Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Partitions by Kamleshwar/Penguin ~ A Literary Discourse on Love, Compassion, and Amity

Reviews, Vol I, Issue IV

Traditional history stockpiles bitter memories of the past which slush hatred and create divisions. Literature has a leading edge over traditional history as the creative powers of writers have always invested on tales of love, compassion and friendship. Synchronically, literature mirrors ‘human frailties’ and most of the times, these frailties are routed towards regret and purgation. En masse, the canvas of literature never presents a woebegone world, the one beyond repair. Amos Oz, the Jewish writer underscores the import of literary “remedial insights” (Partitions, 83) into the past, to counter half-truths of hatred by asserting exemplars of ‘great affinity and empathy.’

Going by the Nietzschean commandment, shared in his seminal work, The Use and Abuse of History: a rich blend of the unhistorical, the historical and the super-historical, can serve as medicant to the “disease of history” (Nietzsche 43). Nietzsche defines the “disease of history,” as the tendency of those in power to control history by suppressing the voices of the vanquished. The unhistorical are the memory narratives laid in the stirrings of human heart, and expressed in oral-histories, which owing to their amnesiac tendencies are bound to be lost if not timely preserved. The historical is conventional history; and the super historical which integrates in, the vast regimes of literature and other allied arts has a sense of cultural vision.

The tour de force of the novel, Kitne Pakistan (2000), written by Kamleshwar in Hindi and translated as Partitions (2006) in English by Ameena Kazi Ansari, is to patron humanitarian concerns by liquidating all the dissident and belligerent constraints of the world torn asunder.  The novel mourns over the unnecessary divisions and myriad segments which continue to fissure mankind; and the title of the novel is suggestive of the presence of such chasms and cracks in the various cultures from the days of the Sumerian hero, Gilgamesh to the latest demolition of Babri Masjid at Ayodhya, India. The perpetrators guilty of wrecking injustice, oppression and dislocation are questioned and cross-examined in the “people’s court” set up in the novel. Mughal Emperors Babar and Aurangzeb, Spanish adventurer Hernando Cortez, Lord Mountbatten, Adolf Hitler, and Saddam Hussein invite ‘contempt of court’ on charges of creating countless fractured nations.

The unnamed narrator-protagonist of the novel, called ‘adeeb’ which literally means a litterateur or poet, in the role of an ‘arbiter for suffering humanity,’ sifts and scans through some first-hand accounts of the victims of man’s brutality, from the killing fields of Kurukshetra to Kargil and Hiroshima to Bosnia. Adeeb’s scholarly court as the “court of humanity” is open to all victims of human tyranny unlike the other courts endorsed by the “cowardly, paralysed legal system” (Partitions, 87).

Another likeable character of the novel, the ‘ashruvaid’ is an old man who collects and analyses the tears of the oppressed, destitute and those pushed untimely into the throes of death. Behind his pursuit of studying man’s sufferings, lies his urge to efface pain and destitution from the face of earth. Ashruvaid approaches adeeb’s court and insists on collecting the litterateur’s tears and analyse them. He makes clear his motives to adeeb: “We have to find a way of making life take precedence over death. Your tears are needed to help achieve this end. Tears alone can breathe life into mere existence” (17). During the period of colonialism, when the colonial masters in order to access cheap labour, resorted to forcibly transporting slaves from Africa and Asia, ‘ashruvaid’ starts collecting the perspiration of the slaves and labourers. The plight of these ‘chained beings’ is brought out in a detailed way in the novel.

And post-nuclear testing in Pokhran, India, followed by the same at Chagai, Pakistan, the ‘ashruvaid’ engages himself in yet another human cause of collecting “shattered fragments of dreams” ( Partitions, 363) of mankind. On a hopeful note, ‘ashruvaid’ salvages these dreams from dying eyes and renders them to the living eyes, keeping alive his faith to see these dreams being fulfilled. The novel illustrates the effect of “the toxic ashes of the atomic testing” (366) on nature. Adeeb’s heart bleeds at the infliction these atomic tests caused to the peacocks of Pokhran region, pushing them to the limits of near extinction. He could visualize similar fate for the honeybees in the palms of Chagai. One can assess from it the immense havoc the nuclear weapons can unleash, if God forbid, they are targeted at the human lot:  

Buddha Purnima-11 May 1998. Three forty-five p.m. The arteries of the desert had burst open. The ground had trembled. Nine hundred feet below the surface, in the womb of Pokhran, three explosions had occurred. The wind had dropped as the temperature shot up to ten lakh degrees, matching the heat of the sun. Below the sands, hundreds of thousands of tons of rocky cliff had crumbled, melted and turned into clouds of vapours. A mile- long stretch of sand had risen like a gigantic mushroom cloud and lay suspended over the desert.
The adeeb had suffered another heart attack. (Partitions 362)   

    In the novel, love comes as an antithesis to all the destructive and divisive manoeuvrings of man, when lovers transcend the narrow confines of religious identities, in their quest to find fulfilment beyond all boundaries. The novel presents many tales of human love, which evolve during the times of bloody massacres that ensued amidst the subcontinent’s Partition in 1947. But unfortunately all of these promising relationships get consumed in the fury of partition riots and other such meaningless conflicts. The first love story that one comes across in the novel is that of Vidya and the litterateur ‘adeeb.’ Partition creates a distance between the two, abducted and raped by her co-religionists during the partition; Vidya is rescued and escorted by a Muslim family during the partition riots.

The author avers that, “sometimes women were raped by members of their own religious community and given shelter by the other religious community” (Bhalla, Partition Dialogues, 215). This proclaims how the riots of partition created an opportunity for men to commit sexual atrocities on women and cloak it under the garb of religion. There in Pakistan, Vidya converts to Islam, is married to a Muslim, Nadeem Khan and is baptised as Parveen Sultana, fondly called as ‘Pari.’ Her son ‘Pervez’ comes to India as a Pakistani diplomat; this is how she happens to meet ‘adeeb’ again and for the last time towards the end of the novel. But there is nothing they can do about their relationship at that stage except to reminiscise their bygone days and be nostalgic about them.

Forlorn and soaked deeply in her memories, the adeeb often weaves his own castle of dreams centered around her. Her memories and dreams bring in some respite in the otherwise humdrum life of the adeeb. These escapades of adeeb also entail the readers towards an awareness of how human entrapments curtailed many relationships from blossoming, leaving the lovers in the lurch of unrequitedness.

The novel hitches in yet another love story of Buta Singh- an illiterate farmer and Zainab- a young Muslim girl. Love evolves between the two during the times of bloody massacres that ensued amidst the subcontinent’s partition in 1947. Pursued by a savage in the guise of man, Zainab is sheltered by Buta Singh. Buta Singh earnestly relinquishes his hard-earned savings in the kitty of Zainab’s pursuer and liberates her from his clutches. A brief excerpt from the novel speaks volumes about Buta Singh’s empathy and uprightness: “So what if the borders of Hindustan and Pakistan have been demarcated? The honour of women cannot be apportioned to any particular side because of the Hindu-Mussalman divide!” (Partitions 24).

The village elders advise Buta Singh to marry her as living together outside marriage was not an acceptable social norm at that time. With a mutual consent both get united in matrimony. This news disturbs Buta Singh’s three elder brothers who were always keen on laying their hands on Buta’s share of land. God showered his benediction on Buta and Zainab and blessed them with a beautiful girl. The couple named her Tanvir Kaur. Adeeb celebrates their love in glowing terms, and implores his assistant, Mahmood to let him narrate this story with “all its nuances of searing beauty and pain” (Partitions 321). He fervently wishes to immortalise this love story for centuries to come, by conferring on it the “aesthetic form of an epic poem” (321). An excerpt from the text is presented here in avowal of adeeb’s endeavour to narrate this passionate story in an exuberant manner: “They alone had dared to eat the apple of love. But for such events, love would never have flourished and the world’s gutters would have been choked with the bubbling blood of lust and hatred” (320).

