a league of extraordinary gentlewomen

I have been reading Ira Pande's Diddi .
My ICSE Hindi syllabus and the 2 nd language Inter syllabus included short stories by Gaura Pant Shivani . I had always thought the writer was male
It was only after moving to Lucknow that I discovered the writer was actually a lady living in Gulistan Colony down the road from MG Road where we lived .We shared the same circulating magazine library in the form of one Pande ji , a scrawny balding gentleman with a fine nose and a dirty janeyu peeping out of his starched kurta shirt ( these used to be kurtas with collars and cuffs, like shirts ). He used to carry the magazine Desh in his bundle and I discovered that a lady called Shivani used to read it - little questioning later revealed that the lady in question was Gaura Pant Shivani . Pande ji always had good things to say about her which was saying a lot because it cost him a lot to even smile

The book is a remarkable tribute not only to Shivani but also to her mother and her sister Jayanti - the prose is spare but lyrical and evocative - it is the story of everywoman and her mother - I can draw parallels from it to my relationship with my mother and the change of feelings and sentiments as one grows older and understands the other person as a woman with feelings and emotions and not just as a mother .

Daughters are often harsh and judgemental ,unable or unwilling to accept their mothers ' frailties . Ira Pande transcends this so beautifully in her analysis of her mother's feelings and emotions woman .Given the subject matter ,the book might easily have degenerated into a piece of maudlin mawkish sentimentality which it doesnt. It doesnt even teeter on the edge of sentimentality .

Wonderful wonderful writing, one of the best books I have ever read and a marvellous tribute from one woman to another .

P.S. - If anyone knows Ira Pande you might do her a kindness by telling her she can collect her maasi's lost photographs of Santiniketan from my cousin !


Patient Portnoy said...

Was it? That great? Your review was no less "Wonderful wonderful writing..."

Will make a note of the last request

Tabula Rasa said...


aftab pande said...

you can get in touch with ira pande at i'm sure she'll be interested in those pictures. thanks.

Parul said...

I agree completely with your review. Having worshipped the woman as a writer for many, many years, I could suddenly see facets of her that even her most personal writing had not revealed. More people should read Shivani, I always say but then I am just a deranged, rabid fan.

Unknown said...

Just read this book. Had never ever heard of Shivani ( Gaura Pant) loved it and love your review. How unfortunate that such good writing,both Shivani's and Ira Pande's, have not been well known all over India.