GIRSHMA RITU – SUMMER, Issue No. 97 (May-Jun 2021)

Indian English Writing – Memory, Ancestry, Legend

Dr Charanjeet Kaur curates this Feature on Indian Writing in English focusing on ‘Writing, Memory and Legend’. With the lead Conversation between Sakoon Singh and Taseer Gujral on the evolution of Sakoon’s debut novel, it explores memory and lives relived in memory in the form of Memoirs, Poetry, Book Reviews and Fiction. A highlight of the feature is the ‘Library in my Mind’ in which two writers from diverse fields talk about the joy of discovering books and of carrying these books as part of their mental makeup. All the contributions hark to and validate Vladimir Nabokov’s statement, ‘One is always at home in one’s past’. (Image credit – ‘Snapshots’ by Saaz Aggarwal)

> <

An extensive, in-depth and critical examination of the process of the actual role of memory in writing a book that straddles generations in the debut novel of Sakoon Singh [pic] In the Land of Lovers. (FEATURE)

In ‘The Library in the Mind’, Annapurna Sharma [pic], a nutritionist by profession, speaks of the childhood influences which ignited an abiding love of reading and literature. Gurudarshan Singh, avid reader, recounts the authors he has discovered in the books he has been reading, because all authors acknowledge, in a big way, the debts they owe to literary masters who have preceded them. (FEATURE)

Eight heart-warming Memoirs, which speak of times past, rekindle interest in people long gone by and places which have formed their own mindscape. From heard-of partition memories by Narender Jit Kaur and Ishmeet Kaur Choudhary, snapshots collated by Saaz Aggarwal and Jewish legends in a personalized, familial context by Kavita Ezekiel Mendonca [pic], and reminiscences of GSP Rao, and Atreya Sarma, this section opens the floodgates of memories and strikes a chord. (FEATURE)

The memory leaves of twelve poets from India and the diaspora, exploring family, community, ‘histories tucked into the heartwood’ (Mahasweta Baxipatrain pic), to ‘Flashbacks echo the unsettled sands’ (Sanjeev Sethi), the poems by Mark Floyer, Shweta Garg, Vidya Premkumar, we travel with trunks that go places along with those who moved away from their homelands… (FEATURE)

The four short stories by Ishmeet Kaur Choudhry, Charanjeet Kaur, Murli Melwani and Rachel Bari [in pic] veer between the past and the present, seeking reconciliation and closure. (FEATURE)

Three diverse Memoirs reviewed by Paromita Chakrabarti [in pic], Sneha Roy and Vidya Premkumar take a look at lives across the happening decades of Indian history. Charanjeet Kaur reviews a book that looks at the other side of partition – Bengal, in the novel by Bhaswati Ghosh. (FEATURE)

“The reader constructs a disturbing version of reality within the text by decoding a recurring pattern of oppositions more subtle than polarities: man versus self, man versus man/ environment, sanity versus irrationalities, social constructs versus lived reality, blatant self-seeking versus emotional vulnerabilities working within the same psychological locus.”

(Rabindranath Tagore’s Short Story ‘Sampatti Samarpan’: Reading the Conflict of Opposites and Inevitabilities in the Narrative Design - Uma Chattopadhyay) (LITERARY SECTION)

“History became the product of the West in its actions upon others. The very notion of modernity is regarded as endogenous to the west and it simply naturalizes the West's material and cultural domination of the other. Magic realism as a decolonial tool fractures the sense of self-complacency with which the west is inflicted with.”

(Magic as the Decolonial Tool: Revisiting ‘Solitude’ in Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude – Minakshi Paul) (LITERARY SECTION)

“Though rape is particularly not a gendered crime, yet due to the complicated considerations of race, class and stigma associated with it, rape has fundamentally become an integral aspect of gender. Men have tended to remain silent when they are the victims of sexual assault due to the fear of mockery, disdain and disbelief from law enforcement and the community at large.”

(Disremembered and Unaccounted: Breaking the Silence surrounding Male Rape in Beloved by Toni Morrison – Anindita Sarkar) (LITERARY SECTION)

Dinesh Maurya’s No Man’s Land is an existential angst that surrounds us and looks at how one copes with it; rather how one submits to it in order to continue carrying on with one’s life. The routine keeps one’s sanity in check and at the same time provides a comfort of sorts. (FICTION)

S. Mukundan story titled Waiting is a philosophical take on life and is mixed with elements of fantasy and reality that mix really well and leaves one to ponder on the deeper truths of life. The story makes one questions the structures that one creates around oneself. (FICTION)

Anushka Mitra’s poems do not hold back what the inner self wants to scream out loud. The versatility of her works can be observed while reading her works and they make her poems stand out. (POETRY)

The images that are used by Kripi Malviya in her poems are stark and do away with any sense of artificiality. She states things in a compact and powerful manner without taking away the agency of those she speaks for. (POETRY) 

Among the 2 novels and 2 collections of short stories written directly in English – Kashmir! Kashmir! – by Deepa Agarwal brings out the throbs of the pristine hearts of various characters in the idyllic Kashmir Valley – and one wishes that the endearing golden harmony seeping through the stories – would be a perennial flow – for everyone in the country to enjoy. Also see her interview about the book. (BOOK REVIEWS)

The 10 books of variety reviewed in this issue include the fascinating art work – Painting in the Kangra Valley by Vijay Sharma, senior artist and ‘Padma Shri’ awardee – showcasing interesting samples. Also read the interview of young debut fiction writer Yuktha Asrani (Handcuffed to Love). (BOOK REVIEWS)

Out of 10 books reviewed in this issue, 4 are translations – one each from Rajbanshi (Poetry), Telugu (Poetry), Tamil (Short fiction), and Hindi (Novel: Fifty-five pillars, Red walls). The last one – originally by Usha Priyamvada and translated by Daisy Rockwell – portrays Sushma, an educated female protagonist who goes through unenviable throes in a self-effacing manner. The Hindi version Pachhpan Khambe Laal Deewarein had been telecast on Doordarshan in the 1990s. (BOOK REVIEWS)


This Issue of Muse India is sponsored by Kidsownstory, a portal for gifting children online customized stories, owned by Ananya Sarkar, writer, poet, and book reviewer.

Past Issues

Issue:96:Kannada Literature – Experienced through Translation

Issue:95:Culture and Identity production in literary paradigms

Issue:94:Love in the Pandemic

Issue:93:Urdu Ramayan

Issue:92:Tradition and Modernity in Odia Literature


Issue:90:Flux and Fusions in English Studies

Issue:89:Children’s Literature