Soi Creative Women

আর সইব না...
একটা অদ্ভুত বিষাদ। সারাক্ষণ গায়ে লেগে আছে। কেন ? সে কি আকাশ আজকাল প্রায়ই মেঘলা
সইদের কলমে সইমেলার ভাবনা
সন্ধেরাতে বন্ধুর সঙ্গে সিনেমা দেখতে বেরিয়েছিল এক মেয়ে।নেকড়ের দল ধর্ষণ করে
তাহারা
মাঝেমাঝে একটা স্বপ্ন দেখি আমি। সবুজ মাঠে বাচ্চারা খেলছে,আর ক্লাসরুমে পড়াচ্ছেন
Quo Vadis?
What is happening to our democratic motherland? You can’t eat what you want, you can’t marry whom you want, you can’t say what you want, it will cost you your life if you speak the truth. Freedom ...
উন্মাদিনী কথা
মা, কে তুমি দাঁড়িয়ে আছো রাস্তার ধারে ? চোখে জল , উৎকণ্ঠায় নীল হয়ে আছে তোমার কন্ঠনালী,
For Gauri

Bullets showered… showered bullets…
Not one, not two, seven in a row
Those aimed at Gauri,
pierced deep into our hearts.
Bullets showered… showered bullets…

আলোর দিশারী
হাতের কাজগুলো সারতেই সারতেই মেনকা একবার দরজার বাইরেটা উঁকি মেরে দেখে নিল। নাঃ,
Because I’m a girl I must study

A father asks his daughter:
Study? Why should you study?
I have sons aplenty who can study
Girl, why should you study?

Thoughts Against War & Violence: Collection 01
Only in time of fear is government thrown back to its primitive and sole function of self-defense and the many interests of which it is the guardian become subordinate to that. -Jane AddamsAmerican Social ...
ফিরে আসছি
টান
সকালে ঘুম ভাঙতেই শিমূলের চোখে পড়ল সারা গায়ে রোদ্দুর মেখে মা সামনে দাঁড়িয়ে, পরণে
Mata Playback
In 1950, when India became a Republic, I was four and my mother was 25. I grew up hearing how my mother – like most girls from upper caste, middle class families – would have been schooled at home ...
ব্যথা সম্পর্কে
সবকিছু খাপে খাপে বসে গেলে আমরা কি সহসা কখনো
গভীর মজায় ডুবে ফের ভুলে যাব সব ব্যথাবেদনাকে?
তাহলে
রক্তমাখা কান্নার কোলাজ
বসন্ত এসেছে আজ এই দেশে !!
নাহলে এতটা কেন বাতাস বইছে চারপাশে,
বাতাস না ঝড়ের সঙ্কেত
দৃশ্য
সেবার খুব ঠান্ডা পড়েছিল । জানুয়ারি শেষ হয়ে এলেও চার পাঁচে ঘোরাফেরা করছিল পারা
If not, I’m Amongst the Destructors of Our Own Abode

If not, I’m amongst the destructors of our own Abode
I’ll let you know I’m not a feminist
It was the environment around which made me persuaded
Impossible it was because Everything I create

