In all his five stories, the central character is a middle-class woman. These women are such who know how to think, know how to reason, know how to argue, know how to control (kill) their emotions. Our male society can be proud of these sacrifices and dedication of these women. It can be said that these women know how to protect public shame. She knows how to take care of the boundaries of the family. That is why it has to be said that these stories must be read by every man of this Indian society, who repeatedly reveres a woman as a ‘goddess’ and kills the female mind within her. Wants to see her only in the form of a goddess, as soon as she comes in the form of a living woman of flesh and blood, men remember their tradition, remember their rites and social norms start breaking.
While passing through these stories, the woman’s suffocation is introduced. Most of the Indian men are unaware of this suffocating world of women. You will find a woman suffocating in all the stories in this collection of Archana Sinha and you will suddenly feel that these women do not belong to any other society, absolutely your neighborhood and your home. All the stories of this collection have been published earlier in well-known Hindi magazines and have also been in discussion. The first story of the collection is ‘After that meeting’. After meeting its heroine Reva, you are astonished by the innate rationality of women and on that spontaneity her lover is weaving his arguments through the layers of doubt, eventually you must have done the same argument at some point in your life. The narrator has not merely resorted to dialogues to lift the mood of his characters in this story, but has described their gestures in full detail. Watch just these two lines of conversation between Reva and lover Vivek –
– “Not all your male friends, Reva, this friend of yours.” – Vivek said emphasizing on ‘this’.
– “Because I admire her intellectuality?” Reva’s eyebrows were starting to join. (page number 16)
In the subsequent dialogue, Reva is making her arguments and Vivek is seen tied in the frame of his beliefs and the reader continues to see Reva’s twinning expressions with Vivek’s masochistic beliefs. In this way it becomes open that the male mind has failed to understand the woman.
The second story of this collection is ‘Laut Kar’. In this story Manisha sacrifices her love for her mother and her father Amar and she gets married to a boy named Rakesh. Manisha compulsively followed her daughter’s religion from her values, but she is also firmly devoted to her love. She talked to her husband Rakesh about this on the very first night and decided that after some time she would spend her life with Amar. Here in Rakesh’s life also there has been a girlfriend named Kaithi. Rakesh also wishes to spend his life with Kaithi. So Rakesh and Manisha live together after marriage just like good friends. They take full care of each other, respect each other. But the situations become such that the previous love of these two does not last. Meanwhile, while living together for so long, Manisha and Rakesh start understanding each other to a great extent. Then both decide to live together. In the texture of this whole story, you feel that tension of family and family every moment and the pain of getting love. As traditional as its characters look, they are also tradition-breakers. The conflict between tradition and modernity in the characters is central to this story.
In the third story ‘Yeh Jo Hona Tha’, there is tension between husband and wife. Wife Divya has been informed about husband Shekhar’s extramarital affair. Divya’s silence keeps speaking in this entire story. When Shekhar realizes his mistake, he wants to return to Divya, but Divya’s silent retaliation speaks out assertively. She closed her room and started sleeping. But in later days he stopped closing the door of the room as well. Perhaps she has become free from all the hatred, humiliation, retaliation of her mind. The ending of this story is different from other stories in the collection. Divya cannot forgive Shekhar under any circumstances. The forced relationship ends with Divya leaving the house. When you come face-to-face with Divya’s world, her complete breakdown is visible there. You are left deceived to see that even after knowing about her husband’s extramarital affair, Divya neither screamed, nor screamed, nor quarreled, nor took any other step. He just kept silent. Such a silence that kept the dignity of the house. You can understand that the foundation of the boundaries of the house is formed by the suffocation of the woman. The building named Maryada is seen standing, so many desires of women are buried under that building.
The fourth story is ‘End of Story’. This is an incomplete love story. Shorter in length than the rest of the stories. The name of the heroine of this story is Devi. The author has only hinted about the appearance of this heroine that she is not as beautiful and attractive as her heart is beautiful. Devi, the heroine of this story, is always trying to establish herself with her work, by her behavior. She wants to become the goddess of sacrifice and surrender. It is a coincidence that his classmate Satish has come to work in his own city. After the old acquaintance, now the closeness has started increasing. Love has broken out in Devi’s mind. Satish also takes great care of her. But the story takes a dramatic turn and the protagonist goes to his hometown after getting the strings of his mother’s illness and ties the knot there. Here the reader experiences the beauty of Devi’s behavior and intellect, and her very warm-heartedness, all these must have been an attempt to cover up the masculinity of her face. From the quirks of love to the poignant ending of separation, this story takes you with utmost caution.
The thing that stood out the most while going through these stories is the spelling inaccuracies in the book. The proofs in this 120-page collection are quite a mistake. Obviously, the publisher did not get this work done by any professional proof reader. But this cleverness is not only harmful for the business, it is also very troublesome for the author. Hopefully these mistakes will be corrected in the next version.
