Dr. Sarojini Sahoo.
A Dark Abode.
Indian AGE Communication (India). 07-10-2008.
Cover Artist: Ed Baker. Translator:
Mahendra Kumar Dash. Novel. ISBN: 978-81-906956-2-6.
The Dark Abode (ISBN 978-81-906956-2-6) is a collage
presentation of south Asian feminist novelist Sarojini Sahoo‘s
novel and American poet / painter Ed Baker’s 23 sketches.
Baker’s Uma is a collection of sketches of the Hindu goddess,
also known for feminine power. The Dark Abode is
the English translation of Sahoo’s much-acclaimed Oriya novel,
Gambhiri Ghara, first published in 2005 in magazine form and
later published in book form. A Bengali version of the work has
been published by Anupam Prakashani Dhaka under the title
Mithya Gerosthali (ISBN No :984 404 287-9) . The
writings and the sketches have been masterfully woven into one
work and compliment one another.
novel deals with the terrorism that people often face from the
micro to the macro sphere. It begins with questioning the mere
physicality of the man-woman relationship but then transports
the reader into the higher planes of platonic love. The central
character of the novel is Kuki, is a Hindu woman from India who
falls (and then rises) in love with a Muslim artist from
Pakistan. The unusualness of the socio-cultural background of
these two characters is delicately portrayed by Sahoo in a
sensitive and convincing manner. Readers become familiar with
the two sets of roles that Kuki plays; that of a lover and that
of a wife. Sahoo subtly balances these two roles and at the same
time, highlights the superiority of a wife in a pragmatic world.
But the novel is not merely a love story. Though love is a part
of the novel, it deals with a much broader topic: the providence
of a woman in India. At the same time, it also portrays a story
of how a perverted man, over time, becomes a perfect man. It
also delves into the relationship between the ‘state’ and the
‘individual’ and comes to the conclusion that ‘the state’
represents the moods and wishes of a ruler and hence, ‘the
state’ actually becomes a form of ‘an individual.’ Additionally,
it takes a broader look at terrorism and state-sponsored
Eminent Bangladeshi Feminist writer Selina Hossain writes about
the novel that “not following the traditional paths but by using
many incidents, happenings in the contemporary world,
Sahoo has defined the world of woman in her novel under
review. She has shown how the lives of men and women are so
disjoined that there remains no place for deep sympathy and
sketches have their genesis as images in a dream, according to
Baker. Uma, to him, is symbolic of many things that give us
pleasure in life. As to how these images are realized, the
artist confesses he is just not sure. “I just watch and wait for
something to happen...and something always does,” he says.
It is said in the Saimdarua Lahiri that Uma is the source of all
power in the universe and because of her; Lord Shiva gets all of
his powers. She is often depicted as half of Lord Shiva, the
supreme god, and she also is a major symbol of female sexuality.
Her name refers to her being born daughter of Himavan
(Himalaya), lord of the mountains. Beautiful, gentle, powerful
consort of Shiva, mother of Ganesh, Kartikeya, Saraswati and
Laxshmi, she encompasses their powers and exudes a tranquil,
serene beauty and provides a calm within. Uma is a symbol of
many noble traditional (Hindu) virtues: fertility, marital
felicity, spousal devotion, asceticism and power. She refers to
the symbol of early feminine power and energy. Known formally as
goddess Uma, Lady of the Mountains, she shows us how to balance
the many aspects of our lives. Beautiful and (benignly)
powerful, she is also known as Shakti, Parvati (consort of
Shiva), Ambika,Annapurna, Bhairavi, Candi, Gauri, Durga,
Jagadmatai (Mother of the World), Kali, Kanyakumari,Kumari,
Mahadevi, and Syama.
Sahoo is an Indian feminist and author. She usually writes
her short stories and novels in Oriya and her critical essays in
English.  In addition to being a college professor, she is
currently an Associate Editor at the English magazine Indian
Age. Dr. Sahoo also has a blog ‘Sense & Sensuality,’ where she
discusses her ideas about sexuality, spiritualism, literature,
and feminism. She has published 23 books ; three in English and
20 in Oriya.
Baker is active in many mediums of art from drawing to writing
to sculpture. He describes himself as self-made and not
belonging to any ‘schools’ in the mediums in which he works.
Baker essentially began his artistic endeavors in earnest in
1998. The prolific author has published eight books and
countless poems published in leading publications in the medium
The Dark Abode is as powerful as any of Sahoo’s most
popular creations. Like in all her other masterpieces, this
novel will not betray her characteristic of being a feminist
writer and is sure to peak the interests of both new and old