A Letter from Pandora
This letter is being published in this newspaper on account of my death. While you are reading this, I might be enjoying a little snack in ‘heaven,’ or so they say. I sincerely have no idea what it ...
The Death of Dissent?
“What is this country coming to?” The opening line of Girish Karnad’s compelling play Tughlaq has come back to haunt us. Karnad is among 25 Kannada writers and intellectuals who have been ...
দুগ্গা দুগ্গা
বাড়ি থেকে যখনই কেউ কোথাও বেরতো মা বলতেন দুগ্গা দুগ্গা । যখন আমার সংসার হল--সংসার
কবিতার বাণী রায়
বাংলা কথাসাহিত্যের ধারাবাহিকতায় বাণী রায়ের নাম অপরিচিত নয়। তাঁর উপন্যাস, ছোটোগল্প
নারী
পুরুষ, তাইতো হাজারো ছুতোয় স্পর্শ করেছ আমায়,কখনো ভয়াল কখনও মুখোশ ছলচাতুরির মায়ায়ফোটেনি
শ্রীমতি গৌরী লঙ্কেশ শ্রীচরণেষু
“জাতের নামে বজ্জাতি সব / জাত জালিয়াত খেলছ জুয়া”
বিষণ্ণতার সঙ্গে কলমে উঠে আসছে
সমুদ্রে ফেরা
কাঁচের ভিতর দিয়ে দেখি যতটা দূর চোখ যায়স্পষ্ট স্বচ্ছ ঝকঝকে অন্ধকার কি পরিপাটী রাস্তা
বাণী রায়ঃ জন্মশতবর্ষে
১৭ অক্টোবর ১৯৯২। পঁচিশ বছর হলো বাণী রায় আর আমাদের মধ্যে নেই। তাঁর ছোটোগল্পের
আমি লিখি
জানেন আমি আসলে একটা মানুষ।নাড়াবার লেজ নেই,উড়বার পাখা নেই, মাথার চারপাশে ছটা অর্থাৎ
নারীশক্তি
নারীমেধ যজ্ঞের শুরুমন্ত্র পড়েন মহাগুরুযজ্ঞে আহুতি দেবে নারীপরণে রক্তে রাঙা
উন্নয়নে উচ্চশিক্ষা
খবরের কাগজের এই বিজ্ঞাপনটা আবার কেমন বুকের ভেতর কীসের যেন হাতছানি দিল। যে চাকরিই
না, ভালো নেই আমরা
আমরা কি সত্যিই খুব ভালো আছি? জিজ্ঞেস করলে প্রশ্নের উত্তরটা অবশ্য অবধারিতভাবেই
অক্ষম
-"কই গোওওও ! কে আচিস দরজাটা খোল দেকি ! ঘরে রাজকুমার এল আর আমাদের প্রজাদের উপহার দিতে
দিয়েছি সবারে আপন বৃন্তে ফুটিতে ?
প্রথম দৃশ্যদিব্য ।। মাসি, ঐ লাল চুড়িটা দাও...পিউ ।। ওমা... এই তো এতগুলো চুড়ি পরেছিস,
ভালো -বাসার  বারান্দা ? না মন্দ বাসার বারান্দায় আছি?
দেশে ফিরে এসে মন কোথায় পুলকিত থাকবে তা নয় লজ্জায় ঘেন্নায় ধুলোয় লুটিয়ে পড়েছে।
অসংবেদী
কি ভীষন অসংবেদী আমি তাই না?
আমি খালি ঘরের মধ্যে আগুন কেন জ্বলছে তাই নিয়ে ব্যস্ত
নির্ভয়া এবং......

সোনার প্রতিমা নও, 
আমাদের মাটির পুতুল,তাই আপন আপন লাগে।

আমার কী আসে যায়
এক সকালে ওরা রাখালকে তুলে নিয়েওকে পেটাতে পেটাতেঅপেক্ষমান জীপটার ভেতরে ঠেসেনিয়ে
আর সইব না... সইদের কলমে সইমেলার ভাবনা তাহারা Quo Vadis? উন্মাদিনী কথা For Gauri আলোর দিশারী Because I’m a girl I must study Thoughts Against War & Violence: Collection 01 ফিরে আসছি টান Mata Playback ব্যথা সম্পর্কে রক্তমাখা কান্নার কোলাজ দৃশ্য If not, I’m Amongst the Destructors of Our Own Abode A Letter from Pandora The Death of Dissent? দুগ্গা দুগ্গা কবিতার বাণী রায় নারী শ্রীমতি গৌরী লঙ্কেশ শ্রীচরণেষু সমুদ্রে ফেরা বাণী রায়ঃ জন্মশতবর্ষে আমি লিখি নারীশক্তি উন্নয়নে উচ্চশিক্ষা না, ভালো নেই আমরা অক্ষম দিয়েছি সবারে আপন বৃন্তে ফুটিতে ? ভালো -বাসার  বারান্দা ? না মন্দ বাসার বারান্দায় আছি? অসংবেদী নির্ভয়া এবং...... আমার কী আসে যায়

A recent issue of 'Time' discusses a book by Susan Faludi who examined the issue of why 63% of American women reject feminism. The answer, according to Faludi, lies in a backlash against feminist, 'a highly effective, often insidious campaign to discredit its goals, distort its message ...'

