Illuminati :A Transnational Journal of Literature, Language and Culture Studies

Illuminati :A Transnational Journal of Literature, Language and Culture Studies – VI

  • Illuminati :A Transnational Journal of Literature, Language and Culture Studies – VI
  • Midpoint
  • I n t r o d u ction


A Transnational Journal of Literature, Language and Culture Studies


ISSN No. 2229-4341

Illuminati A Transnational Journal of Literature, Language and Culture Studies

Volume 6 – 2015-2016

Chief Editor

Neeru Tandon



Eiko Ohira is Professor of English and Assistant to the President at Tsuru University in Japan. She has worked on British fiction of the 19th and 20th centuries, with particular reference to Wuthering Heights and A Passage to India. She is the author of A Study of Wuthering Heights (1993). Her research interest for the last 14 years is I ndo- Pa kistani partition novels and women’s writing, and her book on Indian writing in English will be published in 2015. Recent publications include essays on Rabindranath Tagore’s writing in English and Japanese writing in English in the early 20th century.

From Editor’s Desk


Literature of the New Millennium

“I found this to be one of the most powerful literary experiences I’ve ever had. For anyone who gives a whit about writing or the human condition, New Millennium Writings should be required reading.”

—Kane S. Latranz

“By the way, I really love NMW. The content is some of the most

‘rockin’ ‘awesome’ stuff that isn’t shy and crosses boundaries, pushes the envelope, winks at the nun—you know what I mean. I read LOTS of literary journals, and honestly NMW is up there in my top 5.”

—Shela Morrison, Gabriola Island, British Columbia

I feel privileged to offer the Sixth edition of ILLUMINATI, focusing on

Literature of New Millennium, containing articles of academic criticism that

explore the various issues, questions and debates raised by the contemporary literature. This special issue was designed to help the readers (research scholars in particular) in assessing and formulating their point of view about the bright possibilities and dark contour of literature written in the last one and a half decade. Contemporary writings mainly deal with various issues: alternative sexuality (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender), Crime fiction, Chick lit, Campus Novel, Short story, Graphic novels, Diaspora novels, postcolonial novels and feminist novels. It also contains plays written and translated into English dealing with the social issues like hunger, transgender, eunuchs, Gay and Lesbian, Crime, etc.


I admit that it was not possible to assimilate all distinguish literary trends and paradigms in this one volume, but I am sure that through it scholars will be in a better place to identify the changing face of the contemporary literature.

The 12 articles in the volume examine the issues like Japanese Immigrant Women, Broken family, postcolonial dilemmas, New women in chicklit. Hindi short stories, essays, campus novel, theme of identity crisis, etc. Article by Dr. Sudhir K. Arora titled “Indian Poetry in English in the New Millennium: A Tour” is a must to go through, if you have least interest in development of Indian English Poetry. Research article on English language by Dr. G.A. Ghanshyam, “Revitalizing the English Classroom” gives food for thought.

Besides insightful articles, there is an interview followed by three poems and five book reviews.

I have realized that one emerging genre-often called interactive literature, or new electronic literature breaks the bonds of linearity and stasis imposed by paper. It is because in this form the reader can interact with it. He is not a passive entity, rather he becomes the partial writer. Such prominent writers as William Dickey, Thomas M. Disch, and Robert Pinsky have tried their hand at interactivity for example when you go through Victory Garden, a hypertext fiction by Stuart Moulthrop you find a different experience. By the process of choosing which links to follow, readers determine the order—and therefore also the contexts—in which episodes of a story or poem appear. “They assemble their own versions of a fictional world in much the same way that they piece together unique, personal versions of the real world from the fragments of their own experience. The text becomes a real environment that the reader can interact with.”

Happy Reading!



table<>. <>. |<>.
bq. Nagai Kaf and Okina Ky in and the Literary Portrayal of Japanese Immigrant Women in the U.S.



| <>. |<>.
bq. Ikuko Torimoto


| <>. |<>.
bq. Indian Poetry in English in the New Millennium: A Tour

Sudhir K. Arora

bq. 19

| <>. |<>.
bq. Revitalizing the English Classroom: Are We Ready for the Change?



| <>. |<>.
bq. G.A. Ghanshyam


| <>. |<>.
bq. Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland: A Narrative Pattern of a

Broken Family



| <>. |<>.
bq. Binod Mishra


| <>. |<>.
bq. Postcolonial Dilemmas in Laurence’s This Side Jordan

Neera Singh

bq. 67

| <>. |<>.
bq. New Millenium Women in Chick lit

bq. 75

| <>. |<>.
bq. Neeta Shukla


| <>. |<>.
bq. The Subversion of Panopticism in Bankim Chandra

Chatterjee’s Anandamath



| <>. |<>.
bq. Panchali Mukherjee


| <>. |<>.
bq. Forty Rules of Love: Mundane or Divine?

Shyam Samtani

bq. 94

| <>. |<>.
bq. Translation: A Social Fact and Practice (Hindi Short Stories by Ravi Nandan Sinha)



| <>. |<>.
bq. Jayshree Singh


| <>. |<>.
bq. The Essence of Worldliness: A Reading of Rita Joshi’s


| <>. |<>.
bq. Campus Novel The Awakening: A Novella in Rhyme

bq. 112

| <>. |<>.
bq. Swati Rai




table<>. <>. |<>.
bq. Making Essays Palatable: An Analysis of Ramesh K. Srivastava’s Views and Expressions in Read, Write and Teach: Essays…



| <>. |<>.
bq. Smita Das


| <>. |<>.
bq. Theme of Identity Crisis and Self Discovery in


| <>. |<>.
bq. Bharti Mukherjee’s Desirable Daughters

bq. 131

| <>. |<>.
bq. Shraddha


| <>. |<>.
bq. INTERVIEWS: Neeru Tandon in Conversation with


| <>. |<>.
bq. Robert Masterson

bq. 140

| <>. |<>.
bq. Neeru Tandon


| <>. |<>.
bq. BOOK REVIEW: The Mahabharat Quest:


| <>. |<>.
bq. The Alexander Secret

bq. 145

| <>. |<>.
bq. Written by Christopher C Doyle, Reviewed by Supriya Shukla


| <>. |<>.
bq. BOOK REVIEW: Two-Minute Silence

bq. 149

| <>. |<>.
bq. Written by C.L. Khatri, Reviewed by Rajendraprasad Shinde


| <>. |<>.
bq. BOOK REVIEW: Surviving in My World: Growing


| <>. |<>.
bq. Up Dalit in Bengal

bq. 153

| <>. |<>.
bq. Written by Manohar Mouli Biswas, Reviewed by


| <>. |<>.
bq. Jaydeep Sarangi


| <>. |<>.
bq. BOOK REVIEW: Scion of Ikshvaku

bq. 155

| <>. |<>.
bq. Written by Amish Tripathi, Reviewed by Nivedita Tandon


| <>. |<>.
bq. BOOK REVIEW: Panacea for All What Ails India—


| <>. |<>.
bq. Making India Awesome

bq. 158

| <>. |<>.
bq. Written by Chetan Bhagat, Reviewed by Lalima Bajpai


| <>. |<>.
bq. POEM: Death—The Living Truth

bq. 161

| <>. |<>.
bq. KumKum Ray


| <>. |<>.
bq. POEM: Heart o Art

bq. 163

| <>. |<>.
bq. Jeffrey Herrick


| <>. |<>.
bq. POEM: Trust Me

bq. 166


JAPAN was still in a period of national isolation (1639-1854) during the Tokugawa shogunate, whereas California, which became a state in 1850, already was attracting immigrants from all over the world. The California Gold Rush (1848-1855) marked the beginning of the history of Asian immigration to the U.S.: Chinese coolies—many of them against their will—arrived in North America, the so-called “land of opportunity.”

On June 8, 1869, the first contingent of six Japanese immigrants arrived in Gold Hill near Coloma, California, under the leadership of John Henry Schnell, a German soldier of fortune and an ardent follower of Matsudaira Katamori, the last feudal Lord of the Aizu Domain. The Pollack Pines Press Congressional Record mentions that the Schnell party arrived at San Francisco aboard the side-wheeler China of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company on May 27, 1869. These Japanese pioneers proceeded to Sacramento by riverboat and then by horse and wagon to Gold Hill, where John Henry Schnell bought 160 acres of land for $5,000.00 from Charles M. Graner. In the fall of 1869, sixteen more Japanese followed (including It Okei, nursemaid to the Schnell household, which consisted of Matsu and Kuni). The colonists brought with them silk cocoons, 50,000 three- year old Kuway Trees (of the Mulberry family) for silk farming, tea plants and seeds, grape seedlings, five-foot long bamboo roots, and sapling wax trees. The colonists hoped to transform the arid California soil in order to grow tea and silk cultures, treasured in their native Japan. Okei was brought to the Wakamatsu Colony by Sakurai Matsunosuke, a middle-aged former samurai from Aizu-Wakamatsu, who arranged for her passage from Japan to serve as a nursemaid in the household of the Schnells several months after their daughter Mary’s birth. In 1870, after the Wakamatsu

Nagai Kaf and Okina Ky in and the Literary Portrayal of Japanese

Colony failed, its members disbanded. Some stayed in the U.S., but we do not know what happened to most of them. Okei stayed at Gold Hill even after most of the colonists had left, hoping that one day in a not too distant future, someone would come to get her; sadly, the following year, in 1871, she died from malaria and never saw her home country again.

The Meiji government was the first to authorize emigrants, known as Kanyaku Imin literally, “government contracted Japanese immigrants,” to travel to Hawaii, a practice that began in 1885 and ended in 1894. As a consequence of terminating the Kanyaku Imin program, the Japanese government lost control over the Japanese immigration population; government-licensed private agencies soon took over the recruiting of Japanese immigrants, and a large number of self-contracted immigrants started arriving in Hawaii. After 1895, one can see a rapid increase of the number of Japanese emigrants to Hawaii, and before long they began arriving on the American West Coast. For the next thirty years, the Japanese population in the United States steadily grew, reaching a peak in the early 1920s. But, by 1924, it began to decline rapidly. Looking at the evolution of the number of Japanese immigrants in Hawaii and on the Pacific Coast during the periods 1885-1907 and 1908-1924 reveals the evolution of Japanese immigration and its relationship with such factors as the 1908 Gentlemen’s Agreement, various land laws, as well as immigration acts and laws periodically enforced during this period until the Japanese Exclusion Act was enacted in 1924.

Japanese emigrated to the U.S. to find work and to make a better life for themselves and their children. Japanese were willing to engage in manual labor at near-subsistence wages. Japanese men were employed as bellboys in hotels, as housekeepers, and as manual laborers on the railroads, for example. Many Japanese men brought their families with them; unlike Chinese women immigrants, many Japanese women could enter the U.S. with their husbands, as family members. However, most single Japanese men worked as laborers in the United States and did not have enough money to go back to Japan to find a wife, so they got married to a so-called picture bride. Exchanging pictures with their bride-to-be in Japan through a proxy, who also arranged to have their marriage registered in Japan, permitted the husband to bring his new wife to the United States. In those years—twice a month—women from the Orient, (specifically Japan) would disembark, oftentimes provoking unfavorable reactions among Americans.

Nagai Kaf and Okina K~~y in and the Literary P~~ortrayal of Japanese

Anti-Japanese protests had escalated every year since 1900 and many new anti-Japanese movements were organized. The first Gentlemen’s Agreement in 1908 prohibited the immigration of males as laborers; however, the parents, wives, and children of laborers already in the United States could remain, as could laborers who were already working in the United States. However, the 1913 Alien Land Law act prevented ownership of land by “aliens ineligible to citizenship.” Japanese (and other Asian) immigrants were prohibited from becoming naturalized citizens, but there was still hope for their children born in the United States to become citizens. Therefore, since the 1908 Gentlemen’s Agreement, the number of single Japanese males looking for a wife from Japan, using the traditional Japanese practice of meeting and marrying through pictures, “ Shashin Kekkon,” escalated. New brides arriving in the United States soon became known as picture brides. Since Americans believed in dating and marriage based on love, celebrated in a church ceremony, most viewed the Japanese practice as immoral. However, Japanese men in the United States had virtually no chance of meeting eligible women, and the Japanese government argued that arranged marriages created harmonious households in Japan and that Americans should respect cultural differences. The practice continued with thousands of picture brides arriving, whom white Californians increasingly viewed as a threat to their control over a growing Japanese immigrant population.

On October 26-30 and November 1, 1915, on the first page of the Nichi Bei, Yamazaki Hokusui published an essay in six parts titled Shashin Kekkon Mondai (Problems with Picture Brides). His October 29 article included statistics on the number of picture brides who had arrived in San Francisco: in 1912 (879), 1913 (625), and 1914 (768). Here, consider that the total number of Japanese males in the United States in 1914 was

37,221: in California 31,676; in Utah, 1,445; in Arizona, 473; in Nevada

569; and in Colorado 3,058. The total number of Japanese children in

1914 was 5,549 boys and 5,279 girls: in California (boys 5,362, girls

5,087), in Utah (boys 64, girls 48), in Arizona (boys 10, girls 11), in Nevada (boys 6, girls 6), Colorado (boys 107, girls 127); and the total number of births in those states were 1,145 boys and 1,122 girls (Yamazaki Hokusui, Nichi Bei (The Japanese American News) Oct. 29, 1915, 1).

Many Japanese women joined their husbands, living in one of the early West Coast settlements, a formative stage in the process of cultural transformation or cultural adjustment to America, which all immigrants

Nagai Kaf and Okina Ky in and the Literary Portrayal of Japanese

went through. However, the evolution of Japanese women immigrants to the U.S. West Coast begins with the history of the Wakamatsu Colony at Gold Hill, where the grave of a young Japanese girl named Okei stands today as a solitary reminder of the past. Gradually, of course, increased immigration from the four corners of the world led to the formation of a hybrid culture very evident today in places, such as Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. However, until recently, scholars studying the lives of immigrants were primarily interested in the life of male immigrants, whose numbers were far greater. The experience of women, to the extent that it was described at all, typically, was told from a male point of view, as evident in two novelists I will consider next.

During my research on Japanese immigrants on the American West

Coast, I discovered the extraordinary life story of Okina Ky in (1888-

1973), which present not only his own life story but also the life of Japanese immigrants on the West Coast. While Okina shared many common experiences with his peers who crossed the Pacific to look for a better future in the United States, his life took a different direction. For ambitious young Japanese like Okina, Japanese-American newspapers became the most valuable vehicle of communication available in which to express personal opinions on important social issues and, of course, to describe everyday life in their community, thereby making newspaper articles an invaluable source of information for scholars. Okina became incredibly productive in this regard, publishing numerous articles, critical essays, and novellas under the pen name of Okina Rokkei (occasionally Okina Rokkei-Sennin). His works also appeared almost daily in such major West Coast newspapers as the Nichi Bei (The Japanese American News), the Shin Sekai (The New World), and the Taihoku Nipp (The Taihoku Daily News).

Specifically, I will look at his portrayal of women in the Japanese immigrant community in the early twentieth century. However, Okina was not the only writer to give a literary account of women’s life, which was every bit as tough as men’s, if not more so. But, in his many descriptions of women, Okina, just like his contemporaries, for example, the novelist Nagai Kaf (1879-1959), who, in his novel, Amerika Monogatari (American Stories), nevertheless adopts a sympathetic point of view, tends to subject women to mostly negative stereotypes (waitress, prostitute, picture bride, run-away wife). Here, I would like to examine how Nagai Kaf and Okina

Nagai Kaf and Okina K~~y in and the Literary P~~ortrayal of Japanese

Ky in’s stories and memoirs portray Japanese immigrant women and show how they consistently portray a certain type of woman in a negative light.

Nagai Kaf and Okina Ky in both traveled to the U.S. and describe America in their literary works. Nagai Kaf , who went on to become one of the most important modern Japanese writers, lived in Tacoma and Seattle but also in the Midwest, in Chicago and Kalamazoo, Michigan. He became a student at Kalamazoo College, then traveled east, living in Pennsylvania and New York between 1903 and 1907. His well-known memoir titled Amerika Monogatari is a detailed and gripping account of his American odyssey. Nagai spent a total of four years in the U.S. His journey began at the age of twenty-three and lasted for four years; needless to say, he was not a teenager but was older and maybe more mature than the average Japanese immigrant, who traveled to the U.S. on a student visa. He left New York and continued to France, which apparently had been his primary destination all along.

As I stated above, there is not much literature dealing with the lives of Japanese Americans, particularly Issei women or Japanese-born women in the immigrant community during the early immigration period. In addition, although many Japanese women traveled to the U.S., few of them wrote about life in America, whether in Japanese or in English.

I am interested in how male writers portrayed women in immigrant society, and I will focus on Japanese women on the North American continent at the turn of the century. By looking at Nagai Kaf ’s journey to the U.S. and using his Amerika Monogatari, as well as several literary works by Okina Ky in, who happened to be in the U.S. around the same time and who lived in the very same cities, I hope to promote a better understanding of the life of immigrant women. Both Nagai and Okina wrote novels about immigrant society and the life of Japanese people in the U.S., but their experiences, though apparently similar, were really quite different.

Nagai Kaf ’s father, Nagai Ky ichir , was a scholar, bureaucrat, and successful businessman, who visited Europe on government business and later worked for the shipping company Nippon Y sen. Nagai was his oldest son, and he was expected to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a bureaucrat.

In 1898, Nagai Kaf began writing short stories under the guidance of a popular novelist, Hirotsu Ry r (1861-1928). In 1899, he helped write and stage a Rakugo (a comic story). At around the same time, he dropped out of

Nagai Kaf and Okina Ky in and the Literary Portrayal of Japanese

the Tokyo Foreign Language School. In 1899, he began publishing short stories. In 1901, he worked briefly as a newspaper reporter and then began to study French. He was interested in the culture of the Edo period and, as Iriye Mitsuko writes, “immersed himself in the lifestyle of a typical late Edo dilettante” (Iriye ix); he took shakuhachi (bamboo flute) lessons, visited the Yanagibashi geisha quarter (the red light district in Tokyo), and frequented Kabuki theaters. As Edward Seidensticker mentions in his book titled Kaf the Scribbler, “he was sent to the United States [because] his father had given up hope of making a bureaucrat of him, and had decided that a degree from an American university might start him on a commercial career” (Seidensticker 18).

Around the same time, Nagai Kaf also became interested in French literature and devoured many of the French naturalist Émile Zola’s novels (which he read in translation). His novel titled Yume no Onna (The Woman of the Dream) was published in 1903 and told the story of a prostitute; the work is very “Zolaesque” and reminiscent of Zola’s masterpiece, Nana. As Edward Seidensticker writes, when Kaf first appeared on the literary scene, he was called an anti-Naturalist because he never could bring himself to admit that flat, seemingly passionless and objective reports ought to be the ultimate goal of writers of fiction (Seidensticker 14-15). But then the categories used in Japanese literary history are sometimes quite curious, since essentially European schools of thought were imported piecemeal and never consistently applied. Kaf ’s most famous statement about literary naturalism can be found in the epilogue to his second story: “There can be no doubt that a part of man is beast…. He has built up religious and moral concepts from customary practices and from the circumstances in which he has found himself, and now at the end of long discipline, he has come to give the darker side of his nature, namely sin” (Seidensticker 14). Such a statement suggests that Nagai Kaf did have some sympathy for literary naturalism, which holds that man is a prisoner of social forces beyond his control; however, as anyone who has read his collected works knows, Nagai Kaf ’s literary characters are not all as powerless as the people who make up the world of Zola’s multi-volume frescos of life in late nineteenth-century France, the cycle of novels titled Les Rougon-Maquart. Nor does the narrator explore the life story of his characters in the same depth as Zola. By comparison, Nagai Kaf ’s point of view is superficial and almost dilettantish. Zola’s stated goal was to improve society by exposing its faults; nowhere does Nagai Kaf express a similar didactic position.

Nagai Kaf and Okina K~~y in and the Literary P~~ortrayal of Japanese

In September 1903, Nagai Kaf departed for the U.S.; he was one of the fortunate young Japanese who came from a privileged family background, and he had both wealthy patrons in the U.S. and financial support from his parents. Nagai Kaf arrived in Seattle and settled in nearby Tacoma. He quickly wrote his first story, in November. In 1904, he sent it to Japan, where it was published in a magazine the following January. In October of the same year, the Furuya-sh ten Trading Company, Tacoma branch office, hired him. Next, in November, he moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan, and enrolled at Kalamazoo College, a well-known and distinguished liberal arts institution. He wrote another story, titled Okano Ue (Atop the Hill), in December. He left Kalamazoo in 1905, staying in Pennsylvania before heading to New York City. He needed to save money to go to France and found a small job at the Japanese Consulate; later he also worked for the Yokohama Specie Bank. During his years in the U.S., his fourteen short stories were published in various magazines in Japan. He left for France in July 1907 and went first to Lyon. Upon returning to Japan in 1908, he published a collection of short stories under the title Amerika Monogatari (American Stories). He also published Furansu Monogatari (French Stories) in 1909. The translator of Amerika Monogatari, Iriye Mitsuko, states that “no such work had ever been published in Japan” (Iriye xvii) and that this work presented a novel view of life in America, which retains its charm even today.

This collection of short stories opens with Funab Yobanashi (Night Talk in a Cabin), recounting how the narrator boarded a ship bound for America in Yokohama harbor. The story is cast in typical autobiographical form but uses various framing techniques to bring in other, sometimes quite colorful characters who tell the actual story. The narrator simply sets the stage for them to tell their stories and writes in a modern style typical of the second half of the nineteenth century, which seeks to create the illusion that characters are perfectly natural and unaffected.

The story just mentioned is a good example of this technique. The narrator makes friends on board. One stormy night, he invites them to his cabin for drinks. As they get to know each other, one of these new friends, Yanagida, tells the story of his life. After graduating from university, he was hired by a company and transferred to Australia. When he returned to Japan he never doubted that he was highly valued and could obtain a desirable position based on his experience abroad; however, he was assigned a translation job at the head office and paid a very small salary.

Nagai Kaf and Okina Ky in and the Literary Portrayal of Japanese

He was very disappointed by this treatment and therefore decided that it was time to take a wife. He thought that surely it would be easy for a man like himself to attract a lady. Eventually he did meet a lady, the daughter of an aristocrat; however, she turned out to be married, and her husband was a graduate of the university that Yanagida despised the most. Yanagida was devastated but recovered by deciding to embark upon another foreign expedition. He found a position with a raw-silk company, which wanted him to investigate the silk market in the United States. Then, the story suddenly ends.

At this point, while the evening is still young, another new friend, Kishimoto, tells his story. He is married and has a child. At one point he started working for a company, but he did not have any prospects for career advancement because he did not have a college degree. When his wife inherited some money, he begged her to let him use it to study in the U.S. He promised her that he would return to Japan upon receiving a university degree. His wife did not want her husband to strain himself to succeed, as she did not want to be separated from her husband and believed that he ought to accept his limitations and live peacefully. “Yet, faced with her husband’s resolute entreaties, in the end she yielded and tearfully saw Kishimoto go off to a faraway land” (Iriye 7).

The reader immediately notices that Nagai was no ordinary traveler: here was a first-class passenger with his own cabin, which included a comfortable sofa, and the right to order drinks through room service. Nagai was a bourgeois through and through, unlike most Japanese on their way to Seattle at the turn of the century. Moreover, Nagai’s female characters are usually presented through a male narrator. For example, Kishimoto describes his wife, who sacrificed her own feelings and helped her husband advance his career even if it meant that he would leave her to travel to a faraway country. Kishimoto’s wife is described as a devoted and loving partner of her husband, the ideal traditional Japanese wife.

The story titled Makiba no Michi (A Return Through the Meadow) takes place in the late fall. The narrator has decided to buy a bicycle and spends time cycling around the prairie with a friend from Tacoma. His descriptions of the late autumn prairie are most vivid and colorful. Nagai uses the same narrative technique as in the first story, letting his companion tell a story as they approach the Washington State mental hospital. His friend begins his story by explaining that there are a few Japanese confined in the asylum, adding mysteriously that they are “laborers” from Japan.

Nagai Kaf and Okina K~~y in and the Literary P~~ortrayal of Japanese

Here Kaf gets agitated; when he hears the words “laborers from Japan,” his ears ache, since he remembers how he crossed the Pacific with a group of laborers. In this story Nagai adopts a new tone, expressing his genuine feelings for people who were treated as something less than human, as cargo packed tight in the bottom of a ship full of immigrants. During good weather, they would come up on deck to watch the ocean and smoke. He describes those laborers this way: “unlike the rest of us, oversensitive souls, they do not seem particularly struck by any feeling” (Iriye 11). Nagai expresses deep sympathy with those farmers who left farmland that had been passed on to them from their ancestors, believing that three years of hard work “abroad [will] sow the seeds of ten years’ wealth and happiness after they go back home…. [they] remain patient all through humiliations such as immigration regulations and health examinations” (Iriye 11).

Now his cyclist friend tells the story of a laborer who lost his sanity. The man arrived in Seattle, together with his wife, to earn a living. At that time, much of immigrant society was characterized by lawlessness; many people who came to work in the U.S. ended up falling into traps set by crooked employment brokerage firms, innkeepers, or smugglers of prostitutes. When immigrants stepped ashore they might be approached by some con artist or other. One such man guided the narrator and his wife to an inn. They paid a commission, and the husband was taken to the woods and given a job as a woodcutter while his wife stayed in town and worked in a laundry shop. One day his fellow workers cautioned him that it was as dangerous to leave his wife alone in Seattle as it was let a small child play alone at the edge of a river; a woman, they said, was a treasure worth as much as a thousand dollars. Pimps were always on the lookout for new prostitutes. When the poor man heard these scary stories, he could not bear the thought that something might happen to his wife, yet he could not do much in his present situation. His friends then suggested that he bring his wife to live with him in the woods; he followed their advice. One day after work, his fellow workers started drinking and singing and then asked matter-of-factly if they might borrow his wife for the night. The poor man turned dead pale, and began to tremble, but he could not do anything with his wife crying at his feet. He fainted, and when he regained consciousness he had lost his mind and had to be committed to a mental hospital. In this story Nagai Kaf gives a vivid portrayal of life in immigrant society, with its often primitive mores. Women are described as male sex objects that satisfy carnal desire and as precious objects, since women were scarce in

Nagai Kaf and Okina Ky in and the Literary Portrayal of Japanese

an immigrant society dominated by males. In this sense, one might argue that Nagai is a Naturalist, simply because he described what he saw and the laws that seemed to govern human behavior.

Nagai’s story titled Akuy (Bad Company) focuses on a particular Japanese woman who works as a barmaid in a whorehouse in Seattle. The story begins one evening as Nagai is engaged in conversation with his friends. One of his friends asks: “Is it true that there are a lot of Japanese prostitutes over there?” (Iriye 81). He recalls a certain waitress, a very suave and good-looking woman, who worked at Daruma, a tea-stall restaurant in Seattle. He found out that her husband was a well-known thug in Seattle but also a college graduate with fluent English. As a newcomer to America, he is impressed by the contrast between good and bad. Evidently, society has many disgusting characters that make a living by “seducing, kidnapping or smuggling women…so called pimps” (Iriye

82). One of his friends, Shimazaki, knows the woman, who is around twenty-six or twenty-seven years old, tall and with a slender face. He recognizes her husband as a close friend of his deceased older brother. Shimazaki begins his story at the request of his friends. He arrived in Seattle three years ago. He was glad that he had landed safely, but he was at a loss for what to do next. Then he met a man who said he was the desk clerk in a Japanese inn and took him to the area of town known as Japan town, where he checked into a dingy wooden inn. He describes the surroundings from the inn’s window at night:

There was also the sound of samisen everywhere…followed by women singing and men clapping their hands…. Just imagine. Against the surrounding American view, you have on one hand the noise of “the West” presented by the whistling of ships, the bells of trains, and band music played by gramophones, and on the other, long-trailing, howling, moaning, and sleepy country songs from the Kyushu region, accompanied by the brief, intermittent sound of the strings. No music is sadder, giving rise to such a discordant, unpleasant, and complex, even if monotonous, sensation. (Iriye 85)

One evening he was unable to sleep as the sound of the samisen was ringing in his ears, so he took a walk in the entertainment quarter, following a crowd of laborers. There were “huge crowds of Japanese everywhere, from the archery grounds and billiard parlors to various restaurants, and…from the windows of wood-frame houses, women’s faces could be seen on and off…” (Iriye 86). He continues to describe

Nagai Kaf and Okina K~~y in and the Literary P~~ortrayal of Japanese

those women as “women from the western part of Japan, with flat noses, narrow eyes, and flat faces. Their hair was swept back in a bun at the back with bangs at the front, and they wore what appeared like Western-style gowns. But for me, just a glance at them was enough to make me feel satisfied—or rather, queasy—anyway, I could not bear to get closer to them” (Iriye 86).

Suddenly, he saw several distinguished-looking gentlemen coming out of a dark doorway. One looked vaguely familiar; as it happened, he was none other than the close friend of Shimazaki’s late older brother, a man who used to come to see him quite frequently. This gentleman, named Yamaza, took Shimazaki to a Japanese restaurant in the same alley; there, Yamaza spoke with a waitress who sat down close to him and who happened to be his wife (Iriye 90). Small world!

In Nezame (Rude Awakening), Nagai describes the fate of yet another Japanese immigrant. The protagonist of this story, Sawazaki Sabur?, is appointed manager of his company’s branch office in New York; “he left alone for the United States in high spirits, leaving behind a wife and children at his home in Tokyo” (Iriye 105). After several months, he feels “desolate,” living all by himself in a foreign land. He explains “he is more and more given to feeling the inconvenience of daily life as well as the loneliness of his lot” (Iriye 106). He misses a morning bath in a Japanese tub and enjoying grilled eel with a shot of warm sake; back home in Japan he had a wife who willingly did everything he asked; and there was also a time when he secretly kept a mistress. He feels foolish for leaving the “comfort” of the life he enjoyed in Japan (Iriye 106).

The reader of this story may be inclined to feel sympathetic toward single company men transferred abroad; this particular protagonist works hard and essentially promotes himself to manager of the New York branch of his company. However, Nagai seems to be primarily interested in letting Sawazaki talk about his marriage, showing how this man married his wife as a convenience, as though he was hiring a maid, according to custom, and as though his home was just for the sake of appearances, for the sake of decency: “just a gateway for show, his children, ones to bring up primarily because they had been born…. That was all there was to it, and it felt quite unmanly and cowardly to worry about wife or home” (Iriye 106).

I came to Nagai Kaf after reading Okina Ky in, and so asked myself the question: “How does Okina Ky in measure up and compare to Nagai

Nagai Kaf and Okina Ky in and the Literary Portrayal of Japanese

Kaf ?” This question admits of no easy answer but does reveal both some distressing similarities and some obvious and far-reaching differences. Let me now focus on the life of Okina Ky in and one of his major literary works, Akuno Hikage (Shadow of Evil) published in the Nichi Bei (The Japanese American News) in 1915.

Okina Ky in traveled to the U.S. around the same time as Nagai Kaf and he, too, lived for a time in the Seattle area. Both men were exposed to immigrant society and wrote extensively about immigrant life. However, whereas Nagai Kaf remained a spectator constantly on the move, Okina assimilated into immigrant society and tried hard to establish himself in the U.S.; even his Japanese wife Kiyoko joined him in the U.S. Okina had met Kiyoko Ishiguro when he made a short visit to Japan. Kiyoko’s younger sister, Fusako, was married to a Japanese man who had emigrated to America and now ran an orchard in Florin, near Sacramento. Kiyoko approached him—rather passionately, it seems!, expressing her desire to return to America with him as his wife (Zensh Volume II, 361). He was married to Kiyoko Ishiguro in 1913. Kiyoko took care of Okina’s father briefly and, then, on March 10, 1915, was reunited with Okina in San Francisco before they went to live in Stockton.

In February 1914, Okina left his new wife with his father in Japan and returned to the U.S. In November 1914, he left Seattle to go to San Francisco by boat. After arriving in San Francisco, he moved to Stockton and started working for the Benri-sha. In 1915, Okina’s wife, Kiyoko, joined him in Stockton. When he went to meet her, he saw that the ship carried several hundred Japanese women—no less than 210—and not many men.

Looking at these picture brides, Okina tried to fully comprehend what he was witnessing. Their faces showed no emotion and appeared quite expressionless; they had just crossed the Pacific Ocean and were about to take their first steps into a new unknown world. “What were they thinking?” he wondered. They looked anxious and scared but, at the same time, appeared to be both relieved and excited about finally arriving in San Francisco, as if they had suddenly emerged from back stage and found themselves on center stage, in the spotlight. Most of the women were wearing kimonos; not many wore Western clothes, and the simple and plain way they were wearing their kimonos suggested that they most likely were from some forlorn province in rural Japan and not from a big city. Some were holding furoshikibukuro (a Japanese cloth for wrapping); but

Nagai Kaf and Okina K~~y in and the Literary P~~ortrayal of Japanese

those women looked more urbane, waving and talking to someone waiting for them on the pier; one could easily tell that they were returnees back from a visit to Japan. Looking at the group of women, one man on the pier asked another, “Which one is yours?” He answered, “Maybe that one? I think so, yes, she is the one.”

Of course, Okina was also searching for Kiyoko among those women while he was thinking about the “picture brides” phenomenon, which he knew to be a controversial issue in anti-Japanese propaganda.

Okina was anxiously looking for Kiyoko among the picture brides marching off the ship. Saeki, who had driven the whole way from Stockton, had been waiting for her to disembark for thirty minutes. He approached Okina and asked, “Is she wearing a Western dress?” Okina replied, “I am not sure but… Oh, look at that woman wearing the kimono.” When Kiyoko saw him waving his hat, she smiled back. Okina introduced her to Saeki. He tried to shake her hand, but she hesitated for a moment. She was not used to the American way of greeting someone. It was also the first time for Kiyoko to ride in a car. They drove through downtown San Francisco, passed through Chinatown, then went up a very steep hill and stopped in front of the Imperial Hotel, where they stayed the night.

Okina’s years in Stockton (1914-1917) inspired his literary works on immigrants. Living in Stockton, he interacted with Japanese immigrants and had the chance to meet many influential people in the area, including leaders of the local Nihonjin-kai (Japanese Association). Okina described his life and his involvement with immigrants as he became active in the community, an experience that had a profound influence on his writings. On June 5, 1914, Okina started writing articles in the fu Nipp (The Sacramento Daily News) under the pen name Okina Rokkei. His articles and essays appeared almost daily on the front page of the newspaper. Some articles recounted his impressions of Sacramento and, more generally, of California. Okina began writing criticism for the New Year’s special editions of the nine Japanese-American newspapers on the West Coast, urging the establishment of a pure immigrant literature. Okina emphasized the importance of a realistic literature based on the everyday life of immigrants; he felt that if the immigrant experience were seen through rose-tinted glasses, it would seem meaningless.

By 1915, Okina’s literary works spanned virtually every genre. In addition to publishing articles and essays, Okina continued to write fiction and later comedy. As an advocate of literature about immigrants’ experience,

Nagai Kaf and Okina Ky in and the Literary Portrayal of Japanese

and with the support of Yamanaka Magae of the Nichi Bei, he wrote a lengthy novel titled Aku no Hikage (Shadow of Evil), which appeared in the Nichi Bei in 1915, in 99 installments (Aku no Hikage, Nichi Bei, 99 installments between June 3, 1915, and September 16, 1915). At twenty- seven years of age, Okina was building a career as an editor at the publishing company and the fu Nipp , and serving as secretary of the Stockton Nihonjin-kai (Japanese Association). He also enjoyed life with his wife Kiyoko, who had joined him in the U.S.

Aku no Hikage is about the lives of several young people: Ofumi, Okuni, Kumagaya, K no, Tajima, Tayama, and Tomura. He modeled two of the female characters (Ofumi and Okuni) on the waitresses he had befriended in the Maneki restaurant, four of the male characters (Kumagaya, K no, Tajima, Tayama) on his personal friends, and Tomura on himself. All four are young Japanese immigrants who happened to be schoolmates in the same junior high school in Japan and arrived in Seattle in the same year and struggled to make it in their new country. Tajima and Tomura became students, and Tayama went to Alaska to work. The story begins when Tajima and Tomura visit the cemetery where Tayama is buried; he was killed four years before the story starts, after getting in trouble with a woman. Okina has very good powers of observation; he bases his story on some episodes that happened in the community and on some of his own experiences with women, as well as on actual drinking establishments, waitresses working at several Japanese restaurants, houses of prostitution, hotels, and streets, including their physical layout, which is why some characters and episodes in the novel are so realistic, as if they were part of

a documentary. One example is a love triangle set in a drinking house, the

Maneki, or the Yachiyo in the Japanese quarter (Zensh , Volume III, 26-

34). As the story progresses, it often becomes difficult for those people who know Okina well to distinguish between his own life and the fictional actions of the character Tomura, especially when Tomura describes his feelings for various women. Those readers familiar with his Zensh (Volumes II and III) are aware of the topics described in his diary and can easily relate them to Tomura’s experiences with a white girl, who happened to be Okina’s schoolmate in Union High School in Bremerton (Selma Pittack, who later became a silent film star). These readers also recognize his experiences with waitresses at the Maneki restaurant, the Zabuton (Japanese cushion) incident, the prostitutes in King Street, his visits to Tacoma with his friend and meetings with a lady who openly

Nagai Kaf and Okina K~~y in and the Literary P~~ortrayal of Japanese

expresses her feelings toward Tomura. The story ends rather unexpectedly when Tomura suddenly loses his passion for her because he is disappointed by her rather rude behavior while she was drinking. She leaves town and disappears. Okina’s story was well received by critics and many readers, who considered it the most vivid and realistic description of immigrants that they had ever read. He received many comments from his readers, most of whom were pleased with his story.

Finally, let me attempt to define the significance of Nagai’s and Okina’s life and work and how women are portrayed in their stories. Both writers were exposed to all sides of immigrant society and wrote about the life of immigrants. Although they had similar experiences in America and described many of the same experiences in their work, Nagai Kaf remained aloof, knowing full well that he had other options, chief among them a visit to France (which he had been preparing all along). His journey to the U.S. recalls the French Symbolist Charles Baudelaire’s famous poem titled “Le Voyage,” which Nagai quotes at some length:

Mais les vrais voyageurs sont ceux-là seuls qui partent

Pour partir; cœurs légers, semblables aux ballons, De leur fatalité jamais ils ne s’écartent,

Et, sans savoir pourquoi, disent toujours: Allons! “Le Voyage” (Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal) But the true voyagers are only those who leave Just to be leaving; hearts light, like balloons, They never turn aside from their fatality

And without knowing why they always say: “Let’s go!”

In Nagai Kaf ’s stories, the Japanese female figures include the wife of a man who comes to the U.S. to get a college degree, a laborer’s wife who is gang raped, a waitress whose husband is a pimp, an assortment of prostitutes, a young female student attending college, and the wife of a businessman who left her behind in Japan. These women are all quite helpless; more importantly, they are usually victims, objects of male desire, particularly the prostitutes, but also the laborer’s wife who is raped, the wife who was abandoned in Japan and whose marriage was a marriage of (male) convenience, and even the student pursuing a degree from an American college. All are portrayed as objects lacking emotions and passion.

