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troublemag | September 18, 2021

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Deep Trouble #7: Manisha Anjali

Deep Trouble #7: Manisha Anjali

with Dr Mark Halloran

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Indian-Fijian poet Manisha Anjali was born in Suva, the capital of Fiji, and we begin by discussing the importance of familial and national history in the development of works such as Sugar Kane Woman. Here is the hallucinatory vivid memory of meeting her great grandfather for the first time at his funeral; the free man who had fled Rajasthan and stowed away on a boat from Calcutta to Fiji, his body covered by tropical flowers and cotton buds in his nostrils. We discuss the British colonisation and indenture that began in 1879 and ran until 1919 in which Indians were tricked into coming to Fiji with visions of paradise, when the reality was slave-like conditions where they were forced to work in the colonial sugar cane plantations and refineries. Manisha talks about the plight of Indian women in Fiji at this time who she says suffered from a kind of double colonisation; from British Imperialism and the Indian patriarchy. Manisha also recites her poem Song of the Crocodile which is about three historical Indian women and describes their courage in the face of the hell and sacrifice that is represented by indenture. We also discuss the mysticism of her grandmothers and her own secular obsession with religion, Hinduism, mass worship, the importance of symbols, Jungian archetypes and the collective unconscious. We finish by talking about death, grief, the acceptance of the heartbreak of loss and her casting off of the traditional role of the Indian women, her ‘liberation from love’ and how she feels marriage reduces a woman.

Like what you hear? Listen to all of the Deep Trouble interviews we’ve run to date.