17 April, 2021


Feminist fables, from a man


THIS is an extraordinary collection of stories by Rajasthani writer Vijaydan Dheta (known as Bijji). Inspired from Rajasthani folklore, the six short stories (selected from the volumes Duvidha and Uljhan) are distinctive for thematic boldness and feminist assumptions.

During the launch of the book recently, Bijji recalled how he receives letters from women readers who refuse to believe that he's a man. Perhaps because of his stories' insight into the unconscious desires and fantasies of women. Moreover, his women are not passive victims. They retaliate with terrible weapons. In "The Crow's Way", the female protagonist who eventually takes up prostitution takes revenge for years of suffering, torture and fraud by going to bed with her son. In "Double Standards", Barhatji is a charismatic court poet who enjoys great favour with the king. He takes a new woman to bed each night, while keeping his wife cloistered at home. He rationalises the paradox to her saying: "Tell me, does a tree enjoy its own shade? The...

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