Shashi Deshpande: Contribution as Indian English Novelist

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      Shashi Deshpande is the second daughter of the famous Kannada dramatist in Karnataka and Sanskrit Scholar Shriranga. She did a graduation in Journalism at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan, Mumbai and worked for a couple of months as a journalist for the magazine 'On Looker'. Her first novel 'The Dark Holds No Terror' was published in June 1999. She is a winner of the Sahitya Academy award, for her novel 'That long silence'. Her third famous novel is 'Roots and Shadows'. She has projected objectively a new female face with subjective experiences with a geocentric vision. She reflects on the problems and concerns of the middle class Indian women. Her writings are rooted in the culture in which she lives. Her remarks are sensitive to the common everyday events and experiences and give an artistic expression to something that is simple and mundane. Her feminism is particularly Indian in the sense that it is borne out of the predicament of Indian women placed between contradictory identities. The women characters are with traditional approaches trying to tie family and profession to maintain the virtues of Indian culture.

Shashi Deshpande is the second daughter of the famous Kannada dramatist in Karnataka and Sanskrit Scholar Shriranga.
Shashi Deshpande

      Shashi Deshpande's novel 'A Matter of time' is a continuation of her exploration into the many facts of the feminine experience in writing. In this novel, she has displayed the themes of silence, gender differences, passive sufferings and familiar relationships into much deeper realms. It is a story encompassing three generations of women coming to terms with their life in and all female worlds. The relation women characters share with their men is homered with silence, absence or indifference.

      The pain of disintegration of the family troubles Aru, who consider herself for her father's action and sets out to undo it. It is in this stifling atmosphere the characters evolve and come to a newer understanding of their lives. The role of fury and destiny are playing as main themes around which Deshpande weaves her tale. Deshpande explains role of fury in her words, "I thought of Puradars's line, the hour strikes and I was terrified. I stopped believing in the life I was leading suddenly it seemed unreal to me and I know I could not go on." Deshpande's simple yet powerful prose reads like a grandmother's tale that pierces the deep into heart and settles. At one point, the use of omniscient narration teases the reader as the speaker forces events but is not to share until time and plot unfolds it. Deshpande's 'A Matter of Time and Salman Rushdie's' Fury both novels spun around theme of existential fury.

      Deshpande brings Rushdie's novel out from howling New York City to a calm and mediating Karnataka and his hills in the gaps a reader might have had left craves for. The underlying theme in Shashi Deshpande's novels is human relationships especially the ones that exist between father and daughter, husband and wife, between mother and daughter. In all relationships, the women occupy the central stage and significantly, the narration shifts through her feminine consciousness. In her novels, three types of suffering women characters reoccur with subtle changes. The first type belongs to the protagonist's mother or the mother figure, the traditional woman, who believes that her place is with her husband and family. The second type of woman is bolder more self-reliant and rebellious. She cannot confirm to mythological, submissive and surrender vision of womanhood. As radical feminist, ideology expressed, for example, Sarah's friend Nathan in the 'Dark Holds No Terror'.

      The third, type of women characters, are the women in between neither traditional nor radical in their ideas and practice. For Example, Indu in 'Roots and Shadows', leaves her husband to seek refuge in her ancestral home. Being a woman herself, she sympathises with women. As Shashi Deshpande clarifies in one of the interviews about feminist approach in her writing, "If others see something feminist in my writings, I must say that it is not consciously done. It is because the world for women is like that and I am mirroring the world."

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