Victory Colony 1950 by Bhaswati Ghosh (Yoda Press 2020) is a story of resilience about East Pakistani refugees who were forced to leave their homes in East Pakistan because of their Hindu faith. After Amala’s parent are killed in the violence following the partition of India in 1947, she and her brother manage to survive until they reach Calcutta. Within moments of disembarking from their train, Amala loses Kartik, and comes close to being hauled off by groping policemen. She’s saved by several young volunteers who steer Amala away and into a refugee camp. Manas, a student and the volunteer leader, comes from a privileged, wealthy family that doesn’t approve of fraternizing with refugees. But he cares about these poverty-stricken people, especially Amala. When conditions start deteriorating in the refugee camp, a group men and women manage to occupy a vacant plot of land nearby. There they begin to rebuild their lives with backbreaking work, in a society of their own making.
Bhaswati Ghosh has written and translated fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from Bengali into English, and is the recipient of the Charles Wallace Trust Fellowship for Translation, for My Days with Ramkinkar Baij. Her writing has appeared in several literary journals including Literary Shanghai, HELD, Cargo Literary, Pithead Chapel, Warscapes, The Maynard as well as Indian Express, Scroll, The Wire, and the Dhaka Tribune. Bhaswati lives in Ontario, Canada and is currently working on a nonfiction book on New Delhi, India. The pandemic-induced lockdown inculcated a strange new interest — watching a day-in-the-life vlogs of single Asian women — mostly Japanese and South Korean. The presenters record their everyday lives — cooking, cleaning, working at home or office; the unhurried ordinariness and simplicity of the videos helps Bhaswati relax and stay grounded even as the world keeps spinning into chaos and uncertainty. She also likes to sing, birdwatch, and explore new cuisines. Victory Colony 1950 is her debut novel.