Sanjay Sircar


In urban folk narrative, somewhere between the 'urban legend', which is melodramatic fiction, and the ' family story', which is of interest only to the family, lies what I call 'hardened gossip': outright inventions, embroidered 'factual' stories and stray dicta that outlive the usual fate of ephemeral tittle-tattle. Across a fairly wide social ambit, these tales become set-pieces in 'standard conversations' when familiar topics arise (for example, childhood, servants, ghosts). I listened transfixed in my childhood to such talk on 'the Old Days and their Legacy' — that is the Aftermath of the British Raj. Here is something of what I heard.



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