RIP Mahasweta Devi

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hjaaar chaurasi

VON pays tribute to the departed writer-crusader                  

Mahasweta Devi, Bengali author and activist, died on Thursday afternoon due to multiple organ failure. She was 90. The Magsaysay winner and Jnanpith awardee, Padma Vibhushan Mahasweta Devi’s writings focused on the marginalized communities in the country; she served as the voice of the dispossessed.

Hajar Churashir Ma, Draupadi, Breast Stories (translated into English by Gayatri Chakraborty Spivak), Rudali and more depicted the plight of dalits and the socio-economically backward, as well as women.

Born to a poet father, Manish Ghatak, and social activist mother, Dharitri Devi, Mahasweta was a documenter of the controversial Naxalbari movement and took part in the Singur-Nandigram agitation in the mid-late noughties that led to the fall of the Left Front government.

Many prominent personalities and political leaders—ranging from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to West Bengal CM Mamata Banjeree—mourned her death. While Banerjee called it the “loss of a great writer”, finance minister Arun Jaitley tweeted that her departure was “an irreparable loss to Indian literature and society”. Her contemporaries, including eminent writers Samaresh Majumdar and Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, also expressed their grief and condolences. Two years ago, Mahasweta’s son Nabarun Bhattacharya, who was a masterful writer himself, also passed away.

However, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj committed a faux pas on social media while expressing her sorrow at the writer’s demise. While saying that her works had left a “lasting impression” on her mind, she referred to the wrong books.

By Srishti Sonewal