Category Archives: Article

still waters run deep

20160723_131702
If only I can forget all the horrible things and people just like I forget about this blog life would be really amazing. But of course my mind is messy. Chasing time is not my hobby anymore. People keep telling me read that japanese book about cleaning house or tidying up. But I refused to read that book and feel sorry for all the clutter I have in my life and house. According to people who loved the book the writer advises that we should only keep the things that gives us joy. A valid point really. But then if I only keep the things that bring me joy it will be sad and less distracting. I love distraction, I need more distraction to be honest.  I love the mess that things I love and things I don’t hate is making. I got rid of most the things I hate. So much work to do. I guess the things I don’t hate can stay a while, may be longer. They can keep me company.

even rambling is boring now.

Leave a comment

Filed under Article

…Free Books on race, gender, sexuality, and class that are bound to get you woke!

awesome books

TyreeBP.com

In need of some new reading to spur your mind? Here is a great list of FREE BOOKS in PDF form to educate oneself on race, gender, sexuality, class, and culture!

Please feel free to share this with anyone who you feel might benefit. Special thanks you to Tracie of Emory University.

View original post 116 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Article

Connecting through Ideas Beats and Pieces of Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss

Summary of Chapter 3-THE MAN OF COLOR AND THE WHITE WOMAN
This chapter talks about the “crystallization” process and the confusion this process creates. And most of all what is takes to be civilized, how much it cost to be accepted by the white society. Also, how love and beauty is mediated by the color line and the rejection of it.
Fanon notes, “he is a European. But he is Black; so he is a Negro. There is the conflict. He does not understand his own race, and the whites do not understand him” (64). We also find that because of these circumstances, Veneuse feels lonely and has developed into what many would call an introverted bookworm. While we might be led to think that Veneuse’s desire is to prove to his white counterparts that he is their equal, Fanon believes that Veneuse himself is the man that has to be convinced.
Another point Fanon talks about is how a black man need for validation by the whites. He always needs an European friend for authorization. Also Fanon talks about “abandonment neurosis”.
Fanon also believes that Veneuse’s problems cannot be extended to all black people simply because Veneuse is black (this would risk losing objectivity). He is simply suffering from basic and universal symptoms of the psychoanalytic problem of being an abandonment-neurotic.To conclude, Fanon reminds us once more that such problems cannot be solved by buying into color hierarchies and alludes to another solution which he will reveal later.
Fanon points to a passage by Louis T. Achille which posits the idea that whereas most interracial marriages are arranged so that one of the spouses is of a lower economic or cultural standing than the other in order to achieve the “deracialization” of both partners, when a white spouse is chosen by a black person, the black person’s motive seems to be one of establishing equality with whiteness. But in “Inheritance of Loss” we see that one of the main characters Jemubhai Patel rapes his wife because he did not marry a white or a westernized woman.
As Fanon says it “however, he concludes that know nothing. I have no wish to know any more except one thing: that the Negro is a man like the rest, the equal of the others, and that his heart, which only the ignorant consider simple, can be as complicated as the heart of the most complicated of Europeans. (66)”
Inheritance of Loss is the title of the second novel of Kiran Desai.In this novel, she raises a question such as “how can loss be inherited?” In the book, Kiran Desai flashes back and forth, between Kalimpong and New York and The inheritance of loss focuses not only on individual stories of the characters themselves but also describes how several people make sense to themselves, view the world abounds them and deal with the difficulties they have with contradiction. The writer stated that she was writing to portray the reality, the truth in this novel. ……So the characters starting from the retired judge, his granddaughter Sai, his cook Panna Lal, are described with every single details of their daily life, they are not caught in any situation but are judged by their moment of impulse. So the readers get the idea of the character’s whole inheritance- their loss, the pain which they carry , and also the urge to get out of it. India, with a colonial history and the world going through phases like globalization, modernism, the novel also speaks about how it effects every corner of the people’s life in this text. The major theme running throughout is one closely related to colonialism and the effects of post-colonialism: the loss of identity and the way it travels through generations as a sense of loss. Individuals within the text show snobbery at those who embody the Indian way of life and vice versa, with characters displaying anger at the English Indians who have lost their traditions.
As Kiran desai explains “What happens when you take people from a poor country and place
them in a wealthy one? How does the imbalance between these two worlds change a person’s thinking and feeling? How do these changes manifest themselves in a personal sphere, a political sphere, over time?”
“These are old themes that continue to be relevant in today’s world, the past informing the present, the present revealing the past.”

In this book the portrayal of human soul is bare and naked. The novel depicts very well in Jemubhai the dilemmas of post colonialism and his loyalty for the lost British kingdom. He after training himself to be a colonial tool finds it hard to move on with time. The former judge, with his beloved dog Mutt lives in Himalaya with a cook. His personality and behavior is so determined by the English ideology and etiquette that he is unable to find his own self or to be the person he was before he went to Cambridge University. He masks his black face with a’ pink powder puff.’ Unfortunately his judgment for natives and poor people makes the reader wonder about his loss. Until his only companion, his pet dog Mutt is lost; he is depicted as rather an unkind bitter old man who is living in the past. He is very strict about his fixed routine about tea, food, and pet, other like British behaviors. His idea of civilization is based on white aesthetics and it alienates him from the whole world, sometimes even from himself. He keeps on reminding himself that human beings are capable of forgetting but he can hardly forget his past. Fanon in his Black Skin White musk states,
“We must see whether it is possible for the black man to overcome his feeling of insignificance to rid his life of the compulsive quality that makes it so like the behavior of the phobic. Affect is
exacerbated in the Negro, he is full of rage because he feels small, he suffers from an inadequacy in all human communication, and full these factors chain him with an unbearable insularity.”
“Ego-withdrawal as a successful defense mechanism is impossible for the Negro. He requires a white approval.”

