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A Peer Reviewed Journal




28. Dr.Shobha Shinde, Director, School of Language Studies andResearch Centre, and Head, Women’s Studies Centre, NorthMaharashtra University, Jalgaon.

29. Dr.S.Kumaran, Assistant Professor and Head(i/c), Department ofEnglish, University College of Engineering, Tindivanam, Melpakkam,Tamilnadu.

30. Ms.Sravasti Guha Thakurta, Assistant Professor, Department ofEnglish, Jogesh Chandra Chaudhuri College, Kolkata.

31. Ms.Sreedevi K. Menon, Assistant Professor, Department of English,Mercy College, Palakkad.

32. Ms.Subhi Tresa Sebastian, Assistant Professor, Department ofEnglish, Sacred Heart College, Thevara, Kerala.

33. Dr.Suneetha Yedla, Assistant Professor of English, University Collegeof Engineering and Technology, Acharya Nagarjuna University,Nagarjuna Nagar, Andhra Pradesh.

34. Dr.Vijay Nair, Associate Professor, Department of English, Govt.Victoria College, Palakkad, Kerala.

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Advisory Board

Prof A Joseph Dorairaj, Vice-Chancellor i/c,Gandhigram Rural University,Gandhigram, Tamil Nadu.

Dr.Vijay Nair, Associate Professor,Govt. Victoria College, Palakkad.

Editorial Board

Prof. P.Madhavan, Department of Linguistics and ContemporaryEnglish, School of languages Sciences, The English andForeign Languages, Hyderabad.

Dr.V.Prathiba, Associate Professor,University of Calicut, Malappuram, Calicut.

Dr.S.Nagesh, Associate Professor,St.Joseph’s College, Devagiri, Calicut.

Dr.H.Kalpana, Associate Professor,Pondicherry University, Puduch*erry.



Associate Editors

Sonia ThomasC.G.Shyamala

Cover design

Bhavana K S.


Post Graduate Department of English &Research Centre for Comparative Studies,Mercy College, Palakkad, Kerala 678 006.

15. Dr.Kamala.K , Associate Professor and HoD, Department of English,Little Flower College, Guruvayoor, Kerala.

16. Ms.Krishna Prabha. K., Research Scholar, Research Centre forComparative Studies, Post-Graduate Department of English, MercyCollege, Palakkad.

17. Mr.Najeeb P.M., Assistant Professor, Department of English,Government Victoria College, Palakkad.

18. Ms.Nisa Teresa John, Assistant Professor (Guest), Department ofEnglish, CMS College, Kottayam, Kerala.

19. Ms.Nisha M, Assistant Professor Department of English, PTM Govt.College, Perinthalmanna, Kerala.

20. Ms.Nithya Mariam John, Assistant Professor, Department of English,BCM College, Kottayam, Kerala.

21. Ms.Priya.K, PhD Research Scholar, Department of English, SreeKerala Varma College, Thrissur, Kerala.

22. Ms.Sandhya Suresh V., Ph.D. Research Scholar, Department ofEnglish, SSUS, Kalady, Kerala.

23. Dr.Sanjay Kumar Choudhary, Associate Professor of English,Mendipathar College, Mendipathar, Meghalaya.

24. Dr.Sarani Ghosal Mondal, Assistant Professor of English, Dept ofHumanities and Sciences, National Institute of Technology,Ponda,Goa.

25. Mr.S.Boopathi, Assistant Professor, Department of English, PeriyarUniversity, Salem, Tamil Nadu.

26. Ms.Sheeji Raphael, Assistant Professor, Department of English,Vimala College, Thrissur, Kerala

27. Ms.Sheena John, Associate Professor, Department of English MercyCollege, Palakkad, Kerala.


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1. Ms. Aasita Bali, Assistant Professor, Department of Media Studies,Christ University, Bangalore and Dr Narayanswamy K.Y., AssociateProfessor, Government Arts College, Bangalore.

2. Mr. A.Balu Vijayaraghavan, Research Scholar, The English andForeign Languages University (EFLU), Hyderabad.

3. Dr.Abhilasha, Associate Professor, Department of EFL, Indira GandhiNational Tribal University, Amarkantak, Madhya Pradesh.

4. Mr.Abdul Nasir Vellarampara, Assistant Professor (Guest), AmalCollege of Advanced Studies,Myladi, Nilambur, Kerala.

5. Dr. Ajit Kumar, Department of English, Kurukshetra University,Kurukshetra.

6. Ms.Ajomy Maria Joseph, Assistant Professor, Department of English,Nirmala College, Muvattupuzha, Kerala.

7. Ms.Aparna Singh, PhD Research Scholar, Department of English,Calcutta University. Kolkata.

8. Ms.Arya K.G., PhD Research Scholar, Department of English, SSUS,Kalady, Kerala.

9. Ms.Debrata Banerjee, PhD Research Scholar, Department ofEnglish, Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata.

10. Ms. Deepa R, Assistant Professor, Department of English, M S MCollege, Kayamkulam, Kerala.

11. Mr.Dwijen Sharma, Assistant Professor, North-Eastern HillUniversity, Tura Campus, Meghalaya.

12. Dr.Gharge Sunitha.S., Assistant Professor of English, ChatrapathiShivaji College, Satara.

13. Dr.Geetha Krishnankutty, Faculty, Dept of English, Central Universityof Tamil Nadu, Thiruvarur.

14. Ms.Indrani Das Gupta, M.Phil Research Scholar, Jamia Millia Islamia,New Delhi.

CONTENTSArtist as Recreator of the Age: A Study of Madhavikutty’sWorks from the Socio-cultural PerspectiveDr. Kamala.K. 1A Socio-cultural Study of Stephen Gill’s Kalpna in RaipurDr.S.Kumaran 11The Words in the Word: Literary Dimensions of BibleMs.Nithya Mariam John 19Partition Literature: A Testimony of Traumas and TribulationsMs.Sravasti Guha Thakurta 26Intersections in the Matrix of Caste and Gender:Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, the Architect of Modern IndiaProf. Shobha P. Shinde 31Reading Leslie Marmon Silko’s Almanac of the Dead as“Counting Coup” on Euro-American Nationalism and HistoriographyMs.Sheena John 38The Making and Un-making of Commodity-Selves: A Case Study of theSelected Diamond Advertisem*nts in KeralaMr.Najeeb P.M. 47Portraying Home as a Socio-political Metaphor in NovelsMr.A.Balu Vijayaraghavan 52Perceptions of forests in Nature, Literature and Culture– An EcocriticalReading of Mangroves in Sarah Joseph’s Gift in­GreenMs. Priya. K 63Voicing the Marginalized: The Poems of Meena KandasamyMs.Aparna Singh 70Reading Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye: A Tale of theThree Dimensional Suppression of African-American WomenMs.Debabrata Banerjee 85Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses: The Politics of ReceptionMs.Subhi Tresa Sebastian 95Ruskin Bond’s A Flight of Pigeons: Images of Hate and Love inColonial IndiaDr. Sarani Ghosal Mondal 104Cultural-Social Sabotage and Incest in Morrison’s Bluest Eye andRoy’s The God of Small ThingsDr. Abhilasha 111Affinity for Shadonian Culture in Linda Smith’s The Piper of ShadoniaDr. Suneetha Yedla 120Images of a Muslim in the Indian English NovelDr. Gharge Sunita. S 126Smothered Embers: A Feminocentric Reading of DevakiNilayangode’s Antharjanam; Memoirs of a Namboodiri WomanMs.Deepa. R 134Dalit Writings and the Formation of Subaltern Counter Publics in IndiaMs.Nisha. M 142

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Cultures in Interaction: Diasporic Overtones in Amy Tan’sThe Bonesetter’s DaughterMs.Ajomy Maria Joseph 149Spirit Aglow: In Conversation with Terri Kirby Erickson,A Poet from North Carolina (USA)Dr. Ajit Kumar 158Rendering the Invisible Visible: An Analysis of Mahesh Dattani’sOn a Muggy Night in Mumbai as a Resistance against theGhettoization of hom*osexuals in IndiaMr.Abdul Nasir Vellarampara 168Nation and History in Taslima Nasrin’s French LoverMs.Sandhya Suresh V. 178Cultural Representation of Gujarat in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’sFilm‘Ram Leela’: A Case StudyMs.Aasita Bali and Dr. Narayanswamy K.Y 191Agreeableness and Neuroticism: The Chase of Two ContrastingTraits in Horton Foote’s The ChaseMr.S.Boopathi 199Complementing History: Saadat Hassan Manto’s Short Storiesas a Literary Buttressing to Sociohistorical TraumaMs.Nisa Treesa John 204Necessity of the Maternal Feminine: A Socio-Cultural Reading ofSufi Paranja Katha with Special Reference to the Beevi IdeologyMs.Arya K.G. 213The Silencing of a Civil Society: Discussing ‘Resistance’ inAmitav Ghosh’s novel The Hungry TideDr. Geetha Krishnankutty 222Resistance to Exclusionary Politics: A Reading of Rushdie’sThe Moor’s Last SighMr.Dwijen Sharma 233Double and the Making of the Nation: Re-reading Stevenson’sThe Strange Case of Dr. Jekylland Mr.HydeMs.Indrani Das Gupta 242The Shadow Lurking: Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid SunsMs.Sheeji Raphael 253Monica Ali’s Brick Lane: Dissident Voice of a Muslim ‘Émigré’ WomanMs.Krishna Prabha. K 263Shishyadharma and Gurubhakthi : A Study of the HegemonicElements in Guru­shishya relationships in The MahabharathaMs.Sreedevi K. Menon 273

PoemDr. Vijay Nair 280Book ReviewDr. Sanjay Kumar Choudhary 281


Hussain mentions that Chambial’s poetry ceases hatred flames. P.V. LaxmiPrasad finds the tenets of life crafted on Hindu philosophy in his paper.Prof. SC Dwivedi and Dr. B.K. Dubey who are known as the Rishi poetand modern poet have been highlighted by K.K Kapoor, A.K Choudahryand O.N. Gupta in their respective papers. Duo poets reflect Indiannessthroughout their works that make them the outstanding literary personalitiesof the country.

All these five Indian English poets are twinkling across the literaryhorizon of India and abroad .


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Perspectives on literature or, rather literary texts have undergonedrastic shifts through the centuries. While earlier, literary texts wereconsidered as products of the author’s imagination, with the advent ofRoland Barthes’ semiotic analysis of culture, texts have been thought ofas involved in a play of dispersed, multiple, variable meanings and readings.Following Barthes, Cultural Materialists and the Frankfurt school of Neo-Marxists strongly assert the “worldliness” of texts thereby highlighting thesocio-cultural perspectives of literature. In such a context, we launch thetwelfth edition of our peer-reviewed Research journal PURSUITS withthe avowed intention of expanding, enhancing and strengthening therelevance of socio-cultural perspectives of all literatures. We hope thatthe articles contained in this issue will serve this purpose to a great extent.

We are grateful to our contributors and readers for their continuedsupport and encouragement which would not only promote scholarlypursuits but also establish our Research journal PURSUITS as a valuable,quality resource material.


‘A.K. Choudhary’s Poems At A Glance’. Austrian poet Kurt F. Svatekappreciates his poetic style with full- throated ease in his scholarly paperentitled ‘Glimpse of Arbind Kumar Choudhary’s Poems.’P.J. Sammut ,Maltese poet , becomes madonna of his poetic wine in general and thequatrain in particular in his paper ‘Poetry of A.K.Choudhary from India.Prof. NDR Chandra , VC at Bastar University, CG ,inhales his poeticessence on one hand and the essence of his multiplicity of love on the otherin all his conscience .Prof.S.C. Dwivedi ranks him with Spenser andobserves a bubbling fountain of imageries and master of pictorial qualitiesin his paper ‘Multifarious Manifestation of A.K.Choudahry’. Prof.S.C.Dwivedi’s mind blowing paper entitled ‘Arbindonean Poetic Style’ bringsto light the chronological sequence of words wreathed artistically in hispoems. His interview with D.C. Chambial is also of great poetic interest .Dr. Mahashwata Chaturvedi calls him a literary infantry and bard ratherthan poet in her paper ‘Poetic Flavor of A.K.Choudhary’ while Prof. T.V.Reddy explores technical virtuosity in his paper ‘Technical Virtuosity in thePoetry of A.K.Choudhary’. Reddy assesses that his portrayal of the politicalleaders as the product of caste, corruption and compromise speaks volumesabout his keen perception andawareness.He is the most influential poetwho has been promoting the peeping poets with great poetic potentiality inIndia. Prof.SCDwivedi writes in his paper ‘Multiferous Manifestations ofA.K.Choudhary’:” The other poetic quality that makes this poet afather figure is the uses of the proverbial lines that strike the reader’smind time and again and also stirs sensations to them.The phrasalwords that the poet puts in one stanza after another make himphrasal king in the literary world.”(p.115)

D.C.Chambial exhales verse as a flower exhales fragrance asclaimed byA.K.Choudhary in his paper ‘Impact of English Writers on D.C.Chambial’. A.K. Choudhary finds romantic essence throughout his worksthat make him primarily a romantic poet of this century.Prof.A.J.Sebastian finds eco-thoughts in his poetry while Dr. Shujaat


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Book Review

• Name of Anthology-Five Indian English Poets, 2014• Name of Publisher-Paradise Publisher, Rs.1395/, Jaipur• Name of the Editors-Prof.R.A.Singh & Dr.Ashok Yadav• Name of Reviewer: Dr.Sanjay Kumar Choudhary, Associate

Professor of English, Mendipathar College, Mendipathar,Meghalaya.

‘Five Indian English Poets’ ( 2014) is edited by Prof. R.A. Singh andDr. Ashok. Kr Yadav is a new literary adventure for the poetry lovers inIndia. The anthology that is published by Paradise Publishers, Jaipur,incorporates five dazzling English poets – Stephen Gill ,Arbind KumarChoudhary , DC Chambial , SC Dwivedi and B.K. Dubey known worldwidefor their poetic iridescences in all their conscience .

Stephen Gill who is an Indian by birth but Canadian by settlementhas a number of poetry collections in English , Hindi and Punjabi throughwhich he propagates the message of peace and brotherhood for all thosesuffering from the piggish philosophy of hatred and annihilation in thismonetary minded monocracy. Les Merton, English bard, observes poeticjournalism and peace in his works while B.R. Barman becomes the suitorof his words and expressions that rarely go over the head of the commonmasses. To Aju Mukhopadhyay poet Stephen Gill dwells between countries.

Arbind Kumar Choudhary inhales the poetic flavor for spiritualsanctity in life. The prime purpose of his poetic life is to preach the messageof peace for the trouble torn society. AKChoudhary, the most starry literarystar, has been much liked by the foreign critics- B.M. Jackson, Kurt F.Svatek and P.J. Sammut on one hand and the Indian critics Prof. NDRChandra, Prof. S.C. Dwivedi, Prof. T.V. Reddy and Dr. MahashwetaChaturvedi on the other. B.M .Jackson, English reviewer, appreciateshis poetic philosophy and ideal style of presentation in his paper


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Dr. Vijay Nair

I am the tear-stained faceIn the snapshot without a nameI am the price you payIn the war of wordsDay after day after day

I am the laughterHushed by the sirensAnd missiles of the nightI am the darknessAfter the blazing light

I am the silent screamTrapped inside your headThe blood-splattered dreamYou wake up toIn the birdless dawn of the dead




Dr. Kamala K.

Very often it is possible to construct the history and culture of aplace by looking into the literature produced there. Although literature isprimarily meant to be read and enjoyed, it does serve other purposes likereflecting the characteristics of the place and age wherein it emerged.Each literary work is a rich repertoire of facts teeming with social, cultural,psychological, and biographical undertones. On systematic analysis, someliterary works are found to be treasure houses of many unseen and forgottenfacets of certain periods of history. Creative works are classified andtitled depending on which factor outweighs and subdues the others. Whenit comes to voluminous works especially, language is not a mere carrier oflinguistic messages; the function of literary language goes beyond the levelof mere denotation. J.A. Fishman, a leading sociologist of the twentiethcentury speaks about language and literature in the following terms:

Language is not merely a means of interpersonal communicationand influence. It is not merely a carrier of content, whether latentor manifest. Language itself is content, a referent for loyalties,and animosities, an indicator of social statuses and personalrelationships, a maker of situations and topics as well as of thesocietal roles and large-scale value-laden arenas of interactionthat typify every speech community. (4)

No work of literature can stand in isolation as a closed structure. Literatureincorporates cultural aspects as well as social concepts like power, class,

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status, solidarity ,and conflict .The two terms ‘cultural’ and ‘social’ needto be elaborated a little bit in order to do justice to the topic under study.

People often use the two terms interchangeably; but a fine distinctionbetween the two goes like this: ‘Culture’ is a very elaborate term whichincludes multiple elements like family organization, economic systems,customs, traditions, dress and food habits, religion, language and laws. Theterm ‘social’ is used in the context of referring to the net work or fabricmade up of people. ‘Social’ is more about the interactions between peopleor how the intentions or needs of others become important. ‘Culture’ refersto the symbolic structures like religion, arts, and beliefs that give meaningsto human activities. ’Culture’ can be taken as the sum total of the inheritedideas, beliefs, values and knowledge which constitute the shared bases ofsocial action. Culture has many dimensions: one is the normative systemwhich makes people follow ethical norms. The second dimension is theexpressive system which consists of art, dance, music and literature.Another dimension is the system of ideas which enables members of asociety to interpret the world meaningfully.

In the words of Einar Haugen, “The true environment of a languageis the society that uses it as one of its codes. Language exists only in theminds of its readers and it only functions in relating these users to oneanother and to nature i.e. their social and natural environment” (57). Itprovides a very interesting study as to how literary content as well asliterary language evince, both overtly and covertly, the socioculturalbackground of the age.

Kerala’s beloved writer Madhavikkuty has left behind her manynovels which recreate the family atmosphere of her mother’s ancestralhome and also the society and age which were different from the immediatesociety around her and in return she enriched the society and nation withher language. In her autobiographical works Balyakalasmaranakal,Neermathalam Poothakaalam, Januamma Paranja Kadha and othersMadhavikutty is at her best portraying the people around her who, in turn,expose the social fabric of Kerala much more vividly than perhaps historicalnarratives.

Works Cited

Altusser, Louis. Lenin and Philosophy, and other Essays. Trans. B.Brewster, London: New Left Books and New York: Monthly ReviewP, 1971. Print.

Banerji, Suresh Chandra. Society in Ancient India. New Delhi: Printworld,2007. Print.

Ferretter, Luke. Louis Althusser. New York: Routledge, 2006. Print.

Foucault, Michel. The Archaeology of Knowledge and the Discourseon Knowledge. Trans. A.M. Sheridan Smith. New York: Harperand Row, 1972. Print.

Ganguli, Kisari Mohan. The Mahabharatha. Vol. 6. New Delhi: MunshiramManoharlal, 1982. Print.

Gordon, C., trans. “Prison Talk,” Power/Knowledge:Selected Interviewsand Other Writings 1972-1977. By Michel Foucault. New York:Pantheon, 1980. 37-54. Print.

Manusmriti. Trans.Wendy Donige and Brian K. Smith. New Delhi: Penguin,1991. Print.

Saraswathy, Jnanananda. Mahabharathasarasarvaswam. Vol.2.Kanyakumari: Anandakuteeram, 1990. Print.

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278 3

Madhavikkutty, one of the most renowned female writers ever bornin Kerala, still remains a source of inspiration to the young and the old alike,even after her death in 2009. She is special for many reasons; the brilliantpanorama of her creative works projects characters and situations as thoughthey are part of our everyday lives. There is nothing redundant in herdescriptions; each character has a role to play in the real drama of life she/he lived. Madhavikutty, through her female characters, excels in conveyingthe strength of feminity and her desire to love and be loved. As the greatestambassador of love she teaches womanhood that it is her right to love andbe loved.

Born at Punnayurkulam in present day Thrissur district in the year1934, to V.M Nair (he started his official life as a company executive inCalcutta and later became the Managing Director of Mathrubhoomipublications) and Nalappat Balamaniamma (the reputed poetess of Keralawho wrote profusely on motherhood and maternal love), the author hadher initial schooling in a European institution in Calcutta. Born to illustriousparents, she had the opportunity to come in to contact with celebrities fromall walks of life and be exposed to a wide range of experiences. The insecurelife in Calcutta imposed by the colonial regime took Kamala and her elderbrother to their maternal ancestral home in Punnayurkulam. Owing to theriots related to freedom struggle, she had to move frequently betweenCalcutta and her ancestral home. She spent a few years in her mother’shome called Nalappat. It was a highly respected ‘nair’ family of thosedays and as affirmed by the author in many works, she cherishes thechildhood days in Nalappat more than the city life in which she used to feellonely and neglected very often. The stay at Nalappat opened up a wholenew world of dreams, fantasies, and realities different from those of thecity. The author’s name which her parents had given was ‘Kamala’. Forfear that she might offend the sense of morality of her grandmother as shestarted writing from the depth of her heart, she adopted the pen nameMadhavikkutty so that she could remain unidentified. The two namesMadhavikkutty and Kamala are used interchangeably in this paper andthey carry no special import.

he ends his speech with, “I myself, O Arjuna, am not sinful. The wretchedDrona was a hater of his disciples. Fight now. Victory will be thine” (469).While Dhrishtadyumna enjoys the authority to judge what is sin andotherwise, Ekalavya and Karna are unable to do so. The hegemony judgestheir actions and determines their agency. The same hegemony invests theKshatriya prince with power of a different sort-it invests him with agencyto choose and act. He is driven by power and that becomes both themeans and the end of his vocation. Thus, structure and agency combine togive him the freedom to be forceful in not too subtle a manner.

The rules pertaining to Gurubhakthi (devotion to the preceptor)thus seems to differ according to the social class of the disciples. Karnaand Ekalavya are both victims and they were made to pay with their livesfor the extraordinary skill they possessed in archery, the domain of theKshatriyas. Drona aspired to power by using his knowledge to help theKuru Dynasty and thus attain the status of the unquestionable guru. Dronaas the practioner and the perpetrator of the dominant ideology dies by thesame. He pays the price for transgressing the Varnashrama dharmaotherwise the hegemonic structure. While Karna and Ekalavya becomethe ideal obedient subjects, the same cannot be said of Dhrishtadyumna.Dhrishtadyumna stands at the other end of the power structure. As theappointed protector of the system, he vigorously and vociferously uses hispower. There is no subtlety in his use of power. He is the manipulator orthe symbol of hegemony who works to maintain the power structure atany cost-one who forcefully demands obedience from the subject.

The study does not intend to undermine the divinity associated toknowledge and the teacher in an ancient culture. But it would be a mistaketo neglect the undercurrents of power and exploitation inherent in thesystem. Voices of protest have always been in all ages, against all rigidsystems. It is the rebel’s voice that brings out the darker side and it isthrough his voice that the narrative acquires new dimensions.

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Madhavikkutty wrote poems, stories and bigger works depictingher childhood experiences in the Nalappat household. Her autobiographicalworks Varshangalkumunpu, Balyakaalasmaranakal, NeermathalamPoothakaalam, and Januamma Pranja Kadha, are true records of thechildhood days of the author when the feudal system and its evil effectswere shared by a large majority of the society. Kamala was different, fromearly childhood, as a girl who had an eye for all that went around her; anear for all that she heard and a superb sensibility for all finer aspects of life.The influence of the educated parents, the scholarly gatherings in theNalappat house, the Calcutta background – all helped to illumine the geniusin the young girl and gradually the girl flew on the wings of poesy. Duringher childhood days in Nalappat, her grandmother’s brother, NalappatNarayana Menon, was the head of the family. He was a gifted writer anda well known literary figure of the period. Literary meetings and discussionswere very frequent in the house and such an atmosphere flamed the younggirl’s literary talents and also created in her awareness about the social andpolitical conditions of the day. Herein lies the significance of studying theauthor‘s works from a socio cultural perspective.

On many occasions Kamala recollects how strong an influenceMahatma Gandhi held in the lives of her parents as well as many elders.Although, as a small girl, she was unhappy about practicing extremesimplicity in life style as advocated by Gandhi, her parents wanted toconvince her that every one’s hopes lay in Gandhi and that if the countryis to be saved , people should follow the ideal set by him. As a student inCalcutta, she very well knew about the discriminating power of the colonialregime and the need to overthrow it. In Ente Kadha, she laments over thebitter experiences she underwent as a school student in Calcutta in thisway, “It is in this school that I first experienced the cruel intensity of racialdiscrimination. The teachers of the school who used to kiss the white skinnedstudents and carry them on their laps never even once called me near themor touch me” (42).

Madhavikkutty’s works, especially her memory works are a recordof the cultural practices and social interactions of the age. Kamala recollects

The irony lies in the fact that Drona ultimately is killed byDhrishtadyumna, one of his disciples. Dhrishtadyumna uses the same sourceof knowledge to his advantage- to wreak revenge on Drona. Where Karnaand Ekalavya fail, Dhrishtadyumna manipulates his understanding and powerover the system to defend his stand. In the Drona Parva, Dhrishtadyumna’sretort to Arjuna’s accusation of killing one’s guru seems to be the voice ofa revolutionary:

Fallen off from the duties of his own order and practising thoseof the Kshatriya order, that achiever of wicked deeds used toslay us by means of superhuman weapons. Professing himself tobe a Brahmana, he was in the habit of using irresistible illusion.By an illusion itself hath he been slain today. (464)

Here, Dhrishtadyumna seems to be affected more by the fact that Dronawas disloyal to his Dharma( duty assigned by caste) of imparting knowledgeand performing sacrifices. Dhrishtadyumna’s voice seems to be that of aKshatriya, infuriated at the Brahmana entering his domain. It is Drona’sskill in archery that disturbs him; archery being the monopoly of Kshatriyas.His hatred for Drona is founded on the enmity between Drona and Drupada,Dhrishtadyumna’s father. “It is well known that my hostility with thepreceptor has descended from sire to son” (465). He tries to justify his actciting the Kshatriya Dharma “to slay or to be slain” and hopes to escapefrom the sin of Brahmahatya (killing a Brahmana) by arguing that Dronadid not pursue the pious life of a Brahmana and hence did not deserve thedignity due to a Brahmana. It is interesting to note that Dhrishtadyumnaviews his killing of his guru from the Varnashrama perspective and he isnot a bit moved by the guilt of killing his teacher. There is no mention ofDhrishtadyumna being affected by the sin anywhere in the epic. Thus thesocial system in those times as represented in the epic seems to subtlyenforce the prevalent power structures. Thus, the Shishyadharma doesnot seem to apply to Dhrishtadyumna, the prince of Panchala. Neither is itapplicable to the Pandavas, including Arjuna, who fought against Bhishmaand Drona with the encouragement of Krishna, who justified their actionsas Kshatriya Dharma. Dhrishtadyumna leaves Arjuna dumbfounded when

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in Varshangalku munpu , “I learned to collect flowers in flower baskets,and make floral carpets out of them for Onam celebrations. I also learnedto propitiate Goddess Lakshmi, give alms to the beggars, and receive thetemple deity with the full bushel, flower bouquet, and lighted lamp” (19).

The society was essentially built on the principle of hierarchy i.e.social units were so organized as to form a superior-inferior gradation. Ofall such hierarchies, the caste system was the predominant; it exercisedcontrol on all minute aspects of life. The ideology of hierarchyinstitutionalized inequality in all aspects of life and such discriminationswere believed to be the result of one’s accumulated moral merit from theprevious birth. Kamala Das’s age steeped in all discriminations experienceda plethora of evils. Each caste had its own occupation, customs, and rituals.

It was a startling revelation to young Kamala that the servants andthe other poor classes who carried out all the menial work were cruellytreated by the class conscious society of those days. Later she recollectsin her Diarikkurippukal, the discrimination faced by her (along with otherSouth Indians) at the Nehru Symposium conducted in New Delhi as themost deserving punishment for a member of the Nalappat family who neverallowed the ‘nayadis’ (the untouchable class that occupied the lowest rungin the caste based Hindu society of her childhood days) to come anywherenear their household, “I was reminded of the nayadis who used to begaloud pathetically for alms, standing beyond the paddy fields at a far offplace. As a member of the Nalappat family I deserved discrimination andcontemptuous treatment” (8).

In Diarikkurippukal, the author writes about the social practice ofobserving untouchability in the following words:

In my childhood days everyone observed untouchability. Onlythe ‘kiriyath nairs’ were permitted to enter our kitchen. Theywere vegetarians like the ‘Brahmins’. Other sub groups of ‘nairs’were permitted to walk about the ‘thekkini’ and ‘vadakkini’(roomson the south and north sides, a type of construction typical of theage generally belonging to the affluent and the powerful). Another

Ekalavya, the tribal boy, suffers a fate worse than that of Karna. Hebecomes the most hapless victim of the system. Drona blemished the gloryof the venerable preceptor when he demanded Ekalavya’s finger. Heretoo, it seems, it is Arjuna’s anxiety over the forester boy’s archery skill thatforced Drona to commit this heinous act. Moreover, it was humiliating forDrona to see a Nishada (forester) doing better archery than the valiantprinces of the Kuru dynasty. This is exactly why Drona had turned downEkalavya’s request to become his disciple. Drona had promised to Arjunathat there would be no archer to better him. It must also be rememberedthat Drona’s own humble beginnings as a poor Brahmin merited him thescorn of his childhood friend Drupada. Yet this does not make himconsiderate to other less privileged people. Seen in this way, the life ofDrona is an example for an individual who is at once a perpetrator and avictim. But Drona’s mastery in Dhanurveda (the science of archery) makeshim decide the course of war later. With the timely removal of Karna andEkalavya from the scene, the platform was made safe for the ruling Kurudynasty to exercise ultimate power. It was undoubtedly Drona’s instructionthat made Arjuna invincible and it was Arjuna’s valour (along withBhima’s physical might) that encouraged Yudhishtira to aspire for power.

The relationship between Drona, Karna and Ekalavya is also aninstance for tacit understanding between power and knowledge. Ekalavya’sand Karna’s skills are downplayed and rejected outright. Turned down byDrona, Ekalavya practised archery before a statue of Drona acceptinghim as his guru. His sense of obligation which cost him his finger is onecreated by the system and the beliefs associated with it. It would seem thatthe two of them aspired to transgress the boundaries that was prescribedfor them and so, they must be suppressed. While Karna is insulted and sentaway, Ekalavya’s skill is taken away from him. Yet both of them accepttheir fate without demur and continue to be part of the system that deniesthem power and agency. They become inevitable in the war and fightselflessly for the Kauravas. Karna’s loyalty towards Duryodhana andEkalavya’s obligation to Drona are made use of cleverly and effectively.Thus, the shishya code of conduct, when exploited for power, became amighty instrument of suppression.

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caste called’thiyyar’ could touch only the outside pillars of thehouse whereas yet another known as ‘vettuva’could not crossthe border between the courtyard and the outlying lands. Stilllower castes ‘pulayas’ etc had to stand outside the yard and callaloud seeking help. The lowest rung called as ‘nayadis’ had tohide themselves behind trees and request for a little food as thoughit was a sin. Each nayadi was an embodiment of inferiority complexand extreme helplessness. When I requested the servants to showme one ‘nayadi’ they wouldn’t do so as it was socially forbiddenand the very sight would frighten me. (108)

Madhavikkutty remembers many instances when she happened to observeor experience injustice being practiced as part of the caste baseddiscriminations. She remembers going on a trip to Guruvayoor along withher grandmother, accompanied by some servants. On the way anothergroup comes up screaming ‘ho ho’and grandmother takes Kamala behinda tree so that they remain hidden from view. The servants run helter skelterand one of them even falls in to a pit. To young Kamala’s dismay the grandmother tells that it was an entourage of some ‘namboodiri’, a personbelonging to the highest caste. The servant was making the ‘ho ho’ noiseso that the lower castes could keep themselves out of sight of the great oneand not pollute him. (Balyakaala 578)

The author recollects sadly the extreme social injustice practiced inthe Kerala of her days and how the situation is different now in the lastdecades of the twentieth century. She adopts a very critical attitude to thepopular myth of Kerala centered on the just King Mahabali who is believedto have ruled the land emphasizing the values of equality and fraternity.Madhavikkutty is happy to notice that the situation has changed drasticallyand she sees around her only self confident people who no more cringebefore others.

The parents fondly called her as Amy; the transformation from Amy,to Kamala Das, to Madhavikutty and to Kamala Surayya was not anaccidental one ; on the other hand Amy’s growth was entwined with the

Since he happened to be the repository of knowledge, he reserved theauthority to impart knowledge and it was the ‘twice-born’ Brahmana whotaught and moulded the Kshatriyas, the ruling class. Here, one can seehow the dominant ideology silently permeates into the subconscious of thesociety and establishes laws that are ‘willingly’ accepted by the subjects.The gurukula also illustrates yet another aspect of power structure. Inthe essay “Prison Talk”, Foucault says how power has a deep connectionwith knowledge. “It is not possible for power to be exercised withoutknowledge; it is impossible for knowledge not to engender power.” (Foucault125) Foucault employs the compound ‘ Power/Knowledge’ to emphasizethe way the systems of classifications were formulated from a Westernperspective, with Western interests at the core. This process of productionof knowledge took place by excluding the other equally valid forms ofknowledge among the natives. So knowledge and access to knowledgebecome sources of power because one acquires agency through it. Denialof access to this structure consciously or otherwise denies individuals theiragency and therefore they are relegated to the margins of the powerstructure.

When Drona tactfully succeeded in becoming the guru of the Kurus,his ambition was primarily materialistic. He was also looking for anopportunity to take revenge on his childhood friend Drupada who humiliatedhim. Drona’s partiality to Arjuna and his loyalty to the Kuru dynasty madeDrona turn down Karna’s request to accept him as disciple. Karna alreadycarries the burden of his earlier Guru, Parasurama’s curse who cursed himfor lying that he was a Brahmana. If it was the lie that infuriated Parasurama,Drona was more affected by the fact that Karna was a Sootha, acharioteer’s son. He could not be seen at par with princes and Drona didnot want to stoop down to the level of teaching him. Here, the teachermonopolises knowledge and reserves the freedom to offer or deny itaccording to his preferences. The guru’s position as the repository ofknowledge is easily turned into an exercise of power. When he deniesknowledge to Karna, he is not only denying Karna the recourse to powerbut also his agency. Thus Drona becomes an active and wilful perpetratorof the system of power.

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social changes that came up around her , with the perspectives of thepeople – educated ones, elite groups, and the poor working class men andwomen who moved like satellite around her maternal house called Nalappat,and the servants in the Calcutta house- all with whom she associated herselfa lot , and many other factors.

Kamala grew up in close association with the poor and thedowntrodden, the deprived and the repressed, for she knew that they formedthe quintessence of life. In Chapter 2 of Ente Kadha she makes a verysincere revelation:

I cannot forget the servants who created the background of ourlife and functioned as the strong pillars of the stage of life. Theyused to sweep and clean the stage before each scene of thedrama started. The first servant who comes to my mind is oneChabilal who wore soiled clothes and had infected teeth. An oldwoman who wore western type chain with red stone, Tripurawho had worn out teeth, and Parukkutty who wore nose stud,Janaki who used to walk behind me wearing green skirt - I donot know behind which curtain they have all disappeared. (18-19)

The active creative life of Madhavikkutty begins roughly in the year1955 when her short story collection “Mathilukal” was published. She wroteprofusely and drew her material from all that she saw around her. Thisprolific writer, who wrote about the life around her and within her, throbbedwith her unabated enthusiasm and zest for life till her end. This is how sheherself comments about her style of writing:

The interest for life is the root cause behind one’s zeal forliterature. Life, which is seen reflected through imagination,appears more attractive sometimes, a trace of sunlight falling onsomebody’s face or the sudden bout of laughter from some corner– many things like that I store in my mind …. I examine thosethings while lying down for an afternoon siesta.Then some

to the guru. The second chapter of Manusmriti distinguishes between ateacher (acharya) and an instructor (upadhyaya) thus:

The twice-born man who initiates the pupil and teaches him theVeda together with the ritual texts and the secret texts is calledhis teacher. But a man who teaches one portion of the Veda oreven , again, the subsidiary texts of the Vedas, and does it tomake a living, is called the instructor. ( 31)

Manu has also prescribed a code of conduct for students to follow duringtheir stay in the gurukula which includes strict rules regarding prayer,discipline and behaviour. The shishya was required to take a vow of celibacyand was to devote himself completely to the service of his guru and thegurupatni (guru’s wife). These codes were perhaps formulated to assertthe value of education and to avoid trivializing its pursuit. The discipleslived a poor, uncomfortable life, begging for livelihood and the rules wereequally applicable to all the students; be them princes or paupers. Such alife, it was supposed, would prepare them to face their future livescourageously and honestly. But the tradition of gurukula itself is a repositoryof hegemonic ideas. It is both a producer and perpetrator of values of thedominant ideology. This ancient structure, as any other modern societalstructure, works its power by indirect means.

The Marxian thinker Louis Althusser believed that modern power isno longer forceful, omnipotent and excessive, but rather it is exercised bystealth. Instead of being regimented and directed, or even manipulated, it isincorporated in customs and institutions, persuading the commoner to acceptit obediently:

The individual is interpellated as a (free) subject in order that heshall submit freely to the commandments of the Subject, that is,in order that he shall (freely) accept his subjection, that is, inorder that he shall make the gestures and actions of his subjection‘all by himself., There are no subjects except by and for theirsubjection. (Lenin and Philosophy 169)

Seen in this way, the gurukula functioned like a modern religious institution,imposing stringent rules and norms to cleverly safeguard the guru’s authority.

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characters are born in that room. They tell me, “Write aboutme.” (10-11)

The beautiful childhood days when she used to listen eagerly to the storiestold by her grandmother, other adults and the servants of the household ,the thorough loyalty exhibited by the servants belonging to various castes, the unforgettable scent emanating from the wild plants and flowers ofNalappat, the dance of the eunuchs on the city streets, the weddingceremony of the dhobis in Calcutta, the pathetic faces of the deprivedpeople, the all sacrificing mother, the lovers who derive fulfillment in eachother’s company, the woman who is satisfied in her lesbian relationship –these are some of the memories ever fresh in Kamala’s mind.

In any part of the world we observe that people are organized in tosmall or large groups or units. Based on the number of members in thegroup we call them as nuclear families and extended families. Extendedfamilies where the husband, wife, children, grand parents, uncles, auntsand cousins live together were the norm in many places and this has beenreplaced by the small family system in urbanized areas. In Madhavikutty’sage, the families were joint and included a large number of kin, aged andwidowed and the like. Madhavikutty, in her memory works, uses manynumber of kinship terms, reflecting the importance those relations held inher life. The most striking factor regarding the kinship terminology presentedby the author is that it is embedded in the matrilineal family set up of thenair community of Kerala. In this family set up the rightful place wasassigned to the married women also.

Wardhaugh comments about the presentation of kinship terms inliterature thus:

[…], there is a considerable literature on kinship terminology,describing how people in various parts of the world refer torelatives by blood (or descent) and marriage. Kinship systemsarea universal feature of languages because kinship is so importantin social organization. Some systems are much richer than others


Sreedevi K. Menon

The longest epic in the world, the Mahabharatha eternally arousesresearch interest with its complexity of narration, the diversity in the issuesfeatured and the multitude of characters portrayed. The question whetherVeda Vyasa is a single author or a compiler of the narratives has neverdiminished the authority of the epic. Rather, it has raised the curiosity ofacademicians and scholars since the question helps to unveil the dialogicsof the discourse. The multiple narratives help to bring out the nuances andthe silences in the narrations and open plenty of corridors before theinquisitive reader to choose the path she prefers. The epic could be re-readfrom several perspectives to perceive the several voices and the ideologiesin the narratives. The main contention of this paper is to discuss the issuesof power latent in the Guru-Shishya relationships-that of Drona and hisfour disciples Arjuna, Ekalavya, Karna and Dhrishtadyumna. UsingAlthusser’s concept of interpellation, it is proposed to study how the dominantideology selects, individualizes and penetrates the subject and invites themsingularly into its complex. Once in, the subjects act as if they have freelychosen their particular mode of action. In reality, unknown to himself, thesubject is being masterly manipulated by the hegemony.

While the Mahabharatha tells the story of Pandavas and Kauravasin its main plot, its episodes are packed with a multitude of other stories. Itdepicts a rich, heterogeneous culture that gave emphasis to values such asvirtue, kinship and righteousness. The Mahabharatha is also a story ofrelationships- personal and social and one can find the exercise of powerand hegemony in them. The Vedic tradition has assigned great importance

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Works Cited

Ahmed Saleem. Beyond Veil and Holy War: Islamic Teachings andMuslim Practices with Biblical Comparisons. Honolulu: MovingPen, 2002. Print.

Ali, Monica. Brick Lane. New York: Scribner, 2003. Print.

Blunt, Alison, and Gillian Rose, eds. “Introduction: Women’s Colonial andPostcolonial Geographies.” Writing Women and Space: Colonialand Postcolonial Geographies. New York: Guilford, 1994. Print.

Jusswalla, Feroza. “South Asian Muslim Women Speak for their Rightsand Resistance.” South Asian Review 29.1 (2008): 131-155. Print.

Manjit Inder Singh, ed. Contemporary Diasporic Literature: WritingHistory, Culture, Self. Delhi: Pencraft International, 2007. Print.

Rao, Velcheru Narayana, David Shulman, and Sanjay Subrahmanyam.Textures of Time: Writing History in South India 1600-1800.New York: Other, 2003. Print.

Stanton, Elizabeth Cady. The Woman’s Bible. Boston: Northeastern UP,1993. Print.

Vijayasree, C. “Survival as an Ethic: South Asian Immigrant Women’sWriting.” In Diaspora: Theories, Histories, Texts. Ed. MakarandParanjape. New Delhi: Indialog, 2001. Print.


but all make use of such factors as sex, age, generation, bloodand marriage in their organization. (223)

Most of the kinship terms that Kamala repeatedly mentions are relationsthrough the mother. The author was closest to her ammamma (mother’smother). The young Kamala’s parents who lived in Calcutta had entrustedthe child to her grandmother who according to the prevailing custom, wasthe rightful custodian next to the mother. The father’s role was vague inthe matrilineal system as ammavan (mother’s brother or uncle) was thehead of the family. A man’s responsibilities were more towards his sistersand their children. But Kamala’s father, being educated and reformist bynature was not strictly tied down to customs. He himself took charge of hischildren’s upbringing; only when Calcutta turned riotous due to world warhe sent them to their mother’s house. Kamala narrates her experiences ofbeing a member of the matrilineal family set up in the following words:

In those days nair women were taken care of by their brothers. Soit was only natural that they loved and adored their brothers. The brothersinvariably expected such admiration and respect from the sisters. Thebrothers could not tolerate it if the sister loved her husband deeply. So itwas painful to the nair woman to see the husband and brother becomingenemies (Neermathalam 92). Such close relationships between membersof the extended family were a feature of the social life of Kerala and thiswas of the maternal line in the case of the nair community. The author’sfondness for her grandmother and other relatives are narrated quite vividlyin many works. She attributes her literary bent of mind to the familyatmosphere where she spent a good part of her childhood in which theuncle was the head of the family. Kamala’s uncle, a scholar and a knownliterary genius of the age invariably played a role in cultivating the creativebent of mind in the young girl.

In the introduction to Madhavikkuttiyude Kadhakal, Dr. RajeevKumar pays a glowing tribute to this great writerthus, “These stories arethe memorial of the age” (24). Spread in the innumerable number of pageswhich the author wrote, one comes across a wealth of information about

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woman- a sari: “”This is England. You can do whatever you like”” (BrickLane 369).

Nazneen’s sister Hasina strikes a parallel to Nazneen by narratingher experiences in Bangladesh fraught by the oppressing native patriarchalcommunity. The letters from Hasina serve a very good purpose instrengthening Nazneen’s self and identity as a Muslim woman.In this sense,the self –other relationship of Hasina-Nazneen in the form of letters proveto be very positive.Hasina is very hopeful that she can find happiness inspite of the restrictions imposed by her patriarchal society. Her search foridentity is externally focused, while that of Nazneen is internal. Hasinaresponds to her desires and passion, Nazneen does not. Contrary to therebellious Hasina, Nazneen is docile. The letters instigate Nazneen torespond to her inner aspirations. In other words,the letters glaringly showsthe gulf between her desires and reality.Nazneen is warned of the possiblenegative influences of her patriarchal society on herfemale self, and thussupports her in her final decision to stay back in Britain, her host country,the land which is likely to open up new possibilities for her as a woman.

Nazneen finally finds her identity in Britain, her host country. Shedoesn’t goback to Bangladesh, where her sister lives as an abused womanunder the pressure of her native patriarchal society. At the same time, shedecides to maintain her identity as a Muslim in the host country, whounderstands‘Hadith’, who believes in Allah-Allah who forgives even thesin of adultery, which under normal Islamic circ*mstances would bepunishable by stoning. Cultural right, for Nazneen, is the right for differencewithout being marginalized and stereotyped. Nazneen asserts her culturalrights and performativity whichto her means the ability to practice one’sown culture without criticism or judgment from outside that culture. Inshort, Monica Ali’s Brick Lane is about destiny and freedom, acceptanceand resistance, the hidden depths of strength that can be found in the mostunlikely of places.


family systems, religious practices, political movements, popular magazines,writers and other celebrities, art forms and many other facets of lifegenerally unnoticed and might fade from memory. Madhavikkutty hasimmortalized the social life of Kerala, spanning a period of more than seventyyears, not through matter of fact descriptions but in colourful terms and ahalo of imagination makes it all the more attractive reading.

Works Cited

Fishman, J.A. The Sociology of Language. Massachusetts: NewburyHouse, 1972. Print.

Haugen, Einar. “The Ecology of Language.” The Ecolinguistics Reader.London: Continuum, 2001. Print.

Madhavikkutty. Ente Kadha.Trichur: Current, 1973. Print.

---. Balyakaalasmaranakal. Kottayam: D.C., 1987. Print.

---. Neermathalam Poothakalam. Kottayam: D.C., 1993. Print.

---. Madhavikkuttiyude Kadhakal.10th ed. Kottayam: D.C., 2003. Print.

---. Varshangalku munpu.Thrissur: Current, 1989. Print.

Wardhaugh, Donald. An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. 3rd ed. Oxford:Blackwell, 1998. Print.

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English… they go around covered from head to toe, in their littlewalking prisons, and when someone calls to them in the streetsthey are upset. The society is racist. The society is all wrong.Everything should change for them. They don’t have to changeone thing. (Brick Lane 116-117)

Nazneen, however, does not consider herself to be bound or limited byMrs. Azad’s outlook. Nazneen wears traditional clothes, and follows thetenets of her religion fervently. She speaks her native language and doesnot wish to enter the English community. Her family and ethnic identityremain stable values for her. It is the gender biased oppressing notions ofher native patriarchal Muslim community that she resists. She approachesher immigrant status as a medium of resistance against this oppressionwhile asserting her identity as a Muslim. Her assimilation to the host countryis restricted by this benchmark.

Nazneen’s close friend Razia also positively influences her in voicingher self and identity. Razia quickly realizes the potential of her host country.She decides to live independently and she manages to do so. She is neverafter traditional ways of her native patriarchal Muslim community. Shelearns English. She even cuts her hair short and stops wearing a sari: “Shewas tired of taking little bird steps” (Brick Lane95). But, one can’t denythe negative aspects in this shift from the traditional roles. Even thoughRazia never wants to become an English woman, she loses her femininityin her attempts for assimilation with the host society. It is with the supportand fellowship of Razia that Nazneen finally succeeds in acquiring economicindependence and thereby assert her self and identity as a woman. Sheprojects to Nazneen the fact that the melting pot of multicultural Britain isa domain of endless possibilities for a woman in search of her voice, herself and identity. It even opens up the scope for upholding one’s culturalidentity. She makes this clear through a comment of her’s at the end of thenovel as Nazneen hesitates to perform her long cherished dream of ice-skating simply because she is in the traditional costume of a Bangladeshi




Every society has its own culture that distinguishes it from otherethnicities and this paper explores Stephen Gill’s short story “Kalpna inRaipur” to bring out how the society and the culture in which one lives ininfluences one even to the extent of altering one’s earlier way of life. Italso brings out how the attitude of an individual gets changed with respectto the new society and its culture she or he comes into contact resulting inthe new outlook towards the former one.

Stephen Gill is ‘a multiple award-winning’ Canadian poet whopropagates peace and harmony of existence through his writings. He hasauthored more than twenty books and they include poems, criticism, andnovels. He has also received many international awards and accolades.Further, he has also been bestowed with four honorary doctorates and hiswritings appeared in many parts of the world.

“Kalpna in Raipur” involves the love between a woman professorKalpna from India and Reghu, an Indian diaspora in Canada. Reghu believesin love whereas Kalpna believes in the theory of detachment. Though bornin India, Reghu’s perception of the country in which he was born has beenchanged since his migration to Canada. He no longer sees India as a placeof mental solace rather experiences it as a tourist spot that comforts himmonetarily: “He was excited to visit the Great Palace of India, a shoppingmall, because it was a pride of Delhi. It was an opportunity for Reghu tobuy books, a brief case, and a pair of leather shoes as well as to exchangehis money into local currency and to take a relaxed tour” (“Kalpna” N.pag).The view expressed by Reghu is the view shared by many foreigners who

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but admire it. In the sixth chapter, Nazneen tries on a pair of Chanu’strousers. She feels that there is no harm in it. Shahana resists her father’sdecision to return to Bangladesh, their homeland, and retain their patriarchalroots. She strongly opposes him and even tries to elope to avoid the plight.She finally succeeds by making her mother change her point of view.Shahanainstills in her mother, a sense of belonging to their host land, England. Shemakes Nazneen aware of the fact that a return to their home land will onlymake them more vulnerable victims of their patriarchal community. As thenovel ends, we find Shahana giving a chance for her mother to perform‘ice skating’, a long cherished dream of Nazneen. This flight is symbolic ofNazneen’s emancipation as a Muslim ‘émigré’ woman.

Karim, Nazneen’s lover, acts as a catalyst in Nazneen’s assertion ofher female diasporic self. Her extra-marital relationship with Karim, hermiddle-man in the garment business, opens up new vistas of personalfreedom and identity for Nazneen.She witnesses his organizationsawakening of the Muslim community in England. Karim teaches her moreabout Islam, and through this understanding elevates her status as a Muslim.This boosts her in asserting her identity as a Muslim woman in the multi-cultural scenario of post 9\11 British society. She begins to wear a headscarf.She attends his organization’s meetings to learn about the oppression of theMuslims in Palestine and in Egypt.

In the course of her immigrant life, Nazneen meets severalBangladeshi fellow immigrant women, whose impact on her emancipationis undeniable. One of them is Mrs.Azad. She is educated, speaks Englishfluently, and through her intercourse with the Western society, emancipatesherself from the traditional role of a Muslim woman compelled by herpatriarchal community. She does not conform herself to the stereotype of atraditional Bangladeshi Muslim woman, and ardently follows the Westernways of life. Mrs. Azad comments on the life of a typical immigrantBangladeshi Muslim woman:

Some women spend ten, twenty years here and they sit in thekitchen grinding spices all day and learn only two words of


visit India to achieve maximum comfort at minimum expenses. Further, hisattitude towards India testifies the impact of the Canadian (foreigner) viewof India on him.

The conflict between two dissimilar societies and their cultures isbrilliantly shown through the characterization of Reghu and Kalpna. Infact“In sociocultural research, the goal is to see how people interact with eachother” (“Sociocultural”). Right from the beginning of their meeting, onecan witness differences of opinion and dissimilarity of attitude betweenthem. Reghu met Kalpna for the first time in a conference at MeerutUniversity and he considers it a memorable moment in his life as he recallstheir first meeting even after several years thus:

Then he remembered being frustrated….Reghu believed thatwhen a person offers to help someone, especially without evenbeing asked, then that person should honor it, except in case ofan emergency. Kalpna could not imagine a foreigner with luggage.Though Reghu was born in India, it was a foreign land for him.Then her behavior at Kaligarh University was bizarre. (“Kalpna”N.pag.)

They become close friends during their stay at the university campus andReghu departs to Canada when the conference is over. However, theirfriendship continues in the form of e-mail and phone call. Inspite of theirbond of friendship, Reghu could not comprehend the real nature of Kalpnaand he always realizes that she tries to maintain distance though there is noexternal pressure.

The differences of opinion and attitude between them is not the onebetween a man and a woman rather it is societal and cultural differencesthat prevent them from understanding each other. “Perhaps the mostimportant form of social identity is one that links an individual to some largecollectivity such as nation, culture or ethnic group” (Berry 3). Kalpna livesin the society that cherishes conjugal ties whereas Reghu does not participatein it. She is married and feels bound to the relationship to her husbandthough she hates him for his ill-treatment of her and his intrusion into herprivacy. In this regard, Bentancourt opines, “Moreover, the relationship ofcultural elements to psychological phenomena can be directly assessed.

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Chanu’s inability to establish himself economically in the host land forceshim to change his decision. The dream of returning to his home land withhis family accelerates this decision. He wants his wife and daughters tofall under the regime of the patriarchal Muslim society. He fears that theirlong stay in the host society might open up new realms of personal freedomand identity, and thereby an emancipation of the self.

As the economic situation of the family grows worse, Nazneen isforced to work and support her family. Thus, by contributing to the familybudget, Nazneen’s sewing machine becomes a symbol of her emancipation.One finds a gradual shift in the traditional role of Nazneen as an immigrantwoman belonging to the patriarchal Bangladeshi Muslim community. Theinstitution of patriarchy is shattered.Thus, to quote C. Vijaysree: “Exile isviewed as an escape, an escape from the stranglehold of tradition, orthodoxyof religion and oppression of the societal systems of the land of theirbirth….An ever increasing number of women today are making the choiceto stay on in the West to realize their educational and professional ambitions”(In Diaspora: Theories, Histories, Texts 135). Nazneen’s mixture oftraditionalism and adaptability, of acceptance and restlessness, emerges asa quiet strength. She shrugs off her passivity at just the right moment.Slowly, she wakes up to the world beyond her flat, first acquiring a job,then a lover, and finally her own voice and identity. Everyday, life requirescourage and Nazneen struggles to make sense of home, family, Islamandeven adultery. The excitement lies in watching Nazneen’s new identityflower on the stony soil of multicultural British society. In fact, motherhoodis the primal agent of change.

Shahana, Nazneen’s eldest daughter, serves as Nazneen’s mouthpiecein questioning Chanu’s patriarchal Muslimness and his notions ofenlightenment evolved out of the British melting pot. Bibi, Nazneen’s seconddaughter is too young, and hence, assumes a more or less passive role,even though she supports her sister in her self assertion as much as shecan. As a second generation immigrant, Shahana nurtures acertaindegreeof independenceand personal freedom promoted by the host society. Shewears jeans, tries out the Western ways of life, and Nazneen cannot help

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Hence, it is possible to deal with the complexity of the concept andat the same time pursue an understanding of the role of culture inpsychology” (630). Further, Kalpna is conscious of the societal bond thatdemands upholding marriage ties and hence imposes restriction in herfriendship with Reghu. On the other hand, Reghu lacks the wisdom of suchsocietal practices and reveals his failure in understanding Kalpna thus:

Since we met, I have never seen you the same for more than afew days. You are as charming as is the full moon, and keepschanging as the moon does. When I discuss this changing aspectof your personality, you do not consider it worth discussing. Yousay you are constant in your love, though you take refuge in theview of perspective. When you do not find logic to admit a cover-up or a change in your attitude, you say you were not able tounderstand why you behaved that way. (“Kalpna” N.pag.)

To make Reghu understand her position, Kalpna reveals her familialconditions and the kind of society she lives in.

The day to day activities of India considered normal by the citizensof the country seem unusual to Reghu and it indicates the influence ofsociety and culture. According to Jameela Begum, “Exiled by choice orcirc*mstance, the immigrant finds himself displaced from his roots, hisantecedents, and his Centre. He sheds his monolithic national and regionalidentity and becomes a repository of dualities and multiplicities” (139). Reghuhas been trying to get information where he can charge his mobile phoneand he also expects an information booth to get information about where torecharge his mobile and to exchange his currency:

Someone directed him to the information bureau located in acorner that was almost empty. Shortly three or four boys arrived.She started answering everyone. There was no line and one whocould shout louder had his question answered. Reghu was stillthere and his questions were not answered because she wasattending everyone at the same time. It was unusual for Reghu.(“Kalpna” N.pag.)

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Brick Lane traces the evolution of Nazneen from her role as adomesticated wife and a mother without any ambitions, to a powerful,modern, independent woman, with a strong sense of self and identity, and,who still considers herself to be a member of her ethnic traditional Muslimcommunity. Occupying an immigrant status in the multicultural scenario ofBritainas a woman belonging to the Muslim community, she asserts herunique voice. Right from the beginning, the course of Nazneen’s life is leftto the choice of her patriarchal Muslim community. As a victim, she acceptsunquestioningly, her father’s choice of a husband with many disparities,and embraces an immigrant life which she finds baffling. To Nazneen, lifein England is different form the one she knows in her home country. Thesmall flat the couple occupies is small and cramp, and lives are trapped inthe tiny and closely knit flats where there is hardly enough space to moveabout. To Nazneen, a girl form the village where space is never an issue,the contrast between the confined space of the flat and vastness of thevillage is very startling. She experiences a sense of confinement. Physicalconfinement leads to mental confinement.This creates an issue of identity.

Chanu, Nazneen’s husband acts as the next agent of the patriarchalMuslim societywhich victimizes her. Even though he claims himself to be ascholar with liberal views inspired by European enlightenment, he is ingrainedin the conservative views of the patriarchal Muslim community. He is self-centered, and Nazneen is forced to cater to his needs and demands. As avictim of her native male chauvinistic patriarchal community, Nazneenreligiously satisfies her husband. In spite of his claims of being open mindedand educated, he utilizes her callously: “He thought she was a “good worker”(she had overheard him on the telephone). “She is an unspoilt girl. Fromthe village.”… Cleaning and cooking and all that. The only complaint Icould make is she can’t put my files in order, because she has no English”(Brick Lane 14-15).When Nazneen expresses her wish to go for workwith Razia,Chanu does not agree. It is traditionally believed that womenoccupy the private domestic sphere while men occupy the public socialone. Alison Blunt and Gillian Rose argue, “space is central both to masculinistpower and to feminist resistance” (Writing Women and Space 1). However,


Irritated by the response of the receptionist, Reghu realized that he did notcome to the mall to spend the entire evening at the information booth andhe left the place. As “Reghu had spent most of his life abroad and thereforeat times it became difficult for him to understand India even though heappeared to be from India and spoke the language” (“Kalpna” N.pag.).His last visit to India had been about two and a half years ago and he hadnot visited it in about twenty years. His perception of India got changedover the years and his opinion of Indian taxi drivers illustrates it thus, “Hehad heard that taxi drivers cheated visitors from abroad. He decided tospeak in Punjabi, a language he seldom spoke in Canada, but still spokewith confidence. He also avoided using words such as “OK”, “Bye”, and“Ya” to avoid being detected as from North America” (“Kalpna” N.pag.).All these incidents exemplify how the adopted culture has changed hisperception towards India and the whole incident is an instance of thefunctioning of Indian system and it demands immediate redressal too.

Reghu’s insight into the shortcomings of Indian system is noteworthyas it holds scope for the transformation and learning that take place duringthe encounter of dissimilar cultures. In this regard, Chiang believes:

The resistance and acceptance of global ideology leads to a moreunified world culture, but at the same time it also produces afragmented cultural hybridity of a local culture.

This international flow of products and capital has resulted in theproliferation of national or regional identity (34). There is a tendency in thepeople of any country to hail the amenities of foreign land at the cost oftheir own and in this story Reghu reveals the situation through his experienceat a book shop thus:

Reghu told him that he wanted to buy a directory of the newsmedia, as well as, for universities and colleges. The young maninformed Reghu that they had some directories about the UnitedStates, but nothing about India. So Reghu settled for a dictionary.The cashier did not accept his credit card for less than a purchaseof 300 rupees. He came back to the reference section and boughtone more book though he did not need it. (“Kalpna” N.pag.)

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Brick Lane is the story of Nazneen, a simple, religious, BangladeshiMuslim village girl, and married off to a much older man, Chanu, whotransplants her to a dismal housing project in the borough of Tower Hamletsin the East End of London. Nazneen’s only connection with the mothercountry is through the letters from Hasina, her ill-starred younger sister,who as a rule lives a life of passion, lest she burns out. For years, Nazneenlimits her self to domestic affairs as a house wife and a mother. But, herimmigrant experiences transform her. We see Nazneen transformed byher sedentary years in the moment that she finally questions her right tochange. As her daughters Shahana and Bibi rail against their father’s stricttraditions perpetuated by the native patriarchal community, Nazneen secretlyrails with them. She falls in love with a young man in the neighborhood,Karim, allowing herself, a life of passion.He is a contrast to her husband,who believes in European enlightenment, and at the same time, as ahypocrite, strictly follows the orthodox tenets of the patriarchal Muslimcommunity. Karim awakens Nazneen’s consciousness. As a secondgeneration immigrant, he gives her a sense of self and identity through hisorganization’s efforts for awakening the Muslim community in Britain, andby cultivating in her a sense of belongingness to the host land. Along withKarim, her fellow Bangladeshi immigrant Muslim women also contributeto her assertion of self and identity, and there by a voice of her own. Themost prominent among them are Razia and Mrs. Azad, wife of her husbandChanu’s friend Dr. Azad. Nazneen sister Hasina strikes a parallel to thisassertion of voice through her personal experiences in the home landportrayed through her letters.The Muslim women characters in the novelgo through a chaotic period during which they question both their Muslimvalues and the values of the Western society. By contrasting themselveswith the “others” of the host society, they ultimately define themselves asMuslims, reacting against the cultural injustices or violence that theydisapprove of. They are also shown to criticize those aspects of Muslimculture and religion which oppresses them, and yet defend their right tofunction within it. One cannot ignore the double shades of their resistancewhichrun parallel to each other.


