Obituary: Mahashweta Devi
Mother No. 1084
Dated: 28th July, 3:15 pm
Today afternoon onwards, whenever someone types your name in a search engine, phrases like “Mahasweta Devi passes away” are springing up. Aah! It almost feels like a breach of trust! Passes Away! What are they talking about? No one knows better than you how hollow it sounds – this “not being” is just a temporary thing and can never be applied to someone of your strength. The strength that comes from the innermost revelation – a resonance for the weak and the oppressed—the Lodhas and Shabars in your case, it weaves a cord – so sacred and tough that the face and fight of their entire generation and the one to come, changes.
Undoubtedly, it is the end of an era that marks a glorious and sometimes not-so-glorious but definitely unique journey, covering a political inspiration that continued to instigate the rebel inside you through the rise and fall of Power in West Bengal. That reminds me only the too obvious – that you never tried to shy away from your surroundings to “stay and feel safe” like many more, and keep silent in times of need – whether what you said was right or not is a different question altogether as it is a matter of perspective.
These are the few words that I would like to write to you personally. Hope you’re reading my letter right now and thinking, Oh! With such audacity you’re trying to analyse Me! But I’m not. I hope you agree that it takes a sense of completeness to remember a singularity, to carry it along one’s life, and your existence have been a phenomenon – a fire that I won’t prefer to name or contain within the traditional concept of womanhood. I can’t deny that being a woman I don’t feel the strong urge to credit it all to the inner power of a woman; but I won’t. Because, it has surpassed your legacy. Your death will be felt whenever a forester, a villager or an urbanite loses the voice for justice.
Mahasweta Devi was the daughter of eminent writer Sri Manish Ghatak – a frontrunner of the illustrious Kallol Movement. Renowned film maker Ritwik Ghatak was her uncle. She married the firebrand playwright Bijan Bhattacharya – a founding member of Indian People’s Theatres Association. Their marriage ended, however, their son Nabarun Bhattacharya tried to incinerate the utter middle-class hypocrisy through his radical writings till his end came in 2014.
Among her numerous writings and national and international awards,Mother No. 1084 set her as the winner of the most prestigious of all Indian awards – the Jnanpith Puraskar. Another feather was the Raman Magsaysay Award of Philippine. Her Right to the Forest based on the Munda revolution, was also awarded the Sahitya Academy. Diverse treatments have been reflected in Hindi films like Rudali, Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa etc. which were essentially based on her novels.
May the Mother Rest in Peace.