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GAYATRI SARAF
(Orissa)


Gayatri Saraf (born 17th of August 1952) started her literary career in 1988 with her first book of short stories. Presently she is working as headmistress at Govt. Girls High School, Patnagarh, Bolangir, Orissa. She has to her credit five book of short stories namely : Alokita Andhar (1988), Ainar Janhan (1995), Nijaswa Basanta (1996), Premika Pari Kehi Jane (1998), Bapa Bhala Acchanii (2003).  She has been honoured with (i) Srestha Galpika Sucharits Puraskar - Bhubaneswar, (ii) Prajatantra Sahitya Puraskar - Cuttack (iii) dharitri Sanman - Bhubaneswar (iv) Bhubaneswar Behera Prangya Sanman - Kalahandi.
Countries visited : Nepal
Address : Headmistress, Govt. Girls High School, Post Patnagarh, Dist. Bolangir, Orissa - 767025,
Phone : +9437210831


Synopsis of the title story of Gayatri Saraf's Oriya Short Story collection
"Bapa Bhala Achhanti" i. e. Bringing Up Father.

What is life without a bit of artifice.  The title story recounts the story of a house wife, Sunayana who lives with her doting husband, lovable son and a servant.  An ageing and ailing father-in-law completes the family album.  Sunayana is driven by the lust for material comforts and the glitz of modern consumerism.  For her the end justifies the means. Even if it means cheating her rich sister-in-law who stays in New York or treating her father-in-law with callous indifference bordering on ill treatment. Madhuri, the sister-in-law who stays abroad deluges the family in India with costly gifts and green backs.  As a doting daughter, she fondly imagines that a major part of her remittance goes towards keeping her father in India in an acme of physical and material comforts.  Little does she know that most of her contribution to the family is siphoned away by Sunayana for her own greed.

    Sunayana held her father-in-law in high esteem until he retired.  After retirement he was a burden. Being an widower he is lonely and cannot share his mental agony with any one.  He is bereft of any means of communication with his daughter who has been married off in the far away land of United States of America.  Sunayana faces a crisis when Madhuri proposes to visit her native land after a gap of seven years.  But for Sunayana life is a gamble where stakes are high and the dice have to be rolled with extreme caution. If her ruse is discovered she runs the risk of ruining every thing. If per chance, Madhuri unearths the truth, her apple cost shall be topped. So with bated breath she awaits the arrival of Madhuri.  The stage is well set.  Like an accomplished actress she dons the garb of a devoted daughter-in-law, religiously catering to every whim of her father-in-law.  Because unaccustomed she may be to her new avatar but she knows her performance is for a brief period only.

    Madhuri does not suspect a thing and is fully satisfied that her father is well cared for. She returns to New York contented with the belief that her father is in a safe haven. Sunayana is relieved.  Her scheming mind is already working in full throttle. She does not disclose the changed address of Madhuri at New York to her father. So the poor old man has no way of communication and has to suffer all the ignominy heaped upon him by the daughter-in-law in silence. The last straw came when he is unceremoniously packed off to an old age home. Finally Sunayana is free of the unsavory burden.  She can truly enjoy the delights of nucleus family now. The rent received from the ancestral house adds up to her already burgeoning kitty. Sunayana now shifts her house to a new place, severing the last shreds of relationship with her helpless father-in-law.

    The story relates the mushrooming growth of nuclear families in the present materialistic society, driven only by the craving for accumulation of wealth and self-centered attitude. The alarming decline in the emotional bondage between family members against the lurid back drop of lack of responsibility, human values and dwindling cultural ethos. The decent perhaps reaches its nadir when Sunayana writes to Madhuri informing or rather misleading her that every thing is fine. What a ridicule of basic instincts and filial bondage. The fiction very successfully portrays this story of deceit and betrayal of a daughter's devotion and the daughter-in-law's chicanery with a lucidity that is hard to put down.  The story is contemporary and the narrative style has been able to touch the sensitive chord of its readers.


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