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KABITA SINHA (1931–99)

Kabita Sinha was a poet in Bengali. Her poetry is innovative and startling, and her novels confront the dilemmas of women directly. She experiments with language in her works, and uses words in a modern, surrealistic fashion. Born in Kolkata in 1931, she was married, while still studying botany at Presidency College, to another writer, Bimal Raychowdhury, against the wishes of her family. She was involved in dissident movements in the 1950s. She addressed issues of woman’s place vis-a-vis man’s in poems like ‘Ajiban pathar pratima’ (stone goddess, all my life) or ‘Apamaner janya fire asi’ (because I crave your insults). She worked for All India Radio for many years, and edited a number of magazines. She also wrote under the pseudonym Sultana Choudhury.

She began as a novelist in 1956 with Charjon Ragi Juboti (Four Angry Young Women). Some of her best-known novels are: Ekti Kharap Meyer Golpo (Tale of a Bad Woman) 1958, Nayika Pratinayika (Heroine, Villainess) 1960, Paurush (Manliness, 1984, translated as The Third Sex). Her collections of poems include Sahaj Sundari (Simple Beauty) 1965, Kabita Parameshwari (Poetry is the Great Goddess) 1976. Of her later works, her Momer Tajmahal (The Wax Taj Mahal) is noteworthy, being an account of her grandmother’s life in nineteenth century style. Quote from her poem Ishwarke Eve is as follows :

‘I was the first
banished from paradise,
I learned
that human life
was greater
than paradise.
I was first
to know ‘
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