My latest book review: Fast Girl in Sakhi magazine. Here's the link:
Tuesday 15 December 2015
Sunday 15 November 2015
Monday 9 November 2015
Are you around 25 years? You are waiting to get married to that Prince Charming and bump into a guy, okay a good looking if not handsome like Salman or Hrithik. He makes you feel that he's the one, the right guy, made for you, sent from the heaven. He weaves a dream world with his promises. You trust him so much that even if your parents, especially your mom, sense something wrong about the guy, you convince them that he's a nice guy and you want to spend the rest of your life with him.
So you both talk over the phone always, literally always, for more than 8-9 hours a day, in fact, you sleep less and talk more over the phone. You are completely smitten by him, ready to do anything and everything for him. You are ready to sacrifice your hobbies and passion, whether it's writing a novel or a blog or dancing or singing. You don't stop just there, he impresses you in such away that you are even ready to quit your job. What's the need for a job after marrying him? He earns well and makes you feel that you are his responsibility and never a burden. You trust him, yes, blindly trust him and give in.
You are floating in the dreamland, you feel like you are a bird flying high and high. The wedding is fixed, and no one can stop you and your joy knows no limit. You have your own aspirations and wishes regarding the marriage. You want yourself to look the best on your D-day. You purchase nice saris, nice dresses, nice jewels and hire nice makeup artist to decorate you for the occasion.
You discuss everything with the guy, from the color of your sari to the jewels you would be wearing. And when you know it's a custom that the bridegroom's family has to present a sari for the wedding or the reception, you request the guy to get a sari of your favorite color. The guy cleverly says that he can't sadden his mom by refusing her choice of color for the sari. Though you love pink or light blue or maroon, you end up wearing a dark green or a dark blue or a magenta color sari, the choice of either the guy's mom or his cousins. When he knows you are upset about the color of the sari, he promises to buy you a sari of your favorite color, but with a condition: you should never tell anybody in his family that he bought a sari for her, because he doesn't want to hurt his mom or cousins! You silently agree...
You are looking good with the makeup and waiting to enter the Mandap to get married and one of his cousins asks you if you are wearing your mom's jewels as they look old fashioned. You nod your head silently and the cousin says that the jewels are not matching the sari and should have bought something else. You ignore her comments and throw a smile at her.
At last you get married and enter his house to start a new journey, a new life. His cousins are still in the house and your mother-in-law seems to be very fond of them. She quotes their example for each and everything making you feel wrong at everything, wrong in dress sense, wrong in makeup, wrong in cooking, wrong in sleeping habits, wrong in everything!
Cousins continue to mock at your jewels even after the wedding. They taunt you by asking if they are original or fake ones, why they are old fashioned, why they are light weight, why they are dull and so on. Your mother-in-law joins them and makes fun of you, your mother and father. You listen to them silently, patiently, as you don't want to be rude to them, as it's still your first day in the house.
Slowly, you get to see their true nature. Mother-in-law is greedy, father-in-law is henpecked and husband is an obedient son, who trusts his parents blindly. He's so blind that he laughs at you when his parents physically and mentally torture you in front of him. Father-in-law is so shameless that he talks to you by touching you either at your back or holding your wrist. He praises his wife and insults you in front of his family and relatives. He roams half naked even in front of you and your husband supports his father's behavior.
Your husband's cousins keep a tab on your Facebook activities and regularly show them to your in-laws. Your mother-in-law mocks at you for wearing skirts or jeans and attending parties. If those cousins wear similar dresses your in-laws praise them. You can't even have friendship with those who have the habit of drinking alcohol, because your in-laws question your upbringing, but any of their relatives drink, they laugh and say drinking alcohol once in a while is good for health. You are fed up seeing their double standards but choose to keep quiet, because every now and then you are reminded by your husband that they are his parents and have all the right to say whatever they feel like.
You wonder where did all those promises made to you before the wedding vanish? You wonder if he's the same person whom you wanted to marry, for whom you gave up your job and hobbies. Still you remain silent, because somewhere you feel that things might fall to their place and you should not take any hasty decision.
