Sunday Special: Womb of Fireflies
The “Womb of Fireflies” is the first debut fiction of 22 years old, Ambika Barman, who entitles her writing journey for this novel as long as two and a half years. She holds a graduate degree in English Literature from Ramjas College while she is a second-year, an MBA student in Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Delhi.
Why the title of the book was questioned?
When questioned regarding the title, she explains that womb for her means the creation, where the Sundarbans is the creator, existential location for the natives, the little, bright yellow “fireflies”, natives of Sundarbans. She clearly mentions that Sun, the urban or sub-urban humans remain, still those fireflies her own people with lack of better opportunities do exist.
What is the book all about?
“Womb of Fireflies” is certainly Ms. Barman’s undertaking about a new unaccustomed place. After all, no writer before her has written about G-Plot and those humans of G-plot, one of those islands. There are 52 inhabited islands approximately in the Eastern Part of Sundarbans (Indian Region), while the rest 82% comes under Bangladesh. So, the geopolitics of the region was the main attraction, where her main focus was to bring affront a new region, which just exists in the Indian Map without much existence in terms of acknowledgement.
The reason this novel took her so long was due to merging various elements of Literary elements like aspects of Feminism, Rumi’s inspired theories of understanding human’s detachment from own roots, inter-community marriages, she even re-accounts dramatic Dickensian events in the “Great Expectations”, which inspired her to write.
Plus, she has used an immense amount of metaphors to express the human emotional details in characters, beautiful scenic, who revolves around three locations Sundarbans, Kolkata, and Delhi amidst three different timelines. After all, she has the capability to make you imagine the entire place, scenarios, and locations as you go along those constructive lines. Apart from being an avid writer and reader, she is a trained singer and sketch artist.
This fiction starts through the eyes of the author, who is the daughter of Alok. While the protagonist is Alok, whose birth, and the journey starts in G-Plot, the southernmost island in the Sundarbans is the first son of Hari and Pranati. Here, Hari is a school teacher in the local village school in the G-Plot while Pranati got married to him at an age of ten, child marriage back in the 1960s was common and predominated in their culture. In case, a girl wasn’t married till the age of 15, her entire family was abandoned by the community. Mother-daughter emotions, sexual intimacy without consent after all Pranati never understood consent at such an age.
Then, Alok’s brother, Alokesh, who bore a part of his name was born. His mother naturally was biased towards Alokesh, a better understanding of motherhood comes with age. Then, for better opportunities, Alok leaves for Kolkata, though even his father, Hari went to Calcutta University he returned after getting the degree. But, Alok rather went ahead, detached from roots and comes to Delhi. Here, after struggling for a couple of years with errand work his life founds stability. While back in Kolkata, his beloved, Snehalata, whom he has loved and dated for the past seven years informs him about his father and brother’s forced to marry her off. That’s when both of them, decides to elope and he takes her to Delhi. All detached from roots, memories of Hari until Hari expire and they have to return to the roots for a short duration.
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