But this saga of love too turns out to be one of sacrifice due to man’s cruelty. As per an agreement between the governments of the twin nations-India and Pakistan, abducted and abandoned women on either side of the border during the upheaval of partition are retrieved by the various refugee camps before being handed over to the next of their kiths-and-kins. On Buta Singh’s nephew’s information Zainab was handed over to her people in Pakistan. To get her back Buta Singh converted to Islam and became Jamil Ahmed and Tanvir Kaur becomes Sultana. They both illegally enter Pakistan by crossing the border in Rajasthan. Despite all these hardships, Zainab’s parents and Pakistani court refuses to permit Zainab to join back her loving family. Heartbroken Buta commits suicide by jumping onto the tracks with Sultana in his arms. Adeeb’s court mourns over this colossal loss of hope with yet another tale of human love sacrificed at the altar of man-made partitions.

Inspired from the Epic of Gilgamesh (circa 2100 BC), the novel’s guiding force and talisman is the mythical love story of Runa- the beautiful devadasi and Enkidu- a brutal beast with divine powers. Love fructifies between the two when, Gilgamesh-the Sumerian hero of the Hittite civilization sets out on his mission to not only overcome pain and privation, but also to vanquish death itself, in his quest to create a better world for his people. This besets a pandemonium amongst the divinities of the various pantheons.

The Sumerian and Babylonian gods and deities are all frightened that if Gilgamesh triumphs over death, the pristine environs of their abode may get polluted. So in compliance with Anu, the Sumerian deity, they send Enkidu to earth in the guise of a human to exterminate Gilgamesh and his plans. Luckily Gilgamesh learns about the conspiracy of the gods. Familiar with the lustful ways of gods, Gilgamesh tries to tackle the beast-man by enticing him with the feminine charm of Runa.

But to the utter dismay of Gilgamesh and the gods, Enkidu and Runa get bridled in passionate love. Even after satisfying his lust, Enkidu remains ever enrapt in Runa’s love. An excerpt from the text articulates this: “More ancient than the history of the pyramids is the saga of human love. It was born when Runa and Enkidu, having gratified their carnal instincts, looked into each other’s eyes and discovered their souls” (28). Love brings a change of heart in Enkidu, and after an initial bout with Gilgamesh, the duo become the best of friends. The gods then send a fearsome bull down to the earth to kill Gilgamesh. Enkidu gets seriously injured by the ferocious beast, as he tries to save his friend Gilgamesh from its lethal attack. Despite Gilgamesh and Runa’s best care and efforts, Enkidu succumbs to his injuries. This is how world’s first love story meets its end due to the machinations of none other than the gods, but not before blessing mankind with the discoveries of love and friendship.

After the passage of many centuries, Gilgamesh still struggles to come back with the antidote to cure death and suffering and to scavenge all the earth’s venom of hatred. But Runa managed to hide in her navel, King Gilgamesh’s eternal and fearless voice, well protected from the reach of gods who were always on a lookout to suppress it. Runa entrusts Gilgamesh’s voice to the care of ‘adeeb’ as she believed that “only a man of knowledge and integrity can keep it alive for centuries to come” (Partitions, 34). Adeeb heartily accepts Runa’s gifts of love, friendship, peace and prosperity on behalf of the entire mankind and infuses Gilgamesh’s voice into his bloodstream.

The metaphoric significance of this episode is to accentuate the role of litterateurs as ‘goodwill ambassadors of humanity.’ The bond that made Runa and Enkidu remain in eternal love with each other and discover spiritual solace is bequeathed to the sensibilities of man, and lives there forever shielded from destruction and desecration, through the innate human goodness, portrayed and promoted vis-a-vis the conduit of good literature.

The novel concludes on an optimistic annotation, a character of the novel, ‘blind Kabir’ like the fifteenth century mystic poet Kabir, with an ektara in his hands, and a bag hung on his shoulder, sets out on a journey of reconstruction. He plans to plant banyan saplings at Pokhran and Chagai both. He is hopeful that “like Shiva, the roots of the banyan can absorb all poisons” (Partitions, 367). The symbol of “bodhi vriksh” is reminiscent of Lord Buddha, and it sends across a message that we can escape ‘the turning wheel’ of life and death by considering all forms of life as sacrosanct, and by triumphing over the vices of greed and hatred.

The novel questions indiscreet human acts of lapse as well as episodes of ‘fall from grace’ of divinities. Kamleshwar, the novelist juxtaposes tales of love and friendship with narratives of man’s barbarity and images of bloodletting and debauchery only to let the readers surmise that love ushers in solace, growth and camaraderie while acrimony amongst races and people breeds distrust, hatred and divisions. Celebrating the literary pursuit of  ‘free spiriting’ the world from the slavery of religion with supplanters  of love and empathy, nothing sounds more apt to conclude than by taking a leaf from poet Keats’ love letter to Fanny Brawne, penned down on 13 October 1819: “I have been astonished that Men could die Martyrs for religion-I have shudder’d at it-I shudder no more- I could be martyr’d for my religion-Love is my religion- I could die for that- I could die for you.” Nonetheless, bards know it well not to limit this revelation to their inner sanctums but to bring it on in the public domain and make it Everyman’s principle of existence.

Works Cited and Consulted
Bhalla, Alok. Partition Dialogues: Memories of a Lost Home. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Kamleshwar.Partitions. Trans. Ameena Kazi Ansari. New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2006.
Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Use and Abuse of History. Trans.Adrian Collins. New York: Macmillan, 1957.
Hanson Marilee. “John Keats: Selected Letters.” EnglishHistory.net.N.P. 2003.Web.05 July 2015.

Reviewed by Manjinder Kaur Wratch 

She is working for her doctoral degree on Partition literature from University of Jammu. She has actively participated in various national and international conferences and has also contributed more than fifteen research papers for certain critical anthologies and reputed journals-national as well as international. Earlier she has served as Faculty English Language and Literature in many institutes of the country.  For her M.Phil dissertation she worked on the translated in English works of the legendary Punjabi and Hindi author, Amrita Pritam. 