When he goes abroad for higher education, to be “somebody” as expected by every one from his community, he faces extreme racist behavior from the white people. He becomes so self-conscious under the white gaze that he even finds it difficult to expose his teeth.
“He was hated and made fun of by the English who said, “Phew, he stinks of curry” (45)
To be accepted by the whites and their civilization he goes through a whole transformation and “crystallization”. But in the process of being approved by the white, being powerful like the white, he had to drop his own culture and way of life that he had learned from his forefather. Facing hatred throughout the process of being like a white man, he starts projecting his sense of insignificance and hatred towards the Indians. Probably the sense and acceptance of white man’s superiority is so deeply ingrained in him because that he fails to return his hatred towards the whites………( whites are too powerful to consider as hateful)l. So ironically Desai shows that in the process of civilization Jemubhai Patel drops the things that made him a human too. His idea of time and space fixed in that particular time even when he gets back, all of a sudden he feel hatred towards his whole family and their’ stupidity. He rapes his wife Nimi because she steals his powder puff and despite of his white education he almost beats wife to death and then leaves her. Ironically Nimi’s father provides the money for his higher education as a bribe of the marriage. He hates his wife because she is a constant reminder that he is not White.
He feels “barely human at all” and leaps “when touched on the arm as if from an unbearable intimacy.” On his return to India, he finds himself despising his culture, family and inadvertently attempting to “colonize” his backward wife. “’Take those absurd trinkets off,’ he instructed her, annoyed by the tinkle-tonk of her bangles. ‘Why do you have to dress in such a gaudy manner? Yellow and pink? Are you mad?’ He threw the hair oil bottles away and her long hairs escaped no matter how tidily she made her bun.”
His personal experiences are full of hatred and resentment and also that defines his relation with time and space which is fixed. But all the loss come out from the unconscious in the moment of losing Mutt. Patel’s beloved dog Mutt can represent many things: his love for white culture, his fixation and need for approval from something that is white, his wife’s replacement and the justification of his action, that this animal loves him the most. He is capable of loving. He begs God for sending Mutt back , when he thought God is just a superstition of the “stupid” natives, at the same time he wants to kill his faithful cook.
As Fanon says it “however, he concludes that know nothing. I have no wish to know any more except one thing: that the Negro is a man like the rest, the equal of the others, and that his heart, which only the ignorant consider simple, can be as complicated as the heart of the most complicated of Europeans. (66)”

The cook and the judge have a master-slave relationship. And the cook’s only son Biju, an illegal immigrant of USA is struggling with the direct colonizer. Almost the same kind of relationship but each has its own complexity. The notion of double consciousness is apparent with Biju as illegal Indian immigrant in New York. Sai is in the middle of all the Western and Eastern learning and just like her mixed language, torn. Lola and Noni the two rich women, with their polished life generalize and criticize everything with their prejudice and ideas borrowed from white intellectuals. Other two neighbors- Uncle Potty and Father Booty( foreigner) enjoy their bachelor life. And a Nepali graduate fell in love with Sai while teaching her Science subjects.
Loaded with their own complexity these characters also often mirror each other in term of prejudice and judgment. The judge is angry with his wife and beats her because she is the prove that he is not white and she is a typical Indian girl.
“they belonged to this emotion more than to themselves, experienced anger with enough muscle in it for entire nations coupled in hate.”
Gyan blames Sai for being so westernized because she reminds him the height he can never touch.
Fanon points out “we shall observe the development of an effort to understand the black-white relation. The white man is sealed in his whiteness. The black man in his blackness” (9)
While Lola and Noni both are terrified of the idea of Nepali watchmen, they have thse thrilling ideas that the watchman can rob and kill them anytime. Lola, a character who does not develop throughout the time is so full of prejudice that she beside the higher class society finds all the people wicked, uncivilized and greedy. The superiority she feels is because of her husband’s property and her daughter’s job, also her love for white aesthetic and Old England. Now all the white man look for black girl she claims, forgetting that they are still an exotic, forbidden fruit from their lost kingdom. But her loss is there too, her loss of youth and her husband strikes out when a Gorkha leader harass her about her body, she call her husband by the name.
Throughout the text we can see that all the people who have power and money find the native and marginalized people useless, ignorant, stupid, at the same time dangerous. Even cook declares that Nepali’s are not smart enough to teach science.
And Gyan and his nationalist friends find the Judge, his fake accent, his powered face, and the whole idea of pet hilarious.
Gyan wants to be a part of the national movement, but he is scared. He just like his friends could not find the reassurance about the movement. But just be part of the bigger picture he breaks up with Sai. Later finds out that was his loss because he misses Sai. By trying to return Mutt he tries to balance his sin.
Everyone inherited their own loss, but they call Mutt to come back, while thinking of their own loss, the judge thinking of his family and wife, Sai about Gyan, cook about Biju. Mutt interconnects them with all their loss. At the end as Biju comes back to come, because he with losing his American dream realize where he truly belongs.
“The five peaks of Kanchenjunga turned golden with the kind of luminous light that made you feel, if briefly, that truth was apparent. All you needed to do was to reach out and pluck it.”
As Desai suggests, people are very much a product of their environment; how they were brought up and the cultural identity they were trained to know is constantly carried with them. Globalization today brings cultures together, encouraging ideas and traditions from one culture to meld and blend with others. Although there are many aspects of this mixing that are positive, it can also stir up old hatreds, causing new troubles and resentments. Most of the characters in Desai’s novel, including the Judge, Sai, Gyan), Noni and Lola and Biju, all have experiences where their identity comes in contact with a foreign culture. Unfortunately, each of these experiences results in a strong negative reaction, illuminating the division between cultures that still exists today.
We see the crumbling dreams of Sai’s neighbors, Swiss Father Booty and his alcoholic friend, Uncle Potty, still trapped in an older era when colonialism was for the best.
We can question the writer beginning with a poem about homeland. All the character here trying to gain their loss, their security, their innocence and their home. Everyone is generalized, judging, falling in love, falling out of love, dueling with hatred and cruelty, justified their action because they are trying to find a place to belong, their home. The way Biju comes back to his home.
Desai’s comment about this theme was complex and indefinite: “That is a very difficult question. Home is a place we choose. Nowhere is pure. The idea is a simplification. There is no pure location – there’s no returning to a firm place.”
We all have our own inheritance and belonging.
Work Cited
Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin, White Mask.

