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Ashapurna Devi, a traveler on the path of light

by Afonso
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‘There is so much light in the world, but why are the people of the world so dark?’ The one who said this, her name is Ashapurna Devi. Fictional hope. Her father did not allow his daughter to go to school, as the matriarch Harendra Gupta did not have the courage. His mother had the wrong idea – girls are saved when they go to school! However, despite not going to school, Ashapoorna learned to read by listening to them while sitting in the room where her grandparents studied. Apart from this, he read the books of famous writers including Bharat Varsha, Bangdarshan, Basumati, Sabujpatra, Sandesh etc. at home. That is why even though he could not go to school and college, the books, periodicals and daily newspaper pages of his home library opened a huge window in front of his eyes.

In the light and air that entered through that window, Asha realized how much it is necessary to remove the darkness in the human mind in order to live well. But the crooked darkness of this world, the complexity does not allow people to go to the path of light. So he said, ‘Family crushes people, especially girls. Whatever sweetness, whatever tenderness, whatever mold is in it, rubs away and dulls it and leaves it dry and dusty.’ But Ashapurna herself is proof that the sweetness inside all women cannot be dulled.

At the age of fifteen, Asha was married into a conservative family. But family, kitchen and pantry could not suppress his talent. He used to write while doing household chores. He wrote many books. In novels and short stories, he has painted a vivid picture of women’s life, happiness-sadness, pain, discrimination-deprivation and protest against it. Along with himself, the lives of people around him became characters in his novels. The character of Subarnalata’s grandmother or mother-in-law in the novel ‘Subarnalata’ has some similarities with her grandmother. As seen in the novel, Subarnalta’s grandmother and her mother-in-law are strong representatives of patriarchy. They spoke against women’s education there. Ashapoorna has hit the spot with her writing and character creation.

Subarnalata was married off by her grandmother against her mother’s wishes. Subarnalata’s mother Satyavati left the world because of that insult. The time mentioned in the story of the novel Subarnalata, at that time, a woman’s leaving her family means audacity. But Satyavati showed that boldness. He left the family and chose the life of a teacher and lived with his head held high. Although Subarnalata had to endure the thorn of censure for her mother’s abdication all her life. However, Subarnalata also fought against the ugliness of the world, against the darkness.

An open balcony is required to ensure the access of light and air necessary for women’s lives. So in the novel, while building a new house, Subarnalata tells her husband, ‘I want a south balcony chai-i chai.’ And his mother-in-law Muktkeshi heard that and said, ‘Bapu never heard that a woman can say chai-i chai.’ But Ashapoorna left by saying that with Subarnalata’s face.

Ashapurna has written hundreds of books and received many awards. But it was not easy at all. By facing many thorny situations, he succeeded himself and paved the way of light for the posterity. Today is his birthday on January 8. I offer gratitude and respect to this enlightened woman on her birthday.


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