I work for the Health sector and also manage a charity organisation for Deaf people. The life of deaf people fascinates and inspires me. I have a huge interest in painting, photography and, of course, reading fictional stories. Previously I worked as a journalist on a weekly newspaper in India. In the UK, I have written a book on ‘Mother and Baby’ in Bengali to raise awareness among Bengali mothers. I graduated in Ancient History and love travelling to historical places.
The Project title Human Stories and the East India Company attracted my attention. It was a brilliant opportunity to obtain knowledge of research skills and improve historical fiction writing skills in a friendly environment with a diverse range of people. I was also keen to understand British perspectives on the East India Company.
 
The project has immensely helped us to develop the historical fictional writing skills. The speakers from various fields opened our minds to see things from different perspectives.  

The programme covered a wide range of topics. Visits to the National Maritime Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, British Library and London Metropolitan Archive workshops to learn about records, objects, archives and textiles in relation to the East India Company were very useful to know and feel history in depth.
 
The City walk by Nick Robins and fascinating talks by English descendant of the Nawab of Bengal C Lyn Innes and Blair Southerden made history seem alive.
 
 The flexibility and pace of the programme allowed us to manage our learning and learn effectively despite our busy life. The creative writing workshop by Hilary Green gave us the first flavour of fictional writing which was challenging for many of us first time writers. Later this became the most interesting part of the project, led by the Tutor and mentor Rajeev Balasubramanyam.
 
The project was well organised and engaging.

Sound of Silence

‘He gazed at her face again, softly stroking and removing a few strands of hair from her face. He could still feel the warmth in her pale face. He bent to pick her up when he came across a white peacock feather in her hand. He recalled giving the feather to her when she rescued him from the dacoits. He took the feather in his hand. Tears trickled down his weary face and an unbearable pain blazed through him and he felt that he couldn’t breathe.’

During my research for the story I came across an article regarding the Architecture of Murshidabad temples. The temples described in the article were built under the patronage of Rani Bhavani of Natore, who was the only woman zamindar of Bengal from 1748-1788. Her courage and intellectual ability to maintain good relationships with the East India Company and the Nawab of Bengal inspired me. She was not only a businesswoman but also heavily engaged in welfare activity.
 
The story is of Hiranya and Elakshi, mother and daughter, two talented widows who fought against the Nawab of Bengal in 1754. Among the male-dominated world of the zamindari, Hiranya successfully managed the administration of the estate peacefully and prosperously. Her only adopted daughter, Elakshi, became widowed at an early age. Hiranya focused all her attention on training to make her the future commander-in-chief of her army.
 
But Hiranya’s decision against assisting the Nawab in the conspiracy against the East India Company changed Elakshi’s fate forever. The Nawab abducted Elakshi and imprisoned her.
 
Elakshi’s childhood admirer Prince Advik rescued her in a deal with the Nawab.
 
Would Prince Advik be able to meet his long-lost love again? Would he be able to know if Elakshi ever loved him?

SANGEETA SENGUPTA

Helping to transform the intellectual landscape of the Bangladeshi community in the UK and celebrate the amazing British diversity

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