In the Name of the Mother: Four Stories

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Seagull Books, 2004 - Short stories, Bengali - 80 pages
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Ma, from Dusk to Dawn is the story of a woman from a nomadic tribe, catapulted by her circumstances into the role of a spiritual mother whose so-called mystical powers depend upon her denial of maternal affection towards her own son during daylight hours. Sindhubala describes the anguish of a childless woman forced to play the role of a semi-divine healer called upon to save other people s offspring. Jamunabati s Mother offers a stringent critique of a consumerist society indifferent to those on the margins and Giribala presents the plight of a village woman whose daughters are trafficked by their own father, to pay for the house he dreams of building. The stories in this volume are linked by a common thread: the idea of the mother. They represent a range of responses to the concept of the maternal, exposing how the traditional deification of motherhood in India conceals a collective exploitation and attempts to restrict women to their socially prescribed roles while denying them the right to articulate their individual needs and desires. At the same time, they also show the strategies evolved by women to survive and circumvent the repression inflicted on them by social norms. The maternal thus emerges as an ambivalent concept with both restrictive and emancipatory potential. Mahasweta Devi is one of India s foremost writers. Her powerful fiction has won her recognition in the form of the Sahitya Akademi (1979), Jnanpith (1996) and Ramon Magsaysay (1996) awards, and the title of Officier Del Ordre Des Arts Et Des Lettres (2003) and the Nonino Prize (2005) amongst several other literary honours. She was also awarded the Padmasree in 1986, for her activist work among dispossessed tribal communities. Radha Chakravarty is an academic and a translator. She teaches at Gargi College, University of Delhi, and is currently working on English translations of major Bengali writers. She has contributed essays and review articles to various journals and critical anthologies.

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