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Laburnum For My Head Every May something extraordinary happens in the new cemetery of the sleepy little town's laburnum tree with buttery yellow blossoms flowers over the spot where Lentina is buried A brave hunter Imchanok totters when the ghost of his prey haunts him till he offers it a tuft of his hair as a prayer for forgiveness Pokenmong the servant boy by dint of his wit sells an airfield to unsuspecting villagers A letter found on a dead insurgent blurs the boundaries between him and an innocent villager both struggling to make ends meet A woman's terrible secret comes full circle changing her daughter's and granddaughter's lives as well as her own An illiterate village woman's simple uestion rattles an army officer and forces him to set her husband free A young girl loses her lover in his fight for the motherland leaving her a frightful legacy And a caterpillar finds wingsFrom the mythical to the modern Laburnum for My Head is a collection of short stories that embrace a gamut of emotions Heartrending witty and riddled with irony the stories depict a deep understanding of the human condition

  • Paperback
  • 110 pages
  • Laburnum For My Head
  • Temsula Ao
  • English
  • 05 August 2016
  • 9780143066200

About the Author: Temsula Ao

Temsula Ao was born in October 1945 at Jorhat Assam She received her BA with Distinction from Fazl Ali College Mokokchung Nagaland She received her MA in English from Gauhati University Assam From Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages presently English and Foreign Languages University Hyderabad she received her Post Graduate Diploma in the Teaching of English and PhD from



10 thoughts on “Laburnum For My Head

  1. Seemita Seemita says:

    Getting home from an extended vacation translates into a current of exhilaration; ‘home sweet home’ uttering many feel a certain sense of succulent energy run through them as they slump into couches long undone and waiting The unkempt bed appears inviting and one does well to forget the fluffy hotel bedding just left behind The home made food seeps easy on the palate almost cleansing all the toxic junk that had hijacked the vacation binge And it feels like heaven to be back home However a few days pass and a mundane air sets in; the usual habitual one that typifies our homes and comes eventually to settle its imprints into every corner of our abodes The bed loses its sheen and the food its allure And once again an urge starts taking birth inside our pits to take flight to a new sky leaving the familiar warmth of our dwellingsGliding through the various rooms of this crisp collection by Temsula Ao was a similar experience Laying my hands on a viewfinder to locate the little nooks and corners of Nagaland a north eastern state in India was exciting The stories carried a certain freshness an earthy scent The patriarchal hegemony and the cultural nuances the familial derivatives and the unabashed youth they all served the purpose of an industrious harbinger sweeping the stunning landscape of emerald beauty The stories covered a gamut of everyday events that carry an inherent seed of a delectable story a boy illegally selling an airfield; three women bound beyond blood ties a hunter attending his own burial and a tattered letter carrying a child’s future were just few of the core premises from this assortment that made the reading endearing But its prospects of going into my favorites were dimmed by the missing undulation in its spine Predictability set in somewhere half way and the language didn’t entice me any Perhaps over the years I have come to love the way of expression as much as the content being expressed So this book reaches out to the zenith but falls short somewhere of embracing it; it doesn’t trip and instead finds a comfortable step to burrow into and sit cozy A good place to visit if an atypical albeit short outing is what the climber is looking for

