The position of a woman in society is in every age a difficult one as the very task of asserting her identity and individuality in a world governed by patriarchy is always a precarious one.To make matters when women due to wrong education or no education at all and their social conditioning starts exploiting the other women it becomes all the more alarming.The woman is mostly treated as a commodity or an object that is used for the personal interest of the people in power.Meera in Avantika Debnath’s The Bridal Pyre:Nainam Dahati Pawakah,traverses this difficult journey as she desperately tries to assert her identity and command some consideration which unfortunately none of the central characters of the novel offer.The Subtitle of the novel Nainam Dahati Pawakah has its origin in the Bhagavada Gita,Chapter 2.23 meaning “The soul can never be cut into pieces by any weapon, nor can he be burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind.” This automatically brings to our mind the evocative lines from Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise “You may shoot me with your words,/You may cut me with your eyes,/You may kill me with your hatefulness,/But still like air, I rise.”
The Bridal Pyre:Nainam Dahati Pawakah is a journal of a lady’s journey from a girl till the attainment of her womanhood.Here the journey is not be understood as a mere travelogue,it by passes the geographical realms and goes deeper down into the psyche.It is not only one Meera’s journey but of several Meeras alike.Meera represents all the suppressed,gagged,unheard,unacknowledged,ever-marginalised,deprieved,uncared women of the society.Her plight is not her owns but of the entire community.In this context,it is worth mentioning that the title of the novel has somewhat a latent hint to Sita’s ‘agnipariksha’.It should be not very wrong to comment that Sita’s fate was certainly a failure of patriarchy and so is Meera’s.However,the conviction or the determination with which she decides to fight against her odds is highly commendable.The change of characterisation,her evolution from a girl to a lady and then onto a woman is something that Debnath has put quite eloquently on paper through her pen.One actually seems to be a part of the journey journeyed by Meera while reading the text.The crisp,colloquial and fresh language sparkles throughout the length and breadth of the text.The various moods captured of Meera through pen on paper,be it when she is being subjected to domestic violence,or when her manuscript is deleted by Abhi or even when she loses her unborn child have been some of the poignant reminders to the readers of the fact the kind of atrocities women are subjected to even in an age when Sania Mirza and Saina Nehwal keep bringing laurels and Mamata Banerjee and Sonia Gandhi keep leading their respective Governments.
Author: Avantika Debnath
Feminism and Gender Studies are much debated genres in the present day.This has been a pertinent area of discussion and has been under constant scanner since still much needs to be done to give women their due respect and honour.Avantika Debnath’s The Bridal Pyre:Nainam Dahati Pawakah will surely make your blood boil with rage and at the same time proud of being a true woman,a woman who embodies power,if you are the one possessing the ‘Fair Sex’ and will certainly leave you in absolute shame and powerlessness if you are a man and not a ‘Mard’.
This week leave all your work aside and grab a copy of Avantika Debnath’s The Bridal Pyre:Nainam Dahati Pawakah I bet you will not regret!Oh did I say regret?You will not be able to resist the temptation of completing the journey of her womanhood once you start traversing with her When she is even merely a 3 year old child!
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Reviewed by: Subhojoy Ghosh
Kolkata-based Subhojoy Ghosh is currently pursuing Masters in English from the University of Calcutta. A passionate lover of literature, an avid reader and a writer of poems, Subhojoy loves to travel and explore the unknown.
This review first appeared here: http://www.spectralhues.com/books/book-reviews/book-review-bridal-pyrenainam-dahati-pavakah/and has been reproduced here with the reviewer’s permission.