Spielman, David. “Solid Knowledge and Contradictions in Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss”. Shroff, Satis.  “Kathmandu Blues: The Inheritance of Loss and Intercultural Competence”. Web.Boloji.com.

Jessica Islam Lia

ENG 452, Contemporary Literature
Spielman, David. “Solid Knowledge and Contradictions in Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss”. Shroff, Satis. “Kathmandu Blues: The Inheritance of Loss and Intercultural Competence”. Web.Boloji.com.

Leave a comment

Filed under Article

Translation of Hanif Kureishi’s short story “Weddings and Beheadings “

বিবাহ এবং শিরচ্ছেদ
হানিফ কুরায়েশি
অনুবাদঃ জেসিকা লিয়া

আমি সব সরঞ্জামআদি নিয়ে তাদের অপেক্ষায় বসে আছি। তাদের আসতে খুব বেশি দেরি হবেনা, কখনও দেরি হয়না।
আপনি আমাকে ব্যাক্তিগতভাবে চিনেন না। আমার অস্তিত্ব সম্পর্কে আপনার হয়ত কোন ধারনাই নেই। কিন্তু আমি বাজি রেখে বলতে পারি যে আমার কাজ আপনি দেখেছেনঃ বিশ্বব্যাপী সব নিউজ চ্যানেলেই সম্প্রচারিত হয়েছে বলা যায়, বিশেষ করে কিছু অংশ তো বটেই। আপনি চাইলে এক্ষুনি ইন্টারনেটে খুজে দেখতে পারেন। মানে যদি সহ্য করেন পারেন আরকি।
এমন না যে আপনি আমার স্টাইল, আমার আর্টিস্টিক সিগনেচার সবকিছু বিশেষভাবে লক্ষ্য করবেন। আমি শিরচ্ছেদ এর ফিল্ম বানাই, এই যুদ্ধ পরাহত শহরে এটা খুব সাধারন ব্যাপার । এই শহরেই বেড়ে ওঠা আমার।
অল্পবয়সে যখন সিনেমা খুব পছন্দ করতাম তখন এমন কিছুর ফিল্ম করার কথা কল্পনাও করিনি। এমনকি বিয়ের অনুষ্ঠানও করার ইচ্ছে হয়নি কখনও, বিয়ে যদিও আজকাল খুব বেশি হয়না। গ্রাজুয়েশন এবং অন্যান্য অনুষ্ঠানেরও ওই একই অবস্থা। ছাত্র অবস্থায় আমরা বন্ধুরা মিলে সত্যিকারের সিনেমা বানাতে চাইতাম, যেখানে সত্যিকারের অভিনেতা থাকবে, সংলাপ থাকবে, কৌতুক থাকবে, সঙ্গীত থাকবে। সেরকম কিছুই আর সম্ভব হবেনা। প্রতিদিন,আমাদের বয়স বাড়ছে, ভেতরে কেমন জীর্ণতার অনুভুতি হয়। অনেক গল্প জমে আছে, বলার অপেক্ষায় ;আমরা আর্টিস্ট। কিন্তু এইসব ব্যাপার গুলো, এই যে মৃত্যু নিয়ে ঘাটাঘাটি, সব গ্রাস করে নিয়েছে।
আমরা এই কাজকর্ম করতে বাধ্য , না চাইলেও না করতে পারিনা, কোন আত্মীয়র বাড়ি যাচ্ছি বা কাটিং রুমে কাজ করছি বলেও পার পাইনা। তারা সময় অসময়ে হঠাত করে ডেকে পাঁঠায়, সাধারণত রাতের বেলায় এবং একটু পরেই ওরা বন্দুক হাতে বেরিয়ে পরে। আমাদের গাড়িতে বসিয়ে মাথা কাপড় দিয়ে ঢেকে দেয়। একসময় একজনেরই কাজ করার দায়িত্ব থাকে, সুতরাং ওদের সাথের গুন্ডারাই আমাদের গিয়ার বয়ে নিতে সাহায্য করে। কিন্তু প্রধান সমস্যা হচ্ছে যে আমাদের ছবি নেয়ার সাথে সাথে সাউন্ড ও নিতে হয়, আবার ক্যামেরা লোড করে কিভাবে আলোটা সিন এ আসবে এসব ব্যাপার লক্ষ্য রাখতে হয়। আমি হাজার বার একজন অ্যাসিস্ট্যান্ট দিতে বলেছি কিন্তু ঐ ওদের আনাড়ি লোকজনকেই গছিয়ে দিয়েছে, যারা কোন অঘটন না ঘটিয়ে একটা লেন্সও পরিস্কার করতে পারেনা।

এইধরনের পেশায় জড়িত আরও তিনজন কে চিনি আমি, আমরা নিজেদের মধ্যে আলোচনা করি, কিন্তু ভুলেও অন্য কারো সামনে উচ্চারণ করিনা, তাহলে দেখা যাবে আমাদেরকেই ক্যামেরার সামনে দাড় করিয়ে দিবে। কিছুদিন আগ পর্যন্ত আমার সবচেয়ে প্রিয় বন্ধুও শিরচ্ছেদের ফিল্ম বানাতো, ওকে ঠিক পরিচালক বলা যায়না, বড়জোর একজন লেখক। ওর হাতে ক্যামেরা দিয়ে বিশ্বাস নেই আমার। টেকনিক্যাল ব্যাপার নিয়ে খুব বেশি জ্ঞান নেই ওর , যেমন কিভাবে ইকুইপমেন্ট সেট করতে হয় , তারপর আবার কিভাবে কম্পিউটারের মাধ্যমে ইন্টারনেটে প্রচার করতে হয়। এটি অবশ্যই একধরনের দক্ষতা।
আমার বন্ধুই একবার চিন্তা করছিল যে আমাদের কলিং কার্ড বানানো উচিৎ যেখানে বড় বড় অক্ষরে লিখা থাকবে “Weddings and beheadings” . কারেন্ট থাকলে আমরা ওর ফ্লাটে গিয়ে ভিডিওতে মুভি দেখি। ফিরে আশার সময় ও মজা করে বলে যে “মাটির নিচে মাথা গেঁড়ে ফেলনা বন্ধু। এখন পাগল হওয়ার সময়না। একদম মাথা ঠাণ্ডা!”

