Bid to highlight prejudices faced by people from N-E

Bid to highlight prejudices faced by people from N-E

Majha House on Saturday organised an online session with authors Mitra Phukan, Parbina Rashid and Moushumi Kandali, at the centre of discussion being Moushumi’s collection of short stories — The Black Magic Women.

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 7

Majha House on Saturday organised an online session with authors Mitra Phukan, Parbina Rashid and Moushumi Kandali, at the centre of discussion being Moushumi’s collection of short stories — The Black Magic Women.

Introducing the session, Preeti Gill, founder, Majha House, said, ‘This is a very topical book, especially in the wake of the physical shifting of Sikhs in the North-East.’ Parbina Rashid, who hails from Assam and has translated this collection, was moderator of the session. She said the book has words that capture your imagination and metaphors that might be difficult to relate but are engaging.

“Her stories are very visual, which could be because she is an artist and art historian. Capturing that visual image in words is a very challenging task. And then her use of some phrases is very typical to and entrenched in a particular culture. I had to brush up, if not learn, my second and third languages. She also uses colour metaphors, which are very difficult to translate. For me, this was by far the most challenging translation I have ever done as I had to constantly engage with her writing, think like her.’

While talking about her book, Moushumi said the book is an attempt to talk about the prejudices faced by people, especially women, from the North-East as they travel in India. ‘The book addresses the shocking discrimination that people from the North East Indians face when they are travelling in India. Although they are very much a part of India, for some reason North-East Indians are looked upon as aliens, and as such they are victims of racial slurs and even violence. This collection of short stories is an attempt on my part to document this ghastly behaviour and to make it a topic of discussion,’ said Moushumi.

Mitra Phukan, another renowned writer, who has extensively documented the people and culture of the North-East through her books, while asking Moushumi about the title of her book, said the title of the book is a reference to the women of the North-East. Mitra clarified that the women of Assam are supposed to be well-versed in magic as myth has it that they turn their men into beasts, so they can control them and be with them for life. ‘It was an article written by a British correspondent that got me thinking about how the women of Assam are seen. There is of course the colonial gaze but also our own Indian gaze that makes people view the Assamese women as ‘others’. So, I set about writing stories that looked at this process of othering, and also the grounds for it,’ said Moushumi. Moushumi added, ‘If after today’s session a dialogue starts somewhere about the heinous process of ‘othering’, I will consider my stories and effort a success. It is my sincere deep desire to see an end to this stereotypical perception, to see people embracing the diversity that makes us all unique.’

Tribune Shorts


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