Remembering Mahasweta Devi on her 91st birthday

There are very few Indian writers whose work compelled Indians  to think about issues that degrade the society. Mahasweta Devi, one of the prolific writers from Dhaka who later shifted to Kolkata, attempted to uplift the marginalized and oppressed communities in the country by lending them a voice. She was felicitated for her literary acumen by the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award, Jnanpith Award, Ramon Magsaysay Award along with India’s Civilian Awards Padma Shri and Padma Vibhushan.

Her writings are replete with powerful characters and mythic images.

On her 91st birthday today, Lets talk about some of her writings that made her the voice of compassion, equality and justice.

1. Jhansi Rani- This was based on the biography of Rani of Jhansi and was published in 1956. A striking feature of the novel is that Masaweta Devi actually toured the Jhansi region to record information from the people of Jhansi. This proves that her activism was not just confined to books. She did her research work properly before penning down her observations.

2. Bortika- This was a journal in which Mahasweta Devi gave space to the unheard voices of the people of backward classes.

3. Newspapers- She would collect stories of injustice and report those for various newspapers and magazines. By doing this, she kept her journalistic streak alive.

4. Breast stories- This was another attempt at addressing the attacks women face – both physical and figurative issues that existed in the social system. She talked about the horrors associated with how breasts went from being assets to a burden for women. She wrote about an exploitative social system and used breasts beyond symbolism.

As a person

Her fierceness is evident from the topics that she dared to write about. Her work gave her fulfilment and purpose. She was extremely conscientious and didn’t believe in wasting a shred of time in doing something less important.

She succumbed to a major heart attack on 28 July,2016 leaving the literary world with a void that is impossible to fill. SheThePeople.Tv salutes this woman for her courage to help people see and feel the truth  in this falsified world.

Growing Up

Mahasweta Devi was born in 1926 in Dhaka, Bangladesh, British India, to literary parents. Her father, Manish Ghatak, was a well-known poet and novelist of the Kallol movement, who used the pseudonym Jubanashwa. Ghatak’s brother was noted filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak. Devi’s mother, Dharitri Devi, was also a writer and a social worker whose brothers were very distinguished in various fields.