Sahitya Akademi award-winning Gujarati author Kundanika Kapadia, the author of Saat Pagla Aakashma – a seminal work on the theme of feminism in Gujarati died on April 30 at her residence in Nandigram in Gujarat. Here is a tribute to her legacy and influence.
“મારું સઘળું છે – માની જીવનને સ્વીકારીશ :
મારું કાંઇ જ નથી – માની મૃત્યુ માટે તૈયાર રહીશ. ”
– પરમ સમીપે
Gujarat lost one of her literary great Kundanika Kapadia on Thursday, April 30. She died at her residence in Nandigram Ashram in Vankal village, situated in Valsad, Gujarat at the age of 93. Addressing Kapadia’s ill health and the cause of her death, one of the persons associated with the ashram said, “She had received treatment for intestine cancer in 2018 and was leading a normal life after that. However, her health deteriorated in recent days, and she breathed her last this morning”.
Kapadia was born in 1927 in a small town Limdi in the Surendranagar district. She completed her Masters in Political Science from Mumbai University. Kapadia published her first book, a compilation of short stories titled ‘Premna Ansu’ in 1954. Over her writing years, she penned various influential tales in her collection of short stories, like Vadhu ne Vadhu Sundar (1968), Java Daishu Tamne (1983) and Manushya Thavu (1990), along with some inspirational novels like Parodh Thata Pahela (1968) and Aganipipasa (1972).
Her most influential work came in the form of the novel ‘Saat Pagla Aakashma’ (1984). This novel received love and appreciation both from the critics as well as the readers. The book traces the story of a housewife who leaves her constrained marriage and dominating husband, who chose to rebel and not to submit, to pursue the life of her dreams. The book is considered a seminal work on the themes of feminism in modern Gujarati literature.
” વસુધાએ રેતીથી મુઠ્ઠી ભરી અને પોલી આંગળીઓમાંથી સરવા દીધી.થોડીક પળોમાં આખું જીવન નજર સામેથી પસાર થઇ ગયું….
બધું કાળના પ્રવાહોમાં વહી ગયું હતું.હવે સામું હતું હિમાલયનું ઊંચું શિખર અને એની ઉપર તારાઓથી ઝળક્તું આકાશ.”
– સાત પગલાં આકાશમાં
The novel was perceived by many as controversial, as it attacked the deep-rooted patriarchal mindset of society. The story gave voice to the frustration and pathos of the repressed women in society, a first by a woman writer in Gujarati. Eventually, the novel went on to win laurels, highest among them the Sahitya Akademi Award for Gujarati in 1985.
Kapadia was married to Makarand Dave, a venerated Gujarati poet, Both of them founded the Nandigram Ashram in 1959 near Valsad in the state of Gujarat. The ashram is a sanctuary of spirituality, far from the chaos of Mumbai, they also serve the downtrodden tribes living in the vicinity.
Kapadia continued her exploration of philosophy, music, and nature through her numerous short stories. She looked for inspiration from works of Dhumketu, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Rabindranath Tagore, Shakespeare, and Ibsen. In 1987, Kapadia published a collection of selected short stories, ‘Kundanika Kapadia ni Shreshth Vartao’, further enhancing her position as a vital storyteller of the era. Later in 1993, she published ‘Akrand ane Akrosh’, a biographical work that told the tale of her life. Her compilation of prayers ‘Param Samipe’ is till date used by people as the go-to book for prayers. Know more about her work and life in this documentary by Late Shri Subhash Shah.
Kapadia had an enthusiastic nature and lived life to its fullest. Future generations will fondly remember her for the stand she took for the women in the society and for her short stories that contributed towards the enrichment of Gujarati literature.
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