Nagai Kaf and Okina Ky in and the Literary Portrayal of Japanese

Okina, on the other hand, actually did become an American in the sense that he lived and worked in America for many years. Okina’s work is important for historical reasons, because he helps us understand the lives of ordinary people in Japanese immigrant society. This is the personal journey of a young Japanese man who wanted to come to America, the land of his dreams, in order to experience success. In so doing, he became an advocate for immigrant literature, a new genre of writing by, for, and about immigrants. Okina often used events that happened to him and to people in the Japanese community as material for his novels and stories. He believed that their experiences made up the essence of immigrant literature. In Okina Ky in’s stories, the Japanese female characters are rather few and limited to waitresses or daughters of Japanese immigrants. Often, his stories involve a young man’s struggle to make a living as an immigrant, tormented by love and lust, caught between his romantic feelings and his carnal desire. For example, when Okina Ky in tries to describe a young man’s passion for women, he often describes married women or waitresses. Needless to say, these women all are portrayed as quite helpless and as victims of immigrant society. Okina knew the realities of immigrant life first-hand. Women did not have much choice, and it was difficult for them to escape from the conditions in which they lived (of course, the same could be said about many male immigrants at the time). Some women arrived in the U.S. without much knowledge about the country. For instance, they came as picture brides to strange men; sometimes one of these brides suffered so much that she ran away with another man. Other women accompanied their husbands but could not endure the harsh reality of immigrant life and left. In some cases, women were lured by sweet talk of easy money and tricked into coming to the U.S., where they sometimes ended up as prostitutes. If they were lucky, they found work as waitresses, for example, but most women immigrants did not have many options.

The women who appear in Okina Ky in’s stories are often women with whom the author himself was romantically involved, which means that their literary personae express the author’s emotions and passions rather than those of the characters he intends to portray. Okina s romantic interludes ended rather quickly, though, and unfortunately were limited to women of a certain type, who did not reflect a cross section of immigrant society. Actually Okina’s experience with women was rather limited, period. Moreover, he was not always able to make smooth transitions between scenes, characters, and themes, which frequently creates an

Nagai Kaf and Okina K~~y in and the Literary P~~ortrayal of Japanese

awkward impression on the part of many readers. I believe that one reason for this “rushed” quality of his writing was that he was usually in a great hurry to meet a newspaper deadline. Many of his novels were serialized and appeared in 20, or 30, or more installments. Unfortunately, he did not have the genius of a Balzac or a Dickens—the unacknowledged masters of the genre—to whet the reader’s appetite and to keep it in suspense, as it were, until the next installment appeared.

Okina Ky in’s world is dominated by the harsh realities of immigrant society. However, this is not enough to make of him a Naturalist, at least not in the accepted sense of the term; nor was Nagai Kaf a Naturalist in the French, Zolaesque sense of the term. Both writers met women in immigrant society, whom they later described in their literary works; however, although women were omnipresent in immigrant society, their stories almost always were told by male authors, not from a woman’s point of view, but from a male’s, so one might say that an immigrant woman’s voice was seldom heard, if ever. Here again, I think of Okei, who was brought to the Wakamatsu colony and left all alone; she wished to return to her homeland but instead died in faraway America. Her grave stands as a solitary reminder of one Japanese woman immigrant’s sad destiny and echoes the challenges that awaited other women immigrants from Japan.

In the final analysis, despite all their shortcomings and their narrow and even self-indulgent focus, both writers are eminently interesting to scholars studying Japanese emigration to the American West Coast because their works transcend literature proper insofar as they offer a wealth of information about Japanese immigrant society.

Baudelaire, Charles. Les Fleurs du mal. Paris: Garnier Frères, 1961.

Iriye, Mitsuko. American Stories: Nagai Kaf . New York: Columbia University

Press, 2000.

Nagai, Kaf . Amerika Monogatari. Shinsh sha, Tokyo, Japan, 1951.

Okina, Ky in. “Aku no Hikage.” Nichi Bei (The Japanese American News)

3 Jun. 1915:1-16 Sept. 1915: 1 (99 installments between Jun.3, 1915, and

Sept. 16, 1915). Print.

Okina, Ky in et al. Umino Kanatani, Okina Ky in Zensh . Volume II. Toyama, Japan: Toyama Sugaki Company, February 1972.

Nagai Kaf and Okina Ky in and the Literary Portrayal of Japanese

Okina, Ky in et al. Konjiki no Sono, Okina Ky in Zensh . Volume III. Toyama, Japan: Toyama Sugaki Company, May 1972.

—— S saku Aku no Hikage, Okina, Ky in Zensh . Volume V. Toyama, Japan: Toyama Sugaki Company, May 1972.

Pollack Pines Press Congressional Record. Vol. 113 Washington. Wednesday

7 May 1969.

Seidensticker, Edward. Kaf the Scribbler: The Life and Writings of Nagai Kaf ,

1879-1959. Ann Arbor: Center for Japanese Studies The University of

Michigan, 1965.

Takeuchi, K jir . Beikoku Hokuseibu Nihon Iminshi . Seattle: Tairiku Nipposha,


Yamazaki, Hokusui. “Shashinkekkon Mondai .” The Nichi Bei (The Japanese

American News) [San Francisco, CA] 29 Oct. 1915.1 Print.




POETRY is the life-breath of heart—the heart that creates a feeling of love for beauty, evokes an excitement for life and awakens an urge to struggle against the odds of life. Indian culture is woven with the rich fabric of poetry. That Indian religious books are in poetry proves the significance of poetry. Indian poetry is rich in themes, thoughts, images and rhythms. Indian Poetry in English has now become an intrinsic part of Indian Poetry. In its initial stage, it was often tagged as derivative. Now it has come to its own by developing its own idiom, which is wholly Indian in form and content.


Indian Poetry in English began with Henry Louis Vivian Derozio and Kashiprasad Ghose. Its saplings sprouted in the Dutt Family Album. It got the world wide recognition and popularity when Rabindranath Tagore received the Nobel Prize in 1913 for his magnum opus Gitanjali. Toru Dutt, Sri Aurobindo, Sarojini Naidu and Rabindranath Tagore proved to be its pathfinders. These pathfinders paved the way for the post-Independent poets like Nissim Ezekiel, A.K. Ramanujan, Kamala Das and Arun Kolatkar who became the signatures of Indian Poetry in English. Jayanta Mahapatra, Shiv K. Kumar, Keki N. Daruwalla and R. Parthasarathy are the significant poets who established milestones, which became the source of inspiration for the poets of the new millennium. In this materialistic age, fiction has dominated over poetry. The poets are worried at the present scenario but are not wholly discouraged as their pens continue to compose poem after poem. The Sahitya Akademi has done its best for Indian Poetry

Indian Poetry in English in the New Millennium: A Tour

in English by giving the prestigious award to Jayanta Mahapatra for Relationship in 1981, Nissim Ezekiel for Later-Day Psalms in 1983, Keki N. Daruwalla for The Keeper of the Dead in 1984, Kamala Das for Collected Poems in 1985, Shiv K. Kumar for Trapfalls in the Sky in 1987, Dom Moraes for Serendip in 1994, A.K. Ramanujan for Poems of A.K. Ramanujan in 1999, Jeet Thayil for These Errors are Correct in 2012 and Adil Jussawala for Trying to Say Goodbye in 2014.


The bright future of Indian Poetry in English can be discerned from the fact that more than 600 poets are composing poems despite the challenges that they receive from fiction. From 2000 to 2015, more than 750 Indian poetry collections in English have entered the world of literature. If this is not the victory of Indian Poetry in English, what is it? The role of Writers Workshop cannot be forgotten. These days Authorspress, New Delhi has taken the responsibility of promoting poetry by publishing poetry collections of the old faces like Jayanta Mahapatra, Shiv K. Kumar and Keshav Malik and the new faces like C.L. Khatri and Saroj Padhi. No doubt, trashes in the name of poetry collections are being published but are rejected with the passage of time. If the wheat grows, the weeds also grow in the same field. But, the weeds are pulled out. Genuine poets remain silent but the poetasters speak highly and create loud confusing sounds. Time is the sieve which separates the wheat from the chaff. The poetasters do not run long and become breathless while the genuine poets are remembered and studied.


Now, names of poetry collections, published during 2000-15 are given here year-wise.


Aju Mukhopadhyay’s The Witness Tree, C.L. Khatri’s Kargil, Darshan Singh Maini’s The Aching Vision, Dwarakanath H. Kabadi’s Snail-Pace Street, Gerson da Cunha’s So Far, Jane Bhandari’s Single Bed, Jasvinder Singh’s What I Feel, Jayanta Mahapatra’s Bare Face, K.L. Chowdhury’s Of Gods, Men and Militants, K.V. Raghupathi’s Small Reflections, Kailash’s Ahluwalia’s O The Anthill Man!, Kanwar Dinesh Singh’s House Arrest and Together: A Poem, Keki N. Daruwalla’s Night River, Kishore Chatterjee’s Lamenkinen’s Lament, Leela Gandhi’s Measures of Home, Mahashweta Chaturvedi’s Back to the Vedas, Manas Bakshi’s Of Dreams

Indian P~~oetry in English in the New Millennium: A T~~our

and Death, Mani Rao’s Salt, Menka Shivdasani’s Stet, Prabhanjan K. Mishra’s Lips of a Canyon, Pronab Kumar Majumder’s In the Ruins of Time, R.C. Shukla’s A Belated Appearance, Ranjit Hoskote’s The Cartographer’s Apprentice, S.L. Peeran’s In Golden Times: Selected Poems, Smita Tewari’s The Recycled, Sujata Bhatt’s Augatora. (My Mother’s Way of Wearing a Sari), Suresh C. Jaryal’s Silence of Love and Tabish Khair’s Where Parallel Lines Meet are some poetry collections, published in 2000.


A.K. Ramanujan’s The Uncollected Poems and Prose, Anand Thakore’s Waking in December, Arundhathi Subramaniam’s On Cleaning Bookshelves, Asha Viswas’s Mortgaged Moorings, Bijay Kant Dubey’s My Selected Poems, My Father, and My Love Poems, Biplab Majumder’s Virtues and Vices, Chandni Kapur’s Karma, Harish K. Thakur’s The Sun-Lyre, Imtiaz Dharker’s I Speak for the Devil, Jagannath Prasad Das’s Lovelines: Poems of Longing and Despair, K. Satchidanandan’s So Many Births Three Decades of Poetry, K.B. Rai’s Soul’ n Fire Poems, K.K. Saxena’s Dream Girl, Kanwar Dinesh Singh’s Deuce: Haiku Poems, Kedar Nath Sharma’s Our Ancient Orchard, Keshav Malik’s Rumour, Makrand Paranjape’s Used Book, O.P. Bhatnagar’s Cooling Flames of Darkness, Paniker Ayyappa’s Days and Nights, R.M. Prabhulinga Shastry’s Self An Anthology of Poems, R.A. Janakiraman’s Arteries, R.C. Shukla’s Depth and Despair and My Poems Laugh, Ranjit Hoskote’s The Sleepwalker’s Archive, S.L. Peeran’s In Golden Moments, Suresh C. Jaryal’s Flight to Immortality, Suresh Nath’s What Can I Do?, Tajinder Kaur’s Reflections, Tapti Baruah Kashyap’s Peace of Silence, Vijay Vishal’s Parting Wish, Virender Parmar’s Collage of Quietude, and Vishnu Joshi’s Anjali Whispers in the Dawn are some poetry collections, published in 2001.


A.N. Dwivedi’s Protest Poems, Anita Nair’s Malabar Mind, Aroop Mitra’s In Search of the Lotus-Feet, Bhagirathi Mahasuar’s Emotional Me and Mine, Bijay Kant Dubey’s My Collected Poems and Mother Kali, D. C. Chambial’s Before the Petals Unfold, Darshan Singh Maini’s The Far Horizons, Dom Moraes’s Typed with One Finger: New and Selected Poems, Dwarakanath H. Kabadi’s Chariot of Dreams, Gopi Krishnan Kottoor’s Nirvana, Harish K. Thakur’s Confessions, I.H. Rizvi’s Fettered Birds, Jane Bandari’s Aquarius, K. Srilata’s Seablue Child, K.N. Daruwalla’s

Indian Poetry in English in the New Millennium: A Tour

The Map-maker, Kanwar Dinesh Singh’s Rainbows, Moonbows and Fog and The Flow of the Soul Selected Poems, Kedar Nath Sharma’s Love, Live & Leisure, M. Mohankumar’s Nightmares and Daydreams, M.S. Venkata Ramaiah’s Flash Point, Maha Nand Sharma’s A Spiritual Warrior, Meena Alexander’s Illiterate Heart, Monima Choudhury’s Impression, Pronab Kumar Majumder’s Creating-Killing Cosmic Time, R.K. Singh’s Cover to Cover: A Collection of Poems, Rabindra K. Swain’s Severed Cord, Reetika Vazirani’s World Hotel, Rudra Kinshuk’s Marginal Talks of the Galloping Horses, S. Parida’s The Next Valley Beyond the Stars, S.L. Peeran’s A Ray of Light, A Search from Within, and In Silent Moments, Sanjukta Dasgupta’s Dilemma, Shiv K. Kumar’s Thus Spake the Buddha, Smita Agarwal’s Wish-Granting Words, Sudesh Mishra’s Diaspora and the Difficult Art of Dying, Sujata Bhatt’s A Colour for Solitude, Suresh C. Jaryal’s Quest of Poesy, Tejdeep Kaur Menon’s Minnaminni, and Tejinder Kaur’s Images are some poetry collections, published in 2002.


Agha Shahid Ali’s Rooms are Never Finished, Alexander Raju’s Sprouts of Indignation, Ashok T. Chakravarthy’s Charismata of Poesie, B.K. Dohroo’s Musings, Bibhu Padhi’s Games the Heart Must Play and Living with Lorenzo, Dwarakanath H. Kabadi’s Pyramid Poems, Gopi Krishnan Kottoor’s Rev. Father Benedict Goes to Heaven, Jelena Narayanan’s The Gold Comb and Other Poems, Jerry Pinto’s Asylum, K. L. Chowdhury’s A Thousand-Petalled Garland and Other Poems, K.V. Raghupathi’s Voice of the Valley and Wisdom of the Peepal Tree, Kanwar Dinesh Singh’s Scintillations: The Junctures of Satori , Madhvi Lata Agarwal’s Myriad Colours, Manas Bakshi’s From Adam to Myself, Mani Rao’s Echolocation, Marilyn Noronha’s Different Faces, Niranjan Mohanty’s Krishna, P. Raja’s To Live in Love, Pashupati Jha’s Cross and Creation, Prabhat K. Singh’s The Vermilion Moon, R.C. Shukla’s The Parrot Shrieks, R.K. Singh’s Pacem in Terris, Radhey Shiam’s Song of Life, Raman Mundair’s Lovers, Liars, Conjurers, and Thieves, Reshma Aquil’s Shadows of Fire and The Unblending, Rita Malhotra’s Images of Love, S.A. Hamid’s No Man’s Land, S.L. Peeran’s A Call from the Unknown, Saleem Peeradina’s Mediation on Desire, Shome Dasgupta’s In This Place, Sudeep Sen’s Distracted Geographies: An Archipelago of Intent and Prayer Flag: Poetry and Photography, Sudha Iyer’s On the Edge, Sunanda Mukherjee’s Moment and Other Poems, Tejdeep Kaur

Indian P~~oetry in English in the New Millennium: A T~~our

Menon’s Oysters in Pain and Temsula Ao’s Songs from Here and There

are some poetry collections, published in 2003.


A.K. Ramanujan’s The Oxford India Ramanujan, Abdul Rashid Bijapure’s An Exotic Tree, Agha Shahid Ali’s Call me Ishmael Tonight, Arun Kolatkar’s Kala Ghoda Poems and Sarpa Satra, Baldev Mirza’s Theatre of Silence, Bijay Kant Dubey’s In The Jurassic Park & Other Poems and My Sensical Or Nonsensical Poems, Biplab Majumder’s Golden Horizon, Chandni Kapur’s The Looking Glass, D.C. Chambial’s Collected Poems (1979-2004) and This Promising Age & Other Poems, Debjani Chatterjee’s Namaskar: New and Selected Poems, Dom Moraes’s Collected Poems 1954-2004, Essarci’s (S. Ramachandran) Rainbow, Gopi Krishnan Kottoor’s Buchenwald Diary, Father, Wake Us in Passing, and Mother Sonata, I.H. Rizvi’s Dripping Wounds and Love Never Dies, I.K. Sharma’s My Lady, Broom and Other Poems, J. Bhagyalakshmi’s A Knock at the Door, Jagannath Prasad Das’s Poems, Jeet Thayil’s English: Poems, Keshav Malik’s Earth in Space Selected Poems, Lakshmisree Banerjee’s I am the Woman: I am the World, M. Mohankumar’s The Moon Has Two Faces, Maha Nand Sharma’s Autumn Strains and Divine Glimpses, Mamang Dai’s River Poems, Meena Alexander’s Raw Silk, Meenakshi Verma’s Mute Voices, N.P. Singh’s Millennium Blues, Nandini Sahu’s The Other Voice, Prageeta Sharma’s The Opening Question, Raanan Burd’s Poetry from Life, Ravi Shankar’s Instrumentality, Rukmini Bhaya Nair’s Yellow Hibiscus: New and Selected Poems, Samartha Vashishtha’s Shadows Don’t live in Walls, Som P. Ranchan’s Three Poems, Srikanth Reddy’s Facts for Visitors, Suparna Ghosh’s Sandalwood Thoughts: A Collection of Poems and Drawings, Vihang A. Naik’s Making A Poem and Vijay Seshadri’s The Long Meadow are some poetry collections, published in



A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s The Life Tree, Abdul Rashid Bijapure’s The Third Maya and Other Poems, Aju Mukhopadhyay’s Short Verse Vast Universe, Amit Chaudhuri’s St. Cyril Road and Other Poems, Anil K. Sharma’s Five Beats of Heart, Anna Sujatha Mathai’s Life on My Side of the Street, Archna Sahni’s First Fire, Arundhathi Subramaniam’s Where I Live, Hoshang Merchant’s Homage to Jibanananda Das, I.H. Rizvi’s Haiku and Other Poems, Jasvinder Singh’s Stray Thoughts, Jayanta Mahapatra’s

Indian Poetry in English in the New Millennium: A Tour

Random Descent, Justice S. Mohan’s Many Splendoured Gem, K. Satchidanandan’s Stammer and Other Poems, K.B. Rai’s Pearls of Wisdom An Anthology of Poems, K.B. Rai’s Soul Tears, K.K. Srivastava’s Ineluctable Stillness, Kazim Ali’s The Far Mosque, Ketaki Kushari Dyson’s In That Sense You Touched It, Kulbhushan Kushal’s Rainbow on Rocks, Lakshmi Kannan’s Unquiet Waters, Maha Nand Sharma’s A Flowering of a Lotus and A Rudraksha Rosary and Other Poems, Mahashweta Chaturvedi’s Mother Earth, Makarand Paranjape’s Partial Disclosure, Manas Bakshi’s Not Because I Live Today, Mani Rao’s 100

Poems: Selected Poems (1985-2005), Maria Netto’s Tabula Rasa, Nagamuthu Osho’s Mystic Melody, Nalini Sharma’s Rhythm, Nandini Sahu’s The Silence, Pashupati Jha’s Mother and Other Poems, Priya Sarukkai Chabria’s Dialogue and Other Poems, Pronab Kumar Majumder’s Where Time is Dead, R.C. Shukla’s The Parrot Shrieks II, R.K. Singh’s For a World Peace, Raghu Kul Bhushan’s Sentinels of the Soul, Ralph Nazareth’s Ferrying Secrets, Rumki Basu’s Native Birds in Alien Skies, S.L. Peeran’s New Frontiers, Sanjukta Dasgupta’s First Language, Shanta Acharya’s Looking In, Looking Out, Sonjoy Dutta Roy’s Into Grander Space, T. Vasudeva Reddy’s Pensive Memories and V.V.B. Rama Rao’s Seeing God and Other Poems are some poetry collections, published in



Abdul Rashid Bijapure’s Desert Caves and Other Poems, Anjum Hasan’s Street on the Hill, Basanta Kumar Kar’s The Naïve Bird, Bijay Kant Dubey’s Bootman’s India And Other Verses, Murkhamantri And His Cabinet And Other Verses, Poetry as Knowledge and Wisdom and Poetry as Wit and Humour and The Cartoonist Boatman’s India and Other Poems, C.L. Khatri’s Ripples in the Lake, Chandramoni Narayanaswamy’s Sunflower and Other Nature Poems, Deepankar Khiwani’s Entr’acte, Dwarakanath H. Kabadi’s Mystic Mysteries, E.V. Ramakrishnan’s Terms of Seeing: New and Selected Poems, K.B. Rai’s Soul Smiles, K.V. Raghupathi’s Samarpana, Kashmiri Lal Chawla’s My Zen Poetry, Kulbhushan Kushal’s Whirlpool of Echoes, Manas Bakshi’s Man of the Seventh Hour, Mina Kandasamy’s Touch, R.K. Singh’s The River Returns, Ranjit Hoskote’s Vanishing Acts: New and Selected Poems 1985-2005, Revathy Gopal’s Last Possibilities of Light, Robin Ngangom’s The Desire of Roots, S.L. Peeran’s Fountains of Hopes, Shanta Acharya’s Shringara, Sudhir K. Arora’s A Thirsty Cloud Cries, Syed Ameeruddin’s Visions of

Indian P~~oetry in English in the New Millennium: A T~~our

Deliverance, Veeru Reddy’s Whispering Shadows and Vivek Narayan’s

Universal Beach are some poetry collections, published in 2006.


Aju Mukhopadhyay’s In Celebration of Nature and The Paper Boat, Arbind Kumar Choudhary’s Eternal Voices, Aroop Mitra’s Light on the Lotus, Binayendra Chowdhury’s Reflective Images, C.P. Surendran’s Portraits of the Space We Occupy New and Selected Poems, Chandramoni Narayanaswamy’s The Alphabet, The Friendly Animal World and The Garden School, Charu Sheel Singh’s Etching on the Edge, Kashi: A Mandala Poem and Scripture on Stone, Daljit Nagra’s Look We Have Coming to Dover, Dilip Chitre’s As Is, Where Is. Selected English Poems

1964-2007, Hazara Singh’s Apostle of Non-Violence and Destination, I.H. Rizvi’s The Valley Still Blossoms, Imtiaz Dharker’s Terrorist at My Table, J. Bhagyalakshmi’s When Fortune Smiled, K. Ramesh’s Soap Bubbles, K.S. Pal’s Descending Dark Stairs, Kamala Das’s Encountering Kamala Selection from the Poetry of Kamala Das, Kunga Gyatso Bhutia’s The Himalayan Bouquet and Binding Undulations of Sikkim, Mahadeva R. Iyer’s Bouquets and Garlands, Makarand Paranjape’s Confluence, Mohammed Fakhruddin’s Haiku, Self-Exploration, Nar Deo Sharma’s Melody of Wounds, Navkirat Sodhi’s Un, Om Prakash Arora’s The Edge of the Cliff, Omesh Bharti’s My Interaction with Life, Prabhat K. Singh’s In the Olive Green, Prageeta Sharma’s Infamous Landscapes, Pronab Kumar Majumder’s Ontime Untime, Sparkles of Time and Time Never Returns to Console and Other Poems, Purnima Ray’s Poetry: Autobiographical, R.M. Prabhulinga Shastry’s The State A Poem, Rita Malhotra’s I am not Your Woman and Other Poems, Ruskin Bond’s Book of Verse, Sampurna Chatterjee’s Sight May Strike You Blind, S.L. Peeran’s In Rare Moments, Sridala Swami’s A Reluctant Survivor, Swami Nem Singh’s Creation and Other Poems, Tishani Doshi’s Countries of the Body and Vilas Sarang’s Another Life are some poetry collections, published in 2007.


A.N. Dwivedi’s Beyond Borders, Arbind Kumar Choudhary’s My Songs and Universal Voices, Bijay Kant Dubey’s A Collage of Verses and The Divine Path and Other Verses; The Research Method; The Abstract and the Appendix, Chandramoni Narayanaswamy’s Hasmukh, Charu Sheel Singh’s Collected Poems 1975-2003. Harish K. Thakur’s Silent Flows Danube, I.H. Rizvi’s Bleeding Flowers, I.K. Sharma’s End to End,

Indian Poetry in English in the New Millennium: A Tour

Jeet Thayil’s These Errors are Correct, K.K. Srivastava’s An Armless Hand Writes, K.L. Chowdhury’s Enchanting World of Infant, Kanwar Dinesh Singh’s The Noontide Poems, Ghazals and Hymns and Thoroughfare: A Book of Ghazals, Kazim Ali’s The Fortieth Day, Kulbhushan Kushal’s Songs of Silence, Lakshmi Shankar’s Under the Poetree, Mamta Agarwal’s Rhythms of Life, Meena Alexander’s Quickly Changing River: Poems, N.V. Subbaraman’s Silver Fishes in the Blue Waters, Karthika Nair’s Distant Music, Niranjan Mohanty’s A House of Rains and Tiger and Other Poems, P.C.K. Prem’s Rainbow at Sixty, Prasant Kumar Panda’s Blue Prints of Retrospection, Praveen Gadhvi’s The Voice of the Last, Pronab Kumar Majumder’s Faces of Love, My India: Through Corridor of Time and Where I Is A Noun, R.C. Shukla’s The Parrot Shrieks III, Rabindra K. Swain’s Susurrus in the Skull, Raghu Kul Bhushan’s Rustling Leaves, Roshan Lal Sharma’s Mount Carol and Other Poems, S. Parida’s Behind the Tapestry, S.L. Peeran’s In Sacred Moments, Sanjukta Dasgupta’s More Light, Shiv K. Kumar’s Losing My Way, Smita Tewari’s And the World Changes Colour, A Travelogue in Verse, Crossroads and Hourglass, Swami Nem Pal’s Nature Poems, T. Vasudeva Reddy’s Gliding Ripples, Tapati Baruah Kashyap’s A Discovery, V.V.B. Rama Rao’s For Our Grandchildren and Other Poems and Virender Parmar’s The Voice Divine, are some poetry collections, published in 2008.


Agha Shahid Ali’s The Veiled Suite, Aju Mukhopadhyay’s Poems on Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Amit Shankar’s The 21^^st^^ Shade of Autumn, Amrita V. Nair’s Yours Affectionately, Anjana Basu’s Picture Poems and Word Seasons, Arbind Kumar Choudhary’s Melody, Arun Kolatkar’s The Boatride and Other Poems, Arundhathi Subramaniam’s Where I Live New and Selected Poems, B. Cauveri’s Sandalwood Chip, B.S. Nimavat’s Words from Within A Poetry Collection, Bibhu Padhi’s Choosing a Place, Bijay Kant Dubey’s Pinda-Dana, Biplab Majumder’s Island’s Dolphin Song, Chandni Kapur’s The Other Face, Debjani Chatterjee’s Words Spit and Splinter, Divya John’s Whispers Within, Eunice De Souza’s A Necklace of Skulls Collected Poems, G. Kameshwar’s Seahorse in the Sky, Hazara Singh’s Happy Meaningful Life, Imtiaz Dharker’s Leaving Fingertips, Jayanta Mahapatra’s The Lie of Dawns Poems 1974-2008, K.B. Rai’s Soul Dances, Kamala Das’s Closure Some Poems and a Conversation, Kanwar Dinesh Singh’s Prospect Hill: Shimla Poems,

Indian P~~oetry in English in the New Millennium: A T~~our

Karthika Nair’s Bearings, Manas Bakshi’s The Midnight Star, Monima Choudhury’s Manu Script Love Poems, Mousumi Ray’s The Dancing Leaves Create Music Dust is Blowing, Nandini Sahu’s Silver Poems on My Lips, Nileen Putatunda’s Annya, P. Gopichand and P. Nagasuseela’s Mushrooms and No Longer at Ease, P.K. Joy’s Beyond Many Bends Selected Poems of P.K. Joy, Pronab Kumar Majumder’s Passage to Peace, R. Hema’s Life Blues, R.K. Singh’s Sexless Solitude and Other Poems, Raghu Kul Bhushan’s Melodies of the Broken Reed, Ramya Sriram’s Inklings: A Collection in Free Verse, Reshma Ramesh’s Reflections of Illusions, S.L. Peeran’s Glittering Love, Seema Aarella’s Letters from the Heart, Semeen Ali’s Roses and Ashes, Shaleen Kumar Singh’s Proprietary Pains: A Collection of Short Poems, Shilpa Vinay Viswanath’s G for God, D for Distraction and Pause, Shujaat Hussain’s Heat and Dust, Smita Tewari’s Illusions, Suhasini Sakhare’s Living the Future, Suparna Ghosh’s Dots and Crosses, Tanya Mendonsa’s The Dreaming House, Tapan Kumar Bandyopadhyay’s Glimpses of Ordinance, Tuhin Sanyal’s Phoenix on a Female Body and Other Poems,V. Balachandran’s Signs of Love, Virender Parmar’s Within and Without and Vivek Sharma’s Saga of a Crumpled Piece of Paper are some poetry collections, published in 2009.


A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s Songs of Life, Abnish Chauhan, Mosam Sinha and Ram Sharma’s A String of Words, Aditi Upmanyu’s Magical Poems, Aju Mukhopadhyay’s Insect’s Nest and Other Poems and Short Verse Delight, Akshat Sharma’s Viaticum: Journey of A Soul, Ameeruddin Syed’s Rainbow Rhapsodies, Anindita Sengupta’s City of Water, Arbind Kumar Choudhary’s Love Poems and Nature Poems, Arun Kolatkar’s Collected Poems in English, Bipin Patsani’s Another Voyage and Homecoming, Chandramoni Narayanaswamy’s The Unseen Abode and Other Poems, Charu Sheel Singh’s Legacies, D.C. Chambial’s Mellow Tones, Gopi Krishnan Kottoor’s Victoria Terminus, Poems: Selected and New, Hazara Singh’s Seasonal Festivals and Commemorative Days, Hoshang Merchant’s Shilong Suite, I.K. Sharma’s Collected Poems 1970-

2010, Jasvinder Singh’s Poems of the Heart and Selected Poems 1980-

2005, K.B. Rai’s Soul Speaks, K.V. Dominic’s Winged Reasons, K.V. Raghupathi’s Dispersed Symphonies and Orphan and Other Poems, Kanwar Dinesh Singh’s The Tears of Frost: Haiku Poems, Lalit Sharma’s Pearls and Pebbles, M.S. Venkata Ramaiah’s Melting Point, Mamta Agarwal’s Voices of Autumn, Mani Rao’s Ghostmasters, Mina Kandasamy’s

Indian Poetry in English in the New Millennium: A Tour

Ms Militancy, P. Gopichand and P. Nagasuseela’s Sprouts, Pritish Nandy’s Again, R.C. Shukla’s Ponderings I, R.K. Singh’s Sense and Silence: Collected Poems and Sexless Solitude and Other Poems: A Bilingual Collection: English-Greek, R.M. Prabhulinga Shastry’s What is Beyond? An Anthology of Poems, Rajkamal Shiromani’s You and My Haiku, Rita Malhotra’s Across Social Wilds: A Woman’s Poetic Perception, Rizio Yohanan Raj’s Eunuch, Sachchidananda S. Kore’s The Vestal Virgin, Saleem Peeradina’s Slow Dance, Satish Kumar Shukla’s Panjab Moods A Literary Adagio, Shankar D. Mishra’s A Cynosure of English Poems, Shanta Acharya’s Dreams That Spell the Light, Shilpa Vinay Viswanath’s Alias Da-ugh-ter and Ye Calliope, Erato and Polyhymnia, Sonnet Mondal’s Penumbra of Indian Verses, Sushila Kadian’s Twilight Expressions, Uddipana Goswami’s We Called the River Red, Vihang A. Naik’s Poetry Manifesto New & Selected Poems and Vivekanand Jha’s Hands Heave to Harm and Hamper: A Collection of Poems are some poetry collections, published in 2010.


Adil Jussawalla’s Trying to Say Goodbye Poems, Apurv Kumar’s My First Poems, Apurva Agarwal’s A Night’s Sail, Arbind Kumar Choudhary’s Love, Nature and The Poet, Aroop Mitra’s Poverty Profile Poems on Human Deprivation, Asha Viswas’s The Rainbow Cave and Other Poems, Bibhu Padhi’s Migratory Days (a travel diary in verse), Bijay Kant Dubey’s My Nirguna Songs and Yama, Binod Mishra’s Silent Steps and Other Poems, Gopa Nayak’s Dissension, Harish K. Thakur’s Nature Psalms, Hoshang Merchant’s Hyderabad Quartet Collected Works Volume I , K.B. Rai’s Words Speak An Anthology of Verse (Impressions), K.L. Chowdhury’s Homeland after Eighteen Years (A Travellogue in Kashmir), K.V. Dominic’s Write Son, Write, Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih’s The Yearning of Seeds, Mahendra Bhatnagar’s Dawn to Dusk and Life As It Is (These two books include some original poems in English by the poet himself), Manas Bakshi’s Between Flower and Flame, Meenakshi Hooja’s Outpourings: Poetic Expressions, P.C.K. Prem’s Of This Age and Obscurity and Other Poems, Padmapriya’s Galaxy, Pashupati Jha’s All in One, Pravat Kumar Padhy’s The Tiny Pebbles, Pronab Kumar Majumder’s Random Poetry, S.L. Peeran’s Garden of Bliss, Saket Suman’s Little Tales of Little Things, Satish Kumar Gupta’s My Thoughts in Simple Verse, Shiv K. Kumar’s Which of My Selves Do You Wish to Speak to? Selected Poems, Sonnet Mondal’s Diorama and Easterlies, Sony Dalia’s Delightful

Indian P~~oetry in English in the New Millennium: A T~~our

Dawn, Sunil Sharma’s Poetry amid the Golden Barrel Cacti, T. Sai Chandra Mouli’s (Sony Dalia) Delightful Dawn, Vikram Seth’s The Revered Earth and Vivekanand Jha’s Create Space are some poetry collections, published in 2011.


A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s Songs of Life (ed. II), A.N. Dwivedi’s Wayward Wanderings, Alka Agarwal’s Blooming Buds, Amit Agarwal’s Rousing Cadence, Anand Thakore’s Elephant Bathing and Mughal Sequence, Anna Sujatha Mathai’s Mother’s Veena and Other Poems, Bijay Kant Dubey’s A Pamphlet of Poetry, Ambulance, Brindaban, Crashing Over The Hump, Hari Om And Other Poems, The Dark Daughters, The Dark Is Beautiful, Beena, The Rhythm of Speech, The Rhythm of Life, The Third in Number, Tracing Paper, Unknown Citizen…I Had A Desire and Moored to the Shadow, D.C. Chambial’s Words 1979-2010, Dom Moraes’s Selected Poems, Geeta Chaabra’s An Indian Ode To The Emirates, Gopi Krishnan Kottoor’s The Coloured Yolk of Love Vrindavan, Hoshang Merchant’s Collected Works Volume 2: Jonah Quintet, Jaydeep Sarangi’s From Dulong to Beas Flow of the Soul, K.K. Srivastava’s Shadows of the Real, Laxmi Prasad’s Universal Witness, Madhumta Ghosh’s For All You Lovely People, Meenu Mehrotra’s Sounds of Desire, Prathap Kamath’s Ekalavya: A Book of Poems, Pravat Kumar Padhy’s Songs of Love, Pritish Nandy’s Stuck on 1/Forty, Pronab Kumar Majumder’s Sundown Poetry and Other Poems, R.C. Shukla’s Ponderings II and Ponderings III, R.K. Singh’s New and Selected Poems Tanka and Haiku, R.M. Prabhulinga Shastry’s The Sport, Raghu Kul Bhushan’s The Invisible Visible, Ranu Uniyal’s December Poems, S. Parida’s The Estranged Periphery, Sonjoy Dutta Roy’s Diary’s Poems and Story Teller’s Rhymes, Sunitha C. Srinivas’s Mnemosyne, Supriya Bhandari’s Symphony of Silence, Sushil Kumar Sharma’s The Door is Half Open, T. Sai Chandra Mouli’s (Sony Dalia) Graceful Green and T. Vasudeva Reddy’s Echoes are some poetry collections, published in



Adwaita Das’s 27 Stitches, Amishal Modi’s Prelude to a Storm, Basant Rath’s Own Me, Srinagar, Bijay Kant Dubey’s A Document of Poetry and A Statement of Poetry, Bijender Singh’s Confusing Poetry and Late Night Poetry, Bishnupada Ray’s Winter Sky, Chandini Kapur’s Timeless Interludes, Day Bhat’s A Maiden of 29, Geeta Chaabra’s No Journey Ends: A

Indian Poetry in English in the New Millennium: A Tour

Collection of Poems and Prose Pieces, Godavar’s A Turn of Poetry, Gopal Lahiri’s Living Inside, Hoshang Merchant’s Sufiana , Jayanta Mahapatra’s Land, Jaydeep Sarangi’s Silent Days, K. Pankajam’s Whispering Waves, K. Srilata’s Writing Octopus, K.V. Raghupathi’s Between Me and the Babe, Kamala Das’s Wages of Love: Uncollected Writings of Kamala Das, Kamalaprasad Mahapatra’s Pearls of Poesie, Keki N. Daruwalla’s Fire Alter, Lakshmisree Banerjee’s Peahen Passions, Madhumita Ghosh’s Flowing with the River and Pebbles on the Shore, Mamta Agarwal’s An Untold Story of a Pebble, Meena Alexander’s Birthplace with Burried Stones, Meenakshi M. Singh’s Soulful Symphony, Minoo Vania’s A Vista Ahead, Nabina Das Nabina’s Into the Migrant City, Nayanathara’s In the Shade of the Bodhi, Neelam Saxena Chandra’s Silhouette of Reflections, Hues of Love and Layers of Flickering Lights, Nileen Putatunda’s Beggar, P. Raja’s Five Headed Arrow, P.K. Panicker’s Without Borders, Poonam Dwivedi’s The Confluence & Other Poems, Pravin Nair’s Gravity, Puneet Agarwal’s Voices and Vices, Rajender Krishan’s Solitude and Other Poems, Reshmy Warrier’s Mirror, Mirror on the Mind, Riddhi Kapoor’s Almost Poetry, Rohith’s Chirps, Sayantan Gupta’s Where the Rainbow Ends, Sonnet Mondal’s Primatic Celluloid, Sujata Parashar’s Poetry Out and Loud II, Sunil Sharma’s Poems on Highway, Suvankar Ghosh Roy Chowdury’s Cities and Lost Times, Syeda Afshana’s The Fugitive Sunshine Selected Poems, T. Vasudeva Reddy’s Quest for Peace: A Minor Social Epic, Tapati Baruah Kashyap’s Winding Ways, Vinita Agarwal’s Words Not Spoken and Vishal Bhojwani’s Spark are some poetry collections, published in 2013.


