Shashi Deshpande On Being Belittled For Writing About Women And Persisting Through Male Entitlement
- IWB Post
- June 10, 2019
At a time when the burgeoning writer’s community of the country was writing about the new India struggling to rise from its ashes, Shashi Deshpande stood alone as a distinctive literary voice, writing of people and things which were way ahead of the time.
It was the time of Salman Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh, and the like. Owing to her humble beginnings, Deshpande found it hard to survive among the well-to-do lot with an illustrative family pedigree and the luck to make it to all the big academic parties and felicitations. She did not even own a typewriter.
“In the 1990s, I saw writers becoming stars, and I realised that I could not be one of them. I was from a small town. I had not studied abroad. I had few contacts. All these things go into the making of an English writer. I was completely on my own,” she recollected in a recent interaction with The Indian Express.
However, Deshpande came from a family that taught her to stick to her values and never back down. “My sister and I were never told that we could not do something because we were girls. We were quite wild. That was something I have wanted all my life: freedom,” she shares.
Amidst the desolation of a writer’s world that wrote of India and its problems from a Western perspective, Deshpande wrote of women charting their own paths and creating their own destinies. She took a diversion from the mainstream narrative, paid the price in the form of a long and hard struggle to be heard, persisted nevertheless, and showed us all how believing in your voice is the answer to it all.
Today at 80, Deshpande knows that the journey has been worth it. In her recently released autobiography Listen to Me, she takes us through her journey as a writer, the flak that she received for writing primarily about women, and how she navigated through a world of male entitlement and well to do literacy honchos.
Speaking about the book, she shares, “For years, I have been saying things about‘women’s writing’, about Indian writing in English – but they were ignored…I was belittled for writing about women…So I thought this book is where I am going to have my say.”
H/T: The Indian Express