Writing in Hindi in Mauritius: Abhimanyu Unnuth’s The Teeth of the Cactus
Issue: Vol 3 No. 2 (2009)
Journal: Religions of South Asia
Abhimanyu Unnuth is a contemporary poet, playwright, novelist, and public intellectual in Mauritius. His poetry, written in Hindi, attempts to recover the religious identity of the Bihari indentured servant community of the nineteenth century in the service of a re-membrance, in the Thiong’oian sense, of a post-independence Mauritian Hindu identity. In his best work, Kaikṭus ke Dānt, he inhabits the character of an ancestor working the sugar cane fields and understanding that work through his tenuous connection to his left-behind Hindu society through the Rāmcaritmānas of Tulsidas. This protagonist is contrasted with the shadow subject: himself, as a post-colonial, post-independence, postlabour Hindu on the island. The myths of his ancestors connect him to narratives, but not to the sense of the place that contextualizes the epic’s stories. Only by understanding, and being able to embody, the pain that his ancestors endured on the field by invoking mythic figures, can he come to be a Mauritian Hindu. This paper assesses his linguistic choices and the effect they have on the tone of his work.
Author: Rashi Rohatgi