JRLJ Issue no. 2 Feb 2017
Sometimes the universe does conspire. This time, it conspired without any design on Rochelle’s or my part, to make this an issue which puts the spotlight on women.
The two authors - Jayanti Naik and Roanna Gonsalves - may at first glance seem to be worlds apart. One is a Hindu Goan and the other Catholic. One writes in Konkani and makes rural Goa her central character. The other is an Indo-Anglian writer who maps the lives of immigrant Goans. Yet, they are bound by that shared element – change – by which we are all fashioned and refashioned into the people and societies we eventually become. And so, in the stories they tell, the woman is confronted with progressive values which question her conservative dogma, her sexual propriety bends in the wake of sexual discovery, she fosters the safety-net of female solidarity but is thwarted by that womanly instinct to moralise and conform. She is a complex being who masturbates, menstruates and navigates her way out of the labyrinth of patriarchy. The sexuality of their female protagonists is not depicted merely for affect: to sensationalise, fetishize or eroticise. Rather, it is that clever and rare thing - emancipatory. A full chapter excerpted from Naik's book The Salt of the Earth is included here as well as a review of the book. And Roanna Gonsalves's interview has her talking about the influences which inform and frame her work, the Goan Catholic milieu, female sexuality, and the violence wrecked by systemic patriarchy.
Writer Jessica Faleiro’s skit ‘Unmatched’ explores the uncharted waters of online romance in ten short Acts. Faleiro’s delicious dark humour serves to remind me of the constant negation of womanhood that takes place on social media. Not only has anonymity enabled men to indulge in rampant abuse of women but it has also enabled them to reduce sexual relationships to their bare minimum – that of momentary gratification. Poet Mrinalini Harchandrai’s exquisite verse and ruminations on her mother and grandmother’s lives, completes our fiction line-up for this issue.
Two other fortuitous finds dovetailed seamlessly: Edgar Silveira’s kindly depiction of the Goan aunty series in watercolours, which had first caught my eye several months ago, and Christine Russon’s savage dissection of the ‘Goan aunty’ trope in art and the popular imagination – a hideous stereotype used to diminish the contribution and self-worth of the Goan woman. Also featured is a chapter from the book Goan Pioneers, which sheds light on the lives of pioneer Goan women in East Africa at the turn of the nineteenth century.
The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Joao Roque Literary Journal. They are here in the spirit of free speech to evoke discussion.
Content © Joao Roque Literary Journal.
Images featured on this page © Carmen Miranda.