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Mothers, Daughters and More – Exploring the Kaleidoscope of Female Experiences in Geetanjali Shree’s Mai and Tomb of Sand

 


Mothers, Daughters and More – Exploring the Kaleidoscope of Female Experiences in Geetanjali Shree’s Mai and Tomb of Sand


Shubhangi Srivastava

PhD Research Scholar

Department of English

USHSS | Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University

Dwarka, New Delhi, India

 

Abstract:

Virginia Woolf, a pioneer of Modernist and feminist fiction, worked with the daily, internal experiences of ordinary people in her novels; wherein "thousands of ideas have coursed through your brains; thousands of emotions have met, collided, and disappeared in astonishing disorder” (Modern Fiction24). ‘Stream of Consciousness’ is the written delivery of this ‘astonishing disorder’ of our minds. Literature by/about women has popularly used the technique of ‘soc’ (stream of consciousness) to communicate the female experience (domestic as well as professional), emotions, and expressions.

Indian writers, such as Qurratulain Hyder and Anita Desai are renowned for using such writing techniques and expressing the ‘Indian’ woman’s experience (especially in the domestic sphere). The exploration of ‘female’ experiences can also be observed in the works of Geetanjali Shree. This paper will take into consideration two of Shree’s texts - Mai (her debut novel, 1993), and Tomb of Sand (her most recent novel, 2018). In both Mai and Tomb of Sand, Shree rejects traditional narrative style and objective characterization to convey the characters’ internal thoughts with fragmented association and dissociation of the plot. The texts represent the human ‘subconscious’ and ‘unconscious’ by employing ‘stream of consciousness' in the characters’ thought processes.

Mai is a story of mai (mother) in a North Indian family. Narrated from the stream of consciousness of Mai’s daughter, Sunaina, the novel is a brilliant study of Mai’s sacrifice of her own identity; to be a wife, a daughter-in-law, and a mother. Like Mai, Tomb of Sand is also set in a North Indian family. The  book uses ‘Stream of consciousness’ introduce new characters, and reflect upon diverse human relationships. Hence, Mai and Tomb of Sand are not necessarily governed by their plot, but by their rich, rather complex language, and diverse portrayal of its female characters.

The paper will, thus, aim to study Geetanjali Shree’s Mai and Tomb of Sand as texts facilitated by the stream of consciousness, the function of memory, the significance of time lapses in one’s life, and the complications of female agency in traditional Indian families. The paper will also study the similarities of transforming and stagnant femininities in the heroines of the selected Shree’s texts to explore the journeys of their evolving female experiences.

Keywords: Geetanjali Shree, Stream of consciousness, Feminist writing, Female Experience, Female Agency

American-British author Henry James, in his essay The Art of Fiction (1884) states that “the only reason for the existence of a novel is that it does attempt to represent life” (54). In feminist writings, this statement holds substantial significance. Western female writers, including Mary Coolidge, Ellen Glasgow, Dora Marsden, Virginia Woolf, et cetera, wrote extensively, prioritizing female individuality, and questioning the traditional systems of patriarchal oppression. In A Room of One’s Own (1929), Woolf suggests that writing has not been an easy adventure for a woman because no ‘common sentence’ is available for her use. The culture of writing has witnessed the dominance of men, whose sentences, be it Thakerey or Dickens, are laid end to end, following Descartes’ model of four percepts of method (The Discourse on the Method, 1637). Hence, by the time a woman thought of becoming a writer, all the previous forms of literature were hardened by male writers, but “the novel alone was young enough to be soft in her hands”.

In her 1923 review of Revolving Lights, Woolf praised Dorothy Richardson for using “the psychological sentence of the feminine gender”. Woolf believed that “observing the nuances of interpersonal relations constitutes women’s distinctive contribution to literature” (as cited in Jackson 153). Likewise, the Indian female novelist, as Meenakshi Mukherjee suggests, birthed the ‘realistic novel’ because of an intense tension between individuals and society. Similar to how her British counterpart had been educated for centuries by the gendered etiquettes of the ‘common sitting room’, the Indian female novelist is burdened with patriarchal conflicts in interpersonal and professional relations. Rejecting objective reality becomes essential because the world is not constructed for a woman’s comfort, and to do so “they must discard most of the conventions which are commonly observed by the (male) novelist.” (Woolf, A Room…47) A woman, socially united but personally conflicted by tradition and culture, experiences life multi-dimensionally. As a result, observance of character and analyzing emotion on her own terms become integral parts of the female writer’s study.

