From the Other One to the Only One: Prabha Khaitan and Her Autobiography
Keywords:Hindi literature, dalit literature, autobiography, feminist writing
The article examines autobiography of Prabha Khaitan with reference to plausible global and cross-regional inspirations, and studies the narrative to track down some of the author’s individual strategies of constructing the narrative self. Prabha Khaitan enters into a discussion with autobiographical texts of global and cross-regional importance. Apart from being a prolific Hindi writer, she combined multiple roles of a feminist, an intellectual, an entrepreneur, and a philanthropist in her lifetime. Her autobiography reveals various, often contradictory, identities illustrating thus a fairly liminal and dynamic positioning of a woman in the contemporary Indian society, which results from the interaction of various factors. Khaitan accounts her life as that of a rebel against social norms and breaks ‘the aesthetics of silence’ (Ritu Menon’s concept) imposed on women of her class and caste. She both challenges and to some extent complies with the dominant orthodox discourse on womanhood by introducing the imagery of the archetypical female divinity, both Satī and Śakti, which also explores much more subtle and entwined coexistence of women’s submission and subversion.
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