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

साहित्य का इतिहास दर्शन, जगदीश्वर चतुर्वेदी, 2013

Reviews, Vol I, Issue V
iqLrd leh{kk

dydŸkk fo”ofo”ofo|ky;] dksydkrk ds fganh foHkkx ds izksQslj txnh”oj prqosZnh dh lkfgR; ds bfrgkl n”kZu ij fy[kh] lu~ 2013 esa izdkf”kr iqLrd lkfgR; dk bfrgkl n”kZu ,d tfVy fo’k; dks le>us ds iz;kl ds :i esa mifLFkr gksrh gSA iqLrd i<+rs gq, ,slk vkHkkl feyrk gS fd tSls Dykl:e esa lkfgR;sbfrgkl laca/kh ftjg py jgh gks vkSj mlds vc rd ds <¡¡+w<s x, lek/kkuksa dks fdrkc dh “kDYk esa is”k dj fn;k x;k gksA fganh lkfgR; ds bfrgkl esa vk, fofHkUu egRoiw.kZ iM+koksa vkSj uohu foe”kksZa dks mUgksaus viuh ppkZ dk dsanz cukdj iqLrd ds ukedj.k esa LFkku fn;k gS] tSls fganh lkfgR; dk izFke lQy bfrgkl fy[kus okys vkpk;Z jkepUnz “kqDy vkSj muds ˜kjk viuk, x, fo/ks;oknh n”kZu dks dbZ dks.kksa ls ns[kus dh vkSj fQj mls vius rdZ ˜kjk dsoy ˜˜aoknh n”kZu ij vk/kkfjr lkfcr djus dh dksf”k”k dh gSA lkfgR; ds bfrgkl n”kZu tSls tfVy fo’k; dks mUgksaus varjfoZ’k;orhZ i)fr”kkL= ds vk/kkj ij i<+us dk lek/kku is”k fd;k gSA Hkkjr dh cgqHkk’kh & cgqlkaLd`frd fo”ks’krk dks /;ku esa j[kdj mUgksaus cgqyrkoknh lkaLd`frd ifjizs{; esa fopkj djus dh ckr dgh gSA iqLrd ds igys nks v/;k;ksa esa vkpk;Z jkepUnz “kqDYk vkSj vkpk;Z gtkjh izlkn f˜osnh ds bfrgkl n”kZu ds ifjizs{; esa ubZ lkfgfR;d leL;kvksa ij fopkj fd;k x;k gSA ckn ds nks v/;k; nfyr lkfgR; vkSj L=h lkfgR; ds bfrgkl n”kZu dh leL;kvksa ij dsafnzr gSaA fdrkc esa jkepUnz “kqDy ds bfrgkl ys[ku ds fo’k; eas vfLerk dk loky dkQh my>dj lkeus vkrk gSA mUgksasus fy[kk gS Þ“kqDy th lkfgR;sfrgkl dks vfLerk dh jktuhfr ds vk/kkj ij fufeZr ugha djrs cfYd vfLerk ds feFk dks rksM+rs gSa ¼i`’B 22½ß ogha nwljh txg fy[krss gSa fd jkepUnz “kqDy ds bfrgkl ys[ku ds ÞekWMy esa vfLEkrklaca/kh ekWMy ds y{k.k Hkh “kkfey gSaÞ ¼i`’B 45½A ,d txg fy[kk gS ßvkpk;Z jkepUnz “kqDy ds bfrgkl esa bfrgkl ys[ku ds loZlaxzgoknh] :ioknh] lezkT;oknh] iqu:RFkkuoknh vkSj vk/kqfudrkoknh ifjizs{;] :iksa vkSj i)fr”kkL= ls lkQ eqBHksM+ utj vkrh gSA ¼i`’B 38½ Þ viuh blh ckr dks dkVrs gq, nwljh txg dgrs gSa “kqDy th us bfrgkl dks tks <+kapk cuk;k vkSj tks O;k[;k is”k dh bu nksuksa ij gh fganq iqu:RFkkuoknh bfrgkl n`f’V dh vusd Nk;k,a gSa ¼i`’B 38½A gkykafd mUgksaus fy[kk fd lkfgR; esa mudk bfrgkl cks/k ˜a˜kREkd gS vkSj jktuhfr esa fganqRooknhA lkfgR; ds bfrgkl ys[ku dks prqosZnh th us o`gr iSekus ij ns[kus dh odkyr dh gS] tSls cktk: lkfgR;] iqjkus HkfDRk dkyhu xhrksa] dgkuh dyk ds fodkl dks tkuus ds fy, fQYeh iVdFkk vkSj lhfj;y iVdFkk tSls fo/kk:i] dSejs ds lkfgfR;d izHkko] flusek esa xq.koŸkk esa lqanj fy[ks x, xhrksa tSls u, fo/kk:iksa dks bfrgkl dh lkexzh dk vk/kkj cuk;k tk,A vc iz”u ;g mBrk gS fd bu u, fo/kk :iksa dks fdl vk/kkj ij lkfgR; esa lfEEkfyr fd;k tk,\ bl ij fdrkc esa FkksM+h foLr`r ppkZ gksrh rks vPNk jgrkA v/;k; nks esa tc mUgksaus vkpk;Z “kqDy vkSj gtkjh izlkn f)osnh dh bfrgkl n`f’V esa varj djrs gq, fy[kk gS fd “kqDy th dh n`f’V jk’Vªoknh vkSj izkP;oknh Fkh tcfd f˜osnh th dh ekuokf/kdkj vkSj lkezkT;okn fojks/khA ge igys v/;k; esa ns[k pqds gSa fd os “kqDy ds fy, Hkh lkezkT;oknh fojks/kh O;fDRkRo fy[k pqds gSaA varj dks vkxs c<+krs gq, “kqDy dks dk;Z&dkj.k i)fr viukus okyk rFkk f)osnh dks }a}kRed i)fr dks vikukus okyk dgk gS] vc loky ;g gS fd nksuksa i)fr;ksa esa varj dgk gSa\ mUgksaus fy[kk “kqDy th ds ;gka dYiuk ds vk/kkj ij bfrgkl esa QSlys fy, x,] f}osnh th ds ;gka fopkj/kkjk ds vk/kkj ij d`fr&d`frdkj ds ckjs esa QSlys fy, x, ¼i`’B 62½A rks loky ;g mBrk gS fd jk’Vªokn vkSj izkP;okn dksbZ fopkj/kkjk ugha gS\ gkykafd vkpk;Z gtkjh izlkn f}osnh ds lkfgR; bfrgkl n`f’V dks Hkkjrh; ifjizs{; esa c[kwch is”k djrs gq, dgk gS fd mls izkarh; lhekvksa esa cka/kdj ugha ns[kk tk ldrk gSA bfrgkl n`f’V dks vk/kqfuddky esa ikuk gksrk gSA f}osnh th ds fo[kaMuokn dks iwjs ,sfrgkfld ifjizs{; ds lkFk le>k;k x;k gSA fdrkc dh Hkk’kk yxkrkj laokn djrs gq, izLrqr gksrh gSA fdrkc bl ek;us esa izklafxd gS fd vk/kqfud foe”kZ ds izlaxksa nfyr foe”kZ vkSj L=h foe”kZ ij lHkh n`f’Vdks.kksa ls lpsru ppkZ dk iz;kl fd;k x;k gSA mUgksaus lkfgR; ds bfrgkl dh i)fr dks vkt ds ;qx ds dEi;qVj  tfur gkbijVsDLV dh fo”ks’krkvksa ls tksM+us dh odkyr djrs gq, bldh fo”ks’krkvksa ij yEch KkukRed ckr is”k dh gS] tks dgha&dgha FkksM+k mckÅ yxrk gS] lkFk gh gtkjh izlkn f)osnh ds bfrgkl ys[ku esa gkbijVsDlV;qyVh ds xq.k <wa< fudkys gSa] ;kfu vusd fdLe ds L=ksrksa vkSj lwpukvksa ls Hkjk gq,] ;kfu muds bfrgkl ys[ku dk dksbZ Hkh v/;k; laiw.kZ vk[;ku ugha gSA bruk gh ugha lkfgR; ds laca/k dks izsl] lapkj vkSj rduhfd ls tksM+dj ns[kus dh ckr dh gSA izkjafHkd lkfgR;sfrgkl esa izLrqr fd, x, dfoo`Rr laxzg dks ehfM;k ls tksM+rs gq, mls lkfgfR;d [kcjsa dgk gS] tks lkfgfR;d i=dkfjrk gS] ;g gekjs fy, ,d ubZ O;k[;k gSA f)osnh th ij yach ppkZ djrs gq, ea”kk] fjVksfjd] fjgVksfjd tSlh nwljh ubZ O;k[;k,a lkeus vkbZ gSaA muds ys[ku ij foLr`r :i ls ppkZ djrs gq, miU;klksa dh o`gn O;k[;k gqbZ gSA fdrkc esa ijaijkoknh izfØ;k dk fojks/k djrs gq, u, rjg ls lkfgR; dks ns[kus dh odkyr dh xbZ gSA

