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Taking Off The Veil

Dharker draws from a wellspring of incisive intelligence with an undertow of emotion...

Taking Off The Veil
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+0553
I Speak For The Devil
By Imtiaz Dharker
Penguin Rs 195; Pages: 128
As in her first two volumes, Purdah and Postcards from God, Imtiaz Dharker's dominant theme in her new book is the omnipresent subjugation of women and the bridging of her own displacement and division between varying cultures. The tenor is still graciously insistent, but now there is a more direct vivisection of gender issues, and a deeper engagement against sectarian politics: A sweetly offered garland/blows off someone's head./I wasn't the one who did this./Ask the men carrying/holy books.

Dharker draws from a wellspring of incisive intelligence with an undertow of emotion to map the contusions inflicted on the feminine psyche, its avowal of rebellion and redemption. In Honour Killing, she writes, I'm taking off this veil,/this black veil of a faith/that made me faithless/to myself. Only occasionally does she lapse into rhetoric as in Announcing the Arrival, but for the main, her internal cadences are both fluid and sharp, her tone never falters into sentimentality.

Dharker, who was born in Lahore, grew up in Glasgow, and worked for several years in Bombay, has been an adroit amalgamation of several cultures. She puts it crisply in this singular image: The fingers on my hand turn/ into forks.

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