First you mortgaged me to the Malik. I was in his grip for sixteen-eighteen years. No gold, no silver, ten rupees a month, and that piece of land, three bighas. Didn’t let me marry Mohor, chased him off. Fell ill himself. Like a mother bird with her nest, I shielded him with both hands. Now I’m an old woman, in two years I’ll be forty.’
The Glory of Sri Sri Ganesh shows the lives of the underdogs—the Lachhimas, the
Rukmanis, the Mohors and the Haroas—as a contrast to the lives of their all-powerful overlords—the Medinis and Ganeshes. Lachhima, whose leashed bitterness and anger of a lifetime against Medini and Ganesh is liberated at the end of the novel when Ganesh begs her to save his life, decides to save him, but on her own terms. The title of the work itself becomes a tool for subversion in this sprawling novel which takes the reader through a multilayered narrative into the socio-economic malaise of post-independence rural India. Mahasweta Devi’s corrosive humour and cryptic style are at their best as she takes on issues of agrarian land relations, inter-caste violence, so-called rural development and the position of women in rural India.
Considered one of Mahasweta Devi’s most important works, this novel, written in 1981, appeared shortly after her seminal Chotti Munda and His Arrow.
The hope of liberation contained in Chotti Munda continues in this book. As the author says, Chotti Munda talked of the dream of the dispossessed tribals uniting in struggle with the equally marginalized low caste communities; while this novel shows how ‘being land-less and being born low caste is almost inevitably linked in India’.
Mahasweta Devi is one of India’s foremost writers. Her powerful, satiric fiction has won her recognition in the form of the Sahitya Akademi (1979), Jnanpith (1996) and Ramon Magsaysay (1996) awards, amongst several other literary honours. She was also awarded the Padmasree in 1986, for her activist work amongst dispossessed tribal communities.
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