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When the Earth Shakes

Charu Sharma

By Marta Tikkanen . Translated into Hindi by Harish Narang
Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 1998, pp.140, Rs. 45.00


Marta Tikkanens Swedish epic The Love Story of the Century has been translated into Hindi by Harish Narang as Iss Sadi Ki Prem Kahani. The poetic story is a first person narrative of a womans life who is married to an alcoholic. This strong, feminist text written in flashbacks, dialogues and a confessional mode is a written document about emotional upheavals, false promises, pseudoexistence, fabricated hopes and dreams, and the life of a womans daytoday existence (not living) in the four walls of a house, imprisoned in the suffocating patriarchal family system. This poetic narrative is an autobiographical manuscript that universalizes the lives of countless women who live such lives dayin and dayout, all over the world. They live one day at a time and they speak the same language of pain, trauma and suffering. Their anguish is the binding thread. Marta Tikkanen was married to Henrik Tikkanen, the well known Finnish author and artist. The couple stayed together for twenty years before they parted to live their lives in their own way. The woman realizes that she could no more live with an alcoholic husband who rebuked her, told lies to her, was an unreliable spouse and threatened her off and on. It is a relationship devoid of love and respect and thrived on fear, hatred and dilemmas. The text questions the institution of marriage and the rise and fall of manwoman relationship in any society. It is a lovehate, sweetsour relationship. It is a relationship built on the inflated ego of man and the selfeffacement of woman. By the time the woman realizes that she no more wants to either carry on or live in a decaying relationship and a degenerating value system, the prime of life is over. She becomes a victim of physical and mental abuse; emotional and financial violence and her integrity is under a scanner always. This poetic long story is her struggle to survive, to make effort to rebel, to emancipate her own self. Towards the end, she calls upon other women to shun their selfeffacing and sacrificing nature and muster courage to stand up against exploitation and suppression. There are three sections and further subsections which are markers to sift and separate the conversations, past and present, self reflections about trauma and agony and selfrealization. The man and woman in a patriarchal order, the gender biases inherent in a relationship and society ...

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