Though Reghu has no idea of buying a dictionary he is forced to buy it andthe pity is that he is made to buy one more book as the shop accepts creditcard only for a purchase of three hundred rupees and more. Infact, theexperience of Reghu is the collective experience of foreign tourists whoare made to experience the unsound practices. The situation in India aspointed by Reghu needs to be addressed and the learning is the result ofReghu’s adopted culture.

Reghu’s suggestion to transform the existing systems of India iscommendable. He believes, “Tourism is a productive industry these days.We learn from each other through exchanges. Indians do not need to goabroad to learn. India should do something to attract foreign exchange andlearn through visitors” (“Kalpna” N.pag.). Though India has startedattracting tourists from all over the world, thanks to the efforts taken by thedepartment of tourism, still there is a string of maladies that are to beaddressed and it needs the collaboration of foreign delegates. As a personwho has experienced the advantages of a foreign culture, Reghu couldassess the lack of quality in Indian bureaucracy and points out:

The main source of this suffering is the electoral ethics. Presently,India has more or less the democracy of the elite. To change thiselitism, it is necessary to eliminate the law-makers who exploittheir caste, religion or language to come to power. The electorateshould elect those who are the best for the job. They should readthe pages of their past to know if they had been involved withcorruption. (“Kalpna” N.pag.)

Further, he accentuates the fact that the gap between the rich and the poorshould be filled to make India achieve peace and prosperity:

There cannot be peace and prosperity unless there are justices.The political representatives are obliged to speak for the Divineauthority that is just in the distribution of His gifts to rich andpoor, sinner and sinless, black and white, old and young, male andfemale and the list can go on and on. The political shepherds areelected with the votes of every citizen. They ought to representthem without discrimination. (“Kalpna” N.pag.)

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a gendered nature.She is exposed to a different set of values in the hostsociety which she finds quite beneficial for her liberation from the patriarchalsociety, and she becomes aware of the possibilities of assimilating them toher self in her struggle for liberation.

The consequent inward turns is an essential outcome whenindependence and separation from dominant hegemonic culture is sort out.If we conduct a journey through sub- continental women writing, it willbecome evident that the practices of cultural rights and independence forwomen have always been shaped by oppositions and conflicting interests.In spite of their allegiance to their cultural roots, Muslim women are notready to forsake their right to live their own lives. This explains their tendencyfor assimilation within a diasporic community. Their natural human urgesand needs like equality, dignity and personal freedom along with innateindividual desire for love and affection and social and financial security areoften denied to them. They are aware of their status asunderprivilegedindividuals struggling under discrimination, exploitation andhumiliation. This accounts for their resistance against the injustices of theirown patriarchal community.

Muslim women writers in South Asia in the last century have assertedtheir freedom by speaking out against injustices in their own patriarchalcommunities. Yet, they seem to assert their allegiance to their cultural rootsindiasporic situation. An understanding of this paradox is essential to anunderstanding of the current global situation of Muslim women’s rights.Adouble - voiced discourse such as Monica Ali’s Brick Lanewill make thisparadox clear. Itis the story of Nazneen, a Bangla womanwho comes toEngland after her marriage to Chanu, an academic who dreams of success.She is a woman searching for a place to belong in the cross-culturalcommunity of British Muslims, and thereby assert her self and identity.Sheis a complex woman who turns inward to Islam while also criticizing itsoutward manifestations which restricts the individual freedom and identityof the female self.


The knowledge of the shortcomings of Indian bureaucracy is due to theexperience Reghu has gained in Canadian bureaucracy and it declares thenecessity of dissimilar culture.

It is society and its culture that moulds people’s outlook towardshuman life. The theory of detachment which Kalpna practices in India isperceived differently by Reghu as he belongs to a foreign land. Kalpnarelies on the principles of detachment that necessitates the disassociationfrom natural desires whereas Reghu believes that detachment meanssomething else:

Reghu believed that the detachment on which Kalpna hadpracticed was in the citizens’ routines to dissociate them fromnatural desires and to alienate them from life. Kalpna’s meditationfor detachment had clouded the rose-colored glasses of Reghu’sthinking. (“Kalpna” N.pag.).

Reghu realizes detachment as a form of cooperation among people and itfocuses on inclusion, “To him, detachment was a self-centered practice.The India Palace itself was the result of cooperation among people withdifferent skills and concerns. It was the manifestation of cooperation inaction, not detachment” (“Kalpna” N.pag). He does not approve the theoryof detachment practiced by Kalpna and believes that she is wasting her lifeand going against the purpose of human life by isolating herself from love.According to him, “Love and detachment are incompatible because oneleads to the region of concerns and the other to the cave of aloofness andwithdrawal from that region. Even if detachment becomes active, it remainsan inward-looking eye. It does not produce real emotions, as love does”(“Kalpna” N.pag). He opines that the purpose of any creation is to admirethe beauty around it and to extol the principle of oneness. Further, he urgesKalpna to shun away her unfruitful detachment as it distances her from theunderstanding of God’s creation. Moreover, Reghu avers:

Indian philosophy is for love. Brahma did not create humans toclose their eyes to the beauties around them. The sun, air, waterand the earth are free for humans to use for their benefit, not torun away from them. Brahma loves humans through His giftsand humans must accept these gifts. If there is problem, it is best

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Braziel and Anita Mannur puts it: “diaspora can perhaps be seen as anaming of the other which has historically referred to displaced communitiesof people who have been dislocated from their native homeland throughthe movements of migration, immigration, or exile” (Theorizing Diaspora1). Migrant South Asian women have long carved out their niches amongthe conflicting multicultural scenario of their host countries. The interest ofthisarticle lies in analyzing how these paths are carved out anew in today’smixing and merging of cultures with special emphasis on Monica Ali’s BrickLane.

With the advent of the twentieth century, the increased opportunitiesfor women in South Asia have paved the way for Muslim women to indulgethemselves in writing about their rights both to function as Muslim womenand to become liberated within the tenets of Islam. In their writings, onefinds a preoccupation with their place in society, their desire to retain certaincultural practices, and their rights to speak out against injustices both withinthe community and without. The article brings into focus the dichotomy orparadox of the South Asian Muslim woman who wants to assert her Muslimidentity, yet longs to be liberated from certain oppressive cultural practices.

Marginalized generations are always in a search for a sense of selfand identity. This is equally true of Muslim ‘émigré’ women who seekways to assert their self and identity. Their struggle for self-assertion impliesa solid footing in the host society, free from the suffocating tenets of theirpatriarchal Muslim community along with their right for culturalperformativity. This struggle entails both resistance and assimilation. A shiftin one’s location and a change in locational status necessitate the SouthAsian Muslim ‘émigré’ woman, a member of the minority community,conscious of her marginalized ethnic identity in the host land. She goes fora gesture of resistance towardsacculturation demanded by the need forsurvival in a foreign land. This resistance is propelled by a desire to asserther cultural roots. This culminates in a Western essentializing of the ‘other’,and a consequent perpetration of fear based on the ‘othering’. An immigrantwoman is made conscious of her difference in terms of color, race, andgender. Belonging to a patriarchal community, her identity politics assumes

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to ask Him to give them energy and wisdom to solve it. Withoutlove, a human is blind. (“Kalpna” N.pag.)

Though Reghu’s understanding of detachment differs drastically from thatof Kalpna due to the cultural differences, it throws light on its impact oncorruption.

Reghu’s account of corruption in India and its aggravation bydetachment is though-provoking and a reliable one. He believes thatcorruption in India becomes rampant as the people practice detachmentand do not bother about the malaise. He also believes, “Theories ofdetachment and the previous births had seeped into the psyches of themasses….It is detachment, soaked into the subconscious of the citizensthat allows corruption to flourish. India has everything, except the will toleave the dungeon of these theories” (“Kalpna” N.pag). The legacy ofdetachment continues even in human relationship and hence care shouldbe taken to perceive it in true light. Reghu’s account of Kalpna’s detachmentas the cause of the conflict in their relationship reveals the impact ofdetachment on humans’ behavior. Reghu points out that Kalpna’s detachmentdoes not allow her to plan anything on her own and it makes her fail tohonour the suggestions proposed by Reghu which she herself has acceptedheartily earlier. Kalpna considers these failures just from the point ofperspective whereas Reghu takes them as insulting gestures which signifya lack of sincerity. Further, Reghu gets often confused how a highly educatedprofessor like Kalpna could be so thoughtless. Further, at times, he feelsthat he could not understand India because he has been away for manyyears. He also thinks that Canadian girls are more straightforward andthere is no difficulty in understanding them. Moreover, Reghu started askingother Diaspora, as well as the whites to understand Kalpna better.

Thus, this paper has fulfilled its socio-cultural study of the short storyand has brought out the conflict between two dissimilar societies and theircultures, differences of opinion and attitude as a result of societal and culturaldifferences, perception of normal as unusual, shortcomings of existing Indiansystems and their transformation, impact of society and its culture on theoutlook towards human life, and the perception of detachment and itsinfluence on humans.

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Krishna Prabha K.

There is a vast controversy in the post – 9\11 western world regardingMuslims in general and Muslim women’s rights in particular. The alreadyexisting curiosity and animosity centered on the Muslims seems to haveheightened with the bombing of the twin towers. It underscored the West’sxenophobia toward the Muslim world and vice versa. As the politics ofrace intensify, many racial, religious and cultural groups are seen to turninward for a sense of identity. In a global scenario, the Muslim diaspora arealways searching for a way to belong to the larger social fabric.

The issues that Muslim women face today range from issues likewhether to veil or to segregate, whether to agree to arranged marriages,whether to speak out against their religion and its mullahs\imams and theirinterpretations of their laws, and whether to speak out against the violenceperpetrated in the name of religion by their religious brothers. The Muslimwomen do take pride in cultural Islamic ways. At the same time, they resistcertain practices and speak out against their wrongs. They are denied theircultural right to their own religion from within their Muslim community,which regards them as apostates, and from without because the West hasits own misconceptions. In an opposite dimension, Muslim women seem toassert their rights to their identity by gestures considered oppressive by thewest, such as wearing the headscarf or veil. This issue has gained particularnotice in the current transnational, diasporic, globalised world.

The term ‘diaspora’ is derived from the Greek term ‘diasperien’,from ‘dia’-‘across’ and ‘-sperien’, ‘to sow or scatter seeds’. As Jana Evans


Works Cited

Begum, J. “Locating the Exile’s culture: Shyam Selvadurai’s Funny Boy.”Writers of the Indian Diaspora: Theory and Practice. Ed. JasbirJain. Jaipur: Rawat, 2007. Print.

Berry, J.W. “Aboriginal Cultural Identity.” The Canadian Journal of NativeStudies 19. 1 (1999): 1-36. Print.

Betancourt, H, and Steven R. L. “The Study of Culture, Ethnicity, andRace in American Psychology.” American Psychologist 48.6 (1993):629-637. Print.

Chiang, C. “Diasporic Theorizing Paradigm on Cultural Identity.”Intercultural Communication Studies 19.1 (2010): 29-46. Print.

Gill,S. “Kalpna in Raipur.” n.d.Web. 24 July 2014.

“Sociocultural.” n.d.Web. 12 August 2014.

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troops but at what cost? Does three decades of war and turmoil inAfghanistan have come to an end? In all walks of public life, the status ofwomen in Afghanistan today is still under threat. According to the IntegratedRegional Information Network of the UN, the condition of women is stillpathetic with illiteracy, low life expectancy, forced marriages, poor medicalcare and subjection to physical, psychological, or sexual violence. Thequestion still remains-the reasons for the backwardness of this rustic land-and the causes can be varied and many. This is open for many discussionsas there can be myriad of explanations.

Works Cited

Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and CultureTheory. New Delhi: Viva, 2010. Print.

Eagleton, Terry. Literary Theory: An Introduction. UK: Blackwell,2008.Print.

Hosseini, Khaled. A Thousand Splendid Suns. UK: Bloomsbury,2007.Print.

Nayar,Pramod. Contemporary Literary and Cultural Theory. New Delhi:Dorling Kindersley,2011.Print.

Storey, John. Cultural Studies and the Study of Popular Culture.UK:Edinburgh UP, 1996. Print.



Nithya Mariam John

Lelan Ryken, in How to Read Bible as Literature opines that aliterary approach to Bible shows a concern for the literary genres of theBible (11). There is an inclination to use literary terms to evaluate the texts,“…an appreciation for the artistry of the Bible, a sensitivity to theexperiential, extra-intellectual (more than ideational) dimension of the Bible”(11). It means that to appreciate Bible as literature we must be sensitive tothe physical and experiential qualities of a passage and avoid reducingevery passage in the Bible, to a set of abstract themes.

The human beings’ relation to God is described metaphoricallybecause it deals with that which is not evident to the visible eyes and mustdescribe the unknown in terms of the known. Metaphorical rendering ofsuch a relationship gives literary dimension to the text. Thus, God’s peopleare addressed in the Bible as his adopted sons or children, his bride, kingdomof priests, holy nation, peculiar treasure, servants, jewels, witnesses, noblevine, pleasant planting, fruitful trees, and so on. The church in the NewTestament is called the New Jerusalem, the bride of Christ, the Israel ofGod, the body of Christ, God’s temple, building, field, his covenant people,new creation, or colony of heaven. Church members are pilgrims, aliens,exiles, strangers on the earth, slaves of righteousness or of Christ, heirs,fools for Christ, citizens of heaven, or ministers of reconciliation. Christhimself is their righteousness, sanctification, redemption, first fruit, covenant,temple, high priest, sacrifice, word, or wisdom and power of God. He iscalled priest after the order of Melchizedek, man of heaven, Son of God,

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shows the bleak side of submissiveness. But at the same time the spirit inthese women are not dead; it is burning, ready to burst any time.

The story of Tariq is ridden with hardships, drugs, prison life andinfinite love to Laila.Meanwhile the fire lurking in the two women burstsout when Rasheed tries to kill them.It is clear now that Rasheed alwaysknew that Aziza was Tariq’s daughter, but had married Laila in lust and ahope of a son. He becomes mad with anger when he learns about Tariq’sreturn and in the ensuing struggle; Mariam had to finish him off in self-defence. This is where we can read into the actions of the two women.Are they really submissive or are they subjugated by the ‘rules’ imposedby the Taliban and nurtured by the men? The willingness and calmacceptance of death penalty by Mariam shows the true mettle of Afghanwomen. Even during the trial the difference in attitude of the jury is clearlysketched. The stereotypical image of an arrogant, authoritative andchauvinistic Afghan is broken through the behavior of the middle-aged judge.

The last section deals with the happy family life of Tariq and Leila,settled in Pakisthan. However, Leila wants to go to Kabul, after the coalitionforces had driven Taliban out of every major city. ISAF, an internationalpeace keeping force has been sent to Kabul.Hamid Karzi, backed by theUS was the interim President. In the brief lull following the fall of theTaliban regime, propaganda concerning women’s rights and generalemancipation surrounded the 2001 US invasion of Afganisthan.Hossenimakes only a few disjointed efforts to depict the social and political realityduring those years. In the first years of the US-installed Karzai regime,there is no much change from the Communist or Taliban regime. It angeredLaila that the same incidents are happening again, “It slays Leila that thewarlords have been allowed back to Kabul….Laila has moved on. Becausein the end she knows that’s all she can do. That and hope” (398-399). Theuncertainty over their future, under US occupation is resolved by theprotagonists by concluding that there is really nothing they can do to affectthe future of Afghanistan, but wait and hope for a better future. Hosseniends the novel in April 2003, just months before large parts of Afghanistanerupted in counter-occupation insurgency. It has ended with the exit of US


servant, last Adam, Son of man, Messiah, and Lord. The above biblicalmetaphors prove that biblical language abounds in literary images, whichitself proves the literary quality of Bible.

In “Teaching the Bible as Literature,” R .W. French opines that thesimplicity of Biblical language arises from the fact that it was meant to bea book for all. He says, “… the Bible is particularly receptive to literarystudy, and to the development of analytical skills and techniques, for at itsfrequent best it is characterized by exceptional brevity and simplicity” (798).He continues that such simplicity does not mean that Bible is written as abook with a single viewpoint; but it is “an extraordinarily varied collectionof writings composed over a period of more than a thousand years, with allthe wide range of theme, attitude and literary mode that would be expectedfrom so prolonged a development” (French 799). The writers of Bible didnot jot down their works so as to form part of a larger text called “Bible”.When they wrote, they just penned down “…independent histories,biographies, myths, legends, lyric poems, short stories, proverbs and otherforms of literature, and they did their writing isolated from each other intime and space” (French 801). This can be proved with a cursory glanceat the compilation of the books of the New Testament. Initially, the booksof the New Testament were written to address specific situations of specificreaders. They were espoused on cheap papyri rather than the parchmentused for Torah scrolls. Then the codex-the precursor of the book- enabledthe cheap and convenient distribution of writings. The earliest form ofcommunication took the form of letters which flourished due to excellentsystem of roads and multiple courier services. Senators, philosophers andarcheologists carried on extensive correspondence. This form soon assumedan important place in the New Testament as the epistolary discourse. StPaul’s letters to different churches and people can be considered asexamples. Some of them are co-written; in some he uses secretaries topen down his thoughts and in others there are literary traces of Greco-Roman and Jewish study activities that are carried out by teachers andstudents. He uses the conventions of ancient rhetoric, hymns, sayings ofJesus, with which the letters assume a literary shape. Another example is

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John Storey, in his Cultural Studies and the Study of PopularCulture explains:

Authors may have intentions, and texts certainly have materialstructures, but meaning is not something inherent in a text (anunchanging essence); meaning is always something a personmakes when he or she reads a text. Moreover Gadamer is adamantthat texts and readers always encounter each other in historicaland social locations and that the situatedness of this encounteralways informs the interaction between reader and text. I n thisway, he contends, a text is always read with preconceptions orprejudices; it is never encountered in a state of virginal purity,untouched by the knowledge with which, or the context in whichit is read. (47-48)

When we read A Thousand Splendid Suns, it is not without any withoutany preconceptions or prejudices. The war –savaged Afghanistan is almosta symbol of subjugated race, religious fundamentalism and terrorist activitiesIt is with these prejudices that a reader tries to read between the lines. Butas Gadamer expounds:

The discovery of true meaning of a text or a work of art is neverfinished; it is in fact a infinite process. Not only are fresh sourcesof error constantly excluded, so that the true meaning has filteredout of it all kinds of things that obscure it, but there emergecontinually new sources of understanding, which revealunsuspected elements of meaning. (49)

In short, the encounter between the text and the reader is always a fusionof different historical horizons and they are always historically situated.

In many incidents in the novel, we can read into and the text comesinto life. “It is the reader;” according to Wolfgang Iser “who brings the textto life, and thus brings the work into existence. Therefore it is in the act ofreading that meaning is realized” (50). The instances where Aziza is left inthe orphanage and beatings Laila had to suffer to visit her own daughter


the narrative form used in the four gospels which trace the stories of Jesus.The wide persecution of minority Christians led to the written records oflife of Jesus, which was aimed at preserving the oral stories of the greatteacher or Messiah. Revelation is a visionary narrative which records thedream-like experience of John. Thus the letters, narratives and theapocalyptic form the New Testament, which is indebted to the literary andrhetorical conventions of their age. They also show how such conventionswere re-shaped and why they were used so as to preserve biblical literature.Such literature emerges from diverse circ*mstances in communities acrossthe Mediterranean in the second half of the first century, and they reflectthe diversity in their literary forms and religious perspectives.

Jeannine K. Brown, in “Genre Criticism and the Bible” says that thefluidity of genres of biblical texts call interpreters to a more flexibleunderstanding of genres (142). What is more useful is to consider the genreof the text in relation to other generic similarities. Ultimately genres musthelp in identifying the different reading strategies possible, and this is wheregenre classification plays an important role in biblical studies, according toBrown (147). The examples given below relate how biblical genres havebeen analysed by literary critics and were found to be epitomes of literature.

Tod Linafelt, in “The Pentateuch” says, “Biblical narrative [especiallyin the first five books of Bible] works with a very limited vocabulary, and itoften repeats a word several times than resorting to synonyms” (214). Forexample in Gen.32.21, the word “face” is repeated several times, withoutusing another synonym. Another feature of biblical narrative is its economyof linguistic descriptions. The physical descriptions, inner lives, thoughtsand motivations of the characters are sparsely described by the author.This terseness and scarcity of depiction, gives ample scope for multiplereadings. For example, Lev.10.2 says that Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron,were consumed by fire when they did something unpleasing to the Lord.Aaron’s response to the death of his sons is a single phrase: “And Aaronwas silent”(215). Linafelt says that this small phrase can mean Aaron’spure shock at what had happened, or his overwhelming sadness or hisanger at God or his confusion as to what to do next.

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try this again and I will find you…And when I do, there isn’t a court in thisgodforsaken country that will hold me accountable for what I will do”(265). Rasheed’s words are the representation of the social structure againstthe women during the reign of Mujahideen.

On September 27, 1996 when Taliban lead by Mullah Omar, leaderof the faithful, took over Afghanistan, many people rejoiced. The instructionsissued by Taliban came as a shock to the women, like Laila and Mariam,but is wholeheartedly accepted by men, like Rasheed, who had actuallybeen doing the same for last many years. The crippling realization “that inthe eyes of the Taliban, being a communist and the leader of the dreadedKHAD made Najibullah only slightly more contemptible than a woman”renders the women speechless (272). Entertainment like cinema and songswere banned. The university was shut down and its students sent home.The Kabul museum was smashed to pieces, paintings ripped from walls;books except the Korean were burned in heaps, sookstores closed down.Television and radio were forbidden and destroyed. Men were draggedfrom the streets, accused of skipping namaz and shoved in to mosques.But “Rasheed regarded the Taliban with a forgiving and affectionate kindof amusem*nt” (274). It was the common attitude of men as all the rulesand regulations were beneficial for them. He could even give away hisdaughter and wife and no one would be against him. The issue of health,especially for women is apparent in the novel.Laila had to undergo a cesareanwithout anesthesia and even the lady doctor had to wear a burqua duringthe operation. But it was the way she accepted it that sets our mind working.The thought that it could have been worse, makes a woman accept thisterrible lot. Zalami, Rasheed’s son, though only two years, shows the malesuperiority in his actions, when his father is present.Rasheed has become adevoted father and “his patience with Zalami was a well that ran deep andnever dried” (289). However in the case of Aziza, he wants her to be astreet beggar. The justification is that, “Everyone in Kabul is doing thesame” (291). This points out the condition of the people during the droughtin Kabul in 2000.


In “Psalms”, Alastair Hunter says that the one hundred and fiftyPsalms have been an inspiration to many poets including Sidney and Hopkins(251). Individual phrases were borrowed into common usage through theBook of Common Prayer (Hunter 249). Apart from the wide array ofmetaphors and similes employed to describe God, intertextuality is the majorquality of Psalms. A good example is the wayPs.8 toys with the creationaccount in Gen.1and2.

J.Cheryl Exum, in her “Song of Songs” opines that The Song ofSongs is the most lyrical poetry in Bible with “rich, sonorous, sensuousvocabulary”, dense metaphorical language, imagery which offers “flightsof fancy” and freedom from poetical conventions (259). The lover conjuresthe image of his beloved through language, “by describing her bit by bit indensely metaphorical language, until she materializes, clothed in metaphor”(Exum 261). Kirsten Nielsen in her “Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job” drawsthe four major features of Old Testament imagery:

1. Imagery acts as a specific context by an interaction betweentwo different statements.

2. Information can be derived from imagery in the form of newproposals for understanding reality (informative function)

3. The object of imagery is to involve the audience in such away that by entering into the interpretation they take it overas their own perception of reality (performative function)

4. Imagery can be reused in another context, with the possibilityof new interpretation and new evaluation of the informativeand performative function respectively (276).

A perfect example is the image of Wisdom, in Proverbs. 7; it is of awoman who asks young men to come to her instead of being lured byanother woman “dressed like a prostitute”, who refers to foolishness .Theseimages according to Nielsen “speaks volumes – much more than the baldstatement simply that wisdom is good” ( 278).

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was ‘charitable enough’ to marry Laila, a fourteen year old girl,young enoughto be his daughter. To avoid social disgrace, - as she was pregnant withTariq’s child-and in search of protection -she falsely believed that Tariqwas dead-she too agrees to the marriage. The beauty of the narrative isthe way Rasheed gives out the justification for marrying for the secondtime. When Miriam protested that she was too old to suffer this, he answerswithout any remorse. “It’s a common and you know it. I have friends whohave two, three, four wives” (208). The life of Afghan women underTaliban regime is developed through the lives of main characters. It laysbare the precarious existence of young people, especially the horrendouscondition of women. Mariam’s life depicts the role of social political scenarioon the life of Afghan women who are victimized from all sides .Laila, inspite of a happy childhood suffers the same fate of Mariam. Even beforethe Taliban regime women were treated as dirt and it is clearly depictedthrough Rasheed’s treatment of his women.Hosseini, through Rasheedsketch the hypocrisy of the males in Afghanistan. A woman’s value inAfghan society has often been measured by her ability to bear children,specifically boys.Mariam was abused by her husband throughout her lifebecause she unable to give him a child. Later on Laila was also abused byRasheed because she gave him a baby girl as her first child. Rasheed, atypical chauvinistic male could not love Aziza and his sexual cravings haveno bounds even with new-born baby. He even blames Mariam for Laila’swithdrawal and when he starts physically abusing Mariam, it was Lailawho pleads with him to put a stop to it. It is the common suffering thatbrings about the friendship between Mariam and Laila.

The Supreme Court under Rabbani passed rulings based on Shari’a,strict Islamic laws that ordered women to cover, forbade their travel withouta male relative, punished adultery with stoning. The pitiful incident whenMariam, Laila and Aziza try to run away from the abusive Rasheed is aneye opener. The way the officer deals with this is pathetically funny. “Whata man does in his home is his business” (260). The women are cruellybeaten and confined on their return ‘home’, and when their husband releasesthem, starving and broken, they and he know the truth of his words, “You


In “Prophetic Literature”, Yvonne Sherwood opines that propheticl*terature is marked by metaphysical conceits, which gives ambiguousmeanings and undo language (303). The four gospels are narratives markedby plot, characterization, setting, which continuously use literary deviceslike irony, symbolism, metaphor, parables and most markedly intertextuality.Visionary literature in Bible demands our imagination to picture a worldbeyond reality. Lelan Ryken says, “It is a world where a river can overflowa nation (Isa.8.5-8), where a branch can build a temple (Zech.6.12) and aram’s horn can grow to the sky and knock stars to ground (Dan.8.9-10)”(169). Such images break through our normal way of seeing things, andshock our senses with the forces of nature suddenly becoming the actorsin the scenes.

Apart from the consideration of genres, a broad overview ofcharacter, setting, plot, atmosphere and dialogue give us novel ideas onBible as literature. The writers of Bible were also creative writers whotook pleasure in exploring the formal and imaginative resources of theirfictional medium. Many biblical narratives have a similar, recurrent pattern.For example, Jacob, Isaac and Moses have their brides associated with thewater and wells, and the stories follow recurrent images of a woman orwomen drawing water from well, meeting a stranger, running to their houseto deliver the news and later the stranger is invited for a sumptuous meal.Such a recurrent pattern affirms a unity of narration in a text written bydifferent writers. Dialogue is a serious literary weapon used by the writersof Bible to reveal a thought. Contrastive dialogue is used to espouse thecritical thought which ensues out of the context. For example, Pothiphar’swife’s short and lustful sexual proposition to Joseph is contrasted with hislong-winded statement of morally aghast refusal in Gen.39. The naked lustof Amnon to his sister Tamar is expressed in a similar contrastive dialoguein 2 Samuel.13.11.

Quite often, the text is not given enough consideration as a book ofliterature. Stephen Prickett writes in Words and the Word that the modernEnglish translators are quite unanimous in rejecting any ambiguity in thetext, and tries to substitute such words and phrases with whatever translation

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In April 1988, the Soviet signed a treaty of retreating but Afghanswere not happy because they were ruled by Najibullah who was a Sovietpuppet president.The history of the crumbling of the Soviet Union is portrayedin a few words and the Republic of Russia was born. In Kabul, Najibullahchanged tactics and tried to portray himself as a devout Muslim so thatMujahedeen will agree to reach a full settlement. In 1992 Najibullahsurrendered and he was given sanctuary in the UN compound. The holywar was over and leaders belonging to different ethnic groups came backto their home.The behavior of Laila’s mother is typical of an ordinary Muslimwoman who wanted the Mujahedeen to win. She is jubilant after a longtime and hopes that this will be a golden era for Afghans. But it also changedvery quickly. The different factions fought with each other and Mujahedeen,who lacked a common enemy found the enemy in each other. So onceagain the battles began and the ordinary citizens were caught in between.

One of the strengths of the novel is the author’s ability to weavehistorical event in to the narrative. The life of Afghans during 1992, thetime when different factions fought with each other like pasthuns, fightingHazaras clearly gives us a picture of the hell they are living in. Even Lailahad to stop her studies and she had seen Giti killed by a stray rocket andheard many incidents of the brutalities of Mujahedeen. Many of her friendsand neighbours ran to different places like Tehran,India,Iran, Islamabadetc. All this clearly delineate the fatalism, the acceptance of fate as it is.Even the proud and brave Tariq leaves for Pakistan as it has become toounsafe for anybody to continue living in Afghanistan.At last even Laila’sMammy agrees to leave Kabul and go to Peshwar but both father andmother are killed by a rocket .The irony is that it was the same regimethat they had hankered for which had bought this upon them.

The third part of the novel starts with the orphaned Laila, who hadlost her hearing ability in her left ear due to a rocket attack, utterly desolateand withdrawn. It is here that the male chauvinism and ‘magnanimity’ ofRasheed comes to the surface.Hosseini has given us just glimpses of the‘animal’ beneath the slick city man in the way he treated Marian when shehad miscarriages and when he got angry.Rasheed who was sixty or more


that is free of oddities (7). The quest is for a univocal interpretation, andclosure of the text to plural significations. Prickett says that it is such aclosing of our eyes to the varied readings offered by the text, which pulls itdown from the status of a literary text. He says that the modern Englishtranslations of the Hebrew text try to reduce the mysteriously suggestiveHebrew. For instance, the Hebrew word “ aura” in 1 Kings.19.12, whichsuggests “motion of the air” is translated as “the still small voice”, “a lowmurmuring sound” (The New English Bible) and “the soft whisper of avoice” (The Good News Bible), so as to provide the reader with a moreclear idea. But such narratives convey a framework which shows verylittle interest in the literal sense of the Bible with its attendant complexityand resonances, and have instead chosen quite blatantly “interpretativeparaphrases which, it appears, they feel are more culturally acceptable tomodern sensibilities” (Prickett 13). David G. Firth, in his “Ambiguity” opinesthat the translators’ attempt to seek the true meaning of the text ensuresthat modern readers of Bible do not confront with ambiguities so oftenfound in the original text (151). But such a closed approach to the textlimits its value as literature. He concludes that ambiguity “is not somethingto be feared by readers of the Bible as something to be removed in everyinstance. Rather its presence can be a sign of a skilful writer who invitesreaders to enjoy and play with the text” (Firth 185). It is only when there isa scope for a second reading, that Bible as literature reaches its goal.

Works Cited

Brown, Jeannie K. “Genre Criticism and the Bible.” Words and the Word:Explorations in Biblical Interpretation and Literary Theory. Ed.Jamie Grant and David Firth. Nottingham: InterVarsity, 2008. 111-150. Print.

Exum, J. Cheryl. “Song of Songs.” The Oxford Handbook of EnglishLiterature and Theology.Ed. Andrew W Hass, David Jasper andElisabeth Jay. New York: OUP, 2007. 259-273. Print.

French. R.W. “Teaching the Bible as Literature.” College English 44.8(1982): 798-807. Print.

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It was the time when Leila could live freely and happily with her father, ahigh school teacher and education was given to both boys and girls. Thiswas the time when women were given freedom to lead their lives incomparative equality than earlier or later. According to Babi, even thoughhe was fired from his vocation as a teacher-it was the best time for women.“Women have always had it hard in this country,Laila, but they’re probablymore free now under the communists, and have more rights than they’veever had before….Of course, women’s freedom is also one of the reasonspeople took up arms in the first place”(133). The cities like Kabul werealways been relatively liberal and progressive with women teaching anddoing office jobs. But in the communist regime the tribal areas, especiallythe Pasthun regions in the south where women were rarely seen on thestreets and were always wearing burqua and accompanied by men, changeswere taking place. The communists had decreed to liberate women, toabolish forced marriage and to raise the minimum marriage age to sixteenfor girls. This was all taken as an insult by the men and they were againstthis godless government. It was sacrilege for them to see their daughterleave home, attend school and work alongside men.

But parallel to the progressive spirit was the havoc caused by thecommunist regime. The Mujahedeen fought to oust Soviets and regainpower. The commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Lion of Panjshir ismade a hero and the war, a holy war, jihad. The atrocities of the Sovietregime are also clearly outlined in the novel. The novelist has also mentionedabout the Soviet land mines and the many persons suffering from it. Tariq,Laila’s sweetheart is an amputee who cheerfully leads his life with oneleg.Laila lost her two brothers, Ahmed and Nor in war. Laila’s family wasdisrupted because of her brothers’ death. Laila’s mother became a brokenwoman, who even thought of suicide, but kept on living to see her sons’dream come true. She wanted to see the day the Soviets go home disgracedand Mujahedeen come to Kabul in victory. Her father, Babi was also heart-broken but he tried to move on valiantly. He even planned to leaveAfghanistan and migrate to America. But he was tied to the land with theunseen bonds of his dead sons.


Hunter, Alstair. “Psalms.” The Oxford Handbook of English Literatureand Theology. Ed. Andrew W Hass, David Jasper and ElisabethJay. New York: OUP, 2007. 243-258. Print.

Linafelt, Tod. “The Pentateuch.”The Oxford Handbook of EnglishLiterature and Theology. Ed. Andrew W. Hass, David Jasper andElisabeth Jay. New York: OUP, 2007. 214-226. Print.

Nielson, Kirsten. “Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job.” The Oxford Handbookof English Literature and Theology. Ed. Andrew W Hass, DavidJasper and Elisabeth Jay. New York: OUP, 2007. 274-288. Print.

Prickett, Stephen. Words and the Word: Language, Poetics and BiblicalInterpretation. Trumpington Street: Cambridge, 1986. Print.

Ryken, Leland. How to Read the Bible as Literature. Michigan: Zondervan,1984. Print.

Sherwood, Yvonne. “Prophetic Literature.” The Oxford Handbook ofEnglish Literature and Theology. Ed. Andrew W Hass, DavidJasper and Elisabeth Jay. New York: OUP, 2007. 289-306. Print.

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between Babi and Laila.in the novel. But the feeling of unity or brotherhood,belonging to Afghanistan, the motherland, is what which bound all of themtogether:

To me, it’s nonsense- and very dangerous nonsense at that- allthis talk of I’m Tajik and you’re Pasthun and he’s Hazara andshe’s Uzbek. We’re all Afghans and that’s all that shouldmatter.But when one group rules over the others for solong…There’s contempt Rivalry. There is. There always hasbeen. (128)

The 1979, the Soviet invasion, which supported a communist governmenttriggered a major intervention of religion into Afghan political conflict andIslam united the multi-ethnic political opposition. Islam is the religion of99.7 percent of people in Afghanistan and of the 80-89 percent of thepopulation practice Sunni Islam and belong to the Hanafsi Islamic law while10-19 percent are Shia, majority of them follow the Twelver branch. Thereare also a very small percentage of people who practice other religionssuch as Sikhism and Hinduism. In spite of many attempts to secularizeAfghan society, Islam practices pervade all aspects of life. A tendencywas sought to conceptualize Nationalism in religious terms. When the Soviet-backed Marxist style regime came to power in Afghanistan, it reduced theinfluence of Islam. In the novel the Soviet backed regime is glorified to anextent but also deglamourized at the same time. Shanzai, the daughter of apoor peasant who became a teacher had great regards for the communistregime. According to Laila, who was her student:

She said that the Soviet Union was the best nation in the world,along with Afghanistan. It was kind to its workers, and its peoplewere all equal. Everyone in the Soviet Union was happy andfriendly, unlike America, where crime made people afraid to leavetheir homes. And everyone in Afghanistan would be happy too,she said, once the antiprogressives, the backward bandits, weredefeated. (111)



Sravasti Guha Thakurta

In the year 1947, India finally won the independence it had beenfighting for an unwarrantedly long time. However, although Independencewas won, it was won at the cost of the greatest tragedy that had befallenthe distraught nation—Partition, and the inhuman, illogical violence unleashedby it. People on both sides of the border demarcated by the RadcliffeAward experienced unprecedented violence—this was a degree of violencewhich had not been witnessed before and would never be witnessed again.People had fought together for the Independence of one nation, but whenthe much dreamt of Independence was finally achieved, it brought alongwith it the trauma of the two-nation theory translated into reality; changingthe lives of millions of people forever.

Bengal, in the late 1940s, saw a psychological crystallization of Hinduand Muslim communal identity. The riots which terrorized Kolkata andNoakhali in 1946 witnessed the disappearance of the earlier division alongclass and economic lines making way to “religious and political alignment,which was overtly communal” (Fraser 20). Bihar also witnessed an upsurgeof violence. As Bashabi Fraser has pointed out, “In Bengal, it [the violence]was organized with the Muslim elite and masses forming a common frontwith leadership from mullahs and a sympathetic League Government, againsta weak opposition of a divided Pradesh Congress without the necessarysupport from the Congress High Command” (20). This mindless violence,unleashed by political decisions, taken by the political elite, of which thecommon man was never a part of, nevertheless, brought the maximumsuffering to the uncomprehending, clueless, common man.

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women in Afghanistan from time immemorial. There is a history ofsubjugation of Afghan women. Many writers have pondered over the historyof violence against women in Afghanistan in their writings.Hosseini, throughhis second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns not only analyses the situationof women but also sketches on a larger canvas which in includes politicaland social change.

The first part also gives us a picture of Mullah Faizullah ,the elderlyvillage koran tutor, its ‘akhund’. He is a typical Mullah, an old, kind-heartedand intelligent man who understands Miriam and champions for hereducation at a school, but Nana immediately rejects the plan stating that“What’s the sense schooling a girl like you? It’s like shining a spittoon.There is only one, only one skill a woman like you and me needs in life, andthey don’t teach it in school…Only one skill. And it’s this: tahamul. Endure”(18). It was the culmination of this slavish spirit which ended on a piece ofrope. The orphaned Miriam is taken to Jalil’s house and his wives force herto marry Rasheed, a widowed shoemaker in Kabul. Even though Mariamis a Tajik, who prefers to marry a local, a Tajik, Rasheed was a valuablecatch in terms of money and position. Though a Pasthun, he speaks Farsiand according to Jalil’s wives he is only forty-five compared to Mariam’sfifteen years. It is clear from this incident that child marriage is rampant inAfghanistan. “Yes. But I’ve seen nine-year-old girls given to men twentyyears older than your suitor, Miriam. We all have. What are you, fifteen?That’s a good solid age for a girl” (47). Even before the advent of Taliban,the barbaric customs like childmarriage,polygamy,unequal treatment ofwomen all were prevalent in Afghanistan. It can be inferred that thedisparate treatment of women is not a new experience but it has its root inthe religio-cultural scenario of Afghanistan .

The majority of Afghanistan’s population consists of the Iranic people,notably the Pashtuns and Tajiks. The Pastun is the largest group followedby Tajik, Hazara,Ubek, Aimak, Turkmen,Beloch and others. Tariq and hisparents were ethnic Pashtuns, who were the largest ethnic group and Lailaand her parents belonged to Tajiks, who were a minority and tensions alreadyexisted between their people. This differentiation is clearly seen in a dialogue


Violence, already in evidence everywhere, escalated to hitherto un-witnessed degrees with the declaration of the Indian Independence andIndian Partition. Men, who had, from some time earlier, already begun toview each other not as fellow human beings but as ‘Hindus’ and ‘Muslims’now fully donned their communal identities, and exhibited virulent antagonismtowards the members of the ‘other’ community. People who had inhabiteda certain part of the now divided country for generations suddenly woke upa fine August morning to the realisation that they were on the “wrong” sideof the newly demarcated border; that, for their own safety and security, itwould be the best for them to emigrate to the ‘other’ side of the barbedwire to what was now their ‘own’ country, as decreed by one Mr. Radcliffe.It is for this reason that we need to concentrate on creative literature for adeeper understanding of what Partition really meant to the people whowere directly affected by it. The violence unleashed by Partition was horrificand unprecedented, its greatest impact was on those common people whohad nothing to do with the decision making process, but, had to bear thebrunt of that decision—as depicted in the short stories of several writersfrom Bengal. In most of these short stories the dividing line between factand fiction gets blurred.

Dibyendu Palit’s story “Alam’s Own House” (“Alamer Nijer Bari”)records the not only the physical violence, but also the psychologicalalienation that partition had engendered, “Partition had taken place in twoforms—one political and the other mental. The second one had not beensealed and signed by Mountbatten” (Fraser 458). The story offers us aglimpse into the psyche of Alam, who had been born and brought up inKolkata, and had later migrated to Dhaka—after Partition—but could neverreally adjust to the new life in a new country. His traumatised psycheendlessly sought the answer to the question as to where was his “own”house—in Dhaka, where he had emigrated, and set up a new life for himself,or in Kolkata, the city which had moulded his adolescent psyche. It was anun-answerable question to which he continued to seek an answer.

Ritwik Ghatak’s story “The Road” (“Sarak”) also highlights this senseof mental alienation that Partition was responsible for:

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Ms.Sheeji Raphael

A Thousand Splendid Suns shows the social and cultural andpolitical structures that support the devaluation, degradation and violenceendured by Mariam and Laila. Seemingly a novel which deals with feminism,it also sketches the political condition of Afghanistan and the plight of womenduring several invasions in the country. It ponders a serious question ofacceptability of regimes which clearly marginalized women. It is in thiscontext that the ethnic groups-their culture and beliefs- of Afghanistancome to the forefront. The question is why they passively submit to regimeafter regime which subjugates them, specially the women.

The story begins from 1960s as Mariam, an illegimate child of awealthy business man from Heart is growing up. The word ‘ harami’ isrepeatedly seen in the beginning of the novel as it depicts the social andcultural ostracization of illegitimate children in the society. Mariam thougha ‘harami’ loved her father who is the preparator of her sorrows. Withthree wives and nine legitimate children, Jalil, her father is idolized. A verywealthy man who left his illegitimate child and helpless, embittered womanwhose only fault was bearing his seed, to live alone in a ‘rat hole’ is blamelessand kept on a pedestal. The cryptic words of Nana, Mariam’s motherdemonstrates the place of women in the society. “Learn this now andlearn it well, my daughter: Like a compass needle that points north, aman’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always. You rememberthat,Mariam “ (7). So it is clear that the socio- cultural extremism andreligious elements have posed as obstacles towards the development of


Damn it—that was my room! I had spent so much time there.If today someone comes and occupies it won’t I get angry? Ifeel like finishing off the bastard! But I know there’s no justicehere. That’s why I am leaving for Pakistan. That room, this road,you and so much else... won’t my heart break to leave all thisbehind? But I need a place to live... that’s why I must go.’

‘Who stays in your place now?’ my friend asked.

‘Who knows? Whoever he may be I will find no peace until Itear him to pieces. He is my enemy now—the whole country ismy enemy.’

Suddenly my friend spoke out like a sage. ‘Who’s the enemy—that’s the question.’ (Sengupta 8)

The speaker, Israel, who had decided to migrate to Pakistan soon afterPartition, had perhaps not been subjected to any physical violence himself,but nevertheless, he felt mentally alienated, cut off, from the pulse of thecountry which he had inhabited and called his own before the cataclysmicevent of the Partition. In an article entitled “Dismemberment and/ orReconstitution: Visual Representations of the Partition of Bengal,” SomdattaMandal says:

In August 1947, two international borders were drawn throughBritish India. The first separated West Pakistan (now Pakistan)from India and the other, some 1500 kilometres to the east,separated East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) from India. Nonecould deny that partition was an act of political expediency, yet atthe time there were few who had any real inkling of the veryworst in human behaviour that the uprooting of millions of peopleon apparently sectarian grounds would give rise to. Whether therewas a political stance behind it or whether a greater catastrophecould have been prevented by it—these issues concern politiciansand intellectuals. But for the large number of people in both Bengaland Punjab, this was not a theory to be discussed. It was a

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Malchow, Howard L. Gothic Images of Race in Nineteenth- CenturyBritain. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1996.Google Book Search. Web.2 Nov.2013.

Martin-Jones, David. Scotland: Global Cinema, Genres, Modes andIdentity. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2000.Google Book Search.Web. 2 Nov. 2013.

McGowen, Randall. Forgery in Nineteenth Century Literature andCulture: Legislative Obsession with Forgery. New York: PalgraveMacmillin, 2009.Google Book Search. Web. 2 Nov 2013.

Shakespeare,William. The Tragedy of Macbeth. 1611. Ed. NicholasBrooke. Oxford: OUP, 2008. Print.

Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hydeand Other Tales of Terror. Ed. Robert Mighall. London: PenguinClassics, 2002. Print.

Tomaiuolo, Saveino. In Lady Audley’s Shadow: Mary Elizabeth Braddonand Victorian Literary Genres. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP,2010.Google Book Search. Web. 2 Nov. 2013.

Vardoulakis, Dimitris. The Doppelganger: Literature’s Philosophy. NewYork: Fordham Univ Press, 2010.Google Book Search. 2010.Web.2 Nov. 2013.

Warner, Marina. Fantastic Metamorphosis, Other Worlds: Ways ofTelling the Self. New York: Oxford UP, 2002. Google Book Search.Web. 2 Nov. 2013.

Wong, Sau-Ling Cynthia. Reading Asian American Literature: FromNecessity to Extravagance. New Jersey: Princeton U P, 1993.Google Book Search. Web. 2 Nov. 2013.

Young, Robert. Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Theory, Culture and Race.London: Routledge, 1995. Print.


ground reality, a direct physical experience, the pain and woundvery difficult to heal. (qtd. in Sengupta 135)

He has emphasized how the pain and the wounds of Partition leftpsychological scars in the psyche of the victims and how mere data andstatistics was not sufficient for understanding its impact.

Ranajit Guha has distinguished between three levels of historicaldiscourse, a ‘primary’ level, consisting of factual reports, a ‘secondary’level, consisting of commentaries and memoirs that aspire to the status ofhistory, and a ‘tertiary’ level, which could be referred to as history proper,with references, footnotes, objective distance and scientific language (Guha3). This is certainly the case with the history of Partition. Gyanendra Pandey,another scholar belonging to the same Subaltern Studies group, has alsoreiterated on the idea of violence. In his book, Remembering Partition:Violence, Nationalism and History in India, Pandey has stated hownewspaper reports of violence, FIRs lodged in police stations, personalmemoirs, all have an important role to play in the construction of the historyof Partition. All of the accounts pertaining to the Partition point to a singledirection, the unsettling truth that the Partition of India was accompaniedby violence on an unprecedented scale.

History, as Mushirul Hasan, the noted historian, has stated, is incapableof capturing the angst, the despair, the helplessness of the common manwho had to bear the brunt of those traumatic times. Histories, politicalscience and sociology are records of mere facts and figures; they areincapable of capturing the very real and palpable psychological anguishand physical suffering that the people affected by the event of Partitionhad to endure. Hasan is of the opinion, “Literature has emerged as analternate archive of the times” (qtd. in Fraser xiii). Especially, in the studyof the Partition of India in particular, “…literature has articulated the ‘little’narratives against the grand; the unofficial histories against the official.What is peripheral to recorded history—the actual impact of official decisionson the everyday life of the people—is central to literary representation”(qtd. in Fraser xiii).

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Works Cited

Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Originand Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso, 1991. Print.

Bate, David. Photography and Surrealism: Sexuality, Colonialism andSocial Dissent. London: I.B Tauris, 2004. Google Book Search.Web. 2 Nov. 2013.

Bod, Rens. A New History of the Humanities: The Search for Principlesand Patterns from Antiquity to the Present. Oxford: OUP. 2013.Google Book Search. Web. 2 Nov. 2013.

Carter, Ronald, and John McRae.The Routledge History of Literature inEnglish. 2nd ed. Abingdon: Routledge, 2011. Print.

Denison, Sheri Ann. “Walking Through the Shadows: Ruins, Reflectionsand Resistance in the Postcolonial Gothic Novel.” Diss. Indiana Univof Pennsylvania, 2009.Google Book Search. Web. 2 Nov 2013.

Eagleton, Terry. Heathcliff and the Great Hunger: Studies in IrishCulture. London: Verso, 1996. Google Book Search.Web. 2 Nov2013.

Halberstam, Judith. Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology ofMonster. 3rd ed. New York: Duke UP, 2000. Google Book Search.Web. 2 Nov. 2013.

Hollander, Rachael. Narrative Hospitality in Late Victorian Fiction:Novel Ethics. Routledge Studies in Nineteenth Century Literature.New York: Routledge, 2013.Google Book Search. Web. 2 Nov2013.

Horstkotte, Silke, and Esther Peeren, eds. The Shock of the Other:Situating Alterities. Amsterdam: Thamyris, 2007. Google BookSearch. Web. 23 Nov. 2013.

Loomba, Ania. Colonialism/Postcolonialism. Abingdon: Routledge, 2009.Print.


Works Cited

Fraser, Bashabi, ed. Bengal Partition Stories: An Unclosed Chapter.New Delhi: Anthem P, 2008. Print.

Guha, Ranajit. “The Prose of Counter-insurgency.” Subaltern Studies.Vol. 2. Ed. Ranajit Guha. Delhi: OUP, 1983.1-12. Print.

Hasan, Mushirul. Foreword. Bengal Partition Stories: An UnclosedChapter. Ed. Bashabi Fraser. New Delhi: Anthem P, 2008. xiii –xvii. Print.

Mandal, Somdatta. “Dismemberment and/ or Reconstitution: VisualRepresentations of the Partition of Bengal.” Barbed Wire: Bordersand Partitions in South Asia. Ed. Jayita Sengupta. New Delhi:Routledge, 2012. 135 – 155. Print.

Pandey, Gyanendra. Remembering Partition: Violence, Nationalism andHistory in India. New Delhi: Foundation, 1989. Print.

Sengupta, Debjani, ed. Mapmaking: Partition Stories from Two Bengals.New Delhi: Srishti, 2003. Print.

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‘other’ is undermined, and in Bhabha’s understanding of Frantz Fanon’sThe Wretched of the Earth, ‘identities are always oscillating’. Both theblack skin and white mask is not a neat divide but a ‘doubling, dissemblingimage of being in at least two places at once…. It is not the Colonialist Selfor the Colonised Other, but the disturbing distance in between thatconstitutes the figure of colonial otherness…’ (qtd. in Loomba 125).Stevenson’s novel point towards the fissures of history which in its mirroring,express ‘the liminality and hybridity’ as symptomatic of the colonial conditionitself’ (qtd. in Loomba 148). If for Jan Mohamed , the ambivalence locatedin the use of the double is a sign of ‘imperial duplicity’ and underneath it allthe dichotomous relationship between the colonizer and colonized stillprevails. Jekyll realizes to his horror that he ‘was slowly losing hold of myoriginal and better self, and becoming slowly incorporated with my secondand worse’ (Stevenson 62). That he was ‘radically both’ (55) comes tohaunt him. For Bhabha, the doubling reveals both the trauma of the colonialsubjects, the ‘Satanization’ of Hyde-like creatures, but also entails ‘theworkings of colonial authority as well as the dynamics of resistance (qtd. inLoomba 149).

Not only does the novel is representative of the times, but its constantpreoccupation with the Other, is evocative of a realization that beneath theveneer of civilization, the ‘irreducible differences’ is more of a fictionalconstruct. This novel is one of the early precursors in the acknowledgementthat the nation is frayed at the borders that the ‘investment in individualism,in originality’ (McGowen 3), of the British Empire is a myth and that asTerry Collits rightly points out, ‘the meanings are social, discursive. Whatskin and masks have in is that they mark the interface between the self andthe world: they are the borders’ (qtd. in Loomba 148).

Whatever might be the case, Jekyll and Hyde epitomises a concernof an age- in its fear, and understanding that the uniqueness of one’s ownnation is far removed from an originary essence, that the real and art,fiction and history, true and false are not only problematized but theunderlying fictionality of the so-called discourses is revealed, to possiblyenvisage a new future.




Prof. Shobha P. Shinde

In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, enhanced regulation ofwomen became a mechanism to resolve anxieties about social status. Socio-cultural practices led to the segregation of women through the withdrawingof their labour and physical presence from public space. Debates aroseover caste identity which intersected with the narratives of sexual violenceand sexual reproduction of caste Dalit reformers drew attention to theDalit women’s sexual exploitation according to custom through enforcedsexual servitude through the ‘Devdasi’ system – women’s ritual dedicationto a god, thus leading her into prostitution. There was a severe critique ofthe interdependence of sexual compulsion and the material deprivation ofthe Dalit communities. Anupama Rao writes in “The Caste Question: Dalitsand the Politics of Modern India”:

The contradictory effects of the social reform of gender by casteradicals can be explained by the fact that Dalit and non-Brahminpolitical subject formation increasingly involved the politicizationof Dalit and lower caste men through the reform of family andfemale subjects. (Rao 54)

The social reform in the early days of colonial rule had cut acrossBrahmanical models of caste and sexual purity to produce the hegemonicideologies of domesticity, female enfranchisem*nt and companionatemarriage. However, the Dalit social reformers led by Mahatma JotiraoPhule criticized these vigorously and pointed to the relationship of casteand gender. The public presence of women and the centrality of female

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the fears and threat of an invasion from the disenfranchised Irishman andthe immigrant Jews from the Eastern Europe, as well as the concern thattheir own civilized British subjects would become enamoured of theprimitiveness of the colonies abroad, and are not only visible in novels likeDracula andLady Audley’s Secret, but also manifested in the numerousreform acts over the years spanning from 1870 to 1905- the so-called ‘AlienDestruction Acts’.

Homi K. Bhabha’s concept of ‘unhomeliness’ becomes theprototypical model to encapsulate thecomplexity involved in the colonialencounter of the self and the other and illustrated in the functioning of thedouble of Victorian novels. The instability of the home and hospitality in acolonial setting is disrupted, thereby hopelessly corrupting the categories ofthe host and the guest. Likewise, Jekyll’s speculation- ‘man is not truly onebut two…’ (Stevenson 55) and consequent experimentation, ‘challengesthe boundaries between public and private spheres, as well as betweenpast, present, and future; since imperialist power struggles call into questioncontrol of identity, territory, and national history’ (qtd. in Hollander 19).

This blurring of the opposed binaries, is what marked the nationalistthinking at the end of the century, one which caused immense consternationamongst the British that they were not different from their ‘misshapen’Others. Jekyll’s investigation of the duality within man is a metaphor for anation troubled with the ‘sameness within difference’, one which calls intoquestion, the very fabric of national consciousness. As his narrative revealsthe anxiety of a nation and race obsessed with purity: ‘[i]t was the curse ofmankind that these incongruousfa*ggotswere thus bound together – that inthe agonized womb of consciousness, these polar twins should becontinuously struggling. How, then, were they dissociated?’(Stevenson 56).

Jekyll and Hyde is a product of a historical conjuncture when thedynamics of the colonial project were first being put under the scanner.The positing of an essential, natural European self in opposition to an essential


labour to the household economy of the Dalits and the lower castes was amatter of contestation. As Anupama Rao notes, “Gender and sexualitycame to the centre of the political community of caste in the colonial times”(540). Coerced sexual labour was a key to the collective humiliation of astigmatized community

In the period between 1905-1909, eight hungred and thirty-six womenhad been dedicated to god in Belgaum, nine hundred and eleven in Bejapurand eight hundred and seventy-six in Dharwar districts. The degradationof Dalit women became a powerful issue to demand gendered respectabilitythrough the abolition of this custom. This reform came to be allied with thereform of the Dalit’s life of untouchability and segregation. Dalit femalesexuality was synonymous with sexual availability and degraded femalevalue. Women were allied to caste and religious communities reproducingfemale backwardness and preventing female emancipation.

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, born in the Mahar community, had facedinjustice and discrimination due to his caste in his own personal life. He hadthe advantage of a good education not only in India but in England andAmerica. He led a national crusade against untouchability. He became aleader of the Dalits and emerged a great modern visionary, renaissanceleader and the architect of the Constitution of India. He inspired and initiateda mass mobilization to enforce the socio-cultural upsurge for the totalemancipation of the Dalits by awakening their consciousness to work fortheir own liberation.

The focus on the female body, how it was experienced andrepresented was a part of women’s emancipation. Dr.Ambedkar calledupon Dalit women to reform themselves and play a central role inmodernizing the community. They had to give a new meaning andsignificance to the gendered habits. In a speech given before thousands ofwomen on 27 December 1951, he said:

You should wear your sari in the way that upper caste womenwear their saris.You incur no expense by doing so. Similarly, themany necklaces around your neck, and the silver and the banglesyou wear from wrist to elbow is a mark of identification.… If you

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It should be noted that the discourses of race and the purity at thesame time were also inextricably linked with the ‘issue of sexuality and theissue of sexual unions between whites and blacks…. Theories of racewere thus also covert theories of desire’ (Young 9). Stevenson’s novelemerged during a time when women were finally breaking the shackles ofthe image of ‘angel in the house’ and entering into the public sphere. Theencapsulation of this conflation of the public versus the private spheres isto be located in literature in the sensational novels written by women likeSarah Grand at the turn of the century. The fear that Britain would be‘peopled’ with more ‘Calibans’, that is, the fear of miscegenation loomslarge which brings together the discourses of racial purity and femalesexuality and as immigrants enter closer home or as the ‘colonial contactswiden and deepen, it increasingly haunts European and Euro-Americanculture’ (Loomba 134). Sexuality also becomes the means to maintain ordissolve racial purity. One can see this in the discourse of Indian nationalistsas well. In Jekyll and Hyde, this fear is apparent in its absences, there areno women characters in this novel, but then the spectre of hom*osexuality isrevealed. It should be understood that women, blacks, the lower classes,madness and hom*osexuality all formed a part of a chain that as the centurywore on, became apparent in the famous trial of Wilde’s.

The discourse of Imperialism is a fascination with the ‘colonial margin’described by Bhabha as ‘that limit where the West must face a peculiarlydisplaced and decentered image of itself in “double duty bound” at once acivilizing mission and a violent subjection of itself’ (qtd. in Halberstam 80).Hyde is at once a ‘stereotype of Otherness’, at once desirable and repulsive,delineated in Jekyll’s inability to give up the potion of transformation andHyde’s taxonomic features as representative of an ‘essential signifier ofevil’. The recurrent images of black people, Moors and heathens in literatureand history are all manifestations of anxiety, as can be seen in the phraseused in Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello- ‘turning Turk’. In the words ofAniaLoomba, as colonialism advanced, missionary expanded, so didEuropean fears of contamination (100). Jekyll’s narrative that the ‘uglyidol in the glass’ was both ‘natural and human’(58) shows the paradoxicalnature involved in the construction of national and self-identity reflected in


must wear jewelry, then get gold jewellery made. Pay attentionto cleanliness! (qtd. in Dhara 22)

Good clothing, good posture, standing erect while speaking, refusing tobend down or bow was critical to Dalit women’s personhood.

Dr.Ambedkar, like Mahatma Phule who he regarded as his guru,dealt with the issue of gender equality as a part of total liberation andempowerment of a subjugated and suppressed people. Dr. Ambedkarattacked the root cause of women’s subordination, the caste system. Helooked at women as equal partners, tried to remove them from the burdenof victimization and gave them agency. He brought about an awakeningand consciousness among Dalit women that they were not inferior toanybody. All his life was devoted to the social reforms which would lead toa just and egalitarian society, where men and women would be equalpartners in a new social regeneration. He said :

Every girl who marries must be ready to stand by her husband.Not as his slave but in relation of equality, as his friend. If youbehave according to this advice you will lift up not only yourselvesbut the Dalit society as well and increase respect for yourselvesand for the community. (Moon 160)

Dr. Ambedkar had a deep understanding of the Indian social system andidentified the root of the stratification, “Women are gateways to the castesystem.” He firmly held the belief that the superimposition of endogamy onexogamy means the creation of caste (Collected Speeches andWritings 9).