কয়েক সপ্তাহ আগে ও একটু গোলমাল করে ফেলেছে। ক্যামেরাগুলো বেশ ভালো ছিল, বিদেশি সাংবাদিকদের থেকে নেয়া বলে কথা, কিন্তু লাইটের একটা বাল্ব নষ্ট হয়ে গেছে আর ও রিপ্লেস করতে পারেনি। ততক্ষণে ভিক্টিমকে নিয়ে তারা হাজির। আমার বন্ধু তাদের বুঝাতে চেষ্টা করেছে বার বার “এখানে বেশ অন্ধকার, কিছুই ক্যামেরায় আসবেনা আর আবার রিটেকও নেয়া যাবেনা।” কিন্তু তারা সম্ভবত তারাহুরার মধ্যে ছিল..
ও বলেও তাদের থামাতে পারেনি- তারা ততক্ষণে ঘাড় থেকে মাথা আলাদা করা শুরু করে দিয়েছে- ও তখন আতঙ্কে বেহুঁশ হয়ে গিয়েছিল। ভাগ্য ভালো যে ক্যামেরাটা চলছিল। অবশ্যই আন্ডারলিট এসেছে- এই অবস্থায় কি আশা করে তারা? যদিও আমার ভালোই লেগেছিল , আমি নাম দিয়েছিলাম-লিঞ্ছিয়ান (Lynchian) ; কিন্তু তারা ওকে মারপিট করেছে এবং আর কখনো কাজে ডাকেনি।
ওর কপাল ভালো। কিন্তু আমার ভাবছি ও হইয়ত পাগল হয়ে যাচ্ছে। গোপনে সে তার শিরচ্ছেদের কপিগুলো রেখে দিয়েছিল, ওগুলো নিয়েই সারাদিন কম্পিউটারে কাটিং, রিকাটিং, ভিডিওর সাথে অপেরা, জ্যাজ, কমিক সব রকমের গান বিভিন্ন ভাবে মিক্সিং এডিটিং করে আজকাল। একমাত্র এই স্বাধীনতাটুকুই হয়ত আছে ওর এখনো।
আপনি শুনলে হয়ত অবাক হবেন, কিন্তু আমাদের কাজের জন্য টাকা পাই, তারা সবসময় বারতি ঝামেলার জন্যও আমাদেরকে কিছু দেয়। তারা আবার মজাও করে মাঝে মাঝেঃ “পরের হ্ম্যাপটার জন্য পুরুস্কার আছে কিন্তু। কি? নতুন গিফট, প্রাইজ এইসব জিনিসপাতি পেতে ভালো লাগে তো?”
যেন আমি নরকের মধ্যে আছি, লং ড্রাইভ এ ক্যামেরা এবং ট্রাইপড নিয়ে বসে থাকা, বস্তার গন্ধ, অস্ত্র, এবং আপনি চিন্তা করতে থাকবেন যে হয়ত এবারের বলি আপনি নিজেই। আপনি স্বভাবতই অসুস্থ থাকবেন, এবং, তারপর আপনি বিল্ডিং এর ভিতরে,হয়ত ঘরের মদ্ধে, ক্যামেরা সেট করছেন এবং হঠাৎ আপনি পাশের ঘরে এমন কিছু শুনবেন যা শুনে আপনার পৃথিবীতে বেচে থাকার শেষ ইচ্ছে টুকু মরে যাবে।
আমি জানি আপনি খুব বিস্তারিত ভাবে কিছু জানতে চান না, কিন্তু আপনি যদি কসাই না হন তাহলে একজন মানুষের মাথা কাটা বেশ কঠিন কাজ; এবং এই লোকগুলো এই কাজের যোগ্য না, এরা শুধুই উত্সাহী- ওরা এসব করতেই পছন্দ করে। দৃশ্যটা বেশি ভালো হয়, যদি কোনভাবে মাথাটা ঢেকে ফেলার ঠিক আগের মুহূর্তে ভিক্টিমের চোখের একটা ভালো সট পাওয়া যায়। শেষের দিকে তারা রক্তাক্ত মাথাটা উঁচু করে ধরে, এই সট গুলো নেয়ার সময় ক্যামেরা হাতে ধরে ভিডিও করতে হয়, যাতে আর কিছু মিস না হয়। শট নেয়ার সময় ফ্রেইম ঠিক রাখাটা খুব জরুরি। আপনি কিছু মিস করলে আর জিনিশটা ভালো হবেনা। মূলত আপনার একটি কুইক রিলিজ ট্রাইপড রাখা দরকার। যেটা আমার আছে এবং আমি কখনই কাওকে ধার দিব না।

ওরা যখন আনন্দ উল্লাসে গুলি ছুরাছুরি করছে তখন আপনি টেইপ টা চেক করে বাজিয়ে দেখছেন। তারপর তারা বডিটা ব্যাগে ভরে কোঁথাও ফেলে দিবে, তারপর আর এক জায়গায় নিয়ে যাবে যেখান থেকে কম্পিউটারে সব কিছু নিয়ে অনলাইনে পাঠিয়ে দিবে।
আমি প্রায়ই চিন্তা করি যে এসবকিছু আমার উপরে কি প্রভাব ফেলছে। আমি যখন ওয়ার ফটোগ্রাফার দের কথা ভাবি, লেন্সের মাধ্যমে তারা মৃত্যু এবং কঠিন বাস্তবতা থেকে দূরত্ব সৃষ্টি করে। কিন্তু তারা তাদের কাজ বেছে নিয়েছে, নিজেদের কাজের উপর বিশ্বাস আছে তাদের। আমরা নির্দোষ।
কোন একদিন আমি ঠিক ঠাক মত একটা ফিল্ম বানাতে চাই, হয়ত শুরুটা হবে একটা শিরচ্ছেদের দৃশ্য দিয়ে, পরে আস্তে আস্তে কাহিনী এগোবে। আমার আগ্রহ ঐ ধরনের জীবন জীবিকা তে, কিন্তু এখন যা অবস্থা, আমার হয়ত এসব কাজই করতে হবে আরও কিছুদিন। মাঝে মাঝে মনে হয় হয়ত আমি পাগল হয়ে যাচ্ছি। অথবা সেই পালাবার পথও আমার জন্য হয়ত বন্ধ ।
আমি এখন যাই। কে যেন দরজায়।

[1] a term that refers to David Keith Lynch’s filmmaking style.