My reaction of disbelief when I read this was directed against the number, (63% of American women?) not the theory that Faludi propounds to explain the phenomenon. It seems very plausible to me, because in recent years I have been noticing with anger and dismay an increasing number of women in our country too making the comment, whether it is relevant or not: `Thank God, I'm not a feminist!' Unfortunately, one cannot dismiss these statements as being of no significance, because the women who make them are, as is obvious from the fact that their statements are being reported, women who matter. It was an activist, for example, who explained in a lengthy article why she refuses to call herself a feminist, one reason being  that feminism is a Western concept. An actress who said that she is  not a feminist because she has no desire to desert her family and go out on the streets screaming for women's rights. A columnist who says that she stopped calling herself a feminist because she is not anti-men and does not hate men. To the uninformed who read and may be influenced by these comments, feminism will mean these things: a Western concept, rejecting the family and  home, hating men and waging a war against them. After three decades of feminism being written about, discussed and practised in this country, is this what intelligent women make of feminism?

It took me years to say even to myself - 'I am a feminist'. It was the culmination of a voyage that began within myself and went on to the ocean of women's place in the world. Today, when I call myself a feminist, I believe that the female of the species has the same right to be born and survive and  to fulfil herself and shape her life according to her needs and the potential that lies within her, as the male has. I believe that women are neither inferior nor subordinate human beings, but one half of the human race. I believe that women (and men as well) should not be strait-jacketed into roles that warp their personalities, but should have options available to them. I believe that Nature, when conferring its gifts on humans, did not differentiate between males and females, except for the single purpose of procreation. I believe that motherhood does not bar everything else, but is a bonus, an extra that women are privileged to have. Would the anti-feminists deny all this?

What saddens me is that the women who make such statements are themselves splendid examples of what women can achieve against many odds. What naming games people play with themselves is no concern of mine; but when they give this wrong colour to feminism, these women are grievously wronging all those men and women who, through the years, have spoken and worked against the injustice done to women. I have no doubt at all that it is the women's movement which has made it possible for an increasing number of women to have more space to breathe. I know that as a writer I am privileged to be living at a time when the women's movement has made it possible for my voice to be heard, for the things I write about to be taken seriously, looked upon as issues that concern all of society, and not just dismissed as 'women's stuff'.

Is to be a feminist to want to be like a man? I don't think so. On the contrary, to me it has meant an acceptance of my womanhood as a positive thing, not as a lack. An understanding that I am different,  not inferior. And how can feminism be anti-men when it is really working for a better, a more meaningful and  companionable relationship between men and women, instead of the uneasy relationship between tyrant and oppressed? When women can fulfil themselves, when they are not suppressed and do not have to sacrifice themselves, it will obviate the need to play power games within the home, to thrust ambitions on husbands and children, to work out frustrations on them. Cage in the self for too long and it becomes a dangerous, snarling animal. Go on sacrificing and you create monsters of selfishness. Sacrifice, except for a helpless, dependent infant, has no role in Nature's plan. ( I am convinced that the wholly sacrificing Ma of Hindi movies is a male fantasy.) I believe that the family is not a divine, sacred institution, but one created by humans for the benefit of all society; and therefore, it should be built, not on the sacrifice of some, but on the cooperation and compromises of all its members. The loud cry of the new-born is a triumphant assertion of being - I AM. Does a  baby girl cry less loudly?

 As for feminism forcing women to have careers, to be dissatisfied with being housewives, to desert husbands and families and rush for a divorce at the smallest pretext, it is not just absurd, it is a great injustice to all the activists in this country, who, it sometimes seems, are the only people who care about dowry/rape/desertion/cruelty/slander victims. And I am always annoyed when women speak of themselves as 'only a housewife'. Only a housewife when you work all day, seven days a week, twelve months a year? Many women do enjoy housework and find fulfillment within the home. They have every right to do so. But there are the hazards of not being able to support yourself when it may be necessary to do so; glorifying the wife and mother role sometimes hides this ugly reality. To be dependent means to be a burden on another, at times to be forced to endure violence because there is no choice. 'Violence at home is better than violence on the streets,' a woman columnist says. An obnoxious statement. It implies that women must submit to some violence. Obviously, she has no idea of the years of systematic physical cruelty that many women endure. 'Women are not mentally equipped to make the right choice,' she adds. But does the solution lie in depriving them of choices or in giving them a chance to learn to make their own choices? And which one of us can ever be certain that we have made the right choice?

