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DU Love: How 24 Young Authors Explore Love In Its Myriad Dimensions In this Book

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By Somrita Urni Ganguly:

“I hate all these people…I hate them because they’re young. I hate them because they’re talented. I hate them because they’re fresh. As I read these stories, I could feel my hatred growing.”– Shovon Chowdhury

In his delightfully amusing ‘Foreword’ to the book, Chowdhury, author of The Competent Authority, sums up exactly why one must procure a copy of D.U. Love, the latest to be published by the avant-garde Vigilante Publications. Edited by Sami Ahmad Khan, Research Scholar, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and author of Red Jihad: Battle for South Asia, this book is a collection of twenty-four cross-genre love stories located in the hallowed portals of Delhi University. D.U. Love was launched on September 3rd 2014 at Hindu College. The anthology includes the prize-winning stories of the “DU Love” Competition (adjudicated by Chowdhury and Angelie Multani, Associate Professor, IIT Delhi) held in March, this year; ‘Moon’ by Rosheena Zehra, ‘Define Love, Divine Love’ by Anisha Sen, ‘She Loved Poetry as Much as a Cat Loves its Own Fur’ by Jayati Das and ‘Jocasta’ by Somrita Ganguly.

du love

Love, they say, is the essence of life — hence we cannot help but play on. To love, they say, is to be on fire — hence we cannot help but burn on. The twenty-four young authors — students of DU and JNU — through their cross-genre short stories explore love in its myriad dimensions. They see love not only as a fulfilling, satisfying emotion but they delve deep into its seamier side as well – its madness, its all-consuming passion, its violence, its doubts, fears, trials and tribulations. Explaining the concept behind the contest, Khan Salman Mohd., Assistant Manager, Vigilante Publications, points out that they were aiming at newness with this competition, “We wanted to give the students a chance to play with ideas and I am extremely happy that the entries surpassed our expectations.”

The authors, in this anthology, also, fascinatingly blend the genre of romantic fiction with — yes, hold your breath — science fiction, thriller, horror and mythology among others. Sami Ahmad Khan says that it was a conscious decision on the part of the Vigilante Publications to come out of puritanical subjects and ways of writing and ask authors to contribute cross-genre short stories, which blend love with other narrative forms, fusing different story-telling modes, because they were seeking to “do something novel, to experiment, to synthesize, to create newer forms, while giving fresh voices a stable platform.” Khan beams as he makes a case for DU’s first conscious attempt at cross-genre fiction — “There are no losers when genres are fused — only winners!”

du love1

DU, dear readers, and fellow scholars, will never, therefore, look the same again, nor will falling in love with and in DU be the same — with these psychotic killers, wronged lovers, avenging ghosts, rising dead, cold vampires, talking cats, infected zombies and unfair gods loitering in the D-School canteen or walking down the quiet corridors of Hans Raj, the familiar banality of your everyday setting is bound to now appear a little creepy, a little eerie, a little extraordinary. Writes Chowdhury in his inimitable style, “Why were the characters so fascinating? … All I ever had in college was bread pakoras and cheap cigarettes. Each new story was like a dagger through my heart. I was barely recovering from ‘Moon’, when I was attacked by ‘Jocasta’. Just when I thought it was over, along came ‘Define Love’.”

An anthology of this sort is always welcome. It gives voice to the hitherto unheard. Arghya Sengupta, whose short story ‘What killed Manas Srivastav’ finds pride of place in the book, is excited about his first literary publication. “When I write”, opines the second year student, studying History in the Delhi College of Arts and Commerce, “I write to be published. Vigilante Publications provided me with an excellent opportunity to showcase what I love doing the most. When I see people buying the book that I have contributed to, my morale gets an enormous boost.” With at least some publication houses, coming out of the clutches of corporate market forces and trying to tap in the wealth of talent that this city is a storehouse of, and helping to channelize this vast reservoir of creative energy, the future of our literary endeavours looks decidedly safe and happily quirky.

You must be to comment.
  1. atul choudhary

    I like this book very much. Good luck to the 24 young authors of DU and JNU.

    1. Urni

      Thank you, Atul.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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