Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Ashapurna Devi was born on Feb 8, 1909 in colonial Bengal. She grew up in Calcutta. Her father was an artist and her mother was a lover of literature. She belonged to a very orthodox family where females were no permitted to go to schools. She was married at a very young age in a conservative family and thus could not finish her education. However, she had a large number of books and magazines to read about. She penned down her first stories during 1930s and her first adult story was released in 1937 named Husband’s Lover that stirred the audience.
Ashapurna lived till 1995 and had seen all the transformations in cultural, social and family relations since colonial times to modern India. She was the winner of Jnanpith for her trilogy Pratham Pratishruti, Subarnalata and Bakul Katha. She had written over 240 novels, 2000 stories, 20 children’s books in addition to poetry and innumerable unpublished letters and essays. She sketched the patriarchal society with a sarcastic color. She was not touched by the political turmoil of her times owing to her conservative background and she basically focused on family environs and ties with particular stress on women as her subject.
Ashapurna chose to concentrate on her women characters in the perspective of men’s world. Her women characters are domestic, apparently submissive and showed allegiance in observing social norms. Eventually they assumed a more powerful and a glorious role when it came to perform sacrifice, selfishness or action compared to men’s ineffectual standing.
Ashapurna’s writer’s world was not an exclusive arena rather an extension of kinship relations and bondage. Some critics have described her as a kitchen writer but she in fact had tried to expose the contradictions and self-struggle of her female characters in their endeavor to break down the barriers that men had created.