Revoking the Given
Prachi Deshpande
DELIVERANCE: A NOVELLA by Gauri Deshpande Women Unlimited, Delhi, 2013, 134 pp., 225
January 2013, volume 1, No 1

Deliverance opens with a one-line letter written by two sisters, Mimi and Shami, to various people across the world—Ranju, Janaki, Toshi-Ojisan, Yoshiyo-Hisayo, and Dr. Abhi—about their parents’ death. From this terse assembling of all its characters at the very beginning, the story reaches back into the past and gradually brings it back to the present. The past is recalled as a series of conversations between the various characters, recorded in letters, therapist’s notes, and the diary entries of the protagonist, the mother. Through them we learn about the emotional turbulence that threatens to tear the family asunder, but also the many ties of friendship and companionship that are affirmed through, and in spite of, these shocks. These then, are the niragaathii (literally tight, but also knotty ties) of the novel’s original Marathi title. Gauri Deshpande’s novellas and short stories are well known for their masterly observation of human relationships, especially that of man-woman. Her straightforward, yet deeply sensitive exploration of female sexuality, companionships, marital politics and family dynamics carved a space all its own in Marathi literature from the 1970s onwards.

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