New Delhi: A Google Doodle commemorating what would have been Mahasweta Devi’s 92nd birthday has been released on 14 January 2018.
The Indian literary icon passed away in July 2016, at the age of 90, and was accorded a state funeral by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who said: “India has lost a great writer. Bengal has lost a glorious mother. I have lost a personal guide. Mahashweta Di rest in peace.”
The Google Doodle depicts Mahasweta Devi’s portrait, surrounded by the faces of the people whose cause she championed — through her books and in life. The tribals, the downtrodden and the oppressed — those whose stories weren’t considered worth narrating, these she made her own.
“The reason and inspiration for my writing are those people who are exploited and used, and yet do not accept defeat,” she once said.
Born in 1926 in Decca (what is now Dhaka) in British India, Mahasweta Devi was the daughter of literary parents — her father Manish Ghatak was a poet and novelist, her mother Dharitri Devi was a writer and activist. Her uncle was the filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak. Mahasweta herself decided to pursue English literature, gaining a BA and MA degree in thr subject; she taught at a Kolkata college (after trying out various other jobs like working at a post office, selling soaps and letter writing).