                               nfyr lkfgR; vkSj lkfgR; ds bfrgkl n”kZu dh leL;kvksa ij ckr djrs gq, nfyr lkfgR; dks lkfgR; ds uke ij fufeZr lkaLd`frd lkoZHkkSe dk var gksuk dgk gSA blh vFkZ esa lkfgR; dks var dk lkfgR; Hkh dgk gS ¼i`’B 128½A esjk loky ;g gS fd D;k tks nwljs lkfgR; fy[ks x, os tkfrxr fo”ks’krkvksa ls eqDr Fks\ os fy[krs gSa fd nfyr ys[kd nfyr lkfgR;sbfrgkl esa dksbZ fnypLih ugha j[krs gSa D;ksafd bfrgkl fy[kus ds fy, mUgsa ,sfrgklfld ifjizs{; ls xqtjuk iM+sxk] dksbZ izpfyr bfrgkl n`f’V pquuh iM+sxh] blls mUgsa xgjh vkReihM+k ls xqtjuk iM+sxkA eksgunkl uSfeljk; tSls nfyr fopkjd bl fn”kk esa iz;kljr gSaA nwljk] xgjh vkReihM+k ls xqtjus okyh ckr ij eqnZfg;k vkSj e.khdf.kZdk fy[kus okys nfyr fpard izksÛ rqylhjke us dgk gS fd nfyr vkRedFkk,a fy[kh ugha jks;h tkrh gSaA rks tc ,d ckj ml vkReihM+k ls xqtj vk,a gSa rks bfrgkl fy[kus dh vksj D;ksa ugha izo`Ÿk gksaxsA tc os L=h lkfgR; vkSj bfrgkl n”kZu dh leL;kvksa ij ckr djrs gSa rks ogka L=h dks ,d vyx <ax ls ns[kus dh odkyr djrs gSaA L=hoknh foe”kZ ds reke igyqvksa ij ckr djrs gq, Hkh tkfrxr HksnHkko dh ckr ugha djrs gSaA L=h lkfgR;sfrgkl ys[ku esa vHkh rd tks iz;kl gq, gSa mu ij fdrkc esa dksbZ ppkZ ugha feyrh gSA L=h foe”kZ ij Hkkjr dks if”pe ls bl :i esa vyxkrs gSa fd ;gka fganw /keZ esa “kfDr laiznk; ds uke ls tks nk”kZfud&/kkfeZd ijaijk gS og L=h dks L=h ds lanHkZ esa gh ns[krh gSA bls FkksM+k foLrkj ls fy[kus dh vko”;drk FkhA L=h ijaijk dks “kfDr ijaijk ls ns[kus dh ckr djrs gSa tks dsoy Hkkjr ds nk”kZfud ijaijk dh ,d vyx fo”ks’krk gSA L=h lkfgR; ijaijk vkSj L=h lkfgR; ds bfrgkl ds fuekZ.k ds fy, ;g lq>ko is”k fd;k x;k gS fd gesa Hkkjrh; ijaijk esa mu lkfgR;:iksa vkSj “kSfy;ksa dh [kkst djuh pkfg, ftudk fuekZ.k vkSjrksa us fd;k gS vkSj tks vkSjrksa ds lkFk os [kklrkSj ij tqM+s gSaA iz”u gS fd ,slh dkSu lh fo/kk,a gks ldrh gSa\ ;gka Hkh dqN mnkgj.k gksrs rks ckr vkSj vPNs <ax ls le> esa vkrhA nwljk] os fyax ds lkFk fo/kk vkSj “kSfy;ksa dks tksM+dj i<+us dh ijaijk vkSj “kkL= dk fuekZ.k djus dh ckr djrs gSaA ;s ckrsa vxj vkSj Li’V :i esa lkeus vkrh rks gekjh le>nkjh vkSj vf/kd fodflr gksrhA tc *ckjMkalj* ds ek/;e ls ;g dgrs gSa fd ;g fL=;ksa dk viuk pquk gqvk is”kk gS bls uSfrdrk ls tksM+dj ugha ns[kuk pkfg,] rks ;gka ij dgk tk ldrk gS ;g dqN efgykvksa ds lanHkZ esa lgh lkfcr gks ldrk gS ij lHkh ds lanHkZ esa ughaA L+=h Je ds ckjs esa vHkh rd dksbZ loZekU; /kkj.kk fodflr ugha gqqbZ gS blfy, ckjMkalj] fdjk, dh dks[k] dkWyxyZ vkfn u, L=h “kks’k.k ds :iksa ij ,d le>nkjh fodflr djus dh vko”;drk gS] bl fdrkc esa Hkh bu iz”uksa dks vuqRrfjr NksM+ fn;k x;k gSA fdrkc esa dqN fizafVx dh xyfr;ka fn[kkbZ iM+rh gSaA iqLrd esa vaxzsth Hkk’kk ds “kCnksa dk [kqydj iz;ksx fd;k x;k gS tSls dUosU”ku] QS”ksuscqy] tsuqbu] iSjkMkbe f”k¶V] dE;qfudsV] ekldYpj] fQuksfeuk] fotu] ekWMy] dkEku”ksal] dsVsxjh] dusDV] ehfM;e] eklehfM;k] izeksVj] uksfVl] izksMDV] dSlsV baMLVªh] lhfj;y] dSejs] VSftd daVªkfMDlUl] fM¶;wt] fMQjsal] jsIpj] ck;ujh viksft”ku vkfnA dqy feykdj dgk tk ldrk gS fganh lkfgR; dk bfrgkl vkSj vk/kqfud lkfgR; ds u, lokyksa dks le>us ds fy, ;g iqLrd f”k{kdksa vkSj Nk=ksa ds fy, csgn mi;ksxh gSA 

