Wednesday, September 20, 2006

(The Cover Art of the novel GAMBHIRI GHARA)


Hearing my tom boy experiences of adolescence , one of my Portuguese philosopher friend once asked , whether this had any impact in my sexuality in later life or not.Such questions could not be asked in Orissa, because here any query about sexuality can not be shared publicly and more over it is an offense to ask any lady on that question. What ever Judith Butler may say, but it is true that my ‘tomboy activities’ had no impact in my later life.Regarding sexuality I am straight, though you find the gayness in one of my story ‘Nepathye’.Later it is included by my English story collection as “Behind the Scene”. But I am far from such instinct. In my adolescence, though I wore the boyish dress, but whenever I was sent to mill by my father for supervision of work on his absence, a strange shaky and shy feelings gripped me ,because the workers were looking at me with curiosity and their eyes were telling a lot. It seemed they were looking for a girl under a boyish disguise and the girl hood inside me felt abused. Perhaps, a girl was always living in me under the boyish garment. But our society is not so smart to discuss these things.
Sexuality is something that can be related to a lot of other aspects of culture, tightly woven into an individual life, or into the evolution of a culture. Any one’s class or ethnic or geographic identity could be closely tied to his/her sexuality, or any one’s sense of art or literature. Sexuality is not just an entity in itself. But still ,either in west or in east, there is a reluctant outlook towards sexuality and society has always tried to hide it from any open forum .The censorship on speech, and adding decorum to dress and declaring the sexual organs as obscene ,the society has imposed a ban on it.However, inspite of such self imposed censorship, sexuality has its place in public forum in religious and spiritual texts to establish any philosophical notion, judiciary and legislative documents and bills often used to restrict the sexuality, medical text books to explore the human body and lastly in literature.
But neither the society, nor the legislative ,even the judiciary also do not stand by the side of sexuality to support it.In the west,James Joyce’s Ulysses or even Raddyff hall’s Lonliness in the Well or Verginia Wolf’s Orlando are some examples which have to suffer a lot for describing sexuality in literature.In the west, sexuality in literature grew with feminism.Simone De Beauvoir in her book The second Sex, first elaborately described the Gender role and problem away from the biological differences.Later Judith Butler explored the Gender Problem in to queer theory and the total west experienced a new’third sex; genre come in to exist.It does not mean that there was no sexuality in literature previously. The literature of every corner of the world has its sexual affixation,but those were not in form of any movement or did not base on any manifestation.
In Indian literature, like the west,sexuality comes with the growth of feminism but unlike to west very few has been written on transsexual experiences.the sexuality still in the heterosexual form as it was in the past.But the voice has changed a lot.No doubt, the sexuality in current literature is different from erotic descriptions of the text we found in the last centuries.
In Oriya Literature, the kavyas of Ritiyuga have deep associations with Shringar rasa which leads to sexuality in erotic forms.After 1947,the descriptions of eroticism in liberal way in fiction was first started by Surendra Mohanty
The publication of a literary magazine “Uan Neo Lu” in sixties.The magazine bears some stories of Annada Prasad Ray, in that magazines, which were blamed as vulgar and obscene. Krushna Chandra Behera’s story “Bedi” created a controversy in sixties and he has to resign from the editorship of Jhankar.In 1989, my story “Rape” (later translated in many of the Indian languages and anthologized in Harper Collins Book of Oriya Short story) made a controversy .It is to be considered as a premier story of feminism, where the sexuality of female was justified. I used the word “fuck” for the first time in Oriya fiction and since now, I was remembered for that controversy.In 90’s some stories made controversy for making sexuality as a common factor of human life.Pratibha Ray’s SHAPYA,Jagadis Mohanty’s “NIAN, Yashidhara Mishra’s “REKHA CHITRA and Ashish Gdnaik’s BHOKA are such type of stories among which “NIAN” of Jagadish made a debate that continued for long time.In the beginning of 21C, the young writers started a movement on sexuality based short stories, named as “Dehabadi Galpa”. Saroj Bal, the editor of “Galpa Patrika” made a collection of short stories (it anthologized twelve stories of different writers, such as :Sarojini Sahoo, Ashish Gadnayak, Saroj Bal,Sadanada Tripathy,Paresh Patnaik,Satyapriya Mahalik, Chintamani Sahu,Paramita Satpathy,Ajay Swain,Pabitra Panigrahi,Nibaran Jena and Prakash Mohapatra) December 2004.After publishing of such anthology, where it is pronounced that the writers dare to admit their writings related with sexuality, which is one of the essential factor of the life.
In 2005, one of my novel ‘Gambhiri Ghara was published in the Puja Special issue of Galpa Patrika and later it was published as a book form in2006.The novel gained a popular response and was considered as a “Dehabadi novel”, though .Later in my interview with AMARI GAPA, I denied it as a novel of sexuality(Dehabadi Upanyas) . In 2006 AMARI GAPA, a little magazine of Oriya in its May-July issue; published a cover topics on “Sarojini Sahoo and the Sexuality in Literature”, where apart from a long interview with me, a controversial essay of Aparna Mohanty was published in support of sexuality. Though in the interview of AMARI GAPA, I have categorically denied that I don’t want to brand as any trend, neither to feminism nor to sexuality. I don’t know why, still many of the critics like to associate me with feminism and sexuality. Perhaps that is because of my frankness to say everything and my ‘tomboy activities’ is still remaining in me and I do not get rid of the young naughty girl living inside me.


