Micro Interview with Purbasha Mondal

Returning with another micro interview with Purbasha Mondal, she discusses with World Inkers Network the role of education and poetry in her life and what both offer others. Purbasha Mondal is a bilingual poet from Kolkata, India. She works as an Assistant Professor of English at Saltora Netaji Centenary College (affiliated to Bankura University). She has received Wegrow Academic Excellence Award (2020), International Global Award 2021, International Women’s Day Achiever Award 2021, Education Excellence Award 2021, Social Activist of the Year Award, HUMANITARIAN AND PEACE AWARD, Honorary Doctorate Degree, Honorary High Degree, Dr. B. R. AMBEDKAR 130th BIRTH ANNIVERSARY MEMORIES AWARD 2021 etc. She is a literary critic, writer and translator. She has contributed to various national and international anthologies. Her poems have been translated into English, Bengali and French by Prof. Robert Sinclair and Dr. Asit Biswas. She is one of the editorial board members of Chaturtha Duniya. She has read her poem, “Matua” in Paper Fiber Fest in 2022. She was invited to recite her poetry in various literary associations in India. She was felicitated by the world-famous critic, Prof. Bill Ashcroft in 2020. She can be reached at mondal.purbasha111@gmail.com.

Dustin Pickering: Was formal education difficult for you to attain compared to others in your society? Why or why not?

Purbasha Mondal: For me, it was not difficult. My Mom is Associate Professor of Bengali at Barrackpore Rastraguru Surendranath College in West Bengal, India. My Dad is a retired Bank Manager. I studied in Madhyamgram Girls’ High School which is an ordinary Bengali-medium school. But most of my friends studied in elite English-medium schools. I did English Honours from Rabindra Bharati University. I was the topper of my batch. Then I finished my Masters in English from University of Calcutta. But I’m sure you’ll be surprised to know the fact that I’m a second-generation learner. Now you will ask me why? Actually, I’m from a Namasudra family. We were labelled as ‘Chandals’ by the caste-Hindus. You know, ‘Chandal’ is a slang. The Savarnas, I mean Savarna Hindus, they called us ‘Chandals’. That’s why the Namasudras revolted against this practice. In 1911, the word, ‘Chandal’ was officially removed from the identity of Namasudras. The Namasudras were Untouchables (Acchuts). Now they are known as Dalits. Namasudras did not have the right to education. Education was only reserved for caste-Hindus. In the 19th century, Harichand Thakur started a movement for the educational right of Dalits in the pre-Partitioned Bengal. Later his son, Guruchand Thakur was actively engaged in this movement. The movement was known as Matua Movement. Guruchand Thakur established 3952 schools. He encouraged the education of women. He was the true precursor of Dalit Renaissance in Bengal. We can’t forget the contribution of Jotibarao Phule, Savitribai Phule, Periyar and Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. Now we’re getting education because of them.

Dustin Pickering: As an educator, what role do you see writing playing in students’ development?

Purbasha Mondal: I am Assistant Professor of English at Saltora Netaji Centenary College. After joining the college, I took the initiative to launch the first wall magazine of the Department of English (Saltora Netaji Centenary College), “Aubade”. The wall magazine was inaugurated by our respected Principal Sir on 03.06.2022. When I see my students are writing poems, short-stories etc. and they are showing their works to me it’s an absolute pleasure! I feel I can guide them through my writing. I can motivate them through my writing. I can remember that one of my students told me, “Mam, I love your poems. I want to be a poet like you”. I was so happy! When my writing is inspiring my students they are becoming better human beings.

Dustin Pickering: How do you personally use poetry as a social medium?

Purbasha Mondal: For me, poetry is a tool of resistance. Through poetry I can raise my voice against violence, caste oppression and injustice. In my poetry, the readers can see my tears. In my poetry, the readers can see my joy. In my poetry, the readers can see my anger. I communicate with the world through my poetry.

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