jathrk ljkst
,efQy fgUnh]
Tkokgj yky usg: fo”ofo|ky;] ubZ fnYYkh

सिनेमा के चार अध्याय, डॉ टी शशिधरंन, वाणी प्रकाशन, 2014

Reviews, Vol I, Issue V
पुस्तक समीक्षा

nqqfu;ka Hkj esa ,d o’kZ esa lcls T;knk ¼vkB lkS ls vf/kd½ flusek cukus dk fjdkMZ Hkkjr ds uke ntZ gks pqdk gS] blesa fganh flusek dk ;ksxnku lokZf/kd gSA fganh esa flusek v/;;u dh vdknfed ijEijk ugha ds cjkcj jgh gSA ,sls esa dsjyoklh MkW VhÛ “kf”k/kju dh lu~ 2014 esa vkbZ fdrkc flusek ds pkj v/;k; dk egRo dsoy fganh Hkk’kh gh ugha nwljs Hkk’kk&Hkk’kh ds flusek ds v/;srkvksa ds fy, Hkh c< tkrk gSA oSls rks ;g fdrkc lHkh ds fy, mi;ksxh gS] ij flusek ds v/;;u esa jr Nk=ksa ds fy, bl fdrkc ls reke cqfu;knh tkudkjh fey ldrh gSA [kqn ys[kd ds ih,pMh dk fo’k; fganh fQYe vkSj fQYeh xhr&mn~Hko vkSj fodkl fo’k;oLrq ds vk/kkj ij ,d fo”ys’k.kkRed v/;;u jgk gSA mudh vc rd dh izdkf”kr iqLrdksa esa xkrk jgs esjk fny ¼fganh½] ;knksa dh ckjkr ¼ey;kye½ ds uke izeq[k gSaA mUgksaus flusek ls lacaf/kr fganh vkSj ey;kye esa dbZ “kks/k&vkys[k fy[ks gSaA flusek ds pkj v/;k; dks i<+rs gq, ,slk vglkl gksrk gS fd tSls vki flusek gkWy esa cSBs gksa vkSj foxr o’kksZa dk flusek dkykuqlkj insZ ij lkdkj :Ik esa mHkj jgk gkssA fdrkc dh Hkk’kk fQYeh lhu dh rjg pyrh gSA v/;k;ksa dks lhu 1 ls ysdj lhu 8 rd ;kfu vkB v/;k;ksa esa ckaVk x;k gSA fdrkc dh Hkwfedk dks ^lhDoUl^ fy[kk x;k gS]A igys v/;k; ;kuh lhu 1 esa fo”o Lrj ij flusek ds vkjafHkd mn~Hko dh ppkZ gS rks lhu 2 esa fo”o flusek ds Lrj ij egku fQYedkjksa ds ckjs esa o mudh jpukvksa dk ifjp; feyrk gS] elyu foÙkksfj;ks nh fld] vdhjk dqjkslkok] baxekj cxZeSu] ÝkaULok =qQks] ekbfdy ,atyks vUrksfu;ksuh] pkyhZ pSfIyu] jksesu iksysaLdh tSls egku fQYedkjksa o mudh dkyt;h jpuk,aA flusek txr ds fy, mijksDRk uke vutkus ugha gSaA lhu 3 esa Hkkjrh; flusek ds vxznwr uked rhljs v/;k; esa Hkkjr esa flusek ds vkjaHk dh foLr`r tkap iM+rky dh xbZ gSA Hkkjr esa fQYEk fuekZ.k ls igys fQYe forj.k dk dk;Z dqN O;olkf;;ksa ds )kjk vkjaHk fd;k x;kA lu~ 1902 ds vklikl dydÙkk esa ts ,Q enu rFkk cECkbZ esa vCnqy vyh ;qlqQ vyh us rECkqvksa esa foyk;rh fQYeksa dk izlkj “kq: fd;kA Hkkjr esa flusek ds vxznwrksa esa lkos nknk] ghjkyky lsu] te”ksn th Ýketh enu] jkepUnz rksj.ks vkSj nknk lkgsc QkYds dk uke mYys[kuh; gSA lhu 4 esa fganh flusek dk mn~Hko vkSj fodkl uked v/;k; esa crk;k x;k fd dSls mu O;olkf;;ksa us Hkkjr esa fQYesa fuekZ.k djus ds ckjs esa lkspk tks igys ckgj ls fQYesa ykdj ;gka ij izn”kZu djds equkQk dek jgs FksA vHkh rd tgka nknk lkgc QkYds dks fganh flusek dk tud dgk tkrk jgk gS] ys[kd us cEcbZ ds vkj th rksj.ks uked fQYedkj dks flusek dk tud dgrs gq, Bksl izek.k izLRkqr fd;k gSA ;g ,d “kks/k dk fo’k; gks ldrk gSA fdrkcksa esa Hkkjrh; flusek ds bfrgkl ds dqN vulqy>s gq, igyq feyrs gSaA fganh flusek ds “kq:vkrh 18 o’kZ ewd fQYeksa dk nkSj jgkA nqfu;k dh igyh lokd fQYe 1927 esa okuZj ca/kqvksa dh n tkt flaxj FkhA ml nkSjku fganh flusek dk eryc dsoy fganh Hkk’kh {ks= ls ugha Fkk] cfYd fganqLrkuh flusek ls Fkk] ml oDRk mnwZ Hkk’kk dk bLRkseky djus okyh fQYEkksa dks fganh fQYEkksa dk uke fn;k x;kA ml nkSjku fQYeksa ds tks fo’k; gkssrs Fks] oks /kkfeZd] ikSjkf.kd] lkekftd eqn~nksa ls lacaf/kr gksrs FksA fdrkc esa ,d lkFk flusek ls lacaf/kr lHkh fo’k;ksa dks idM+us dh dksf”k”k dh xbZ gS] ftlls flusek ds dqN igyq NwVrs utj vkrs gSaA tSls crk;k x;k fd flusek esa ik”oZxk;u dk vkjaHk vkj lh csjy laxhrK us /kwi Nk¡o  mQZ HkkX;pØ ls “kq: dj fn;k FkkA blds vykok bl vksj dksbZ vkSj ppkZ ugha gqbZA bl :Ik esa dgk tk ldrk gS fd fdrkc esa rF;kREkdrk vf/kd gSA ;fn flusek ds fdlh ,d fo’k; ij O;kid tkudkjh pkfg, rks fdrkc ls fujk”kk feysxhA fdrkc esa 60] 70] 80 vkSj 90 ds n”kd esa vkbZ lHkh pfpZr fQYeksa ds fo’k;ksa ij vyx ls ppkZ dh xbZ gS] ij fQYeksa dk foHkktu rdZlaxr <ax ls ugha fd;k x;k yxrk gSA lhu 5 esa lekUrj flusek dh ckr gksrh gS] ftls ubZ ygj dk flusek@uo flusek dk vkanksyu dgk x;k] bl nkSj us fganh flusek dks oSf”od /kjkry ij ,d ubZ Å¡pkbZ nhA ;gka ls “kq: gksrk gS e`.kky lsu] âf’kds”k eq[kthZ] “;ke csusxy] ef.kdkSy] xksfoan fugykuh] vjfoan nslkbZ] egs”k HkV~V] xkSre ?kks’k] dsru esgrk] eqt¶Qj vyh] lbZn fetkZ vkfn fQYedkjksa dk nkSjA ys[kd ds vuqlkj fQYeksa ds fy, 80 dk n”kd iyk;uokn dk n”kd gSA mUgksaus 90 ds n”kd dks flQZ equkQk dekus ds fy, dh xbZ fQYeksa ds fuekZ.k dk n”kd dgk gSA blesa fojks/kkHkk’k ;g gS fd Hkkjr esa flusek dk vkajHk equkQk dh n`f’V ls gh gqvk] ysfdu ml nkSjku Hkh lekftd fQYesa cuh] vkSj yxkrkj curh Hkh jgha] dHkh de dHkh T;knkA tSls 50 ds n”kd esa vkbZ fQYesa paMhnkl] vNwr] vNwr dU;k] nks ch?kk tehu vkfnA ys[kd us lHkh nkSj dh pfpZr fQYeksa dk ftØ fd;k gSA mUgksaus 90 ds n”kd esa lwjt cM+tkR;k] vkfnR; pksiM+k] dju tkSgj dh vkbZ fQYEkksa] dks ubZ :f<+okfnrk ds mn;] eYVhIysDlksa ds mn; ls tksM+dj fn[kk;k gSA tks flusek ds fodkl dks equkQs dh laLd`fr ls tksM+dj ns[kus tSlk gSA ys[kd Hkkjrh; Hkk’kkvksa esa flusek esa mYys[kuh; ;ksxnku nsus okys lHkh {ks=ksa dh iM+rky dh gS elyu caxkyh flusek ij ,d foLr`r ckrphr lhu 6 esa feyrh gSA Hkkjrh; flusek dks oSf”od Qyd ij igpku fnykus okys lR;thr jk; dks dSls Hkqyk;k tk ldrk gSA mudh lHkh fQYeksa ikFksj ikapkyh] vijkftrks] viwj lalkj dks foLrkj iwoZd le>k;k x;k gSA fQj _fROkd ?kVd] e`.kky lsu] cq)nso nkl xqIrk ds fQYeh lalkj ij ckr pyrh gS] ftUgksaus ckaXYkk flusek dks ubZ ÅapkbZ;ka nhaA nf{k.k Hkkjr dh Hkk’kkvksa esa flusek ds fodkl ij lhu 7 gS] ftlesa eq[; :Ik ls ey;kye flusek dh ckr gq;h gS] ckdh {ks=ksa tSls rfey] rsyqxq] dUUkM+ vkfn dh ppkZ ugha dh xbZ gS] tks ckr FkksM+k [kVdrh gSA ey;kyh fQYedkj jkew dk;kZV lkfgR;dkj vkSj fQYe vkykspd FksA ey;kyh fQYedkjksa esa ih HkkLdju] ds ,l lsrqek/kou] , foulsV] th vjfoanu] ,l Vh oklqnsou uk;j] vMwj xksikyd`..ku dh fQYeksa ij O;kid ppkZ gSA HkweaMyhdj.k vkSj fganh flusek ij lhu 8 esa mUgksaus dgk gS fd vc uSfrd vkSj lkekftd ewY;ksa esa if”pehdj.k] vfuokl Hkkjrh; vk/kkfjr fo’k; iz/kku gks x, gSaA mUgksaus fy[kk gS fd HkweaMyhdj.k ds nkSj esa fganh flusek viuk ?kj Hkwy x;k gSA ;g oSf”od cktkj dk va/ksjk igyw gS fd mlus gekjh LFkkuh; igpku dks fclkjus dh “kq:vkr dj nh gS] pkgs lekt esa] pkgs flusek esaA vc fganh flusek dk fuekZ.k vksojlht ekdsZV vkSj eYVhIysDl dYpj dks /;ku esa j[kdj fd;k tkus yxk gSA dqy feykdj dgk tk, rks fdrkc viuh reke lhekvksa ds ckotwn fganh Hkk’kk esa flusek ds fo’k; ij fy[kus vkSj lkspus dks izsfjr djrk gSA

jathrk ljkst
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Tkokgj yky usg: fo”ofo|ky;
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email: sarojranjeeta@gmail.com  

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Somdatta Mandal in conversation with Ajay K Chaubey

Reviews, Vol I, Issue IV
Somdatta Mandal
Somdatta Mandal (SM) is Professor of English at the Department of English and Other Modern European Languages, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan, India. Her areas of interest are contemporary fiction, film and culture studies, Diaspora studies and translation. A recipient of several prestigious awards and fellowships like the Fulbright-Pre-doctoral Fellowship, Fulbright Visiting Teaching Fellowship, Charles Wallace Trust & British Council  Fellowship, Rockefeller Residency Fellowship at Bellagio, Salzburg Seminar Fellowship, Shastri Indo-Canadian Faculty Enrichment Fellowship, she has been published widely both nationally and internationally. She has written two academic books, edited and co-edited more than twenty books and journals, and published scholarly articles and book reviews both in India and abroad. She has received a Sahitya Academy award for translating short fiction and has also been awarded the Meenakshi Mukherjee Memorial Prize 2014 by Indian Association of Commonwealth Literature & Language Studies (IACLALS) for the best scholarly essay published between 2012-2013.