Aju Mukhopadhyay’s Manhood, Grasshood and Birdhood. An Anthology of Assorted Poems, Ananya S. Guha’s There Is Winter by Touch, Anapurna Rath and Bhaskarjyoti Das’s Devi: A Journey through Photo-Poetry, Anil Prasad’s Destinations, Anjali Anirudhan’s To Feel or Not to Feel, Arundhati Subramaniam’s When God Is A Traveller, Arvind Krishna Mehrotra’s Collected Poems 1969-2014, Avdhesh S. Jha’s In Search of Peace, Bibhu Padhi’s Magic Ritual, C.L. Khatri’s Two-Minute Silence, D.C. Chambial’s Hour of Antipathy, Dalvir Singh Gahlawat and Kalyanrupa Parasar’s Smile From the Veil, Dilip Mohapatra’s A Pinch of Sun and Other Poems and Different Shades, Dolly Singh’s The Awakening of SHE, Durlabh Singh’s Song for Myself, Geetika Kohli’s The Lost Sonnet and Other Poems, Gopi Krishnan Kottoor’s Tell Me, Neruda,

Indian P~~oetry in English in the New Millennium: A T~~our

Gouranga P. Chattopadhyay’s The Lonely Journey Begin, Hoshang Merchant’s Collected Works Volume 3: Place/Name, A Sextet, Jayashri Shetty’s Silent Screams, Jaydeep Sarangi’s A Door Somewhere, Jyotsna Sinha’s Silent Musings, K. Ramesh’s From Pebble to Pebble, K. Satchidanandan’s Misplaced Objects and Other Poems, K.V. Dominic’s Multicultural Symphony, Kamala Acharya’s Kindle the Spirit, Kamala Das’s Selected Poems, Kedar Nath Sharma’s Paradise Returned & Other Poems, Keshav Malik’s Water Falling on Water, M.R. Venkatesh’s I Wonder as I Wander, Mamta Anand’s Tresure a Tear, Mamta Madhavan’s Connecting Dots, Manas Bakshi’s Maduline Musings, Mani Rao’s New and Selected Poems, Meena Kandasamy’s This Poem Will Provoke You & Other Poems, Mihir Vatsa’s Painting That Red Circle, Minaxi Sajeev’s The Unlabelled Happy Woman, Murali Sivaramakrishnan’s Selected Poems, Naina Dey’s Snapshot from Space and Other Poems, Nandini Sahu’s Sita (A Poem), Neelam Saxena Chandra’s Purple Moon and The Delicate Wings, O.N. Gupta’s Spilled Feelings: A Collection of Thoughts and Realizations, P. Raja’s Dhoti and Other Poems, P.C.K. Prem’s Tales of Half Men and Other Poems, P.M. Chandrasekharan’s Oh God Bunch of Poems, Pooja Garg Singh’s Everyday and Some Other Days, Prashant Rana’s The Onion Man, R.K. Bhushan’s Nerves of the Verbal Art: Songs in Follywood, R.S. Ramkumar’s Breeze: A Love Story, Rachna Gupta’s Myriad Hues, Ramkanth Rath’s Frontier Lyrics, Rochishmon’s Let Us Understand the Dawns, S. Chandramohan’s Warscape Verses, S.C. Dwivedi’s The Mouth of Truth, S. Jagathsimhan Nair’s Blue Sun and Blase Rains, S.L. Peeran’s Eternal Quest, S.P. Saxena Surya’s The Koel, Sadia Riaz Sehole’s Red Seeps, Samir Ranjan Chatterjee’s Under the Southern Sky, Sangeeta Mahesh’s Ocean of Thoughts, Sanjula Sharma’s For Rhyme or Reason, Saroj K. Padhi’s Shattered I Sing, Sayantan Gupta’s Poems on Life, Poems on Love and Poems on Mythology, Shalini Yadav’s Kinship with You, Shambhobi Ghosh’s A Stranger’s Conversation, Shiv K. Kumar’s Where Have the Dead Gone? & Other Poems, Shruti Chandra’s The Return to Beginning, Shubangi Joshi’s To Stir Up An Ornate Nest, Shujaat Hussain’s Tolerant India, Sujata Parashar’s Poetry Out And Loud-III, Sukrita Paul Kumar’s Untitled, Sunil Sharma’s Mundane, My Muse, Tumpa Chatterjee’s Laughing Daffodils, Vandana Arora’s Storm to Serenity, Varsha Singh’s Deluges and Vinayana Khurana’s Vinayana’s World: A Story Untold are some poetry collections, published in 2014.

Indian Poetry in English in the New Millennium: A Tour


Aabha Vatsa Midha’s Home Alone and Desire, Abhishek Rath’s Immotal Ink Bleed: Imprints Beyond Depth, Beena Biswas’s Half a Life, Bina Sarkar Ellias’s Fuse, Dhiraj Das’s Walking with the Dead, Geetika Kohli’s Nothingness at Boiling Point, Jaydeep Sarangi’s The Wall & Other Poems, Madhumita Ghosh’s My Poetry My Voice, Mahua Sen’s Insights, Meena Alexander’s Atmospheric Embroidery, Menka Shivdasani’s Safe House, Nar Deo Sharma’s Emotionoceans, Navya Jain’s Arcane Rhapsodies (Short Stories in Verse), Pashupati Jha’s Awaiting Eden Again , Pokhriyal Diwakar’s Poetry for Everyone, Prabhat Singh’s Indelible Impressions, R.M. Prabhulinga Shastry’s “S‘HE’”, Rachna Gupta’s Kaleodoscope: The Changing Colours of Love, Radhika Agarwal’s Mirage, Rashmi Jain’s Kaleiodoscopic Visions, Ratan Bhattacharjee’s The Ballads of the Bleeding Bubbles: A Fabulous Bouquet of Love Poems, S.A. Hamid’s The Ontology of Desire, Saroj K. Padhi’s Petals in Prayers and Rhyming Ripples, Sudeep Sen’s Fractals. New & Selected Poems / Translations, Suneel Sharma’s Thresholds, T. Sai Chandra Mouli’s (Sony Dalia) Hopping on Hope, Vaishnavi Shrivastava’s Rainbow of Feeling and Varsha Singh’s Unbangled and Other Poems are some poetry collections, published in 2015.


Here are a few instances of what kind of Indian Poetry in English is being penned. The excerpts demonstrate form and content along with the idiom that Indian Poetry in English has developed with the passage of time.

A.P.J. Abdul Kalam (1931-2015), the former President of India and the recipient of Bharat Ratna is a poet of inspiration and motivation. The Life Tree (2005) and Songs of Life (2010) reflect Kalam’s views on nation, patriotism, youths, humanity, relationship, spiritualism and, above all, life. He loves the whole humanity and is against all kinds of barriers, divisions and narrow outlooks. His heart bubbles with love, compassion and all the human qualities, necessary for a meaningful life.

I build no walls to confirm joy and sorrow

To sacrifice or achieve, to gain or lose

I just grow flowers on open spaces

And float lilies on ponds and rivers. (The Life Tree 57)

While praising Kalam, Satish Kumar writes: “As a poet he is endowed with forward looking quality. He excels in poetizing science and scientific

Indian P~~oetry in English in the New Millennium: A T~~our

truth. He adroitly merges poetry with spirituality and true religious spirit. Kalam, who dreams of better and happier world for the children of India and the world, is a poet of humanity” (Poetcrit 49).

Three collections of poems namely, Bare Face (2000), Random Descent (2005) and Land (2013) along with the collected poems, The Lie of Dawns Poems 1974-2008 have come from the pen of the major poet Jayanta Mahapatra (b. 1928), who does not appear as fresh and imaginative as he was in his Relationship (1980). With the passage of time, the poet in Mahapatra has become more reflective and submissive though less imaginative.

Truth may be beautiful but it has deformed feet.

And the path it makes us walk on has many answers,

to know what it is to distort

every judgment

experience has made for us. (Land 33)

Shiv K. Kumar (b. 1921) appears to be more imaginative and fresh in Where Have the Dead Gone? and Other Poems (2014). With the passage of time, he has emerged from the ocean of complexity to the ground of simplicity by virtue of his understanding of life in its clarity. He is a poet of intuition.

The best way to choose is not to choose but just press on.

If you plan to return home, it may take you a lifetime,

as reason stumbles at every step.

So why don’t you rest through the day

and voyage through the night?’ (Where Have the Dead Gone 95)

He has lost the teeth of irony, contrast and paradox, with which he used to bite. What he has now are memories, which make him wander in the memory lanes. He loves words, which come out from his pen naturally and softly with meaning, music and intensity.

Keki Nasserwanji Daruwalla (b. 1937) continues to write poetry because it gives him relief and proves to be a sort of cleansing force. He

Indian Poetry in English in the New Millennium: A Tour

talks of hunger of belly which degrades man from the category of a human being to an animal. When a man is hungry, religion becomes secondary.

When hunger rages

Yudhishthir and Duryodhana become meaningless. (Collected

Poems 25)

There is no use of living if no one knows identity. Daruwalla gives a new definition of existence which lies in others’ recognition:

Why can’t we define existence as something that lives only in the awareness of others?

Do you exist if no one knows you do? (Collected Poems 26)

The poet is quite concerned with the present state of the country. He thinks of the new millennium and finds no one to guide the people. He voices his feelings in ‘A Millennium Poem’ thus:

What have we to do with the millennium, We, who are going to flicker

and fade out?

What have we to do with the spool of time, which, like Draupadi’s sari,

unwinds, unwinds and unwinds?

Doomsdayers everywhere, and thugs. Hallucinations

and oracles abound.

Why must we find ourselves in a season of prophecies

with no prophets around? (Collected Poems 342-43)

No doubt, his satire and irony bite but this biting is a boon in disguise. He makes the people morally conscious so that they may transform themselves into good citizens and tread the path of peace and prosperity. What he says in the poem ‘To a Palestinian Poet’ is applicable to the people of all nations.

Let’s have less of blood,

both in poetry and on the ground.

Let peace descend on you and your neigbouring people. (Collected

Poems 23)

Indian P~~oetry in English in the New Millennium: A T~~our

Arun Balkrishan Kolatkar (1932-2004), the poet of Jejuri appears in a new avatar in Kala Ghoda Poems. He emerges as the champion of the underdog. Inbuilt irony, satire, imagery, objectivity, etc., are some significant literary devices that he has employed in depicting how the street people lead a life of alienation, frustration and despair in the metro cities like Bombay, now Mumbai. He has made ugliness visible to the point of beauty with his graphic vision. He makes Meera, the sweeper dance in the bin with her broomstick. What the lute is to Krishna, the broomstick is to Meera.

When it is full nearly to the brim

she climbs to the top

and begins to dance

within the narrow compass of the wicker bin

like a Meera before her Lord, a Meera

with a broomstick for a lute. (Collected Poems 87)

Niranjan Mohanty (1953-2008) is, indeed, a great poetic pilgrim who began his journey as an outsider and ended as an insider. He is basically a poet of love. He simplifies the philosophy of love thus:

The beating and throbbing heart knows only, that the unspeakable

tale of an in-within-ness is love. (Tiger and Other Poems 78)

He is also conscious of the contemporary reality. The poem ‘Kalahandi’ presents the mental state of a woman, who lives with the granddaughter. Her son committed suicide due to hunger caused by famine. She cannot see the granddaughter being hungry and, hence, requests the protagonist:

Tonight, you stay here. Don’t feed me. for, I’m a ripe mango sure to fall soon

Give that girl some food. The road lies open for her. Touch her tenderly. Sleep with her

if you like, take her. Never permit her

to be stung once again by hunger. (A House of Rains 30-31)

Indian Poetry in English in the New Millennium: A Tour

He surprises the reader by his scholarship and the poetic sensibility. He weaves his thoughts and feelings with metaphors like ‘tiger’, ‘rain’,

‘home’, ‘stone’, etc., to make his poetic texture rich and meaningful. He colours it with imagery, tonal variations and rhythms. “Merely to be human” becomes “the theme song” (A House of Rains 90) of his life and so is of his poetry.

Jeet Thayil (b. 1959) got the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2012 for These Errors are Correct (2008) which reveals his intermixing of history with poetry and his experiment with the fusion of styles. He seems to be postmodern in his approach. He attempts to fill the gap with belongingness though the way he follows demonstrates his eccentric nature. Here is an excerpt from his poem ‘Superpower’, taken from These Errors are Correct.

You need a mind of sky, of rubber, to understand I. You need

silence, cunning. Exhale!

You need to know that everything is metaphor, that poems sprout

in my hands

like mystic confetti, like neural string theory.


and though I’m not rich it takes a lot of cash to keep me

in the poverty to which I’m accustomed. (‘Superpower’, These Errors

are Correct)

Adil Jussawalla (b. 1940), after a long gap of 34 years (Missing Person in 1976) appeared in 2011 with Trying to Say Goodbye and won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2014. He is a poet who speaks candidly and fearlessly and while doing so he becomes somewhat melancholic in expression. In Trying to Say Goodbye, he speaks of the common man as well as the particular people including poets and artists. Even the lifeless objects like radio, wood, marble, wristwatch, etc., become alive. Graziano Kratli while reviewing this poetry collection in World Literature Today writes: “His versification is tight, controlled, yet eloquently versatile and fluid. Trying to Say Goodbye reasserts Jussawalla’s stature as one of the

Indian P~~oetry in English in the New Millennium: A T~~our

great English-language poets of his generation—and ours.” The two excerpts from the poems ‘House’ and ‘Snakeskin’, taken from Trying to Say Goodbye prove Jussawalla’s deep poetic voice in a controlled idiom.

Learn balance, with nothing to stand on. Though you’ve lost heart, lost ground.

Go restless, homeless, but balance. (Trying to Say Goodbye 5)


I saw neither snakeskin nor snake. I lived in the forest for years.

Forty years on

with the forest gone, my sight’s improved. There’s little to do but try with the little I see

to make something new. (Trying to Say Goodbye 78)

Bibhu Padhi (b. 1951) is an inward-looking poet who searches for the cultural and interpersonal realities of life in the memory lanes. He is lost in “the dark forgetfulness of the past”, remembers “the remembrances of the present” and foresees “the future’s death—smelling/ homes of fantasies” (Games the Heart Must Play 53). He is a poet of feelings. He fuses feelings with his thoughts. He takes the reader into the depth so profoundly that he is lost in darkness and reaches the unoccupied spaces of memory. Today he realizes “distances matter and must be/ taken care of” ( Games the Heart Must Play 87). Distance has made him wait and while waiting, he recalls dream children to his memory.

On all these nights

I’ve been waiting for you, as if waiting was endless but somehow was true.

And then, you might arrive, shrouded in stories and history like a dark shadow from the past lingering over my dreams—

my dreams of you. (Games the Heart Must Play 21)

Indian Poetry in English in the New Millennium: A Tour

R.C. Shukla (b. 1943) is a significant poet of the new millennium. God gifted traits of keen observation and catholicity of vision make him see the invisible thing and decipher the un-deciphered pages. His poetry mirrors life in varied forms. Despite the fact that death is inevitable, he celebrates life.

Death is always close to me and yet I celebrate life

life that dupes and disdains

how shall this end? (Ponderings I 43)

No doubt, he celebrates life, he always thinks of an end of this traffic from this world to the other world. Man takes birth, suffers, dies and, then, again takes birth. The cycle continues. The poet interrogates this show of arrival and departure and its relevance when he utters:

Let me understand let some Janak some Ashtavakra some Krishna

or some Vivekanand come and explain to me

what is the sense in

my coming here again and again? Is this coming and going

and then coming again

not a part of the show? (Ponderings I 20)

Charu Sheel Singh (b. 1955) is a serious poet who makes the reader serious through his poems which reveal his love for Indian culture and Indianness. His poetry is a spiritual yoga in the tradition of Aurobindo— the tradition that leads to the path of self-discovery. Here are the two excerpts which demonstrate his poetic skill and scholarship.

Life is a little password in chemical chessboards that blacken and whitewash fables

of identity in a

soup of inertia. (‘Terracotta Flames’, Collected Poems 224)

Indian P~~oetry in English in the New Millennium: A T~~our


Rise O mortals beyond your coffin selves to inaugurate tomorrows of love.

Let the sea-shells sing choral hymns like

the eternal dove. (‘Terracotta Flames’, Collected Poems 228)

Gopikrishnan Kottoor (b. 1956) is a poet of love and feelings. In Vrindavan (2012), he follows the Bhakti tradition and becomes a modern Radha in singing the song of devotion and love in praise of Krishna. By singing the songs of love through Krishna and Radha, he appears to be a significant poet of love in the tradition of the Bhakti poets in the domain of Indian Poetry in English. He makes Krishna confess that he is inconstant while Radha is constant.

Radhae, You say

I am inconstant.

Yes, Radhae,

You are constant. Inconstant,

I always am, revolving

around you. (Vrindavan 118)

D.C. Chambial (b. 1950) is a poet of love, life and Nature. Hour of Antipathy (2014) is his ninth poetry collection. It records his journey as a poet. With the wings of memory and dream, he soars high in the sky and watches the landscapes, dotted with cacti and lilies which offer him a peep into the roots (of blood). These roots create a storm within him so violently that he feels anger to the extent that he calls the present hour—the hour of antipathy. Ultimately, he seeks peace within and offers his vision—the vision of Heaven that will rise “out of Hell/ On this bloody Earth” only when the people “sacrifice/ the devils of/ ego, desire, greed.” He also paints the scene of corruption though he doubts its end despite the sincere

Indian Poetry in English in the New Millennium: A Tour

attempts of Anna Hazare. He longs for the victory of Anna Hazare, who wages a war against corruption. But he doubts whether the corrupt men will leave corruption.


Within and without.

People rejoice

His victory.

Will the rats

Stop to nibble.

Running blindly

In labyrinth. (Hour of Antipathy 19)

What one feels in Hour of Antipathy is the passivity of the imaginative fairy. The fairy is lost somewhere in the well of memory. The poems in this collection are the flowers—the flowers that have come out of his fancy rather than imagination.

R.K. Singh (b. 1950) is a poet of love and sex. What makes his poetry striking is its unique way of opening the doors of imagination. The scenes or pictures he creates offer multiple interpretations. He is an artist who paints the painting with visual words that have the unusual charm to provide the pleasures to the readers who interpret according to their whims.

Before the foamy

water could sting her vulva a jelly fish passed

through the crotch making her shy

the sea whispered a new song (The River Returns 6)

For C.L. Khatri (b. 1965), poetry is not simply poetry but a means of fighting against the erosion of cultural roots and values. He writes with a mission—the mission of restoring Indian values which the Indian people have lost somewhere in the blind race for globalization in the field of materialism. Two-Minute Silence (2014) is his third poetry collection, which attempts to awaken the people’s consciousness towards the cultural roots and a meaningful life with human values.

Indian P~~oetry in English in the New Millennium: A T~~our

Let’s observe two-minute silence

On the shrinking space, shrinking sun Stinking water of the sacred rivers Sleeping birds, falling leaves

Watermelon being sliced for quarreling cousins.

Someone whispered in my ear

Can’t we do with one minute…?

(‘Two-Minute Silence’ from Two-Minute Silence 67-68)

Vihang A. Naik’s (b. 1969) poetry is very communicative. It communicates what the poet feels and experiences. His intuition overpowers his reasoning faculty and stirs him to the depth of creation. What strikes in his poetry is the way of life that he not only enjoys himself but makes the reader feel it also. Here is an excerpt which reveals the poet’s longing for the love in the age of science and technology:


Is there a software

for love or a command? Tell me

can love be

programmed? (Poetry Manifesto 11)

Going through his poetry offers a new experience to the reader who enjoys the aesthetic feast along with some reflections that he reflects over the ideas expressed in short melodic lines.

Saroj K. Padhi (b. 1962) has registered his remarkable presence with his poetry collections, namely, Pearls of Dew (2014), Shattered I Sing (2014), Rhyming Ripples (2015) and Petals in Prayers (2015) which reveal his relationship with Nature, soil, human beings and, above all, life. His poems bubble with the Orissan landscape, ethos and sensibility, which become universal in nature. He offers a vision of life with all its physical, mystical, romantic and human ingredients. He sings the song of love and offers its essence thus:

love is a forgetfulness of self in prayer to God in silence

when all conflicts about possession

melt into nothingness, its essence. (Shattered I Sing 61)

Indian Poetry in English in the New Millennium: A Tour

While praising Saroj Padhi, Dr. Satish Kumar writes: “Saroj inherits the hoary cultural, religious and literary traditions of Orissa…. He is one of the tallest Indian English poets and in future, I am sure, the fragrance of his poetry would emit in all corners of the world and he would have a privileged place in the comity of the world poets” (Foreword,Petals in Prayer).

With Again (2010) and Stuck on 1/Forty (2012), Pritish Nandy (b. 1951) returns to poetry but fails to impress the readers. Whether it is form, typography or anything, he is known for his experiments with verse. He is candid in expression and his short poems reveal his postmodern way of thinking. Here are the two excerpts from Again which reveal Nandy’s postmodern attitude:

I am fucked my lord.

Friends are dying all around me

Some, old and tired

Others, bored. (Again 1)


God lies. (So do we all.)

But we do not claim divinity. Love is good enough

an excuse.

to escape the boredom of living in Hell.

So give me old-fashioned lust instead. Give me vanity and pain,

the profanity of living in sin again and again

Or (if you deny me what I want)

give me the rain (Again 4)

Syed Ali Hamid’s (b. 1954) The Ontology of Desire New and Selected Poems (2015) which includes No Man’s Land (2003) and Desire, Ultimately (2013) reveals him a poet of desire and intuition. He is spontaneous and fresh. Artificiality fails to touch him. His poems flow like the water of the river Ganga—pure and mysterious. Urdu orientation enters his poems. He

Indian P~~oetry in English in the New Millennium: A T~~our

succeeds in creating an innovative idiom, which becomes the fusion of Urdu and English in form and Hindustani or Indian in contents. Here are the two excerpts to prove his poetic skill.

In the dark regions of the mind desire takes birth

like a rainbow piercing a grey cloud and once perceived

is nourished sometimes flirted with beneath the indulgent veneer

of respectability. (‘Desire’, The Ontology of Desire 139)


And, of course, I remember you the moment

I forget you. (‘I Remember You’, The Ontology of Desire 142)

T. Sai Chandra Mouli (b. 1947) whose pen name is Sony Dalia is a promising poet. His poetry collections Delightful Dawn (2012), Graceful Green (2012) and Hopping on Hope (2015) reveal his poetic heart that possesses a deep love for Nature and concern for a peaceful life. Here are the two excerpts which demonstrate his poetic talent as well as his love for Nature.

Sun-kissed breeze caresses unveiling rainbow color dreams, unmolested silence quietly echoes

soft strains of bygone eras. (‘Dawn’, Delightful Dawn 1)


Monsoon showers refresh spirit parched land opens up in hope drops of rain reach or not

pleasure lies in anticipation (‘Monsoon Showers’, Graceful Green 9)

Jaydeep Sarangi (b. 1973), a rising voice speaks his heart which overflows with love and kindness. He blends his Bengali idiom with the English idiom so well that it seems to be global. He speaks what comes to him naturally and expresses in a brief and aphoristic way without caring

Indian Poetry in English in the New Millennium: A Tour

for the form or design. He flows, rather his soul flows. Here is an excerpt which reveals his concern for the poor.

Madan paddles his fate

Moves fast.

Disturbs the comfortable

And comforts the disturbed.

Hits back with words. (The Wall and Other Poems 59)


The women poets are not inferior to their male counterparts. With the passage of time, they have created their own idiom which reveals their miserable plight, pain, suffering, trauma, beauty, love and, above all, life. Here are a few instances to prove the poetic skill of Indian women poets.

Sujata Bhatt (b. 1956) is a poet who copes with life in a colourful way while painting its different dimensions, particularly the erotic ones. Her recent collection A Colour for Solitude offers poems about paintings and painters. She asks for “a better colour/ for solitude.” She uses the brush of her words and takes the colour for images in order to create a magic in painting. Here is an excerpt which demonstrates the art of her painting with words and images.

a muddy river— and then you enter with a sharp knife

to carve out the light.

To find light beneath salt, brine—

to find your first pale colours

swallowed by muddy paint. (A Colour for Solitude 33)

How beautifully she creates a painting while using citrus fruits as symbols for creating erotic feelings!

Look at the lemon in my left hand right between my breasts

Look at the orange in my right hand held further down

a bit below my waist (A Colour for Solitude 70)

Indian P~~oetry in English in the New Millennium: A T~~our

Meena Alexander (b. 1951) is a poet who is on a quest and for this quest she wanders in the memory lane and attempts to trace out the roots of her identity. She joins the fragments in order to fuse her experiences which she experienced in the past. The metaphor of river suits her as she also passes through many hurdles while focusing her final goal. Here is an excerpt from her poem ‘Cosmopolitan’, taken from her poetry collection Quickly Changing River.

Odd questions massed in me.

Who knows my name or where my skin was torn? If I could would I return to Kashi?

And might the queen of triumph intercede for me? (Quickly Changing

River 4)

Imitiaz Dharker (b. 1954) celebrates life in transition. She composes poems of joys and sorrows. She voices the feelings which a woman wishes to hide. She gives voices to her concerns while passing through the lanes of uncertainties in Terrorist at My Table. Here is an excerpt which reveals Dharker’s poetic art.

I slice sentence to turn them into onions. On this chopping board, they seem more organised

as if with a little effort

I could begin

to understand their sharp. (Terrorist at My Table 22)

Mani Rao (b. 1965) is a poet who believes in experiments—experiments in form and content. Her poems seem to be prose pieces to the eyes but they are poems in true sense as they touch the very core of the heart. For Jeet Thayil, Mani Rao’s poems look like prose on the page, in the mouth they feel like poetry.” Sex and god find place in her poetry. Here is an excerpt from her poetry collection Echolocation.

You know a language well if it does things you don’t have control over. Bring me the words without meanings, words all meanings have abandoned, sentenced to meaninglessness. (Echolocation)

Meena Kandasamy (b. 1984) writes to have a parallel line with her identity. She writes for the dalits—the unvoiced and pens their pains. Here is an excerpt from her poem ‘Becoming a Brahmin’ which offers a formula to convert a shudra into a Brahmin.

Indian Poetry in English in the New Millennium: A Tour

Step 1: Take a beautiful Sudra girl

Step 2: Make her marry a Brahmin

Step 3: Let her give birth to his female child

Step 4: Let this child marry a Brahmin

Step 5: Repeat steps 3-4 six times

Step 6: Display the end product. It is a Brahmin. (Touch 42) Arundhathi Subramaniam (b. 1973) is a Mumbai-based poet who has

^^e^^^^m^^^^e^^^^r^^^^g^^^^ed as^^ ^^an indi^^^^v^^^^idual powerful^^ ^^v^^^^oice in^^ ^^I^^^^ndian Poetry^^ ^^in^^ ^^En^^^^g^^^^lish. She^^

composes poems which reflect life and her devotion. For Bruce King, she is becoming a major poet. Here is an excerpt from her poem ‘Reface’, taken from her poetry collection When God is a Traveller.

Do I want another face? Sometimes I do?

A face no longer disfigured

by need. A face you can turn inside out like a sock

never knowing the difference between surface and interior, soft as old wool, implacable

as peace, the fibres accustomed to concavity

to disuse. Accustomed

to my absence. (‘Reface’, When God is a Traveller)

Asha Viswas (b. 1946) is a poet who is guided by her inner convictions and gives flow to her poems which demonstrate her aesthetic sense. She does not believe in any propaganda. Her brief lyrical poems flow with feelings while offering image after image. Here is an excerpt from her poem ‘Displaced Desire’, taken from her poetry collection The Rainbow Cave and Other Poems.

Ego, pendulum like,

moves between the earth and the sky

an absurd theatre of human life. (The Rainbow Cave and Other

Poems 29)


This tour reveals that Indian poetry in the new millennium is experimental in forms and contents. It presents the contemporary landscapes, ethos and

Indian P~~oetry in English in the New Millennium: A T~~our

identity. Poems of male poets like Hoshang Merchant, Makrand Paranjape, P.C.K. Prem, Raghu Kul Bhushun, Susheel Kumar Sharma and Sunil Sharma and women poets like Sukrita Paul Kumar, Shanta Acharya, Sanjukta Das Gupta, Menka Shivdasani, Archna Sahni and Nandini Sahu have created an interest in the hearts of the poetry lovers. Hence, the future of Indian Poetry in English is bright. Poetry will continue to inspire poets who will make a flow of poems from their pens. As long as there are human beings, poetry will be penned. What though poetry does not pay! It will be written, loved and read for its therapeutic values.

Alexander, Meena. Quickly Changing River: Poems. Evanston, Illinois: Triquarterly Books, 2008. Print.

Bhatt, Sujata. A Colour for Solitude. Manchester: Carcanet Press, 2002. Print. Dharker, Imtiaz. Terrorist at My Table. Great Britain: Bloodaxe Books Limited,

^^2006;^^ ^^New^^ ^^Delhi:^^ ^^P^^^^enguin^^ ^^Books^^ ^^India,^^ ^^2007.^^ ^^P^^^^rint.^^

Chambial, D.C. Hour of Antipathy. Maranda: Poetcrit Publications, 2014. Print. Daruwalla, Keki N. Collected Poems 1970-2005. New Delhi: Penguin, 2006. Hamid, S.A. The Ontology of Desire. New Delhi: Authorspress, 2015. Print. Jussawalla, Adil. Trying to Say Goodbye: Poems. Mumbai: Almost Island Books,


Kalam, A.P.J. Abdul. The Life Tree: Poems. New Delhi: Penguin-Viking, 2005.


Kandasamy, Mina. Touch. Mumbai: Peacock Books, 2006. Print.

Khatri, C.L. Two-Minute Silence. New Delhi: Authorspress, 2014. Print. Kolatkar, Arun. Collected Poems in English. Ed. Arvind Krishna Mehrotra.

^^Great^^ ^^Britain^^ ^^(Glasgo^^^^w^^^^,^^ ^^Scotland):^^ ^^Bloodaxe^^ ^^Books^^ ^^Ltd.,^^ ^^2010.^^ ^^P^^^^rint.^^

Kottoor, Gopi Krishnan. The Coloured Yolk of Love Vrindavan. New Delhi: Authorspress, 2012. Print.

Kratli, Graziano. “Rev. Trying to Say Goodbye.” World Literature Today (March


Kumar, Satish. “A.P.J. Kalam’s The Life Tree: An Appraisal.” Poetcrit 26.2 (July 2003): 45-49. Print.

Kumar, Shiv K. Where Have the Dead Gone? and Other Poems . New Delhi: Authorspress, 2014.

Mahapatra, Jayanta. Land. New Delhi: Authorspress, 2013. Print.

Indian Poetry in English in the New Millennium: A Tour

Mohanty, Niranjan. A House of Rains. Kolkata: Cambridge, 2008. Print.

——. Tiger and Other Poems. New Delhi: Sarup and Sons, 2008. Print. Mouli, T. Sai Chandra (Sony Dalia). Delightful Dawn. Gurgaon: Prasoon, 2011.


——. Graceful Green. Gurgaon: Prasoon, 2012. Print.

Naik, Vihang A. Poetry Manifesto (New & Selected Poems). New Delhi: Indialog

Publications Pvt. Ltd., 2010. Print.

Nandy, Pritish. Again. New Delhi: Rupa & Co., 2010. Print.

Padhi, Bibhu. Games the Heart Must Play, Bhubaneswar: Pen and Ink, 2003.


Padhi, Saroj K. Shattered I Sing. New Delhi: Authorspress, 2014. Print.

——. Petals in Prayer. New Delhi: Authorspress, 2015. Print.

Rao, Mani. Echolocation. Hong Kong: Chameleon Press, 2003. Print.

Sarangi, Jaydeep. The Wall and Other Poems. Allahabad: Cyberwit.net, 2015.


Singh, Charu Sheel. Collected Poems 1975-2003 . New Delhi: Adhyayan, 2008.


Singh, R.K. The River Returns. Bareilly: Prakash Book Depot, 2006. Print. Shukla, R.C. Ponderings I. New Delhi: Adhyayan, 2010. Print.

Subramaniam, Arundhathi. When God is a Traveller. New Delhi: HarperCollins,

2014. Print.

Thayil, Jeet. These Errors Are Correct. Westland: Tranquebar Press, 2008.


Viswas, Asha. The Rainbow Cave and Other Poems . Kolkata: Bridge-in-Making

Publications, 2011. Print.



ENGLISH has become the global lingua franca. The ability to effectively communicate in English is thus considered a skill that enables individuals to deal with the demands and challenges of everyday life in a globalized world. However, English has been an integral part of the education and social fabric of India long before it attained the status of being an international language. Like it or not, the language has become inextricably interwoven with the cultural texture of the land and cannot be ignored or taken lightly.

Considered to be the language of the elite, English has long transcended the barriers of class, to merge with the masses. Today not even single sentence of Hindi or any other regional language is possible without the inclusion of a word or two of English. Being a multi-linguistic nation, we did have a healthy and varied appetite of languages, and English served to be the cherry on the icing.

Eulogies for the language can take an eternity to accomplish and so does its criticism. Yet an important thing that cannot be ignored is—“love it or hate it, yet you cannot live without it”. Integrated in our education system from the primary level and extended till our graduation, the English classroom has been plagued by a plethora of problems. Lack of trained teachers to a general attitude of apathy towards the subject has led it to become one of the most vulnerable aspects of our education system.

Though everyone has woken up to the fact that communicative competency in English is a must for all students to ensure employability, yet little has been done to upgrade its present status. A lot of hullabaloo has been raised on the issue; methodologies designed, seminars and workshops

Revitalizing the English Classroom: Are We Ready for the Change?

held, yet the ground realities remain mostly unaffected and unreformed. Except for a handful of institutions and organizations working in the field, little has changed on the whole. Most of the students passing out from government run schools or private institutions of dubious reputation do not even have the basic knowledge of English after having studied the language as a subject for the last seven to ten years. At the college level obsolete syllabus fails to hold the interest of the students with their uninteresting and irrelevant course content. Hesitation and inhibitions in students further deteriorate the situation.

Educationists define education as an experience involving both student and teacher; an experience that remains unrealized in the present form of classroom. The teacher is the sole source of knowledge in the traditional setup and remains out of reach of the student; positioned at the front usually behind a desk/podium; and the experience gets divided into teaching and learning. Ineffective teacher-student interaction and the resultant gap mar the experience from becoming a fruitful one. An entire system seems to have gone awry somewhere, owing to its inability to evolve and grow with the times.

Our entire school [university] system, like our over-organized economy, politics, and standard of living, is largely a trap; it is not designed for the maximum growth and future practical utility of the children into a changing world, that they too will hopefully improve, but is a kind of inept social engineering to mold, and weed out, for short-range extrinsic needs. And even when it is more benevolent, it is in the bureaucratic death-grip, from the universities and the boards of education down, of a uniformity of conception and method that cannot possibly suit the multitude of dispositions and conditions. (http://www.english.illinois.edu/-people-faculty/schaffner/ teaching/fall2010/505/readings/Deemer.Happening.pdf)

The English classroom has become dead and obsolete in the present context. The need of the hour for the sake of our students and their future is to infuse new life into it: to revitalize the English classroom. Shortcuts are hardly available or applicable. Sorry to say but there is no “Revital” pill to regenerate energy into the English classroom. The responsibility lies squarely on the shoulders of each and every person involved with the English classroom—right from the content builders and developers to the trainers and teachers imparting that content to the students. Educational institutions should also take up the responsibility to put more emphasis on

R~~evitalizing the English Classroom: Are W~~e R~~eady for the Change?

the development of language skills of the students, and should provide the required infrastructure to modernize the classroom with technological aids.

School administration and government education department should appoint academic experts to advise them on creating learner oriented language classrooms. It has to be acknowledged by the management that a language classroom is unlike classrooms of other subjects. It needs to have space for the learner to create, play, comprehend and apply. It is a creative subject where the student can explore and learn in the process. Apart from content building and the process of teaching, efforts should be made to bring in a change in the construction and designing of the classrooms.

As a teacher when we are aware of the problems and understand them, then we also need the skills that would allow us to do something about those problems. As teachers, administrators, and researchers who are concerned about learners, we must also be the driving force for this positive change. Continuous professional development must be made compulsory for the teachers so as to keep them updated with new teaching practices and aids. A great responsibility lies not only with the administration/ management but also with the teacher who at the end is actually going to apply those methodologies in practice.

Teachers should not rely on outsiders to change the minds of reluctant or disbelieving colleagues, principals, parents, politicians, or anyone else. What is needed is education, and it is teachers themselves who must be the educators. Teachers are—or should be—the experts. They should not expect others to be better qualified and more authoritative in changing the teaching world for them. Even if others live up to this heavy expectation, which I think is improbable; it will serve only to underline how ineffectual teachers can be (Smith, F. 1986: 246).

Breaking out of the mould they have to break free of the conventional roles and practices. In the past, teaching styles were very teacher-centered. Arguably, the traditional purpose of English Education was only to pass the examinations. The emphasis to learn English was on grammar, reading, and writing skills. Students practiced a lot of drills and repetitions so that they could get accustomed to grammar. Speaking was and is still the most neglected aspect in our present language education. In fact even listening hardly ever occurs with teachers resorting to the overuse or complete use of the native tongue instead of using English. In order for English language education to become revitalized, it is essential to reframe the activity of

Revitalizing the English Classroom: Are We Ready for the Change?

language use and teaching in the classrooms as well as the course curriculum.

The purpose of education is to help students develop their own identity and faculties. The prime role of the education system either in school or college is to motivate students to learn. Language teachers have the responsibility to teach the English language, and also foster students’ self and cultural awareness through well-balanced teaching. English as a language is no longer a compulsory subject to be taught and learnt in order to pass examinations alone; it is the pre-requisite to higher education and better life opportunities. Students need to acquire good communicative skills as well as a better sense of the self in relation to the world. This can only happen when the students feel familiar and confident in the classroom, and can be vocal about their views, ideas and experiences.

The creation of a favourable atmosphere in the classroom is the foremost step towards revitalizing the English classroom. The approach has to be learner-centred and the role of the teacher should be that of the facilitator. Students are not be lectured but guided through the learning process, giving them the opportunity to think, analyze, comprehend and utilize the knowledge. Spoon feeding hampers this growth of intellect.

A learner centred classroom places more responsibility in the hands of the students to manage their own learning, while teachers take on the role of facilitators of knowledge to help learners learn rather than being the prime source of knowledge. Learner centered approach is beneficial in the growth of the student as they show a high degree of motivation: having self-confidence; demonstrating an awareness of learning needs and of their role; being strategic and enthusiastic in learning; being curious and creative in thinking; and holding democratic, open-minded, and critical attitudes.

A major area of concern especially in Higher Education is the remodeling of the English language syllabus currently in use in the colleges (in context of Chhattisgarh). Times have changed and so have the needs. Today it is very essential that the student should acquire good communicative skills in the language. The present syllabus hardly caters to this demand.

Innovation is the key for revitalization. The teacher should think out of the box. When burdened down by a vast syllabus, creativity needs to be used to transform the syllabus into an interesting one. Activities and projects assigned around the given topics will make them interesting for the learners to work it out in practice and learn in the process. Creativity

R~~evitalizing the English Classroom: Are W~~e R~~eady for the Change?

and novelty can go a long way in reviving the English classroom. Colours can be used to create posters or collages as a part of the learning process. Instead of imparting knowledge through the lecture method, hands on approach can be undertaken through art projects that will help in the acquisition of language skills of LSRW.

Djalal Tebib writes about ‘al fresco writing’ in his article. The activity conducted in a relaxed and free atmosphere in the university garden produced some very good essays on a variety of topics. The learners were self motivated as they found it interesting; and it was a collaborative effort with students helping out each other with words and ideas. The activity provided a wonderful opportunity to develop writing skill. It also helped develop an important soft skill of cooperation and team work, giving them ample opportunity to practice the first three skills too.

Imagination is an important element in this process of revitalization. It is through imagination that we have improvise and utilize ‘what is’ into

‘what it ought to be’. A poem on “Tree” for instance can be used to create a group project on environment that can include making of posters or plantation or even the formation of a nature club. Students will acquire more language skills from such activities than from a mere rendition and explanation of the poem in the class.

The ICTs have become a crucial element in ELT both within the classroom and, more importantly, outside the classroom, where they provide the necessary tools and give full sense to the idea of learner autonomy. The ICTs provide the learner not only with an unlimited number of learning materials that suit every learning style and specific need, but also with the instruments to organize and plan their learning.

