In Malayalam, just one word is enough to tell a woman what she should or should not be doing. It’s this word that had writer/ playwright and teacher Poile Sengupta in full theatrical flow at the recent launch of her book Inga.
Inga focuses on the feudalistic, deeply patriarchal and oppressive towards women in Indian society, more specifically in Kerala and the Malayali diaspora. As a writer who loves to play with words and effectively uses colloquial slangs, Poile gave a humourous demonstration of her usage of Adakkam, the Malayalam word in a satirical manner.
Having written books for children earlier, city-based Poile Sengupta says that she felt, “that to be a complete author, one must write for adults despite the fact that writing for children is way tougher”.
Inga is her debut novel for adults, but Poile has in the past written hard-hitting plays for adults: Mangalam, Body blows, A woman speaks, Vikramaditya’s Throne and others, all of which have been staged to appreciative audiences. She has also penned Sliced Balls, a rip-roaring comedy on golf, married as she is to golf-addict retired bureaucrat.
With Inga, Poile enters “the crowded compartment of writers for adults” in the words of Sahitya Akademi award winner Shashi Deshpande, who released the book. While Deshpande likened the book to “a thick strong coffee”, Chiranjiv Singh, retired bureaucrat and former ambassador to UNESCO, who is a popular figure in the city’s cultural circles, preferred to call it “strong liquor”.
Veteran theatre artist Ashish Sen read out an enthralling poem on alphabets from the book while Lekha Naidu brought in her experience in women-centred work, in reading out the dialogues of the female characters Inga, Rapa and Aunt Kuppai from the book.