Prof. Mandal spoke to me via e-mail while she was in the US and I was in India on multiple contours of theory, texts and contexts related to diaspora*.

Ajay K Chaubey (AKC): Since Man’s arrival on earth is a consequence of his dispersal from heaven, How far do you agree that man bears the seeds of Diaspora since its genesis?
SM: Whether we believe in the idea that man was actually expelled from heaven or not, it is true that since time immemorial, the nomadic nature of man in earlier times carried with it the urge to migrate. This was because of survival, search for food, and suitable habitation. In the case of the origin of the concept and the etymological meaning of the word ‘diaspora’ of course, we have the mythological story from the Old Testament when the Jews were forcibly thrown out of their homeland and like seeds, they were scattered in different places of Egypt. In their minds, they always nourished the desire to return to their homeland. It was only during the last two decades of the twentieth century that postcolonial scholars and critics started using the term ‘diaspora’ without any religious connotation and use it in a broader sense for people who have undergone transnational migration.

AKC: Is migration of people within their own country regarded as a category of Diaspora? If “yes”. How far? And if “No”. Why not?
SM: Migration is always undertaken for two purposes, either voluntarily for financial reasons or involuntarily due to forced political conditions. In both cases the situation is similar as within the country as well as outside the country. For a large multilingual country like India movement from one state to another and settling down in another part of the country by a particular socio-linguistic group bears with it all the essential tropes that define diasporic existence, namely nostalgia for homeland, bonding within their own community and living in ghetto-like state, trying to maintain contact with root culture through food, clothing, language etc. The refugees from erstwhile East Pakistan who settled in West Bengal after the partition of India still prefer to maintain their own enclaves, language and customs. In recent times novels like Anjum Hasan’s Lunatic in My Head which speaks about the Khasi versus non-Khasi life in Shillong is a good example of an author settling in a different part of the country. Having grown up and lived most of her life there, Anjum Hasan does a brilliant job in grasping the laid-back nerve of the city, something that people over the years have associated Shillong with.

AKC: The pre-colonial diaspora was labour diaspora what Robin Cohen classifies in his magnum opus, Global Diasporas (1997). The ancestors of Naipaul were also sent across black sea in the same pursuit. In what context do you see the migrants and their modus operandi in post-colonial Diaspora? How far postcolonial diaspora differs from the pre-colonial Diaspora?
SM: We all know that after the abolition of slavery in the 19th century, the plantations around the world were in dire need of manual labour and that was when the ‘girmits’ or indentured labour from India (the ancestors of Naipaul for instance) were sent to places like Guyana, West Indies, Fiji, Mauritius and other places. Though not by force, most of these illiterate workforce did not have any idea where they were being taken and they all nurtured the desire to come back after five years when the contract period would be over and after they would be able to amass sufficient amount of money by then. In reality, of course, it never happened and very few of them ever came back. Therefore, the people belonging to this class of labour diaspora along with their descendants suffered from nostalgia for their homeland much more than those who voluntarily went to lead better lives. Many of these girmits considered themselves suffering a period of banishment like Lord Rama in exile and they neither acculturated well in the new environment in which they lived but clung on to their old traditions as much as they could. A House for Mr. Biswas serves as a good example of this. 

As for the voluntary diasporics, though they suffer from occasional pangs of nostalgia for their homeland too, they are much keener to acculturate in the host land as ‘model minorities’. Financial stability and better living conditions deter them from ever returning to their original homeland. For the people belonging to the petro-dollar diaspora, earning money to remit home becomes the main objective of their living in the diaspora and as a result, the demographics of their hometowns have changed significantly. But unable to enjoy the benefits of the new diasporic space, they go on slogging in inhuman conditions and so everything is not always rosy for them.

AKC: What are the factors behind dynamics of Diaspora that has resulted in a progressive journey from labour and victim Diaspora to academic, economic, or technocratic Diaspora?
SM: At the beginning of the twentieth century, Indians wanting to immigrate to the west had to face plenty of problems, as the policies of the governments were not conducive for such migrations. For example, let me mention the tragic Komagata Maru incident when Indians who were British nationals were denied to land in Vancouver in Canada fearing the browning of the nation and were sent back to India to be tortured there by the British administration once again. Later the scenario changed when in 1965 the US government passed the new immigration act and since then there has been a regular stream of white collared professionals entering and settling down in that country. Though they faced discrimination in certain circumstances, their experience can in no way be compared to the people of labour diaspora.

AKC: What type of paradigm shift has been caused by political treaties, compromises, multiple socio-economic deals and Military agreements in diasporic writings?
SM: Though many countries have given permission to people seeking political asylum at different periods of time, the same has not been reflected much in literary writings. Probably, like all refugees or victims who suffered from the trauma of partition, these diasporic individuals prefer to remain silent about their past. We find issues of cross-cultural conflicts/dilemmas especially in areas where difference in generations, gender and sexuality intersect. Needless to say the more recent voluntary diasporic subjects are different from those Indians whose lives were mapped by exile, mass migration and economic emigration.

AKC: During my short span in the UK, I found that Bangladeshi and Pakistani nationals were residing in disguise of Indians. Even, I found many Indian restaurants owned by them.  What is the position of Indian Diaspora as compared to Pakistani and Bangladeshi Diaspora in the West after 9/11 insurgencies?
SM: Belonging to the Indian sub-continent, Bangladeshi and Pakistani diasporic nationals are often clubbed together in the UK as belonging to the South Asian group, of which Indians form the largest contingent. One has to remember here that a sort of racism by the ruling Brits pervades multicultural British society even today. Novels by Hanif Kureishi, Monica Ali, Atima Srivastava, Meera Syal and others amply testify this phenomenon. We have to keep in mind the different nature of migration of these various South Asian groups and the reason for their settling down in the UK. For instance, Bangladeshi persons (then from undivided region of East Bengal) have been going and settling in Britain for quite a long time and they went primarily from Sylhet and Noakhali districts of that country to work as lascars in ships and later settled in the East End district of London. Many of them later took on the job of cooks and ayahs and helped in the flourishing of the restaurant business. As for Indian restaurants run by them, the lure and taste of ‘curry’ and ‘chicken tikka masala’ that entices the British palate is their USP and the Britishers are either unable or not simply bothered to distinguish between genuine and fake identities of the South Asians who run the businesses. Another fact has to be kept in mind. Unlike in the United States, the number of Indians and Pakistani migrants in the UK are much more in number, because these countries were part of the Commonwealth and under the British imperial rule. As far as we can make out, the division of South Asian Indians and Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in Britain is operational more on religious lines, than on nationality. Also a lot of South Asians settled in the UK has undergone multiple migrations after being evicted from some country in Eastern Africa.

AKC: Younger authors are also writing a lot about India like Rushdie and Naipaul but unlike them, they are slightly positive about India. How are they different from the other younger diasporic writers in the perspectives of India?
SM: Examining the themes of exile, identity, longing, displacement, race relations, rootlessness, and ultimately acceptance is the staple stuff of most novels on the diasporic experience. In order to make sense of his present state, the writer revisits the past by taking recourse to memory and imagination. Most diasporic writers feel nostalgic about their homeland. I feel Rushdie and Naipaul are exceptions. In the gifted writers, the cross-cultural conflicts/dilemmas are generally disrupted and complicated in productive ways, especially in areas where differences in generations, gender and sexuality intersect – as in Meera Syal in Britain, Jhumpa Lahiri in the USA. This points to a trend or a pattern in the future of Indian diaspora also. Both Syal and Lahiri write from their own experiences of living abroad as a second-generation immigrant in multicultural society. An Indian by descent, the Kenyan-born, Tanzania-raised, US educated, and a Canadian by citizenship since 1978, M.G. Vassanji is a writer who falls somewhere in between the two categories. Like Neil Bissoondath and Michael Ondaatje, he is an Indian expatriate separated from the subcontinent by generations. Most diasporic writers try to juxtapose their homeland and the hostland in their works. In their fiction the plots and characters usually in some way or the other link India as well as UK or the US. The novels of Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Bharati Mukherjee, Jhumpa Lahiri, or Sunetra Gupta are good examples of such transcultural interface.

