chapter  4
25 Pages

Speaking silence: Continuous politics and discrete memory

Identifying the silence about, and invisibility of, women and women’s issues within the discourse of Naxalbari is only the beginning of exploring the gendered dimensions of this discourse. My concern is a more fundamental one. The process of delineating gendered power relations that are enmeshed in the critical and memory-history of Naxalbari concerns identifying the mechanisms of forgetting, silence and invisibility, including the acts of resistance against such mechanisms. Women nearly disappeared behind the male-identified ideology and vocabulary, and their specific problems were increasingly being imbricated within the professed universality of revolutionary politics. Let me elaborate by critically probing the word ‘comrade’. This is an address ostensibly for any ‘revolutionary individual’ and it is a ‘transcultural’, even ‘transhistorical’ category within leftist terminology. If we look at one of Charu Mazumdar’s emotional expressions of class hatred in the case of the sexual exploitation of a poor woman, the issue can be better addressed. Mazumdar writes of his conversation with a newly married man:

I have seen the barbaric sexual torture of the class enemy to a newly-wed Muslim bride. I have heard the pleading of her unarmed, unfortunate husband, ‘Can you take revenge for this, comrade?’