02 March, 2021

Passion In The Kothas

Two courtesans perform a sensual dance of love in a globalised, pre-colonial Awadh

Passion In The Kothas

Ruth Vanita’s debut novel Memory of Light has pushed the boundaries of Indian queer literature. A critical addition to this nascent genre, it is an answer to the dearth of lesbian representation in India.

Set in 18th century Awadh, Memory of Light is a love story of two courtesans—Nafis Bai and Chapla Bai. An intelligently crafted meta-narrative reco­unted by Nafis Bai, the novel takes readers on an exciting journey through shifting timelines and the rich courtesan culture of Awadh and Kashi. A product of Vanita’s imagination and her res­earch on rekhti, a genre of Urdu poetry, the novel carefully selects historical figures, rekhti poets like Insha and Rangin, and courtesans mentioned in rekhti poe­try. It instils life in them through a colourful narrative.

Memory of Light explores the themes of time and memory and paints a beautiful, painful picture of changes that the love bet­w­­een Nafis and Chapla und­e­r­­­g­oes over time. The aff­ect­ion bet­ween the...

In this article:

Latest Magazine

March 08, 2021

other articles from the issue

articles from the previous issue

Other magazine section