  1. Fascinating account, Sarojini. You are a very
    courageous woman writer, having had to confront the problem of feminie
    sexuality in a society that wants to hide it, in spite of the wonderful
    tradition of the Kama Sutra. Bravo agian, you should write your memoirs
    one day - too young maybe to do it now. Affectionately, Albert Russo

  2. Carole Hans11:49 AM

    I salute you Sarojini, the Simone De Beauvoir of India

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  4. Respected Madam,

    it took a long time to explore you on web. i think this blog is perfect forum for a constructive discussion.

    first of all i admit that i am a admirer of your novels(not you)and please do not take my views with any personal ramification. oriyas are least sensitive to criticism.

    mam, is feminism is confined to the age old taboo of sex only???

    when a male writer writes something about the open secret of human life(sex) there is least hue and cry. but when one woman writes the sky is at its feet. is it due to thefact that- if you can not become bishwakabi Tagore, atleast become Taslima???

    do not you feel that the noble ideas of feminism are taking their last breathe in the tight grips of hues and cries for lesbiansm and rights of prostitutes???

    if we at india have worshipped and admired sadhwis like gargi, bishwabara, ghosa, anusuya, how can we say that the fair sex is the epitome of torture for centuries.

    world was never a male dominated landscape and can never be as long as women are blessed with motherhood.

    thanks and regards

    Parambrahma Tripathy

  5. Dear Mr. Parambrahma ,
    I admit that when a male writer writes about the sex, there the readers accept this as common phenomena, but if in India ,when a woman writer writes about sex, there are much hue and cry .This is only because our patriarchy society . Till the first wave of feminism , the feminists are fighting for a cause. In second wave of feminism sexuality developed with the proper arguments of gender problem, gender identity and gender equality.Later in second wave of feminism , some social feminist came to protest the sexuality with an argument that it leads to porno and becomes a tool of male oppression.Later, recently, some feminists are arguing for sex positive feminism and their tendency is to define and protect porno. We have to take this development seriously.First of all we have to admit that freedom of sexuality is a right for a woman but it does not mean that we will have to promote porno and we will argue in favour of porno or will glorify porno. I have found, some critiques are trying to involve spirituality with porno. There is a close relation between spiritualism and sexuality, but as sexuality is different from porno, we can’t mingle the both.Sex is a very sensitive and individualist matter. If you try to publicize we may lose its asthetic sense.Porno is the commercialization of sex.Here, sex is only a consumer’s commodity.One can’t feel its correlation with emotional bond or love .if we promote or glorify porno in the name of feminism or in the name of tantric rituals or as a media of meditation as Rajnish (Osho) did in India, we may cause sufferings for the women who are socially oppressed by male hegemony. So, sexuality should be left as a right for woman on "a woman's body, a woman's right" theory. I think you are trying to move the controversy over sexuality in wrong direction and either Tagore or Taslima (is she really a Feminist ?) are irrelevant to our topic.

  6. subhransu panda12:37 AM

    In Indian culture sexuality is as old as hills.
    The mahavarat is full of pornographic stories.
    Those who now adays reacts to sexuality they must not go through our great epics.
    The whole world is against indivisuality; against love, against sex & against all natural behaviours.
    I congratulate you for ur courage & boldness.



  7. Sex simply mean Whether U r Male or Female for the filling the application form & afraid to think more than that. All the big thinkers in connection with defining Sex & Sexulity miserably fails for its practical outcomes in the real life. A person is doing no harm if he reading or seeing or chating pron & more healthy in his mental status. Again Sexual desires had its many dimensions Which can not defined tecnically or spritually. Moreover I apprecite Your Courage for writing & my mind never accepts any others analysis on the topic mainly on sexulity except mine.