Organizer: Upasana BanerjeeContact the Seminar Organizers
Untangling the Complexity of Body and Agency: The Deconstruction of Silence in Lajwanti
Indian conservative society has always been oppressive of women’s freedom by associating the morality of women with their body. After the partition of the Indian Subcontinent in 1947, many women were abducted and raped by men from opposite religious and national identity. This process of abduction was compensated by Congress politician Mridula Sarabhai’s propaganda of bringing those women back from Pakistan and rehabilitating them back to their families. In this specific context, my paper explores the consequences of those abducted women in Postcolonial Indian conservative society after their rehabilitation through eminent Urdu author Rajinder Singh Bedi’s Lajwanti. The protagonist of the story Lajwanti is abducted by Pakistani Muslim men and her husband Sunder Lal tries to bring her back through his active involvement in contextual political and social propagandas. As Lajwanti returns, Sunder Lal becomes anxious over the fact that his Lajwanti was not malnutritioned, questioning that the agency of Lajwanti’s body has transitioned from his hand with Lajwanti’s mutual acceptance. To “naturalise” his agency and dominance in their intimate marital relationship, Sunder Lal silenced Lajwanti positioning her narrative similarly with Sita’s abduction from Ramayana. It portrayed how the Indian patriarchal system could not digest a woman’s sexual activity over their knowledge or interference. My paper tries to explore the silence that was responded to by addressing the lives of Indian women within the intersections of sexual desire and morality. Furthermore, my paper would try to understand how women in post colonial society broke through that dominance of patriarchal agency over their body in a subtle manner preceding the path of future feminist discourse in India.