Your husband comes to know that you have lakhs of rupees in your account and he humbly asks you if he can use it and pay you back later. You feel embarrassed and give your debit card to him. He uses your money to fulfill the wishes of his parents and splurges on them to buy new things. Your mother-in-law praises her son for buying new things and tells all neighbors that you didn't take any dowry and you are eating her son's salary. You are surprised hearing it and confront your husband and ask if he's not told his mother that he's buying new things to the family in her money. Husband gets upset and screams that it's not her money, but their money. If he tells his mother that he's using wife's savings it would hurt his ego and hurt his mother as well. You agree and remain silent, for after all he's your husband and you think it's really our money, not just your money.
As days pass by you realize that your husband has lost his job and he had taken a loan for his studies and the whole burden of clearing it is on his head. Your mother-in-law keeps taunting you that you should seek your dad's help in clearing the loan and after much though and mental harassment you budge and get money from your dad. You want to pay the installment and your father-in-law wants all the money you got from your dad to be transferred to his account and you silently agree. Your mother-in-law asks you to hand over your jewels to pledge and take a loan to clear another loan taken on the house and you silently agree.
In spite of all these, your mother-in-law is not satisfied. She keeps torturing you for money. In a bid to torture you she asks her son to sleep in her room and makes you to sleep alone. She orders her son not to sleep with you! To get rid of you she hatches a plot to kill you, but fails in her attempt. She pretends to shower love on you in front of her son and in his absence treats you like a slave.
When you conceive, she doesn't even bother that she's becoming a grandmother, all she wants from you and your family is money and gold. To make you get more money and gold from your parents she locks you up in your room, which has no attached bathroom, and keeps you hungry and thirsty whole day. You take your medicines without water and are forced to vomit and urinate in the room, as one cannot control puking and urinating during pregnancy.
If you return the money or gold given by your parents, your mother-in-law will become a beast by pushing you down and killing your baby even before it sees the world. She orders her son not to help you and your husband obeys his mother and you are left alone bleeding. Nobody is concerned about the death of the baby, not even your husband, who was supposed to be a father in a few more months. He supports his mother even in this act. He openly says that whatever his parents do is correct, even if they are wrong, they are correct!
Your husband thinks that you should never reveal the family matters to others, neither by writing a novel or through blogs or by sharing it with parents. He feels that once a girl is married, she should forget her parents. He says forget parents, but not their money and gold, they should keep giving them as and when demanded.
You spend years and years and there's no change in the attitude or behavior of your husband and his parents. You have had enough, you feel like a puppet, a lifeless object, having lost your own identity and existence. They have examined your level of patience and this time, one last time, you sum up your courage and rebel against them. You raise your voice against them. You question them. You question their demands and behavior. You refuse to bring any money and jewels from your parents. You think it's time to leave them. You feel there no need for such a spineless husband who questions your character and asks how you got pregnant in the first place. You decide to leave back everything and everyone and go away.
You leave the house and husband and the past behind and want to move ahead. But is it that easy? If you have faced any of these situations, then you can easily identify yourself with Meera, the protagonist of Avantika Debnath's debut novel - 'The Bridal Pyre: Nainam Dahati Pavakah' (2015). If you haven't faced anything like this, consider yourself very very lucky. But don't ever dare to call her a lier, for it's not a fiction. This is happening in your house, in your neighboring house, in your relatives' house, in your friends' house, it's just happening around you, all you have to do is open your eyes and see it and accept it.
There are several Meeras in the society who have become scapegoats in the name of wedding and dowry. Everyday, every minute one or the other woman becomes the victim of dowry death in India and it's very unfortunate that people are mum about this burning issue. Women who dare to come out in public are mentally harassed and are called liers, fingers are raised on her character. Instead of sympathizing and supporting the victims, her family, relatives, friends and the society always try to point out her mistakes.