In one of his finest intellectual discourses, “Annihilation of Caste,”he maintained that the Hindu social order prescribed that “a surplus woman,”must be disposed or else she will violate the endogamy of the group. Soaccording to him, to preserve the endogamy of caste, Hindus disposed ofwoman by two methods. One by burning her on the funeral pyre of herdeceased husband and getting rid of her and second by enforcing widowhoodon her for the rest of her life (Ambedkar 10). This placed women in aperpetual state of slavery and humiliation to suffer gender injustice. As asolution to such evil practices he proclaimed, “…make every man and

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in Malchow 125). Moreover, the equating of these races with darkness, infact the whole ‘continent of Africa’ being spoken of as ‘dark’, the site ofillogical reason as well as primitive desires is exemplified by associatingHyde with the dark murky alleys, blurred vision of chaos, prowling by nightwhile Jekyll when rid of the shadow of the ‘evil’ walks in the sunshine andthrough the day.

The trope of doubleness is not only an acknowledgement of thefailures of the grand narratives of ‘colonial regimes to produce a fixed andstable identity’ but the ambivalence that implies the dynamics of the colonialencounter itself. The story of doubling in Jekyll and Hyde point to the‘terrible, mutating force that the official history of a unified Britain cannotsubdue’ (qtd. in Martin-Jones 115). Hyde becomes representative of theexclusions that inscribe the ‘writing of one’s nation’, which continues todisrupt the linear history of Thomas Babbington Macaulay’s idea of Britainas being the site of ‘continuous historical progress’ (Bod 253).

‘Double’ from Postcolonial Perspective

Jekyll and Hyde probes the historical complexities involved in, touse Benedict Anderson’s phrase the ‘imagined community’ of one’s nation,a dialogue between the European self and the Other (represented by the‘effeminate’ Scots, ‘barbaric’ Irish and the ‘primitive’, ‘bestial’ Africans orIndians), which tries ‘to capture the ways in which identity is distorted andredefined’ in cross-cultural encounters.National identity is a reflection onboundaries, borders, with the margins and peripheries being thought of asfixed and unchangeable. However, with the flow of dispossessed exiles,migrants as well as the disruption implied within the narrative of colonialencounter itself, these borders become destabilized leading to a mutualinteraction which is both attractive and threatening to the concept of anation.Jekyll learnt early‘to recognize the thorough and primitiveduality ofman; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of myconsciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only becauseI was radically both...’ (Stevenson 56). This ‘radically both’ is the beginningof the trouble for the stability of the individual as well as for the nation.


woman free from the thralldom of the “Shastras”, cleanse their minds ofthe pernicious notions founded on “Shastras” and he or she will inter-dineand intermarry (Ambedkar12). In a strong appeal to demolish such a systemhe said, “Society must be based on reason and not on atrocious traditionsof the caste system” (Ambedkar 12).

Dr.Ambedkar’s movement to implement the claims of the Dalits tothe source of all of life’s nourishment was also a movement to constitutepublic space as truly public. Dalit activism under his leadership was takingnew forms to fight stigmatization and exclusion. Disparate and localizedchallenges to the caste order led to an explicit demand for civil rights.Thousands of people participated in the Mahad Satyagraha on 25 December1927 to take water from the Chavdar Tank. The satyagrahis burnt the“Manusmriti”, the ancient Brahmanic code that was the cultural and legalsymbol of caste slavery, gender inequalities and social injustices based onthe Varna system. Dr.Ambedkar acknowledged the debt to the techniquesand strategies of popular nationalism. He compared this public rejection ofthe caste system with the burning of foreign cloth by Indian nationalists tochallenge colonial exploitation. Both cases were examples of spectacularrepraisal of oppressive, sociopolitical orders (Anupama Rao 80).

New conceptions of public access and civic inclusion animated Dalitpublic action through attacks on symbols of caste orthodoxy through eventslike the Ambadevi temple entry on 13 November 1927 and the Parvati andKalaram temples at Pune and Nasik. The temple was a symbol of Dalits’exclusion from religious worship and a potent site of Dalits denigrationofcaste Hindus. It was an effort to democratize caste relations.

Dr.Ambedkar as a lawyer, scholar, theorist, publicist, activist and asa Dalit participant himself was actively engaged in shaping India’sdemocracy right from 1917. He was engaged in a lifelong effort to find alanguage into which Dalit deprivation could be translated. He insisted onrestoring the personhood which was denied to Dalits historically throughthe caste inequities practiced by society. He thought of the Dalit as a universalhistorical subject and struggled to invest Dalits with human dignity andpolitical legitimacy. He tried to recreate a Dalit identity by revaluing Dalitstigma. He addressed women thus :

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published during a time when many novels (Dorian Gray; Lady Audley’sSecret; Dracula; Women in white; Heart of Darkness) were dealingwith this duplicity and doubling. This similarity of themes cannot be read ascoincidental, as the earlier instances of doubling in other eras also pointtowards the same conclusion.In the Renaissance period the use of doublingis accompanied with the entry of African slaves into Britain and thediscovery of new colonies, and in the eighteenth century, with the massmigration of the rural dwellers on account of the Industrial Revolution, andthe American Revolution which impacts its resurgence, illustrated in theinauguration of the Gothic genre and the historical novel. However, the useof this motif reaches its zenith during the Victorian novel. The emergenceof the trope of the doppelganger is a response to the anxieties regardingthe question of what does it mean to be British.

‘Double’ in Victorian Era

This was a period overtly concerned with the consequences of thecross-cultural encounters that took place on account of the dispossessedmigrants as well as because of the imperialist project. Robert Knox TheRaces of Men: A Fragment (1850), the English translation of MaxNordeau’sDegeneration (1892), both testify to a growing concern withthe ‘cultural degeneration of late nineteenth century Europe’, because ofthe growing proximity with the ‘intellectually inferior’ Irish, Jews, and theEastern people.For Judith Halberstam, the warring of the self betweenJekyll and Hyde is ‘between bourgeois individualism and the nineteenthcentury stereotypes of Semitic and Black physiognomies’ (80). This is amplydemonstrated in the physical description of Hyde who is constantlyassociated with the terms ‘dark’, ‘savage’, ‘deformed’, ‘evil’, his facemarked with the ‘signature of Satan’ and his body suggests ‘somethingtroglodytic’ (Stevenson 16). As Nordeau stated in his book, ‘these inferiorraces were atavistic as well as emotionally regressive’ (qtd. in Tomaiuolo66). As soon as Jekyll transforms into his ‘evil’ other, even his statureminimises and he becomes ‘misshapen’ (Stevenson 52). Terry Eagleton inhis essay, “Heathcliff and the Great Hunger”, observed that Ireland ‘comesto figure as the monstrous unconscious’ of the Empire (383). SherlockHolmes in Conan Doyle’s spoke of the Eastern people as ‘decannabilizingthe savage’, and about the Jews as ‘another species of bloodsucker’ (qtd.


You must make a pledge that from now on you will not lead sucha stigmatized existence, just as the men have resolved to bringabout progress in society, so must you. Men and women togetherresolve the problems of everyday life. So must the problems ofsociety be solved by men and women working together…to tellthe truth, the task of removing untouchability belongs not to menbut to women….(qtd. in Moon 108)

This quest for a new identity also forged towards the emancipation ofwomen through education, knowledge and enlightenment.

In the essay, “The Woman and the Counter Revolution,” Dr.Ambedkar traced how Manu laid down the laws followed by thousands ofyears of religious sanction and social acceptance of the secondary statusof women. Manu defined that a woman was to haveno intellectual pursuitsnor free will nor freedom of thought. Following the Manusmriti, the Hindureligion had tried to confine a woman’s sexuality, fearing her defilement,and sanctioned the belief that a woman was a commodity to be utilized fora man’s satisfaction and devoted only to a life of service and servitude.The public burning of the Manusmriti was an open defiance by Dr.Ambedkarto challenge the Varna system.

Dr. Ambedkar in this essay, has traced the position of women in aHindu society before the days of Manu. The Vedas sanctioned that a womancould conduct the upanayan ceremony and Panini’s “Ashtaadhyai” bearstestimony that women attended the Gurukul and studied the Vedas andtaught them to other girl students. Unlike Manu, Kautilya’s idea was thatof monogamy and in Kautilya’s time, women could claim divorce on theground of mutual enmity and hatred and widows could remarry by makinga comparison between the codes of Manu and the position of women beforeManu, right from the Vedic period, Dr.Ambedkar pointed out through ahistorical review the lacunae in a religiously sanctioned patriarchal mindsetof a Hindu community built up over centuries and a need for women tothrow off these shackles of their own mental and physical slavery.

As the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Indian Constitution,Dr.Ambedkar, formulated an inclusive policy to overcome multiple forms

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London emerged in the nineteenth century as the epicentre ofpotpourri of cultures. Stevenson’s use of the doppelganger is, along withthe other novels of the late 1880s an articulation of the anxieties of a nationgrappling with issues of purity of race and unemployment in the wake ofthe immigration of Jews, ‘Irish question’ and the lure of the colony beyondthe borders of Britain. According to Edward Said, late nineteenth centuryand early twentieth century novel is accompanied by the ever increasinganxieties surrounding the ‘moral legitimacy of the English national identity’that provided the thrust to the Imperialist project as well as to the Victoriannovel itself, and raised the concerns regarding the ‘purity’ of ethnicidentifications (qtd. in Hollander 18). Racial stereotyping was not a productof colonialist venture, as even during the Greek and Roman times, onefound categorization of the ‘barbarians’ and ‘outsiders’. However, thisstratification became more entrenched, and expanded with ‘Europeancolonial expansion and nation-building’ (Loomba 93).

Told from the perspective of two conservative men Lanyon andUtterson, Stevenson’s novel isabout doctor Jekyll who is well respectedamong his community, and belongs to the upper class but succumbs to theattractions of duality which encompasses the human soul. He engages insome chemical experimentation that results in his taking over anotherpersonality, the savage- Mr. Hyde, a figure who causes instant revulsionwhen he comes across other characters in the novel. Lanyon found himfascinating but repulsive at the same time, when he comes to his house,Lanyon found ‘there was something abnormal and misbegotten in the veryessence of the creature that now faced me – something seizing, surprisingand revolting . . .’ (Stevenson 52). Hyde’s physiognomic savageness isreplicated in his action in the unaccounted for murder of Sir Danver Carews,an M.P which results in a realization for Jekyll, that his alter-ego or hisdouble has become more potent. Even when the potion is not consumed,the doctor keeps on changing from one identity to the other, which giveshim no way to get out of the mess of the shifting identities but to end hisvery life. A posthumous narrative, Jekyll is revealed to be Hyde.

The novel has been interpreted variously as a war between the nobleand the baser, the ‘evil’ parts of human nature (Henry James), as an instanceof alcoholism but, what is of particular importance that the novel was


of deprivation which also included women. The Indian Constitution is achallenge to the patriarchal, unequal social order and with its focus onequality claims for gender justice and provides special safeguards to Indianwomen through a reformative and affirmative agenda.

Dr. BabasahebAmbedkar’s visionary legislation project of the HinduCode Bill has been called by Gail Omvedt, “…in many ways a culminationof woman’s social reform efforts that had been going on since the colonialperiod” (131). Women are the central core of the Hindu Code Bill andthrough laws on marriage, divorce, adoption, inheritance rights and propertyrights, Dr.Ambedkar worked to further the cause of the emancipation ofwomen. The Hindu Code Bill regarded bigamyas a crime and prescribedmonogamy. Civil marriages would help to cross over the barriers of casteand class practiced so widely in a traditional Hindu marriage.

The new Bill was submitted on 16 August 1948. For three years itfaced a long contentious debate. Orthodox Hindus attacked it vociferouslyfor destroying the sanctity of Hindu marriage and defiling of Hindu ideas ofRam and Sita. The government’s decision to drop the Hindu Code Bill wasregarded by Dr.Ambedkar as a great betrayal. He submitted his resignationas a Law Minister on 27 September 1951. He concluded his letter ofresignation and speech with a statement which resonates even today:

The Hindu Code was the greatest social reform measure everundertaken by the legislation in this country…to leave inequalitybetween class and class, between sex and sex which is the soulof Hindu society untouched and to go on passing legislation relatingto economic problems is to make a farce of our Constitution andto build a palace on a dung heap. (Writings and Speeches 325)

Time proved Dr.Ambedkar right and subsequently, the Hindu Code Billwas split into four bills and they were passed separately by the IndianParliament in 1955-1956.

Dr.BabasahebBhimraoAmbedkar together with almost half a millionpeople, in a final definitive and moving gesture, led a public conversion out

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reflection on national politics, as well as human consciousness. Double isthe world of keeping the ‘irreducible differences’ separate as well as thedissolving of these boundaries of binary oppositions what Sheri Ann Denisonsaid, the world of ‘nightmarish ’”collapse of identities, ambiguous borders,buried histories’ (11), of a series of acts of copying and deception even inthe form of forgeries that challenge the gendered and racial constructionsof history.

The Trope of the Double

The Trope of the Double becomes the means to investigate,interrogate the splintering of identities confronted with what Edward Saidtermed the ‘silent other’. What does it mean to be a ‘Self’? Who constitutesan ‘I’? ‘Colonial as well as anti-colonial discourses have been preoccupiedwith these questions, what Abdul JanMohamed calls the ‘Manicheanallegory’, the ‘othering’ of vast number of people by European colonialistdiscourses’(qtd. in Loomba 91).The link between the formation of the ‘self’and the positing of the ‘other’ has been time and again explicated in varioussocial, psychological, and philosophical theories. Jacques Derrida, in “TheOther Heading”, wrote, ‘what is proper to a culture is not to be identical toitself’ (qtd. in Vardoulakis 1). Adi Hastings and Paul Manning in Languageand Communication observed, that ‘identity is always understood in relationto alterity. After all, it takes two to differ’ (qtd. in SilkeHorstkotte andEsther Peerens 1).

As the British Empire grew, the question of England’s relationship to‘Other’ intensified. What is interesting about the prevalence of thedoppelganger is that its manifestation in literature as well as its culturalrelevance is foregrounded at particular periods of history. The use of thedouble is particularly relevant for the Victorian age, though its ancestry canbe traced back to as early as Plautus’s comedies of mistaken identities.Distinguished by the rise of capitalism, and the growing might of BritishEmpire, nineteenth century Britain is riven with conflicts and contradictionsbeneath the ‘optimism’ and the positive ‘affirmations of values’ referred toas the ‘Victorian values’ (Carter and McRae 250). The sense thateverything is right with the world because God’s in his heaven, as Browningdeclared in “Pippa Passes”, is duly questioned and critiqued through themode of the ‘double’(249).


of Hinduism on 14 October 1956. It was the climax of a life devoted to thecause of the upliftment of the oppressed untouchables, the Dalits of India.

Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar, Bharat Ratna, is iconic of Dalit struggle.He provided the set of political idioms that effectively changed the negativeidentity of the untouchables into the historical agency and political powerof the Dalit. He gave the Dalits a social and political visibility at a particularpoint of history. He did this through a constant engagement with liberalismand the ideals of democracy.

Works Cited

Austin, Granville. The Indian Constitution: Cornerstone of a Nation.New Delhi: OUP, 2009. Print.

Bhagvan, Man. Claiming Power from Below Dalits and SubalternQuestions in India. New Delhi: OUP, 2009. Print.

Dhara, Lalitha. Bharat Ratna Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and Women’sQuestions. Mumbai: Dr.Ambedkar College of Commerce andEconomics, Wadala, 2010. Print.

Keer, Dhananjay. Dr. Ambedkar : Life and Mission. Bombay: Popular,1981. Print.

Moon, Vasant. Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar Writing and Speeches.Vol.14.Bombay: Education Department. Government of Maharashtra, 1995.Print.

Omvedt, Gail. Ambedkar : Towards an Enlightened India. New Delhi:Penguin, 2008. Print.

---. Dalits and the Democratic Revolution. New Delhi: Sage, 2009.Print.

Rao, Anupama. The Caste Question: Dalits and the Politics of ModernIndia. New Delhi : Orient Blackswan, 2011. Print.

Thorat, Sukhadeo. Ambedkar in Retrospect. Jaipur: Rawat, 2007. Print.

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In the early 1980s, an advertisem*nt of Coca–Cola which proclaimeditself – ‘That this is the Real Thing’ was hugely popular. More than thisadvertisem*nt being about selling a product, this advertisem*nt is itself atimely reminder of the constant preoccupation of philosophers, intellectualson the notion of what constitutes as the real, the truth, and what is adouble.Doubling, doppelganger, copying, or forgery are the terms that play,conflate, and problematize the notions of what is legitimate or authenticate,fiction or history, destabilizing the very foundations of human society. Theart of copying or doubling is seen as a threatening and a powerful forcethat interrogates the very fabric of culture-its formation and its disjunctions.Since the inception of Western metaphysics, with Plato’s rejection of thenotion of mimesis as being a mere copy and a shadow, the engagementwith the dialectics of real as constituting the paradigm of truth, and artthough being its ‘double’ as also the site of lies and deception has beenvery much alive in the intellectual and academic circles.

Primarily, understood in terms of psychoanalysis, doppelganger isthought to express innermost desires, as a reflection of an estrangement toone’s personality, at times also inhabited by a strange, alien, monstrouscharacter who in the words of Marina Warner, ‘might be impersonatingyou on the outside’(164). Otto Rank read the trope of the double in termsof a ‘narcissist guilt, desire for an immortal soul’ (qtd. in Wong 80), andSigmund Freud in his famous essay of 1919, “The Uncanny” reads thedoppelganger as the ‘return of the repressed’ which is a terrifyingexperience, on account of its being unfamiliar and removed fromconsciousness (Bate 39). In a poem written by Emily Dickenson, beginningwith the lines ‘One need not be a Chamber/ To be haunted’, concludeswith the line ‘Ourself behind ourself, concealed’- exemplifies this notion ofthe splitting of the self (qtd. in Warner 164).

Double is the liminal space standing between reality and imagination,consciousness and unconsciousness, art and life, as a site of contestationand negotiation to deal with the fissures of history. The question of thedouble is inextricably linked with the issues of representation and itsrelationship with the apprehensible world, opening up a space for a wider




Ms. Sheena John

If history moves forward, the knowledge, of it travelsbackward, so that in writing of our recent past we arecontinually meeting ourselves coming the other way.

(Terry Eagleton)

From the late twentieth century to the contemporary moment, themost debated topic and the most frequently asked question in postcolonialpolitics have been about identity. Questions involving identity inevitably raisecritical issues relating to roots and origins, history and memory. Theseinsistent questions about origins or identity, which have been at the forefrontof national imagination, may be looked upon as the direct offshoot ofEuropean colonialism. Colonialism, as a cultural phenomenon, not onlymanifested differently in different parts of the world but everywhere ofbrought together the original inhabitants and the settlers in the most complexand traumatic relationships in human history. Since contact, indigenous peoplein all parts of the world went through difficult life-altering experiencesbecause colonization invariably meant the invasion of their territories,appropriation of their lands, destruction of their habitats and ways of life,and even genocide.

Contemporary issues of the indigenous communities in the U.S.,officially named “Native Americans”, can be better understood against thebackdrop of colonization. It is true that the American Indian communitiesare not yet “post-colonial” in the temporal sense of the word, for the tribesstill exist in conditions of internal colonization. But a concomitant perception,

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Indrani Das Gupta

Double, double, toil and trouble

(Shakespeare Macbeth iv. i)

The ‘shilling shocker’ novel of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The StrangeCase of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) could be taken as an emblematicexample ‘of the forms and meanings’ of the trope of the double in Victorianperiod. One of the most popular novels of all time, it provides new insightsinto the notions of self and Victorian political identity. In a continuous lineof descent from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818); Charles Dickens’sLittle Dorrit (1857); through James Hogg’s The Private Memoirs of aJustified Sinner (1824) and the Bronte sisters, to Oscar Wilde’s The Pictureof Dorian Gray (1891) and to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1899);Stevenson’s novelhighlights the peculiar use of duplicity and doubleness inthe fiction of the Victorian age.

This paper seeks to examine the nature of the ‘double’ or thedoppelganger in Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde (1886), as an instance of the obfuscation of the racial and sexualovertones, beneath the psychological explanations forwarded to explainthe meaning of the novel. Using the theoretical framework of Homi K.Bhabha’s ‘unhomeliness’, this novel can be understood as historicallycontingent, in terms of the imperialist project and a response to the variousreforms acts of the late 1880s. In this paper, I would examine the motif ofthe ‘double’ in Stevenson’s novel as it informs the debates around nationalidentity, as well as a means to diagnose the dynamics of colonial encounterof the late Victorian era.


one shared with other postcolonial areas, has been that of the politicaloperation of language, the exercise of hegemony through the word.

Since it is not possible to create or recreate national or regionalformations wholly independent of their historical implications in the Europeancolonial enterprise, it has been the project of postcolonial writing tointerrogate European discourses and discursive strategies from within andbetween both worlds. Helen Tiffin, in “Post-colonial Literature and Counter-Discourse” argues that it is counter-discursivity, rather than any sharedstyle or theme which is the definitive quality of postcolonial writing (211).These oppositional discursive practices are marked by a speech and stancewhich not only refuses a position of subjugation but also dispenses with thecolonizer’s definitions. Indigenous writing or Fourth World fiction of theU.S. is equally marked by such a transformative engagement. The recoveryof a lost or subaltern history, told from the point of view of those who havebeen dispossessed and oppressed, has been a central concern in NativeAmerican writing.

In The Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon analyzes the prospectsof resistance literature and literature of national consciousness which tryto “write the nation,” and thus link Native peoples to their ancestral roots(180). Fanon passionately asserts the importance of rescuing history fromthe colonizer’s custody. Similar sense of national identity and culturalbelonging is stressed in the works of the Barbadian poet and historianKamauBrathwaite. Still others like Chinua Achebe, Raja Rao, and Salman Rushdiehave focused on revisionist history. Their works may be read as alternativehistories which both challenge colonial narratives and give voice to thosewhose stories have been ignored by European historians. In the U.S., theexplosive indigenous activism of the 1960s and 70s and the Native AmericanRenaissance that followed were conceived in terms of nationalism.

The politically charged works of Vine Deloria Jr., N.Scott Momaday,James Welch, Paula Gunn Allen, Leslie Marmon, Louise Erdrich, ThomasKing, Simon Ortiz, and others, resisted colonization and Westernhistoriography, projecting a model of ethnic identity for the future of thenation. Leslie Marmon Silko (1948- ), a writer of mixed Laguna Pueblo,white, and of Mexican ancestry, sees herself as someone in whom a concern

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Works Cited

Cantor, Paul. “Tales of the Alhambra: Rushdie’s Use of Spanish History.The Moor’s Last Sigh.” Studies in the Novel 29.3 (1997): 325-327. Print.

Jain, Jasbir. “Debating the Contemporary.” Rethinking Indian EnglishLiterature. Eds. U.M. Nanavati and P.C.Kar. Delhi: PencraftInternational, 2000. Print.

Rushdie, Salman. The Moor’s Last Sigh. 1995. London: Vintage, 1996.Print. (All subsequent references are to this edition.)

Sarma, Munindra Nath, and Satish C. Choudhury, Devdasi Nritya. Pathsala:Asom Sahitya Sabha, 2006. Print.

Singh, Jyotsna G. Colonial Narratives/Cultural Dialogues:“Discoveries” of India in the Language of Colonialism. London:Routledge, 1996. Print.


with memory and the past operates as a constitutive element in writing, aswell as in personal and cultural survival. Silko’s discursive method in workssuch as Ceremony (1977), Storyteller (1981), Almanac of the Dead (1991),and Gardens in the Dunes (1991) may be described in CatherineRainwater’s terminology, as “counting coup”1 on Western historiography.These works clearly reveal her agenda of decolonization. The idea of acontested “nation” becomes the central idea in Silko, assuming apocalypticdimensions, through a revival of ancient prophecies in Mayan almanacsregarding the ultimate destruction of the white race, and resurgence oftribal culture on the continent.

Silko’s Nativizing and reclamatory project is evident in Almanac ofthe Dead; her take on Eurocentric historiography of the Western hemisphereor the Americas. Her cultural nationalism falls into the pattern suggestedby Amilcar Cabral for she sees a clear link between history and culture;with her, nationalism is a historical act.

The major framing devices of the novel – a Table of Contents and avisual map – point to the novel’s dismantling of the way in which the Westernhemisphere has conventionally been divided into nation states with rigidborders. The Table of Contents displays competing systems of significationin the titles given to the six parts: “The United States of America,” “Mexico,”“Africa,” “The Americas,” “The Fifth World,” and “One World, ManyTribes” (8-12). A Eurocentric nationalist view of history would posit “OneWorld, Many Tribes” as the oldest and least mature social formation. “TheFifth World,” similarly, would refer not to the so-called Third World nationsbut to pre-Columbian indigenous cultures. After the “discovery,” the Westernhemisphere would become “the Americas,” while “Africa” and “Mexico”would precede the U.S., the latter standing as the culmination of nationalmaturation and civilization. But instead of such a pattern of place anddevelopment, Almanac of the Dead’s contents locate the U.S. as theformation to move away from, and the more plural non-national phenomenasuch as Mexico as the formations to be explored.

In order to complement this reversal of Euro-American nationalistnarrative, the title of each Part contains numerous Books, whose titlesexhibit different kinds of naming as well. For instance, the title “Africa”

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Rushdie realises that at the very birth of the nation, the politics of exclusionhas divided the nation on communal/religious lines. However, the city ofBombay, which preserved its hybrid culture, is now degenerating. Rushdieknows that “If RDX was being brought in Bombay, in sufficient quantitiesfor the stuntists to be able to sell off a little on the side, there was serioustrouble in the air” (358). With fundamentalist groups inching deeper insidewith puritanical zeal, the hybrid space is under threat. Nevertheless,Rushdie’s Moor still invokes a different sort of hybridity – a history ofmingling that would create a hybrid and complex nation. Rushdie says:

My view is that the Indian tradition has always been, and still is amixed tradition. The idea that there is such a thing as pure Indiantradition is a kind of fallacy, the nature of Indian tradition hasbeen multiplicity and plurality and mingling … I think the idea ofa pure culture is something, which in India is, let’s even say,politically important to resist. (qtd. in Jain 29)

These mixed traditions are now being subverted and excluded in the nameof the nation. But Rushdie still espouses such a tradition. As an artist, hecontemplates his vision of India in the paintings of Aurora Zogoiby:

In her vision of the opposition and intermingling of land and waterthere was something of the Cochin of her youth, where the landpretended to be a part of England, but was washed by an Indiansea.… Around and about the Moor in his hybrid fortress shewove her vision, which in fact was a vision of weaving, or moreaccurately interweaving … [I]n a way they were an attempt tocreate a romantic myth of the plural, hybrid nation; she was usingArab Spain to re-imagine India, and this land-sea-scape in whichthe land could be fluid and the sea stone-dry was her metaphor… miraculous composite of all the colours in the world. (227)

Thus, the novel retains the vision of an all-inclusive nation in spite of growingfundamentalism and sectarian politics.

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does not refer to the vast continent across the Atlantic and south of Europebut, instead, contains plots organized around states and cities in the U.S.Such semiotic dissonance emphasizes the history of forced migration ofenslaved Africans to the Americas more than the voluntary migrationEuropeans to the continent. In calling attention to this history of forcedmigration, “Africa” suggests that there is a large population of descendentsof enslaved Africans as much as anyone else, vying to produce realities inthe Americas.

According to Virginia E. Bell, the novel’s visual map, which callsitself “Five Hundred Year Map,” also echoes this semiotic dissonance andattention to paths of migration and travel. The two-page map representsthe U.S./Mexico border but points to, and labels, other places which wouldlie beyond the page’s contours. A borderline runs through the middle of thepage but only Mexico is labelled and not the U.S. Tucson is shown as lyinga little to the right of centre, rather than exactly at the centre. A few otherplaces – oceans, islands, nations, cities, sites of monuments – and eventsare labelled, and next to each one, are given a list of character names, fromthe novel. The characters, however, are from different historic momentsand are connected to the dotted lines to represent the migratory paths theytake. There are four boxed short narratives in English that refer to past,present, and future events, some of which make reference to Christiancalendar years. The cumulative effect of all these details is a map thatbrings three dimensional, vertical notions of time into a two dimensionaland horizontal representation. Such a strategy serves to undo the very ideaof clear distinctions or borders between the past, present, and future.Moreover, because of the presence of dotted lines which suggest paths ofmigration and travel, this becomes a map that can undo spatial and temporalborders of the nation state, the U.S. Silko’s framing map thus becomes anact of subversion, challenging the claims of both cartography and nationalhistory.

The dotted lines also point to the movement of historiographicalmanuscripts discussed in the novel, through time and space, in the processof their production, dissemination, and reception, and the movements ofcharacters who work on these manuscripts. Thus, we have the names ofAngelita La Escapia, a former Marxist, who tries to perform oral

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by Bal Thackeray spread the rumour that the Muslims have rejected “Humdo Hamare do” (we two and our two) slogan, as they want to increasetheir population in order to out-number the Hindus. The novelist portraysthus:

MA workers went into the tenements and slums to tell Hindusthat Muslims were refusing to co-operate, with the new policy. Ifwe are two and we have two but they are two and they havetwenty-one, then soon they will out number us and drive us intothe sea. (339)

With such propaganda, he vitiates the whole ambience of Bombay anddisturbs the age-old harmony of the nation. The nationalist zeal of the oldergenerations of Moors is now almost dead. But as a memory of the past, astuffed dog, which was named after Jawaharlal, is kept which the Moorthen carries to Spain, where it is finally discarded in a cupboard. It signifiesthat the national ideals espoused by the founding leaders have beendiscarded just like the stuffed dog.

At the end of the novel, the Indian Moor escapes to Spain unable tosustain himself in the communally charged atmosphere of contemporaryIndia. He dies in Spain, hoping to awake “renewed and joyful, into a bettertime” (433). Rushdie acknowledges the recent intensification of communalhatred and religious chauvinism in India, the drive towards ethnic cleansingand purity which debunks multicultural past and age-old shared history,thus:

Christians, Portuguese and Jews; Chinese tiles promoting godlessviews; pushy ladies, skirts not saris, Spanish shenanigans, Moorishcrowns …. Can this really be India? Bharatmata, Hindustan-hamara, is this the place? War has just been declared. Nehru andthe all-India Congress are demanding that the British must accepttheir demand for independence as precondition for Indian supportin the war effort; Jinnah and the Muslim League are refusing tosupport that demand; Mr. Jinnah is busily articulating the history-changing notion that there are two nations in the sub-continent,one Hindu, the other Mussulman…. (87)


chronological histories as a technique of popular education in Chiapas,Mexico. Clinton is a Black Indian and homeless Vietnam veteran whose“notebooks” and “broadcasts” are designed to inspire uprisings in Tucson,Arizona, and other parts of America. And Lecha, an old Yagui woman, isediting and transcribing an ancient manuscript, “Yoeme’s old notebooks,”the almanac for which the novel is named. These stories are embedded inmany other stories and plots in the novel and, together, they form the prosenarrative framed by the Table of Contents and the visual map.

In Almanac, her saga of postmodern decadence and crime, Silkodepicts storytelling as a kind of political activism. To expose the culpabilityof the Christian-capitalist society, Silko amalgamates classic epic andmedieval allegory with Native-style storytelling and symbolism. Employinga free-from chapter outline, Almanac’s elliptical structure demonstratesSilko’s storytelling method borrowed from tribal oral tradition. There arenumerous complicated digressions and narratives within narratives. Silkoherself admits that traditional storytelling has shaped the novel: “The storythey told did not run in a line from the horizon but circled and spiraledinstead like the red-tailed hawk” (“Notes on Almanac of the Dead” 140).

The ancient notebooks of the title, modelled on Mayan codices, areboth a symbol and a tool for Native survival. Silko holds that the perpetuationof past tribal narratives in modern stories within stories ensures Indiansurvival because the Native people’s ignorance of their history had beenthe white man’s best weapon in forced cultural assimilation. When Catholicpriests started forcing Mayan children to study Latin and Spanish in thesixteenth century, elders realized that written texts offered a tool to combatthese attempts at cultural genocide. In assessing the worth of ChilamBalam’sancient texts drawn and written on horse gut, Zeta speaks for all the FirstPeoples against colonial theft. She points out, “… [whites] came in, andwhere the Spanish-speaking people had courts and elected officials, theamericanoscame in and set up their own courts – all in English” (Almanac213). A damaging factor in interracial negotiations, a one-sided legitimationof language shut out the non-English speakers, and turned sovereignty andrecompense in the favour of usurping whites who took “all the best landand … the good water” (213). In her layered telling, Silko evokes history,“the sacred text,” for “within ‘history’ reside relentless forces, powerful

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That particular incident in Mumbai where the famous painter, M. F.Hussain’s gallery was ransacked by the Shiv Sainiks protesting against thenude depiction of a Hindu Goddess also draws the attention of the novelist.Salman Rushdie, in his own way, highlights the incident when he commentson the communal colour acquired by politics and sports in India:

The MA had announced its intention to march to Kekoo littleshow-room, claiming it was fragrantly displaying a p*rnographicrepresentation of a sexual assault by a Muslim ‘sportsman’ on aninnocent Hindu Maiden. (232)

Rushdie also shows us how Bal Thakeray claims “Hindustan” to be acountry of Hindus only. He makes it clear that this kind of militant religiousnationalism is jeopardizing the very essence of the Indian nation. It seemsthat the same religious persecution which had forced the ancestors of theMoor to leave their homeland and come to India in the beginning of thenovel was now bringing pressure on him to leave that very country of hisadoption. Rushdie further comments on “Mainduck’s” political activitiesand observes thus:

He was against unions, in favour of breaking strikes, against‘working women’ in favour of Sati, against poverty and in favourof wealth. He was against ‘immigrants’ to the city by whichhe meant all non-Marathi speakers, including those who havebeen born there, and in favour of its ‘natural residents’, whichinclude Marathi Medium types who had just stopped off the bus.He was against the corruption of the Congress (I) and for ‘Directaction’, by which he meant paramilitary activity in support ofhis political aims, and the institution of a bribery-system ofhis own. He derided the Marxist analyses of society as classstruggle and lauded the Hindu preference for the eternalstability of caste. In the national flag he was in favour of thecolour saffron and against the colour green. He spoke of a goldenage ‘before the invasions’ when good Hindu men and womencould roam free. (298-299 my emphasis)

With his archaic ideas, “Mainduck” is shown engaging in socio-politicalcampaigns against the “others”. Rushdie exposes how the Shiv Sainiks led

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spirits, vengeful, relentlessly seeking justice” (316). The Yaqui rever thealmanac because it identifies them as a nation from earliest times – “whothey were and where they had come from… all the days of their people”(246-47).

Silko presents the history of the ancient Maya manuscripts in a modernday Gothic tale. The potency of the ancient almanac as a weapon in Indianresistance is suggested by the fact that their Native custodian keeps themin a wooden ammunition box. When the Southwestern tribe that hadcomposed the almanac was dying out from the impact of European invasion,tribal members argued among themselves as to what should be done withthe book. Because they were the very last of their tribe, strong cases weremade for their dying together and allowing the almanac to die with them:“After all, the almanac was what told them who they were and where theyhad come from in the stories. Since their kind would no longer be, theyargued [that] the manuscript should rightly die with them” (570). Finally,however, it was decided to divide the text into parts and send it north withfour children, knowing that, in that way, at least a part of the story wouldsurvive: “The people knew that even if a part of their almanac survived,they as a people would return someday” (569). The power of the almanacstories to sustain people, because of its physical and spiritual properties, ismade manifest when the children are forced to eat pages of the book asfood and thrive as a result. The youngest child becomes so hungry that shechews the parchment; the eldest adds a page to vegetable stew, literallyfeeding the siblings on Yagui history. To preserve the precious lore orally,the eldest relates the contents of the page to the other three. As criticMartha Cutter observes, the almanac is no longer original, authentic, static,or uncontaminated but a fluid work in progress, an evolving narrative. Silkomakes the earliest staves accessible to the late twentieth-century as historyand revelation, through a decoding of the arcane glyphs and ancient chantsand prophecy. The inconsistencies in the text reflect the fates of divergenttribes and people who overcome differences to forge a joint assault againstthe white usurper.

Towards the end of the novel, Silko’s nationalism broadens in scopefor she envisions a pantribal revivalism which extends to interpersonalrelationships across tribes and organized groupings for survival and combat.

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politicized to arouse communal tensions between Hindus and Muslimswhenever the test matches are being played between India and Pakistan.He throws light on the situation and says:

In his game, essentially Hindu but with its Hinduness constantlyunder threat from the country’s other, treacherous communities,lay the origin of his political philosophy and of ‘Mumbai’s Axis’itself. There was even a moment when Raman fielding considerednaming his new political movement after a great Hindu cricketer-Ranjit’s Army, Mankad’s martinets but in the end he went for theGoddess- a.k.a. Mumba-Ai, Mumbadevi, Mumbai-thus unitingregional and religious nationalism in his potent, explosive newgroup. (231)

This “Mainduck” (Frog) and his “Ranjit’s army” have a substantial influenceon the political and social affairs in Mumbai, ranging from Ganpati puja tocricket matches. Rushide sums him up in the following words:

His old nickname from the cartoonist days was never used in hispresence, but throughout the city has famous frog-symbol-votefor Mainduck-could be seen painted on walls and stuck on thesides of cars…. He held his court beneath a gulmohar tree in thegarden of his two-storey villa in the Lalgaum suburb of BandraEast, surrounded by aids and supplicants, besides a lily-paddedpond, and amid literally dozens of statues of Mumbadevi…. Andin his lawn cane chair with great belly slung across his knees likeburglar’s sack, with his frog’s croak of voice bursting through hisfat frog lips and his little dart of tongue licking at the edges of hismouth, with his hooded froggy eyes gazing greedily down uponthe little beedi-rolls of money with which his quaking petitionerssought to pacify him… he was indeed a frog king, a MainduckRaja whose commands could not be gainsaid. (231-232)

Thus, everything in Bombay seems to be carried out as per his pleasures.Anyone violating the norms set by him or daring to contradict him has toface his ire.


The intertribal alliance envisioned in Almanac goes beyond pan-Indianism to include a panhistoric map of peoples – African Americans,Aztec, Cubans, Guatemalans, Haitian Black Indians, Hopi, Inupik, Laguna,Lakota, Mexicans, and Yaqui as well as the homeless, and war veterans.Silko presents her shared worldview through the insights gained by Clinton,the urban Black vindicator and rebel leader who orchestrates change.Similarly, Calabazas, a Yaqui, underscores the rights of the dispossessedgroups to their homeland: “We are [sic] here thousands of years before thefirst whites…We know where we belong on this earth” (216).

Silko validates the push from the south, which foreshadows theultimate overthrow of the white society by poor Mesoamericans reclaimingtheir heritage. Arnold Krupat in The Turn to the Native sees the specificstrategy of resistance in Almanac in terms of its insistence on a north-south/south-north directionality as central to the narrative of America.Krupat finds this shaft in the directionality of history an ideological subversionof the hegemonic Euramerican narrative, whose geographical imperativepresumes a “destined” movement from east to west. Krupat quotes RoyHarvey Pearce’s claim, “The history of American civilization would… beconceived of as three-dimensional, progressing from the past to present,from east to west, from lower to higher” (52). That movement cannot bereversed for, to go from west to east would be the same as going fromhigher to lower, from civilized to savage, something unthinkable in the contextof “Manifest Destiny,” nor can the movement be adjusted to accommodatethe south. It is exactly this inexorable east-west narrative that Silko contests.Insisting that history happens north to south and south to north, she shiftsthe reader’s perspective to the message of the novel. The novel concludeswith the return to Laguna Pueblo of a “giant stone snake” that haddisappeared long back when the rivers dried up.

Silko’s revolutionary rhetoric is written into this powerful symbolassociated with ancient tribal prophecy foretelling the arrival of Europeansto the Americas and their eventual disappearance from the continent. Inthe essay titled “Fifth World: The Return of Ma ah shra true ee, the GiantSerpent,” she speaks of old Pueblo stories mentioning a giant snake whowas the messenger of the Mother Creator, who had lived at Lake Kawaikin Laguna village but disappeared when the lake was destroyed, never to

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rural peasant women of India. The suffering of the film’s heroine is, in fact,the real predicament of rural women. He discusses the film in order toconvey the following message:

In Mother India, piece of Hindu myth-making directed by Muslimsocialist, Mehboob Khan, The Indian peasant women is, idealizedas bride, mother and producer of sons, as long suffering, stoical,loving redemptive and conservatively wedded to the maintenanceof the social status-quo. But for Bad Birju, cast from his mother’slove, she becomes as one critic has mentioned, that image of anaggressive, treacherous, annihilating mother who haunts thefantasy life of Indian males. (138-139)

The novelist also throws light on the pitiable condition of the poor people indifferent parts of South India who, compelled by their poverty, donate theirchildren to the temples. The poor girls, who become the servants of theGoddess Kellamma, become victims of various forms of exploitations. Inother parts of India too, the system of “Devdasi” has been a constantsource of exploiting the poor young women (Sarma and Choudhuri 2006).Highlighting the plight of these miserable young women, Rushdie comments:

I regret to say, especially from those shrines dedicated to theworship of certain Karnataka Goddess, Kellamma, who seemedincapable of protecting her poor young ‘disciples’ … it is matterof record that in our sorry age with its prejudice in favour of malechildren many poor families donate to their favoured cult-templethe daughter they could not afford to marry off or feed, in thehope that they might live holiness as servants or, if they werefortunate, as dancers, vain hopes also for in many cases the priestin charge of these temples were men in whom the higheststandards of probity were mysteriously absent, failing which laidthem open to offers of cash on the nail for the young virgins andhot-quite virgins and once again — virgins in their change.(183)

Rushdie is a minute observer of Indian society and even minor social incidentsdo not fail to catch his attention. For instance, despite living thousand milesaway from India, he knows well as to how the game of cricket has been

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be seen after that. When the uranium mining started in the Paguate villagein the late 1940s, the Laguna Pueblo elders declared the earth was a sacredmother and blasting her open would be an act which will bring about terribleconsequences. Hence, Silko says, it did not seem extraordinary to the oldpeople that a giant stone snake formation was found one morning, in thespring of 1980 among the uranium tailings at the Jackpile uranium mine. Byinvoking the snake image in Almanac, Silko makes it clear that themessenger from Mother Creator has come with dire warnings to thosewho despoil the sanctity of the earth. She also makes it clear that Nativedefiance and resistance to European oppression will continue unabated.

With this clarion call, Silko declares that Indian Ward have not endedin the Americas. Also, by moving the action of the novel closer to her owntimes, Silko discounts the white boast of five hundred years of conquest ona continent where Aborigines have lived for eighteen thousand years. Hermessage is made explicit in the annotated map: “Native Americansacknowledge no borders; they seek nothing less than the return of all triballands” (n.pag.).

Silko’s cultural nationalism manifested in Almanac fits into the patternsuggested by Benedict Anderson in Imagined Communities; to him,nationalism goes beyond the geographical and the physical. The tribal“nation” envisioned in Almanac is “an imagined political community” (6).This forging of a unifying collectivity involves careful selection from multiplehistories, with nationalists repeatedly invoking the idea of precolonialtraditions symbolized by race, culture, and language which have beentrampled upon by the colonial invades. As Silko’s novel demonstrates, forthe ethnic communities in the U.S., who have been subject to centuries ofoppression and exploitation by the dominant Euramericans, nationalism is acultural construct which enables them to posit their autonomy.


1. In manyIndian tribes, a warrior’s bravery was traditionallygauged by his success at “counting coup,” getting close enoughto the enemy to touch him or to appropriate his belongingcontemporary Native American writers such as Silko may be viewed as

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the fundamentalists. Throwing light on the politicization of “Ganesh Puja”in Bombay, Rushdie bitterly satirizes the politicians, particularly BalThakeray, and calls him a “Mainduck” (Frog). Rushdie suggests that somepoliticians take undue advantages of such puja occasions to serve theirpolitical ends. Rushdie explains the situation thus:

By the time Ganesh Chaturthi had become the occasion for fist-clenched, saffron-head banded youth thugs to put on show ofHindu-fundamentalist triumphalis, egged on by bellowing‘Mumbai’s Axis party politics and demagogues such as RamanFielding, a.k.a. Mainduck (Frog). (124)

These politicians are merely using a religious occasions merely to increasetheir influence rather than doing any good for the people. Because of thesenarrow minded and grossly opportunistic activities of the politicians, thecity of Bombay has reached a degraded state and lost much of its old glory.The novel portraying the by-lanes and factory areas of Bombay shows usfactory gates and dockyards spread into the slum-city of Dharavi, the “rum-dens” of Dhobi Talao and the “neon fleshpots” of Falkland Road. In aperceptive passage, Rushdie draws the actual picture of the struggling poorof the metropolis:

…quarrels of naked children at a tenement standpipes, the grizzleddespair of idling workers smoking beedis on the doorsteps oflocked up pharmacies, the silent factories, the sense that blood inmen’s eyes was just about to burst through and flood the streets,the toughness of women with saris pulled over their heads,squatting by tiny primus stoves in pavement-dwellers’ jopadpatti,shaks as they tried to conjure meals from empty air, the panicin the eyes of lathi-charging policemen who feared that one daysoon, when freedom came, they would be seen as oppression’senforces, the elated tension of the striking sailors at the gates tothe naval yards. (130 emphasis mine)

Rushdie understands that the politics of the day has made the nation doublydifficult for women. By referring to the famous Hindi film Mother India,Rushdie demonstrates how the heroine of the film symbolizes the common


successfully “counting coup” on the white man’s language andliterary forms, not only appropriating the semiotic “property” ofthe other but also reinventing it by making it serve Indian ends.

Works Cited

Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities. Rev. ed. London and NewYork: Verso, 2006. Print.

Frantz, Fanon. The Wretched of the Earth. Trans. Constance Farrington.London: Penguin, 1967. Print.

Krupat, Arnold. The Turn to the Native: Studies in Criticism and Culture.Lincoln and London: U of Nebraska P, 1998. Print.

Silko, Leslie Marmon. Almanac of the Dead .New York: Penguin, 1991.Print.

---. “Notes on Almanac of the Dead.” Yellow Woman and a Beauty ofthe Spirit: Essays on Native American Life Today. New York:Touchstone, 1997. (138-142). Print.

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above vengeance because forgiving, above tribe because unifying,above language because many-tongued, above colour becausemulti coloured, above poverty because victorious over it, aboveignorance because literate, above stupidity because brilliant….(51)

The novel was written in the wake of the serial bombings and the consequentcommunal riots in Bombay following the demolition of the Babri Masjid inAyodhya by Hindu fundamentalists who tried to define India as a Hindunation to the exclusion of all other religious groups.

The novel begins with the tale of Moraes Zogoiby, nicknamed the‘Moor’, a spice trader engaged in his business activities at Cochin. TheMoor is born of a hybrid lineage. His identity is a rather curious mix ofCatholic, Jewish, Arabic and Indian - much like Bombay:

Like the city itself, Bombay of my Joys and sorrows, I mushroomedinto a huge urbane sprawl of a fellow, expanded without time forproper planning, without any pauses to learn from my experiencesof my mistakes or my contemporaries, without time for reflection.How then could I have turned out to be anything but a mess?(161-162)

Referring to this, Paul Cantor argues that “by portraying Indian societythrough the lens of Moorish Spain, Rushdie condemns efforts to impose auniform culture on a nation and celebrates instead culturalhybridity”(1997:325). The Moor looks after his ancestral spice-tradebusiness which has been giving him a good return. He looks after his businessmethodically in spite of various problems, such as “the menace of emeraldsmugglers, the mechanizations of business rivals, the growing nervousnessof the British Colony in front Cochin, the cash demands of the staff and ofthe plantation workers in the spice mountains, the tales of communist trouble-making and congresswallah politics”(9). However, in the post-independenceIndia, communal politics has seriously messed up everything including hisbusiness.

Rushdie is highly critical of religious fundamentalism and its politicalabuse. The religious festivals have become an occasion of rivalry among




Najeeb P.M.

Wilhelm von Humboldt, the renowned German philosopher andlinguist, stated that “man lives in the world about him principally, indeedexclusively, as language presents it to him” (qtd. in Bernstein 95). Humboldt’sobservation about the deterministic intervention of language in mouldingthe cognitive and socio-cultural behaviour of humans led the way for thetheory of linguistic determinism that was developed by Edward Sapir andBenjamin Lee Whorf. The idea of linguistic determinism, or the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis as it is widely known, holds that the language one speaksdetermines the way one interprets the world around him, in other words,language determines culture (Bernstein 95-96). So, it derives as a corollarythat it is possible to shape the thinking and living patterns of individuals in aparticular mould by meticulous process of indoctrination. At the outset, thispaper proposes that what is argued about the determinism of language isapplicable in the case of advertising also especially, in the highlyconsumeristic market-societies like ours. Advertising determines the socio-cultural behaviours and self-identities of post- modern individuals; itintervenes in almost all the realms of human life- from dietary practices toconjugal etiquettes. The paper elaborates the idea of the determinism ofadvertising by analyzing the transient and arbitrary nature of the symbolicvalues ascribed on diamonds by advertisem*nts. It examines how diamonds,which were once perceived as the priceless possession of the aristocrats,“lost” their sheen and were “relegated” to the realm of the “mundane,” asillustrated by some of the recent advertisem*nts. .

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Dwijen Sharma

The Moor’s Last Sigh (1995) narrates the disillusionment of thegrowing cultural and religious degeneration and animosity that marked thepost-independence history of India. Rushdie apprehends a threat to themulticultural, multinational and multilingual India. Therefore, in this novel,he attempts to define the boundaries that exclude and include people, andtries to expose the lives of the marginals, who are often suppressed andalienated. In a sense, this novel is a valediction to the Indian nation thatRushdie knew and loved for its secular, democratic and inclusivist principles.In this paper, an attempt has been made to understand how Rushdie debunksthe exclusivist principle of nation building in this novel.

The Moor’s Last Sigh, with a historical panorama of almost acentury, is a sequel to Midnight’s Children with its main focus being onthe drawbacks of contemporary India after the Emergency of 1975.According to Jyotsna Singh, “Rushdie destabilizes and pluralizes the categoryof ‘nation-in-formation’ in Midnight’s Children, and continues this projectin The Moor’s Last Sigh, where he ‘lays to rest all the comforting mythsof postcolonial Indian nationalism’”(169). Through a complex interweavingof fictional narrative and metanarrative, the novel tells the story of modernIndia through the fortunes of a Christian Jewish spice trading family fromCochin, and celebrates competing versions of the Indian nation. Throughthis novel, Rushdie explores the cultural diversity of India and the roleminorities play in maintaining the rich cultural mix. The novel nostalgicallyevokes the Nehruvian vision of a free, secular and hybrid India:

Above religion because secular, above class because socialist,above caste because enlightened, above hatred because loving,


Diamond is one of the most sought-after precious stones in the world.Many myths and legends are woven around it and so many wars andconflicts were triggered by this piece of mineral. With the intervention ofDe Beers in the diamond industry in the nineteenth century, newer symbolicvalues were invented for diamond with the help of ingeniously craftedadvertising campaigns and slogans like “diamond is forever.” Diamond haslong been equated with eternal love in the urban legends spun by suchadvertisem*nts.

The paper examines three diamond advertisem*nts by KalyanJewellers in which ManjuWarrier, the comeback Mollywood heroine,endorses the commodity. In the first advertisem*nt, the character playedby Manju is engaged in a conversation with her colleague about the latter’splans about spending the bonus allowance, and she suggests to buy a diamondstud. The colleague reveals that she has already made plans to buy someexpensive gifts for her family and is left with only a meager amount at herdisposal. Here, Manju retorts and says that it is possible to purchase diamondswith as meager an amount as her colleague is left with and volunteers toconduct her to the nearby diamond shop. In the last scene, the colleague isall beaming and excited after wearing the newly bought ornament; she issurrounded by admiring onlookers. In the second advertisem*nt, a boy sittingin a coffee shop with his sister is preparing to reveal his love to a girl witha red rose. The sister disagrees with his idea of proposing with a rose, andstrongly recommends that he should offer a diamond ring instead. The boyreplies that he does not have sufficient money. Here, as in the firstadvertisem*nt, Manju offers a solution and takes him to the diamond shop.In the end, the boy rejoices because the girl has accepted his proposal.Thethird advertisem*nt is set in a middle-class household in which a girl isgetting ready for a ceremony in which the prospective bridegroom is meetingthe girl for the first time. The girl’s mother gives some old ornaments beforethe ceremonial meeting. Manju’s character intervenes into the scene andasks the parents to discard the old ornaments and buy diamonds. At thiscontext, the father, a man of principles, replies that he is a low-earningschool teacher and he cannot afford a diamond. He emphasizes that hedoes not want expensive ornaments to become a criterion for his daughter’smatrimonial prospects. Anyhow, Manju convinces him and takes the

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voice of the civil society reverberate throughout the novel. Along with thetremor prevalent in the island is heard the soft whistling of the IrrawadyDolphins. Civil Society remains an ambition as ever.

Works Cited

Ghosh, Amitav. The Hungry Tide. New Delhi: Harper Collins, 2005. Print.

Gramsci, Antonio. Pre-Prison Writings. Cambridge: CUP, 1994.Print.

---. Selections from Prison Notebooks. Eds. Quintin Hoare and GeoffreySmith Nowell. New York: International, 1992.Print.

Khilnani, Sunil, and Kaviraj Sudipta, eds. Civil Society. New Delhi: CUP,2001. Print.

Ross, Mallick. “Refugee Settlement in Forest Reserves: West Bengal PolicyReversal and the Morichjhapi Massacre.” The Journal of AsianStudies 58 (1999): 104-125. Print.


“meager”amount of money that the father keeps, and buys a diamondornament. As expected, the story comes to a happy end with the girl winningthe boy’s heart.

These advertisem*nts are skillfully designed attempts by the jewelrybrand to popularize diamonds among common people. As it has beenexplained above, the diamond has been a very rare and unique object in theearlier times. It has never been a common man’s possession. Even inKerala, it was advertised as an exclusively exquisite object to be possessedonly by a limited circle of people. The advertisem*nt of Blue Fire Diamondby Francis Alukkas, another jewelry brand based in Kerala, is a goodexample in which diamond is portrayed as an object which is unique anddistinct. The distinction, uniqueness and exclusivity of diamonds are shatteredby the Kalyan advertisem*nts—diamond has become “ordinary.”

Some common features can be found in these advertisem*nts, whichare set in very ordinary backgrounds. These advertisem*nts are purposefullycreated in a mould which is against the conventional structures of diamondads with elegant ambience and models resembling princesses. The celestialaura of diamond is being totally discarded in the Kalyan advertisem*nts.Diligent care has been taken to give an impression that the action takesplace in an ambience which resembles the mundane life of the audience.Theaudience is repeatedly reminded of the fact that the diamond shop is verymuch near their neighborhood, like any other corner shop. Thus, the purchaseof diamonds is skillfully equated with the purchase of bric-a-brac from alocal vendor.

Two points can be raised here. First, Kalyan ads democratize theconcept of consuming diamond by presenting it as a common man’sobject.The symbolic values which are attributed to the diamond can nowbe accessed by every individual. Second, by deliberately deconstructingthe sacramental aura and noble status of diamond which has traditionallybeen attributed to the diamond, Kalyan ads inadvertently defeat the purposeof their own attempt to make diamond a desirable object. What makesdiamond a desirable object is its “uniqueness” and “rareness.” If everyoneis allowed to wear diamonds, they may naturally lose the “essential” value

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Horen talks about the fear lingering in the island, “Because it’s thefear that protects you, Saar; it’s what keeps you alive. Without it the dangerdoubles.”(Ghosh 244). The fear of the tiger and the demon god strengthenedthem but the horror of the riots and the exodus hadn’t left them. At everysmall disturbance they shudder unknowingly. This politically weakened theirrevolting spirit. Unable to free themselves from the trauma (twice, whenwhat they believed to be a secure base betrayed them) they could notreach that phase of politics which a civil society can. The CPM did notsense this. Or else they would have followed Stalin’s advice of liberalcommunism, and made them a better state and democracy, only to makethem their weapon. The state too in a state of panic resorted to coercion.

Unlike Marx, Gramsci believed that civil society is super structural.It included political organizations, but also churches, schools and family. Itis everyday life. Some societies grow more than the state. The ideologythat takes them forward is not that of the crystalline sedimentation of theruling class, but forces capable of creating a new consciousness and history.The world of labour and production should not be abstracted from culture,creativity and humanism thought Gramsci and that was what was seen inthe island. Production was organized culturally, not a mechanical act ofdrudgery where the worker is not the insignificant weaver of a fishing net.Labour was creativity in the island. Had they been given time, a political,aesthetic and philosophical group would have flourished as a democracy.The state was not very confident of its position. Any growth outside withouttheir support was considered a hindrance to their own existence. When itdawned that it is only an element of diminishing importance it attempted tocurtail the growth of the society. Meritorious factors should be rewardedor at least acknowledged if the law is an educator. The state failed to dothis and used law as a weapon to destroy its citizens.

Interweaving history and fiction, Ghosh brings back to us the darkdays of partition. Not much have been said or written on the Morichjhapimassacre (not forgetting Mallick Ross’s study) for the press and theintelligentsia preferred to remain silent. Critics agree that through Ghosh’snovel the world knew of how the largest ruling democratically electedcommunist state could indulge in power politics to destroy a civil society.The silent horror that lingered in the basthuharas and the never seen


which renders them desirable. These advertisem*nts try to extrapolate thesymbolic values of uniqueness and distinctiveness which were built arounddiamond by previous advertisem*nts of other brands in an attempt to makethem more “ordinary”. The irony is that the meaning and value of diamondwhich was replaced by the newer symbolicvalue disseminated by the Kalyanads had originally been created by other diamond brands. It was De Beers,a renowned diamond brand, which created the modern urban myth arounddiamonds: “diamonds are forever.” It was De Beers who introduceddiamonds as the “most valued symbol of your devotion,” and “treasuredbeyond all other gifts” (qtd. in Lohman). So, once the diamond becomes acommon man’s article, its uniqueness as a commodity will be lost foreverand this loss of value will naturally make it an “ordinary” object. Theordinariness may eventually force the consumer who is always in the lookoutfor commodities with unique symbolic values to search for other objectswith a better sign-value.

The Kalyan ads exemplify the ways in which advertising determinesthe socio-cultural forms of post-modern individuals. Diamonds are cleverlyinserted into the cultural fabric of Kerala by equating them with their mundanelife. One can perceive the subtle changes in the symbolic-values of objectsor commodities by closely observing advertisem*nts. Rose, for instance, isan object which is symbolic of love across societies. But in one of theKalyan ads, rose is replaced by diamonds—Robert Burns would have written“my love is like a diamond” instead of,”my love is like a red, red rose,” if hewere alive in the present consumerist society. And, in the immediate future,the diamond would become the “natural” emblem of common man’s love.

Here, the advertisem*nts try to make a vital change to a particularcultural pattern. The socio-cultural behaviours that the advertisem*nts tryto replace are social constructs, which were embedded within the socialpsyche at different points of time. But, when an advertisem*nt tries toreplace an existing cultural pattern with a nuanced one, the arbitrariness ofmeanings and values become more evident. It is in this particular contextthat the words of Humboldt quoted in the beginning of this paper becomerelevant. In a consumer society, it is through the images shown by advertisingthat individuals perceive the world. The world according to the Kalyan adsis a place where experiences which were held to be luxuries are accessible

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The civil society, though it did not have a military force, had grownstrong, not strong enough to fight the state, but to yield to the weakening ofits social position. The state’s aim was to stay in power and the society’saim was not too overthrow the state. The state needn’t have a militaryforce but when a downtrodden mob begins to recognize its selfhood andpower, the state can politically oppose it. History has proved that anyimprovement in the position of the peasants can be catastrophic for itssocial position.

As for the civil society there was a lull when happiness began tothrive in the island. When a certain way of life content and happy becomespossible, the crime and violence of the past are no more judged as dangerous.When there are no fights for survival they are convinced that they aresafe. They are no more cautious. The state force comes in as if they werewaiting for all the trees to be cut down. In order to fight back the societyresorts to the same weapons used by the state. They invite the journalists,writers and politicians to the island and give them a big feast. This happenswhen many families in the island were starving. “In order to ensure presscoverage after the blockade a refugee, Saphalananda Haldar, evaded policepatrols and swam to the mainland where he informed the Calcutta press ofpolice firing. They published the story along with his name which resultedin his arrest” (Ross 110). The intellectual leader’s words (it came verylate) fixed on ideal happiness are not heeded to. They had no other choice.They were caught half way in their struggles. They did not have an economicpower and so had to beg and yield and be betrayed by forces that onceneeded their consent. Nirmal failed or rather, he wasn’t strong enough.Between the rebellion and peace they didn’t realize the developments thathad popped up outside their world. They did not have an intellectual leaderto tell them that the process of change is not merely for a change in theirliving conditions, but for a deeper realization of the reality that no landoffered to them can be theirs forever. They were yet to realize whatexperimental learning was. The fundamental ethics that had once gatheredthem together were slowly forgotten. The state succeeded in pushing themback to where they came from, a scattered, wandering lot, basthuhara.


to common men: “ordinary” selves are allowed to be “extra-ordinary” self-identities.