Leave a comment

Filed under Article

HAPPINESS AND BEAUTY

John Tottenham

Beauty depresses me,
Knowing that it’s temporary.
Positivity requires too much energy.
And even if I were happy,
I wouldn’t admit it,
For that would be insulting
To those who are not ,
And those who pretend to be.

(Artillery, Sept 2012)

View original post

Leave a comment

Filed under Article

Violence as a form of repression as well as a form of resistance through Bapsi Sidhwa’s “Ice-Candy-Man” and Deepa Mehta’s Earth: 1947

Chapter 1: Introduction

In this paper we are presenting a compare and contrast between Parsee diasporic writer Bapsi Sidhwa’s “Ice candy man” (1988) and   Indo-Canadian film director Deepa Mehta’s Earth: 1947 which based on the same novel.  The dominant themes of the novel are the themes of partition.  Sidhwa’s “Ice candy man” written from the viewpoint of an eight year old girl, Lenny, shows human suffering in a society divided not only because of one’s religious affiliation but also gender. The narration shows that women’s bodies have historically become territory in which men act out their aggression.

 

Background 

Bapsi Sidhwa’s “Ice candy man” (1988) and Deepa Mahta’s  Earth:1947 both  focuses on  woman’s narrative and her sense of the traumatic experiences, violence that women have suffered and the  socio- political stance taken by women of    different religious  and economic background.  In both the novel and the film it has been shown how during the time of partition women were doubly victimized they were the victim of the violence caused between Hindu and Muslims. Women were raped, killed, sold, tortured, forced to take prostitution betrayed by their friends and neighbor, the people whom they trust and depended on. But the same event that crumble all the relation of men and woman, the same event made the women of this novel united and shows form of resistance.

Thesis Statement

In this paper we have tried to look at violence: as an agent of separation at the same time as an agent of bonding and resistance.

Methodology

This paper has conducted its queries through the lens of feminism and theories of deconstruction. The   “rape metaphor “in particular has been taken from Sara Sulari’s essay “The Rhetoric of English India”. 

 

We have used secondary sources such as journals, essays, and information found on different websites to form our argument.

 

 

 Chapter Two: Comparative Reading       

2.1 Violence and female body

 Ice Candy Man and 1947: Earth shows how women’s bodies were used to victim and re victimize them. In both cases, a particular form of violence (rape) was inflicted on women not only to degrade them, but also to humiliate the community they belonged to. As  result, they were abandoned by their own people as well, becoming victimized by both parties of the riot.

 i. Ayah’s body as a symbol of the nation

Bapsi Sidhwa and Deepa mehta shows how women are dehumanized solely based on their body- both in love and chaos.  In the novel, Lenny gives an account of how men –from beggars to holy men to British soldiers- gaze over Ayah’s beautiful body. This attention however, dehumanizes Ayah as a person and she is reduced into just a body. For this characteristics- Ayah’s body becomes a symbol of undivided India –luring both insiders and outsiders with its bounty of treasures. In 1947: Earth, the greedy male gaze towards Ayah’s body and its symbolic connection to the physical territory of undivided India is beautifully captured at the park scene where male admirers from three different religious communities (hindu, muslim, shikh) sit circling around  Ayah. Unconsciously, her sari slips from her chest, exposing her breasts partially (10:33). All the men at the scene are taken aback by this accidental wardrobe malfunction and they kept looking at her breasts with silent lust and desire. Ironically, these three communities fight for dominance over each other as well as possession of India tears the country apart.

ii.Ayah‘s  rape

 Both the novel and the movie maintained Ice candy man’s contribution to ayah’s rape. However,the reasons that drove Ice candy man to betray the woman he loves/ once loved are portrayed from two different points of view. In 1947: Earth , Ice candy man was aware of Ayah and Masseurs mutual attraction. Despite that and her sisters’ horrible murder by Hindus- he proposes marriage-which she politely refuses. It’s after he accidentally (and quite voyeuristically) watches Ayah having sex with Masseur, he reaches his bursting point. Once another man marks his territory over her body by penetration- ayah loses her pedestal and stoops down to a fallen woman. Women’s worth was and still is measured, judged and persecuted by the exclusivity of her vagina in  patriarchal societies like undivided India( in the now divided parts as well). This is the reason why he hands the woman he once loved to his frenzied brethren who drags her towards her impending doom.

Unlike the movie, in the novel ayah and masseur’s relationship is not portrayed in a sexually explicit manner. Moreover, Ice candy man was born in a brothel, so pre-marital sexual relationship is not as taboo to him as it was/is to most sub-continental men. Yet, he lets Ayah be gang raped, makes her a prostitute, pimps her to be a dancer. According to Godmother, the only reason he marries her is to restrain her from going back to Amritsar to her family with Lenny’s mother’s help ( Sidhwa,page 250).All  of his evil / overly obsessed plans becomes successful because he uses Ayah’s body to entrap her. Once ayah is raped, her family or her long lines of admirers are not likely to taint their honors by giving her shelter. Ice candy man permanents her fallen state by making her a prostitute and a dancer- leaving her no option but to live with him and eventually marry him. He keeps her like a princess ( according to him) by wrapping her “body” with gold and silk  – and thinks finally she is all his. He is content by possessing her body, providing comfort  and ornamentation for her “body’- but completely fails to see how that body is all drained out of spirit. Sidhwa and Mehta take two different routes to reach the same destination –dehumanization of women by body politic.

