Posted at 10.29.2018
Mainly Divakarunis novels strengthen the basic existential approach of inner dislocation. The characters change their overstated self-consciousness and self-doubt. They are really essentially lonely beings plus they experience a severance from society. In that lonely survival they feel insignificant and threatened. They are anxious by the noticeable insignificance of existence. Hence, they explore for significance by imagining being unique. But even amid this make-believe individuality, they feel frightened and immaterial.
Divakaruni's writing is packed by her own practices as a first-generation migrant and a female between variable traditions and cultures. Her apprehension for females of her own heritage is broadcasted not only through her award-winning novels and short stories but also by her contribution with organizations; that's aim is to help South Asian American and South Asian ladies in situations of domestic violence and anguish, in the Houston and San Francisco Bay area.
In 1991, with several friends, she established a help-line to make available different sorts of services to Indian American women. Essentially the most essential things the help-line volunteers do is to listen and be a compassionate. She explained,
At Berkeley, I volunteered at the women's center. As I acquired more involved, I become thinking about helping battered women - violence against women crosses cultural borders and educational levels. Then, slowly, I focused on ladies in my community. 28
Thus, the theme of maltreated women, as we know, is important and comes again and again in a number of books; somewhat due to work she's done locally with domestic violence or ferocity. She expressed her personal experience and understandings in front of her readers via these stories. That's important for the autobiographical viewpoint also. We can certainly find the characters of autobiography in it. In her writing, domestic brutality is explored from many diverse angles. Inspired by the life span stories of these women, Divakaruni published a brief story collection Arranged Marriage (1995), which told us about their courage and their abuse. Set completely in India, a battered woman makes a choice to return to her abuser. That's same somehow in her further short-story collection The Lives of Strangers (2001). This collected work features tales occur America and India. Divakaruni clarifies the alterations of personal settings as a result of the choices men and women make at every phase of these lives. Therefore,
Beautifully told stories of transformed lives. Both liberated and trapped by cultural changes on both sides of the ocean, these women struggle fiercely to carve out an identity of their own. (SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA Chronicle) 29
In The Mistress of Spices, a female in similar circumstances, caused partly by her colonization, is take off at once from her entire support system of family and other women who might help her, and she's to make a decision. By the end of much painful thinking and trying out different things, she decides to leave the partnership.
The few protagonists in her novels are mostly unsettled facing a hostile world around them. The abandoning of the traditional linear structure of the novel provides them with the scope for padding her novels with a liberal use of archetypes, motifs, and symbols. There are also a few dream visions and sequences, that your writer uses to plan the inner suffering of her sensitive characters. Recollection of past memories causes terrific mental disturbances in most of the characters. It is because lots of the variances and agony suffered by her are rooted in some past happening, usually in the social surroundings. Her novels trace the changing patterns of civilization, especially because of migration. Chitra Banerjee is a keen observer of society and whatever she observed, we can simply find out in her works.
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni was born in 1957 in Calcutta, India. One of her prime reminiscences is that of her grandfather told her the tales from ancient Indian epics like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. She rapidly noticed that fascinatingly, unlike the male heroes, the main element relations the ladies had were using their lovers, sons, husbands, or adversaries. They did not have any important female companions. This subject would in the end become very necessary to Divakaruni's writing. The author was raised as and still she actually is a pious Hindu. She has developed with the components of the mythical tales, folktales, and the tales of magic. Though Divakaruni knows the Hindu philosophy; she has quote generously from Mahabharata in her novel Palace of Illusions (2008). She is not overall an extremely religious person but instead she uses her familiarity as an added adornment in her fiction. Divakaruni once explained her reason for writing,
There is certain spirituality, definitely not religious - the essence of spirituality - that is at the heart of the Indian psyche that finds the divine in everything. It was very important to me to begin writing about my own reality and that of my community. 30
The Palace of Illusion is yet a blend of modern concerns with the inheritance of the motherland. The Bhagavad Gita is at the center of the Mahabharata and it regarded as the epic which is most closely linked to Hinduism. The author could not deal with it in the novel but she positioned Krishna as Panchaali's guide, companion, and supporter from the beginning of her life. In fact, Krishna gives Panchaali messages from the Bhagavad Gita all the way through the text, but he works it into daily talk. In Divakaruni's approach, we can easily see the move from a customary religious view to a much enormous spiritual perception.
She used to spend her summer vacation with her aunt in Rourkela, a small town completely different in flavor from Calcutta, where she lived. She got the sense of religious customs in the company of her aunt. She shared her memories, "My aunt also taught me a prayer ritual, or vrata, popular among unmarried girls. This ritual involved a weekly fast, the gathering of certain leaves and flowers, the pouring of water over a statue of Shiva and a chant" 31.
Those activities are a very essential part of her life and we may easily depict it in her novels such as Sister of my Heart (1999) and Mistress of Spices (1997). In her publication The Mistress of Spices, she gave some enlightenment on the magical power behind the several spices and its own reference to spirituality. She also made an attempt to relate them with the holy spirits like Shri Ram, Shabari, Sita ma, and so forth. As,
For most of them at night I burn tulsi, basil which is the plant of humility, curber of ego. The sweet smoke of basil whose taste know on my own tongue, for many times the Old You have burned it for me too. Basil scared to Shri Ram, which slakes the craving for power, which turns the thoughts inward, away from worldliness. Further,
Fenugreek methi, speckled seed first sown by Shabari, oldest woman on the planet. 32
She discussed about the power of those spices and her attitude for the religious point of view is very much lucid. She could do justice with these examples only because of her childhood practices and her concern towards religion. She compared chilly with Lanka somewhere in the book and also gave a very keen and apparent description about Lanka's significance.
