Questioning Goddesses
Nivedita Sen
THE SONG SEEKERS by Saswati Sengupta Zubaan, 2013, 348 pp., 395
January 2013, volume 1, No 1

Uma, the protagonist of the novel, a young woman from a well-to-do back-ground with a modicum of higher education in Delhi, is married into an aristocratic brahmin family in Kolkata, and thereafter delves into its family history with an almost unhealthy curiosity. Uma’s unanswered questions get specifically provoked by the presence of an unexplained human fixture in the household—the so-called ‘pishi’ (aunt) with the green eyes, who has neither the status of a servant nor a member of the family. Pishi’s room in a dark little alcove between two floors signifies her marginality, as does her not being allowed to participate fully in the socio-cultural ceremonies of the family. Uma determines to get to the bottom of it all but is equally focused on reading and salvaging meanings from the scholarly heirloom of the family—an edition of the Chandimangal sutured together, selected and omitted from earlier versions by her husband’s great-grandfather.

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