 

 iii. Rape victims of riot /“Fallen Women”

In Ice Candy Man, Sidhwa describes the heart wrenching scenario of Rana’s village where all the men and children were killed instantly, but women were kept alive and raped over and over again .  These rapes were not originated from lust or carnal desire, rather from the idea of degrading  the weaker “other” (women) to leave impact on the stronger “other”(men).  By raping, mutilating and impregnating women, the purity of the bloodline of a particular community can be tampered.

However, rioters of opposing force are not alone in the act of degradation of women. In Rana’s village, plan for women during attack was – “they will pour kerosene around the house and burn themselves”( Sidhwa, page199). While suicide is considered an unforgivable sin in every religion- these kind of mass suicide (especially in women’s case) is viewed as an act of martyrdom.  Whether survival is more important than being raped is a matter of debate , this attitude towards  women shows the bitter truth- a raped women has no place in their family. Women who survive the riot were either killed or abandoned by their husbands –and finds shelter in camps of raped women, or in brothels. Lenny describes the condition of these women –“At night we hear them wailing,their cries verging on the inhuman.” (Sidhwa, page 212).

 

 Mehta shows the rape victims camp, but skips Rana’s tale in 1947: Earth. As the film captures the tale of only one locality within the time frame of 2 hours, the horrifying tale of violence comes in a minuscule, yet powerful manner. In the film, Lenny and cousin talks to an unnamed little boy who tells them about discovering the body of his naked mother. While Rana’s tale goes on for a whole chapter,  the unnamed boy was on screen for a few minutes. Yet, their story conveys the same message. The anxiety of Ice candy man for his sisters is portrayed without any dialogue and the horrifying discovery of” two bags full of women’s breasts”, is the single sentence that tells what happened to then .None of these horrifying accounts were visually present on screen, yet it was presented with words, sounds and silence.

While Sidhwa gives a vivid, graphic description of violence on women during and after the riot, Mehta uses sound effects, minimalistic dialogues and actor’s expressions – leaving all the graphic details on audience’s imagination. Both of them captured the saddest truth – these women were innocent victims, who did nothing to cause the riot, and they were abandoned by their loved ones for being raped on which, once again, they had nothing to do.

 

2.2 Female bonding and resistance

Surprisingly, violence united the bond of women, whereas it destroyed most of the men-men/ men-women bonding both in the novel and the movie. Some of them got to evaluate the intensity of their mutual trust (Lenny), some became stronger (Lenny’s mother), some bonded over shared pain (camp of fallen women) and some refused to be a victim anymore ( Ayah) with support of other women (Lenny’s mother and Godmother).

i.Lenny’s everlasting guilt

 Ayah and Lenny’s relationship is much more than of a helpless child and a caretaker-  Ayah becomes Lenny’s De Facto elder sister. Lenny plays the younger sister part well by keeping Ayah’s endeavors secret from her family.  This is the reason why Lenny becomes traumatized after Ayah was caught because of her truthfulness as she viewed it as the ultimate betrayal. Though nobody including Ayah herself never accused her, she loses faith from herself. “How could anyone trust a truth inflected mouth?”(Sidhwa, p 243). The movie shows Lenny as a ripe old woman, still reflecting over her unintentional betrayal. At time of riot when men were slaughtering people they grew up with in cold blood, Lenny’s everlasting  guilt over something she was tricked to do shows the intensity of their mutual trust .

ii.Transformation of Lenny’s mother

Lenny’s mother has the most uncharacteristic transformation in both the novel and the film. She transforms from a somewhat vain housewife into a protector and rescuer. Both in the novel and the movie, she dotes on her daughter, and forms the idea of identity in Lenny. In the movie, she explains how Parsees are supposed to be invisible like sugar in milk. Yet, when riot breaks out, she tries to help her neighbors. The most incredible moment for her was when she faces the mob that attacks her household. On that moment, she lets go of her Parsee invisibility, which is a strong form of resistance as well. This scene is also described in the novel -“Mother, voluptuous in a beige chiffon sari, is alert.In charge. A lioness with her cubs. Ayah, with her haunted nervous eyes, is lioness number two.Our pride in veranda swells as Moti’s wife and five children joins us.” (Sidhwa, page 178). Her role is more wide spread in the novel than the movie because her role of a rescuer begins after the riot ends; the movie ends much before that.

 

iii.Bonding over violence

The camps of fallen women show sisterhood or solidarity among women who are not related by anything else but violence.  These women are rescued and placed into jail like camps where they cries together at night, then comforts each other. Lenny’s new nanny Hamida who previously was in one of those camps still feels for those women even after getting shelter at Lenny’s house. Unlike their male counterparts, women who survived riot came closer because of their double victimization –by both the opponents and their own community. Even those who weren’t victimized like Lenny’s mother and Godmother, they comes in rescue.Lenny’s mother hires Hamida as the new nanny inspite of her social stigmas.  She and  Godmother rescues ayah and successfully sends her back to her home. However, the movie ends before the rescuing parts although it shows the supportive bonding of the rape victims.

Ayahs resistance

Although Ayah marries Ice candy man, she never forgets or forgives  what he had done to her. She gets away from Ice candy man at the very first chance she gets. Even when Godmother asks her to reconsider, she leaves; without knowing whether her family will take her back or not.  Even after Ice candy man tries to win her back with his daily dose of shayery and flowers, she doesn’t sway. It shows the amazing strength Ayah develops after going through such a horrific period that made a realist out of this once romantic young woman. With the help of other women she finds the courage to get away from ice candy man.

 

Chapter three: findings and conclusion

Analysis of findings

One of the main differences between novel and the movie is the different ending. More importantly, the rise and resistance of the female characters comes on focus after the riot, which the movie doesn’t show. The differences found are analyzed bellow-

i. Several characters and subplots are omitted from the movie:

 As movies have temporal limitation, it is not possible to convert a whole novel into a screenplay without any change. Other than that, a novelist and a director have independent visions about their works, and they frame it on their own way. The screenplay sets on a nuclear family in a close knit community –that’s why many characters are omitted to keep the plot less cluttered.

ii Movie ends without any resistance or redemption

While the novel ends with Ayah’s resistance and Ice candy man’s madness, the movie ends with ayah’s kidnap without revealing exactly what happens to her afterwards. The screenplay focuses on how a tight- knit community falls apart in the name of nationalism and communal loyalty. It ends at a tragic note to keep the story compact within one major theme, while the novel deals with several themes. Another important point to be noted is that when Deepa Mehta made  1947:Earth (1998), Indian cinema was glorifying nationalism without including the historical, less romanticized factors. Earth is a counter narrative to all these “guts and glory” movies .

iii. Absence of Godmother

In Ice Candy Man, Godmother is the most influential figure with equal control over home and outdoor matters.  She is the ultimate source and facilitator of resistance in the novel. However, the film doesn’t have the character of Godmother.

