ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Remembering Mahasweta Devi

Mahasweta Devi retained an enviable gift for belonging to the most marginalised people throughout her life. Through her writings, she exposed the trajectories of their oppression—the imperialist, the ethnic, the economic, and the gendered—as only a writer like her could do. She was also a singer, organiser, and human rights activist who always stood up for what she believed was correct for the cause of the downtrodden, regardless of who else agreed with her. It is difficult to believe that a year has gone by since she passed away.

When Mahasweta di sent me a message saying she wished to have macher jhol bhat (fish curry with rice) with me during her visit to my university at Wardha, I was both excited and apprehensive. The excitement was because her gesture, at a time when my husband, Binayak Sen, was being tried on charges of sedition, indicated her love and support in a landscape dotted with hostile right wingers and fence sitters. The apprehension was because I had serious doubts about the availability of good river fish at Wardha (the kind Bengalis eat and invite each other to eat), not to mention my ability to produce a Bengali fish curry that adhered to any gourmet standard!

This, however, was Mahasweta Devi at her typical best. It was not as if I knew her closely. I had first met her sometime in the 1980s, along with Purnendu Ghosh of Chhattisgarh, who had known her during the Tebhaga days, and who remained a supporter of workers’ movements all his life. Very much like Mahasweta di. I remember that the last time I met her, a few years before she died, her parting words were onek kaj baki aache, (there is so much left to be done).

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Updated On : 9th Jun, 2017

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