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.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

(As I was in my teen days)


I am the second daughter of my parents. Before my birth, my father was expecting a son and when I was born, my father was not present beside my mom. Finding my self a female baby, my mother had a shock, coz my birth might be the reason of her humiliation in future. My mom told me later, she could not sleep the night with fear of facing my father with a girl child. She was praying all the night to God for changing my gender, but God did not pay attention to her pathos cry and hence my Gender was not changed.But my father is a strong headed man and he could not forget his sorrow of not becoming a son’s father. He wanted me to bring up as a boy. My hair style was made such away that whenever my father would look at me, he would have the idea of a proud father of a boy . I was dressed with boy’s shirt and pant. Father even called me with a boyish name: LALA.When I was child, we were residing in a semi joint family. The bothers of my father had their own family, who had divided their ancestor’s properties but still they were living together with their separated kitchen. I had a group of cousins of similar age and ironically all were boys. With them I have to play the boyish game like sword fight game, shop keeper and customer game even gullidanda and thief police game .I had not played with dolls, neither had I worshiped the Goddess Khudurkuni or the God moon on KumarPurnima day or as a girl child does in Orissa.I belonged to a businessman family.My father owned a rice mill(still it is existing).He was engaging himself as a commissioning agent. So in our house there were four to five bicycles for the use of the manager and workers of the mill.Father’s bicycle had the tallest height and handsome looks.I was attracted by its appearance.No body could dare to touch the cycle.My cousins were export in bicycle riding and I could not control my instinct to ride the same one.Once in a hot summer mid day, while my father was in his after launch sleep, I took the cycle and ran away through the narrow lane behind our house(Our house was facing to main road).There I attempted for half paddle riding.This lesson though risky one,I had continued for few days and once I was caught by a relative in red handed. But inspite of abusing me, he inspired me and taught me how to ride a bicycle.He was holding the back of the cycle and assured me not to worry for the balance. He held the back of my bicycle and very confidently I rode the cycle. But after a while, when I looked back, I found the well wisher trainer was standing a few meters away from my cycle. Sudden I lost my balance and I fell down. But that incidence gave me courage to ride the bicycle on half paddle. It all happened when I was a student of class V.Later I was able to move on the full paddle. But as the father’s cycle was very tall, I felt inconvenient to ride on it. I had a cousin, who was residing in a village .He was very short in height and so was his cycle. He used to visit our house with a frequent interval. When he paid a visit, I was the first beneficiary , as I was having an opportunity to ride his short cycle ,which was most convenient for me. Later I was provided with a gents cycle by my father. But this time also no new bicycle was purchased for me and I had to satisfy with the old one. So, I can’t say what was the cost of my bicycle at that time.My bicycle riding was a sort of freedom to me and I used to make a tour from Korian to Govindpur (the two corners of Dhenkanal town) every day. I had experienced in roaming on the vacant road of the town at hot mid day, to pick up mangoes from the tree by standing on my bicycle. Once, a complaint was also made to my father that I was competing a running truck with my bicycle. But my riding was also a great help for all the relatives and neighbors as I was often asked to buy vegetables or grocery from the market. I had become a convenient mode of communication for my elders to exchange their notes and messages with their classmates. All these were possible due to my bicycle.I had a friend, named Rajiv Mishra in class VII. I used to carry him to the school on my bicycle. He used to sit on the rod of the bicycle and I had practiced to ride in double. Unfortunately he committed suicide. I really felt lonely as I had to go alone in my cycle. Once I was rewarded by one of my elder cousin due to my efficiency in bicycle riding. We were going to our village with bicycle. It was few kilometer away from the town. On the way we faced an elevated road. My cousin proposed a contest for me. He told if you could ride the cycle in the elevated road, I would give you a box of chocolate and finally I won the box.I enjoyed the freedom of riding that bicycle up to class IX and after that I had to say good bye to my bicycle because my guardians thought I was old enough for my tomboy activities.Did any boy passed a remark on my cycling? I didnt care for any remarks, but once a naughty boy tried to intervene and when I got down from my cycle, he had told: you may go forward. But as far I remembered, very few girls were riding cycle at that time.Though the Govt.College in Dhenkanal was far away from the town, I had no opportunity to ride bicycle again in my college career as the State Road Transport Authority was providing College Bus regularly.But, nowdays the time has changed and I find my girl students usually come to college with their bicycles.Whenever I wrote any story regarding my nostalgia, the bicycle interrupted there. Some of the stories correlated with my bicycle experience are PARAJITA SAMRAT, UDIBAR BELA, MOHO BHANGA etc.