‘Shakuntala ra Jhia’: Book Review

Bhubaneswar: Survival is extremely tough yet essential for a woman, especially in a patriarchal society. However, women have survived and carved a niche for themselves today. Life’s difficulties seem feeble when confronted with such a woman’s dexterity. One such lady is the central character of Shakuntala ra Jhia.

Shakuntala ra Jhia is written by Dr. Iti Samanta, the chairperson of Kadambini Media and editor of monthly magazine Kadambini.

Shakuntala has few and far fetched happy moments and they are anything but alluring. As a reader, you start to feel her happiness as her own.

Shakuntala ra Jhia asks some very pertinent questions. Central character Shakuntala faces the unavoidable question of who the father of her daughter is. And this is asked repeatedly not just the society but also while filling school or just any other Government form.

If a woman can carry the baby in her womb, give life to it, then why can’t she give the legitimacy that the child deserves? Why does she need to put a father’s name in any form? Especially of a father who plays no part in the child’s upbringing.

There are many Shakuntalas and many Shakuntala ra Jhias today who face such questions on a daily basis. The book and the questions that the book raises has definitely shaken everyone to the core. And it is high time that we as a society answer the question because a mother standing by her child should be legitimate enough.

Writers’ and Critics Review

Renowned literary geniuses of Odisha were kind enough to provide with their feedback.

Famed writers like Satakadi Hota, Haraprasad Das, Gayatri Saraf, Bijayani Das, and Dipti Pattanaik gave positive reviews for the book.

Satakadi Hota believes that the book will definitely bring a positive change in society. This book brings out the struggle of a broken yet strong woman. He says that the writer has brought out the simplicity of a middle-class family from Odisha’s rural areas.

Haraprasad Das was amazed at the clarity with which the book was written. He adds that the narrative stunned him. Das points out how sensitively Dr. Samanta deals with sadder parts of the story.

Gayatri Saraf was impressed by Dr. Samanta’s way of writing on female-centric stories. She had first noticed the book’s story as a small story in the October 2014 edition of ‘Kadambini’. Saraf had loved the story back then and had made a point to write to Dr. Samanta and convey her wishes. She was extremely happy with the way the book has shaped.

Bijayini Das says she was so immersed in the story that she sometimes forgot that Sakuntala is just a character. Das said the writer has created Shakuntala with all the love and affection in her heart. And this is the reason that the characters felt so real that while reading Das could feel Sakuntala’s pain.

Dipti Pattanaik was moved by an ordinay lady’s (Sakuntala) fight with life where even biggest troubles give up against her grit. Sakuntala had to face poverty, domestic violence, heartbreak, loneliness- and yet her spirit was unbroken.  So much so that her tormentors give up at the end. Pattanaik adds that the story will most definitely inspire many such women in the society who faces hardships on daily basis.

Essayist Bauribandhu Kar was amazed at Dr Samanta’s hardwork. He praised her efforts. The fact she has two Odia novels within 5 years is not only commendable but also goes onto show her dedication.

Literary critic Alok Baral is full of praises for the book. He said that women have always have had a more difficult struggle in comparison to men. They have always fought for equality, and when they do, their intention is questioned. And yet women have proved their might. Baral said that this is a great novel in this context.

That a character could inspire and motivate down-trodden women of the society to take a stand for themselves is commendable.

About the Author

Dr Iti Samanta

Dr Samanta’s last book Niraba Alapa was received greatly by masses and classes alike. Shakuntala ra Jhia has made a great beginning for itself.

The book was released on January 14 on the occasion of ‘Kadambini Sahitya Mahotstav’ at KIIT Convention Centre, Bhubaneswar.

Dr. Samanta’s book Sakuntalara Jhia has become pretty famous in a very short period of time. It is receiving great reviews from general public.

Dr Iti Samanta received ‘Oupnyasika Kaliprasad Das Upanyas Samman’ award at the Annual 19th Rajdhani Book Fair, Bhubaneswar on Monday.

Also Read: ‘Kali Is The Mother, Shiva Is The Son’, Avers Eminent Writer Manoj Das

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