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Published Book or Work by:

Sarojini Sahoo

Waiting For Manna

Waiting For Manna
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Published by Indian Age Communications, 201,Kalapi Chamber, Opposite Novino, Makarpura, Vadodara - 390014. Phone
ISBN: 9788190695602
“Waiting for Manna” is collection of translated short stories by eminent feminist and writer Sarojini Sahoo. Originally she writes in Oriya. She has eight novels to her credit and nine anthologies of short stories some of which have been translated in English and Bengali. She is the recipient of Orissa Sahitya Akedemi award and Jhankar award. Sarojini talks about pregnancy, rape, girl child, stalkers and about the social set up we all are trapped in; about the mindset we can't get rid off. The first story is about a childless woman who is obsessed about having a baby and then wonders about motherhood once she gets it. Since she is admitted to a hospital for few days before delivery, she gets a chance to interact and observe people from close quarters. Children who were once central to parent’s existence get engrossed in their own life and forget about them who brought them up so lovingly. She sees children who leave parents and are indifferent about their needs. Once she gets her baby, she wonders about the motherhood and its rewards. Another story that touches the heart is ‘Threshold’, the story of Ipsita, a girl who runs away from her home to elope with her boyfriend and her anxiety and desperation to forget her parents. Not only women but men also are central characters in her spinning tales, like for instance Dr Anurag, his courage that finally is engulfed by system that swallows all of his pride and ethics and forces him to succumb to pressures. How lucidly she tells the story of professor Anirudh who being bright could have been something but lands up teaching in a private college with meager salary. It’s interesting to read how finally he breaks the chain and is able to reverse the heaps of insults thrown at him. In “Rape’ she tells the story of a female fantasy. A naïve women dreams about being raped by the doctor and confesses it to her husband. From then on an innocent relationship between husband and wife changes; the change actually is subtle but a simple dream affects their marital status. The story dwells on consequences of being truthful to her husband. It is her way of weaving story on a simple comment or a trivial incident that is remarkable. Slowly she introduces characters that give twists and turns and build up a tale around the central character. At times they bring out the real person and his/ her struggles behind ordinary masks. The protagonist of her tales are all around you thinking aloud; it’s easy to identify with them. Her way of telling a story is such that the characters are well sketched out. None of her stories have a beginning because they start from a non incident and none of them have an end because they are lost in smoke screens. This is the reason the stories become gripping and you want to read them till the end. You connect with them instantly because you can identify with the subjects easily. They leave you uneasy because truth looks you in the face. A girl child loses a precious pen in ‘sorrowful endings’ in a slush and tries to retrieve it, afraid that her parents would scold her for being careless. She starts to sink in that slush and wonders if her parents would know her whereabouts in time to save her? The story goes through perspective of a girl child, pressures on her and her failure to cope with them. It vividly describes the state of daughters in our society and the pressures children have to face from parents and peers. Class divide and how it affects a child’s psyche is presented in another story “Beyond Reach” A small incident brings out the soul of the story and she weaves a beautiful story around it. It gives glimpse into the mind of a well to do mother and her warped thinking in extraordinary way Whether it is a story of a doctor or a maid servant or a girl child, they all portray inner struggles of people, the daily grind of real life and its consequences. All stories are reflective of true life of ordinary people with ordinary endings yet they all reveal the struggles going inside every human being, their reactions to life and outcome. . The writing style is lucid and keeps you glued till the story comes to its logical end; loved reading them. Review by Dinesh Kumar Mali I have thoroughly gone through the anthology of some of very selected short stories titled “ waiting for Manna” of Dr.Sarojini Sahoo. The first three stories in this volume ‘waiting for Manna’ , ‘few pages from ‘vacant lot.’ Sorrows unending” are based on real facets of a human life reflecting Dr sarojini Sahoo`s inner feelings , sharp sensuality and profound sentimental attitude towards any stray incident/event taking place in our surrounding atmosphere. The ‘waiting for Manna’ is an emotional itinerary or a curious journey from pregnancy to delivery of a women. The last one-month of incubation period, very tedious time for ‘Paramita’, her conversation with Jayanti, Hema and other patients admitted in nursing home was heart touching. Reading this story, it seems as if I were watching a movie/cinema, leaving some indelible marks in mind that majority of manlihood is still devoid of such sentimental slumber, touch and concern with tempest of Paramita. The second story, ‘few pages from vacant lot’ translated by shri Jagdish Mohanty, a renowned oriya writer, in very lucid language re- capitulated the real happening of ten years ago ,in Rampur officer’s colony . That a maid servant ‘Deepa’, a divorcee woman , living with her step father faced a series of troubles not only at home but also from outside. Her life became so miserable. She was neglected from everywhere. Although sorrow, pain and her grief was empathetically experienced by ‘Rubi’ but she could not do any help in this regards. Whom nobody loved even no love from step father and real mother, no self dependency, no support from outer world and forcibly entrapped by an uncouth young man; what was the ‘Akhiri Rasta’ for her? The story is an alive picturization of character ‘Deepa’ in very impressive way The third story, ‘Sorrows unending’, make even callous people to weep over the very very naïve ,small girl child who is dull in her study.The autobiographical representation of a Girl child in this story depicts various pitiful and pithy issues such as impartial behavior of parent towards a girl child, her depression due to weakness in studies, the pressure/ beating from teachers, no friend in school e.t.c. Many times Mother called her as unwanted womb, sometime born sick girl, sometimes father scolded her farcically , “I will kill you,if you not remember the table of ‘nine’ ” and sometimes teacher beaten her barbarically . Indeed Dr Sarojini`s heart would throbbed several times emotionally on background of tendered psychology of a girl child. The ‘Smoke’ is a sarcastic blow over the modern Judiciary system. How the noble intentions of Dr.Anurag suffused over the medico- legal case of a hawker, ‘Purna Chandra Mallik’ about his intoxication with Marijuana. “Threshold” is a Dahalij and to cross the Dahalij is a crime. The attempt to cross the Dahalij by ‘Ispita’ and marry with “Manoj” is a super - cyclone in thoughts. The ‘Flies’ and the ‘wall clock’ are introspective stories in nature. ‘Anirudha Das’ a gold medalist, History lecturer, was repeatedly asked by ‘Harish’ about basic instinct of a human being. The explicit reply of ‘Anirudh’, without giving weightage to salary, designation, pride, and any complex, made ‘Harish’ stunned that nature was itself a mystery. Various thing such as ant has a heart or not, how many stars in the sky and how internet work beyond the scope of a human being? Hence the question was re-bounced to ‘Harish’ and unanswered still. Similarly ‘wall clock’ also abstract introspection of ‘Kuki’ and ‘Arbind’. The ‘Burden of proof’ made ‘Tauji’ as a guilty of theft of plastic card for which he called a diviner to identify a thief with the help of winnowing fan. This story is against the superstition prevailed in the society. The ‘Beyond reach’ is resembling the children psychology as stated in earlier story ‘Sorrows unending’. The loneliness of ‘Digli’ a small girl is beautifully reflected in the story. At last but not least, the story “The Rape” is focusing a feminine sensibility shown by ‘Suparna’ when she told about a dream of Rape made by ‘Dr.Tripathy’ to her husband . How her husband ‘Jayant’ became doubtful about her character and never liked to meet ‘Dr.Tripathy’. It highlighted the doubtful tendency of manli-hoodness and truth fullness and innocence of feminism.
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Literary , Short Story
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