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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A pink marriage on paperback

By Ashok Pradhan -

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'.


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