  2. Jayaprakash Satyamurthy Jayaprakash Satyamurthy says:

    This Temsula Ao's second short story collection; I still haven't read the first 'These Hills Called Home' Ao lives and teaches in Shilong in the North East of India a part of the country that faces problems of endemic neglect by the centre and ongoing conflicts between the Army and Maoist rebels It is also from what I've gleaned from pictures and accounts by friends from those parts a beautiful land of green hills and fertile valleys Ao's stories take us into the heart of this conflict torn land telling us the stories of characters such as the old woman who saves her husband the village headman from both the rebels and the army by her uick thinking Then there's a woman who used to be in a relationship with a charismatic young man who leaves her to join the rebels only to wind up assassinated by his own comrades leaving her an uneasy legacy in the form of painful memories uncertain associations and a mysterious floppy disk Not all the stories draw on insurgency and counter insurgency for their context There's a powerful story which weaves the lives of a woman her daughter and granddaughter into a brilliant harmony expounding the traumas sorrows and joys of women's lives My favourite story tells us of a formidable hunter who is freuently stirred with misgivings about hunting leading to a climactic encounter with a possibly supernatural wild boar Ao loves and values stories and people; these stories touch upon the dilemmas sacrifices defeats and victories of ordinary people but gives them an epic universal resonance Then why the 3 star rating? Simply because the stories fall short in the areas of language and plot Ao spends too much time telling rather than showing; the story of a young boy who emerges as something of trickster figure could have had great zest and vitality if penned by someone like Bohumil Hrabal; here it falls a little flat because of the deadpan declamatory narrative Another story 'The Letter' seems like an uneasy hybrid between dry reportage and fiction; the ending a fairly obvious twist loses the impact that a willingness to probe deeper below the surface and to plunge further into the world of the story could have given it Too many characters are left hollow if not altogether unnamed and all too often we are told of the emotional upheavals they face rather than simply shown the signs of this upheaval There are messy mixed metaphors 'from the moment he joined their ranks he had to walk a tight rope in the multi headed ideological minefield within' And yet there are passages of great vividness like this depiction of the wordless rapport of a hunting party 'Imchanok was fully awake; he sensed the weariness in his companions and let them doze for a few precious moments before nudging the nearest one awake with a gentle kick to his side As the chain of similar kicks went around everyone sat up and tried to adjust his vision in the eerie darkness that seemed to have swallowed up the lush green jungle They waited each lost in his own thoughts Then came the time in the dying night when you think that the day is breaking but cannot see anything except darkness even though the daybreak is so clear in your mind This sensation came first to Imchanok and he silently shifted his body weight from left to right The one next to him caught his movement and did the same; then the next and the next until every single man held his position as if freshly energized by this slightest of movements'Then there's this powerful passage describing childbirth 'The growl she emits is like nothing these women who have participated in many deliveries have ever heard and as the last hiss leaves her throat one of them shouts'I see the head one pushbaby just once ' Martha hears her and with an ultimate effort gives another push and the baby slithers out of her exhausted body The baby's wet and slimy contours as it surges through the passage produces such a sensuous effect on Martha that she will always remember it as sublime than the transient ecstasies of sex' But there isn't enough that reaches this pitch; too much is bogged down in the baggage of late Victorian phrasing with all its distancing and formality that too many Indian writers in English struggle to shake off Ao tells stories that deserve to live in the hearts of all her readers; but she needs a better editor needs something to hone her pen into a scalpel

  3. Reading_ Tam_ Ishly Reading_ Tam_ Ishly says:

    Amazingly writtenNine beautiful short storiesHeart rending 💔🖤Full review will be up in a few hours🖤

  4. Rashmi Rashmi says:

    In my search for reading contemporary Indian literature I realized that we have maybe consciously ignored a very important part of India in our study of literature history or even geography So when recommended me this book I was fairly surprised to see the ease of storytelling and the uniueness of plot that each of the eight short stories presented to the reader The only thing they had in common was their setting somewhere in the north eastern part of our country It is an easy enjoyable read that can be enjoyed both at a stretch or with glorious intermissions in between mulling over the complexity of diverse human emotions that each story throws unto the readers Blog| Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

  5. Sundeep Supertramp Sundeep Supertramp says:

    There are so many highly acclaimed literary awards Booker Pulitzer Orange what not In fact how many Booker winners and shortlisted have I read I have read a few Indian literary awards too like Shakti Bhatt First Book and Hindu Literary Prize but I have left behind the father of them all Sahitya Akademi Award The official literary award of India When I came across this book on some online book selling portal I felt some kind of a patriotic urge to read the book And so here I am done with it finallyIt is a bunch of eight short stories the first one being the Laburnum For My Head is very touchy In fact all the short stories were touch with nothing as much as an ant same Each story is uniue in it's own way The only similar all the story share is that their settings are all North Eastern India but even the time spaces differ from story to story While Laburnum For My Head could be a modern day story The Boy Who Sold an Airfield and Death of a Hunter are from pre IndependenceHaving nothing much to say about the stories I decide to conclude the review stating that the language and the narration of the book is one of the best Serenity is in every word in the story When I was reading the book it felt like I was living in a lush forest among the other human inhabitants spending a uneventful peaceful and a tranuilizing lifeI doubt there would be people who wouldn't enjoy reading this book