Inclusion of technology will undoubtedly provide the much needed impetus to revitalize the English classroom. Teachers should be well versed in the use of technology and have a creative bent of mind to improvise and adapt it to suit the specific needs of their students. Audio- visual media and internet have a big role to play in this context. But what are required are a flexible and innovative approach; and the attitude to put in a little extra. A teacher has to be attuned to the needs of the learners.

Use of technology in the English language classroom not only improves the teaching process but also changes the very nature of instruction. However teacher educators, as well as students, need to be critical consumers of technology: be judicious users who question and reflect on the best ways to integrate technology in the learning process. Possibilities

Revitalizing the English Classroom: Are We Ready for the Change?

abound for the integration of technological opportunities that relate to English language teaching. Students can create web sites, participate in online discussions in real-time chat rooms and videoconferences, create texts, add graphics and pictures, determine appropriate formats, revise and edit. The use of technology and the ways it can enrich the English classroom is immense.

An excuse that is often heard is the lack of infrastructure and support in remote and rural areas. For technology to work, some infrastructural preliminaries have to be fulfilled. However there are enough improvisations that can be done to include technology or to hold the interest of the students. Mobile phones can be utilized for the purpose very effectively. If mobile internet is accessible in the area, the possibilities and scope of this teaching aid can be greatly extended.

Internet accessibility provides a vast number of learning opportunities that liberates the English classroom from its monotonous and limited atmosphere. Various technological aids that can be employed effectively in the learning process include podcasts, blogs, social networks, mobile messaging applications, etc.

Students can develop their writing skills through blogs. With the help of blogs students can comment online and also on other student’s blogs. The teacher can also involve in blogging by adding his/her comments. Students can be encouraged to write regularly, which will also help them in sharing their ideas and experiences. Learners can be encouraged to create poetry blogs, fiction blogs, etc. Blogs will give them the space to interact freely and become self motivated thereby improving their communication skills. Blogs can be used to post assignments and guidelines and discuss.

Podcasts are helpful in developing the reading and speaking skills of students. A podcast enables a student to hear his/her voice as the voice will be recorded and posted on the website. Podcast can be created on a variety of topics like storytelling or recitation of a poem or reading a passage, interviews, lectures, etc. The learner can learn at his own time and pace by listening to the podcasts.

Website can also be created to form a community of learners that will enable teachers and learners to communicate. Student projects or assignments can be presented on the site, lectures uploaded and resources shared. E-materials and reference material can be provided for the benefit of the learners.

R~~evitalizing the English Classroom: Are W~~e R~~eady for the Change?

Social network sites like Google or Yahoo also enables groups to be formed that can be effectively employed by the learners and teachers to stay in touch and communicate, discuss and post information and ideas. Email or chats can be used to interact thereby creating a virtual classroom on the move, and beyond the bounds of the classroom.

Technology is an important helping tool for continued learning. Learners can be easily motivated to use the various technological aids after a little training. The role of the teacher also extends to become a guide and a facilitator who shows the path to the students to acquire knowledge and use them in practice.

Even when infrastructural shortages makes it difficult for technology to be used in the classroom a little innovation and creativity can go a long way to utilize the available resources and infuse new life and energy into them. CD players and computers can be used to play audio for listening activities or to listen to recorded speech of the learners. Weekly tweets can be employed in the classroom with the help of board, paper and pens when there is no internet facility. A message tree can be used for a similar purpose whereon the learners can post their short message, idea or information. Weekly topics can be assigned to the class and tweets invited from them.

An old but effective tool to reach out to the students and engage them actively in the learning process is through storytelling or playing roles. Both of these activities can be employed in an engaging session of storytelling with pictures, sounds and movements incorporated into it. Learners can then play the role of the characters from the story. They can also recreate the story or take the story forward as a part of the creative writing activity.

Language learning theory has seen a gradual move towards a more holistic view of language use. The integration of storytelling into the language arts curriculum could lead to an improvement of general language proficiency in listening comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing. Teachers should integrate storytelling into their teaching. After a story has been enjoyed and understood, numerous listening, speaking, reading, and writing opportunities can emerge. Prior to, during, and after telling the stories, the students were involved in a variety of communicative language learning activities that aimed at providing them with ample opportunities for active participation and enhancing their abilities to use the four language skills.

Revitalizing the English Classroom: Are We Ready for the Change?

If there are problems plaguing the English classroom, there are also innumerable ways through which these problems can be overcome. When the classroom evolves to become learner centred and the learners are actively involved in the learning process as collaborators, it will become much easier to break through their walls of inhibition and fear.

Incorporate interesting and challenging projects into your teaching plans; you never know when a student can surprise you by their work. When students from a language class where asked to prepare a short project on one of the topics from their syllabus or a topic of their choice related to them, wonderful insights were presented by the students. The students who never went beyond their textbooks had to search for their materials from other sources as the guidelines provided for the project forbid them to use textbook material. Collecting the material, planning and presenting them in their reports was an activity they found interesting and some beautiful works emerged from the exercise.

A simple and conventional activity like periodical test or quiz can also help to garner the interest of the learners. Classroom discussions on the topic to be taught help to make them more vocal and build their confidence. Regular and positive interaction is often the key to break the barriers in communication and engender interest in the class.

Weekly editorial team can be chosen from the class for Class News Paper which can be prepared and presented once a week by one of the students. The paper can have sections on the subject, creative, social and similar topics. The teacher can also contribute a piece. The exercise will help build confidence of the learners and develop their writing skills. Best of the Session edition once a year can be brought out that will include the best pieces from the regular weekly editions.

It has been often noticed that students don’t take an interest in the project assigned and participation is poor. Usually this happens when the learner is unable to relate to the work he/she has to do. Combining class projects with hands on projects and practical situations will make them more interesting and challenging for the students. Applicability to real life situation renders the work more credible and useful for the learners.

Educationists and academicians have sought to bring in positive changes in the teaching methodologies. Innovative approaches have been adopted by various teachers to revitalize and revamp the dull, uninteresting and burdensome English classroom into a new, active and interesting interactive session between the teacher and student. Lisa Morgan for

R~~evitalizing the English Classroom: Are W~~e R~~eady for the Change?

instance experimented with yoga to create a “harmonious” English classroom. Based on the TPR (Total Physical Response) approach that was developed in the 1970s by American Psychology Professor, James Asher, the theory is based on the fact that a learner’s memory is enhanced and aided through association with physical movement. Morgan used yoga that reduced the initial anxiety and fear that learners encounters in the English classroom. Short sentences and commands related to some simple yoga postures helped her develop her learners’ confidence by breaking their walls of hesitation and easing out their discomfort through relaxation.

Who would have thought that yoga could be employed as an aid in an English classroom? The main impetus to harbour a positive change in the current scenario is to feel that positivity within ourselves and then infuse it into our classroom by breaking out of the box. We can best decide what, when and how to apply in our classroom as we are attuned to the specific situation. Even a few small changes in our approach and attitude can help transform the English classroom.

As teachers we also have become the catalysts for change. The system has to change too but what is important question is how much and how far we ourselves are ready for the change?

Morgan, Lisa. English Teaching Forum. No. 4. (2011).

Smith, F. Insult to Intelligence: The Bureaucratic Invasion of our Classrooms .

New York: Arbor House, 1986.



JHUMPA Lahiri, who rose to fame with her Interpreter of Maladies (1999), continues with her favourite theme of diaspora, alienation, acceptance and adjustment in her other works too. There is no denying the truth that the issue of cultural confrontation is developing in a complex and progressive way in a multi-cultural global world. Her latest work, The Lowland (2013), which had been long listed for the Man Booker Prize

2013, echoes with the complexities of immigration and exile in a third

world. The novel with its context, inter-text, pretext and subtext covers the complex reality of some initial Mao-movement, immigration of a family to the United States and gradually its cultural assimilation therein. According to James Clifford, “Everywhere individuals and groups improvise local performances from (re)collected pasts, drawing on foreign media, symbols and languages”.^^1^^ Such attempts of immigrants mostly lead to despair and dissatisfaction.

The present paper endeavours to explore not only the movement of an individual to United States for his education and his gradual entanglement into the culture of the country with Bela and Gauri but it also examines the narrative of a broken family bent on finding some tissues with which the family may be reorganized. The novel also deals with the phenomena of hybridity and cultural dislocation. Further, the paper dives deep into the psychological realities of Gauri’s existence, seeking reasons for her disinterestedness in social relationship. An attempt will also be made to discover the phenomenological reason of Bela’s complete assimilation in American culture.

The Lowland very subtly discusses the plight of an Indian family that witnesses the trials and tribulations of all sorts. While the two brothers

Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland: A Narrative P~~attern of a Broken F~~amily

Subhash and Udayan had a very secluded childhood at Tollygunj, their education separates them forever. The elder brother leaves for United States while the younger Udayan, highly influenced by Naxal movements decides to submit himself to the cause of his native land. He refuses his brother’s proposal of going to USA and being ‘indifferent to building up a career’, he tells Subhash: “How can you walk away from what’s happening? There, of all places?”^^2^^ (30). As time moves, Udayan gets closer to Gauri, the sister of his friend and later marries her. It was Gauri’s love for indigenous things and traditional practices that Udayan gets attracted to. Unaffected by the waves of changes that most girls of her age often nourish an infatuation, Gauri is mostly afraid to go out with her fiancé and even avoids going to the movies with him. The novelist draws Gauri’s simplicity and cultural hiccups in the following lines: “It was one thing to fall into conversations with him on the portico, or at the Coffee House or to walk over to the College Square to watch the swimmers in the pool. They had not yet stayed from that immediate neighbourhood, where they were simply fellow students, where it was always unreasonable for them to be” (TL, 60).

The novel shows the first break-up in the form of two brothers separating because of their different goals. Subhash’s academic pursuits prompt him to apply for Ph.D programs in the U.S. while Udayan confines himself to the happenings in his country. Despite Udayan’s realization of his being ‘nothing’ without Subhash, the latter’s action appears selfish to Udayan. Initially, Subhash feels isolated and seems to gather strength through recollections of his native land—its pulls steeped in his brother’s letters which also smack of revolutionary approaches. The concluding line of his brother’s letters unsettles Subhash who foresees the immanent fears that would distance them in the times to come. Lahiri records: “He felt their loyalty to one another, their affection stretched half-way across the world. Stretched to the breaking point by all that now stood between them, but at the same time refusing to break” (43). Subhash feels ill at ease at Rhode Island in the beginning but he learns to leave without the familiar voices of his family members. Eager to know about the happenings in Calcutta, he relies on letters yet feels helpless, unable to fulfil his parents’ wishes of not disregarding them as Udayan did. He consoles them by offering reassurances but becomes a part of the impending web of globalization where cutting off from inmates and ignoring them become an integrated affair.

Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland: A Narrative Pattern of a Broken Family

Gauri, a student of philosophy, gets won over by the innovative and original ideas of Udayan who preferred simplicity and idealism over everything. Buoyed by the thought of Marx and Rousseau whose books Udayan had given her to read, Gauri eloped with him and married. But their marriage could not last longer because of Udayan’s rebellious escapades and explosive views. As ill luck would have it, this marriage proved only a medium to nurture Udayan’s Naxal views which finally devastated Gauri and her in-laws. Udayan got killed in the broad daylight at the hands of the police for his complicity in a murderous act of a policeman. Gauri became a widow in the prime of her life. She became a bad omen for the family members who held her responsible for the tragedy. Her notion of independence abruptly got stalled and she became an object of neglect and indifference. Gauri’s existence in her in-laws’ house didn’t matter to anyone till Subhash, Udayan’s younger brother visited Kolkatta. At an early age of 23, Gauri had to fall in line with other widows who were meant to dissociate themselves from all sacred ceremonies. Lahiri outlines Gauri’s brokenness in the following: “The vermillion was washed clean from her hair. The iron bangle removed from her wrist. The absence of these ornaments marked her as a widow. She was twenty-three years old…. She was given white saris to wear in place of coloured ones so that she resembled the other widows in the family. Women three times her age” (TL, 108-09).

Udayan’s death shatters the entire family. Subhash, who used to receive gifts sent from India every Durga puja gets a telegram during Puja in 1971 and is broken to read the lines: Udayan killed. Come back if you can. Driven by the despair, Subhash returns to India and endeavours to know about the circumstances that resulted in his brother’s death. The discovery that his brother was a Naxalite adds to his shock yet his parents’ blind love towards Udayan surprises him at times.

On his return to India, Subhash is haunted by the memory of his brother. His last meeting with him had created mixed feelings. While it was quite usual not to find his parents at the airport, what shocked him more was their indifference even to him. The disorientation of the house and the depression of his parents fell heavy upon him:

His parents asked no questions about America. Inches away, they avoided looking Subhash in the eye. He wondered whether his parents would ask him to remain in Calcutta, to abandon his life in Rhode Island. But there was no mention of this. Nor was there any mention of

Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland: A Narrative P~~attern of a Broken F~~amily

the possibility of their arranging a marriage for him. They were in no position to plan their wedding, to think about his future. An hour often passed without their speaking. The shared quiet fell over them binding them more tightly than any conversation could. (TL, 96)

Subhash is shocked to see Gauri widowed at such a tender age. Gauri is devoid of all delicacies at 23. As his acquaintance grows with her, he feels sympathetic and starts nursing the idea to take her to U.S to provide her with the basic requirements. He faces opposition from all quarters yet decides to give Gauri what his brother failed to provide when he was alive. He was of the view that the American world of larger culture would help Gauri assimilate with the worldly challenges where the helplessness behind the rigours of Indian culture go in oblivion and help her begin life afresh. The reality that Gauri had Udayan’s child in her womb doesn’t deter Subhash’s determination to marry her though in a small gathering, at the cost of several whispers making round. While Subhash married her on humanitarian grounds, Gauri had her own beliefs since in her isolated moments, she felt thankful for ‘his independence and at the same time she was bewildered’ (126). Lahiri writes: “She had married Subhash as a means of staying connected to Udayan. But even as she was going through with it she knew that it was useless, just as it was useless to save a single earring when the other half of the pair was lost” (127-28). Gauri foresees the ghosts of uncertainty in America where she would be left both without Udayan and Manas, making her life an exile in true sense. Her miseries remind us of the predicament that most immigrants suffer from in a new country as well as in a new culture. Edward Said’s observations about exile appear quite apt in this regard:

It is the unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home: its essential sadness can never be surmounted. And while it is true that literature and history contain heroic romantic, glorious, even triumphant episodes in an exile’s life, these are no more than efforts meant to overcome the achievements of exile permanently undermined by the loss of something left behind forever.^^3^^

Subhash tries utmost to make Gauri comfortable and therefore tries to make her familiarize with the surroundings. But he is terrified to see Gauri’s volte face after her return from such a gathering. She feels herself quite low and finds her status inferior. Finding nothing in common with the group, she also refrains from the idea of inviting them to their house. In

Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland: A Narrative Pattern of a Broken Family

addition, she destroys her Indian clothes and puts on a new look. She seems to get weary of her past and hence tries to rinse it. The phantoms of past and the meadows of future play hide and seek in her life. Her age as well as her bodily demands seems to shake her from within. Though an expecting mother, she visualizes her position as a forsaken woman whose existence depended only upon the child in her womb. The gap between the external and the internal world lacerates her entire being. Her personal life and her desire seemed to have an uproar which was unheard by the man who posed to live with her as husband. They posed as couple yet lived apart under the same roof. The walls of tradition and custom which she wanted to break appeared to chase her as ghosts. She realizes that while Udayan appreciated her independent moves and thoughts, Subhash distanced himself from all these though he lived in a far advanced country like America. Because of his predilection and reverence for his dead brother and his remains, Subhash feels ill at ease. The novelist throws light on his conflict and realization in the following: “He had inherited his brother’s wife: in summer he would inherit his child. But the need for her physicality—waking up from the dream, in the apartment in which they were living both together and separately, he could no longer deny that he’d inherited that also” (TL, 141).

Gauri gives birth to Bela in U.S. People in the surroundings treat Subhash and Gauri as couple yet the latter reassures herself that Bela belonged to Udayan. It is from here that Gauri’s existential journey begins. Philosophy as her subject of study works as a solace to her. Interrogation about time, people and surroundings drive her to a new world where she tries to assimilate the brokenness of her life into a new form she could call

‘a form of sustenance’ (151). The new couple’s relationship being as ordinary as anything enables Gauri to ward off the onslaughts of time in her own way. She most often attended philosophy classes in Rhode Island and developed a sort of nonchalance towards the physical realities of time and space. The novelist graphically describes the waves of Gauri’s mind in the following ways: “She saw time; she sought to understand it. She filled note-books with her questions, observations. Did it exist independently, in the physical world, or in the mind’s apprehensions? Was it perceived only by humans? What caused certain moments to swell up like hours, certain years to dwindle to a number of days?” (TL, 151).

Gauri’s childhood habit of ‘waking up a staircase in darkness’ and then her yearning for philosophy started its imprint on her real life the way

Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland: A Narrative P~~attern of a Broken F~~amily

things started shaping in her life. The Greek’s concept of future as

‘indeterminable’ and Aristotles’s teaching that ‘a man could never say for certain if there would be a sea battle tomorrow’ (152) comforted Gauri. The continuum of space and time galvanized her existence more than anything else.

If philosophy acted as a soothing balm to the bruises of Gauri’s existence, idealism and practicality perpetuated Subhash. While Subhash’s external reality differed from his internal outbreaks, he seemed to derive satisfaction in posing himself as Bela’s father. Bela’s childhood joys were Subhash’s perpetual concerns. In a world divided by space and time, Bela’s growing childhood sutured the gaps in marriage solemnized between Subhash and Gauri. Lahiri records: “The point of their marriage was Bela, and in spite of the damage Gauri had wrought, in spite of her new schedule, her coming and going, the fact of Bela remained” (TL, 176).

The wheels of time and fortune kept Gauri and Subhash at bay through Bela—‘a filament’ connected them. The growing child often got unnerved by Gauri’s confinement in a room surrounded by papers and books. She understood later that her mother’s Study also served as her bedroom. She also realized lately that in her shaping, the parents were never together. The child that connected her parents though in a make-believe bond, had her own suffering which was becoming not a part but a whole rather. The novelist records painfully the growing child’s isolation and independence in the following lines: “There was no one to observe whether she had toast or cereal, whether or not she finished, though she always did, spooning up the last of the sweetened milk, putting the dirty bowl into the sink, running a little water in it so that it would be easier to rinse clean” (TL, 204).

Bela’s curiosity deepens on her visit to her grandparents’ house in India. Her grandmother makes her wonder by pointing to a portrait as that of her father—a smiling teenager. The child in Bela fails to understand the implication of burning incense in front of the picture. Subhash later placates the puzzle by calling the smiling teenager as his late brother who died of illness caused by an infection ‘the doctors were unable to cure’ (204). He also lies to Bela that he and Gauri couldn’t marry because of the lack of time. Both Subhash and Bela, on their return from India are dismayed at the sudden disappearance of Gauri, who had moved to California for a teaching assignment. The father calms the daughter by

Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland: A Narrative Pattern of a Broken Family

feigning ignorance about the reason of her mother’s catastrophic decision yet the growing child is not at ease with the circumstances. Subhash tries his best to control the situation but in a way fails to fill the void left by Gauri. Both Subhash and Bela are affected badly. Bela’s performance at studies suffers and later improves after several sessions of counselling by Dr. Grant. As time passes, Bela graduates to become an agricultural apprentice working on farms. She also becomes a victim of someone’s physical contact and gets conceived.

Though Gauri had no contact with Subhash, Bela continued to pay visits to the former, who always longed for her company. He grew fond of Bela and her ideologies which smacked of Udayan at times. A bond which Subhash had himself forged both with Gauri and Bela, at times, intimidated him. While the bond appeared real to the outside world, its frivolous nature frightened him. Lahiri sketches Subhash’s fears in the following lines: “And yet sometimes he felt threatened, convinced that it was Udayan’s inspirations: that Udayan’s influence was greater. Gauri had left them, and by now Subhash trusted to stay away. But there were times Subhash believed that Udayan would come back, claiming Bela from the grave as his own” (TL, 225).

Gauri’s decision of leaving Rhode Island for California is propelled by her existential anguish resulting from the forces of American dream where everyone can vie for a space of one’s own. Broken from within, she had not been able to assimilate herself with Subhash who played a quasi-husband and with Bela who was unaware of her mother’s split identity. Seen from Gauri’s perspective, she was moving towards diasporic identity of people who were “constantly producing and reproducing themselves anew through transformation and difference”^^4^^ (Hall, 235). Her sudden move to California may appal many of us but her further action of not keeping any ties either with Bela or Subhash provides her more time to build her own identity. It is quite significant to note that Gauri makes up her mind to see Subhash, instead of replying to his letter seeking a divorce. Finally, she decided to free Subhash to whom she had proved ‘an imposition, an intrusion’ ( TL,

304). Unfortunately, she met Bela and her child as Subhash was not home. Gauri ruefully receives Bela’s admonitions and admits of her fault but it’s too late. The meeting between the mother and the daughter is bereft of any cordiality and becomes very tumultuous where Bela’s daughter, Meghna works as a comic relief.

Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland: A Narrative P~~attern of a Broken F~~amily

Bela inherits the brokenness left by her mother. A protected childhood in the beginning followed by a disturbed growth later take a heavy toll on her life. A second generation immigrant, Bela decides to give birth to an illicit child, thinking it to be her single source of identity. Subhash’s revelation about Udayan being her father had made Bela empathetic and empowered. She was following Subhash’s model of bringing up a fatherless child, ‘an element of life that for different reasons they would share’ (TL, 271). She grew more intimate with Subhash and revered him more than her mother. Subhash had provided him stability while Gauri had abandoned her when she needed parental care more.

Thus, a close analysis of The Lowland attests to the fact that brokenness becomes the fate of all the characters. The novel acts a narrative of a broken family. Starting with the rebellion of Udayan, the novel takes in its web the intricate relation between Subhash and Gauri who stand united through a thin line of relational scale where the one always overweighs the other. Brokenness becomes a part of Subhash’s parents who continued to remain isolated from their sons—one way or the other. It is only Gauri, who, despite several ups and downs, finally emerges from the breakdown and establishes her own identity though at a heavy cost. She loses Udayan, of course, because of cruel fate but chooses to severe her ties with Subhash and Bela only to allow them assimilate with the demands of a diasporic and global world. Subhash proves himself to be a sheet anchor ready to shield those who need him—whether his parents, Udayan, Holly, Gauri, Bela, Meghna and Elise. He plays an instrumental role in uniting the separated ones and yet remains separated and solitary throughout. The myriad ups and downs of his life had taught him that happiness was but ‘the occasional episode in the general drama of pain’ ^^.5^^ And hence, several decades of his American life also couldn’t propel him to compromise with his Indian faith and values of a family life, despite having any blood ties either with Gauri or Bela or even Meghna. On the other hand, Gauri, dislocated from her roots, learns to grow and to transform herself to a life of autonomy and freedom. Though reticent in her Rhode Island’s house, she proves through her action that subalterns (women) too can speak. Gauri’s indomitable spirit always runs parallel with Subhash’s indefatigable act where both remain a loser to each other. The novel, thus, has woven intricately the narrative pattern of a broken family.

Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland: A Narrative P~~attern of a Broken F~~amily

1. Clifford, James. The Predicament of Culture. Harvard University Press,

1988: 14.

2. Lahiri, Jhumpa. The Lowland. U.K: Random House India, 2013: 30 (All subsequent references have been quoted from the same edition of the book and their page numbers mentioned in brackets).

3. Said, W.E. Reflections on Exile and other Essays. Cambridge Mass: Harvard University Press, 2001: 137.

4. Hall, Stuart. “Cultural Identity and Diaspora”, in Community, Culture and

Difference. Ed. Jonathan Rutherford. London: Lawrence and Wishart Ltd.,

1990: 235.

5. Hardy, Thomas. The Mayor of Casterbridge. Chapter 45.





IMPERIALISM was legitimized by the European colonizers by expounding anthropological theories which portrayed the peoples of the colonized world as inferior races and, therefore, requiring the “paternal” rule of the West. The concept of race underlying such anthropological theories placed the White races as superior to the non-White ones inhabiting the countries of Asia and Africa. White culture was seen as civilization and anything non-White was “non-civilized”. Consequently, the imperial powers went about “civilizing” these people with a clear conscience, terming their self- i mposed task as the “White man’s burden”.^^1^^

The twin instruments that helped establish the cultural imperialism of the West were the Church and the Western way of education. While the first, through missionaries, Christianized the native population, the second, through mission schools, westernized them. The two, however, proved counterproductive as the educated colonized, realizing the worth of their own culture, led the masses to resist the Western domination. Thus, much of the 20^^th^^ century involved long political struggle, and the eventual triumph, of the colonized against their imperial masters. The shift from colonial to an autonomous status represented only a relatively minor shift as neo-colonialism still exists, with the major world powers continuing to run the governments and the economies of their ex-colonies, on the pretext of “developing” them. Their agenda is furthered by globalization, privatization and by generating transnational capital.

However, the cultural imperialism of the West proved more damaging to the indigenous psyche than did its political and economic exploitation. As the traditional way of life of these people had been disrupted, the now

Postcolonial Dilemmas in Laurence’s This Side Jordan

semi-westernized colonials constantly suffered from a nagging sense of guilt at having abandoned the gods and culture of their forefathers. Long years of suffering humiliation and exploitation robbed them of their real identity. They realized they belonged neither to the old nor to the new world, and that they could neither fit in the westernized modern cities nor feel at home in their native villages. A feeling of uprootedness and unbelonging created a fear psychosis in their minds. Ironically the same sense of fear and insecurity assailed the colonizers too. On the verge of leaving a world where they had been comfortably living for years and now having to return like strangers to their own native land, unsettled and unnerved the colonizers.

Margaret Laurence brilliantly captures these psychological, moral and political dilemmas in her first and only Africa based novel This Side Jordan (1960). One of the most prominent names in Canadian literature, Margaret Laurence happened to be in Africa when the European settlers were on their way out of their adopted land. She was witness to the Africanization of the British colony of Ghana, for the three years she lived there, prior to its independence. Laurence herself belonged to a time when Canada, which had never been an imperial power, was just emerging from its experience of being a colony of the British and French. This greatly helped Laurence to relate sympathetically to the plight of all colonized peoples and to also draw parallels between the African and Canadian situations and characters. Spending seven years in the ‘Dark Continent’, from 1952 to 1957, Laurence observed the stunting effects colonizing nations can have on the lives and cultures of the people. This Side Jordan particularly establishes how a colonized person is injected with complexes, trepidations, fears and insecurities which lead to a “cultural cringe”. ^^2^^

My paper is an attempt to show the stultifying effects of colonization on the African psyche by taking Nathaniel Amegbe (the protagonist of the novel) as representing all colonized people.

This Side Jordan has a network of parallel situations and characters. It is a story revolving around two communities: Ghananian and expatriate British; two protagonists: Nathaniel Amegbe and Johnnie Kestoe; and two sets of cultural pasts, which continue to influence the present, and with which the characters must come to terms. On the African side, the protagonist is Nathaniel Amegbe, a teacher at Mensah’s Futura Academy. He is the mission-educated son of Kyerema, a drummer to a Chief. On the British side we have Johnnie Kestoe, an accountant employed in the Accra

P~~ostcolonial Dilemmas in Laurence’s This Side Jordan

Textile Branch of Allkirk, Moore and Bright, which is an English-centered export-import firm.

This Side Jordan portrays the problems of colonialism and the damage it causes not only to the Africans but also to the British. The English, who know that their days are numbered in Ghana, are confused, resigned and resentful as embodied by Johnnie. In the sanctuary of his club, Johnnie mourns his island home and a lost world of private schools and comfortable security. He feels a mingled attraction and repulsion for Africans, which suggests that he is projecting his own guilt on them. The sense of confusion and insecurity felt by the British colonizer is very aptly expressed in his words: “It’s true that I’m afraid of Africa…but—if we’re sent home, what shall we do? What will become of us?” (TSJ, 124).

The story of the novel moves on two levels, each presenting its own dilemmas and conflicts. On the broader level, it concerns the birth of a nation—Ghana, and on the level of the individual personality, it deals with the birth of self-awareness. The birth of the new nation means the death of the old order. It means the death not only of European domination but also the death of the tribal world. To the men still owing allegiance to the old world, whether European or African, the new world is thus an abomination— a monster. Moreover, once the bewildering transition from ‘traditional’ to

‘modern’ comes about, the Africans must face the twin problems of freedom and survival, of gaining and maintaining an independence that is both political and inner. According to Clara Thomas, “the Africans, deluded or cynical, ignorant or corrupt, are in various stages of unpreparedness. They must, willy nilly be ready to take over the problems whose magnitude they cannot even estimate and for whose solution they have neither sufficient training nor sufficient self-confidence, as embodied by Nathaniel.”^^3^^ As Victor Edusei, Nathaniel’s friend puts it: “You put your faith in Ghana, don’t you…. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a dead body lying unburied. You wait until after independence. You’ll see such oppression, as you never believed possible. Only of course it’ll be all right then—it’ll be Black men oppressing Black men, and who could object to that?” (TSJ,


On the personal level, the novel deals with how the individual, despite odds like an identity crisis, the disintegration of personality or the mental conflicts caused by the pulls and pressures of an inherited past and an acquired present, is able to find his true bearings and recover faith in himself. Through Nathaniel, one hears the voice of the colonized and

Postcolonial Dilemmas in Laurence’s This Side Jordan

experiences the ambiguity of the situation. One learns through him that Africa had a rich culture, which disappeared when the colonizers came. One also learns about the suffering and humiliation of the African people caused by years of exploitation, and their sense of despair regarding their life. “The past was dead…but the future could never be realized” ( TSJ,

64) is how Nathaniel sums up his agonizing awareness of the situation.

For Nathaniel to find his true bearings means to find out who he really is. He knows that Nathaniel is not his African name. Missionaries who Christianized him give it to him: “And after they had given him a different name they began to give him a different soul” (TSJ, 242). This makes him unsure about himself and his real identity. He is also tremendously insecure about his situation in life, including his job as a teacher. The root cause for this insecurity, according to Nathaniel is, “His lack of qualification” which “terrified him” (TSJ, 24). His own inadequacy and a sense of fear always hover very close beneath the surface of his personality. To add to his woes at work, he is made to “grovel apology for every remark that his employer, Mensah, chooses to interpret as insubordination” ( TSJ, 26). With no bargaining power at his disposal, Nathaniel only feels more and more vulnerable. He is also not comfortable with his physical self and this discomfort manifests itself in his physical appearance as well. He lacks the confidence and the pride of conviction to wear his native clothes and, at the same time, he feels uncomfortable and gauche in a badly fitting European suit. At a European party he attends, he realizes that his father would have done better, “he would have worn a Kente cloth and sauntered among these people…and they would have flocked to him…but he Nathaniel…was not interesting to them because they could see no further than to think he was trying to be like them and not succeeding” (TSJ, 145). His increasing anger towards the situation is not only easily discernible but it also highlights the fact that he is suffering from an acute crisis of identity engendered by colonialism which in turn has led to inner conflicts that make it difficult for him to cope with the existing situation.

These conflicts surface time and again, especially when dealing with situations involving the Europeans. The feeling of being exploited by the Europeans has engraved itself so deeply on Nathaniel’s mind that in any interaction with the Europeans, he feels uncomfortable and ends up getting defensive. In one incident, he over-reacts and refuses to help push Johnnie’s car because he is “not a servant, not a slave to be summoned” (TSJ, 161), but later realizes his mistake of having made too much of a

P~~ostcolonial Dilemmas in Laurence’s This Side Jordan

small request which any other person would have agreed to unquestionably with no thought of insult. This realization adds to his already heightened feeling of shame and humiliation.

This Side Jordan presents the struggle and confused despair of Nathaniel who is a product of two cultures pulling him in two opposite directions. He is torn between past and future; bush and city; between his ancient tribal culture and modern western ways. According to Clara Thomas, “Laurence focuses on Nathaniel and the multiplicity of the worlds he must live in.”^^4^^ Nathaniel is presented as a colonized who is displaced, dislocated and even depersonalized. He lives in the city and his education and migration create opposing pulls between his inherited so cio- cultural and religious traditions that he has discarded, and the alien beliefs and values that he has acquired. He has lived in mission schools since he was seven years old and the “stamp of the mission was deep on him” (TSJ,

28). However, his acceptance of the religious beliefs of the mission priests always cause a conflict in is mind whenever he realizes that his family and village believe in different religions: “Sometimes the old anger stirred and he would not set foot in the church for months. Then out of need or habit he would return, never entirely believing, never entirely disbelieving, doubting heaven but fearing hell” (TSJ, 107).

A victim of British imperialists, he suffers from a sense of belonging nowhere. He has been uprooted from his village and yet has not been able to accept the city as his permanent home where he feels in exile. “The city of strangers is your city, and the god of conquerors is your God, and a strange speech is in your mouth, and you have no home” (TSJ, 167), is his distressing thought. Colonialism has made him a stranger in his own home. He has never quite been able to fathom where he belongs. On his own admission, “I was of both and I was of neither. I forgot one way when I was too young to remember everything of it…and learned another way when I was too old for it to ever become second nature” ( TSJ, 243). This is what has been the cause of his fragmented personality.

Nathaniel welcomes the freedom which the new world offers him in the city, yet at the same time he finds he cannot totally reject the old world of the tribe and its values. He, especially, cannot reject his father, the old tribal drummer, and all the things his father believed in without doing violence to his own self. He feels guilty about his father’s death and believes that “He, Nathaniel, had damned his father to that eternity. The father had been damned by his son’s belief” (TSJ, 28). But at the same

Postcolonial Dilemmas in Laurence’s This Side Jordan

time, while performing the funeral rites for his father, Nathaniel realizes that “He had not forgotten the ways of his people” (TSJ, 28). This realization is further augmented by the remark of one of his uncles, “They have not stolen your soul Nathaniel, the White priests” ( TSJ, 30). This remark intensifies Nathaniel’s mental turmoil as he cannot reconcile himself to the fact that somewhere he is still a tribal at heart, in spite of his rational self believing in the missionary religion. While on the one hand, he admits to himself that he does yearn for his simple village life even now “You do not know that I mourn everything I have lost. I mourn the gods strangled by my hand. You do not know how often I have wanted to go back” (TSJ, 73), on the other hand, he cannot make himself give up his new faith despite his having tried once in the chapel after his father’s funeral: “He stood before the statue of God’s crucified son. And he spat full in the thing’s face, his heart raging to avenge his father. But it did not work. For he believed in the man-God with the bleeding hands, and he could not spew that out of himself” (TSJ, 31-32). These contradictory emotions only add to his confusion and agony. Thus, Nathaniel is a tortured man standing between two worlds, and aware of the ambiguity of his situation. As he puts it himself in a conversation with his uncle, “I belong between yesterday and today.” On his uncle commenting, “But that is nowhere,” Nathaniel replies, “I know…yes, I know” (TSJ, 106-07).

It is often believed that one has to touch rock bottom before one can begin an ascent. In the case of Nathaniel this is seen to be completely true. When he reaches the depths of despair, self-loathing, confusion and mental turmoil, it is only then, that he gains a new perspective into his life and makes his decisions. When Nathaniel starts taking stock of his situation, he learns his first important lesson in self-knowledge: fear has held him back but overriding curiosity with its strong element of hope has pushed him on. This moment of epiphany occurs when Nathaniel visits an Evangelist Church. Listening to the confessions made by the members and how all of them were saved by the grace of their god, Nathaniel too confesses to himself and recalls how he has suffered from an acute feeling of guilt because he has not entirely forgotten his old ways while he has adopted the new ways of the mission. As he remembers, “The new name took hold and the new roots began to grow. But the old roots never quite died, and the two became intertwined” (TSJ, 243). Once he confesses this, the meaning of what the preacher is saying becomes clear to him. He realizes that everyone carries their own private hell and fears within themselves and it is

P~~ostcolonial Dilemmas in Laurence’s This Side Jordan

for each person to overcome these and strive for a better life. Just as in the Biblical reference, “Joshua had a big battle to fight and Joshua has a big river to cross. Yes, he was afraid. Nobody ever got to the Promised land without a fight” (TSJ, 245), Nathaniel too realizes that it is not fear itself that is bad, but the fear of failure that warps a man and causes rifts in his personality. Joshua agreed to try, “That’s right God, I’ll try if you say so. Yes, Sir, I’ll try if you say so” (TSJ, 246), and things fell into place for him. “The river parted its waters…and the children of Israel crossed over on dry ground” (TSJ, 246). Nathaniel too decides to try, leaving whatever he may have done behind him and resolves to re-dedicate himself to his life afresh. This unique experience helps him to recover faith in himself and hope for the future.

On the heels of this incident comes another one which helps seal his decision to make the city his permanent home. Aya his wife gives birth to their baby in the city hospital much against the wishes of her mother and aunt who want the birth to take place in the village. Their insistence constantly reminds Nathaniel that he is betraying his people in some way. But now all his apprehensions are laid to rest and he feels “…a terrible longing to stay after all, to stay here in the city where you could feel tomorrow being reached for, where you could believe it might happen so, and to you” (TSJ, 268). At last he can finally say, “A man must belong somewhere. If it is right or it is not right, I must stay. The new roots may not grow straight, but they have grown too strong to be cut away” (TSJ, 274).

Nathaniel now understands that in order that he may retain his sense of worth as a human being, he must assimilate the old into the new. He must come to terms with the emotional pull of the old ways, neither succumbing to them nor rejecting them outright. He must stay where he is and take his own uncertain tortured steps into a very uncertain future, to cross like Joshua at last the river Jordan, and return again to his own land and take possession of it and enjoy it as “there must be pride and roots, O my people” (TSJ, 22).

The Biblical image of being on this side of River Jordan and crossing to the Promised Land on the other side, sets up the expectation of a final transition from the old traditional life to a new life of independence, as a country and as an individual. The Biblical image also refers to a turning point after a long struggle or journey. Nathaniel successfully completes this journey, from his upcountry traditional ways, through mission school

Postcolonial Dilemmas in Laurence’s This Side Jordan

to urban Western life. His naming his child Joshua is a metaphor for his own renewed efforts of building a better Ghana.

Nathaniel is finally freed from his ambivalence regarding his identity when he stops despising his inherited past and goes on to accept it. Only then is he able to assert confidently that, “…my home is here, here, here, my home is here at last” (TSJ, 275). Nathaniel is given the novel’s final words to voice the enduring hope that has always been stronger than his fear: “Joshua, Joshua, Joshua, I beg you. Cross Jordan. Joshua” (TSJ, 282).

This Side Jordan thus places before the reader the problems caused by colonialism. The novel echoes Margaret Laurence’s firm belief that individuals can achieve harmony only when they can make peace with their past, ancestors and gods and assimilate the old into the new. This belief is aptly reinforced through the person of Nathaniel Amegbe, who starts with a consciousness of psychic disorder that is overwhelming, but he ends with a fragile, but stubborn grip on a new order and with a degree of hope. In his struggle one can see the struggle of all colonized Africans contending with problems generated by colonialism. And in his hopeful march into the future one can look forward to the colonized, now better- equipped with self-awareness and a correct assessment of their situation, overcoming all odds.

All quotations from the novel This Side Jordan have been taken from the McClelland and Stewart Publishers’ edition. 481 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario.

1. Coined by Rudyard Kipling the term refers to the supposed or presumed responsibility of the White people to govern and impart their culture to non-White people, often advanced as a justification for European colonialism.