Feminism, I read somewhere, is a movement that has grown out of and built upon prevailing social needs. I can see how true this is in India, where it has grown out of our own society, out of local specific issues and has addressed them directly. The truth is that we cannot go back. That a great number of people now live within nuclear families, that many women have to go out and work, that stresses are making relationships more vulnerable:  these are facts. It is in the context of this reality that changes are required in the man-woman relationship. And therefore, the issue of gender equality, which embraces everything from female foeticide and equal pay to dowry and rape, has to be faced. Those who are afraid that women will turn freedom into license forget that the needs of daily life impose their own restrictions on human liberty. But often there are no limits to human cruelty. And cruelty has to be opposed. To be silent is to abet it.

Whether we admit it or not, most of us who are adapting to this changing world, gracefully or otherwise, are practising feminism. We don't have to sport any labels. Ask any woman 'do you believe in gender equality?' and she may retort 'what's that?' But ask her instead - 'do you think your daughter is a lesser human being, that she should not be educated, should be married early, to anyone, at any price, that she should have nothing in her life apart from her family and home and  should stay within the family at all costs, even if it is to suffer or die, getting no support from you once she gets married' - will she say 'yes'? Or will it be a 'no'? But why do I say 'she'? Most men, I have no doubt, will say 'no' too. A world without frightened, dependent, trapped, frustrated women is a better world for all of us to live in. After all, 'no man is an island  ...'

 

Shashi Deshpande

Shashi Deshpande is a novelist and short story writer – a revered name in Indian English literature. She has received the Sahitaya Akademi Award, the Soi-Samman award, and the Padma Shree, among others.


The beliefs, views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of Soi or official policies of Soi.

From the President's Desk

Hello! Dear friends of Soi,

Greetings for the coming year! Let us pray for peace. We wish you a safe and positive year ahead. We are celebrating the completion of the first year of our website. We are just a year old, looking back at the Website, and it has not been a bad year for Soi. Plenty of books have been published and awards won by our sois. But then, honours are not enough; we should demand more creative depth from ourselves. We, in India, are going through a dark period, a difficult time, being part of a sad and turbulent history each moment. A sorrowful silence on our part is not the answer. Positive anger and, repeated creative protest against hatred, is perhaps the most useful Indianness at the moment. The "Idea of India" as we have received from our childhood culture, is now submerged in an artificially created, dangerous, anti-human political mess. Those of us who happen to write, we know, our appeal, our written words, our poems and articles can reach only a handful of educated Indians. But we also know that it is in our hands, the privileged minority, that the future of the rest of us in the huge and confused subcontinent is helplessly chained…But there is always a tomorrow. We are tomorrow's people, the creative woman of the world...Soi belongs to them, Soi belongs to tomorrow. And it is our aim to build a better tomorrow for all of us, through creative art. The written word may have a limited appeal but what about music, painting, photography, cinema, the performing arts? We have direct reach to the senses. Soi means all of us, the Creative Women of this world, who care.

Read More...

silence like a cancer grows

for Gauri

soi-sabud

The Story of Soi

Soi was created on November 30th, 2000, by a group of women writing themselves in Bangla. The term SOI has a three dimensional significance in Bangla, it means 1. Signature, 2. Sakhi (woman friend) and 3. 'I endure' (but not for long!). We, creative women, deeply felt the need for a meeting point, to vent our ideas, to test our creations, to gather strength from each other at moments of defeat, and to celebrate our victories. SOI is a gathering of creative minds where the established and rising writers equally share a common space, exchanging their innermost thoughts about literature and life. In a few years we opened our arms to creative women in other arts. SOI is a space where we can freely express ourselves and open up to the rudest criticisms, and still feel secure. Such a place of warmth was absolutely essential for us.

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