  6. Chelsea Mcgill Chelsea Mcgill says:

    This is a book of short stories by the Padma Shri winner Temsula Ao a retired English professor at the North Eastern Hill University Shillong In 2013 she was awarded the Sahitya Academy Award based on this collection of storiesBecause this is a diverse collection encompassing many themes and writing styles I will give a brief introduction to eachLaburnum for my headA woman loves the Laburnum flower but has no success at cultivating them in her garden She decides that it would be better to have a Laburnum plant on her gravestone rather than an ugly tombstoneDeath of a HunterThe best hunter in the area finds himself once again being forced to hunt a wild animal that he does not really want to hurt He is worried about the creature's intelligence and what it will mean if he kills itThe Boy Who Sold an AirfieldSet at the end of WWII a young boy makes his way into the confidence of some American soldiers ending up with some property that he needs to sellThe LetterThe normally peaceful people of a village are tired of threats and extortions by the insurgents hidden in the nearby hills Finally an attack by a group of freedom fighters proves to be the last straw and the villagers retaliateThree WomenIn a series of connected stories a grandmother mother and daughter find their pasts intertwining with the concepts of motherhood and familyThe uestionWhen villagers are forced to give supplies to insurgents the national army arrests them and accuses them of aiding the enemy One of the women goes to the army camp to try to convince them to let her husband goSonnyA woman returns to his hometown only to hear news that her former lover has died a man who had left her to join a rebel group of freedom fighters and has been killed under mysterious circumstancesFlightA caterpillar turns into a butterfly in a young boy's sick roomNot all of these stories were particularly compelling Death of a Hunter in particular was not very interesting to me I will talk about the common theme of war especially war between freedom fighters and the army and then talk about my two favorite stories Three Women and The Boy Who Sold an AirfieldWar and difficult choicesThree of these stories The Letter The uestion and Sonny deal with the difficult situation of common people during a guerrilla war These stories were sparked by a deep understanding of the current situation in the states of Northeast India where various factions of freedom fighters have been campaigning for their own states or to break away from India altogether Ao's stories address the personal trials of the people who are not directly involved with these movements but whose lives are severely impacted by the situation around themRead the rest on my blog

  7. Smitha Murthy Smitha Murthy says:

    There are never enough books that you have read Never Despite having tried to read Indian literature the past few years I realized that there’s a gaping chasm in my reading books from the North East part of India are painfully few Temsula Ao’s ‘Laburnum For My Head’ I read in one sitting at a time I should have ostensibly been working But what can I do? The stories here were such that I could not tear myself away There’s a uiet beauty to Temsula’s writing most of which seem to be set in Nagaland and give a picture of a world that was only present to me in fleeting glimpses when I last visited there

  8. Poonam Poonam says:

    I do not know why I kept putting off reading this slim book for than 2 years Today when I started I was done in a seating This is Temsula Ao's second book Stories are beautifully crafted in simple lyrical language that it is imperative that you finish a story in a single sittingI loved the first two stories a the title story The Laburnum for my head about a women's desire to have beautiful laburnum grow in her land b 'Death of a Hunter' is beautifully crafted stories about inner fears and dilemmas of a ferocious hunter 'Three Women' is another story weaving an interconnected web of inner and outer relationships It is also about love and desireThere are two stories focusing on Nagas' predicament crushed between Indian army and the underground fighters It reminded me of Kashmir 'Sonny' was a good story about a complex relationship with 'ex' but I couldn't uite related with the path protagonist takes sometimes somethings are bigger than one's individual desires I didn't much care for the last story about the caterpillar but rest I would revisit again for simplicity and pleasure PS Wiki tells me that this collection brought its author the 2013 Sahitya Akademi Award for English by the Sahitya Akademi India's National Academy of Letters

  9. Milan Milan says:

    Temsula Ao is another strong voice from our North East The eight stories here show us a glimpse of Nagaland The Naxal movement is the dominant theme of the stories 'The Letter' shows the helplessness of the people caught in the crossfire of violence caused by the Indian government and the underground government 'Sonny' shows the disillusionment with the Naxal movement 'A Simple uestion' shows the exasperation of the Naga people with the governmentThe stories depict how adversely the insurgency has affected the women and children of the region Women trying to save their men from people in power Children urging parents to pay their exam fees A hunter can't get an animal he killed out of his mind There is a sense of loss and melancholy that runs through the storiesI think these are stories which are not meant to be read in one stretch These are to be read slowly one at a time Then only we are able to connect and understand the complex human emotions behind them

  10. Tavleen Kaur Tavleen Kaur says:

    A beautiful collection of stories in the north eastern part of India

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