A Personal and Political Commitment
Bharti Arora
VE NAYAB AURATEIN by Mridula Garg Vani Prakashan, Delhi, , 440 pp., 495
July 2023, volume 47, No 7

Ve Nayab Auratein is remarkable in its expansive scope and commitment. As the title suggests, this memoir is an honest, frank and committed portrayal of ‘nayab’/inimitable women and men who have enriched Garg’s life and career as a writer.  She often uses the word äfsana to describe this work, highlighting how literary imagination is deeply entwined with civic imagination. ‘I am a writer after all, and thus driven to enmeshing the real and the imaginary to create new worlds’ (Preface).  As a story writer delves into ‘imagining’ new worlds, they simultaneously strengthen their commitment to renewing the civic imagination. Garg’s novels are known for their free-spirited women protagonists. Some of her major works include Avkaash (A Few Hours, 1972), Daffodils Jal Rahein Hain (Daffodils on Fire, 1991)*, Uske Hisse Ki Dhoop (A Touch of Sun, 1975), Chittacobra (Chittacobra, 1979)*, Kathgulab (Country of Goodbyes, 1996), and The Last Email (2017)* which explore issues of women’s individuality, their need and desire for love, extra-marital alliances, marriage, and suspension of female guilt. Her works juxtapose the personal and the political, interlinking the personalized experiences of women to the larger question of equitable distribution of resources and gender equality in society. Garg’s novel Anitya (Anitya: Halfway to Nowhere, 2004) is set against the backdrop of India’s aspiration and struggle for freedom. It records the disappointments, and ‘pain of ordinary Indians, who failed to keep their tryst with destiny’ (Jain and Paliwal, p. xxiii) amidst the systemic distortions of independent India.

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