On Tuesday, May 9, Kerala-based author and freelance journalist Sree Parvathy, took to Facebook to announce the sudden change of venue for the release of her upcoming book ‘Meenukal Chumbikkunnu’.
‘Meenukal Chumbikkunnu’, which means fishes are kissing, is an upcoming book centred around the theme of two lesbian lovers and how they hide their love from the society in which they live.
The book was scheduled to be released on May 14, 2017, in St Teresa’s College in Kochi. The author’s friend, Mohan Das, who had arranged for the college’s auditorium as the venue, said: “It’s a book written by a woman about two girls. All the guests for the book release event are women. We thought that it would be wonderful if we could release it in a women’s college.”
In her Facebook post, Sree Parvathy said: “Lots of people have supported me through messages and phone calls. For all those who asked, here is the reply: St Teresa’s College was the first venue decided for the book launch, they had agreed to it. In accordance with the same, we printed the brochures and invitations. But today morning, upon enquiry, the officials informed me that since the topic of the book is love between girls, an all-girls college cannot permit for such a book launch. I cannot officially blame the authorities because a private institute has a right to refuse.”
While it is true that the institute has the right to refuse, the question being raised by the author is why would the institute revoke the permission, which had been granted earlier. She raises this question in her post as well – “But why do they fear such a topic? I believe that love is the greatest feeling, irrespective of the gender. What gender difference do souls have? What gender difference exists once we lose our bodies? It’s all nice to talk on a different level. A state like Kerala even today is not ready to talk about lesbianism out loud. If a college like St Teresa’s which has progressive thinking students, thinks in such a manner, the state of a common man can be imagined.”
Different explanations have reportedly come from the authorities of the college. The principal, Sajimol Augustine M, told the Deccan Herald that the permission for the event was denied, but she was not aware of the reasons for the same. At the same time, the head accountant Sister Magi, however, told The News Minute that “Permission had been denied as maintenance work was being done in the auditorium.”
Additionally, Mohan Das also told The News Minute that “…it was not possible for them to provide the auditorium as they can’t accept the theme of the book. The nuns, who are handling the college administration told me that their superiors had denied permission. One of the nuns asked why we had not informed them about the story and that the Bishop was unhappy with them”. The author is also of the opinion that the permission was revoked after the authorities read the brochures circulated by them describing the content of her work. While the new venue for the release has been finalised as Children’s Theatre (opposite St Teresa’s College), the question of why did the college revoke its permission remains to be speculated.
Translation of the Facebook Post by Dhanya Mallar, Student of Law, Symbiosis Law School.