NATION

Fijian Woman Writing At International Arena

Vindu Maharaj was born to Indo-Fijian parents in Labasa in the 1960s and moved to Suva before her first birthday. Growing up in a strict household and being constantly reprimanded
30 May 2017 11:00
Fijian Woman Writing At International Arena
Eseta Nadakuitavuki (left), and Vindu Maharaj.

Vindu Maharaj was born to Indo-Fijian parents in Labasa in the 1960s and moved to Suva before her first birthday.

Growing up in a strict household and being constantly reprimanded became an everyday battle between her and her parents.

Reading was one of her favourite pastimes; she would lose herself in the lives and adventures of the characters in the many books she borrowed from the school library.

She dreamed of one day being able to escape her daily problems and have a real-life adventure herself.

In the 1970s being married at 18 and having children was the norm among Indo-Fijians here, and she was no exception. She migrated with her family to Sydney, Australia, in 1985.

In 2013, Ms Maharaj joined the Fellowship of Australian Writers and began writing short stories, 10 of which have been published in the writers’ magazine FreeXpression.

She has also published some short stories in the groups’ anthology, Roaring Silence, in 2015.

 

Cultural prison Book

Her debut novel, Cultural Prison: A Daughter’s Worth, is based in Fiji between 1975 and 1985. Set against the backdrop of arranged marriages, cultural restrictions on women and girls, and domestic violence, the novel tells the story of Saras who is about to be married, but nothing has prepared her for what she is about to experience.

Fiji was a new world for many Indians who came as indentured labourers between 1879 and 1916. With them came a world of complicated cultural intricacies, beliefs and ideals evolved over centuries.

These ancient traditions still influenced people’s lives in the 1970s, but times are changing.

The winds of a modern way of life are blowing into the most rigid of circles.

Saras’s life becomes intertwined with Priya’s, in a drastic and permanent way, and their experience touches two generations.

The author carries the reader through narrow passages forged by cultural restrictions, highlighting an awareness of the cultural prisons we all live in, no matter what our backgrounds.

After a successful launch in Ingleburn, Sydney on the April 1, Ms Maharaj is planning a book launch in Fiji in the coming months.

The Sydney launch was attended by 100 guests.

The guest of honour, Anoulack Chanthivong, Macquarie Fields State Labour MP, spoke about domestic violence and family values, and the issues raised in the novel.

Edited by Maraia Vula

Feedback:  jyoti@fijisun.com.fj

 

 



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