Godmother’s not being in the movie is as important as her being in the novel – she is the source of power and resistance who could have rescue ayah. However, the screenplay doesn’t want Ayah to be rescued, so Godmother was not needed.  Moreover, Mehta kept Parsees completely meek who talks in a roundabout way to avoid conflict in presence of other communities. The outspoken Godmother’s presence doesn’t go with that.

 

 

Conclusion:

Considering the presence of certain characters in the novel, yet the absence of these characters in the film, the way the film ends abruptly, leaving the audience to grapple with the horrible fate that was to befell ayah, to ponder over the sad tale of friends turning on friends; because they are also victims of situations they don’t control and  how whenever political, religious conflicts break out women suffer the worst possible fate, is very different from the way the novel develops toward an end where the victimized women find a solidarity in each others’ suffering, rise up in resistance  and this very act of resistance help them to rise above whatever misfortunes they have suffered and form a bond among themselves that transcend boundaries of religion, caste and class, helping them to heal the scars and hope for a better tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Anne Masson, D. M. (Producer), & Mehta, D. (Director). (1998). 1947 : Earth [Motion Picture].

Sidwa, B. (1988). Ice Candy Man. India: Pengine Books.

Suleri, S. (1993). The Rhetorics of English India. University of Chicago Press.

 

 

 Written and submitted by Jessica Islam and Anwesha Mamtaz

Leave a comment

Filed under Article

Bharati Mukharji’s Jasmine (1989): Diaspora and Identity

 

 

Jasmine (1989), a novel by Bharati Mukharji is a story of a woman who crosses the border of her country to ending her life as a “sati”, but discovers an interesting fluidity in her identity. She realizes that she can adapt in order to survive and to adjust herself in different surroundings. Instead of being a victim she becomes a warrior. Jasmine shifts to different places and takes a new identity every time. She is Jyoti by birth, Jasmine by her husband Prakash, Jazzy by Lillian Gordon, Jase by Taylor Hayes, Jane by Bud Ripplemeyer.

Jasmine’s changes of identity are very much depended on her diasporic changes. Diaspora, etymologically derived from the Greek term “diasperien” where “dia” means “across” and “sperien” means “to sow or scatter seeds”, diaspora suggests a displacement from the homeland, circumstances or environmental location of origin and transfer in one or more nation states, territories or foreign countries Diaspora refers to displaced communities which have been dislocated from their homeland through migration or immigration or exile. A Diaspora is the movement, migration, or scattering of people away from their root.

 

Jasmine goes through the flow of her multiple identities. We get to see different faces and phases of Jasmine, Mukharji’s concept of identity have more to do with cultural identity as Jasmine keeps on tuning into a new identity, Just like the music genre Jazz , Jazzy is restless. Here the two very important ideas is how jasmine goes trough different identity as if she is going through a flow, The novel focuses on jasmine’s changes of cultural identity and her Diasporas experience as an immigrant.

Her Diasporas experiences start when she is married of and moves to a city with her husband. Her husband inspires her to become a modern woman who calls her husband by first name, and dreams about living in America with their own shop. This is where she first face the conflict between her two identity, one is the identity of an “Indian woman” another one is what husband wanted her to be. Then after she enters America she enters a flux of changes, she gets raped by half faced and she takes revenge like Kali the goddess. It is also noticeable that she cuts her tongue before killing half face. After this event she meets Lillian Gordon who makes herself conscious about her dress and sandals, Lillian Gordon also teaches her how to look like a true American, she is thrilled when Gordon calls her Jazzy. The culture of the United States begins to influence her.

Then Jasmine becomes settled in with Taylor and Wylie, she receives a new name, Jase, which is given to her by Taylor. Now more than ever Jasmine is beginning to see herself as an American, she is amazed and fascinated by the ideologies of the family and how they perceive reality. Jase enjoys her new found financial independence and starts to learn more about American culture.

Then she moves to Iowa and finds her “American lover” Bud who gives her the name Jane. Iowa shows her a different picture of United States, a traditional hub for immigrants, and brings her deeper into the United States. Here the only person to whom she connects the most is Du, her adopted son, who is also an immigrant from Vietnam.

Even though she becomes very powerful in the household of Bud and Bud wants to marry her, she chooses Taylor over Bud. She rejects the life of Jane Eyre; her resistance towards the stereotypes is remarkable because she is not afraid to face the unknown. There is always a conflict in Jasmine before she makes any choice, here we see that she breaks the shell of traditional Indian woman and choose to walk away because she wants to.  “I am not choosing between men. I am caught between the promise of America and old-world dutifulness” (240). At the beginning she expresses how she is in love with the personality of Taylor, and as finally she goes with Taylor there is a suggestion that she wants to be a true American, not a temporary immigrant.

 

Bharati mukharjee through the experiences of jasmine shows an interesting panorama of human strength to adopt when she moves through the uncertainty of living in a foreign land like America. Stuart Hall says that “identity” should not be thought of as an accomplished fact, but should be seen as a production which is never complete. Cultural identity is a matter of becoming as well as of “being”. Cultural identities have history and it goes through constant transformations.

The concept of ‘self’ is fluid throughout an individual’s lifetime, where a person’s experiences shape who they are.  Throughout the novel we see the effects immigration and culture have on the ‘self’ of Jasmine. Jasmine deals with the idea of cultural identity, her mode of identity changes every time she is going to a new place, not only she assimilates but her whole being takes a different shift. Jasmine’s identity has multiple folds and layers; she also defies the roles of a daughter, wife, widow, friend, goddess, and mother. “I have had a husband for each of the women I have been, Prakash for Jasmine, Taylor for Jaze, Bud for Jane , Half-Face for Kali (197).”

