This is a new edition of Birthday Deathday & Other Stories by Padma Perera, first published by The Women’s Press, England, 1985, with international reviews from the UK, USA, Europe, and the Commonwealth countries. Additional material now provides more oral history from the first four decades just before and after India’s independence, 1940s–1980s. The story “Doctor Salaam” was included in Salman Rushdie’s Mirrorwork, an anthology of the best Indian fiction in English during the fifty years after India’s Independence.
Born in Madras, India, Padma Hejmadi has published poetry, nonfiction, and two books of collected fiction under the name of Padma Perera. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Parabola, and elsewhere, with essays translated into French by Initiations, Belgium. She is represented in several anthologies of international literature and women’s writing, as well as in Salman Rushdie’s Mirrorwork: 50 Years of Indian Writing, 1947–1997. As a photographer and visual artist, Hejmadi’s work in both fields has been exhibited in solo and group shows in Seattle, California, and Hawaii, and is included in private collections in the US, Japan, and New Zealand. Hejmadi received her BA honors degree from the University of Delhi and her MA degree from the University of Michigan. She has given readings and seminars at Vassar, Columbia, and the Rhode Island School of Design, among others, and taught for some years at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and at Colorado College. In 2001 she was made codirector of The New Pacific Studio (California and New Zealand), fostering exchange programs between artists of the Pacific Rim.
Praise for Padma Hejmadi and the earlier edition (Birthday, Deathday & Other Stories):
Fiction to brighten a dismal horizon. These are very solid stories, written in dense, rounded prose . . . creating an almost tangible atmosphere out of vivid descriptions and sharp little bursts of dialogue. [Quality] illuminates this admirable collection.
—The Times (London)
The quality of thought and language, the philosophic orientation of her prose . . . makes much contemporary writing seem shallow.
—The San Francisco Chronicle
Time, Indian time, with its layered complexities is at the heart of this talented collection. “Did you know that the language in some of the Vedic texts has no present tense? Because the moment a word is uttered, it is past.”
Marvelously described: “thrown open with every window to every scrap and pain of life.” Fine prose and passionate vitality.
—The Irish Times
Whether in the story of a great-aunt—“the first adult who makes a present to me of her failings” or of a light-fingered holy man . . . [the author] is humorous, compassionate, wise and elegant. Quite perfect.
—The Times (Australia)
Her gift is a heritage for us all.
—Tillie Olsen, author of Tell me a Riddle, Silences,
Yonnondio, and Mother to Daughter, Daughter to Mother
A vision of both strength and nuance, BIRTHDAY DEATHDAY gives us necessary truths about our life on this subcontinent.
—The Times of India
She has the gift of prose that bridges cultures. . . . Precise language and thoughtful interweaving of images and ideas by a remarkably sensitive and skilled author.
—The Christian Science Monitor
Passionate accounts of India and its transformation—challenging archaic and cruel customs without sacrificing the spirituality of her Hindu culture. She relates subtly and unforgettably the influence of female ancestry . . . [of] women as the strength and centre of family life.
—The Weekly Mail (Johannesburg)
An understanding of human nature lies at the root of her work. She captures our secret lives . . . [and] paints an absorbing picture in a few words.
—The Indian Express
Underlying these stories is the continuing effect of white racism; but local prejudice or mistaken adherence to ancient values are not excused either. . . . Abundant moments of insight help us work out our own self-transformations.
—Newsletter, book fair (Oslo)
[Her] vision of displacement and strength is a personal hard-won wisdom of more than personal relevance.
—Culture Shock, london
Demonstrates an almost intimidating control of her material. Fine letters, these, most closely crafted and far-ranging. . . . Careful examinations of the dynamics in Indian life, of the insides and outsides of families and classes.
— City Limits (London)