Published Book or Work by:
Waiting For Manna
|Published by Indian Age Communications, 201,Kalapi Chamber, Opposite Novino, Makarpura, Vadodara - 390014. Phone
|“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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
“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.
, Short Story
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