Shivani was the pseudonym of writer Gaura Pant (1923-2003). Shivani attained cult status in the Hindi literary world in the 1960s and ‘70s and was awarded the Padma Shri in 1983. Her book Apradhini, written in Hindi and now translated by her daughter Ira Pande is a collection of stories of ordinary women with extraordinary pasts.
Apradhini carries stories of women Shivani had met on her visit to women’s prison. It is a story she heard from the inmates’ mouths and what drove them to the edge to take law in their own hands. The book is divided in three parts and every story is gut wrenching and heartwarming. Part 1 has stories of the inmates while part 2 and 3 has stories of women she met in the normal course of life. Each story is fascinating and is non judgmental.
The book will keep you hooked and at most times make you sympathise with the women and the situation they face. Some of my picks from the book would be Muggi, Chanuli, Pagaliya, A mother’s prayer, Dhuan, Ama and Naseem.
The stories have been sensitively written and are packed with emotions. Some stories brought tears to my eyes and made me want to stop reading but also at the same time wanted me to continue reading.
It is a pity that I wouldn’t have been able to read these stories or any of Shivani’s work if it wasn’t translated. Lots of great work written in regional languages definitely deserves a wider audience. Translation of such work should be actively encouraged and pursued.
The book is a very interesting read and I look forward to reading more of Shivani’s work.
About the Author:
Shivani’s other best known works include Chaudah Phere, Krishnakali, Smashan Champa, Rati Vilap and Vishkanya.
Translated by: Ira Pande:
Ira Pande has worked as a University teacher, writer, editor and in television. She is the editor of the IIC Quarterly and the author of critically acclaimed Diddi: My Mother’s Voice. She was awarded the 2008 Vodafone-Crossword Indian Language Fiction Prize for her translation of Manohar Shyam Joshi’s T’Ta Professor.