Amir Khusrau – The Man in Riddles by Ankit Chadha
Amir Khusrau – you have probably heard him, even if you do not know you have. If you have been to the Dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin in Delhi, you would have seen Amir Khusrau’s tomb right next to him.
If you belong to my generation, you probably solved some his puzzles in school. I always knew Khusrau for his puzzles before I started understanding his poetry in Hindavi – language that was probably the mother of both Hindi & Urdu.
This is a small book, 50-60 pages to be precise. There are 20 puzzles on 20 pages and 20 pages carry its translation. Next two pages describe the answer with an illustration. The answer is in one word, but author Ankit Chadha connects it to some aspect of Amir Khusrau’s personality and explains the philosophical or spiritual interpretation of this word.
It would help if you know a bit about Khusrau.
Now, let’s talk about the colorful illustrations. The cover of the book is in multiple colors with golden letters – it sets the tone for the rest of the book. Each spread is a different vibrant color. I tried figuring out if there is a connection between the color of the page and the word being explained – I could not figure out. I still think there should be a connection – if you figure out, do share with me.
Illustrations are abstract – with elements of the word, but with many geometric patterns woven into it. Sometimes it looks like a lot of electronic art trying to interpret the spirituality in Amir Khusrau’s verses. Turning the pages of this small book is like slowly moving the kaleidoscope and revealing new patterns. At the end, there is an infographic on the life of poet Amir Khusrau.
It is a book that you should keep at your bedside, someday you try and solve a puzzle and someday you try and soak in the meaning of the words these puzzles are pointing to. Someday, just try to deconstruct the eclectic images.
Finally, I think this review is longer than the manuscript of the book 🙂
If you like Khusrau’s poetry – pick up this book.