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    TMYS Review June 2020 : Women and Optimism

    GENDER IDENTITIES AND SOCIAL REALITIES : ESSAYS AND STORIES ON INDIAN WOMEN

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    Subcategory VI :

    WOMEN AND OPTIMISM

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    Title : Dulari's Colours

    Category : Fiction

    Author : Sufia Khatoon

    Author intro : Receiver of The Kavi Salam Award 2018, Sufia Khatoon is an author, a performance poet and artist based in Kolkata, India. Her poems and short stories have been published in various national and international anthologies of repute. She is a multi-lingual poet and “Death In The Holy Month” is her debut book of poems. Sufia is the co-Founder of Rhythm Divine Poets community Kolkata. Her Bengali poem Ami Bolli Tumi Sunno got featured in Tollywood Movie. She has performed and participated as a Delegate and Poet at Yuva Sahiti Young Writers Meet in The Festival of Letters of Sahitya Akademi 2019, Avishkar Young Writer's Festival Dibrugrh 2019 by Sahitya Academy, Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival 2019-20 and Ethos Literary Festival Kolkata  018-19 respectively. She has been curated as Co-Founder of Rhythm Divine Poets Kolkata(India) chapters of global events such as a Hundred Thousand Poets for Change spearhead by Michael Rothenberg , Women Scream International  Poetry and Art Festival 16-18 spearhead by Jael Uribe and the Dylan Thomas Poetry Celebrations 18, Kolkata(India) chapter. She has an MA in English Literature, a PG in Journalism and Mass Communication and a Diploma in Visual Arts and Design. She has judged IIT Kharagpur Spring Fest Slam poetry 2018 Kolkata Prelims and Journalism case studies event A mightier Pen of Spring Fest 2019, Aalap Fest 2017-2018 of Bethun College, Ecstasy 2018-19 NSHM College, Ashuthosh College Fest 2018, Verba Maximus 2018 regional of Hyderabad Pillani College, slam poetry of Xavotsav 2019, Ignum 2019 Presidency College, Irshad, Outlawed 2020 Fest NUJS, Calcutta Medical College Fest, Rotaract Ground Zero 17-19, Oxford Bookstore Slam it Up, 48th Rotaract District conference Discon 2020 Blackout poetry and Tiny tales and many more.  She is often invited to judge and panel various poetry slams and writing competitions in College and Universities. She also conducts the art of performance poetry, conceptual art, poetry and creative writing workshops in Kolkataand recites and performs in places of repute. She has also received Amio Santa Award 2017 for her social efforts. She is a PR, Media and Event curator by profession. She is also an Art Curator, Artist and Illustrator who has been working with the expressive medium of art for the past 10 years. Her works have been exhibited in more than 20 group shows in various renowned galleries in Kolkata, namely Birla Art Gallery, Academy of Fine Arts, ICCR, etc. Her solo show Rooh-E-Sukun in Alliances Francies Du Bengale was widely appreciated. A number of her paintings and illustrations have been published in many international online magazines and poetry books. A number of her works have been recognized, awarded, and featured in various publications. She runs a creative brand called Sufi's Touch where her designed lifestyle goods and recycled art products are exhibited.

    Excerpt :

    Dulari's face, shadowed by the enormous and haunting two-hundred year-old Banyan tree in the graveyard of one of the dingy lanes of Tangra, Kolkata, was like the crimson sun of summer; disappearing yet quite distinctly visible. Today was like any other day; The graveyard had welcomed another dead body. Mourners and the ceremony of the dead always left an aftertaste of fresh flowers of grief. Sometimes Dulari would shed tears, sometimes she had only words of solace for the grievers and sometimes she had nothing to say. She had been living in the thatched hut in 24 no. graveyard, south of Tangra with her seventy-year-old ailing husband, who had been serving as a gravedigger to the landowners for the past fifty years. She was in her mid-forties with no children and no dreams.

    As a fifteen-year-old bride, Dulari had sworn never to go back to her life on the streets. Even if Prakash was a bit older and rough at times with her, in her twenty years of marriage he had never kept her hungry. Hunger was an entity that made people do anything.

    How could she forget the lecherous remarks, the lusty touches of strangers, the fear of death and an uncertain future? Had it not been for Prakash, she would have been either sold off or forced into the sex trade. Prakash offered her a life of security. The vermillion red mark was everything for her but now it too was uncertain, sooner or later waiting to submerge like the setting sun.

    Here, in the graveyard, she was safe and free. No one dared to enter the tomb of bones because of a strange fear. For her though, the dead bought solace; it was the world of humans she was more afraid of.

    This was her usual routine. She would tire herself out so that she wouldn't have to think about the time when she would have to live on her own. She was very much capable of earning for herself, but she didn't know how to defend herself if that time ever came.

    (Read more here : https://www.amazon.in/dp/B08BZXYH4X )

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    Title : Teacher's Day

    Category : fiction

    Author : Poulami Ghosh Ray

    Author intro : Poulami is a final year student pursuing Psychology from Calcutta University. She wants to be a writer and psychologist someday. She also aspires to travel the world and gain fame as a successful food critic. During her adolescent years, her storytelling skills flourished under the guidance of her mother, Mrs. Sudipta Ghosh Ray, an English teacher herself and also by the English teacher at her school, Mrs. Kheya Baidya. In school she participated in many debates and writing competitions. The solitary life of a writer intrigues her quite a lot. She dreams of sitting in her library, surrounded by books, overlooking a huge bay window and sipping hot coffee, as the pleasant sun warms her on a cold winter morning; there she pens down her abstract thoughts into complete manuscripts that can leave a mark in people's lives.

    Excerpt :

    The sudden gushing sound and fluttering of the curtains was followed by an engulfing calmness. There was silence everywhere.