In the five stories of this collection, the invisible world of women to which narrator Archana Sinha introduced the readers, there is suffocation, there is tension, there is conflict, there is compromise. A specialty of Archana Sinha’s writing is that her characters will make you see their surroundings, discharging family, social and moral values. But his ideology will create a new world. This ideology does not raise slogans of women’s freedom by tearing their throats. Rather, in a very quiet environment, very slowly, in a very soft voice, she will be seen opposing the values that hold women’s freedom hostage. You will be mesmerized by the decency of these female characters and agree with their rationality and want to bow before their rebellion.
The narrator of Archana Sinha’s stories brings the characters to life. He not only describes the dialogues or the environment, but also gives a fine-grained depiction of the inner conflicts and moods of his characters and leaves the task of analysis to the readers. In this sense, the story writer Archana Sinha does not seem to impose any beliefs, but simply presents the biggest rebellion of her characters, the serious to the serious compromise and the love that penetrates deep into their hearts through the narrator.
The final story of the collection is ‘Mat Jaao Neelkanth’. The heroine Vandana is a woman over 50, her husband works somewhere even after retirement. Neelkanth, a young man working in a pharma company, lives in the neighbourhood. This story opens very slowly on a psychological level. Layer after layer of love, conflict, tenderness, eagerness and restlessness – desperation is seen. When you go with the author in the world of Vandana, you will see a sky of Vandana ji’s own. In this part of the sky, Vandana ji flies unabashedly and uncontrollably. She keeps this sky hidden from everyone. She starts feeling it even in the absence of Neelkanth. But when Neelkanth starts returning to his city with his transfer, Vandana ji falls from his sky with a rage.
Remembering Vandana ji of Archana Sinha’s story ‘Mat Jao Neelkanth’, you will feel how love starts finding its place in the mind of a married middle-aged woman. How does a middle-aged and patient-serious woman become restless with the cries of love? How she wants to stop herself, and the more she wants to stop, the more she falls in love. After all, what does a middle-aged woman expect from her surroundings, what can be her aspirations, how does she churn the logic of right and wrong? You will find all these psychological aspects in the stories of Archana Sinha, but the special thing is that there will be no repetition in their description.
A hallmark of love and jealousy within Vandana ji of ‘Mat Jaao Neelkanth’, watch how her narrator conveys the impulse of love to her readers by describing situations – ‘Vandana ji looked really different. The people who came to the wedding also looked at him carefully. Not only the women living in the apartment, the young women also praised him. Answering everyone’s words, Vandana ji’s eyes inadvertently rose towards Neelkanth. She smiled lightly and Vandana ji understood, she had not forgotten about that day. ‘So he really saw my handsome looks.’ Despite not wanting, a satisfaction descended in his mind – like makeup being meaningful. Vandana ji was shocked in herself. He tried to focus his mind on talking to the women around, but his eyes would run after Neelkanth again and again. He was sitting two tables ahead with Verma ji and two men. Four or five girls were sitting at the table in front of him. The girl in front of him was very beautiful. She was talking with a lot of laughter. Neelkanth probably got attracted by the sound and looked there. Looking at that girl, he looked at the whole bunch and once again seeing that girl for two moments started listening to Verma ji. The girl laughed out loud again. Neelkanth raised his head again. Vandana ji started holding her breath. He felt a wave of jealousy rising within him. She was also a little angry at this thought, but she forgave herself. Where was everything happening according to logic these days. After a while Neelkanth looked at the clock and said something to Verma ji. He shook his head and both got up from the chair. Seeing Vandana ji looking at her, she pointed towards the food, then she got up apologizing to the lady next to her. And once again everything was fine. Neelkanth’s arm touching repeatedly with his arm in the line of food. Feeling the trembling of her tears, Vandana ji went ahead without taking anything on her plate once or twice. Every time Neelkanth reminded him to put or take it in his plate. Vandana ji kept smiling. (Page No. 110-111)
In this story too, this inconsistency of love eventually goes blank. Neelkanth returns to his hometown. And Vandana ji could not say even if she wanted to – don’t go Neelkanth. It has to be said that through a detailed analysis of the layers of the female mind, the readers can understand that women are Neelkanthi. She drinks poison every step of the way, but does not allow it to come down from her throat, keeping it in the light. But our society cannot see them or say that they do not want to see. This world of a woman is buried under many layers of her mind. And from outside we can only see that she is the idol of surrender, sacrifice, love and motherhood.
The three stories in this collection are very long, but not boring. The specialty of Archana Sinha’s writing is that when you start reading the story, the style of the story keeps you hooked and you want to complete these stories in one sitting. So in spite of being long in their size, these stories retain that interestingness, that flow and attraction which are the first condition of the text of the story. The way Archana Sinha has brought to life the middle class female characters in her stories, they remain recorded in the minds of the readers for a long time. It should be said that Archana Sinha’s story collection ‘Mat Jaao Neelkanth’ is really the story of Neelkanthi women.
Book : Don’t Go Neelkanth
Writer: Archana Sinha
Publisher: Bodhi Publications
Price: Rs 150