2. A feeling of inadequacy or insufficiency vis a vis one’s culture and traditions.

3. Thomas, Clara. Margaret Laurence, (Canadian Writers No. 3, New

Canadian Library, McClelland and Stewart Ltd., 1968), p. 28.

4. Thomas, Clara. “Morning Yet on Creation Day”. A Study of This Side Jordan, from A Place to Stand On: Essays by and about Margaret Laurence, ed. George Woodcock (Edmonton: Ne_West Press, 1983), p. 99.



CHICK lit is a genre that centers on the lives of urban class women written in a lively and playful manner. In the late 1990’s the genre gained immense popularity in the west having movies and serials based on the novels. Chick lit is generally not taken as an off shoot of the romance novel even though many novels have romance central to them. The heroine’s relationship is not bound to just one man but to other people in her life too, who could be family or friends. The female protagonist’s womanhood is the matter of concern in the plot. ‘The term appeared as early as 1988 as college slang for a course titled “Female Literary Tradition” and Cris Mazza and Jefferey Deshell used the term as an ironic title for their edited anthology Chick Lit—Post Feminist Fiction. The genre was defined as a type of post-feminism or second wave feminism that went beyond female as fiction to include love, courtship and gender. The collection emphasized experimental work, including violent, perverse and sexual themes. Works such as Helen Fielding’s ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ and Candace Bushnell’s

‘Sex and the City’ are examples that help establish contemporary connotations of the term. The success of Bridget Jones established chick lit as an important trend in publishing. ‘The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing’ by Melissa Bank is regarded as one of the first chick lit works to originate as a novel (actually a collection of stories), though the term was in common use at the time of its publication (1999).

There is well-known band of Indian writers whose writings cannot be neglected for they have a huge readership and have established themselves as writers in the world. The pioneers like Arundhati Roy, Jhumpa Lahiri or Kiran Desai have etched Indian Writing on the international map by winning the much coveted literary awards. Shobha De writes in a style that deals with modern life cocktail and parties, bold socialite scenes and four letter words that shocked the Indian reader when they first appeared in

New Millenium Women in Chick lit

print. Today, expletives are common place in corporate corridors, entertainment rooms, and college and school circles. There is a general expectation from writers that matters addressed by them should have social relevance. Modern day writers are bringing in their experiences of international travel, describing graphically the culture shock, how they have made the adaptations and brought change in their value system. Taking into account the demand and supply of modern literature for women, chick lit is considered serious business. What started off as genre specific romance writing for the liberated, modern woman has today become an area that addresses everything from the universal search for love, balancing a career, family issues to psychological problems, growing up, marriage, kids and jobs. Light hearted fiction writing for the modern Indian women is a relatively new phenomenon. Many women writers like Swati Kaushal (Piece of Cake), Anuja Chauhan (The Zoya Factor and The Battle for Bittora), Advaita Kala (Almost Single) and Rajshree (Trust Me) have tasted immense success with their young, single, modern Indian woman protagonists who are lively, peppy, unconventional and independent. These women have an innate ‘Indianness’ that every woman here can identify with. Contemporary Indian popular fiction that narrates ‘desi’ cosmopolitan stories has been mirroring the changing man-woman relationship in a more open and accepting urban India. When the globalised 1990’s began to creep into ‘desi’ books, the theme of love became wider and the books began to include more complex motifs with “emotional riddles, tangled relationships and even same sex love.” In the decade of 2000, the thrust of stories became younger in years as dark passionate secrets came tumbling out of cup-boards and the complex relationships (that have always been there in a particular class in the urban areas) became open.

Being single is nothing out of the ordinary for a woman in the present scene. Socio economic situation after liberalization has made women economically sound and her emergence as an independent individual. But the term ‘single’ has brought in a host of inchoate meanings that arise from the diverse discourses of the family, free market, development, consumerism, behavioral psychology, feminist movement among others. The single woman is regarded as any one or a combination of the following: unfortunate, lonely, vulnerable, incomplete, frustrated, frigid, man-hater, woman-lover, self indulgent, promiscuous, predatory, unpredictable, non- confor ming, subversive, free or liberal. In a patriarchal context, the whole

New Millenium W~~omen in Chick lit

range of reference is over determined by the absence of a male figure. Her singleness becomes her primary attribute and she is regarded single not because she does not have friends, family and males in her life but because she does not have a legitimate sexual partner. The different modes of singleness include the widow, the divorcee, the separated or deserted woman and the unmarried woman. The unmarried woman is not appreciated as the other figures of women are. The unmarried single woman is an enigma or unthinkable especially in our context where marriages are to a large extent arranged and not a matter of individual choice. Single is thought to be a state achieved almost by chance and in most cases rarely by design. In the modern world, however, this state gestures towards a reordering of relationships, reorganization of notions of intimacy and a fundamental subversion of the family model. To accept them as single means to accept that they are free to act for themselves. But it is a well known fact that women in this country are seldom free and are always under the guardianship of their father, husband or other relations. The women, who are single, in most cases, never chose to be single out of choice even though they have strong political opinion on the institution of marriage and are not at all enamored by the idea of marriage. They never think of it as an ultimate aim in life and it is something that could have happened and their life gone on a different path but the lack of it also does not trouble them. The women instead engage in personal development and need their own time and space for this. Personal space has become very important and also the philosophy of ‘live and let live’. The thrust is on quality time which has become an important mantra in today’s life. Personal liking over anything, be it caste or status, gets priority and women get into relationships on an equal footing. Chick lit depicts the life of such predominantly young, single, urban women and details their life, loves, trials and tribulations. But the themes in the novels have also gone beyond love and marriage to individuality and fame, love hate relationship with parents, the arranged marriage circus, female bonding and friendships, homosexuality in India and the struggle to be modern yet Indian. This new writing has become an amazing commercial and publishing success, progressing from just being a trend acquired from abroad, rather it has become a cultural phenomenon cutting across sections of race, religion, culture, age, color, and even sex. The entry of an Indian protagonist on the Chick Lit scene came much after the best sellers in America and Europe had made their mark. Indian-American characters in chick lit emerged in

New Millenium Women in Chick lit

America in the early 2000s with protagonists following a progressive life style in America. Kavita Daswani wrote For Matrimonial Purposes (2003) followed by Everything Happens for a Reason (2004), The Village Bride of Beverly Hills (2004), Salaam Paris (2006), and Indie Girl (2007). All the novels have protagonists who started their stories from a life grounded in India but then because they of their marriage they found themselves settled in America where their stories orbited around the marriage issue and the way they dealt with it. Arranged marriage is central to them and there is a struggle between the modernity around them and their Indian upbringing. Anjali Banerjee’s Imaginary Men (2005) shows Lina Ray—a matchmaker in San Francisco with a very traditional Indian family who finds an Indian boy before her life takes a horrible turn and things go awry. In her next novel Invisible Lives (2007) Anjali portrays the story of Lakshmi who runs a sari shop in Seattle and “was born with a magical ability to perceive secret longings in others”. She too has to make a decision between a marriage arranged by her father and her feelings for an American chauffeur. Then Sonia Singh introduces the problems of Indian women oscillating between values and change in Goddess for Hire (2004), Bollywood Confidential (2005), and Ghost Interrupted (2007). Likewise, Poonam Sharma, author of Girl Most Likely To (2007) and All Eyes on Her (2008) does the same. She introduces a desi flavor to her works, with her novels discussing similar dilemmas as those of her fellow writers, the daily struggles of career and dating, juggling between personal demands and pressures of family and evolving as an Indian American. But the most sought after Indian Chick Lit are the three novels by Kaavya Viswanathan namely How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life (2006). The popularity of all these books by all the authors lies in their protagonists’ presumed Indian-ness and their authors’ popularity happens for the same reason. Swati Kaushal’s Piece of Cake came out in the year 2004 which delineates the story of the protagonist, a twenty-nine-year-old woman, Minal Sharma, who is the Associate Products Manager at International Foods. She has to put up with her mother’s attempts to get her married through matrimonial advertisements in newspapers; shield her career from a cowardly boss, as also from the office’s in-house femme fatale who poses a threat to her promotion, and a new colleague who turns out to be a peeved competitor from her childhood hell bent on sabotaging her career; she has to choose between an amorous radio-jockey younger to her in age and a successful, selfish and uninteresting oncologist. The novel became a

New Millenium W~~omen in Chick lit

best-seller, encouraging Kaushal to write again and she came out with A Girl Like Me (2008) that narrates the travails of an Indian teenager who returns from Minnesota to settle to a life in India. Rupa Gulab’s ‘Girl Alone’ introduces the particular girlish apprehensions of Arti, the emotionally insecure, intellectual snob who is also cough-syrup addict and an avid reader of T.S. Eliot’s poetry and finds that rock bands have a calming effect on her. On one hand, she works hard to find professional satisfaction while on the other she has to find a decent man in Mumbai who shares her interests and appreciation for Woody Allen and D.H. Lawrence, and with whom she can make a life. Her worst fear is that if she is not able to find the right man then she has to marry the man selected by her mother. Rajashree’s Trust Me narrates the experiences of Paro, a girl from Amravati who works in the film industry and gains first-hand knowledge about black money, casting couch and immoral actors. Advaita Kala’s Almost Single (2007) asks the question, “Is there any such thing as a perfect relationship?” and immediately connects with all women in a relationship or who are looking for a relationship. Focused on Aisha Bhatia, twenty-nine years old Guests Relation Manager at the Grand Orchid Hotel, Delhi, the novel records the predicaments of the young, savvy girls and their gay friends as they hope for love in the city. Chick Lit novel by Smita Jain Kkrishnaa’s Konfessions, tells the story of Kkrishnaa an impulsive, spirited, stubborn and enterprising primetime script writer who is distressed by her inability to write so she goes around looking for inspiration and in the course of this she witnesses a murder, has to steal and seduce, and also spend a night in jail. Meenakashi Reddy Madhavan in You Are Here (2008) portrays the character of Arshi a twenty-five- year-old woman who goes through many complicated relationships including one with her American step mom, a two timer ex-boyfriend, and an insufferable boss. Such array of people in her life baffles her and she yearns for solace through alcohol and comfort through physical relationships. Anuja Chauhan’s The Zoya Factor (2008) tells about a plain looking advertising executive Zoya Singh Solanki’s journey with the Indian Cricket team to the ICC World Cup Championships. In spite of all misgivings she is declared the official goddess of lucky charm for the team. In Chauhan’s second novel Battle for Bittora (2010) twenty-five-year-old Jinni lives in Mumbai, works as an animator and is very satisfied with her happy go lucky and unconstrained life. This only lasts till her bossy grandmother ends all this and makes her contest the upcoming Lok Sabha

New Millenium Women in Chick lit

elections from their sleepy hometown, Bittora. Her resistance goes unheeded and she soon ends up swathed in cotton saris and frumpy blouses, battling the heat, an irresistible opponent with whom she has had previous association. Almost all the novels discuss the insecurities, apprehensions, desires, pain, dilemmas and tussles in the life of the protagonists.

Why people read these books is because through them the reader wants to find out how the protagonist deals with the problems in the books, the dilemmas they face in their everyday life. Women ask why female dilemmas should be any less universal than male problems. The answer to the question starts with Jane Austen, who, it’s been suggested, is the great- great-grandmother of “chick lit”. Since then such writing as written by Jane Austen feature upwardly mobile young women and their capricious predicaments in the world of modern romance (and modern-day shopping) and are customarily based in the best neighborhoods in the best cosmopolitan cities. The protagonists are down to earth, erring and painfully aware and critical of themselves in an alluring and irresistible manner. Almost all the novels have the women committing errors of judgment because of excessive pride or prejudice in making out the men in their lives and most do not end up with their match as Elizabeth does in Pride and Prejudice. Sometimes there is a Wickham like character crossing and misleading the protagonist and causing havoc in her life and maybe breaking up her chances of settling with her Darcy. She works hard at the relationships but it is only after she fails to connect with the man she is in relationship with that she goes looking for the lesser desired one. The friends too are of no help they are either the married ones who are self righteous or the single ones who are sailing in the same boat. The female friends are as confused as the protagonist, some because they are maybe undergoing problematic relationships themselves or others who think they are strong and insist on playing the part of a feminist. Despite many complications easy romance and playful dating is what carries the story forward. The protagonists are women of the world and abreast of world issues and familiar with well- known women like Oprah, Julia Roberts, Jane Fonda and Madonna and are on the same wavelength in their worldly knowledge as any other educated woman of any part of the world. The fact remains that the reader identifies with the protagonist, laughing with her than at her and comes to accept her own flawed self just as the imperfect character she finds in the book. A feeling of shared camaraderie and intimacy makes the books appealing and popular. The books recount the experiences of one woman,

New Millenium W~~omen in Chick lit

however fictional, that are accepted and understood by many others. Chick-lit tries to ratify the readers’ feelings as natural and brings about consolidation of a particular group of women because of their ability to reflect everyday reality of women.

Hence chick lit represents contemporary young women as far as individuality, femininity, career and relationships are concerned, and exposes insights about their lives as they get around their expectations of career and relationships. Women use these popular cultural texts in making sense of their own social experience and construct congruity between the underlying message of the chick-lit novels and their own conditions of existence. By construing the different ways in which chick-lit tries to challenge cultural expectations about women as buyers, readers and writers, chick lit does open up spaces for ruminating over the contradictions inherent in contemporary feminine personalities. Concerned with the culture and lives of young urban women, the books mainly delineates the lives of modern, cosmopolitan, single women in their 20s and 30s who place great emphasis on their dating relationships, careers and shopping and their everyday struggles with work, home, friendship, family or love. These are young women working in the corporate sector, media and publishing houses, fashion magazines, hotels, PR firms, etc. Almost all are written in a self-deprecating, funny, first-person voice. Taken as a whole, these works provide an interesting examination of images of women and their concerns in contemporary popular culture, while at the same time entertaining their readers. Indeed, the difference between chick-lit novels and their literary antecedent is the ability of the modern protagonists to laugh at themselves while simultaneously the literature treats women’s issues with wittiness and insight. In terms of desire, sexual play and experience, chick-lit heroines seem to differ from the naive and artless heroines of traditional romances. Unlike traditional romances, contemporary chick-lit doesn’t always end in marriage, and the heroine’s active social life outside the man-woman relationship plays just as important a role in her life. Chick lit for this reason reaches to a wider group of women who are not just looking for romance but the various issues and situations women face when fending for footing in a commercial world. There is a certain typical nature to most chick-lit novels that indicates the popularity of it and because of this the novels are adapted to the standards laid down by commercial requirements. Truly, the content of chick-lit novels may be formula-driven but the writers have given creative modifications to these

New Millenium Women in Chick lit

formulas. Chick-lit is criticized, stigmatized and rejected, but nobody can deny that today it is a publication wonder and social critique. The genre has a long historical connection and actually reflects a powerful cultural interplay. Also, studying the notion of femininity shown in present popular fiction and the chick-lit fiction can make us understand how the discourse of marriage, sex, feminism, money unfolded in the years between Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and present day novels. The women in the novels and the readers of the novels show how they have found a space to scrutinize similar feelings and experiences of their daily lives regarding gender roles, relationships, sexuality, career and marriage within the framework as exhibited in these popular cultural writing. The situations and dilemmas faced by the young women characters in the stories of chick- lit novels have come to be accepted as normal and of those apprehensive women who are dissatisfied with their bodies and their relationships, who seek approval about their female body and show anxiety over career betterment. For instance, many chick-lit heroines turn to other magazines and programs that give information to look better and beautiful. Latest magazines and self help books have a strong hold on the heroines’ life. By sharing the details of her problematic relationships, her job, and failed attempts to reduce her consumption of alcohol, cigarettes and calories, she gains women’s empathy. To emphasize their individuality and freedom young contemporary urban women adopt drinking, socializing, dating and indulge in the pleasures offered by shopping. The protagonists, therefore, are not only the contrivance of their authors, but they also are an imitation of their reading audience. This couples the stories immediately to their readers by appealing to them to find similarities with the characters and situations described, and to note that they are talking of their own lives, the manner how personal and social problems are managed. It does not seem wrong to say that the women who read these books are a lot like the women in them, young, quite successful but a wee bit insecure, have a propensity for romantic alliances and demonstrate professional weaknesses, look for drama and entertainment and also go to books and magazines for guidance. Chick-lit serves two purposes, it is functional and relevant as it emulates women’s lives as well as is entertaining. Women use these popular novels in making sense of their own social world and experience and try coping with their contemporary, urban lifestyles where they are torn between the contemporary modern atmosphere and the traditions that still asks of them to maintain a conventional demeanor. The women readers welcome the

New Millenium W~~omen in Chick lit

chick-lit texts according to their needs; these texts work for them and are of use so far as it helps them to stand up to the bargains and challenges that their daily lives involve. The female readers establish purpose implicit in the chick-lit novels and their own conditions of existence. The manner in which the dilemmas and complications are handled is humorous and this is what makes these books pleasing for readers. They playfully deal with the aspects of contemporary women’s lives and relationships in regard to men and the competitive urban world. In today’s world, where women are expected to be smart and ambitious as well as stylish and chic, these books are close to heart and easy to relate to without being sententious. The debates on chick-lit reflect the conflict over the issue of portrayal of women, gender and sexuality. The conflict on chick lit is ongoing and probably due to the depiction of women’s liberation as her entry into the masculine world, her image, identity, sexuality to go hand in hand with the ever expanding consumption of commodities, while the need for social change to improve women’s lives takes a back seat. These books do not claim to bring social reform rather they serve to represent the lives of women as they are, the battles they face daily both inside and outside their self. Women are under enough pressure caught up in between the contemporary modern lives and the prescriptions that still expect them to maintain a traditional femininity; they do not want to worry about what the feminists will think when they want to read something entertaining and easy to relate to. Besides, chick-lit deals with issues essential to feminism, like the pressures on women about their identity through how good they look and then how they balance work with intimate relationships. Somewhat paradoxically, it provides readers a humorous break from the demands of being smart, fashionable and sexy all at once, while it also satirizes what chick-lit represents. The pleasures, entertainment and meanings raised in chick-lit reading are many; it is like they are offering room for cultural manipulation. The practice of reading chick-lit raises the platform for opposition as well as compliance to structures of power operating in society. The market promoting chick-lit books for profit, using strategic selling techniques and luring readers through formulaic styles are all part of the chick-lit reality, but when looked beyond these, one can consider chick-lit as an important representation of modern women and issues that they face.

New Millenium W~~omen in Chick lit

Bushnell, Cadence. Sex and the City, London, Abacus: London, Reprint, 2004. Chauhan, Anuja. The Zoya Factor, Noida: Harper Collins India, 2008.

——. The Battle for Bittora, Noida: Harper Collins India, 2009.

Daswani, Kavita. For Matrimonial Purposes, New York: HarperCollins

Publishers, 2003.

——. Everything Happens for a Reason , New York: HarperCollins Publishers,


——. Salaam Paris, California: Plume Books, 2006.

Ferriss, Suzanne. Young, Mallory. Chick lit: The New Woman’s Fiction.

Routledge: New York, 2006. Web

Gulab, Rupa. Girl Alone, New Delhi: Penguin Books India, 2005.

Jain, Smita. Kkrishna Konfessions, New Delhi: Westland Limited, 2008.

Kala, Advaita. Almost Single, Noida: HarperCollins Publishers and The India

Today Group, 2007.

Kaushal, Swati. Piece of Cake, New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2004.

Lakshmi, Rama. “India’s Cheeky Chick-Lit finds an Audience.” The Washington, November 23, 2007.

Mazza, Cris, Jeffrey De Shell. Eds. Chick Lit: Postfeminist Fiction. New York: Fiction Collective 2, 1995.

Madhavan, Meenakshi Reddy. You Are Here, New Delhi: Penguin, 2008. Rajashree. Trust Me, New Delhi: Rupa and Co., 2006.

Singh, Sonia. Goddess for Hire. New York: Avon, 2004.

——. Bollywood Confidential. New York: Avon, 2005.

——. Ghost, Interrupted. New York: Avon, 2007.

Sunaina Kumar. The Rise of Ladki-Lit. The Indian Express, October 8, 2006.

«Chick Lit», Wikipedia, [22/02/07], Wikipedia. «What is Chick Lit? », Chick Lit

Books, [22/05/07].



PANOPTICON had been discussed by Michel Foucault as a disciplinary structure in Discipline and Punish (1977) and also in an interview entitled “The Eye of Power” (1980). “The Panopticon is an architectural device described by the eighteenth century philosopher, Jeremy Bentham, as a way of arranging people in such a way that, for example, in a prison, it is possible to see all of the inmates without the observer being seen, and without any of the prisoners having access to one another” (Mills 45). A panopticon may be defined as:

A perimeter building in the form of a ring. At the centre of this a tower, pierced by large windows opening on to the inner face of the ring. The outer building is divided into cells each of which traverses the whole thickness of the building. These cells have two windows, one opening onto the inside, facing the windows of the central tower, the other, outer one allowing daylight to pass through the whole cell. All that is then needed is to put an overseer in the tower and place in each of the cells a lunatic, a patient, a convict, a worker, or a schoolboy. The back lighting enables one to pick out from the central tower the little captive silhouettes in the ring of cells. In short the principle of the dungeon is reversed; daylight and the overseer’s gaze capture the inmate more effectively than darkness, which afforded after all a sort of protection. (qtd. in Mills 45)

Michel Foucault analyses the particular way of organising the spatial arrangements of prisons, schools and factories to attain maximum visibility and argues that a new form of internalised disciplinary practice occurs wherein an individual is forced to act as if she/he is being constantly

The Subversion of Panopticism in Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s Anandamath

surveyed even when she/he is not. Thus this form of spatial arrangement entails a particular form of power relation and restriction of behaviours.

The main tenet of Michel Foucault’s ‘Panopticism’ is that discourse can be effectively used to control and/or modify ideology/ies in a particular space usually for the benefit of a particular governing class or organization which in turn renders the role of an ‘active agent’ that displays coercive power to be unnecessary.

The idea of the “Panopticon” which has been described above as a surveillance technique that forces an individual to internalise a particular disciplinary practice even when the individual is not being constantly surveyed leading to a particular power relation and restriction of behaviour can be observed in the colonial subjects. As a result literature produced in a colony does not enjoy the same autonomy as it does in a sovereign country. Colonialism brings about a compulsion of choices as in the colonies the colonizers do not allow even moderate expressions of free thinking on the part of the colonized.

Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay (1838-94) who in addition to being a Deputy Magistrate and a Deputy Collector in the Government of British India was also a writer, poet and a journalist. He wrote the novel Anandamath (1882) primarily in Bangla which was later translated into English. The novel was produced during a tumultuous time in history. The author who was a colonized subject had written this novel when India was under the yoke of British colonialism and despite being employed in the British administration he espoused the cause of freedom. This novel is said to be based on Indian nationalism or rather Hindu nationalism and is considered to be the pioneer of the anti-colonial movement in India. India was gradually rising up for a freedom struggle to attain independence from the British rule and the Indians required an ideological basis for their freedom struggle which was provided by this novel. The novel is not only political but also historical. It is set in Bengal in the background of the

‘Sanyasi Rebellion’ in the late eighteenth century and the famine that took place in 1770 thereby portraying the aftermath of the famine. The novel begins with an introduction to a couple Mahendra and Kalyani who are in the grip of a severe famine in the Padchinha village and are without food and water. They decide to move to the nearest city for survival. During the course of the events Kalyani gets separated from Mahendra. She runs with her infant through a forest in order to avoid the man-hunters till she loses consciousness on the bank of a river later to be rescued by Satyananda, a

The Subversion of P~~anopticism in Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s Anandamath

Hindu monk. Satyananda takes care of her and her infant till she is reunited with her husband. On the other hand, Mahendra has joined the brotherhood of the monks who serve the nation. Kalyani wants to kill herself to relieve Mahendra from his worldly duties. Satyananda joins Kalyani to help her. But before he can help her the British soldiers arrest him as the monks are fuelling a revolt against the British rule. When Satyananda is being led away he spots another monk in ochre robes and indicates to him with the help of a song that a lady is to be rescued. The other monk deciphers the song, rescues Kalyani and the infant and takes them to a hideout of the rebel monks. Mahendra also takes shelter in the hideout of the rebel monks thereby resulting in his reunion with Kalyani. The leader of the rebel monks shows the three faces of Bharat Mata or Mother India thereby indoctrinating him in their ideology. The influence of the rebel monks is on the rise and their ranks swell as a result they shift their headquarters to a fort which is attacked by the British. Heavy fighting ensues and the rebels fight bravely making the British take a tactical retreat. The sanyasis chase the British, finally to be trapped. The British artillery opens fire on the rebels inflicting severe casualties. Some of the rebels capture the British cannons thereby firing back on the British lines. The British are forced to fall back and the rebels win their first battle but the struggle continues. The story ends with Mahendra and Kalyani building a home and Mahendra continuing to support the rebels.

The novel although set in 1770 portrays the historical conditions of the nineteenth century when the Indians had begun to feel the urge of freeing their land from the foreign rule thereby beginning a freedom struggle against the British rule. The Indians in the novel are shown to resort to guerrilla warfare as the British forces are stronger in terms of resources than the Indian forces. Warren Hastings wants to establish control over India so the task is given to Major Edwards. It is thus described as:

Edwards realized that it was no European campaign. The enemy had no army, cities, capital or forts, and yet everything was under their control. When the British encamped in a certain place, they were in charge for the time, but as soon as the British forces left, Bande Mataram rang out from all sides! The newcomer was unable to discover from where his enemies issued like ants at night, burning any village that was under British control, or despatching instantly any small contingent of British forces that came their way. (219)

The Subversion of Panopticism in Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s Anandamath

Thus, the novel conveyed the idea of guerrilla warfare against the English to the Indian masses as the English forces were more powerful and organized compared to the Indian rebels. The novel directly or indirectly tries to motivate the Indian masses to end the foreign rule.

When this novel was produced, India was under the British rule which was a foreign rule. The novel is grounded in a powerful anti-colonialist ideology that is evident here. The famine of 1770 killed many people. In

1771 though there was rain and there was a good growth of crops but there were no people to buy them as a result the tenants couldn’t pay their taxes to the zamindars and the zamindars were unable to pay the revenues to the king. Thus, the zamindars’ lands were confiscated. The common people joined the order of the ‘santans’ to rebel against the ruling class of Muslims as the king’s men were held responsible for their plight. The British sent their forces to quell the rebellion but it was of no avail (188-90). This example portrays the plight of the colonized people who are ruled by foreign powers such as the Muslim and the English that brings about misery and deprivation on the colonized thereby offering an insight into the colonial political set-up. This example questions the efficacy of a foreign or a colonialist rule thereby suggesting implicitly the throwing off of the foreign or the colonial rule.

The novel also questions certain religious practices such as polytheism in the Indian society of those times which have a direct influence on the Hindu way of life. The healer tells Satyananda:

To worship three hundred and thirty million gods is not the Eternal Code. That’s a worldly inferior code. Through its influence the real Eternal Code—what the foreigners call the Hindu rule of life—has been lost. The true Hindu rule of life is based on knowledge, not on action. And this knowledge is of two kinds—outward and inward. The inward knowledge is the chief part of the Eternal Code, but unless the outward knowledge arises first, the inward cannot arise. Unless one knows the gross, one cannot know the subtle. (229)

The historical, political and social condition in which the novel was produced makes it a manifesto of freedom, nationalism and progress through social and religious reforms. These ideas are espoused in the novel to make the Indians aspire for a life based on liberty and progress.

The fact that when the novel Anandamath was written and published by

Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay India was a colony of Great Britain and

The Subversion of P~~anopticism in Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s Anandamath

as mentioned above Bankim Chandra was an employee employed in the British government in India the metaphor of a ‘panopticon’ is used in this case as a technique of surveillance used by the colonizers, the British, on the colonized, the Indians, to maintain the paradigm of power with the British doing the supervision leading not only to the subjection and normalization of the Indians but also in the internalization of the gaze of the colonizer which in turn results in the disciplined behaviour of the colonized or in justifying and accepting the colonizer’s supremacy and in the creation of model subjects. The literature that is produced from the colonies during the period of colonialism usually embodies the discourses that modify the ideologies of the masses through consensus and not coercion thereby benefitting the governing class by justifying their rule as well as by maintaining political control and order.

The novel Anandamath a landmark text in terms of providing the ideological basis to the Indian freedom movement and inspiring the Indian freedom struggle belongs to the corpus of literature produced by a colonized territory of the British. The novel raises genuine concerns regarding the yoke of British colonialism and implicitly tries to subvert the justification of the British rule by questioning its efficacy. But this subversion is done obliquely and it is stated that the British rule should end after maximum mileage is extracted from it by the Indians. When the healer appears before Satyananda in the monastery of the Santans, Anandamath, he tells him to give up warfare and to allow people to undertake agricultural activities rather than continuing with it as the Muslim rule has ended but Satyananda argues that the British are yet to be uprooted to which the healer comments that the British being very knowledgeable in the outward knowledge will instruct the indigenous people which will help them to attain an understanding not only of the outer knowledge but also of the inner knowledge. This in turn will help them to understand the “Eternal Code” (Anandamath 229) based on the Hindu rule of life thereby making them wise, virtuous and strong. Until then the English rule should remain intact. The English should rule over the indigenous people as friends and moreover, the indigenous people represented by the Santans do not have the power to fight the British and win over them. Thus, the healer advises Satyananda to change the course of his life by going to the Himalayas with him (Anandamath 228-30).

Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay in his novel subverts the metaphor of a ‘panopticon’ that is in place as a result of British colonialism in India and

The Subversion of Panopticism in Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s Anandamath

the Indian subjects have internalised the ideology of the British related to the ‘White Man’s Burden’ thereby justifying their rule. This novel indirectly undercuts the idea of the efficacy of a foreign rule over the indigenous people by showing the Santans to be up in arms against the Muslims who are considered to be foreigners ruling over the Hindus resulting in the end of the Muslim rule. This is an oblique comment that holds good even for the British rule but Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay being a colonized subject conveys the idea of a free Indian nation to the English through the example of the Muslim rule which is shown to come to an end as a result of the Santans. Nevertheless the author through his novel makes it evident to the British that their rule is temporary and their presence in India will be there till they impart outer knowledge to the indigenous people. This leads to the subversion of the panopticism that the English had put in place to rule India with an iron hand.

Anthropomorphism refers to the interpretation of non-human entities or events in the form of human characteristics. The term has been derived from the Greek word “anthropos” meaning human and “morphe” meaning form. The term was initially used to refer to the attribution of human physical and mental features to a deity. In the mid-nineteenth century, the term came to be used in all the spheres of human thought and action which includes daily life, arts and sciences in addition to religion. It may occur consciously or unconsciously. It is also known as “personification” in the domain of literature and graphic art (“Anthropomorphism”). Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay in his political novel Anandamath uses anthropomorphism to bestow a national character or identity to a conglomeration of kingdoms or principalities, that is, India. This national character or identity that is bestowed by the author on India through the use of anthropomorphism is to unify the inhabitants of the above- mentioned geographical territory, to inspire them to revolt against the foreign powers who have established their rule in this territory and finally to throw off the yoke of foreign rule that has had a debilitating effect on the country. The technique of anthropomorphism used by the author in the novel not only gives the country an identity of a mother who sustains and nourishes her children, the indigenous people of this country, but also invokes patriotism in the Indian psyche through the idea of respecting the mother, worshipping her and liberating her from the clutches of the alien rulers. It helps the author to resist the effects of colonialism and pre-empt the dream of a free India. In the novel, the monk, Satyananda Thakur, who

The Subversion of P~~anopticism in Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s Anandamath

is also the leader of the rebels takes Mahendra inside a temple in the abbey which is also the abode of the Santans and shows him three forms of the mother representing India. The form of the mother as she was in the past:

At first Mahendra was unable to see what was inside, but as he peered more and more closely, he could gradually make out a massive four- armed statue bearing a conch shell, discus, mace and lotus, respectively, in each hand, with the Kaustubha gem adorning its breast, and the discus Sudarshan seeming to whirl around in front. (149)

The monk takes Mahendra to the next image of the mother which is her form in the present. It is described thus:

Blackened and shrouded in darkness. She has been robbed of everything; that is why she is naked. And because the whole world is a burning- ground, she is garlanded with skulls. And she is crushing her own gracious lord underfoot. Alas, dear Mother! (150)

The monk finally takes Mahendra to the form of the mother as it will be in the future. It is described thus:

Prostrating himself, the monk said, “And this is the Mother-as- she- will -be. Her ten arms reach out in ten directions, adorned with various powers in the form of the different weapons she holds, the enemy crushed at her feet, while the mighty lion who has taken refuge there is engaged in destroying the foe. Behold her whose arms are the directions….” (150)

The three forms of the mother represent the past, present and future of the nation, India. The example brings home the glorious past of the country as highlighted in the glorious image of the mother. The present image of the mother is dark, mysterious and ominous thereby obliquely commenting on the present state of the country that has been laid to waste as a result of our subjugation, exploitation and deprivation by the foreign powers. The final image of the mother represents the future of the country that will be prosperous after its enemies, the foreign rulers, have been eradicated. Thus, anthropomorphism has been used by the author to indirectly indoctrinate the masses with the nationalistic ideology.

‘Panopticon’ refers to the surveillance of the many by the few which takes place in a colonial set-up whereas ‘Synopticon’ refers to the surveillance of the few by the many. Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay through his historical novel Anandamath projects both the Muslim rule as well as the British rule to be alien rules that are to be ended sooner or later

The Subversion of Panopticism in Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s Anandamath

thereby establishing the national identity of a free country, India. Similarly, A.S.P. Ayyar in his Indian English historical novels Baladitya (1930) and Three Men of Destiny (1939) obliquely comments on the political conditions prevailing in contemporary India like infighting among various members of Indian royalty and support provided by some Indian kings and chieftains to foreigners so that they are able to gain a strong foothold in the country. As a result of which the British had been able to strengthen their rule in the country. He also elucidates the role of the traitors in undermining the Indian rulers and helping the foreign rulers in establishing their stronghold. He covertly comments on the plight of India under the British rule by critiquing the rule of the Huns. Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay urges Indians to put up a united resistance against the British rule in India. He becomes a representative voice of the masses who puts the rulers (Muslims and British) who are a selected few under surveillance. He is able to present a critique of the rulers as well as of the political conditions prevailing in India at that point of time. He comments on the Muslim rule through the mouth of Bhabananda who states that the Muslim rule has just brought misery on them instead of protecting them: “Everywhere else there’s a pact with the king for protection, but does our Muslim king protect us?” (147).

The author hints at the annihilation of the British rule which is also a foreign rule, not immediately but in the future:

“Muslim rule has been destroyed”, said Satyananda, “but Hindu rule has not been established. Even now the English remain powerful in Kolkata.” (228)

The author deconstructs the panoptical metaphor by bringing about a reversal of the panoptical polarity as in this case the author representing the Indians becomes the overseer who gazes at the Indians as well as the foreign rulers who are actually the British but ostentatiously the Muslims. Thus, the author replaces the ‘Panopticon’ that is in place as a result of colonialism by the ‘Synopticon’ through his novel.

The effects of the subversion of “Panopticism” is traced in Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay’s political novel when he implicitly urges his fellow countrymen to rebel against the British and put up a united resistance against them through the historical example of Sanyasi Rebellion which is placed far away in the historical past so that he could avoid the pernicious consequences of producing a seditious literary work. Nevertheless, the novel had been

The Subversion of P~~anopticism in Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s Anandamath

banned during the British rule. It was only released in the post-independence India. Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay through the example of the Santans of the Sanyasi Rebellion urges the Indians to rebel explicitly against the Muslim rule and implicitly against the British rule and drive them out of India. The author preaches his ideology of Hindu nationalism through this novel that portrays both Muslims and British to be outsiders who have been ruling the country and the need for their ouster from the seat of power. He shows in the novel that the Santans have achieved their first goal of ending the Muslim rule but they need to wait to realize their second goal of ending the British rule. Bankim substitutes the metaphor of ‘Panopticon’ with that of ‘Synopticon’. In his novel, he reverses the idea of the surveillance of the many by a selected few and replaces it with the idea of the surveillance of a selected few by the many. The author’s role is reversed from being an individual who is observed to that of an observer which gives him agency as a colonized subject to change the power dynamics. He effectively observes the selected few like the Muslim rulers and the British rulers, analyses the reasons behind India’s loss of freedom and prescribes solutions.

Ayyar, A.S.P. Baladitya: A Historical Romance of Ancient India . Bombay: Taraporevala, 1930.

——. Three Men of Destiny. Madras: Caxton Press, 1939. “Anthropomorphism.” Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica

^^Onlin^^^^e^^^^.^^ ^^Enc^^^^y^^^^clopaedia^^ ^^Britannica^^ ^^Inc.,^^ ^^2015.^^ ^^Web.^^ ^^18^^ ^^Jan^^ ^^2015.^^

. Chatterji, Bankim Chandra. nandamath, or The Sacred Brotherhood. Trans.

^^Julius^^ ^^J.^^ ^^Lipner.^^ ^^New^^ ^^Delhi:^^ ^^Oxford^^ ^^University^^ ^^P^^^^ress,^^ ^^2005.^^

Jefferson, Ann. “Structuralism and post-structuralism.” Modern Literary Theory.

Ed. Ann Jefferson and David Robey. London: B.T Batsford Limited,

1986. 92-121.

Mills, Sara. Michel Foucault. London: Routledge, 2002.

Rabinow, Paul. The Foucault Reader. New York: Pantheon Books, 1984. Selden, Raman. A Reader’s Guide to Contemporary Literary Theory.

^^Hertfordshire:^^ ^^Harvester^^ ^^Wheat^^ ^^Sheaf,^^ ^^1989.^^ ^^70-113.^^


ELIF Shafak, the Turkish novelist, is scaling shoulder high with the contemporary Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho and Chinua Achebe, the Nigerian novelist of the last century. Out of the corpus of her works the novel The Forty Rules of Love (2010) stands on the same pedestal as The Alchemist (1988) by Coelho and Things Fall Apart (1958) by Achebe. Apart from the millions of copies sold, the thematic contents and the narrative technique of her novel are unique and outstandingly unparalleled in the genre of fiction. She has not only maintained the contemporaneity but has adroitly telescoped it with the events in the lives of Shams Tabriz, the Sufi mystic and Rumi, the legendary poet of the thirteenth century recreating the archaic milieu in Konya then and fusing it with the hi-tech present America. The ease with which she takes her readers from USA to Turkey, back and forth, is like a smooth unhindered journey from one planet to the other.

The cover page depicts a middle aged woman clad in sleeveless long summer frock down below the knees, trudging by the sea side shore with feet immersed ankle deep in the wavy water while her seemingly tilted pensive look gazing on the birds soaring high to the ninth cloud. It is a marvelous, wordless expression of perceptional duality conveyed through suggestive portrayal of the entire scenario. The lady has her feet on watery wet earth, symbolizing mundane existence, though looking up to the birds, may be aspiring to peep into the divine, like the climber of the birches in Robert Frost. The title, The Forty Rules of Love, is splashed across her physical frame, with a vast ocean in the backdrop. The bold white of the title stands in conspicuous contrast with the name of the author in the bold

Forty Rules of Love: Mundane or Divine?

black. A symbolic juxtaposition indeed. Seldom have I come across such suggestively meaningful cover page of a novel.

Hamlet had play within play “to catch the conscience of the king”. However, there is no such motive in this novel which has narrative within narrative. The narrative covers two different zones viz. Northampton, near Boston in USA, enveloping a time period from May 18,2008 to September

7,2009 and the second starting in Samarkand to Konya covering the events from March, 1244 to October, 1260. There are in all eighty nine segments (chapters). Action in twenty three takes place in Northampton, USA; while that of the remaining in Samarkand, Baghdad, Konya and Damascus; the bulk being in Konya, Turkey.

