Nostalgic 8 - The Prisoner of Zenda

Some days back, I was discussing what Sibi has been reading and he mentioned a few books. I asked him about 'The Prisoner of Zenda' which we bought sometime back. He said he will check it out. So I asked him yesterday what happened to the Zenda. He said he finished it off in one night as it was riveting and adventurous. Then we discussed and he insisted on telling me the entire story again and it went on.

The entire episode made me think of the time I read 'The Prisoner of Zenda'. It was back when I was in school and slightly older than Sibi. I was in eighth standard and was in Sivakasi for the holidays. My maternal grandfather pretty much buys every magazine that comes to the store everyday and so in the first floor hall of our Sivakasi house, there are sackful of magazines bought in the previous 3-4 months lying around (we go to Sivakasi during the quarterly/half-yearly and annual holidays and also in-between).

So it was my habit whenever we reach Sivakasi, to run to the first floor and start running through the sacks for the books I haven't read yet. There is a small cup-board as well in that hall, which contained many of my uncle's possessions and so I was not that interested in running through it.

It was during one of those breaks in Eighth standard, I ended up looking into the cup-board. Apart from the usual stuff in the lower shelves, I came across a set of books which my mom bought for her college degree.

My mom did her 10th in the Sivakasi Victoria Girls HSS and came first in school in Geography in the final exams. She was given a 'இதயம் பேசுகிறது' Manian's travelogue on his trip to America as the present for the achievement. She enrolled in P.U.C (it was before the +1/+2 days) in the Sivakasi SFR college for women. When she finished P.U.C and was about to join in the same college for B.A(English), she got married.

It was the books she has got during her enrollment for B.A (English) is what I found in that cupboard. There are abridged versions of 'The Mill on the floss', 'Lorna Doone', 'Black Beauty' and of course, 'The Prisoner of Zenda'.

I never heard of any of those books before and pretty much was not really interested in reading any. I found the books and flipped through them to find no pictures to interest me into reading it and the font sizes are too small and even the abridged versions looked too big for me to read.

Then came Uncle Pai  SV Pai to help me into it. There use to be a fantastic Tamil comic book publishing happening during that time and being in Sivakasi meant you get to read anything that gets published pretty much on the same day. One of the books that gave a bunch of characters that still live in memory is 'பூந்தளிர்'. It was a fun book to read and introduced lot of characters and I used to buy it whenever I was in Sivakasi.

It was in 1988-89 when as an extension of 'பூந்தளிர்' , Uncle Pai SV Pai came up with the brilliant idea of the 'பைக்கோ கிளாசிக்ஸ்'. The series was a comic book introduction of world classics in Tamil. Probably, I never would've read half the books at that time, if it weren't for that series. It introduced the books, gave hint on the other books written by the author and in a beautiful comic book provided the whole novels as interesting as they can be.

It was in April, 1989, Paico Classics published 'The Prisoner of Zenda' in Tamil. It was a dashing story with lots of reminders to the multitude of MGR movies I've watched, with a number of twists and turns and a tragic love story in between. In short, it had everything that will make one a die-hard romantic (for which I am still taking flak all around!).

The Tragic separation
That book made me pick up my mom's 'Prisoner of Zenda' in its abridged form and read it. Though my English knowledge was not up to the mark, it just made me strive harder to read it as I now know the general direction of the story and more importantly, put me on the road in search for more adventurous, tragic and romantic English classics.

Thank You, Uncle Pai   SV Pai for that!!

6 comments: said...


King Viswa said...


Paico Classics is NOT the Idea of Uncle Pai.

THAT Uncle Pai is different from This Pai.

There books are translated into Tamil By Vandu Mama.

Kindly Change.

Muthu Prakash Ravindran said...

King Vishwa, I checked the copies of the Paico Classics and there is no mention of Vandu Mama. The books are published by Poombhatta publications in Kochi which was owned by Anand Pai who is called Uncle Pai. I think you may be referring to some other series.

King Viswa said...

Dear Mr Muthu,

Uncle Pai is NOT ANAND Pai,But Ananth Pai, who passed away 3 years back.

He is NOT AT ALL RELATED TO Poonthalir. It is published by SV Pai, from Kochi. He passed away in 1989.

There will be no mention of the translator in Paico, but it was translated by the great Vandumama only.

Take it from me. I Have met Uncle Pai & SV Pai's younger son.They are still operating in Kochi, Jew Street.

So, Kindly change it, if you want to give correct details to your readers.

King Viswa said...

For more info:

Muthu Prakash Ravindran said...

King Vishwa, corrected. Thanks for your inputs..I've not mentioned Vandu mama but the publisher alone.

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