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Sunday, August 22, 1999

Arundhati talks Narmada to Delhi college students

Sunetra Choudhury  
NEW DELHI, Aug 21: The flower-power days were forgotten long ago in the Delhi University. But their long-dead ghosts were brought back when Arundhati Roy, fresh from her `Rally for the Valley', came to the Lady Shriram College to talk to the girls about her tryst with Narmada activism.

Far from the glare of the flash bulbs and journalists' prodding questions, Roy got an opportunity to speak to a crowd that mostly consisted of adoring fans, who were just glad to get a glimpse of the woman who got the most revered prize in English literature the Booker. The talk was part of the month-long festival `Virasat '99' of Spic Macay, featuring talks, films and seminars and with the objective of creating awareness among the youth about India's cultural heritage.

The power cut did not discourage the girls who filled the auditorium much in advance. Before she arrived, the girls were engrossed in various kinds of discussions like the content of her novel The God of Small Things ``Were some parts like the incestuousrelationship not appropriate for Indian audiences?''

What was distinctly audible was the buzz that went round when she did enter the place --``She's so pretty!'' one gushed and there were similar comments on her frail structure and her frizzy, untamed hair.

The 40-minute talk was totally aware of all the flak and the laurels she had received for her essay about the Narmada, `Greater Common Good'. ``I start off personally and end politically,'' she said at the onset. Arundhati profusely apologised for her inability to stay long to answer questions. ``I am terrible at speaking loudly and that is one of the reasons that I became a writer.'' She put the personal note by explaining how it was after she achieved success with her novel. It was an emotional outpouring. ``The initial success was very gratifying.'' She said, ``As a writer I could not close my eyes and look away; to retain my humanity, I had to share what I had got from The God of Small Things.'' She explained how this was the time when the SupremeCourt lifted the stay on the Sardar Sarovar Dam and somehow, reading about the subject and talking to people about it, opened her eyes.

Copyright © 1999 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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