Five Stars for WITTY AND WISE.
Reviewer: Arjune Teeluck.
Author Ariti Jankie.
ISBN: 978 97695549-1-7
Painting vivid colours of human emotions on the landscape of the reader’s mind, WITTY AND WISE author, Ariti Jankie walks us through real life experiences of yesteryear. She pulls the strings from a typical village flying them like a kite over major cities before coming back the familiar rustic settings. There she ties them secured to a place called home.
Her words do much more than tell stories. It awakens the imagination to wholesome country living, capturing the spirit of a lost generation.
The stories open a window to an Indo-Trinidadian lifestyle quickly disappearing in a fast changing world.
The author comes from a middle-class Indo-Trinidadian family, the sixth of twelve children. She sends her readers into an environment that exemplified the rich Indo-cultural heritage. Jankie belongs to an ancestry of ‘Sadhus’ (yogic lifestyle) and just recently had the rare pleasure of being part of the celebrations commemorating the 100th birth anniversary of her mother, Centenarian Sadhvi Phool Jankie.
WITTY AND WISE is a gift to this momentous occasion.
A mishmash collection, written in Jankie's own unique style, the stories capture an array of treasured memories of the Indo-Caribbean experience to leave to the future, a legacy of unparalleled relevance to our present place and space as a people and nation.
The Crying Cow, our first short story, reminds us of our age-old Hindu tradition of honouring the cow. The story weaves its way relating the contribution of cows to the richness of rural life. Milk formed an invaluable part of the nutritional needs of the family, young and old. It was processed into ghee and dahi (yogurt). Even its dung was used in rituals and for ‘lepaying’ the floor and walls of our then earthen houses and for ‘lepaying’ the ‘chula’. Its urine was used as an insecticide for crops and now we have scientific verification of the disinfectant properties of cow dung. The story tells of how this cow, appropriately named Queen was treated as family and that she was loved and cared for until her natural passing. It demonstrates loyalty to this rich religio-cultural heritage.
Readers will be intrigued by the titles of the stories.
“Secrets of the Obeah Man” (Page 97) provokes interest. Readers may remember the popular Papa Neeza from the neighbouring village from where the author resides at Lengua. Children in the village were mortally afraid of this man who lived in close proximity. The children were also warned that if anyone ever stole anything, Papa Neeza will find out and ‘Put a light on them’!
The pages turn to, ‘Bhaji’(Page 88) followed by “Searching for Roots” (Page 97), ‘Pumpkin Pride’ (Page 108) and ‘Pepper Sauce Express’ (Page 139).
The titles grab the reader’s attention as it draws them into the story line so familiar to their fading past.
Each story has its own identity and addresses specific circumstances and experiences.
It is exactly the type of literature needed to rescue the reading habit that is on the brink of losing its prominence. The stories should be read over and over again to awaken the mind to the riches of life as it was lived a generation or two ago when life was simple and often poor financially but filled with activities and rich experiences.
Each new reading offer fascinating insights and a greater appreciation of the trials and triumphs of that other place and presence.
WITTY AND WISE is a must read for everyone with an interest in local living especially as it was lived not so long ago giving birth to new generations and leaving the past in an almost forgotten space.