 

Her idea of “self” is decorated with different pattern and multicolored facade, but in the core of her being Jasmine never allow changes, we see her looking at a dead dog flowing in the river and its body is broken the moment she touches it, “A stench leaked out of the broken body, and then both pieces quickly sank” . That’s the moment she realize “I know what I don’t want to become.” (5).Her identity is also depended on the myths about her native history even though that’s what she is trying to get rid of. She still talks with Indian accent and her “priceless face” makes interesting photographs because she is exotic and foreign. Throughout the novel Jasmine never chooses any of her name, but when she is called by Jazzy, Jane or Jase assimilates to be that person. Jasmine is after all an immigrant, no matter how she tries to get out of the boundaries she is always manipulated by patriarchy, family and social values. But Jasmin’s exploration of self helps her to create a space for her own. She learns quickly and adopts new shape of being, even though outside she is always becoming internally she stays the same. But as a survival strategy she lets her outer “self” mold by new experiences. Bharati Mukharji shows that Jasmine’s relation with the state and other institution is not dimensional rather dialectical. Jasmine, the assimilated migrant in her own way also changes America as she floats through different identity.

Leave a comment

Filed under Article

“A little more and I would have fallen into the mirror trap. I avoided it, but only to fall into the window trap: with nothing to do, my arms dangling, I go over to the window.”
~ Jean-Paul Sartre

 

Weird, but that’s exactly how I feel. The meaningless  effort to live just another day is tiring. and then there is hiding. you don’t want to whole world know that you are  broken and beyond any sort of repair. and you are a coward so you really can’t die willingly. so you wait like a old hunter with boredom death might come close any second any moment. but of course death is busy taking all the good people. 

I hate happy human being, I look at them and I want o scream at them ” don’t you understand anything? don’t you feel anything? how can you be so happy? whats wrong with you?” and then I just cross the road.

any happy human being will come into a simple conclusion after reading this post: ” stupid existentialists and their stupid whining” 

I know , right?

1 Comment

November 6, 2012 · 3:48 pm

Walking amid the thorns

“But as the years went on, I realised that what I really want to be, all told, is a human. Just a productive, honest, courteously treated human.”~ Caitlin Moran,

Around 6.pm, two girls were sitting on the side way of a busy road in Dhanmondi. They were crunching potato chips and simply talking. This is supposed be a very typical scene, right? Wrong, because every man who was crossing that road by rickshaw or car or by foot or those who were sitting on the footpath were looking at them like they are from outer space. Not only that, they manage to throw some comment at the girls. Some commented how cheap those girls were, how ugly and dirty characters they have, some said they’d love to sleep with both of them and some came up with brilliant scientific ideas like how their body fat can be used to produce electricity. I, sitting with my friend was taking those words with the coke and the chips we so foolishly had chosen to take on the side of a busy highway. Something kept crawling inside of me as long as we sat there.
Some days ago while “Innocence of Muslim” was released I found some random interesting comments on Facebook like – “why people waste their time on silly things like “eve teasing” rather than protesting against the religious insults westerns are shoving upon our throats.” I do not understand how these two things are related. Of course, he who came up with that comment never walked on street with two breast, thighs and vagina. Had he done that, he wouldn’t have call eve teasing a “silly thing “or the “silly thing” eve teasing. To be honest, I resent the fact that except rape and murder, whatever happens to women is pushed into a category called eve teasing.
A friend of mine once told me that what are all the girls worried about, all they need to do is to find a way to be safe. To be honest, that would be nowhere. Twenty first century is grinding on but sadly in Bangladesh there are teenage girls who commit suicide because of such silly cause like “eve teasing”. We all hate this problem, we all want this to stop, but how can you blame a guy if the girl is wearing jeans and shirt? But what about those who wear traditional dresses with utmost modesty and still hear demeaning comments? Is this just about dresses? Or is it because they are outside without a male companion? Or, is it simply because our society has created so many misconceptions about women that the aftermath has become so distortedly discriminatory?
I’ll not flood this writing with statistic and prove that women are victim. I know many people have a lot of issue with this whole “victim” thing. “Nobody is raping you; you are not killed-than how come you are a victim? Just do what you want, say what you want to say, dude! Stop all these whining. We don’t like talking about gender issues because we would rather talk about the weather. What a negative, bitter topic to spoil the mood!” But do we really have the freedom to do whatever we want? Our parents can’t sit in comfort if we are not back home before its dark –because it’s a jungle out there. What should we do if we feel like taking a ride on rickshaw at night? Or want to go out in pouring rain without being an eye-candy of voyeurs? Even things that should not be called “vanity” like taking a music course at evening, or a night shift job are impossible to those who don’t have their own ride. So those who are living with this for them this is not whining. This is the calling for make some change.
When Wasfia and Nishat climbed Everest everyone clapped but not everyone is strong and lucky like them. Their main strength came from their family and their education. For most of the girls of our country these are the two things that hold them back. For most parents the girls (their honor to be exact) are like precious diamond, always at risk of being robbed. They try to protect them at any cost even if the protection suffocates their daughter. And even with all the protection the girls are humiliated whenever they step outside of the home.
May be this is the reason we don’t have that many women role model who have managed to break the shell of being a “woman” and have contributed to society as a human being. May be that’s why the concept of being a woman is stuck with looking good, being a daughter, mother, wife and angel in the house. Even after being good at so many things the moment a woman steps outside she becomes an easy target of humiliations.

At the end I want to ask the question Eve Ensler asked in her essay “Over it”,
“I am over the passivity of good men. Where the hell are you?
You live with us, make love with us, father us, befriend us, brother us, get nurtured and mothered and eternally supported by us, so why aren’t you standing with us? Why aren’t you driven to the point of madness and action by the rape and humiliation of us?”

2 Comments

Filed under Article

darkness is complete.

Leave a comment

Filed under Article