The construction of commodity-self is founded on the idea that ouridentity is defined and determined by our peers. “Commodity-Self” refersto “one’s own subjective identity arising from the commodities one purchasesand uses” (Way 106). Our self-identity is “the way in which we wantothers to perceive us” (Bailey). Kalyan ads are actually trying to create anew set of commodity-selves: ordinary people who can possess the luxuriesof aristocracy. Ironically, the distinction between the patrician and plebianis solved by these ads. In an attempt to offer more exquisite commodity-selves for the “common” consumers, Kalyan ads strip the diamond off its“esteem.” But one should not miss the point that the “high value” whichdiamonds arguably lost on account of Kalyan ads had, in one sense, beenthe construct of similar ad campaigns in the preceding years.

Works Cited

Bailey, Frances. “Advertising doesn’t Sell Things; All Advertising does isChange the Way People Think or Feel.” Web log post.Context ofPractice. N.pag. 19 Mar. 2013. Web. 19 Oct. 2014.

Bernstein, Basil. Theoretical Studies towards a Sociology of Language.London: Routledge, 2003. Print.

Lohman, Eric. “”Where Is the Love?” : Feminism and De BeersDiamond Advertising.” Academia.edu. N.pag. n.d. Web. 19 Oct.2014.

Way, Jennifer. “Commodity-Self.” Encyclopedia of Identity. Ed. RonaldL. Jackson.Vol. 1. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2010. 106-110. Print.

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“Then do you know anyone with power? Policemen? Forestrangers? Politicians?”

“No,” I said. “No one.”

“Then what can you do for us?” he said, growing peevish. “Ofwhat use could you be?”(Ghosh 172-173)

The islands, only sixty miles from Calcutta, were not in the vicinity of thegovernment till then. When the society began to flourish the CPM began todread it as a subaltern uprising. They feared that more refugees fromBangladesh might flow into Bengal and will become the weapon of theopposition like how they themselves had done once. The only way beforethem was to evacuate the refugees from the island legally. Immediatelythe government accused the refugees of having violated the Forest Act bycutting down trees and occupying the Tiger Reserve. When persuasionfailed the police were brought in. With guns and tear gas they encircled theisland. Many were killed, and many drowned.

After this the government brought in an economic blockade. Thefishing industry was destroyed. Food supply stopped and people began todie of starvation. The tube wells were destroyed and the people drinkingimpure water from puddles developed cholera. Muslim gangsters werehired by the government. Women were raped and thrown into the water.

Jyothi Basu, the CM, declared that nothing much had happened inthe island and that everything was made up by the press. The journaliststoo eventually supported the government and called the refugees poachers.All the parties in the coalition didn’t support the government but that did notsave the society. About the cutting down of trees the WWF andenvironmental activists did not take an official position. A final twist to theepisode was that the CPM settled its own supporters in the island, occupyingand utilizing the facilities left by the refugees. It was the strength deducedfrom the people that the party exercised on them. They took the power ofthe people and used force to control them.



A.Balu Vijayaraghavan

Home is probably one of the most recurring literary metaphors innovels. It is variously described in literature as conflated with or related tohouse, family, haven, self, gender and journeying and therefore, the ideasof home are multilayered.1 Naturally, one finds today a proliferation ofwriting on the meanings of home within the disciplines of sociology,anthropology, psychology, geography, history, architecture and philosophy.The images of home seem to be intrinsically ‘chronotope’2 in the sensethat they symbolize the intrinsic connectedness of temporal and spatialrelationships that are artistically expressed in literature. Home is thus nolonger just a dwelling place; it subsumes the socio-political developmentsof the time and space when it is created in literature, as also thepsychological, anthropological, sociological and other issues of humanity.The present work is prompted by the premise that in the light of new culturalstudies, home is portrayed in certain novels as an ideological constructreflecting the social, political, intellectual, moral and psychological climateof the time and place of the respective works. I have selected for my studyfive novels by writers of different ages, languages, cultures and worldviews:Charles Dickens’s Bleak House, VS Naipaul’s A House for Mr. Biswas,Toni Morrison’s Home, Rabindranath Tagore’s Home and the World andMT Vasudevan Nair’s Naalukettu. A re-appraisal of these novels from acultural perspective seems to reveal that the treatment of home in themvaries depending on the time and space in which they were written andalso in accordance with the ideology of the authors. In Dickens’s BleakHouse, for instance, home represents the injustices and inequalities ofVictorian England, while in Naipaul’s A House for Mr.Biswas, home is ametaphor of postcolonial search for identity. Similarly, in Toni Morrison’s

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The society in Lusibari which had confined itself to a women’sassociation with a leader gave itself a name and willingly accepted donationsfrom the rich in the ruling party. It compromised to win the acceptance ofboth the ruling and the opposition parties. Once it became a trust it becamea part of the ruling class a hegemonic power. Nilima had become a liberalcommunist whose rationality is ruled by commonsense (not ‘good sense’as Gramsci has it in his Pre-Prison Writings) which made her and thesociety slaves of the state. “Building is always a matter of well chosencompromises,” she tells Nirmal (Ghosh 214). She had begun to enjoy thepower of a proprietress. Nirmal had warned her before, “You have joinedthe rulers; you have begun t think like them. That is what comes of doingthe sort of social work you have been doing all these years. You have lostsight of the important things” (120).

By then the society in Morichjhapi had begun to suffer the oppressionof the state. Nilima refuses medical help to the society. Moreover shedoesn’t want her husband to get involved in the protest because she didn’twant to lose the support of the Bengali politicians. Nirmal too reacted coldlyby saying that it was no business of his. They silently agreed thatencroaching government property is a crime to be punished. But he wantedto become a part of it without having to take much trouble.

The society was helpless by then, and had split into two with twoleaders simultaneously negotiating with the government and the oppositionto prove that they are not revolutionaries. A leader told Nirmal:

“What’s most important to us at this time is to mobilize publicopinion, to bring pressure on the government, to get them to leaveus alone. They’re putting it out that we’re destroying this place;they want people to think we’re gangsters who’ve occupied thisplace by force. We need to let people know what we’re doingand why we’re here. We have to tell the world about all we’vedone and all we’ve achieved. Can you help us with this? Do youhave contacts with the press in Calcutta?....”


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Home, home is a repository of memories while in Tagore’s Home and theWorld, home is a symbol of the journey to the self. Home in M.T. VasudevanNair’s Naalukettu stands for the traumas of the transition from the Feudalsetup to modern Renaissance in Kerala. This perhaps supports my argumentthat home in novels is not just a dwelling place for family, but a multi-dimensional concept, representing the time and space of the respectiveworks and the ideology of the authors. The five novels under study have,of course, different backgrounds, themes, characters etc., but all thesenovels seem to have apparently a common link that in all of them thedescription of home has a functional result. Home here ‘acts.’3 Home actsmost probably as an ideology.

Home clearly serves as a repository for complex, inter-related andat times, contradictory socio-cultural ideas about people’s relationship withone another, especially family, and with places, spaces and things. Manyscholars have now recognized home as a multidimensional concept or amulti-layered phenomenon, and acknowledge the need for multidisciplinaryresearch in the field. P. Saunders and P. Williams, the joint authors of “TheConstitution of the Home: Towards a Research Agenda,” observe thathome is a major political background. They add that the feminists view it asa crucible of gender domination, while the liberals identify it with personalautonomy and challenge to state power. The socialists, on the other hand,approach home as a challenge to collective life and the ideal of a plannedand egalitarian social order (91).

Craig Gurney, a sociologist, who believes that the worlds peopleinhabit are socially constructed, argues that home is an ideological constructthat emerges through and is created from people’s lived experience (375).Like Gurney, Somerville maintains that home is an ideological construct,but rejects the view that the meaning of home is only establishedexperientially. He writes that home is not just a matter of feelings and livedexperience but also of cognition and intellectual construction. He continuesthat we cannot know what home ‘really’ is outside of these ideologicalstructures (530). Wardhaugh, a phenomenologist, notes that while homemay be located in space as a particular place, it is always more than this; itis physical space that is lived – a space that is an “expression of socialmeanings and identities” (95).

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will not be able to communicate to the dialect speakers and no politicalbond is formed. With no national-popular religion art or literature, the groupin the island had the privilege of having realms where they communicatedwell—the myth, labour, survival and above all the horror and the trauma.Many of their practices were conservative and fatalistic but there wereconceptions that enhanced development which were different from thefalse morality of the ruling class. The subaltern and subordinate elementsgrew into a broader cultural and political dynamism, without dismissingtheir distinctiveness.

This was not rebellion. Their aims were straightforward. They justwanted a little land to settle on. But for that they were willing to pitthemselves against the government. They can be called revolutionary asthey are distinct from classical working class movements that are no freerfrom the state. It was a peaceful revolution for existence, for not to bedispossessed once again; for not to become ‘basthuharas’.

‘How does a revolution fail?’ is a question asked by the thinking lotand though there are many answers to it related to the various revolutions,all agree to the fact that the revolutionary spirit shouldn’t weaken after thewin, it should continue to live. The lack of communication between thepeasantry and the intellectuals is another reason. The state throughideological means and liberalism lead the subalterns and without theirknowing they become weapons of the state. A ruling power/state ensurescertain things which aims at winning their hearts and minds. The right tovote is bestowed on them as a privilege and they are even allowed to standfor elections. People are supposed to believe that they govern themselves.In this semi-conscious, collective behaviour people become dupes of theruling powers.

But what if a subaltern society develops into a civil society? What ifit can lead a hegemonic struggle itself and if needed will challenge theauthority that disclaims it or the state that tries to demolish it and standresponsible? The society will become an autonomous power if it hasautonomous economic power and also if it doesn’t succumb to the sameweapons used by the state for existence. It should also be aware that itsgrowth never ends.


Saunders and Williams define home as “simultaneously and indivisiblya spatial and social unit of interaction” (82). It is the physical “setting throughwhich basic forms of social relations and social institutions are constitutedand reproduced” (82). As such, home is a ‘socio-spatial system’ thatrepresents the fusion of the physical and social units. In this socialconstructionist formulation, home is “the crucible of the social system”representing the vital interface between the society and individual (85).

Home in Dickens’ Bleak House seems to exemplify this concept.The novel indicts the inequities in Victorian society; it exposes the abusesof the court of Chancery and administrative incompetence. Also, Dickenscriticizes slum housing, overcrowded urban graveyards, neglect ofcontagious diseases, election corruption, class divisions, and neglect of theeducational needs of the poor. In short, one gets a picture of the Conditionof England4 from the novel, and it is well represented by Bleak house, thehouse of Mr. Jarndyce, the elderly relative of Richard Carstone and AdaClare – the central characters in the novel. In Chapter 6 titled ‘Quite atHome,’ Dickens gives a vivid picture of Bleak house. When Esther, Richardand Ada arrive at Bleak house, they have many chances to form firstimpressions of places and people. They first see Bleak House in a distance.It is an old-fashioned house with three peaks in the roof in front and acircular sweep leading to the porch. It is a delightfully irregular house withilluminated windows, softened here and there by shadows of curtains, shiningout upon the straight night. However, it is pictured as a gloomy edifice, andlike the fog in the novel, it symbolizes the institutional oppression whichpenetrates into the segment of Victorian society.5

Wardhaugh asserts that the concept of home cannot exist withoutthe concept of homelessness. Home and homelessness exist in a dynamic,dialectical relationship. They refer to “complex and shifting experiencesand identities” that emerge and unfold in and through time (93).

It is clear that in Postcolonial theory, home and homelessness areoften linked with human identity crisis. The idea of home among diasporacommunities is elaborated by Salman Rushdie in his essay “ImaginaryHomelands.” In his view, the sense of loss for leaving home “is moreconcrete for him (a diaspora) by the physical fact of discontinuity, of his

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The settlers didn’t come with any preconceived beliefs given to themby their religion. No traditional ideology given to them by their state gatheredthem together. They discovered themselves as citizens, sharing a life beyondtheir caste and creed. They understood that religion and beliefs are onlyweapons of the powerful to devastate the downtrodden. Together theydecided to believe in the god of the inhabitants not considering that it is aMuslim God with Hindu rituals. The myth of Bon Bibi the Muslim goddesswho saved their island from the demon Dokhin Rai held them together tofight nature.

In the island of Garjontola there was a shrine for the goddess—alarge eyed female figure in a sari with a crouching tiger beside her (areminder of Bengali Goddesses) whom they call Bon Bibi, daughter ofIbrahim the Prophet who send his daughter to save the tide country. Thechant was ‘Allah the powerful’. Every year a group of actors perform‘The Glory of Bon Bibi’. Kanai the translator from Delhi is surprised becausethe story began in Arabia with mosques and minarets in the background.The setting was Medina. The story proceeds with how the island wasdivided into two for the humans and demons. Everything went well untilhuman greed intervened.

A free expression of their own beliefs, free development ofproductivity and laws encouraged them to work hard in cooperation. Evenwhen things went wrong no one was blamed for they knew that they didn’thave the capital to carry out their plans successfully. This togethernesswhich can be called an unsocialist socialism was not done as a protestagainst the state. They conducted their own class struggle discreetly withoutany moral outrage at being thrown out of one’s own country. Khilnaniobserves, “It’s a domestic political space. It has a host of requirements. Ina civil society each individual is his own end, but he cannot accomplish itwithout the others. Independent development takes on the form ofuniversality” (30). There is pluralism in working, producing and living yet acivil society goes forward in trust.

When the media stresses their strategy that dialect speaking childrenhave no access to the national culture with its academic and bureaucraticsystem, an inequality prevails in the country. A person who speaks a dialectwill know less about the world and the national language speaking group


present being in a different place from his past, of his being ‘elsewhere’(12). Home for a diaspora thus becomes primarily a mental construct builtfrom the incomplete odds and ends of memory that survive from the past.It exists in a fractured, discontinuous relationship with the present. Imagininghome therefore brings fragmentation, discontinuity and displacement forthe migrant.6

Naipaul’s A House for Mr. Biswas perhaps subsumes all thesepostcolonial ideas of home. The primary theme of the novel is a search fora stable sense of personal identity, symbolized by the house for which Mr.Biswas is continually searching. Until he attains his own house, a firmstructure with which he can work out his own destiny, he is a faceless man,adrift on the tides of life. Mr. Biswas worries frequently about falling into avoid, an abyss where there is no form, no support for living. Throughout thenovel, inner and outer realities reflect each other. His startling realizationthat he is not whole, for example, shortly precedes the destruction of hishouse. This is because of the metaphorical value that the house possesses,as the external embodiment of an internal problem. This again explainswhy the houses in which Mr. Biswas lives are described in intricate detailthroughout the novel.

Home as a thematic concern is visible across Morrison’s novelsincluding The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon and also Beloved, wherethe Kentucky plantation is paradoxically named ‘Sweet Home.’ In her recentnovel Home too, Morrison unearths another layer to what a home means.Here, it is represented by a war veteran’s struggle to search for a sense ofbelonging he can reconcile with. Frank Money, the protagonist, sets for ajourney to another battlefield back in America, his home country he hasbeen fighting for. Home does not end on a positive note as Cee, Frank’ssister, touches her brother’s shoulder and tells: “Come on, brother. Let’s gohome” (121). Despite all odds and differences, there is indeed a home thatis waiting for this pair of siblings to return to. Whatever home might be forFrank, it is not a place where war is absent, as he brings Korea along withhim as he travels. If peace is thought of as an absence of war, it is a statethat Morrison’s character is unable to experience. War memories,psychological injury and loss have become a part of him that his wartimeand peacetime selves have united. Home for him cannot be a place apart.

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The women worked hard with determination. A trust was formedand Nilima now expected help from outside. It sprouted out to differentbranches—medical, paralegal, agricultural etc. A name was given—Badabon, the big forest. The women would assemble to discuss ‘incomegenerating projects’—knitting, sewing, dyeing yarn. It was also a place forthem to give vent to their anger and grief. The society grew so much thatpeople from the mainland came in search of employment and medicalservice. The hospital had a diagnostic lab, X-Ray room, dialysis machineand two resident doctors. The traffic gave way to employment—teashops,guest houses, repair houses all popped up in no time. Nilima was enjoyingthe success but Nirmal saw it only as social service which brought inproducts and profit but not the civil society he dreamed of as a communist.

The next rush of settlers came from Dhandakaranya and settled inMorichjhapi, a nearby island. The inhabitants protested but eventuallywelcomed the never ending incoming refugees. They joined hands in theprospect of a free land. Trees were cut down, huts made, fishing netswoven and a new settlement began to grow in perfect shape. There wereMuslims, Hindus, untouchables, adivasis, and all of them had the sameexperience of being dispossessed twice. Neither did their homeland northeir religion help them. They spoke in different dialects but the traumathey had to go through helped them recognize each other to speak thesame language. They realized that this island though a forest with marsh,tigers and snakes all around was their only hope. Out of this desperationand the fear of being dispossessed again, they build up a perfect democracy,a civil society.

Each man to his task, and there were no rulers. The island wasdivided into wards and each responsible for their productivity. Help, food,and care were equally distributed. Families were maintained. A fishingindustry was built in no time. Tube wells brought in fresh water to drink.There were salt pans; water dammed for fish farming, bakery, workshops,pottery, ironsmith, nets, crab lines, markets, in short a civil society, ademocracy, a Dalit nation, a safe haven for the oppressed. By the end ofthe year they had even taken a census; five zones, each family given fiveacres of land, one quarter of the island for people from outside.


It is better seen as an exploration of the limits of understanding and neithera place of restoration nor the place of broken dreams. Also, it is the placewe look for understanding but can never find.

Home in Home is not a land (as in homeland), or a front (as inhomefront). It is tied to concrete physical spaces and to memories of theirpast meanings. At the same time, home is not a space of reunion. Instead,it is a place where individuals remain disconnected, able to see only theexterior of their most intimate human contacts. The siblings provide supportfor each other, but even at home, individuals do not fully know each other.

Morrison’s concept of home in this novel can be connected to theidea of the birth family house which holds a symbolic power as a formativedwelling place, a place of origin and return, and a place from which toembark upon a journey. This house or dwelling accommodates home, buthome is not necessarily confined to this place. The boundaries of homeseemingly extend beyond its walls to the neighbourhood. Home is indeed avirtual place, a repository for memories of the lived spaces. It locates livedtime and space, particularly intimate familial time and space. While memoriesof home are often nostalgic and sentimental, home is not simply recalled orexperienced in positive ways. Morrison’s novel displays the symbolic potencyof the ideal or idealized home. Tucker suggests that most people spendtheir lives in search of home, at the gap between the natural home and theparticular ideal home where they would be fully fulfilled. This may be aconfused search, a sentimental and nostalgic journey for a lost time andspace. Tucker adds that it may also be a religious pilgrimage or a searchfor a Promised Land (184). Writing from a phenomenological perspective,Jackson observes that home is always lived as a relationship, a tension.Like any word we use to cover a particular field of experience, homealways begets its own negation. It may evoke security in one context andseem confining in another (122-3).

Tagore’s novella The Home and the World deals with theexperiences of three characters during the Swadeshi movement in India –Nikhil, a benevolent and progressive landlord, his childhood friend and avoluble, selfish but charismatic nationalist leader, Sandip, and Nikhil’s wifeBimala. If the novella shows Tagore’s disappointment with the Swadeshi

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organization Udbastu Unnayanshil Samiti also demanded The Sunderbansand declared that the place is fit for living.

In 1972 when the CPM won, the refugees began their exodus. Butwhen the party had moved from opposition to governance, policies too hadchanged. The refugees were stopped at the railway station and send backby force. Some managed to sneak out and reached the Morichjhapi Island.Ghosh begins his novel here.

Years before, a Scotsman Sir Daniel Hamilton had landed in the tidecountry with the dream of a civil society. He couldn’t do much because ofthe poor fertility of the soil. It never lost its salt. When he died in 1939 allthat remained in the island of Lusibari were a couple of buildings, a school,a clinic and public works which were abandoned by the managers whowere only interested in the fund that was left. His statues were garlandedand pujas conducted by the islanders. Obviously his idea too was welcomed.

The first rush of settlers came in 1942 as a result of the great faminein Bengal. With the inhabitants they fought for a living, with the poor cropscondition. Hunger drove them to hunting and fishing where there wereoften fatal encounters with tigers and crocodiles. Years later when Nirmal,a Communist with revolution in his dreams, alighted with his wife Nilima inLusibari, things were no better. Nirmal had come as the headmaster of aschool where there were no learners. He read Lenin’s pamphlets throughand through for an answer. Nilima noticed that the women in the islandwere dressed as widows with no bangles on their wrists and vermillion ontheir forehead, as anticipation that their men who had gone fishing will notcome back alive. She assembled these women under a class, a sreni to dosomething useful. But Nirmal was against this. As a communist he said hecannot support this, for workers as a whole formed a class, and anotherdivision is uncalled for. Anyhow Nilima was determined and a women’sorganization was formed. By the time zamindari was abolished in Bengaland what little was left of the Hamilton endeavor was confiscated by lawsuit. A set of rules began to rule the island. Boundary lines were drawn,permits issued and those who trespassed were either shot dead orimprisoned. The islanders were confused. They were accustomed to thewholeness of the place.

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movement, one of its most remarkable characteristics is his treatment ofthe feminine character, Bimala. She is happy at the outset in her traditionalrole as a zamindar’s wife, but later encouraged by her husband she stepsout of home to better acquaint herself with the world and thus to find a newidentity for woman. At the sight of Sandip, she emotionally trips, vacillatesbetween him and her husband, until she returns home bruised and humiliated,but with a more mature understanding of both the home/self and the world.

One can safely assume that in Tagore’s novella home is a symbol ofself, especially of Bimala, the heroine. In her article, “House, as a Symbolof the Self” Clare Cooper refers to the relation between home and identityand/or the concept of the self. She draws on the Jungian concept of thecollective unconscious which link people to their primitive past. Accordinglyshe speculates that one of the most fundamental archetypes, the free-standing house on the ground, is a frequent symbol of the self (56). Tuckeralso suggests that home may be an expression of a person’s subjectivity inthe world. He states that home is a space where people feel at ease andalso where they express and fulfill their unique selves or identities (184).

Bimala in The Home and the World leaves home and returns withbroader experiences of the world. To her, home is thus both origin and finaldestination. This concept of home in the novella can also be explained inthe light of modern cultural studies and anthropological literature as well associological and psychological research on family formation and home-leaving which claim that ideas about staying, leaving and journeying areintegrally associated with notions of home. ‘Home,’ which is defined as adwelling, a homeland, or even a constellation of relationships, is representedas a spatial relational realm from which people venture into the world andto which they generally hope to return. It is a place of origin as well as apoint of destination. For Ginsberg, home is less about “where you are from”and “more about where you are going” (35). This sentiment is also expressedby Tucker, who stresses that “home searching is a basic trait of humannature”, one which arises out of the propensity of humans to migrate as ameans of ensuring their survival (186).

The dissolution of Naalukettu or the tharavadu, the residentialhomes of prosperous Nair families which started in the middle of the

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Amitav Ghosh’s novel The Hungry Tide features a civil societywhich grew out of a trauma; a society that was suppressed by the state.The backdrop goes back to the 1947 partition of India and moves forwardto the secession of Pakistan and the formation of Bangladesh. After 1947,refugees from East Bengal poured into West Bengal and it continued tillthe 60s. The Congress party then thrived on the support of the upper classHindu landlords and hence the upper class Hindu refugees were givenshelter in urban areas of Calcutta. By 1970 riots broke out in East Pakistanover a Muslim relic accused of being stolen by a Hindu; a communal riot,where both Hindus and Muslims were equally massacred. The Namasudramovement which had till then supported the Muslim untouchables fell weak.West Bengal was again filled with refugees. The state that was alreadypopulated with refugees refused shelter. The upper caste Hindus couldagain find cover whereas the Muslim untouchables and the Hindu lowercastes were sent to refugee camps in Dhandakaranya. There they spendtwelve years of torture from the barren dry land, the Adivasi inhabitantsand the corrupt camp administrators and officials. Lack of food supplies,meagre wages, disease, insecure surroundings, and depression all madethem rebel along with the lower administration staff that too was fed upwith the officials.

The rebellion began in the Mana camp. The officers too persuadedthem in order to teach the lower divisions staff a lesson. A 73 day hungerstrike reached nowhere. The police opened fire and killed many. Therefugees were becoming an unmanageable problem for the Right Frontwhich questioned their very existence. The CPI (M) rose to the occasionand demanded a shelter for the refugees either in the uninhabited areas ofCalcutta or The Sunderbans. ‘One lets a man starve until he is fifty andfinally notices him. In private life such behavior would warranty a goodkicking. In the case of the state it appears to be a merit’ (Gramsci 269).Similarly, the government tried to give the refugees an equipment to survivewith and made sure that it is loudly acclaimed and trumpeted. Ram Chatterjeeon behalf of the Left Front promised them the lush land in The Sunderbansin barter for their votes. This came as a secure base for the refugees afterthe trauma of being dispossessed and tortured. Unlike the upper Hindurefugees who had settled in Calcutta, they were illiterate and didn’t knowthat Chatterjee was a leader of a small group in the Left coalition. The


twentieth century in Kerala is the theme around which M.T.VasudevanNair’s Naalukettu revolves. MT admits that he witnessed the last stagesof the crumbling of the matrilineal system of inheritance. The backgroundof Naalukettu is, however, not solely that of his own family. There arecharacters from his neighbourhood in it as well (qtd. in Akbar Kakkattil288). Properties in the matrilineal system of inheritance passed down throughthe women. However, the lands and the income from them wereadministered by the eldest male member of the joint family, the karanavar.Ideally, the karanavar was selfless, devoted to the welfare of the family.But in reality, he could be greedy and self-seeking, more interested inamassing wealth for himself than in looking after his sisters and their children.Since he wielded considerable authority, he could impose his will on theyounger members of the household – as it happens in the Vadakkeppattutharavad in M. T.Vasudevan Nair’s Naalukettu.

Naalukettu, the home in M.T. Vasudevan Nair’s novel, is a witnessto the period of drastic changes during the transition from feudalism tomodernism in Kerala. The novel sensitively captures the traumas andpsychological graph of Appunni, the protagonist, caught as he is in thethroes of this transitional period in Malabar. Growing up without a fatherand away from the prestige and protection of the matrilineal home to whichhe belongs, Appunni spends his childhood in extreme social misery.Fascinated by accounts of the grand Naalukettu tharavadu of which hewould have been a part, Appunni visits the house only to be rejected by thekaranavar of the household. With vengeance boiling in his heart, Appunniclaws his way up in life to finally buy Naalukettu, the symbol of his youthfulaspiration and anguish. But he realizes to his dismay that Naalukettu,which has been a symbol of social status and personal prestige, has ceasedto be so with the emergence of a new modern society. Home in M.T.Vasudevan Nair’s novel appears to represent more the changing socio-political scenario in Kerala in the middle of the twentieth century than thepersonal pangs and agonies of the protagonist.

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Dr. Geetha Krishnankutty

The debate on civil society is a fertile yet unclear ground becausedifferent thinkers ascribe different meanings to it. Scholars, literary andpolitical, keep on coming back to it making it all the more misleadinglyuniversal. However, the term doesn’t stand freely on its own. It is definedthrough its opposition of natural society, against political society or in contrastto community. It is not a social contract, in which rational human beings,out of insecurity, exchange their natural rights for civil rights given by astate, for an orderly society(‘natural’ can also mean violence and disorderand political institutions exist by sticking on to the word ‘order’). Gramscisays in his Pre-Prison Writings, “The word ‘order’ has a healing power;and the preservation of political institutions is entrusted, in great part, to thispower” (19).

The mass fear changes and also affects the uncertainties it will bringforth. A Utopian idea or utter desperation of servitude or the mere questionof survival can make a change and lead to a civil society. It encourages theeconomics and diversified productivity driven by sustenance and consumerwants at the same time. But this is also where individual autonomy andethical differentiation are practiced. It cuts off the nostalgic traditionalpolitical activism and the state ideology. It is a state that stands above classconflicts, a political aspiration for a perfect democracy, with economicautonomy. If realized in its full perfection, it will make a conservative force.A state ruled by reason, civil society is a “special intimacy, uncontaminatedby the government and located outside its regulation” (Khilnani 30).



1. In this paper, the terms ‘home’ and ‘house’ are interchangeablyused. Joseph Rykwert, a famous historian, notes that the associationbetween house and home was consolidated in English case law inthe earlyseventeenth century by the Jacobean Judge, Sir Edwardco*ke. The judge declared that the house of everyman is to him“his castle and fortress, as well as his defense against injury andviolence, for his repose” (53). Later simplified in the nineteenthcentury to ‘The Englishmen’s house is his castle’ this phrase waspopularly appropriated to define and describe home as a havenwhich comprises both house and surrounding land (53).

2. Though ‘chronotope,’ a term coined by Bakhtin, is used in literarytheory to explain how different literary genres operated withdifferent configurations of time and space, we can borrow it forliterary criticism almost, but not entirely, as a metaphor representingthe inseparability of space and space. In the literary artisticchronotope, spatial and temporal indicators are fused into onecarefully thought- out, concrete whole. In The DialogicImagination Bakhtin maintains that “The chronotope as a formallyconstitutive category determines to a significant degree the imageof man in literature as well” (56). So, in the present discussion onhome as a cultural construct application of this Bakhtin concept isappropriate.

3. This phrase appears in Vladimir Nabokov’s lecture on Bleak Housetaken from his Lectures on Literature, quoted in the introductionto Dickens’s Bleak House published by Bantam Dell in November2006. (xv)

4. The term “Condition-of-England novels” refers to a body of narrativefiction, also known as industrial novels, social novels, or socialproblem novels, published in Victorian England during and afterthe period of the Hungry Forties. The term directly relates to the

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belief, but counters a culture of orthodoxy. She underlines the diversityand liberty in the path to the sublime spiritual destination. This newunderstanding seems to be gradually evolving in the present society and itsrelevance is highly commendable as there is always an alarming threat ofthe outbreak of a religious riot which can take place anywhere, anytime. Inthis sense the novel definitely stands as a doctrine of religious brotherhood.This is clearly evident from its publication in 1993, a year after the demolitionof the Babari Masjid that took place in 1992.

She is the key to historical as well as genealogical knowledge. Thisunderstanding is necessary to rationalize many social as well as religiouspractices. Beevi stands for an enlightened figure, or rather becomes thewatchword of a developed civilization to preserve the afore-mentionedcultural codes, and to negotiate all sorts of communal schisms. Beeviredefines all restrictions and prohibitions and seems to promote the ideologyof harmony retaining at the same time the diversities inherent in each culture.She is the embodiment of universal motherhood. She sympathises andempathises with everyone. The ideology serves a harmonizing theme withdue respect to the diversities. Here lies the significance of the collectiveimagination for the Beevi culture. She is the desire of the ages. In otherwords, for that matter any similar figure is a social mechanism meant tosoothe warring social factions.

Works Cited

Armstrong, Karen. A History of God: From Abraham to the Present:The 4000- year Quest for God. London: Vintage, 1999. Print.

Lart, Jonathan. Interpreting Cultures: Literature, Religion, and theHuman Sciences. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. Print.

Prabhu, Gokuldas. “Visitations from The Past.” Upadhwani: NavakadhaNovel Pathippu 25.1 (2012): 176-178. Print.

Ramanunni, K. P. Sufi Paranja Katha. 9th ed. Kottayam: D C, 2012.Print.


famous “Condition of England Question” raised by ThomasCarlyle in “Chartism” (1839), although some of these narrativeswere published earlier. Condition-of-England novels sought toengage directly with the contemporary social and political issueswith a focus on the representation of class, gender, and labourrelations, as well as on social unrest and the growing antagonismbetween the rich and the poor in England. Even a cursory glanceat the history of the early Victorian novel reveals that many writersshared a particular concern: the social consequences of theIndustrial Revolution in England at the beginning of the nineteenthcentury.

5. Satis House in Great Expectations also seems to justify the conceptof home as a social construct. Satis House is the home of MissHavisham, a rich woman, heiress to her father’s fortune who wasabandoned by her intended husband on her wedding day. In SatisHouse, Dickens creates a magnificent Gothic setting whose variouselements symbolize the protagonist Pip’s romantic perception ofthe upper class. The brewery next to her house symbolizes theconnection between commerce and wealth. Miss Havisham’sfortune is not the product of an aristocratic birth but of recentsuccess in industrial capitalism. Finally, the crumbling, dilapidatedstones of the house, as well as the darkness and dust that pervadeit, symbolize the general decadence of the lives of its inhabitantsand the upper class as a whole. Throughout Great Expectations,Dickens explores the class system of Victorian England based onthe post-Industrial revolution, and obviously, Satis House reflectsthe corruption, decay and fate of the upper class of the VictorianPeriod more than the fate of its own. As Terry Eagleton has noted,“Dickens sees his society as rotting, unraveling, so freighted withmeaningless matter that it is sinking back gradually into someprimeval slime” (40). Satis House, one of the most widely discussedhomes in English literature, thus epitomizes the contemporary socialand political issues of Dickens’s time.

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However, the construction of the temple worsens the situation. Thereevolves a friction between the Hindu practice and the Muslim practice.Though it is not a problem for the native Muslim residents of Ponnani itcauses a serious issue of schism for the religious priest, Sayed Mollakkafrom Chavakkadu. He persuades to dismantle the temple. What enrageshim is that Karthy is already initiated to Islam; that is she has alreadybroken her previous cultural codes. He conceives as anti-Islamic the presentact of Karthy, her worshipping of the Hindu Goddess with offerings andpoojas. Finally everyone who embraced a change is perished, or rather,reborn like the phoenix bird.

Karthy sinks into the water source in order to embrace a newsubjecthood which leads to the birth of a new civilization. This is manifestedas the jarum and signified as the Beevi. That is Beevi worship becomes anew cult and a new civilization. Such a figure is essential for communalharmony. Beevi emerges as a counter figure that stands beyond all immatureand irrational religious practices. Beevi is essentially the female principleone who has genealogical links with Goddesses and mother deities all overthe world. She symbolizes not religion but human psyche; its collectiveneed and her worship which is beyond religious concerns and as a unifyingfigure of maternity becomes a new civilization. Beevi is not a superimposedfigure but who remains latent (in a state of hibernation) in our own personalor collective memory.

Until the arrival of Karthy (Beevi) everyone had stable and rigididentities. But her very presence unsettles such firm perceptions and compelseveryone to see the simple but forgotten fact that communal identities aretransient i.e. the quarrelling groups were brothers until recently. The authorsubstantiates this with the fact that she evolves to settle the chaos at ajuncture of communal riot, she is herself justified as a mediating factor.This is evident from the worship of jarum that enfolds an extra-religiousinvolvement. Though she ends as a Beevi, she does not limit herself as aBeevi; she is simultaneously the Devi as well as the Beevi. More precisely,she embodies maternity which is evident in the Devi and the Beevi. Shevindicates the transcendental maternal love and care. She does not attemptor stand for religious fusion but still exists as an egalitarian who pleas forreligious harmony. Thus in fact, she does not counter a religion or religious


6. This postcolonial idea of home is perhaps comparable to GeorgeLukacs’ philosophical term, “Transcendental homelessness” whichhe describes in his Theory of the Novel as “the urge to be athome everywhere.” If home is a state of mind, and is a place ofpeace and belonging, being homeless represents a state ofdisharmony and disconnection.

Works Cited

Bakhtin, M.M. The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays by M.M. Trans.Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist. Texas: Texas P, 1981. Print.

Cooper, C. “The House as Symbol of the Self.” EnvironmentalPsychology: People and Their Physical Settings. 2nd ed. Eds.Proshanky, H.M., Ittelson, W.H.and Rivlin L.G. New York: Holt,Rinehart and Winston. n.d. Web.21 July 2014.

Dickensm, Charles. Bleak House. New York: Bantam, 1985. Print.

Ginsberg, R. “Meditations on Homelessness and Being at Home: In theform of a Dialogue.” The Ethics of Homelessness. Vol 86. Ed.GJM Abbamo, Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1999. Web. 21 July 2014.

Gurney, C.M. “…Half of me was Satisfied”: Making Sense of HomeThrough Episodic Ethnographies.” Women’s Studies InternationalForum 20.3 (1997): 373- 386. 1997. Web. 21 July 2014.

Jackson, M., ed. At Home in the World. Sydney: Harper Perennial, 1995.Print.

Kakkattil, Akbar. Sargasameeksha. Thrissur: DC, 1993. Print.

Morrison, Toni. Home. Britain: Vintage, 2012. Print.

Naipaul, V.S. A House for Mr.Biswas. London: Picador, 2003. Print.

Rushdie, Salman. Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991. New York: Penguin, 1992. Print.

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Karthy also gradually starts experiencing a longing for her old religion.Even after the religious transgression Karthy does not completely abandonher old religion and culture. Karthy’s position is that of a conflicting soultied between two cultures. Her longing is symbolically represented throughher day-dream of the dancing deity. The depiction of the omnipotent danceof the deity, Machile Bhagavathy, is substantially the hysteric manifestationof Karthy’s permuting and contravening psyche. Karthy’s desire to returnto her old Gods and old civilization reaches its zenith when she accidentallydiscovers an idol of Kali. Her urge continues as she discoversChithrakooda stone, talisman and other religious accoutrements. This alsosuggests the excavation of an erased cultural memory. The other membersin the family also experience abstract presence of unseen powers permeatingthe nook and corner of Musaliyarakom house. Such a collective experiencebrings to mind the fact that faith appeals to the personal aspect rather thanthe religious or political. It exemplifies a sort of flexible faith. Karthy conjuresthis spiritual accreditation, and enshrines it into a newly constructed temple.This act turns to be a prominent step in Karthy’s spiritual as well as sexualquest. Here construction of the temple becomes more significant as adefence mechanism adopted by Karthy for her wish fulfillment.

The construction of the temple owes to the psychic defence adoptedagainst two philosophical quests. When Karthy asks for her MotherGoddesses she is metaphorically putting across her repressed passions ofsexuality and civilization. Karthy’s subject position is highly commendablehere. When she is initiated into the new religion and culture, her own religiouscodes are broken. Her longing for the former religious code is actually thelonging for the former cultural code and this again could be understood asa longing for her infantile Oedipal experience. It becomes signified thatKarthy longs for her Shankumama, rather than the nook and corner ofMeleppullarathu House. It is the same collective imagination revealed inAvaru Musaliyar’s conflict when he looks at Karthy’s face. Karthy’s actof temple construction is her attempt to remember her past culture andreligion. Karthy remains unfathomable as an entity that gains relevance atmultiple levels. Her attempts to remember her past is not only limited to thereligious past. It is the past of a culture which was multi-religious butharmonious. This is what which gets signified through her act of recollectingthe past without neglecting the present.


Rykwert, J. “The Idea of a Home: A Kind of Space.” Social Research58.1 (1991): 51-62. 1991. Web. 21 July 2014.

Saunders, P., and Williams P. “The Conditions of the Home: Towards aResearh Agenda.” Housing Studies 3.2(1988): 81-93, 1988. Web.21 July 2014.

Somerville, P. “Home Sweet Home: A Critical Comment on Sauders andWilliams.” Housing Studies 4.2 (1988): 113-118. 1989. Web. 21July 2014.

Tagore, Rabindranath. The Home and the World. London: Modern Classics,2005. Print.

Tucker, A. “In Search of Home.” Journal of Applied Philosophy 2.2(1998): 181-187. 1998. Web. 21 July 2014.

Vasudevan Nair, M.T. Naalukettu. Trans. Gita Krishnankutty. New Delhi:OUP, 2012. Print.

Wardaugh, J. “The Unaccomodated Woman: Home, Homelessness andIdentity.” The Sociological Review 47.1 (1998): 91-109. 1998. Web.21 July 2014.

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norms of social, cultural and moral codes. Karthy paddles her own canoein the stream of intermixing cultures and civilizations. Pithan Mamootty, amerchant from the renowned Musaliyarakam veedu of Ponnani, becomesthe agent for Karthy’s cultural transgression. Bharathapuzha flows as aborder dividing the two districts – Malappuram and Trichur. It is a storehouseof cultural memory. Bharathapuzha is the embodiment of Hindu civilizationwhich holds mythical significance in Hindu epics and sacred texts. ThusMamootty’s crossing of the river from Ponnani to Trichur and Karthyperforming the same act from Trichur to Ponnani equally signify the crossinginto new civilizations. The two religions and two cultures diffuse throughtheir relationship. Karthy’s transgression to a new civilization isaccomplished through her primary experience of cohabitation withMamootty. This crossing is consequential for Karthy as she undergoes atranscendental travail to step into a new civilization. Karthy is initiated intoIslam by Avaru Musaliyar, who is the religious priest of Ponnani. Even atthe primary encounter with Karthy, Musaliyar experiences a dejavu.Musaliyar came with the same experience long before when he looked onthe image of Chirakkal Bhagavathy during the procession. He realizes theelement of divinity in Karthy. Hereafter Avaru Musaliyar falls into a psychicconflict of religio-cultural matrix. He starts developing faint memoriesabout his alter ego, lord Kochunni. Here onwards the novel develops arewinding narration. The incidents of forceful religious conversion inMalabar regions in 1780s during the age of Tippu Sultan are pointed out asa time marker. Even though Tippu was defeated in 1792 the psychologicalconflict of the converts that of lacking a proper religious subjecthood wasnot resolved. This collective psychological conflict is represented throughAvaru Musaliyar whose grandparents have undergone this conversion. Itis highly contradictory that one is inducted into a new religion and surprisingly,the one who initiates starts undergoing the predicament of being pulled bythe collective memory of his old religion. Musaliyar becomes consciousthat he shares a common space with Karthy which one can relate to thecollective unconscious. His psyche is contravened by the thoughts of hisreligio-cultural provenance.

The spiritual trait which he attributes to Karthy reminds him theduality of Hindu-Muslim cultures. Avaru Musaliyar is seen to be undergoingthe psychic conflict of fixing his subjecthood within the frames of religion.




Ms. Priya K.

The earth does not argue,Is not pathetic, has no arrangements,Does not scream, haste, persuade,Threaten, promise,Makes no discriminations, has noConceivable failuresCloses nothing, refuses nothing, shuts none out.

(Walt Whitman ‘A Song of the Rolling Earth’)

Introduction – Significance of Forests in Nature and Literature

The forests and its surrounds have drawn great attention of writersand students of society and history alike since past many centuries. Forestsare one among the various landscapes in India today that have garnered somuch discussion in terms of social, political and ecological conflicts. CriticRomila Thapar in her significant article “Perceiving the Forest in EarlyIndia” cites Gunter Dietz Sontheimer’s suggestion of “a link between theforest and its settlements” and “attempts to understand the influences andresponses of the ‘grama’ to the ‘aranya’ which existed in earlier timeswhen the village constituted the settlement (105). With the emergence ofurban centres there arose a growing dichotomy between the ‘grama’ andthe ‘nagara’ – the village and the town respectively. Another dichotomydiscussed in the context of ecology was that of the ‘jangala’ and the ‘anupa’– the forest and the marshland” (105).

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The paper analyses the collective psychological need for a MotherGoddess leading to the collective worship of Beevi, which itself becomes acivilization. Beevi is represented throughout the novel simultaneously as amyth and as history that arises out of a projected psychological need. Theneed is for a guiding figure, a mother figure, which is successfully realizedthrough the Beevi. She emerges as a mythical figure at the peak of unrest,which is simultaneously religious, cultural and moreover psychological. Beevibrings about the equalization of the native order. Many factors such assmall-pox are seen emphasizing the egalitarian concept which is treated asa major theme in the novel. The outbreak of small-pox is a natural leveller;it spreads uniformly in the locality without any bias of caste and community.Even the natives who are not infected with the disease wait for it as if it issomething from which they cannot escape. In this sense the epidemic itselfbecomes a collective need for it dismantles all sorts of religious and socialdiscrimination. All become equals before this epidemic. It again attainsmythical significance as small-pox was believed to be a disease caused bythe wrath of the goddess.

The mythical history of the first Beevi becomes the plot of thenarrative. Her birth is described as an assurance of heterosexuality andgenerational continuity. The novel is a narrative which emphasizes themature female quest for her physical as well as spiritual quest. Karthy’smaturation becomes an issue of concern for Shanku Menon, Karthy’s uncleas well as the patriarchal figure of the house. Karthy’s alluring grace isunfathomable that it confronts Shanku Menon and instills feelings of incestin him. This fear of incest remains latent in him and it affects the sexualunion with his wife which gradually turns into Shanku Menon’s castrationanxiety.

Throughout the novel one could easily recognize a trend ofdeconstructing particularities. Every where there is intermixing of cultures- the thiyyas carry the corpse of a Nair lady even though the dead onedislikes it, the genital fluid of a Brahmin reaches the ‘polluted hut’ of theoutcaste karuvathi and the most prominent ideology of the carnivalesqueis encoded in the figure of the Beevi. Beevi is not purely an Islam, nor isshe a pure Hindu. She is born into a Hindu family as Karthy and laterimbibes a new name and new frame as the Beevi, perhaps, for the universalcause. Karthy stands as an embodiment of free will. She challenges accepted


Epic literature is among the early compositions in India which depictsthe dichotomy and the complimentarity of the ‘vana’ and ‘kshetra’. In epicsmany forests are individualized nominally, suggesting that the forest wasnot an undifferentiated expanse but had its own identity. In every Indianepic forests constituted an imagined space which was central and crucialto the imagery and this central space signaled the presence of people whoseappearances and customs could be alien and these were either viewed asworth emulating or were rejected through contempt or fear. Among themost romantic images of the forest are those which occur in the plays ofKalidasa, i.e. Abhignana Sakuntalam which adds yet another dimensionto the perception of the forest. Sakunatala is essentially a woman of theforest and Dushyanta, a man of the court, suggesting again the bifurcationof nature and culture. Nature is usually considered as passive and cultureas active which further leads to the projection of “nature’ as feminine and‘culture’ as masculine by the patriarchal ideologies.

Another perspective was proffered by the advisors and authoritieslike Kautilya who suggested that to extend agriculture, to support a growingpopulation, Sudra peasants should be settled on wasteland or land whichhad been deserted. It is interesting to note that the author Sarah Joseph inthe novel Gift in Green explicates how the people of Aathi came to livethere for generations to come, through a mother’s narration of their tragicstory being passed on to her child. The readers are given a shock treatmentwhen the mother sadly reminisces how her ancestors were forced to fleefor their lives from their ancestral land being considered as untouchablesand slaves and meted out ghastly treatment by the upper sections of thesociety in which they earlier lived. Thus the Indian past provides us withmultiple perceptions of the forest and those who lived there.

When we come down to the early twentieth century, the conquestof the forest by the arable and nature by culture was recorded with sensitivityin Bandopadhyay’s Aranyak, or the Forest. Around fifty years laterMaheshwata Devi portrayed a mainstream developmental state at warwith Adivasi (Scheduled Tribe) and other people dependent on forests asbauxite and other minerals attracted new economic interests into the forests.It is in this context where we have to situate the much acclaimed eco-novel Gift in Green (simultaneously published in Malayalam and in English)

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Hindus worship the Devi and Muslims (not all) worship the Beevi. InHinduism as well as Islam the spiritual offerings include incense stick andcoconut oil. In both the religions there are tales of the collective need for aguiding figure and the need arises at the juncture of calamities or outbreakof epidemics. All these are dealt with some significance throughout thenovel. It also brings to the fore the psyche-based understandings ofspirituality, religion, and civilization. The paper undertakes the same concern.The author establishes the collective need of the natives through a mythicalfigure called the Beevi, created by the people to solve a conflict “ a seriouscommunal riot. Beevi, as a supernatural figure is an externalization of thefrustrated and desperate ‘collective self.’ She is presented as anamalgamating maternal incarnation, intended to save the world from thecommunal chaos. She is represented through the jarum.

Jarum (tomb) stands as a symbol of communal harmony, since jarumworship is equally performed by Hindus and Muslims (not all), in Ponnani.The words of the Sufi imply it. “These Beevis are all yours, even thoughyou are a Hindu and these Bhagavathys are all mine even though I am aMuslim” (trans by me 19). This stands as a counter-culture against theirrational and narrow-minded religious schisms. Beevi’s jarum attainsspiritual significance as it is believed to have risen above from ground,indicating an element of supernaturalism. Here lies the mythical value ofthe theme.

It is evident that there was a glorious past of communal harmonywhich has been erased in the present. The schisms of religion and creedare so strong that the scene implies echoes of riots. It is at this juncture thatthe Beevi arises as a Guru and Mother.

Beevi attains significance as a discourse of motherhood. Thecollective emotion towards the Beevi is that of maternal security. Beevi, asa mother figure, brings into question the individual memory of one’s pre-genital maternal ties. It is conveyed through the primary experience of aperson who enters the jarum. “It was a sort of liquefied atmosphere insidethe jarum with the blended aroma of coconut oil and incense stick. I feltmyself as an embryo inside the warmth of my mother’s womb” (trans byme 18). The experience at the jarum reminds him of the pre- genital securityof the liquid medium inside the mother’s womb.


by the eminent Malayalam author, political and environmental activist Prof.Sarah Joseph. Through the fictious place Aathi the author retells the life ofthe people of Valanthakad Island the unique mangrove system which wasthreatened by a move to set-up a high-tech society. Aathi’s mangrove forestswhich is endearingly called by its native people “Pacchavala” or theGreenbangle, is what this paper focuses on.

Mangrove Concerns in Nature, Politics and Literature

Mangroves are unique salt tolerant trees with interlacing roots thatgrow in shallow, marine sediments. Their roots are breeding places formany fish species like shrimp and sea trouts. The stems and branches arenesting grounds for birds like pelicans, spoonbills and egrets. They aremore effective in absorbing wave action than the concrete barriers(Rajagopalan 52). In India mangroves occur all along the Indian coast andis said to occupy seven percent of the world’s total mangrove areas. Since1985 till this day the world is said to have lost the majority of the mangroves.According to the official reports of Kerala Forest Research Instituteconducted between 2005 and 2008, the extent of undisturbed mangroves isreduced to just opne hundred and fifty hectares though the potential areacomes to around one thousand six hundred and seventy hectares in Kerala.The mangrove ecosystem is fast acquiring a threatening status due toanthropogenic threats like industrialization, unbridled developmental activities,commercial exploitation of raw materials, land reclamation for agricultureand housing. While the traditional mangrove ecosystem was self-containedfollowing subsistence production of agriculture and fishing, today it isconfined to export agriculture.

Green bangle or Pacchavala in Gift in Green

The reader is made aware of the significance, marvel and wonderof Pacchavala which seems to be the beauty-incarnate when gleanedthrough the words of Noor Muhammad, one of the wandering story-tellersof the novel. To quote:

When in Aathi he loved wandering its forests, especially themangrove forest that the people of Aathi affectionately calledthe Greenbangle. It encircled Aathi, an enchanting world in itself,

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Any religion ought to be understood as a discourse which is multi-facetedmaintaining a hybrid tradition.

Sufi Paranja Katha attains its relevance in the postmodern realmas a tool of resistance against the cosmopolitan trend of religious schismsor communal polarization. The novel propounds the main issue of religiousriots disrupting the harmony within different religious majorities andminorities. The resistance is brought forth through the introduction of myths,leitmotifs and other signifiers such as jarum (tomb) and chithrodakkallu,which hold material as well as transcendental significations in psycho- socialand religio-cultural realms. Gokuldas Prabhu, who has translated the workinto Konkani, in his article “Visitations from the Past” says, “I was takenin by the refreshing use of a marvellous myth to put forward the idea ofhuman relations outside the gamut of religious affiliations.” He regardsSufi Paranja Katha as a “literary oasis” in this extremely intense communalscenario (Upadhwani 177).

As the title suggests, the plot of the novel is narrated by an Islamprophet (religiously titled Sufi), to a young writer. The writer is in search ofanything and everything related to the Beevi, the Universal Mother and asa predestined fate he accidentally falls under the divine influence of theSufi. It is the Sufi who helps him to learn more about the origin of theBeevi. The author has incorporated time-markers in order to substantiatethe historical relevance. The story takes place during the colonial regime.There are references to land reforms. It is also evident that the localcommunal identities were consolidated because of colonial interventionsand statistical operations. The plot develops to wild heights from the threadof a real incident in history and it traces the life of the female protagonistfrom birth to death. Thus the novel extends to the local tales and religiouspractices as spirituality and religious expressions are often non-textual.

The metaphor of Hindu-Muslim bonding is highly significant in therealm of fixing or worshipping saints and sacred figures in local villagecommunities. One can note the commonalities in the spiritual aspects ofHinduism and Islam, which also become a major theme of the novel.Hinduism and Islam share similar spiritual themes such as samadhi or thesymbolic death. It is the state of the highly enlightened souls, in Hinduismand the idea of jarum which is taken up by many people among Islam.


its water cool and serene. Sitting in that rare world of impregnablesilence immune to the noise of men and machines NoorMohammed would listen to the subtle voices of the cosmos andenjoy their variety and the soothing sweetness of their harmony.Watching the sallow leaves fall noiselessly on the water, thenfloat towards and accumulate on the bank he would weave thetapestry of his life-interpretations. He would listen to theblossoming’s of flowers, watch the moss dance, the glow wormsemerge from their hide-outs and read the trails of tiny worms.His mind would clear, his lung fill with a new vitality and hisstomach with heavenly happiness. ‘Rejoice, O my heart’, hewould tell himself. (25)

These sublime and bountiful landscapes is lost on the sly and corruptKumaran for whom nature matters only for its instrumental value and isbent upon ruining the lives and livelihood of the people of Aathi with hisecocidal intentions. “Kumaran’s plan was to start construction work on thegovernment land, which he had already encroached upon to fence off fiftyacres. There was no one to stop him. Before he started fencing theencroached land, Kumaran had securely gagged the mouths of those whoshould have asked questions…” (173). This is an overt reference made bythe author about the corrupt network of government and democracyprevailing in our country today.

Further, Kunjimathus’s (one of the significant female characters inthe novel jilted in love by Kumaran years back) words filled with angstspeaks volumes about the oneness felt by the natives of Aathi like hertowards the dying ‘pacchavala’, brutally violated by Kumaran. In thiscontext both Kunjimathu and Pachavala stand on the same footing, beingruthlessly exploited at the same hands—Kumaran’s. Though she silentsuffered his violation on her mind and body she has zero tolerance towardsthe inhuman attack of the mangrove forests and opposes vehemently “thenew way that involves spraying pesticides, mixing quicklime, spreadingvarious potions and powders…” (177).

The inhuman and whip yielding master Kumaran stands in starkcontrast to the Eco spiritual “desiccated men and women” of Aathi who cryout to the birds, the fish and Thampuran : without you, how can we be?”(180)

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all about the female protagonist, Karthy, who is in her sexual quest forsocio-cultural and spiritual perfection. She is observed as a subject, a tripartitesubject – psychological, sociological and cultural.

The author’s obsession with the ‘glorious past’ is best revealed inhis treatment of traditional beliefs which hold the aroma of pre-genitalhappiness. This becomes a leitmotif in Ramanunni’s works. Religion, politics,culture, inter and intra-national spirits, woman empowerment, psychoanalysisand body science are other recurrent themes. Sufi Paranja Katha hasbeen adapted into film in 2010 for which Ramanunni has done the scripting.The film adaptation which has been done seventeen years after thepublication of the work re-establishes the significance of the theme beyondspatio-temporal concerns.

The term ‘social’ has great relevance with reference to K. P.Ramanunni’s literary output as all of them at a glance reveal a high senseof social commitment. Indeed, all social ideologies spring from the personal.It is highly commendable that Ramanunni shows a special skill in projectingthe personal conflicts into the universal arena. It is not astonishing thatevery literary as well as artistic output has its ideological fixation in one’spersonality, regionalism and nationality. Even though his works are filledwith psychic, social, communal, and spiritual tensions, they do not overpoweror blur the aesthetic essence and the perceptive clarity of the work. Throughthis work Ramanunni provides a true depiction of spiritual sublimation of awoman from her sexually omnipotent subject-hood to the canonized stateof Universal Mother-hood called the Beevi. The novel utilizes the locale ofPonnani, which belongs to the district of Malappuram in Kerala.

Secularism prevails throughout the novel as a wholehearted strivingfrom the author’s side as an answer to communal chaos. What he projectsis the spiritual ideology which is not deprived of religious overtones. At thesame time, it has to be taken note of that he opposes every kind of personaland socio-cultural hegemony which makes attempts to negotiate religiousdiversities. He puts forward the necessity of a social arena where everyonelives in a state of communal harmony; totally being aware of one’s religiousconcerns. He espouses that religion and religious harmony is fundamentalfor human existence in the social medium; but at the same time he advocatesthe need for a cosmic alarm whenever this religious harmony is disturbed.

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The direct and straightforward speech made by the naïve Thankkechi whofunctions as a chorus in the novel, pierces though the readers’ hearts:

I have given up searching among the roots and hollows of themangrove trees. Where have all the prawns gone? The roots arecrushed by the concrete piles driven among them. The littlemangrove trees have started dying from their roots up. The prawnsand karimeen have gone elsewhere, looking for safe places tobreed. Bridges should not be built where they breed. That’ll bethe end of fishing. (142)

Further, the flip side of tourism (it is to be noted here that Kerala is one ofthe hot spots of tourism in India and the world) which is a major source ofrevenue for the Government at the state and the centre, is critiqued by theauthor when she puts these words into the mouth of her character, Shailaja:

A horde of strangers and the inscrutability that surround theircoming: Crowds could be seen everywhere: at the ferry bank, inthe boat, near the remains of the Thamburan’s shrine,, in themangrove forests all of them bashly indifferent to the spirit ofAathi. They broke boisterously into the greenbangle terrifyingthe birds and outraging the sanctity of the meditative tranquility.(151)

The author’s matrifocal approach towards life and nature is made clear,when the female characters are designated as the guardians and custodiansof the Pacchavala and its entire surroundings.

The colonizer and oppressor Kumaran’s callous order to Prakashanto burn the bangle followed by his egotistical proclamation, “If Kumaranwills even water will burn and bring forth light” leaves one aghast (200).To cite the passage from the novel:

Then suddenly the forest exploded in a raring blaze. Gigantictongues of flame leapt high enough to lick the sky. Water boiled,bubbled, groaned, gurgled. The green crabs and frogs, trying toscurry to safety, were charred to death. ‘Truck in earth tonight.Bury the damned bangle, Kumaran ordered. Light from the green

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Arya K G.

One might assert that myths which are at times counter narrativesplay a non-negotiable role in the evolution of civilizations. Myths byengendering rituals enrich civilization which embodies a collectivepsychological need to find a better solution to much socio-cultural despairwhich has its root in the collective psyche. However, much of the theme offemale deification could be read as an element of collective social reparationtowards the neglected female psyche. Religious history of South India offersplenty of instances in support of this. The female deities like Lingammaand Bukkamma are believed to have lived in Andhra Pradesh and they arestill worshipped as the incarnations of Sakti, the Eternal Feminine.Kuriyedathu Tatri is another historically relevant figure who is now deified.Mamburam Thangal, Kanjiramattam Shaikh Fhareedudheen, Beevi ofBeemappally and the like are the others who represent the same theme.

This is a trend seen not only in India. World history exemplifies moresuch figures who share historical as well as mythical relevance. For instance,Isis who ruled Dedet in Egypt about 3000 B.C. was later deified as theMother Goddess of Egypt. Al Manath, Al Usa, and Al Lath are worshippedin Arabia as Mother Goddesses and they are historically relevant figurestoo. The analysis of such figures across the world strengthens the hypothesisthat such figures are the externalized collective desire(s) of human beings.

The paper aspires to analyze a similar myth through a re-reading ofK. P. Ramanunni’s award-winning Malayalam fiction Sufi Paranja Kadha(1993) focusing on the needs and deeds of the female protagonist, Karthy,who stands as the essence of femininity throughout the work. The novel is


bangle fell on young men’s faces. There was fear in their eyes.(210)

The author successfully makes the reader experience the agony borne bythe bangle.

The author, in the interview with Valson Thampu, in the sectionSpeaking of Aathi appendixed to the novel says, “In the spiritual visionnative to our country, there is no discontinuity between human being andnature … Embedded in the poetic tradition of India is a worldview in whichhuman beings live sheltered and sustained by nature” (211). In a similarstrain, environmentalist Rich Freeman further explicates how the religiousvalues and institutions of Hinduism and its folk variants are supposed tohave somehow encoded and transmitted this ecological wisdom across thegenerations. The people of Kerala lived in dependence on forest resourcesas reflected in their personal memories and collective religious institutionsand one of its main examples is the institution of the sacred ‘Groves’ whichis termed as ‘kavu’ in Malayalam. Keralites viewed the forest as repositoriesof sacred power.


