A Widow’s Diet: Negotiating Politics of Food and Widowhood in The Anger of Aubergines

Rajbir Samal, Indian Institute of Technology, India
Binod Mishra, Indian Institute of Technology, India
Email: samalrajbir@gmail.com
Published: November 24, 2023

Citation: Samal, R., & Mishra, B. (2023). A Widow’s Diet: Negotiating Politics of Food and Widowhood in The Anger of Aubergines. IAFOR Journal of Literature & Librarianship, 12(2). https://doi.org/10.22492/ijl.12.2.02


Widowhood, in Indian society, is a dreaded condition of a woman after the death of her husband. It is an imposed performance that entails a set of ritualized practices and behavior to mark her transition to the state of a woman without. On many occasions, this state is ensured and maintained through multifarious rituals and practices, which range from restrictions on mobility, choices, and desires to injunctions on clothes, bodily demeanor, and food. This physio-social exercise of control and restraint alludes to a framework of religio-cultural discourse that renders widows as social and sexual non-beings. The present paper attempts to understand the state of widowhood through the analysis of two short stories in the collection, The Anger of Aubergines (1997) by Bulbul Sharma from the perspective of food. Food and eating, being the elementary aspects of everyday life, become important signifiers in studying the deprived state of widowhood. The paper intends to unpack the politics behind the imposition of a curriculum of gastronomic injunctions and food taboos on Hindu upper-caste widows. Further, the paper conceptualizes the appetite of widows as a subversive category not only in challenging the gender discourses behind their oppression but also in exonerating their status as desireless beings.


food, gender, widows, appetite, patriarchy