Ella, the protagonist and caption of the twenty-three segments set in USA, on the threshold of forty, has been married to a dentist for twenty years with three children, discharging all her day and nocturnal obligations, without any demur or confrontation, despite the known infidelity of her husband often spending nights out with his clients or staff. It was a life like “still waters—a predictable sequence of habits, needs and preferences” (1). On the last Valentine’s Day she got a diamond pendant, heart shaped, with a card reading:

To my dear Ella,

A woman with a quiet manner, a generous heart, and the patience of a saint.

Thank you for being my wife. Yours,

David. (2)

Reading the card she felt as if it was an obituary, an epitaph which would have been carved out on her grave when dead. A calm docile woman, who would not think of “changing even the daily coffee brand,” (3) files an application for a divorce. A pebble was hurled in her still lake like life causing ripples. Literally, it was the calling of love from the far off unknown individual whom she had never met but had just web links, some exchange of e-mails which, over a short period of 40 odd days, orchestrated the inner strings of music, the food of love.

Having grown up, the children no more need mother’s apron strings. With husband also getting busier Ella finds ample free time from the household chores. She accepts an assignment from a literary agency to go

Forty Rules of Love: Mundane or Divine?

through the manuscript of a novel titled Sweet Blasphemy by an unknown author A.Z. Zahara of Holland and write a report on it. The reading of the manuscript unfolds Shams’ mystic life from his childhood to murder. A very interesting feature of Shafak’s novelist he dove-tailing of travails in Ella’s life with the metaphoric uphill journey Shams undertakes to and completes with Rumi.

Every page of Shams’ life spells out the rules of love one after the other while interacting with the persons he meets in his journey. Intermittently Ella exchanges e-mails with Aziz (Zahara) who affectionately replies every one of them. This exchange of mails between the two tangentially touches Ella’s life which shows cumulative, though gradual, change culminating into an astonishing finale.

The discord which had been brewing beneath surfaces out one afternoon over the lunch when the eldest daughter Jeannette, still a student in a college for graduation and dating Scott for eight months, announces her marriage with the guy. The news unsettles the parents, particularly Ella. The resistance expressed through suggestive hints not only drives a wedge in the relationship between the mother and daughter but also tears open the seams of love vis-à-vis marriage. The exchange of dialogue is worth quoting:

“Mom, haven’t you been in love?” Jeannette retorted, a hint of contempt creeping in her tone.

“Oh, give me a break! Stop daydreaming and get real, will you? You’re being so….” Ella’s eyes darted toward the window, hunting for a dramatic word, until finally she came up with “…romantic!”

“What’s wrong with being romantic?” Jeannette asked sounding offended.

Really, what was wrong with being romantic? Ella wondered. Since when was she so annoyed by romanticism? Unable to answer the questions tugging at the edges of her mind, she continued all the same. “Come on, honey. Which century are you living in? Just get it in your head, women don’t marry the men they fall in love with. When push comes to shove, they choose the guy who’ll be a good father and a reliable husband. Love is only a sweet feeling bound to come and quickly go away” (10) (Italics mine).

A bolt from the blue for David, he confronts Ella, “So should I

conclude that you didn’t marry the man you loved.” She replies, “I was in

Forty Rules of Love: Mundane or Divine?

love with you back then.” Deadpan David, “So when did you stop loving me?” (11). While Ella breaks into tears David moves away in agony.

The situation worsens when Ella speaks to Scott purporting to dissuade him from the marriage till they mature and understand each other. This back fires and Ella finds herself estranged from the family members who walk away on her. With mental and domestic peace in shambles, cornered and abandoned, as Ella turns to the manuscript she fumbles on the first page which carries a note about the author: “For despite what some people say, love is not only a sweet feeling bound to come and quickly go away” (15) (Italics mine). Ironically, a contradiction to what she had uttered to her daughter. If love is not only a sweet feeling bound to come and quickly go away, it surely is bound to be something else as well. What could that be! The religion, the essence, the elixir or the purpose of life. Is it all pervasive; does it impact everybody at one or the other stage of life even a middle aged married housewife? A cool breeze blows and strikes softly against her face infusing fresh spirit. Indeed, it is inspiration enough for Ella to take a plunge into the manuscript.

Out of curiosity she googles A.Z. Zahara and a personal blog flashes on the screen. Running through the blog; bright colored page featuring “a male figure with a long white skirt whirled slowly” (42) a whirling dervish, with a small invitational poem underneath:

Let us choose one another as companions! Let us sit at each other’s feet!

Inwardly we have many harmonies—think not

That we are only what we see. (42)

After a couple of sections appended is Rumi’s immortal poem: Choose Love, Love! Without the sweet life of

^^Lo^^^^v^^^^e, li^^^^v^^^^ing^^ ^^is a burden—as^^ ^^y^^^^ou^^ ^^ha^^^^v^^^^e seen. (43)^^

Ella felt as if everything in the blog was meant for and related to her life which as of that moment was loveless and insipid. Let alone Shams’ Forty Rules of Love, she felt she could write her own sets of rules; “The Forty Rules of the Sedentary, Suburban, Earthly Housewife”, starting with “Stop looking for Love! Stop running after impossible dream! There are surely more important things in life for a married woman about to be forty” (44). Incidentally, the protagonist in The Bastard of Istanbul also writes her personal manifesto for Nihilism. In such a conflicting contrariness she

Forty Rules of Love: Mundane or Divine?

writes her first email to Aziz, the first step towards the unknown, the untrodden.

There is now a transition backwards to Shams’ journey. As a child he “received visions and heard voices” (38); he felt he talked with God who responded. Sometimes he would ascend to the seventh sky and also descend to the lowest pit to experience the high and the low. He lost his appetite so much so that for days together he would not feel hunger nor thirst. He started seeing his guardian angel and when he wanted to share his experience with his father he was accused of having “wild imagination” and advised not to scare the villagers with his stories. His own kith and kin could not understand him. As he grows older, the visions become stronger and grip harder. He abandons the house and embarks on his quest for God. Having no roots he travels east and west, high and low, all round the globe. For days together he would not come across a single soul but did not give up. He would lend a patient ear to philosophy and logic from sages and seers, but would not hesitate arguing vehemently his point of view. The mystic revelation, the celestial ray was not far to seek.

Recapitulating his experiences and ruminating over them again and again he felt he can compile a list of some principles which would spine the basic laws of Islam, universal and dependable. These basic principles could constitute the Forty Rules of the Religion of Love which could be “attained through love and love only” (40). One of those rules said,

The Path to the Truth is a labor of the heart, not of the head. Make your heart your primary guide! Not your head. Meet, challenge, and ultimately prevail over your nafs with your heart. Knowing your self will lead you to the knowledge of God. (40)

It takes him years to compile these rules, the forty of them. He feels he needs to handover this divine treasure trove to someone to carry on and he calls for His help. “Go to Baghdad,” the message from the guardian angel resounded the room in a rhythmic echo, “a singsong voice.” There he would get the master who would guide him in the right direction. He is promised a spiritual companion there. With profound gratitude, Shams travels from Samarkand to Baghdad in the hope that he would get divine direction there. His face bears the testimony of his ascetic pursuits for more than forty years. His black apparel, a wooden bowl befitting a mendicant along with a baton, all invest him with a halo of a mystic sufi, a dervish with a more than an earthly appeal.

Forty Rules of Love: Mundane or Divine?

In the mid Thirteenth Century, Baghdad was basking in splendor, luxurious opulence like a rich full blooded youth in hay days. None took cognizance of the new entrant save that he was one of the mystic sufis who were believed to complicate simple things of life with their individualistic experiences and esoteric interpretations of life; offering impracticable solutions for the undefined labyrinthine spiritual destination. As a mark of social responsibility a lodge was run by Baba Zaman for dervishes who can sojourn there for a short white till they embark on their journey ahead. Coincidentally Shams arrives in this lodge at a time when the judge, a renowned scholar with vast influence and royal authority in the area was on his visit to the lodge to safeguard against rampant sufism. The two enter into acerbic arguments about the need and place for searching God and Shams’ articulation silences the Judge.

Shams lingers in the lodge for almost nine months, against the expectations of Baba Zaman, leading unconventional life. None could tell what he has been waiting for. Baba Zaman receives a letter from Master Seyyid Burhaneddin requesting for a scholar, a mystic dervish who could be an assiduous companion, with no hope ever to return, for Rumi, the Mawlana, the renown erudite teacher in Konya. In the session called for floating the invite only Shams is willing to undertake the journey. It was curdling winter, so he is made to wait from winter to spring and then spring to autumn, metaphorically to put his enthusiasm to acid test. But Shams’ zeal does not wane nor does his patience in the hope of an imminent divine promise. One of the rules exalts patience thus:

Patience does not mean to passively endure. It means to be farsighted enough to trust the end result of a process. What does patience mean? it means to look at the thorn and see the rose, to look at the night and see the dawn. Impatience means to be so shortsighted as to not be able to see the outcome. The lovers of God never run out of patience, for they know that time is needed for the crescent moon to become full. (74)

With Baba Zaman’s nod he gets two sealed letters, one giving the name of the city and the other the person i.e. Konya and Rumi, the name that zooms him high, for Rumi, the emblem of love, sure is the abode of God for He lives in the hearts of lovers. So now it is a journey from Baghdad to Konya, an inner journey of Love, “for a new self to be born…” with implied hardship alike a child labour. “Just as clay needs to go through intense heat to become strong, Love can only be perfected in pain”(86). As Shams goes to bid adieu

Forty Rules of Love: Mundane or Divine?

to Baba Zaman, he observes a perceptible change in him even before the journey has commenced. Yes, “the quest for Love changes us. There is no seeker among those who search for Love who has not matured on the way. The moment you start looking for Love, you start to change within and without” (87) is the enlisted rule. So off towards Konya.

A change is in the offing in Ella’s life too. Her email to Aziz has been warmly responded. A stranger going all the way to The Tree of the Brokenhearted to tie a wish to the branch for reconciliation between the mother and the daughter is a no mean gesture as compared to her husband who had preferred to stay away abandoning her to suffer alone during that painful night. What a contrast between the two males! Aziz suggests submission which is not weakness, but “a form of peaceful acceptance of the terms of the universe, including the things we are currently unable to change or comprehend” (55). He signs of the mail with a wish “May love find you when you least expect, where you least expect” (55). A meteoric fulfilment of the wish; Ella gets a reconciliatory call from her daughter assuring that she loves her. Ella feels a soft niche carved in her heart for Aziz, the stranger still, just a single email old. She is further impressed by his next email where he states to have visualized her aura, with “warm yellow, timid orange and reserved metallic purple” (92) predicting them to be her colors. As he asks an old lady to give him a tapestry to be presented to Ella when they meet in times to come, the one she picks from the pile of more than fifty, had the same color combination. A sheer coincidence no doubt, but it inches the niche further. Ella closes her eyes to visualize the colors and she is in different world. Call it a trance, or a senso-aesthetic transport or romantic transcendence, or intuitive elation on viewless wings of love, she is far away from the kitchen where she was supposed to prepare breakfast for the family. She is jolted out of her reverie by the giggles of four individuals surprisingly watching her lost in the mail on the tablet.

Another email complimenting Ella on her fortieth birthday, associating forty with many auspicious and significant religo-historical events like “the flood of Noah lasting for forty days”, “Jesus went into wilderness for forty days and nights”, “Muhammad was forty years old when he received the call to become a prophet”, “Buddha meditated under a linden tree for forty days”. He assures her of “a new mission at forty, a new lease on life” (115). It is like the sweet unheard melodies which reverberate all around, a clarion call creating ripples in her consciousness.

Forty Rules of Love: Mundane or Divine?

The sporadic becomes so frequent that now the note book and the email account remain open throughout the day waiting for the ping rushing her to read the contents which spiral her to the hitherto unscaled heights of love. She acknowledges within her sleeves that this is flirtation with the web friend, but since there is no physicality involved it is Platonic. On an exclusive dinner, David shares with her that he is aware of the affair going on between the two as he has been reading those exchanges of emails. Without the slightest hesitation Ella now shows the guts to declare that she is in love with Aziz. Complacency is slapped foreboding a storm in the tea cup.

The emails give way to telecommunication and sms on her personal cell. The first email was sent on 19th May, 2008 and on 29th June, 2008 her cell pings a message of Aziz’s arrival in Boston in Hotel Onyx. It causes emotional turmoil. Boston is two hours’ drive from her residence. Should she drive the next morning or right away but on what pretext? Taking a Que sera sera attitude she decides to jump the family bridge and reaches Onyx post haste within 2 hours. The dream man is there and the two spend more than an hour and a half over several cups of coffee with the conversation taking an intimate tone and casually a kiss planted on her fingertip. Riveted through exchange of glances with a bit of playful flirtation Aziz asks Ella, “Would you like to come to my room?” (302), an invitation which on one hand lifts the mantle while on the other causes stir in her bubbling stomach and creates confusing apprehensions in the mind. Having travelled so far would it be worth the effort to advance a bit more? They arrive in the room colorfully decorated with a king size bed in the center apart from other warm and cozy settings. Is this going to be the pitch for the erotic; a waterloo for the wedded morality?

Writ large in Ella’s eyes Aziz has no difficulty in plumbing the mental dilemma. He moves her away from the bed towards the chair in the corner,

“Hush, it’s so crowded inside your mind. Too many voices. “I wish we had met earlier.

“There is no such thing as early or late in life. Everything happens at the right time.” (302)

He fiddles with her so that wherever he touches her she feels warm. He gently moves her unto the bed and lets his palm play around the body muttering words that sounded like a prayer; “although there was nothing carnal about it, it was the sexiest feeling she had ever experienced” (303). Burning between the legs she closes her eyes in a state of bliss, puts her

Forty Rules of Love: Mundane or Divine?

arms around Aziz pulling him towards her, ready to go further. But Aziz implants a tender kiss on her nose tip and withdraws.

“Don’t you want me?” quips Ella.

“I don’t want to do anything that would make you unhappy afterwards.” (304)

How unlike Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, one pining for the lip- loc ks and the other in mercurial haste to unleash his passions in Fifty Shades of Grey. Unconsummated but elated though, Ella leaves the hotel room around 1.30 in the middle of the night.

Every day she drives from Northampton to Boston to spend time with Aziz, visiting places, enjoying the beauty of the town, sharing experiences. On the last day, she expresses her desire to go with him to Amsterdam. “I would love to take you to Amsterdam with me, but I cannot promise you a future there” (322). A shocking revelation follows. Aziz has been diagnosed with a terminal disease melanoma which has spread to his internal organs including lungs and that he has just been given sixteen months. How could he take her to Amsterdam with the wicks of his own life burning out fast. The scales are loaded: twenty years of wedded life versus just forty days of web acquaintance; lovelorn settled life with an infidel husband prepared to sink the past, promising a restart and three grown up children versus sixteen months of intimate proximity with the new found lover followed by an uncertain future. The call for the unknown proves stronger. Leaving the table with lavishly prepared meals for the last super and unlit candles kept in the side, she picks up her suitcase to join Aziz.

Most of the time they travel together to various places but their togetherness comes to an end in Konya, the home of Rumi who had been transformed out and out by Shams. So has been Ella. Aziz succumbs to his malignancy but has a peaceful death. Ella invites his friends who join from different parts of the world for the burial, a warm and joyful ceremony, with sufi musicians playingney and his Scottish friend sprinkling rose petals on everyone. One of the locals said, “this must have been the craziest funeral Konya had ever witnessed, except for the funeral of Mawlana [Rumi] centuries ago” (349).

Two days after the funeral Ella found herself alone to take the stock of her life. She rang up her daughter Jeannette, the only one who had supported her in this venture, to break the news of Aziz’s death. “Will you be coming back home now?” No was the answer. Ella decides to rent a flat

Forty Rules of Love: Mundane or Divine?

in Amsterdam and go on a daily basis, earn her livelihood somehow but most certainly listening to the call of her heart it being one of the rules:

“A life without love is of no account. Don’t ask yourself what kind of love you should seek, spiritual or material, divine or mundane, Eastern or Western…. Divisions only lead to more divisions. Love has no labels, no definitions. It is what it is, pure and simple.

“Love is water of life. And a lover is a soul of fire.

“The universe turns differently when fire loves water.” (350)

Thus states Rule Number Forty. Listen to the calling of love when it orchestrates your inner strings. Think not of the past which is an interpretation, nor of the future which is nothing more than an illusion. Live in the present even though it is evanescent. Don’t toe the flow, be the flow. What joy and ecstatic moments did Ella derive during those sixteen months remain a treasure with her. She has the consolation of being with her lover for that long. It is interesting to note that as against the web relationship in the present novel, Kunal Basu described epistolary relationship in The Japanese Wife where Snehmoy Chakrabarti and Miyage had pen friendship which led them to marriage vows. Over a period of seventeen years they never met but exchanged gifts as husband and wife do. On his death Miyage comes to India, fully shaven head, clad in a white sari as a widow, to perform the posthumous rituals. Choosing the heart as her primary guide Ella enjoyed the bliss of companionship with her lover even though for a short period which would go all the way embedded in her memory to sustain her in the remaining part of her life. The quest for love changed Ella within and made her stronger to face the life as it ensues.

A very outstanding feature of the novel is the beginning of each chapter. It has in all eighty-nine chapters and every one of them starts with alphabet B, a rare feat. Alike the elements of the universe, she has classified the sections as Earth, Water, Wind, Fire and The Void. Underneath these captions she has hinted the reader what he would find therein.

Substantial space has been given to Shams’ interaction with many individuals in Konya where he travels to be with Rumi as his companion. Rumi is completely transformed. The two deliberate for days together in the closed library to the exasperation of their family members. Ultimately they come out with what they call Forty Rules of the Religion of Love. Let alone Shams’ presence, even by just going through the narrative in the

Forty Rules of Love: Mundane or Divine?

novel Sweet Blasphemy Ella has undergone complete metamorphosis. Shams’ tutelage and Rumi’s feat can be the pursuit for another academic endeavor.

Basu, Kunal. The Japanese Wife. Noida: HarperCollins Publishers India, 2009. James, E.L. Fifty Shades of Grey. London: Arrow Books, 2012.

Shafak, Elif. The Bastard of Istanbul. USA: Penguin Books, 2008.

——. The Forty Rules of Love. USA: Penguin Books, 2010. Shakespeare, W. Hamlet. London: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Figures given in brackets pertain to this edition.




In the words of Simeoni Daniel (2009), “Translations are textual artefacts’ whose functions are inscribed in the particular social culture that hosts them”. Peter Newmark made a detailed differentiation between semantic translation and communicative translation. He defined semantic translation as “an attempt to render as closely as the semantic and syntactic structures of the target language allow the exact contextual meaning of the original” (63). According to him the words as signs or as images presents literal information of the contemporary understanding of the things prevailing in the surroundings. The signifier i.e. meaning of the words conveyed in language construction is per se the mental, social and personal outlook of the speaker or the writer in an independent creative work. The signs and signifiers in the source language relate to self- raising and self- propelled idea of the signification and communication in which semiotic device depends on the structure and meaning of the language more specifically. In source language, the semantics i.e. signs refer faithfully the indication of cultural phenomenon and dimensions in the exact sense; while in target language i.e. (in case of the rendering versions) the signs, words, symbols get free from the indigenous framework and they are reframed or adapted to their ‘semiotic niche’. For instance the translator Ravi Nandan Sinha in English rendering of the stories—titled Atonement, assuringly retains the original title in print. Prayaschit. This is because in Indian cultural phenomenon and social dimension the word prayaschit denotes larger sense than mere apology for doing something wrong. The translator aims to describe the meaning of the original word as it is actually used in a particular “geographical origin and social class membership of speakers” (56). His perspective as regards the representation of a sign is to refer to the traditional connotation of a specific geographical origin. Indeed

Translation: A Social Fact and Practice

it contradicts the Ferdinand de Saussure’s conception of linguistic semantics, in which Saussure prescribes the meaning of the word in structure of a language as it should be, while Ravi Nandan Sinha unfollows the prescriptive expression of meaning and applies his descriptive comfort zone for communicative meaning.

The Social Facts and the Social Practice

The translation of a source text into a target language is a human activity. Paradoxically a faithful rendering of the original text reinforces one’s insight, knowledge and linguistic ability and translatability. In the article ‘Translation and Social Praxis in Ancient and Medieval India ’, Debendra K. Dash and Dipti R. Pattnaik write that:

Translation has been perceived as an ideological enterprise and studied as a potential site for raising issues related to practices of power and knowledge within a community or culture.

In Indian context, translational and linguistic transactions are commonly practised due to multilingual society. On account of this there are challenges as regards meaning and felicity of expression during translation activity. Yet the exchange between the two languages is an aesthetic experience, because translation involves the ‘peripheral aspect of exegesis’ (133). In translation it integrates knowledge and power. The translator is a time-binder who challenges the metaphysical notion of authorship by situating text materially. His interpretation of the source text goes across the space-binding because he recreates the linkage of language to knowledge in the target language.

For instance, the translator Ravi Nandan Sinha legitimises the multilingual nature of Indian society and ontological status of different languages of India by transcreating the Hindi short stories in order to let them reach to a wider range of readers. His rendering not only caters to the intellectual taste but also to the social needs. The activity of retelling and subverting the text of short stories not only takes into account the narrative dynamics but also internal and external forces of intercultural and exchange relationship while the process of translational transactions. The translation of Hindi Short Stories in English language assimilates freely the linguistic and lexical materials. The heterogeneity of local language is healthily intermixed and consolidates the co-existence of source language with the target language.

T~~ranslation: A Social Fact and Practice

Ravi Nandan Sinha in translating the original story Puruskar titled as The Reward written by Jaishankar Prasad, retains the original author’s source text conventional symbolic signs, because he could not find equivalents in the target-oriented literature or language. The words such as Adra Nakshatra, Bhadre, Bhadra, Devi, Chanwar, Kalash, Kumkum, Prahar, Shrawan (Sinha, 34) signify ethno-philosophies, ethical-cultural subject of an indigenous ethical system at the primary level. Secondly the element of transcoding such ethical words indeed violates the essence or the conscience of the nature-culture frame. Therefore the translator attempts to recognise the terrain of culture in aboriginal mother-tongue. The translator metaphorically does representation of aboriginal concepts in the performing art of literary translation as word and image. He presents these symbols in “generalizable semiotics” (Spivak, 242). Similarly the translator Sinha emphatically prints the original title: Goonge, besides translating it as Dumb People. The author intends to focus on the acoustic, receptive and auditory perspective of the word in the native Indian tone as well as the perception towards such people of disabilities in Indian social settings and realities. Besides he wants to reach inside “the corresponding conceptual structure of the discourse” and to search “the problem of the transposition of the subject” in the target language by avoiding semiotic deviations (Gill, 31-36).

The translator while narration faithfully adheres to the linguistic pattern of sentence structure expressed as in source language. Indeed there is grammar-translation and vocabulary-translation, yet he constitutes his rendering on the model of “natural – method” (en. wikipedia) alike Maxmilian Berlitz who preferred to avoid target language as an expression for communicating the tone/voice of the original object, rather he lets ongoing interaction between the word and the sentence per se source language. In the story Prayaschit, the translator not only sticks close to religious sensitivities of the speakers of native language, but he maintains a relationship between the rendered version and social perspective of the vocabulary for indigenous readers. He translates the maid’s reaction while preserving the standard in the normative structure of source language “Are Ram, the cat is dead. Ma ji your daughter-in-law has killed the cat. It’s indeed a very serious matter”. Further the translator attempts to create normative linguistic entity while translating the standard behaviour of native speaker in the lines spoken by Pandit Paramsukh on the event. He said in a grave voice, “Hare Krishna! Hare Krishna! It is a terrible sin.

Translation: A Social Fact and Practice

Killing a cat early in the morning! The scriptures prescribe the Kumbhipak hell for such a killer. Ramu’s mother, this is really a serious matter ” (Sinha, 91).

The translator tries to constitute separate and automous entities. To keep religious adherence in order to perform linguistic stability between source language and target language, a critic writes that “languages remain insulated from one another” (Lewis, 21). The author does not want to stabilize the normal selection of a social, regional speech pattern at a certain point, while he progressively includes “standard forms of the lexical, morphological, phonological and syntactic mixtures of the target language” (22). This manifests the translator’s efforts to achieve normalization and standardization for determining translatability and traditional linguistics in “cultural, social and situational possibilities in communicative acts” (23). The translator R.N. Sinha while communicating meaning in the rendered version establishes relationship between signs which are to be interpreted by readers and the readers have to disseminate the information if they belong to the source language group, and if they are from target language group then they have to decipher the mixed or hybrid/ non-standard cultural and linguistic context. For example the story originally written by Rangeya Goonge titled conveys metaphorically the difference between the sense-oriented and sign-oriented function, that are two kinds of typical strategies to interpret communication. Communication is a monolingual activity but when the translator or interpreter works on the semantic content and mental representation of the transposition process, the activity turns bilingual. The translator chooses deftly words as concepts to indicate signification and communication. It is apt to go through a passage from the story Dumb People to understand the difference in sense

-orientation and sign-orientation. He writes the English rendering version in this way—‘Gesturing with her fingers’, Chameli asked to the dumb boy, “then what happened?”

The dumb boy covering his face with his hands to indicate a veil replied in a sign-language: She ran. Who ran away? It was sometime before people could understand what he was trying to say. He was saying: “When he was young, his mother who wore a veil left him. That happened because

‘father’ represented by a gesture of handlebar moustaches, died. And he has been brought up by—by whom? The boy’s reply to this question was not clear to anyone, but everyone understood that those who brought him up thrashed him frequently” (Sinha, 80).

T~~ranslation: A Social Fact and Practice

The gestures, signs, expressions indeed explain the image or object that the speaker aims to draw, but when it comes to kinaesthetic, the mental representation has to be decoded and for that translator has to have consciousness raising insight, even if it appears to be an anomaly symbiotically. While doing translation from the psycholinguistics point of view, the meaning has to be drawn from the sense of the concepts, but not from the factual idea of the word/sign. In this context it is apt to quote a literary translation theorist to understand Ravi Nandan Sinha as the professional translator/interpreter who focuses on the ‘sense for sense process which consists of the deconstruction of sign into sense and reconstruction of sense into sign. His bilingualism is mediated by the possession of a single store of logical and encyclopaedic entries for concepts but distinct language-specific stores of lexical entries for the languages involved. For such translator the sign in the target language is called up by the concept, by the sign in the source language (Bhargava, 55).

The Social Nature of Translation

Literary translation tends to increase knowledge and dissipates ignorance. It enlightens and instructs interpreter or reader or audience with information and instruction regarding socio-cultural realities and socio-political context of the society, man and norms. It designs mental faculty with intellectual vigour to explore the primitiveness prevailing in socio-cultural phenomenon of the original text. It manifests in its utterance the characteristics of conventions and intentions of the historical, ideological, “social and political functioning” (Culler, 36) of a culture or community.

Literary translation is a skilful device to transmit the reflections of culture and to discuss the relevance of past nature-culture frame in the present times and context. The social nature of rendered version carries ideas, attitudes and values of the contemporary times of the original text, but at the same it significantly indicates resistance and inquiry in the meaning of the complex at three levels of rendering—“linguistic, ethnographic and pragmatic” (Herman, 78). For example the translator Ravi Nandan Sinha in the rendered English version of the book Great Hindi Short Stories picks up the Hindi short stories that falls within the span of last hundred years. His observations and experimental approach brings out his mediation, consideration, direction, depiction and dimension capacities as regards the societal conditions of India; he surfaces the matter-of-facts that shows conformity of the socio-cultural aspects. He

Translation: A Social Fact and Practice

changes “these from one language into the other language to retain the sense” (Smithy, 1958) with the realisation that in contemporary times such issues need change and thoughtfulness as well as “hermeneutic approach in translation to apprehend performance rather than existence of diverse identities of human species” (Harvey, 295-320). The translated English version story entitled She Had Asked Me (originally titled as Usne Kaha Tha written by Chandradhar Sharma Guleri) gauges gender-consciousness and gender-language issue in literary translation. The interpreter Sinha sets before us the conventional assumptions of identification and se lf- identification that are perceived and treated differentially, in relation to women’s status and the notion of gender imposed by society. He writes that in Amritsar the big coachmen unlike bamboo cart-drivers while picking their way through the narrow, winding lanes of Amritsar say with patience their brethren “Save yourself Khalsaji”, “Wait a minute brother”, “Let me pass Lalji”. Their tongue cutting, their way like a sweet knife, when drive past some old women (who) despite being asked middle of the road, they say to her, “Hut ja jeene jogiye, hat ja karma walie, hut ja putten puriye, bach ja lambi umara waliye!”

Ravi Nandan Sinha translates and it means “You deserve to live, you are fortunate, you are loved by your sons and you have a long life ahead of you; what do you want to die under the wheels of my cart? Please let me pass!” (Sinha, 2).


The translator here acts as a revisionist to such gender symbolic and he integrates from the source text the gender sensitive language into the target text. The translator rejects the traditional images of the source text; while translating he distils “the traditional usage of the modern language, and do not translate word by word, rather communicates with his creative genius the sensitivity, individuality as well as the target texts’ conception of the source text in particular and of textuality in general” ( Zellermayer, 75). There is “shifts of expression in the social nature of translation” (Toury, ed., 75). The translator focuses more on “the contextually conditioned culture-specific structures of meaning, rather on the lexical differences of the language peculiarities or on the reproduction of the linguistic expression in its exact completeness. The translator internalises connotative context of the text” (Talgeri, 86). Thus the native cultural reference either the translator has retained the sense in its originary or he has decontextualised

T~~ranslation: A Social Fact and Practice

the verbal culture of SL into TL contextual situation for the sake of consciousness-raising regarding heterogeneous cultural sensibility.

Anderman, Gunilla (2011). “Linguistics and Translation”. A Companion to Translation Studies. Eds. Piotr Kuhiwczak and Kiran Littau. New Delhi: Orient Blackswan.

Bhargave, Rajul (1999). “The Psychological Perspective in Translation Studies”.

Literary Translation. Ed. R.S. Gupta.

Culler, J. (1997). Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: OUP. Daniel, Simeoni (2009). “Translation and Society: The Emergence of a Conceptual

^^R^^^^e^^^^l^^^^a^^^^ti^^^^o^^^^nsh^^^^i^^^^p”.^^ ^^In^^ ^^T^^^^ran^^^^s^^^^l^^^^a^^^^ti^^^^on–Re^^^^fl^^^^ec^^^^ti^^^^on^^^^s^^^^,^^ ^^Re^^^^f^^^^r^^^^act^^^^i^^^^ons^^ ^^and^^ ^^T^^^^r^^^^an^^^^s^^^^f^^^^o^^^^r^^^^m^^^^at^^^^i^^^^on^^^^s^^^^.^^

Eds. Paul St. Pierre and Prafulla C. Kar. New Delhi: Pencraft International. Gill, H.S. (1999). Translation: A Semiotic Perspective Literary Translation . Ed.

^^R.S.^^ ^^Gupta.^^ ^^New^^ ^^Delhi:^^ ^^Creative^^ ^^Books.^^

Harvey, K. (1998). “Translating Camp Talk: Gay Identities and Cultural Transfer”.

The Translator. Vol. 4, Issue 2.

Herman, Theo (2011). “Literary Translation”. A Companion to Translation

Studies. New Delhi: Orient Blackswan.

Lewis, Anthony R. (2009). “Language and Translation: Contesting Conventions”.

In Translation—Reflections, Refractions and Transformations. Eds. Paul

St. Pierre and P.C. Kar. New Delhi: Pencraft.

Newmark, Peter (1981). Approaches to Translation. Oxford: Pergamon.


Niranjana, T. (1972). “Setting Translation”. History, Post Structuralism and The

Colonial Context. Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty (2000). “Translation as Culture”. Parallax.

Vol. 6, Issue 1. Taylors and Francis Online.

Talgeri, Pramod (1999). “Intercultural Hermeneutics and Literary Translation”.

Literary Translation. Ed. R.S. Gupta.

Verma, Bhagwaticharan (2013). “Prayaschit”—Atonement. Great Hindi Short

Stories. Trans. R.N. Sinha. New Delhi: Anubhuti Foundation Mission. Zellermayer, Michal (1987). “On Comments Made By Shifts in Translation”.

^^Tr^^^^an^^^^sl^^^^a^^^^ti^^^^o^^^^n^^ ^^A^^^^c^^^^r^^^^o^^^^s^^^^s^^ ^^C^^^^u^^^^lt^^^^u^^^^r^^^^e^^^^s^^^^.^^ ^^E^^^^d^^^^.^^ ^^G^^^^i^^^^d^^^^e^^^^o^^^^n^^ ^^T^^^^o^^^^u^^^^r^^^^y^^^^.^^ ^^Ne^^^^w^^ ^^De^^^^l^^^^h^^^^i^^^^:^^ ^^B^^^^a^^^^h^^^^r^^^^i^^ ^^P^^^^u^^^^b^^^^li^^^^ca^^^^ti^^^^o^^^^n^^^^.^^


THE genre of campus novel has as its setting the closed world of a campus and is focused on students, teachers and sometimes academic administrators as well. David Lodge, one of the most famous practitioners of this sub- genre writes in this context: “In English ‘Campus Novel’ is a term used to designate a work of fiction whose action takes place mainly in a college or university, and which is mainly concerned with the lives of university professors and junior teachers…” (30). The tone of a campus novel is comic but occasionally it turns into mild or harsh satire on academic life. Chris Baldick in The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms writes: “Campus novel is a novel, usually comic or satirical, in which the action is set within enclosed world of university (or similar set of learning) and highlights the follies of academic life” (30).

The present paper is focused on the satirical portrayal of campus life as depicted in Rita Joshi’s campus novel, The Awakening: A Novella in Rhyme. The novel deals with the experiences of a Cambridge educated idealistic lecturer in Delhi, about whom she writes: “From Cambridge cheerfully she came/ to seek at home fortune and fame” (10). Through JR, the protagonist of the novel, the author gives us a grim insight into the state of higher education in the country. The novel deals with the theme of corruption and opportunism in educational institutions and draws attention to the negligence or lack of concern of the faculty towards academics. The larger part of the action in the novel takes place in the campus of a women’s college in Delhi. The unbecoming academic setting in modern India is sketched with enormous detail in the novel.

A R~~eading of Rita Joshi’s Campus Novel The Awa~~k~~ening: A Novella in Rhyme

The novelist, in the very beginning, gives a very clear picture of the quandary of the Indian students and the sorry state of affairs in the academic atmosphere of the Indian colleges. Though JR’s first impressions are mixed, she is able to understand the degrading academic scenario in her college:

The scholarships here seems less, The library is in a mess,

The tutorials are redundant, Guidebooks are far too abundant, Lectures seem to be forcefed, What really goes into the head? Other’s in the Department say

That students while time away. (14)

This is a powerful sardonic comment on our times, where the campus— the seat of learning, becomes a subject of satirical criticism on students, teachers and the principal of the college.

JR observes that the students in B.A. (Hons.) English are not serious in their academic pursuits. The young girls take up the study of literature for wrong reasons. They have opted English because a B.A. Honours degree in English comes in handy as a matrimonial qualification:

An English Honours B.A. degree

Counts well for matrimony.

An Eng. Lit. type is thought smart And so good for the marriage mart. Though is there a real connection Between marriage and deconstruction? Logic seems to be defied

By this concept of a bride. (14-15)

One can distinctly feel the ironic bite in the following lines: In different contexts degrees

Create different pedigrees. (15)

In such an anarchic situation, JR is naturally inclined to feel concerned about women’s education and the female situation. Women’s colleges were

A Reading of Rita Joshi’s Campus Novel The Awakening: A Novella in Rhyme

set up to facilitate the higher education of women so that they could to broaden and widen their social horizon and empower themselves by getting equal opportunity of education and employment.

But the Supreme College for Women seems to make a mockery of these cherished ideals. Neither the principal nor the teachers could be seen making any attempt in helping students rise above their view about their subject and education. The principal called SS is driven by selfish intentions and indulges in power politics. Coercion into subservience is part of her administrative stratagem:

On the first day the principal met

The newcomers to the set. Called SS by her initials

And compared to SS officials

By students whose muttered dissent

Her rigid armour could not dent,

To the new ‘recruits’ she made clear,

Her word they must respect and fear. (10)

The character of SS offers a contrast to Mr. Daash, a senior lecturer in Ranga Rao’s The Drunk Tantra, who was a father-figure and pillar of support to students and junior collegues. SS like a dictator loves to retain her authority like a monarch and abominate trade unionism in the college which poses a threat to her authority:

Trade Unionism she abhors, Monarchy she adores,

On sycophancy she thrives

And terrorising young lives. (26)

Among other things happening on the campus, the annual drama performance comes as a big prospect for SS to show herself off. SS who is planning for her extension and so she wants to make a notable impression by inviting all the dignitaries to the show. With the senior members of the teaching staff preparing to go on a strike, she singles out the new candidate JR as a soft victim and almost forces her to assume responsibility of the College Drama Society:

JR begins to demur, SS stops any murmur:

A R~~eading of Rita Joshi’s Campus Novel The Awa~~k~~ening: A Novella in Rhyme

No protest, you must say yes,

I will not accept anything less,

You are not married, you’ve got the time, Teach them drama, teach them mime. (27)

If we compare the character of SS with Mr. Natarajan, the Principal in P.M. Nityanandan’s novel The Long Long Days we can observe that while the graceful personality of Mr. Natarajan is remembered by his students with tremendous love and respect, SS on the other hand insists that she should be feared and esteemed, little realizing that respect and love cannot be forced and has to be earned. Her relationship with the students is shown in these words:

SS always wants to evict

Students for disobeying orders,

Her strictness on mania borders. (55)

In another very important episode the author shows how SS, blinded by her power and position indulges in malpractice. JR is shocked to find that the principal, who preaches discipline and morality, indulges in corrupt activities. During examinations, JR is shocked to see that SS unashamedly approaches her niece in the examination room and tells her the answer:

After ten minutes SS again Returns ostensibly with a pen. This time JR goes near

Them in an attempt to overhear, SS is clearly giving clues,

Asking the girl not to have blues. (88)

When JR tells SS that what she is doing is wrong and she can’t do it, SS simply glares but moves along. An hour later ET and PR discuss this event of malpractice and misuse of power by the principal. An emergency meeting is called the next day when ET gives a report that she and JR saw the principal help her niece in the examination:

ET (to the Staff) gives a report (JR interjects for support): “Miss JR and I yesterday saw

SS help her niece outside our door,

A Reading of Rita Joshi’s Campus Novel The Awakening: A Novella in Rhyme

Without teachers the girl was placed

Alone on a desk- SS grace

The corridor twice and supplied

Answers to her niece at her side.” (88-89)

It is quite shocking that in the meeting SS straightaway and unabashedly denies having done such an act. It is through her power and position that SS arranges things to prove her innocent. A few flatterer like NV also come out in the defense of SS:

NV speaks in defence of SS: “JR once more causes distress.

These young upstarts are out to shame

Us, and upset our good name.” (89)

Here the author highlights and satirizes another aspect of college life, where teachers are shown, driven by the selfish motives, trying to get into the good books of the principal.