To write literature in ‘her’ style, firstly, a woman must write ‘herself’, to “return to the body which has been more than confiscated from her” (Cixous, The Laugh…7). Secondly, she must seize the occasion to speak to become at will “the taker and initiator” (of a literary practice). The woman must recognize reality in her own right. Because even on an ordinary day, the mind receives “myriad impressions - trivial, fantastic [...] like an incessant shower of innumerable atoms” (Woolf, Essays…6). When translated as literature, these impressions turn into streams of consciousness. Stream of consciousness (SOC), hence, arises from “the conception of thought, consciousness, and subjective life as continuous and flowing like a river rather than as being like segments connected” (James as quoted in Simpson’s book 81). In literature, SOC can be described through various narrative techniques, including interior monologue, psycho-narration, and Free Indirect Discourse (FID). As Gerard Prince defines it, “FID is usually taken to contain mixed within it markers of two discourse events (a narrator’s and a character’s) (as cited in Simpson 80).

In Geetanjali Shree’s Tomb of Sand (ToS), the book’s narrator accepts “that which is perceived in a state of semiconsciousness is true unvarnished reality.” (Shree, ToS 107). The narrator further asks us to “think of a story as a living being [...] In endless trances that evolved into tombs [...] The tombs turn to stone, then liquefy, then evaporate into steam [...] And that steam, too, can raise an entire story (66). The book’s SOC streams so freely that the narrator starts new discussions amid previous discussions, telling the tale of the red sparrow, detailing Jagdish Swaminath’s artistry, and more. Literary allusions to Krishna Sobti (to whom Shree dedicates the book), Kushwant Singh, Saadat H. Manto, et cetera, can be noticed, and Jorge Luis Borges is quoted to suggest that “stories and tales are dreams that create meaning as they move along. All is Maya.” (321).

The book’s unusual storytelling is supported by the narrator’sclaimthat “translation is not easy. Translation is a tricky business—tedhi kheer” (301), thus continuing the argument that stories contain meanings that are not always apparent. Processing the inner thought and filtering it to write down on a piece of paper is also an act of translation, indicating the trickiness of capturing captivating SOC, which is why “dhwani is the hardest thing to translate of all” (302). Because in a woman’s writing, melody is important. Woolf often aligned her writing with music, and used musical terms to describe her ‘literary compositions’. In Shree’s writing too, sentences seem permeable, encompassing an unchecked flow of thought, and emotion, flowing like melody, jumping from one ‘note’ to another. Therefore, the book is laden with multiple narrators, multiple points of views intersecting one another - first-person narration switching to third-person and vice versa.

But in Shree’s another prominent work, Mai (1993), the narration is entirely in first-person, by Sunaina aka Suni, mai’s daughter. Suni carries the book’s SOC, whose thoughts are predominantly preoccupied with the concern for mai’s well-being. As the book’s narrator, we are familiar with Suni’s career, affairs, and studies, but not who she is on the inside, since her narrations are limited to narrating mai’s story. There are instances where Suni’s own personality overtakes her SOC; “I got up and went. The trees and plants outside were beating their limbs, as it were, in agony. I thought of my institute, behind which the sea must be going mad.” 

But her train of thought immediately gets broken by a sudden thought of mai, as she notices;

 

When I saw the Gulmohar leaves falling, I saw in my mind’s eye mai’s back, before it had become so bent [...] shiny, shadowy split, like a branch. (Shree, Mai 144)

Yet, Suni’s first-person narration is obstructed by limitations, as observed when she is just as confused as the reader about mai’s old identity as Rajjo, as well as her lack of clearance on the mysterious bruises on mai’s body. In other instances, the narration also uses ellipses, as in the following paragraph; “She was in a minority, however, that pushed the parda open whenever she could. [...] The eyes became downcast, voice low, shoulders somewhat hunched…,” which more than suggesting a continuous flow of thought, confines the SOC, preventing it from flowing more, switching to a different topic altogether in the next paragraph, holding in information about mai’s character, thus, leaving the reader unknown to several aspects of her story. Suni’s personality also only sees complete control over her SOC after mai’s death:

The warmth of quilts was lovely. Lying in then we would listen to the noise of the city. It was the time for weddings. [...] evenings brought a strange feeling. Vakil uncle wore very thick glasses [...] why did we not peacefully accept things? (161)

Mai is, therefore, a bildungsroman, based on Suni’s memory of her childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Each chapter is not about particular occurrences, but a series of occurrences, taking place over periods of time, mostly centered around mai. Mai, as Suni accepts, was “mixed up in all my memories [...]” (107), which prevents other memories from existing solitary, without mai’s memory casting its shadow on them. The memory in the book is as a result, fragmented. Memory’s fragmentation further, though unintentionally, fragments Suni’s (including other characters’) individualities. Because Suni’s memories are essentially only about mai, other characters appear unchanging and flat.

