Beyond Sentimentality: “Tale” of an Alternate Bhadramahila Refugee

Sarbani Banerjee
The Open Humanities Press (OHP)
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In this paper, I read Sunanda Sikdar’s memoir Doyamoyeer Katha (Doyamoyee’s Tale, 2008, Bengali) and study how an East Bengali immigrant woman presents her perceptions beyond the nationalistic history as well as the key motifs of Bengali refugee past. I examine the development of Doyamoyee’s heterogeneous identity and emphasize the importance of revisiting stereotypical and canonical artworks produced by the immigrant bhadralok, through juxtaposing these works with non-bhadralok refugee experiences. The mainstream writings have emotionally used the Partition memory and repeatedly tinted everyday realities of rural East Bengal with identical clichés, whereas Sikdar’s writings, as I argue, are based on the absence of typified emotive tropes. By understanding the category to which Doyamoyee belongs and studying her heretical perspectives, this paper demonstrates the difficulties of confining her identity into a fixed category of refugee-ness as belonging to the middle-class.