Today the modern world stands in stark contrast to what existed inthe past in relation to the sheer scale and extent of human induced changesin the landscapes and waterscapes. The demographic and economicexpansion has combined to end a scarcity of labor but has given rise to apaucity of cultivated arable land which is quite unprecedented in Kerala,India and world at large. She poignantly sketches the dangers immanent inman’s foolish attempts at conquering nature by cutting off “the umbilicalcord that connects the human to the earth.” The imperativeness and urgencyof nature conservation was realized only after the UN Conference held atStockholm (Sweden) in 1972. Keeping in view the need for environmentalprotection, the Forest Conservation Act 1980 was passed by the IndianParliament. This Act ensures that reserved forests shall not be diverted ordereserved without the prior permission of the Central Government andshould not be used for non- forest purposes. But unfortunately majority ofthe legislative measures are not implemented and India cannot boast ofmany a Grace Chali like that of in the novel who are really bothered aboutother lives and livelihood on earth.

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Works Cited

Bhalla, Alok. Preface. Partition Dialogues: Memories of a Lost Home.New Delhi: OUP, 2006. 1-10. Print.

Mantòo, Saadat Hassan. Naked Voices: Stories and Sketches. Trans.Rakhshanda Jalil. New Delhi: IndiaInk, Roli, 2008. Print.

Mantòo, Saadat Hòasan. Manto: Selected Short Stories: Including ‘TobaTek Singh’ and‘The Dog of Tithwa.l’ Trans. Aatish Taseer. Noida:Random House India, 2012.Print.

Viswanathan, Shiv. “Celebrating Manto.” India International Centre. n.d.Web. 21 Feb. 2014.

Bernard, Anna. “Partition as a Literary Paradigm.” Journal ofComparative Poetics (2010): n.pag. Web. 1 Mar. 2014.

Jassal, Smitha Tewari, and Eyal Ben-ari. “Partition ManyMeanings.”Economic and Political Weekly 41 (2006): n.pag.Web.1 Mar. 2014.

Hasan, Mushirul. “Partition Narratives.” Oriente Moderno, NuovaSerie (2004): n.pag. Web. 1 Mar. 2014.

Saint, Tarun K. “The Long Shadow of Manto’s Partition Narratives.” SocialScientist 40.11 (2012): n.pag. Web. 1 Mar. 2014.

Hasan, Mushirul. “Memories of a Fragmented Narration.” Economic andPolitical Weekly 33.41 (1998): n.pag. Web. 1 Mar. 2014.

Akthar, Salim, and Leslie A. Flemming. “Is Manto Necessary Today.”Journal of South Asian Literature 20.2 (1985): n.pag. Web. 1Mar. 2014.

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In the pre-modern era self-governing local communities are seen ashaving control over the natural resources. The past should not be dismissedas a tabula rasa rather we should probe deeper into the when, where, whyand how these shifts took place. Of course the past was not very utopianbut it would definitely enrich our perspectives though it may be incapableof giving easy ready-made answers to our own predicament of nature. It ishigh time we realize, that the high-tech advancements of science andtechnology have the capacity to annihilate our entire environ in just a matterof seconds. The eco-spiritual author of the novel Sarah Joseph as an altruisticpolitical and environmental activist in her canvas of ‘Pacchavala’seems todocument all these questions posed by the environmental historian RaviRajan and nails down these questions into the minds of the reader to makethem come out of their complacency and act at war–footing before it is toolate thus turning the novel Gift in Green into a jeremiad.

Works Cited

Garrard, Greg. Ecocriticism. New York: Routledge, 2013. Print.

Joseph, Sarah. Gift in Green. Uttar Pradesh: Harper Collins, 2012.Print.

Rajagopalan, R. Environmental Studies from Crisis to Cure. New Delhi:OUP, 2012. Print.

Rangarajan, Mahesh. India’s Environmental History: Colonialism,Modernity and the Nation – A Reader. Raniket: Permanent Black,2012. Print.

Santhosh, K. “Water of Love Seeps through.” The Hindu.4 July 2011,Thiruvananthapuram, ed.: A1. Print.

S.J., Rev.Fr.Ignacimuthu. Environmental Studies. Chennai: MJP, 2012.Print.

Thampu, Valsan. Appendix. Gift in Green. Ed. Sarah Joseph. Gift inGreen. Uttar Pradesh: Harper Collins, 2012. Print.

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Rarely do fictional texts concerned with India’s partition speakabout abstract entities called Hindus and Muslims and Sikhs whoseeconomic and social rights needed to be legally and politicallydefined, and whose religiously- informed identities needed, as ifthey were some endangered species, special enclaves ofprotection from other religious predators. Instead, partitionnarratives give a human shape and a human voice to those inwhose name, and for whose benefit, the sordid politics of thereligious division of the subcontinent was enacted. They areimportant witness to and chroniclers of a sad time when a stablecivilization, proud of its interdependent religious faiths and itscultural cosmopolitanism, suddenly, unexpectedly, and without aclear and sufficient historical cause, allowed its public and privaterealm to be hijacked by armed thugs, egoistical politicians, illiteratepriests, moral zealots, bigoted nationalists and other minions ofhell. (xi)

Manto’s short stories refuse to become dated. They are instancesof his ability to reinvent the short story as a “self-reflexive mode of fictivetestimony” which captures both the direct impact of the brutal forms ofcollective violence as well as the persistent after-effects of this historicaltrauma (Saint 53). Our memories as history, genealogy, archive and gossipare impregnated by partition. “Partition is the price that religious hostilityasked us to pay and it was excessive to the extent that one million dead andanother 26 million displaced” (Viswanathan 263). We live with this legacyof hate.

When independence is bloodied by partition, new experiments innationhood are stained for many years. The trauma and the animosity ofparting can last long. In a time of national exaltation, Manto wrote notabout the glories of independence and the fruits of sovereignty but aboutthe ambiguities and the debris. For that reason (as well as for his sexualthemes) Manto was controversial in his time. But Pakistanis and Indiansborn after partition should respond to his prose, for it casts light upon theirsociety, and upon the price of what they have inherited.



Aparna Singh

Being a Dalit and a female Meena Kandasamy is one of those whohave been historically oppressed and marginalized. Through her socialactivism and her inflammatory writing, in verse and prose Kandasamyconstructs a counter-discourse to the cherished notions of class and castein Indian society. For Dalit women, oppression often means sexualsubjugation too. Kandasamy’s poems are informed by a sense of genderrelations that suggest being a woman, in a largely patriarchal society isanother form of being lower caste. In her poems, it’s her identity as awoman that she engages with most explicitly. Kandasamy’s women, likefemale figures in a lot of feminist literature, makes unbridled sexuality themain weapon of their social militancy.

In her poems, she addresses issues of caste and untouchability—something that stems from her being a Dalit, considered the lowest andmost oppressed of India’s castes and formerly known as “untouchables”.One of Kandasamy’s top targets is Hindu society and in her poems sherepeatedly goes back to Hindu and Tamil myths—which she seeks to debunk.

The Indian social landscape provides intertwined layers of patriarchy,caste, class and poverty to give Dalit women some of the worst kinds ofdiscrimination seen anywhere on the planet. While there have been instancesof meteoric rise of some Dalit women to corridors of power, authority anddecision making, the overwhelming majority of Dalit women live subhumanlives. Carrying of night soil, toiling as bonded labour, dancing in temples as‘servants of god’, working endlessly - doing the most menial jobs asagricultural labour, working practically with no wages in factories, toiling in

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describes his daughter to them, and they promise to find her. They do findher. But Manto does not tell what happens next. Instead he returns us tothe father, waiting in the camp, praying for the success of the young men.Finally he sees them; but they merely reply again that they will find her andgo off. That same evening an unconscious young woman is carried into thecamp hospital. The old man recognizes his daughter. And again Mantodelivers the climactic truth. When the doctor says, “the window, open it”,the girl rises slowly, in agony; loosens, then drops her trousers and opensher thighs. The senselessness of her fate is almost impossible to bear. Weare left only with her father shouting with joy, “She is alive! My daughter isalive!” (Manto 54).

The girl is raped by the group of eight men who are entrusted byher father to rescue her. Whenever the aged father approaches the men,they assure him that Zakina will be saved by them; meanwhile one of themwould be devouring the helpless girl somewhere else. This cruelty thatblighted the whole society, even the youth, is ascribed to the horrors putforth by partition when men forgot their humanity letting out their cannibalisticinstincts as mere flesh eaters. Here the psychic state of dissociation is theheavy price paid by a victim whose recovery is by no means certain.

The partition took away the sanity of human beings. It dehumanizedthem to the extent that an old neighbour or family friend who belongs toanother religion will be neglected over the calls of nationalism. Thepanhuman identities become mired by the communal identities that emergedout of partition. But above all they represent the actions of a colonial narrationthat attempts to exorcise, by means of separation, an absolute identity fromthe dimensions of the same Otherness it institutes.

Alok Bhalla, a scholar on partition narratives, remarks that fictionalnarratives should be read, not as raw materials for the writing of history,but should be placed beside historical accounts, political documents, policereports, religious pamphlets or personal memoirs. For him, novels offer atestimony that is different in kind from the politically and socially inflectedarchives which the historians primarily use. Bhalla, in the preface to hiswork Partition Dialogues: Memories of Lost Home remarks:


brick kilns, working as domestic helps to ensure that urban India’s ‘economicsuper engines’ function smoothly, facing endless bouts of domestic andother violence, facing sexual exploitation of the worst kinds, being ‘witchhunted’ and killed, facing starvation, being forced to live on a diet of ratsetc., are some aspects that are frequent excerpts from the work and lifesagas of Dalit women in India.

The Politics of Re-presentation

The issue of representing Dalit women, both at the level of theoryand politics, has erupted time and again in the discourse on Dalit womenreflected in the confusion between generating knowledge from theexperience of the oppressed as opposed to generating knowledge from thesubjectivities of the oppressed (Mann and Kelly 1997). The focus of thefeminist discourses according to Sharmila Rege needs to shift from‘difference’ and multiple voices to the social relations which convertdifference into oppression. Initially, several factors played a constitutiverole in the processes that brought the category of ‘difference’ to theforefront; a focus on language, culture and discourse to the exclusion ofpolitical economy, a rejection of universalism in favour of difference, aninsistence on fluid and fragmented human subject rather than collectivities,a celebration of the marginal and denial of all causal analysis (Wood 1996).As Rege further elaborates, this shift in perspective has been aided indifferent ways by the following key factors.

The collapse of actually existing socialisms, and the loss of prestigethat this brought about for Marxism in the Anglo-American academies ledto an enormous and continued political interrogation of white, middle classfeminism by black and third world feminists. This was welcome and had atone level led to micro-level analyses of the complex interplay of differentaxes of inequality. For e g, black feminists questioned the sex/class debateof the 1970s arguing that the complex interplay between sex, class, andrace needed to be underlined. But at another level – these interrogationstook a more cultural path; i.e, the ‘different voices of black, Afro- American,Chicana, Asian women, etc, came to be celebrated.

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with independent emotions and an undamaged mind”(186). In story afterstory, Manto links their fate to sexual vulnerability. “His women suffersexual humiliation, seduction, domination, rape, pregnancy, abandonment,prostitution, murder. They are almost always victims, with the power onlyto occasion their own destruction” (Ispahani 186).

In “The Gift” perhaps his most impressive tale of prostitution, Mantoevokes in poignant detail the physical surroundings, lonely days and franticimaginings of a prostitute whose business is failing. In her straitenedcirc*mstances, Sultana is concerned less about jewelry, food or shelterthan about being unable to afford black salwar for Muharram, the religiousmonth of mourning. Thus Manto often tied the failed universe of the prostituteto the failed universe of religion. Manto depicts Sultana’s request to herhelper and business partner Khuda Bux for a piece of black cloth as follows:

I beg you, get me a length of black cloth for a salwar. I have awhite satin shirt which I’ll have dyed black. I also still have thewhite chiffon duppatta you brought me in Ambala at Diwali. Thatcan be dyed too. All I am missing is a black salwar. I don’t carewhether you steal it; I want that salwar. Swear on my head thatyou’ll get it for me, and if you don’t may I die .(52)

Many of Manto’s stories are about how men and women crack,spiritually and morally, in a time of evil unrestrained. The events of the1940s and after led Manto to find evil not only in power but in weakness;he saw how reality is mixed up with illusion, how monstrousness can growin the breast of the most mundane man. Manto painted a world of almostintolerable complexity, a world in which everybody was capable of bothgood and evil. One of his most powerful tales “Khol Do” depicts the plightof a young girl and her father.

The story opens with an aging father regaining consciousness in arefugee camp after a train journey from Amritsar to Lahore. The manslowly recalls the manner of his wife’s death, and then suddenly realizesthat his daughter, whose death he cannot recall, is missing too. He wandersaround the refugee camp, searching; and comes upon a group of armedyoung Muslim men whose mission is to cross the bloodied new border torecover Muslim women and children stranded on the other side. The father


Dalit women justify the need to talk differently to counter thehom*ogenizing non-Dalit discourses and the patriarchal domination withinthe Dalits. Beneath the call for women’s solidarity the identity of the Dalitwoman as ‘Dalit’ gets whitewashed and allows a ‘non-Dalit’ woman tospeak on her behalf. It is against this background that Dalit woman have oflate protested against their guest appearances in a text or a speech of anon-Dalit woman. According to Gopal Guru the autonomous mobilisationof the Dalit women can also be understood from an epistemological position.This perspective maintains that the less powerful members of a societyhave a more encompassing view of social reality than others because theirdisadvantaged position grants them a certain epistemic privilege over others.It has been noted that though there are some non-Dalit women activistssensitive to the caste dimensions of women’s exploitation, their stand hasremained ambivalent regarding the critique of caste.

Kancha Ilaiah, in a passionate volume entitled Why I am not a Hindu,a book that has been compared to Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth,writes as one of the ‘dalitbahujans’ , whom he defines as ‘people andcastes who form the exploited and suppressed majority’ in India (ix). Thecaste excluded as ‘backward’ or ‘untouchable’ by Hinduism are alienatednot merely from the colonial or neo-colonial Western culture, but also fromthe dominant postcolonial ‘Indian’ one (that reflects the upper-caste Hinduculture and interests). The line between oppressor and oppressed is,however, drawn by caste and not colonial oppression. The radicalhistoriographies of colonial India, though they emphasised the autonomousrole of peasant, labour and other subaltern groups, equated the historiographyof colonial India with that of Indian nationalism (Sarkar 1997). The non-brahminical re-constructions of historiography of modern India in the worksof Omvedt (1976, 1993, 1994 ), Patil (1982) and Alyosius ( 1997) haveunderlined the histories of anti-hierarchical, pro-democratising collectiveaspirations of the lower caste masses which are not easily within the historiesof anti-colonial nationalism. Feminist historiography made radicalbreakthroughs in teasing out the redefinitions of gender and patriarchies,ie, to say in “pulling out the hidden history swept under the liberal carpet ofreforms” (Vaid and Sangari 45). Tarabai Shinde’s ‘Stree Purush Tulana’(1882), a text against women’s subordination was written from within the

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say if both India and Pakistan might not entirely vanish from themap of the world one day? (71-74).

Manto wrote often about the haphazard relationship between great eventsand small people. While historical texts often recounted the events relatedto great, well-known figures like Lord Mountbatten, Jinnah, Gandhi andNehru, Manto observed and retold the tales of servants, prostitutes, beggars,peasants, lunatics and common people from Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Jewishcommunities, all who were whirling about in the net of partition, strugglingto make sense of a tossed political sea. Manto took no sides in the religiousand political wars being fought around him. In his partition stories, he reflectsnot on politics or history but on the meanings of loyalty and dishonor, sanityand insanity, good and evil, in a time when Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs killedan estimated half million people in their wars against one another.

In “The Assignment”, for example, a Muslim family-an ailing father,his daughter and son-stays on in a place that other Muslims have abandoned.The father is a judge, a rational man. He is convinced that the communalkilling will soon stop, as it always does in India. But this time it does notstop. One night a young Sikh man knocks at the door. The daughter isterrified. The man identifies himself as the son of an old friend of herfather’s, a Sikh who was in her father’s debt. She is relieved, and unboltsthe door. The boy enters with a gift, announcing that he had promised hisfather on his deathbed that he would continue the tradition of taking ayearly gift to the judge. And even in the middle of all the trouble, he is hereto fulfill his duty to his father, to thank the judge for his kindness. Hispresent is accepted and the Sikh boy leaves. Turning the corner, the goodson encounters four masked Sikhs, carrying torches, kerosene andexplosives. Here Manto makes his characteristic, demonic, utterly truthfultwist. One of the men asks the boy “Sardar ji, have you completed yourassignment?” The young man nodded. “Should we then proceed with ours?”“If you like”, the young man replied and walked away” (31).

Manto’s prose is obsessed with the trauma of women. In his femalecharacters, Manto most starkly evokes the physical and psychologicaldegradation of the losers and the poor. Mahnaz Ispahani points out in hisessay on Manto that his emphasis on “the disfigurement of women’s spiritsand bodies is rarely relieved by a portrait of a woman of whole character,


Satyashodhak tradition. This text launched an attack not only on brahminicalpatriarchy but also the patriarchies among the non-Brahmin castes. Goingbeyond a mere comparison between men and women, Tarabai drawslinkages between issues of de-industrialization, colonialism and thecommodification of women’s bodies (Bhagwat 83).

Kandasamy through her poems constructs a discourse of resistancethrough representation. The ‘untouchable’ bodies which often bear the bruntof marginalization speak out uninhibitedly re-writing the Brahminized (classconscious) canon that we have in India.

In the poem “Narration”, first published in Kritya, Kandasamy speaksof the atrocity inflicted on a Dalit woman, enunciated by the victim herself.The poem questions the masks that one wears in a caste-ridden society.The landlord who mostly wears the mask of respectability intrepidly rips itapart to reveal the naked reality of being a rapist and a hypocrite. Heceases to be the high-caste guardian of social proprieties when theuntouchable woman ignites his wanton lust. Even the priest engages in an‘unpriestly’ act defiling the norms of the well-guarded corridors of powers.The poem ultimately voices the muted cries of the women who resort tosilence as the only escape from the cacophony of abuse and humiliationthat envelopes them. The incoherencies that the poem ends with decipherthe trauma that these untouchable women suffer; ironically, with their bruised,violated bodies:

’ll weep to you aboutMy landlord, and withMy mature gestures—You will understand:The torn sari, dishevelled hairStifled cries and meek submission.I was not an untouchable then.I’ll curse the skies,And shout: scream to youWords that incite wrath and

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Manto gives a vivid portrayal of the trauma endured by women andthe great variety of meanings they attached to the upheaval in and aroundtheir homes, fields and factories. Mushirul Hasan points out the hollownessof partition when he says, “Indeed, though such people were repeatedlyfed with ill-informed and biased views and interpretations about the other,they were neither committed to the land of Aryavarta nor the dar-al-Islam”(2666). They had no destination in their minds to reach. Even though thetrains had started carrying people to their death-traps, they were unclearwhether Lahore, “with its splendid Mughal monuments and beautiful gardenswould be part of India or Pakistan” (Hasan 2666). Moreover, did theyknow whether Delhi would remain in Gandhi’s India or Jinnah’s Pakistan.

Manto captures the mood in his brilliant story “Toba Tek Singh” whois a character from the lunatic asylum. This story, perhaps Manto’s mostfamous short piece, is an allegory. “Toba Tek Singh” is a tale about identity.It is about the inmates of a lunatic asylum located inside Pakistan. Theasylum represents the subcontinent. It houses a Hindu lawyer, a Sikhlandowner, a Muslim political party worker, parted lovers and criminals. Ittakes place after a few years after partition and the Indian and Pakistanigovernments have decided upon a mutual exchange of their Hindu, Muslimand Sikh lunatic populations. Manto records, with compassionate humor,the odd, often astute responses of the lunatics to the news about theirimminent displacement, notes Mahnaz Ispahani. Prisoners of a naturalconfusion, they are not quite sure where India is, or where Pakistan is, orwhere the asylum itself is. This is what he writes:

As to where Pakistan was located, the inmates knew nothing.That was why both the mad and the partially mad were unable todecide whether they were now in India or in Pakistan. If theywere in India where on earth was Pakistan? And if they were inPakistan, then how come that until only the other day it wasIndia?...Those who had tried to solve this mystery had becomeutterly confused when told that Sialkot, which used to be in India,was now in Pakistan. It was anybody’s guess what was going tohappen to Lahore, which was currently in Pakistan, but couldslide into India any moment. It was still possible that the entiresubcontinent of India might become Pakistan. And who could


You will definitely know:The priest, his lecherous eyes,Glances that disrobed, defiled.I was not polluting at four feet.How can I sayAnything, anythingAgainst my own man?How?So I take shelter in silenceWear it like a mask.When alone, I stumbleInto a flood of incoherencies….(1-22)

The Dalit man is complicit in the act of abuse which makes herexperience specifically female and justifies the need for a separate discourse- addressing the needs of battered Dalit women – within the mainstreamDalit discourses. The poem candidly expresses the trauma of the oppressedbut refrains from structuring it as a protest narrative. It is cloaked in anoverwhelming sense of betrayal and self-defeat.

The poem “One-Eyed” (excerpted from Ms Militancy), contextualizes the innocent act of a girl drinking water from a pot withinthe hierarchically segregated society. The pot, the glass, and the water areunaffected by the girl’s caste status and admit her presence ungrudgingly.The necessity of quenching one’s thirst takes priority over all otherpreconditions, even for the lifeless objects. However, the poet is appalledby the educated intelligentsia (teacher, doctor, school, press) who addressthe simple act of drinking water with vengeance:

the pot sees just another noisy childthe glass sees an eager and clumsy handthe water sees a parched throat slaking thirstbut the teacher sees a girl breaking the rulethe doctor sees a medical emergency

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witness who must now share the pain, the blame, the guilt” (Bernard 14)with those who lived through Partition.

Current trends in India suggest that the logic of partition - the tensionsbetween multiple identities and the search for moral community which wasthe heart of partition, continues to tear apart the fabric of Indian society.The way in which representations of collective pasts are transmitted acrossgenerations and have contributed to the construction of violence in Indiaevidences this. Albeit people address caste, class and gender inequalitiesthrough reservations, academic scholarships and the like, communal violencecontinues to be a constant phenomenon in the Indian situation. Recentresearches into riots have shown that their violence deepens distrustbetween Hindus and Muslims. As Amrita Basu comments, the way partitionviolence has been understood in the subcontinent tends to see these riotsas the unplanned action of crowds and as conflagrations ignited by a “sparkupon a bed of combustible material” (qtd. in Jassal and Ben-Ari 2218).This approach hardly focuses on the zing of riots and factors such as“historical timing and the roles of individuals and groups that contribute toconverting events into full-scale riots” (Jassal and Ben-Ari 2218). Theperpetuation of communal disharmony and maintenance of the veryconditions that ensure the persistence of riots by vested interests; mostimportantly, the seeming inability of the judicial system to identify culpritsand deliver justice, parallels the horrific events of 1947 and their aftermath.In this manner, periodic riots mimic partition riots and the separation ofPakistan from India continues to reverberate through Indian society.

No writer has been able to convey the violent ambiguities of communalconflict with as much force and conviction as Saadat Hasan Manto. Manyof his short stories focus on the sense of despair and dislocation caused bythe partition of Pakistan and India in 1947. Manto vividly recreates theanger and horrors of this period. He exposes the trauma of the refugeesuprooted and victimized by the marking of arbitrary borders. In this connectionAlter says, “As the characters in Manto’s stories confront the ruthlessinhumanity of Hindu-Muslim violence- murder, rape and mutilation-theironly conceivable response is madness, which defined the entire Indianatmosphere during partition times” (91).


the school sees a potential embarrassmentthe press sees a headline and a photo featuredhanam sees a world torn in half.her left eye, lid open but light slapped away,the price for a taste of that touchable water. (1-10)

The child bears the brunt of the society for this unpardonable act oftransgression by losing her left eye. Once again we find the Dalit girls’body being brutalized to enforce the inviolable codes of conduct.

The idea of suicide which the poem “Aftermath”(first published inCerebrations), deals with is a probing comment on the incriminating gossipsmaligning the marginalized. The poem also talks about the girl coming firstin English as a significant moment of change in her life. The poet mentionshow her life is irrevocably altered when she suffers from morning sicknessprovoking insinuating charges, demanding an unconditional acceptance ofher sins. Her fame as the highest scorer of English however is drowned inthe hue and cry over speculations of a socially condemned pregnancy:

(to consuming six glasses of orange juice)the next morning in school during yourenglish exam you take permission to go tothe toilet where you throw up all the whiteand creamy breakfast milk. only it tastessour and looks like bits of maggoty curd.weeks later, you get to know two thingsone of which will change your life for ever.first, you scored the highest in the englishexam. second, you became a gossip item.you still don’t know what affects you more.…even best-friends seek answers as therumours inflame. your anger is mistaken

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Women who were recovered from the abductors and returned to theirfamilies or who were converted to the other religion and made new lives inthe homes of their abductors hardly ever find a place in these narratives,although they occur frequently in literary representations.

The common images evoked by partition are “trauma”, “disaster”and “catastrophe” (Jassal and Ben-Ari 2214). These characterizations areused to refer to partition both as an outcome and as cause. Such usagesare found in the characterization of partition as rupture or adversity sincepartition is seen as the outcome of certain historical, political and socialforces. In postcolonial India, the nationalist discourse aimed at creating asingular narrative. It ended up silencing other voices except those with amajoritarian orientation, thus, marginalizing the Muslims and Dalits.

In India, partition lingers in the collective unconscious of Indian andPakistani multitudes. It has shaped discourses of nation-building andsecularism, caste and religious identities, ideas about majority-minorityrelations, and a range of issues touching upon refugees and trans-bordermigrations. B N Tiwari finds that the “processes of ‘othering’ at the societallevel - Hindu vs. its Other, the Muslim; the forward castes vs. the backwardcastes - have acquired normative status, legitimized in society’s consciencecollective, in part, by the ‘event’ of partition. The spatial separation ofHindus and Muslims carries over today the phenomenon of ‘mini-Pakistan’,a ‘hostile’ Hindu term for Muslim neighborhoods, particularly in the riot-affected towns of the country” (qtd. in Jassal and Ben-Ari 2216). Partitionis a phenomenon that has the ability to describe the entire Indian scenarioeven in the present times. The event remains in the collective unconsciousof all Indians and Pakistanis, of all Hindus and Muslims.

Partition literature is best read as a “counter-nationalist document ofsuffering” (Bernard 12). While historical records are about elite personasor heroes like Gandhi, Nehru, Jinnah and so on, partition fiction is regularlydescribed as a means of filling in the gaps in the official historical record,like subaltern testimony, it is seen to serve as one of the “small voices” ofhistory. Literature, in the words of Radha Kumar, is understood as an“eloquent witness, and perhaps the only witness, to an unspeakable andinarticulable history” (qtd. in Bernard 14). The reader is seen as “a belated


to be toward a crude imagined lover whodisowned you. you know the nauseoustruth of your thighs: you are virgin. Butevidence will not be revenge, for, so manysmoky eyes implore you to supplicate, toadmit alleged truths. impeaching faces laydown rules: don’t shout or scream, butswallow the shame. next, confess the sin.sin yes they will shred your innocent life to...tethered dreams yes something breaks inyou yes dear yes you start the brute searchfor sleeping pills and chaste suicide ideas. (1-11, 22-31, 32, 39-41)

Being a Dalit writer Kandasamy draws attention to the unnecessaryleverage accorded to the private life of the marginalized. This annihilatesthe creative genius in a young girl who could have blossomed into a greatwriter. The poet highlights the need for social solidarity, a necessaryprerequisite for creative endeavours. The girl resorts to self-obliterationwhich for her is the only way to escape the shame of being born a Dalitwoman.

Writing poems for Kandasamy is a direct outcome of a violent pastemanating from a shared history of murder and revenge. The poet in “TheirDaughters” (first published in Quarterly Literary Review, Singapore),contextualises her need to write by placing it within a shared need to voiceones resistance to the unmitigated violence faced by women for generations.The poet represents the women who have, within their capacity protestedwith violent rebuttals; braving social censure the poet too partakes thejourney embarked by her grandmothers. The initial silence of the womenshowcases their vulnerability. They gradually transform into murderersseeking psychic emancipation through violence. Establishing an emotionalsolidarity with her female past Kandasamy situates her personal experiencewithin a socio cultural context of female oppression:

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Nisa Treesa John

Partition was the defining event of modern, independent India andPakistan. Partition continues to be the defining event of these two nations.Moreover, it was and is profoundly a religious event for both sides. Most ofthe anguish over religion throughout the South Asian region is to a largeextent traceable to it. Partition is at the heart not only of the great regionalconflicts, but it is also an important component or factor in a whole seriesof religious and political conflicts reaching down to the present times.“Partition commonly understood as the violent territorial and politicalseparation of groups also conjures up images of forced evictions andmigrations of populations at immense communal and personal cost. Whilethe governing imagery of partition draws upon the specific context of Indiaand Pakistan, it has been the organizational basis for many othercontemporary societies as well, eg, Israel-Palestine and Germany” (Jassaland Ben-Ari 2213).

Partition, as a defining religious event, is not the only event or conditionfor an appropriate analysis and explanation of the great religiouscontroversies currently tearing the fabric of India’s cultural life. But it isindeed, one of the necessary and central events for understanding India’scurrent agony over religion. In many ways, it is the core plot in unfoldingthe narrative of modern, independent India. In the Indian case, silence wasa case of “active forgetting” (Jassal and Ben-Ari 2214). Women alsosuffered great violence during the times of partition. Family narratives aremainly about men who were compelled to kill their women to save theirhonour. Such sacrificial deaths of men are canonized in family narratives.

204 77

Paracetamol legends I knowFor rising fevers, as pain-relievers—Of my people—father’s father’s mother’sMother, dark lush hair caressing her anklesSometimes, sweeping earth, deep-honey skin,Amber eyes—not beauty alone they say—sheMarried a man who murdered thirteen men and oneLonely summer afternoon her rice-white teeth toreThrough layers of khaki, and golden white skin to spillThe bloodied guts of a British soldier who tried to colonize her..Of my land—uniform blue open skies,Mad-artist palettes of green lands and lily-filled lakes thatMirror all—not peace or tranquil alone, he shudders—someYoung woman near my father’s home, with a drunken husbandWho never changed; she bore his beatings everyday until on oneStormy night, in fury, she killed him by stomping his seedbags...We: their daughters.We: the daughters of their soil.We, mostly, write. (1-19)

The ‘We’ in the last line is a resounding affirmation of her alignment withher mothers and grandmothers who refused to be silenced. Poetry forKandasamy becomes a means of social retribution. Unlike the submissivetone in poems like “Aftermath” and “Narration”, “Their Daughters” is abold step towards self-structuring through enunciation.

The feeling of being a woman in love has been transformed into anexquisite experience of making the evening tea for her lover in “Stormingin Tea-Cups”. The poem transfers the thrust of her feelings to the act ofmaking tea, an exclusively female experience. The lady meticulously worksat the perfect colour, a perfect concoction of her love and desires formotherhood. Kandasamy delineates female psychology with sensitivity andplaces the so called dispensable tea making process within a shared femaleexperience.

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HAWES: ... I guess that’s all a man can do is try. Just try and tryand try. (The Chase 110-111)

The Chase ends with a moral note that human life in this world iskeep on undergoing various changes and one who lives here have to learnto accept the change. It also insists that anything may happen in life butone should not lose hope.

Foote has beautifully proved his excellence in characterisation throughthis play. His characterisation reveals the impact of one’s personality factorin life. It proves that whatever the situation may be, the presence andabsence of traits decide one’s behaviour which forms a whole personalityas good or bad. Thus the factors agreeableness and neuroticism dominatesand shapes the personalities of Sheriff Hawes’ and Bubber Reeves’ in thisplay respectively. Foote has not only presented the impact of neuroticismin Bubber alone but also in most of Richmond people, who madly wantsBubber to be killed. They represent the whole society of Texas in Foote’stime. The Chase proves to be an excellent piece for trait based approaches.It gives a clear knowledge about the domination and function of traits onindividual and as well as on the society.

Works Cited

Foote, Horton. Genesis of an American Playwright. Ed. MarionCastleberry. Texas: Baylor UP, 2004. Print.

—. Collected Plays: The Trip to Bountiful, The Chase, The TravellingLady, The Roads to Home. Vol.2. US: Smith and Karus, 1996.Print.

Mathews, Gerald., Ian J. Deary, and Martha C Whiteman, eds. PersonalityTraits. 3rd ed. New York: CUP, 2009. Print.

Holman, Curt. “The Chase: Southern Pride.” Theatre Review. 11 April2007. Web. 20 March 2013.


The memories keep coming back to remind one of painful momentsin the past in “Amnesia, Selective”. The poem counters the healing notionsof time as images from the past crowd in inadvertently:

When memory decidesTo no longer bear the burdens—Of pain, or even plain indifferenceShe has her winsome wicked ways.

Some day, years later,Life requires you to unearthSome event long past and youSet about browsing your brainLike a desk-full of office files and then—Come across a resounding emptiness. (1-10)

As memory reminds one of bygone things, the self seeks to unravel theseforgotten pains unsuccessfully. The remnants delude endlessly as theydisplay nothing worthwhile. The idea of a redemptive past has beenpermanently erased by other narratives or simply subordinated to oblivion.

Mascara, a cosmetic adornment for women becomes self-imposedexile for a Devadasi. The act of self-beautification which a woman engagesin to enhance her self-image imprisons the Devadasi in an objectifyingmale gaze. Her attempts to extricate herself from the putrefying socialcensure are washed away by the symbolic darkness of the mascara in thepoem “Mascara” (first published in Indian Horizon):

The last thing she doesbefore she gets ready to dieonce more, of violation,she applies the mascara.

With eye-catching eyesshe stops to shudder.

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but we’re goin’ to get out our dogs and run the bottom till we find him, andwhen we do we’ll tear him to pieces and we’ll tear you to pieces if you getin our way” (The Chace 102).

Neuroticism is sometimes called emotional instability. The personwho have problems in emotional regulation used to lose the power of clearthinking, decision making and effectively coping with stress. These are themajor problems of Bubber Reeves in this play. He never tried to be calmand think; instead he wants everything to be done immediately by violence.At any circ*mstance he is not ready to lend his ear to anyone of his well-wishers, even to his mother who tried utmost to save him from being killedby the angry men of Richmond.

Foote has successfully presented two contradictory personalities inthis play. When Sheriff Hawes finds peace in saving Bubber’s life, Bubberfinds peace in killing the Sheriff, who tries to save him. Sheriff never wantsthis man hunt to be continued in his county and prays to end up the chase.He longs to bring back a harmonious life to himself as well as to the societyhe is in charge. He said that, “I want to live in peace with my wife andbaby an’ let other people live in peace” (The Chase 70). But Bubber nevercared for others lives. His mind is stuffed with thoughts of revenge andkilling. The following dialogue by him proves it, “If I just could kill that devil,I could rest. If I just could kill that devil, I could rest” (The Chase 96).

At the end of this play Sheriff Hawes accidently shot and killedBubber, when he tried to capture him. Even though he killed a criminal hefelt that it is his failure and worried about it. His wife Ruby consoled himand tried to bring back his hope by explaining the reality of life. The Sheriffunderstands it, accepts and got his hope in life once again.

HAWES: Why couldn’t I have saved him, Ruby? Why couldn’t Ihave saved him, Ruby?

RUBY: I don’t know that, Hawes. All I know is you did yourbest. You tried. That’s all we can ask. All right, he’s dead, butyou can’t change that now. You’ve got to go on and keep goin,on, even if you fail. This chase didn’t start tonight. It didn’t endtonight. Don’t run away, Hawes. Keep on livin’. Keep on tryin’.


Maybe, the dyed eyesmourn her body’s sins.

Silently she cries.Her tears are black.Like her.

SomewhereLong Agoin anuntraceablemangledmatrilinealfamily treeof temple prostitutes,her solace was sought.

It has happened for centuries. . .“Empty consolations sootheviolated bodies.”

Sex clings to her devadasi skin,assumed superficialities don’t wear off,Deliverance doesn’t arrive.Unknown Legacies ofLove made to Godshaven’t been ceremoniously accountedas karma.

But still she prays.Her prayer words

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first scene through the following words when he was speaking with hisassistant named Rip.

HAWES: ... A sheriff is a public servant. The public elects him,they pay his salary, an’ they have a right to call on him for anythingthey want, day or night. Least, that’s how I feel about it. Andwhile you’re out that way, check on Miss Lydie’s cow-lot an’ seeif she’s cut down that ragweed like I asked her to. If she expectspeople to turn down the radios on account of her migraine, she’sgonna have to keep the rag weed cut for the hay fever sufferers.(The Chase 65)

The escapee, Bubber Reeves nature is just opposite to Sherif’s. He neveragrees with anyone’s ideas and suggestions and always used to be in astate of anxiety and angry mood. His character reflects the domination ofNeuroticism in his personality. Neuroticism is the tendency to experiencenegative emotions such as anger, anxiety or depression. He has never beenoptimistic in his opinion about life and people around him. He behaves veryrudely with all and never had a soft heart even for his mother Mrs. Reeves.Bubber is not a peace lover like Hawes but he creates a small conflictingsituation into more frustrating one. Even after escaped from the county jailat Richmond he did not try to live a peaceful life; instead he wants to killsthe Sheriff. He is never ready to listen to anyone or understands his criticalsituation. When his mother begs him to not try to kill the Sheriff and wantshim to leave their native county for good, he just ignored it and warned hismother to keep out of his way. Instead of rectifying his mistakes he tries todo more problems out of his anger and emotional instability. He said that,“I’m not leaving town until I kill Hawes” (The Chace 75).

Agreeable people used to sympathise with others feelings and theypossess the soft heart for feeling others’ emotions. In The Chase, SheriffHawes knows very well that the escapee Bubber will come back for himto kill him. In addition to these Hawes knows that the people of Richmondtown were all furious about Bubber’s escape and they want him to bekilled. At one stage the whole town forces the Sheriff to kill Bubber butwhen he refused to do so, they threatened him to stay away from theirway. The leader of Richmond, Damon said to Hawes, “All right, I’ll go-


desperately provoke Answers.Fighting her case,Providence lost his pride.Her helplessness doesn’tSeduce the Gods.And they toonever learnthe Depth of her Dreams.

When she dons the mascaraThe Heavens have heard her whisper,Kali, you wear this too.... (1-4, 8-11, 18 -49, 55-57)

The idea of appeasing the Gods has not redeemed her as she vainly praysfor their intervention. Gods too prove ineffectual in conferring respectabilityto the Devadasi and she continues to exist violated, both physically andspiritually. All the metanarratives which keep the high caste well insulatedfail to shield the temple girl from humiliations. The diabolism of religiousvanguards comes under serious criticism in the poem.

The import of a foreign language comes with its share of culturalprefixes. Meena Kandasamy speaks with candour, not unknown in IndianWriting in English, of the linguistic foreignness of English which needs tobe eliminated in “Mulligatawny Dreams” (first published in Kavya Bharati).This elimination requires a conscious restructuring and re-imagining of thelanguage, entailing a deliberate indigenization. The argument goes back tothe Foreword by Raja Rao in Kanthapura which foregrounded the need toempty the English language of its foreignness. The need to remodel thelanguage to suit our emotional set-up and not just our intellectual make-upfeeds the collective unconscious of Indian Writers writing in English. Thefact that the issues of language still occupy a sustainable discourse is proofenough of its longstanding viability as contentious narrative:

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authentic human beings with flaws and virtues alike, he provides gentleinsight into their misdirected lives to elicit sympathy and hope. He hasspoken about his choice of characters as follows: “I felt that I had notchosen the characters and the stories of my plays so much as they hadchosen me. These are my people and my stories, and the plays I want towrite” (Foote 59).

Foote’s plays are outstanding. His characterisation in the play TheChase is an excellent portrait of human personality. Unlike his other playshe has focused on many characters in this play. His focus on various mennot only represents individuals but also the larger group of Texasians. Hehas picturised both virtues and flaws of his characters in this play as a realone.

The Chase deals with a major subject in an original way. Itconcentrates on the inner emotions of the two central figures. One is theescapee from justice named Bubber Reeves who wants to kill the sheriffnamed Hawes, who captured him and sent him to jail previously. Anotherone is his compassionate chaser Sheriff Hawes, who wants to capture theescapee again without killing him and being killed by the natives. For thefirst time in his career as playwright Foote has given equal importance to anegative character in his play. The whole story revolves around the Sheriffand Bubber.

Sheriff Hawes seeks to end the chase after capturing the escapee,which started when he was a boy at risk and continues now. Sheriff’sattitude is that killing the escaped prisoner will not end the chase for otherslike him but it will only continue. His attitude clearly shows that he possessthe trait of agreeableness, which is a tendency to be compassionate andcooperative rather than suspicious and antagonistic towards others. Hegives preference to the peace rather than violence. The person whosepersonality is being dominated by the factor of agreeableness is generallyconsiderate, friendly, generous, helpful and willing to compromise withothers. Sheriff Hawes is such a person who never been unfriendly anduncooperative with others. Even when his town people call him for smallreasons all the time, he has never been unconcerned with their problems.His dutifulness and concern for others wellbeing is revealed in the very


anaconda. candy. cash. catamaran.cheroot. coolie. corundum. curry.ginger. mango. mulligatawny.patchouli. poppadom. rice.tatty. teak. vetiver.i dream of an englishfull of the words of my language.an english in small lettersan english that shall tire a white man’s tonguean english where small children practice with smooth roundpebbles in their mouth to the spell the right zhaan english where a pregnant woman is simply stomach-child-ladyan english where the magic of black eyes and brown bodiesreplaces the glamour of eyes in dishwater blue shades andthe airbrush romance of pink white cherry blossom skinsan english where love means only the strange frenzy between aman and his beloved, not between him and his caran english without the privacy of its many roomsan english with suffixes for respectan english with more than thirty six words to call the seaan english that doesn’t belittle brown or black men and womenan english of tasting with five fingersan english of talking love with eyes aloneand i dream of an englishwhere menof that spiky, crunchy tonguebuy flower-garlands of jasmineto take home to their coy wivesfor the silent demand of a night of wordless whispered love . . .(1-29)

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The word ‘chase’ is not a new one to this world and its role ineveryone’s life is inevitable. Everyone has goals, and to attain it what theydo is ‘the chase’. The first and prime chase in life is chasing time. Onechases time always and it is like 24x7 but it differs from person to personon purpose. When millionaires chase for million dollar business in fewminutes, the beggars chase from morning till night to get pennies for food.The way of chasing business differs from person to person as per theirpersonality traits and environment. Sometimes whatever the situation maybe, it is the personality factors that lead a person to what and how to chasetheir goals. It determines the positive or negative way of approach in chasing.

With regarding to the personality traits The Big Five Model alwaysstands independent. Each factor in Big Five have cluster of personalitytraits in which almost all sort of human behaviour can be classified. It isused in the contemporary psychology to describe human personality in fivebroad domains or dimensions of personality. The Big five factors areopenness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.Among them Agreeableness and Neuroticism are taken for this study.

In the task of exploring human personality numerous literary pieceshas made tremendous attempt in one way or other. National Medal of theArts recipient and Pulitzer Prize winner Horton Foote continues to enrichAmerican dramatic literature through his poignant yet painfully honestexplorations of the human condition. As an active artist for over fifty years,much of this Texas playwright’s work challenges audience to examine theintricate inner-workings of his characters. Although he portrays them as


The poet dreams of a language which happily incorporates the Indianlexicon. The Indian words which the poem begins with are not alien tothe Indian English widely popular with the English speaking Indians. Thepoet envisages a discourse redirected toward the native English speaker.She purports a language for the colonizer, reversing the subject positionsof the teacher and the taught. The poem becomes a bold statement onthe need to redefine linguistic boundaries of identity paradigms. Languagebeing a major cultural index, the poem addresses the need to re-constructit from the ‘others’ perspective.

Even in a poem like Mohandas Karamchand, (first published inThe Little Magazine) written after reading Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy,” thepoet unapologetically deconstructs the hallowed reception of Gandhi as thefather of the Nation:

“Generations to come will scarcelybelieve that such a one as this walkedthe earth in flesh and blood.” —Albert EinsteinWho? Who? Who?Mahatma. Sorry no.Truth.Non-violence.Stop it. Enough taboo.That trash is long overdue.You need a thorough review.Your tax-free salt stimulated our woundsWe gonna sue you, the Congress shoe. (1-11)….

Her politically charged statements unearth the myopic political underpinningsof the post-independence nation building. The political masquerade of greatpolitical leaders has been ruthlessly ripped apart by the poet in the bitternessof her verse bordering on cynicism.

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Works Cited

Barry, J. Art, Culture and the Semiotics of Meaning: Cutlure’s ChangingSigns of Life in Poetry, Drama, Painting and Sculpture. NewYork: St. Martin’s P, 1999.Print.

Berger, A. A. Ads, Fads and Consumer Culture. Maryland: Rowmanand Littlefiled, 2011. Print.

Gunther, Kress T. V. Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design.London: Routledge, 1996. Print.

Hall, S., Hobson D., Lowe A., and Willis P. Culture, Media, Language.New York: Taylor and Francis. 1980. Print.

Hediger, V., and Vonderau P. Films that Work. Amsterdam: AmsterdamUP, 2009. Print.

Kasbekar, A. Pop Culture India. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2006. Print.

Kenyon, A. T., and Rush P. D. An Aesthetics of Law and Culture: Texts,Images, Screens. Netherlands: Elsevier. 2004. Print.

Kingsford-Smith, A. A Cinema Like No Other: 100 Years of Bollywood.The Culture Trip.n.d. Web. 24 Aug. 2014.

Kosambi, D. D. The Culture and Civilisation of Ancient India inHistorical Outline. Noida: Vikas, 1994. Print.

McClean, D., and Schubert K. Dear Images: Art, Copy and Culture.Manchester: Ridinghouse, 2002. Print.

Miller, T. “(How) Does Film Theory Work?” Continuum: The AustralianJournal of Media and Culture 6.1 (1992): 186-192. Print.

Rekhari, S. Film, Representation and the exclusion of AboriginalIdetnity: Examples from Australian Cinema. U of Wollongong.n.d.

Verma, P. K. Becoming Indian. New Delhi: Penguin, 2010. Print.


The poems vacillate between the private and the public, incorporatingthe collective unconscious of the Dalit community. From the incriminatingcollapse of boundaries between the public and the private, in the poem“Aftermath,” Kanadasamy takes on a political virtuoso like Mahatma Gandhiwith an intimidating robustness in “Mohandas Karamchand”. The poemsreflect her seething anger poured out in vitriolic diatribes against the Indiansociety. The poem “Mulligatawny Dreams” focuses on the issues oflanguage and hence consciously disengages itself from Dalit issues. Thepoem speaks for a distinctive Indianised English which does not ignore theregional language nuances. The theme of marginalization runs as leitmotifin all her poems. The poems complicate the simple binaries of the oppressorversus oppressed by producing a discourse of resistance. Dalit narrativesare often autobiographical as their lives itself mirroruntold atrocities. In thepoems of Kandasamy, representation narrativises the oppressed withoutresorting to propaganda.

Works Cited

Alyosius, G. Nationalism without a Nation in India. New Delhi: OUP,1997. Print.

Bhagwat, V. Kanishtha Jathinchi Calvalaani Jotirao Phule. Mumbai:Maharashtra Times. June 1990. 80-86. Print.

Guru. G. Dalit Cultural Movement and Dialectics of Dalit Politics inMaharashtra. Mumbai: Vikas Adhyayan Kendra, 1998. Print.

Kandasamy, Meena. Ms Militancy. New Delhi: Navayana , 2010. Print.

Mann, S., and L. Kelly. “Standing at the crossroads of Modernist Thought.”Gender and Society 2.4 (1997): 391-409. Print.

Millet. Kate. Sexual Politics. Urbana and Chicago: U of Illionis P, 2000.Print.

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‘Ram Leela’ portrays ‘Saneda’ as a dominant community of Gujaratwhich is based on a notion of culture and shared values. These dominantdiscourses are linked with myth and ideology. Myths function as ideologicalmeanings which legitimize the status quo and serve the interests of those inpower (Kress and Van Leeuwen 97). The filmmaker has also takencinematic liberty to make sure nothing disrupts the flow of the narrative.Film no longer remains within the setting of rural Kutch after Ram andLeela elope and get married but become a modified extension of Bhansalifilms and start following the archetypical of ideal woman and man ‘raam –seeta’. Leela who is aggressive in first half become an obedient daughterwho runs the show when her mother goes through health crisis.


Sanjay Leela Bhansali tries to present imagery of Gujarat and takescinematic liberty to appeal to pan Indian audience by weaving a Gujaratifabric taking thread from different parts of Gujarat. He moulds the story ina way that it appears to be the ‘real’ representation of one Gujarat or onedominant community. Though the film does have a box office success yetit fails to bring on screen the authentic Gujarat.


1. Kasaba a small town or group of villages.

2. Last Indian village, Indo- Pak border in Rann of Kutch, Gujarat.

3. After at least four multiplexes were vandalized during the protestsin Bhavnagar, Jamnagar, Rajkot and Gandhidham in Gujarat withregard to Rabari and Jadeja community being projected as loud andbad mouth in Ram leela, the royal families of Gondal (YuvrajHimanshusinh Jadeja) and Rajkot (Yuvraj Mandhatasinh Jadeja) hadto intervene to bring an end to the controversy, the mediatorsconvinced Bhansali to issue apology and make changes in the castenames and replaced ‘Jadeja’ with ‘Saneda’ and ‘Rabari’ with‘Rajadi’. Bhansali’s film trailers were also challenged in the GujaratHigh Court.

4. People belonging to the region of Kutchch are known as Kutchchi.


Omvedt. G. Cultural Revolt in Colonial Society: The Non-BrahmanMovement in Western India 1873-1930. Mumbai: Indian SocialScience Society, 1976. Print.

---.Reinventing Revolution: India’s New Social Movements. New York:Sharpe, 1993. Print.

---.Dalits and Democratic Revolution: Dr Ambedkar and the DalitMovement in Colonial India. New Delhi: OUP, 1994. Print.

Patil, S. Dasa-Sudra Slavery. Mumbai: Allied, 1982. Print.

Rege, Sharmila. Writing Caste/Writing Gender: Narrating Dalit Women’sTestimonies. New Delhi: Zubaan, 2006. Print.

---.”Dalit Woman Talk Differently.” Economic and Political Weekly. 31Oct.- 6 Nov. 1998: 39-46. Print.

Richman, Paula. “Dalit Transformation, Narrative, and Verbal Art in theTamil Novels of Bama.” Speaking Truth to Power: Religion,Caste, and the Subaltern Question in India. Eds. ManuBhagvan and Anne Fedhaus Oxford: OUP, 2008. 137-152. Print.

Sangari, K., and S. Vaid, eds. Recasting Women. New Delhi: Kali forWomen, 1989. Print.

Sarkar, S. Writing Social History. New Delhi: OUP, 1997. Print.

Wood, E. M. “Modernity, Postmodernity or Capitalism.” Monthly ReviewJuly-August. 1996 . Print.

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phones, internet café, video parlor and a foreign return potential son-in-lawto establish that it is set in contemporary times.

The accommodation of culture is restricted to only two dominantclass and community of Kutch yet it portrays them as the only dominantgroups in Gujarati society and inevitably excluding other sub communitiesor groups. This is mainly because film is a cultural production viewed withinthe constraints, imagination, and signification of the society in which itoperates. There can be no absolute representations because we live in adynamic, ever-changing society (Rekhari n.pag). The representations aremade within the given framework of the imagination, limitation andsignification which become a problem since Rajadis and the Sanedas aredepicted as communities who are gender biased and are not ready to accepta young woman as their leader who is at the helm of their affairs. Theyrefuse to understand the language of humanity or compassion and are onlydriven by the urge to resolve matter through violence, something Ram cannotreally fathom. This stands as a stark contrast to the common belief aboutGujarat as a land of Gandhi and therefore practice of non-violence.

The character of Ram therefore tries to symbolize that image ofpeace loving Gujarat which often has been blamed for riots. He attemptsto put an end to bloodshed but comes across Leela at her abode, a placewhere he quietly sneaks in along with his friends for fun and ends up leavinghis heart with her. The character of mukhiya of Saneda, Supriya Pathakwho is portrayed as a ruthless woman, who does not refrain from breakingher own daughter’s finger by using a Betel nut cracker, suddenly realizesher love for her only daughter Leela a few days later on seeing her injury.

Here director Sanjay Leela Bhansali treats the theme of Romeo andJuliet in a way that it allows the audience to identify with the protagonistand portrays it as a universal experience and thus ensures commercialsuccess of the film. The film relies on the audience engagement with thestorytelling which needs to be intense for their experience and in making itas a process of identification and relation. Scholars like Ruoff have arguedthat many of these collections of images do not provide an accuraterepresentation of the material they intended to preserve for readers. Byfailing to take into account the dynamics of the region or the culturalsignificance of the story, much of the original or authenticity itself is lost.




Debabrata Banerjee

Simone de Beauvoir, in her famous treatise The Second Sex, on themarginalization of women in a patriarchal society, has concluded that thatwoman is, “…the inessential who never goes back to being essential…theabsolute Other, without reciprocity”(159). While her assertion fits for womenin almost all communities irrespective of being rich or poor, developed orunder-developed; this stigma of being “inessential” is further aggravated incase of the black American women. For centuries the African-Americanwomen have come to be identified as a mere third in a society thatcustomarily reduces woman to the “other”, since its idea of femininity isrestricted to the blonde-haired, pale-skinned, rosy-lipped and blue-eyedBarbie or Shirley Temple.

The African-Americans brought to America from their native landsin Africa as slaves were subordinated by the Whites as commodities,bringing them down to the level of subhuman beings. They became victimsof racism, and served the needs of white capitalist masters. Alreadyscorching under the flare of racism, the African-American communityentailed upon its women, the blight of sexism, making their position doublydifficult. Besides being humiliated for their race and being discriminatedagainst in social and political privileges, the black women have faceddiscrimination within their own community for ‘being women’.Conventionally visualized in their archetypal image as a wife supportingher man, giving birth to and bringing up his children at home or becomingan ideal servant or nurse in the white households, the black women arethereby dehumanized as merely the “womb”, the “ovary”, sans individuality

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better as someone who can meet the unfathomable requirements of aBhansali movie. Deepika Padukone who plays Leela on the other hand is abold, full of oomph, gorgeous and independent women who challenges thevery notion of conventional woman in the first half of the film but abruptlybecomes docile and responsible in the second half.

The image of woman portrayed in this film is not of someone who issubmissive or ideal Indian woman neither in role of protagonist, mother,daughter-in-law or the opponent. For example Leela as a protagonist is incontrol of the situation, has power over the man who is more vulnerablethan her. Within the film ‘Ram leela’ are celebrated images and subjectpositions of woman as ‘mother’, ‘daughter’, ‘housewife’, ‘sexuallyattractive woman’, a ‘widow’ and so on, which the film, embroil us in theprocess of signification. A woman is nothing more than the commoditiesshe wears: the lipstick, the tights, the clothes and so on are ‘woman’ (Hall,Hobson, Lowe, and Willis n.pag).

Film brings together various images which are visually pleasing andconvincing narratives to its viewers at the same time. The flow of the storyis smooth and filming of the mise-en-scene is flawless which makes itnatural for audiences to get involved in this process of representation. It ispossible for films to do so since the medium itself has the ability to sourcematerial and bring ‘reality’ on screen. “When a story demands then, thefilmmaker has to shoot and adopt cultures and their stereotypical styles.Cultures and ethnicity are greatly involved in the process of filmmaking inIndia,” opines trade expert Taran Adarsh. Narrative is such an automaticchoice for representing events that it seems unproblematic and ‘natural’.The use of a familiar narrative structure serves “to naturalize the contentof the narrative itself” (Kress and Leeuwen n.pag). In this film, ‘Gujarati’shares ‘Kutchchi’4 interests, beliefs and lifestyle for it to become pan Gujaratrepresentation for other non Guajarati audience.

The narrative structure of the film also sets it as a typical Bhansalilove story which captures, romance, conflict, grandeur, garba and sensuality.The tension in this film is built by infusing high melodrama and action whichsucceeds in getting a sympathetic response from the viewers. The filmdoes not specifically follow any epoch except for the fact that it uses mobile


or intellect, testifying de Beauvoir’s claim on the devaluation of women asthe “second sex”. Their vigorous support to the Civil Rights Movement ofthe Sixties and the ensuing suffering, have grossly been ignored in thecompilations of the black history, written by male hands. A third dimensionis further added to their predicament by the vicious cycle of poverty thathas engulfed a major section their creed since the Emancipation. The longtenure of slavery and after its formal abolition, the age of wage slavery hasrendered the black community economically devastated making the blackfemale—triply other—rendering them almost without any social position inthe racist, sexist and capitalist American society which defines them asinferior, outsiders and failures. Speaking about the status of African-American women, Dr. Julianne Malveaux says:

The intersection of race and gender, additionally create a thirdburden for African-American women…. A most stunningexample of this third burden is evident in the labor market, whereboth African-American men and women experienceunemployment rates that are higher than those for the overallpopulation….The male and female unemployment that resultsfrom the deindustrialization of our nation’s cities, and the policyfailure to develop jobs policies especially disadvantages African-American men and places the family survival burden on African-American women. (“Perspectives”)

It is hard to reconcile with a long enduring stigma of socio-economicexploitation, despite the passage of centuries and the dawn of blackrenaissance in America. Yet, infinite mental and physical strength initiatedthe black women to fight against pernicious social and economic pressures.A social consciousness born out of their triple oppression compelled themto assert their identity by talking back in their own voices, by penning downhow they felt, through generations on being poor, black and woman.Eventually the African-American women writers have set themselves uponthe task of highlighting the impact of the established doctrine of racism andcultural authority of the whites, strengthened by the inferiority complex ofthe poverty stricken black men upon their lives, in their literary creations.

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Representation of Gujarat and Authenticity

Kutch is the biggest district of Gujarat which has its own identity,culture and topography. Similar is the case with Saurashtra which comprisesof the western costal district of Gujarat till Gulf of Khambhat. In fact eachregion of Gujarat has its own distinct cultural identity which is unique tothat specific region. In representing culture and people on screen, languageplays a powerful and vital role. Some people regard culture as purely amatter of intellectual and spiritual values, in the sense of religion, philosophy,legal systems, literature, art, music, and the like. Sometimes this is extendedto include refinements in the manners of the ruling class (Kosambi n.p.).

Visuals in the form of either moving images or photographs use mediaas a tool to construct reality. Film also becomes a wider marker of culturewhen it is traced as “a recorder of reality - and hence a valuable tool”(Miller n.pag). Sanjay Leela Bhansali in his film ‘Ram Leela’ tries to bringon screen a true representation of Gujarat/Kutch by using the ethos ofdominant Jadeja and Rabari community of this region, but fails in doing so.The issue here is that to accommodate cinematic requirement, ‘Ram Leela’blends Kutch and Saurashtra for its premise, rather than just staying withKutch as back drop, therefore lacks any kind of authentic representation.This also could be understood in terms of the fact that there is no otherdominant element of Kutch in the film except the accent or dialogue delivery,costume and body tattoos which can be associated with Gujarat or veryspecific Kutch. The film also uses Mud work which is specific artwork ofKutch in the interiors of the sets to represent Kutch.

Ethnic Gujarati culture with its rich traditions and colourful festivalsand rituals would naturally lend to a Bollywood backdrop, but Hindi cinemararely tapped the idea till Bhansali tapped this ethnic vein earlier in HumDil De Chuke Sanam and now in Ram- leela. The cosmetic makeover istapped to the maximum in order to rehash the familiar Romeo- Juliet storyamid a backdrop of violence and plush Gujarati set up (Mankermi n.pag).

The protagonists of this film Ram and Leela belong to the rivalcommunities and therefore even though they are in the same town bothresides in two separate localities. Ranveer who plays Ram in this film isdepicted as a character with jaw dropping physique, typical playboy, even


Toni Morrison’s success as a black woman writer is a landmark inthe struggle of the black women to assert their racial and sexual identity.As Asha S. Kanwar puts it, “…it has been a ‘long and winding road’ fromthe cotton fields of the American South to the chandeliered halls in Stockholm,as Toni Morrison steps forward to accept her award” (82). Being an artistand an academician, Morrison was obligated to write books that she haddesired to read. Her accountability as a black feminist writer was not merelyto voice aspirations of the women of her community and create a black“feminist poetics” but even more to challenge the image of the black womenas victimizers since “critics with orientations towards race based ideologyupheld images which placed black males in positions of victims while womenwere seen as victimizers” (Sethi 2). Working under this ideology, Morrisondeveloped one of her most popularly received and critically acclaimednovel—The Bluest Eye, to depict the impact of the three layered dominationof the capitalists, whites and the males over the Breedlove family, amicrocosm of that section of the African-American community who triedto adopt themselves to the white standards of life, with the desire to beaccepted in the main stream of the society. It is the story of Pecola, the“black and poor” and therefore “ugly” child-protagonist of the novel, whounder the claustrophobic authority of white standards of beauty loses hersanity due to the gradual erosion of her persona, “A little black girl yearnsfor the blue eyes of a little white girl, and the horror at her heart of heryearning is exceeded only by the evil of fulfillment…The damage donewas total.” (Morrison 204)

Pecola Breedlove vainly prays to God for a pair of blue eyes, whichfor her are the vital obligation of beauty. The story of The Bluest Eye isnarrated by another black girl, Pecola’s friend Claudia MacTeer, Morrison’salter-ego in the novel. Through this confident and non-conformist narratorof the novel, the author sets forth to examine the appalling events in Pecola’slife and tries to comprehend the root cause of her doom. Born in anextremely poor black family in Ohio, Pecola, from the very beginning ofher life was made to believe that she was ugly as she was black and thusnot to be adored by anyone: “They live there because they were poor andblack and they stayed there because they believed they were ugly” (34).Eventually she tutored herself to survive with her blackness and endure

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as many people migrated to other parts of Gujarat and country. Lack ofemployment opportunities during this time gave air to many illegal and antisocial activities including those related to cross border.

