswaran and Kamala Devim. Some of their books published by a Singapore publication Thangameen Pathippagam include A, Agam, Karavu and Nigal Kalaiyil Naan. “The Singapore government has helped promote Tamil writing, and they have even helped us come to India to publicise the books,” said the publisher and editor, Balu Manimaran.