AKC: The prevalent conditions of “New Diaspora” are much more different from that of “Old Diaspora”. What difference do you find in both the Diasporas?
SM: The formation of the Indian diaspora according to Amitav Ghosh “is not merely one of the most important demographic dislocations of modern times: it now represents an important force in world culture” and can be classified, according to the critic Sudesh Mishra, as the ‘sugar’ and the ‘masala’ diaspora. There is also a distinction to be made between the old and the new diasporas. “This distinction,” according to Mishra, “is between, on the one hand, the semi-voluntary flight of indentured peasants to the non-metropolitan plantation colonies such as Fiji, Trinidad, Mauritius, South Africa, Malaysia, Surinam, and Guyana, roughly between the years 1830 and 1917; and on the other the late capital or postmodern dispersal of new migrants of all classes to thriving metropolitan centres, such as Australia, the United States, Canada and Britain.” This same classification is termed by other critics as ‘forced diaspora’ and ‘voluntary diaspora’. Another critic and scholar, Vinay Lal, reiterates the same idea by calling it ‘diaspora of labour’ versus ‘diaspora of longing’. For most of the old diasporic writers, there is an unease of the dislocated and the deracinated who either by choice or by compulsion have abandoned home in the country of their birth for a home in their adopted country. For the migrants of choice, on the other hand, the situation is totally different. They prefer to live in a kind of cosmopolitan globalised world where the markers of their borderless state have often to be invented.

AKC: There are many authors like Arundhati Roy, Aravind Adiga,  Jeet Thayil who live in India but they have pen-pictured the “exotic tales” of dark side of India. What is your assessment of this type of writing? (a) Politics for prize-winning (b) desire to seize popularity by being negative about the nation or (c) because of being more realists?
SM: First and foremost, none of them are diasporic writers. Instead, they reside in India. But it is true that almost all Indian English writers wherever they are physically located, along with their publishers, have a latent wish to win some sort of a prize from the western world – be it a Booker, or a Commonwealth or a Nobel. The noted Kannada writer U.R. Ananthamurthy had once remarked, “A lot of new writers who get the kind of attention that Rushdie gives them are writers who write for export. It is a shame that in the whole world only Indian writers in English write for export.” It is true that exoticism  sells. Though India is no longer perceived in the west to be a land of princes and snake charmers and naked fakirs, nevertheless the reality of India at present times is what probably motivates these writers. When Arundhati Roy wrote The God of Small Things in 1997, the theme of the novel highlighted in the dust jacket cover of the New York Random House edition was the caste system in India where the love between a person of a higher caste and an untouchable was the main focus. After all, like any other multinational consumer product book production is also dependent upon marketing hype. Balaram Halwai becoming rich through improper means in The White Tiger is part of the present reality in India. I do not understand why some critics lay blame on Aravind Adiga for being negative about the nation. When a novel like An Obedient Father was published by the diasporic Indian American novelist Akhil Sharma in the United States several years ago and even won a prize, the judges thought that the novelist had given a true picture of India with its dubious politicians and bureaucrats in Delhi. We feel ashamed to admit that the Indian protagonist of the novel was a man who raped his own daughter, kept on living with her, and even attempted to sexually abuse his granddaughter. Even Bharati Mukherjee, who claims to be recognized as a mainstream American novelist, wrote about the reality of a resurgent India of contemporary times with its call-centers and urban problems and sexual abuse of young women in her latest novel Miss New India. She depicted a true picture of the nation as of    now and I don’t feel she was aiming at popularity by being negative about India. In fact she sees the book as a stand-alone novel and last part of her trilogy comprising of Desirable Daughters and The Tree Bride.

AKC: There are many South Asian authors who prefer to settle down in the “other” world rather than in the First world viz. Uma Parameswaran, Vassanji, Mistry, Ondaatje and Shyam Selvadurai in Canada; Suneeta Peres da Costa, Yasmine Gooneratne and Chandani Lokugé, Samantha Sirimanne Hyde in Australia; Amulya Malladi and Tabish Khair in Denmark; Sujata Bhat in Germany; Manjushree Thapa and Taslima Nasrin in India and Shehan Karunatilaka in Singapore. Do you think that that the First Worlds-the UK, the US and France and etc. are not safer in the backdrop of 9/11 attacks in the US, 7/7 in the UK and, of late, Charlie Hebdo attacks in France? Please comment. 
SM: I find this question of yours problematic because as far as my knowledge goes writers who have settled down and live in Canada are considered part of the First World. You cannot call it ‘other.’ It is true migrants have been more suspect to state vigilance after the terrorist attacks in events like 9/11in the US and 7/7 in UK, but we should be very careful about not falling into the trap of essentialism. Each individual South Asian writer has a different reason and trajectory for settling in an alien country and so we cannot generalize. For example, many of them went along with their family for better economic prospects, like Yasmine Gooneratne from Sri Lanka who went to Australia or Romesh Gunesekera who went and settled in Britain after the Civil War in his native country.  Some went for academic reasons (Tabish Khair for example, who went from his native Bihar to Denmark, Amitava Kumar from Bihar to the United States), whereas Taslima Nasrin had to flee her homeland Bangladesh (and now even India) because of religious fundamentalism, and so on.

AKC: What role does Bollywood construct in gaining prevalence abroad and re-uniting the Indian diaspora at the global forum? Do you think that Indian Cinema is more accepted in the West than any other film industry of neighbouring countries of India?
SM: By its sheer number of films produced per year, Bollywood happens to be the largest film industry in this subcontinent and thus overshadows films produced by neighbouring countries of India. Bollywood films are watched by an overwhelming number of South Asians both at home and abroad. Of course the diaspora watches these products differently than the home audience. I feel this difference is marked in two particular areas. First is the spirit of nationalism that is inculcated in many films where dying for the nation becomes a heroic act. This even cuts across religious lines. The second and more significant issue is the interest showed in the west for queerness in Bollywood films where narratives about queerness in the Indian diaspora are almost upbeat and use the acceptance of queerness as a token for entry. For example, Karan Johar’s films Dostana and Kal Ho Na Ho, set among the diaspora community in America, present the possibility of joy, hope, and acceptance for an Indian gay man. In contrast, Bombay Talkies, Johar’s only film addressing queerness within India, deals with the same issues while at home, shows only the possibility of a violent confrontation with society, represented by parents, followed by a life of loneliness, pain and lies while the spirit of India looks on and sings songs of mourning for them. All of the recent films set within India with a prominent gay story line have had similar bleak endings. With the advancement of technology and simultaneous release of a Bollywood film in any part of the world on the same day, the people of the Indian diaspora feel more connected with the homeland now. Unlike earlier times they do not have to wait for pirated copies of Bollywood blockbusters to reach them much later.

AKC: When you are on tour to abroad or settled there for a long time, what do you think of your homeland? Do you realize the contours of Rushdie proliferated by him in his tour de force, Imaginary Homelands (1991)?    
SM: The critic Avtar Brah in Cartographies of Diaspora emphasises on the homing desire and the desire for the homeland as recurrent themes in diasporic writing. Accordingly, she identifies four stages in the process of assimilation in the hostland. These are the tourist phase, the culture shock phase, the conformist phase and the assimilation phase. For Rushdie, the role of memory, what he terms as ‘Indias of the mind’ remains the most significant criteria. The other metaphor that he uses is that of the pieces of a broken mirror, parts of which are lost. So, in spite of having a desire for the homeland, when one is settled abroad for a long time, the memory keeps on fading. As Rushdie has put it in Imaginary Homelands, the position of ‘the exile or immigrant’ is one of ‘profound uncertainties’ The diasporic person is at home neither in the west nor in India and is thus ‘unhomed’ (Homi Bhabha) in the most essential sense of the term. Thus the concept and interpretation of ‘home’ becomes vital in all kinds of diasporic writing.

AKC: To what extent do you agree that present economic and political fluidity has converted the “nowhere presence” of Diaspora into “omnipresence”?
SM: The way our Indian government woos her diaspora population by observing the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas every year and by offering sops like PIO and OCI cards and by asking them to invest in the country speaks a lot about their financial stability in general. On the other hand, the overt presence of politicians of Indian origin in both the UK and the US also speak a lot about their ‘omnipresence’. They are now a serious power to reckon with.