Things did improve with investments coming in during ‘VibrantGujarat’ and Kutch slowly started rising from the debris of earthquake andthus measured repopulation began. Kutch is the largest district in Gujarathas a population which is mostly nomadic or artisan groups. Kutch districtis inhabited by various communities who have reached this region aftercenturies of migration from neighbouring regions of Marwar (WesternRajasthan), Sindh, Afghanistan and further.

Film ‘Ram Leela’ which is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘Romeoand Juliet’ establishes ‘Nakhtrana2’ which houses the dominant communityof Jadeja and Rabari as the location where the story unfolds. For almostfour hundred years, Kutch was ruled by the Jadeja dynasty till its mergerwith the Indian Union in 1948. For almost one thousand years, the Rabarihave roamed the deserts and plains of what is today western India. Rabari’son the other hand are mostly the cattle owner or local merchants orblacksmith artists of Kutch. It is believed that this tribe, with a peculiarPersian physiognomy, migrated from the Iranian plateau more than amillennium ago (Verma). Rabari’s dominate the landscape of Kutch regionwhose main source of income is from livestock, dairy, wool, leather andhandicrafts. Rabari women are independent, strong willed, self sufficientand often handle the money matter of the house since men most of thetime are out grazing cattles. The Rabari women also have dexterity inembroidery and hand crafted textile tradition of ‘Bandhani’ ‘Ram leela’,talks about these two partitioned community Saneda (Jadeja) and Rajadi(Rabari).3

The character of Supriya Pathak who belongs to Saneda communitythe in the film is inspired by the real life character of Santokba Jadeja whorose to notoriety with her underworld gang in the 1980s. She started hergang in Porbandar which is part of Saurashtra, seeking revenge for themurder of her husband who was a mill worker. Slowly her gang and itsterror expanded as she extended control over illegal limestone, mining andtransport businesses in the area.


the ridicules of the whites, the comparatively richer browns and the blackmales, by keeping herself in a cocoon of inferiority complex. But herapparently bland life took a wretched turn when her father Cholly Breedlove,in a sheer fit of insanity, raped her. What followed was a desertion by hercommunity and even her own mother. Unable to bear the pressure of socialhumiliation at such a young age and having no shoulder to cry on, Pecoladegenerated into insanity. The novel contrasts the life of Pecola to that ofthe MacTeer sisters, Frieda and Claudia, and tries to comprehend howthey could endure the struggle of existence in the black community, whereasPecola could not.

Pecola’s desire for blue eyes can be interpreted as the throbbingdesire of a black girl to be accepted in a world that does not want her,incited by the images of racist ideology because “Adults, older girls, shops,magazines, newspapers, window signs – all the world had agreed that ablue-eyed, yellow-haired, pink-skinned doll was what every girl childtreasured” (15). Through this symbolic urge of Pecola to get the mostbeautiful and bluest eyes to draw admiration of those who have loathedher, Morrison unveils a major aspiration latent in nearly all black women: toget a respectable social position and acceptance. To obtain an equal statusin the society of the whites, some black women thus, readily compromiseswith their racial identity. The text provides ample evidences to testify thetruth that even in the eyes of the blacks, white is beautiful. The youngblack girls’ love for the blonde haired, fair skinned, blue eyed Shirley Templeor black skinned Pauline Breedlove’s preference to spend her life in servinga white child, ignoring her own children, may be considered as evidencesof the self hatred of the blacks.

The blue eyes as an agent of white racism are the most dominatinginfluence that drives Pecola to insanity, yet there are myriad other instancesthat reveal the odds of racism in the novel. Pecola’s experience at thecandy shop may be analysed as an example of the depressing attitude ofthe “blue” eyed whites, who regard the blacks as horrifying objects, to anextent that even the eleven year old Pecola could sense the disgust of theshopkeeper at her appearance, even avoiding to looking at her eyes:

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films in the past, Sanjay Leela Bhansali has grandly exploited this formula.Amid the overwhelming Punjabi presence in Bollywood of the late nineties,he brought alive the essence of the state in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam in1999 (Mankermi n.pag).

This paper shall attempt to do a case study of representation ofGujarat in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film ‘Ram Leela’ since it is a recentfilm and the issue of generalization of Gujarati is more problematic here.This paper also looks into the fact that does representation of one particularregion or community work as a premise for the narrative of the film ordoes the cinematic requirement lead to misrepresentation of the communityor the region.

Premise of ‘Ram Leela’

It is common to see in Indian scenario that in villages and ‘kasaba1

division of society is based on the caste where elite caste will not share anycommon space or housing area with lower caste members / group. In suchcommunity inter caste marriage is almost unthinkable especially if that castehas rigid hierarchy, even though they might have legal freedom to do so.This is true for most of the regions across India; here for instance Kutchregion which is the desert region of Gujarat and is the premise of the film‘Ram-Leela’ is a traditional region which is not very up to date in terms ofits culture and social engagements unlike the rest of the state or country.

Globalisation arrived in Gujarat almost a decade later than it enteredIndian markets. Kutch a drought prone region of the state did not receiveany fruits of globalisation until 2005, when Adani group of industries acquiredseven thousand three hundred and fifty hectares from the government inan area called Mundra in the Gulf of Kutch and started an array of industriesincluding India’s largest private port in Mundra and a four t5housand sixhundred and twenty -megawatt coal-fired power plant which has beensurrounded by controversies. This region unlike rest of the Gujarat did notreceive the benefits of ‘globalisation’ and development, also primarilybecause it is a desert area and has no financial strong hold except handicraftindustry as the source of livelihood. Besides this what aggravated thesituation was the 2002 earthquake which shook this region and affectedthe means of income of the people. Kutch underwent a gradual depopulation


She has seen it in the lurking eyes of all white people.So, thedistaste must be for her, her blackness. All things in her are fluxand anticipation. But her blackness is static and dread. And it isthe blackness that accounts for, that creates, the vacuum edgedwith distaste in white eyes. (37)

Evidently, this white shopkeeper treats Pecola as an abnormal being whodoes not deserve humanitarian treatment. It is this hatred in his eyes, and inthe eyes of most white men, which makes Pecola feel an innate hatred forher own self.

Racism does not confine to the white community only. The lightcoloured, well-to-do African-Americans also consider their darkercounterparts, inferior. This is exemplified in the attitudes of Geraldine, theMulatto woman who loathes Pecola’s very presence in her house; or ofMaureen Peal, who initially befriends Pecola only to insult her later, saying:“I am cute! And you ugly! Black and ugly black e mos. I am cute” (56).These instances divulge the vicious nature of the racists.

In her childish innocence, Pecola is convinced that by adapting thewhite standards of beauty, she would gain acceptance in the society thatshe has craved for so long. Being the child of a poor family, she has onlyone asset under her position—her body—which she desires to be perfectedwith white skin, blue eyes, blonde hairs—yielding to the racial hegemony.Thus Pecola needs the blue eyes as weapons, not simply to wrestle downher inferiority complex, but more pathetically to get a mere social recognition,an equal position amongst the white men, women, children and even theblack men.

Next to the racial ordeal, sexism: the exploitation of the female bodyphysically and verbally, also contributes to the fall of Pecola in The BluestEye. Detached from their roots, brutally exploited as slaves or labourers bythe whites and reminded of their low social position at every step, the blackmen suffer under the burden of their race without the courage to revolt. Tovent their frustration they violate the most easily available victim near, theirwomen at home. Cholly’s anger, for instance, at the innocent Darlene, on

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Aasita Bali and Dr. Narayanswamy K Y.


Cinema is part of popular culture and thus it prepares a schema ofvisuals which can confront popular attitudes and tastes, produced for massesand not for elite’s consumption. Films in Hindi language, produced in Mumbaiare popularly known as Bollywood films. The Indian film industry standsabove most other national cinemas due to its local focus yet enormous size(Kingsford and Smith n.pag). These films do not prescribe to any particularformat or genre but has its own genre ‘Masala films’, which is broadly anamalgamation of various genres, in particular like action, romance, comedyand drama. Masala films are highly popular among masses since it tries tointerlace a story in such a way the film has little bit for everyone. Filmdirectors make it a point that irrespective of genre, there is enough spice inthe film that can bring large audience to film theatre and help them fetchgood box office collections. This spicy element could be attained by workingon the permutation and combination of action with romance, style withdrama or theme with adaptation.

Bollywood film makers have frequently tried to explore variousregional themes to appeal to the audience. Film maker Sanjay Leela Bhansaliis one of those popular film directors who experiments with themes thatoften represent a particular region of the country. For example he locatedhis debut film ‘Khamoshi’ and later film ‘Guzaarish’ in Goa, also situatedwere ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’ and ‘Ram Leela’ and his televisionserial ‘Saraswatichandra’ in Gujarat and upcoming film ‘Bajirao Mastani’is set in Maharashtra. While Gujarati culture was sporadically used in Hindi


being caught at a private moment and ridiculed by the white hunters, visiblyhints at the root cause of the violence that black men inflict upon theirhelpless mothers, wives, beloveds or daughters:

Sullen, irritable, he cultivated his hatred of Darlene. Never didhe once consider directing his hatred towards the hunters. Suchan emotion would have destroyed him. They were big, white,armed men. He was small, black, helpless…hating them wouldhave consumed him, burned him up like a piece of soft coal,leaving only flakes of ash and a question mark of smoke. (118)

This incapability in front of the powerful whites and the concurrenthelpless status of black women also fuels the incestuous tendencies thatcontaminate the black community. Slavery vitiated incest in the lives ofblack women since the white men made free sexual exploitations of theirslave women. Consequently the black men too acquired the notion thatblack women are born to be exploited and thus they considered raping oftheir wives, daughters, and near female relations pretty natural. In TheBluest Eye, incest is the most tragic experience that initiates Pecola’sphysical and emotional collapse. Cholly, representing the black man’s self-hatred and lack of self-esteem, victimizes his own daughter. This furtherenhances the desire of young and innocent Pecola to have blue eyes, asshe imagines that her father or any other black man would not have daredto harm her if she was a white skinned, blue eyed girl: “why, look at pretty-eyed Pecola. We mustn’t do bad things in front of those pretty eyes” (34).

The sexist suppression of black woman is not merely confined toCholly’s rape incident in the novel. There is no age boundary for men totake up the roles of the predators for innocent girls. The brown child Junior,taught to behave like the whites by his mother, does not hesitate to humiliatePecola, after trapping her by bait in his house and making her fear andstruggle the element of fun and ridicule. Even little black boys, imitating thewhites, regard harassing a helpless black girl customary. Poor Pecolabecomes victim of all types of oppressions, including physical abuse by thelittle black boys, who sadly and ironically sees nothing wrong in humiliating

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Nila’s final words point to a great truth which embraces all mankindregardless of race, language, nation, colour of the skin and so on. She onlyserves as the spokesperson of the author who has possessed the greatknowledge that deep inside all people are the same.

Works Cited

Bapat, Bhakti. “Home and Away.” Hindu Literary Review 2 June 2013,

Thiruvananthapuram ed.: 3. Print.n.p.

Bhabha, Homi K., The Location of Culture. New York: Rouletdge, 2012.Print.

---, ed. Nation and Narration. London: Routledge, 1990. Print.

McLeod, John. Beginning Postcolonialism. New Delhi: Viva, 2011. Print.

Nasrin, Taslima. French Lover. Trans. Sreejata Guha. New Delhi: Penguin,2002. Print.


a girl of their own community. Their hatred for Pecola’s blackness mayalso be construed as an extension of their self hating tendencies born out ofthe lifelong ridicule they face for their colour.

Though Pecola, being at the centre of the novel, is subjected to thehighest degree of violence and sexual harassment by the men of hercommunity, the other female characters also struggle under comparableexploitation, since men regard the female body their own possession.Pecola’s friend Frieda MacTeer is preyed upon by a white man, but unlikePecola she is able to recover the shock owing to the support of her family.The author also hints towards the abuse of the other black girls by referringto the perverts like Soaphead, who sexually exploits the young girls in returnof candies, even before they reach the age of understanding the violencethey are subjected to.

Racial and sexual depravities are not the only causes for the patheticconditions of the black women. To add to it, there is poverty that completesthe medley of suffering. Class, race and gender are thoroughly knotted todelegate a person’s social status. Ages of slavery has crushed the capacityof the black community to be economically productive. Emancipation onlybrought a false promise that doomed in the transformation of slaves tounder-paid labourers. Cholly Breedlove’s youth passed in the vain pursuitof a career to sustain himself and later his family when he fell in love withPauline and married her. Their married life turned out disastrous owing tothe economic hardships and soon their love turned sour under the heat ofpoverty. Cholly took the aid of alcohol to keep away the pain of being afailure while Pauline took up the role of a governess at a white household,utterly rejecting her responsibilities towards her family and her children, toescape the monotony of a poor black family life. The household of Chollyand Pauline represents that section of the post-Emancipation African-Americans who wage a daily struggle against poverty and end up in thedeceptive tranquility of drugs and alcohol. Claudia aptly sums up the struggleof the blacks to merge with the main fabric of the society saying, “Being aminority in both caste and class, we moved about anyway on the hem of

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the wishes of Anirban. At Kishan’s house he is the original master. ‘Nila’ isa supplementary sign who only adds to the material things that exist in hishouse. It should be noted that she does not add up. Molina also exists in thesupplementary space in Anirban’s house and in his mind; the original spacebeing occupied by the other woman, Swathi. Ironically this woman alsoexists in the same supplementary space, only for the reason of being awoman.

According to Bhabha the notion of hom*ogeneity lacks something.The idea of France comprising of only whites, can only be a myth. Itsminus has to be compensated by bringing forth the presence of peoplefrom other races. Interrogating the supplement would only result in thebeginning of the narrative of the nation, not in the end of it. It is quite ironicthat the readers get a glimpse of French culture and life through the eyesof an Indian woman Nila.

Crossing the borders does not create any essential difference. Itmay be an ironical fact that Nila lived more happily in Calcutta in terms ofmoney, servants, and other material comforts. She cannot boast of all thesecomforts in Paris but the best part for her is that she has the choice todecide things for herself. However hard one may try, one cannot erase thetrace of history from one’s memory. The thought of baptizing oneself asthe native of any particular nation should be discarded. Bhabha says, “todwell ‘in the beyond’ is . . . to be a part of a revisionary time, a return to thepresent to redescribe our cultural contemporaneity; to re-inscribe our human,historic commonality; to touch the future on its hither side” (10).

Towards the end of the novel Nasrin presents a wise Nila who uttersthe following truth:

Is it only the unemployed people who rob and steal? . . . . Don’tthe white people do drugs? Murder? Tell me, is there a goodplace on this earth? Where would you say there is total safety?Aren’t there addicts in Manila? . . . . This country has racism, sodoes India. This Rue de Vouyere, where only white people stay,do you think murders never happen here? Of course they do.One could have happened just today! (293)


live, struggling to consolidate our weaknesses and hang on, or to creepsingly up into the major folds of the garment” (11). Thus the adverse effectsof racism and sexism are augmented with the class structures that forcethe likes of the Breedloves to a lifetime of subordination. In a society thatvalues richness, maleness and whiteness, Pecola is the one who suffersthe most due to her blackness, womanhood and poverty.

Analysing The Bluest Eye closely, inevitably leads us to the conclusionthat the identity crisis of black women constitutes a big problem in theAmerican society. Societal forces in form of racism and sexism dominateblack women’s life and expose the falsity of American idealism, whichbarely shields the rights of the whites, the males and the affluent classes,while denying the blacks, even their racial identity.

However, though black women are the ones who suffer most fromracism and sexism, it does not necessary entail that there is no possibilityfor their resurrection. Black female authors like Alice Walker have set aparadigm of an oppressed woman’s struggle and victory in shielding herselffrom suppression and later utilising her potentials to enlighten the wholesociety, in her epoch making novel The Color Purple. All the femalecharacters in the novel help in Celie’s transformation from a timid girl to anindependent woman. Even in Morrison’s Sula, the protagonist establishesher right to identity by transforming her fear into anger. These tales promotea chain reaction: the upliftment of women leading to enhancement of themen’s world, which ultimately augments the whole black community towardsprogress.

In The Bluest Eye as well, Morrison presents characters, thoughlimited in number, who refuse to conform to the white standards of beautyand take pride in their race. Perhaps the most striking example is the narratorClaudia herself, Morrison’s spokesperson in the novel. Claudia’s hatred forthe white—dolls, babies, movie-stars, depicts her understanding of thehegemonic forces of the foreign cultural images that renders her own cultureinferior. As a child, Claudia had harboured violent feelings for the racistimages such as Shirley Temple or Baby Doll and tended to destroy them:

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As one goes through the novel French Lover one understands thatthe present life of the people always intrudes into stereotypical imagescreated by the national culture. The contemporary image of Nila presentsa contrast to the age old picture of a traditional Indian woman. The nationalpast of India is represented by stereotypical women like Molina, a submissivemother caught up in the web of patriarchal family. Molina, despite knowingthe truth that her husband Anirban is after another woman, serves him likea typical Indian wife. In contrast to Molina, Nila decides to leave Kishan’shouse without any second thought.

The novel attempts to break another stereotypical image of the rich,white people content with their lives. Danielle repeatedly refers to thedifficult living in France. She reminds Nila that her (Nila’s) condition ismuch better than many others. Danielle is having tax problems and life isbecoming more difficult in Paris.See how Nila could relate every experiencein Paris to her past experiences in Calcutta. At Danielle’s flat when shesees that there is only one bed, she suddenly remembers how beds weremade on the floor during weddings in Calcutta. She also recounts how shelistened to the ghost stories of Manju aunty.

Nila’s journey along the path of ‘loss of identity’ begins with herarrival in Paris. Her emotions shuttle between pride and humiliation. AfterNicole’s party Nila is annoyed with herself that she tells Danielle that sheshould have been with Kishan playing the role of a compliant housewife.Her self-esteem, due to which she leaves Kishan’s house, soon is convertedto self pity. Such moments of ‘undecidability’ frequently occur in Nila’s lifein Paris. She always remains in the ‘liminal space’ of trying to fit in andfailing to do so.

Nila, Kishan, Sunil, Chaitali, Mojammel and others may add ‘to’ thepopulation of France but they do not add up. They fail to become part andparcel of French culture. Even Morounis who believes herself to be aFrench citizen, may be ignored by the natives, for being an Indian by birth.The concept of supplementarity introduces a sense of secondariness. Thissituation is no different from that of the womenfolk in Indian household.When Nila sets up her new rented house, she remembers that Molinanever had an opportunity to set her home. She was only supposed to execute

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“Frieda and she had a long conversation about how cu-ute ShirleyTemple was… I couldn’t join them in their adoration because I hatedShirley...The other dolls, which were supposed to bring me great pleasure,succeeded in doing quite the opposite” (13). However, with the advent ofmaturity, the reality dawns upon her that the likes of Shirley Temple cannotreally be loved or hated because it is merely an image—a figure without apersonality, an empty symbol without an implication. Her realization of thisfutility of perusing the vague, white determined clichés of beauty enablesClaudia to subjectively reject them, thereby subverting the racist hegemonythat needlessly controlled their lives and subsequently explore a suitabledefinition to suit her black self. Thus she survives the ravages of the racistsociety, while on the contrary, Pecola, who remains ignorant to the realitybehind the images of white aesthetics, frantically chases them and ends uplosing her sanity.

Nevertheless, Pecola’s fate stands apart from the tales of hope ofresurrection as she is denied any cooperation and support from her motheras well as from the women of her community, who “cleaned” themselveson her and merely gossip about her fate. Being alone, neglected and sociallyrejected, Pecola fails to launch a fight against the oppressive white andmale hegemony and restore to sanity. Thus she loses her balance and tumblesdown into the illusive solace of “the bluest eyes”. It is through this contrast,the narrator stresses upon the importance of the assertion of identity of theblack women rather than their accepting the standards of white culture.

In an interview with Sandy Russel, Morrison confided her urgencyto relate the tale of this triple suppression of her creed saying: “I remembermy grandmother and my great-grandmother. I had to answer those women,had to know that whatever I did was easy in comparison to what they hadto go through” (Russel 45). She sets forth to voice the struggles, hurdlesand aspirations of the black women, who have remained out of the focusof not only the white version of the American history, but also ignored inthe black re-interpretations. Morrison, in this novel explores the innercomplexities of capitalist, racist and sexist American society and thedifficulties it pose to those who constitute its non-creamy layers.

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believe that her country is filthy and the Western world is clean. Nila findsthe streets of Calcutta unbearable once she reaches Paris. She feels thatshe has “landed somewhere outside the planet where there was no dirt, nohassles, nothing that piqued the eye, nothing uncontrolled, uncouth or ugly”(26). It is to this Nila that Sunil utters the following words of wisdom,“You’ll understand in time that life is not an easy game, whether in Paris orin Calcutta” (Nasrin 177). Kishan’s idea about India is also no differentfrom that of Nila. When Nila insists him to wash his hands before eatingfood, he reminds her that Paris is not a dirty place like Calcutta, hence heneed not wash his hands.

Paris is a dream, and Calcutta the reality, for Nila. From her dreamshe always awakens into her house in Calcutta. Paris stands for everythingwhich Nila has so far aspired for. In her dream, Nila is seen climbing up onto a house on the top of a tree. To occupy the topmost space may be thebiggest desire of the colonial subject because it makes one equal to hermaster. It is also mentioned that while Nila and Nikhil were children, sheused to climb on the tree and sit on the topmost branch. By overpoweringher brother who is a boy (who would be joining the patriarchal set upsooner or later), Nila has tried to display her resistance against superiorityof any kind, right from childhood. If the same scene is shifted to the field ofcolonial rule the topmost space is occupied by the white master. FinallyNila manages to get a house for rent on the fourth floor and after enteringthe house she takes “a few deep breaths of freedom” (Nasrin 214). Toreach that higher area implies freedom and security for Nila.

The conversations of Danielle and Nila throw light on the history ofboth India and France. They also provide opportunities for them tounderstand more about each other’s nations. During one such conversationDanielle is shocked to hear that Bengalis admired Subhash Chandra Bose,a person who be-friended Hitler. Then Nila remembers that Gunter Grassalso held a similar opinion about Bengalis. Nila and Danielle share a love-hate relationship. Nasrin very clearly states that Nila “was drawn to Danielleand also repelled by her. Danielle’s words had logic and also lacked it. Nilaswayed between liking and dislike” (Nasrin 119). It is because of the opiniondifferences between them that they part their ways later.


Works Cited

Beauvoir, Simone de. The Second Sex. Trans. and Ed. H.M. Parshley.London: Vintage, 1997. Print.

Kanwar, Asha S. “Black Magic: The Works of Toni Morrison.” Afro-American Literature. Ed. R.K. Dhawan. New Delhi: Prestige,2001. Print.

Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. London: Vintage, 1999. Print.

Malveaux, Julianne. “Perspectives: The Status of African-AmericanWomen.” Diverse Issues in Higher Education. 7 March 2008.Web. 2 March 2014.

Russel, Sandy. “It’s OK to Say OK.” Critical Essays on Toni Morrison.Ed. N. McKay. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1988. Print.

Sethi, Navneet. Women as Seen by Women: A Study of African-AmericanWomen Writers. New Delhi: Reliance, 2003. Print.

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that Bhabha says that the performative finds a difference “between thepeople as ‘image’ and its signification as a differentiating sign of self, distinctfrom the Other or the outside” (212).

The main characters of French Lover exhibit a tendency to loveand hate their homeland simultaneously. As Bhabha thinks, it is true that“the ambivalent identifications of love and hate occupy the same psychicspace” (214). Kishan’s dislike for India does not withhold him from givinghis restaurants Indian names. After coming to Paris Nila begins to thinkthat Calcutta is a ‘filthy place’. On the other hand Nila could not helpimagining Morounis dressed up in an Indian saree. Monique has a tendencyto glorify Calcutta. But it should be noted that when she speaks about herpast days in France her green eyes brighten. She could hear the cry of theFrench revolution; something which proves that her homeland still stays inher heart.

However, nation features differently in the consciousness of differentcharacters. Danielle is not at all sensitive to the mention of her home countryCanada where she has lived for six years. The only thing she would like tosay is that it’s a cold country and that she does not want to go back. Shedoes not want to remember its name “because that brought on a snowymountain of memories upon her, like an avalanche” (90). Later Nila alsobegins to share the same feelings for Calcutta. In her letter to Molina fromParis she writes thus, “Paris is a stunningly beautiful city. . . . it’d be ashame to die without seeing this place” (Nasrin 54). When she comes toCalcutta to see a dying Molina, she finds that Calcutta has changed a lot.Then her sister corrects her telling that it is not Calcutta but it is Nila whohas changed. The same Calcutta which was dear to her once turns out tobe a filthy place. After Molina’s death, Nila has to wait for two moreweeks to leave for Paris. She then feels that Calcutta is like a “burningghat” (157).

Nila refuses to believe that there can be gambling and other illegalactivities in Paris. She considers Paris as the epitome of all happiness. Nilabreathes “in her fill of the clean air,” and looks at Paris “in bloom with neweyes” when she arrives Paris after Molina’s death (169). Nila is shockedto hear from Benoir that there is class system in Paris. She is unable tobelieve that French revolution could not get rid of it. She is conditioned to



Subhi Tresa Sebastian

Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses has a unique place in thehistory of book censorship and reception. It is one of the very few bookswhich still manage to draw the same level of attention, if not more, evenafter twenty-five years of its publication. The novel has been simultaneouslyhailed by the liberal audience and critiqued by the religious and the politicalcrowd. Interestingly, India, Rushdie’s own parent country was the first topull the trigger of censorship. In October 1988, a few weeks after itspublication in England, India issued a ban on its publication purporting it tobe anti-Islamic. However the action was more of a political measure bythe then Congress government in power- an attempt to preserve its Muslimvote bank. Nations like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, and South Africaquickly followed suit .But there the reasons were purely religious. Britainthough at first was not a party to the bandwagon of censorship supportershad to eventually fall in and had to remove the copies of the books from thebookstores for a while .In spite of being written in English, the novel invitedcondemnation and a decree of fatwa on the author by the Iranian governmentand widespread reaction in the Arab nations. The Fatwa issued by Khomeiniand the Iranian Government in February 1989 condemned the author ofThe Satanic Verses to death. Italy, Tokyo and Norway too witnessed similarresistance in the 1990s. The Italian translator of The Satanic Verses, EttoreCapriolo, was wounded in an attempted assassination in Milan in 1991; aweek later, Hitoshi Igarishi, the Japanese translator, was stabbed to deathin Tokyo. In 1993, William Nygaard, the book’s Norwegian publisher, wasshot and severely wounded outside of his Oslo home .The dawn of thenew century too did not liberate the novel. Though the Iranian governmentrepealed the fatwa in 1998, Iran’s elite fighting force the Revolutionary

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that then France will truly belong to the whites. Little do they realize thatpeople keep floating from all parts of the world and that the borders of anation can never be sealed completely. If each individual is heterogenouswithin herself then how much more heterogenous can be a nation!

Nation is always occupied by “a space that is internally marked bycultural difference and the heterogenous histories of contending peoples,antagonistic authorities, and tense cultural locations” (Bhabha 212). In thenovel South Asians like Nila, Kishan, Mojammel, Sunil, Chaitali and othersoccupy the liminal space. They occupy the margins of the French society.Their sufferings and their ambivalences form the major part of the novel.The novel also addresses issues regarding gender identities. The portrayalof the lesbian character Danielle throws light on the woes and anxieties ofsuch people.

The performative and pedagogical aspects of people result in thesituation of ‘in-between’ (Bhabha 19). On the peripheral level Nila practicallytries to imitate everything Western. Yet her perceptions do not changeeasily. She cannot overcome the embarrassment when she sees coupleskissing on the street. Her Indian upbringing comes in the way of certainmatters like these. Nila easily takes on to modern outfits but she cannoterase Tagore’s music from her mind. When she invites Catherine andDanielle to Kishan’s house, she treats them with the traditional Bengalifood. The readers find a Nila who takes pride in her Bengali upbringing.While dressing up for Nicole’s party, Nila wears jeans and puts a bindi onher forehead. Clad in a modern outfit she does not hesitate to decorate herface in the Indian way.

After Molina’s death Nila has to wait for two weeks to fly to Paris.She cannot bear the thought of delaying her journey even by a single minute.“Now she didn’t feel Calcutta was her own” (Nasrin 157). When Moniqueconstantly talks about Calcutta, Nila requests her to talk about France.There is another picture of Nila quite opposite to this when she asks heruncle to speak in Bengali, because he was using plenty of English words.When Nila comes to know that Catherine had been to India the first thingthe former asks is whether Catherine likes Bengali food. Nila, throughout,tries to relate to her homeland by different means. It is all because of this


Guards re-ignited the controversy by renewing the call for Rushdie’s deathin February 2003. In India in 2012, the author was prevented from attendingthe Jaipur literary fest .And the literary enthusiasts were denied permissionto read excerpts from the novel .In the West the novel again started tocourt trouble in the post 9/11 environment. Haunted by Islamophobia, anywork that reflected anti-Muslim sentiment was blatantly connected to TheSatanic verses and Rushdie. An amateur US movie Innocence of Muslimsreleased in 2012 resulted in an unfounded uproar on the West and Rushdie.His publication of the memoir Joseph Anton in 2012 again brought thebook back into the public glare.

Ever since this novel has been published the publishing world, thereaders of literary works and even their reading processes have undergonea metamorphosis of sorts. Readers’ literary tastes, their sensibilities andthe very way they approach a piece of literature, have altered. As a workthat has survived censorship and has witnessed the dusk of a century andthe dawn of another, The Satanic Verses demonstrates how the changingmilieu and socio-political equations have affected the reception of this work.

The Satanic Verses has a complex narrative structure. Its plottranscends time and space. Its expansive narrative pattern spans acrossEngland, India and Iran and shuttles between the present and early days ofIslam. The multi-layered narration embraces a series of genres. The novelis primarily a magic realistic work with a highly blurred boundary betweenthe realistic and the fantastic. Again it is a tragic –comic narrative ,narratingthe lives of two survivors of a blown-up plane: Saladin Chamcha andGibreel Farishta-the dual “angeldevilish”( The Satanic Verses 5) heroes.It can also be categorised as parody which places the theme of third worldmigration. Again, the text holds relevance in a post-modern counter-culturecontext as a subversive text on Islam’s origin. Thus The Satanic Versesbecomes a transnational cultural product and therefore one cannot easilydefine and classify its implied readers. According to Wolfgang Iser an ImpliedReader is “a textual construct which aids the real reader to dealconstructively with the inscribed text…a network of response-invitingstructure which impel the reader to grasp the text” (The Act of Reading34). Since this text does not fix specific parameters for the implied reader,the meaning making process and signification become elastic to its core

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When the characters of French Lover are analysed, they may seemto signify a specific culture or nation, whereas in reality it is not so. On thefirst glance one may think that Nila represents India or specifically aparticular region of India, Calcutta. Yet she does not fit in the image of atraditional Indian wife. In fact her knowledge of French history would helpher easily pass off as a French woman. Sunil and Chaitali try to create anIndia of their own in their flat. Still they would prefer to go on a Europeantour instead of going to India. On the peripheral level Nila may appear tobe quite modern yet she cannot consider Sunil as anybody other than abrother. An awareness of the history of their nations inhabits theconsciousness of Nila, Benoir, and Morounis. Morounis very enthusiasticallyintroduces the major landmarks of France to Nila. In turn Nila also introducesTagore to her. Nila easily recreates the life history of Voltaire renaminghim as Francois Marie Arouet. When she looks at Seine she sees thereflection of Joan d’Arc whereas others could see only the water. France’sand India’s historical memories lay intertwined in the consciousness ofNila. The thought of the French girl Joan d’Arc is immediately followed byanother French woman who lived in Calcutta. Standing on the bridge Nilarecollects the life of Catherine Grand, the daughter of a French officialwho also lived in Calcutta.

Unlike other characters Nila is keenly interested in the historicaldetails of any nation, be it India, France or Rome. At Closerie des Lilas thenames of great writers were written under the table cloth. They includeOrwell, Hemingway, Baudelaire, Beckett and so on. Nila’s joy knows nobounds when she realizes that she also has become a part of the history bydining there. People like Morounis pass themselves off as French citizensthe moment they set their foot in France. They never hope to maintain theirties with the native land. Morounis feels that it was good that she couldleave India otherwise she “would have died in that rubbish heap” (Nasrin191). Still Nila would like to believe that Morounis felt a kinship with Nila;otherwise she would not have offered to take Nila on sight seeing.

Nation cannot wholly contain people who can be considered as itstrue natives. Benoir is introduced as a French man but his knowledge aboutFrench history is limited. The racist Lippens are engaged in futile efforts todrive away all the non-whites from France. They are under the false notion

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and the entire process of reading and reception become multi-fold andcomplex.

The Satanic Verses was published at a period when its author Rushdiewas at the helm of critical appreciation for his novel Midnight’s Children.The latter’s reception of the Booker Prize too placed him in the vortex ofpublic glare. So when he announced his next novel there was already a lotof anticipation in the literary circles. The highbrow readers were waiting toread what the author has to deliver now. To use Stanley Fish’s term, theyformed the informed readers, “The reader whose education, opinions,concerns, linguistic competence and so on make him capable of having theexperience the author wished to produce” (“Interpreting the Variorum”297). These readers were mainly the critics who openly received TheSatanic Verses and were able to deal interpretively with the cultural codesinscribed in the text. Most of them remained model readers. The system ofcultural code inscribed in their consciousness directed them to read thetext differently and helped them to classify the work as a historio-graphicmetafiction, a post-colonial parody and as a novel on Indian diaspora andabove all a magic realistic work of fiction.

The Satanic Verses was conceived at a period when the world wasslowly getting attuned to globalisation and therefore it catered to a glocalisedcommunity. Thus Penguin, the publishers of the novel, aimed its publicity ata global community rather than at a local community or region. The reachof the novel’s publicity was unmatched. The readers who confronted thenovel were immense and diverse. And every reader came loaded withtheir typical cultural beliefs, values and practices. This largely concealedstructure of values informed and underlined each reader’s reading process.So even from the time of its publication The Satanic Verses experienceddiverse reception as compared to its predecessors.

During the last two decades of the twentieth century topics likenation, nationhood, socio-cultural ideology and geographical location haveplayed a prominent role in the reader’s reception of literary works .In thiscontext, due to a series of reasons, India and its ideological practices becomean indispensable part of this study. The first reason for it is that the wholestory of The Satanic Verses revolves around the socio-cultural background

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Bhabha 204). Nila’s life in Paris does not bind her in any specific time orplace. Past, present, and future torture her. Once she leaves Kishan’s houseshe has a lot of space for herself. At her new house, for the first time Nilaexperiences the pleasure of deciding things on her own; one thing whichMolina and many other Indian women could never get to do. Nila tries tocreate a space of her own, where she does not belong to, unfortunately. Tomake that space replete with Indianness, she fills the bookshelves with thebooks she had brought from Calcutta. Along with the Bengali books, shekeeps Ulysses; a situation which clearly represents the mindset of Nilaliving in Paris. Though Nila comes back to Molina, in Calcutta, to her home,Nila finds that she does not belong there as well. But later she could possessthat house by way of inheritance from her mother. Everywhere Nila hasthe physical space of her own, which she cannot own, paradoxically.

It is true that national narratives “represent the diametrically opposedworld views of master and slave” (Bhabha 206). To begin with we seehow Kishan’s and Nila’s views differ. Apart from being husband and wife,they also serve as colonizer-colonized and master-slave duo. Nila’s principlesoppose not just Kishan’s ideology but that of every other male character inthe novel. Sunil thinks that Nila holds feelings for him whereas Nila thinksthat her brother’s friend is just another brother for her. Even if Nila doesnot have any attraction towards Sunil, the latter thinks that it is his right toown a female body which he desires. Benoir and Nila hold a heated argumenton how to maintain their relationship. Nila could not understand how Benoircould remain faithful to his wife and her simultaneously. That is why sheproposes to back out from the relationship, an act which Benoir cannotunderstand. Nila strongly feels that one should know the history of one’snation whereas Benoir regards it only as a waste of time. When Nila triesto convince Benoir about the importance of knowing the history of France,he gets angry.

Nila can be considered as a displaced entity everywhere. She hasbeen displaced from her paternal house in Calcutta, from Kishan’s housein Paris, from Danielle’s house, and finally and most importantly from theFrench culture. She thus emerges as a powerful, independent, and assertivewoman in the whole process. One cannot deny the fact that all this happensin the process of ‘ambivalent identification’.


of India and the two protagonists of the novel are Indians by birth. Secondly,India has earned the distinction of initiating the censorship of this novel andfinally, the reason for banning the novel in India was more political ratherthan religious. In all other nations it was its religious content that triggeredthe ban.

India a multi- cultural, multi –ethnic community is renowned for itsunity in diversity and for its secularist outlook on life. Of the many reasonsfor India remaining a true democratic secular community is its cautiousapproach to every religion and to its citizens’ religious sentiments. The banon The Satanic Verses can be partly attributed to this unique quality of‘Indianness’ and the way people define this attribute. In a nation of morethan a billion citizens, the nation hosts a highly diverse reading public, asmulti-layered and as intricate as the novel’s narrative structure. One canfind among the Indian reading public the western liberals’ counterpart aswell as the most orthodox readers .The global citizens, the literally mindedaudience who are open to all narratives and the ideologically motivatedliterary readers- all find their space in this vast Indian reading community.When the novel was banned in India the explicit reason given (a move toprevent religious unrest) brought in many low brow readers who perhapswould not have otherwise shown any interest in this novel, into the readingcommunity. The Fatwa issued by the Iranian Government on religiousgrounds too attracted many clerics and members of the religious communityto the novel in India like in other parts of the world. The recent animateddiscussions surrounding the novel in India at the 2012 edition of the JaipurLiterary Festival also has political roots.

Rushdie’s previous novel Midnight’s Children too courtedcontroversy in India. The depiction of Indira Gandhi and the emergencyperiod drew flak from the political crowd. However in a similar strain Rushdiepresents Margaret Thatcher’s policy on the immigrants from former coloniesin The Satanic Verses. Here in this text, Thatcher is referred to as “Maggiethe Bitch” and her policy towards immigrants is strongly assailed, for instancewhere Saladin is arrested and maltreated by the immigration officers (TheSatanic Verses 212). However, this reference did not land Rushdie introuble in England. The reason could very well be the different perspectivesin which the British and the Indians view politics. As a post-colonial nation

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stoops to the position of a submissive wife, when she cooks the food, arrangesthe home, and waits for Benoir the whole day. The only difference is thatthis time she does it happily, refusing to think about the patriarchal implicationsinvolved in it. In other words, Nila can easily pass off as the femalecounterpart of Naipaul’s mimic man.

Nila’s insecurities force her to weave a parallel life connecting herpast (in Calcutta), her present (in Paris), and future (where she envisions alife with Benoir and a white baby). It would be important to note howNila’s character undergoes transformation as the novel develops. The girlwho was obsessed with Bengali writers, slowly begins to build a liking forthe Western writers. She is so happy to have visited the café where, shebelieves, Sartre and Beauvoir must have visited. Very excitedly she tellsSunil that Joyce published Ulysses from the bookstore opposite Notre-Dame. Examine the joy of Nila at the restaurant when she finds the namesof writers written on the tablecloth. She thinks that “this is the place whereHemingway sat on the terrace and finished his The Sun also Rises in sixweeks” (Nasrin 180). She desperately tries to connect with the Frenchliterature and history to fill in the void she currently experiences. That isthe reason why she wishes to see the hovel where once the Bengali poetMadhusudan Dutta lived. She shows equal interest in narrating Dutta’sstory to Benoir.

At Nicole’s party the readers find a poignant Nila, who remainsperplexed throughout the party without knowing what is wrong and what isright. To begin with she does not even consider it right to be at the party ontime; a habit which is taken for granted by all Indians. Secondly she wearsjeans to the dinner party which also turns out to be a wrong dress code. Itis a multicultural gathering where Maria hails from Sweden, Michelle fromSouthern France, Rita is a Jewish living in Paris, and Nila is an Indian whosupposedly belongs to the third world. This party represents a cross-culturalexperience for both the characters and the readers. It is a first world versusthird world situation. Here Nila is provided with a set of strategies ofidentification, from which she must choose something.

Progress and modernity always result in ambivalence. It is a situation,as Althusser wrote: “Space without places, time without duration” (qtd. in

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India is more sensitive to issues related to one’s freedom and polity. Andoccasionally in India, we find politics being placed on par with religionwhereas to the British the government is just a highly accountable institution.This fundamental difference itself demarcates the way the white liberalsinterpret the novel and the way the novel gets interpreted by Muslims inIndia, Iran, or in Britain.

The break of the twenty first century saw the evolving of socialnetworking groups. This period has also witnessed the 9/11 terrorist attackand its repercussions. These events to an extent must have moulded andinfluenced the perspectives of the readers who have approached the novelin the first decade of the twenty first century .The dawn of the twenty firstcentury brought in a huge change in the way people communicate. In 2004,the largest social networking site, Facebook was launched. Thoughglobalisation had set in even at the time the novel was published, the rise ofglocalised virtual communities was largely a product of social networkingsites. These virtual communities though not fixed to any one ideologicalspace or region wield power spatially .They slowly but effectively mouldthemselves into interpretive communities. These interpretive communitiesmake their presence felt through reading groups and blogs created in thecyber world. Since the members of this virtual communities are not boundby any geographical boundaries or by their resultant ideologies theysimultaneously inhabit a number of cultural spaces. The anonymity providedby the cyberspace allows them to offer unrestrained comments on theirreading. They may at the same time be members of a series of interpretivecommunities just as the real community of readers. Though this virtualplatform can enrich a competent reader’s reading experience, the low browreaders may limit themselves to the reading of excerpts of the controversialpassages or prefer to surf only the sites which cater to their already formedopinion on the novel. This can result in them replaying the flaws of thefundamentalists and the theologians who pressed for the banning of thenovel.

The by- products of 9/11 –surveillance, the terror of irrelevance andIslamophobia have again brought the work back into the furnace of criticaldissection. The novel at first created a furore in the Islamic world as awork blasphemous to Islamic tradition. In a post 9/11 world, however, the

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restaurant. Nila is sad to know that despite being a Bengali by birth, Morounisdoes not hold any feelings for anything Bengali. Nila is drawn towardsCatherine only because the latter had been to India to study Baul music.

Nila is a migrant twice in that once she has been uprooted from herfamily in Calcutta post marriage, and then from Kishan’s house in Paris.She feels like a guest in Kishan’s house. She has been alienated fromeverything she cherished until then: her language, music, and books. Shealso had dreams of her own. Though Nila leaves Kishan’s house accordingto her own will, she is now left to cope with her newfound freedom and inthe new situation she has to form a new identity in a new world wherethere is no recognition neither for her nor for her language. Here the newnation should become the substitute for everything she has lost.

History of the nation persecutes the memories of every individual.In this context it may be important to understand how the metaphor ‘home’features in colonial discourse. ‘Home’ features in the imagination of themigrants as a place to where no return is possible. They mourn the loss ofthe security and warmth provided by home. Terry Pratchett once said,“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can seethe place you came from with new eyes and extra colours. And the peoplethere see you differently, too” (Bapat). Contrary to what Pratchett says,Kishan and Sunil do not hold any special emotions for their homes back inIndia. For Nila, returning home may mean returning to the previouspatriarchal set up where her father is the master.

In many cases the migrants prefer to set up new homes in the newland. Nila is also no different in this regard. She looks for a big house inParis because she is used to living in a big house in Calcutta. Setting up anew home in Paris may imply an act of holding together the fragmentedpieces of memory. Nila succeeds in crossing the physical borders of France,but she struggles hard to gain recognition within the ‘imaginative borders’of the nation. ‘Home’ becomes a non-existent, indefinite place for themigrants. “The migrant seems in a better position than others to realise thatall systems of knowledge, all views of the world, are never totalising, wholeor pure, but incomplete, muddled and hybrid” (McLeod 215). The lack ofsecurity of being in a new place draws Nila closer to Benoir. She again


work seems to gain added significance. Religion is now no longer consideredmerely a part of one’s private conscience. This brings the author Rushdieback into the centre. He is an immigrant from India, educated in UK andnow residing in US. Rushdie himself refers to his existence in JosephAnton as a double unbelonging, “He was a Bombay boy who had madehis life in London among the English, but often he felt cursed by a doubleunbelonging “(54). However he holds a unique position in the British culturalhistory and was knighted in 2007 by the British government. This makeshim appear to the Muslim fundamentalists a part of the British cultural eliteand as someone who has betrayed his religion .Eventually he is projectedas an epitome of the western value system.

Ironically in the post 9/11 world which is characterised by a highdose of Islamophobia, the moment any work that has a supposedly anti-Islamic content gets published, the work automatically gets linked toRushdie’s The Satanic Verses. The Islamic world has to a large extentequated Rushdie with the western gaze .The work has by now beeninadvertently placed as the touchtone of blasphemy. Though such receptioncan help Rushdie and his novel gain more readers, it may not always be themodel readers who will accept it as a literary work of art.

In the East too there has been a lot of change in the semantics ofIslam, martyrdom and terrorism that have become a part of the prominentdiscourses. Therefore in this world the readers whether virtual or real, areflooded with an explosion of narratives and each reader will have to locatehimself in this zone of violence. The readers do this by subscribing to variousreading groups and to on-line discussions. Sadly, many of the discussionsrevolve around the so called blasphemous or controversial passages. Thislimits the readers’ overall grasp of the novel and subsequently theirresponses.

Extreme militarization has resulted in many readers developing anurge to look into the world and its cultural products from a Mneippeanframework. The revisionist pages where Prophet Mohammed and hismission of establishing the religion Islam are subverted are now being viewedby many communities of readers as a motif that heralds the terror ofirrelevance –the fear that the West may wipe out the minority. On the

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Nila takes great interest in narrating matters of historical and religioussignificance to others. See how gravely she tells Benoir how not eatingbeef became a custom in India. Nila’s words illustrate how traditionallygrounded she is despite the fact that she is attracted to Western culture.

Nila sympathetically listens to the stories about Rubel and Bachchu.In an attempt to fulfill their dreams both of them cross the borders of theirnations to get to a foreign land and they have to pay for it; one by giving uphis life and the other by giving up his legs. Nila could easily connect withthe experiences of these young men because like them she had alsocherished the dream of making it big in some foreign land. They are caughtup in a tangled web of history. All of them are bound by bitter migrantexperiences common to the people who share a colonial past. Nila hascome to Paris to live her life; this is how she replies to the airport officialwhen he asks the purpose of her visit. This reply points to the superstitionof the Indians that in order to fulfil their dreams and live life to the fullest,they need to cross the borders of their nation.

The lonely expeditions of Nila in Paris take the readers through thehistory and culture of the place. They unknowingly become the expeditionsof the readers as well. Nila narrates the history of Paris not only for theother characters but also for Nasrin’s readers. Several instances can benoted in the novel where Nila overpowers the other characters with herknowledge of history. At Sunil’s house when Kishan questions Nila fortaking up a job without his permission, she tells Sunil about a bookshop shehad been to, that morning. ‘Shakespeare & Co’ is the shop and Nila assumesthat Joyce wrote Ulysses from there. An egotistic Kishan is not familiarwith Joyce and he intentionally avoids Nila and asks Sunil about Joyce.

Nila expounds her first expedition to Kishan. It is an attempt to gainaccess to those areas that are forbidden to the colonial figure. Along withNila, the readers also get the pleasure of seeing places and they also getacquainted with the landmarks of Paris. Nila’s meetings with the otherBengalis are marked by her conversations on Tagore, Bengali food and soon. But later on Nila slowly loses this passion for Calcutta. Still she is ableto retain her love for Bengali language and Bengali food. This love emergesout of her when she meets the Calcutta born French girl Morounis at the

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religious front, The Satanic Verses’s tainted background, as a book thathas wounded the religious sentiments of a minority group can never exhaustit* power to surprise. This forces the novel to remain perpetually in thelimelight, though mostly for the wrong reasons. In a glocalised world thetexts quickly get transmitted across borders and in this transfer, as Cohenand Roeh (1992) point out, “… [they] cannot escape some form oftransformation” (23). Particularly in the domain of religion, globalcommunication brings in varied cultural and traditional views. The virtualspace acts as a melting pot for all sorts of opinions. This results in the textundergoing diverse interpretations. In the case of The Satanic Verses, theway the fundamentalists approached the novel at first was influenced bythe notion that Koran is the word of God and therefore cannot be open toany sort of interpretation or external additions. The boundaries betweenthe worldly and the spiritual cannot be trespassed and any medium thattries to break this barrier is anathema for them. Accordingly, The SatanicVerses was more than a literary or aesthetic work, a blasphemous pieceand therefore anti –Islamic and heretic. To the liberal western audiencethe novel was first a piece of literature and its censorship amounted to arestriction on free speech and personal freedom. The dominant Christianbackground of the western audience too contributed to their positive reactionto the work. Many of the readers of this reading community are open tovarious readings of the Bible .Theirs is a religion that is lenient towardstranslations and varied readings of their religious text-the Bible. Thisideological framework must have contributed to their inability to fully graspthe meaning of Koran as being the direct and inviolable word of God.

In a global world the readers read the novel in a multi-culturalenvironment. In such circ*mstances, the readers cannot be neatly classifiedinto interpretative communities or implied or the ideal reader. The readersin this context are engaged in what Mary Louise Pratt (1992) has called acontact zone or domain of encounter between the cultures. In such a zonethe readers experience literary texts in increasingly complex ways. At thetime of its publication it was the censorship and the fatwa that kept thenovel alive in the media, but now it is the virtual media and the socialnetworking that keep the novel alive.

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which would link the French memory with Gandhi. Deep in his subconsciousmind Kishan believes that Indian symbols would bring him prosperity. Thereis a reference to the bookshelf at Sunil and Chaitali’s flat where they havekept world literature along with Bengali literature. Later Nila also does thesame when she rents a house. Chaitali has installed the idols of Indiangoddesses Lakshmi, Saraswathi and Durga. She and Sunil conduct pujaevery year without fail. These acts point to the psychological need of thesecharacters to preserve and showcase the culture of their nation. Bhabhaascertains that through his essay he wants to discuss this “particularambivalence that haunts the idea of the nation, the language of those whowrite of it and the lives of those who live it” (Bhabha 4).

In Nasrin’s novel it is very difficult to place any character within theparticular borderlines of a nation. The non-Indians initially consider Nila asan embodiment of true Indian culture and manners. But later on when theysee what kind of a life she leads in Paris, they have to deconstruct theirview of Indian women. Danielle and other friends share the common notionthat Indians are poor. But when Danielle visits Nila’s house in Calcutta,she realizes that how rich Nila is. From then onwards Danielle holds animage of a spendthrift Nila as opposed to the image of a poor Indian girl.When Nila cannot understand why Danielle went to a psychiatrist, she tellsNila that food and clothes are not everything.

People usually occupy a double space in the narrative of a nation.They are part of the history, heritage, tradition, and culture of a nation. Akeen sense of history binds together the Indian characters Nila, Mojammel,Jewel and so on. They take pride in telling others that they hail from theland of Tagore. When Nila learns that Morounis is from Calcutta the nextthing Nila expects from her is to speak Bengali. Nila asks Morounis whethershe knows Tagore because she thinks that if Morounis is an Indian theycould connect with each other through the music of Tagore. However Nilamanages to instill in her the inferiority feeling that her parents must haveabandoned Morounis since she was dark. When Nila finds that Morounisis least interested in India and Bengali language she tries to connect withher by inducing the feeling of hatred towards one’s own skin which iscommon to all Indians. She hopes that at least by doing so they canexperience the feeling of oneness.


The censorship on the book has turned out to have a boomerangeffect with the novel gaining its entry in every virtual site which proclaimsthe freedom of speech. But unlike the physical medium of censorshipwhere organizations and governments get involved, the virtual world is onethat can balance itself. Almost all the comments and statements made herehave only a spatial, virtual existence .It is a medium that allows people tofreely express their minds. Therefore, though the novel will always remainalive in the virtual sphere, the cyber media and its self-regulatory mechanismwill act as corrective forces and thereby balance the spread of ideas.

Human perceptions are conditioned by the changing value systems.Literature a medium constituted of value judgements too vary accordingly.All literary works though unconsciously, are rewritten by the communitythat reads them. So every reading is a kind of re-writing. No literary workand no response to it can be extended to a new group of readers withoutbeing altered.

Works Cited

Cohen, A.A., and Itzhak Roeh, I. “When Fiction and News Cross over theBorder.” Mass media Effects Across Cultures. Newbury Park:Sage, 1992.23-24. Print.

Fish, Stanley. “Interpreting the Variorum.” Modern Criticism and Theory:A Reader. Eds. David Lodge and Nigel Wood .2nd ed. London:Longman, 2000. 87-306. Print.

Goonetilleke,D.C.R.A. Salman Rushdie.New York:Macmillian,1998.Print.

Iser, Wolfgang. The Act of Reading: A Theory of Aesthetic Response.Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1978. Print.

Pratt, Mary Louise. Imperial Eyes: Studies in Travel Writing andTransculturation. London: Routledge, 1992. Print.

Rushdie, Salman. “Choice between Light and Dark.” The Observer. 22Jan. 1989. Web. 2 July 2013.

---. Joseph Anton: A Memoir: London: Random House, 2012. Print.


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Sandhya Suresh V.

“Nations, like narratives, lose their origins in the myths of time andonly fully realize their horizons in the mind’s eye” (Bhabha 1). ‘Nation’plays a key role in Taslima Nasrin’s novel French Lover. The story takesplace across two nations; India and France. To be more specific it is betweenCalcutta and Paris. The novel documents the lives of Indians like Nila,Kishan, Sunil, Chaitali and others in a foreign land.

Being a proud Bengali, Nila’s eyes constantly search for signs ofher culture: Bengali people, Bengali music, Bengali books and so on. AtKishan’s restaurant Nila is extremely happy to meet the Bengali speakingMojammel. He may be a citizen of Bangladesh; a region which used to bea part of India, yet both of them connect very well with each other. Both ofthem share a painful history of partition, but their roots are the same. Theyfind a long-lost sister in Nila. Nila’s life in Paris represents the gathering of“the past in a ritual of revival” (Bhabha 199). She ceaselessly tries togather her memories of the care-free life she spent in Calcutta. Throughouther days in Paris, Nila is forced to recollect her mother Molina’s sufferingat Anirban’s hands. The past defines Nila as a Bengali woman whopassionately loves Tagore and Bengali literature. The streets of Paris bringto her mind the busy Calcutta packed with the noise of push-carts, beggars,bickering dogs, hawkers and so on. It may be true that she came to Paris toforget Calcutta but ironically Paris brings her closer to Calcutta.

Kishan’s restaurants are named Taj Mahal and Lal Killa, even thoughhe is not proud of being an Indian. He wants to change the names of theserestaurants since they are not doing well. Surprisingly he needs a name


---. The Satanic Verses. London: Random House, 1988. Web.12 Jan. 2013

---. Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism1981-91.London:Granta, 1992. Print.

Other References

Appignanesi, Lisa., and Sara Maitland,eds. Rushdie Files. London: FourthEstate, 1989. Print.

Brennan, Timothy. Salman Rushdie and the Third World. New York: StMartin P, 1989. Print.

Dawood, N. J., trans. The Koran. London: Penguin, 1995.Print.

Malak, Amin. “Reading the Crisis: The Polemics of Salman Rushdie’s TheSatanic Verses.” ARIEL 20.4 October (1989): 176-86.Web.12 August2013.

Palmer, Allen W. “Postcards From The Edge:Salman Rushdie AndPostmodern Global Communication.” The Electronic Journal ofCommunications 4.1(1994). n.pag.Web.2 August 2013.

Pipes, Daniel. “Rushdie Affair: The Novel the Ayatollah and theWest.”Daniel Pipes: Middle East Forum. Middle East Forum. 1June 1989. Web. 2 Sept. 2013.

Sa’d, Ibn. “Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir.” Trans. S. Moinul Haq. Karachi:Pakistani Historical Society, 1972. 236 – 239. Print.

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. “Reading The Satanic Verses.” In Outsidein the Teaching Machine. New York: Routledge, 1993. 217-241.Print.

Suleri, Sara. The Rhetoric of English India. Chicago: Chicago UP,1992.Print.


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In another sense, he gives voice to the voiceless as a spokesman of themarginalized.

Works Cited

Abrams, M.H. A Glossary of Literary Terms. New Delhi: CengageLearning, 2005. Print.

Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory. New York: Manchester, 2002. Print.

Chaudhuri, Asha Kuthari. Mahesh Dattani. New Delhi: Foundation,2005. Print.

Das, Bijay Kumar. Form and Meaning in Mahesh Dattani’s Plays.New Delhi: Atlantic, 2008. Print.

Dattani, Mahesh. Collected Plays. Vol. 1. New Delhi: Penguin, 2000.Print.

Mc Rae, John. “A Note on the Play.” “On a Muggy Night in Mumbai.”Introduction. Collected Plays. Vol. 1. By Mahesh Dattani. NewDelhi: Penguin, 2000. 45-46. Print.

Shah, Sanjeev. “A Note on the Play.” “Mango Souffle”. Collected Plays.Vol. 2. New Delhi: Penguin, 2005. 169. Print.



Dr. Sarani Ghosal Mondal

Ruskin Bond’s A Flight Pigeons is an intense love story between amarried Rohilla Pathan of UP and a British teenager. The married PathanJaved Khan, whose love for Ruth grows deep, when his country is burningwith Anti-British sentiment. The Sepoy Mutiny of Meerut (1857) is at itspeak. The Sepoys along with the local Pathans of Shahjahanpur are killingthe officials of East India Company and also looting their bungalows atdifferent places of UP. Amidst such environment of hatred against thewhite-skinned firangis, Ruth and her mother are forced to take shelter atJaved Khan’s residence and this complicates the plot of the novella. Thesymbol of pigeon has a wide range of meanings: it is both a private as wellas a universal symbol in this context. The symbol of pigeon leaves on us anoverreaching effect in the novella as well as in the film based on this novellacalled Junoon by ShyamBenegal in 1978.

In my present paper, I would like to show how an image of hatredculminates into love in an environment of acute socio-political unrest. Theprotagonist JavedKhan hates the colonizers from the core of his heart buthe nourishes a strong desire for Ruth as well and he badly tries to justify hisstance to his wife called Khan Begum and the other people of his community.Towards the close, we see a transformed image of Javed, who is abovecarnality and passion. His love for Ruth is very refined and asexual. Hejust wants have a glance of Ruth’s face.

Ruskin Bond’s A Flight of Pigeons is a novella set in 1857 Indiaagainst the background of Sepoy Mutiny in Meerut. The Sepoy Mutiny isconsidered to be the second outbreak of India’s Independence Movementagainst the British rule after the Barrackpore revolt by MangalPande on29 March 1857.


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And the themes of On a Muggy Night in Mumbai deserve totouch the whole of society and to be touched by it. It is not simplythe first play in Indian theatre to handle openly gay themes oflove, partnership, trust and betrayal. It is a play about how societycreates patterns of behavior and how easy it is for individuals tofall victim to the expectations society creates. (Collected Playsxxxxv)

Since love is a thing which lies deep in human mind than body, every personhas his own attitudes and way of expression to it. That is why the sociallyconstructed roles are often broken by the people who find their own waysof gratifying their sexual desires. This is what we see in the case of Dattani’scharacters that go on their own ways to satisfy their wishes.

Dattani’s characters are mostly from modern urban families strugglingfor freedom and happiness under the weight of tradition, culturalconstructions of gender and repressed wishes. He is not only making thepeople aware of the issues they swept under the pillow and that simmerdangerously below the surface of our consciousness, but he also makes hisaudience disturbed through his plays and exhorts them to take actions. Hefinds theatre as the best medium to persuade the people to find solutionsfor the problems they face. What distinguishes Dattani from otherplaywrights is his courage of conviction in depicting the innovative themeslike portrayal of sex preferences by men and women which are stillconsidered to be a taboo by the majority of Indian society. Through thisplay, Dattani exposes the underbelly of modern urban India and shakeshuman consciousness. He wants laws to be made to solve the problems ofthe sexual minorities. He questions the age old belief of marriage beingbased on heterosexual relationship. Dattani believes that since in real lifethere are left handers which are as natural as right handers; hom*osexualrelationship is as natural as heterosexual relationship. He exhorts hisaudience to accept the reality of life.