    Ahana sat in the darkness of her room and let the sound of the wind echo in her ears. After a chaotic day, the sound of the wind blowing over the mountain top somehow helped her drown her worries every single night. In all these days, the whistling breeze had become a melody for her.

    As a child, when other girls of her age would indulge in fun and frolic, she would spend her days studying and planning her future. She had grown up to be a stunningly strong personality. Standing out as a topper and being perfect were two of her most distinguishing traits. She worked up the academic ladder to secure masters from Australia and a Ph.D. from the USA.

    She had always wanted to be a professor. But when she lost her mother, she had no other option but to reject the job offer at Kansas State University and move to Shillong.

    Shillong. A bit of tussock here and there. Gushes of cold wind. Pine trees competing with each other to feel the wind first. A wave of fresh-scented petunias. Hot steaming momo's. And finally  the Beguiling scenic beauty.

    Initially, she remained disturbed with the thoughts of a dream life that she had to abandon ruthlessly. But with every passing day, she started loving her new job as a psychologist. Decoding every simple and complicated emotion of the  mortal beings was a learning in itself. She wanted to make a difference in their lives, laying a positive impact in whatever way possible.

    After a long tiring day at the Government Rehabilitation Center, she had just come back home. Standing under the shower, she let the warm water ease her stress buds. She was in a reverie of thoughts, thinking about her life back in Kolkata when there was a sharp knock at the front door. She rushed out to find her dinner waiting at her doorstep. A local cook prepared her food every day and delivered it right on time. She picked up the box and made her way to the dining room. Before one small portion could make way through her hungry throat, the calendar hanging from the wall caught her attention. It was the 4th of September. A sudden pang of sadness hit her like a wave of nausea. She managed to gulp down some of the food and returned to her favourite spot – a rocking chair overlooking a giant glass window giving way to a breath-taking view of the scantily shattered houses and enormous hills trying to reach the aeonian sky.

    (Read more here : https://www.amazon.in/dp/B08BZXYH4X )

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    Title : The Struggle for Individuality Fighting Gender Conformities – Changing Stereotypes and Perspectives.

    Category : Essay

    Author : Saradiya Mondal

    Author intro : Saradiya Mondal is a twenty year-old undergraduate student pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in English from Durgapur Government College, West Bengal. She also works as a Content Writer for Papercut. She’s a dreamer, a dancer, a bibliophile and an explorer who likes to travel to different places and always eager to try out new things. She believes that life should always be lived to the fullest and the focus should always be on the positive.

    Abstract : Notwithstanding the flamboyancy promoting feminism and individuality combating the stigmatized shackles of the orthodox society, there’s women vanquished and maimed for chasing their vision and working against the grain to make their robust voices heard. This essay, featuring selected short stories by Indian women writers, focuses on the unfulfillment of women’s desires and realization of their dreams. Flouting the conformities, it discusses the idea to depict the woman as an individual entity in herself and not as an expendable existence. The short stories referred in the essay are Happy Teacher’s Day by Paulami Ghosh Ray and Dulari’s Colours by Sufia Khatoon.

    Excerpt :

    Literature has witnessed the evolution of the role of women through the ages. During the initial phase, male authors dominated the literary world and depicted the journey of male protagonists, relegating women characters to the background. Women were forced to take up subsidiary and subservient roles.  It was only with the beginning of the Victorian era that the authors started emphasizing on the journey of female protagonists such as Eustacia Vye in Thomas Hardy’s “The Return of the Native” or Tennyson’s “Lady Shalott”. In these literary works women characters asserted their supremacy and profound knowledge. The journey of women writers began with literary stalwarts like Jane Austen and Aphra Behn, who paved the way for women authors of later years.  However, in this context it should also be mentioned that many women novelists began their writing career by adopting male pseudonyms, for it was difficult for them to find readership and acceptance in the male dominated literary world. The publication of the Vindication of the Rights of Women was a benchmark in the history of feminism for it talked about the ‘rights’ of woman for the first time.

    According to Anita Nair, literature, since its incipiency, has been ambivalent in presenting women – both good and rebellious.  Feisty characters like Elizabeth Bennet from “Pride and Prejudice” and Jane Eyre from “Jane Eyre” ultimately ended up either being suppressed before the man of their dreams or ended up taking their own lives like “Anna Kareina”. However with the emergence of of feminism in the 1970s and 1980s, more authors started exploring  the lives of women and started channelizing their inspiration from women into female centric stories. Virginia Woolf in A Room of One’s Own goes on to discuss in detail about how difficult it is for women to take up the vocation of writing in a man’s world.

    In Paulami Ghosh Ray’s Happy Teacher’s Day we see that the raging storm followed by the deadening calmness foreshadowed a deep connection with Ahana’s disappointed appearance. After returning from a normal day at work in the government rehabilitation centre, she freshens up and looks at the calendar to realize that the following day was the 5th of September and a sudden sense of sadness and nausea hits her. She sits in the darkness of her room and reminiscences about her past. Growing up as a nerd and a perfectionist she had developed a commanding aura and being a topper throughout her life she had secured a Master’s degree from Australia and a PhD from USA.  She was pursuing her dream of becoming a professor and was awarded with the opportunity of teaching at Texas. But fate took a one-eighty turn with her mother passing away. It forced her to give up on her dream job and return home.  Though initially discontent, she started growing a penchant for her job as a psychologist, but nonetheless a feeling of inseparable loss took hold of her.

    (Read more here : https://www.amazon.in/dp/B08BZXYH4X )

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    You can also read all the above stories here : https://www.amazon.in/Women-Their-Stories-Tell-Story-ebook/dp/B085GKM43S/

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