During the enquiry SS highlights the absence of any concrete evidence, the lack of a photograph or a recorded tape of her conversation with her niece, and in turn accuses JR as a creator of conspiracy:

What proof do they have of what I said To my niece? You can’t accuse a Head. No photographs, no recorded tape

Can their claim support- this scrape Is cooked up-what they say I’ll deny, This is all that forms my reply-

All this is just defamatory, Insolent, inflammatory. (92)

In absence of any tangible proof, SS gets a clean chit along with a note of reprimand. But the Board of Trustees is not pleased by this squalid state of affairs. The Principal’s demand for extension of her term is rejected and she is asked to proceed on leave without any farewell. At the end, when the principal’s post is advertised, it is quite distressing to know that ET, any undeserving candidate is made the principal:

In a strange quirk of fate

ET is chosen and thought first rate. (94)

A R~~eading of Rita Joshi’s Campus Novel The Awa~~k~~ening: A Novella in Rhyme

Here the novelist attempts to indicate the flaws of the selection committee in the modern day educational institutions because of which the chosen candidates are sometimes not even worthy of their posts. JR’s view is therefore right when she feels:

Colleges must awareness breed, Fight evil, not egos feed,

Can our present dons truly guide

Students to swim against the tide? (95)

After these histrionic events the protagonist JR feels disillusioned with her fraternity and her place in it. She also becomes aware of the irony which permeate higher education. She realizes that everything else has captured the centre stage in teaching profession aside from teaching. This insight weighs heavily on her consciousness and she feels depressed. She therefore makes up her mind to resign from her job because she feels she does not belong to this fraternity:

She explains her predicament thus— I teach, it should be fine,

But I feel I’m toeing the wrong line,

I’m fighting fights I don’t want to fight, How do I get out of this plight? (51)

This is the moment of her awakening and it dawns upon her that creative writing is decidedly her field and she must devote herself to it:

She must try to heal her gashes,

The phoenix must rise from the ashes, Creative work she feels will bring Resurrection, an awakening. (52)

She decides to write a book which will be based on her experience in

SC college.

The novel also portrays the faculty with its very strange with conflicting attitudes. None of the faculty member is seen to be academically oriented or concerned with the welfare of the students. JR during her tenure in the college learns about the insalubrious details about her colleagues in the department and gets to know the outlook of individual faculty member. For instance, MW, short for Maid in Waiting, is a weird and strange character.

A Reading of Rita Joshi’s Campus Novel The Awakening: A Novella in Rhyme

She feels offended at the fact that though she liked men, they never return her compliment:

She liked men but they did not return

The compliment, this made her burn. (13)

She is a discontented cynical woman who savours self-praise and loses no opportunity of condescending her colleagues:

These women, they don’t read, They’re teaching only out of greed. They are just housewives and mothers But of course there are others-

I’m the poetess of the Staff, MW ends with a laugh. (13-14)

In the course of her outburst, MW never loses the chance to praise herself. She claims that the girls are enthralled by her, and she lives in a world of self-deception, hoping that her poems will earn her fame and fortune:

Like patients they are etherised, By me the girls are mesmerised. My poems will bring me fame,

I’ll make my fortune, have a name. (17)

Since she has the habit of denouncing everything and everybody, she tells JR that since the publishers in India are unremark able, she has sent- o ff her manuscript abroad for publication:

I’ve sent off my manuscript, Publishers here are nondescript, I’m going to publish abroad, Here everyone is a fraud. (17)

Apart from MW, there are a number of other peculiar figures in the teaching staff. NV and PR are SS’s stooges who always want to be in her good books. NV is MW’s aunt and considers her niece much efficient than JR. She never misses an opportunity to criticize JR:

Some of the responses are odd, All do not her effort laud,

A R~~eading of Rita Joshi’s Campus Novel The Awa~~k~~ening: A Novella in Rhyme

NV, MW’s lofty aunt,

Says with a sneering taunt:

“No one can with my niece compare- To do a play does JR dare?” (30)

PR is a non-assertive woman. She takes pride in being a devoted wife and feels irresolute and perplexed about everything:

I am feeling weak,

At home my husband is my guide, Here I walk by SS’s side,

Such angry word about SS

Will lead us all into a mess. (70-71)

MT is interested in astrology and often speaks of starry influence and professes to dabble in occult powers:

All the younger Staff come to me, I predict without a fee.

I read hands, I can read face,

But I believe in God’s Grace. (18-19)

ET is the Secretary of the Teacher’s Union. She is a large woman who could always be seen eating. PV reads papers at conferences and considers herself a renowned academic. She carries about her air of discontent with the college. Then there is CD who is twice an M. Phil and a Ph.D and is considered most intellectual of the lot. In JD one can trace similarities with the character of Ranjana Malhotra from Anuradha Marwah Roy’s The Higher Education of Geetika Mehendiratta. Like Ranjana Malhotra she too is renounced by her husband, and she independently carries out the responsibility of her two children. There is another odd character, QT who belongs to high society but whose morals are considered loose.

A women’s college is a place where female mind should be progressive and liberated, but ironically, the women in question lack a sense of female fraternity and fail to form any meaningful bond. They are shown to be motivated by selfishness and rivalry. It is very unfortunate to see how mean and ruthless women can be with their own kind. A better understanding of their attitude can seen when they pass derogatory comments on JR’s endeavours. For instance, when JR’s review appears in East Ind Times, ET

A Reading of Rita Joshi’s Campus Novel The Awakening: A Novella in Rhyme

considers all that as ‘faltoo’ and advises JR that there is more to life than only the books. According to her money is far more important as one can buy food with it. She also reveals to JR the futility of her exercise of reviewing books:

By reviewing books what will you earn? Uselessly why do you burn?

What we know is more than enoug h- All they read is that kunji stuff. (47)

According to ET teachers need not update themselves academically as students are in the habit of reading guide books and so they do not require any scholarly ideas. The protagonist JR laments over the pathetic condition of the academic profession:

Education seems a pretense.

She wonders where she’s getting, What scholarly urge she’s whetting, Universities have not curbed

A society from being disturbed. Higher selves have not emerged,

In fact they seem to be submerged. (38)

JR feels sad when she compares Supreme College to Cambridge. She is baffled to see the degradation of higher education and the behaviour and attitude of the academicians.

The novelist also points out that the dilapidation is prevalent not only inside the campus, but also in society at large. The author throws light on the sycophantic reverence shown to foreign experts, in the hope of getting an assignment abroad. There is an episode in which The FIC (Foreign Indian Centre) is shown sidetracking a very knowledgeable local academic, Dr. Bhim and choosing an Englishman to deliver a lecture just because he was incharge of some grants:

The Englishman’s reading is slight, To give this talk he has no right, But all listen obsequiously

They take him very seriously. He is incharge of some grants

A R~~eading of Rita Joshi’s Campus Novel The Awa~~k~~ening: A Novella in Rhyme

And can aid academics’ wants. So at the end of the talk

Many persons around him flock. (54)

Through this episode the author draws out attention towards the biggest tragedy of our day present education system. Our education system today has become so commercial and materialistic that people with power and money climb the ladder of success while the truly knowledgeable and sincere people are left behind.

By way of summing up, we can easily call The Awakening a powerful campus novella which very realistically captures the grim realities of the world of academia and brings to light a host of unsavory aspects of higher education in India. A range of themes like, an uneasy political context, teacher’s movement and the struggles of writers and artists, forms part of the backdrop of the novel. Through an amusing and light-hearted portrayal, the author throws light on the various aspects of campus life and brings home the point that with corruption, and malpractice sneaking into the citadel of learning, the higher education and teaching positions are not sacrosanct anymore.

Baldick, Chris. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1990. Print.

Joshi, Rita. The Awakening: A Novella in Rhyme . New Delhi: UBSP, 1993.


Lodge, David. Nabokov and the Campus Novel, paru dans Cycnos, Volume 24 n°1, misen ligne le 20 mars 2008. Web. 10 March 2014. .

Nithynandan, P.M. The Long Long Days. Bombay: Asia Publishing House,

1960. Print.

Rao, Ranga. The Drunk Tantra. New Delhi: Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd.,

1994. Print.

Roy, Anuradha Marwah. The Higher Education of Geetika Mehendiratta . New

Delhi: Orient Longman Limited, 1993. Print.




FRANCIS Bacon in his essay “Of Studies” writes about the nature of books by using a metaphor from taking food: “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, some few to be chewed and digested” before explaining the metaphor further, “that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly and with diligence and attention” (italics mine 182). In using the same metaphor, I wish to express my strong feeling that though Srivastava’s essays have usually been informative and instructive, he has made them palatable with the help of wit and humour. He writes: “As meals become palatable with the addition of salt and pepper, the transmission of information—general or technical—becomes easier by the addition of spices of wit and humour” (Read 106). In his essays, Srivastava has frequently used the metaphors of salt and paper, believing that the choicest of dishes have these indispensable nutritious ingredients. By developing a positive attitude to life, one can certainly make a bland life pleasant and enjoyable.

Srivastava’s Read, Write and Teach: Essays in Learning to Live Together is a collection of 35 essays on a wide variety of subjects, dealing with the university education, administrative machinery, road and rail transport as also a perceptible fall in democratic and moral values. With his light-hearted approach, he has made them quite palatable. It is significant that in an age when the eating habits are dictated not by the nutritional value of an edible item but its outward look and taste, Srivastava has

R~~amesh K~~. Srivastav~~a~~’s Views and Expressions in Read, W~~rite and T~~each: Essays

attempted to make his essays both palatable and valuable so that they have some chance of survival even in an age of novels and short stories.

These essays are neither bookish, nor borrow ideas and expressions of other writers but carry the distilled essence of the lifetime of the writer’s experiences. It is the richness of his experiences which appeals to the readers. If Bacon’s essays continue to be popular even after four centuries, the reason was, as Selby felt, they “are the fruits of his observations of life” and “reflect his experience of men and the world” (Selby xvi). When based on genuine and dispassionate observation of life, Srivastava’s essays touch the head and heart of the readers. This is what Pashupati Jha feels when he writes: “The mark of the author’s vast experience as a student and teacher of literature as well as of a sensitive and fully conscious, intelligent observer of what is happening around is stamped on each page of this book” (351). For Anupama Chowdhury also, the book presents “a gallery of prismatic experiences culled from various fields” (355). They reflect the changing trends, attitudes and values in social matters, politics, education, teaching and administration. Srivastava’s essays are not mere replays of the video recordings of his experiences with semblance of realism on surface level but are the results of his conscientious acts of x-raying and churning of the issues in his mind before articulating his observations, conclusions and suggestions by testing them against his own experiences in India and abroad. The basic thrust of his essays has been to wipe out bureaucratic hurdles and traditional cobwebs surrounding religious and moral issues for the greatest good of the largest number.

A very large number of these essays deal with education and how innovative methods could be used for its improvement. In the first essay “Creative Reading, Creative Writing and Creative Teaching,” the author emphasizes the importance of creativity in reading, writing and teaching. Creative reading is not to be mistaken as if it is meant merely to grasp the predictable set of meanings but it goes beyond the surface meaning, particularly when “one’s mind is filled with thousands of ideas, and each sentence, each word, even punctuation marks and blank spaces become imbued with one’s knowledge and experience” (Read 2). Unfortunately, our educational system has been reduced to learning for particular information and hence it leads to fragmentation and disintegration of knowledge. The traditional method of annual examinations with stereotyped questions goes against the very principle of creativity. Besides, good or bad university and college teachers make or mar anything like the painters, as

Ramesh K. Srivastava’s Views and Expressions in Read, Write and Teach: Essays

Pablo Picasso had said, “who transform the sun to a yellow spot…[and] transform a yellow spot into the sun.” The same creativity can be in writing work, but in Indian educational system, there is the total absence of writing work. In American educational system, the writing work is an integral part of the course work which brings perfection and exactitude in man. It is in writing that one has to organize ideas, choose appropriate words and expressions, and ensure that they carry the burden of the contents decently.

The systematic erosion of standards of education has been due largely to unscrupulous politicians who through their short-sighted approach appoint “pseudo-academics as heads of institutions” out of their own sycophants, flatterers, and yes-men, notoriously known as chamchas, and who, in turn, breed their own prototypes. For such people, Srivastava uses startlingly harsh epithets which hit the bull’s eye. Jonathan Swift had a sincere desire to bring some reform in the society of his time but his sense of humour was somewhat grim and sardonic. Srivastava occasionally resorts to the Swiftean humour and satire when he uses lacerating and even wounding expressions against the pseudo-academics, calling them “four- footer, dwarfish,” “one-eyed,” “drum-beating” and “high-sounding academics” who constitute their own “society for mutual admiration.” The author concludes: “Under the guise of supervising teaching and research, some of these white-collared, bespectacled, hoary-headed professors are really criminals who operate under the respectable garb of academics” (Read 162). He does not spare even internationally celebrated writers like R.K. Narayan and hits out at his simplicity of style in rather uncharitable terms: “Narayan’s style is indeed like an old, rickety, wooden spinning wheel squeaking and rattling noisily at a monotonous pace. Feed the best of material into it but the thread shows no sign of fineness” and again “Narayan’s artlessness conceals no art but reveals artistic bankruptcy” (Read 117-18).

Srivastava believes that in teaching, the use of comic devices “enlivens the text,” removes dullness, brings in a gust of fresh air so that “the tiring facts and figures retouched with wit and humour remain permanently embedded in the memory” (Read 21). In their absence, the dull classes could become “daily marathon boredom exercises”. The errors, blunders and howlers need not make the teachers of English tear their hair; taken lightly, they can be “a matter of enjoyment and fun.” Unmotivated teaching makes the teacher “an unwilling beast of academic burden.” Srivastava is opposed to those teachers who hide their deficiency in the subjects of his

R~~amesh K~~. Srivastav~~a~~’s Views and Expressions in Read, W~~rite and T~~each: Essays

teaching by reciting poems or narrating funny incidents. He warns against the excessive use of comic elements in teaching and says: “Wit and humour are to teaching what salt and pepper are to food; they must be used only as much as add to the taste and not more” (Read 21).

Gifted with a sense of humour, Srivastava observes the world with a glint in the eye and believes strongly that this world can become a better place to live with the use of humour. This is undoubtedly his most favourite sweetening palliative which can transform all walks of life to agreeable entities. C.L. Khatri finds in the works of Srivastava “a pervading sense of humour” as also in him “a penchant for talking serious things in lighter vein” (93). A large number of Srivastava’s essays deal with humour in some way or other, such as: “Wit and Humour in University Teaching,” “Wit and Humour in Indian Life and Indian English Fiction,” “Teaching of English can be Fun too,” “Humor as a Strategy for Communication” and “A Little Knowledge can be a Humorous Thing.”

Odd and funny situations provide a fertile area for wit and humour, not only in teaching but in all walks of life provided one has the right attitude. The road signs, sign boards of advertisements and catchy slogans painted behind trucks and busses can make one smile. The essay “These Witty and Humorous Road Signs” finds that warnings to drivers can be couched in oblique, indirect and humorous expressions to discourage drunken driving. A road sign warns: “Drive on horse power, not on rum power.” To check over-speeding, a wise counsel is: better to be “fifteen minutes late in this world than be fifteen minutes early in the next.” In “These Funny Advertisements!” a man with the consumption of a bottle of coke has been shown to jump from a helicopter without injuring his finger. By looking at the unrealistic claims of advertisers, one can enjoy seeing how business and humour are “harmoniously blended” in such advertisements.

Some of Srivastava’s essays have been written in a lighter vein with tongue-in-cheek humour in the style of Addison and Steele. Joseph Addison had a keen sense of genial humour with which he wrote his Coverley papers and through them brought a great deal of reform in the society of his time. What makes Srivastava’s essays palatable, as the blurb of the book points out, are their “pungent yet savoury humour, piquant but pleasantly sharp wit, spicy albeit illustrative anecdotes, stimulating scholarly quotations and provocative questions.” The test of any piece of literature, like that of an exquisitely delicious meal is: how much and how long does it stay in the memory. After seeing thousands of beautiful daffodils,

Ramesh K. Srivastava’s Views and Expressions in Read, Write and Teach: Essays

Wordsworth recalled them whenever he was in vacant or pensive mood. In certain cases, Srivastava employs catchy idioms, modified proverbs, debased sayings, pleasantly distorted words and phrases, and newly-coined funny definitions to convey his ideas pleasantly, such as, “To err is human, but to forgive and to laugh it away is certainly divine.” A father can be defined as “a banker provided by nature;” a bald man as one “who has lot of face to wash and very little hair to comb;” and a doctor “who cures your ills by pills and kills you by his bills.” Such expressions remain lingering in the mind, teasing and pleasing insistently.

Sometimes Srivastava packs a lot of vigorous punches in his expressions, such as, some research scholars who plagiarize the works of others are called “academic porters” for physically lifting the entire thesis or dissertation. They produce scholars who have “research degrees without research.” Students in a boring class appear to be in “a prolonged condolence meeting,” while boring teaching is termed “daily marathon boredom exercise.” For short-sighted, selfish academics, “the world is not the family but the family is the world.” The power-packed officers in the administrative empire are “the mighty Atlases of bureaucratic India” and the common man’s act of chasing his files in these offices is “a pilgrimage to various secular temples of bureaucratic India.” In a narrow sense, a university could be called “local-ity rather than university” for catering to the interests of local people. In the absence of good education, a college is often reduced to “an academic factory manufacturing degrees and diplomas.” Pashupati Jha finds the essays from the view points of the subject matter and expression “intellectually quite stimulating. They activate the dormant mind of the readers by challenging their deeply entrenched thoughts” (352).

Charles Lamb usually wrote personal essays in a style which is inseparable from his humour. His humour is caused largely by his far- fetched comparisons which include a lot of exaggeration. Lamb was genial, humorous, autobiographical and occasionally laughing at his own real or imagined weaknesses. Srivastava’s essays are not consistently humorous, but he delighted, as Lamb did, “in weaving threads of fiction in a web of truth” (Walker 236). Though Srivastava is known mainly for his critical essays, novels and short stories, he has occasionally contributed both serious and light-veined essays depending on the subject matter. In a lighter vein, he portrays an idiotic traveling companion in the manner of Charles Lamb for whom economically weak relations in the essay “Poor

R~~amesh K~~. Srivastav~~a~~’s Views and Expressions in Read, W~~rite and T~~each: Essays

Relations” made him burst “into a perfect riot of whimsical metaphors” (Walker 241). In “Travelers Gather many Wise and Unwise Companions,” Srivastava obviously imitates Lamb when he writes: “An idiotic traveling companion is nature’s left-handed boon to your desire for romantic moments in your journey, a butterfly in a glass of your cold drink, an ill- ti med joke at a crematorium, a broom in a well-furnished drawing room— something not quite undesirable—a hot morsel in your mouth you can neither swallow nor spit it out” (Read 173).

Akin to the use of comic devices, Srivastava gathers together many howlers and then emphasizes that English is a foreign language and errors and mistakes in its use by Indians are bound to take place. What is needed is to respond to them in a human way with consideration, as one would to those of his near and dear ones. If someone fails to understand “length of service” and “sex” meant respectively for duration of stay and gender, the errors are not so much grammatical as cultural ones. The same thing applies to mispronunciation of words “wrap” as “rape” and “snacks” as “snakes” or difference in meanings between “outstanding” and “standing out” as also between “come in” and “income.” In conclusion, Srivastava feels that rather than tearing one’s hair over the howlers, an innovative teacher “with the help of comic vein and lighthearted attitude,” can make the students’ English better by making its learning “a matter of enjoyment and fun” (Read 59).

The use of apt examples and illustrations appears to be Srivastava’s favorite game which makes his writings delightful. An appropriate image or illustration brings before the mental eye two objects simultaneously, sometimes even from two different fields, quickening the reflexes of a reader or a listener and in the process he delightfully moves from confusion to clarity, from seriousness to light-heartedness, unlocking, as it were, the windows of his mind. That is the reason, cartoons are so communicative. Anupama Chowdhury talks of Srivastava’s originality of narration evident from “the apt examples he cites to prove his point” (355). Besides, in his writing, “images shape up from different areas—sometimes culinary as well” (356) because Srivastava is “a scholar of rare merit [who] reinforces his view point with apt quotations and adorns it with choicest illustrations” (357). Such illustrations are many times poetic, as one finds on the opening page of the book:

Creative reading is an act of unfurling one’s mind while going through the text, allowing it to spread around like the light from the filament of

Ramesh K. Srivastava’s Views and Expressions in Read, Write and Teach: Essays

an electric bulb rather than like that of a glow worm which barely lights its own path. (Read 1)

Or they are tell-tale exposures, like

Now for M. Phil and Ph.D. degrees, candidates do not plagiarize material—that would be like stealthily using nuts and bolts belonging to others—but they smuggle it wholesale. (Read 16)

A few of Srivastava’s one-liners are quite apt, memorable, meaningful, catchy and quotable, such as, “A short story is a frozen moment of life, carrying in it the seeds of perennial truths.” If the story is too brief, it “may have the effect of a cracker’s explosion that unnerves one for a moment and then is forgotten.” For the claimers of unanimity, he warns, “The apparent peace on surface hides a volcano underneath.” He defines the Vice-Chancellor as “the spinal cord of a university.”

Many times, appropriate examples and anecdotes are brought from well-known classics and mythological stories. In order to point out the drawbacks and dangers of fragmented knowledge, Srivastava has succinctly shown with the help of examples of shooting of the shabda-bhedi arrows by King Dasharath of Ayodhya in The Ramayana and by King Pandu of Hastinapur in The Mahabharata which had rocked their kingdoms and had brought about widespread ruin and destruction.

Many serious problems of Indian life which have plagued the common people for decades and even centuries have not escaped the attention of Srivastava. He has deeply contemplated over the contradictions between the appearance and reality in the country. The entire system of governance because of bureaucratic delays and red-tapism has bred corruption, delay and inefficiency. The vote-bank politics is another dangerous factor which is making the country hollow from within. The essay “Democracy in India: Secular or Seculiar” refers to the Indian democracy where minority rules the majority. Any party that favours the majority is called “communal” but those favoring minority become “secular,” thereby making the country “secu-liar” formed from “secular” and “peculiar.” Since politicians consider law unto themselves, “the violation rather than the observance of law” becomes an ideal. In “Come Back Later,” the author calls the government officers as “the mighty Atlases of bureaucratic India” before whom the people have to offer obeisance though they might make the latter run to various offices. The author advises the people in an ironical tone: “conserve your energy, give rest to your lungs, and retread the soles of your

R~~amesh K~~. Srivastav~~a~~’s Views and Expressions in Read, W~~rite and T~~each: Essays

shoes so that you could stand in various queues for hours or trudge tortoise-like miles away through the papery labyrinths, chasing your files, now to one office, now to other as if going on a pilgrimage to various secular temples of bureaucratic India ( Read 199).

The moral fabric of the country has equally been torn asunder by hypocritical politicians, thieves disguised as moral and social reformers, and white collared deceivers shown in “Research Potentialities among Unscrupulous Indians.” Such people do a lot of research work in adulteration of various items and in fooling the common people in the names of caste, creed, religion, business or job opportunities. No other country has done fraudulent researches on such a grand scale as have Indians, such as, for “the salability of divinity” which with little investment earns foreign exchange with the help of “international clientage of devotees” of the self- proclai med bhagwans, swamis and yogis. In “Art of Prevarication,” Srivastava points out how Gandhian principles of truth and non-violence have been abandoned and telling truth has become a risky affair. Indian politicians are past masters in the art of prevarication. In the essay “On Shrinking Sizes,” the author points out how a rupee’s value has come down to less than thirteen paise but even with the devalued currency, honesty of people from a bus conductor to M.L.As, M.Ps, and even ministers can now be bought. In this once-spiritually-great country, words like “honesty” and “integrity” are shrinking and shriveling up beyond recognition. A child reportedly said, “Father, I know of Brooke Bond tea, Lipton tea, Tata tea, Chinese tea and Kashmiri tea, but you never made us taste integri-tea and hones-tea” (Read 155).

Occasionally, Srivastava can get carried away emotionally and then his style becomes highly charged. When responding to his views on the idea of success, he writes:

For me, success is not a royal throne to be simply dreamt of, nor is it a lollipop to be had only for the asking. It is not an end-product, as is commonly understood or a finished jigsaw puzzle, but a continuing process, not the feeling of having reached but that of striving and progressing perpetually. (Read 143)

A versatile genius flourishes in a thousand ways. Srivastava who had shown his writing skills in critical studies, novels and short stories—and no less in teaching—has demonstrated that he is equally at home in writing serious and light-veined essays reflecting the inner unarticulated urges and

Ramesh K. Srivastava’s Views and Expressions in Read, Write and Teach: Essays

sentiments of the people who have hands itching but can do nothing and whose tongues strive to formulate words but are bitten by the teeth. Srivastava’s essays are not like those temptingly attractive and well- packaged items in the multinational departmental stores in the metropolitan Malls, but like humble wares in the dusty, weekly bazaars of the rural area where the common people come, pick up the items of their needs and go back home with broad smiles of satisfaction over their faces.

Bacon, Francis. “Of Studies,” Bacon’s Essays. Ed. F.G. Selby. London: Macmillan and Co., 1962, pp. 128-29. Print.

Chowdhury, Anupama. Book Review of Ramesh K. Srivastava’s Read, Write and Teach: Essays on Learning to Live Together. The Critical Endeavour. Vol. XXI (January 2015), pp. 355-57. Print.

Jha, Pashupati. Book Review of Ramesh K. Srivastava’s Read, Write and Teach: Essays on Learning to Live Together. The Indian Journal of English Studies. Vol. LII (2015), pp. 351-53. Print.

Khatri, C.L. Book Review of Ramesh K. Srivastava’s Read, Write and Teach: Essays on Learning to Live Together. Cyber Literature. Vol. XXXIV. No.

2 (December 2014), pp. 92-95. Print.

Selby, F.G. “Introduction” to Bacon’s Essays. London: Macmillan & Co. Ltd,

1962, pp. i-xxix. Print.

Srivastava, Ramesh K. Read, Write and Teach: Essays on Learning to Live

Together. New Delhi: Authorspress, 2014. Print.

Walker, Hugh. The English Essays and Essayists. New Delhi: S. Chand & Co.,

1959, Print.


I have tried to analyze the lives of three well educated sisters who are trying to strike a balance between their traditional culture and desire for modern Western life. They have learned to live on their own condition, taken independent decisions in life, chose their life partners. Tara the youngest, even divorces her husband Bishwpriya Chatterjee without knowing herself the exact reason, all she knows that her life was not merry with her husband and there was a lack of emotional bonding which husband and wife share. Whenever she thinks about her love life with her husband she feels that something was missing though Bish was a responsible and caring husband. She could not blame him for any particular fault since he was faultless. All the sisters are intelligent and artistic. They never feel let down by the society and they never feel suffocated by a conventional society which has little regard for women. They come from rich and traditional family so always the dilemma persists that whether they should follow their intellectual instinct or obey what their family dictated for them. They all move in different directions and in unexpected circumstances, each of them tries to carve out a unique identity of her own. But the identities are in flux since all of them attempt to achieve self realization and self actualization. Each of them tries to connect her past with the present, memory with the desire. Each of them were on the move. Mukherjee portrays through these three moving and identity shifting characters who have partial affiliations, disinterested identities, tactical belongings their sense of belongingness which is constantly reinvented and relocated, like the name of Tara—“Our Tara Lata”, and

Identity Crisis and Self Discovery in Bharti Mukherjee’s Desirable Daughters

“Tara Lata the Tree Bride” Mishtigunj and anew Tara Banerjee Cartwright of Mukherjee’s other novel. Unlike the Tara of Tiger’s Daughter, our Lata has deep affiliations with her ancestry, her culture. She wants to connect herself with the mythic Tara Lata, “The Tree Bride.” This myth provides the base for Tara Lata’s curiosity to establish her identity through interrogations of cross cultural ties. The novel Desirable Daughters is not just an idyllic tale of three desirable daughters and their different circumstances but of upbringing but is a complex transnational narrative commenting on the intricate and enigmatic process of growing up and of the feminist struggle of these three sisters to stick to their own self, their cultural moorings in times of crisis.

Desirable Daughters delineates the character of Tara along with her two sisters—Padma and Parvati, who challenge some of the ideological markers that determine the identity. Though their identity is malleable and always in process, the process of formation of their identity is not so easy to define. The protagonist and first person narrator ofDesirable Daughters, Tara is a thirty-six-year-old Indian born woman, who migrates to the United States after getting married to an Indian man Bishwapriya Chatterjee, the first man from a wealthy family. With exposure to both Bengali and Western culture, the daughters are intelligent and artistic both. They rebel against the established strict socio-cultural set up and carve a place of their own.

Since childhood Tara is acquainted with the fact that identity is predetermined as she is born in a country where class and caste are very important aspect of the society. While in the US she feels free to explore her identity and she reinvents herself too. She has the chance to transform herself in spite of the social configuration of India that compels her to present a well-established and delineated sense of self. She describes her perception of Indian identity as

Fixed as any specimen in lepidopterist’s glass case, confidently labeled by father’s religion (Hindu), caste (Brahmin), subcaste (Kulin), mother tongue Bengali, place of birth (Calcutta), formative region of ancestral

origin (Mishtigunj, East Bengal), education (post and professional)

and social attitudes (conservative).

(Desirable Daughters 78)

Identity Crisis and Self Discovery in Bharti Mukherjee’s Desirable Daughters

This thing is very much on the mind of Tara that in India identity is identified with religion, caste, sub caste, mother tongue, and place of birth, ancestral origin, education and social attitudes. When she compares her life to that of her American friends, Tara ironically concludes that her friends should be thankful for their identity crisis: “When everyone knows your business and every name declares your identity, where no landscape fails to contain plethora of human figures, even a damaged consciousness even loneliness becomes privileged commodities” ( Desirable Daughters

34). She tells us thus that in India her identity is so well defined that she will not even be allowed to have such feelings.

Tara also knows that her American friends have wrong impressions about India in general and mainly about the city where she was born:

My American friends in California say God, Tara, Calcutta! as though to suggest I have returned to Earth after a journey to one of the outer planets. ( DD 21)

Though she comes from a privileged background her position in India and the fact that she is a woman do not favor her in some aspects of her life. It is mainly because of her cultural indoctrination of gender roles and relation within that particular Indian society that she has to struggle to construct a new identity in a geographical location. Tara migrates to the USA she gradually notices that the traditional conceptions of gender roles and relations for Indian women from her class and caste need to be reassessed. Her migration to a better and freer atmosphere makes her sense out new vistas of life provided to woman.

At the end of the novel, Tara’s mother tells her that she and her sisters have proved that a daughter was as good as son. Such a comment means that though Tara, Parvati and Padma proved themselves to be good daughters, it is culturally assumed that daughters are not equal or special still in the Indian society even in the upper strata of the society.

Though Tara accepted Bish as her husband after living in the USA she realized that relationship was not working out for her. She decides to divorce Bish and this decision was unacceptable for her. For Bish everything was in clear and simple terms: “You married, you had a son, you provided for the family, and if you provided very well, everyone was happy” (DD 273). His wife wanted a different vision of life not love as duty and providing for.

Identity Crisis and Self Discovery in Bharti Mukherjee’s Desirable Daughters

Tara’s diasporic experience in the US and her confrontation with a culture that is different from India makes her to decide about the divorce. She was unable to get the freedom which she desired when she was living with Bish in a flourished environment.

Tara’s divorce and her subsequent relationships with other men such as Andy show her rejection of gender roles that are generally laid down by Indians of her class. She explains that when she married Bish and came to USA for living she had a feeling that she would be living a liberating life and that would change her perception about the world too. But slowly she realizes as the time passes that she was caught up in a more traditional world of her husband. She was only serving her family and modernity was out of question. She felt suffocated within her marriage. In other words, she realizes that she is playing a role that she does not particularly want to, and that promise of life as American wife was not being fulfilled” (DD 85). Consequently, she asks for divorce.

After giving divorce to Bish, Tara realizes that love relationships she now has given her a sense of freedom, a chance to relive life. She got an opportunity to date for the first time in her life, since dating was not possible for her even in India. Tara reveals several relationships she has after her divorce as she informs her eldest sister Padma:

I may be alone right now, this week, but these

past three nights are the first time I’ve been without a man or the attention of many men, most of it unwanted, in seventeen years! You thought that my world ended when I left Bish? (DD 184)

Although she mentions several names of former boyfriends, it is her affair with Andy that is described in detail. It is her relationship with him that she understands the different meanings of love for both of them. Tara explains that:

“Love” in my childhood and adolescence…was indistinguishable from the duty and obedience. Our bodies changed but our behavior never did… the boys our fathers would eventually select for

us to marry. (DD 27)

Identity Crisis and Self Discovery in Bharti Mukherjee’s Desirable Daughters

In India Tara had learnt that love must be associated with duty and obedience, for Andy, love is having fun with someone else, more fun with someone than with anyone else” (DD 27)

In conclusion, as Miller observes, “The differing definition emphasize that Tara chooses between duty, family and community represented by Bish and the appeals of free choice and romantic love as represented by Andy” (Miller 68).

The concept of home and migration is very much embedded in the narratology that Bharti Mukherjee presents in Desirable Daughters. It is the sense of migration which brings about a change to the identity of Padma, who has finally made New York her home, her land of choice. She too is an independent woman like her sister Tara. But her inalienable attachment to her home makes her the sustainer and preserver of Bengali tradition in America. The alien culture thus fails to subvert her traditional identity. Hence migration plays a crucial role in restructuring individual identities and cultural attitudes and perception.

The forty-two year old Padma is Tara’s eldest sister and has a mysterious life. The mystery Tara tries to solve throughout the whole narrative revolves around her. Like her sisters Padma was born in India and shares with them gender, caste, class, ethnicity, religion, sexuality and education. Moreover, she is also a diasporic subject as she moves to Switzerland, England and finally settles in the USA. As a result of her traditional upbringing in India, Padma’s identity also seems to be pre- determined. As Tara states her sister seems to posses “a firm identity resists all change”, but as Padma’s own attitudes in the USA show, she also destabilizes the gender roles with which she was indoctrinated in India (DD 196). As explained before, the reader has access to Padma’s story mostly through Tara’s narration. We get mostly all information about Padma through indirect source, though some facts about Padma’s story cannot be confirmed in the novel, either by Tara or by Padma herself. Padma too was raised up in the same elite environment as her youngest sister Tara. She was born in to a privileged elite family from Calcutta, a “blessed, elite minority” (DD 28).

Not all status and class comfort, however seem to be favorable for Padma. Like her youngest sister she was raised and educated to get married, so on all the three sisters there was pressure and expectation. They were not allowed to freely express their will in choosing their partners or to take important decisions about their own lives. We can easily make out the

Identity Crisis and Self Discovery in Bharti Mukherjee’s Desirable Daughters

traditional mental set up of their family. The elite family provides all sort of modern means of life to these women but when it comes to taking important decisions they are not allowed to make. The eldest daughter gets married first and that was the rule of the family and of Indian culture too, but when Parvati expressed her desire to get married first before Padma.

So many eyes were watching, so many precautions were taken, and so much of value was at stake-the marriage ability of Motilal Bhattacharjee’s oldest daughter, which unless properly managed, control

ed the prospects of his second and third daughters as well that any violation of the codes, any breath of scandal, was unthinkable. (DD 32)

The second sister Parvati too is a follower of the ideal of Independence. She opts for a love marriage and not an arranged one.

Parvati was in her second year at Mount Holyoke when her letter came, Daddy, I have found a boy and we have fallen in love…. A love marriage was tragic enough, but even worse, Parvati was jumping the marriage queue. She has an older sister and custom dictated that the first born had to be first

married even if she had not expressed interest…. ( DD 272)

By choosing a man on her own was not acceptable to her family. More the family was concerned about their prestige in the society and the future of their eldest daughter. By marrying a man of her choice Parvati would spoil the marriage prospects of her eldest sister also that was the thinking of Bhattacharjee’s family. Family reputation was given preference over the happiness of the girls.

The lives of all the three sisters were controlled in many ways and they struggled for finding space for themselves. As Tara tells us in the novel that they were never allowed to take decisions against their parents. Their “car was equipped with window shades. We had a driver, and the driver had a guard” (DD 30). Although Tara relates that there was nothing to rebel against in Calcutta, so much restriction and protection was unbearable for her eldest sister.

We can make out from the narrative of Tara that Padma was interested in movies and was keen to pursue her career in dancing and singing. She

Identity Crisis and Self Discovery in Bharti Mukherjee’s Desirable Daughters

tells Tara that in the 1970’s, the Indian Bengali filmmaker Satyajit Ray, perhaps the most well-known Indian film maker in the Western world, was looking for a new girl to star in one of his movies. The girls father however turned the proposal down, despite the fact that he was fond of the cinema and appreciated American movies, their “family westernization “was superficial, confined to convent school, metro cinema and movie magazines, and overlaid a profound and orthodox Hinduism” (DD 178). Thus, although Padma wants to and seems to be the right girl for the movie, since her age, language, class, caste, appearance, education and ethnicity make her perfect for the role, her father her father does not allow her to be a film actress mainly because she is a woman. The eldest daughter of Bhattacharjee family was overprotected and their “father would never have permitted any form of exihibitionism” that could cause damage to the girls reputation (DD 29). Consequently, it can be said that all the constituents of identity that seem to place her in a privileged position such as class, caste and education do not guarantee the freedom of choice that she wants. Because of her gender, that is, because she is a woman who has to play certain gender roles within that class, she is unable to make her own life decisions. It is possible to say that such repression is responsible for her resolution to leave India and settle elsewhere. In her teenage only, Padma goes to finish her studies and then lives for sometime in London. Finally she moves to New York and decides to live there permanently. One can sense out easily that all the three sisters were striving to gain identity of their own. Though they were provided every facility to grow up in a highly educated and advance atmosphere still at many places their personalities were curbed in the name of family honor.

The second sister Parvati too is a follower of the ideal of Independence. She opts for a love marriage and not aa arranged marriage.

Tara is but partially assimilated into the alien soil of America. Tara had a deep feeling of being cut off from her community and its life style. She “stands out,” she is in the milieu but not with the milieu. As a racialized subject, she encounters the racist and nationalist idealogy segregating her, pushing her away from the centre of American experience. Hence she “stands out” from the rest. She emerges with a new identity:

I felt as though I were lost inside a Salman Rushdie novel, a once firm identity smashed by hammer blows, melted down and reemerging as something wondrous, or grotesque. (DD 195-96)

Identity Crisis and Self Discovery in Bharti Mukherjee’s Desirable Daughters

The second sister Parvati too is a follower of the ideal of Independence. Bharti Mukherjee depicts a liquid society in her novels, that is society in flux. It is a society of which flows perennially, the ever flowing society of immigrants, the flow of machines, flow of criminals flow of people and commodities. Even we see the crossing of geographical boundaries when Tara in search of her roots remembers her ancestral ties with Tara Lata the “Tree-Bride of Mishtigunj”.

Loneliness had made Tara a little immodest woman and that immodesty had made her lonely. Tara was trying to reconstruct her identity through her diasporic experience.

She was attempting to redefine the importance of her culture through space and time. Tara’s reconstruction of identity is rooted in her nostalgic an romantic collection of her past. Tara belongs to both tradition and modernity. Her identity is highly assimilative. The curiosity about her great grand aunt’s life makes her undertake a root search of Mishtigunj, the village where the Tree Bride lived. Tara could easily adopt and accommodate herself both to her traditional Indian way of life and to her newly adopted American ethos. But she does not stick to the value system of either of these ways of life. She moves on both the planes—the Indian and American. She vacillates between two lives “may be I really was between two lives” (DD 251). Yet to strike roots, yet to belong to any of these lives, she exemplifies the “existential dilemma “of diaspora and the problems an immigrant who has a fluid identity associated with mobility and plurality rather than static and singularity. Though Tara wants to examine her family relationships and explore her roots, she is not haunted by diasporic ghosts. She is a modern cosmopolitan woman, an American in the making against the backdrop of Indianess. She has subverted her Indianess and made herself discovery.

