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First published in Marathi in 1966, this unique novella in free verse tells an age-old story: that of a woman’s deep desire to be a mother
Setting out life as a game in which the moves are predetermined, and yet where rules exist only to be twisted, perhaps negotiated, sometimes even changed, Anuradha Vaidya deftly engages the reader in a sort of play, suggesting a joining of the dots, a connecting of line endings that lead the reader deeper into the story.
As the story traces a relationship that begins with unquestioning love that, over time, transforms into tension and distance, the reader is encouraged to linger, or jump back and forth across stanzas and lines, to navigate, interpret, and savour the beauty of the expression, both in the turn of phrase and the coinage of new words.
The sheer beauty of the almost allegorical imagery of life as a game played on the worldly board by people who are actually pawns, marks every page of this poetic narrative.
A Dalit, a Buddhist and a feminist: Urmila Pawar's self-definition as all three identities informs her stories about women who are brave in the face of caste oppression, strong in the face of family pressures, defiant when at the receiving end of insult, and determined when guarding their interests and those of their sisters. Using the classic short story form with its surprise endings to great effect, Pawar brings to life strong and clever women who drive the reader to laughter, anger, tears or despair. Her harsh, sometimes vulgar and hard- hitting language subverts another stereotype - that of the soft-spoken woman writer. Pawar's protagonists may not always be Dalit, and the mood not always one of anger, but caste is never far from the context and informs the subtext of each story. As critic Eleanor Zelliot notes, there is 'tucked in every story, a note about a Buddhist vihara or Dr Ambedkar.... All her stories come from the Dalit world, revealing the great variety of Dalit life now.'
"The book gives a wide range of material on one of the important struggles of feminism in India." -- Gail Omvedt, The Hindu
This multi-layered and thought-provoking collection offers a new and alternative view to the cosy images of motherhood that we so often assume. Motherhood for the writers in this collection is by no means a simple state but involves searching questions about identity, writing, one's place in society - the very nature of the self.
Questions of adoption, childlessness, surrogacy, bereavement and abuse figure alongside poems and stories that explore the tender, the funny, the uplifting aspects of this most vital relationship, between children and their mothers at any age. Contributors include: Manju Kapur, Shinie Antony, Jai Arjun Singh, Jahnavi Barua, Meena Alexander, Mridula Koshy, Kishwar Desai, Shashi Deshpande, Bulbul Sharma, Tishani Doshi, Shalini Sinha, Jahnavi Barua, Smriti Lamech, Nisha Susan, Humra Quraishi, Sarojini N., Vrinda Marwah, Sarita Mandanna, Anita Roy, and others. Published in association with Save the Children India
"It’s to novelist Jaishree Misra’s credit that she, as editor of this volume, was able to draw out so many different voices, some highly reputed, on a rarely-explored theme." -- Smruti Koppikar, Hindustan Times