Afrah Shafiq: Sultana‘s Reality
Late one night, a young woman sits by her window reading a short story called “Sultana’s Dream” and suddenly notices a sky full of women outside. Who are these flying women and how did they get there? Leaning out to investigate she tumbles into a vortex of women’s histories.
In this Alice in Wonderland style adventure, scroll through five chapters of the relationship between women and books in India. How they avoided them, read them, hated them, loved them and eventually wrote them.
This encyclopedic story, titled Sultana’s Reality, is stitched together with written accounts of different women – who were stoned for wearing shoes and carrying umbrellas; who would rather nap than read; who read in secret at night; who read forbidden texts; who read and then challenged the very people who encouraged them to read… and who went on to write books, telling their story in their own words. The women in these books and the books in these women are full of intimacy, chaos, cynicism, anger, humor, beauty, love – together they make their history, and this story.
Broken into five sequential chapters that are padded with a prologue and an epilogue, Sultana’s Reality is imagined as a journey. You can follow the story’s linearity, or you can move back and forth in time using the arrows located at the bottom corners of the screen, and the stopwatch symbol at the top left corner. Move your mouse around to look for hidden notes. Click on the open book symbol to read them or explore a back-story.
Just like any encyclopedia, this story too is never complete. If you have any texts, stories, incidents, persons, histories that relate to Sultana’s Reality send them in and they will be added as a hidden note.