In conclusion, one can say that all three sisters together achieve identity while moving on in life. They have passed through various phases sometimes they tried hard to turn their dreams into reality but they succeed. They all are able to discover themselves, by rebelling against the traditional conventions of their family and culture. One thing is noteworthy that all don’t fall and forget their culture entirely in the process of self discovery. As the process of self destruction and self construction takes place in parallel, Indian American women portrayed by Bharti Mukherjee invariably seems to evolve in to new women.

Identity Crisis and Self Discovery in Bharti Mukherjee’s Desirable Daughters

Bose, Brinda. “A Question of Identity: Where Gender, Race, and America Meet in Bharti Mukherjee.” Ed. Emmanuel S. Nelson. Bharti Mukherjee: Critical Perspectives. New York: Garland, 1993, 47-63. Print.

Loomba, Ania. Colonialism/Post colonialism. New York: Routledge, 1998. Print. Miller, Katherine. “Mobility and Identity Construction in Bharti Mukherjee’s Desirable Daughters: The Tree Bride and Her Rootless Namesake.” Studies

in Canadian Literature, 2004. 63-73. Print.

Mukherjee, Bharti. Desirable Daughters. New Delhi: Rupa & Co., 2002. Print. Wisker, Gina. Post Colonial and African American Women’s Writing: A Critical

^^Introductio^^^^n^^^^.^^ ^^London:^^ ^^St.^^ ^^Martins,^^ ^^2000.^^ ^^P^^^^rint.^^






ROBERT MASTERSON is a professor of English at The City University of New York’s Borough of Manhattan Community College, New York City, New York, USA. He holds both a BA and an MA (with distinction) in English Literature from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; an MFA from Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in Boulder, Colorado; and a weird little academic certificate from Shaanxi Normal University, Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, the People’s Republic of China. His books, Trial By Water (Dog Running Wild Press,

1982), Artificial Rats & Electric Cats (Camber Press, 2002), and Garnish

Trouble (Finishing Line Press, 2011) are available on various platforms now and again. Immensely-talented Robert Masterson is one of ‘the kindest, bravest, warmest, and most wonderful writers’ of present times. He is a master at picking little things that say something much bigger than they reasonably should. He believes that ‘Smart people learn from their mistakes. Smarter people learn from other people’s mistakes.’

Neeru Tandon: Robert how would you describe what you do? Robert: The first question seems the hardest to answer. Of course, on

^^one^^ ^^le^^^^v^^^^el,^^ ^^I^^ ^^am^^ ^^i^^^^mm^^^^ersed^^ ^^in^^ ^^the da^^^^y^^^^-^^^^to^^^^-^^^^day^^ ^^tas^^^^k^^^^s^^ ^^and^^ ^^errands^^ ^^in^^ ^^which^^ ^^we^^

all find ourselves tangled…work, shopping, bills, cleaning, sorting, and on and on and on. I try to watch at least one movie a day; I do not listen to music as much as I once did (shameful), but I read at least one newspaper every day and listen to talk/news radio when I am in my car. So, I guess, I’m multi-tasking there which means I’m not doing any job particularly well. Still, I think it important to know what goes on outside my little world, to gather the pieces of the larger picture in which I am such a small detail.

Neeru T~~andon in Conversation with Robert Masterson

Behind or beneath that, though, I am a writer and a photographer, so I find myself scanning and searching that day-to-day for its hidden beauty and hidden meanings. The stories I hear from the news, from my students, from my colleagues, all get dumped into some kind of memory file through which I can sift. I jot down notes—phrases or images—that I find striking. The moments of light and composition urge me to take a photo (and thank goodness, I guess, for cell phone cameras).

I guess I am a recorder. That might be the definition of what I do. I


Neeru: How do you get in the mental place where you find this deeper interior and write?

Robert: Though I am able to consciously sit down and make myself write, more often I find myself compelled to stop whatever it is I am doing, and I write before “it” is lost. “It” can be a story, a monologue, a journal entry, a poem, but if I do not force myself to take a time-out just to record that, I fear it will be lost.

With all the responsibilities and requirements of my job and my day- to- day life, I have probably lost more than I have recorded, but such is the life.

Neeru: What is most challenging about what you do?

Robert: Honestly, the most challenging aspect of my creative work is to resist the temptation to just repeat what received approval, applause, or appreciation. My inclination is to repeat what worked, what garnered positive attention in order to receive even more positive attention.

The challenge, then, is to keep challenging myself, to keep from getting comfortable, to keep myself from being complacent about my work.

Neeru: It sounds interesting. But what was you trying to achieve with Artificial Rats & Electric Cats?

Robert: “Achieve” is such a strange word to use. And it takes me back to the notion of recording. It was a very difficult time in China’s recent history—still reeling from the devastation of the Cultural Revolution and groping its way to whatever kind of Free Market Socialism they’ve created—and, of course, it was a difficult for a foreigner, an American, to just sort of land in the middle of all this and try to find a way to just be there, to advance my studies while learning something about the place, to turn Robert Heinlein’s book title around and convey something of what it was like to be strange in a stranger land. China was and continues to be an

Neeru Tandon in Conversation with Robert Masterson

oppressive, repressive dictatorship by an opaque elite. How, then, was it possible to meet people, to learn something about the way they lived and died, to come home with something more than snapshots of scenic locations.

Well, I did come home with a lot more than snapshots; the whole experience ended rather badly, it took me at least ten years to even begin to write about what happened, and, if anyone wants to know, they shall have to read the book.

Neeru: In your Rats and Cats there are ghost stories from the new china number three and number seven. My question is why you have mentioned the title twice?

Robert: I returned from the PRC with plenty of ghost stories and those just happen to be the third and the seventh in the series that I wrote.

Neeru: What does it mean to you to be a poet? How does a poem begin for you, with an idea, a form, or an image?

Robert: Poetry, for me, begins in either a phrase or an image or a phrase that captures an image. The next step is to build an armature of language around that phrase or image from which to hang other phrases or images in the attempt to create something with meaning.

Neeru: Are there any forms Sir that you haven’t tried but would like to?

Robert: I think the form that I would most like to try is film, but since film is both expensive and collaborative, I don’t really see that happening. I barely know what I’m doing myself, so to try to work with a team on a budget seems quite unlikely.

Neeru: What conditions help you with your writing process? Robert: That’s difficult to say. I’m not the kind of writer who requires

^^a^^ ^^special^^ ^^place^^ ^^or^^ ^^specific^^ ^^tools^^ ^^or^^ ^^re^^^^g^^^^i^^^^m^^^^ented^^ ^^schedules^^ ^^to^^ ^^wor^^^^k^^^^.^^ ^^I^^ ^^can^^

write in utter silence when alone or in a crowded restaurant or, sometimes, while driving in my car. Tricky, that, but possible.

Neeru: What is the relationship between your speaking voice and your written voice?

Robert: I hope they are the same voice, that my written voice matches my speaking voice. It seems authentic, then. If I wouldn’t say it, I shouldn’t write it. If I wouldn’t write it, then I’d best not say it. I talk to myself constantly, either audibly or just inside my head. I’ll turn a phrase or a

Neeru T~~andon in Conversation with Robert Masterson

sentence or an idea over and over and over again until it sounds right, real, authentic, genuine, and truthful.

Neeru: What else would you like people to know about Robert

Masterson as a writer?

Robert: I have a PayPal account online and everyone is invited to make large deposits.

Neeru: Ha ha. That shows the real Robert, a simple man who can make anybody smile. But a serious question Robert you have spent the summer of 1993 in Hiroshima, Japan, researching A-bomb survivors; what prompted you do that and how it affected your writings?

Robert: Well, I spent a good part of my childhood in Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA, where the first atomic bombs were designed and built. I have been to reactors in New York and visited the Trinity Site in Alamagordo, New Mexico, where the first bomb was detonated. It only seemed natural that I visit the place where the second bomb was used. I have been to Chernobyl, Ukraine, and to Three Mile Island, the site of America’s worst known nuclear accident, and I hope to someday visit Nagasaki, Japan, and Fukushima.

Speaking with survivors, especially survivors who have processed their experiences through art—literature or painting—gave me insight, I believe, into the entire process of imagining, designing, using, and being victim of atomic warfare.

Neeru: Tell us something about—“I Weep. You Weep. She Weeps. We

All Weep.”

Robert: That piece was commissioned by a group of New Mexico writers who wanted to put together a themed anthology. The stories all centered on a figure called La Llarona, the weeping woman who haunts the rivers and irrigation ditches of the Rio Grande valley searching for the children she lost or drowned. The story itself goes back to the Spanish conquest of Mexico when Hernan Cortez acquired a native translator to aid in his military adventure. Commonly known as “Cortez’ Whore,” La Llorona, much like Medea, killed her children when Cortez abandoned her. Regretting her action, regretting her treason, she wanders eternally seeking what she destroyed and destroying what she seeks. Should any living child fall into her hands, that child, too, shall be drowned. There is a marvelous complexity to the story, of a life-giving river that is mortally

Neeru Tandon in Conversation with Robert Masterson

dangerous, of a native woman betrayed and seeking solace and vengeance simultaneously. I think it came out rather well (except, perhaps, for the last paragraph which the editors insisted I add. So, should you read it, please just don’t read that last paragraph).

Neeru: What is the message you want to convey through “Imaginary

Syllabus for an Imaginary Class at an Imaginary College”?

Robert: Really? I think all I really wanted to say was that writing is an elusive subject to teach or be taught and that teachers and students of writing often take themselves way, way too seriously.

Neeru: For our readers please comment upon Literature of the

New Millennium.

Robert: Yikes. Without naming names or pointing fingers, I have little use for America’s current love-affair with the mash-up, with appropriation, and with mindless repetition. I find myself gravitating more and more to nonfiction—old travel narratives, essays on culture, contemporary cultural critique, and the like. There is something happening here in the States that

I find cringe-worthy and, like many movements, schools, and fads, I shall just wait until it passes and real writing with real meaning becomes once again fashionable.

Neeru: Thanks a ton Robert for being so friendly and enlightening us with your views.



Price: ` 195

I~~SBN 978~~-~~81~~-~~7273~~-~~959~~-~~1

CHRISTOPHER C Doyle’s The Mahabharat Quest: The Alexander Secret published by Westland Publishers and released on October 9, 2014 created ripples amongst readers with a bumper sale of 15,000 copies within a month. It received positive critical reviews from readers and literary reviewers. Second in the thriller Trilogy, the first being The Mahabharat Secret released in 2013, the main inspiration of the author is The Mahabharat. The book is a blend of science, history and mythology in which the author attempts to explore the tales of Mahabharat and their scientific interpretations. Doyle read the Mahabharat and researched extensively consulting Sanskrit scholars in interpreting shlokas that he has used in his book. He himself describes his novel to be “a contemporary thriller which is an intriguing blend of history, science and mythology.”

Although he utilized the ideas and has used the principal characters of his first novel in his second book he claims that this was not a sequel to the first book but a logical extension of it combining the Mahabharat and Alexander’s secrets. He makes use of Alexander’s campaign of India. Pondering deeply over Alexander’s trajectory it dawns on him that there was something more significant in his visit to India than just making conquests and that is where Doyle spins the Alexander secret. He explains his own views:

The Mahabharat Quest: The Alexander Secret

I could not accept the traditional explanation that his soldiers revolted at the banks of the Beas river saying they wanted to go back. In fact, the first time the soldiers wanted to go back home was after conquering Persia and that’s where Alexander first told them they were going eastwards, towards the ends of the earth…. For a man who had marched 20,000 miles in the quest of conquering the world would have ideally liked to conquer this territory as well. Instead he turned back mysteriously. So for me I saw this as a big gap and this is where

I found the linkage in my book between the secret of the gods and

Alexander’s real purpose for visiting India.

The Mahabharat Quest: The Alexander Secret is not just a science fiction with unexplained conspiracy theories. Doyle uses cutting-edge scientific discoveries of the last decade to substantiate the secret of various events especially the Samudra Manthan after consulting scientific experts who said that the explanations given by him seemed plausible. He researched the scientific reasons to support the secret that he revealed in the book. Doyle himself clarifies, “The use of hard core science and accepted scientific fact to explain mythology was something that makes my books different.”

Christopher Doyle transports his readers back to 334 B.C. giving vivid details of the era and the characters in the very beginning and then brings them back to the present weaving the story with intriguing situations and his vivid characterisation. The book is interspersed with antiquity and the contemporary.

334 B.C.

Alexander the Great and his passionate ambition to conquer the world plans and begins his conquest of the Persian Empire. However, his lust for attaining everlasting glory goads him to march towards the Ends of the Earth—the lands of the Indus—on a secret quest. This mission will realise his dream as it will lead him to an ancient secret concealed in the myths of the Mahabharata. Once the powerful secret is unearthed it will certainly transform him into a god. For this he reaches India with his general Eumenes and discovers a secret. But with the untimely death of his general the information of the secret related to Alexander is not chronicled anywhere.

Present Day—In Greece, the ancient tomb of a queen is discovered, a tomb that has been an enigma for over 2000 years. This tomb is that of

The Mahabharat Quest: The Alexander Secret

Alexander’s mother, Olympias, which archaeologist Alice Wallace and her team discover, together with a mysterious cube. As she is almost about to explore more her team members are killed in a blast in the tomb. Alice escapes to India with the cube and finds refuge in her ex-boyfriend, Vijay’s Junagarh fort. After a close examination of the cube by Vijay and his team mates it is found that the six-faced cube had scripts written on it which they attempt to decode.

Meanwhile in New Delhi, the Intelligence Bureau discovers corpses in a hidden lab. Vijay Singh and his friends, now members of an elite task force, are entangled in a struggle with a powerful and ruthless enemy. The quest begins for them as they hazardously strive to solve a riddle from antiquity that will lead them to encounter shocking secrets from the past which has mystifying and perplexing links between ancient history, the Mahabharata and the ancient enemy.

Ancient secrets buried in legends with an incredible blend of science and history creates a gripping story which keeps the reader captivated and glued to the book till the end. Blending fiction with history, science and mythology seems to be Doyle’s forte, and he has undoubtedly carved a niche for himself in this genre and in the literary corpus of fiction writing.

Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty from The Hindu in her review believed that with the book, Doyle was “all set to establish [himself] as a fantasy writer who looks at legends and mythology through the tunnel of science, from the convenience of the modern-day world.”^^1^^

Aaj Tak’s book reviewer, Nupur Gosai also gives a positive review, saying that “Doyle puts up a good image of the archaeology and the ancient history in front of the ‘selfie-freak’ generation, although they might find it difficult to grasp all the concepts…. The best part about the book is its pace and the storytelling which will keep readers engrossed continuously.”^^2^^

Arunava Sinha from Scroll.in affirms it has been one of the year’s top selling mythological books in India, saying that “book-buyers are still keen to have their traditional myths packaged into racy tales, and the more they can combine historical characters and different epochs of time, the better. Hence the success of The Mahabharata Quest: The Alexander Secret by Christopher C Doyle.”^^3^^

The Mahabharat Quest: The Alexander Secret

1. Barooah Pisharoty, Sangeeta (26 November 2014). “A taste of legends”.

The Hindu.

2. Gosai, Nupur (3 December 2014). “

” [Book Review: The Mahabharata Quest: The Alexander

Secret] (in Hindi). Aaj Tak

3. Sinha, Arunava (28 December 2014). “The three genres that topped 2014:

the gap between pulp and literary fiction just got wider”, Scroll.in



Price: ` 195

I~~SBN 978~~-~~81~~-~~7273~~-~~959~~-~~1

ALL of us have observed a thousand times Two-Minute Silence on the passing away of one or the other known and unknown person in places of our work or in any public place where we happen to be for some reason. We observe many modern day to day rituals like we perform many religious rites without our emotional involvement most of the times. Khatri’s “Two-Minute Silence” exactly and poignantly points out this deep rooted hypocrisy in our lives. The title of the poem speaks volumes about many insignificant things that have occupied our lives. Modern education is expected to have made us critical about things we do but it is irony that urban civilization has become extremely insensitive to life itself. The poem seems to be alluding to Nissim Ezekiel’s famous poem “Very Indian Poem in Indian English” in which the speaker addresses the audience while passing on tongue-in-cheek comments on people’s hypocritical behaviour.

‘Sisters and Brothers’, ‘Mothers and Fathers’, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ and

‘Friends…’ these are various ways of address used by the poet to include all types of people in India who observe these rituals. The poet wisely uses Two-Minute Silence to express tragic loss of many good things in our lives and many wrong things that have crept in our lives. Our political institution is defunct with ‘broken chair’ and ‘uprooted microphone’. Constitution is found in titbits in the highest house. We have lost reverence

Two-Minute Silence

to all our values. ‘Dhoti’ and ‘Pugadi’ are symbols of sound cultural heritage which was reached to us by our forefathers but the poet cries the death of all those good things. Industrial revolution signified by the wheel has brought us chopped up hands and lame legs. This great grand culture is now on the verge of extinction. The poet wants the readers to observe two- minute silence on this great loss. The environmental pollution and the whole world being on the brink of end culminated by the age-old wound of partition and continuing quarrels conclude this terrible Two-Minute Silence with one representative voice suggesting ‘One-Minute Silence’ instead of Two-Minute. The poem is the landmark in modern Indian English Poetry because it rues the loss of an age-old civilization and attacks the very foundation of this chaotic situation and that is our exposure to Western culture through English language. The modern, sensitive Indian reader will surely be moved from within after reading the poem because he will learn to look at the wide-spread hypocrisy with a new insight. It is truly Indian poem that desires the old values to be adapted once again to make our lives culturally enriched. The writer of this review is the member, Board of Studies, Shivaji University and the Convener of the Committee constituted to revise the BA III Special English Poetry Paper. The Chairman gave free hand to him to make the paper appropriate for the Indian students to be able to look at poetry with Indian perspective. All these years we had only British and American poetry as the major thrust in the paper. The convener initiated the process to include the living modern Indian poets in the syllabus. There was strong opposition from one corner of scholars who are primarily from language area but they think it their privilege to oppose this novel move. However the convener of the committee was successful, with support from like-minded members and especially the Chairman to include “Two-Minute Silence” in the forthcoming syllabus. He is extremely happy by this achievement. The university has also planned to publish the anthology of poems and this poem has appeared along with Shakespeare’s sonnet, Gray’s Elegy and Wordsworth’s Daffodils. He is sure that students in Shivaji University will greatly benefit from this. They will have a different perspective in studying poetry in general and Indian English Poetry in particular.

The dedication is a quotation of Sir Percy Fitzpatrick from a Letter to Lord Milner, 1919 which suitably creates correct ambivalence for the poems that ensue. Women are responsible for the sustenance of the thought which means human civilization. The poet probably has his mother in his

T~~w~~o~~-Minute Silence

mind ‘for the sap and soil with which she has nurtured’ him. The poems in this anthology have already appeared in eminent anthologies like English Poetry in India (An Anthology of Thirty Five Contemporary Poets in English) Kolkata and The Dance of the Peacock (Canada). The poet draws parallels between the things around him and his life. While doing this he ponders on life itself. In ‘River’ he turns the river into the metaphor for life. He thought that all difficult situations in his life were easy for him to overcome. The end of life is clearly death but ‘selfless work’ will reach him to ‘salvation’. Impediments and crises did never end and the very end became a weary way. The stark reality around him is represented by

‘rhinoceros…’ peeping at him ‘through the skin of the mud’ and he points out at the other end of the river of life and that is death, Ram nam satya hai. Most of the poems remind us of Salman Rushdie’s famous sobriquet that we have put our heads together all these decades to understand the Western Cultural Allusions in poems like The Waste Land but now time has come when the Western reader has to study our cultural world to understand what is (to) ‘chutnify’. The poet does not hesitate to use Indian expressions in original because they are most succinctly there in the context of the poem: ‘Ram nam satya hai’, ‘Sati’, ‘Prakriti’, ‘yajna’,

‘hunkar’, ‘Haa Haa Kaar’, ‘Pugadi’ and ‘dhoti’. There are many such expressions throughout the anthology. The poet seems to have seething anger against the all-pervasive indiscipline, corruption and politicization in every field in Indian society: ‘the minister pleads building blocks of future…the poet cries fucking future’ (‘Government Schools’). He has immense reverence and infinite love for his mother and all his kith and kin:

Grinding grains in grindstone

…..She looked goddess incarnate… Absence shows one’s real worth.

……A deity in the sanctum

She lives in me, …..

Who cares if I win or lose the race I am not in? (‘Homage to Maa’)

The most remarkable aspect of these poems is strong and prominent

message of social and gender equality expressed in them. The little girl in

‘Conversation’ would like to be like her Mummy or the peon in the college

Two-Minute Silence

rather than brainy but dominating men around her. There is also a mesmerizing sense of nostalgia in them. ‘Reversal Syndrome’ recounts life in the small village when the narrator was a small child and his life’s journey has taken him to ‘little shreds of life’. Materialism is now the part of our life. However, the poet has a strong dream that human civilization will make its journey to all the nice things in the past, though in the new form.

This anthology indeed involves the reader in the concerns of the poet like Michal Paul Hogan has correctly said in the blurb. Dr. Khatri’s command on the straightforward phrases and his ability to turn them into universal message will make this anthology a landmark in modern Indian poetry in English.


Translated from the Original Bengali by Jaydeep Sarangi and Angana Dutta Foreword by Sekhar Bandyopadhyay Written by Manohar Mouli Biswas

pp. 150, Price: ` 350

I~~SBN 978~~-~~93~~-~~81345~~-~~09~~-~~2

‘Biswas the poet, fiction writer and activist is worth reading for his revolutionary spirit. It is our good fortune that we have this English translation that opens another window for us.’—G.J.V. Prasad, Centre for English Studies, School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University.

‘The narrations of Biswas bring to life the struggles of survival of the dalit namashudra community. This, and more such translations will help fight the illusion that “there is no caste discrimination in Bengal”.’—Sharankumar Limbale, Regional Director of Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University, Pune.

‘As a writer, translator, journalist and activist, Biswas’s “life writing” testifies to the nexus between the word and the deed, redefining aesthetics from below.’—R. Azhagarasan Associate Professor, Department of English, University of Chennai.

A translation of the author’s autobiography Amar Bhubane Ami Beche Thaki (2013), this book consists in addition a detailed interview of the author that bridges the gap between Biswas’s days of struggle as a dalit child labourer, as narrated in the autobiography, and his later (so far unrecorded) life as an accomplished dalit literary activist, as one of the

Surviving in My World: Growing Up Dalit in Bengal

leading members of the Bangla Dalit Sahitya Sanstha that supports dalit literature. Born in 1943, in a family of small agriculturists among the formerly untouchable namashudra community in Metiargati, a village in the Khulna district of East Bengal, a wetland, Biswas has grown up not only wrestling poverty, starvation and discrimination against dalits but also practising their customs, participating in their economy and experiencing their cultural richness.

Incredibly moving, written with great direct simplicity, this also reveals the beliefs and practices of the namashudra and their coherent worldview with the Matua cult of Sri Harichand and Sri Guruchand Thakur undergirding their lives, also leading them to political mobilization against the upper caste stranglehold that operated socially and economically.

Manohar Mouli Biswas is the President of the Dalit Sahitya Sanstha, the publisher of Dalit Mirror and one of the founders of Chaturtha Duniya that publishes dalit writings in Bengali. Jaydeep Sarangi is Associate Professor, Department of English; Angana Dutta, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, both of Jogesh Chandra Chaudhuri College, Kolkata; Sekhar Bandyopadhyay is Director, New Zealand India Research Institute, Victoria University, New Zealand.


pp. 354, Price: ` 350

Publisher: W~~estern Ltd., Y~~ear 2015

AFTER much fanfare, perhaps the biggest and most expensive promotional drive for a book, Amish’s trilogy was released on June 22, 2015. Before it came, newspaper ads, exclusive Kindle offers and a record-signing amount, it had readers waiting with bated breath for the next offering from Amish, the storyteller in the true sense. This time he was retelling India’s favorite story, The Ramayana.

Ingeniously called the Ramchandra series, one will be shocked and be in awe on looking at the liberties the author has taken in writing the story of Ram, but at the same time one cannot help but admire Amish for the way he completely transforms the old into new. He has the magical ability to transform the familiar mythological tales while retaining their original essence. The Ramayana has always served as a fountainhead of inspiration for storytellers. Ram and Ramayana, both belong to the people. We have seen the various interpretations of Valmiki’s Ramayana from Kamba’s

12th century Ramavataram in Tamil to Tulsidas’ 16th century

Ramcharitmanas. Now we have the new deviation in the hands of Amish.

In the Scion of Ikshvaku, not only has the story of Ram been retold but several contemporary ills have also been debated upon and some solutions

Scion of Ikshvaku

suggested. The beauty of the book lies in the fact that one need not believe in Ram or follow a particular religion in order to enjoy this week.

Ram is the first-born of King Dasrath, the first prince of the Sapt- Sindhu but unlike the original version, he is not the much-loved prince of Ayodha, the apple of his father’s eye. Rather he is considered to be ill-fated as he is born on the same day on which Dasrath concedes his first defeat to the Lankan king, Ravan. Not only has that defeat drained Sapt-Sindhu of money, but also drained Dasrath’s vigor and zeal, thus making him an unfit king. Under the tutelage and training of Guru Vasistha, Ram and his brothers grow up each with their distinctive traits—Ram is the ideal follower of rules, Laxman has strength, Bharat is a pursuer of freedom and creativity while Shatrughan is a seeker of knowledge. As they grow they realize the inadequacy of their father as a king. Ram being the eldest, does not rebel against his own father, rather has to establish himself as a leader following all the laws.

The characters have been delineated well with the saintly Ram, the diabolic Ravan, the morally upright Sita, the rebellious and somewhat of a ladies man, Bharat—all are real people with real lives in this book—with attractions to the opposite sex, daily quibbles and teasing between siblings—the mental conflict between right and wrong. The language used is colloquial, a good relief to people who have not been able to follow the Ramayana due to its intricate Hindi or English. The narrative is fast paced. The contemporariness of issues is brought about by discussing the concepts of marriage, of masculine and feminine form of administration, and of structural politics. The pros and cons, the positives and negatives are laid out and it is not difficult to draw out parallels of these with laws imposed on us presently. An episode where a girl is gang raped and one of the accused is a juvenile is definitely inspired by the Nirbhaya incident and the dilemma of how to punish the juvenile is very realistic. Another interesting deviation is the portrayal of the character of Manthara. Manthara is not Kaikayi’s maid but an astute and shrewd businesswoman who has influence over the major political and trade players of Ayodhya.

There is a Tolkienesque charm in the portrayal of the remodeled cities of Ayodhya and especially Mithila. The architecture of the quarters was so nicely detailed, it wasn’t hard to imagine the unorthodox structures of the buildings at all. The fall of Ayodhya and the opulence of Lanka are well written too.

Scion of Ikshvaku

As for the literary merit of the book, it is not meant to be literary. It is more an offer to the common masses. It is meant to be an easy to understand moral tale, entwined in mythology, which has the potential to grip the masses, especially the youth, who wants a light read. The narrative’s pace keeps you occupied for hours. The language is, as one would put, simple Indian English. This book is about 350 pages long, yet reading is not a strain. It brings out the genius of Amish. The Scion of Ikshvaku is what could be called a modern take on Ramayan, with Amish using as much poetic license as he could. Nevertheless a very interesting reinterpretation of the Ramayan.


pp. 177, Price: ` 176

Publisher: Rupa Publications

ONE of India’s most successful writer Chetan Bhagat, who shot to fame with his first work—Five Point Someone in 2004, has donned a new role in his latest book ten years down the line. It’s the role of a preacher for solving all of India’s ills. His latest book Making India Awesome is basically a collection and compilation of the essays and articles written by him on what ails modern India and how to fix it.

The 177 page book published by Delhi based Rupa Publications is broadly divided in five categories covering the content under the title of politics, economy, awesome society: who we are as a people and what we need to change, awesome equality: women’s rights, gay rights and minority rights, and awesome resource: the youth, along with two page concluding thoughts.

It’s very natural for a non-fictional writer of his success and popularity among India’s 800 million plus youth, who was described by India Today magazine as “Symbol of new India. A torch bearer for an unafraid generation,” to try and suggest changes in the society, polity and economy through his writings.

Deeply moved by the sorry state of Indian polity, society and economy

Chetan Bhagat laments ninety six per cent India’s youth for either being

P~~anacea for All What Ails India—Making India Awesome

self focused and indifferent or for taking sides on the basis of their political considerations. He explains that objective of this book is to reach out to and expand this small group of some four per cent of the population that is described by him as ‘caring and objective Indians’.

The writer aptly describes the current state of Indian media and responses of users of social media platforms. The shrill noises made by television anchors fade away in a day or two without solving anything. But supporters of a particular or ideology or personality may continue to chase and abuse their opponents as it becomes a free for all on social media as peoples and icons are heckled on social media by a virtual mob.

In his book, Chetan writes: “Just as people gather on road to see a fistfight, India gathers at night to watch TV debates. However, soon the novelty of the fight wears off and as nothing is solved, people get bored and move on. It is time then for a new controversy, and for each side to start a dual again. Breaking news, fiery debates, no solutions. Rinse and repeat.”

He wonders: Does anyone actually want solutions instead of the drama? However, the maverick writer ends up offering solutions in this messed up and confused situation.

He discusses in brief the traumatic period of 2011 to 2014 that started with Anna Hajare led Jan Lok Pal movement against the scam tainted government, that also included spontaneous movement against the brutal rape and assault on a paramedic student in New Delhi that eventually ended up in the dislodging of Congress led UPA government from the centre and emergence of Narendra Modi as a symbol of hope and his ascension to the office of Prime Minister of India.

In an interview to Times of India, Chetan Bhagat defended his decision to support Prime Minister Modi. He said: Bhagat said he believed in praising when it’s due and criticising when it’s deserved.

“There are definitely aspects of the PM’s intentions and policies that are good for the country. At the same time, there are aspects of intolerance among some BJP supporters that is unsavory. Hence, I have commented accordingly.”

In the chapter Seventeen Commandments for Narendra Modi, Chetan warns that after a long time we have had a stable mandate at the top, if the BJP blows it, it will set India back by a decade.

Panacea for All What Ails India—Making India Awesome

Commenting on Prime Minister’s flagship program ‘Make in India’ to create millions of jobs and make India a manufacturing hub Chetan writes that India needs to change the mindset of ‘control freak’ bureaucracy to let the entrepreneurs flourish. On another flagship scheme of Prime Minister Modi—Swachh Bharat or Clean India he says that we first need to clean and change our mindset.

While praising the hope ignited by Modi ascent to the power, he also describes the ‘hope and disappointment’ cycle as he refers to the fading away of Modi wave as BJP was brought down to dust by the historic win of a resurgent Aam Admi Party in Delhi assembly elections this year. But soon the party and its leaders were also engulfed in controversies. A case in point is the arrest for former Delhi law minister Jitendra Tomar accused of procuring and using a fake law degree.

In recognition of rights of minorities, be it religious, linguistic or trans genders, or even women, Chetan stands out as champion of defender of their rights and free speech in this book.

In the chapter “Awesome Equality” Chetan Bhagat argues that just making India developed and rich is not enough. He says that coolness and respect does not come from money and military might alone. He explains that it comes from providing fair treatment and equality but also concedes that no country is perfect in terms of equality and full equality in human society is impossible. He advises men to respect working women, and advises women to respect their inner beauty.

He also tears into typical Indian hypocrisy about sexuality as it is always considered taboo under the Indian culture. He also supports gay rights and describes Section 377 of British era Indian penal code as collective sin.

In the end, Chetan Bhagat deals with the solution part in his book. How to fix it? For him India’s demographic advantage, its youth, is the part of the solution as the country is home to 800 million people below the age of

35. However, he warns that this demographic advantage cannot be taken for granted and this energy has to be channelized well to make the country awesome—cool, rich and impressive.

Chetan Bhagat has used simple and plain English that is clear, concise and easy to understand. Perhaps, this is aimed at expanding his reach as an English author beyond the typical Indian English readers.


Do I lament for those dear ones, who have departed from this World

Or those whom I see going before my eyes…. Or those who await death, terminally ill;

Or those who are taken away, without warning

Or, those awaiting to embrace death,

‘WE ARE CREATURES OF A DAY’ said Marcus Aurilleus

Riddled with death to learn how to live…

‘trivialise the trivia’

If death is a trivial interlude,

For a change of the “garb” as the Hindu sages say

Then why the lament?

Even when the clarion calls resound all around

And the silence of the ‘soul’ shrieks

Transient, impermanent, the ‘mythia’ [false] of living points only to


Then flash the story of the first King…Acharya Mahapragya, The nuggets in in his verse,

The words of comfort… “Fear not, for fear is to die.

The essence of this life is to toil Measure the worth of your hands The night follows the day

Death—The Living Truth

This is well known

Tell me, who is such a man Who gets to see only dawn? Truth is not just

What I believe it is The sky is not just What I see it as

The infinite, do not

Limit within your home too

There is the sky, accept the truth.” [translated by Sudhamahi



The heart hath no relief but breaking

—Thomas Moore, Lalla Rookh

From functions sheaves, curves

O branes, as automorphic forms

Know om in harmolodics, Leave reeves and ring

Langlands from unseen sea, Realm that whelms real,

Where sick siiankos cause

Unhallowed hollows and bellows

Below loud bows o tall

Talipot trees that seize

And freeze leese in friezes, As the kerna cornet nets

Heart o Art

Moored by samoors, more

Lessened than les âmes damnées,

Those Thracian thrashers that flat-hat

Ceaselessly, unless Israfil is,

Retrilled till the time at the tone

O the Tonquin goldfinch clinches

The haunts of the fount found

In Chindara wherein love laves

And leaves as Camadeva, comes

With the scent o the Nagacesara sans caesura,

As Amrita rite, writ

O the tree o the tomb o Tan-Sein,

Jumbo jambul with bulbul

Eggs, yggdrasil abysmal,

As is this, if theses o la-la

Rooks rock your talk

With ticks o the heart o art,

The light o the haram that rights

Barren signs it sings, and O

If there be an Elysium on earth

It is this, It is this.


From the Pen of Jeffrey Herrick

“For me, poetry is the use of language at its most self-conscious. This includes makeup its textual and contextual conditions. Marking a contextual condition through epigraphs is traditional, but I extend this to the addition of my own marginalia which also mark their textual condition through the use of various languages. These are echoes the reader may or may not care to attend to or add to. The sound of language is, of course what lyric poetry in particular call’s attention to. I mark this by harkening lyric contexts, here with echoes of such 19th-century British music masters as Moore, Scott, Swinburne, and Tennyson, and the 13th-century Sufi poet Uman Ibn- al- Farid. I also harken the Sonics of polysemy through puns and the polyphony of polyphony through rhyme and rhythm, the originary markers of song makers. My sense of poetry I call humming OM—for whom who has ears to see, as Shakespeare put it.”



My unquestionable and rock solid devotion for you, Ever flowing trust, faith, care and desire seem new. Your smile, look and touch kindle a fire

My heart melts with your warmth even prior.

Your eyes speak and create a thunder

How could I live without you, I wonder.

I still remember the day when I shuddered

After hearing, ‘either I am yours or I am a dead man.’ That day I lost myself and got my world in those words Me a flowing stream got in you, its alluvial fan.

Yes, I enjoy long talks accompanied by long walks Yes, I enjoy nature and strolling on the lovely beach But I prefer to cuddle up with you and sleep. Wrapped in your love my face changes by your side

My expressions at your sensuous talks are difficult to hide

But I prefer your words to clasp me and glide.

You always can depend on me; I’m faithful and sincere; And I wouldn’t say I love you If it were not true, my dear.

I am a wife; committed to the course

J~~ust be with m~~e, y~~ou will ne~~v~~er k~~now re~~m~~orse.



IKUKO TORIMOTO, Associate Professor of Modern Languages and

Literature, Coordinator of MLL, St. Norbert College, De Pere.

SUDHIR K. ARORA, Associate Professor, Maharaja Harishchandra PG College, Moradabad. He has authored a number of books including Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger: A Freakish Booker and Multicultural Consciousness in the Novels of Kamala Markandaya. The voluminous critical work, Cultural and Philosophical Reflections in Indian Poetry in English in five volumes, is his magnum opus.

G.A. GHANSHYAM, Professor and Head, Dept. of English, Pt Revati Raman Mishra Govt. College, Surajpur, Chhattisgarh, India. He is v ice- president ELT@I, India.

BINOD MISHRA, Associate Professor of English, Dept of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Roorkey, Uttrakhand. He is editor in chief ‘Indian Journal of English Studies.’

NEERA SINGH, Associate Professor, Dept of English, IGNOU, New


NEETA SHUKLA, Associate Professor, Dayanand Girls College, Kanpur.

PANCHALI MUKHERJEE, Ass. Professor, Dept of Languages, T. John

College, Bangalore University, Bangalore.

SHYAM SAMTANI, Professor Shyam Samtani is the former Head, Dept of English, Indore Christian College, Indore. Besides, he was on the visiting faculty of school of Languages, Devi Ahilya Viswavidyalaya, Indore for M Phil Program.

JAYSHREE SINGH, Head, Department of English, Bhupal Nobles’ Post-Graduate College, Udaipur-313001 Rajasthan.

SWATI RAI, Research Scholar, BHU.

SMITA DAS, Associate Professor of English, S R Group of Institutions, Ambabai, Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh.


SHRADDHA, Research Scholar, Dept of English, Allahabad University, Allahabad.

SUPRIYA SHUKLA, Head, Dept of English and Vice Principal, VSSD College, Kanpur.

RAJENDRAPRASAD SHINDE, Associate Professor & Head, Kisan

Veer Mahavidyalaya, Wai, Dist. Satara, Maharashtra, India.

JAYDEEP SARANGI, Vice President of GIEWEC as well as SPELL in


NIVEDITA TANDON, Associate Professor, DG College, Kanpur.

LALIMA BAJPAI, She taught in a degree college as guest faculty. Her research is on Partition Novels.

NEERU TANDON, She is chief editor Illuminati, Associate Professor, Dept of English, VSSD College, Kanpur. She has the credit of being the first ever and only D.Litt in English from CSJMU.

KUMKUM RAY, Director, Amity School of Languages, Amity University, Lucknow.

JEFFREY HERRICK, He has a Ph.D in English from the University of Chicago. He is a professor of English at Otemon Gakuin University in Ibaraki, Osaka, Japan. Two full length books of his verse have come out in Japan, Patterns and Fittings in Zipangu and Valences, along with a collection of essays, Poetrying.


` `

` `





Illuminati :A Transnational Journal of Literature, Language and Culture Studies

Literature of the New Millennium Literature of New Millennium, containing articles of academic criticism that explore the various issues, questions and debates raised by the contemporary literature. This special issue was designed to help the readers (research scholars in particular) in assessing and formulating their point of view about the bright possibilities and dark contour of literature written in the last one and a half decade. Contemporary writings mainly deal with various issues: alternative sexuality (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender), Crime fiction, Chick lit, Campus Novel, Short story, Graphic novels, Diaspora novels, postcolonial novels and feminist novels. It also contains plays written and translated into English dealing with the social issues like hunger, transgender, eunuchs, Gay and Lesbian, Crime, etc.

  • Author: Prof Neeru
  • Published: 2016-08-27 22:37:33
  • Words: 60810
Illuminati :A Transnational Journal of Literature, Language and Culture Studies Illuminati :A Transnational Journal of Literature, Language and Culture Studies