Kamala Markandaya is one of the major first generation Indian woman novelists writing in English. Her works span more than half a century from 1954 to 1982 and then 2008, when Bombay Tiger came out. Some of her prominent thematic concerns are east-west encounter, confrontation between tradition and modernity and the clash of values. Within this pattern she weaves a richly variegated picture of life, arranging her ideas and philosophy with deft touches.
Usha Bande, former Fellow, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, had a long academic career and retired as Principal, Govt. College, Arki in Himachal Pradesh. She has also been associated with the Institute for Integrated Himalayan Studies, HP University and has worked extensively in the field of women's studies.
I was delighted when I received the offer to write a book on Kamala Markandaya for the "Makers of Indian Literature" series. First, the offer was from Sahitya Akademi, which is an honour in itself; and second, I had recently written on Markandaya and felt on a sure footing having read her thoroughly and being in possession of all her novels and critical material. That, however, posed an initial problem—I mean having written on Markandaya—precisely because my efforts to give something new in my present study were persistently thwarted by my earlier line of thought and created mental blocks. Another difficulty came up: how to reconstruct Kamala Markandaya's life? As a reclusive and reticent person, she hardly spoke or wrote about herself, her life and her art. Thankfully, this hurdle was removed to an extent, when I could get copies of a few of her old essays and addresses, as listed in some recent, scholarly studies.
General interest in Kamala Markandaya's writings had waned after her 1982 novel Pleasure City, considered her last major venture. She published nothing after that and her appeal lay limited to academic and literary circles where a few of her novels continued to be read and taught. Her death in 2004 seemed to seal her fate further; but that was not to be. Fortunately, in February 2008, her new novel Bombay Tiger was launched at the Book Fair in Delhi. Since then, interest in Kamala Markandaya has revived. This posthumously published novel is, in many ways, a culmination of her art and vision. Besides, Professor Charles Larson's excellent "Introduction" to the book opens up many portals and gives a fresh insight to approach Kamala. In that, Prof. Larson deserves our thanks.
The time limit Sahitya Akademi gave, and the fact of having with me the base material ready, made me rather slack and like the `hare' in the fable, I slept through the race and woke up only when I realised that time was running out. It was then that a chance meeting with Ms. Gitanjali Chatterjee renewed my enthusiasm and gave impetus to get on with the project. I resolved to outmanoeuvre time. It was now for me to keep the zeal intact and honour the deadline.
I am thankful to Ms. Gitanjali Chatterjee, Deputy Secretary, Sahitya Akademi for her lively support and also for promptly sending me a sample copy of the latest book published under the current series.
Professor Jasbir Jain is always there to help and guide. I record my thanks to her for patiently listening to me over the phone and giving guidelines whenever I approached her. Professors Malashri Lal and Jaiwanti Dimri were keenly interested in the project. Their suggestions have been valuable. I am grateful to my friend Neema Jaswal for helping me out whenever I was stuck with some intricate language block. We discussed J M Synge's Riders to the Sea and discovered similarity in the fisher folk's attitude of acceptance of the inevitable, be it the scenario of the coastal life of India, or of any other country. Visits to various libraries enriched me and I thank the librarians and staff of: R.K.M.V. Shimla, St. Bede's College, Shimla, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla and Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi.
When one works against time, sits for long hours, neglects routine duties and side-tracks important commitments, one is bound to inconvenience those around: family and friends. My family's patience has been monumental. Can I really thank them enough?
Item Code: NAQ536 Author: Usha Bande Cover: PAPERBACK Publisher: Sahitya Akademi ISBN: 9788126029525 Language: English Size: 8.50 X 5.50 inch Pages: 117 Other Details: Weight of the Book: 0.1 Kg