December 6, 2023


Connecting Asian writers with global readers

Essay: A Sparrow on a Cow Horn by Rifat Abdullah

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pile of covered books

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In this essay, Rifat Abdullah takes us through various pieces of literature as he dwells on gender politics and its representation.

Special Mention: Developed from the term paper in South Asian Literature course instructed by Sudeep Chakravarti

Sumana Roy’s poem ascribes the title above as “destiny’s bisexual perch” in her poem ‘Every Girl is Dinner’, inspired by Swati Moitra’s photograph of Vishwavidyalaya metro station at North Campus, Delhi University. Let’s try and picture her writing the poem at the station; the station becomes a cow horn where Roy is perched as we transpire into a metanarrative of gender politics in modern South Asia for a passing grade.

“On a moonless summer night”, confides Gazala Wahab, in the introduction of her memoir Born a Muslim, her great-grandmother was sleeping on a charpoy lain down on the floor that was dragged away in her sleep, not because she was a woman but because, as the father-in-law explains, she was in the way, and that she must be considerate of others. The man calls for a family intervention at dinner the next day instating the axiom that, “One must always be clear which side one is on”. That house where Wahab and her grandparents lived at the time was adjoined with a Mazar, there where lies a sacred sepulture where pilgrims come by to pay their homage, is consecrated by “the presence of a noble spirit”; the spirit that dragged the grandmother in the dead of the night writes Wahab, teaching her young being about thresholds for tolerance and co-existence. That is a good start to a memoir that can hurt and a queer one for an essay that can cry, not for help, not a war cry, but for emancipation, or for ransom.

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