The fragmentation of memory is also happening with ma, in ToS, rendering it necessary to “reheat the life she has lived, and serve it to her anew, through memory, through conversation” (47). The working of the mind is, after all, a “jalebi” (253); gaining, losing, storing information all the time. Curled up like a jalebi, memory can also shape-shift, presenting itself through various means, similar to how Bade retraces the memories of his mother (ma) in the form of the saris she has owned throughout her life, as they (saris) unfurl from his heart. Crows, who are narrators in this portion of the book, are surprised to see the “variety” (271) of saris, i.e. different facets of Bade’s memory. The book has numerous narrators, ranging from a crow to a neighborhood pet dog, to an unnamed attendee at the family’s party, to Bahu’s first-person narration. Different points of views provide sudden, but new perspectives to the book, adding depth. Their narrations (which might seem unnecessary at times) reveal the arbitrariness, irregularity, and peculiarity of life. The book’s unbelievability makes it more believable because it remains grounded in life’s reality. Because life is “not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo [...] surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end. (Woolf, Essays…6).

Questioning the matter of time, the narrator claims that “there was a time when all was fixed, and there was no zig, no zag. [...]” But now, “all of nature is plagued with confusion” (92). The confusion, here, refers to the contestations posed at the objective truth/s. The belief that time runs linearly is no longer valid, as time is perceived empirically as well as subjectively. Hence, -

Those who go on and on debating the hours weeks and months are those who believe in one hundred percent exactness. How to explain to these guesswork experts that the moment is gone, and when what how exactly and 100 percent truth are now lost in the rubbish heap. (141)

In his 1889 text, titled Time and Free Will, Henri Bergson, similarly, distinguishes an awareness that time is essentially split into two domains, i.e., ‘clock time’ (temps) and ‘psychological time’ (durée). In Mai and ToS, we see the application of durée more than temps, considering circumstances are psychologically perceived differently by different characters, while occurring in the same clock time, leading to different conclusions -

Who knows where a path will lead? If there were only one angle, one path, then the whole thing would be finished as soon as it started. But no: paths tangle and new horizons unfold. (129)

Furthermore, the ‘slipperiness’ of time (and other aspects), in ToS, allow the narrator to bend the fictionality of the book, as “stories often have huge gaps” (242). This experimentation is what critics refer to as ‘metafiction’. Metafiction, as defined by Robert Scholes, “assault(s) or transcend(s) the laws of fiction - an undertaking that can only be achieved from within the fictional form” (6). In one instance, the reader is provided with a wrong detail, which is corrected not by the narrator directly, but a sentence later, within brackets, as if provided by a different narrator -

But the absence of one idol made no difference—the puja flame twinkled in every picture frame and there was no wall in the house on which some form of a goddess or god was not installed. (Wrong. None in the bathrooms.) (106)

Other instances of metafictional approach in the book include the narrator purposefully (or not) defamiliarizing the reader with their position as the narrator. In one chapter, the narrator pokes fun at their narration -

Today’s program postponed as of now. Tomorrow we’ll reconvene at the same time, [...] Hey, shut up, speaker! Take away his mic! (103)

The book even addresses its fictionality by accepting that “these samadhis, these idols, they just won’t die [...] They remain seated in an attitude of meditation [...] and they stay covered as long as they are meant to be” (121), suggesting the subjectivity of literature, its relative acceptance by the reader, and the fate that is henceforth bestowed to it, because “stories and tales and lore don’t always seek to blend themselves with the world. Sometimes they march to their own blend. [...]” (487). But apart from accepting its fictional reality, it also stresses the truth that although fiction, the book is nonetheless rooted in reality. Because figuratively, it is a story where crows and dogs are narrators, yet in its unbelievability lies its true verisimilitude of life’s unpredictability. Thus, ToS is a fictional text that is true in its function and behavior -

People aren’t willing to believe that stories can be true. [...] But actually, what isn’t true are the stories that are flimsy versions of reality—which is itself considered true. (486)

In Mai, on the other hand, metafictional aspects are not actively observed. The story is rooted in the realities of the life of a conventional, married Indian woman. Yet, despite being closely associated with real life, the story is not as ‘incandescent’ as writing should ideally be, because “it is harassed and distracted with hates and grievances” (Woolf, A Room…54) towards patriarchal models of gender governance. As a writer, Shree often makes an appearance, instead of the narrator, allowing her “damn egotistical self” (Woolf as cited in Simpson 82) to overpower her writing. Consequently, the focus on the story’s characters falters. None of the characters can be said to have been adequately rounded, falling into stereotypical tropes of stock characters (babu-apathetic, dadi-dramatic, et cetera). Even the characterization of mai is not proper, as towards the end, mai is unfortunately dead, and the reader closes the book with not much knowledge about mai as an individual. The dimensionality of mai is limited to one (which can also be because of her description from another person’s narration).  For this reason, the ‘fertilization’ of the mind is essential, merging the gender spectrums, to birth androgynous writing. Shree, as a writer, overcomes this ‘lack of incandescence’ in ToS(written 25 years after Mai). What remains common in both books is their rootedness in the cultural realities of women in the Indian context.

In Mai, Suni once observes that mai “was more visible outside than inside” (87) - mai stores herself within herself, which is reminiscent of Mrs. Ramsay (To The Lighthouse) being “nothing but a sponge sopped full of human emotions” (Woolf, TTL39).  Mai is invisible in the eyes of her in-laws and husband. Her children attempt to filter her awareness but fail to realize that she has deeply accepted that her “absence is her existence” (114).  Such is the cultural conditioning that she ‘enjoys’ spending her labor all day, mirroring Mrs. Ramsay’s personality.  The death of mai’s individuality because of the oppressive culture is hinted at in the book when mai visits her estranged father and tries “returning to the center of her life”, and Suni realizes that in her life, “there was no place for us (Suni and Subodh, mai’s son)” (121). The role of motherhood, even womanhood, has been thus, forced upon mai. Not only mai but as Suni later observes, “behind dadi’s grand poses and bua’s harshness [...] there was a great silence.” (132). Even Suni, with her modern sensibilities, accepts that the “silence had become [hers] mine from before there was [her] me” (137). Therefore, they were not born, but rather made to become women and surrender to silence. And due to this ‘make-become’ aspect of female individuality, women - mai being one of them, give “rise to so many narratives, which all remain incomplete” (164).

In ToS, Ma’s presence is represented by silence, with only her back is visible to the reader for the first many chapters. She only reveals herself to the reader after the first 100 pages of the book are over, to announce to her family that she has become the ‘wishing tree’. It might seem as if Ma has found her life’s purpose, but it is not quite so. Ma’s sudden realization that she is the wishing tree is rooted not in her individuality, but in the conditioning that she has received at the hands of the culture, i.e. to follow the path of religious spirituality in widowed old age to attain salvation after death. It is only after Rosie’s death (ma’s close friend. Rosie, a transgender, is killed off in a property-related fight) that ma undergoes a true spiritual transformation, and decides to visit Pakistan, to fulfill Rosie’s wish, and to relive her own memories of a painful past.

In ToS, the conflict of traditional v/s modern is also explored, and troubles the daughter-in-law, i.e. the bahu. Bahu - an upper-class lady, married to a well-earning government employee - is a woman who wears Reeboks, attends aerobics classes, and hangs out with her group of girlfriends. Despite her life appearing seemingly troubles-less, bahu is seen lamenting that “my home has never been my own. [...] When did anyone ever listen to me?” (147). Her silent conflict with her husband, Bade, is important in determining her position as the typical, silenced, unheard homemaker.

Bade, the ‘man’ of the patriarchal household (Ma’s son and bahu’s husband), shares a traditional relationship with culture. Too awkward to visit her sister’s (Beti’s) house where ma is staying, Bade climbs up a tree to check on the old lady. He notices that his traditional Ma is wearing modern Beti’s clothes, which he labels as “bizarre clothing”, and worries that “she’ll fall, what happened to her saris!” (256).A few chapters later, Ma does fall. It has nothing to do with her clothes though, the doctor confirms. Yet, Bade is convinced that wearing sarees will bring peace to Ma and even mishears Ma saying “Bring me saris”, when actually, she is saying, “Bring me Rosie.” (154). Bade’s uneasiness with Ma’s modern clothing is representative of society’s collective uneasiness with women changing the dress ‘codes’ traditionally assigned to them, which supports Nira Yuval-Davis’ reasoning that “women are constructed as the symbolic bearers of the collectivity’s identity and honor” (as cited in Jackson 27).

On the other hand, Subodh, mai’s son, and Suni’s brother, frustrated with mai’s lack of initiation towards a less oppressed life, declares that the siblings have “turned a hollow thing (mai) into a goddess” (124), without understanding exactly why is mai resisting liberation in the first place. Subodh, as a male child in a patriarchal family, who is sent abroad to complete his education, cannot comprehend the depth of mai’s individualistic abduction by the culture. He simply wishes to project the portrait of a ‘modern’ woman onto mai, not attempting to tackle the system of oppression first. A woman’s worth, thus, remains bonded with culture, throughout her life. It is only after her death that her individual worth is realized, as Suni remarks after the passing of mai;

The house became a ruin. No one was left to look after that huge ancestral house and that farming and garden. (159)

Death, therefore, is central (and crucial) to the stories of both Mai (Mai) and ma (ToS). But the pain does not die with these female characters, because there have been “generations of mais who had done penance for others, made them successful, and considered that their own success” (63), only to get a conclusion as tragic as an untimely death in their own stories.

Problematizing ‘untimely death’, Mai claims that mai was never sick - “neither did she have fever, nor even a cold or sinus” (68). Yet she dies abruptly, leaving the reader befuddled. There is some sinister, hidden, possibly psychological parasite working as the silent killer, taking women away before time would naturally allow it. Mai’s death is as silent as it is sudden. Unlike ma, who gets a chance at rebirth (through Beti’s support), mai is not allowed similar privileges. Moreover, ma’s rebirth is also made possible because her cultural parameters are different than mai’s, considering that our latter heroine is more tightly clutched by patriarchy, culture, and tradition than our former one. And since “women’s identities are constituted as much by social class and other categories of identity as they are by sex and gender” (Jackson 26), the chance at ‘rebirth’ is not available to all women.

However, certain class privileges do not essentially erase the existential crisis, as after her husband’s death, Ma “had grown tired of breathing [...] she was tired of all of them [...]” (33). Navigating through her existence, Ma temporarily becomes the ‘wishing tree’. This is not her life’s ultimate purpose, but a distraction that slithers away gradually.

For Ma, “who for so many years had remained immersed in her motherhood, who had now forgotten everyone and everything”, “is this not a birth or a rebirth?” (159) - the narrator wonders. It indeed is -

 

That smile. Amma’s. [...] The smile of a newborn who sees the world for the first time and for the first time looks at another. (161)

In a spectacle of changing identities, the Beti becomes the mother, and the mother becomes the Beti - “Beti showers Ma with affection. What’s this gibberish you’re speaking. I’m going to record it. To play for all your kids.” (186). Here, the overturn of the ‘motherly’ dynamic is equally necessary for Ma’s rebirth, because without Beti’s care and support, Ma’s rebirth would lead nowhere. Even when Beti finds herself questioning Ma’s behavior while they are imprisoned in a Pakistani jail for supposedly crossing the border illegally - “And this woman? Who is she? A shape shifter with so many names homes tongues. Whom to believe?” (442). 

Closely associated with death is the relevance of the 1947 partition in the story. Ma, in a series of tales, where she narrates the stories from her youth (pre-partition) to tiny, colorful butterflies, makes the reader aware of the partition horrors. Forced to leave behind her family, her friends, and her first husband - Ma, whose name she reveals to be Chanda, relives the pain as if it is fresh still. While stepping inside her previous homeland, i.e. Pakistan, “she lay upon the ground beneath the sky, in her desired position, where no one could taint the splendor of her final moment by partitioning it between Hindustan and Pakistan” (489). Chanda’s eventual meeting with Anwar (her first husband) is captured beautifully -

His father’s hand was in Ma’s.

You didn’t come, Ma said, I forgive you. I didn’t come, do forgive me.

She stood and slowly placed Anwar’s hand on his chest.

[...]

There was a heart in the chest that was beating, and the warmth of it made the hand rise, approximating a gesture of farewell. Anwar’s hand had risen in farewell and from his lips softly emerged the word: forgiveness.

His son Ali Anwar heard forgiveness.

Nowhere is this night recorded. (485)

 

The book even begins with a discussion of borders -

 

This particular tale has a border and women who come and go as they please. Once you’ve got women and a border, a story can write itself. (16)

This discussion is elucidated by ma almost 500 pages later, comparing a border to a horizon, love, a game, et cetera. An excerpt goes as follows -

Border, Ma says. Border? Do you know what a border is? What is a border? It’s something that surrounds an existence, it is a person’s perimeter. [...] The beds of flowers in this yard. The borders of fields. The parapet around this roof. A picture frame. Everything has a border.

However, a border is not created to be removed. It is meant to illuminate both sides. You removed me. Should I leave? No. (456)

Hence, ToS (set several decades after the partition) provides an excellent study of the impossibility of complete destruction of loss and pain. Behind the child-like enthusiasm of Ma post her rebirth, an enormous pain is concealed, as is reflected when she concludes her discussion of ‘borders’ by simply saying - “Go. I feel sad. Many people have died.” (489). Ma’s closure is only gained when she is shot in the back by her first husband’s son, and instead of sprawling “face down in the mud, Ma flipped backward like she was somersaulting. She lay back on the ground in an attitude of victory, elegantly, face up, as though she was reclining on a soft bed, the sky her coverlet.” (18). Ma, who had only shown her back to the reader for the first 100 pages of the book, denies to show her back again. Falling on her back, she instead holds her chin up; dying proudly on the soil on which she was born, found love, and made unforgettable memories.

Yet, pain as a cycle returns. It may halt, it may pass by swiftly, but it never ceases. The pain of Ma’s death, surprisingly, is shown to affect the ace batsman of the Pakistani cricket team the most, who had been one of Ma’s jail guards during her time in the Pakistani jail. Then in Mai, we have Mai’s death affecting Suni.

Mai and ToS, moreover, highlight the conflict between traditional and modern women. Rooted in the patriarchal culture of Indian families, both novels present women as conventional emblems of culture, whose transgressions are not supported. Behind the systemic silence of these women (Mai and Ma) is another generation of ‘modern’ women on the rise.
Dora Marsden describes a ‘new woman’ as someone who emphasizes the identity of interests that all human beings have, hence, recognizing the equality among sexes, and actively rejecting subjugation. Popularly, it is misconceived that the ‘new’ woman stands against the ‘traditional’ woman. However, as observed in Suni and Beti, the ‘new’ woman is the most significant supporter of the traditional woman (Mai, Ma), wanting the latter to overcome oppression and prioritize her individuality. But since the traditional woman has known nothing but remaining silent, the modern woman, oftentimes, grows frustrated. When Mai is unable to speak up against her oppressive family members, Suni asks her angrily, “Why don’t you say something? [...] Why are you so weak?” (75). But as the person who observes Mai the most, Suni’s “disdain” towards Mai is filled with “tears. With disappointment.” (125). Suni, observing Mai’s silent resignation to customs, decides that she “will not be like her, giving and giving and pretend this giving is my taking.” (167). Suni is an aspiring painter, whose career moves ahead only after the respective mother/mother figure in their life dies, bestowing them with the additional motivation to resist oppression.  Even Ma, in ToS, is able move out of her cocoon and visit Pakistan because of the freedom she receives at Beti’s house. When Ma tells Beti, “You will be the one to go with me (to Pakistan).” (367), the trust she rests on Beti’s shoulders is because when Beti had run away from home, ma was the only person standing by her side -

Those two women hid at such times, frightened, chatting, glancing about anxiously, bursting with laughter: it was like the forbidden romance of the century—enough to bring tears to the eyes. (31)

Both Mai and Tomb of Sand, therefore, present very different stories, but with some similar empathies. Geetanjali Shree applies the ‘modern’ world’s/woman’s sensibility to the ‘traditional’ woman’s subjugation, revealing a rainbow of aspects of the patriarchal paradigm caught in between, exploring the limitations of female individuality and the requirements to reclaim it. The voice of the ‘silenced female’ is amplified, and effectively portrayed through Shree’s feminine vision and writing. In conclusion, the books are successful in underlining the ‘voice’ of the female, and Shree’s masterful writing is a substantial aid. Because in the words of Virginia Woolf, “any method is right, every method is right, that expresses what we wish to express if we are writers; that brings us closer to the novelist’s intention if we are readers” (Woolf, Essays…9).

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