1. "Happy New Year" by Ajaat Cour - Translated from Punjabi
2. "The Floating Forest" by Natsuo Kirino- Translated from Japanese
3. " A Home Near the Sea" by Kamala Das - Translated from Malayalam
4. "Maria" by Dacia Maraini- Translated from Italian
5. "Zletka" by Maja Hrgovic - Translated from Croatian
6. "Arshingar" by Jharna Raham - Translated from Bengali
This morning's story, "Arshingar" by Jharna Rahman was translated from Bengali (sometimes the language is called Bangla) by Shabnam Nadiya. Bengali is the official language of Bangladesh. It is estimated to have 225 million speakers.
"Arshingar" centers on a married Muslim woman, mother of four girls and two boys, from Bangladesh. She and her husband live in a huge house owned by her father in law. The families of her two bother in laws also live there. Her two married sister in laws stay there also, with their several children as their husbands work in Saudi Arabia, assorted others in the extended family live there also.
Rahman from the opening shocking sex scene between Arshingar and her husband in which she breastfeeds her baby while her husband hammers away on top of her, afterwards he feeds from the other breast lets us see into the dynamics of her life. She accepts this as doing her duty. She is normally always veiled, even other men in the house have never seen her face, even when she dies she will be buried with a veil covering her face. We get a good picture of her life, we know her family is affluent and her husband in an important man. A very odd turn event happens as the story winds down which I will leave untold.
In just a few pages this story takes us inside a world closed to all but insiders.
Jharna Rahman was born in 1959. She received her M.A. in Bangla from the University of Dhaka and has been writing for the last thirty years. As a poet, author of fiction, and playwright, she deals with the various crises, obstacles, hardships and potentialities of Bangladeshi society with all its multidimensional joys and sorrows. Her 19 published works include the short story collections Swarna Tarbari, Agnita, Krishnapakhsher Usha, and Perek, the poetry collection Noshto Jotsna Nosto Roudro, and the play Briddha o Rajkumari. An Assistant Professor of Bangla at Bir Shreshtha Noor Mohammad Rifles Public College, she is also a regular singer on national radio and television.
I read this story in an interesting anthology, The Lotus Singers: Short Stories from Contemporary South Asia.
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