It is this project of othering of the Assamese that is the central theme in Moushumi Kandali’s Black Magic Women. A collection of ten fiercely feminist short stories translated from Assamese, the tales are tied together with the threads of marginalization, vulnerability and racism. The book blurb announces that Kandali situates most of her characters out of Assam and in the mainstream, exploring their struggles of assimilation.
Prejudice promulgates differences, and stereotypes contribute to defining individual identities in a society that caters to judgments and bias. Damodar Mauzo’s The Wait and Other Stories set in the heart of Goa deals with the conundrums of reality in a chaotic human world using subtle humour and nuanced narratives.
It is interesting to note the conflicting perspectives of the egalitarian ideals of Communist Indian supporters with the likes of the feudal class stakeholders like Umma and other privileged ones.
The story revolves around the ordeal of Lal Kaka’s family to find a suitable match for their daughter Buchia, and the anglicized bridegroom CC Mishra’s unrealistic expectations of finding a modern companion wife. The racy climax sequence dramatizes a farcical and ill-matched marriage with disastrous consequences.
Tears of the Begums is the first-ever English translation by Rana Safvi of Begumat ke Aansoo, originally written in Urdu by Khwaja Hasan Nizami, a follower of the Sufi order Chishti-Nizamiya and a descendant of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya.