Originally published in Gujarati as Vaad
Imprint: Zubaan Books, 2015
Author: Ila Arab Mehta
Translator: Rita Kothari
About the book
To understand what communalism feels like to those who have felt its fetid breath and sharp claws, one must not read social scientists, but seek out writers like Ila Arab Mehta, portrayer of FateemaLokhandwalla and her brother Kareem, two human beings looking for that most basic of human needs– a roof over their heads, in a country that prides itself on being secular.
About the Author
Born into a family of writers, Ila Arab Mehta is a renowned writer of Gujarati literature with many of her works included as part of university curriculums across Gujarat. Her BatrisPutli Ni Vedana is considered to be the first feminist novel in Gujarati literature. The Gujarati SahityaParishad along with the Gujarat and Maharashtra SahityaAkademi have recognised and awarded her work.
About the Translator
Rita Kothari is the author of Translating India:The Cultural Politics of English, The Burden of Refuge: Sindhi Hindus of Gujarat and Memories and Movements: Borders and Communities in Banni, Kutch. She has also translated numerous works, including the Dalit novel Angaliyat: The Stepchild, Unbordered Memories: Partition Stories from Sindh and Fence, a novel based on religious segregation in Gujarat. She is also the co-editor of Chutnefying English: The Phenomenon of Hinglish and Decentring Translation Studies: India and Beyond. Kothari currently works at the Humanities and Social Sciences Department at the Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar.
Like any child of eight or nine, Fateema was not particularly interested in understanding her life and family or the conditions in which they lived. Her Bapu wore a chequered lungi, at least when he was home. Ba sometimes wore a sari, but most often a loose salwar kameez, her head always covered with a dupatta. When other women in the village fasted and participated in festivals, Ba would be busy grinding. This did not seem strange to Fateema. On one or two occasions, Fateema had asked her parents if she could go to the temple for the evening aarti with her friends Naveen, Vinay, Indira and Jeenal. Her Bapu had simply said, “No, it’s just not done.”
“Our religion is different, that’s the way it is,” he had added. “Not everyone is alike. Are all trees same? Some are tall, some are not. These are Allah’s miraculous ways.”
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