Nainam chindanti sastrani
Sunday 8 November 2015
Sunday 1 November 2015
Every sentence in this article rings so true and memories gush in, reminding me of the shame I felt and the excuses I always use. Wish I had one such friend who could have felt like the friend of this victim writer. For those of us who are facing a Domestic Violence, most of our behavior can be explained in this one article…
This Is Why I Didn’t Tell You He Was Beating Me
Tuesday 27 October 2015
Monday 26 October 2015
Tuesday 20 October 2015
Thursday 15 October 2015
Saturday 10 October 2015
Do you remember Balu Mahendra's Moondram Pirai Tamil film which came out in 1982? Ok, how about Sadma which came out in 1983? Sridevi and Kamal Hassan had mesmerized the audience with their fabulous performance in it. Sridevi plays the role of a young modern girl who meets with an accident and loses her memory and behaves like a seven-year-old girl. Kamal Hassan rescues her from a brothel and brings her home and spends several months together sharing an amazing and innocent relationship that treads the tender line between affection and love.
Kamal takes Sridevi to the village's medical practitioner who cures her and brings her back to sanity as she regains her memory up to the point of her accident. When kamal comes to meet Sridevi later that day, she is unable to identify or remember him. Despite his efforts to make her understand that he was the one who had taken care of her for several months, she is indifferent to him and leaves the place for her hometown, thus abandoning kamal and the life and relationship that she once had with him.
How about facing such a situation in real life? After going through such a situation in her own life, Sonya Lea writes 'Wondering Who You Are: A Memoir' (2015) and tells the world how the course of her life changed completely after her husband forgot who he was and what relationship he shared with her and their two children during their blissful married life of 23 years.
When Sonya and Richard were entering their 23rd year of married life, Richard was diagnosed with Pseudomyxoma Peritonei, also known as PMP, a very rare and deadly appendix cancer. He agrees to go through HIPEC, popularly called as Mother of all surgeries, which included a 10-hour grueling operation. Miraculously, Richard survives the surgery, but unfortunately forgets his past -- due to lack of oxygen supply to his brain all his memories were completely erased!
He struggles to know who he is and the people around him. The man who went to the hospital was completely different from the man who came out. He does not even know how to talk or smile let alone remember his family. His situation not only put himself in trouble, but also his family members, especially the author, who continuously strives to help him regain his memory.
The author does not hesitate to reveal her bad side and his bad side even though her husband had no memory of them. She goes on to build a new relationship, a new life with him. In a way, it is not Richard who asks "wondering who you are", but the author herself as she questions herself what is the role and place that she holds in the life of Richard, a new man, a complete stranger after the surgery. It's difficult to live with a stranger under the same roof, but hats off to the author, she not only lived with him, but also found a new life with him.
The book intertwines both her love story and the hospital days and readers instantly fall in love with the style of narration and the bitter truth, sometimes too private, the author dares to tell the world.
The book looks like an answer to the questions asked by Richard in the hospital bed. She is fortunate that Richard loves her more than before and tries his very best to impress her. He does every possible thing to keep her happy, even agrees to her wish of having a boyfriend!
One has to laud the efforts of Sonya for helping Richard in all the ways. She keeps encouraging him to regain memory, helps join back his job, and what more the way she stands like a strong pillar during his worse days is more than enough one can expect from a wife.
As Sonya says Richard is a puzzle, a mystery for her, in fact, she herself is a mystery as she found a new love and life with him. Readers get the perspective of Sonya throughout and one wonders how Richard feels about the whole incident. But then one has to keep in mind that Richard has not regained his memory completely and he is constructing his memory based upon what his wife and children are telling him. So maybe this is where Sonya's perspective becomes important, not only to Richard, but also to readers.
The book is interesting and keeps readers glued to it. It has everything, love, loss, confusion, deathbed, family, sex, health, most importantly memory loss and identity crisis. The book begins in a faraway western country and ends in the nearby Haridwar, bringing both East and West together in thoughts. Readers fall in love with the author's way of story narration and simple language.
Note: This review was originally published in Sakhi magazine here: http://sakhiexpress.epapr.in/584319/Sakhi/15-September-2015#dual/24/1