Won’t You Stay, Radhika? – Usha Priyamvada


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After her widowed father marries a younger woman, Radhika’s world falls apart. She feels betrayed—the emotional and intellectual bond that she had forged with him since the early death of her mother breaks with that sudden marriage. To escape the unbearable situation at home—the growing rift between her and her father—Radhika moves to Chicago to pursue her master’s in fine arts. She returns to India two years later, burdened by a sense of alienation and homesickness, only to realize that while nothing had changed in her country, everything had. The family that she had longed to be reunited with barely acknowledges her arrival. The sense of belonging is missing, leaving her in ‘an emotional state of in-between-ness, of universal unbelonging’. As days pass, Radhika is paralysed with ennui, which tinges all her relationships—romantic or filial. So she lies on her takht, bored, immobile, uninspired…

An extraordinary chronicler of the inner lives of the urban Indian woman, Usha Priyamvada is a pioneering figure in modern Hindi literature. Won’t You Stay, Radhika? , first published in 1967, expertly explores the stifling and narrow-minded social ideals that continue to trap so many Indian women in the complex web of individual freedom, and social and familial obligation. Daisy Rockwell’s sensitive and skilful translation brings this poignant Hindi novel to a new set of readers.


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