The dry chilli, lanka, is the strongest of spices. In its blister-red skin, the most beautiful. Its other name is danger. The chilli sings in the voice of your hawk circling sun-bleached hills where nothing grows. I lankawas born of Agni, god of fire. I dripped from his fingertips to bring taste to the bland earth. 33
In her another novel Sister of my Heart, we can notice the examples of her religious concern. She tried to give us an idea about the value Kalighat Temple as well as Durga-Puja. The religious culture which she predicted in her novel is very much close to Calcutta. Even the wedding ceremony was at Calcutta style. This city is worldwide well-known for Durga-Puja and their faith towards Ma Kali. They keep a good faith in God and a little superstitious also about any of it. There exists description of Bidhata Purush also in the book and he was considered as future maker of a newborn baby. One of the characters in the storyplot explained that,
The Bidhata Purush is tall and has an extended, spun-silk beard like the astrologer my mother visits each month to find out the actual planets have waiting for you for her. He is dressed up in a robe made of the best possible white cotton, his fingers drip light, and his feet do not touch the bottom as he glides towards us. 34
Thus, all these instances somehow make her works close to autobiography.
Divakaruni is persuaded that the written word is very important to preserve and remembering the annals, that is why she started writing in the first place. She spent a lot of years of her life in India, from then on she moved to the United States to study at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. Writing was definitely not an anticipated part of her but it could have potted her identity. Later on she moved to California to pursue her doctorate in English literature at UC-Berkeley. Chitra Banerjee was looking to get settled into her life in the us when her grandfather died. Following this episode she recalls, "I realized [then] how much I had forgotten already about India and life there. I started writing as an action to prevent myself from forgetting. It had been an extremely personal thing" 35. And so she started her writing profession.
But her books are often set in her dearly loved new home, the San Francisco Bay area. She doesn't only turn to days gone by; in fact, she endeavored to incorporate her knowledge of the migrant experience with her familiarity of an diverse and wealthy setting. Though she is presently teaching literature at the University of Houston, but nonetheless she and her family prefer to spend their summers back in California. Thus, she actually is writing about the locations where she spent her life. She says,
For major characters, I do stay within the city, because that's what knows best. There are the people I understand more so than people I would see or meet from the outsides. And there's always something calling me, too, to the Bay Area. That's the place I know best; that's home. I know its hills, the streets, the markets, the smells, and the sounds. So I can write with more authority. The other place is Calcutta, because that's where I've spent the majority of my time when I'm in India. Both of these places have an emotional resonance for me personally. 36
Divakaruni's writing is stimulated by her own practices as a first-generation migrant and a female, who always lived between traditions and cultures. Her concern for women of her own inheritance is broadcasted not only through her award-winning novels and short stories but also her association with organizations that's aim is to help out South Asian American or South Asian ladies in the situations of domestic abuse and distress, in the San Francisco Bay area and Houston. Children's schooling in India is another important interest of hers. She's also given a good range of child literature. The group of The Brotherhood of Couch and Neela: the Victory Song are an outstanding example of it.
In her essays, she has given information regarding the incentive behind her novels, a few of which are linked to her own life-changing practices in North America, while others are definitely more personally linked to her reminiscences of India in addition to the custom of folk tales and myths offered from generation to generation. As an engaging lecturer, she has frequently examined her own writing in the milieu of modern-day literature. Students at a number of universities both in the United States and abroad continue steadily to examine her works within the framework of American Literature, women's studies, South Asian studies, postcolonial theories, and other interdisciplinary approaches. She said in one of her interviews,
My first model and influence, from while i is at graduate school, was Maxine Hong Kingston. I had been much taken by her text THE GIRL Warrior. The themes of recreating identity, immigration, family stories, changing roles of women, racial conflict, and myth all resonated beside me. I wanted to use those to my background and the stories I needed grown up with, as well as the stories I ran across, residing in America. I used to be also influenced by Bharati Mukherjee, especially her exploration of race and multicultural relationships in books like the Middleman and Other Stories. Novels such as Jasmine and Desirable Daughters, which explore the changing identities of immigrant women, though in the context of a far more violent world, intrigued me. All of these would become important themes in my own work. 37
We have discussed several points in this chapter to determine autobiographical factor in the works of Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. She observes around her surroundings and whatever she learned, she expressed it into her writing by her magical, spiritual and unique style. Either it is direct or indirect the writer is linked with her own stories.
For more than twenty years now, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni has been telling stories of Indian women from her home in California. Her women are desperate, wonderful, complicated, lyrical, memorable, even magical. Chitra's women experience love. Loss and longing through tangled marriages, bitter divorces, childbirth, abortion, abuse, violence, racism, poverty and riches. Now, Banerjee Divakaruni returns to a fantastic world, inhabited by kings, queens, villains and sorcerers". 38