Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Sunday, September 2, 2012

"Annapurna Devi" by Abha Iyengar, a Leading New Delhi Poet and author

"Annapurna Devi" (2011, 3 pages)

Short Stories of the Indian Subcontinent
A Reading Life Project

"I immersed myself in the house, but a nagging emptiness gnawed away.   I filled it up with reading, as much as I could, in the lonely hours after the house slept".

I am very pleased  that The Reading Life was recently recommended by The Economic Times of India,the leading financial daily of The Subcontinent.   

The Reading Life Guide to The Indian Short Story

There is no literary culture with roots older than that of India.   I will always admire Edmund Burke for telling the English that they had no right to govern a region whose culture is much older than theirs.  Many of the geographic boundaries that created these countries were created by the British or are consequences of their misrule.       Some of the writers featured  will be internationally famous, such as Salmon Rushdie, Saadat Manto,  and R. K. Narayan but most of the writers I post on will be authors on whom there are no prior book blog posts.    There are numerous books and academic conferences devoted to exploring the colonial experiences of India and Ireland and I will look at these stories partially as post colonial literature.   My main purpose here is just to open myself up to a lot more new to me writers and in this case most will be new to anyone outside of serious literary circles in the region. I am hoping in a small way to create networks of readers worldwide.    Where I can I will provide links to the stories I post on but this will not always be possible.

I am happy to have discovered another great new to me short story writer from the Indian Subcontinent, Abha Iyengar, from New Delhi.    I will post on two of her stories (I will provide links where you can read these and others of Iyengar's work) and she has also given me the honor of publishing a wonderful story about the life of a woman working in a dance bar in Mumbai.   She writers in both Urdu and English.   

"Annapurna Devi"

In "Annapurna Devi", first published in The 2011 New Asian Short Story Anthology, in just a few pages takes a woman from her the days just before she was married, through a long married life in which she had three sons, to the closing years of her life as an affluent widow left largely to herself.    The story is wonderfully told in the first person.   We learn that a pundit had selected her name, after  the Goddess of Plenty.   She was her mother's first child after ten years of marriage so her birth was a great joy to the family.    The pundit, who was in fact her grandfather, told her father that she would have many children.  Her father, who I liked a lot, was a simple man who earned just enough to care for his family and spent most of his times reading the books he loved.   In time he became a tutor to children of the rich and his learning was respected.

At eighteen she marries a man fourteen years older than her, an arranged marriage.   He was a wealthy business man more married to his work than he ever was to her.      She gives birth to three sons so she has high standing with her in laws.   Once the three boys come her husband loses interest in her.   The woman craves his attention and in time tries to forget her loneliness in household management.

We see her try to fill up the sadness in her life with petty details and drama with her children and the household help.   You can see a contradiction in her character, she craves the attention of her husband but she pushes away her children, her helpers, and her in laws throwing herself into her reading.

We flash on to many years ahead.  She is widow.  Her long term help are gone.   Her sons are married and sometimes when they and their wives come to visit she knows she gets names mixed up.   The sons come just enough so they can be said to be doing their duty.   The final scene is very moving and I will leave it untold told as I really endorse this wonderful story.

You can read it online HERE. 

As I mentioned I will do a post on at least one more of her stories very shortly and publish one of her works in full.

Author Biography

 Abha Iyengar is an internationally published author and poet and a creative writing facilitator at Sri Aurobindo Centre for Arts and Communication. She does individual mentoring for short story and novel writing. She also writes poetry in Hindi. She has worked as fiction editor with Leadstart Publishing. Her work has appeared in Bewildering Stories,The Asian Writer, New Asian Writing, Arabesques Review, Muse India and others. She is a Kota Press Poetry Anthology Contest winner (2002). Her story, 'The High Stool ' was nominated for the Story South Million Writers Award (2007). She writes articles on health, spirituality and travel. She is also writing for the CAB  (Conversations Across Borders) project. Her poem-film, "Parwaaz", has won a Special Jury prize in Patras, Greece (2008).Her book of poems, "Yearnings" has been published (Serene Woods, 2010). She received the Lavanya Sankaran Writing Fellowship(2009-2010).  She was Featured Poet at the Prakriti Festival (2010) and invited Speaker at CEC (2011). Her collection of micro fiction, “Flash Bites” (2011) and her fantasy novel, “Shrayan” (2012) are available as ebooks on Amazon and Smashwords. She is from New Delhi.  

I am so glad to have discovered her work and honored am honored that she is   a follower of The Reading Life.   

Her webpage and blog are both very interesting and I expect to learn a lot from them

I commend her work to anyone who enjoys a wonderfully written deeply felt story that can take you in a few pages to a world that might be very different on the surface from your own.  Go a bit deeper and you may see your own life in  Ivengar's marvelous story.

Mel u

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