AKC: What role has South Asian Diaspora played in deconstructing the Orientalist view of the Occident?
SM: I believe that South Asian diasporic writers see a new phase of neo-orientalism in recent fiction. For example, Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland or Neel Mukherjee’s The Lives of Others where large sections of the novels are based on Kolkata fits in this sort of agenda.

AKC: Thank you, Prof. Mandal! It’s an enlightening discourse not only for me but also for the pan-Indian scholars and academicians.
SM: Welcome Ajay. It’s worthwhile for me too.

Ajay K Chaubey is Assistant Professor of English in the Department of Sciences & Humanities at the National Institute of Technology, Uttarakhand, India. His has recently published his maiden academic work, V S Naipaul: An Anthology of 21st Century Criticism (Atlantic, 2015). His another volume on Salman Rushdie is under publication from the Atlantic itself. He has co-edited two volumes on the Literature of the Indian Diaspora—Transnational Passages: An Anthology of Diaspora Criticism (Vol. I) and Discursive Passages: An Anthology of Diaspora Criticism (Vol. II)—under publication from the Yking Books, Jaipur. He has attended, participated and presented research papers in the conferences and symposia held in India and overseas including York St. John University, York; Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham and University of Leicester, Leicester (UK) during June 2014. He is also associated with the preparation of syllabi and academic policymaking as he is also the Officiating Dean (Student Welfare) in his institute. He is a Life Member of the research organizations viz. IACLALS, AESI and Sahitya Academy, New Delhi.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

The Mirage of Love by Lady Diana/ Quills Ink Private Limited

Reviews, Vol I, Issue IV

The novel effectively deconstructs the trendy cosmopolitan perception about love marriages being an egalitarian relationship between men and women. It is generally acceptable by a section of the so called educated and financially well-off people in our contemporary times that love marriages are a symbol of being progressive and modern. On the contrary love as an emotion is equally guided by the repressive and gender insensitive nature of our society. Though, it is equally significant to define that a love relationship is the first democratic step by a person in our society when it transgresses the boundaries of caste, class, religion, heteronormativity and ethnicity in our society. 

The protagonist in the novel gets struck by this revelation that even though she had asserted her right to choose a partner, but she has fallen back into another institution of oppression by consummating her love bond into the Hindu marriage fold. The codes and norms she is obliged to follow are not just repressive, but are ways to discipline her back into a symbol of a "good woman". It is not just the female protagonist who is the victim in the novel, but the worst of all are the other women characters who being forged and moulded into the roles of the godmother, the mother-in-law, maid servant, and women in the neighbourhoods who instead of understanding, and at least showing solidarity with each other are constantly trying to monitor each other, constantly reminding each other to follow the herd. Thus, the Hindu patriarchal structure is getting more consolidated when the women themselves are unable to forge unity to break it. The institution of marriage is not just preserved through traditions, but it perpetuates itself through the oppressed and thus reproduces the conditions of its own existence. The author wonderfully captures this decapitating dilemma of the protagonist who seeks to move out from the domestic prison and pursue her desires to become financially independent rather than depending on the mercy of her husband. He on the other hand has brought her as a trophy to his home winning her love, and is proudly committing infidelity blaming his wife for not entertaining him after marriage. He just sees her as an object to give him pleasure and entertain him all his life. 

Also, when she finds another male companionship in her life she is faced with the same conflict of culminating her companionship into another marriage, and thus falling into the same structure of existence. Diana has thus offered a way to her protagonist to denounce the structure itself and asserted through her protagonist that love does not necessarily require a tag of being a wife of someone in conventional sense; rather it requires a constant struggle to build an egalitarian companionship between the lovers. It is not just the fight of one individual woman in the novel, but rather the struggle of "half the sky" to democratise the society. The novel through its conclusion subtly suggests that the only way towards a free dawn is to demolish the structure rather than reforming it which has been the problem of the mainstream feminist struggle in India which has set the limits of dissent and is regulated by the overarching political and economic structure of the country. 

Reviewed by Sourabh Kumar
Assistant Professor, Department of English, Ram Lal Anand College, University of Delhi

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Repudiating Disabilities: Making Whoopees of ‘Unimpaired Selves’ in Margarita with a Straw

Reviews, Vol I, Issue IV

The trials and tribulations of life entail us to counter them bravely. But do we emerge a champ every time confronting both the simple and arduous deals of our day to day lives. Sometimes we succumb outrightly; at other times we knock ourselves out completely but fall just a little short of hitting the bull’s eye. Few other times, we win in cracking the code and registering a brilliant triumph. Truly, life is a mixed bag, there are moments when we are laid down by our disabilities which may not be real but chimerical ones etched deeply on our mind’s roster; disabilities as they say are in the mind only.

We all act incompetent many a time but being human we tend to hide our shortcomings under the garb of formidable situations and ill-starred times. Still, are we sensitive enough to treat at an equal footing, the ones with disabilities writ well on their bodies- the ones whom the world favours with the tag of ‘differently abled,’ and feels relieved at having practised a deemed altruistic deed by re-christening them so. The lesser known reality is that they are not at variance from the able-bodied ones in their dreams and desires; and are equally entitled to comply with their longings and inclinations.

The movie, Margarita with a Straw (2015) contemplates on the leitmotif of ‘Unimpaired Selves’ implicit in the not so able-bodied ones, manifested through the character of vivacious Laila, the protagonist of the movie. The charming and creative nonconformist Laila deconstructs all radical notions of a young girl with cerebral palsy. Though wheelchair bound, she otherwise is just like any other exuberant teenage girl who does not allow any physical impediments to come in the way of her adventurous student lifestyle. Laila does not permit her physical disability to meddle with her love life.

The movie seeks inspiration from the book, One Little Finger (2011) a memoir of a leading advocate of disability rights, Malini Chib who is herself inflicted with cerebral palsy. The   movie as well as the book on which it is based calls for the exigency of a receptive and inclusive world which cherishes and reinforces the rights of the ‘differently abled’ to live fulfilled and wholesome lives. Malini Chib takes a dig at the contradictory standards of society in this regard:  “It is crazy but society on one hand thinks that disabled people should lead normal lives, but when it comes to the crunch of having an intimate relationship with a person who is disabled, they get scared and pretend that the problem is not theirs.” And she is quite genuine in her surmise that being both disabled and a woman is a ‘double disadvantage.’

Both Malini Chib and Laila Kapoor cruise past many such yardsticks, transgress from the outmoded traditions and trespass the antiquated social norms at every rung to lead ‘no strings attached’ unconditional lives. In defiance of her sickness and physical limitations, Malini Chib indulges in quite a lot of globe-trotting, and pleasantly traverses the boundaries between nation-states both for tourist amusements and academic pursuits. The cathartic endowment for heartbroken Laila too (on being spurned by the lead singer of her band) heralds in the guise of a full scholarship from New York University for a Creative Writing Program. The expanse and plenitude of the Big Apple sets the stage for Laila to discover love in an exceptional way.

Margarita with a Straw is not a conventional art house drab movie with spotlight on various predicaments of disability. It is a coming of age movie that gets past the disabilities and takes a flyer of treating people with disabilities as normal. It hinges on the sexuality of differently- abled people and insinuates without getting preachy: to treat as normal the libidinous and emotional urges of the differently-abled. The film manages to audaciously venture into the forbidden spaces of bisexuality too.

On a buoyant, howbeit a defining note, the title of the movie rehearses another tip on equality by suggesting that the physical incapacities of people need not disavow them from the extravagance of raising a toast to celebrate and; exhilarate themselves by sipping on margarita, what if with a straw. Summing-up in words of Shonali Bose, the director of the movie: “The film deeply talks about passing the prejudice and making a parallel line for equality. Let’s move ahead, and look at these people as humans.”

- Reviewed by Manjinder Kaur Wratch 
Kaur is a recipient of Maulana Azad National Fellowship and a researcher working for her doctoral degree on Partition literature. She has made many presentations at various national and international conferences and has also contributed research papers for many journals-national as well as international. Earlier she has served as Faculty English Language and Literature in various leading institutes of the country. For her M.Phil dissertation she worked on the translated in English works of the legendary Punjabi and Hindi author, Amrita Pritam. Her recent stopover being reviewing literary works and penning homilies on the arty-crafty realm of ‘substance cinema.’