Tuesday, October 08, 2013


I am unable to understand if two adult males or two adult females want to live together, what is the offense? Without talking about morals, God, culture, custom, religion and traditions, can someone explain exactly why do we disapprove of such relationships? What more you add to the lives of two people, to whom we would force to adjust, adopt, and accommodate for the rest of their marital relationship? Is it not better in the long run to ‘try before you buy’ instead of two married adults living in constant pain, stress, and suffering? And divorce is also not recognized as a prestigious and general social norm in the case of Hindus or Catholic Christians, yet society accepts plural marriages (though illegal in the eyes of law in case of Hindus and Christians and legal in the case of Muslims) for males while plural marriage of a woman is still a reverie in any society.

My Odia novel ‘Asamajik’ (2011) is probably the first novel in Odia literature to relate with such same sex marriage and it is based on a true story of a tribal lesbian couple of Koraput, a backward district of our state. In its Feb 22, 2011 issue, Times of India reviewed this novel as below:

A pink marriage on paperback

BHUBANESWAR: The LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) revolution is no longer restricted to metros like Delhi or Mumbai. It is touching all nooks and corners of the country.

Asamajik', an Oriya novel on the subject of homosexuality, which is among the very first and few Oriya novels to talk about same-sex relationships, was released at the Bhubaneswar Book Fair on Friday. The book tells the story of China Mali and Phula Mani, two girls from an obscure village in remote Orissa. Childhood friends China and Phula became life partners. Phula leaves behind her loving husband and escapes a rape attempt by another man before uniting with her lesbian partner, China.

Asamajik' would loosely translate to unsocial' in English. "The novel is more about an emotional relationship and bonding rather than about sex between two girls. While talking about sexuality, I have talked about mind over body," the author of the novel, feminist writer Sarojini Sahoo, said on Sunday.

While talking about homosexuality, Sahoo, an Orissa Sahitya Academy Award-winner, said, "Western feminists talk primarily about sexual attraction between the same sex couple. But there is much more in a homosexual relationship than just that."

The plot of the novel has been deliberately given a rural setting as lesbian relationships are as much part of rural life as urban, according to Sahoo, who was listed among 25 exceptional women of India by the Kindle' magazine of Kolkata. "Is lesbian relationship prone to porn or erotica? Is there no role of socio-economic status of society or the role of patriarchal society?," questioned Sahoo. She currently teaches in Belpahar college under Jharsuguda district. "I was inspired to write about lesbianism from an incident in Koraput where two village girls had fought social odds to get married," Sahoo said.

Asamajik' has been released by publisher Prachi Pratisthan. Sahoo's earlier novel, Gambhiri Ghara', which describes an unusual relationship between two people, a Hindu housewife from India and a Muslim artist from Pakistan, has been translated into Bangla and published from Bangladesh in 2007, under the title of Mithya Gerosthali'.

Sunday, October 06, 2013


    Joanne Arnott                                           Sarojini Sahoo                               

In response to my essay ‘Saga of a feminist writer’, my poet friend Joanne Arnott shared her experiences. She is a M├ętis/mixed-­blood writer and arts activist living in Salish territories, based on an island in the mouth of the Sto:lo River (Richmond, BC). She has lived in the lower mainland for thirty­-five of her fifty­-two years. Mother to five sons and one daughter, all born at home, she is poet, essayist, activist, mentor and blogger. A founding member of Aboriginal Writers Collective West Coast, Joanne facilitated Unlearning Racism workshops for many years, and continues to apply peer counselling and storytelling strategies in her work in the literary arts. She has volunteered with The Writers Union of Canada (National Council 2009–2010), and currently is a member of the Author’s Advisory Group of The Writers Trust of Canada. She has published seven books, all well reviewed, with Wiles of Girlhood (Press Gang, 1991) winning the Gerald Lampert award.

She has her blog at http://joannearnott.blogspot.in/2012/05/joy-constance-three-poems-by-connie.html

Readers can compare the experiences of two writers living in opposite sides of a globe.