Nirakshariya Atmakathe by Sushila Ray
Translated by G. Kumarappa
Navakarnataka Publications, Rs. 55
Sushila Ray's life: got married at nine, had no children till she was 15, she began to educate herself at 25, and just when husband was stepping into a second marriage she conceived. What better language than one's own mother tongue can capture a life full of emotional twists and turns?
When Sushila Ray's autobiography appeared as “Ek Anpad Kahani” it was not edited (only grammatical errors were corrected).
But on reading the translation, one feels it deserved to be edited and what remains is a mere reportage, with neither the force nor the passion of the original.
Urmila (Sushila), was dark complexioned and ordinary looking. Moreover, she couldn't conceive. Under these traumatic circumstances, Urmila decided to become literate. The thought of writing about her travails came after she settled down is Calcutta.
All happenings – even if recorded in a diary – do not merit the place in an autobiography. It is the story of a woman born into a lower caste family of a backward district (Madhubani, Bihar) evolving into an articulate individual. Changing her name was perhaps the right thing to do, but there was the need to cut down on the detailing. The last 15pages could have been condensed. It lacks the flow of an autobiography and reads like a collection of diary notes.