Here, when all the characters in the play fail to resist themarginalization and all kinds of social injustices meted out to them in thesociety, the playwright, Mahesh Dattani raises his voice for them as heuses the theatre as a medium for protest against these kinds of malpractices.


East India Company had come to India for trade in the 1660s. Withtime, the company started exerting its power in the form of diplomatic andmilitary operations. The company officials recruited a large number of nativepeople as soldiers/ sepoysto guard their trade centers in India. Initially thesepoys were very loyal to the British officials. The tension began, whenthe company officials had tried to convert the natives into Christianity.Along with that, the company had also introduced the “doctrine of lapse”,by which the company would take control of a state, where the ruler haddied without an heir. This tricky doctrine appeared to be quite offensive tothe sepoys. In addition to it, there was that cartridge problem known to all.(Internet)

Bond’s novella starts with a prologue by the author, who gives us anintroduction of the contemporary socio-political scenario ofShahjahanpur,which is about 250 miles away from the east of Delhi with an image ofhate as the bungalow of Redmans hasalready been set on fire by a localPathan called Javed Khan on 30 May 1857. The Pathans of the place callthemselves as Rohilla Pathans. They speak Urdu and they are mostly fromBareilly and Shahjahanpur of UP. But this incident of barbarity does notsend any alarm to the British community of the place as there is hardlyanycirculation of newspapers. But the Labadoor family apprehends animpending danger.

At this point the author stands aside and Ruth Labadoor, the Britishteenager, takes up the remaining part of the narration and we witness theimageof loveshimmering against the backdrop of Sepoy Mutiny throughher narratology. This image of human love culminates into the image ofmystic love towards the close of the novella.But the image of love is alwayscontrasted with the image of hate. In fact, love and hate go hand in handthroughout the narrative. Ruth loses her father in a massacre in the church.The Indian freedom fighters kill the British administrators mercilessly attheir Sunday Worship. After that their bungalow is also burnt down. Shethen along with her mother and grandmother and some other members,takes refuge at LalaRamjimal’s house.

It is now a new phase in their life. LalaRamjimal used to depend onLabadoors as he had supplied with dolies and carriages to English women.


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“What Makes a Man a Man? So many times we have to pay For having fun and being gay.” (Collected Plays 55-56)

Through Kamlesh and Ed, Dattani has portrayed the predicamentsof gay people very clearly. They have to suppress their feelings and emotionsto survive in the patriarchal heterosexual society. They yearn for recognitionand acceptance. They want equal rights and justice as enjoyed by theheterosexual people. Since Dattani chooses to deal with themes relating tothe complex workings of the modern urban Indian family, his protagonistssearch for their identities within this location.

Behind these hom*osexual people’s desire to seek same sex love,there lies an agony of finding an identity of their own. Living in darkness,away from the purview of an open society, these characters are tornbetween desire and recognition. They fail to fulfil their desire as it is crushedunder the norms of the society and lose their identity as individuals. All thecharacters in this play are represented in a way as to bring out the conflicts,repressions and past secrets which are assailing them. Throughout theplay Dattani examines the psychology of persons who are by nature ‘gays’or ‘bisexuals’ and the desire on the part of some of them to turnheterosexual. The various shades of gay life are presented in the play- theovert, the escapist, the comfortable and the complete hypocrites. Of thecharacters, Sharad is flaunting, Deepali more restrained and stable, Kamleshis anguished and Ed the most obvious victim of his own insecurities. Bunny,the TV actor, is a rather more traditional Indian gay man who is marriedbut publicly denying his own nature. Ranjit has taken an easy way out bymoving to Europe where he can be himself. Dattani has recreated thecharacters in their own life situations. Through the play Dattani has hintedat the need for the provisions to be made for same sex marriage in theIndian context. He underlines that same sex love is as natural as heterosexuallife.

The play lifts the veil of secrecy that shrouds the marginalized cultures,sexualities and lifestyles. In a sense, it is a plea for empathy and sensitivityto India’s ‘queer culture’. John McRae, the famous theatre personality, inthe introduction to the play, says:


At this point, the hierarchy breaks down with the starting of Sepoy Mutinyin 1857. And it becomes just the opposite. The subordinate takes the superiorposition. The author deliberately breaks the dichotomy between the “ruler”and the “ruled; the firangis and the natives. Ruth and the other femalemembers are now at the mercy of LalaRamjimal.At the same time, theyare exposed to the customs of the middle class Indian and especially Hinduhousehold and they are also compelled to eat by hand. It is a life withoutluxury. But they are protected under Lala’s custody. It is Lala’s sense ofduty towards his one time benefactor.

On the contrary, it makes Lala’s position quite insecure in the society.“…that I am suspected of harbouring Kafirs” (Ruskin Bond 835). He istorn between his indebtedness to Labadoors and his sense of patriotism.By that time Mariam, Ruth, granny and the other three members of theircommunity change their British names and adopt Persian names asMariam’s mother descended from a Muslim family of Rampur. Graduallythey start indianizing themselves, “We soon fell into the habits of Lala’shousehold, and it would have been very difficult for anyone, who had knownus before, to recognize us as the Labadoors”(Ruskin Bond 839). The sharpdistinctions between the two communities are no more visible outwardly.There may be subtle differences in their perspectives and psychologicalorientation. But they do not expose it in their attitudes. Inside the household,everything seems to be very hunky dory, but the others keep referring tothem as “Firangis” again and again. The expression itself creates a sharpdichotomy between the colonizer and the colonized.

After some days, they are forced to move to Javed Khan’s housefrom Lala’s house as by that time it has become a public knowledge thatthe family members of Labadoors have taken shelter at LalaRamjimal’shouse. The native Pathans of the place attack Lala’s residence with swordsand pistols. They ask for Ruth. In spite of Mrs. Labadoor’s anguishandresistance, the Pathanstake away the mother and the daughter in JavedKhan’s house. A new phase begins in their lives: from a Hindu lifestyletoMuslim customs and culture. The metaphor of hatred is now allied with themetaphors of awe, pity and wonder, “These are the Firangans who werehiding with the Lala! How miserable they look. But one is young—she hasfine eyes...” (846). On their way to Javed Khan’s house, the group meets


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that the gay people really want the heterosexual society to realize theirfeelings and how they love and match each other. By kissing and caressing,both of them were saving each other from a desperate mood. Ed tellsKamlesh that he was thinking about committing suicide and how Kamleshhas saved his life by giving a suitable company. But towards the end of theplay, the naked photo of Kamlesh and Ed/Prakash which Kamlesh waskeeping secretly was once shown to Ed by Kamlesh himself. But Ed calledit filthy and wanted to tear it up. He also told Kamlesh bluntly that he wantsto be heterosexual. Prakash is ashamed of being a gay and wants to leavethe place with Kiran.

As an idea for obtaining an identity, Bunny suggests, “Camouflage!Even animals do it. Blend with the surroundings. They can’t find you…”(20).This is the typical Indian manner of constructing an identity. The other tobe ‘be yourself’ would quite simply be to run away, or as Sharad would putit, turn into a ‘coconut’ like Ranjit, who boasts of having a steady relationshipwith a man abroad where his sexual identity ceases to be a problem. Bunnyalso advises Kamlesh to get married and to be straight as he is. WhenSharad questions it, he says that there is nothing wrong in being a straightor bisexual. He adds that if he had confessed his gayness, he would nothave been accepted by millions of TV audience. Bunny criticizes Ranjit’sleaving India. Bunny says that Ranjit leaves India because he is ashamedof being an Indian and he can never run away from being brown. Ranjitadmits at it that he is sometimes regretful of being an Indian. But Deepalisays that in the case of people like her, it is not shame, but fear of theconcerns they will be pushed into where they don’t want to be.

Some of the characters are bisexuals and some try to beheterosexual. Sharad and Prakash want to be heterosexual when they realizethe power of sex in the context of a heterosexual Indian society and howdifficult it is to remain gay in India. Bunny is already bisexual and has wifeand children.

The song of the gays which Sharad sings itself shows the plight ofgay people living in a society which approves only of heterosexualrelationships. Sharad hums:


a Pir or a Sage, who cautions Javed not to inflict any harm on Britishwomen (847). The sage is like a choric character in this novella. In Javed’shouse, the situation becomes complicated because of the presence of Javed’swife known as Khan Begum among the members of the household. She isnot ready to accept a teenager girl for whom her husband falls for. WhereasJaved explains his stance before everybody, “How can I make youunderstand the fascination this girl exerted over me when she was in herfather’s house! The very first time I saw her, I was struck by her beauty.She shone like Zohra, the morning star” (849). This is how he praises Ruthwithout thinking of the effect it might create on his wife. Ruth and KhanBegum are placed on the same pedestal and both of them nourish acutehatred for Javed whereas Javed is full of love for Ruth. On the contrary hehates his wife. And he threatens his wife that if she goes against her husband,the demon within him will act on it. “The demon is only slumbering in mybreast, and it will take little to rouse it” (489). Here, Ruth’s expression ofher innermost feeling is somewhat opaque, “I was like a doomed bird,fascinated by the gaze of a rattle snake” (489). It is as if she is hypnotizedby the sudden outburst of Javed’s contradictory emotions of love and hate.Ruth’s mother also nurtures a strong sense of hatred towards Javed becauseof what she thought to be his crude passion for Ruth. Surprisingly Javedtoo possesses a strong sense of insight and expresses Mrs. Labadoor’shatred very aptly:

Like an enraged tigress, whose side has been pierced by a barbedarrow, she hurled herself at me and presented her breast to mysword. I shall never forget the look she gave me as she thrust meaway from the girl! I was awed. (850)

We see that Javed is being hated by all the members around him and hisbold gesture of sheltering the British women in that socio-political conditionputs him into disgrace in the eyes of his community as well.Javed does notcare for the society. His passion for Ruth is so strong that he cannot thinkof anything other than Ruth, “We Pathans can take a wife from any raceor creed we please” (851). Along with this statement, he makes it veryclear that it is not at all a sudden infatuation on his part. Ruth is there in hismind for long. Time and again Javed tries to justify his decision to the


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There is always the fear of the patriarchal heterosexual outside worldwhich oppressively intrudes through various devices like the marriage nextdoor, the children following Bunny, the TV star, the discovery of theconcealed naked photograph of Kamlesh and Ed by the children and theothers. When Deepali says, “There is such a traffic jam down there. Lookslike someone is getting married”, Kamlesh replies, “The Kapoors in thehouse next door. Their son. They are using our compound for some reason”.Then Deepali expresses her disgust saying: “Intrusive. Very intrusive”(114).The intrusion of the outer world is something very dreadful to them. In ActIII, Ranjit complains about the air conditioner for it was not working properly.He says, “It’s not working. The air conditioning….. Those wedding peoplemust have tampered with the junction box to get more power for theirlights! Those bastards!” (Collected Plays 115) The hom*osexuals are afraidof the patriarchal heterosexual society as they are marginalized and ill-treated by them.

The love and betrayal between the hom*osexuals are more bitterexperiences than that of heterosexuals because such experiences are rarecompared to that of the heterosexuals, especially in a country like India.The whole society looks down upon them and treats them as strange beings.Most of the hom*osexuals leave even their family to be with their lovers.So, when they are cheated, they can’t return to their family out of humiliation.This is what happened in the case of Kamlesh. That is why he was sodepressed that he tried to forget Prakash by trying to be in love with Sharad.

These same sex lovers are struggling hard to get recognition in thesociety. But it is too difficult for them to achieve this because a major partof the society still considers it as an aberration. When Kamlesh consults apsychiatrist for his depression, he said that Kamlesh would never be happyas a gay man. It is impossible to change society; it may be possible for himto reorient himself. Even the psychiatrist couldn’t cope with the lonelinessand fear of Kamlesh and thus help him to get rid of his depression.

In Act II, Ed and Kamlesh meet in a park and as the conversationbetween them goes on, Kamlesh tells Ed that the people cannot see themat all, though they can see them in return. He adds, “If only they could seehow beautiful we are together” (Collected Plays 81). Here it is quite clear


natives but the contemporary society of India, which is fervently anti-British,cannot accept Javed’s claim of having a firangi second wife.

Gradually, Ruth and her mother start redefining themselves intoMuslim customs in Javed’s house, “Christian God was our God, and weallowed it to be believed that we were Muslims” (855). Now we seeanother phase of transition in Ruth and Mariam at Javed’s household- fromHindu customs to Muslim customs.They are expected to learn Kalma andother rituals as well. The situation is extremely ambivalent for the twowhite women. The colonizers are at the mercy of the colonized. Also, thecolonized British women are compelled to change their socio-cultural aswell as psychological perspectives as per contemporary Hindu-Muslimcustoms. In spite of being white-skinned women, Ruth and Marium aredoubly colonized because of their vulnerability. They change their dresscode and start wearing Kurta-Pajama with dupatta. Even if they arefully dominated by the native culture and customs, but people keep referringto them as Firangi in spite of adopting Muslim names. Ruth is nowKhurshid. Actually, the skincolour creates a sharp distinction between thewhite women and the natives.

With time, we see that this image of hatred merges into the image oflove. The members of Javed’s household including Javed’s wife becomefriendly with Ruth and her mother. But at the same time, they are afraid ofthe fact that the foreignerscan come back to power at any timeand thesituation will change again.Ruth’s mother also tries to pacify Javed’saggression by saying that if the Company comes back to power in futurethen it would impossible for Ruth to be Javed’s second wife. Meanwhile,the sage comes into the scene again and cautions the members of Javed’shousehold that the firangis, “…. come flying like white pigeons which,when disturbed, fly away, and circle, and come down to rest again. Whitepigeons from the hills” (871). The symbol of the pigeon recurs again inanother situation when Javed says:

I saw a black buck and I fired at it, but I missed, and instead, I hita white pigeon sitting on a tomb. The pigeon flew into a bush andI could not find it but it must have been killed. (875)


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As the party is going on, Sharad takes a naked photo of Kamlesh and Edfrom his pocket and reveals Kamlesh’s pretension that he was trying hardto forget Ed. Kamlesh is ashamed and afraid of whether anyone else willsee the photograph. By the advice of Sharad, he opens the window tothrow the photograph after tearing it into pieces. They are going to have aritual to break the relation between Kamlesh and Prakash. Sharad uttersthe mantra, “As my friends, this city and God are witness to my vow; Ibreak all ties with Prakash” (Collected Plays 73).

Kamlesh agrees to do on the condition that after the ritual is overnone of his friends will acknowledge his relationship with Prakash. All thefriends agree with it and Sharad prompts him to go on with the ritual. Butthough Kamlesh utters the oath, it is not audible as the music is too loud.He looks at the photograph again and again. He wants to tear it up but hecan’t. Suddenly the whole situation is disturbed by the appearance of Kiran,Kamlesh’s sister on the scene. Kamlesh introduces everyone to her.

It is revealed that Kiran is set to marry Prakash/Ed, Kamlesh’s formerlover. But she does not know the secret hom*osexual relationship betweenKamlesh and Prakash/Ed. The already complex situation becomes evenmore confusing as the characters are pitted against exceedingly problematicissues. Kamlesh is unable to reveal the truth to Kiran and end her happiness.But later Sharad shows the naked photo of Kamlesh and Ed/Prakash toKiran and reveals the truth. Kiran is puzzled to realize the same sex lovebetween Kamlesh and Ed. Here Kamlesh seems to speak for the dramatist,Mahesh Dattani, when he asks, “If two men want to love one another,what’s the harm?” (Collected Plays 91) Ed reinforces it when he says,“Don’t be so afraid of what people think of you”. Finally Sharad, speakingfor himself, in a way, sums up the feelings of all the characters in thefollowing words, “I ask myself what I have got, and what I am and whatI’m not” (Collected Plays 111). The play ends with everyone goes ontheir own way. At last Kamlesh and Kiran are seen holding and consolingeach other. Often the hom*osexuals find it difficult to resist the oppressionand marginalization from the patriarchal Indian society which is steeped insuperstition, the age old social norms and religious restrictions. In such asituation, Dattani’s courageous and honest treatment of the issue is reallybecoming a strong resistance against the ghettoisation of hom*osexuals.


In reply to it, the sage says, “Pigeons are people who come out of theirgraves…” (875). These words of caution related to “pigeons” remind usof the reign of Bahadur Shah Zafar in Delhi. After the victory of SepoyMutiny, it was believed that the country was free from the clutch of theEast India Company. But it did not last for long. In the same year inSeptember, the British army reached the Red Fort and arrested the emperorBahadur Shah Zafar and the next day William Hodson shot his sons andthe grandsons as well. The company exerted its rule once again on thecountry. Indeed, the British officials came back in a more organized way toestablish its power. This news of British victory relieves Ruth and Mariamthat they will be more caged as “white pigeons”. “Delhi is in Firangihandsagain”. (882) By this time Javed also realizes that his love for Ruth willremain unrequited. It will never culminate into marriage. He tells Mariam:

I know that the time has passed when I could speak of marryingyour daughter …it is too late now to do anything about that. Butwill you permit me to see her once more, before I leave? (891)

Here we see Javed is pining for a glance of Ruth. His love for Ruth hasgrown deeper and his temper and violent passion have also calmed downby then. Ruth then narrates the scene afterwards:

He gazed at me in silence for about a minute, and for the firsttime I did not take my eyes away from his; then, without a smileor a word, he turned away and mounted his horse and rode awayinto the night. (891)

Javed is now a new being, who has left behind his bygone self. One glanceof his lady love is enough for him now. The novella ends with Ruth’s words:

Looking back on those months when we were prisoners, I cannothelp feeling a sneaking admiration for him. He was very wild andmuddle headed, and often cruel…and there was in him a streakof nobility which he did his best to conceal….(896)

Indeed, Javed khan possesses a streak of nobility as he keeps his word tillthe end. He does not inflict any harm on Ruth and Mariam as promised toPir or the Sage, “He is an admixture of love and unbridled temper, veiled


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curriculum of a great many colleges and universities. In a country likeIndia, However these progresses are very gradual but, however, are gettingrooted nowadays.

On a Muggy Night in Mumbai is one of Dattani’s best loved andmost performed plays, both at home and abroad. It is a celebration of gaylife. It is a tragicomedy dealing with hom*osexuals. It presents the conceptof gay culture prevalent in big cities. In this play, Mahesh Dattani clearlydepicts the predicaments of hom*osexuals in the highly conventional andhypocritical Indian milieu.

This article analyses how Dattani gives voice to the voiceless byrendering the invisible issue of ghettoization of hom*osexuals visible. Thearticle is also intended to make the public realize the fact that the hom*osexualpeople should be allowed to marry each other and they have to get thesame rights and justice equal to that of heterosexuals. The gay people’sattitude to their life and gayness differ from person to person. In this play,some are fully comfortable with their situations while some are on theverge of suicide. Some undergo great mental trauma because of their loveand betrayal from those who belong to the same sex.

Kamlesh, the protagonist of the play, invites his friends to his flat toconfess in front of them the wrong deed he did to Sharad, his sexual partner.His friends include Sharad, a designer, Ed/Prakash, Kamlesh’s ex-specialfriend, Ranjit, one who settled in UK in order to escape the patriarchaloppression of hom*osexuals in India and to be himself, Bunny, a serial actorand a bi-sexual, he is married and has children, and Deepali, a lesbian wholives with her life partner Tina. Some arguments and counter argumentsare going on among them as some of them are cheated by others amongthemselves. Sharad shouts at Kamlesh for humiliating him saying thatKamlesh couldn’t love him even after using him as a sex object for a year.And he blames Kamlesh saying that Kamlesh pretended to love him simplybecause he wanted to get rid of the depression he was undergoing afterEd/Prakash, Kamlesh’s former special friend, left him. Sharad also findsout that Kamlesh uses the guard also for his physical needs. It again causesdispute between them. But Deepali intervenes and manages the situation.


nobility that makes him a hero in the eyes of Ruth. The scared girl cannothelp admiring this ruffian…”(Amita Aggarwal 103). Ruth’s hatred turnsinto love at the end. The hatred can be won over by love even when theenvironment is not conducive to allow any kind of liaison between a MuslimIndian man and a British woman in colonial India.

Works Cited

Aggarwal,Amita. The Fictional World of Ruskin Bond. New Delhi: Sarup,2005.Print.

Bond, Ruskin.Collected Fiction. New Delhi: Penguin, 1996. Print. (Note:All the quotes are from this Edition)

McNamara, Robert. “The Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 Shook British Rule inIndia.” n.d.Web. 20 Aug. 2014.


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assigned privilege, power and centrality while the second is derogated,subordinated and marginalized. There is another theoretical procedure toundo the “essentialist” assumption that the heterosexual and hom*osexualare universal and trans-historical types of human subjects, or identities, byhistoricizing these categories – that is, by proposing that they are social anddiscursive constructs that emerged under special ideological conditions inparticular culture at a particular time. Michel Foucault’s History of Sexualityclaims that while there had been a social category of sodomy as atransgressive human act, the “hom*osexual”, as a special type of humansubject or identity, was a construction of the medical and legal discourse ofthe latter part of the nineteenth century (43).

Adrienne Rich, in her essay, “Compulsive Heterosexuality andLesbian Existence,” explained what she called the “lesbian continuum” asa way of stressing how far ranging and diverse is the spectrum of love andbonding among women, including female friendship, the family relationshipbetween mother and daughter, and women’s partnerships and social groups,as well as overly physical same-sex relations (32). Later theorists like EveSedgwick and Judith Butler undertook to invert the standard hierarchicalopposition by which hom*osexuality is marginalized and made unnatural bystressing the extent to which the normativity of heterosexuality is based onthe suppression and denial of same-sex desires and relationships.

Judith Butter, the author of Bodies that Matter questions fixedidentities like heterosexuals, hom*osexuals and lesbians. All our identitiescome from differentiations from other identities (225-226). Paradoxically,identities are repetitions based on performances. It is in this sense thatheterosexuality which takes itself as the only authentic form of sexuality isa ‘string of performances’. Heterosexuality sees itself as the authenticform of sexuality by relegating lesbianism and hom*osexuality to thebackground and discarding them as inauthentic. If heterosexuality is thecentre, the other sexualities are the margins. Queer theorists now say thatlike gender, sexuality is a social construct. One can be either a heterosexualor hom*osexual and even both at the same time. Nowadays there are anumber of journals that deal with queer theory and lesbian, gay and trans-gender studies and criticism. The field has also become the subject oflearned conferences. The branch of study has also been established in the




Dr. Abhilasha

Incest, a tabooed word and deed in all social and cultural contexts,earns nothing but social derision and humiliation. Yet it takes place and itsdelineation demands total honesty from the part of the author, for, it becomesimperative not only to share the taboo but also the context which leads to it.This paper is an attempt to trace the social and cultural pressure that canlead to incest with its healing, humiliating or hurting effects and for thatpurpose I have chosen two texts by two award winning women novelistsfrom two different world cultures. The first text is The Bluest Eye by ToniMorrison, the first African-American woman to receive the highest literaryaward for literature, the Nobel Prize in 1993; the second text is God ofSmall Things by Arundhati Roy who won Booker Prize for her debutfiction.

Recent developments in feminist theory confirm beyond doubt thatconsciousness is grounded in one’s personal history and that one’s identityis constantly being reconstructed within the horizon of meaning andknowledge available in one’s culture at given historical moments.Consciousness therefore is never fixed, never attained once for all, becausediscursive boundaries change with social historical conditions.

African American women’s incessant search to find the place theyneeded, and, as black women, were not allowed to have in North Americansociety, finds portrayal in Morrison’s fictions that are ironically based onreality. Morrison has not only reflected the pangs of denial but also hasshowcased in her novels as well as in her critical writings, the inalienablesuffering that goes with it.


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and performances will reveal something at odds with the way in whichdominant social groups will read and visualize his or her sexed body. Manyliterary works produced all over the world in the last thirty years areconcerned with the representation and transgression of hom*osexuals. Theiridentity is analyzed by the major thinkers of the time like Michel Foucault(The History of Sexuality 43).

Usually the term ‘Queer Theory’ is used to imply the combined areaof gay and lesbian studies, together with the theoretical and critical writingsabout all modes of variance-such as cross-dressing, bisexuality and Tran-sexuality-from society’s normative model of sexual identity orientation andactivities. The word ‘queer’ was originally a derogatory term, used tostigmatize male and female same-sex love as unnatural. But since the early1990s it has been increasingly adopted by gays and lesbians themselves asa non-invidious term to identify a way of life and an area for scholarlyenquiry.

These branches, both gay studies and lesbian studies, began as“liberation movements” in parallel with the movements for American andfeminist liberation of the late 1960s and 1970s. Since then these studies arestruggling to gain political, legal and economic rights for gays and lesbians,equal to those of the heterosexual majority. By the 1970s the two movementsbegan to achieve a separate entity; gays thought of themselves as exclusivelymale while a major part of lesbians, joining with the feminist movement,characterized the gay movement as keeping anti female attitudes of thepatriarchal culture. However, recently both the groups came to adopt thejoint term “queer” and share a history as a despised and suppressed minorityand possess common social and political goals. In the 1980s and 1990s,because of the assimilation of the viewpoints and analytic methods ofDerrida, Foucault etc. the earlier assumptions about the unitary and stablegay or lesbian identity were questioned and historical and critical analysesbecame increasingly subtle and complex.

Some queer theorists adopted the deconstructive mode of dismantlingthe binary oppositions of Western culture, such as male/female, hetero-sexual/hom*osexual, and natural/unnatural, by which a spectrum of diversethings is forced into only two categories. Among them the first category is


In The Bluest Eye (1970), Morrison demonstrates what it means tofind inaccessible the possessions and attributes that one’s culture values. Itreveals the representative nature of Pocola’s story: self-loathing caused bycultural sabotage which ultimately leads to some form of destruction. Thestructure of the novel delineates the complex sources and effects of socialand cultural sabotage. The form is therefore a figure for the cultural conditionthe novel addresses. The narrator in the novel states that “A little black girlyearns for the blue eyes of a little white girl, and the horror at the heart ofher yearning is exceeded only by the evil of fulfillment” (162). This line isa pointer to the conflict the tension and the trauma that follow an unfamiliardesire. The little black girl is Pecola Breedlove who is dissatisfied with theworld around her. She is born into a society that confused as it shuns itsown cultural values and craves for self-gratification in the culture of thewhites. In the novel this tendency of the society finds its symbolic expressionin Pecola’s quest for blue eyes which represent the western ideals of beauty.The quest results in the suffering and anguish of the blacks.

The Bluest Eye is divided into four sections, namely, ‘Autumn’,‘Winter’. ‘Spring’ and ‘Summer’. This arrangement does not conform tothe natural cycle of seasons. The ironic suggestion is that “pecola’s story isnot the usual story of birth, death and rebirth, from planting to harvest toplanting, rather it is the story that moves from pathos to tragedy and finallyto madness” (Christian Barbara 137).

The first section of the novel “Autumn” deals with the transition inPecola’s life. She matures from a girl into a woman. Gradually, the lifehistory of Pecola is unfolded in this section. The totality of her tragedy ispresented in fragments. The second chapter, ‘winter’ serves as a metaphorfor frigidity. Here Morrison introduces the distasteful characters in thenovel: Maureen Peal and Geraldine. The section ‘Spring’ contains the storiesof Pauline and Cholly, of Cholly’s assault of Pecola and also the story ofSoaphead Church, all of which cumulatively distort the mind of Pecola.The last section ‘Summer’ exposes the reality of Pecola’s situation. Hereone finds her in the violent summer of her life. She is totally mad, isolatedfrom the world around her, locked in constant conversation with herself,admiring her beautiful “blue eyes”(22). As Barbara Christian says:


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Abdul Nasir Vellarampara

Mahesh Dattani is well known for his daring and objective treatmentof the issues of the marginalized. His plays are well noted for theirpreoccupation with ‘fringe’ issues – issues that remain latent and sweptunder the pillow; they come to occupy the centre stage in Dattani’s plays.He observes that much of the mainstream society lives in a state of ‘forcedharmony’ out of a sense of helplessness or out of a lack of alternatives.Just because of the lack of choice, they conform to stereotypes like‘hom*osexuals’ that in one sense leads to a kind of ghettoization withinsociety, little spaces to which the marginalized are pushed. It is the plightsof these characters as a result of their resistance against the social injusticemeted out to them that constitute the subject of his play On a MuggyNight in Mumbai.

hom*osexuality is still considered a taboo subject by the major sectionsof people in India and abroad. In India, though hom*osexuality wasdecriminalized in 2009, again towards the end of the year 2013, it isrecriminalized under section 377 of the Indian Penal Code and most of thepeople look at the gay people with contempt. In the course of an interviewDattani says, “You can talk about feminism, because in a way that isaccepted. But you cannot talk about gay issues because that’s not Indian(that) doesn’t happen here…” (Collected Plays 319).

The terms ‘hom*osexuality’ and ‘heterosexuality’ are inventions ofthe nineteenth century. In his The Archaeology of Knowledge Foucaultpoints out that the ‘unnatural’ hom*osexual subject is figured as someonewhose actions


Like a musicianMorrison connects Pecola Breedlove’s desire forthe bluest eyes to Mrs. Breedlove’s restricted spirit and ChollyBreedlove’s sense of unworthiness, to Geraldine’s fear of funkand Soaphead Church’s sterility, to Maureen’s fate of as an eternaldream child and Claudia’s ache to be whole. By exploring thedevastating effects that the western ideas of beauty and romanticlove have on a vulnerable girl, the novelist also demonstrateshow these ideas can invert the natural order of an entire culture.(Black Women Novelists 175)

The objective symbolically represented by the quest for blue eyes, formsthe central plot of the novel. The novel opens with Claudia’s ruminationthat peeps into the past and ruminates over it in the present. The childlikeinnocence of the past is now being examined through the mature experienceand this is how we come to know about the shocking fact that Pecola ishaving her father’s baby. This highest order of incest becomes disgustingnot only to the neighbors but to the surrounding nature as well hence itbecomes unyielding, shocked into barrenness. There is no coming of flowerslike marigold no sprouting of any seeds. “Quiet as it is kept, there was nomarigolds in the fall of 1941… no green was going to spring from ourseeds…the earth itself might have been unyielding” (The Bluest Eye 3).Even the nastiness of sex has been viewed through the innocent gaze ofthe childhood when Claudia says, “We had dropped our seeds in our littleplot ofblack dirt just as pecola’s father had dropped his seeds in his ownplot of black dirt,” and the nature could not bear it hence, “the seeds shriveledand died; her baby too” (5).

Pecola is to stay with Frieda and Claudia because her father ChollyBreedlove has burned up his house in drunken state and was in jail. Pecolagets very warm welcome from the two girls of her own age. Frieda givesher “some milk in a blue—and—white Shirley Temple cup” which Pecolaloves so much and looks fondly at the picture of Shirley Temple’s dimpledface who is the role model of American standard of beauty and acceptability.One can see the devastating effects of social prescription and how it isdamaging the psyche of young girls like Pecola whose aspirations for thestandard, ‘that bluest eye’ shatters her own perception of the self. It is notthat only society rejects her for being black and poor. She rejects herself


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their imaginations. Being able to “imagine” how someone else feelsis the first step toward becoming more compassionate andempathetic. Imagine a world in which we truly believed andembraced the idea that we are all one people, with one heart andmind and soul! Poetry can help teach us this lesson, if only wewould learn it.

Ajit Kumar: What is your future plan?

My plan is to continue to learn and grow as a human being and a writer—to experience as much as I can so that when I sit down to write apoem, I have something worthwhile and meaningful to say. I wantmy words to reflect how much in love I am, with the world. To me,everything is a miracle, from the tiniest hummingbird to the tallestskyscraper, but even more so, the capacity in each of us for love,kindness, empathy, and compassion. My goal is to continue in asmuch as I can, to nurture the light in my spirit, and to respect andrevere the light in others. If I can capture even the smallest portionof that light in my work, I will be satisfied with that.

Terri Kirby Erickson:

Ajit Kumar: Any message for the readers?

Terri Kirby Erickson: Thank you...that is my main message. Without readers,a poem is just another tree falling in the woods, with no one to hearit.

Ajit Kumar: Thank you very much for your time!

Terri Kirby Erickson: And I appreciate your insightful questions, Dr. Kumar!It has been a pleasure.


too, desiring to be someone else. The white standard of beauty stranglesthe very imagination of tender children, “…all the world had agreed that ablue-eyed, yellow-haired, pink-skinned doll was what every girl childtreasured” (14). Pecola and Frieda are not exceptions in loving white dollsand Shirley Temple but Claudia certainly is. When she gets a white doll asChristmas present she destroys the doll. She wants to discover what it isthat makes white baby dolls or for that matter little white girls so desirousto others, “the secret of the magic they weaved on others. What madepeople look at them and say, ‘Awwww’ but not for me?’ (17). This showsthat though Claudia and Frieda, the McTeer girls are also troubled byquestions of beauty the family support gives them strength to survive againstall odds.

The Bluest Eye centers on the tragic life of Pecola and her parents’failure to give her warmth and stability. Her family members live a life ofmisery and frustration convinced as they are of their ugliness andworthlessness:

No one could have convinced them that they were notrelentlessly and aggressively ugly…you looked at them andwondered why they were so ugly; you looked closely and couldnot find the source. Then you realized that it come from conviction,their conviction. (28)

On account of her lack of self-esteem Pauline Breedlove is unable to nurturefeelings of self-worth in her daughter. Dissatisfied with the role ofmotherhood, Pauline carries it with resignation as a heavy cross and her“crown of thorns” is her drunken husband Cholly. Cholly Breedlove, himselfa man without center is unable to inspire any feeling of self-respect inPecola. Her parents do not know how to love and they cannot give theirchildren a sense of self, for they have none of their own. The home whichshould have been an anchor to Pecola (like McTeers’ home) fails to giveher any moorings. Perhaps the seeds of her parent’s discontent lie in theirown childhood experience. Being the ninth of eleven children in her family,Pauline was totally ignored by her parents and she blames their parentalneglect on her limp foot. In the absence of her mother who goes to workoutside the house, Pauline is forced to baby-sit and run the house.


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There is no room for words that don’t carry their weight! It is asculpting process, really. One generally begins with a sort of free-writing exercise about whatever it is we wish to convey, and thenwe edit without mercy until the poem begins at last, to emerge fromits hiding place. And just as a painter must learn when to put downthe brush, so it is with poets. Part of the skill is knowing whenenough is enough—when you have said what you meant to say theway you intended to say it. It has been said that a poem is nevertruly finished, but you must find a place to stop and let it “go” atsome point, or else your work will never be read by anyone.

Ajit Kumar: Are you satisfied being a poet in USA?

Terri Kirby Erickson: Absolutely. We have a very active and supportivewriting community in North Carolina, and I dearly love my writerfriends. It is important in every profession, I think, to feel a sense ofconnection with others engaged in the same work. And when mypoems have received national or international attention, the responsefrom readers has been wonderful. We have so many literary festivals,literary magazines, poetry readings, poetry workshops and classesall around the United States, that I do believe in the main, manypeople are interested in and even enthusiastic about poetry oncethey have discovered what a joy it is and how healing it can be toread or to write it.

Ajit Kumar: How does poetry affect society?

Terri Kirby Erickson: I believe that poetry has an enormous impact onsociety. It engages us both intellectually and emotionally—often sodeeply, in fact, that we never forget the lines of poems that havemost affected us. There is a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke entitled,“You Who Never Arrived,” that I carried in my billfold for yearsbecause of its moving language and powerful theme of love andlonging. Poems can literally change the way we look at the world,connecting us with ourselves (thoughts, feelings, memories, etc.)and with each other, more powerfully than any other literary genre.Studying and reading poetry also helps young people learn how topay attention to detail, useful in many professions, and helps to develop


But feelings of “unsettling emptiness” arise in her and she longs for a manto make her life meaningful and complete. “Pauline remembers her firstmeeting with Cholly as the day of her salvation” and the initial days of theirmarriage are happy. But soon dissatisfaction sets in. Since Cholly himselfis not whole he cannot make her feel whole and as partners in life they areunable to give each other emotional support. Both of them are victims of aculture that makes them feel inferior, unworthy, incomplete. And they giveto each other what they receive.

Cholly Breedlove’s childhood is also a study in rejection and alienation.Abandoned by his mother when he was four days old, he is rejected by hisfather also who pays more attention to the crop game than to Cholly. Moredestructive than these rejections is Cholly’s castration at the hands of whitemen who surprise him in the act of his first sexual encounter and ask him toproceed in their full view.

Pauline is not eager for the role of motherhood because she hasseen how in her mother’s life it has brought only more work and nogratification. Yet Cholly’s tenderness towards her during her pregnancyfills her with expectations of bliss but she realizes that it brings only loneliness.She therefore escapes into the world of fantasy and experiences vicariouspleasure in identification with white women in the movies, “There I was,five month pregnant, trying to look like Jean Harlow and a front toothgone” (96). This is another example of cultural assault that compels anindividual to look like someone else rejecting herself.

In spite of her bitter dissatisfaction with motherhood in the case ofthe first child, Pauline once again becomes pregnant. But her experienceat the labour ward in the charity hospital is bitter. She who imagines herselfin the role of a creator feels debased when the white doctor attending onher comments, “They deliver right away with no pain. Just like horses”(97). This way one cultural persona tries to debase other cultural personaon to a sub-human level. Thus feelings of inadequacy and disappointmentsin life lead Pauline to vent her anger on her children. Pecola becomes thetragic victim of her parent’s disillusionment with life. She searchespathetically for self-esteem but without the nourishing support of her parentsshe cannot succeed. Pecola’s encounter with Maureen Peal and the lighterskinned middle class boy deepen her sense of worthlessness. When


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Terri Kirby Erickson: To have the quality of one’s work validated by awardsand accolades is gratifying, but I also appreciate the kind words andletters of readers who have enjoyed my poems and books.

Ajit Kumar: How important is imagination in your poetry?

Terri Kirby Erickson: For the purposes of writing poetry, an activeimagination is crucial. Even when drawing upon specific memoriesof people and places when writing a poem, one has to have an activeimagination to recreate these moments so that readers are transportedby the words and feel something about what you have said. Wenever remember anything in intricate detail, so even if a poem is“true,” it is not always historically accurate, which is much lessimportant, anyway, than writing from the heart in such a way thatreaders are touched and moved.

Ajit Kumar: Critics say that your poetry is a reflection of everyday life!How do you react to this?

Terri Kirby Erickson: I think this is a true statement about much of mywork. I find great nobility and worth in simple, everyday living, butI also think that people are endlessly fascinating no matter whatthey are doing! Some of my poem titles bring to mind people fromall walks of life: “Young Girl at Walgreen’s,” “Washing My Baby’sHair Over the Kitchen Sink,” or “The Man Who Cuts His Grasswith Nail Scissors.” However, I also tackle larger, more controversialor disturbing issues in poems such as “Leroy and Viola” from mynew collection, which tells a tragic and true story about the strugglefor Civil Rights in the United States. I believe that both kinds ofwriting are necessary in order to accurately reflect the humancondition in its entirety.

Ajit Kumar: How is poetry different from other forms of literature?

Terri Kirby Erickson: A poem is much more condensed and the emotionalimpact more powerful in my view, because of this brevity. The poethas only a few lines through which he or she might move the reader,so every word is significant and must be exactly the “right” word.


Maureen Peals taunts at Pecola and McTeer girls by screaming at them “Iam cute! And you ugly! Black and ugly black emos. I am cute” it leavesPecola dumb with pain and misery(57). Claudia says to herself:

Dolls we could destroy, but we could not destroy the honey voicesof parents and aunts, the obedience in the eyes of our peers, theslippery light in the eyes of our teachers when we encounteredthe Maureen Peals of the world. What was the secret? What didwe lack? (57)

But Pecola “sat looking in the mirror, trying to discover the secret of theugliness, the ugliness that made her ignored or despised at school, byteachers and classmates alike. She was the only member of her class whosat alone at a table desk” (34). No one loves Pecola except her father whoexpresses his tenderness for her in a distorted manner by raping her. Whenthe drunken Cholly sees his daughter bent over the sink washing dishes, amixture of emotions surge through him. “…revulsion, guilt, pity and thenlove…what could he do for her?...what could a burnt out black man say tothe haunched back of his eleven-year-old daughter...” (127). Cholly violatesher body as the others have violated her spirit.

The Bluest Eye represents an indictment against the whole of avalue system that has afflicted not only Pecola and her family, but an entirecommunity. They are victims of the force of alien culture and itsmanufactured image; it is an image that connotes myriad contrived valuesincluding how a girl and /or a woman should look, act and even feel, “Onelives, really, not so much in your house as you do outside of it, within the‘compounds’ within the village, or whatever it is” (Stepto “Intimate Thingsin Place 475).

But in the explicit neighborhood of The Bluest Eyes we came acrossa community that represent products of a commodified system that in itsimposition of social and economic order through the manufactured image,seeks to and succeed in inverting the truths of their life. This system alsocauses them to inflict pain and hatred of the self on to others, on to characterslike Pecola, Pauline and Cholly. And thus the neighborhood, the communitywhich could have provided sustenance, on the contrary, shares the blamefor Pecola’s destruction.


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She lifts her frail arm, then rests it,gratefully, in her daughter’s palm.Gliding a wetwashcloth, my mother’s handbecomes a cloud, and every bruise, a rain-drenched flower.

Ajit Kumar: Are you satisfied with the success of A Lake of Light andClouds?

Terri Kirby Erickson: Well, the book was just released in April of this year,so I think it is too early to talk about its success. However, 250people attended the launch party for this collection, which was alsoa fundraiser for the Simstein Fund of the Novant Health Derrik L.Davis Cancer Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I donated10% of every book sold that evening to this very worthy fund, whichhelps cancer patients who are financially challenged with expenseslike medicine and lodging. And I have received some lovely lettersfrom readers who have enjoyed the poems in this book so thus far, Iwould say I am quite pleased!

Ajit Kumar: What does the lake signify in A Lake of Light and Clouds?

Terri Kirby Erickson: The title of this collection was inspired by a beautifulproperty known as the Lasater Mill House in Clemmons, NC. I wasstruck when driving by it one day, by the beauty of the light, thedrifting clouds reflected in the lake beside the house, and the lovelyswan boats bobbing in the water. This charming vista was so peacefuland serene in contrast to what was going on in the news at the time. So when I sat down to write about it all, the juxtaposition of worldevents and this idyllic scene is what fueled the title poem and, in myview, makes it more interesting than a simple description of a visuallyappealing place.

Ajit Kumar: You have won many awards for your writing. How do youfeel when you are rewarded and appreciated?


Explaining the reason why Roy’s novel was chosen over the otherBooker contenders, Jason Cowley, one of the five 1997 Booker Prize judges,said: “The God of Small Things fulfills the highest demand of the art offiction: to see the world, not conventionally or habitually, but as if for thefirst time. Roy’s achievement, and it is considerable, is never to forgetabout the small things in life: the insects and flowers, wind and water, theoutcast and the despised. She deserved to win” (The Times of India). Onecan say that she could not have written it otherwise, because she wastrying to be honest to herself as she was not writing ‘on ‘behalf’ of anyonebut herself’ and because, in her own words ‘I think that’s the most honestthing to do … in our society particularly, the politics of ‘representation’ iscomplicated and fraught with danger and dishonesty.’ It is the woman whois not ‘representing’ but presenting herself.

Her debut fiction The God of Small Things is polyvocal, voicing theangst of generations of women characters. It shuttles between the past,present and future reminding us of the narrative technique used by ToniMorrison in her fictions like Sula and Beloved. It is really very difficult toascertain who the central protagonist is, Ammu, Velutha or Rahel-Estha.But there is one thing that binds them all together, and that is theirtransgression of Love Laws. “They all crossed into forbidden territory.They all tampered with the laws that lay down who should be loved andhow. And how much” (The God of Small Things 31). The consequencesof this transgression are more horrible for Velutha and Ammu, for the formerbecause of his caste (untouchable) and in the case of the later because ofher gender (female). So it is not only the intermeshing of the caste andsexuality that is the ideological centre of the book but rather the caste and‘female’ sexuality (Ahmad 103).

At the age of twenty-seven Ammu “carried the cold knowledge thatfor her, life had been lived. She had had one chance. She made a mistake.She married the wrong man”(38). Without much education, because“Pappachi insisted that a college education was an unnecessary expensefor a girl” and dowry, “since her father did not have enough money to raisea suitable dowry, no proposals came Ammu’s way” (38). Nobody caredwhile she helped her mother with the housework. And when a manproposed, of another caste, Ammu grabbed it because she thought that this


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Ajit Kumar: From where have you gotten the maximum love for yourpoetry?

Terri Kirby Erickson: Reading poems by various authors—poems thatmove me in some way or change the way I view the world—hasbeen such a gift. And writing poetry is a form of meditation, a timewhen I think of nothing else but what has inspired me and how bestto tell readers about it in a way that will resonate with their ownthoughts, feelings, and experiences. So I both love reading poetryand writing it, and can’t decide really, which is more delightful.

Ajit Kumar: Any specific area, you believe that is more close to your heart?

Terri Kirby Erickson: I often turn to nostalgic themes of home and family.Losing my brother at such a young age was so heartbreaking that Isometimes yearn for the simpler times of my childhood before tragedystruck my family. And visiting those happy days in a poem, is theonly way I can get them back. Recently, one of my poems, “IceCream Truck,” was chosen by Garrison Keillor to feature on TheWriter’s Almanac. This poem is simple, visceral, and was inspiredby a cherished childhood memory of mine that seems to touch achord in those who remember the thrill of the “ice cream man”coming to their neighborhoods, too, and the experience of eatingthose cold, beloved treats on a hot summer day.

Ajit Kumar: That’s great! Could you please share a few lines (the mostclose to your heart) which exhibit a direct love towards your familymembers?

Terri Kirby Erickson: I have another very brief poem I can share, entitled,“Sponge Bath,” from my collection, In the Palms of Angels:

Sponge Bath

Draped in towels,my grandmother sits in a hard-backedchair, a white bowlof soapy water on the floor.


is the only way or chance of her salvation. But this marriage shatters bothAmmu and her dreams and she “returned, unwelcomed, to her parents’home, with her twins, full of shame to live on their mercy, and bear the“fate of the wretched Man-less woman”(45). Legally, “Ammu, as adaughter, had no claim to the property” (57). Her brother, Chacko receivededucation from Oxford, married Margaret Kochhama, as per his choiceand got divorced by her, but being a man he won all the sympathies of hermother and other female members of his family. After the death of hisfather he resigned his job as a lecturer to look after the family business ofmaking jam, jelly and pickle that was run by Mammachi. “Though Ammudid as much work in the factory as Chacko…he always referred to it asmy factory …” (57).

Chacko used to exploit the women workers of the factory for hissexual needs which is not only acceptable but justifiable too as Mammachiprimly puts it: “He can’t help having a Man’s Needs” and for the purposeof having his sexual need fulfilled Mammachi built a separate entrance tothe house, so that factory women can go unnoticed to Chacko to gratifyhim (168). But when it comes to Ammu’s relation with Velutha, it ishorrendously repulsive to Mammachi. She can understand ‘Men’s Needs’but ‘Women’s Needs’ (especially for an untouchable) she cannot evenimagine. Brinda Bose, in her insightful observation has said, emphatically,“It is not just the matter of transgression but, as Roy puts it evocatively, ofwho and how much. Society and government make rules and defineboundaries; many of these are continuously transgressed… Women’stransgressions are generally more easily condemned, as are those to dowith the “Love Laws”. When women seek to transgress the rules thatgovern love and desire, the penalty is death…” (In Desire and in Death,59-60).

Thus in this confrontation between power and powerless we seethat though Ammu, a major character in the novel, on the merit of being awoman, cannot have the same rights as her brother in the matters of highereducation, marriage or inheritance. Her decision to marry a Bengali Hinduis an ‘unchristian’ act, a transgression for which she was not forgiven. Butwhen she slips into the forbidden love affair with Velutha, an untouchable,nothing but the annihilation of herself could have appeased the fury of the“God of Big Things.” In her move to “fashion female autonomy,” Ammu


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Ajit Kumar: Do you believe nature is an important part of your life? Pleaseshare a few lines of a poem which exhibits your sensations towardsnature.

Terri Kirby Erickson: I am inspired by nature and often include somereference to the natural world in my poems although I have to admit,I feel most comfortable in urban landscapes. I grew up in the cityand moving into to the suburbs was not something I thought I wouldever do, although I’ve lived in a small town for about twenty-twoyears now. Here is my very short poem, “Queen Anne’s Lace,”which was originally published in The Christian Science Monitorand is also in my book, Telling Tales of Dusk:

Queen Anne’s Lace

Queen Anne’s lace dandies upa ditch, like embroidered hankiesin a farmer’s pocket.Such tiny seed-pearl petalsseem hand-sewn byseraphim to their purplecenters—yet they thrivein common places, fine as tattedborders, blanket-stitched to burlap.

Ajit Kumar: Any memorable moments while composing In the Palms ofAngels?

Terri Kirby Erickson: Yes, there is a poem in this collection entitled,“Empathy,” that I wrote in response to an intense conversation I hadwith one of my close female friends, mainly about a health challengeshe was facing at the time. These few moments of sharing our“stories” in a “grocery store parking lot” inspired me to write thispoem exploring and celebrating friendships between women, whichare so life-sustaining and necessary, not to mention a source of joyand kinship and comfort.


earns death at the age of thirty-one, “Not old. Not young. But a viable die-able age” (3). Anyway the prejudiced society of Ayemenem was not goingto grant anything save the taste of “wrinkled youth and pickled futures” towomen like Ammu. The analogy of petrifaction is quite apt. Once rejectedby her family a woman becomes a kind of play things in the hands ofsociety even its caretakers. Ammu dies, as a destitute leaving her twinsbehind, vulnerable, exposed to the callousness of the same society she diedwhile resisting its onslaught of inequities. They also transgress the sociallaws or better to say in incest they are trying to seek transgressive solace,or as Aijaz Ahmad says, “ Rahel returns…takes him into her arms andreaches out to heal his psychic wounds through the bereaved solace ofincest…as private balm for emotional injuries once caused by variousbrutalities in the public domain … a kind of sisterly mercy “ (107). Thisincident particularly reminds of another kind of incest in Toni Morrison’sThe Bluest Eye. In that novel also a burnt out black father is trying to givehimself to his burnt out black daughter as sympathy that leads to the horribleend of Pecola’s life.

Works Cited

Ahmad, Aijaz. “Reading Arundhati Roy ‘Politically.” Frontline 8 August1997:103-108. Print.

Bose, Brinda. “In Desire and in Death: Eroticism as Politics in ArundhatiRoy’s The God of Small Things.” Ariel: A Review of InternationalEnglish Literature 29:2 (1998): 59-72. Print.

Christian, Barbara. “A Promise Song.” Black women Novelists: TheDevelopment of a Tradition, 1892-1976. Westport, CT:Greenwood P, 1980. 137-179. Print.

---. Black Women Novelists: The Development of a Tradition 1892-1976. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood P, 1980. Print.

Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. London: Chatto and Windus, 1970. Print.

Stepto, Robert B. “Intimate Things in Place: A Conversation with ToniMorrison.” Massachusetts Review (1977): 473-489. Print.

The Times of India. n.d. Web. 24 Aug. 2014.


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Terri Kirby Erickson: My favorite poet is former U.S. Poet Laureate, TedKooser. I so admire his work because there is a heartbeat in everypoem...something that is luminous and real and true. He is infinitelytender with his human subjects and the “places” they inhabit on thepage. At once original and warmly familiar, Mr. Kooser is a masterat his craft. He continues to inspire me every time I read one of hislovely poems. To have two of my poems chosen by Ted Kooser tofeature in his American Life in Poetry column, which reaches some3 million people worldwide, is such a thrill and an honour.

Ajit Kumar: When did you start writing?

Terri Kirby Erickson: I started writing poetry with hopes of publication in2005, but I have been writing poems in “secret” since I was a child.

Ajit Kumar: What was the concept in your mind when you composed TellingTales of Dusk?

Terri Kirby Erickson: I always write individual poems without thought asto whether or not they will fit into a single collection. But when I puttogether this manuscript, the poems seemed to flow not from justone, singular voice, but from the many voices of a chorus singing thesame song. I love to create (or borrow from experience!)“characters” in poems, and to speak through them. And I believethat the voices of this collection in particular, are very reflective ofmy experience of growing up in the American South while still beingrelatable, I hope, in a universal way. We are all more alike than weare different when it comes to what we hope for, what makes ushappy or sad, and all the rest of our shared human emotions.

Ajit Kumar: . You say that you love to create “characters.” Did you getthis idea from some other poet?

Terri Kirby Erickson: I have always written this way, even before I startedreading the work of others. I have, since childhood, had a very vividimagination.



Dr. Suneetha Yedla

The Piper of Shadonia is a traditional fantasy novel, relying on animaginary realm where magic exist, is just as engrossing and fulfilling ascontemporary paranormal fantasies. Tobin, fourteen year old boy wholives with his parents in the city of Cradoc, a part of the old country ofShadonia, which has been included as a section of the Forezian Empirefor over twenty years. Hamish, Tobin’s father never likes his mother talkingto Tobin in Shadonian Language which drives him to follow Shadonianculture at his sapling age. He has an impression that the people who movein the line of their own culture are uneducated louts. The same expressionis presented in the following quoted lines of Hamish :

Do you want people to think Tobin is an uneducated lout, Mother?Forenzian is the language of commerce and culture. The onlypeople who speak Shadonian are peasants in the hills and thepoor and illiterate of Old town. (21)

At the time of the beginning of the story, Shadonia is, to forgive the pun,under the shadow of their Forenzian conquerors, his father a ‘toady’ to theForenzian regiment stationed at Cradoc, and the spirit of the Shadonianpeople broken, their cultural traditions no longer passed on from generationto generation. Tobin is an exception. Though Tobin is schooled in theForenzian ways i.e., those of the wealthier ruling class, and physically looksForenzian because of his light hair, Tobin is proud of his Shadonian heritage,as supported by his father’s mother, Gran, who continues to speak to him inShadonian and tell him the stories of their people. Even with his mixedbackground (his mother’s father had been Forenzian but had converted toShadonian), Tobin finds it tricky to balance his Forenzian advantages withhis Shadonian background, especially when taunted by two Shadonian boys,


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Communications. I had one sibling with whom I was very close, a youngerbrother who was killed in an accident when he was twenty. Thistragedy was a turning point in my life, and compelled me to morefully realize that every moment we live on this earth is a gift, and tocherish the people we love while they are with us.

Ajit Kumar: Who inspired you for writing?

Terri Kirby Erickson: My fifth grade teacher introduced me to poetry andindeed, to artistic endeavors of all sorts. And I have been an avidreader all of my life. Books are the open doors to everything andevery place imaginable! And I wanted from a very young age, tobecome an author. I am so grateful to have achieved this dreamwith my poetry.

Ajit Kumar: Why poetry …why not fiction or drama?

Terri Kirby Erickson: I love the pithiness of poetry—how you can tell anentire “story” in just a few lines. The emotional impact of a poem isso powerful, and moulding and shaping language until the poem“says” exactly what you meant to say in the fewest words possiblefor an aesthetically pleasing, moving and lyrical result, is both a joyand a challenge.

Ajit Kumar: While writing, do you feel that you are talking to the readers?

Terri Kirby Erickson: Oh yes, definitely. I believe that poetry is a form ofcommunication. I always write with the idea that I am “conversing”with other people and not just talking to myself!

Ajit Kumar: Do you read something for the background of your poetry?

Terri Kirby Erickson: With some poems, a little research is necessary, yes.That is when the Internet becomes a very important and easilyaccessible tool.

Ajit Kumar: Whom do you appreciate the most among the poets and why?


Kasper and Graff, that his father was the “biggest boot-licking toady to theForenzian emperor in all Cradoc” (41). That assertion continues to plagueand direct Tobin’s actions throughout The Piper of Shadonia as he attemptsto defend his father and his Shadonian heritage.

In fact, Tobin’s father, Hamish as the mayor of Cradoc, a job heaccepted because he hoped to do a better job than the previous mayor, andwhere he tries to balance his duty to Forenzian and to Cradoc. Tobin feelscaught in the middle; he feels a deep loyalty to the old kingdom, with itsown kings and queens, and he feels that his father is a follower of ForenzianCulture. This is presented in the words of Hamish with Clarice by placinghis hand on her shoulder, “It’s all right, Clarice. I’ll be back soon to enjoymore of your beautiful music” (40). Tobin looked away by the words of hisfather on their native music. It wasn’t fair that his father made him feellike…..like a barbarian invading a haven of culture and peace. He stalkeddown the hall, hands still clenched (40). Even Tobin hates his father asfollower of Forenzian Culture, he is not in a position to receive his friendscomment on his father. Tobin’s father’s face became as sealed as a lockedroom on hearing his son’s answer to his friends in hatred voice. Infact,while reading the story of The Piper of Shadonia Hamish appears to begood in his characters by presenting himself as royal to his own culture.He said that he is loyal to the emperor, as he was bound to his oath ofallegiance. To his mind, he makes him any less loyal neither to Shadonianor to the people of Cradoc, whom he vowed to serve. At this context,Clarice, Tobin’s Mother expressed how his father loved Shadonian Culture,“He fell in love with Shadonia – its woods and hills, its stories and songsand dances – even before he fell in love with Mother” (43). Tobin possessesa special gift, which he is learning to use – the ability to let his mind becomeone with his surroundings so that he has ability to merge with the grass,bushes, and flowers, thus becoming invisible- though this only works whenhe is outside and concentrate fully on the blending. One day in hisobservation, he found the house of Mayor looks like a castle. It was thehome of Shadonia’s Kings and queens in the old days. Later, on the oneoccasion he’d been there, shortly after his father was elected mayor, Tobinhad thought it looked exactly like a Forenzian house. He knew, becauseCrispin and Lizette’s parents slavishly adopted every Forenzian fashion(154).


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Terri Kirby Erickson is the author of four collections of poetry,including In the Palms of Angels (Press 53, 2011), winner of threeinternational awards, and her latest collection, A Lake of Light and Clouds(Press 53, 2014). Telling Tales of Dusk (Press 53, 2009) was #23 on thePoetry Foundation Contemporary Best Seller List in 2010. Her work haswon numerous awards and honors, and has appeared in the 2013 Poet’sMarket, Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac (July 25, 2014), TheChristian Science Monitor, North Carolina Literary Review, Storysouth,JAMA, Verse Daily, and many other publications, and has twice been chosenby former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser for inclusion in his AmericanLife in Poetry column, sponsored by The Poetry Foundation and the Libraryof Congress. She is a member of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International,a professional organization of women educators, and has taught a numberof poetry classes in public schools, universities, and other venues. She is amember of the North Carolina Poetry Society, North Carolina WritersConference, and the North Carolina Writers’ Network.

Terri Kirby Erickson was chosen as the 2013 Leidig KeynotePoet for Emory & Henry College in Virginia. Former Leidig Poets includeTed Kooser, Mark Doty, Kelly Cherry, Fred Chappell, and many others.She has won many awards, mainly a Nautilus Silver Award for Poetry,2012; winner of the Next Generation Indie Book Award for Poetry, 2012;Finalist for the International Book Awards in Poetry, 2013; and the Poetryfor Their Freedom Award, 2013.

Dr. Ajit Kumar interviewed Terri Kirby Erickson on August 6,2014 about her writing through online mode. She explained her experienceof being a poet. She expressed her ideas on different collections of poems.She answered each question with great delight and patience.

Ajit Kumar: Could you please share the earlier days of your life…I meanyour familial and educational background?

Terri Kirby Erickson: I was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, towonderful and supportive parents, and attended public schools. Igraduated from high school as a member of the National HonorSociety for scholastic achievement, and from college with a MagnaCum Laude Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and Mass


The appearance of a troupe of puppeteers in Cradoc heralds newconflict after Major Gurtin, a Forenzian officer, accuses them of incitingthe Shadonians to rebel against the Emperor, and convinces the Mayor toarrest them. Tobin runs towards the puppeteers to warn and ends upaccompanying them on their travels. So Tobin’s adventure begins with theEllabalm Puppeteers i.e., Balm, Ella and their daughter Gaby, along withthe Shadonian bully Kasper. It is during this time, while evading detectionand watching behind the scenes, that Tobin develops his gift of becomingpart of the landscape and calling forth the spirit of the river. When Tobinsuspects that a wandering group of puppeteers are using their shows tostimulate a rebellion against the Forenzians, he uses his gift to learn moredetails, and to listen to Forenzian plans to arrest the rebel supporters:

“Limit ourselves?” Tobin echoed.

Balm nodded. “Do you see that fence over there? We neverused to build them. Not till the Forenzians came. We’re erectingother fences too, around our minds and spirits. They prevent usfrom being what we used to be--a part of the world around us.”

He threw another sideways look at Tobin. “But not you, lad. Idon’t know why it is—maybe your family heritage, maybe allthose stores your Gran told you—but you seem to be able tojump over those fences and be part of the land.”

Was that why he could blend with his surroundings? Summonthe spirit of Balm? But what should he do with this ability to leapfancies?

As though sensing the turmoil in his mind, Balm reached overand patted Tobin’s knee. “You have a special gift, Tobin. I’mglad you’re with us.”(102)

Tobin Morgenstar is far away from home in the scene quoted above. He’stravelling with a troupe of puppeteers, stopping at villages to perform plays,never sure of his next meal. It’s a world away from what he’s used to asthe mayor’s son in the town of Cradoc in the small kingdom of Shadonia.


