05 June 2022

Article: While reading ‘Blue Eyed Girl’.
Author: Bhagyashree Jawale.

Shilpa Kamble wrote her first novel titled ‘Blue Eyes Girl’ in 2014, published by Goda publication, Aurangabad. This novel is appreciated by critiques and masses. Her play ‘Biryani’ is also famous. Which is socio-political drama around the lives of two women, Sakina and Kurmuri. I have seen many characters like this in my life and around me. I have come across characters similar to those described in the novel. Not everyone’s struggle is the same and the nature of the struggle keeps changing. In the face of changing struggles, circumstances change and so do the ways in which we address the issue. I liked the novel because it is written in the form of books, letters, personal anecdote, stories, and diary entries. The author looks at issues from different angles. Although she was impressed by Modak Maharaj, she was not entirely convinced about following him. She has struggles daily related to shelter and accessing education. I really admire the author’s unique style of writing which includes talking about the problems of public toilets in story format. 

The letter in the novel is also different because the letter written by Ulka's mother, Vaijayanata, to her mother presents their struggle for survival as well as their social context. Through Ulka’s letter to her friends, we can see Ulka’s social struggle. The correspondence letter between Ulka and Meera reflects Ulka’s transformation which occurred through her journey. Readers become aware of the new changes that take place as an organization or group is operating in the society. Not everyone in society has financial and cultural capital. There are difficulties in learning, especially in slums, and some concrete steps have to be taken to solve these difficulties. In the novel, the youth organization 'Akrosh' draws our attention to this. Organisations such as ‘Akrosh’ make a significant contribution in empowering the new generation

The excitement around Babasaheb Ambedkar's birthday at home was a source of inspiration for me since my childhood. While in school, I realized that Dr. Ambedkar had studied many different subjects and received many degrees. His identity was different from the one popularly known in the society, which is as the architect of the constitution. I gradually came to understand his place in education and his contribution in every field. I think that is why I developed a passion for education. 

During my academic journey, I received financial support from a private organization. Further, this organisation also provided guidance on higher education and various entrance exams. In this private organisation, I met students from different disciplines, some of whom were preparing for competitive exams and some of whom were doing research. Here, I came to realize that I want to do my PhD after M.A. The scope of higher education is so vast that it is not easy for us to understand the various aspects involved in it. I received information about higher education much later. Other people are more aware earlier on about different disciplines in higher education and the opportunities available therein. I worked while pursuing my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. This was a very challenging time for me, but I feel a sense of achievement in Higher education. While working, I always fell short of time to participate in college projects, complete reading, and supplement many studies. I always thought that I should study full time and add to my knowledge by sitting in one place and reading books. It was not possible for me to leave the job because of poor financial situation at home. When I was facing difficulties in life, I was fortunate to find mentors who guided me in the right direction, which helped me in moving towards my goal. One of the challenges of my academic and private life was always meeting a good mentor who turned my life around and my academic journey was getting in the right direction and the journey towards my goal began. I have now completed my M.Phil. research degree, and I am working as a research assistant. I consider turning to research to be a milestone in my life. Reflecting on own journey, I relate with Ulka's friend, who helps her financially in her educational journey, her language barrier, and her relationship with 'Akrosh', helps her build socio-cultural capital.

After reading the novel "Blue Eyed Girl," I began to think differently about my educational journey. Many of the characters in the story were similar to the ones that I had seen or heard around. The protagonist Ulka in the Novel taught me a lot of new things. It tells the story of a Buddhist girl from school to marriage and people involved in her journey. Ulka’s mother moves to Mumbai because Ulka’s father is addicted to alcohol and Ulka. The book 'Diary of Unfrank' given to Ulka by Dhagebai inspired her to maintain a dairy. She also calls her diary 'Subi,' and in the novel, we get a glimpse of her diary. In this novel, I felt that the discrimination made by the upper caste teachers while she was studying raises many questions somewhere in her mind. She and like her classmates have been discriminated against by teachers, and this seems to have hampered their education. I also remembered my experience in English medium while studying in college because my schooling is in Marathi medium. Since the whole education was through English, I did not understand what was taught in the classroom. At this point, I see a lot of people drop out of school or learn something else. 

Each of the characters in the novel deals with different social issues. In which caste system have struggle for daily routine problems like food and shelter. Although education is as important as basic needs for everyone, not everyone can complete it. Lack of knowledge about education among family members or financial situation often leaves most people with an incomplete education. This is what we see around us but do not take it seriously.

My schooling was completed in Marathi medium in government and private schools. For a while, I dropped out of education. After some time, I started my education anew, and now I am doing research in women's studies. I am the first person in my family to complete higher education and is currently doing research. I have completed my higher education and am still studying. Many people react differently when they hear that my education is still going on. Considering these questions, I realized that I did not have the financial backing nor did I know about the opportunities for higher education in the beginning.

As a researcher, I am currently working on a project on higher education and gender. My research so far has shown that caste, gender, and geographical location play an important role. There are different difficulties in getting higher education for everyone due to caste and economic conditions. Shilpa Kamble's caste, class, gender issues have been framed in her writings. In the novel "Blue Eyed Girl", it is seen that she has discussed many things from the journey.

Shilpa Kamble's own journey is very inspiring and understandably, it also draws the grim reality of poverty. She is currently working as a writer and income tax officer. Her name is important in Marathi literature. She has also written for a series on Babasaheb Ambedkar. Although all sorts of developments took place while living in Mumbai, her experiences of racial discrimination reflect in her writings. Higher education does not cover all sections of the society in the same way, and the proportion of students from the lower castes in higher education is considered to be low. What is higher education? What opportunities are available in higher education? They often do not have the answers to this question or have partial knowledge about it. There is a lack of financial capital as well as socio-cultural capital. Although many schemes and programs are being implemented at the government and private levels for higher education, information about these is not available to everyone in society. Information on different types of scholarships, fellowships, and other related schemes should be made available to all and measures should be taken for that.