Vijaya Rajadhyaksha is one of the most celebrated women writers in Marathi. She has been writing for over fifty years. The twelve stories in this collection, originally written in Marathi between 1956 and 1998, explore a woman’s relationship with society, with men, and most importantly with herself, and her search for her own identity as opposed to what the world invests her with. The questions that arise from the roles assigned to her, the possibilities that these roles throw up for her, the way in which her experience of all these undergoes a change in the flow of time, form the crux of her fiction.
Delicately and sensitively the author describes the physical and mental world of a woman and how she balances the demands of one with the needs of the other. How the apparent conflict between the two is resolved, through a deep and profound understanding of the female body and a woman’s mind, is a hallmark of Vijayabai’s writing.
These stories of a major Marathi writer, Vijaya Rajadhyaksha, are peopled with unusual characters, specially the women, who successfully transcend all stereotypes. The dominant note in most of these stories is a quest for detachment, for freedom. This is not a “spiritual quest”, for these people are successfully playing their roles in life. A man, the head of a large joint family, longs to be free of worldly ties. A woman tries to be detached from her family, to move away from her involvement in her daughter’s life. Both in different ways attain what they wanted. On the other hand, a mother, attending her daughter’s delivery, and remembering her own experience of childbirth, looks for and finds the connections with her children. She thinks of this continuity as the song of life.
In one of the finest stories, “Sunset Hour”, an activist, now paralysed and bedridden, tells her errant husband that she wants to face the end of her life with calm. That she is able to let him go without anger, is perhaps the detachment so fervently sought.
Tender, sharp and bold, these stories light up the dark corners of the human mind. Though placed in a definite milieu, these are stories any reader can identify with. Keerti Ramachandra, the translator, has provided an elegant bridge over which she takes the reader from the original Marathi to English, giving the non-Marathi reader a welcome glimpse of Marathi writing.
The stories suggest that a woman seeking freedom is in a self-imposed exile. One needs to develop inner strength.
The New Sunday Express Magazine
VIJAYA RAJADHYAKSHA is a celebrated Marathi writer known for her short stories, personal essays and literary criticism. She presided over the prestigious All India Marathi Sahitya Sammelan held in Indore in 2001. Among the several awards she has won are the Sahitya Akademi award in 1993 and the Janasthan Puraskar in 2017. Rajadhyaksha was a professor of Marathi literature at Elphinstone College in Mumbai and then at the SNDT University in the same city. She was also given an emeritus fellowship by the University Grants Commission in 1994–96. She was born in Kolhapur in 1933.
KEERTI RAMACHANDRA translates fiction and non-fiction from Marathi, Kannada and Hindi into English and loves it, is passionate about teaching which she continues to do, and prefers editing to writing. Some of her published translations are Vishwas Patil’s Mahanayak and A Dirge for the Dammed which was short-listed for the Crossword Award in 2015, Gangadhar Gadgil’s A Faceless Evening and other stories, and Saniya’s short stories Of Closures and New Beginnings (all from Marathi); Joginder Paul’s The Dying Sun and other stories (from Hindi); and U.R. Ananthamurthy’s last work, Hindutva or Hind Swaraj (from Kannada) with Vivek Shanbhag. Several short stories translated by her from all three languages have appeared in anthologies and journals. Currently she is polishing her translation of Atmakatha, Madhu Limaye’s autobiography in Marathi, is translating a collection of Kannada short stories, and an autobiography in Hindi, besides editing books of fiction and non-fiction.