2. Discuss the writers and the literary texts that you come across in Ambai’s ‘Squirrel’.

INTRODUCTION: ‘The Squirrel’ is a famous short story by Ambai. It was written in Tamil Language titled ‘Anil’ by Ambai and was translated into English by Vasanth Kannabiran and Chudamani Ragavan in 1992. The author is known for writing about women. This story also brings out the problems faced by women. Through this story she makes us understand how women’s writings were not taken care of in those days. The short story “Squirrel” voices about feminism and male domination.

THE LIBRARY: The story “Squirrel” is based on the narrator’s visit to a library, which is full of feminist writing. She asked the librarian what was there on the top floor of the library. The librarian said that there was nothing but only dust. The narrator asked about the books there. The librarian replied that those were the books written by women. The narrator asked him to allow her to look at those books. There was a squirrel which has come there to eat the glue found on the covers of the books. The character of the squirrel in the story stood for the inner world of the narrator. The transition between dream and reality and vice versa is made through the representation of the squirrel. The narrator found volumes of PenmadhiBodhini and Jaganmohini and many other books in the third floor of the library. The narrator touched the spine of a mended, nineteenth-century book and felt as though a shock rose from the sole of her foot.
NARRATOR’S VIEWS ABOUT THE BOOKS: The narrator sarcastically says that only she and the squirrel were there to grieve for Anna Sattianandhan who was on her deathbed and asked her husband to pray. She says that the woman who first set out on horseback to spread Christianity broke through the meshed windows of the library. A Bengali girl set fire to herself when she could not prevent her father selling their only house to meet her marriage expenses. Thus the books she read made her feel the agony of the women writers.

The narrator says that the books on the third floor of the library were not mere books. They talked about the whole generations agonizing with life. Our Indian women wore nine yard saris and played badminton with the white women. They were addressed as “my girl” trying to sound. Women were taught the dharma to be followed by them. Nallathangal pushed her son into a well and jumped herself into it. An unshaven dead widow was denied the performance of the last rites. The devadasis dedicated to the temple underwent a lot of suffering. Mahatma Gandhi addressed women spinning at the charka.
WOMEN IN JOURNALS: The narrator went through the journals. In the journal ‘Tyagabhumi’ Uma Rani declared that she was not a slave. “Kasini” gave new patterns for bangles. The girl on the cover of The Ananda Vikatan walked freely while her husband carried the shopping bag. Tamarai Kanni Ammaiyar said that we should give up our lives for Tamil. Ramamrutham Ammaiyar angrily confronted Rajaji who wrote that Gandhi would not come unless people pay him money. The narrator returned to senses only the squirrel tapped its tail and raised dust. The squirrel ate the glue found on the covers of the books.
CONCLUSION: The narrator found the Library a dark and dusty place where the library staff was trying to restore the books that were falling apart. At lunch time the staff indulged in idle conversation and exhibited no interest in the work assigned to them. The librarian used string and mended the books in the library. He wrote letters to the higher authorities to reimburse the amount he spent for the string but was in vain. The librarian told the narrator that the books and magazines were waste and they should be burnt one day. This made the narrator leave the library with a heavy heart. Thus the story reveals the sufferings of women and women writers in the past

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