Manju Mukherjee spearheaded Breaking the Silence: Writing by Asian women, published by Centerprise in 1984. Manju persuaded strangers to ‘share their life’ after meeting them out and about in parks, bus stops, school gates and especially Ridley Road Market.
'On my way to work at Dalston Children's Centre, I had to cross through the hustle & bustle of Ridley Road Market. People were anxious to get their bargain, as if it were 'The Bargain Of A Lifetime'. So much pushing & noise! On my way back from work around 3.30pm, the same market was oh so quiet - dismantled stalls, plastic and papers flying around, one or two figures combing through the left-over vegetables. Where had all those people gone? It made me feel philosophical and detached!
That particular scene reminded me of a very special feeling and thought. I grew up in Calcutta, India. Our house was very close to the river Ganges. My school bus used to pass by the cremation ground alongside the river on the way to pick up the girls. Often, I used to see families carrying the dead body in a fancy bed decorated with flowers, sandalwood paste, incense sticks, with so much grieving emotion and tears. I watched from my school-bus window - nothing but a heap of ashes left behind, a few flowers scattered around, stray dogs roaming and few vagabonds sitting by the wall smoking ganga. At the end what happens to us?'