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The Writer and the Written

Ranu Uniyal

By Ira Pande
Penguin, Delhi, 2005, pp. 216, Rs. 250.00


Shivani was born on October 18th 1924. She died on 21st March 2003. Her first piece of fiction was in Bengali. Several novels were serialized in a popular Hindi magazine Dharamyug. As a fifteen year old I remember pouring over Chaudah Phere late into the night. Shivani captures the beauty of her women and the charm of the landscape. Her alliance with the landscape brought her into direct contact with the sensuous and the commonplace, the mundane and the secret joys of love and life. Of all human emotions, romantic love was her forte. All her women were caught in an eternal bind of suffering and shame. Yet what was most striking was their unfailing love for the tragic and the doomed. Most of the women that she wrote about were intelligent and pure and of an ethereal beauty. The simplicity and the timelessness of the hills is also reflected in her women. Often their strength also became their weakness. And Shivani would grasp the little details of their lives with curiosity, and a natural sadness. Did I not weep inconsolably at the sufferings of Champa in Shamshan Champa Who does not remember the mad and pregnant Krishna Kali as she wandered the streets in full day light Or the beautiful but unhappy fate of young Surangama Most of these women had a heart of gold and the mans world made them an object of sheer gratification. Desire for love is a strong and a recurring theme in most of her fiction. Culture and tradition form the basis of her existence. Strongly rooted in her Kumaoni identity she was equally passionate about her Bengali upbringing. Much loved by her readers, unfortunately Shivani could never get an honest appraisal from her critics. She was strongly disparaged by the male bastion and they refused to treat her as a writer of classics. She was dismissed as popular and vain. However much she was disliked for her subjects and its treatment by the so called intellectual brigade of the Hindi heartland she won hearts of many women all over the world. In her hands language became so beautiful that her words were music. Ira Pandes semiautobiographical work Diddi is a fascinating account of Shivani in her multiple roles as a woman and a writer, a mother and a wife, a pahari from Almora with fond memories of her life as a student at Shantiniketan. In ...

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