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Dr. Ajit Kumar

Pictures provided by Terri K. Erickson


Tobin’s affinity for Shadonian culture isn’t the only thing that sets him apart;he has the ability to blend into his surroundings so that he slips out of thenotice of people and almost achieves invisibility by sheer effort of his mind.As he embraces the stories of the Shadonia of old, the more he disdains theway Shadonia is now, aping Forenzian culture and forgetting their own.

Hamish had never liked the fact that his mother talked in Shadonia.At that moment Amaryllis had been silent a long time, staring out the windowof her room. Sometimes when she did that, Tobin thought she saw farbeyond the garden and the river. But she had the thoughts of their ownculture in her mind, “Shadonia has its own culture,” she’d said at last. “Aculture that should not be ignored. How can I tell its Stories in a languagenot its own?”(22) Further it’s no wonder Tobin is captured by the messageof a troupe of travelling puppeteers who are trying to spread the culture ofShadonia. Sneaking out to watch their plays, Tobin also overhears how thepuppeteers are in danger of arrest from the Forenzians. After all, theirplays are thinly veiled allegories about the Shadonians’ need to throw offthe shackles of Forenzian overlords. The version between Hamish andTobin made Hamish to glance at Tobin angrily. The tag of war betweenHamish and Tobin is clearly picturized in the dialogue given below:

“Are you sure? I remember my parents telling me stories aboutheroes who called on the spirits of the land and river when theyneeded help.”

“My parents told me the same tales. I loved them as a child, butchildish fables are a thing of the past, just as are many ofShadonia’s ancient customs.” (224)

Tobin’s struggles with the implications of belief put into action are evokedwith sympathy and insight. While Tobin continues to search their culturalidentity, his only one source of stability, Tobin’s grandmother, a strongsupporter of Shadonia ideals and freedoms, has suddenly died by entrustingto him an ancient pipe and she asks him to use when Shadonia is in need ofit. Bewildered by the sudden loss of his grandmother, Tobin impulsivelydecides to throw in his fortunes with the travelling puppeteers, warningthem of how the Forenzian military sought to arrest them for inciting rebellionagainst the Forenzians.


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Works Cited

Avery, Gorden. Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the SociologicalImagination. Minneapolis: U of Minneapolis P, 2004. Print.

Becnel, Kim E. Bloom’s How to Write about Amy Tan. New York:Infobase, 2010. Print.

Bloom, Harold. Amy Tan. New York: Infobase , 2009. Print.

Dong, Lan. Reading Amy Tan. California: The Pop Lit Book Club, 2009.Print.

Feng, Chia-Pia. Diasporic Representations: Reading Chinese AmericanWomen’s Fiction. Berlin: Lit Verlag, 2010. Print.

Lee, Robert. China Fictions, English Language: Literary Essays inDiaspora, Memory, Story. Netherlands: Rodopi, 2008. Print.

Shackleton, Mark. Diasporic Literature and Theory. Where now? BlackChapman’s Street: CSP, 2008. Print.

Tan, Amy. The Bonesetter’s Daughter. US: The Ballantine, 2001. Print.


At that critical juncture, Tobin remembers the wooden flute given byhis grandmother telling him that in times of trouble he must play it. Tobindoesn’t understand or want more powers but with his pursuit, Tobin blowson his pipe and causes a not-quite-liquid, not-quite-mist to rise from theriver, the Spirit of the river, to crash down on the Forenzians, thereby allowingthe troupe to escape unharmed into the forest and eventually into the distantmountains. This happening wins Tobin their trust as the high-born youngman is now on the run from the authorities with this band of would-bepolitical rebels. The players are Balm, his wife Ella, and their beautifuldaughter Gaby. They spread the word about a folk hero named BloodyBartholomew who challenges Forenzian rule and is a rallying point for theShadonians. Nevertheless, the story ends with a surprising and satisfyingconclusion as Tobin carves a path for himself that is neither pro-rebel norpro-forenzian empire, a way that allows him, just as Balm says, “to jumpover those fences and be part of the land” (102).

Finally I would like to present about the concept of the between-two-worlds dilemma of cultural conflict and search for identity of youngergenerations of Shadonia. Linda Smith, in the novel The Piper of Shadoniahas described the struggle of younger generations of Shadonia trappedbetween their ancestral culture and Forenzian culture as the between-two-worlds dilemma. This concept is clearly presented by Linda Smith throughthe character of Tobin, who lives in two worlds. As the son of an importantmayor, he must be loyal to the dominant Forenzian Empire, but he caresmore about the ancient and suppressed world of Shadonia. When hisgrandmother dies, she leaves him a wooden flute with powers Tobin barelyunderstands. As Tobin watches a street-theater troupe one day, he realizesthe puppeteers are criticizing foreign rule under the cover of light amusem*nt.When he overhears plans to arrest them, he warns the puppeteers to escapeacross the nearby river. But soldiers pursue the players, and Tobinremembers his grandmother’s words in times of trouble, he must play thepipe. When he does, it raises the spirit of the river in a terrifying wall ofwater, enabling the puppeteers to escape, but at great cost to the Forenzianarmy. Tobin has an unbelievable power to help his country break free ofcolonial rule—but he must learn how to use it. Horrified at the deaths hisfirst attempt has caused, he flees with the puppeteers, who are at thecenter of a secret movement to free Shadonia. Tobin wants to help his


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facets of culture through which she finds reconciliation between twoopposing cultures. The hybrid individuals live within the “third space”recognizing the differences. In The Bonesetter’s Daughter there is anacculturation of both the cultures retaining the individuality of both thecultures rather than their assimilation.

The notions of nation and nationhood are not distinct from Diasporastudies. In the acculturated novelistic space that The Bonesetter’s Daughteroutlines, a feeling of national consciousness is seen. LuLing talks aboutChina and its culture with pride. This is perceived more in the descriptionsof the war with Japan. She presents the Chinese men going for the warand the wish for their success. When the war ends they celebrate withfirecrackers. The Chinese solidarity with America is seen in the words ofMiss Grutoff, “With America on our side, now China will be able to winthe war more quickly” (306). The civil war in China between theCommunists and the Nationalists is also elaborated so as to depict themajority Chinese opinion favouring anti-communism. So the spirit of thehome nation and the nationalistic feelings associated with it find an expressionin the narrative of wars. In addition the host land is remembered withpositive feelings as revealed through the words of Miss Grutoff.

The Bonesetter’s Daughter is renowned as a multicultural fictionwhere the ethnic groups cry out their voice. In this there is the lamentationfor home culture, the search for identity and the desire to assert theindividuality in the host land accommodating its culture. It fits into the varietyof diaspora literature through the depiction of characters living in presentpondering over the past. They tread through new ‘routes’ recognizing andaffirming their actual ‘roots’. The novel puts forth a ‘salad bowl’ ratherthan a ‘melting pot,’ placing both cultures in interaction with each other. Inother words, the essence of both the cultures is preserved and these culturesare placed as the inevitable part of the life of the multicultural persona inthe novel.


country to be free without bloodshed of his country people. Linda Smithtries to place the teen in the midst of a national conflict, pitting parentsagainst friends, oppressor vs. the oppressed, and emotions over reasoning.To present this concept the central hero Tobin constructs some toughchoices. Not only that but also Linda Smith has managed to balance Tobin’sangst and subsequent development within the story of an oppressed peoplefinding the means to stand up for themselves, all in a satisfying fantasy foryoung in The Piper of Shadonia.

Works Cited

Bell, Tavish. “SPG Book Review on The Piper of Shadonia.” Regina,SK: Coteau, 2012. Print.

Den Haan-Veltman, Christy. “Book Review on The Piper of Shadonia.”EBSCO Host Connection 18. 2 (2012): 23-31. Print.

Smith, Linda. The Piper of Shadonia. Regina: Coteau, 2012. Print.

Wu, Ellen. “CM Review on The Piper of Shadonia.” The ManitobaLibrary Association 19. 12 (2012): 12-16. Print.


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Bonesetter’s Daughter there is an attempt to juxtapose America and China,the host land and the homeland. Amy Tan’s novels are therefore callednovels of reconciliation. Even the chapter headings of the novel are givenas a combination of Chinese script and English title. The mother prefersChinese, but at the end her story narrated in Chinese gets an Englishtranslation, through which the languages meet together. Ruth, on the otherhand knows only English. But her mother wants her daughter to knowChinese. LuLing is ashamed of her daughter’s ignorance of Chineselanguage. She says to Precious Auntie’s ghost, when Ruth mediates theirtalk, “Forgive me that she speaks only English” (61). LuLing’s involuntaryexclamations are always in Chinese. “Throughout the years, LuLinglamented in Chinese, “Ai-ya, if only your father had lived, he would bemore successful than your uncle” (62). LuLing holds Chinese close to herbosom, identifying her self with the language. She exonerates the languagesaying, “Writing Chinese characters is entirely different from writing Englishwords. You think differently. You feel differently” (63). Though Ruth is notinterested in Chinese language, towards the end of the novel, afterdeciphering the narrative of LuLing originally in Chinese, and translated into English, she comes into contact with the language. Her we see howEnglish mediates the daughter’s understanding of her mother’s culture.

Bilingual calligraphy brings out the acculturation of both cultures. Itwas a means of livelihood for the family. Ruth helps the mother checkingthe spelling of the English words. She corrects her mother once saying,“It’s ‘grape fruit’, not ‘grapefoot.’ It’s a fruit not a foot” (57). LuLing inturn taught her “the mechanics of writing Chinese” (57). Here both thecultures come in interaction with each other, which is the major theme thenovelist is trying to drive home throughout the novel. At the cultural planealso both the cultures are equally accommodated into LuLing’s life side byside with her emotional longing for China. She had two kinds of weddings– an American model and a Chinese. She says, “For the American partMiss Grutoff gave me a long white dress.... For the Chinese banquet Iwore a red wedding skirt and head scarf that GaoLing had embroidered”(291). Tan attempts to find a productive balance between the different



Dr. Gharge Sunita S.

The British Indian Empire/ the Indian Subcontinent was partitionedon the communal basis into India and Republic of Pakistan in 1947 andlater secession of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971 caused the havoc inthe history of human race. Partition resulted in the barbarity of the worstand massacre was terribly tragic. It was deliberate, so urged so manyIndian and Non-Indian writers to present this picture in their creativewritings. This partition is a side issue in Indian English Novels. ButR.K.Narayan, Mulk Raj Anand and Raja Rao do not focus primarily onthis event.Yet other novelists have dealt with it seriously. Novelists likeK.A. Abbas, Attai Hosain, Khushwant Singh, Manohar Malgonkar, ChamanNahal, Bhlchandra Rajan and others have treated it in detail in their novels.

R.K. Narayan’s Waiting for the Mahatma presents the politicalscene before independence and tragedy of partition. Attai Hosain’s Sunlighton a Broken Column tells Laila’s struggle of her own freedom and India’sstruggle for independence. It presents the Muslim point of view of nationaland individual freedom. Novelist presents the Muslims like Kemal and Asadprefer to stay on in India. The novel is an appeal to shun all hatred toembrace non-violence. So Asad is Gandhian. Manohar Malgonkar’s A Bendin the Ganges is the picture of Partition. It shows, in the words of Sharma,“how the terrorist movement - a symbol of national solidarity-, designed tooust the British from the Indian soil, degenerated into communal hatredand violence.... between the Hindus and Muslims” (The Partition in IndianEnglish Novel 33). In this novel Shfi Usman in the guise of a Sikh was afreedom fighter but turned a terrorist and he fought with the Hinduassociates due to Hafiz, a leader of terrorist Movement. He is an advocateof Muslim point of view, absolute and fanatic Muslim considerations. He


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She still carries the cultural baggage of Chinese myths and superstitions.She says, “By the time I was born, Immortal Heart was no longer lucky”(176). Each year Ruth loses her voice in August, a period that she associateswith dazzling array of solar activity. The novel recalls the oracular powerof dragon bones and the popularity of fortune telling, as inevitable ingredientsof Chinese culture which reverberates even in the American life.

Chinese dragons traditionally symbolize potent and auspicious powers.“Dragon bones” were prized for their medicinal qualities and used to treatMalaria and other diseases. Now Chinese nationalists consider dargon bonesas a symbol of biological continuity and singularity of Chinese people. Dragonbones are also transmitters of Chinese civilization and culture since, someoracle bones bear earlier examples of Chinese writing and recorded history.In The Bonesetter’s Daughter, “Dragon Bones” symbolize the geneticlinks and secret histories that bind the three women. In the novel by adoptinga boarder writing strategy, the emotional and blood ties of three women aredepicted through intervened memory and reality within an oriental culturalatmosphere romanced by such image as dragon bone.

LuLing also recalls the ink-making job which reminds us of herchildhood days. It was a female chore, from which the men benefitted. Inkis significant throughout the novel. It stands for language as a culturalartefact. LuLing teaches Ruth how to write Chinese characters whichshows transporting her culture to the next generation. The superstitiousnature of the mother which she inherited from her Chinese descent isrevealed when Ruth is made to write in the sand and talk with the chopstickin her hand to Precious Auntie’s Ghost. The novel therefore presents adiasporic chronotope. It means that when a character lives in the settledland s/he will be travelling through the past time in his/her homeland. By“Chronotope” Bhaktin refers to the inseparability of time and space. Forthe diaspora both the past time and the present space are inseparable.

“Hybridity” commonly refers to the creation of new transculturalforms within the contact zone produced by colonisation. Multiculturalsocieties undergo hybridization at the cultural and linguistic level. In The


voices for them. Shafi betrays Debi, his Hindu friend. So Debi was arrestedand sent to Andaman. Shafi detested Congress and demanded separateState for Muslims. Eventually he is killed by Sundari and Gian. ManoharMalgoankar’s A Bend in the Ganges shows his an image of a Muslim asa terrorist, deceiver, revenge taking man, a killer and a supporter of a fatherof Pakistan.

Khushwant Singh’s A Train to Pakistan also bears a Muslim’s imageas the killer. Chaman Nahal’s Azadi talks about Abdul Gani’s transformation.A friend is turned a foe and hated Hindus. Nahal shows Nurul Nisar, aMuslim daughter, loves Hindu Arun. She wants his conversion as an Islamicand he also asks her to transform as a Hindu.So he is called “timid Hindu.”Actually, both reject each other’s desire. Their true love doesn’t makethem embrace each other’s religion. This shows how fanatic and orthodoxthey are.

The diaspora Indian English writers - Rushdie, Bharati Mukherjee,Hanif Kureshi and others have portrayed the Muslim culture and charactersin their creative writing. It reflects their image of a Muslim. Rushdie’sMidnight’s Children presents Saleem Sinai as a compound of the threeraces, Hindu , Muslim and Christian/ British. He has made his Saleem as aprophet of independent India. Though a fantasy, Rushdie’s Midnight’sChildren gives the image of a Muslim Saleem as a third person lookingback at the British imperial power and its consequences in India. He hasmade them responsible for it. Dr. Aziz, Saleem’s supposed maternalgrandfather’s portrait is different from E.M. Forster’s Dr. Aziz in A Passageto India.

Honoured as the “Grande dame” of diasporic Indian English literature(Edwards 151) Bharati Mukherjee, “Lahiri’s foremother” (Chetty 75) anactivist of civil rights, educator, an author of highly praised novels, twocollections of short stories and non-fiction works, utilizes her personalexperiences in crossing the cultural boundaries. The second of threedaughters of Sudhir Lal and Bina Mukherjee, Bharati Mukherjee, a wealthyupper-middle class Bengali Hindu-Brahmin from Kolkata, India likes to beidentified American writer of Indian origin. Mukherjee draws her charactersas transnationals who remain connected to their homeland and hostland


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The Bonesetter’s Daughter is the story of a mother and daughterwhose relationship is troubled by cultural differences. The mother has atraditional Chinese upbringing, while the daughter was raised in the US.The cultural differences and the incompatibility of LuLing with the USculture are evident in her inability to linguistic adaptability:

LuLing got into fights mainly because of her poor English. Shedidn’t understand others, or they didn’t understand her. Ruth usedto feel, she was the one who suffered because of that.... Andsince immigrating to the US fifty years before, she had notimproved either her pronunciation. (49)

The ungrammatical passages through which the mother speaks out beartestimony to her lack of linguistically handicapped status in America. LuLingsays after meeting Dr. Huey, “No, no nobody pay!” Lu Ling cried. “Insidepurse put my health card. I don’t show card doctor charge me extra.Everything suppose be free” (60).

The Bonesetter’s Daughter is not an exception from other diasporicfictions that ponders over the past. Throughout LuLing’s narrative sheexplores Chinese legends and myths. As an ethnic writer Tan uses this asa tool to represent the emotional longing for the homeland representedthrough this. In the beginning of the chapter entitled “Heart” LuLing narratesthe legend associated with her place, Immortal Heart village:

Yet the village began as a sacred place. According to legend, avisiting emperor himself had planted a pine tree in the middle ofthe valley. The tree was to honour his dead mother, and his respectfor his mother was so great he vowed that the tree would liveforever.... Rich and poor alike made a pilgrimage to ImmortalHeart. They hoped that the tree’s vital energy would rub off onthem. They stroked the trunk, patted the leaves, then prayed forbaby sons or big fortunes, a cure for dying, an end to curses.Before leaving, they chipped off some bark, snapped off sometwigs. They took them away as souvenirs. (174)


equally in The Holder of the World , Leave it to Me , Desirable Daughtersand The Tree Bride . They are neither expatriates nor only immigrants intheir values and attitudes but transnationals, whose networks cross theborders of the nation - state.

The Transnational Mukherjee’s Desirable Daughters is the bestexample of Mukherjee’s “Two Ways to Belong in America.” DesirableDaughters grew out of Mukherjee’s close conversation with her two sisters- at the home her India-based sister in Bombay- Ranu and Mira who livesin America. Their conversation was about the choices they had made andhow their lives were and how each of them had married the man of herchoice. In Desirable Daughters Bharati comes to terms with what herIndian heritage has left her as residue and what America she has discovered.It is a novel of three sisters, two continents and a perilous journey from theOld World to the New World, and again to the Old World. It allowscharacters (mostly female) to move beyond the traditional boundaries ofidentity/ culture and national geographical boundaries.

Tara in Mukherjee’s Desirable Daughters and The Tree Bride isIndian / Bangladeshi / American by culture at the same time. Her identityis, in the words of Rushdie, “at once plural and partial” (ImaginaryHomelands 15). Like Mukherjee her “Tara Bhattacharjee’s (identity) isfluid. She adapts to both the traditional culture and her adopted Americanethos” and questions her own identity Singh 188). The identity crisis and alonging to define one’s own identity are triggered off when she is facedwith the illegitimate son of her much idolized sister – Padma Didi

Desirable Daughters begins with the story of Tara Lata and endswith the protagonist’s or Tara’s return to Tara Lata’s home. The novelends where it starts and vice-versa. Tara’s roots are there. She is linkedcohesively to Tara Lata, ‘a tree bride’ whose supposed husband died ofsnakebite before the marriage. To save her from a lifelong cursedwidowhood, her father Jaikrishna Gangooly, a pleader in High Court, marrieshis 5 year old daughter Tara Lata to a tree in 1879, in Bengal, “today’sBangladesh” (5). Jai Krishna Gangooly had repositioned the stars of TaraLata by marrying her to a tree. It was her fate, her “lifetimes’ virginity”(14). At least she may remain a wife, a wearer of vermilion powder in her


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not there to our supposedly well-trained eyes, makes itself knownor apparent to us, in its own way, of course. The way of theghost is haunting, and haunting is a very particular way of knowingwhat has happened or is happening. Being haunted draws usaffectively sometimes against our will and always a bit magicallyinto the structure of feeling we come to experience, not as coldknowledge, but as transformative recognition. (Gorden 8)

The third chapter of Part Two is entitled “Ghost.” In this chapter,Ghost is presented not as a frightening agent, but as a saviour. LuLingnarrates how she was spared from the marriage with the Chang familywhom Precious Auntie hated, with the fear attached with Precious Auntie’sghost. The ghost element in the story reiterates the assertion of‘Chineseness.’ In China the fear associated with ghost is pertinent. Ruthas a translator of the messages from Precious Auntie’s ghost also showsthe element of Chinese ancestry associated even with the second generationof Chinese immigrants. The memory of past evoked through ghost servesas a medium for recalling the memories of homeland and reassertion oftheir Chinese identity for LuLing. Through this the novel proclaims thatthey are deeply tied up to the memories of homeland, the thread which isunbreakable.

For Ruth, the ghost writing has double meaning. Pin Chia Feng writes:

On the one hand, it refers to her profession as an unrecognizedghost writer of self help manuals; on the other, Ruth had beenforced in her youth into the role of spiritual medium to fakecommunication through sand-writing is mobilized as a trope for(trans)cultural negotiations, with Ruth serving a s a translator.As well, ghost writing in the novel is an ethnic marker and alongwith the reference to the bones of Peking man, underlies ananthropological interest in China and Chinese history. (23)

Ghost stands for invisibility. The invisibility of the homeland China and theconsequent longing for the land is invoked through the pervading presenceof ghost throughout the novel.


hair–part, and not a widow. It will save her from a lifetime of disgrace andmisery. So later she could help the beggars, sick people, and young soldiersfighting the Raj and turn herself – Tara Lata - the saint, spiritual healer, andthe freedom fighter. Tara Lata never left her house in Mishtigunj for therest of her life, but she helped “ the Cause of an Independent India andUnited Bengal and protected Young Freedom Fighters from British arrest”and “ she herself was Dragged from her Home on the Night of October12, 1944, by Colonial authorities and Never Heard from Again. Her deathwas announced on October 18, 1944, and Attributed to a heart attack”(20). She had lived for seventy years and gradually changed the world.The life of rooted Tara Lata becomes a milestone for the rootless Tara,who writes by recounting Tara Lata’s marriage.

Like Tara Lata, self-propelled Tara, the protagonist, narrator, a thirty-six year old, convent school educated, writer, is the youngest of threedaughters of Dr. Motilal Bhattacharjee from Ballygunj, Calcutta. She sharesher name with Tara Lata, Tara says, “ … I had been named for her” (16),and her history begins with Tara Lata’s wedding in Bengal Presidency.Like Tara Lata, Tara has two sisters “we are sisters three as like threeblossoms on one flowering tree” (16). They are from Calcutta but reside atthree different places of the world. Tara is “on a mission of discovery”search for roots of her family (17). Beautiful and talented, the three sisters- Padma, Parvati and Tara from a civilized, wealthy Brahmin family of“bhadra lok, “are born exactly three years apart from each other on thesame date in the month of October. They are named after goddesses tosurvive and prosper. Tara is a modern, postgraduate (MA), conventeducated, divorcee, highly Americanized. Her childhood was spent inCalcutta in the sixties with her elder sisters – Padma and Parvati. At twenty,Tara’s life begins after marriage to Bishwapriya Chatterjee, who comesfrom a wealthy family. Tara let her father to choose for her a husband.She has crossed with him the dark waters for California. For ten yearsTara is a married woman, the wife of Bish, living in a gated community inAtherton, California. They have a son Rabindra/Rabi. But they are throwninto the middle of a modern enigma. Tara interrogates, “what do theyknow of the need of a modern woman? (27)


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third person narration dealing with the present life of the mother and thedaughter. Through Mr. Tang’s translation of LuLing’s story Ruth came tounderstand her mother and her family heritage. At the end of the novelLuLing gets an assisted family facility and Ruth and her lover Art reconciledtheir relationship, and Ruth found the actual name of Precious Auntie – GuLiu Xin.

In The Bonesetter’s Daughter we find both migration out ofcompulsion and wilful adoption of migration for better standards of life. Itwas the fear associated with the ghost of Precious Auntie that LuLing wassent to an orphanage, from where American culture enters her life. This isa domestic migration. It was not a wilful exile that she underwent. In thepart where Miss Grutoff offers visa for one person to accompany her toSan Francisco, different characters respond differently. Sister Yu says,“...I don’t care to be around other Americans. Civil War or not I’d ratherstay in China” (318). Here is a person who imbibes nationalistic fervour.But LuLing wished to go with Miss Grutoff. Her response when GaoLingis announced to be the person to go to San Francisco is noteworthy, “I wastoo stunned to say anything. That night I went over in my head how I hadlost my chance. I was angry that GaoLing had tricked me....Before I fellasleep I decided this was fate. Now what ever happened that was mydestiny” (320). The Japanese occupation of China and the subsequent waralso compelled the Chinese to seek refuge elsewhere. The story thus addsthe flavour of migration.

The ghost pervades the story with connotative meanings regardinghome. The ghost is beyond the gothic element of the novel. It complementsthe diasporic imaginings in the novel. Through the introduction of the ghosta desire for ‘at home’ is embedded as in the case of most of the grotesquestories that places the characters within the home out of fear for a ghost:

The ghost is not simply a dead or missing person, but a socialfigure, and investigating it can lead to the dense site where historyand subjectivity make social life. The ghost or the apparition isone form by which something lost , or barely visible, or seemingly


Being a good Hindu wife she never called the husband by his namewhenever in India, but in America she calls him Bish. He is a generous,protective provider, to whom love “is the residue of providing for parentsand family, contributing to good causes and community charities earningprofessional respect and being recognized for hard work and honesty”(27). Bish is an electrical engineer, a scholar of Stanford, who could transportTara from the enchanted garden of Ballygunge to Stanford University inthe early 1980s but can’t provide what she desires. After a decade ofmarriage, she understands that the promise of life as an American wife isnot being fulfilled. She wants to work somewhere, but is not allowed asBish is a traditional Indian Husband. His 15 hours’ office, and his publicfunctions in “Boston, New York, Tokyo, Taiwan, Malaysia, Manila” (82)make Tara alienated. Tara’s world is only Atherton gated community; shefeels “sick… alien” (87). Mrs. Billionaire, Tara is looking for respect, for alife apart from her husband’s identity, while he is expecting her to be agood cook, an attentive wife, and raise a good boy. She wants to join thecommunity college but can’t. Hence Tara has “left Bish …. after a decadeof marriage …” (82). Then she lives in San Francisco, Upper Height, orCole valley, with her son Rabi.

She has also a live-in lover, Andy, a balding, red–bearded, formerbiker, former bad-boy. He is a Hungarian Buddhist contractor, Zen retrofitter,Yoga instructor, and carpenter, “Tara’s Mistri” (25). For Andy “love ishaving fun with someone, more fun with that person than with anyone else,over a longer haul” (27). It is her American adventure to take a loveroutside of marriage. Padma condemns and considers Tara’s divorce asshame to the Bhattacharjee family. Though Tara and Padma reside in USA,they are strangers to each other. Tara says “I never told you about Andy,or Pramod or Mahesh or Donald…? (184) Tara has become “American”,self-engrossed, for whom her past is now ‘the darkest cave’ (133). TheAmericanized Tara accepts her son, Rabi’s confession about different“sexual orientation”. He is a gay (134).

Her American life is blasted by the sudden arrival of her so callednephew Chris Dey, who is looking for Padma, his mother. Padma’s secretsare thus being exposed. Chris Dey appears in Tara’s living room and theidentity of her family as Bengali Brahmins of “Bhadralok”, is called into


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The mass emigration of the Chinese occurred from the nineteenthcentury to 1949 caused by wars and starvation in Mainland China. Themigrations were mainly to America, Australia, South Africa, South EastAsia, Malaya etc. The Immigrants were illiterate, poor peasants. Amy Tanis an acclaimed Chinese American writer who immortalizes the immigrant’slonging for home. Her characters seek to reconcile with the host land amidstwhich they ponder the culture of the home land. Upon the publication ofher first novel, The Joy Luck Club she became an instant star in thepublishing world. Her skilful rendition of mother –daughter relationship, inher first novel continues in her later novels like, The Kitchen God’s Wife(1991), The Bonesetter’s Daughter (2001), Saving Fish from Drowning(2005). These novels, besides being family sagas, there are overtones ofdiasporic existence, expressed through the love and antagonism betweenthe Chinese immigrant mothers and their daughters. Tan keeps on invokingChinese landscape and history to contextualize the portrayal of ChineseAmerican experiences. It is at this point that Tan’s novel fits into theframework of diasporic fiction.

The Bonesetter’s Daughter portrays the relationship between aChinese immigrant mother LuLing and her daughter Ruth. It includes anintroduction and seventeen chapters divided into three parts. It ends withan epilogue. The introductory chapter exposes the major themes of thenovel. It is a third person narration of Ruth’s and LuLing’s American Lifein San Francisco. The seven chapters focus on Ruth’s career and herchildhood in flashbacks. The second part is presented as narrated by LuLingwhich is deciphered by Ruth where LuLing recalls her life in China becauseLuLing is now affected with Dementia. The story was found as a stack ofpaper by Ruth at the bottom of the drawer. It recounts LuLing’s life withthe Liu clan in the village of Immortal Heart in the Western Hills, south ofPeking. It is revealed to her that Precious Auntie, her nurse maid is actuallyher mother. This part also reveals Precious Auntie’s story. LuLing wassent to an orphanage run by American Christian missionaries after thedeath of Precious Auntie. Later she got married and her husband got deadin the Japanese war. After two years of life at Hong Kong, she also migratedto San Francisco as her sister GaoLing did. The third part switches back to


question. Tara initially is outraged and cannot believe that her unmarriedsister could have become pregnant and have a child. She suspects andstarts her investigation of the family secrets and origins. Tara thinks thatthe boy – Chris Dey, is trying to set up a scam of some sort. Rabi and Andysuggest that she should call her sisters and discuss it. She calls Parvati andPadma.

Parvati lives in Bombay, India and is happy with her husband, (alove-match) and two sons - Bhupesh and Dinesh. Actually she has shockedher family by choosing a husband, Aurobindo Banerji, a Bengali Brahminfrom a Tallygunge family, but the match is not approved by her father. Shejokes that “she manages a hotel, not a home” as she allows her husband’srelatives to be houseguests for weeks at their luxurious apartment at MarineDrive (51). Her easy life with servants and dogs is humorously describedby Tara, who asks her about Chris Dey. The sister makes her aware of thegangsters in Bombay and warns her to beware of Chris.

Padma Didi is the elder sister. She has married Harish Mehta anon–Bengali businessman; twenty years older than her. He had previouslymarried and had children. She lives now in New Jersey (Montclair). She isIndian in her clothes, cuisine and work as a television anchor of Indiantelevision programme set in Jackson Heights, Queens, run by her Indianlover, Devanand Jagtiani (Danny). She doesn’t accept Chris Dey as herson (bastard). Tara complains to the police as she asks her sisters andRonald Dey about Didi’s lover in India, and Chris Dey, her child who hadgrown up in orphanage and was sent to USA for education but was killedand “body found in the delta. It was Mr. Christopher Dey, the Indian national,of Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India” (276). The Dawood gang has beenactive in India and USA. Actually posing as Chris Dey, Abbas Sattar Hai,a member of the gang, wants to kill the techno-guru Bish and his family.He is wanted internationally for murder and arson. He visits Tara andRabi frequently at home and at public places. Tara is assigned to Jasbir“Jack” Singh Sidhu, the Americanized Indian policeman for investigation.He makes her aware of dangers to their (Tara, Rabi and Bish) lives. Heretaliates by bombing her house where the three (husband- Bish, Tara andRabi) are present. Bish rescues from explosion in her house and is badlyinjured. He is admitted and recovers but is crippled. When Tara’s house is


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Ajomy Maria Joseph

Postcolonial studies got a new flavour with the advent of Diasporastudies instigated by the theoretical formations of many theorists like HomiBhabha, Gayatri Spivak, Stuart Hall, Paul Gilroy etc. Diaspora is first andforemost the movement of bodies over spaces brought about by migrationeither by choice or by compulsion. The cultural articulation of theexperiences of those scattered group is seen through the literature ofDiaspora. Diaspora studies see migration in terms of dislocation,transformation, adaptation, rootlessness etc. It covers concepts like theexperiences of displacement and homelessness, the ideologies of ‘home’and nation, the cultures of diaspora, the politics of multiculturalism, thepredicament of minorities, the exilic perspective, identity questions likebelonging, assimilation, acculturation and issues relating to race sexualityand gender. It also theorizes the phenomena of borders and borderlands,mixing, hybridity, multilingualism, double consciousness, homesickness,memory, nostalgia and melancholy.

The Greek term, diaspora means, “scattering” or “dispensation.” Itcan be defined as the movement, migration or scattering of people awayfrom an established homeland. The term refers to many historicaldispensations over the centuries such as the expulsion of Jews from theMiddle East, the African trans-Atlantic Slave trade, Chinese migration duringthe Coolie slave trade etc. The term was first used in its original sense ofcitizens’ emigration to a conquered land appeared in the translation of theHebrew Bible into Greek.


bombed by an unknown person, it is suspected that the imposter Chris Deyis, in fact, Abbas Sattar Hai of the Dawood gang, who intends to destroyBish and his worldwide communication network, high techs in USA andIndia. In the final, third part of the novel, Tara visits India and Bangladeshwith her son. She meets her parents at Rishikesh and visits the home ofTara Lata of Mishtigunge.

The Tree Bride, the sequel of Desirable Daughters , continues thetale of Tara and tells the real reason of Chris Dey’s scam of some sort.Tara “dreams of the past” and finds Hai’s intension of firebombing herhouse (The Tree Bride 15). She says, “The target of Abbas Sattar Hai’sbomb wasn’t Bish or Indian money ....It’s me he wants to kill” (239-40).The image of a Muslim as a killer is in the mind of Mukherjee; yet, sheblames the British imperials and their imperialism that have divided theHindus and Muslims in India as their strategy to strengthen their imperialdomination.

Works Cited

Abbas, K.A. INQUILAB. Bombay: Jaico, 1949.Print.

Abidi,S.Z.H. Natraj and Nemesis: Manohar Malgonkar’s A Bend inthe Ganges: A Study. Barielly: Prakash, 1983.Print.

Amur, G.S. Manohar Malgonkar. New Delhi: Arnold Heinemann, 1973.Print.

Chetty, Raj. Versions of America: Reading American Literature forIdentity and Difference. Diss. privately published, 2006. Web. 12March 2011.

Edwards, Bradley C., ed. Conversations with BharatiMukherjee.Mississippi: UP of Mississippi, 2009. Print.

Forster, E.M. , A Passage to India. Delhi: Arnold Heinemann, 1924. Print.

Mukherjee, Bharati. Desirable Daughters. New Delhi: Rupa, 2006. Print.

---. The Tree Bride. New York: Theia, 2004. Print.


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Guru,Gopal. “Food as a Metaphor for Cultural Hierarchies.” Upenn.edu.CASI and Penn Arts and Sciences. Oct. 2009. Web. 29 Nov. 2013.

Limbale, Sharan Kumar. Towards an Aesthetic of Dalit Literature:History, Controversies and Considerations. Trans. AlokMukherjee.Hyderabad: Orient Longman, 2004. Print.

Nayar, Pramod K. “Postcolonial Affects: Victim Life Narratives and HumanRights in Contemporary India.” Open Humanities Press.Postcolonial Text 5.4 (2009):1-22. Web. 5 June 2014.

--- . “Trauma, Testimony and Human Rights: Women’s Atrocity Narrativesfrom Postcolonial India.” South Asian Review 29.1(2008): 27-44.Web.11 July 2014.

---. “Subalternity and Translation: The Cultural Apparatus of HumanRights.”Economic and Political Weekly 46.9 (2011):23-26. Web.5Aug.2014.

P, Sivakami. The Grip of Change and Author’s Notes. Chennai: OrientLongman, 2006. Print.

Schaffer, Kay, and Sidonie Smith. “Conjunctions: Life Narratives in theField of Human Rights.” Biography 27.1(2004):1-24,PROJECTMUSE. Web. 25 Jan. 2014.

Slaughter, Joseph R. “A Question of Narration: The Voice in InternationalHuman Rights Law.” Human Rights Quarterly 19.2 (1997): 406-430. Ebrary.Web. 28 July 2014.

---.Human Rights, Inc.:The World Novel, Narrative Form andInternational Law. New York: Fordham UP, 2007. Ebrary.Web.18 July 2014.

Sutton, David E. Remembrance of Repasts: Anthropology of Food andMemory. Oxford: Berg.2001.Web. 29 Nov. 2013.

Valmiki, OmPrakash. Joothan: A Dalit’s Life. Trans. Arun PrabhaMukherjee. Calcutta: Samya, 2007. Print.


Nahal, Chaman. Azadi. New Delhi: Arnold Heinman, 1975. Print.

Rushdie, Salman. The Midnight’s Children. New York: Knopf, 1981. Print.

---. Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism.1981-1991. London:Granth, 1991. Print.

Sharma, K.K. ,and B.K. Johri. The Partition in Indo-English Novels.Gaziabad: Vimal, 1984. Print.

Singh, Khushwant. Train to Pakistan. Bombay: India Book House, 1975.Print.

Singh, Vandana. A Study of B. Mukherjee’s Fiction. New Delhi: Creative,2010. Print.


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story space that is appropriated. The texts demand what Sharan KumarLimbale has demanded – a change of aesthetic (Limbale, 19) that is lifeaffirming. It makes visible alternative world views, spirituality other thanthe mainstream, knowledge of indigenous medicine and so on. The spacein the Indian literary public sphere is thus expanded. The subaltern counterpublic has shifted its attention from tales of the individual’s and community’swoes and builds or retrieves knowledge that was hitherto ‘hidden.’

The formation of subaltern counter-publics through Dalit writingsruns the danger of terming the latter as separatist. A public turns into acounter-public when it contests the mainstream public. Dalit writings doexactly this. It questions the privileges of the dominant groups and demandsthe eradication of inequality and unjust practices. This public is ‘contestatory’(Fraser 67) in function; yet ‘the concept of a counter-public militates in thelong run against separatism because it assumes a publicistorientation’(Fraser 67) (emphasis in original). Hence, just as women’s writing hasmoved from being a subaltern counter-public, dalit writings run no risk ofbeing termed enclaves serving only certain needs.

Works Cited

Atholi, Raghavan. Chorapparisham. Thrissur: Current, 2007. Print

Bama.Karukku. Trans. Lakshmi Holmström. Chennai: Macmillan, 2000.Print.

---. Sangati -Events. Trans. Lakshmi Holmstrom. New Delhi: OUP, 2005.Print.

Butler, Judith, et al. Power of Religion in the Public Sphere.New York:Columbia UP, 2011.ebrary. n.d. Web. 5 Aug. 2014

Bourdieu, Pierre. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement ofTaste.Trans. R Nice. London: Routledge, 1984, Print.

Fraser, Nancy. “Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critiqueof Actually Existing Democracy.” Social Text 25.26 (1990): 56-80.JSTOR. Web. 26 October 2011.




The male – female power relations in society is determined byproduction and biological production was estimated as the seminal meansby which humans maintained the race, and the role and responsibility of themales in biological production was accomplished only in a later phase.Maternity in primitive civilizations were deified and a matriarchal systemdeveloped in ancient civilizations marked with mother goddesses; a systemof female centrality and female domination, despite the weaker physicalbiology of the female is admitted. But with biological production alonehumanity could not subsist and as males gained upper hand in non-biologicalproduction at the manual and intellectual level , and as the non biologicalasset begins to have command over biological production, males with bettermanual labor power gained upper hand. Conversion from matriarchy topatriarchy was the inevitable consequence.

The range of patriarchy and matriarchy differed with space andtime though patriarchy in general became the system predominant. In theoccidental societies, with a better performance of manual dynamismpatriarchy had almost perfect sway- (though the British Queen is stillnursed as sign of respectable matriarchal racial memory); but in Asiaticsociety though conversion in favour of patriarchy was inevitable, substantialmatriarchal structures were maintained against the background of malehegemony and female subjugation. Indian villages in general carriedpatriarchy to the most repressive level as from the Vedic period the socialnorms of Aryan patriarchy set a formidable structure which opened war


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customs and conventions sometimes with a celebratory tone. Thus‘Matapuja’ figure in Joothan, ‘Theyyam’ in Chorapparisham, Chinnamalaifestival in Karukku , tales about Essakkiappear in Sangati, deities likeKaruppusamy in The Grip of Change. Antonio Gramsci had suggestedthat popular social thought, which includes popular religion, superstitions,ways of seeing things, opinions and acting collectively, can be channelizedinto a political movement through a critical awareness (qtd. in Nayar 24).The critique of institutionalised religion, dalit spiritual practices, critique ofsuperstitions, giving up of performances related to reproducing the inferiorityof castes are abundant in dalit works.By engaging with these issues politicalstrength is garnered and cultural citizenship is assured to the historicallysubjugated dalits.

According to Pierre Bourdieu, taste is determined by the socialposition from which it stems. Different social groups express their distinctivesocial habitus through practices like food. Even in the matter of food, dalitwritings offer a varied perspective that has never found its way intomainstream writing. Dominant caste narratives have focussed on vegetarianpractices of food as the ‘standard’ form. Even cookery books of respectiveregions in India focus on vegetarian and non-vegetarian food culture of thedominant. Food in dalit writings can be used as metaphors to conveydifferent meanings that “have bearings on the existential conditions of thetoiling, hungry millions” (Guru 5). Food here is not related only to taste andhunger. It is very important in the construction of cultural identity. Food isaffirmatively used as an alternative culture of a region. Non vegetarianfood is used to counter the nationalist construction of ‘upper’ castevegetarian ‘thali’ or ‘sadya’.Through projecting food practices and cuisinesof the dalits an attempt is made to subvert the orthopraxy of the cuisineculture of the dominant. Ironically the food culture of the dominant casteswas made possible only because of the toil of the dalits. It also preserveswhat David Sutton has termed as the phenomenon of ‘food memory’

Gramsci is against the imposition of any normative language andproposes critical engagement between the various dialects. This newlanguage will bring to the fore new world views. When dalit texts usedialects, the language of dignity, self -respect emerges and also present‘knowledge’ that was hidden or unacknowledged hitherto. Thus it is a new


even against the female embryos. Though the ancient Aryan Brahminicalrule and hegemony swept almost the whole of the Indian subcontinent, theDravidian southern part stood apart still preserving the matriarchal hold.Kerala, untouched by the Vedic hegemony later yielded to Buddhism whichfor centuries resisted the social and familial discriminative practices imposedby the Vedic patriarchy. Social and familial being of women was honoredin Buddhism and emancipation of women was part of Buddhist socialagenda. Kerala which was alien to Vedic patriarchy, welcomed Buddhismand the social texture of Kerala later became a mixture of ancient Dravidianand Buddhist ideology

But the lean matriarchal defence of Kerala fell with the revivalismof Brahminical religion and fall of Buddhism. The seventh centuryRevivalism swept the land of Kerala also. The matricider, mythical signifierof the end of matriarchy, conquers Kerala and distributes the land of Keralabetween Brahmin families.

Western feminism, which encounters subjugation of females, fromthe periods of ancient Greco- Roman civilizations, predominantly patriarchal,has no such history of long enduring matriarchal structures as in Kerala.So the women’s right movements in Kerala acquires a distinct planewhich never approves of the trends of female fundamentalism orsectarianism aligned to western feminism

Ultimate subjugation of the females at the familial and social levelswas proposed with the commencement of seventh century Hinduism, whichaccomplished the hegemonic text of Chathurvarnya. The text ofChathurvarnya and the thesis of antibuddhist himsa (murder) supposedto be sanctified by Avatar of God was a definite reversal of the beliefsystem that preserved the primitive matriarchal notions. In the place of thegod given child breeder female, came the child giver Brahmin priest bornout of God’s head. The Brahminical laws liquidated fundamental humanrights of females belonging to all castes; liquidation of fundamental humanrights was not confined to females but upon the males belonging to theentire untouchable classes. which formed about eighty percentage of the


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These may include ‘hysterics, stunned silences, grief or irrational outbursts’(Nayar “Postcolonial Affects” 6). In Dalit writings, it is the ‘particularityand difference’ that is highlighted and affirmed. There is a refusal toparticipate in the given public sphere that is ‘national’. Instead of the‘subjectivity’ available in the idealized nation, Dalit writings demand theincorporation of subjectivities other than the ‘national’. The issues highlightedin dalit works were issues that could not be voiced openly earlier.

Religion is often considered irrational and therefore never on theplatform of the public sphere whose primary importance was to ‘reason’.But as Jürgen Habermas has himself recently suggested critical attentionneeds to be paid to religion. Religion is very powerful and it can influencethe public sphere though it is a vital challenge in contemporary society(Butler et al 121).They note that Black churches were central to the Afro-American civil rights movement in America ‘providing it with “free spaces”to organise’ (Butler et al 122) and also that black churches remainedimportant to the black public sphere. On the contrary Catholic and Protestantchurches lost their voice as an organizing discourse. This was understoodas a modernizing secularising process. A similar picture can be drawn ofthe public sphere in India. Though many theories were put forward regardingthe perpetuation and reproduction of caste, one importance reason for notcritiquing caste is that it could not be talked about in the ‘modern’, ‘secular’nation. Caste being a core component of Hinduism and later componentsof most other institutionalised religions in India was only an unacknowledgedpresence. Habermas insists that incorporating religion should not forecloseany public debate. By voicing about it through dalit writings, religion andcaste is incorporated in the public sphere.

It can be argued that Dalit writings widen the public sphere byincorporating the ‘cultural, linguistic, religious and customary practices thatconstitute group identity and personality’ (Human Rights Inc ).The abovestatement was made in connection with the national public sphere. Instratified societies, the ‘unequally valued cultural styles’ put marginalisedsections under ‘powerful informal pressures’ (Fraser 64) by the dominantand privileged groups. Therefore whatever was the ‘norm’ was the culturalnorm of the privileged group which in the case of India is to be read asupper caste. Through Dalit Writings, the subaltern counter public conteststhe nationalist cultural claims. Dalit texts highlight the cultural practices,


population; right to public appearance, right to drinking water, right to learning,right to chosen marital life, right to worship etc. were denied to out- castemales and females. So at the social level for about eighty percent of thepopulation, females and males were fellow sufferers; to delete the masculineself respect of the outcast males their females were taken by the uppercaste and sexually abused; to humiliate the outcast males further, femalesof the outcastes were not allowed to cover breasts; after social rebellionseven when outcaste females were bold enough to cover their breasts breasttax was imposed upon them.

What is described above was the social tyranny and repressioncaused by the Aryan patriarchy. But at the familial level, patriarchy wasfully entertained only by Namboodiri Brahmins, a slender minority. All theother sects of the upper caste minus certain Kshatriya clans, followedmatrilineal inheritance and the same were preserved by the prominent lowercaste segments. Though the eldest maternal uncle was entrusted with thepower of governing the joint family, the matrilineal economy bridled themale member domination and except the eldest male in the joint family allthe male members were comparatively powerless. To preserve the assetof the family undivided and solid only the eldest among the namboodiriswere given right to Vedic marriage and the younger ones who did not haveright to property, had to seek sexual asylum in females of inferior caste byway of informal marriages. Among all castes the namboodris alone followeda mindless patrilineal system but all other castes despite the predominantpatriarchal politics of the Brahminic law stood with the matrilineal systemby which females enjoyed some degree of power that relaxed femalesubjugation to a certain extend The husbands in joint families just inferior tothe Brahmins found a shade of god in the child giver Brahmin father andthis led to a polyandry of divine sanction.. Among the Brahmins polygamywas entertained and polyandry was disallowed. In the rigid Brahminpatrilineal system females were a depressed lot, never allowed to breathesocial light; they were tortured on charges of immorality put under theterror of inquisition and excommunicated on charges of adultery whereasthe supreme Brahmin males enjoyed polygamy, marital and extramarital


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of Human Rights violations and to forge a collective solidarity and attainnew subject positions from where they could speak (4-5). To be able toarticulate an event as a part of human rights story of violation entails theevent a space or a public platform. It is this potential of dalit writing that isforegrounded here.

Dalit writings, as Pramod K. Nayar has argued in several essays(“Trauma”, “Postcolonial Affects”), take recourse to the language of humanrights. They do not stop with mere recounting of trauma and being victimstories. Along with the foregrounding of the suffering, many writingsadvocate a strong sense of freedom and affirmative identity. There areshifts in moments from the status of victimhood to that of agent. For instance,in Bama’s Karukku there is a new understanding of history and politicalconsciousness:

We who are asleep must open our eyes and look about us. Wemust not accept the injustice of our enslavement by tellingourselves it is our fate as if we have no true feelings; we mustdare to stand up for change. We must crush all these institutionsthat use caste to bully us into submission and demonstrate thatamong human beings there are none who are high or low. Thosewho have found their happiness by exploiting us are not going tolet us go easily. It is we who have to place them where theybelong and bring about a changed and just society where all areequal. (Bama 25)

Through this advocacy for acting, the narrative adopts the languageof human rights and pries open a space in the public sphere. Dalit narrativesenable a re-ordering of the space in the public sphere where the hitherto‘un’-voiced is voiced. Joseph Slaughter in one of his essays points out thata discourse on Human Rights is bound to provide the ‘public ,internationalspace that empowers all human beings to speak’(Slaughter 415).Questionsthat were previously hushed or never raised demand a fair argument andextensive deliberation in the works, even before an answer can beformulated.

Public spheres do not admit irrationality or emotions. Yet, it is bymaking use of ‘affect’ that the dalit narratives reconfigure the public sphere.


sex. But in the lower ranks among the upper caste and among the lowercaste, polyandry was more common, because the male members of thosesects could not maintain even a single wife. Of course polyandry broughtfemale centeredness to the joint family and this particular male-femaleeconomy also reduced the intensity of female subjugation accomplished byBrahminic hegemonic politics.

Women emancipation movement in Kerala, in contrast to any suchmovement anywhere else makes its distinct, for it is basically triggered bythe matriarchal Dravidian and neutrarchial Buddhist heritage; it has beenhighly energized by matrilineal polyandric contradictions within thepolygamic, patrilineal, patriarchic hegemony and rule. The subjugation ofwomen at the familial and social level is a universal phenomenon but it isand ever was and would be the inevitable expression of the system ofexploitation by which, the existing structure of political economy meets itsdemands. Freedom, as Christopher Caudwell puts it, is the consciousnessof necessity. The definition of necessity changes with time and space, andthe definition of necessity—whether it is necessary to cover private partsof the female so as to make her a private possession of a particular person,male (or female—in the lesbian context), whether the extramarital situation,polyandry or polygamy or free sexual life of certain female tribes inKerala—all entertained by the pre renaissance patriarchal political economy– may be reexamined in the context of western feminism.

Devaki Nilayamgode (1928- ) was born in Pakaravoor mana atMookkuthala in Malappuram district to Pakaravoor Krishnan Somayajippadand Parvathy Antharjanam. Born in an orthodox Namboothiri home, shedidn’t receive any formal education. Yet she published many books andseveral articles. Her works include Nashtabodhangalillathe, Yaathra:Kaattilum, Naattilum and Antharjanam: Memoirs of a NamboodiriWoman. Antharjanam is an autobiographical work which gives an insightinto the lives of namboothiri women from an objective perspective. DevakiNilayangode without any anguish or resent presents the patriarchal systemprevalent among the namboothiri communities which subjugated the femalein all domains. Even the birth of a female in family, through which the


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In Post- independent India, issues related to caste or domesticitywas swept under the carpet. In the race for becoming a secular nation,issues related to the family, domesticity or caste were deemed matters ofthe private sphere- hence not ‘open’ for discussion. The founding fathersof the nation wanted to put a rest to the violence which had taken place inthe wake of Partition. If, in the case of women discussions related to thefamily or children were private; in the case of caste, discussions centredon them was detrimental to ‘secularism’ and against the concept of ‘unityin diversity’. (Moreover practices related to caste, like for instanceprohibition of inter dining came to be primarily maintained by the womenconfined to the space within the home-and anything related to women, the‘irrational’ creatures, were ‘private’). With the women’s rights movement,dalit movements and human rights movement gaining currency, the ‘private’issues related to women and castes came to the fore- in the public andwere treated as political. The visibility of these issues need not necessarilyinclude them in the public culture. But the discussions that were generatedsought to uncover the politics of exclusion of ‘her’ stories and stories ofcaste. Thus was forged a rightful space for the concerns of women anddalits.

Nancy Fraser argues in her essay that in stratified societies, it isbetter to have several public spheres rather than just one national publicsphere. Some of these could be counter publics that often contest thenational public, “ …the proliferation of subaltern counter publics means awidening of discursive contestation, and that is a good thing in stratifiedsocieties”(67). This is stated as ‘sub-state’ publics in the Declaration onthe Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic , Religious andLinguistic Minorities. India being stratified at various levels has variouscounter publics along with the main stream public. Dalit writings like feministwritings have formed as a strong subaltern counter public. This is done byexpanding the discursive space of the public sphere itself. The next fewparagraphs examine how this expansion has taken place.

Sidonie Smith and Kay Schaffer in their essay “Conjunctions: LifeNarratives in the field of Human Rights” trace how the human rightsdiscourse has taken a recourse to a language other than juridical or political.Taking the example of Life Narratives, they have demonstrated that thisliterary genre is offered ‘discursive threshold’ from which to narrate tales


family survives, is considered as an inauspicious sign. There is a sumptuousmeal if a boy was born and only two knocks in the door if it is baby girl.Children were taught from an early age about the conventions in the family.They were denied of motherly warmth and comfort as they believed that itwould ruin their life. The children got this from other women.

The Antharjanams often lead a secluded life within the four wallsof the mana. Their day starts with a ritual bath in the early hours and had todip in water if they happen to tread a strand of hair or a few drops a fromsutra woman. After their visit to the temple, they spent their time on cooking.the rest of the time they had to recite the mantras. The only entertainmentallowed for these women is the kaikottikali.

Girls, on reaching puberty or uduthuthudangal have to reside insidethe house. They were not allowed to appear before men. They were notgiven any education. Girls were not permitted to read and if anyone discoversany hidden book from them severe punishment was certain. So they readwhile they had menstruation which was considered as a ‘godsend’. DevakiNilayangode tells us how her sister’s ambition of studying Sanskrit wasfulfilled. Though her father was a teacher he didn’t had the courage toteach them Sanskrit. So a ‘Nambisan’ was brought to the illam and hetaught her sister in adjacent rooms so that they cannot see each other andher father sat on the doorstep.

According to the custom in the Namboodiri family, only the elderson can marry women of the same caste. The rest were allowed to havesambandhams so as to prevent decentralization of wealth. They hadseparate quarters in the illam called madhom to house these wives of theappan Namboodiri’s but were not permitted to enter the house becausethey cause a state of pollution. A separate cook was there to serve them.

Women in the Namboodiri community were not allowed to wearcolored saris. Colored saris always fascinated them. The only ladies whohad permission to wash their clothes were ‘Veluthedath’ family. Again thesewomen had separate windows to collect and return the clothes. They were


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Nisha M.

Ever since Jürgen Habermas put forth the idea of the bourgeoispublic sphere, it has been subject to debates and modifications. Accordingto the concept of the public sphere, the matters under deliberation must bematters of public concern or common interest. Interests that were privatewere inadmissible in these discussions. This ensured that the affairs ofwomen (which were largely domestic) and of the marginalised or weakersections (who did not count numerically) went often unaddressed. Thepublic sphere which was supposed to be liberal thus merely meant thebourgeois men and hardly the public (qtd. in Fraser 61). Various theoreticianshave utilised the concept of public sphere like Ann Travers use of thepublic spherein the field of cyber feminism, Alexander Kluge’s concept of‘oppositional’ public sphere and Film, and Nancy Fraser’s reformulation ofthe subaltern counter public.

‘Subaltern Counter Publics’, a term coined by Nancy Fraser is‘parallel discursive arenas where members of subordinated groups inventand circulate counter discourses, which in turn permit them to formulateoppositional interpretation of their identities, interests and needs’ (Fraser67). She points out how feminism was a counter-public that was able toinvent and include words like ‘double shift’, ‘sexism’, ‘sexual harassment’in the counter public (67). Following the definition mentioned above, thispaper attempts to show that Dalit writings (along with other arenas of dalitassertion) expand the very notion of the public sphere itself. It would alsoexplain how the adjective ‘counter’ in counter public is not meant todestabilise the notion of public sphere or is intended at separatism.


not allowed to wash it in the illam tank. Antharjanams were not allowedto wear gold ornaments. The only one permitted to them were the bronzeornaments. Antharjanams had to travel in a different fashion. They wouldbe accompanied by irikkanammas. They have food at the oottupura-adining hall built for the Brahmins. The Antharjanam will receive uncookedrice from there and was it with water from river and cook in a separatefireplace. If they are to travel in a bus they would prefer to sit in a cornerall wrapped up. Again the money needed for this travel has to be made bythe Antharjanams. Tradition decreed that they had to find money to meettheir expenses. They got it from pidiyari a fistful of rice. The onlyentertainment was the kaikottikali, an occasion to show their dancingprowess during the Onam season. A teacher will be hired for this and apartAntharjanams, Nair women, and the Ambalavasis took part in it.Kunhikuttiyamma who came to Nilayangode told them the stories ofUnniarcha and Kungi with the moral women should never considerthemselves inferior to men but should stand up like Unniarcha. But thesestories were not entertained in illams, “She may sing and dance well, buther comments are unwarranted and not worthy of emulation” (53). Thesestories of bravery always fascinated them but to emulate it was beyondimagination.

Devaki Nilayangode tells of the Antharjanams’ attitude to othercastes in clear terms. All women except their own caste was consideredpolluted. So whenever they happen to touch them they had to take a dip inwater. But these women can’t survive without irikkanammas andVeluthedath women. Devaki Nilayangode tells of their practice of treatinglow class women as ‘other’ when they make them eat from the sameplantain leaves left by the Antharjanam:

The children were fed first, then the namboodiris, and finally thewomen. When the first two sets of people had eaten, the maidservants removed the used leaves and cleaned the floor. Butwhen the last round was over, the used leaves were kept in placefor food to be served to the Nair women who had accompaniedthe Namboodiri women as helpers…. They were humiliated in


PURSUITS - Mercy College, Palakkad· Dr. Vijay Nair 280 Book Review Dr. Sanjay Kumar Choudhary 281 283 Hussain mentions that Chambial’s poetry ceases hatred flames. P.V. Laxmi - [PDF Document] (146)

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to live with her mother and the mother was not allowed to touch her baby.If so she has to have a bath. As a result, the mother has to take severalbaths a days as she has to feed her baby. The nangemma remained singlethroughout her life as it was very difficult to find a groom for her.

The autobiography closes with the renaissance of Namboodiri womendue the efforts of E. M. S. Namoodiripad, V.T Bhattathiripadu, Arya Pallomand Parvathy Nenminimangalam. Their efforts rescued the Antharjanamswho were given the freedom to come out of the four walls, have formaleducation and vocational training. They had to face severe criticism fromboth within and outside the house. Kuriyedathu Thaatri was considered asa heroic figure as there was one woman to point her finger against patriarchalauthority.

Works Cited

Indianetzone. “Matrilineal Form of Society, Kerala.” Kerala Informativeand Research Article on Matrilineal Form of Society, Kerala.n.d.Web. 01 Aug.2014.

Nilayangode, Devaki. Antharjanam; Memoirs of A Namboodiri Woman.Trans. Indira Menon and Radhika P. Menon: Oxford : OUP, 2012.Print.


so many ways – in their very life as helpers, in having to rushforward to be granted admittance to the oottupura, and finally, inbeing forced to eat on used banana leaves!(91-93).

After the wedding ceremonies, a woman becomes a wife only if eats theleft over food of her husband and the practice is the central narrative ofOm Prakash Valmiki’s story Echil.

Marriage of an Antharjanam was made without her consent. AgedNamboodiri always paid a sum to the bride’s family as most brides whogive consent to marry these old ones were from poor family. If thebridegroom is young, the bride’s parents have to give the dowry. Marriageceremony lasted for four days. Widows were considered as the mostinauspicious being among the Namboodiri women. Husband’s death wasbelieved to be caused by evil stars in wife’s horoscope. So she wasconsidered as guilty of a criminal act from the moment of his death. Soonafter the the demise the wife was asked to remove the thaali and to have abath. She was not allowed to remove the clothes and has to remain in adark room to observe ten days pula, the period of defilement. She eats onlyuncooked raw food these days and was made to sleep in a bare floor. Thusthere will be two or three women in the dark room cursing their fate asNamboodiri had more than one wife.

The story of Kuriyedathu Thaatri is mentioned in the autobiography.Thaatri underwent a legal procedure called smaarthavichaaram for havingillegal relations. Devaki Nilayangode had an admiration when she says“she was the fallen woman who had enticed and insulted great Namboodiri’sas well as Vedic teachers. But beneath the tone of accusation, I alsodetected a note of unconscious appreciation of Thaatri”(114). Thaatri wascalled saadhanam and her mentioning of a Namboodiri caused the birth ofa nangiyar. The Namboodiri’s wife was pregnant then and the prevailinglaw would excommunicate the Namboodiri but such ignominy did not applyto his wife. After Thaatri’s mentioning, the brother –in law of the Namboodiribrought her sister back home. She was pregnant then and gave birth tobaby girl who was transformed to a nangiyar. The baby was not permitted


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