Gayatri Majumdar’s new novel A Song for Bela talks about the pain of repressed memories
In her mid-thirties, Sara who encounters strange voices in the spare room of her house embarks on real and imaginary journeys of self-discovery. Giving voice to the traumatised, Gayatri Majumdar, in her debut novel, A Song for Bela embraces a narrative close to surrealism to portray the conflicts of a traumatised person, within and outside.
At the book launch in Puducherry recently, the author read out the exchanges the protagonist has with the voices from the spare room of her house, which she calls the blue room. These other-worldly creatures — ‘hallucinations’ — are catalysts that help her come face-to-face with what was too painful for her to confront — memories she has been trying to suppress for a very long time. “The blue room is the mental space of the protagonist where she encounters her past that she had repressed. This is the room of the protagonists’ memories of her mother who suffered from mental illness,” she says.
She adds: “Every one of us hears voices within us and deals with constant thoughts that are not real. Lot of people escape from reality and this story is about encountering it. I have known and met so many people who were abused and been through traumatic experience.”
Explaining why she chose this narrative for her novel, Ms. Majumdar says that the primary reason was to give voice to the traumatised. “We repress so many things, shove it down and not face them. The room is the subconscious world of the protagonist portrayed metaphorically,” she says.
“I feel obliged to tell the story of women who go through trauma. The author writes about the experience of people during partition, who have been estranged with the old ways of life. “The conflict we have outside can be resolved only if we address the conflict we have inside. I think peace making has to happen within in spite of everything,” she says.
The book was launched by poet, playwright, translator and columnist Anju Makhija, who also engaged in a discussion with the author.
Gayatri Majumdar’s first anthology of poems – Shout – was published by Sampark, New Delhi. Her poems, short stories, and articles have been published in numerous newspapers and magazines in India and abroad.
When in Mumbai, Gayatri worked as a journalist at Press Trust of India, The Independent, and Debonair (editor, Poetry Page) and was also associated with the Indian Chapter of P.E.N. In New Delhi and Noida, she managed large teams of copy editors at Macmillan and Cenveo. She also worked as an RJ at the All India Radio in Mumbai.
The Harper Collins Book of English Poetry by Indians featured some of her work. Besides, her poems appeared in A Hudson View, Poetry International Web, Indian Literature, Big Bridge, Open Space India, and The Sun Collective. A Song for Bela is her first attempt at writing a novel. She is putting together her second volume of poetry which she hopes to publish later this year.
Source: The Hindu